Fundamental Human Rights

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Archive for November, 2008

Top UN Official Condemns Apartheid by Israel

Posted by terres on November 29, 2008

International community should consider sanctions against Israel including ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ —UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann

“General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann said the international community should consider sanctions against Israel including ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ similar to those enacted against South Africa two decades ago.” The Jerusalem Post reported.

Father d’Escoto added: “Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories appear so similar to the apartheid of an earlier era, a continent away. I believe it is very important that we in the United Nations use this term. We must not be afraid to call something what it is.”


Nasser al Bourai carries the body of his 6-months old son Mohammed al Bourai who was killed by an Israeli missile in occupied Gaza. Image Credit: Mohammed Omer – Rafah Today 2008-03-01. Image may be subject to copyright. For more images: Click here.


Mourners carrying the body of Tamer Abu Shaar to be buried in Deir Al Balah  cemetery. Tamar was ‘luckier’ than Mohammed al Bourai because he made it to the grand age of 9 before being cut down by Israeli occupation forces. Photo Credit: RafahToday. Image may be subject to copyright.

Remarks by Phyllis Bennis

Bennis is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and serves on the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation. Her books include “Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer.”

She said: “The humanitarian crisis in Gaza—which will not be reversed simply by Israel’s one-time loosening of the siege on Monday— has escalated largely outside public view, with Israel continuing to prevent foreign journalists and UN officials from entering, while keeping Palestinian journalists and human rights workers from leaving the besieged Gaza Strip. Father Miguel d’Escoto’s statement to the UN General Assembly on Monday helped cast some new light on that too-often hidden reality.

“But even beyond the Gaza crisis, d’Escoto’s statement was significant for his call on the United Nations to follow the lead of former Presidents Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter, along with a growing number of Jewish, Christian and other civil society organizations around the world, including the U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation here in the U.S., who recognize the applicability of the term ‘apartheid’ to describe Israeli policies towards Palestinians, and call for a South African-style non-violent boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to pressure Israel to end those illegal practices.” Source.

See d’Escoto’s remarks at: http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/unifeed/detail/10515.html [Registration required.]

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Posted in GENOCIDE, human rights, humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israel, Phyllis Bennis | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Image of the Day: Another Obscene Extravaganza in UAE

Posted by terres on November 26, 2008

An Obscene Extravaganza Launches an Environmental Nightmare

As more and more US citizens line at food banks, Dubai throws a $20 million party to launch an environmental nightmare, a luxury resort on an artificial palm-shaped island in a collapsing ecosystem.


Atlantis Hotel opening in Dubai – Locals watch the fireworks at the $20 million launch party of Palm Resort and its flagship Atlantis, at the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial palm-shaped island in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 20, 2008. Photo: JOEL RYAN/AP. Image may be subject to copyright.


Philadelphia Food Bank (Undated photo. Source). Image may be subject to copyright.


People lined up Friday outside the Church of the Nazarene in Mid City (San Diego, Calif) for the monthly distribution of food. August 6, 2008. EDUARDO CONTRERAS/Union-Tribune. Image may be subject to copyright.


Families wait in line Saturday to pick up food supplies at Tukwila Pantry, near Seattle, Washington. June 1, 2008. (Source) Image may be subject to copyright.

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Posted in ecocide, environment, environmental nightmare, food banks, ocean pollution | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Is Political Corruption Endemic in Nordic Countries?

Posted by terres on November 23, 2008

An expensive nuclear power station in Finland, a collapsed banking system in Iceland …

Hundreds of demonstrators in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik clashed with police Saturday. They had gathered outside the the police headquarters to demand the release of a fellow protester, Haukur Himarsson, who had been arrested in a demonstration on Friday.

Clad in full riot gear, police used pepper spray to disperse the crowds, injuring at least five demonstrators. Hilmarsson was eventually released.


Five
protesters were injured outside the police headquarters in Reykjavik when police used pepper spray to disperse the demonstrators. (Photo: mbl.is/Júlíus). Source. image may be subject to copyright.

The crowd outside the police headquarters were a part of much larger group of about ten thousand demonstrators who had gathered outside parliament to demand the government’s resignation over the handling of the financial crisis.

