Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Released Palestinian Prisoners Aren't Free

Released Palestinian Prisoners Aren't Free

by Stephen Lendman

What country is a modern day Sparta? Which one lives by the sword? Which one deplores peace and stability? Which one threatens an entire region and beyond?

Which one ignores rule of law principles? Which one has no constitution? Which one has no official borders? 

Which one won't declare them? Which one won't do it because it wants them expanded? Which one intends doing so by stealing other people's land?

Which one mocks democratic values? Which one spurns fundamental human and civil rights? Which one institutionalized racism? Which one violates all international humanitarian laws? 

Which one persecutes people for praying to the wrong God? Which one ignores all UN resolutions compromising its interests? Which one considers Muslims subhumans?

Which one is all take and no give? Which one has no legitimacy? Which one lacks credibility? Which one can't be trusted? Which one says one thing and does another. 

Which one denies freedom to prisoners it releases? Which one illegitimately rearrests them? 

Which one harasses, intimidates and terrorizes released prisoners? Which one treats an entire people the same way? 

Which one does it because they're not Jews? Which one gets away with murder and lots more? 

Which one operates with impunity? Which one gets away with it because world leaders able to make a difference support its worst crimes? 

Which one rules lawlessly? Which one mocks fundamental decency? Which one considers mass murder, ethnic cleansing, land theft, torture, and other high crimes divine rights? 

Which one wages aggressive wars without mercy? Which one did so to steal another people's land? Which one illegitimately transformed Palestine into Israel? 

Long suffering Palestinians endure its cruelty. Thousands of political prisoners languish in its gulag. 

It's one of the world's harshest. Cruel and unusual punishment is official policy. So is ruthlessness writ large.

Many Palestinian victims are held uncharged and untried. Others are wrongfully imprisoned on bogus accusations. Women are treated like men. Children are treated like adults.

Horrific treatment includes torture, other cruel and degrading treatment, food unfit to eat, medical neglect, poor ventilation, sanitation and personal hygiene, inadequate clothing, and frequent solitary confinement for any reason or none at all.

Last summer, Israel agreed to release 104 long held prisoners. Freeing them is coincidental with sham peace talks. Lawless settlement expansions are announced at the same time.

Releasing small numbers of political prisoners is meaningless. Implementation is in four stages. In mid-August, 26 were freed. On October 29, an equal number followed. On December 30, so did 26 more.

Every time Israel releases Palestinians, many more imprisonments follow. So-called good will is fake. 

No Palestinian is safe. Israeli Arab citizens are vulnerable. Anyone can be imprisoned for any reason or none at all. 

Police states operate this way. Israel is one of the worst. It operates ruthlessly. State terrorism defines official policy. A cabal of criminals run things.

They waging war on Islam. They consider Muslims state enemies. They transformed Israel into an obscenity. 

Policies reflect self-righteous sophistry. Fascists pretend to be democrats. Hypocritical viciousness masquerades as Jewish exceptionalism. 

Peace, equity and justice are four-letter words. Fantasy world pretense substitutes illusions for reality.

Palestinian prisoner releases are conditional. Strings attached reveal duplicity. Addameer prisoner support group general director Sahar Francis said operating this way undermines "hope" and "trust."

"Israel has showed it is putting conditions on prisoner releases, and the US supports" its policy, she said. "Prisoners held before 1993 should have been released 20 years ago," she stressed. 

They never should have been imprisoned in the first place.
Releasing them after unjust longterm incarceration reflects Israeli viciousness. 

Attached strings makes it worse. Releases deny freedom. East Jerusalem residents can't visit West Bank or Gaza communities. Many can't leave their own neighborhoods. They can't travel abroad. 

Some aren't permitted to return home. They're deported to Gaza or abroad. Ayman Sharawna's release was conditional on spending 10 years in Gaza. 

For Hana Shalabi, it was three years. They had no choice. It was agree or stay imprisoned. They remain vulnerable to rearrest anyway.

Violating draconian Israeli rules means more imprisonment. For some, it's for many more years.

Involvement in political activities is prohibited. According to Francis:

"These practices show that the Israelis are not really seeking justice and a lasting peace with the Palestinians."

"If (they) really had good intentions to end the conflict and grant Palestinians basic rights under international law, they should release all Palestinian prisoners and stop arresting (more) in the occupied territories."

Israel routinely rearrests many former detainees. Since 1967, various military orders authorized occupation harshness.

On May 1, 2010, Military Order 1651 codified them into Israel's Criminal Code. It consolidated past versions relating to arrests, prosecutions, and detentions.

It applies to children like adults. Israel makes no distinction. Children of any age risk abuse and ill-treatment. It's standard Israeli practice.

Imagine imprisoning children younger than 10. Imagine doing it on fake evidence. Imagine isolating them from parents and legal counsel. 

Imagine torturing them to force confessions. Imagine children saying anything to stop pain. Imagine women abused the same way.

Military Order 1651, Article 186 lets a special Israeli military committee sentence released prisoners to complete unserved time. It can do so based on secret evidence or none at all.

Frequent rearrests are commonplace. Israel considers exercising fundamental rights terrorism. Military Order 101 criminalizes fundamental freedoms. Prohibitions include:

  • organizing protests; 

  • participating in them; 

  • public assembles and vigils;

  • holding them to seek relief from legitimate grievances;

  • displaying Palestinian flags and other symbols;

  • printing and distributing Palestinian political material; and

  • influencing public opinion by "political incitement."

