Breaking Through to the Hindu and other recent developments

I was a bit surprised to learn that The Hindu newspaper carried coverage of the American Studies Association boycott resolution in its pages. It hardly seemed like international news to me. But what was more surprising is that it came in the form of Zionist articles by American columnists David Brooks (New York Times) and Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post). Both articles repeat stale propaganda about Israel and the boycott movement, which if they had been even fact checked some of that could have been reduced. In any case, I wrote my own response to them, which was published in today’s paper, although it was edited so I’ll post the original version below:

In the print edition of The Hindu on 11 January 2014, a column by Charles Karauthammer appeared from the newswire about the American Studies Association’s (ASA) recent resolution to boycott Israel. As a member of the ASA for almost twenty years, and as the person who initiated this move towards boycott in the spring of 2005, I find it a bit odd that such an article (the second, actually, as The Hindu published a wire piece by David Brooks a couple of weeks ago arguing more or less the same point) would appear in the pages of an Indian newspaper given that the bone of contention is from quite an American point of view. Moreover, Indians know from experience what the power of boycott can do when fighting a foreign colonial power on one’s land.

Brooks and Krauthammer may offer readers many opinions, but there is very little grounded in facts, which a quick perusal of the ASA’s website would reveal. For example, Brooks, for example, thinks that the problem is only the Israeli occupation of the West Bank; curiously Gaza doesn’t come into his frame. Both writers paint a portrait of an Israel that looks like it’s a beautiful, democratic society with just a few minor flaws that need to be worked out. Let me offer your readers a different American viewpoint, and one that comes from an American Jew who has spent several years teaching at Palestinian universities in the West Bank cities of Jerusalem and Nablus; there I had a front-row seat to the myriad ways that Israel actively interfered with the lives of Palestinian scholars and students, making teaching, conducting research, or merely going to school next to impossible.

Any way one examines the conditions of Palestinians, including access to education, there are problems whether in the West Bank, Gaza, or Israel itself. Israel has a segregated school system (similar to the “separate but equal” system the U.S. created for African Americans) as detailed in a recent Human Rights Watch report. Israel routinely targets schools in its invasions of Palestine (and Lebanon); during its 2008 war against Gaza, Israel targeted a United Nations school and the Islamic University of Gaza. In the West Bank, where I spent most of my time, students were routinely kept from attending university and school because of the checkpoint and Jewish-only road system. Last summer the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report detailing the extent to which Palestinian children between the ages of twelve and seventeen are kidnapped from their homes at night, detained in military prisons where they are tortured, often until they agree to become informants on their family and community. If I had more space to write, I could produce a dissertation on the ways in which Palestinian youth are singled out by Israeli soldiers, abused, and prevented from pursuing their education.

Instead of exploring the reality of Palestinians, Krauthammer and Brooks deflect attention by either asking why Israel is “singled out” (answer: because as a state it singles itself out out as in its special relationship with the U.S., for which it is handsomely rewarded financially, militarily, and through UN vetoes). Those who pay taxes in the U.S. and who are part of the boycott movement do not want our tax dollars to continue funding these activities. In Israel, as in South Africa under its apartheid regime, universities are state-run and help produce the knowledge that undergirds the practices and policies that further the occupation and colonization of Palestinians.

But Brooks and Krauthammer would have it that the ASA operated out of either anti-Semitism or discrimination against Israeli scholars. In fact, the resolution, in keeping with the Palestinian call for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, calls for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions only. Neither the movement in Palestine nor the West nor in India targets any individual on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or nationality. In fact, the ASA resolution also acknowledges the fact that Israeli scholars are a part of this movement as well.

The false claim of “anti-Semitism” is often trotted out by Zionists—Christian and Jewish alike—who wish to remind their audience of violence perpetuated by Europeans against European Jews. But in the history of West Asia this charge is ironic given the fact that Arabs are far more Semitic than European Jews like me and given the fact that the people living under a brutal colonial regime are Palestinians, Syrians (in the Occupied Golan Heights), and Lebanese in the remaining five villages that Israel continues to illegally occupy.

Those of us active in the boycott movement around the globe do so out of a desire to see Palestinian people achieve justice meaning the right of return for Palestinian refugees and compensation as per UN Resolution 194. We believe that there shouldn’t be any nation with special status. We believe that when the UN makes a resolution all nations must abide by them not just countries bullied by the powers governing the Security Council and their allies.

Marcy Newman is an independent scholar and author of The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans and a founding member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

There have been some more terrific pieces about the boycott in the press in the last couple of weeks, including the Modern Language Association (MLA) resolution, which doesn’t go as far as the ASA, but at lest it is taking the correct steps in that direction.

First, here is a terrific action alert from Adalah New York for people who want to respond and support the ASA. There is also a petition to sign to support the ASA, but you must be a member. This is especially essential since yesterday Forbes had the audacity to publish an openly ad hominem attack by Richard Behar about several of my colleagues and friends in the ASA who have been working tirelessly over the last several years to make this resolution happen.

Steven Salaita has a brilliant piece in Electronic Intifada called “Ten Things We’ve Learned About Opposition to Academic Boycott,” which pretty much responds to Behar and whatever other Zionist hack wants to do to try to belittle our work. Also, USACBI posted a brilliant piece this week called “This is What an Academic Boycott Looks Like” for people who are sincerely interested in understanding our work. Also here is the Indian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI) statement of solidarity with the ASA.

Second, the U.S. Green Party issued a press release supporting the ASA’s resolution.

Then there are a couple of great pieces in university newspapers from Bowdoin, Syracuse, and Tufts. Bill Mullen did a radio interview about the resolution and Democracy Now! hosted a debate, although the choice of debaters isn’t great.

Meanwhile at the MLA annual meeting, another one of my former academic homes, a resolution was passed, although it focused on the lack of human rights and academic freedom. A petition is here for people who want to sign it (you don’t need to be a member to do so). Here are some articles covering the MLA resolution and what transpired at the various panels there:

Liz Schulman’s “Boycott Panel at MLA Draws Applause and Fearful Questions”

Alex Kane’s “MLA Delegates Pass Measure Against Israel Denying Entry to Academics”

Bruce Robbins’ “‘Common Sense Has Moved On’: Report from MLA Debate on Israel”

David Palumbo-Liu’s “Modern Language Association Prepared to Talk Seriously About Palestine”

Finally, in the midst of all this, Ariel “the butcher” Sharon died. But instead of publishing an article from an Indian point of view, once again The Hindu resorted to a Zionist writer, Ethan Bronner, from the news wire. Many people have torn this and other whitewashed obituaries to shreds already, but today The Hindu also published a terrific, contextually rich piece by Vijay Prashad that highlights the damaging work that Sharon did, along with the BJP, to erode a history of solidarity between Palestinians and Indians:

In 2003, Sharon became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit India. He had been invited by the BJP-led government to cement the newfound ties between India and Israel. At that time, The Hindu wrote, “New Delhi has sent out wrong signals by playing host to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at this particular juncture… Even if it was possible to set aside [Sharon’s] appalling personal history, his apparent distaste for a just and permanent settlement with the Palestinians cannot be ignored. Even moderate constituencies in Arab countries are convinced that Mr. Sharon was largely responsible for scuttling the Oslo process. The policies Israel has implemented under his stewardship have aggravated the violent confrontation with the Palestinians.” Nonetheless, the Bharatiya Janata Party and later the Congress endorsed Israeli policy by its new attachment to Tel Aviv. India quickly became the largest importer of Israeli arms, unwittingly helping the Israeli economy in its principal task — to pursue the occupation of the Palestinians.

Not all of India embraced its leaders’ camaraderie with Sharon. “Katil Sharon se yaari, sharam karo Atal Bihari [shame on you, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for befriending the murderous Sharon],” and similar slogans echoed across the country at Sharon’s death, despite the warm condolence message crafted by the Prime Minister’s Office. India’s government, which once led the Non-Aligned world to defend the rights of the Palestinians, is now reticent to be critical of Israel and allows itself to celebrate the life of a man whose day in court was postponed because of his Western allies.

For other excellent coverage, which doesn’t include much of Al Jazeera’s shameful, borderline hagiographic tributes, see these pieces:

Democracy Now!’s interviews with Rashid Khalidi, Noam Chomsky, and Avi Shlaim

As’ad AbuKhalil’s “Ariel Sharon: International War Criminal Remembered”

Jonathan Cook’s “The Legacy of Ariel ‘the bulldozer’ Sharon”

Max Blumenthal’s “How Ariel Sharon Shaped Israel’s Destiny”

Ahmed Moor’s “Ariel Sharon: The Architect of Terror”

David Samel’s “Bronner Whitewashes Sharon’s Atrocities”

Peter Hart’s “How the Big Papers Remember Ariel Sharon”

on the 575-page report proving the zionist entity’s war crimes

the headline on the united nations website reads: “un mission finds evidence of war crimes by both sides in gaza conflict.” here is the news brief in full and if you want to read the full 575-page report download this pdf file:

The United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict at the start of this year has found evidence that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants committed serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law, which may amount to crimes against humanity.

“We came to the conclusion, on the basis of the facts we found, that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law, both humanitarian law and human rights law, were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza,” the head of the mission, Justice Richard Goldstone, told a press briefing today.

“The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force (IDF).”

“There’s no question that the firing of rockets and mortars [by armed groups from Gaza] was deliberate and calculated to cause loss of life and injury to civilians and damage to civilian structures. The mission found that these actions also amount to serious war crimes and also possibly crimes against humanity,” he said.

The 575-page report by the four-person mission was released today, ahead of its presentation to the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva on 29 September.

“The mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility,” the report’s executive summary said. “It also finds that the direct targeting and arbitrary killing of Palestinian civilians is a violation of the right to life.”

It went on to criticize the “deliberate and systematic policy on the part of the Israeli armed forces to target industrial sites and water installations,” and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields.

On the objectives and strategy of Israel’s military operation, the mission concluded that military planners deliberately followed a doctrine which involved “the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations.”

On the firing of mortars from Gaza, the mission concluded that they were indiscriminate and deliberate attacks against a civilian population and “would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity.” It added that their apparent intention of spreading terror among the Israeli civilian population was a violation of international law.

The report recommended that the Security Council should require Israel to take steps to launch appropriate independent investigations into the alleged crimes committed, in conformity with international standards, and report back on these investigations within six months.

It further called on the Security Council to appoint a committee of experts to monitor the proceedings taken by the Israeli Government. If these did not take place, or were not independent and in conformity with international standards, the report called for the Security Council to refer the situation in Gaza to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It also called on the Security Council to require the committee of experts to perform a similar role with regard to the relevant Palestinian authorities.

At today’s briefing, Justice Goldstone said the mission had investigated 36 incidents that took place during the Israeli operation in Gaza, which he said did not relate to decisions taken in the heat of battle, but to deliberate policies that were adopted and decisions that were taken.

As an example, he described one such incident: a mortar attack on a mosque in Gaza during a religious service, which killed 15 members of the congregation and injured many others. Justice Goldstone said that even if allegations that the mosque was used as sanctuary by military groups and that weapons were stored there were true, there was still “no justification under international humanitarian law to mortar the mosque during a service,” because it could have been attacked during the night, when it was not being used by civilians.

Justice Goldstone added that the report reflected the unanimous view of the mission’s four members.

The other members of the team are Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science at the University of London; Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders; and retired Colonel Desmond Travers, member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI).

of course, i have a huge problem with the notion that there are two sides as reported in this document. you have the fourth most powerful military in the world against an inadequately armed palestinian resistance–the disparity with respect to casualties in the savaging of gaza tells that story quite well. angry arab offered an important observation on this report in response to an article in the economist this week:

I was rather most disappointed with this article about Judge Goldstone’s report on Israeli war crimes. It was not typical of the Economist’s coverage of the Middle East. As if the reporter was pained by the findings. Look at this sentence: “Unlike Syria, say, Israel is a democracy that claims to live by the rule of law. It needs to make its case by moral force as well as by force of arms.” Clear propaganda. But I like how Goldstone’s daughter defended her father: “Mr Goldstone’s daughter, Nicole, who lived in Israel for many years but now lives in Canada, vigorously defended her father’s report in an interview on the army radio. “If it hadn’t been for him, the report would have been even harsher,” she said, speaking in Hebrew.”

richard falk offers his analysis of the report as well as the zionist entity’s response to it thus far:

Richard Goldstone, former judge of South Aftica’s Constitutional Court, the first prosecutor at The Hague on behalf of the International Criminal Court for Former Yugolavia, and anti-apartheid campaigner reports that he was most reluctant to take on the job of chairing the UN fact-finding mission charged with investigating allegations of war crimes committed by Israel and Hamas during the three week Gaza War of last winter.

Goldstone explains that his reluctance was due to the issue being “deeply charged and politically loaded,” and was overcome because he and his fellow commissioners were “professionals committed to an objective, fact-based investigation,” adding that “above all, I accepted because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the laws of war,” as well as the duty to protect civilians to the extent possible in combat zones. The four-person fact-finding mission was composed of widely respected and highly qualified individuals, including the distinguished international law scholar, Christine Chinkin, a professor at the London School of Economics. Undoubtedly adding complexity to Goldstone’s decision is the fact that he is Jewish, with deep emotional and family ties to Israel and Zionism, bonds solidified by his long association with several organizations active in Israel.

Despite the impeccable credentials of the commission members, and the worldwide reputation of Richard Goldstone as a person of integrity and political balance, Israel refused cooperation from the outset. It did not even allow the UN undertaking to enter Israel or the Palestinian Territories, forcing reliance on the Egyptian government to facilitate entry at Rafah to Gaza. As Uri Avnery observes, however much Israel may attack the commission report as one-sided and unfair, the only plausible explanation of its refusal to cooperate with fact-finding and taking the opportunity to tell its side of the story was that it had nothing to tell that could hope to overcome the overwhelming evidence of the Israeli failure to carry out its attacks on Gaza last winter in accordance with the international law of war. No credible international commission could reach any set of conclusions other than those reached by the Goldstone Report on the central allegations.

In substantive respects the Goldstone Report adds nothing new. Its main contribution is to confirm widely reported and analyzed Israeli military practices during the Gaza War. There had been several reliable reports already issued, condemning Israel’s tactics as violations of the laws of war and international humanitarian law, including by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a variety of respected Israeli human rights groups. Journalists and senior United Nations civil servants had reached similar conclusions.

Perhaps, most damning of all the material available before the Goldstone Report was the publication of a document entitled “Breaking the Silence,” containing commentaries by thirty members of the Israel Defense Forces who had taken part in Operation Cast Lead (the Israeli official name for the Gaza War). These soldiers spoke movingly about the loose rules of engagement issued by their commanders that explains why so little care was taken to avoid civilian casualties. The sense emerges from what these IDF soldiers who were in no sense critical of Israel or even of the Gaza War as such, that Israeli policy emerged out of a combination of efforts ‘to teach the people of Gaza a lesson for their support of Hamas’ and to keep IDF casualties as close to zero as possible even if meant massive death and destruction for innocent Palestinians.

Given this background of a prior international consensus on the unlawfulness of Operation Cast Lead, we must first wonder why this massive report of 575 pages has been greeted with such alarm by Israel and given so much attention in the world media. It added little to what was previously known. Arguably, it was more sensitive to Israel’s contentions that Hamas was guilty of war crimes by firing rockets into its territory than earlier reports had been. And in many ways the Goldstone Report endorses the misleading main line of the Israeli narrative by assuming that Israel was acting in self-defense against a terrorist adversary. The report focuses its criticism on Israel’s excessive and indiscriminate uses of force. It does this by examining the evidence surrounding a series of incidents involving attacks on civilians and non-military targets. The report also does draw attention to the unlawful blockade that has restricted the flow of food, fuel, and medical supplies to subsistence levels in Gaza before, during, and since Operation Cast Lead. Such a blockade is a flagrant instance of collective punishment, explicitly prohibited by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention setting forth the legal duties of an occupying power.

All along Israel had rejected international criticism of its conduct of military operations in the Gaza War, claiming that the IDF was the most moral fighting force on the face of the earth. The IDF conducted some nominal investigations of alleged unlawful behavior that consistently vindicated the military tactics relied upon and steadfastly promised to protect any Israeli military officer or political leader internationally accused of war crimes. In view of this extensive background of confirmed allegation and angry Israeli rejection, why has the Goldstone Report been treated in Tel Aviv as a bombshell that is deeply threatening to Israel’s stature as a sovereign state?

Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, calling the report “a mockery of history” that “fails to distinguish the aggressor and a state exercising the right of self-defense,” insisting that it “legitimizes terrorist activity, the pursuit of murder and death.” More commonly Israel’s zealous defenders condemned the report as one-sided, biased, reaching foregone conclusions, and emanating from the supposedly bastion of anti-Israeli attitudes at the UN’s Human Rights Council. This line of response to any criticism of Israel’s behavior in occupied Palestine, especially if it comes from the UN or human rights NGOs is to cry “foul play!” and avoid any real look at the substance of the charges. It is an example of what I call ‘the politics of deflection,’ attempting to shift the attention of an audience away from the message to the messenger. The more damning the criticism, the more ferocious the response. From this perspective, the Goldstone Report obviously hit the bullseye!

Considered more carefully, there are some good reasons for Israel’s panicked reaction to this damning report. First, it does come with the backing of an eminent international personality who cannot credibly be accused of anti-Israel bias, making it harder to deflect attention from the findings no matter how loud the screaming of ‘foul play.’ Any fair reading of the report would show that it was balanced, was eminently mindful of Israel’s arguments relating to security, and indeed gave Israel the benefit of the doubt on some key issues.

Secondly, the unsurprising findings are coupled with strong recommendations that do go well beyond previous reports. Two are likely causing the Israeli leadership great worry: the report recommends strongly that if Israel and Hamas do not themselves within six months engage in an investigation and followup action meeting international standards of objectivity with respect to these violations of the law of war, then the Security Council should be brought into the picture, being encouraged to consider referring the whole issue of Israeli and Hamas accountability to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Even if Israel is spared this indignity by the diplomatic muscle of the United States, and possibly some European governments, the negative public relations implications of a failure to abide by this report could be severe.