Saturday protests in front of the  parliament in Reykjavik calling for the government to resign over its handling of the economy are now commonplace. Iceland’s once-flourishing economy came close to a total collapse, and its banking system underwent a meltdown in October. Iceland’s currency, the krona, has lost 50 percent of its value in the past months.

Their Prime Minister Geir Haarde recently told Nordic countries that Iceland needed at least $6bn to stay afloat. The corrupt Icelandic government is borrowing $2.1billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and $2.5 from Denmark and other Nordic countries. The IMF has promised to help the country secure an additional $2 billion.

And once the IMF steps in, you might as well kiss your country, independence and all the good things you once held dear GOOD BYE!

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Posted in banking meltdown, economic collapse, Geir Haarde, Haukur Himarsson, IMF | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Six of one, half a dozen of the other!

Posted by terres on November 21, 2008

In the Public Interest

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

by Ralph Nader

While the liberal intelligentsia was swooning over Barack Obama during his presidential campaign, I counseled “prepare to be disappointed.” His record as a Illinois state and U.S. Senator, together with the many progressive and long overdue courses of action he opposed during his campaign, rendered such a prediction unfortunate but obvious.

Now this same intelligentsia is beginning to howl over Obama’s transition team and early choices to run his Administration. Having defeated Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries, he now is busily installing Bill Clinton’s old guard. Thirty one out of forty seven people that he has named so far for transition or appointments have ties to the Clinton Administration, according to Politico. One Clintonite is quoted in the Washington Post as saying – “This isn’t lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time.”

Obama’s “foreign policy team is now dominated by the Hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990,” writes Jeremy Scahill. Obama’s transition team reviewing intelligence agencies and recommending appointments is headed by John Brennan and Jami Miscik, who worked under George Tenet when the CIA was involved in politicizing intelligence for, among other officials, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s erroneous address before the United Nations calling for war against Iraq.


John Brennan, director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, talks about the changes and goals of the center, Sept. 21, 2004 at an undislosed locating in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington. If information is power, few in the U.S. government have more than Brennan. He sits at the nerve center of the country’s revolutionary 18-month-old terrorism analysis center, called the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which can peer into 26 government computer networks to analyze information on international terror threats. (AP Photo Lawrence Jackson). Image may be subject to copyright. Caption: eyeball-series.org

WIKIPEDIA ENTRY: John O. Brennan is an American businessman and a member of the U.S. intelligence community. He was interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center immediately after its creation, and since 2005 has served as CEO of The Analysis Corporation.[1] He advised Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on foreign policy and intelligence issues.[2] Since 2007, Brennan has served as Chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Mr. Brennan, as a government official, supported warrantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition to torturing countries. National Public Radio reported that Obama’s reversal when he voted for the revised FISA this year relied on John Brennan’s advise.

For more detail on these two advisers and others recruited by Obama from the dark old days, see Democracy Now, November 17, 2008 (http://www.democracynow.org/2008/11/17/headlines#7) and Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet, Nov. 20, 2008 “This is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama’s White House.”

The top choice as White House chief of staff is Rahm Emanuel—the ultimate hard-nosed corporate Democrat, military-foreign policy hawk and Clinton White House promoter of corporate globalization, as in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization.

Now, recall Obama’s words during the bucolic “hope and change” campaign months: “The American people…understand the real gamble is having the same old folks doing things over and over and over again and somehow expecting a different result.” Thunderous applause followed these remarks.

“This is more ‘Groundhog Day’ then a fresh start,” asserted Peter Wehner, a former Bush adviser who is now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The signs are amassing that Barack Obama put a political con job over on the American people. He is now daily buying into the entrenched military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned Americans about in his farewell address.

With Robert Rubin on his side during his first photo opportunity after the election, he signaled to Wall Street that his vote for the $750 billion bailout of those speculators and crooks was no fluke (Rubin was Clinton’s financial deregulation architect in 1999 as Secretary of the Treasury before he became one of the hugely paid co-directors tanking  Citigroup.)

Obama’s apologists say that his picks show he wants to get things done, so he wants people who know their way around Washington. Moreover, they say, the change comes only from the president who sets the priorities and the courses of action, not from his subordinates. This explanation assumes that a president’s appointments are not mirror images of the boss’s expected directions but only functionaries to carry out the Obama changes.

