Monday, March 12, 2012

343 Lieberman bill would "kill" the Internet in event of a "national cyber-emergency"

Lieberman bill would "kill" the Internet in event of a "national cyber-emergency"

(1) Wiesel working to free Khodorkovsky, former oligarch of Yukos
(2) Jewish settlers' Chickens get more electricity and water than Palestinians
(3) Mearsheimer: As 2-state fades, Israel becoming like white-ruled South Africa
(4) German parliament expected to pass motion urging Israel to end Gaza blockade
(5) New York Arabic school branded "jihadist" but Jewish school's Zionism passes un-remarked
(6) Lieberman bill would "kill" the Internet in event of a "national cyber-emergency"

(1) Wiesel working to free Khodorkovsky, former oligarch of Yukos

From: ReporterNotebook <> Date: 29.06.2010 09:22 AM

Wiesel working to free former Yukos exec

June 28, 2010

MOSCOW (JTA) -- Elie Wiesel has launched a global campaign to free former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is on trial in Moscow for embezzlement.

On the eve of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to the United States, Wiesel held a lunch June 24 for several dozen prominent Americans to discuss how to pressure Russian leadership to release Khodorkovsky, whom Wiesel called a political prisoner.

"We all believe it is a political case," said the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust memoirist at the meeting. "He is not legally convicted."

Obama and Medvedev reportedly did not discuss Khodorkovsky's case during their June 24 meeting.

Khodorkovsky, the former head of the Yukos oil company, is serving an eight-year sentence in a prison colony for fraud and tax evasion. He faces another 22 years in prison for theft and embezzlement if convicted of stealing $9.6 billion from the $15.8 billion profit generated by Yukos between 1999 and 2003, as well as 350 million tons of oil.

Elena Bonner, a prominent Russian human rights activist and public figure, who was also invited to the lunch but was not able to participate, published an open letter to the participants saying that their initiative was noble but they should not forget other political prisoners in Russia.

Leonid Nevzlin, Khodorkovsky's former partner who immigrated to Israel in 2004, in his blog on Live Journal agreed with Bonner, the wife of the late dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, saying that the focus on political prisoners in Russia should not be solely on Khodorkovsky.

(2) Jewish settlers' Chickens get more electricity and water than Palestinians

From: Henry Norr <> Date: 02.07.2010 04:42 PM

{comment (HN)}
By the usual standards of the US establishment media, this column from today's NY Times is a real breakthrough. Yes, he inserts a lot of qualifications and some Israeli BS - for example, the implication that the IDF keeps Palestinian youths away from the settlements lest they throw rocks. Of course the Times' news coverage remains pathetic or worse. And there's been lots wrong with Kristof's crusade about Darfur. But still and all, he's popular and highly respected among liberals, and this piece presents a relatively unvarnished picture of the occupation.
{end comment}

June 30, 2010

The Two Sides of a Barbed-Wire Fence


KARMEL, West Bank

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is widely acknowledged to be unsustainable and costly to the country’s image. But one more blunt truth must be acknowledged: the occupation is morally repugnant.

On one side of a barbed-wire fence here in the southern Hebron hills is the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kheir, where Palestinians live in ramshackle tents and huts. They aren’t allowed to connect to the electrical grid, and Israel won’t permit them to build homes, barns for their animals or even toilets. When the villagers build permanent structures, the Israeli authorities come and demolish them, according to villagers and Israeli human rights organizations.

On the other side of the barbed wire is the Jewish settlement of Karmel, a lovely green oasis that looks like an American suburb. It has lush gardens, kids riding bikes and air-conditioned homes. It also has a gleaming, electrified poultry barn that it runs as a business.

Elad Orian, an Israeli human rights activist, nodded toward the poultry barn and noted: “Those chickens get more electricity and water than all the Palestinians around here.”

It’s fair to acknowledge that there are double standards in the Middle East, with particular scrutiny on Israeli abuses. After all, the biggest theft of Arab land in the Middle East has nothing to do with Palestinians: It is Morocco’s robbery of the resource-rich Western Sahara from the people who live there.

None of that changes the ugly truth that our ally, Israel, is using American military support to maintain an occupation that is both oppressive and unjust. Israel has eased checkpoints this year — a real improvement in quality of life — but the system is intrinsically malignant.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization that I’ve long admired, took me to the southern Hebron hills to see the particularly serious inequities Palestinians face here. Apparently because it covets this area for settlement expansion, Israel has concocted a series of feeble excuses to drive out Palestinians from villages here or make their lives so wretched that they leave on their own.

“It’s an ongoing attempt by the authorities to push people out,” said Sarit Michaeli, a B’Tselem spokeswoman.

In the village of Tuba, some Palestinian farmers live in caves off the grid because permanent structures are destroyed for want of building permits that are never granted. The farmers seethe as they struggle to collect rainwater while a nearby settlement, Maon, luxuriates in water piped in by the Israeli authorities.

“They plant trees and gardens and have plenty of water,” complained Ibrahim Jundiya, who raises sheep and camels in Tuba. “And we don’t even have enough to drink. Even though we were here before them.”

Mr. Jundiya said that when rainwater runs out, his family must buy tankers of water at a price of $11 per cubic meter. That’s at least four times what many Israelis and settlers pay.

Violent clashes with Israeli settlers add to the burden. In Tuba, Palestinian children walking to elementary school have sometimes been attacked by Israeli settlers. To protect the children, foreign volunteers from Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove began escorting the children in the 2004-05 school year — and then settlers beat the volunteers with chains and clubs, according to human rights reports and a news account from the time.

Attacks on foreign volunteers get more attention than attacks on Palestinians, so the Israeli Army then began to escort the Palestinian children of Tuba to and from elementary school. But the soldiers don’t always show up, the children say, and then the kids take an hour and a half roundabout path to school to avoid going near the settlers.

For their part, settlers complain about violence by Palestinians, and it’s true that there were several incidents in this area between 1998 and 2002 in which settlers were killed. Partly because of rock-throwing clashes between Arabs and Israelis, the Israeli Army often keeps Palestinians well away from Israeli settlements — even if Palestinian farmers then cannot farm their own land.

Meanwhile, the settlements continue to grow, seemingly inexorably — and that may be the most odious aspect of the occupation.

In other respects, some progress is evident. Mr. Orian’s Israeli aid group — Community, Energy and Technology in the Middle East — has installed windmills and solar panels to provide a bit of electricity for Palestinians kept off the grid. And attacks from settlers have dropped significantly, in part because B’Tselem has equipped many Palestinian families with video cameras to document and deter assaults.

Still, a pregnant 19-year-old Palestinian woman in the village of At-Tuwani was hospitalized this month after an attack by settlers.

Israel has a point when it argues that relinquishing the West Bank would raise real security concerns. But we must not lose sight of the most basic fact about the occupation: It’s wrong.

(3) Mearsheimer: As 2-state fades, Israel becoming like white-ruled South Africa

From: Paul de Burgh-Day <> Date: 01.07.2010 12:52 AM

Sinking Ship

The attack on the Gaza relief flotilla jeopardizes Israel itself.

By John J. Mearsheimer


Israel's botched raid against the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla on May 31 is the latest sign that Israel is on a disastrous course that it seems incapable of reversing. The attack also highlights the extent to which Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States. This situation is likely to get worse over time, which will cause major problems for Americans who have a deep attachment to the Jewish state. ...

Israel insists that its blockade is solely intended to keep weapons out of Gaza. Hardly anyone would criticize Israel if this were true, but it is not. ... The ships in the flotilla were transporting humanitarian aid, not weapons for Hamas, and Israel's willingness to use deadly force to prevent a humanitarian aid convoy from reaching Gaza makes it abundantly clear that Israel wants to humiliate and subdue the Palestinians, not live side-by-side with them in separate states. ...

Dark Days Ahead for the Lobby

Israel's troubled trajectory is also causing major headaches for its American supporters. First, there is the matter of choosing between Israel and the United States. This is sometimes referred to as the issue of dual loyalty, but that term is a misnomer. Americans are allowed to have dual citizenship—and in effect, dual loyalty—and this is no problem as long as the interests of the other country are in synch with America's interests. For decades, Israel's supporters have striven to shape public discourse in the United States so that most Americans believe the two countries' interests are identical. That situation is changing, however. Not only is there now open talk about clashing interests, but knowledgeable people are openly asking whether Israel's actions are detrimental to U.S. security.

The lobby has been scrambling to discredit this new discourse, either by reasserting the standard argument that Israel's interests are synonymous with America's or by claiming that Israel—to quote a recent statement by Mortimer Zuckerman, a key figure in the lobby—"has been an ally that has paid dividends exceeding its costs." A more sophisticated approach, which is reflected in an AIPAC-sponsored letter that 337 congresspersons sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in March, acknowledges that there will be differences between the two countries, but argues that "such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence." In other words, keep the differences behind closed doors and away from the American public. It is too late, however, to quell the public debate about whether Israel's actions are damaging U.S. interests. In fact, it is likely to grow louder and more contentious with time.

This changing discourse creates a daunting problem for Israel's supporters, because they will have to side either with Israel or the United States when the two countries' interests clash. Thus far, most of the key individuals and institutions in the lobby have sided with Israel when there was a dispute. For example, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have had two big public fights over settlements. Both times the lobby sided with Netanyahu and helped him thwart Obama. It seems clear that individuals like Abraham Foxman, who heads the Anti-Defamation League, and organizations like AIPAC are primarily concerned about Israel's interests, not America's.

This situation is very dangerous for the lobby. The real problem is not dual loyalty but choosing between the two loyalties and ultimately putting the interests of Israel ahead of those of America. The lobby's unstinting commitment to defending Israel, which sometimes means shortchanging U.S. interests, is likely to become more apparent to more Americans in the future, and that could lead to a wicked backlash against Israel's supporters as well as Israel.

The lobby faces yet another challenge: defending an apartheid state in the liberal West is not going to be easy. Once it is widely recognized that the two-state solution is dead and Israel has become like white-ruled South Africa—and that day is not far off—support for Israel inside the American Jewish community is likely to diminish significantly. The main reason is that apartheid is a despicable political system that is fundamentally at odds with basic American values as well as core Jewish values. For sure there will be some Jews who will defend Israel no matter what kind of political system it has. But their numbers will shrink over time, in large part because survey data shows that younger American Jews feel less attachment to Israel than their elders, which makes them less inclined to defend Israel blindly.

The bottom line is that Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state over the long term because it will not be able to depend on the American Jewish community to defend such a reprehensible political order.

Assisted Suicide

Israel is facing a bleak future, yet there is no reason to think that it will change course anytime soon. The political center of gravity in Israel has shifted sharply to the right and there is no sizable pro-peace political party or movement. Moreover, it remains firmly committed to the belief that what cannot be solved by force can be solved with greater force, and many Israelis view the Palestinians with contempt if not hatred. Neither the Palestinians nor any of Israel's immediate neighbors are powerful enough to deter it, and the lobby will remain influential enough over the next decade to protect Israel from meaningful U.S. pressure.

Remarkably, the lobby is helping Israel commit national suicide while also doing serious damage to American security interests. Voices challenging this tragic situation have grown slightly more numerous in recent years, but the majority of political commentators and virtually all U.S. politicians seem blissfully ignorant of where this is headed, or unwilling to risk their careers by speaking out.

John J. Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and coauthor of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

(4) German parliament expected to pass motion urging Israel to end Gaza blockade

July 1, 2010

The cross-party motion, an unusual demonstration of unity against Israeli policy, follows calls in Germany to being Hamas into the political process.