Supporting so-called "hostile organizations" is prohibited. Demonstrations sympathetic to Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Palestine, and similar groups are strictly forbidden.

Francis calls draconian Israeli conditions "serious" human rights violations. Imposing them reflects police state ruthlessness. 

It shows Israel doesn't want peace. It never did. It doesn't now. 
Sham talks assure none in our time. Multiple earlier ones were stillborn on arrival. Current ones are no different.

Palestinians never had a legitimate peace partner. Longtime Israeli collaborationists represent them. They ignore decades of Israeli high crimes demanding prosecution.

They pretend sham talks are real. They're fake like they always were. Israeli crimes against humanity continue daily while they're ongoing.

So-called Palestinian negotiators turn a blind eye to abuses too grave to be ignored. Israel considers Palestinians "terrorists," said Francis.

It doesn't recognize them "as people seeking their independence and self-determination, and this makes the whole difference in the treatment of prisoners in the political channel."

"We are happy that…26 (more) prisoners who spent years of their life in jail are being freed...(O)f course, the sadness is in thinking of the remaining (thousands still) suffering (unjustly) behind bars."

Freedom depends on ending what's too intolerable to accept. It demands Israeli officials be held accountable for high crimes too grave to be ignored.

It requires liberation. It means ending occupation harshness once and for all. It demands criminalizing state terrorism. 

It means granting Palestinians all rights they deserve. It involves enforcing rule of law principles to the letter. It's exempting no one for any reason. 

It's punishing high crimes against peace severely. It's making it in our time possible. It's supporting right over wrong. It's doing it because it matters.

Long suffering Palestinians deserve justice. It's high time they're no longer denied.

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

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.



2014 Predictions

2014 Predictions

by Stephen Lendman

Some are best guesses. Others are easier to make. For billions worldwide, 2013 was grim. Expect 2014 to be no better. For many it'll be worse.

Conflicts without end continue. Waging them threaten humanity. War profiteers never had it better. 

Washington bears most responsibility. One nation after another is ravaged, destroyed and plundered. 

It's the American way. Advancing its imperium matters most. So does benefitting the nation's privileged class. 

War criminals and crooks run things. The criminal class in Washington is bipartisan. They're waging war on humanity.

They're ravaging the world for unchallenged dominance. Millions of lost lives don't matter. It's a small price to pay, they claim. So is unspeakable human misery.

Whole continents are carved up for profit. Resources are plundered. Ordinary people are exploited. America has been at it for centuries. Post-WW II, things accelerated.

Post-9/11, they spun out-of-control. Expect a bloody 2014. Expected more death, destruction and human misery. Expect it globally. 

Expect merchants of death to keep profiting hugely. Expect corrupt politicians to get their share. Expect America's most disadvantaged to be left increasingly on their own out of luck.

Safety net protections are on the chopping block for elimination. In 2014, expect more erosion. Republicans and Democrats agreed. So did Obama. 

He spent his entire tenure shifting wealth disproportionately to Wall Street, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites.

He's a job destroyer, not creator. He's doing nothing to stop offshoring many of America's best jobs. He's letting them be replaced with low pay/poor or no benefit ones. 

He's continuing America's race to the bottom. He's got more of the same in mind. He pretends otherwise. He says one thing. He does another. He scorns the rights of ordinary people. He's done it since his Chicago days.

He's pro-war, pro-Wall Street, pro-business, pro-privilege, pro-super-wealth, anti-dissent, anti-democracy, anti-civil and human rights, anti-labor, anti-environmental sanity, and anti-government of, by, and for everyone equitably and just.

He's polar opposite what most people want, need, and won't get with him as president. Nor with congressional Democrats in lockstep with Republicans on issues mattering most.

Only a Democrat president would do what Republicans on their own wouldn't dare. Obama is a stealth corporatist hardliner. He's been this way throughout his political career.

It elevated him to America's highest office. It's pay back time for power brokers who chose him. They wouldn't have done it otherwise.

On December 28, Congress and Obama cut off extended unemployment benefits. They harmed 1.3 million Americans. They did so when they most need help. They did it disgracefully. 

In 2014, they'll end them for another 3.6 million jobless Americans. They'll lose out through no fault of their own. Emergency benefits were previously extended from 40 to 73 weeks.

They're now 26 weeks. It's when growing millions of Americans can't find work. Highly touted recovery is fake. Main Street Depressions conditions persist. 

Bipartisan cruelty makes things worse. Help when most needed is denied. Imagine any country anywhere doing it. Imagine the world's richest one. 

Imagine heartlessness writ large. Imagine criminals running today's America. Its wealth goes for warmaking, corporate handouts, and benefits for super-rich elites.

Ordinary people are betrayed in the process. Washington's FY 2014 budget deal benefits privileged interests. It does so at the expense of popular ones.

Winners include bankers, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, multi-millionaires and billionaires. 

Losers are millions of unemployed, underemployed, and impoverished people, government workers, retirees, veterans and active duty military personnel.

Corporate handouts remain policy. So do tax cuts for the rich. In 2014, more are planned. Both parties agreed. So did Obama.

They conspired quietly. Media scoundrels said nothing. Corporate rates will drop from 35% to either 28 or 25%. Most large companies already pay less than half that amount.

Many pay much less. Some pay nothing. Others get rebates in profitable years. Tax breaks under Bush and Obama added around $10 trillion to their balance sheets.    

Much was shifted to offshore subsidiaries. Doing so avoids US taxes altogether. It's unknown how much corporate wealth sits in tax havens.