If you are inclined to believe this improbable scenario, perhaps you may wish to review Obama’s record compiled by Matt Gonzalez at Counterpunch (http://counterpunch.org/gonzalez10292008.html). End.

Related Links:

Interviews with Brennan

References cited by Wikipedia

1. New at the Top: John O. Brennan, Washington Post Monday, December 12, 2005; Page D08
2. Chief of firm involved in breach is Obama adviser
3. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/45279.htm

Posted in John Brennan, military-industrial complex, Neocons, Rahm Israel Emanuel, Wall Street | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Thank you for saving so many lives, Bingham !!

Posted by terres on November 20, 2008

Lord Bingham! He waited until after retirement to condemn ‘serious violation of international law’ by US and UK

You can’t begin to imagine how grateful the 1.5 million slaughtered victims are for your 5-year stammer!


The Law Lord from Hell: Thomas Henry Bingham, Baron Bingham of Cornhill
, KG, PC, FBA (born 13 October 1933), was the senior law lord in the United Kingdom. The Times called him “the pre-eminent lawyer of his generation with a brilliant, incisive mind.” Photo: Balliol College . Image may be subject to copyright.

Lord Bingham, the famed British judge who recently retired as the senior law lord, described the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a serious violation of international law, and accused Britain and the US of acting like a “world vigilante.”

Some five years and nearly 1.5 million corpses later, Bingham finally rejected [the then attorney general] Lord Goldsmith’s defense of the 2003 invasion as fundamentally flawed.  Bingham said: “It was not plain that Iraq had failed to comply in a manner justifying resort to force and there were no strong factual grounds or hard evidence to show that it had.” Bingham added that the fact Britain and the US had unilaterally decided that Iraq had broken UN resolutions “passes belief.” Read the rest of this article …


Lord GoldSmith:  Peter Henry Goldsmith, Baron Goldsmith, PC, QC (born 5 January 1950), is a former Attorney General of England and Wales. On 22 June 2007, Goldsmith announced his resignation which took effect on 27 June 2007, the same day that prime minister, Tony Blair, stepped down. Photo: Source. Image may be subject to copyright.

[In his final advice to the Government, written on 17 March 2003, the war criminal Lord Goldsmith stated that the use of force in Iraq was lawful.]

The Moderators say:

Thank you, Lord Bingham, for waiting 5 years and 1.5 million slaughtered victims later to finally say your piece!

We won’t spoil things by calling you a hypocrite and a coward of Royal Order!

Posted in bush, GENOCIDE, human rights, Lord Goldsmith, politics | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Image of the Day: Stop Child Porn

Posted by terres on November 20, 2008

Child Prostitution: A Global Tragedy


A Filipino child joins a protest rally in Manila, where children’s rights advocates are urging lawmakers to criminalize child pornography. (Source). Image may be subject to copyright.

Child Prostitution ranking by country:

  1. India
  2. Brazil
  3. United States
  4. The Philippines
  5. Thailand and China (Source, Child Exploitation; Unicef)


The following information is posted at:

http://www.unicef.org/philippines/support/sup_12.html

STOP CHILD PORNOGRAPHY TODAY!

Child pornography is larger than you imagine.

Child pornography has become a big-time business all over the world, all at the expense of children.

Before 1968, it was rare to find actual children featured in pornographic material. At first, pornographers only used young-looking adults to cater to the pedophile market. But by the 1970s, child pornography experienced a boom, particularly in the United States where an estimated 300,000 to 600,000 children under 16 were fielded as models.

[Note: These stats are just tip of the iceberg.]

To curb the industry’s growth, stricter laws were established in the US and Western Europe, forcing pornographers to move their operations to countries with lax laws such as the Philippines.

Today, the advent of the Internet and digital cameras has made child pornography even more pervasive, while making it more difficult for authorities to track the growing number of both pornographers and their victims.

Child prostitution is a kin of child pornography.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, anywhere from 60,000 to 600,000 street children are victims of child prostitution. In fact, the Philippines ranks fourth among countries with the most number of prostituted children. A study by the Psychological Trauma Program of the University of the Philippines notes that prostitution may now be the country’s fourth largest source of GNP.