Thirdly, whatever happens in the UN System, and at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the weight of the report will be felt by world public opinion. Ever since the Gaza War the solidity of Jewish support for Israel has been fraying at the edges, and this will likely now fray much further. More globally, a very robust boycott and divestment movement was gaining momentum ever since the Gaza War, and the Goldstone Report can only lend added support to such initiatives. There is a growing sense around the world that the only chance for the Palestinians to achieve some kind of just peace depends on the outcome over the symbols of legitimacy, what I have called the Legitimacy War. Increasingly, the Palestinians have been winning this second non-military war. Such a war fought on a global political battlefield is what eventually and unexpectedly undermined the apartheid regime in South Africa, and has become much more threatening to the Israeli sense of security than has armed Palestinian resistance.

A fourth reason for Israeli worry stemming from the report, is the green light given to national courts throughout the world to enforce international criminal law against Israelis suspects should they travel abroad and be detained for prosecution or extradition in some third country. Such individuals could be charged with war crimes arising from their involvement in the Gaza War. The report in this way encourages somewhat controversial reliance on what is known among lawyers as ‘universal jurisdiction,’ that is, the authority of courts in any country to detain for extradition or to prosecute individuals for violations of international criminal law regardless of where the alleged offenses took place.

Reaction in the Israeli media reveals that Israeli citizens are already anxious about being apprehended during foreign travel. As one law commentator put it in the Israeli press, “From now on, not only soldiers should be careful when they travel abroad, but also ministers and legal advisers.” It is well to recall that Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions calls on states throughout the world “to respect and ensure respect” for international humanitarian law “in all circumstances.” Remembering the efforts in 1998 of several European courts to prosecute Augusto Pinochet for crimes committed while he was head of state in Chile, is a reminder that national courts can be used to prosecute political and military leaders for crimes committed elsewhere than in the territory of the prosecuting state.

Of course, Israel will fight back. It has already launched a media and diplomatic blitz designed to portray the report as so one-sided as to be unworthy of serious attention. The United States Government has already disappointingly appeared to endorse this view, and repudiate the central recommendation in the Goldstone Report that the Security Council be assigned the task of implementing its findings. The American Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, evidently told a closed session of the Security Council on September 16, just a day after the report was issued, that “[w]e have serious concerns about many recommendations in the report.” Elaborating on this, Ambassador Rice indicated that the UN Human Rights Council, which has no implementing authority, is the only proper venue for any action to be taken on the basis of the report. The initial struggle will likely be whether to follow the recommendation of the report to have the Security Council refer the issues of accountability to the International Criminal Court, which could be blocked by a veto from the United States or other permanent members.

There are reasons to applaud the forthrightness and comprehensiveness of the report, its care, and scrupulous willingness to conclude that both Israel and Hamas seem responsible for behavior that appears to constitute war crimes, if not crimes against humanity. Although Israel has succeeded in having the issue of one-sidedness focus on fairness to Israel, there are also some reasons to insist that the report falls short of Palestinian hopes.

For one thing, the report takes for granted, the dubious proposition that Israel was entitled to act against Gaza in self-defense, thereby excluding inquiry into whether crimes against the peace in the form of aggression had taken place by the launching of the attack. In this respect, the report takes no notice of the temporary ceasefire that had cut the rocket fire directed at Israel practically to zero in the months preceding the attacks, nor of Hamas’ repeated efforts to extend the ceasefire indefinitely provided Israel lifted its unlawful blockade of Gaza.

Further it was Israel that had seemed to provoke the breakdown of the ceasefire when it launched a lethal attack on Hamas militants in Gaza on November 4, 2008. Israel disregarded this seemingly available diplomatic alternative to war to achieve security on its borders. Recourse to war, even if the facts justify self-defense, is according to international law, a last resort. By ignoring Israel’s initiation of a one-sided war the Goldstone Report accepts the dubious central premise of Operation Cast Lead, and avoids making a finding of aggression.

and here is sherine tadros’ al jazeera report from gaza about the findings in which she asks the most important question of all: what happens next?:

indeed what to do next? well it is quite the no brainer that the war criminals responsible for this latest savagery from the zionist entity should be tried for war crimes. in an article in ha’aretz the context of goldstone’s report–and his own frame of reference in relation to his judicial philosophy comes from war crimes tribunals from world war ii:

Judge Richard Goldstone, the head of a United Nations commission that this week charged Israel with committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip during its offensive there last winter, believes bringing war criminals to justice stems from the lessons of the Holocaust, according to a lecture he delivered in Israel in 2000.

Goldstone spoke about the subject at Jerusalem’s Yakar: Center for Tradition and Creativity, at a lecture attended by former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak. The Israeli jurist introduced Goldstone as “a dear friend” with “very deep ties to Israel.” Goldstone, in turn, said Barak was his hero and inspiration.

In the lecture, concerning international efforts to bring war criminals to justice, Goldstone said the Holocaust has shaped legal protocol on war, adding that it was “the worst war crime in the world.”

He also said the perception of war crimes against humanity should resonate differently to Jewish ears, in light of how the Holocaust shaped conventions relevant to the subject.

Goldstone added that as a jurist, he viewed the Holocaust as a unique occurrence because of how it affected judicial protocol on war, as well as international and humanitarian judicial approaches.

The laws that had been in place before the Holocaust were not equipped to deal with crimes of the Holocaust’s scale and therefore sought to define a new crime, which they labeled a crime against humanity, he said.

These crimes were so great, he explained, they went beyond their direct victims or the countries in which they were perpetrated, to harm humanity as a whole. This definition, he said, meant that perpetrators were to be prosecuted anywhere, by any country.

This rational, he went on to say, constituted the basis for the concept of universal jurisdiction, which is being applied by some countries where Israel Defense Forces officers are charged for alleged violations during their command in the West Bank and Gaza.

The formative event of the universal jurisdiction concept, Goldstone told listeners, was the trial that Israel gave the high-ranking Nazi officer Adolf Eichman in 1961.

The international tribunals that judged Serbian war criminals for their actions in Bosnia, and the establishment of tribunals to review the actions of perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide – in which South Africa-born Goldstone served as chief prosecutor – also relied on lessons drawn from the Holocaust, he said at the lecture.

He noted that no similar courts were set up to look into the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia in the ’70s or Saddam Hussein’s acts against Iraqi Kurds.

The first time such tribunals were set up were for Bosnia, Goldtone said, because this was the first time after the Holocaust that such occurrences happened in “Europe’s backyard.” The war in Bosnia led to the formation of tribunals on crimes against humanity, he said, because European men with “blue eyes and light skin” again carried out actions similar to those observed in the Holocaust.

Israel, he added, was one of the first countries to support the formation of permanent court of law for crimes against humanity – a proposal that came up following the successful performance of the special tribunals on Bosnia.

However, that changed, he said, after Egypt insisted at the Rome conference that the mandate of this permanent court include occupied territories. This prompted Israel to join the six other countries that voted against the formation of the International Court of Justice, including the United States, China and Libya.

of course the united states’ response was typical in spite of all that is said about goldstone and his allegiances to the zionist entity and the lessons of the nazi holocaust listed above:

After several days of reticence, the Obama administration said Friday that a United Nations report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza was unfair to Israel and did not take adequate account of “deplorable” actions by the militant group Hamas in the conflict last winter.

The report, issued by a commission led by a South African judge, Richard Goldstone, said Israel had used disproportionate force in Gaza, resulting in the death of about 1,400 civilians.

It also described the firing of rockets by Hamas at Israeli towns and villages as a war crime.

The Israeli government quickly rejected the findings of the report. But the United States waited several days before speaking out.

“Although the report addresses all sides of the conflict, its overwhelming focus is on the actions of Israel,” a State Department spokesman, Ian C. Kelly, said.

could this be because zionist thomas friedman now has obama’s ear? regardless, the reaction to this report should not only be war crimes tribunals, but also sanctions. if only there would be a credible leader in power somewhere on this planet to lead the way on this…

against anniversaries

mother-palestine-ror

i’ve been reading various articles and blog posts about the anniversary of the massacre of the palestinian refugee camp shatila and the surrounding neighborhood of sabra (no, sabra is not a refugee camp, but many palestinians live there). pulse media and falasteenyia both had nice posts on the subject. ma’an news posted a reflective piece on the zionist-kata’eb massacre of palestinians in 1982:

“That is the old Israeli watchtower and entrance to Sabra,” a man on the street pointed, standing in front of the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camps. Below the tower, quarantined like a civil war time capsule, were the camps left to fend for themselves on the outskirts of Beirut.

No more than 20 meters past the former Israeli watchtower, in an empty lot, is the memorial for the victims of the 1982 Lebanon Civil War massacre. Camp residents say the site was once a mass grave for the slain. The memorial was a single-track dirt path linking a series of billboards with images of the dead.

The massacre’s perpetrators were of the predominantly Christian Phalange party: supplied, supported and supervised by onlooking Israeli soldiers.

The Phalangist pogrom was clear. What was not, however, was the extent of the crime. At the time of the massacre, the Director of Israeli Military Intelligence said that between the days of September 16 and 18, 1982, a minimum of 700 “terrorists” had been killed. Yet, reporter for the Independent Robert Fisk wrote in his book, Pity the Nation, “Phalangist officers I knew in east Beirut told me that at least 2,000 ‘terrorists’ — women as well as men — had been killed in Chatila.” The real number, according to Fisk, is thought to be higher.

Leaving the mass grave memorial and moving into the open-air market of the Sabra camp, a bullet-ridden wall stands separating a camp dump from its market. In all likelihood the half-block dumping ground was once on the fringes of the camp, but not anymore. The camp had no urban planner, so it grew until the market fully encircled the awful collection of stench, sewage and a sore reminder that nobody really intended to be living in the Sabra camp some sixty years after the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus of 1948.

At the far end of the bullet-chafed wall stood a child of about ten years, a refugee. With little hesitation he immersed himself into the filthy heap, heaving his woven sack of valued rubbish over the rotting mounds. For all the archetypes of the poverty-ridden Palestinian refugee that exists in a foreigner’s consciousness, this is surely it. There was to be no school for this boy. No passport, no rights and no state.

Beyond the heap hung layers of political propaganda posters: A keffiyehed militant with the bold letters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine plastered next to a green-tinted portrait of Hamas’ founder Sheik Yassin with the party logo “Martyrs of Freedom & Victory;” a weathered PLO poster of Arafat; even one of a masked fighter on a tank, clutching a Kalashnikov with the brand of Islamic Jihad. And the posters were not just of Palestinian parties, but of the Lebanese Amal and Hezbollah as well. As a nearby shopkeeper who sold Hezbollah DVD’s put it, “The camp is mixed now… mixed with Palestinians and [Lebanese] Shias… United by resistance…”

Despite appearances, however, inside the Lebanese Army’s encirclement of the camp a surprisingly calm business-as-usual air prevailed. The streets weren’t crowded, but populated. The buyers, the sellers, and of course the children, were everywhere, looking to relieve the gnawing boredom of a lifetime’s confinement to the camp. “We are not allowed to leave [the camps],” one of the sellers said, “No papers.”

United resistance aside, the camp was in shambles. Everything the Lebanese government might do in Sabra and Shatila—urban planning, paving streets, coordinating an electrical grid, sewage—was left to the Palestinian residents. At the beginning, however, the camp played host to the bigwigs of the Palestinian leadership in the Palestine Liberation Organization, who organized camp life and connected the residents to the Palestinian struggle.

The powerful PLO, back in 1982, provided the motive of the massacre’s perpetrators, the Christian Phalange militia, who sought to take revenge against PLO leaders—which had in fact already fled Lebanon—for the alleged assassination of the Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel. But the only people who remained in the camps that summer of 1982 were unarmed Palestinians.

What happened at Sabra and Shatila is still considered the bloodiest single event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is also among the most egregious and underreported aspects of the Palestinian calamity to date.

On the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres, 16 September, the issue of the refugees and the right of return reaches again for the surface of Palestinian politics. With the newly-charged peace process being pushed by the United States, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s recently released strategy to establish Palestinian state in two years, the issue of returnees has been subsumed by talk of settlements in the West Bank.

American efforts, and Fayyad’s plan focus more on securing infrastructure and borders than focusing on the estimated 500,000 refugees without rights in Lebanon, or the hundreds of thousands of others in Jordan, Syria, Iraq and in the Gulf.

Palestinians in the camps have a precarious relationship with the current peace initiatives, particularly the older generation who still recall the villages they fled in 1948 and 1967.

“Sure I would support Obama’s plan,” an old man reflects on the US President’s push for a two-state solution. “But what kind of solution is it? I have nothing in this West Bank… it would make me a foreigner in my own land… I would only go back to my village. And I don’t even know what is there now.”

He picks up an old hatchet from his coffee table and continues, “They [the Zionists] chased us and hit us on the head with these. I left my small village near Acre [Akko] because of it.”

ah yes the selling out of the palestinian refugees like those in shatila who everyone loves to remember on occasions such as this one, but who never fight for their rights (read: fayyed among others). but a different piece in ma’an news was a bit more interesting–about george mitchell’s visit to lebanon which coincided with the anniversary of the massacre:

Palestinian refugees were the top of US Special Envoy George Mitchell’s list during a 20 minute sit down with Lebanon’s President Michel Suliman Wednesday, the day marking the 27th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

Michell told Suleiman that Lebanon, whose Phalangist faction 27-years earlier entered two Palestinian refugee camps and slaughtered thousands of civilians with Israeli support, would not bear the brunt of the refugee issue.

“US efforts toward peace would not come at the expense of Lebanon,” a statement from Suleiman’s office said following the meeting. Mitchell made no comment.

The two discussed the latest developments in Mitchell’s pursuit to halt Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and, according to the Lebanese press, stressed “continuous US support and aid to Lebanon on all levels and in all areas.”

Suleiman reportedly told Mitchell that all Lebanese factions refused the option of naturalizing Palestinian refugees “on the basis of the constitution.” He also stressed his desire that Israel retreat from its occupation of Lebanese lands.

what i find especially disturbing about all of this is how everyone remembers the anniversary of the sabra and shatila massacre but no one seems to remember the destruction of nahr el bared refugee camp. it is rather convenient that mitchell and his lebanese cohorts discussed palestinian refugees, but of course did not reveal any tangible information about their right of return. for palestinian from nahr el bared this right of return is now two-fold: first to their camp and then to palestine. if only that first step could be eliminated and they could return home immediately.

this is why i am feeling like i am against anniversaries. anniversaries, ideally, should be a time when you reflect upon the person/people/event. it should make you act in a way that honors that memory. the only real way to honor the memory of the massacre in 1982 or the destruction of nahr el bared in 2007 is to fight for the right of return for palestinian refugees. but no one is talking about that. nor are they talking about reconstructing narh el bared. except a few people. my friend matthew cassel attended the protest in trablus the other day and took this photography among others:

image by matthew cassel
image by matthew cassel

my dear friend rania never forgets and she linked to an article in al akhbar today on the subject:

بين الحفاظ على الآثار في الجزء القديم من مخيم نهر البارد وطمرها، تُعلّق حياة 35 ألف لاجئ فلسطيني كانوا يظنّون في فترة سابقة، قبل الحرب تحديداً، أنّها حياة مستمرّة.. على بؤسها. ربما، يجدر بهؤلاء المتروكين لحالهم الانتظار بعد، ريثما يتخذ مجلس شورى الدولة قراره النهائي المستند إلى مطالعات الدولة اللبنانية والتيار الوطني الحر ووزارة المال المكلفة بتمويل تكاليف طمر الآثار

راجانا حمية

كان من المفترض أن يُقفل مجلس شورى الدولة، اليوم، أبوابه أمام المطالعات القانونية المتعلقة بالطعن بقرار إيقاف طمر الآثار في البارد القديم. فقد أجّل محامي النائب ميشال عون، وليد داغر، تقديم مطالعة يحدد فيها صفة النائب عون كمستدعٍ إلى الاثنين المقبل. ويعود سبب التأجيل إلى رغبته في ضم رد التيار على مطالعتين تقدمت بهما وزارة المال في 18 آب الماضي والدولة اللبنانية في 21 منه، وتبلّغ بهما داغر في العاشر من الجاري.

وحسب المحامي داغر، تطالب هاتان المطالعتان مجلس شورى الدولة بالرجوع عن قرار إيقاف الطمر، استناداً إلى «المعطيات التي تفيد بأن طمر الآثار تم وفقاً للمعايير الدولية». وأكثر من ذلك، تستند الوزارتان في مطالعتيهما إلى «اعتبار صفة عون ومصلحته لا تتطابقان مع شروط المادة 77 من نظام مجلس الشورى». وهي المادة التي تنص على أنه «يفترض لوقف تنفيذ القرار المطعون فيه أن تكون المراجعة مرتكزة على أسباب جدية ومهمة وأن يكون الضرر المتذرَّع به ضرراً بليغاً».

طعن داغر بالمطالعتين، سلفاً، حتى قبل التقديم إلى مجلس الشورى، لأنه «لو لم يكن لعون صفة مباشرة لما كان مجلس شورى الدولة قد أوقف قرار الحكومة، كما إن الضرر لحق به كمواطن ذلك أن الآثار ليست ملكاً عاماً، بل هي ملك إنساني». لا يكتفي داغر بهذه الحجة، بل يستند إلى الاجتهاد القانوني الصادر عام 2000، والذي «لا يشترط لتوفر المصلحة أن يكون المدعي صاحب حق مباشر».

من تظاهرات طرابلس، الناس باتت لا تصدق موضوع الآثار (عبد الكافي الصمد)من تظاهرات طرابلس، الناس باتت لا تصدق موضوع الآثار (عبد الكافي الصمد)إذاً، من المفترض أن يتقدم داغر صباح الاثنين المقبل بمطالعتين: أولى تتعلق بتحديد صفة عون كمستدعٍ، والتي حددها داغر بصفة مواطن، وثانية يرد بها قانونياً على مطالعتي المال والدولة. بعد ذلك كله، يقوم مجلس الشورى بمطابقة الصفة والمصلحة قبل إصدار القرار المتوقع في 13 تشرين الأول المقبل.. و«ربما قبل هذا التاريخ، إذا لم تتطابق الصفة والمصلحة مع شروط المادة 77، بحيث يصار إلى إبطال القرار فوراً»، حسبما يرجّح رئيس مجلس الشورى القاضي شكري صادر.