By Reuters The German parliament is due to back a rare cross-party motion later on Thursday demanding that Israel lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip immediately, in an unusual demonstration of unity against Israeli policy.

The motion by lawmakers in Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, her coalition partners the Free Democrats (FDP), and the main center-left opposition parties follows calls from Germany that Hamas, which controls Gaza, should be brought into the negotiating process.

Following the Nazi genocide of European Jews in World War II, Germany's main political parties have staunchly supported Israel. They have also strongly criticized Hamas, an Islamist group which refuses to recognize Israel.

However, the 2008 Israeli invasion and blockade of Gaza sparked criticism of Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization and refuses to negotiate with it.

"The living conditions of the civilian population of Gaza must be urgently improved," said the German motion, adding that the blockade - which the government has already said should be ended - was counterproductive and did not help to make Israel safer.

In response to Western criticism, Israel has eased the land blockade of Gaza where 1.5 million Palestinians live, allowing most civilian goods through, while continuing to enforce a naval embargo of the coastal territory.

The German parliamentary initiative also urges Merkel's government to press for a resumption of peace talks in the region.

"The motion will be adopted. There's no doubt," Rainer Stinner, foreign policy spokesman for the FDP, told Reuters.

In parliament, only the Left Party did not help to draft the motion, but the far-left grouping would also support it, said its foreign policy spokesman Wolfgang Gehrcke. "This marks a profound shift in policy towards Israel in Germany, in my view," he said.

This week, the opposition center-left Social Democrats (SPD) said dialogue with Hamas now looked inevitable due to support for them in Gaza, and the FDP's Stinner agreed.

"If you want to achieve anything in the Gaza Strip, you can't get around making contact with Hamas," he said.

Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) were more guarded about the prospect of dealing with Hamas, saying the organization had failed to renounce violence unequivocally or recognize Israel.

However, they did not rule out talks categorically.

Ruprecht Polenz, a senior CDU lawmaker and head of the Bundestag's foreign policy committee, said Hamas hoped to exploit talks to obtain international recognition.

"It doesn't necessarily follow from this that you shouldn't speak to Hamas at all," he said. "But it follows you shouldn't talk to them in a way which raises their international standing - unless they show a substantial change in their position."

(5) New York Arabic school branded "jihadist" but Jewish school's Zionism passes un-remarked
From: ReporterNotebook <> Date: 27.06.2010 10:00 PM


A tale of two schools

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 09:53 AM PDT

When plans were announced in February 2007 to open the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), New York City's first dual-language Arabic public school, ugly anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia reared its head. 

Yesterday, the New York Times profiled a Brooklyn-based Hebrew language charter school.  There has been barely a peep about this school--a stark reminder of the privilege Jewish-Americans hold in our society and how racism against Arabs is an accepted part of our national discourse.

Here's an excerpt from a great New York Times profile by Andrea Elliott of KGIA's founding principal Debbie Almontaser about the concocted controversy:

In newspaper articles and Internet postings, on television and talk radio, Ms. Almontaser was branded a "radical," a "jihadist" and a "9/11 denier." She stood accused of harboring unpatriotic leanings and of secretly planning to proselytize her students. Despite Ms. Almontaser's longstanding reputation as a Muslim moderate, her critics quickly succeeded in recasting her image.

The conflict tapped into a well of post-9/11 anxieties. But Ms. Almontaser's downfall was not merely the result of a spontaneous outcry by concerned parents and neighborhood activists. It was also the work of a growing and organized movement to stop Muslim citizens who are seeking an expanded role in American public life. The fight against the school, participants in the effort say, was only an early skirmish in a broader, national struggle.

One of the more pernicious, and completely false, charges against KGIA was that the school had a political agenda to indoctrinate students to believe in "radical Islam."