Yet, while some data on child prostitution are available, they may not reflect the potentially even larger number of children being victimized through child pornography.

Rescue child victims before it is too late.
Make your pledge today.

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Posted in Child Exploitation, Child Porn, human rights, unicef | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Murdered by Their Own Buddies!

Posted by terres on November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day: Remembering the Executed!

This page is dedicated to hundreds of men in Europe who refused [or were too sick] to commit butchery in the rich men’s war, and who were subsequently executed by their own side in the 1914-1918 War!


Photo Source.  Image may be subject to copyright.

More than 20 million people butchered one another like wild animals in the first major war racket, the so-called WWI.


Please sign petition: Stop the War Racket; Demilitarize the World!


Posted in Armistice Day, France, Remembrance Day, war racket | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Action calling for Indictment for War Crimes

Posted by terres on November 9, 2008

The Delaration of Peace

The Declaration of Peace encourages your participation in the following nonviolent action, organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, on November 10, 2008 in Washington, D.C.

If you can’t be in D.C. on Monday, see below for how you can still participate.

Citizens Risking Arrest to Bring Indictment to Bush and Cheney


Contact: Max Obuszewski at mobuszewski@verizon.net or
Joy First at jsfirst@tds.net
(608) 239-4327

WHO: The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) is a nationwide network of individuals and organizations committed to Peace and Justice, utilizing the nonviolent practices and disciplines of Gandhi and King through nonviolent civil resistance.

WHAT: Gathering at the Department of Justice to request a meeting.
In September, members of NCNR sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey, asking to meet with him to discuss the indictment of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney for war crimes. Attorney General Mukasey has not responded. (See the letter here.)

WHEN: At 12 noon on Monday, November 10, 2008, members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance will go to the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. with a copy of the letter and again ask for a meeting with Attorney General Mukasey to discuss indicting Bush and Cheney for war crimes. If they are refused, some members of the group will be moved by conscience to risk arrest.

WHERE: DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C.
The delegation will meet on the CONSTITUTION AVENUE side of the DoJ BUILDING at NOON.

WHY: Barack Obama has won the election, and now more than ever we need to continue our work calling for Peace and Justice. We must continue to demand that the new president ends the occupation of Iraq and does not escalate military action in Afghanistan. The call for Justice demands that Bush and others in his administration be held accountable for the deaths of over a million innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nearly 4,200 U.S. soldiers.

All are encouraged to join in!

In April 2008, Obama said that as president he would indeed ask his new Attorney General and his deputies to “immediately review the information that’s already there” and determine if an inquiry is warranted. It is the responsibility of citizens to make sure this happens.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, appointed by President Truman to be the Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunals following World War II, stated, “let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.”

We take this action knowing that we are doing what we are called to do, knowing that we are doing the only thing we can do as our leaders have continued to disobey the laws of the United States and to trample on and shred the U.S. Constitution for the last 8 years.



If possible, please join us in D.C. on November 10 for this action.

If you are not able to make it to D.C., we ask citizens across the country to join us in solidarity through local actions on November 10 and beyond as we call for the restoration of Justice.

FIRST, call the attorney general’s office on November 10 to encourage him to meet with the citizenry who want to discuss the indictment of Bush and Cheney: Department of Justice Main Switchboard: (202) 514-2000 and Office of the Attorney General: (202) 353-1555.

SECOND, hold a solidarity demonstration at your local federal building or local Attorney General office on November 10. During the demonstration, you would have a copy of the NCNR letter requesting a meeting. You would emphasize that the attorney general must meet with these concerned citizens and consider an indictment.

THIRD, ask your Congressperson to support H. Resolution 1509, introduced by Tammy Baldwin. This resolution expresses “the sense of the House of Representatives that the next president should immediately work to reverse damaging and illegal actions taken by the Bush/Cheney Administration”. The resolution states the need to fully investigate the administration for alleged crimes and hold them accountable for any illegal acts.

FOURTH, insist that the new Congress, in January 2009, uphold the subpoenas that they have issued to investigate crimes of the Bush administration. The subpoenas have been mocked and ignored by the current administration. The new Congress must reissue these subpoenas and have them supported by the new administration so that Justice can prevail across the land.