لكن، إذا فاز عون بصفته والمصلحة، ينتقل أعضاء مجلس الشورى إلى «الأساس»، الذي يتعلق بدراسة مطالعتي عون المتضمنة مبررات الحفاظ على آثار البارد، والحكومة اللبنانية التي تشرح فيها موجبات الإعمار. ويحصر رئيس لجنة الحوار اللبناني الفلسطيني خليل مكاوي هذه الموجبات بثلاثة «تعهّد الدولة بإعادة المخيم كما كان والتزامات الحكومة تجاه المجتمع الدولي والدول المانحة، إضافة إلى الحفاظ على الأمن القومي».

إما استكمال طمر الآثار بحسب المعايير الدولية وإما إيقاف الإعمار «واستملاك الأراضي

إذاً، يتعلق مصير المخيم القديم بالمطالعتين المذكورتين، فإما استكمال طمر الآثار بحسب المعايير الدولية، كما يرجح مكاوي، وإما إيقاف الإعمار «واستملاك الأراضي القائم عليها المخيم الجديد وبعض ما حواليه»، كما جاء في بيان لجنة الدراسات في التيار الوطني الحر الأسبوع الماضي. غير أن ما تعوّل عليه لجنة الدراسات يواجه بعض الرفض من جهتين: الأولى فلسطينية، إذ يخاف هؤلاء من ضياع حقوقهم، وخصوصاً أن غالبية البيوت مسجّلة باسمهم، وأن ببعض تحايل (قبل صدور قانون التملك اللبناني عام 2001)، والثانية غالبية الأقطاب السياسية التي ترى في استملاك أراضٍ جديدة بداية مشروع التوطين.

ما بين المطالعتين، يضيع سكان المخيم القديم. يتساءل هؤلاء عن سبب إثارة هذه القضية الآن بالذات، تزامناً مع بدء إعادة الإعمار. يخاف الأهالي من أن تتكرر تجربة المخيمات المسحولة هنا في البارد. خوفهم هذا يدفعهم إلى «الهلوسة» في بعض الأحيان، إذ يذهب البعض إلى القول إنه «لا وجود للآثار بدليل أن الأعمدة هي قنوات صرف صحي مركبينا جدودنا اعتبروها رومانية، وبعض الفخارات من إيام أبوي». يستند الرجل في تكهناته إلى أن الحفر التي قام بها المهندسون من مديرية الآثار لم تتعدّ الثمانين سنتمتراً، «فكيف ستكون المدينة على هذا العمق؟».

يستغرب آخرون، ومنهم لطفي محمد الحاج، عضو الهيئة الأهلية لإعادة إعمار البارد، سبب التفات الدولة اللبنانية إلى هذه الآثارات رغم أنها هي التي أتت باللاجئين إلى تلة البارد رغم معرفتها بوجود الآثارات منذ العشرينيات من القرن الماضي. ويستغرب الحاج أيضاً سبب الاهتمام «الذي لا مثيل له»، على الرغم من «أن الآثار المحيطة بنا مهملة»، ويعطي مثالاً على قوله: «مثلاً، قلعة حكمون على جنب المخيم عاملينا مزرعة بقر وتلة عرقة وغيرها». لا يحتاج الرجل إلى أكثر من رؤية منزله مجدداً، ويطالب مجلس الشورى بالعودة عن قرار الإيقاف، مبرراً مطالبته بالقول: «احنا هون مش سوليدير، هون ناس ساكنة ما عادت تحمل تهجير». أكثر من ذلك، يضيف أبو خالد فريجي، أحد سكان القديم: «إحنا رمينا البارود لنساعد الجيش، اليوم ما عدنا قادرين ما نحمل البارودة».

مقابل هذه التعليقات للأهالي، يضع بعض الأطراف القضية في خانة التجاذبات السياسية. هذا ما يقوله المسؤول عن ملف إعادة إعمار البارد مروان عبد العال. ولئن كان لا حول ولا قوة من إدخال الفلسطيني بهذا التجاذب، يسأل عبد العال: «لماذا لم تُرسل فرق للتنقيب عن الآثار منذ تسعين عاماً؟ وليش الرسائل ما بتوصل إلا من صندوق بريدنا؟».

البراكسات التي يعيش فيها السكانالبراكسات التي يعيش فيها السكانيؤمن عبد العال بقداسة الآثار. وهي، من وجهة نظره تضاهي قداسة هوية الفلسطيني. لكن، السؤال الكبير الذي لا بد منه هنا هو «أنه إحنا مش آثار؟ ما بنمثل خصوصية؟ مش ولاد نكبة عمرها 61 عاماً وإلنا هويتنا كما الآثار؟ أكثر من ذلك، يسأل عضو الجبهة الشعبية في البارد سمير اللوباني: «ما هو الثمن السياسي الذي يجب أن يدفعه الفلسطيني من أجل إعادة البارد؟

لكن، كل هذا لن يأتي بنتيجة. فالنتيجة الوحيدة في مجلس شورى الدولة، وبانتظار صدور القرار، يعمل الفلسطينيون على رفع سقف الاحتجاجات الجماهيرية، وخصوصاً أنه لا يحق لهم مثل «أهل الفقيد» تقديم مطالعة قانونية، كونهم جهة غير معترف بها في القانون اللبناني. يضاف إلى ذلك أن الأونروا أيضاً لا تستطيع تقديم مطالعة قانونية لمجلس شورى الدولة، لذلك تعمل على إعداد مطالعة تشرح فيها موجبات الإعمار للحكومة اللبنانية فقط.

بالعودة إلى سير عملية الإعمار في البارد، كانت شركة «الجهاد» المتعهدة من قبل الأونروا قد طمرت في الرزمة الأولى حيث وجدت الآثار موقعين من أصل 5 مواقع قبل أن تثار القضية. وتلفت الناطقة الرسمية باسم الأونروا هدى الترك إلى «أننا انتهينا من تنظيف 95% من الركام، باستثناء جزء من الرزمة 2 وآخر من الرزمة 4». وأكدت أن الأونروا لا يمكنها الإعمار إلا بالتسلسل، أي من الرزمة 1، «والعملية متوقفة الآن بانتظار قرار مجلس شورى الدولة».

there is also a new article about the situation in nahr el bared in as-safir newspaper:

جهاد بزي
يستطيع المخيم أن يكون من شقين،
أو أن نبحث عن قطعة أرض بديلة للمخيم..
لكن لا نستطيع أن نجد ارتوزيا في مكان آخر.
الجنرال ميشال عون
(17 حزيران 2009)

في مخيم نهر البارد مدينتان.

المدينة الأولى بقايا أثرية اكتشفت تحت أنقاض المخيم القديم الذي سُحق بالكامل. هذه البقايا اسمها أرتوزيا. يستميت العونيون في الدفاع عنها، وقد رفعوا طعناً إلى مجلس الشورى جمّد إثره طمر آثار المدينة المكتشفة، ريثما يتخذ قراره. ولجنة الدراسات العونية لا تنفك تصدر بيانات بلغة أكاديمية رصينة تعلّل فيها أسباب دفاعها عن المدينة وتدفع عن نفسها تهمة العنصرية وتشدد على أنها ضد التوطين.

المدينة الثانية هي مدينة «البركسات». هي النقيض التام لكل الآثارات على وجه الأرض. هي صناديق «عصرية» من حديد وبلاستيك وإسفنج، وغيرها من المواد المثيرة لغثيان عالم الآثار إذا سقط مكبره عليها. وعلى العكس من القلاع والاعمدة والمدرجات الخالدة خلود الآلهة، فإن مدينة البركسات بلا أعمدة ولا فخامة ولا تاريخ، وهندستها رتيبة ومقيتة.

وهي عرضة للتلف أسرع بمليون مرة من مدينة أرتوزيا. عناصر الطبيعة الجميلة، الشمس والمياه والهواء، هي أوبئة دائمة تفتك بالمدينة الهشة المقامة على عجل لإيواء النازحين في بلاد لجوئهم.

هناك فارق أساسي بين المدينتين: البركسات مأهولة. ارتوزيا غير مأهولة. وأن نقول إنها مأهولة، فلأننا قررنا، كلبنانيين، مواجهة الإرهاب بطريقة فريدة من نوعها، هللت لها قوى سياسية شرسة في «حبها» للفلسطينيين، وتغاضت عنها قوى أخرى كانت قد نادت يوماً بأن المخيم خط أحمر. تلك الحرب ستبقى، بأي حال، «إنجازاً ناصعاً» في تاريخنا اللبناني، وإن طُمرت خطاياها بكل ما فيها كرمى لعناوين كبيرة وفارغة.

وأن نقول إن البركسات مأهولة منذ نحو سنتين. أن يضطر لاجئون، قصمنا ظهورهم سياسياً واجتماعياً واقتصادياً، إلى حياة منسية كهذه التي يعيشونها في علب الصفيح المكتظة تتساقط الصراصير من أسقفها الاسفنج المبقورة بسبب الحرارة والمياه، أو تنبت الجرذان من أرضها، أو تصير مستنقعات وحول عند كل مطر. أن يضطر لاجئون سحقنا حيواتهم إلى يوميات طويلة في هذه المجمعات الحديدية الأقرب إلى مجمعات عزل المصابين بأمراض معدية قاتلة. أن تضطر عيون اطفالهم إلى العتمة ليل نهار وانفاسهم إلى الرطوبة وآفاقهم إلى ممرات ضــيقة خانقة. وأن يضطر الفلسطينــي إلى هــذه العقوبة المستمرة عليه لذنب ليس ذنبه، فإنه عــيب هائــل يتدلى من عنق لبنان جرســاً فاضحاً يرن كيفــما هزّ هذا البلد عنقه.

أما أن يقال للفلســطيني إن أرتــوزيا أهم من الأرض التي ولد عليها، وإن علــيه أن يبـحث عن مكان آخر يقيم عليه مخيمه، فهذا يفوق خيال الكوابيس التي يراها.

ثمة افتقاد تام لحس إنساني بسيط: المكان، مهما كان مؤقتاً، له قيمة رمزية ترتبط بقيمة المجتمع الذي يقيم فيه منذ ستين سنة. هم لاجئون لكنهم ليسوا بضاعة يمكن وضعها في أي مكان، بانتظار شحنها إلى فلسطين. المثل قاسٍ، لكنه الاقرب إلى المنطق الذي تتعاطى به الغالبية اللبنانية العظمى مع الشأن الفلسطيني. هناك سخرية مرّة في أن يضطر الواحد إلى الشرح بأن المخيم الفلسطيني ليس نزهة كشفية بين أحراج الصنوبر، تقام وتفك ثم تنتقل إلى مكان جديد. المخيمات الفلسطينية هي مثل مدننا وقرانا وأحيائنا. مثل حي السلم والحمرا والاشرفية والرابية. قد نكرهها وقد نحبها، لكن فيها شكّلنا ذكرياتنا وتفاصيلنا وأحزاننا وافراحنا. وإذا كان الفلسطيني يعيش في مؤقت مفتوح، فهذا لا يعني أن حقائبه موضبة طوال الوقت. هذا لا يعني أنه بلا ذاكرة. من السخرية المرّة تذكير لجنة الدراسات وغيرها، بأن الفلسطينيين مثلنا، نحن اللبنانيين أحفاد الأرتوزيين العظام.

وكما لا يحق لأحد أن ينقّلنا كيفما شاء، لا يحق لنا أن ننقلهم كيفما شئنا. معادلة بسيطة.

ثم..
إذا كانت إعادة الإعمار بهذا الحجم من التعقيد، وإذا كان هناك خلاف حتى على اسم المخيم الجديد من البارد حدا بالجيش اللبناني إلى أن «يأمل» من الإعلام تسميته بالبقعة المحيطة بالمخيم، فأين سيجد الفلسطينيون النازحون مخيماً آخر؟ فلتنكب لجنة الدراسات العونية على درس فكرة الجنرال وجعلها حجر أساس لدراسة متكاملة تلحظ موقع المخيم الجديد على أرض لبنان، ومساحته وكيفية استئجاره أو تملكه للبدء بإعادة الإعمار بسرعة كي ينتقل الفلسطينيون إليه. وربما على اللجنة زيارة البركسات والنزول في غرفها لأيام تستفتي خلالها رأي المنكوبين فرداً فرداً بموقع جديد للمخيم. كما ينبغي عليها لاحقاً أخذ موافقة جيرانهم الجدد من اللبنانيين. هذا جهد يمكن للجنة الدراسات أن تقوم به بالطبع، لما يعرف عنها من عمق وقدرة. غير أن الفلسطينيين ليسوا قضية اللجنة. قضيتها أرتوزيا.

المصائب تأتي دفعة واحدة. نزلت على المخيم فدمرته، ثم صعدت من أسفله، فزادت على معوقات إعماره معوّقاً جديداً. الأولوية الآن هي في طمر مدينة البركسات، وهذه لن تطمر إلا إذا طمرت آثار ارتوزيا، بغض النظر عن أي أهمية لها. من أقل حقوق فلسطينيي مخيم نهر البارد على هذا البلد هو ألا يجعلهم ينتظرون أكثر. بقاء الفلسطينيين على حالهم هناك جريمة بحق الانسانية واللبنانيين، وليس طمر ارتوزيا هو «الجريمة بحق الإنسانية والشعب اللبناني» كما قالت لجنة الدراسات.

أما أرتوزيا العونية فيمكن لها أن تنتظر. يكفيها فخراً أنها أثبتت عمق تجذرها في الأرض اللبنانية وعنادها وتحديها للزمن. هي خالدة وشامخة شموخ الجبال والأرز. ولا شك بأنها ستطلع من بين الركام ثانية، يوم يغادر الفلسطينيون هذه البلاد التي لا تفعل منذ عقود إلا معاقبتهم على وجودهم القسري فيها.

جهاد بزي

of course, it is not surprising that al akhbar and as safir would publish articles on nahr el bared. these are the only two newspapers who have consistently covered the story. that can be counted on. not just because it is an anniversary, but because it matters. but who else will cover the refugees from nahr e bared and their rights? their right of return. and i’m thinking not only of the people i care about from nahr el bared and other camps in lebanon who want to return to their original villages, but also dear friends in falasteen who want to return to their villages. this summer when we did the al awda camp with kids from deheishe refugee camp, two of the kids who i adore returned home and produced a new rap song (here is my post on taking them to beit ‘itab, which i did for a second time after the camp). the song includes hisham’s grandfather at the beginning, talking about their village of beit ‘itab. here is a description of their song and a link to the mp3 file you can listen to:

Badluck Rappers – اغنية جديدة بعنوان ” رحلة لبلادي ” تحكي قصة كل لاجئ فلسطيني

Badluck Rappers – اغنية جديدة بعنوان
تم نشر إغنية مؤخراً من فرقة الـ Badluck Rapperz من قلب مخيم دهيشه , بيت لحم
بعنوان رحلة لبلادي تحكي قصة كل لاجئ فلسطيني عايش داخل و خارج فلسطين ,
وتعودنا نسمع اغاني كثيرة عن اللاجئين من الفرقة لانها من قلب المخيمات , اكبر المخيمات
الفلسطينية للاجئين داخل فلسطين , واكتر اشي بميز الاغنية , بدايتها الجميلة المختارة
الي ببداها لاجئ فلسطيني بحكي قصة قريته الهاجر منها

الكل يسمع الاغنية , يقيمها , ويترك تعليق

Read more: http://www.palrap.net/PalRap/263/Badluck_Rappers_Witn_New_Track_Called_Re7la_La_Blady.html#ixzz0RWCnqv9L

i do not need an anniversary to make me think about the people i love in shatila, nahr el bared or deheishe refugee camps. i do not need an anniversary to make me remember their right of return. i think about it every day and hope that the work and writing i do, in some small way, advances that right. but i’m also thinking about the palestinian refugees who were in iraq and who i tried to help when they were displaced yet again in jordan in al ruweished refugee camp. they have all been resettled in third countries, a fact that does not negate their right of return to palestine. at the time friends i worked with tried to get the u.s. to take them in to no avail. now it seems my home state of california is granting refuge to some palestinians from iraq as patrik jonsson writes in the christian science monitor:

The State Department confirmed today that as many as 1,350 Iraqi Palestinians – once the well-treated guests of Saddam Hussein and now at outs with much of Iraqi society – will be resettled in the US, mostly in southern California, starting this fall.

It will be the largest-ever resettlement of Palestinian refugees into the US – and welcome news to the Palestinians who fled to Iraq after 1948 but who have had a tough time since Mr. Hussein was deposed in 2003. Targeted by Iraqi Shiites, the mostly-Sunni Palestinians have spent recent years in one of the region’s roughest refugee camps, Al Waleed, near Iraq’s border with Syria.

“Really for the first time, the United States is recognizing a Palestinian refugee population that could be admitted to the US as part of a resettlement program,” says Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch in Washington.

Given the US’s past reluctance to resettle Palestinians – it accepted just seven Palestinians in 2007 and nine in 2008 – the effort could ruffle some diplomatic feathers.

For many in the State Department and international community, the resettlement is part of a moral imperative the US has to clean up the refugee crisis created by invading Iraq. The US has already stepped up resettlement of Iraqis, some who have struggled to adjust to life in America.

al awda is asking for people to help with their resettlement:

The US government has approved most of the population of Al-Waleed Palestinian refugee camp for resettlement as refugees in the US in the coming year. For more information see http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0708/p02s04-usgn.html and http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/06/2009618161946158577.html

The first Palestinian family of the year from Al-Waleed will be arriving in San Diego on Wednesday September 16, 2009. This family, as with all the refugees who will be relocated to the US from Al-Waleed, will arrive with essentially nothing. Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is therefore conducting an urgent fund raising campaign to help all the Palestinian refugees arriving in the US soon with their transition to a new life in this country.

BACKGROUND

An estimated 19,000 Palestinians, out of an initial population of 34,000, fled Iraq since the American invasion in 2003. Of these refugees, approximately 2500 have been stranded, under very harsh conditions, some for more than five years, in three camps, Al-Tanaf, Al-Waleed and Al-Hol. These camps are located in the middle of the desert far from any population centers. Al-Tanaf camp is located in no-man’s land on the borders between Iraq and Syria. Al-Waleed is located on the Iraqi side of the border with Syria, and Al-Hol is located in Syria in the Hasaka region. The camp residents had fled largely from Baghdad due to harassment, threats of deportation, abuse by the media, arbitrary detention, torture and murder by organized death squads. They thus became refugees again, originally as a result of the Zionist theft and colonial occupation of Palestine beginning in 1948. Some became refugees also when they were expelled from Kuwait in 1991 by the US-backed Kuwaiti government. Now, after years of waiting, many of the refugees stranded in the camps on the borders of Iraq are being relocated largely to Europe and the US, which continues to occupy Iraq to this day.

The first Palestinian family from Al-Waleed this year will be arriving in San Diego on September 16, 2009, a few days before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with 1350 more Palestinians to follow in the months ahead. According to the Christian Science Monitor most of these will be resettled in Southern California and possibly Pennsylvania and Omaha.

ACTION

Al-Awda is asking all its activists, members and supporters to contribute to help our sisters and brothers in their move to the US.

Please donate today!

Address your tax-deductible donation via check or money order to: Al-Awda, PRRC, PO Box 131352, Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA – Please note on the memo line of the check “Palestinians from Iraq”

Alternatively, please donate online using your credit card. Go to http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the simple instructions. Please indicate that your donation is for “Palestinians from Iraq” with your submission.

Drop off locations

We will also need furniture, cars, computers, tv’s, clothes, toys for the kids etc. The following are the current drop off locations:

General:
8531 Wellsford pl # f, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Te: 562-693-1600 Tel: 323-350-0000

For Clothes:
1773 West Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, CA 92801

For Southern California residents, an emergency meeting is being called for Sunday September 13, 2009 starting at 2 PM at the Al-Awda Center, 2734 Loker Avenue West Suite K, in Carlsbad CA 92010.

Our sisters and brothers need all the help they can get after having suffered from the death squads in Baghdad, and more than five years stranded in the camps. We need our people to feel at home as much as possible. We can not disappoint them.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS SUPPORT

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-918-9441
Fax: 760-918-9442
E-mail: info[at]al-awda.org
WWW: http://al-awda.org

the latest on gaza

a few weeks ago there was a very important post on kabobfest entitled “stop saying free gaza.” it began like this:

Gaza is not a different country than Palestine; its plight is not isolated from that of the West Bank, Palestinian-Israelis, or Palestinian refugees in the Diaspora. So stop changing your banners and placards from “Free Palestine” and “End Apartheid” to “Free Gaza.”

Palestinians and their supporters alike have fallen in a simple trap set in the sideshow of Israel’s Attack on Gaza earlier this year. Israel has consistently tried to separate segments of the Palestinian society and find ways to foster distrust among them.

you should read the whole post, but it ended like this:

So, next time you carry a “Free Gaza” sign, think. Are you taking the side of one of the segments Israel forced? Has the rest of Palestine been freed? How much of the story are new solidarity recruits learning from you pushing this new branding campaign? What are you going to do next time Israel commits a massacre in different city? Are you going to print new placards? What if the city name is hard to pronounce?

Talk about Gaza as only the latest example of Israel’s atrocities, not as if it’s a separate conflict. Soon it will be a year (seemingly eternity) without Israel attacking Gaza, the border with Egypt get’s opened and food flows, What will be your slogan for the cause du jour?

Unless we keep our eyes on Israel’s apartheid, Israel’s racism, and colonialism, we will not be able to drive a successful strategy. Israel will keep playing and toying with us with its distraction tactics, and we will happily follow without realizing the impact our emotional and myopic acts have on the larger picture.

i think it is important not to separate gaza from any other part of the struggle to free palestine. the struggle is the same. it is anti-colonial. it is about refugees and their right of return. period. but the struggle in gaza looks different to the outside world. and so they carry the banner of free gaza. this is why palestinians got together and released a statement critiquing norman finkelstein’s march on gaza, the thrust of which is as follows:

1- The statement fails to give any political context to this abstract siege, avoiding to even condemn Israel’s military occupation! The siege is not just about suffering and humanitarian needs. It is about occupation and denial of Palestinians refugees in Gaza , as well as everywhere else, their fundamental right to return. That is also illegal. 80 per cent of Gazans are refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948.

2) We feel that the statement ostensibly addresses internationals and urges them to perform this non-violent act in solidarity with Palestinians under siege in Gaza, but it also lectures us, indirectly, about non-violence. Obviously, no Palestinians have been involved in writing it!

3) Everyone who wants to breach the Erez checkpoint from the Gaza side, as this purports to do, must first enter Gaza ! And how do they plan to do that? Egypt , the most important local collaborator with the siege will have none of that.

4) The statement ignores THE most effective non-violent means of resistance to date: BDS! This intentional omission and focus on Gandhi non-violence as a “new” form of resistance that must be taught to us smacks of naiveté and presumptuous colonial pompousness. Forms of resistance are not mutually exclusive. The writers of the statement could have supported the growing BDS campaign in parallel to endorsing this idea of a non-violent march.

5) Such a march must be first explicitly led by the Palestinians in Gaza, as represented by political forces and other civil society organs, and second explicitly advocated by Palestinians. Before organizing international brigades of Gandhian activists to come to Gaza to march “alongside the people of Gaza,” how about asking us Palestinians in Gaza what we want!

6) Palestinians in Gaza as referred to twice as “the people of Gaza,” further entrenching the Israeli division of the Palestinians into THE Palestinians, meaning those in the West Bank, Israeli Arabs, some abstract refugees, and “the people of Gaza .” Jerusalemites are, of course, Israelis with some special problems! The people in Gaza are only indirectly referred to as part of the Palestinian people. Again, no people, no right to self determination. Only a humanitarian issue.

We, therefore, will endorse the statement only if these serious concerns are taken into consideration.

Signed by:

The One Democratic State Group

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information

Friends for the Visually Impaired

Al-Aqsa University-Academic Cooperation Dept.

while gaza is not separate from the rest of palestine nor is its struggle for justice different, it is important to understand the different context in which colonization and ethnic cleansing occur in gaza. here is a recent video from journalist jordan flaherty and lily keber that gives some idea to the ongoing siege there:

because it has now been three years since the zionist entity’s siege on gaza began, the united nations ocha office recently released a report documenting how this extreme form of ethnic cleansing is affecting palestinians in gaza. a summary of the report reads in part (and full summary can be read here):

Following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Israel has imposed an unprecedented blockade on all border crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip. The blockade has ‘locked in’ 1.5 million people in what is one of the most densely populated areas on earth, triggering a protracted human dignity crisis with negative humanitarian consequences. At the heart of this crisis is the degradation in the living conditions of the population, caused by the erosion of livelihoods and the gradual decline in the state of infrastructure, and the quality of vital services in the areas of health, water and sanitation, and education.

The blockade, now in its third year, has taken place alongside recurrent cycles of violence and human rights violations, stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Hamas’s rule over Gaza. The denial of Palestinians’ right to leave Gaza, or to move freely to the West Bank, particularly when their lives, physical integrity, or basic freedoms are under threat, is another key component of the current human dignity crisis. This denial had a devastating impact during Israel’s “Cast Lead” military offensive, launched on 27 December 2008, contributing to the significant loss of civilian life and the large number of seriously injured and traumatized people as a result.

The three week-long Israeli offensive also involved the widespread destruction of homes, infrastructure and productive assets. The ongoing restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through the crossings has limited the ability of all relevant actors to address the immense needs and challenges that emerged as a result of the most recent military offensive.

Over the past three months, Israel has allowed entry into Gaza of a small number of truckloads carrying goods previously prevented from entering, including limited construction, water, sanitation and education materials. While these are welcome steps, their actual impact when compared to the current level of needs in Gaza remains negligible.

This blockade has been characterized by the UN’s most senior humanitarian official, John Holmes, as a form of collective punishment on the entire Gazan population. The UN, the ICRC, many states and humanitarian organizations have repeatedly urged the Government of Israel to remove the restrictions on Gaza’s borders; to allow free access to agricultural areas within Gaza, and to allow unrestricted fishing in Gaza’s territorial waters. These are the urgent first steps needed to start the reconstruction of homes and infrastructure, the revival of the economy and the restoration of human dignity in Gaza.

and it has been just over six months since the intensity of the zionist savagery ended, and yet, of course, the zionists controlling the prison that is gaza have made it impossible to remove rubble and to rebuild, as sherine tadros reported on al jazeera a couple of weeks ago:

a story from irin news this week illustrates just one of the many palestinian casualties of this siege:

Arafat Hamdona, 20, has been confined to the cancer unit of As-Shifa, Gaza’s primary hospital, since he was diagnosed with maxillary skin tumours in June 2008. Red lesions protrude from his face, his features are distorted and his eyes swollen shut.

In April, Arafat was permitted to travel to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem where he received three series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. He was scheduled to return for further treatment, but has not been granted permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza.

“He is only given pain killers,” said Arafat’s father, Faraj Hamdona, explaining that that is all As-Shifa has to offer.

According to a July 2009 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Jerusalem, Gaza doctors and nurses do not have the medical equipment to respond to the health needs of the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip.

Medical equipment is often broken, lacking spare parts, or outdated.

WHO attributes the dismal state of Gaza’s healthcare system to the Israeli blockade of the territory, tightened in June 2007 after Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the West, seized control. The poor organization of maintenance services in Gaza compounds the problem, reports WHO.

and the medical issues are compounded by the problems related to the imposed malnutrition according to a recent electronic intifada article by eva bartlett:

According to the UN and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the trickle of goods entering Gaza now is just a quarter of that prior to the siege, the majority of which is limited to basic food aid items. The aid-dependent families have moved from a balanced diet to one consisting mainly of sugar and carbohydrates, lacking in vitamins and proteins.

The World Health Organization (WHO) cites an increase in growth-stunting malnourishment, now at over 10 percent of children, attributed to a chronic lack of protein, iron, and essential vitamins. The WHO further warns of increasing anemia rates: 65 percent among children below 12 months of age, and 35 percent among pregnant women.

The United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Gaza’s Ard al-Insan center for nutrition, among various bodies, note the link between malnutrition and a deficiency of protein and vegetables in the diet.

An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) June 2009 report notes that the effects of a restricted diet also include “difficulty in fighting off infections, fatigue and a reduced capacity to learn.” The ICRC warns of the long-term ramifications on Gaza’s malnourished children.

while the zionist entity and its american collaborators are chiefly responsible for this siege, the regime in egypt is also responsible for collective punishment of palestinians. kabobfest had another important post on the ways in which egypt profits from the siege on gaza:

As The president of Egypt tours the States talking about many issues including the Palestinian question. And I’m getting into my second month of my visit to Gaza and cannot deny the sad effects of the siege on Gaza. Most aspects of life in Gaza have been negatively affected by this unfair siege. The price of food especially, vegetables and fruits have now surpassed prices in the United States, same thing for clothing, shoes and electronics. While the cost of living in Gaza soared due to the sanction and limitations on the movement of goods, wages and salaries are nowhere near the States. Yes, there are tunnels in Gaza, and they smuggle all sort of things through these tunnels. Items as large as fridges and as small as birthday candles flow through the tunnels to Gaza. But those tunnels only can bring so much and smuggling isn’t the cheapest way to supply a market. Thirty to Forty dollars is the charge to smuggle a bag of goods. While the people of Gaza struggle, the two Palestinian governments watch from the sidelines but claim to be there for the people. The guys in Ramallah help their people in Gaza and the guys in Gaza take care of their own, while the common man is left with nothing. In the meantime the Arab and Muslim nations stand by the people of Gaza but have done little to break the siege. This post does not come easy, in fact this subject I hope to be wrong on. Egyptians have led the fight to break the siege on Gaza but from where I stand the blockade is helping the Egyptian government on so many levels, here is how:

Economically: Goods in Gaza mainly come from Egypt and since Palestinians do not have many choices because the Israelis allow only humanitarian goods into the Strip (flour, sugar, milk, rice…etc.). That leaves plenty of needed material that has a market in Gaza. Items like fans, shirts, razors, shampoo, appliances, certain medications, cookies, potato chips, pencils and school bags, chairs, kitchen ware…etc. In the past these goods used to be imported from various countries such as China and India. Thanks to the embargo, Egypt now is the main supplier of these goods; Egyptian factories are now earning plenty of cash as they provide the needed goods. Egyptian businesses are also making a profit by playing the broker role between the Palestinian buyers and the international vendors. There are those who move the goods to Rafah and those who push it through the tunnels to the Palestinian on the other end. Did I also mention that all those transactions are paid in cash?

It’s Good for Business: If a Palestinian wants to leave Gaza the can be smuggles through a tunnel for the bargain price of two to three hundred dollars. But there is another way. A two thousand dollar pay off to an Egyptian General through his Palestinian front man and you’re on VIP list to get through the gate at the Rafah crossing; even if the crossing point is closed, one will be allowed into the land of milk and honey. This travel clearance even overrides a Hamas veto because they cannot risk angering the Egyptians. I guess this is sort of like the American service offered in select airport for busy travelers where they can skip long security lines by using the express lane for a fee. This is funny because when a Palestinians pointed out this corruption to an Egyptian official, the official suggested he too take advantage of it. Politically, the mess in Gaze serves as a model for not choosing the Islamist oriented policies. For sometime Egypt has tried to convince its people that Islamists are bad for business and bad for regional stability. But most of those arguments fell flat until the Hamas takeover in Gaza in June 2007. Obviously many parties have an interest in seeing Hamas fail to make the point “We might be bad, but they are worse”. Also by playing the broker between the Palestinaina Authority on the West Bank, Hamas in Gaza and Israel, Egypt gains regional credit for their active role in promoting “peace” and Arab unity.

and here is one of the many ways in which egypt’s complicity bears responsibility for palestinians in gaza who are forced to use tunnels to bring in much needed goods for their survival. ayman mohyeldin’s report on al jaeera highlights this complicity and the problem of the zionist-egyptian siege:

although there has not yet been enough significant international outcry over the complicity of egypt and the u.s. with respect to war crimes committed in gaza, there has been ongoing and persistent writing and reporting on the zionist entity’s role in those war crimes, the most recent of which is human rights watch’s report documenting how zionist terrorist colonist soldiers murdered palestinians carrying white flags. the report is important, because it is yet another piece of evidence, but at the same time it is problematic given the 1,400 murders the zionist entity committed in gaza. what is a bit more promising is the news that in zionist colonists who also hold south african citizenship are going to be prosecuted for committing war crimes in gaza:

Two South African organizations have called for 70 South Africans to be prosecuted for involvement in war crimes allegedly committed by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December and January.

The Palestinian Solidarity Alliance and the Media Review Network are also urging the immediate arrest of IDF Lt.-Col. David Benjamin, who is in South Africa attending the Limmud-SA educational conference this week.

The two NGOs are listed as complainants in an affidavit, called the Gaza Docket, which was handed last week to the South African National Prosecuting Authority and the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation.

It is supported by approximately 3,500 pages of evidence, including some submitted by Human Rights Watch on the “brutal military onslaught on Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force.”

Some 70 South Africans are listed in the affidavit for prosecution as they had served in the Israeli army. Their names are withheld due to the fact that they are suspects. It is unclear if these people served in the IDF during Cast Lead and whether they retain their South African citizenship.

such reports and developments are clearly a threat to the zionist entity as jonathan cook reveals in an article in electronic intifada:

In a bid to staunch the flow of damaging evidence of war crimes committed during Israel’s winter assault on Gaza, the Israeli government has launched a campaign to clamp down on human rights groups, both in Israel and abroad.

It has begun by targeting one of the world’s leading rights organizations, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), as well as a local group of dissident army veterans, Breaking the Silence, which last month published the testimonies of 26 combat soldiers who served in Gaza.

Additionally, according to the Israeli media, the government is planning a “much more aggressive stance” towards human rights groups working to help the Palestinians.

Officials have questioned the sources of funding received by the organizations and threatened legislation to ban support from foreign governments, particularly in Europe.

Breaking the Silence and other Israeli activists have responded by accusing the government of a “witch hunt” designed to intimidate them and starve them of the funds needed to pursue their investigations.

“This is a very dangerous step,” said Mikhael Mannekin, one of the directors of Breaking the Silence. “Israel is moving in a very anti-democratic direction.”

The campaign is reported to be the brainchild of the far-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, currently facing corruption charges, but has the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Early last month, Lieberman used a press conference to accuse non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, of replacing diplomats in setting the international community’s agenda in relation to Israel. He also threatened reforms to curb the groups’ influence.

A week later, Netanyahu’s office weighed in against Human Rights Watch, heavily criticizing the organization for its recent fund-raising activities in Saudi Arabia.

HRW has pointed out that it only accepts private donations, and has not accepted Saudi government funds, but Israeli officials say all Saudi money is tainted and will compromise HRW’s impartiality as a human rights watchdog in its treatment of Israel.

what i haven’t seen a full report on, including implications of ongoing war crimes, another to add to the list is the ongoing assault on palestinian farmers who live and farm the land near the ever-expanding “buffer zone” where zionist terrorist colonists use palestinian people for their target practice. sherine tadros report on al jazeera last month documented this:

but the farmers keep farming the land as yet another form of resistance in a space where so few options for resistance exist. likewise, this video which i keep meaning to post is a moving story about one of the rappers from the group palestinian rapperz (p.r.) whose father was murdered by palestinian terrorist colonists. here is casey kauffman’s report on al jazeera:

settlerland

zionist terrorist colony of efrat's checkpoint in khader, palestine
zionist terrorist colony of efrat's checkpoint in khader, palestine

coming home today through the palestinian village of khader i noticed some new posters at the entrance of the zionist terrorist colony of efrat’s checkpoint. the close up of the image is below. while i believe that the united states president–whoever s/he is–represents the interests of the hegemonic white power structures, he is still obviously a target for racist and islamophobes around the world as this image shows. but this image also illustrates the mentality of zionist terrorist colonists in palestine.

"barack hussein obama: anti-semitic jew hater" (efrat colony checkpiont entrance)

i spent the afternoon at the bet gemal monastary in palestine. it is a lovely monastary with an amazing byzantine era church filled with palestinian mosaics that were discovered in 1917. the current church (see below) was built in 1932 on the ruins of the original one. there is an amazing view from the church grounds where one can see palestinian villages belonging to palestinians who now live in refugee camps in the west bank as well as zionist terrorist colonies dotting the landscape with their typical red roof tract houses (see photograph below).

st. stephen church at bet gemal
st. stephen church at bet gemal
grapes growing for bet gamal's vineyard
grapes growing for bet gamal's vineyard
zionist terrorist colonies in 1948 palestine (view from bet gamal)
zionist terrorist colonies in 1948 palestine (view from bet gamal)

i was thinking about this view of these colonies and the way that most people in the world, even activists who work in solidarity with palestinians, don’t view them as colonies or settlements. but they are every bit as much colonies. and they exist on every bit as much of stolen land as those in the west bank. they may not be “illegal” under international law, but they are the one thing that is the obstacle to so-called “peace” initiatives given the fact that their existence blocks palestinian refugees right of return. in any case, all these colonies exist on stolen land; some was stolen a hundred years ago, some stolen today. but the fact of when it is stolen makes no difference. stolen is stolen.

unfortunately, most people don’t get this. or if the get it, the don’t say it. jerrold kessel and pierre klochendler’s ips article this week is case in point. commenting on the upcoming benjamin netanahu speech they make a distinction between “settlerland” in the west bank and fail to mention the setterland that exists all over historic palestine:

During his run for the White House, Barack Obama disclosed that a book that helped him focus on priorities during the rigours of campaigning was Netherland, a novel by Joseph O’Neill dealing with life in New York post 9/11. A central character is one Chuck Ramkissoon, an immigrant from Trinidad, who dreams of transforming his adopted nation by bringing cricket to the American masses, a visionary who favours epithets like “Think Fantastic”.

If he wants to create a counter momentum with his own university address, Netanyahu will have to do what, in his vision, would be ‘fantastic’: Instead of continuing to transform the West Bank into ‘Settlerland’, an extension of Israel, he will finally have to agree with the President’s vision – transform Israel itself by transforming the West Bank into ‘Palestineland’.

and this past week saw many more palestinians ethnically cleansed from their land to make way for an ever-increasing settlerland as is the case in beit hanina, a palestinian neighborhood in al quds:

Israel’s Jerusalem municipality on Sunday issued 13 demolition orders for Palestinian apartments in Beit Hanina, under the pretext that they lack permits.

The demolition orders will affect the 13 apartments at the Al-Halhouly building in Beit Hanina, in the Ganet Adan (Garden of Eden) area, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs.

In a statement, the ministry said that the issue of the houses, home to about 100 Palestinians, had been handed over to attorney Sami Arsheed, who will pursue the issue within Israel’s court system.

another family in al quds was forced to demolish his own home this week less he have to pay the zionist terrorist entity to do it for him:

Israeli authorities ordered a Palestinian to demolish his own home in the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Muhammad Ghosheh said police and a demolition crew from the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem arrived at his house in the morning, threatening him with a 100,000 Israeli shekel (25,125 US dollar) fine if he did not destroy the house.

palestinians in silwan continue to resist the ethnic cleansing of their neighborhood:

Clashes erupted as massive forces of Israeli soldiers and border police descended on Jerusalem’s Al-Bustan neighborhood to serve nearly a hundred demolition notices to Palestinian homeowners.

The demolition orders were served to the owners of the 88 homes earlier threatened with destruction under Israeli law 212, which allows homes to be demolished or evacuated without any formal legal charges being brought forth or any party convicted of an alleged violation of the Israeli Planning and Building Law.

This law was also used in 1967 to erase the Palestinian Al-Mugharbi neighborhood inside the Old City to form the plaza in front of the Western Wall, believed to be the site of the third temple in Judaism. The neighborhood was razed and is now an open compound for Jews to pray near the wall.

Residents clashed fiercely with police, who are said to have been forced to retreat to the entrance of the neighborhood, a subsection of the Silwan area, which lies next to Jerusalem’s Old City.

there was another group of palestinians who resisted the theft of their land this week in al quds as well:

A group of Palestinian residents managed on Thursday afternoon to stop Israeli settlers from taking over their land located east of Jerusalem’s old city.

The land, of 1,75 acres, is owned by two Palestinian families from East Jerusalem.

Witnesses told the Palestine News Agency WAFA that the settlers arrived at the locations along with Israeli city planners but the residents were at their lands and stopped the process.

The Israeli municipality plans to use the land to expand the nearby Israeli illegal settlement of Beit Oret. Hateem Abed Al Qader, the Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, was at the location and said that the residents will keep a 24-hour presence on the land to protect it.

nour odeh reported on the continuing land grab by zionist terrorists occupying palestine on al jazeera earlier this week:

you can also see a couple of good news reports on the continuing land confiscation and home demolition in this clip from mosaic tv as well, which also shows ghosheh having to demolish his home:

ironically, the zionist terrorist entity stated this week that palestinians have too many rights when it comes to construction on their land:

Interior Minister Eli Yishai has instructed ministry employees to nix a master plan for Jerusalem on the grounds that it allocates too much territory for Palestinian construction. In recent days Yishai instructed Ruth Yosef, tapped as the ministry’s new supervisor for Jerusalem, to shelve the program – the fruit of several years of labor by dozens of architects.

The master plan was intended to outline the city’s development over the next few decades and to remedy a situation in which, since 1959, the capital has not been developed according to a comprehensive agenda.

but it is not just the land confiscation and home demolition either. i call the predominantly european people who have stolen and live on palestinian land terrorists because they are. even one of their own organizations reported a rise in terrorist attacks against palestinians this week:

The Israeli Yesh Din human rights group stated that Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank are escalating their attacks against the Palestinians, and significantly increased their attempts to uproot and damage Palestinian farmlands.

The group stated that “the settlers are trying to achieve political goals by committing acts of terror against the Palestinians and their lands”.

It said that the farmers in Palestine are the ones who are paying the price for the government’s attempts to evacuate some illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank.

The group added the recent weeks witnessed a significant increase of attacks and attempts to uproot trees, and that such attacked escalating due to the lack of action by the army against the assailants.

Yesh Din sent a letter to Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, the Central Command Chief of the Israeli Army, Gadi Shamni, and the Chief of the Israeli Police in the West Bank, Hagai Dotan, informing them that the settlers sawed and uprooted more than 300 trees, mostly olive trees, in the West Bank since the end of April until the end of May.

The group demanded the Israeli officials to prevent these attacks, and to prevent the acts of vengeance that the settlers carry out after the evacuation of illegal outposts.

Yesh Din attorney, Michael Sfard, stated that his group repeatedly warned the Israeli police and army that the settlers and extremist Jewish groups are carrying “systematic, organized and large-scale terrorist attacks against Palestinian civilians”.

there have been numerous such attacks and here is one of the latest near khalil and nablus this week:

Israeli settlers attacked and destroyed Palestinian-owned farm lands on a number of locations in the West Bank on Thursday.

Local sources reported that the attacks took place near the southern city of Hebron and the northern city of Nablus.

Scores of olive trees were damaged when Israeli settlers set them on fire near Hebron city. The owners told media that the settlers came from the nearby Kharsina settlement. Witnesses said that Palestinian firefighters managed to stop the fire but at least two dozen trees were destroyed.

Meanwhile another group of Israeli settlers set fire to farm lands that belong to Palestinians from the villages of Aqraba and Yanoon near Nablus city.

The farmers said that settlers set fire to their crops while being protected by the Israeli military. The fire destroyed two acres of farm lands before the farmers were able to stop the fire.

near nablus in a new zionist colonist terrorist outpost set up this week the colonists terrorized people with their target practice:

Local sources in Khirbit Yanoun, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, stated that a group of extremist Israeli settlers installed tents neat the village and attacked a number of residents.

The sources added that five Israeli vehicles arrived near the village carrying the settlers and their equipment, and that the settlers immediately installed the tens and set the “parameter” of their new outpost.

The settlers then transformed a piece of land into a military training zone, placed targets and started firing at them.

The Israeli army did not attempt to intervene.

dan nolan reported on al jazeera that one such zionist terrorist colonist who was responsible for some of these attacks was released without charges this week:

even human rights watch, with its predictable soft language, is condemning the house demolition policy, though i’m so sick of people who are in a position of power condemning and doing nothing:

The Israeli government should immediately stop demolishing Palestinian homes and property in the West Bank and compensate the people it has displaced, Human Rights Watch said today.

Israeli authorities destroyed the homes and property of 18 shepherd families in the northern Jordan Valley on June 4, 2009, displacing approximately 130 people, after ordering them on May 31 to evacuate because they were living in a “closed military zone.” Some of the families whose homes and property were destroyed had been living in their village since at least the 1950s.

“Giving families less than a week to evacuate their homes, without any opportunity for review or appeal, is as heartless as it is unfair,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Israel should have given these people due process to contest their displacement.”

um, no: that is not the worst of it and it’s far more egregious than just “unfair.” one needs a sense of the repetitious nature of history here in palestine if you really want to understand the outrageousness of whitson’s quote above. if you read the full report by clicking on the link above you will see that oftentimes palestinians forcibly removed from their homes and their land often undergo this experience multiple times. multiple displacements. this is one of the many reasons i think we need to frame everything here in terms of an anti-colonial struggle, regardless of what part of palestine that ethnic cleansing occurs on. this is why two-states is = to no state as far as palestinian refugees are concerned. and yet the drum beat for this failed policy continues. exhibit a consists of the statements made by george mitchell when he was here this week:

In all of his meetings with Israeli officials, US envoy George Mitchell, confirmed the American commitment to Israel’s security while at the same time stated that the United States still believes that Israel should stop the construction and expansion of settlement.

Mitchell also said that the Unites States position on settlements never changed since 40 years; which is the same period in which settlement were built and expanded on Palestinian lands under direct and indirect US support

As for the Gaza Strip, Mitchell said that crossings to should opened under direct cooperation with the government of Salam Fayyad in the West Bank. He also said that the US wants to make sure that if construction materials are allowed into Gaza, they won’t be used by Hamas for manufacturing combat materials.

Meanwhile, Israeli media sources reported that the Mitchell’s statements were moderate regardless of the “tension between Israel and the US on settlements”, and that Mitchell confirmed in every meeting that the United States is committed to Israel’s security.

yes, the united states is committed to the security of the zionist colonist terrorist entity, but not the security or the rights or the just cause of the palestinian people. and yet journalists like mel frykberg think that palestinians are “hopeful” as he repeats the empty words of collaborator saeb erekat:

Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat believes Palestinians are politically in their strongest position ever in their decades-long conflict with the Israelis.

There also appears to be growing consensus and confidence in both Palestinian and Arab circles that the U.S. administration could be offering more than just lip-service to Palestinian independence aspirations this time around.

In the past the Arabs, and the Palestinians in particular, have accused the U.S. of being biased towards Israel.

Previous peace deals and agreements signed over the years, supporting a two-state solution, and an end to illegal Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank, came to naught.

Instead, Israel raced ahead with building new settlements, and enlarging hundreds of existing settlements and outposts on Palestinian land in the occupied territory.

“The time for playing games is over. No more delaying tactics, no more stalling, no more excuses. It is time for action. Ceasing settlement building is not a Palestinian pre-condition; it is an Israeli obligation. These are terms that Israel has previously committed to,” Erekat told IPS.

“We have been assured by (U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George) Mitchell that the U.S. administration will support the legitimate rights of the Palestinians,” Erekat said. “(U.S. President Barack) Obama too has reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution and a halt to settlement building.”

Spell check Card copy

i do not doubt that erekat is hopeful of his ability to continue to profit off of the “peace process” industry on the backs of 7.2 million palestinian refugees who suffer as much at his hands as they do from the american and zionist collaborators. pulse media posted something about the council for the national interest’s ongoing campaign to get americans to protest the use of their tax dollars to build colonies (though only in the west bank, not in the rest of palestine). the postcard pictured above can be sent from their website.

but in spite of all this american financial, military, and political support the u.s. gives to the zionist entity, there are still zionist terrorist colonists who are whining because they fear they will stop getting their way (don’t worry, they will). pulse media also reported this week that some zionist terrorist colonists are so upset they want regime change in the united states:

Antiwar.com brings us news that Israeli minister Yossi Peled is seeking sanctions and regime change… against the USA!

Peled is calling for the Israeli government to seek to influence American elections and cutting trade ties with America. This, let’s remember, is coming from a minister of the country that has received more aid from the US than all of Sub-Saharan Africa combined. Israeli politicians are now so comfortable with their relationship with America they talk about America in the same way America talks about minor Latin American rogue states.

but the change is not going to come from sites of power. it is going to come from the grassroots. and change is coming from there, but unfortunately most grassroots organizations seem to target those zionist colonies in the west bank. it is a start, but certainly not where the finish line needs to be. nevertheless, there is good news to report that dexia is no longer going to finance zionist terrorist colonies in the west bank:

The Belgian-French financial group Dexia has announced it will no longer finance Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories through its Israeli branch Dexia Israel. This is the result of a months-long campaign in Belgium, supported by NGO’s, political parties, local authorities, trade unions and other organisations. Dexia’s management states that financing Israeli settlements is indeed against the bank’s code of ethics and it will stop giving loans due to this.

In 2001 Dexia Group buys the Israeli bank Otzar Hashilton Hamekomi and renames the bank Dexia Public Finance Israel. Just like other Dexia subsidiaries, Dexia Israel is specialised in financing municipalities and other local authorities.

It takes until October 2008 for a few Belgian solidarity groups to discover that Dexia Israel is not only financing regular Israeli municipalities but is also granting loans to illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories. In a document of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), the director of Dexia Israel, Mr. David Kapah, confirms that the bank has indeed granted credits to seven settlements and three regional authorities in the occupied West Bank between 2003 and 2007.

This ‘smoking gun’ evidence entails the start of a fast growing campaign in Belgium. United under the slogan ‘Israel colonises, Dexia finances’, the campaign knows its first successes. In the following months petitions are being launched, MP’s are being questioned and local actions are being started up. Very important is the support of local Belgian authorities such as municipalities and provinces, as they hold a vast amount of shares in Dexia Group.

it’s not just rhetoric

there was an interesting discussion on al jazeera’s “riz khan” show with anand naidoo this week on the genocide against the tamils in sri lanka. it featured devinda subasinghe, sri lanka’s former ambassador to the u.s. and mexico; anna neistat from human rights watch; and jan jananyagam from tamils against genocide. i’ve seen jananyagam quite a bit on al jazeera and generally think she’s an excellent speaker, though there was one major flaw in her argument. the stuff she pointed out on the destruction of culture, language, books as well as the massacre against the tamils is important. too, her response to the ambassador who asks her to “dial down the rhetoric” was key: “it’s not rhetoric when people are held in camps.” she details the situation of tamils in concentration camps, as does neistat, although as typical for human rights watch neistat thinks there are two sides which there can never been when you have those responsible for massacre and those massacred. but in the second part when jananyagam compares the situation to palestine she’s wrong: the conflict is different not because palestinians rightly refuse to acknowledge the right of a foreign people to colonize their land. it is different because the palestinian people’s land is colonized whereas in sri lanka neither the tamils nor the sinhalese are colonizers. in any case, it is worth watching this discussion.

but i would also recommend listening to nora barrows-friedman’s interview with norweigan dr. mads gilbert on the subject as he has lived and worked with the tamils in sri lanka as well as in gaza. his sense of the situation and its parallels are far more apt. there are other parallels too, for instance, the sri lankan government thinks it should investigate its own war crimes just like the zionist entity as catherine philip reports for the telegraph:

The European resolution that Sri Lanka is aiming to defeat has already drawn the ire of human rights groups for failing to push for an international war crimes inquiry. It calls on the Sri Lanka Government to conduct its own investigation into breaches of international law and allow unfettered access to camps where more than 200,000 displaced Tamil civilians are detained.

and there are not only parallels, but also deep ties between the state terrorism of the zionist entity and the sri lankan government as the pakistan daily reports:

In May 2000, just one day after India refused to give Sri Lanka any military assistance in its war against the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lanka and Israel resumed diplomatic relations. Although the corporate media are focusing on Sri Lanka’s military assistance from China, little mention is being made of the nation’s military links with Israel.

After the establishment of diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Colombo, Israeli military technicians arrived to maintain Sri Lanka’s Israeli-made Kfir fighter-bombers and Russian MiG-27 aircraft and provided Sri Lanka with Dvora fast naval attack craft. Israeli arms and ammunition also began flooding into Sri Lanka, with still no mention of the Israeli-Sri Lankan ties in the media.

Soon, Israeli military advisers and “consultants” were regular visitors to Colombo’s new Access Lanka Building, owned by relatives of Sri Lanka’s top military officers. Among Israel’s security exports to Sri Lanka was state of the art electronic and imagery surveillance equipment. Israeli Air Force pilots reportedly flew Sri Lankan attack aircraft against Tamil Tiger targets on the Jaffna peninsula. Israeli military personnel were also reported to have taken part in Sri Lankan military attacks on Tamil units.

Due to Israel’s military assistance to Sri Lanka, India reportedly began aiding the Tamils in the 1980s. It is also believed (and not that hard to believe either) that Israel’s Mossad recruited agents among Sri Lanka’s large contingent of foreign workers in the Persian Gulf Arab states. There were also reports that Israelis were also providing weapons and training to Tamil guerrillas in order to maintain a “market” for Israeli arms suppliers in the civil war-wracked island nation.

On March 2, 2007:

Cambodia discovered that the Mossad and Cambodian criminal syndicate allies continue to obtain bought-back Cambodian weapons from Cambodian government warehouses and are selling them to guerrilla groups throughout Asia, including Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, anti-Laotian Hmongs, the small anti-communist Free Vietnam Movement, and Burmese tribal guerrilla groups. WMR photographed a number of Zim shipping containers portside along the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. From this and other port facilities, including the port of Sihanoukville, bought-back Cambodian weapons, some originally provided to the Khmer Rouge by Israeli tycoon Shaul Eisenberg and the Chinese, are making their way to insurgent groups around Asia, possibly including Iraqi guerrillas battling U.S. forces in Iraq.”

Tamil guerrillas have claimed to have destroyed an Israeli-made Sri Lankan fast naval attack craft,” which was deployed off the Lebanese coast during the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, with a C-802 Iranian-made Noor missile.”

Although Sri Lanka suspended diplomatic ties with Israel in 1970 over the failure of the Israelis to withdraw from illegally occupied Palestinian territory, however, operating an Interests Section within the U.S. embassy in Colombo, Israeli-Sri Lankan ties began to grow closer in the mid to late 1980s. Israel provided Sri Lanka with military advisers and established a special commando unit for the Sri Lankan police.

In 1990, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa ordered the Israeli Interests Section at the U.S. embassy to close and two Israeli diplomats in Colombo were ordered to leave. In 1990, Premadasa also ordered a government investigation of charges that Mossad was training both Sri Lankan and Tamil guerrilla forces.

On September 25, 1991, Reuters reported from Colombo:

“Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, fighting against a campaign to have him impeached, yesterday accused the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of plotting against him because he closed the Israeli interests section in the U.S. embassy. He spoke at the opening session of parliament.”

On May 1, 1993, Premadasa was assassinated in Colombo during May Day festivities by a suicide bomber said to be a Tamil guerrilla. Twenty-three other people were killed in the blast. On May 28, 1993, Abdul Hameed Mohammed Azwer, Sri Lankan minister of state for Muslim affairs, said in Jeddah, “Israel was enraged by when they were expelled from Sri Lanka by Premadasa and I suspect the Mossad was behind the dastardly murder of this respected leader.”

Premadasa’s assassination remains an Asian “cold case.”and On September 23, 1997, Attorney General Sarath Silva released 18 Tamil suspects in the assassination of the president, citing lack of evidence – leaving the Attorney General with an ‘unsolved case’.

During a March 2009 trip to Israel by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, talks were held with Israel’s leading arms suppliers on increased military aid by the Israelis to Sri Lanka.

Israel continues to supply Sri Lanka with arms and excessive military training even after the United States and Britain stop endowing military supplies to Sri Lanka over the government’s human rights violations.

there are differences, too, of course. for instance, the number of tamils massacred compared to the number of palestinians as gethin chamberlain writes in the guardian:

The UN today described the death toll in Sri Lanka as “unacceptably high”, as an unsubstantiated report suggested 20,000 people had been killed in the final days of fighting between government soldiers and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Precise figures for casualties have been impossible to confirm as daily reports from doctors working at the scene were regularly disputed by the Sri Lankan government. The UN has come under pressure over its statements on Sri Lanka, particularly with regard to casualty figures.

catherine philip also chronicles the struggle of families separated by the war in concentration camps. while palestinians in gaza are living in the world’s largest open air prison, within gaza they can move around, albeit bombs still fall, and people are still fired upon from the land and sea borders. but these new concentration camps created by the sri lankan government are trapping innocent tamil people inside because the sri lankan government thinks it is “protecting” tamil civilians:

The Tamil Tigers came for Rajibalan in February during a rare pause in the shelling. Every family in his village, Palamattalan, inside the besieged no-fire zone, was to give a son or daughter for the fight — taken by force, if necessary. There would be three more months of fighting until the war was over and 18-year-old Rajibalan and his family would wade together across the Nanthikadal lagoon in surrender.

When they did, they were met by government troops at the Omanthai checkpoint. “The soldiers announced that all the LTTE people would have to register separately from the civilians,” his sister, Sentura, recalled. “They said if they did so, they would be released, but if they did not, they would get 15 years in jail.”

That was more than a week ago. Sentura has not seen her brother since. He is just one of the 9,100 “terrorists” that the Sri Lankan Government is holding in special detention centres separate from the 270,000 sent to civilian camps. Yesterday Sentura wept as she recounted her struggle to find out where her little brother had gone. “Those who went on their own and those who were forced by the Tigers are treated just the same,” she cried. “What will happen to my brother now?”

Hundreds of Tamil civilians pressed up against barbed-wire fences at the 1,400-acre (570-hectare) Manik Farm camp yesterday, clamouring to speak to the crowds outside desperately searching for missing relatives. Some spoke of children lost in the chaos of the flight, others of brothers, like Rajibalan, taken away by the army. A Roman Catholic nun who came looking for her sister’s family when she received a note that they were in the camp left despondent after four hours of searching in the sticky heat.

The task of tracking down lost relatives is complicated by the fact that inmates are forbidden to leave the camp just as foreign aid vehicles are forbidden to enter — because of the risk, the Government says, that fighters inside may escape. When the UN pressed for unfettered access, Sri Lanka said that it would be given as soon as it had finished screening the camps for remaining fighters — in three to four weeks.

However, on a rare military-led visit to the camp yesterday, officials admitted that no such screening was taking place, raising questions over the purpose of the continued detentions. “No formal screening at the camps, no,” Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, the military spokesman, said.

The only screening for those fleeing the conflict zone has already taken place, at the checkpoints where young men and women were separated from their families. The military calls the process “voluntary” and denies using the threat of prison sentences to encourage confessions.

The Sri Lankan Government originally expressed its intention to keep civilians in the camps for up to a year but promised, under Indian pressure, to resettle 80 per cent within six months. Statements made by military officials at the camp yesterday suggest that the Government is in no hurry to allow the civilians to walk free.

the “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time

tam tam and i have been planning a trip we want to take next summer. we’ve been thinking about where we want to go and who might want to join us. one of the criteria we have agreed on is that the place we go cannot be involved in or complicit with any colonial or imperial adventures. and, as you can imagine, this leaves out a number of places in the world. for instance, in nancy better’s article in the new york times today seems to be reporting that americans should take their summer vacations in the zionist entity (a place where tam tam is not allowed to visit because she is a palestinian refugee in lebanon):

Our Golan Heights excursion unleashed a torrent of questions about the war for independence and Israel’s 1948 declaration of statehood. We found answers at the Ayalon Institute, formerly a clandestine munitions factory built by the Haganah (the pre-independence armed forces) under a kibbutz near Tel Aviv. Restored and opened to the public, the institute is not mentioned in many guidebooks and gets little press. Yet Charlie — who devours detective novels and has twice toured the International Spy Museum in Washington — declared it his favorite site.

The place conveys a real sense of danger; had the Haganah members been discovered, they would have been hanged. The factory operations were concealed by a bakery and laundry; a 10-ton oven and a large washing machine hid entrances to the shop floor, which housed as many as 50 workers who, at the peak, produced 40,000 bullets a day. The noise of the washing machines camouflaged the din of the manufacturing process below ground.

David was especially fascinated by the sunlamps that munitions workers used to get an artificial tan. “It’s like an alibi,” our guide explained. “They pretended to leave the kibbutz each morning to work on a neighboring farm and then they sneaked back into the factory to make bullets. People would be suspicious if they looked too pale.”

Next we traveled to Akko, site of a medieval Crusaders’ fortress and later an Ottoman citadel. When the Turks were defeated by the British in 1918, the fortress became a high-security prison that held Jewish freedom fighters. Today the Underground Prisoners Memorial Museum pays tribute to them. A gloomy, ominous air hangs over the prison cells, with their thick stone walls, iron bars and narrow windows. Our group was mesmerized by the gallows room, with a noose centered over a trapdoor in the floor.

the above is just a sample of what the article says. you may click the link and read the entire piece and in it you will not find one use of the word palestine or palestinian. there’s no mention of the fact that akka is a palestinian city and that those so-called “jewish freedom fighters” were and are terrorists who massacred palestinians, stole their land, and created 750,000 refugees. there is no mention of syria either in their little excursion to occupied golan.

conversely, adrian bridge’s recent article in the telegraph on sri lankan tourism talks about the tamils, although as if they are only resistance fighters and not a massive civilian population massacred and made into refugees:

With the fighting still fresh, outrage over the number of civilians killed and fears that pockets of Tamil Tiger fighters may continue with terrorist attacks, the Foreign Office continues to advise against all travel to the north and east of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka travel experts, however, hope that in the long term, the ending of the 26-year-long civil war will signal a fresh start for tourism in what is potentially one of the most attractive holiday destinations in Asia.

“This is a good step forward but we have to be cautiously optimistic; there is still a lot of work to be done to bring about a true peace,” said Jean-Marc Flambert, who promotes a number of hotels in Sri Lanka.

“But in fact the best beaches on the island are on the east coast. Also, with the rainy season there coming at a different time to the rain in the south and west it could turn Sri Lanka into a year round destination.”

the above link came to me via the amazing rapper @_m_i_a_ on twitter (aka maya arulpragasam) and her perfect tweet in response to the article was:

I SAY YEAH … IF U like swimming in blood and hiking and biking on mass graves and eating chemically contaminated fried fish for lunch.

the problem with this story about sri lanka and its war against a civilian tamil population is that even news sources like al jazeera continue to report in a decidedly biased way. take this report by tony birtley on al jazeera today in which he says that 17,000 tamil fighters were killed:

tamil net gives us rather different figures:

Sea Tiger Special Commander of the LTTE, Col. Soosai Sunday noon said that around 25,000 civilians injured in the artillery attack of Sri Lanka Army are dead and dying now without receiving medical attention. The LTTE has repeatedly requested the ICRC through Mr. Pathmanathan to evacuate the injured through Vadduvaakal or Iraddaivaaikkaal, but there was no IC response. Within a 2 square kilometre area, there are dead bodies everywhere while the remaining thousands are in bunkers amidst the use of every kind of weapon by Colombo’s forces. The SLA is not even allowing the people to flee but prefers to fire at them, Soosai said.

for people who want some background on the conflict al jazeera put up a time line on their website starting from sri lanka’s independence from british rule–1948 (yes, the british “leave” one colony and ensure the existence of a new one in the same year)–through the recent genocide. additionally the conversation on democracy now! yesterday between anjali kamat and ahilan kadirgamar that provided some context that doesn’t demonize tamils seeking liberation:

i think that the above interview is important for the way it reveals the orwellian language used by the sri lankan government in which internment camps become “welfare centers.” all of this has been enhanced and made possible by the u.s. exporting of the so-called “war on terror” in which any government wanting to clamp down on resistance groups can commit massacres and genocide and get away with it.

suren surendiran’s article in the guardian today gives us some further context and a broader understanding of the toll this has taken on the tamil people of sri lanka:

Sri Lankan military killed thousands of Tamil civilians over the past few months (not to mention the years before) using the full might of its fire power by way of artillery and air strikes. It has, with intent, starved its own people by refusing to send food and medicine in sufficient quantities and in adequate frequencies.

Crucially, this genocide by the Sri Lankan state has been enabled by the international community, including Britain.

What is deeply disappointing is the fact that powerful liberal states which have long espoused human rights, the Geneva conventions and, most recently, the responsibility to protect, have all allowed thousands of innocent lives to be lost unnecessarily and with full knowledge.

The slaughter went on every day, with many women and children being killed not just by the shelling but due to starvation and lack of medical care. Yet the international response, especially those of the UN and western liberal states, has been pathetic. Mere statements after statements were released by heads of states like Gordon Brown and Barack Obama and institutions such as the UN, EU and various non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty, HRW and Crisis Group. No one showed real leadership in stopping this genocide which took place in broad daylight.

Even now thousands of displaced young Tamils are being abducted and disappeared, the wounded and injured are not given medical care and families are separated and abused in overcrowded barbed-wire-fenced camps. Thousands are still lining up at check points which have no independent observers present. International media has no way of reporting without government interference.

Sri Lanka is conducting this war beyond its means. Its economy is in a mess due to mismanagement, as stated by the World Bank. Sri Lanka’s Central Bank is seeking an emergency loan from the IMF due to its fast depleting reserves. Yet, year on year defence budget has been consistently rising by huge percentages. Regional powers and others have assisted financially and otherwise to continue with this government’s war with its own people. Unemployed youth from Sri Lanka’s rural south who could be put to more constructive development use were being used for destruction and killing.

Pretending to promote human rights and high moral values, western governments are turning a blind eye to the state terrorism in Sri Lanka, but also incentivising such horrendous violations by granting large sums in loans and grants. Hypocrisy of the international community is obvious as they argue any sanctions against such financial assistance will hurt the wider economy of Sri Lanka. The same wasn’t true it seems for the poor Zimbabweans or the Palestinians of Gaza City.

of course, i wrote the other day about the zionist entity providing sri lanka with its weapons in order to carry out this genocide. the genocide may be over in sri lanka, but the trauma will not be over for a long time. nor will the refugees lead a normal life for some time to come either. and while this massive refugee crisis comes to a head the one in pakistan just continues to worsen also because of a so-called “war on terror” instigated by americans. unhcr is now reporting that refugees may be reaching 1 million:

The number of displaced people registered since May 2 by authorities with help from UNHCR climbed above the 1 million mark over the weekend and continues to rise rapidly. Most of the displaced are staying with relatives or friends, placing huge economic and social strains on the country. More than 130,000 others are staying in camps supported by UNHCR. The 1.17 million recently registered join another 555,000 Pakistanis displaced in earlier fighting since last August.

and for those who need reminding that this is a united states-made war on the civilian population of pakistan, the u.s. bombed the region yet again this week as alamgir bitani reported in the independent:

A bomb blew up in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on today killing 10 people, hours after a suspected US drone aircraft fired missiles at militants in another region on the Afghan border and killed 10.

The violence came as the Pakistani military battled Taliban militants in a northwestern valley in an offensive that has forced more than 900,000 people from their homes.

The blast in Peshawar blew up a passing school bus and city police chief Sifwat Ghayyur said four children and two women were among the dead.

“It was a remote controlled bomb. Ten people have been killed and 18 wounded,” Ghayyur told Reuters.

according to mainstream american news media, they are praising these actions in pakistan calling them “effective” on cnn as reported in common dreams:

U.S. airstrikes aimed at al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan have been “very effective,” with few civilian deaths as a result, CIA Director Leon Panetta said Monday in a rare public acknowledgment of the raids.

Asked about criticism of the missile attacks by counterinsurgency experts, Panetta said he did not want to discuss specifics, “but I can assure you that in terms of that particular area, it is very precise and is very limited in terms of collateral damage.”

“Very frankly, it’s the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership,” Panetta told the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles.

i just wonder what is effective about creating 1 million refugees? bombing civilian villages? sowing the seeds of future generations who will seek justice for sure and perhaps vengeance. though who knows because the media campaign in pakistan seems to be as mythologizing as the american media with respect to distancing the war from the united states as declan walsh reported in the guardian the other day:

The human exodus from the war-torn Swat valley in northern Pakistan is turning into the world’s most dramatic displacement crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the UN refugee agency warned.

Almost 1.5 million people have registered for assistance since fighting erupted three weeks ago, the UNHCR said, bringing the total number of war displaced in North West Frontier province to more than 2 million, not including 300,000 the provincial government believes have not registered. “It’s been a long time since there has been a displacement this big,” the UNHCR’s spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva, trying to recall the last time so many people had been uprooted so quickly. “It could go back to Rwanda.”

The army reported fierce clashes across Swat, a tourist haven turned Taliban stronghold. After a week of intense aerial bombardment with fighter jets and helicopter gunships the army has launched a ground offensive to drive out the militants to rout the militants from the valley. Commandos pushed through the remote Piochar valley, seizing a training centre and killing a dozen Taliban, a military spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, said. Gun battles erupted in several villages surrounding Mingora, Swat’s main town. Abbas said the military had killed 27 militants, including three commanders, and lost three members of the security forces. The figures could not be verified, as Swat has been largely cut off since the operation started.

The Taliban leader in Swat, Maulana Fazlullah, remains at large. His spokesman vowed the rebels would fight until their “last breath”.

The operation continues to enjoy broad public support. Opposition parties endorsed the action at a conference called by the government, dispelling the notion that the army was fighting “America’s war”.

farooq sulehria has a great piece in dissident voice on the way that this media and military campaign has been playing out in pakistan, and here is the upshot:

Over 700 people have been killed in U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan since 2006, with 164 killed in 14 attacks under Obama’s watch. These drone attacks are further fueling anti-U.S. sentiments.

Instead of finding an exit strategy in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is practicing an Iraq-style surge. But it is U.S. presence in the region that will sustain the conditions that breed Talbanisation. The longer the USA stays in Afghanistan, the longer the Taliban’s defeat will be delayed and the suffering of the poor masses prolonged. For those lucky enough to survive bombs dropped by the Pakistan military in Swat, they will also have to deal with the possibility of having their throats slit by Taliban hit squads. Or they have the option to become refugees in their own country.

and just like the american support for the zionist entity when it gives it massive bombs to pound gaza (which it is doing as i type, by the way) and then gives money to rebuild gaza (which it only pledged, it never actually gave the money), the americans are paying to bomb pakistan and now paying to supposedly help the refugees:

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has pledged $110m in humanitarian aid to Pakistan as part of Washington’s new strategy for helping Islamabad counter Taliban’s growing influence.

Clinton announced the aid package during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday.

She said the money is meant to ease the plight of at least two million Pakistanis who have fled fighting in the country’s Swat valley and are living in squalid tent cities.

US officials said $100m in aid would flow from Clinton’s state department and the other $10m will come from the defence department.

day of global action for troy davis (meanwhile the real criminals get away with mass murder)

khalil bendib
khalil bendib

below is an email i received from my friend jen marlowe on the international day of global action for troy davis:

Dear friends,

Troy Davis is a death row prisoner in Georgia, facing execution for a crime he very possibly didn’t commit. Two weeks ago, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his appeal for a new trial. His stay of execution ends May 15th.

I’ve been corresponding with Troy Davis for about a year and a half, and, through my interest in his case, have begun to grow more concerned about the death penalty in general.

I’m sending you a piece I wrote about Troy specifically and the death penalty generally. The article ran yesterday in CommonDreams.org. As always, I welcome your comments!

The link to the article is:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/05/10-6

And–I want to point out that May 19th is a day of global action for Troy Davis. There are solidarity events being planned in cities and towns all over the US. I hope you’ll consider taking part. More information is available at:
http://www.amnestyusa.org/death-penalty/troy-davis-finality-over-fairness/sign-up-for-the-day-of-action-for-troy-davis/page.do?id=1011672

All the best,

Jen Marlowe

in jen’s article, “the death penalty club,” to contextualize troy davis’ case, she compares the united states practices of the death penalty with other nations that violate human rights by using this barbaric practice under the guise of so-called “justice”:

The majority of the world has been moving towards abolishing the death penalty. Two thirds of all countries have abolished it in law or in practice-the most recent being Burundi. In all of Europe, Belarus is the only country that still practices capital punishment.

Even with the trend towards abolition, capital punishment remains a crucial global human rights issue, mostly due to a handful of egregious offender nations. In 2008, 2,390 prisoners were executed in twenty-five countries. 93% of those executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United States and Pakistan.

There are the only two countries in the world that have not ratified the UN Convention prohibiting the execution of children. They are Somalia and the United States. There are currently over sixty prisoners on death row in the US for crimes they committed as juveniles.

In April 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Commission passed its second Resolution Supporting Worldwide Moratorium on Executions, calling on countries which still practice capital punishment to restrict its use and not apply it to juveniles. Ten countries–including China, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sudan and the US–voted against the Resolution. A similar resolution was adopted by a large majority at the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, and once again this past December. Both times the USA was part of the small minority in dissent.

I don’t know if Troy Davis ponders the fact that our global colleagues regarding capital punishment include China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sudan and Somalia. But our membership in this infamous club should give all of us much pause.

There will all always be another Troy Davis, more and more possibly innocent prisoners on the chopping block, until the United States follows the lead of two-thirds of the world and fully abolishes the death penalty.

this is one of the many reasons why the united states and other countries like china and saudi arabia should not be allowed onto the united nations human rights council as i wrote the other day.

the san francisco bay view news reports on amnesty international’s plans for the global day of action that you can take part in:

To save Troy’s life, “we’re asking everybody to come out strong on May 19th – a day marked in human rights calendars across the world as the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis,” says Amnesty Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn.

“Whether you’re holding a ‘Text TROY to 90999’ sign on a busy street or organizing your local Amnesty chapter to hold a public demonstration or vigil, we need everybody to … register your Global Day of Action for Troy Davis activity or event now,” she said. For ideas and to register your event, go to Global Day of Action for Troy Davis.

“It’s really important that we get an accurate count of how many events and activities are taking place on May 19th, so we can share this information with officials in Georgia. Our emails and phone calls have gone a long way in buying Troy some much-needed time, but now we’ve got to take our action to the streets.

“We appreciate the tens of thousands of you who have stood in Troy’s corner while heart-stopping scenes have unfolded. On three separate occasions, Troy has been scheduled for execution. And on three separate occasions, his life was saved within a short period of time, even minutes, of his scheduled execution date.

“Each time, those last minute stays came after people like you turned out by the thousands to rally in his defense. It was no coincidence. Troy’s sister and long-time Amnesty activist, Martina Correia, has acknowledged Amnesty’s powerful role in saving her brother’s life each of those times.

“Now here we are again with the clock winding down,” warned the Amnesty spokesperson. “We are serious when we say that we need everyone to support Troy Davis on May 19th by organizing their own event or awareness-raising activity.

“After all, if you had 30 days left to fight for your life, wouldn’t you want to know that you had thousands standing in your corner?”

here is an interesting animated video from amnesty international explaining the context of troy davis’ case:

and for some inspiration and why capital punishment should be abolished here are the lyrics for one of my favorite ani difranco songs, “crime for crime” (back before ani drank the obama koolaid):

everyone needs to see the prisoner
they need to make it even easier
they see me as a symbol, and not a human being
that way they can kill me
say it’s not murder, it’s a metaphor
we are killing off our own failure
and starting clean

standing in the gallows
everyone turned my way
i hear a voice ask me
if i’ve got any last words to say
and i’m looking out over the field of familiar eyes
somewhere in a woman’s arms a baby cries

i think guilt and innocence
they are a matter of degree
what might be justice to you
might not be justice to me
i went too far, i’m sorry
i guess now i’m going home
so let any amongst you cast the first stone
now we’ve got all these complicated machines
so no one person ever has to have blood on their hands
we’ve got complex organizations
and if everyone just does their job
no one person has to understand

you might be the wrong color
you might be too poor
justice isn’t something just anyone can afford
you might not pull the trigger
you might be out in the car
and you might get a lethal injection
’cause we take a metaphor that far

but it isn’t just troy davis. and it isn’t just the death penalty that should be up for discussion. troy davis’ case is important, but it should be a symbol of abolishing the death penalty more generally. and it should be a symbol of what is wrong with the so-called “criminal justice” system more generally as well. it should also force us to think about and resist the united states’ practices at guantánamo, especially in light of what jeremy scahill recently revealed about its immediate reaction force or emergency reaction force, but as scahill explains, it is known as the extreme repression force:

Clive Stafford Smith, who has represented 50 Guantánamo prisoners, including 31 still imprisoned there, has seen the IRF teams up close. “They’re goons,” he says. “They’ve played a huge role.”

While much of the “torture debate” has emphasized the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” defined by the twisted legal framework of the Office of Legal Council memos, IRF teams in effect operate at Guantánamo as an extrajudicial terror squad that has regularly brutalized prisoners outside of the interrogation room, gang beating them, forcing their heads into toilets, breaking bones, gouging their eyes, squeezing their testicles, urinating on a prisoner’s head, banging their heads on concrete floors and hog-tying them — sometimes leaving prisoners tied in excruciating positions for hours on end.

The IRF teams “were fully approved at the highest levels [of the Bush administration], including the Secretary of Defense and with outside consultation of the Justice Department,” says Scott Horton, one of the leading experts on U.S. Military and Constitutional law. This force “was designed to disabuse the prisoners of any idea that they would be free from physical assault while in U.S. custody,” he says. “They were trained to brutally punish prisoners in a brief period of time, and ridiculous pretexts were taken to justify” the beatings.

So notorious are these teams that a new lexicon was created and used by prisoners and guards alike to describe the beatings: IRF-ing prisoners or to be IRF-ed.

Former Guantánamo Army Chaplain James Yee, who witnessed IRFings, described “the seemingly harmless behaviors that brought it on [like] not responding when a guard spoke.” Yee said he believed that during daily cell sweeps, guards would intentionally do invasive searches of the Muslim prisoners’ “private areas” and Korans to “rile the detainees,” saying it “seemed like harassment for the sake of harassment, and the prisoners fought it. Those who did were always IRFed.”

“I’ll put it like this,” Stafford Smith says. “My clients are afraid of them.”

“Up to 15 people attempted to commit suicide at Camp Delta due to the abuses of the IRF officials,” according to the Spanish investigation. Combined with other documentation, including prisoner testimony and legal memos, the IRF teams appear to be one of the most significant forces in the abuse of prisoners at Guantánamo, worthy of an investigation by U.S. prosecutors in and of themselves.

the above is just an excerpt, but i strongly recommend reading the entirety of scahill’s investigative report. jonathan cook has an important piece this week on the zionist entity’s guantánamo known as facility 1391:

The United Nation’s watchdog on torture has criticised Israel for refusing to allow inspections at a secret prison, dubbed by critics as “Israel’s Guantanamo Bay”, and demanded to know if more such clandestine detention camps are operating.

In a report published on Friday, the Committee Against Torture requested that Israel identify the location of the camp, officially referred to as “Facility 1391”, and allow access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Findings from Israeli human rights groups show that the prison has in the past been used to hold Arab and Muslim prisoners, including Palestinians, and that routine torture and physical abuse were carried out by interrogators.

The UN committee’s panel of 10 independent experts also found credible the submissions from Israeli groups that Palestinian detainees are systematically tortured despite the banning of such practices by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1999.

The existence of Facility 1391 came to light in 2002, when Palestinians were detained there for the first time during Israel’s reinvasion of the West Bank.

In a submission to the UN committee, Israel denied that any prisoners are currently being held at the site, although it admits that several Lebanese were detained there during the attack on Lebanon in 2006.

The committee expressed concern about an Israeli Supreme Court ruling in 2005 that found it “reasonable” for the state not to investigate suspicions of torture at the prison. The panel is believed to be concerned that without inspections the prison might still be in use or could be revived at short notice.

The Israeli court, the committee wrote, “should ensure that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment by detainees in Facility 1391 be impartially investigated [and] the results made public”.

Hamoked, an Israeli human rights organisation, first identified the prison after two Palestinian cousins seized in Nablus in 2002 could not be traced by their families. Israeli officials eventually admitted that the pair were being held at a secret site.

Israel still refuses to identify the precise location of the prison, which is inside Israel and about 100km north of Jerusalem. A few buildings are visible, but most of the prison is built underground.

“We only learnt about the prison because the army made the mistake of putting Palestinians there when they ran out of room in Israel’s main prisons,” said Dalia Kerstein, the director of Hamoked.

“The real purpose of the camp is to interrogate prisoners from the Arab and Muslim world, who would be difficult to trace because their families are unlikely to contact Israeli organisations for help.”

Ms Kerstein said the prison site was an even grosser violation of international law than Guantanamo Bay because it had never been inspected and no one knew what took place there.

According to the testimonies of the Palestinian cousins, Mohammed and Bashar Jadallah, they were held in isolation cells measuring two metres square, with black walls, no windows and a light bulb on 24 hours a day. On the rare occasions they were escorted outside, they had to wear blacked-out goggles.

When Bashar Jadallah, 50, asked where he was, he was told he was “on the moon”.

According to the testimony of Mohammed Jadallah, 23, he was repeatedly beaten, his shackles tightened, he was tied in painful positions to a chair, he was not allowed to go to the toilet and he was prevented from sleeping, with water thrown on him if he nodded off. Interrogators are also reported to have shown him pictures of family members and threatened to harm them.

Although Palestinians passing through the prison were interrogated by the domestic secret police, the Shin Bet, foreign nationals at the prison fall under the responsibility of a special wing of military intelligence known as Unit 504, whose interrogation methods are believed to be much harsher.

Shortly after the prison came to light, a former inmate – Mustafa Dirani, a leader of the Lebanese Shia group Amal – launched a court case in Israel claiming he had been raped by a guard.

Mr Dirani, seized from Lebanon in 1994, was held in Facility 1391 for eight years along with a Hizbollah leader, Sheikh Abdel Karim Obeid. Israel hoped to extract information from the pair in its search for a missing airman, Ron Arad, downed over Lebanon in 1986.

Mr Dirani alleged in court that he had been physically abused by a senior army interrogator known as “Major George”, including an incident when he was sodomised with a baton.

The case was dropped in early 2004 when Mr Dirani was released in a prisoner exchange.

Ms Kerstein said there was no proof that more prisons existed in Israel like Facility 1391, but some of the testimonies collected from former inmates suggested that they had been held at different secret locations.

She said the concern was that Israel might have been one of the countries that received “extraordinary rendition” flights, in which prisoners captured by the United States were smuggled to other countries for torture.

“If a democracy allows one of these prisons, who is to say that there are not more?” she said.

The committee examined other suspicions of torture involving Israel. It expressed particular concern about Israel’s failure to investigate more than 600 complaints made by detainees against the Shin Bet since the panel’s last hearings, in 2001.

It also highlighted the pressure put on Gazans who needed to enter Israel for medical treatment to turn informer.

Ishai Menuchin, executive director of Israel’s Public Committee against Torture, said his group had sent several submissions to the committee showing that torture was systematically used against detainees.

“After the court decision in 1999, interrogators simply learnt to be more creative in their techniques,” he said.

He added that, since Israel’s redefinition of Gaza as an “enemy state”, some Palestinians seized there were being held as “illegal combatants” rather than “security detainees”.

“In those circumstances, they might qualify for incarceration in secret prisons like Facility 1391.”

i find it so ironic that those who deserve justice–the political prisoners in any number of zionist jails or american jails or guantánamo–are ignored, are rendered invisible meanwhile those whose crimes were committed right out in the open continue to go unpunished. daniel machover and adri nieuwhof’s recent article in electronic intifada detils just why these war criminals form the zionist entity must be prosecuted, particularly for their crimes in the world’s largest open air prison, otherwise known as gaza:

As High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, EU countries are obligated to bring the legal duties of the Fourth Geneva Convention into their law. The basic starting point is enacting any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing or ordering any of the grave breaches of the convention (i.e., war crimes). The following grave breaches mentioned in the convention seem relevant to the assault on Gaza:

“[W]illful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention.”

EU countries also have the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed or to have ordered such grave breaches, and must bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts (or extradite them to another country that is prepared to prosecute).

The authoritative commentary on the Fourth Geneva Convention, published by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), states that:

“As soon as a contracting party realizes that there is on its territory a person who has committed … a [grave] breach, its duty is to ensure that the person concerned is arrested and prosecuted with all speed. The necessary police action should be taken spontaneously, therefore, not merely in pursuance of a request from another State.”

The ICRC commentary confirms that EU countries have an obligation to actively search for suspected war criminals. It follows that this duty should include maintaining border controls that enable a state to ensure that known suspects seeking to enter the jurisdiction are arrested on arrival. Many studies by human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Redress Trust, have looked at the compliance of states with their legislative obligations under the Geneva conventions and these reveal some shocking failures by major EU countries. Austria, France, Greece and Italy have simply done nothing to make it possible for suspected war criminals to be prosecuted in their countries under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Meanwhile, full compliance with the principle of universal jurisdiction has not been achieved in several countries and in Malta and Latvia the situation is not fully clear and requires further research. For example, in Belgium the requirements to exercise universal jurisdiction do not comply with the Geneva conventions, because they contain a series of complex rules regarding the status of the suspect and the victim, none of which are permitted in the conventions.

The mere presence of a suspected war criminal of whatever nationality on the territory of a state should be enough to trigger universal criminal jurisdiction, regardless of the nationality or current whereabouts of the victim. Moreover, with the EU’s obsession about the safety of borders and preventing undesirable people from entering the free market area, one would have thought that the member states would coordinate to ensure European countries never become safe havens for suspected war criminals.

Palestinian victims of alleged war crimes, just like other victims of war crimes, seek justice and the fair application of the rule of international criminal law to their cases. On 4 May, Judge Fernando Andreu of the Spanish National Court announced the decision to continue the investigation into the July 2002 bombing of al-Daraj, Gaza. This attack resulted in the deaths of 16 Palestinians, including 14 civilians. The decision represents a major step towards achieving justice for the victims. It opens the door for accountability, whereby suspected Israeli war criminals may be held responsible for the suffering they have inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza.

Fair criminal trials in EU member states, especially if they result in convictions, could provide genuine deterrence and begin to provide justice for Palestinian victims of Israeli actions. The EU has a massive role in that regard. Instead of paying lip service to injustices inflicted upon the Palestinian people by issuing statements “deploring the loss of life” and promises to “follow closely investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law,” EU countries would achieve much more by applying the rule of law to Israel, starting with making their laws match their obligations under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. After all, 60 years later there is little sign that the need for war crimes trials has reduced.

hasan abu nimah recently had a two-part article in electronic intifada, the first of which is called “ban ki moon’s moral failure” and the second of which is called “covering up israel’s gaza crimes with the un’s help” shows us how the real criminals–those committing state terrorism–are getting away with mass murder, massacres:

But the reality is that Ban has learned all the “right” lessons from the past. In 1996, then UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali published — against American “advice” — a UN report that demolished Israeli claims that its shelling on 18 April that year of the UN peacekeeping base in Qana, Lebanon, killing 106 people, was an accident. Boutros-Ghali effectively paid with his job as the Clinton Administration vetoed his bid for a second term. In 2002, after the Israeli army destroyed much of Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, the Security Council ordered then Secretary-General Kofi Annan to carry out an investigation. But Israel refused to allow the inquiry team into the country, and so Annan, rather than going back to the Security Council to ask for its support in carrying out his mandate, simply told the investigation team to disband and go home.

Ban is taking things even further. He apparently created the board of inquiry not in order to find out the truth, but only as a political exercise to cover himself from the charge of total inaction. But the board of inquiry members did take their mandate very seriously and honestly. By rejecting their call for accountability, Ban has in effect rejected and betrayed his own mandate to uphold the UN Charter and international humanitarian law.

And on what grounds did the secretary-general decide to publish only 27 pages? Most likely the rest of the report was not only damning to Israel, but would have exposed his decision to block further investigation as even more nakedly cynical.

It is especially puzzling since Ban himself had described the board of inquiry as “independent.” In response to allegations he had “watered down” the document, he stated: “I do not have any authority to edit or change any wording” of its “conclusion and recommendations.”

He did much more than that: he withheld 85 percent of the report! It may be true that the report is just an “internal document and is not for public release” as Ban wrote in his letter, and that the inquiry “is not a judicial body or court of law.”

as usual the real criminals who get away with torture and mass murder are the heads of state in the u.s. and the zionist entity to name the most prominent. and those who fall prey to its rules that never apply to the state itself and usually only to those who are poor and brown and muslim. and so where is the justice system here?

on human rights

the united nations human rights council has some new members including the united states, china, and saudi arabia. my first thoughts upon reading this report below was horror that these countries, which consistently violate human rights around the world and within their own borders, would be on such a council. but then again what countries do not? here is the story from al jazeera:

The United States has been elected to the UN Human Rights Council, after the administration of Barack Obama, the US president, ended a policy of boycotting it.

China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Russia, who have all been accused of serious rights violations, were also among the nations elected on Tuesday following a secret ballot.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, said that Washington still believed the body to be flawed.

“We are looking forward to working from within with a broad cross-section of member states to strengthen and reform the Human Rights Council.”

The administration of George Bush, the previous US president, had boycotted the council over its criticism of Israel and its failure to cite rights abuses in Sudan and elsewhere.

In March, the Obama administration said it would seek to join the council as part of a “new era of engagement” with the body.

The US was elected alongside Belgium and Norway to join the Western States bloc of nations sitting on the council.

Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Hungary, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uruguay will also join the 47-nation council for a three-year period.

The council was set up three years ago to replace the UN Human Rights Commission, which was widely criticised for failing to overcome political alliances and take a strong stand on issues including China’s rights record.

But the new council has also been criticised by the US for focusing on Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians and not taking a strong enough stand against violence in Tibet and Darfur.

Human Rights Watch has condemned the trading of votes for seats on the Human Rights Council as unacceptable.

last night on al jazeera’s “inside story” with lauren taylor there was a discussion about the council, but it is unfortunate that the entire panel was american because it seriously limited the perspective, especially with regard to american human rights violations around the world. they had steve crawsahw of human rights watch (which has its own biases that limit its work to actually fight for human rights), brett schaefer of the heritage foundation, and phyllis bennis of the institute for policy studies. here is the episode:

the premise of their discussion is flawed, for the most part, because they seem to think that there is potential in obama’s administration in being on board. but i would beg to differ. a reminder: the united states boycotted the recent durban 2 world conference against racism. to me this is one clear sign of american behavior on the world stage with respect to human rights. here is haidar eid’s assessment of the americans and others who boycotted and walked out of the durban 2 conference because they are unable to deal with the fact that zionism = racism:

We, Palestinians, are absolutely fed up with the so-called ‘International Community’. Has Durban II been a failure? Well, if we still believe in the role of western governments, especially those with a long colonial legacy, in playing a positive role vis-a-vis the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, we are, then, fooling ourselves. It is the power of people that we must bank on, just as it was in the case of apartheid South Africa, where a sustained global ‘Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions’ (BDS) campaign forced the same governments to boycott the Pretoria racist regime. Durban II was a reminder that whether it is Bush, or Obama, the Empire is the same. Patrice Lumumba once said: “I know that history will have its say some day, but it will not be history as written in Brussels, Paris or Washington, it will be our own.”

exactly. bush or obama it is the same. especially for foreign policy issues. another article by haidar from the socialist worker, which examines obama’s complicity with zionist terrorist war crimes in palestine, and obama’s silence over those war crimes gives yet another reason why the united states cannot be a credible member of a human rights council:

On April 17, there was an incident in Bil’in, in which a Palestinian youngster was shot dead. On the same day, another Palestinian was shot dead in Hebron. That was at the same time Mitchell was visiting Tel Aviv.

But unfortunately, the complicit silence from Obama’s White House continues. This has accompanied the cutoff of medicine, food and fuel to a starving Gaza. Patients in need of dialysis and other urgent medical treatment are dying every single day. A majority of us here in Gaza are badly undernourished. But not a single word of condemnation from the Obama administration.

on the home front–in the land of american settler colonialism–obama still has refused to come out in favor of a united nations resolution that would recognize the rights of indigenous peoples around the world. haidar rizvi reported on this for common dreams a couple of weeks ago:

The United States is considering whether to endorse a major U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for the recognition of the rights of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples over their lands and resources.

“The position on [this issue] is under review,” Patrick Ventrell, spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the U.N., told IPS about the Barack Obama administration’s stance on the non-binding U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Approved by a vast majority of the U.N. member states in September 2007, the General Assembly resolution on the declaration was rejected by the George W. Bush administration over indigenous leaders’ argument that no economic or political power has the right to exploit their resources without seeking their “informed consent.”

Three other “settler nations” of European descent, namely Canada, New Zealand and Australia, also voted against the declaration, which states that indigenous peoples have the right to maintain their cultures and remain on their land.

However, last month, the new left-leaning government in Canberra reversed its position, announcing support for the declaration.

“We show our respect for indigenous peoples,” said Jenny Macklin, a member of the Australian parliament. “We show our faith in a new era of relations between states and indigenous peoples in good faith.”

The new government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has also offered an apology to the indigenous communities who suffered at the hands of European settlers for decades.

Indigenous rights activists in the United States say they want the new liberal democratic government in Washington to make a similar move to address the grievances of native communities who have long been subjected to abuse and discrimination.

“The U.S. [should] become a resolute supporter of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” argued James Polk, who writes for Foreign Policy in Focus, a progressive periodical published by the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.

“It’s a comprehensive document that affirms that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, and that, in the exercise of their rights, they should be free from their discrimination,” he added.

The declaration reflects growing concerns of aboriginal communities about the continued exploitation of their resources and suppression of their cultural vales and practices by commercial concerns and governments that are alien to their cultures.

in new orelans, obama is also continuing the bush-era policy of denying rights of residents who are victims of the manmade disaster otherwise known as hurricane katrina as glen ford points out in the black agenda report this week:

The line between Bush and Obama has not simply blurred in New Orleans: it has disappeared.” President Obama has adopted, in whole, the Bush approach to rebuilding the city – minus the Black Diaspora that was scattered to the winds in 2005. Notices of eviction have been served on the mostly elderly and Black inhabitants of 3,000 FEMA trailers. The Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development is putting the finishing touches on public housing demolition in the city. Not a single “Katrina Cottage” has been made ready for occupancy. Obama no more favors the “right to return” to – or remain in – New Orleans, than Bush did.

and in america’s client regimes in its imperial role is another reason why the united states does not deserve a seat on a council for human rights. margaret kimberley’s article in today’s black agenda report addresses the violations of afghanistan and pakistan on obama’s watch:

Obama always knows how to make the terrible sound benevolent. In this case he says that we “must defeat al-Qaeda.” Most Americans had never heard of the word al-Qaeda until September 11, 2001 and will forever connect it with the death of 3,000 people. It is useful for Obama to phrase his assault in terms that will win him popular approval.

The Obama administration has openly undermined Ali Asif Zardari, the elected Pakistani president. Zardari’s main claim to legitimacy comes via his in-laws, the Bhutto family. If he were not Benazir Bhutto’s widower, this convicted embezzler, known as Mr. 10%, would not be president. Nevertheless, he is the president of a country that is allegedly an ally, and he should be treated with the respect he is due.

Yet the New York Times reports that Zardari has been told that his opposition will be courted and if necessary put into power with him if he balks at slaughtering his people on Washington’s command. In his 100 days press conference, Obama made himself crystal clear. “We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don’t end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.”
Not only are we supposed to be whipped into a frenzy at the very mention of words like al-Qaeda and Taliban, but we are now supposed to believe that Pakistan is on the verge of a mysterious “collapse” and that its nuclear weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists who will carry them around in briefcases, as in the plots of Hollywood thrillers. Zardari gets the thumb screw treatment, and we get outright lies.

“Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, is equally hapless and helpless in keeping his people safe from the demands of the United States. He has long complained about civilian deaths caused by attacks on the Taliban and he repeated himself in vain on Meet the Press. “Our villages are not where the terrorists are. And that’s what we kept telling the U.S. administration, that the war on terrorism is not in the Afghan villages, not in the Afghan homes. Respect that. Civilian casualties are undermining support in the Afghan people for the war on terrorism and for the, the, the relations with America. How can you expect a people who keep losing their children to remain friendly?” Obviously, such a people will not remain friendly but that has never been America’s concern. National Security Adviser James Jones said as much. “We can’t fight with one hand tied behind our back.”

Once again the United States repeats its long history of killing people and claiming it is for their own good. Afghanistan and Pakistan are just the latest on that awful list. While that dynamic doesn’t change, neither will the reaction of people around the world. They do hate us, and they have good reason to do so.

and under obama it seems the united states is continuing its policy of deporting haitians, including those seeking refuge from the recent devastating hurricanes as maria sacchetti reports in common dreams:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Representatives Barney Frank and Stephen Lynch are urging the Department of Homeland Security to grant Haitians temporary protected status, and Lynch cosponsored a bill that would force Secretary Janet Napolitano to take the step if she does not act on her own. The status would allow Haitian immigrants, legal and illegal, to remain here and work for a fixed amount of time.

State Representative Marie St. Fleur, who was born in Haiti, visited that country this spring and then met with White House aides on the issue last month. In January, Haitian Ambassador Raymond Joseph took it even further, by stalling deportations to Haiti. He refused to provide deportees’ travel documents until the Obama administration reviews its policy on Haiti.

“Anyone who requests a paper from us is not getting it,” he said Friday.

Last month Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Haiti and said the US government was reviewing its policy on granting Haitian immigrants temporary protected status.

But Napolitano, who has the granting authority, has stayed silent. Deportations halted last year after the hurricanes, but have resumed, including a plane filled with 48 convicted criminals who were deported to Haiti last month, said her spokesman Sean Smith.

Frank said Friday that the US policy is discriminatory. The government now provides temporary protection to five countries – El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan – but it has never offered it to Haiti.

and most recent, though by no means final, reason for the united states to be banned from any human rights council check out this latest news about obama blocking the publication of photographs of american torture as the bbc reports:

US President Barack Obama has changed his mind and will now attempt to block the publication of photographs showing the abuse of prisoners by US soldiers.

The US government had previously said it would not fight a court ruling ordering the release of the pictures.

Mr Obama now believes the release of the photos would make the job of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan more difficult, White House officials said.

The pictures were due to be released by 28 May, according to the court ruling.

The court order was issued by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in September 2008, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

i could go on and on, but this entire blog is documentation for american human rights violations at home and abroad. enough said.

making sri lanka into gaza

wayne madsen has a new revealing report from online journal that shows how the zionist entity is playing a role in the genocide of the tamil people in sri lanka:

The current offensive by the Sri Lankan government against the Tamil Tiger or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebel movement has trapped tens of thousands of refugees in a coastal strip still held by the rebels.

Sri Lanka’s military has been accused by human rights organizations of using massive firepower against the guerrillas that is resulting in civilian casualties. The comparison between Israel’s brutal attack on the Gaza Strip and its killing of over 1,000 civilians and the wounding of many thousands of others and the Sri Lankan assault on a three-mile long coastal strip controlled by the Tamil Tigers have been made by a number of observers, including Australia’s Green-Left Online in a May 2 article by Sean O Floinn & Emma Clancy: “A largely defenseless people struggling to survive and hemmed in on a narrow strip of land, facing indiscriminate air strikes, assault from gun boats and cluster bombs by a well-equipped army, conjures up the image of the recent Israeli invasion of Palestine’s Gaza Strip.”

However, there is more to the comparisons between Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip and Sri Lanka’s attack on the narrow strip of the Jaffna peninsula. In May 2000, a day after India refused to give Sri Lanka any military assistance in its war against the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lanka and Israel resumed diplomatic relations. Although the corporate media are focusing on Sri Lanka’s military assistance from China, little mention is being made of the island nation’s military links with Israel.

After the establishment of diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Colombo, Israeli military technicians arrived to maintain Sri Lanka’s Israeli-made Kfir fighter-bombers and Russian MiG-27 aircraft and provided Sri Lanka with Dvora fast naval attack craft. Israeli arms and ammunition also began flooding into Sri Lanka.

Soon, Israeli military advisers and “consultants” were regular visitors to Colombo’s new Access Lanka Building, owned by relatives of Sri Lanka’s top military officers. Among Israel’s security exports to Sri Lanka was state-of-the-art electronic and imagery surveillance equipment. Israeli Air Force pilots reportedly flew Sri Lankan attack aircraft against Tamil Tiger targets on the Jaffna peninsula. Israeli military personnel were also reported to have taken part in Sri Lankan military attacks on Tamil units.

Due to Israel’s military assistance to Sri Lanka, Palestinians reportedly began aiding the Tamils in the 1980s. It is also believed that Israel’s Mossad recruited agents among Sri Lanka’s large contingent of foreign workers in the Persian Gulf Arab states. There were also reports that Israelis were also providing weapons and training to Tamil guerrillas in order to maintain a “market” for Israeli arms suppliers in the civil war-wracked island nation.

On March 2, 2007, WMR reported: “WMR visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia and discovered that the Mossad and Cambodian criminal syndicate allies continue to obtain bought-back Cambodian weapons from Cambodian government warehouses and are selling them to guerrilla groups throughout Asia, including Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, anti-Laotian Hmongs, the small anti-communist Free Vietnam Movement, and Burmese tribal guerrilla groups. WMR photographed a number of Zim shipping containers portside along the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. From this and other port facilities, including the port of Sihanoukville, bought-back Cambodian weapons, some originally provided to the Khmer Rouge by [Israeli tycoon Shaul] Eisenberg and the Chinese, are making their way to insurgent groups around Asia, possibly including Iraqi guerrillas battling U.S. forces in Iraq.”

Tamil guerrillas have claimed to have destroyed an Israeli-made Sri Lankan fast naval attack craft, perhaps reminiscent of Hezbollah’s destruction of the INS Hanit, a Saar-V class missile corvette, which was deployed off the Lebanese coast during the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, with a C-802 Iranian-made Noor missile.

Although Sri Lanka suspended diplomatic ties with Israel in 1970 over the failure of the Israelis to withdraw from illegally occupied Palestinian territory, however, operating an Interests Section within the U.S. embassy in Colombo, Israeli-Sri Lankan ties began to grow closer in the mid-1980s. Israel provided Sri Lanka with military advisers and established a special commando unit for the Sri Lankan police.

In 1990, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa ordered the Israeli Interests Section at the U.S. embassy to close its doors and two Israeli diplomats in Colombo were ordered to leave. Premadasa was said to have come under pressire from Muslim ministers in his government. In 1990, Premadasa also ordered a government investigation of charges that Mossad was training both Sri Lankan and Tamil guerrilla forces.

On September 25, 1991, Reuters reported from Colombo: “Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, fighting against a campaign to have him impeached, yesterday accused the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of plotting against him because he closed the Israeli interests section in the U.S. embassy. He spoke at the opening session of parliament.”

On May 1, 1993, Premadasa was assassinated in Colombo during May Day festivities by a suicide bomber said to be a Tamil guerrilla. Twenty-three other people were killed in the blast. On May 28, 1993, Abdul Hameed Mohammed Azwer, Sri Lankan minister of state for Muslim affairs, said in Jeddah, “Israel was enraged by when they were expelled from Sri Lanka by Premadasa and I suspect the Mossad was behind the dastardly murder of this respected leader.”

Those behind Premadasa’s assassination remains an Asian “cold case.” On September 23, 1997, Attorney General Sarath Silva released 18 Tamil suspects in the assassination of the president, citing lack of evidence. Silva declared the case would be officially deemed as “unsolved.”

During a March 2009 trip to Israel by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, talks were held with Israel’s leading arms suppliers on increased military aid by the Israelis to Sri Lanka.

Israel continues to supply Sri Lanka with arms and military training even after the United States and Britain cut off military supplies to Sri Lanka over the government’s human rights violations.

amnesty international has a new report on what they call a “blood bath” in sri lanka, though as with their reports on gaza they seem to think that there are two equal sides in this scenario. here is part of their statement:

The horrific condition facing civilians in north eastern Sri Lanka has been described as a “bloodbath” by the United Nations. Amnesty International has said that it demands immediate action by the United Nations Security Council.

In the last few days, more than 400 people – including more than 100 children – are reported to have been killed in a two-day bombardment of the 2 square kilometre area designated as a “Safe Zone” by the Sri Lankan army. This brings the total estimated casualty figure to more than 7,000 killed and 13,000 injured since January. There are an estimated 50,000 civilians still trapped in the area.

Medical personnel in the area have told Amnesty International that the artillery barrage continued throughout the weekend. The Sri Lankan government has denied using artillery, instead blaming the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

al jazeera keeps hedging on its language too, with respect to the facts of the situation, but part of the problem is that the sri lankan government is not allowing media outlets into the areas where the government is committing a genocide against the tamil people and so there is no way to offer eyewitness reports. this is the one difference between gaza and sri lanka: although the only international media outlet inside gaza was al jazeera english, at least there was one credible news agency available to document the war crimes committed there. in this report we have john terrett in new york city reporting on sri lanka thousands of miles away:

on their website al jazeera shows satellite photographs of the hospital the sri lankan government attacked, though it denies attacking it. if you click on the link below you’ll see the before and after images. here is some of the text accompanying those pictures:

But satellite images released by the American Association for the Advancement of Science show craters that seem to indicate heavy weapons had been used recently.

John Holmes, the UN humanitarian chief, said the government was still using heavy weapons, although he did not say who was responsible for Tuesday’s attack.

“The government have said they are not using heavy weapons, but the evidence suggests that they are continuing to do so, at least to some extent, and that’s obviously contributing to the dreadful casualty figures that we’ve seen,” he said in Geneva.

Holmes also accused the Tamil Tigers of holding the civilians in the war zone as human shields, a claim supported by testimony from those who have fled the war zone.

Rights group Human Rights Watch also disputed the government’s insistence that it has stopped using heavy weapons in the war zone, but also blamed the Tamil Tigers for trapping civilians.

“Recent satellite photos and witness accounts show the brutal shelling of civilians in the conflict area goes on,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at the US-based group.

“Neither the Sri Lankan army nor the Tamil Tigers appear to have any reluctance in using civilians as cannon fodder,” he added.

Tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting in recent weeks to state-run refugee camps, but the UN estimates that about 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the narrow strip of land still held by the Tamil Tigers.

The LTTE is believed to be close to defeat in its 26-year battle for a separate homeland in the north and east of the island for the country’s minority Tamils.

The government has rejected international calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, saying it would allow the LTTE to regroup.

Tuesday’s attack came after a weekend of heavy shelling that killed more than 300 people and injured more than 1,000 civilians in what the UN has described as a “bloodbath”.

Many of the casualties from that fighting had been taken to the Mullivaikal hospital shelled on Tuesday.