The Hebrew-language charter school, on the other hand, does have politics, namely Zionism, infused into it:

There are reminders of Israel everywhere — blue-and-white flags adorn the walls of one classroom, and another class often watches an Israeli children's show. The students celebrated Israeli Independence Day this year. (In the parlance of 5- and 6-year-olds, the day was known as the country's "62nd birthday," and prompted a project of construction-paper birthday cards.)

(6) Lieberman bill would "kill" the Internet in event of a "national cyber-emergency"

From: Sami Joseph <> Date: 01.07.2010 12:16 AM

Guess Who Wants to Kill the Internet?

by Maidhc Ó Cathail / June 30th, 2010

It would be hard to think of anyone who has done more to undermine American freedoms than Joseph Lieberman.

Since 9/11, the Independent senator from Connecticut has introduced a raft of legislation in the name of the "global war on terror" which has steadily eroded constitutional rights. If the United States looks increasingly like a police state, Senator Lieberman has to take much of the credit for it.

On October 11, 2001, exactly one month after 9/11, Lieberman introduced S. 1534, a bill to establish a Department of Homeland Security. Since then, he has been the main mover behind such draconian legislation as the Protect America Act of 2007, the Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010, and the proposed Terrorist Expatriation Act, which would revoke the citizenship of Americans suspected of terrorism. And now the senator from Connecticut wants to kill the Internet.

According to the bill he recently proposed in the Senate, the entire global internet is to be claimed as a "national asset" of the United States. If Congress passes the bill, the US President would be given the power to "kill" the internet in the event of a "national cyber-emergency." Supporters of the legislation say this is necessary to prevent a "cyber 9/11? – yet another myth from the fearmongers who brought us tales of "Iraqi WMD" and "Iranian nukes."

Lieberman's concerns about the internet are not new. The United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which Lieberman chairs, released a report in 2008 titled "Violent Islamist Extremism, The Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat." The report claimed that groups like al-Qaeda use the internet to indoctrinate and recruit members, and to communicate with each other.

Immediately after the report was published, Lieberman asked Google, the parent company of You Tube, to "immediately remove content produced by Islamist terrorist organizations." That might sound like a reasonable request. However, as far as Lieberman is concerned, Hamas, Hezbollah and even the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are terrorist organizations.

It's hardly surprising that Lieberman's views on what constitute terrorism parallel those of Tel Aviv. As Mark Vogel, chairman of the largest pro-Israel Political Action Committee (PAC) in the United States, once said: "Joe Lieberman, without exception, no conditions … is the No. 1 pro-Israel advocate and leader in Congress. There is nobody who does more on behalf of Israel than Joe Lieberman."

Lieberman has been well-rewarded for his patriotism – to another country. In the past six years, he has been the Senate's top recipient of political contributions from pro-Israel PACs with a staggering $1,226,956.

But what is it that bothers Lieberman so much about the internet? Could it be that it allows ordinary Americans access to facts which reveal exactly what kind of "friend" Israel has been to its overgenerous benefactor? Facts which they have been denied by the pro-Israel mainstream media.

How much faith would American voters have in the likes of Lieberman, who claims that the Jewish state is their greatest ally, if they knew that Israeli agents planted firebombs in American installations in Egypt in 1954 in an attempt to undermine relations between Nasser and the United States; that Israel murdered 34 American servicemen in a deliberate attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967; that Israeli espionage, most notably Jonathan Pollard's spying, has done tremendous damage to American interests; that five Mossad agents were filming and celebrating as the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001; that Tel Aviv and its accomplices in Washington were the source of the false pre-war intelligence on Iraq; and about countless other examples of treachery?

In his latest attempt to censor the internet, does Lieberman really want to protect the American people from imaginary cyber-terrorists? Or is he just trying to protect his treasonous cronies from the American people?

Maidhc Ó Cathail is a freelance writer. His work has been published by Al Jazeera Magazine,, Dissident Voice, Khaleej Times, Palestine Chronicle and many other publications.

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