It is time to bring the criminals of the Bush regime to Justice.

We, the people, have the power. We, the people, call for Justice.

For More Information:

http://www.declarationofpeace.org

E-mail: info@declarationofpeace.org

Posted in Afghanistan war, Attorney General, H. Resolution 1509, Iraq War, We the People | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Promised Land?

Posted by feww on November 8, 2008

Obama, Emanuel and Israel

By JOHN V. WHITBECK

(Counterpunch) In the first major appointment of his administration, President-elect Barack Obama has named as his chief of staff Congressman Rahm Emanuel, an Israeli citizen and Israeli army veteran whose father, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was a member of Menachem Begin’s Irgun forces during the Nakba and named his son after “a Lehi combatant who was killed” — i.e., a member of Yitzhak Shamir’s terrorist Stern Gang, responsible for, in addition to other atrocities against Palestinians, the more famous bombing of the King David Hotel and assassination of the UN peace envoy Count Folke Bernadotte.

In rapid response to this news, the editorial in the next day’s Arab News (Jeddah) was entitled “Don’t pin much hope on Obama — Emanuel is his chief of staff and that sends a message”. This editorial referred to the Irgun as a “terror organization” (a judgment call) and concluded: “Far from challenging Israel, the new team may turn out to be as pro-Israel as the one it is replacing.”


Rep. Rahm Emanuel (left) is declaring his support for Sen. Barack Obama after months of remaining neutral. Now that Emanuel is unleashed, he can help shore up support for Obama in the Jewish community. (Image AP/Chicago Sun-Times). Image may be subject to copyright.

That was always likely. Obama repeatedly pledged unconditional allegiance to Israel during his campaign, most memorably in an address to the AIPAC national convention which Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery characterized as “a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning“, and America’s electing a black president has always been more easily imagined than any American president’s declaring his country’s independence from Israeli domination.

Still, one of the greatest advantages for the United States in electing Barack Hussein Obama was the prospect that the world’s billion-plus Muslims, who now view the United States with almost universal loathing and hatred, would be dazzled by the new president’s eloquence, life story, skin color and middle name, would think again with open minds and would give America a chance to redeem itself in their eyes and hearts — not incidently, drastically shortening the long lines of aspiring jihadis eager to sacrifice their lives while striking a blow against the evil empire.
The profound loathing and hatred of the Muslim world toward the United States, which has always had its roots for America’s unconditional support for the injustices inflicted and still being inflicted on the Palestinians, can fairly be considered the core of the primary foreign policy and “national security” problems confronting the United States in recent years. Why would Obama, a man of unquested brilliance, have chosen to send such a contemptuous message to the Muslim world with his first major appointment? Why would he wish to disabuse the Muslim world of its hopes (however modest) and slap it across the face at the earliest opportunity?

A further contemptuous message is widely rumored to be forthcoming — the naming as “Special Envoy for Middle East Peace” of Dennis Ross, the notorious Israel-Firster who, throughout the 12 years of the Bush the First and Clinton administrations, ensured that American policy toward the Palestinians did not deviate one millimeter from Israeli policy and that no progress toward peace could be made and who has since headed the AIPAC spin-off “think tank”, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Nevertheless, since it is almost always constructive to seek a silver lining in the darkest clouds, a silver lining can be found and cited. For decades, the Palestinian leadership has been “waiting for Godot” — waiting for the U.S. Government to finally do the right thing (if only in its own obvious self-interest) and to force Israel to comply with international law and UN Resolutions and permit them to have a decent mini-state on a tiny portion of the land that once was theirs.

This was never a realistic hope. It has not happened, and it will never happen. So it may well be salutary not to waste eight more days (let alone eight more years) playing along and playing the fool while more Palestinian lands are confiscated and more Jewish colonies and Jews-only bypass roads are built on them, clinging to the delusion that the charming Mr. Obama, admirable though he may be in so many other respects, will eventually (if only in a second term, when he no longer has to worry about reelection) see the light and do the right thing. It is long overdue for the Palestinians themselves to seize the initiative, to reset the agenda and to declare a new “only game in town”.