A previous article discussed a Tax Justice Network (TJN) report. It's titled "The Price of Offshore Revisited." It explains what insiders won't discuss.

It estimates up to $32 trillion of hidden and stolen wealth stashed largely tax-free secretly. It was published in July 2012.

Huge profits and ill-gotten gains were accumulated since then. Perhaps $40 - 50 trillion remain hidden tax free today. It represents a black hole of unfairness.

It comes at the expense of billions worldwide. Ordinary Americans get lump of coal harshness. Expect more of the same in 2014. Bipartisan complicity assures it.

Expect 2014 to be tougher than ever for growing millions. It's planned. It's baked in the cake. It's coming. 

Obama demands it. He's the Grinch who stole fairness. He's done it throughout his tenure. He's got lots more hard times in mind. Austerity writ large remains policy.

Obama's waging war on ordinary people. He heads a homeland police state apparatus. Expect meaner and nastier year ahead policies.

He wants vital safety net protections eliminated. They're coming when longterm unemployment, underemployment, hunger, homelessness and human misery are growing.

On November 1, $11 billion in food stamp cuts over three years took effect. It's the first time since Franklin Roosevelt instituted the first Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It began in May 1939.

The program ended temporarily when conditions warranting it no longer existed. In 1959, Eisenhower reinstated it.

Jack Kennedy's first Executive Order expanded it. Lyndon Johnson enacted the 1964 Food Stamp Act. 

He called doing so "a realistic and responsible step toward the fuller and wiser use of an agricultural abundance."

It's vitally important. It provides food for growing millions unable to afford enough. In the 1980s, cutbacks began. Clinton continued them. 

They're prioritized more now than earlier. Recipient benefits drop to under $1.40 per person per meal. Imagine the impossibility of proper nutrition on that amount. 

Imagine the effect on children. Imagine the harm to America's elderly, ill or weak. Imagine too little food leaving millions hungry most days. 

Imagine the unimaginable in the world's richest country. Imagine it because it's official policy.

Imagine agribusiness handouts growing at the same time. Imagine bankers and other corporate favorites getting theirs. 

Feeding America's poor doesn't matter. Nearly 50 million need food stamps to eat. 

Since 2008, recipients increased over 70%. Perhaps 80% by end of 2014. It comes at a time hunger in America is growing.

Privately run food banks are more than ever hard-pressed. A previous article discussed AP headlining "Exclusive: Signs of Declining Economic Security." It said:

"Four out of 5 US adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives."

It's a disturbing "sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream."

"Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized US economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend."

Government data are manipulated to distort. Conditions are much worse than reported. America is the United States of Unfairness, Cruelty, Inequity, and Injustice.

Throughout Obama's tenure, things got worse, not better. Ordinary Americans today suffer more than at any time since the Great Depression. 

Year 2014 promises worse. Increased austerity assures it. Imagine force-feeding it when vital aid is needed more than ever since the 1930s. Imagine anti-populism becoming official US policy.

Imagine Obama and Congress mandating it. Imagine them leaving America's most disadvantaged hung out to dry. 

Imagine them wanting vital safety net protections destroyed altogether. Imagine them thirdworldizing America. Imagine them turning it into a dystopian backwater.

Imagine kleptocrats stealing the nation blind. Imagine corrupt politicians letting them. Imagine paradise for America's privileged class. Imagine Kafkaesque harshness for all others.

Imagine deepening repression. Imagine America's war on Islam continuing. Imagine its war on terror waged more ruthlessly than ever. Imagine state terror institutionalized as official policy.

Imagine harder than ever crackdowns on nonbelievers. Imagine America's surveillance society operating more lawlessly.

Imagine freedom increasingly disappearing in plain sight. Imagine America more unfit to live in than already. Imagine constitutional and international law protections no longer helping.

Imagine police state harshness replacing them. Imagine full-blown tyranny approaching. Imagine the unimaginable. 

Imagine 2014 potentially being America's worst year ever. Imagine conditions becoming too intolerable to bear. Imagine harder than ever hard times reaching new depths.

A Brief Summary

Expect 2014 to include:

  • direct and proxy wars continuing without end;

  • new ones beginning;

  • America's wealth increasingly transferred to corporate and privileged interests;

  • ordinary people increasingly on their own sink or swim; a race to the bottom continuing;

  • America's disadvantaged harmed most;

  • poverty, unemployment, underemployment, hunger and homelessness worse than ever in modern times;

  • bipartisan complicity assuring it;

  • social safety net protections increasingly eliminated;

  • freedom disappearing in plain sight;

  • police state harshness increasing;

  • local police collaborating with federal authorities;

  • NSA watching everyone more closely;

  • Washington increasingly waging war on ordinary people;

  • full-blown tyranny approaching;

  • America more than ever unfit to live in;

  • 2014 exceeding the worst of Orwell's 1984.

It does already. It's not getting better. Washington's criminal class is bipartisan. Obama heads its police state apparatus. He plans the worst of all possible worlds. 

Expect 2014 to be grim. Expect growing millions to suffer horrendously. Expect greater global misery. Expect despair to replace hope. 

Expect the American dream to disappear altogether. It's more illusion than reality for most people. George Carlin once said you have to be asleep to believe it. 

Nightmarish conditions persist. Expect worse ones next year. Happy tidings await better times. Maybe some day. Not now. Not next year. None whatever in sight.

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

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.



Planned Israeli Jordan Valley Annexation?

Planned Israeli Jordan Valley Annexation?

by Stephen Lendman

In May 2011, Netanyahu addressed Congress. He was warmly welcomed. London's Guardian called it a "love-in." He received 29 standing ovations. 

Jerusalem must remain Israel's exclusive capital, he said. Loud cheers followed him saying:

"Israel has no better friend than America, and America has no better friend than Israel. We stand together to defend democracy. We stand together to advance peace. We stand together to fight terrorism."

"Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967," he stressed.

"Places of critical strategic and national importance (will) be incorporated into the final borders of Israel" under any agreement with Palestinians.

"Israel would never cede the Jordan valley. Israel would never agree to withdraw from the Jordan Valley under any peace agreement signed with the palestinians." 

"And its vital - absolutely vital - that Israel maintain a long term military presence along the Jordan River."

A previous article discussed Israel's proposed legislation titled "The Bill to Apply Israeli Law to the Jordan Valley 5774 - 2013." It's nearly identical to how Israel annexed Golan.

Hardline Knesset members want all Jordan Valley land Judaized. They wanted Palestinians ethnically cleansed. 

They want Jordan Valley territory "under (exclusive) Israeli sovereignty forever." They want it officially annexed. They want any Israeli/Palestinian peace deal affirming it.

On December 29, Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs MKs approved annexation. Likud's Miri Regev introduced the measure. 

She's a former IDF brigadier general. She served as spokesperson. "It is no secret that the settlements in the valley have a strategic, security, and political importance of the first order," she said. 

If enacted, her bill would give Israel exclusive Jordan Valley control. Doing so requires Knesset approval. Opposition MKs may defeat it. Doing so won't prevent its reintroduction.

On July 30, 1980, Israel's Jerusalem Law lawlessly annexed the city. It's unified as Israel's exclusive capital. It followed Security Council Resolution 465 (March 1, 1980) declaring:

"all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant (Fourth Geneva) violation...and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."

On August 20, 1980, the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 478. America abstained. Resolution language "censured (Israel) in the strongest terms." It condemned its Jerusalem Law. 

It called it a violation of international law. It refused recognition. Member states were told to withdraw their Jerusalem diplomatic missions immediately.

The Security Council and General Assembly called East Jerusalem occupied territory. Expropriated land is illegal, they said. 

They declared Israeli legislative and administrative measures altering the city's character and status null and void. They ordered them rescinded forthwith. They never were. International community condemnation with teeth never follow.

On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that "Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development (and) have been established in breach of international law."

It doesn't matter. Israel flouts international law, UN resolutions and judicial rulings. It does so repeatedly. It ignores what conflicts with its interests.

It operates lawlessly. It does it with impunity. Washington's backing is firm. It's longstanding. It lets Israel get away with land theft, ethnic cleansing, murder and lots more.

In 2008, Democrat party platform language stated:

"Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.

Obama personally insisted on including this language. His position remains unchanged. It's in gross violation of international law. 

It doesn't matter. Obama, the entire Senate, and nearly all House members support Israel's worst crimes. Previous US governments did it for decades. They do it today. They do it lawlessly, shamelessly and disgracefully.

Israel is stealing all valued West Bank and East Jerusalem land. It's doing it dunum by dunum. It's been ongoing for decades. Judaization is official policy. So is ethnic cleansing unwanted Palestinians.

In 1967, Jordan Valley Palestinian residents numbered around 320,000. Less than 60,000 remain.

Approximately 90% of the area is Judaized. It includes 37 settlements, seven unauthorized outposts, exclusive Jewish development, 26 nature reserves, and closed military zones. 

They're off-limits to Palestinians. Settlers are free to terrorize them. One Palestinian resident spoke for others saying police are supposed to protect people.

"But here, all settlers have to do is call (them) when they want to attack us. They only have to make a phone call, and then do nothing but watch the police and military beat up Palestinians. All of our trouble comes from the settlers."

In May 2011, B'Tselem released a report titled "Dispossession and Exploitation: Israel's Policy in the Jordan Valley and Northern Dead Sea." 

Israel maintains control four ways, it said. It exploits land, water, tourist sites and natural resources.

"Israel has closed more than three-quarters of the land area to Palestinians and has prohibited them from working the area’s fertile land." 

"Israel has restricted Palestinian access to water sources such that, in some Palestinian villages, water consumption is minimal and comparable to that of disaster areas."

"Israel restricts Palestinian movement and prevents Palestinians from building and developing their communities." 

"It has also taken control of the tourist sites and enables private enterprises to exploit and profit from the minerals in the area."

Israeli economist Shir Hever explained:

"Israel has extensive agribusiness interests in the Jordan Valley, most notably through the company Carmel-Agrexco, which is the main exporter of agricultural products from Israel." 

"Israeli colonist farmers in the Jordan Valley produce products that are sold to Palestinian consumers, Israeli consumers and exported abroad."

After its 1967 occupation, Israel sought exclusive Jordan Valley control straightaway. 

Variations of Yigal Allon's plan emerged. They called for permanent militarized occupation, exclusive greater Jerusalem control, maximum land with minimum Arabs, and Jordan Valley annexation, among other provisions.

Nearly all Jordan Valley land lies in Area C. It's about 30% of the West Bank. It's under exclusive Israeli control. De facto annexation exists. Israeli hardliners want it made official.

Ethnic cleansing remains ongoing. Palestinians are being systematically displaced from their own land.

Entire communities have been ordered to leave. They have no choice. Thousands of Bedouins face loss of their way of life. Many have already. 

Israel wants them all out. They represent over one-fourth of Palestine's Jordan Valley population. Israel denies them vital infrastructure and services.

John Kerry's notion of Israeli/Palestinian peace is none at all. It includes longterm militarized occupation. 

Maintaining it along the Jordan River is prioritized. Kerry wants it ended only if Israel agrees. Effectively he wants it made permanent.

"If Israel's security can't increase as a result of an agreement, it's very difficult to make (one)," he said. 

"Obviously, security is paramount in the minds of the prime minister and his team with respect to their ability to move forward on other issues."

In other words, whatever Israel wants, Washington approves. Kerry has other occupation measures in mind.

He wants a future Palestinian state demilitarized. He wants it defenseless. He wants US drones monitoring conditions on the ground.

He likely wants them replicating what's ongoing in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. 

He wants a de facto state of war to exist. He wants Palestinian civilians left vulnerable to drone and ground attacks.

He wants Washington helping Israel maintain border and internal security. He favors billions of US dollars spent to improve Israel's intelligence and military capability. 

He wants occupation harshness intensified. He wants a massive Jordan Valley security fence built. He wants one like Israel's apartheid wall.

He wants West Bank Palestinians effectively imprisoned. He wants them cut off from the outside world.

He wants Israel maintaining full authority. He wants fundamental Palestinian rights denied. He wants their sovereignty effectively eliminated.

Netanyahu conditionally approved. He did so subject to further concessions he demands. He's adamant on what he wants. He has strong Knesset support.

Kerry, Obama and most congressional members approve. Their notion of a future Palestinian state is one in name only.

Ali Jarbawi is former Palestinian Authority Minister of Planning and Administrative Development.

On December 25, he headlined "The Coming Intifada." Things exploded twice earlier, he said. "(N)o one should be surprised if a new intifada erupts in the next few months. Many experts" predict one.

"We Palestinians are living through the worst situation in years," he stressed. Despite surface normality, Palestinians are boiling. Four factors explain why, he said:

(1) "the collapse of any hope" about ending occupation; Palestinian statehood if agreed on would be meaningless; it would be in name only;

(2) increased Israeli violence throughout Occupied Palestine; it's accompanied by "frantically Judaizing Jerusalem" and "transform(ing) (Gaza) into a giant prison;"

(3) Palestinian Authority "economic and financial" failure; it's contributing "to the misery of Palestinians;" jobs are scarce; unemployment skyrocketed; Palestinian youths are most affected; public anger is palpable; and

(4) Arab Spring uprisings inspire a Palestinian one; according to Jarbawi, "why should we not be able to rise up against a foreign occupier," Arab youths say.

Palestine is on edge, said Jarbawi. PA efforts to contain things "won't (work) for much longer...(It's just) a matter of time until the Occupied Territories explode."

Failure to achieve peace, equity and justice makes it more likely.

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

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.



Monday, December 30, 2013

Iran Nuclear Talks Resume in Geneva

Iran Nuclear Talks Resume in Geneva

by Stephen Lendman

On December 30, Iran and P5+1 nations resumed negotiations. It's the third round since early November. Focus is on implementing Geneva agreed on terms.

Iran's Foreign Ministry political and international affairs director general, Hamid Baeidinejad, heads Tehran's delegation. It includes nuclear, banking, oil and transportation sector representatives.

EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton's aid, Stephen Clement, heads the P5+1 delegation.

On December 12, Obama breached Geneva. He unilaterally imposed new sanctions. He ordered the Treasury and State Department to implement them.

He circumvented Congress. He did so by executive order. He targeted Iranian, Asian and European companies, as well as individuals connected to them.

He violated the letter and spirit of Geneva. He claimed otherwise. At issue is whether he really wants a permanent agreement once the interim one expires in six months.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif strongly objected, saying:

"The Americans have taken improper measures in the last few days, and we have given the appropriate response to them after considering all aspects of the issue."

He said Tehran will continue talks in good faith. "(W)e will, of course, show proper, well-assessed, targeted and smart reaction to any improper and unconstructive measure," he stressed.

On Friday, he added:

"Iran will decide the level of enrichment according to its needs for different (civilian) purposes. Only details of the enrichment are negotiable."

Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said nuclear talks resumed Monday. They aim "to define modalities for implementing" Geneva agreed on terms.

Deciding a framework and timeline will be discussed. Talks so far progressed slowly. Both sides have different "interpretations" of what appeared to be settled on November 24.

Disagreements need to be resolved. Negotiating with Washington is painful at best. America has a long disturbing history. Treaties, conventions and other agreements are routinely violated.

Obama's mid-December Geneva breach bodes ill for what's ahead. Iran has much cause for concern. It made major concessions. It got little in return.

Given longstanding US duplicity, it may end up back at square one. It may happen before interim agreement terms expire. 

Obama's alleged outreach may be fake. It may be knife in the back betrayal. It's the American way. 

Washington may torpedo final agreement resolution. Expect Iran to be blamed if it happens. Blaming victims is longstanding US policy. Complicit partners do the same thing.

Israel is going all out to subvert Geneva. AIPAC is doing it more discretely. Democrat and Republican congressional hardliners want more sanctions imposed. 

Pending Senate legislation if enacted would do so. Congressional action would scuttle Geneva. Foreign Minister Zarif said doing so means the "entire deal is dead."

"We do not like to negotiate under duress," he said. If Congress adopts (new) sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States."

