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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thousands of significant Iraqi ancient sites still unguarded


Thousands of significant Iraqi ancient sites still unguarded

By Shaymaa Adel

January 30, 2012

Thousands of Iraqi archaeological sites remain unguarded nearly eight years after the 2003-U.S. invasion, said the chief of Iraqi Antiquities Department Qais Hussein.

Hussein cited the southern Province of Dhi Qar, Iraq’s richest in ancient treasures, as an example where there are 1,200 archaeologically significant sites but only 200 guards.

Dhi Qar of which Nasiriya is the provincial capital, was the center of Sumerian civilization which flourished in southern Iraq more than 5,000 years ago.

The Sumerians invented writing and established the first urban settlements in man’s history.

"We have been writing to the concerned authorities to allow us to appoint more guards but to no avail," he said.

In the absence of guards, the sites become easy targets for illegal diggers, trying to uncover ancient relics and have them smuggled abroad.

Some of Iraq’s finest Mesopotamian sites are reported to have been looted of some of their most significant contents.

While most of the museum items that went missing in the chaos that followed the 2003-U.S. invasion, Iraqi scientists say huge numbers of relics dug up illegal from unguarded mounds are not changing hands between smugglers and illegal art dealers.

Hussein said there were more than 12,000 archaeologically significant mounds in Iraq which by law are entitled for protection.

But he said the Antiquities Department only has 1,200 guards, leaving more than 10,000 ancient sites without protection.

Multiculturalism has no place in Israel

"Multiculturalism has no place in Israel.
Israel was created as a Jewish state for the Jews"
Herald Sun
Australia's biggest-selling daily newspaper
September 27, 2000
Multiculturalism not for Israel - Leibler
By John Masanauskas
Isi Leibler
Melbourne - Jewish leader Isi Leibler, a staunch defender of Australian multiculturalism, says the policy has no place in Israel.
"This is a country which was set up and created as a Jewish country for the Jews," he told a Jerusalem newspaper.
Mr. Leibler has previously said that multiculturalism in Australia was something that "we are all proud being part and parcel of."
The founder of Jetset Travel moved to Israel two years ago as chairman of the World Jewish Congress. He recently published an essay arguing that Zionism, or Jewish nationalism, was under threat in Israel by "post-Zionists".
"A post-Zionist is someone who actually looks positively towards the end of the Jewish people in ethnocentric terms, as a national group, and no longer sees the Jewish people as one united people," he told the Jerusalem Post.
Mr. Leibler said post-Zionists were pushing a universalist agenda in schools aimed at eliminating Jewish nationalism and creating a multicultural state.
But Mr. Leibler, 65, has the opposite view of multiculturalism in Australia.
During the Pauline Hanson debate in 1993, he warned that multiculturalism was under threat by extremists.
"There is a need to sit together and establish a way in which Australians can recapture that spirit of multiculturalism which I think we are all proud being part and parcel of, and which is really under threat," Mr. Leibler said.

The consequences [of race mixing] is that mongrels combine manifold characterlessness, lack of restraint, weakness of will, unsteadiness, impiety and disloyalty with versatility, intellectual alertness, freedom of prejudice and the distance of horizon. ...
The future European race will be a mongrel race ... It will be the Eurasian-Negroide race ...
Eventually, from persecutions a small community emerged, hardened by the martyrdom they heroically endured for an idea, thus purified of all weak-willed elements and intellectual poverty. ...
Instead of destroying European Jewry, Europe, against its own will, refined and educated this people into a future leader-nation through this artificial selection process. No wonder that this people, that escaped Ghetto-Prison, developed into a spiritual nobility of Europe. Therefore a gracious Providence provided Europe with a new race of nobility through spiritual grace. This happened at the moment when Europe’s feudal aristocracy became dilapidated and thanks to Jewish emancipation.
Coudenhove-Kalergi, Praktischer Idealismus (Practical Idealism), Wien/Leipzig 1925, pages 20, 23, 50

Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, father of the EU-idea, was married to a Jewess and promoted an Eurasian-Negroid European nation to be led by a racially pure Jewish people in his book "Practical Idealism". It is striking that he refers in his book, published 1925, to a Jewish martyrdom at a time when no-one thought of a holocaust and nobody would have expected that Jewry could become a victim of a holocaust or of a similar martyrdom.
Yet, Coudenhove-Kalergi wrote as early as 1925 that Jewry emerged purified from a martyrdom of destruction which moulded them into a future leader-nation. This means that he referred to the kept secret 6-Million-Holocaust of 1919 that was already required as the religious basis of Jewish world leadership. On October 31, 1919 the 'American Hebrew' (New York) announced: "Six million men and women are dying ... And this fate is upon them through no fault of their own, ... but through the awful tyranny of war and a bigoted lust for Jewish blood. In this threatened holocaust of human life ..."
The first 6-Million "Burnt Offering" (Holocaust) of 1919 had been made, according the 'American Hebrew', in the Ukraine. It was after the Balfour-Declaration (1917) that granted the Jewish nation the right to "return" and to confiscate "the promised land". A Jewish priesthood interpreted God’s promise for the "return" to Erez-Israel as necessitating a "6-Million Burnt Offering" which had to be made before being permitted to return as a refined people and "purified nation of martyrdom".
The foremost holocaust priest, Elie Wiesel, explained it in this way: "The Holocaust is a sacred mystery, whose secrets were confined to a priesthood of survivors." (P. Novick, ‘The Holocaust in American Life’, 1999, page. 211).
The first holocaust of 1919 ("burnt offering") has, according to Coudenhove-Kalergi, obviously functioned as an "artificial selection process" from which the Jews emerged as a "refined and purified martyr nation" which enables them to be the leader nation of the future world. The "artificial selection process" for racial purity complies with God’s instruction. The Talmud states: "God speaks to the Jews: 'Do not come before me as a mixed people'." (Talmud, Goldmann Publishers, Munich 1988, p. 131)
On the other hand the idea of multiculturalism forces all other races to inter-mix and therefore suffer a "weakness of will", according to Count Coudenhove-Kalergi. People with a weakness of will can be more easily directed and ruled than those with independent will-power by the "future leader-nation"

"Thus an Orthodox Jew learns from his earliest youth, as part of his sacred studies, that Gentiles [non-Jews] are compared to dogs."
Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion, Pluto Press, London 1994, page 94 (ISBN 0 7453 0818 X)



Patrick J. Buchanan-Who Wants War With Iran?


Jan 20, 2012

By Patrick J. Buchanan

On Sept. 21, 1976, as his car rounded Sheridan Circle on Embassy Row, former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier was assassinated by car bomb. Ronni Moffitt, a 25-year-old American women who worked with Letelier at the leftist Institute for Policy Studies, died with him.

Michael Townley, an ex-CIA asset in the hire of Chile’s intelligence agency, confessed to using anti-Castro Cubans to murder Letelier, in what was regarded as an act of terrorism on U.S. soil.

Which raises a question: Are not the murders of four Iranian scientists associated with that nation’s nuclear program, by the attachment of bombs to their cars in Tehran, also acts of terrorism?

Had the Stalin- or Khrushchev-era Soviets done this to four U.S. scientists in Washington, would we not have regarded it as acts of terrorism and war?

Iran has accused the United States and Israel of murder. But Hillary Clinton emphatically denied any U.S. complicity: “I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran.”

“The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this,” added National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, “We strongly condemn all acts of violence, including acts of violence like this.”

Victoria Nuland, Clinton’s spokeswoman at State, denounced “any assassination or attack on an innocent person, and we express our sympathies to the family.”

The assassinated scientist was a supervisor at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility that hosts regular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. If Iran is building a bomb, it is not at Natanz.

U.S. denial of involvement leaves Mossad as the prime suspect. Israel has not denied it, and this comes at a sensitive time in U.S.-Israeli relations.

In Foreign Policy magazine, author and historian Mark Perry, claiming CIA documentation, alleges that Mossad agents in London posed as CIA agents and contacted Jundallah, a terrorist group, to bribe and recruit them to engage in acts of terror inside Iran.

Jundallah has conducted attacks in Sistan-Baluchistan province, killing government officials, soldiers, and women and children.

According to Perry, when George W. Bush learned of the Mossad agents posing as CIA while recruiting terrorists, he “went totally ballistic.”

Yet Meir Dagan, head of Mossad at the time, denies it, and, ironically, has called any Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities “the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”

Who is telling the truth? We do not know for sure.

What we do know is that “Bibi” Netanyahu is desperate to have the United States launch air and missile strikes to stop Teheran from becoming the world’s ninth nuclear power. And he is echoed not only by U.S. neocons, but GOP candidates save Ron Paul.

Nor should we be surprised.

To bring America into its war with Germany, Winston Churchill set up William Stephenson, “A Man Called Intrepid,” with hundreds of agents in New York to engage in everything from bribery to blackmail of U.S. senators to get the United States to enter the war and pull England’s chestnuts out of the fire.


This is what desperate countries do.

And while America First kept us out of the European war until Adolf Hitler invaded Russia, ensuring that Russians, not Americans, died in the millions to defeat him, eventually America was maneuvered into war.

Whoever is assassinating these Iranian scientists, be it homegrown Iranian terrorists, Jundallah at the instigation of Israel, or Mossad, the objective is clear: Enrage the Iranians so they strike out at America, provoking a U.S.-Iranian war.
Is such a war in America’s interests? Consider.

While U.S. air and naval power would prevail, Iranian civilians would die, as some of their nuclear facilities are in populated areas. Moreover, we cannot kill the nuclear knowledge Iran has gained. Thus we would only set back their nuclear program by several years. And a bloodied and beaten Iran would then go all-out for a bomb.

The regime, behind which its people would rally, would emerge even more entrenched. U.S. bombing did not cause Germans to remove Hitler or Japanese to depose their emperor. And we lack the ground troops to invade and occupy a country three times the size of Iraq.

All U.S. ships, including carriers in that bathtub the Persian Gulf, would be at risk from shore-based anti-ship missiles and the hundreds of missile boats in Iran’s navy. Any sea battle would send oil prices to $200 and $300 a barrel. There goes the eurozone.

Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shia of the Saudi oil fields and Bahrain, home port to the Fifth Fleet, and Iranian agents in Afghanistan and Iraq could set the region aflame.

As America started up the road to Baghdad in 2003, Gen. David Petraeus is said to have asked, “Tell me how this ends.”

Before some agent provocateur pushes us into war with Iran, Congress should debate the wisdom of authorizing President Obama, or anyone else, to take America into her fifth war in a generation in the Middle and Near East. 
---------------------------------------------

Patrick J. Buchanan-Who Commissioned Us to Remake the World?

By Patrick J. Buchanan


U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, Obama’s man in Moscow, who just took up his post, has received a rude reception. And understandably so.

In 1992, McFaul was the representative in Russia of the National Democratic Institute, a U.S. government-funded agency whose mission is to promote democracy abroad.

The NDI has been tied to color-coded or Orange revolutions such as those that dethroned regimes in Serbia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Lebanon. The project miscarried in Belarus.

The NDI is one of several agencies, dating to the 1980s, that were set up to subvert communist regimes. With the end of the Cold War, however, these agencies were not decommissioned, but recommissioned to serve as something of an American Comintern.

Where the old Comintern of Lenin sought to instigate communist revolutions across the West and its empires, post-Cold War America decided to promote democratic revolutions to remake the world in the image of late 20th century America.


In 2002, McFaul wrote a book: “Russia’s Unfinished Revolution.”

Vladimir Putin’s men are not unreasonably asking if he was sent to Moscow to finish that revolution. Putin has already accused Hillary Clinton of flashing the signal for street demonstrations to begin — to protest Russia’s December’s elections.

Nor is it surprising the Putin’s people are suspicious of McFaul, who added to his problems by meeting with anti-Putin dissidents the day after he presented his credentials.

McFaul says this is part of his “dual-track engagement” with Russian society. Before leaving for Moscow, he told NPR’s “Morning Edition”: “We’re not going to get into the business of dictating (Russia’s) path (to democracy). … We’re just going to support what we like to call ‘universal values’ — not American values, not Western values, universal values.”

But what, exactly, are these “universal values”?

And who are we to impose them on other nations? Did Divine Providence assign us this mission? Who do we Americans think we are?

After all, we do not even agree ourselves on what is moral and immoral, good and evil. Indeed, our own deep disagreements on what is moral and what is not are at the root of the culture wars tearing this country apart.

In America, women have a constitutional right to an abortion. Scores of millions have availed themselves of that right since Roe v. Wade. Yet traditionalists of many faiths — Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish — reject any such woman’s right and regard it as a moral abomination.

Do homosexuals have a right to cohabit, form civil unions and marry?

In a few American states, yes; in others, no. But try to impose those values on nations of the Muslim and Third Worlds, where homosexuality is a moral outrage and even a capital offense, and our ambassadors will find themselves in physical peril.

Does McFaul believe democracy is a universally superior system of government? Yet our own founding fathers detested one-man, one-vote democracy. Democracy does not even get a mention in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the Federalist Papers.

The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, believed society should be ruled by a “natural aristocracy” of “virtue and talent.”

If the promotion of democracy is a mission of our diplomats, are we to subvert the monarchies of Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia?

When we see how democracy empowered the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis in Egypt, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, does it even make sense to insist that it be embraced by nations where the populations are pervasively anti-American?

What is the universally right stand on capital punishment — the Rick Perry position in Texas or the Andrew Cuomo position in New York?

In the United States, all religions — Santeria, Wicca, Islam, Christianity — are to be treated equally and all kept out of the public square and the pubic schools. In a Muslim world that contains a fifth of mankind, Islam is the one true faith. Rival faiths have few or no rights.

Are we going to push the Islamic world to treat all religions equally?

We celebrate religious, racial and ethnic diversity. The Chinese, who persecute Uighurs, Tibetans, Christians and Falun Gong, detest that diversity and fear it will tear their country apart.

We believe in freedom of speech and the press.

Yet, in France, if you deny the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians in 1915, you are guilty of a crime, while in Turkey if you affirm that the Turks committed genocide, you have committed a crime. Should U.S. diplomats battle for repeal of both laws? Or mind our own business?

If America wishes to lead the world, let us do it by example, as we once did, not by hectoring every nation on earth to adopt the American way, which as of now, does not seem to be working all that well for Americans.

McFaul should stick to his diplomatic duties.

Jefferson had it right, “We wish not to meddle with the internal affairs of any country.” 
-----------------------------------

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mormonism besieged by the modern age

REUTERS

Special report: Mormonism besieged by the modern age

Photo

By Peter Henderson and Kristina Cooke

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Reuters) - A religious studies class late last year at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, was unusual for two reasons. The small group of students, faculty and faithful there to hear Mormon Elder Marlin Jensen were openly troubled about the future of their church, asking hard questions. And Jensen was uncharacteristically frank in acknowledging their concerns.
Did the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know that members are "leaving in droves?" a woman asked.
"We are aware," said Jensen, according to a tape recording of his unscripted remarks. "And I'm speaking of the 15 men that are above me in the hierarchy of the church. They really do know and they really care," he said.
"My own daughter," he then added, "has come to me and said, 'Dad, why didn't you ever tell me that Joseph Smith was a polygamist?'" For the younger generation, Jensen acknowledged, "Everything's out there for them to consume if they want to Google it." The manuals used to teach the young church doctrine, meanwhile, are "severely outdated."
These are tumultuous times for the faith founded by Joseph Smith in 1830, and the rumbling began even before church member Mitt Romney's presidential bid put the Latter-Day Saints in the spotlight.
Jensen, the church's official historian, would not provide any figures on the rate of defections, but he told Reuters that attrition has accelerated in the last five or 10 years, reflecting greater secularization of society. Many religions have been suffering similarly, he noted, arguing that Mormonism has never been more vibrant.
"I think we are at a time of challenge, but it isn't apocalyptic," he said.

The LDS church claims 14 million members worldwide -- optimistically including nearly every person baptized. But census data from some foreign countries targeted by clean-cut young missionaries show that the retention rate for their converts is as low as 25 percent. In the U.S., only about half of Mormons are active members of the church, said Washington State University emeritus sociologist Armand Mauss, a leading researcher on Mormons.
Sociologists estimate there are as few as 5 million active members worldwide.
In Africa and Latin America, however, Jensen said that interest in the LDS was so strong that the church has cut back baptisms in order to better care for new members.

THE RESCUE

With defections rising, the church has launched a program to staunch its losses. The head of the church, President Thomas Monson, who is considered a living prophet, has called the campaign "The Rescue" and made it his signature initiative, according to Jensen. The effort includes a new package of materials for pastors and for teaching Mormon youth that address some of the more sensitive aspects of church doctrine. "If they are not revolutionary, they are at least going to be a breath of fresh air across the church," Jensen told the Utah class.
All this comes as the public profile of America's Mormons had been raised by two pop-culture hits: the recent TV series "Big Love" and the current Broadway hit, "The Book of Mormon." The attention, says church spokesman Michael Purdy, is a "double-edged sword."
It has been an opportunity to educate the public about Mormonism and fight misconceptions. For example, the "I am a Mormon" ad campaign, which features stereotype-busting Mormons who are black or single parents, helped boost chat sessions on the church's website to more than a million in the last 12 months.
The curious find a family-focused church with socially conservative values that teaches Christian principles and believes Christ appeared to founder Joseph Smith in America, where Smith established the new religion.
Church members are satisfied with their lives, content with their communities, strongly see themselves as Christian and believe acceptance of Mormons is increasing, a recent Pew Research poll of people who describe themselves as Mormon found.
But on Broadway, the church's gospel and missionary zeal are mocked. And the Web has intensified debate over the truth of the history the church teaches.
Not since a famous troublespot in Mormon history, the 1837 failure of a church bank in Kirtland, Ohio, have so many left the church, Jensen said.
"Maybe since Kirtland, we've never had a period of - I'll call it apostasy, like we're having now," he told the group in Logan.
Then he outlined how the church was using the technologies that had loosened its grip on the flock to reverse this trend.
"The church has a very progressive research and information division, with tremendous public opinion surveyors," he said. Among other steps, it has hired an expert in search-engine optimization to raise the profile of the church's own views in a web search.
Researchers note a rising tide of questions from church members about the gospel according to Joseph Smith's The Book of Mormon, the best known of the Latter-day Saints' scriptures. Over the years, church literature has largely glossed over some of the more controversial aspects of its history, such as the polygamy practiced by Smith and Brigham Young, who lead the Mormons to Utah.
The church denied the higher priesthood to blacks until 1978 and still bars sexually active homosexuals from its temples. The church's active role in promoting California's Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage, drove away some its more liberal members.
Moreover, church leaders have taught that the Book of Mormon is a historical document -- not a parable -- so the faithful are startled to find articles on the internet using science to contradict it.
For example, the book describes Israelites moving in 600 BC to the Americas, where they had horses and other domesticated animals. But Spaniards introduced horses to the New World many centuries later, and extensive DNA studies have failed to find any genetic link between Israelites and Native Americans, suggesting instead that North America's indigenous population came across the Bering Strait from Asia many thousands of years ago.
"I think you can find scientific studies coming down on both sides, but the Book of Mormon doesn't live or die on scientific evidence," Jensen said.
But Christian Anderson, 41, a non-practicing Mormon in Columbia, South Carolina, for years filed away on a mental "shelf" concerns about the historical veracity of the religion's central text and its socially conservative views. "It came to a point where the shelf was too heavy," he said. He quit attending service, telling himself, "Ok, I'm done."
That's a common story to PhD student John Dehlin, who conducts conferences nationally for "unorthodox Mormons" wrestling with doubts and has a podcast, mormonstories.org.
"I think this is an epidemic for the church," said Dehlin. "Most of the people we cater to have been life-long members."
The church is particularly concerned, however, about its younger members -- the ones who are asked to dedicate two years of their life to spreading the Mormon gospel.
"It's a different generation," Elder Jensen told the group in Logan. "There's no sense kidding ourselves, we just need to be very upfront with them and tell them what we know and give answers to what we have and call on their faith like we all do for things we don't understand."

REACHING OUT TO GAYS

Certainly the church can change, as it did a generation ago in admitting blacks to the higher priesthood. And it has now reached out, quietly, to the gay community.
LDS support of Prop 8 became a lightning rod both inside and outside the Church. There were demonstrations in Salt Lake City, which is home to the Mormon tabernacle but was also just named the "the gayest city in America" by the Advocate magazine, crediting its numerous gay-friendly bars, book stores and neighborhoods. In the wake of the Prop 8 battle, Brandie Balken, executive director of gay rights group Equality Utah, was one of five gay advocates who met with three LDS officials to ease tensions.
What was supposed to be a half hour or hour meeting stretched to two hours. Participants took turns describing their background. Balken talked about her love of gardening -- and the pain infusing the family of her wife, who was the only gay child in a big LDS family.
Most of the church members present said they weren't aware of anyone they knew being gay, but they had heard from parents whose gay children were no longer speaking to them and who felt caught between their religion and their family.
There was no immediate agreement. But the Church did in 2009 support a job and housing anti-discrimination measure in Salt Lake City, saying that opposing discrimination was a separate issue from same-sex marriage. Now Utah Democratic Senator Ben McAdams and Republican Representative Derek Brown are proposing a similar statewide bill, and the Church's position on that will be significant.
I have never ever been associated with an organization that changes as fast as the Mormon church," said former church researcher Ray Briscoe, 79, whose investigations helped spur movement on issues such as the treatment of blacks.
"I don't think God was ever against blacks in the priesthood. We just had to grow up enough to accept it," he said. As for gays -- "it will get there, in my judgment."

PRESIDENTIAL ISSUE

This crisis of faith in the LDS church remains largely offstage in the race for the presidency. Mitt Romney's religion has been less of a prominent issue on the campaign trail this time around than in 2008.
Still, in heavily evangelical South Carolina, Romney won only one-tenth of the vote among those who said a candidate's religious beliefs mattered to them a great deal.
Many evangelicals say they do not consider the LDS church to be Christian.
And to some voters, Mormonism remains a complete enigma. During the South Carolina primary, one Mormon woman there said an acquaintance was surprised to see her driving a car, confusing Mormons with the Amish.
Individual Mormons are encouraged to participate in public life, including running for office and supporting candidates, but the church officially stays out of electoral politics. It won't allow its property to be used for polling, unlike many other churches, and has been careful not to run the "I am a Mormon" ads in early primary states.
But that's not to say church leadership isn't watching Romney's campaign with interest.
"There have been discussions at LDS church headquarters about both the positive and negative aspects of Romney's presidential bid," a person briefed on the talks said. "One concern is that Romney's campaign could further energize evangelical antipathy toward the church. Another concern is that he could take positions that would complicate the church's missionary efforts in the U.S. or other countries such as in Central and South America."
But on the positive side, the person said, "having a Mormon president could raise the church's profile and legitimize it in other countries."
(Reporting By Peter Henderson and Kristina Cooke, editing by Lee Aitken)

Anti-Zionism in the 21st Century


Anti-Zionism in the 21st Century

By Tariq Shadid

52palestine_maps.jpg
The struggle of the Palestinians is a struggle against Zionism.

January 29, 2012

The essence of the Palestinian struggle is the battle against Zionism. It is a battle against its racism, against its murderous war crimes, against its insatiable territorial hunger, against its disdain for non-Jewish human rights, and against its devoted attempts to destroy Palestinian national identity. As voices of normalization are on the rise, and social media is invaded by paid pro-Zionist bloggers, there is an increased need for anti-Zionists to draw attention to the crimes committed by 'Israel', and to speak up against the ongoing media silence and the apologist activities of those misleadingly portraying themselves as 'peace doves'. Let us first look briefly at the history of the anti-Zionist struggle, and then see where we stand today.

The Ideology of Zionism
Years before the creation of the state of 'Israel', there was already a full-blown battle going on against Zionism. On one side, the Palestinians were resisting against the usurpation of their land, having grown aware of the far-stretching implications of the Balfour declaration of 1917, which laid the foundation for the mass-immigration of European Jews into Palestine. In those same decades, there was also an ongoing struggle within the Jewish communities in Europe, where many were opposed to the tenets of Zionism either on a religious basis, or on the realization that colonizing an inhabited land would inevitably cause an injustice that would continue to reverberate for many years to come. A famous example of this in that period of time was the famous genius Albert Einstein, who in 1938 already expressed his opposition to the creation of a 'Jewish state', and in a letter to the New York Times that he wrote together with a number of prominent Jews in 1948, strongly denounced the horrendous Deir Yassin massacre.
The ongoing struggle of the Palestinians against Zionism and the continuing expropriation of their land is well-known, but not everyone is aware that within Jewish ranks, true ideological opposition against Zionism still exists. The most well-known group among these is Neturei Karta ('Guardians of the City'), an organization of international Jews united against Zionism. On another note, within the current framework of the Zionist state, a coalition of groups that call themselves 'Campus Watchdogs' recently went as far as labeling 10 % of Israeli academics as 'anti-Zionist'. It is likely that this number is highly overrated, since this McCarthyism-like approach can be expected to have lumped together a wide variety of people who expressed criticism at their government's actions. In a similar way that outside criticism of 'Israel' quickly gets labeled as 'anti-Semitism', many of the one thousand mentioned academics, publicists and journalists are likely to have received the label of 'anti-Zionist' despite adhering to many of Zionism's principles.

Tribal, Religious, or Ideological?
For some, the ongoing misery is a war between two peoples, basically a 'tribal war'. Others prefer seeing it as a war between religions, with Judaism on one side and Muslims on the other side. Those who adopt this view are ignoring the pluralistic ethnic and religious composition of the Palestinian people, and are for instance ignoring the fact that many Palestinians are Christians, who have not been spared the gruesome fate of their Muslim compatriots. Thirdly, there are those who view the struggle as a battle between ideologies: Zionism on one side, and anti-Zionism on the other.
As the original PLO manifesto (28 May 1964) stated, the organization declared that "Palestine with its boundaries that existed at the time of the British mandate is an integral regional unit"  and that it sought to "prohibit the existence and activity of Zionism". It also contained statements calling for a right of return and self-determination for the Palestinians. When reading the manifesto, it becomes clear that the PLO, the first more officially organized Palestinian movement against the land theft and expulsion committed by the Zionist terrorist organizations that later declared the Zionist state, was an explicitly anti-Zionist movement. The PLO incorporated the various existing political movements in one body, and was declared to be the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This was widely accepted by an overwhelming majority of Palestinians.

The Oslo Disaster
As illustrated above, the foundations of the Palestinian struggle were based on the territorial integrity of Palestine (i.e. the one state solution) and the right of return of all expelled Palestinians. These original foundations became embedded in an entire generation of Palestinians worldwide. In 1993, the leadership under Yaser Arafat adopted the two-state solution instead, which largely happened in a top-down manner and led to the Oslo accords, However, it soon became clear to all that the Oslo accords were only accepted by 'Israel' as a deceptive method to hypnotize the Palestinians as well as the masses of the world into an illusion of Israeli willingness for territorial concessions, while in truth confiscating huge swathes of land, building a separation wall and almost tripling the settler population (from 250,000 to 700,000). It should be no surprise that even early on, as the scam became blatantly clear to all except seemingly to the leadership of the newly created Palestinian Authority, the original tenets of the struggle were yet again embraced by many Palestinians inside of Palestine as well as in the diaspora.

Return to the Struggle
As the state of confusion created by the Oslo accords lingered on, some defeatist voices however also turned to normalization, instead of returning to the basics of the struggle. It is not to be wondered at that disillusion and opportunism play their role in such a complex situation, wherein many lose hope when faced with the overwhelming military, economical and strategic dominance of the Zionist state. Nevertheless, youth movements that are currently active in keeping the struggle for Palestinian rights alive, predominantly see anti-normalization as one of their main strategic goals. They adhere to the above-mentioned basic tenets of the struggle, and reject the failed formula of negotiations that is still pursued by the Palestinian Authority, despite its lack of popular mandate for it. For most Palestinians it is blatantly clear, that the so-called 'Peace Process' has only caused damage to their cause and has not brought even the slightest prospects of a better future, let alone of self-determination or independence.
Internationally, pro-Palestinian activists also largely adhere to the basic tenets of the Palestinian struggle, namely the one-state solution and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.  There are other issues as well that are deemed non-negotiable to the majority of Palestinians, such as strong opposition against the Judaization of Jerusalem (Al Quds) which is projected as the future capital of liberated Palestine, and the release of all thousands of Palestinian political prisoners.
There is definitely also a group of 'two-staters', but their numbers are dwindling fast, and they rarely engage in activism since their views are largely represented by the Palestinian Authority. The strongest cure for the fallacy of the two-state solution was seeing the Palestinian side of that solution being gobbled up by the Zionist state over the years, faster than one could issue statements of protest against them.

New Shape of the Struggle: Back to Anti-Zionism
It is clear nowadays that the Palestinian Authority is not a useful apparatus for waging any form of struggle, but an administrative body that functions mainly as an extension of the Israeli security apparatus, in a framework inherited directly from the Oslo agreements. This does not mean that the people have stopped struggling. The modern Palestinian struggle has moved towards preferring popular resistance over armed struggle, and employing BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) as a main strategy of generating pressure against the Zionist state. What has also changed, is that this struggle has gained large numbers of international supporters all over the world, who support the Palestinians in their pursuit of freedom from Zionist oppression.
These changes have also brought anti-Zionism back to the forefront, and this has far-reaching implications. Whereas a two-state solution almost automatically implies the undertaking of steps towards normalization, since it implies an acceptance of Zionism and relinquishing the claim of 78 % of Palestinian territory to it, a one-state solution which aims to create a state for all of its inhabitants that does not discriminate on the basis of race of religion, requires a strong and uncompromising return to anti-Zionism as a unifying strategy.

Anti-Zionism versus Normalization
In a struggle that aims to achieve this, normalization is an extremely damaging concession that can never be combined with the dismantling of Zionism, which is the ultimate goal of its strategy. After all, a struggle against racism cannot be successful if the inherently racist tenets of Zionism are accepted. The 'Oslo-period' has however sown its sorrowful seeds in more places than may directly become apparent. The vast majority of the Arab masses have not accepted Zionism in their midst, but there are stubborn strands of normalization that seem to be enjoying an increasing momentum within 'progressive' ranks of various Arab communities.
Two Egyptian examples can be mentioned in this context. One is Mona Eltahawy, who seems to consider 'Israel' to be a civilized state and refused to condemn the genocidal massacre in Gaza that claimed the lives of 1,400 Palestinians (including at least 300 children) by massive attacks from drones, tanks, Apaches and F-16's - on a population that possesses no bombing shelters or anti-aircraft artillery. Another even more mind-blowing example is Maikel Nabil, an Egyptian blogger who enjoyed wide campaigns for his release when he was arrested for criticizing the SCAF military junta of post-Mubarak Egypt. He expressed his love for Israel on his blog and in Israeli media with an enthusiasm rarely ever seen before in the Arab world. There are other examples too, such as Arab-American comedian Ray Hanania of Palestinian origin, who proclaimed himself a candidate for Palestinian presidency in a video that he posted on Youtube, wherein he called for an acceptance of Israeli settlements, and an end to the Right of Return.

The Only Ziocracy in the Middle East
It is true that these examples do not represent the sentiments of the majority of Palestinians and other Arabs, whether in the Arab world or outside of it, but these voices cannot be ignored either. The main reason for this is that voices of normalization like the ones mentioned above often receive disproportionate attention in Western-dominated mass-media, and thereby have a number of insidious destructive effects upon the struggle.
First of all, they make those who are true to the anti-racist struggle against Zionism seem extremist, by offering alternatives that at first sight strike the general public as being more inspired by peaceful motives. This is a distortion of reality: support for 'Israel', the most belligerent state in the Middle East, the only state in the region in possession of (over 300) nuclear arms, and the only 'Ziocracy' where ones ethnic background automatically categorizes one as having less rights than others, can never be truthfully designated as 'peace-loving'.
Secondly, the apparently human inclination of the masses to flock around the famous without delving deeply into their philosophies, brings multitudes of people close to positive truth-distorting evaluations of the Zionist state. For example, progressive Arabs who embrace Mona Eltahawy's feminist activities, are inclined to also automatically defend their idol's views on 'Israel', simply because they are already in a state of adoration of her person. Another example involves Maikel Nabil: when progressive activists rallied for him due to his unjust incarceration by SCAF, his shocking pro-Israel views seemed to be lumped together with his anti-SCAF views under the label of 'freedom of speech', effectively paving the way for the perceived 'right' of Egyptians to view 'Israel' in an undeservingly positive and gruesomely distorted loving manner.

The Struggle Goes on
The true and original struggle of the Palestinians is a struggle against Zionism, and this is entirely incompatible with the views mentioned above. Normalization must therefore be opposed, vocally, directly, loudly and clearly. There is definitely a need for increased activity on this front, since anti-normalization and BDS do not enjoy the support of mass media, unlike the voices of normalization.
If this means that these voices need to be confronted even on a personal level, then so be it. It may not be a pleasant thing to do, and some might argue that it distracts from calling attention to the continuing atrocities that the Zionist state is inflicting on a daily basis upon the defenseless Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. However, as has been argued in the article "Anti-normalization: an necessary part of BDS campaigning", calling attention to these injustices will remain highly ineffective if the public is simultaneously exposed by mass media to Arab voices that aim to paint a misleading image of 'Israel' as if it were a beacon of civilization, and a saviour for mankind.
In other words: if you value BDS and wish it to be effective, and if you believe in opposing the racist ideology of Zionism, one of your tasks is also to confront those who suck up to power for their own personal gain. And since their number is increasing, it looks like you have work to do.
- Tariq Shadid is a Palestinian surgeon living in the Middle East, and has written numerous essays about the Palestinian issue over the years.

THE END OF MANDAEANS

The Ancient Wither in New Iraq

By Karlos Zurutuza

BASRA, Jan 29, 2012 (IPS) - "I’d say there are around 5,000 of us in the country, but if you ask me next week we may well be under 3,000. After twenty centuries of history in Mesopotamia, we Mandaeans, are about to vanish." Anxiety about the future of his people is more than evident in the figures given by Saad Atiah Majid, chairman of Basra’s Mandaean Council.

Dubbed "the Christians of St. John" by the Portuguese who arrived in Basra in the 17th century, Mandaeans follow the teachings of John the Baptist. Baptism - their central ritual - has been held on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates for almost two millennia.

"It’s true that we had our share of pain and misery during Saddam’s times but then our people would leave the country mainly due to economic reasons. By contrast, after 2003, following the brutal harassment by radical Islamists, Mandaeans began to flee en masse to Kurdistan, Syria, Europe," says Majid.

Behind him, a tiny white cloth and an olive branch hang from a wooden cross. They call it drabsa – it’s the closest thing to a flag Mandaeans have. At the centre where this community gathers in Iraq’s southern oil hub, walls are covered with pictures of bearded men dressed in white robes, celebrating collective baptisms in the river.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch released in February 2011, 90 percent of Mandaeans have either died or left the country since the invasion by the U.S.-led forces in 2003. Mandaeans have repeatedly called for evacuation of their entire people.

The head of the cult, Sheikh Sattar Jabbar al-Hulu, is now based in Australia. For the time being, Mazin Rahim Naif still remains in his native Basra. This young man in his late twenties is the local spiritual leader.

"Until 1991 we would conduct our ritual in the river, but the dire security situation and pollution have forced us to improvise our worship in these small pools inside our temples," Rahim tells IPS. The priest adds that the local council has repeatedly denied them access to an area by the river, a refusal particularly painful ahead of an imminent and important religious event.

"On March 17, for five days, we celebrate each year the 'Pronaya’ to recreate the making of the world of light. Do you think this is an appropriate place for it?"

Later, the young priest hands us the 'Treasure of God’, the sacred book of this community written in the Mandaean-Aramaic language.

"We translated it into Arabic because there were rumours among Muslims that it incited to apostasy," recalls Rahim. "We wanted to show everybody that we also believe in one god, that we pray and that we also practise zakat (charity)."

But the effort does not seem enough to avoid increasing discrimination.

"With his student record, my son should be eligible for a good position as an engineer in the local petrochemical industry, but he has been unemployed since he graduated three years ago," complains Tahseen, a local Mandaean. "The best jobs are given to those families who lost a member in the war against Iran, or during Saddam's repression. The privileges are for those who have 'martyrs’. Ours do not count according to their standards."

The five-hour drive from Basra to Baghdad goes upriver with the Tigris and Euphrates. It’s a road often overloaded with oil trucks and cars with coffins strapped to their roof racks. These are bound for Najaf, the place where every Shia Muslim dreams of being buried.

Once in the capital, the checkpoints multiply as we approach the main centre of the Mandaeans in Qadisiyah neighbourhood on the western bank of the Tigris. Surrounded by concrete walls, the headquarters are protected by soldiers from the Ministry of Interior. Inside we meet Toma Zekhi, the local Mandaean head.

"It is not only religious persecution," he explains. Traditionally, the Mandaeans have been goldsmiths and silversmiths, and this, during the last few years, has become a nightmare given the levels of criminality. An Amnesty International report of April 2010 corroborates Zekhi’s words, describing the dangers inflicted on Mandaean jewellers in post-Saddam Iraq.

Zekhi chose to stay, but many of his fellow believers fled after receiving 'convert or die’ letters, also recurrent among the decimated local Christian population. Although attacks have decreased in the last three years, the road to harmony and coexistence among the peoples of Iraq is still full of obstacles.

"Religion and ethnicity go hand in hand Iraq and, unfortunately, that is also reflected in the Constitution," says Saad Salloum, university professor and editor of Masarat, the only magazine on the minorities issue in Iraq, from his office in Baghdad.

"The Mandaeans are often included in the sub-group of 'Christians and other ethnic groups’, so they lack certain privileges such as quotas of representation in Parliament and local councils."

Not far away from there, Hassam Sapty Zaroon runs a small shop in Karrada neighbourhood southeast of Baghdad. He is carefully engraving a silver medallion with a bee, a lion, a scorpion and a snake around them. It is the amulet which, in Mandaean tradition, protects against evil.

During a break, Zaroon proudly produces a yellowed old document - a thank you letter addressed to his grandfather and signed by Winston Churchill to acknowledge the present of a cigar box engraved in silver with the profile of the British prime minister.

"Ours is a family tradition that goes back 400 years. We are all goldsmiths and silversmiths," says Zaroon, the last of an illustrious line of craftsmen.

The artisan is using exactly the same tools as his grandfather, but Hassam Sapty stopped looking wistfully at the Tigris since he converted to Islam several years ago.

Even if urgent measures are enforced, his traditional Mandaean motifs engraved in black silver might soon be among the last vestiges left of an ancient culture about to wither away forever. (END)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Stolen Land

Stolen Land
Israel, Settlements and Democracy

by ROBERT FANTINA

January 27, 2012

As Israel continues to defy international law, including countless United Nations resolutions, and builds more and more settlement on land stolen from the Palestinians, its reputation as a model democracy is taking a well-deserved beating.
Last year, Israel took a dramatic step in violating whatever semblance of democracy it ever had. On July 11, 2011, the New York Times reported this: "The Israeli Parliament on Monday passed contentious legislation that effectively bans any public call for a boycott against the state of Israel or its West Bank settlements, making such action a punishable offense." While opponents say that this law compromises the freedom of expression, its supporters, ironically, say that it is necessary to fight the 'global delegitimization’ of Israel.
Shortly prior to the passage of this law, Israelis successfully brought down the price of cheese, by boycotting that industry. One wonders why the price of cheese is seen as a legitimate purpose for a boycott, but human rights is not.
There are a number of global initiatives to boycott Israel, and apparently they are all legal, except for any such efforts in Israel itself. The obvious question, 'What does Israel have to be afraid of,’ is too easily answered to even be asked.
But does the further eroding of democracy, such as it is, in Israel, really matter? Not so, according to the words of wisdom from one Benny Katzover, described as a 'veteran settler,’ having joined the first group of occupiers in the northern West Bank nearly forty years ago. Mr. Katzover makes no bones about Israel’s purpose. In a recent interview he said: "We didn’t come here to establish a democratic state, we came here to return the Jewish people to their land." He continued: "Across the country, these ideas, that democracy needs dramatic change, if not dismantling then at least dramatic change, these ideas are very widespread."
How Israel can be seen as a democracy when it has occupied another nation and oppressed its people for decades, after a policy of radical ethnic cleansing followed by one of gradual ethnic cleansing, is a mystery that only members of the U.S. Congress, who have been bought and paid for by the American Israeli Political Affairs Committee, can answer. When settlers, residing in homes that violate international law, can, with impunity, burn mosques, destroy orchards and burn cars, the concept of democracy is a distant one indeed.
But Mr. Katzover has pulled the veil back from the eyes of those not blinded by AIPAC dollars. A secure, democratic Israel is not now, and never has been, the goal. Returning the Jewish people to land that they have determined is rightfully theirs, regardless of the centuries during which another people has populated that land, is, and always has been, the goal. Depriving Palestinian farmers of their livelihood by destroying their orchards, or establishing such convoluted roadblocks that a 10-minute walk 'as the crow flies’ turns into an hours-long ordeal; preventing students from going to school by the same means; forbidding the injured and ill from obtaining medical services, do not promote national security, or demonstrate democratic principles. They are, simply, racist practices of an oppressive, imperial government dead set on the ethnic cleansing of the land they illegally occupy.
And what, one may reasonably ask, does that shining star, the world’s foremost beacon of peace and freedom (at least according to its own cheerleaders), have to say about this? What does the illustrious United States of American, the so-called land of the free and the home of the brave, say about the repression of the Palestinian people, and the continual murders of these truly brave people? Well, basically, not much. Without a powerful lobby, really, why should Congress or the President pay much attention? Can the Palestinian people pay for the votes of members of the U.S. Congress? Can they wield sufficient electoral influence to terrify the men and women who walk those hallowed halls? Do those members of Congress salivate to bow before some Palestinian lobby, as they do before AIPAC? Well, until these conditions are met, Israel’s constant, inhuman, shocking violations of the most basic human rights of the Palestinian people will be ignored by the U.S. government. Human rights, we must remember, are for the wealthy and influential.
Once again, so-called negotiations, this time at a very low level, have broken down. Israel claims it wants to 'negotiate’ with no pre-conditions, and the Palestinians want an end to new, illegal settlement activity before they will return to the negotiating table. It’s all pointless. Israel has always wanted all of Palestine, and has succeeded in seizing most of it in the last 60-plus years. Israel has one of the most powerful military machines in the world, and is sponsored by the most powerful government in the world. Why negotiate with a nation it has turned into a third world country? What do the Palestinians have that Israel cannot simply take? When was 'compromise’ ever wanted, if, as Mr. Katzover says, providing all the land of Palestine for the nation of Israel has always been the goal?
Any sense of fairness compels one to recognize the need for Israel to surrender this stolen land, so it can be returned to its rightful owners, people whose families have owned it for generations, not people who believe themselves promised it in the Bible.
But, one might ask, should the over half a million illegal settlers who now make their home in Palestine really be forced to leave? Wouldn’t that be a gross injustice? The answers to these two questions, this writer can categorically say, are yes, they should be forced to leave, and no, it wouldn’t be an injustice of any kind. One does not have to look far to see a precedent. In the time span of 1947 to 1948, more than half of Palestine’s native population, nearly 800,000 people, were uprooted, many of them killed, and over 500 villages were entirely destroyed. If Israel could cause that atrocity to occur, certainly the orderly, planned removal of half a million Israelis who are illegally occupying the land can and should be accomplished, with no concern about injustice.
The U.S. has proven to be a stumbling block to the rights of the Palestinian people to live in peace, dignity and freedom. President Mahmoud Abbas is right to petition the United Nations for recognition as a member state. It can only be hoped that that request is soon acted upon, so the suffering Palestinian people can begin to see a glimmer of hope for a free and independent nation.
Robert Fantina is author of Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006

Profile of a Rogue State

Profile of a Rogue State

by Stephen Lendman

January 27, 2012

America's unmatched globally. However, pound for pound, based on size, its policies, and regional threat, Israel stands out.

Daily, its crimes against humanity continue. On January 23, Jerusalem police arrested two Palestinian officials, Khaled Abu Arafeh and Mohammed Totah.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said both men were wanted for unspecified "Hamas activities" with no further comment.

Hamas, of course, is Palestine's legitimate government. Israel and America spuriously call it a terrorist organization. Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said arresting both men was a "Zionist crime." Palestine's parliament hasn't functioned since Hamas and Fatah split in 2007.

Both men were arrested at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Sheikh Jarrah offices. For the past 18 months, they sought refuge there protesting Israel's illegal deportation orders after their ID cards were revoked.

Abu Arafah served as Hamas minister for Jerusalem affairs. Totah's a Hamas PLC representative. Months earlier, Hamas legislator Mahmoud Atoun was arrested. He also sought ICRC refuge.

Hamas parliamentarians are repeatedly targeted. Around two dozen remain imprisoned. Twenty are uncharged under administrative detention. At one time, 40 Hamas PLC members were lawlessly incarcerated for belonging to the wrong party, not any crimes they committed.

On January 19, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Aziz Dweik was arrested for alleged terrorist connections. Despite a thinly veiled lie, a military court on January 24 ordered him detained uncharged for six months.

On January 20, lawmaker Khaled Tafesh was arrested and detained at Ofer Prison.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned Israel's actions. It called them "a plan to undermine the results of the (January 2006) Palestinian legislative elections (and) to abort the Palestinian reconciliations efforts."

PCHR also called them Fourth Geneva-prohibited collective punishment. It demanded immediate release of those held, strongly condemned storming ICRC's office, and said doing so violated international humanitarian law.

Israel falsely claimed ICRC's office has no diplomatic status, making it fair game for Israeli lawlessness.

Israel's War on Hamas

On January 25, Jerusalem Post writer Khaled Abu Toameh headlined, "Israel has declared war on Hamas in West Bank," saying:

In the past few days alone, five Hamas PLC members were arrested. "Early Tuesday, IDF soldiers arrested Abdel Jabbar Fukaha, a Hamas legislator, in Ramallah and confiscated documents, a laptop and mobile phones from his home."

His wife said their son Mujahed was summoned to appear Sunday for interrogation. After serving a four-month sentence, Fukaha was released from Israeli prison in February 2011.

"In a related development, Hamas legislators in Tulkarm said on Tuesday that an Israeli security official phoned them and ordered them to close their office immediately. Fathi Qarawi and Riad Raddad said it was the second threat received in the past month."

It's part of an Israeli campaign to destroy Hamas, they believe, adding:

"Israel has declared war on Hamas. But we won’t be deterred and we will continue to fulfill our duties."

Hamas leaders believe Israel's trying to sabotage reconciliation with Fatah and foil planned May parliamentary and presidential elections. It wouldn't be the first time strong-arm Israeli tactics subverted Palestinian elections and other legitimate activities.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri denounced Israeli's scheme, saying:

"Israel thinks that the arrests will destroy Hamas' chances of winning the elections. On the contrary, these measures will only increase (our) popularity."

He also called on human rights organizations to intervene and pressure Israel to release lawlessly detained "legislators who were elected by the people in a democratic vote."

Lawless Home Demolitions, Land Theft and Dispossessions

Among other rogue policies, home demolitions and land theft define Israeli repression. On January 23, East Anata's bedouin compound was bulldozed and destroyed for the fifth time.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) calls it "a living symbol of resistance to Occupation and the desire for justice and peace."

ICAHD's Itay Ephshtain said:

"People are somber, traumatized and grief stricken. Nearly 100 people are out in the elements now on a cold night. Children, babies, mothers, fathers. Some of us from ICAHD did try to block the bulldozer, but were beaten back by soldiers."

In fact, Epshtain was personally beaten and sustained minor injuries.

Called Beit Arabiya, the site was home to Arabiya Shawemreh, her husband Salim and seven children. Their home was previously destroyed four times.

Each time, ICAHD, Palestinians, and international peace activists rebuilt it. Now it's again gone. On January 23 around 11PM, a bulldozer accompanied by soldiers arrived. Beit Arabiya as well as other residential and agricultural structures in Arab al-Jahalin Bedouin compound were destroyed.

Beit Arabiya initially got a demolition order in 1994. At issue was failing to get a building permit on their own land. ICAHD Director Jeff Halper vowed to help Salim and Arabiya rebuild, saying:

"We shall rebuild. We must rebuild forthwith as an act of political defiance of the occupation and protracted oppression of Palestinians."

"ICAHD is as determined as always to rebuild the home, and endure in its struggle to bring about justice and peace."

Salim and Arabiya dedicated their home to Rachael Corrie and Nuha Sweidan. Both women, an American and Palestinian, were murdered resisting Gaza home demolitions.

Weeks earlier on December 6, The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called on Israel to cease house demolitions, forced evictions, and residency revocations.

ICAHD's publication "No Home, No Homeland" highlights the issue. It estimates about 26,000 Palestinian homes destroyed since June 1967 for "punitive, land clearing/military, and administrative" reasons.

On Occupied Palestinian land, doing so violates international law. Israel spurns it. As a result, Palestinian suffering continues. Women and children are especially affected. Forced displacement further harms them. ICAHD called 2011 a record year.

World leaders turn a blind eye. Israeli officials are green-lighted to commit crimes with impunity. They take full advantage.

Obama's "Ironclad" Commitment

In his January 24 State of the Union address, Obama highlighted his unwavering support, saying:

"Our ironclad commitment to Israel's security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history."

Among other ways, it's reflected in billions in military aid and regular increased amounts. In August 2007, Bush increased it by $6 billion over the next decade. Despite budget constraints, Obama added more.

In FY 2012 alone, an additional $236 million will help develop three Israeli missile programs: Arrow-2, David's Sling, and Arrow 3. Israel already gets over $3 billion annually, plus unknown add-ons if requested.

"If Americans knew" reports that while Israel gets "at least $8.2 million each day in military aid," Palestinians get zero.

A Final Comment

On January 22, London Guardian writer Harriet Sherwood headlined, "The Palestinian children - alone and bewildered - in Israel's Al Jalame" Prison, saying:

Young children are physically and verbally abused. It's nightmarish. Cell 36 and others like it are "where Palestinian children are locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks. One 16-year-old" said he'd been isolated for 65 days.

Cells are "barely wider than the thin, dirty mattress that covers the floor. Behind a low concrete wall is a squat toilet, the stench from which has no escape in the windowless room. The rough concrete walls deter idle leaning; the constant overhead light inhibits sleep."

Low-quality food arrives through door flaps, depriving children of human contact. Brutal interrogations break the monotony. Shackled hands and feet to a chair for hours, they're questioned.

Most often, their alleged "crime" is stone-throwing. Most deny doing it. Physical and verbal abuse follow. Many face sleep deprivation exhaustion. "Day after day they are fettered to the chair, then returned to solitary confinement. In the end, many sign confessions" in desperation. Later they say they were coerced.

As many as 700 Palestinian children are arrested annually. Some are 10 or younger. Mistreatment is extreme. Emotional trauma results.

According to Nader Abu Amsha, director of Beit Sahour's YMCA juvenile rehab program:

"(F)amilies think that when (their) child is released, it's the end of the problem. We tell them (it's only) the beginning. You see children who are totally broken. It's painful to see the pain of these children, to see how much they are squeezed by the Israeli system."

It's more evidence of rogue Israeli lawlessness. Imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti told Maan News that conflict and abuses will continue until Israel ends occupation and withdraws to pre-1967 borders.

He believes Palestinian national unity and nonviolent resistance stand the best chance of achieving it.

Barghouti's a prisoner of conscience serving five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years for wanting to live free. Free or imprisoned, he symbolizes hope. Supporters hope he'll be freed one day to lead them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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