Furthermore, in February, Israel will elect a new Knesset. Bibi Netanyahu, who, most polls and coalition-building calculations suggest, is most likely to emerge as the next prime minister, has one (if only one) great virtue. He is absolutely honest in not professing any desire (however insincere) to see the creation of any Palestinian “state” (whether decent or less-than-a-Bantustan in nature) or to engage in any talks (even never-ending and fraudulent ones) ostensibly about that possibility. His return to power would definitively slam the door on the illusion of a “two-state solution” somewhere over an ever-receding horizon.

This would constitute a blessing and a liberation for Palestinian minds and Palestinian aspirations. Their leadership(s) could then return, after a long, costly and painful diversion, to fundamental principles, to pursuing the goal of a democratic, nonracist and nonsectarian state in all of Israel/Palestine with equal rights for all who live there.

This just goal could and should be pursued by strictly nonviolent means. If the goal is to convince a determined and powerful settler-colonial movement which wishes to seize your land, settle it and keep it (eventually cleansing it of you and your fellow natives) that it should cease, desist and leave, nonviolent forms of resistance are suicidal. If, however, the goal were to be to obtain the full rights of citizenship in a democratic, nonracist state (as was the case in the American civil rights movement and the South African anti-apartheid movement), then nonviolence would be the only viable approach. Violence would be totally inappropriate and counterproductive. The morally impeccable approach would also be the tactically effective approach. The high road would be the only road.

No American president — least of all Barack Obama — could easily support racism and apartheid and oppose democracy and equal rights, particularly if democracy and equal rights were being pursued by nonviolent means. No one anywhere could easily do so. The writing would be on the wall, and the clock would be running out on the tired game of using a perpetual “peace process” as an excuse to delay decisions (while building more “facts on the ground”) forever.

Democracy and equal rights would not come quickly or easily. Forty years passed between when, on the night before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King cried out that he had been to the mountain top and had seen the promised land and when Barack Obama was elected as president of the United States. (The Bible suggests a similar waiting period in the wilderness for Moses.) Forty-six years passed between the installation of a formal apartheid regime in South Africa and the election of Nelson Mandela as president of a fully democratic and nonracist “rainbow nation”.

While it may be be hoped that the transformation would be significantly quicker in Israel/Palestine, it is clear that many who already qualify as “senior citizens” will not live to see the promised land. However, if the promised land of a democratic state with equal rights for all is correctly and clearly perceived and persistently and peacefully pursued, there is ample reason for confidence that Israel/Palestine will one day experience the tearful exaltation of a “Mandela Moment” or an “Obama Moment”, restoring hope in the moral potential both of a nation and of mankind, and that the Jews, Muslims and Christians who live there will finally reach their promised land.

John V. Whitbeck, an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel, is author of “The World According to Whitbeck”. Copyright author/Counterpunch. See Fair Use Notice.

Related Links:

Posted in Dennis Ross, Irgun, Israel, Menachem Begin, palestine | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Between Hope and Reality: “Hope and change!”

Posted by msrb on November 8, 2008

In the Public Interest

Wed 11/5/2008

by Ralph Nader

Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words “hope and change,” “change and hope” have been your trademark declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers of power that want not “hope and change” but the continuation of the power-entrenched status quo.

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart. Why, apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so much in Senator Obama? Could it be that in your state Senate record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget, for example) you have shown that you are their man?

To advance change and hope, the presidential persona requires character, courage, integrity– not expediency, accommodation and short-range opportunism. Take, for example, your transformation from an articulate defender of Palestinian rights in Chicago before your run for the U.S. Senate to an acolyte, a dittoman for the hard-line AIPAC lobby, which bolsters the militaristic oppression, occupation, blockage, colonization and land-water seizures over the years of the Palestinian peoples and their shrunken territories in the West Bank and Gaza. Eric Alterman summarized numerous polls in a December 2007 issue of The Nation magazine showing that AIPAC policies are opposed by a majority of Jewish-Americans.