"We know the domestic complications and various issues inside the United States, but for me that is no justification." 

"I have a parliament. My parliament can also adopt various legislation that can go into effect if negotiations fail." 

"But if we start doing that, I don't think that we will be getting anywhere."

Senior Iranian National Security and Foreign Policy Commission parliament member Esmayeel Kowsari reacted sharply to Obama rating chances for a permanent deal "50 - 50" at best.

"My goal is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon," he said. He knows full well Tehran's program is peaceful. It has no military component. He suggests otherwise.

For nearly 35 years, Washington spurned good faith Iranian rapprochement efforts. Does Obama plan continuing old policy? 

Is subverting Geneva planned? Is he working quietly with Congress to do so? Are Israel's dirty hands involved? Is a pretext being created to blame on Iran?

Confidence building steps aren't possible if one side subverts them. Zarif and Catherine Ashton plan continued one-on-one 2014 talks toward implementing a final agreement.

It remains to be seen whether one side's resolve is the other's duplicity. Ashton represents EU countries. They're largely in lockstep with US/Israeli Iranian policy. 

It's been hostile for decades. It's hard imagining nuclear talks since November changed things. Congress and Israel remain hardline. 

Obama can't be trusted. He lost credibility long ago. His word isn't his bond. He says one thing. He does another. It happens repeatedly. Sincere outreach isn't his long suit. Nor is truth-telling. 

Iran is hopeful. At the same time, it's justifiably wary. It has good reason to doubt America's intentions. It's been betrayed so many times before. Is this time different? Washington has all the proving to do.

Ahead of talks resuming on December 30, Iranian lawmakers drafted new legislation. It authorizes enriching uranium to 60%. It does so if P5+1 nations breach Geneva.

Former Iranian Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/chief nuclear negotiator Fereidoun Abbasi stressed no plans to enrich above 20%. Geneva terms require not doing so above 5%.

Iranian naval lieutenant commander for technical affairs Rear Admiral Abbas Zamini said work on producing super heavy-powered submarines continues.

"Right now, we are at the initial phases," he said. Higher grade enriched uranium is needed to power them. 

According to Zamini, all countries may legitimately pursue this technology. They're legally allowed to use highly enriched uranium for civilian purposes. So is Iran.

On December 30, Iran's Human Rights Council secretary Mohammad Javad Larijani criticized EU parliamentarians.

A delegation visited Iran. Members met secretly with two Iranian dissidents. They did so in Greece's embassy. According to Larijani:

"The European delegation didn't even show the minimum respect for the rules of diplomatic behavior and held a meeting with sedition activists and convicts and sympathized with them."

"The European delegation's behavior shows that the westerners have not changed their policy towards Iran."

EU parliamentarians met with attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh and film director Jafar Panahi. They were convicted of involvement in days of disruptive street protests. They followed Iran's 2009 presidential election.

Ahmadinejad won by a landslide. He got 62.63% of the vote. He did so legitimately. He bested his nearest rival nearly two to one. 

It didn't surprise. Independent pre-election polls predicted he'd win overwhelmingly. Post-election protests erupted anyway. 

Washington's dirty hands choreographed them. Destabilizing independent governments is longstanding US policy. Anti-government Iranians were enlisted to cause trouble.

Congress approved funding to do so. CIA elements were involved. Their best efforts failed. Iranian security forces foiled them.

So did ordinary Iranians. They later turned out en masse. They did so supportively. They overwhelmed opposition demonstrations. They demanded disruptive elements be held accountable.

Iran later learned of Washington's involvement. So was Britain and other European countries. It was reminiscent of 1953.

CIA operative/Theodore Roosevelt's grandson/FDR's cousin Kermit Roosevelt engineered the Agency's first coup. 

Democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh was ousted. A generation of Reza Shah Pahlavi repression followed.

Iranians have long memories. They've got good reason to challenge US intentions. They're unsympathetic to their own people betraying them.

EU officials meeting covertly with anti-Iranian criminals bodes ill for what's ahead. Business as usual seems more likely.

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

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


US Universities of Shame

US Universities of Shame

by Stephen Lendman

A previous article discussed the American Studies Association (ASA). It's the nation's oldest and largest organization involved in the interdisciplinary study of US culture and history.

Members include academics, researchers, librarians, and public officials and administrators.

Academic ones represent many disciplines. They include history, literature, religion, art, architecture, philosophy, music, science, ethnic studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, education, and gender studies among others.

On December 16, ACA members voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions. They did so justifiably. They did so overwhelmingly. 

Their December 4 resolution supported social justice. It opposed "all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, discrimination, and xenophobia..."

It stood in "solidarity with aggrieved peoples" everywhere. It did so righteously. It did it honorably. It did the right thing. It did it because it matters.

It said America "plays a significant role in enabling" Israel's occupation, its "illegal settlements and (its) Wall in violation of international law..."

It supports "systematic discrimination against Palestinians." It's had a "devastating impact on (their) well-being..." Their fundamental rights are denied.

Palestinian academic freedom is denied. ASA "is dedicated to the rights of students and scholars to pursue education and research without undue state interference, repression, and military violence" everywhere.

It "resolved (to) honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions." 

It's justified, it said, for the following reasons:

  • US military and other support for Israel;

  • Israel's systematic violation of international laws and UN resolutions;

  • the harsh impact of its longstanding occupation;

  • "the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights," and

  • strong ASA member support.

Their resolution is binding until Israel stops violating human and civil rights, as well as international law. It doesn't apply to Israeli scholars. ASA supports their academic and related rights.

In response to ASA's boycott, four US universities cancelled their memberships. They include Brandeis, Penn State, University of Indiana, and Kenyon College.

Indiana University president Michael McRobbie affirmed his support for wrong over right. He did so disgracefully. He issued a statement, saying:

"Indiana University joins other leading research universities in condemning in the strongest possible terms the boycott of institutions of higher education in Israel as proposed by the American Studies Association and other organizations." 

"Boycotts such as these have a profound chilling effect on academic freedom, and universities must be clear and unequivocal in rejecting them." 

"Indiana University strongly endorses the recent statement on this matter by the Association of American Universities and the long-standing position in this area of the American Association of University Professors." 

"Indiana University values its academic relationships with colleagues and institutions around the world, including many important ones with institutions in Israel, and will not allow political considerations such as those behind this ill-conceived boycott to weaken those relationships or undermine the principle of academic freedom in this way." 

"IU stands firmly against proposals that would attempt to limit or restrict those important institutional relationships or this fundamental principle."

"Indiana University will contact the ASA immediately to withdraw as an institutional member. We urge the leadership of the ASA and other associations supporting the boycott to rescind this dangerous and ill-conceived action as a matter of urgency."

Other US universities issued statements opposing ASA's boycott. Doing so supports Israel's worst crimes. It's done reprehensibly.

Culpable schools include Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, University of Maryland, University of Indiana, Wesleyan University, and New York University.

It bears repeating. Opposing ASA's courageous stand endorses Israel's worst crimes. It supports occupation harshness. It supports militarism writ large.

It opposes Palestinian liberation. It's against their right to live free on their own land in their own country.

It supports longstanding Israeli crimes of war, against humanity, and slow-motion genocide. It shames their academic reputation in the process. It destroys their credibility.

It gives pause to what they teach in classrooms. Supporting wrong over right has no place in academia. It has no place anywhere. It demands unflinching opposition.

Harvard's Drew Gilpin Faust said the following:

"Academic boycotts subvert the academic freedoms and values necessary to the free flow of ideas, which is the lifeblood of the worldwide community of scholars." 

"The recent resolution of the ASA proposing to boycott Israeli universities represents a direct threat to these ideals, ideals which universities and scholarly associations should be dedicated to defend."

University of Maryland president Wallace Loh and senior vice president/provost Many Ann Rankin issued the following joint statement:

"We firmly oppose the call by some academic associations - American Studies Association; Asian-American Studies Association - to boycott Israeli academic institutions." 

"Any such boycott is a breach of the principle of academic freedom that undergirds the University of Maryland and, indeed, all of American higher education."

"Faculty, students, and staff on our campus must remain free to study, do research, and participate in meetings with colleagues from around the globe." 

"The University of Maryland has longstanding relationships with several Israeli universities. We have many exchanges of scholars and students. We will continue and deepen these relationships." 

"In the United States, we can disagree with the governmental policies of a nation without sanctioning the universities of that nation, or the American universities that collaborate with them." 

"To restrict the free flow of people and ideas with some universities because of their national identity is unwise, unnecessary, and irreconcilable with our core academic values."

Wesleyan University president Michael Roth called ASA's boycott "a repugnant attack on academic freedom, declaring academic institutions off-limits because of their national affiliation."

He "deplore(s)" what he calls ASA's "politically retrograde resolution...Under the guise of phony progressivism, the group has initiated an irresponsible attack on academic freedom. Others in academia should reject this call for an academic boycott."

Roth ignores important facts. 

The Alternative Information Center (AIC) explained. It published a report titled "Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories."

Numerous Israeli universities have long disturbing histories. They support colonization, occupation and apartheid. 

They turn a blind eye to Israeli crimes of war and against humanity. They include:

  • Tel Aviv University;

  • Bar-Ilan University; 

  • Hebrew University;

  • Haifa University;

  • the Weizman Institute;

  • Peres Academic Center;

  • Technion;

  • the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center; 

  • Haddasah College;

  • Judea and Samaria College for Engineering;

  • Jordan Valley College; and

  • Hollon College among others.

Nearly all Israeli academic institutions give IDF soldiers academic benefits. Doing so increases in times of war. It shows support for lawless aggression.

At the same time, many Israeli academics oppose their government's policies. They do it in writing. They do so publicly. They courageously support right over wrong. They risk their careers doing it.

Israeli Arab citizens comprise over 20% of Israel's population. Less than 10% have BA degrees. Less than 5% have master's degrees. Around 3% hold doctorates.

Only about 1% of Israeli institutions of higher learning are Palestinians. Israeli colleges and universities reject three times as many Arab applicants as Jewish ones.

Blatant discrimination is policy. Hebrew and Arabic are official Israeli languages. No major Israeli academic institution offers courses conducted in Arabic.

Palestinians not registered as students are treated differently from Jews. Hebrew University requires police-issued character references to visit its campus. It's to ensure they're not "terrorists."

Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University and others have separate campuses in Occupied Palestine. They're situated on stolen Palestinian land.

High ranking military and security officials hold positions in Israeli universities. Doing so legitimizes their crimes of war and against humanity.

Academic freedom is a universal principle. Not in Israel. Political dissent is discouraged. It's stifled. Anti-government activism risks trouble.

Students face disciplinary action. Academics are shunned by their colleagues. Some risk dismissal. Israeli academic freedom is more illusion than reality.

The campaign against South African apartheid included academic boycotts. Numerous well-known organizations supported it.

It was harsher than the global BDS campaign. It virtually spurned South African colleges and universities altogether. It did so for their complicity with apartheid. It was a model for future boycotts.

Israel is more vulnerable economically than South Africa. BDS and supportive boycotts are politically and psychologically damaging.

They build on their own momentum. Their pressure is effective. Doing the right thing is more than its own reward. When sustained, it gets results.

BDS is stronger and more effective than ever. Omar Barghouti co-founded the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

On December 13, he headlined "On Academic Freedom and the BDS Movement," saying:

ASA's "academic boycott of Israel provides fresh evidence that (BDS) may be reaching a tipping point on college campuses and academic associations."

Israel "treat(s) (it) as a 'strategic' threat." John Kerry called it an "existential threat" to Israel.

BDS "represents the overwhelming majority of Palestinian society," said Barghouti. It "seeks to realize basic Palestinian rights under international law."

It does so by "applying effective, global, morally consistent pressure on Israel and all the institutions that collude in its violations of international law..."

Judith Butler is a UC Berkeley philosopher. She co-directs its Program of Critical Theory. She calls BDS:

"the most important contemporary alliance calling for an end to forms of citizenship based on racial stratification, insisting on rights of political self-determination for those for whom such basic freedoms are denied or indefinitely suspended, insisting as well on substantial ways of redressing the rights of those forcibly and/or illegally dispossessed of property and land."

Supporting it is a universal imperative. ASA supports justice. It's not alone. In April, the Association for Asian-American Studies endorsed an academic boycott.

It was the first US academic association to do so. It won't likely be the last. Justifiable initiatives have legs. They attract growing numbers of followers.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Truth drowns out misguided illusions. Spreading it is essential. Influential voices do it best.

The Teachers' Union of Ireland unanimously called for "ceas(ing) all cultural and academic collaboration (with the) apartheid state of Israel."

The French-Speaking Belgian Students (FEF) represents 100,000 members. It adopted "a freeze of all academic partnerships with Israeli academic institutions."

UC Berkeley and other North American universities called for divesting from Israeli companies. Those profiteering from occupation were targeted.

Calls for boycotting Israel are increasing. Legal scholar Noura Erakat says doing so represents "an ethic of legitimate dissent."

Francis Boyle supports BDS based on the South African anti-apartheid model. So do many other distinguished academics and public figures.

It's no longer taboo to do so. It's a vital imperative. It's important to urge others to do it. It's essential to hold Israel accountable. 

BDS has nothing to do with compromising academic freedom. It has everything to do with demanding long denied justice.

Barghouti calls boycotting Israeli academic institutions vital. They're complicit "in planning, implementing, justifying or whitewashing aspects of Israel’s occupation, racial discrimination and denial of refugee rights."

Collusion takes many forms. Doing so spurns Palestinian rights. Zionism harms Jews and Arabs alike. It's the enemy of peace, equity and justice.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (UNESCR) calls academic freedom: 

  • "the liberty of individuals to express freely opinions about the institution or system in which they work,

  • to fulfill their functions without discrimination or fear of repression by the state or any other actor, 

  • to participate in professional or representative academic bodies, and 

  • to enjoy all the internationally recognized human rights applicable to other individuals in the same jurisdiction."

The 1993 World Conference on Human Rights said:

"All human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated." 

"The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis."

Academic freedom requires letting all views be aired freely. It obligates institutions of higher learning to do so.

Peace, equity and justice requires holding Israel accountable. Ignoring its crimes of war and against humanity no longer is acceptable.

Academic institutions and others need to be in the forefront for justice. Failure to do so destroys their credibility.

A Final Comment

On December 27, Francis Boyle wrote Harvard president Faust. He responded to her opposition to ASA's academic boycott. He wrote as follows:

Dear President Faust:

"I notice your condemnation of the ASA Boycott against Israel in today's New York Times." 

"I note for the record that Harvard has never once apologized to those of us Harvard Alums who participated in good faith in the Harvard Divestment/Disinvestment Campaign against Israel when your predecessor Larry Summers accused us of being anti-Semitic - a charge which he refused to defend against me as related below." 

"As a matter of fact, Harvard is so notoriously anti-Palestinian that the late, great Edward Said refused to accept Harvard's top chair in Comparative Literature when Harvard offered it to him." 

"As a loyal Harvard alum I spent an entire evening with Edward at a Chinese Restaurant in Manhattan trying to convince Edward to take this Chair." 

"I thought it would be good for Harvard to have Edward teaching there. As a lawyer and a law professor, I can be quite persuasive." 

"But Edward would have none of my arguments. As Edward saw it, Harvard was so anti-Palestinian that Harvard would have thwarted his intellectual creativity to move there." 

"So Edward stayed at Columbia. Of course Edward was right. And the anti-Palestinian tenor and orientation of Harvard has certainly gotten far worse since when Edward and I were both students at Harvard." 

"Harvard should be doing something about its own longstanding bigotry and racism against the Palestinians. Not criticizing those of us trying to help the Palestinians suffering from Israeli persecution, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and outright genocide."

Yours very truly,
Francis A. Boyle
Professor of Law 

Harvard isn't alone among major US academic institutions. Support for Israel's worst crimes is widespread. So is spurning fundamental Palestinian rights.

International law affirms them. It high time discriminatory US academic institutions did so. Nothing less is acceptable! Not now! Not ever!

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

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.