You know quite well that only when the U.S. Government supports the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements, that years ago worked out a detailed two-state solution (which is supported by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians), will there be a chance for a peaceful resolution of this 60-year plus conflict. Yet you align yourself with the hard-liners, so much so that in your infamous, demeaning speech to the AIPAC convention right after you gained the nomination of the Democratic Party, you supported an “undivided Jerusalem,” and opposed negotiations with Hamas– the elected government in Gaza. Once again, you ignored the will of the Israeli people who, in a March 1, 2008 poll by the respected newspaper Haaretz, showed that 64% of Israelis favored “direct negotiations with Hamas.” Siding with the AIPAC hard-liners is what one of the many leading Palestinians advocating dialogue and peace with the Israeli people was describing when he wrote “Anti-semitism today is the persecu  tion of Palestinian society by the Israeli state.”

During your visit to Israel this summer, you scheduled a mere 45 minutes of your time for Palestinians with no news conference, and no visit to Palestinian refugee camps that would have focused the media on the brutalization of the Palestinians. Your trip supported the illegal, cruel blockade of Gaza in defiance of international law and the United Nations charter. You focused on southern Israeli casualties which during the past year have totaled one civilian casualty to every 400 Palestinian casualties on the Gaza side. Instead of a statesmanship that decried all violence and its replacement with acceptance of the Arab League’s 2002 proposal to permit a viable Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in return for full economic and diplomatic relations between Arab countries and Israel, you played the role of a cheap politician, leaving the area and Palestinians with the feeling of much shock and little awe.

David Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator, described your trip succinctly: “There was almost a willful display of indifference to the fact that there are two narratives here. This could serve him well as a candidate, but not as a President.”

Palestinian American commentator, Ali Abunimah, noted that Obama did not utter a single criticism of Israel, “of its relentless settlement and wall construction, of the closures that make life unlivable for millions of Palestinians. … Even the Bush administration recently criticized Israeli’s use of cluster bombs against Lebanese civilians [see http://www.atfl.org <http://nader.org/www.atfl.org&gt; for elaboration]. But Obama defended Israeli’s assault on Lebanon as an exercise of its ‘legitimate right to defend itself.'”

In numerous columns Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, strongly criticized the Israeli government’s assault on civilians in Gaza, including attacks on “the heart of a crowded refugee camp… with horrible bloodshed” in early 2008.

Israeli writer and peace advocate—Uri Avnery—described Obama’s appearance before AIPAC as one that “broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning, adding that Obama “is prepared to sacrifice the most basic American interests. After all, the US has a vital interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace that will allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses from Iraq to Morocco. Obama has harmed his image in the Muslim world and mortgaged his future—if and when he is elected president,” he said, adding, “Of one thing I am certain: Obama’s declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for Israel, bad for the world and bad for the Palestinian people.”

A further illustration of your deficiency of character is the way you turned your back on the Muslim-Americans in this country. You refused to send surrogates to speak to voters at their events. Having visited numerous churches and synagogues, you refused to visit a single Mosque in America. Even George W. Bush visited the Grand Mosque in Washington D.C. after 9/11 to express proper sentiments of tolerance before a frightened major religious group of innocents.

Although the New York Times published a major article on June 24, 2008 titled “Muslim Voters Detect a Snub from Obama” (by Andrea Elliott), citing examples of your aversion to these Americans who come from all walks of life, who serve in the armed forces and who work to live the American dream. Three days earlier the International Herald Tribune published an article by Roger Cohen titled “Why Obama Should Visit a Mosque.” None of these comments and reports change your political bigotry against Muslim-Americans– even though your father was a Muslim from Kenya.

Perhaps nothing illustrated your utter lack of political courage or even the mildest version of this trait than your surrendering to demands of the hard-liners to prohibit former president Jimmy Carter from speaking at the Democratic National Convention. This is a tradition for former presidents and one accorded in prime time to Bill Clinton this year.

Here was a President who negotiated peace between Israel and Egypt, but his recent book pressing the dominant Israeli superpower to avoid Apartheid of the Palestinians and make peace was all that it took to sideline him. Instead of an important address to the nation by Jimmy Carter on this critical international problem, he was relegated to a stroll across the stage to “tumultuous applause,” following a showing of a film about the Carter Center’s post-Katrina work. Shame on you, Barack Obama!

But then your shameful behavior has extended to many other areas of American life. (See the factual analysis by my running mate, Matt Gonzalez, on http://www.votenader.org <http://nader.org/www.votenader.org&gt;). You have turned your back on the 100-million poor Americans composed of poor whites, African-Americans, and Latinos. You always mention helping the “middle class” but you omit, repeatedly, mention of the “poor” in America.

Should you be elected President, it must be more than an unprecedented upward career move following a brilliantly unprincipled campaign that spoke “change” yet demonstrated actual obeisance to the concentration power of the “corporate supremacists.” It must be about shifting the power from the few to the many. It must be a White House presided over by a black man who does not turn his back on the downtrodden here and abroad but challenges the forces of greed, dictatorial control of labor, consumers and taxpayers, and the militarization of foreign policy. It must be a White House that is transforming of American politics– opening it up to the public funding of elections (through voluntary approaches)– and allowing smaller candidates to have a chance to be heard on debates and in the fullness of their now restricted civil liberties. Call it a competitive democracy.

Your presidential campaign again and again has demonstrated cowardly stands. “Hope” some say springs eternal.” But not when “reality” consumes it daily.

Sincerely,
Ralph Nader

Related Links:

Posted in AIPAC lobby, corporate interests, Israel, Palestinians, Wall Street bailout | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Images of the Day: The Right to …

Posted by terres on November 7, 2008

The Right to Protest


Paraguayan police disperse a group of peasants who marched in protest against the Attorney General in Asuncion, November 5, 2008. REUTERS/Diario ULTIMA HORA. Image may be subject to copyright.

The Right to Build a Home on Your Own Land


Israeli border police officers detain a Palestinian man during a house demolition in Silwan November 5, 2008. According to local media reports, clashes broke out on Wednesday in the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan in Israeli occupied East Jerusalem after the Jerusalem municipality demolished illegally-constructed Palestinian homes. Palestinians say Israel denies them building permits in East Jerusalem. REUTERS/Baz Ratner. Image may be subject to copyright.

The Right to Be Raped Without Being Mutilated (!)


Rape has become a defining characteristic of the war in the DRC, according to Anneke Van Woudenberg, the Congo specialist for Human Rights Watch. So, too, has mutilation of the victims.

“Last year, I was stunned when a 30-year-old woman in North Kivu had her lips and ears cut off and eyes gouged out after she was raped, so she couldn’t identify or testify against her attackers. Now, we are seeing more and more such cases,” she says. Source: http://www.congopanorama.info/

More info and photos at: CongoPanorama. WARNING: You may find the images  disturbing.

Posted in France, GENOCIDE, human rights, politics, UK | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Image of the Day: Human Wrongs in Bosnia!

Posted by terres on November 6, 2008

Remembering Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia


Forensic experts of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) search for human remains in a mass grave containing bodies of killed Muslims in the village of Kamenica, in the Serb controlled part of the country, November 4, 2008. The European Union must act more robustly to prevent ever greater instability in Bosnia, a country still badly divided 13 years after its war, the international peace envoy overseeing Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak said on Monday. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj . Image may be subject to copyright.

Posted in GENOCIDE, human rights, politics, racism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quotes of the week: Britain, Nigeria, Egypt

Posted by terres on November 3, 2008

Execution of Jean Charles de Menezes by British Secret Police

“I would like to say that on whether I heard anything from police officers, I am very, very clear. I had absolutely no idea who they were and had they shouted I would have latched on to that … I felt they [UK’s Special Branch] were a bit out of control, that’s what it felt like.” Anna Dunwoodie, a commuter who witnessed how the British secret police executed Jean Charles de Menezes in London on 22 July 2005.

Nigeria’s Share Fever

“They were all talking money money money … It was the thought of losing the whole thing and owing all that money that made me get out” ~ A Nigerian investor, on how the stock market doubled in value in a matter of weeks, before it crashed in March 2008.

Power and Poverty in Egypt

“Go anywhere in Egypt and you’ll discover the kind of poverty that the majority are suffering. We have serious problems meeting even the basic needs for survival.” ~ Abdul Galil Mustafa, a member of Egypt’s Kefaya opposition party

Posted in Gamal Mubarak, market crash, politics, poverty, Share Fever | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »