Sunday, June 27, 2010
You Show Me Yours
And I Will Show You Mine
Reflections Of Fidel
WHEN these lines are published tomorrow, Friday, in Granma newspaper, the 26th of July, a date on which we always recall with pride the honor of having resisted the onslaughts of the empire, will still be in the distance, despite it being only 32 days away.
Those who determine every step of the worst enemy of humanity – United States imperialism, a mixture of ignoble material interests, disdain and underestimation for other people inhabiting the planet – have calculated everything with mathematical precision.
In the Reflection of June 16 I wrote: "Diabolical news is filtering little by little between games and games in the World Cup, in a way that nobody is paying much attention to it."
The famous sports event has entered its most emotional moments. For 14 days, the teams made up of the best footballers from 32 countries have been competing to advance toward the second round; afterward the phases of quarter finals, semifinals and the final of the event come in successive stages.
Fanaticism for sport is growing incessantly, captivating hundreds or millions and possibly billions of people all over the planet.
On the other hand, one would have to ask how many of them know that, since June 20, U.S. military vessels, including the Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, escorted by one or more nuclear submarines and other warships with missiles and cannons that are more powerful that those of the old battleships utilized in the last world war from 1939 to 1945, have been navigating toward Iranian coasts via the Suez Canal.
The yanki naval forces are accompanied by Israeli military boats, with equally sophisticated armaments, to inspect every vessel that leaves to export and import commercial products required for the functioning of the Iranian economy.
At the proposal of the United States, with support from the United Kingdom, France and Germany, the UN Security Council approved a harsh resolution that was not vetoed by any of the five countries which hold that right.
Another harsher resolution was approved with the agreement of the United States Senate
Subsequently, a third, even harsher one was passed by the countries of the European Union. All of this took place before June 20, which prompted an urgent trip to Russia by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the news, to meet with the head of state of that powerful country, Dmitry Medvedev, in the hope of negotiating with Iran and avoiding the worst.
Now it is about calculating when the naval forces of the United States and Israel will be deployed facing the Iranian coasts, and joining up there with aircraft carriers and other U.S. military boats which mount guard in this region.
The worst part is that, just like the United States, Israel, its gendarme in the Middle East, possesses extremely modern bomber aircraft and sophisticated weapons supplied by the United States, which has converted it into the sixth nuclear power on the planet given its firepower, among the eight recognized as such, including India and Pakistan.
The Shah of Iran had been defeated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 without using a single weapon. The United States imposed the Shah after the war on that nation with the use of chemical weapons, whose components it supplied to Iraq together with the information needed by its combat units and which were deployed by them against the Revolutionary Guards. Cuba knows that because, at that time, as we have explained on other occasions, it was president of the Non-Aligned Movement. We know very well the devastation that it caused among the population. Mahmud Ahmadinejad, now head of state in Iran, was chief of the sixth army of the Revolutionary Guards and chief of the Guard Corps in the western provinces of that country, which bore the brunt of that war.
Today, in 2010, after 31 years, both the United States and Israel are underestimating the one million soldiers in the Iranian Armed Forces and their capacity for fighting on land, and the air, sea and land forces of the Revolutionary Guards.
In addition to these, there are the 20 million men and women, aged from 12 to 60, selected and systematically trained by its diverse military institutions, from out of the 70 million people who inhabit the country.
The government of the United States drew up a plan to instigate a political movement that, supporting itself on capitalist consumerism, would divide Iranians and defeat the regime.
That hope has become innocuous. It is laughable to think that with U.S. warships plus those of Israel, that they can arouse the sympathies of one sole Iranian citizen.
Analyzing the current situation, I initially believed that the battle would begin in the Korean peninsula, and that that area would be the detonator of the second Korean war which, in its turn, would immediately lead to the second war that the United States would impose on Iran.
Now, reality is changing things in an inverse sense: that of Iran will immediately unleash that of Korea.
The leadership of North Korea, which was accused of the sinking of the Cheonan, and is all too well aware that it was sunk by a mine that the yanki intelligence services succeeded in placing in the hull of that corvette, will not hesitate for one second to act as soon as the attack is initiated on Iran.
It is quite right that the football fans should enjoy their craving for the World Cup competitions. I am only fulfilling the duty of exhorting our people, thinking above all of our youth, full of life and hope, and especially our marvelous children, in order that events do not catch us completely unawares.
It pains me to think of so many dreams conceived of by human beings and the astounding creations of which they have been capable in just a few thousand years.
At a time when the most revolutionary dreams are being fulfilled and the homeland is firmly recovering, how I wish I was wrong!
Fidel Castro Ruz
June 24, 2010
Israel Seizes Oxygen Machines Donated To PA
By Haaretz Service
Seven machines donated by Norwegian agency confiscated en route to PA over chance generators attached could be used for purposes other than medical treatment, Ma'an reports.
June 26, 2010
Israel confiscated seven oxygen machines en route to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza based on the claim that there was a chance the generators attached to the machines would not be used for medical purposes, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported Saturday.
According to Ma'an, the Ramallah-based health ministry said that the generators, which were donated to the Palestinian Authority by a Norwegian development agency, were seized by Israeli officials despite the fact that only one machine was bound for Gaza.
The generators "came under the category of possible use for non-medical purposes" if they were delivered to southern Gaza, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement, adding that the six other machines were bound for government hospitals in the northern Gaza, inducing the European Hospital in Gaza City, the Rafdieyah hospital in Nablus, and other facilities in Ramallah and Hebron.
The Ministry of Health appealed to the Norwegian Development Agency, which supplied the machines, and asked that they intervene and demand the release of the equipment at the soonest possible date, Ma'an reported.
"Any delay in obtaining the medical equipment will negatively affect the health of patients," the statement concluded.
Minister Wants Palestinians Stripped Of Citizenship And Relocated
By Jonathan Cook
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s far-right foreign minister, set out this week what he called a "blueprint for a resolution to the conflict" with the Palestinians that demands most of the country’s large Palestinian minority be stripped of citizenship and relocated outside Israel’s future borders.
Mr Lieberman said that Israel faced growing diplomatic pressure for a full withdrawal to the Green Line, the pre-1967 border, and if such a partition were implemented, "the conflict will inevitably pass beyond those borders and into Israel".
He accused many of Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens of acting against Israel while their leaders "actively assist those who want to destroy the Jewish state".
Mr Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party campaigned in last year’s elections on a platform of "No loyalty, no citizenship" and has proposed a raft of loyalty laws over the past year targeted at the Palestinian minority.
True peace, the foreign minister claimed, would come only with land swaps, or "an exchange of populated territories to create two largely homogeneous states, one Jewish Israeli and the other Arab Palestinian". He added that under his plan "those Arabs who were in Israel will now receive Palestinian citizenship".
Unusually, Mr Lieberman, who is also deputy prime minister, offered his plan in a commentary for the English-language Jerusalem Post
He has spoken repeatedly in the past about drawing the borders in a way to forcibly exchange Palestinian communities in Israel for the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. daily newspaper, apparently in an attempt to make maximum impact on the international community.
But under orders from Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, he has kept a relatively low profile on the conflict’s larger issues since his controversial appointment to head the foreign ministry more than a year ago.
In early 2009, Mr Lieberman, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, upset his own supporters by advocating the creation of "a viable Palestinian state", though he has remained unclear about what it would require in practice.
Mr Lieberman’s revival of his "population transfer" plan – an idea he unveiled six years ago – comes as the Israeli leadership has understood that it is "isolated like never before", according to Michael Warschawski, an Israeli analyst.
Mr Netanyahu’s government has all but stopped paying lip service to US-sponsored "proximity talks" with the Palestinians after outraging global public opinion with attacks on Gaza 18 months ago and on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla four weeks ago in which nine peace activists were killed.
Israel’s relations with the international community are likely to deteriorate further in late summer when a 10-month partial freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank expires. Yesterday, Mr Netanyahu refused to answer questions about the freeze, after a vote by his Likud party’s central committee to support renewed settlement building from late September.
Other looming diplomatic headaches for Israel are the return of the Goldstone Report, which suggested Israel committed war crimes in its attack on Gaza, to the United Nations General Assembly in late July, and Turkey’s adoption of the rotating presidency of the Security Council in September.
Mr Warschawski, a founder of the Alternative Information Centre, a joint Israeli-Palestinian advocacy group, said that, faced with these crises, Israel’s political elite had split into two camps.
Most, including Mr Lieberman, believed Israel should "push ahead" with its unilateral policies towards the Palestinians and refuse to engage in a peace process regardless of the likely international repercussions.
"Israel’s ruling elite knows that the only solution to the conflict acceptable to the international community is an end to the occupation along the lines of the Clinton parameters," he said, referring to the two-state solution promoted by former US president Bill Clinton in late 2000.
"None of them, not even Ehud Barak [the defence minister and head of the centrist Labour Party], are ready to accept this as the basis for negotiations."
On the other hand, Tzipi Livni, the head of the centre-right opposition Kadima party, Mr Warschawski said, wanted to damp down the international backlash by engaging in direct negotiations with the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank under Mahmoud Abbas.
Mr Lieberman’s commentary came a day after he told Ms Livni that she could join the government only if she accepted "the principle of trading territory and population as the solution to the Palestinian issue, and give up the principle of land for peace".
Mr Lieberman is reportedly concerned that Mr Netanyahu might seek to bring Ms Livni into a national unity government to placate the US and prop up the legitimacy of his coalition.
The Labour Party has threatened to quit the government if Kadima does not join by the end of September, and Ms Livni is reported to want the foreign ministry.
Mr Lieberman’s position is further threatened by a series of corruption investigations.
However, he also appears keen to take the initiative from both Washington and Ms Livni with his own "peace plan". An unnamed aide to Mr Lieberman told the Jerusalem Post that, with a vacuum in the diplomatic process, the foreign minister "thinks he can convince the government to adopt the plan".
However, Mr Warschawski said there were few indications that Mr Netanyahu wanted to be involved in any peace process, even Mr Lieberman’s.
This week Uzi Arad, the government’s shadowy national security adviser and a long-time confidant of Mr Netanyahu, made a rare public statement at a meeting of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem to attack Ms Livni for "political adventurism" and believing in the "magic" of a two-state solution.
Apparently reflecting Mr Netanyahu’s own thinking, he said: "The more you market Palestinian legitimacy, the more you bring about a detraction of Israel’s legitimacy in certain circles. [The Palestinians] are accumulating legitimacy, and we are being delegitimised."
Mr Warschawski doubted that Mr Lieberman believed his blueprint for population exchanges could be implemented but was promoting it chiefly to further damage the standing of Israel’s Palestinian citizens and advance his own political ambitions.
In his commentary, Mr Lieberman said the international community’s peace plan would lead to "the one-and-a-half to half state solution": "a homogeneous, pure Palestinian state", from which Jewish settlers were expelled, and "a binational state in Israel", which included many Palestinian citizens.
Palestinians, in both the territories and inside Israel, he said, could not "continue to incite against Israel, glorify murder, stigmatise Israel in international forums, boycott Israeli goods and mount legal offensives against Israeli officials".
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Can You Spell Mossad?
If Not Try, CIA
Seen Them All
The Times of Malta reports an apparent recent murder there.
"Saturday, 19th June 2010 - 07:53CET
"Russian nuclear arms expert found dead in Bugibba
"A Russian man found dead in Bugibba last Wednesday was a nuclear weapons expert, l-orizzont reports today.
"Alexander Pikayev 48, was found dead in his apartment. He had a blow to the head and it is suspected that the man died in a fall. His computer was still on when the police went into the apartment.
"Dr Pikayev was an expert in Russian nuclear weapons and a consultant to the Russian Parliament.
"He is former co-director of the Non-Proliferation Programme of the Carnegie Center in Moscow and was also the director of the section on arms control and nonproliferation at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Russian Academy of Sciences."
What it does not mention is that Dr. Pikayev publisized the results of his studies showing that Iran represents no particular nuclear danger.
Monday, June 21, 2010
American Oil Crimes
Operating in a region of the rain forest known as the ‘Oriente' both transnational and domestic oil companies threaten the survival of Indigenous populations as well as those who seek to protect their communities and the environment. Over the past four decades, a succession of U.S. petroleum companies including Texaco (now owned by Chevron Corporation), Occidental Petroleum, ARCO, and Maxus Energy Corporation, among others, have come to Ecuador in search of oil. Environmental and human rights defenders claim that these companies have left behind a trail of destruction, posing a serious danger to people's survival.
The Chevron Pollution and Three Decades of Neglect
Texaco, currently owned by Chevron Corporation (CVX), began prospecting for oil in Ecuador in 1964, becoming the first company to discover commercial quantities. Subsequently, Texaco's joint venture with Petroecuador, in which the U.S. company was an operating partner, set the standards for operations in the region. According to the 1993 report "Crudo Amazónico" (Amazon Crude) by the environmental lawyer Judith Kimerling, from 1972 until it left Ecuador in 1992, Texaco intentionally dumped more than 19 billion gallons of toxic wastewaters into the region and was responsible for 16.8 million gallons of crude oil spilling from the main pipeline into the forest. By comparison, the infamous Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in 1989 spilled 10.8 million gallons off the coast of Alaska. The report alleges that these actions contaminated both the soil and the groundwater of the communities in the area and will continue to threaten the economic and cultural bases of Indigenous peoples' survival.
According to the authors of the 1999 "Yana Curi" Report, which details the impact of oil development on the health of the people of the Ecuadorian Amazon, living in proximity to oil fields seems to have increased the risk of residents developing health problems. For instance, based on the characteristics of the population, cancer rates are statistically higher in the oil producing village of San Carlos than should be expected. Another study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health points out the relationship between higher spontaneous abortion rates and living in the proximity of contaminated water streams. In some streams, the levels of oil chemicals like hydrocarbon concentrations was as high as 280 times the permitted levels in the European Community. Meanwhile, Chevron (CVX) has not only refused to acknowledge any link between the public health hazards and the environmental problems caused by its drilling policies in the Ecuadorian Amazon, but has also refused to clean up the pollution, claiming that a ‘clean up' agreement with the Ecuadorian Government has released it of any further liability. The company has further denied direct compensation to the affected communities for threatening their health and their economic and cultural survival by polluting their environment.
Legal Issues...A Trial: In 1993, a class action lawsuit was filed against Chevron (CVX) under the Alien Tort Claims Act in a federal court in New York on behalf of an estimated 30,000 Amazon residents for polluting their environment. Chevron (CVX) has fought the litigation and succeeded in having the U.S. courts send the case to be heard in Ecuador, where it has been re-filed. The trial is still ongoing and judicial inspections are taking place in the affected zones.
An Arbitration: Chevron (CVX) has filled a claim with the American Arbitration Association (AAA), so that the Ecuadorian oil company, Petroecuador, will take on any clean up costs and legal fees if Chevron (CVX) loses the lawsuit to the Amazon residents. The Ecuadorian Government and Petroecuador have filled a suit with New York's Supreme Court against Chevron (CVX) and the AAA to stop the arbitration proceedings, which have been temporarily suspended.
Violated Human Rights
These reports point out serious human rights abuses against the people living in the area where Texaco operated. As set forth in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, their rights to the highest attainable standard of health, to an adequate standard of living and to water and sanitation, have been and are still being violated.
Corporate inaction ignores the fact that human rights responsibilities extend beyond states. Since 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has provided a common standard of achievement, which means that every individual and every organ of society bears responsibility for the universal and effective recognition and observance of the rights and freedoms in the Declaration. In 2003 the UN Norms on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights were adopted by the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and transferred for discussion to the UN Commission on Human Rights. The preamble to the UN Norms notes that "transnational corporations and other business enterprises, their officers and persons working for them are also obligated to respect generally recognized responsibilities and norms contained in United Nations treaties and other international instruments." While the UN Norms do not yet have legal status as law, they reflect the emerging consensus view, recognizing that if international obligations can be placed on individuals and states, then corporations too have character under international law.
For the third year in a row, Amnesty International USA, along with other concerned Chevron (CVX) shareholders, have submitted a resolution on Texaco's toxic legacy in Ecuador. This year, the resolution calls on the company to report the total costs relating in any way to the health and environmental consequences of hydrocarbon exposures and Chevron's remediation of Texaco drilling sites in Ecuador. The shareholder proposal was filed by Trillium Asset Management, a Boston-based socially responsible investment firm that manages more than $900 million in assets for individual and institutional clients, and joined by the New York State Common Retirement Fund, holding 10.2 million shares in Chevron (CVX) currently worth more than $603 million. A similar proposal was presented at Chevron's Annual Shareholder Meetings in April 2004 and 2005, both times garnering 9% approval from investors, more than enough to allow us to resubmit it this year. Read the press release announcing the filing, as well as an update from the 2005 shareholder meeting.
The SHARE POWER campaign helps every individual or group to find a connection to a large Chevron (CVX) shareholder and to use that connection to press for positive change inside of Chevron (CVX) and garner support for Amnesty's proposal. Learn how you can get involved! For the past two years, Amazon Watch, a non-profit organization that works to defend the environment and protect indigenous peoples' rights from large-scale extractive development projects, has sent a delegation to Ecuador to investigate the claims that Chevron (CVX) had polluted the environment. Among those invited last year, were representatives from shareholder institutions. While in Ecuador, the delegation visited a number of waste pits, wells and water sources – none of which appeared clean or adequately remediated. They also heard testimony from numerous residents describing how the byproducts of oil drilling had slowly poisoned the region's waterways, causing a 70% decline in agricultural productivity and leading to an increase in serious ailments. The residents claimed a rise in cancers, birth defects, respiratory infections, and both skin and stomach ailments, in addition to unclassifiable mysterious deaths.
Indigenous communities and their resistance to oil exploration
Both environmentalists and human rights defenders in Ecuador have been subject to anonymous threats and intimidation. The Sarayaku Indigenous community (part of the Kichwa nationality) of the Pastaza province oppose the oil concession of Block 23 given by the Ecuadorian Government to the Compañía General de Combustibles (CGC), an Argentine oil company, allowing it to start operations on Sarayaku territory. Burlington Resources, a US based energy company, holds a 50% working interest in this block. The Sarayaku community argues that oil extraction in their territory will damage their environment and way of life, which they do not want to abandon. They have proposed alternative, sustainable development in their territory so that their culture will not suffer.
Shuar Indians Protest Against Burlington Resources Oil Exploration, Courtesy of Amazon Watch
Their community and their leaders, including their president Marlon Santi, have been the object of a campaign of intimidation and defamation apparently because of their opposition to oil concessions. The perpetrators appear to be individuals aligned with the oil companies, acting with the acquiescence of the security forces. Death threats, along with physical and verbal abuse, led the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), one of the bodies of the Organization of American States (OAS), to order that the Ecuadorian government protect the Sarayaku. Ecuador's Minister of Energy and Mines reportedly responded to the Inter-American Commission's precautionary measures by stating, "the OAS does not give orders here" ("la OEA no manda aquí").
Anonymous bomb and death threats have also been targeted to local human rights organizations that support the Sarayaku community. José Serrano Salgado, a member of the Ecuadorian non-governmental organization (NGO) Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (CDES), Economic and Social Rights Centre, was reportedly threatened with death on April 25, 2004. The Fundación Pachamama, another supporter of the Sarayaku community, received a telephone bomb threat on April 6, 2004; this was not their first threat. To date, Amnesty International is not aware of any investigation by the Attorney General's office into these allegations. The last organization to be targeted was Acción Ecológica, whose offices were robbed in May 22, 2004. Amnesty fears that the lives of the organization's staff may be in danger.
On Block 24 (south of Block 23), environmental advocacy groups and Indigenous peoples continue to fight oil development in the Amazon. In April 2004, Pablo Tsere, a Shuar Indian leader, attended a shareholder meeting for Burlington Resources, the US energy company that holds the oil concession of Block 24, where Mr. Tsere lives. He sharply criticized Burlington's plans for oil drilling and called for the company to immediately halt its exploration in the remote part of the Ecuadorian Amazon area where his people, the Shuar, live with two other Indigenous groups, the Achuar and Kichwa. The indigenous peoples' opposition to both Compañía General de Combustibles and Burlington Resources operations in their territories has compelled the companies to halt their exploration activities and issue declarations of "force majeure" (literally "greater force", a clause designed to protect companies that can't perform contractual obligations because of unavoidable events beyond their control, such as natural disasters or wars) as specified in their contracts.
Indigenous Peoples issues...Ecuador ratified the International Labor Organization Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ILO Convention 169) in 1998, the same year it adopted a new constitution, which for the first time recognizes the collective rights of Indigenous peoples. Both the ILO C169 and the Constitution specify that the indigenous peoples have a right to be consulted on any exploration or extraction plans of non-renewable resources found in their lands and that could affect their environment or their culture; participate in the benefits of these projects when possible; and to be indemnified for any socio-environmental damage.
Heavy Crude Oil pipeline brings more Oil Concessions in the Amazon
Environmentalist defenders are concerned about the opening of almost the entire Ecuadorian Amazon region to oil development.
Residents of Mindo and the environmental group Accion Ecologica take over tractors belonging to the OCP (Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados) Pipeline Consortium. (© El Universo)In June 2001, the Ecuadorian government gave the go ahead to start construction of a new 298 mile pipeline that runs from the Oriente, the country's eastern rainforest region, to the port in Esmeraldas on the Pacific Coast. The pipeline was inaugurated in December 2003. Touted as the panacea to Ecuador's economic crisis, the $1.3 billion project has the capacity to double Ecuador's oil production.
The pipeline was constructed by OCP (Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados) Ltd., a consortium of seven multinational corporations, including U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum, Kerr McGee, Alberta Energy of Canada, Agip Oil Company of Italy, Repsol YPF of Spain, Perez Compac S.A., and Techint of Argentina.
The heavy crude reserves that will flow through the pipeline are found in protected national parks, wildlife reserves, and Indigenous lands. Environmentalists fear this could lead to the irreversible loss and destruction of some the country's last remaining old growth rainforest and territories of isolated Indigenous peoples. New oil developments are threatening protected areas such as Yasuni National Park, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, the Limoncocha Biological Reserves, and the Pañacocha Protected Forest. This project is also fueling the search for additional oil reserves on millions of hectares of frontier forest, the majority of which falls on the ancestral territories of the Achuar, Shuar, Huaorani, Kichwa, Shiwiar, and Záparo Indigenous communities. Many of these communities have vowed never to permit oil development on their land, while others are afraid they will lose their lands if they try to resist.
In August 2004, the Ecuadorian government approved plans by Brazil's state oil company Petrobras to drill in Block 31, located in Yasuní National Park, despite the fact that UNESCO designated the Park as a protected biosphere reserve in 1989. Both the US corporation Occidental Petroleum and the Spanish Repsol-YPF hold oil concessions in the Park as well. These concessions have caused alarm among Indigenous and environmentalists groups who fear for the Reserve's biodiversity and the safety of their communities.
Economic issues...Ecuador's economy is highly dependant on oil. The government is the owner of all non-renewable resources. According to Ecuador's Ministery of Energy and Mines, Oil represents 40% of the country's total exports and it finances more than a third of the Government's National Budget.
Because of Ecuador's dependency on oil, it is imperative that all oil operations comply with the highest social and environmental standards to ensure that oil's economic importance does not overshadow the importance of human rights.
Pattern of Abuses
Concerns for the safety of environmental and Indigenous activists in Ecuador's oil zones are well founded. AI has issued numerous Urgent Actions calling on the Government to investigate and protect the Sarayaku community and the Environmentalist defenders supporting them, and calling on the companies involved to cooperate with any investigation.
Alongside this, Ecuadorian security forces have been cited for numerous cases of human rights abuses against the civilian population. Amnesty has urged that the necessary steps be taken to ensure those members of the security forces accused of human rights violations be brought to justice. These incidents point to the need for a preventive strategy to ensure that communities and activists who oppose the government's development policies and the irresponsible practices of the oil industry are safe from abuse.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Big Sues Small
A Canadian Gold Mining Company With USA Help
Sues El Salvador For A Hundred Million Dollars
After A People’s Movement Opposes Mining
By Paul Jay
June 19, 2010 -Canadian mining company, Pacific Rim, is in court suing the government of El Salvador for 100 million dollars. It claims that by not awarding the company an exploitation permit for its proposed gold mine, the tiny country is in breach of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (known as CAFTA). Canada is not a signatory to the trade agreement, so the Vancouver-based company is filing the suit through it's US subsidiary, Pac Rim Cayman, which it moved from the Cayman Islands to Nevada in December 2007.
In the slim coverage that has come out around the case, few have attempted to answer the question as to how the case got this far? How did the dispute travel from the hills of Northern El Salvador to the halls of Washington, DC?
One year ago today, teacher Marcelo Rivera disappeared. His body was found two weeks later at the bottom of a well, miles away from his home in the town of San Isidro. His body was found with clear signs of torture, such as missing fingernails. San Isidro is also home to Pacific Rim's flagship property, El Dorado, which the company has been fighting to open for years. Rivera was a key leader in the grassroots anti-mining movement that has stood in the way of that mine.
Why did so many of the people of San Isidro oppose the Canadian mine? Ask Marcelo Rivera's brother Miguel, who was in Washington, DC last month for the start of the CAFTA hearing at the World Bank. He's not allowed to participate in the trial, nor even sit in on it, despite knowing the case better than any of the DC-based lawyers in the room.
While in DC Miguel goes from meeting, to interview, to press conference, being asked to provide details on the various ways he and his community feel they have been affected by the proposed mine. He tells of radio journalists receiving death threats, a priest attacked while driving his car, mayors admitting they accepted money from the company. The stories are endless.
Miguel describes the gold mining process including the use of cyanide, release of heavy metals like arsenic and mercury, loss of water access - El Salvador is already tied with Haiti for the least access to potable water in the hemisphere. He tells of how he and his brother decided to oppose the project after a trip to a gold mine in neighboring Honduras. He talks of the horrific skin defects he saw on the babies in Honduras' Siria Valley.
Why isn't San Isidro's mine open today? How did a community of poor farmers create a movement with enough support that it pressured the government of El Salvador to refuse to permit Pacific Rim's mining operation?
Miguel speaks of Wilfred Lainez. A hip-hop artist known as MC Lethal, Lainez is legally blind from untreated glaucoma. He has captured the energy of San Isidro's youth with his rhymes about the dangers of mining and other social issues in the community.
Miguel chuckles as he tells of the time Pacific Rim sponsored a soccer tournament in the community. Marcelo, Miguel, and others put in a team wearing jerseys that said "No to Mining" on the back. Much to the company's chagrin, the team won the tournament, thereby ruining the company's planned photo-op with the winners.
He talks proudly of the mural painted by local youths at one of San Isidro's highway entrances. It depicts a bulldozer with a Canadian flag looking over a post-mining apocalypse of dead trees and dry rivers. On the other side is a farmer leaving town with his emaciated cow and a businessman counting his gold bricks. The farmer is presumably headed to the overcrowded city, or to work in the United States or Canada.
It must be noted that Pacific Rim has never been directly linked to the murder of Marcelo Rivera, or the two other anti-Pacific Rim activists who were killed in 2009. Pacific Rim has stated they had no involvement of any kind in the murders. Ramiro Rivera (no relation), declared in an interview with The Real News in May of 2008 that he expected to be killed for his opposition to mining, and that he was already receiving death threats. He survived 8 shots in the back in August 2009. In December he was shot dead while under police protection. Ramiro told us in 2008 that the violence was a result of the money Pacific Rim pumped into communities. He accused the company of hiring his friends and family as promoters, and buying-off mayors and police. The other activist murdered was Dora Sorto Recinos, she was 8-months pregnant at the time she was shot dead. She was killed one year and a half after her husband Santos lost two fingers in a machete attack at the hands of a neighbour who had been hired to promote Pacific Rim.
But Ramiro and Dora were more than victims they were active participants. Before their murders, they helped organize three road blockades that successfully stopped company drilling equipment from entering their region.
With meager resources, El Salvador's anti-mining activists pressured not one, but two Salvadoran presidents to refuse Pacific Rim's permits. Now they find themselves continuing their battle in Washington, fighting a "free trade" agreement that allows an international corporation to punish their country for taking a stand in defense of its people.
Will Pacific Rim be successful in using the World Bank trial to punish El Salvador, collecting 100 million dollars? The public health system in El Salvador runs just over 350 million dollars annually, by far the largest single item in the budget.
Will the Canadian government hide behind the myth of Canada the righteous global citizen, or will it take on the actuality of the global abuses of the Canadian mining industry? Sixty percent of the world's mining companies are registered in Canada, yet there is not a single Canadian law regulating their activities abroad.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Top Ten Myths
About The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
By Jeremy R. Hammond
June 18, 2010
Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region.
Although Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a "Jewish State" in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land.
For instance, after a series of riots in Jaffa in 1921 resulting in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, the occupying British held a commission of inquiry, which reported their finding that "there is no inherent anti-Semitism in the country, racial or religious." Rather, Arab attacks on Jewish communities were the result of Arab fears about the stated goal of the Zionists to take over the land.
After major violence again erupted in 1929, the British Shaw Commission report noted that "In less than 10 years three serious attacks have been made by Arabs on Jews. For 80 years before the first of these attacks there is no recorded instance of any similar incidents." Representatives from all sides of the emerging conflict testified to the commission that prior to the First World War, "the Jews and Arabs lived side by side if not in amity, at least with tolerance, a quality which today is almost unknown in Palestine." The problem was that "The Arab people of Palestine are today united in their demand for representative government", but were being denied that right by the Zionists and their British benefactors.
The British Hope-Simpson report of 1930 similarly noted that Jewish residents of non-Zionist communities in Palestine enjoyed friendship with their Arab neighbors. "It is quite a common sight to see an Arab sitting in the verandah of a Jewish house", the report noted. "The position is entirely different in the Zionist colonies."
Myth #2 – The United Nations created Israel.
The U.N. became involved when the British sought to wash its hands of the volatile situation its policies had helped to create, and to extricate itself from Palestine. To that end, they requested that the U.N. take up the matter.
As a result, a U.N. Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created to examine the issue and offer its recommendation on how to resolve the conflict. UNSCOP contained no representatives from any Arab country and in the end issued a report that explicitly rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination. Rejecting the democratic solution to the conflict, UNSCOP instead proposed that Palestine be partitioned into two states: one Arab and one Jewish.
The U.N. General Assembly endorsed UNSCOP’s in its Resolution 181. It is often claimed that this resolution "partitioned" Palestine, or that it provided Zionist leaders with a legal mandate for their subsequent declaration of the existence of the state of Israel, or some other similar variation on the theme. All such claims are absolutely false.
Resolution 181 merely endorsed UNSCOP’s report and conclusions as a recommendation. Needless to say, for Palestine to have been officially partitioned, this recommendation would have had to have been accepted by both Jews and Arabs, which it was not.
Moreover, General Assembly resolutions are not considered legally binding (only Security Council resolutions are). And, furthermore, the U.N. would have had no authority to take land from one people and hand it over to another, and any such resolution seeking to so partition Palestine would have been null and void, anyway.
Myth #3 – The Arabs missed an opportunity to have their own state in 1947.
The U.N. recommendation to partition Palestine was rejected by the Arabs. Many commentators today point to this rejection as constituting a missed "opportunity" for the Arabs to have had their own state. But characterizing this as an "opportunity" for the Arabs is patently ridiculous. The Partition plan was in no way, shape, or form an "opportunity" for the Arabs.
First of all, as already noted, Arabs were a large majority in Palestine at the time, with Jews making up about a third of the population by then, due to massive immigration of Jews from Europe (in 1922, by contrast, a British census showed that Jews represented only about 11 percent of the population).
Additionally, land ownership statistics from 1945 showed that Arabs owned more land than Jews in every single district of Palestine, including Jaffa, where Arabs owned 47 percent of the land while Jews owned 39 percent – and Jaffa boasted the highest percentage of Jewish-owned land of any district. In other districts, Arabs owned an even larger portion of the land. At the extreme other end, for instance, in Ramallah, Arabs owned 99 percent of the land. In the whole of Palestine, Arabs owned 85 percent of the land, while Jews owned less than 7 percent, which remained the case up until the time of Israel’s creation.
Yet, despite these facts, the U.N. partition recommendation had called for more than half of the land of Palestine to be given to the Zionists for their "Jewish State". The truth is that no Arab could be reasonably expected to accept such an unjust proposal. For political commentators today to describe the Arabs’ refusal to accept a recommendation that their land be taken away from them, premised upon the explicit rejection of their right to self-determination, as a "missed opportunity" represents either an astounding ignorance of the roots of the conflict or an unwillingness to look honestly at its history.
It should also be noted that the partition plan was also rejected by many Zionist leaders. Among those who supported the idea, which included David Ben-Gurion, their reasoning was that this would be a pragmatic step towards their goal of acquiring the whole of Palestine for a "Jewish State" – something which could be finally accomplished later through force of arms.
When the idea of partition was first raised years earlier, for instance, Ben-Gurion had written that "after we become a strong force, as the result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine". Partition should be accepted, he argued, "to prepare the ground for our expansion into the whole of Palestine". The Jewish State would then "have to preserve order", if the Arabs would not acquiesce, "by machine guns, if necessary."
Myth #4 – Israel has a "right to exist".
The fact that this term is used exclusively with regard to Israel is instructive as to its legitimacy, as is the fact that the demand is placed upon Palestinians to recognize Israel’s "right to exist", while no similar demand is placed upon Israelis to recognize the "right to exist" of a Palestinian state.
Nations don’t have rights, people do. The proper framework for discussion is within that of the right of all peoples to self-determination. Seen in this, the proper framework, it is an elementary observation that it is not the Arabs which have denied Jews that right, but the Jews which have denied that right to the Arabs. The terminology of Israel’s "right to exist" is constantly employed to obfuscate that fact.
As already noted, Israel was not created by the U.N., but came into being on May 14, 1948, when the Zionist leadership unilaterally, and with no legal authority, declared Israel’s existence, with no specification as to the extent of the new state’s borders. In a moment, the Zionists had declared that Arabs no longer the owners of their land – it now belonged to the Jews. In an instant, the Zionists had declared that the majority Arabs of Palestine were now second-class citizens in the new "Jewish State".
The Arabs, needless to say, did not passively accept this development, and neighboring Arab countries declared war on the Zionist regime in order to prevent such a grave injustice against the majority inhabitants of Palestine.
It must be emphasized that the Zionists had no right to most of the land they declared as part of Israel, while the Arabs did. This war, therefore, was not, as is commonly asserted in mainstream commentary, an act of aggression by the Arab states against Israel. Rather, the Arabs were acting in defense of their rights, to prevent the Zionists from illegally and unjustly taking over Arab lands and otherwise disenfranchising the Arab population. The act of aggression was the Zionist leadership’s unilateral declaration of the existence of Israel, and the Zionists’ use of violence to enforce their aims both prior to and subsequent to that declaration.
In the course of the war that ensued, Israel implemented a policy of ethnic cleansing. 700,000 Arab Palestinians were either forced from their homes or fled out of fear of further massacres, such as had occurred in the village of Deir Yassin shortly before the Zionist declaration. These Palestinians have never been allowed to return to their homes and land, despite it being internationally recognized and encoded in international law that such refugees have an inherent "right of return".
Palestinians will never agree to the demand made of them by Israel and its main benefactor, the U.S., to recognize Israel’s "right to exist". To do so is effectively to claim that Israel had a "right" to take Arab land, while Arabs had no right to their own land. It is effectively to claim that Israel had a "right" to ethnically cleanse Palestine, while Arabs had no right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in their own homes, on their own land.
The constant use of the term "right to exist" in discourse today serves one specific purpose: It is designed to obfuscate the reality that it is the Jews that have denied the Arab right to self-determination, and not vice versa, and to otherwise attempt to legitimize Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, both historical and contemporary.
Myth #5 – The Arab nations threatened Israel with annihilation in 1967 and 1973.
The fact of the matter is that it was Israel that fired the first shot of the "Six Day War". Early on the morning of June 5, Israel launched fighters in a surprise attack on Egypt (then the United Arab Republic), and successfully decimated the Egyptian air force while most of its planes were still on the ground.
It is virtually obligatory for this attack to be described by commentators today as "preemptive". But to have been "preemptive", by definition, there must have been an imminent threat of Egyptian aggression against Israel. Yet there was none.
It is commonly claimed that President Nasser’s bellicose rhetoric, blockade of the Straits of Tiran, movement of troops into the Sinai Peninsula, and expulsion of U.N. peacekeeping forces from its side of the border collectively constituted such an imminent threat.
Yet, both U.S. and Israeli intelligence assessed at the time that the likelihood Nasser would actually attack was low. The CIA assessed that Israel had overwhelming superiority in force of arms, and would, in the event of a war, defeat the Arab forces within two weeks; within a week if Israel attacked first, which is what actually occurred.
It must be kept in mind that Egypt had been the victim of aggression by the British, French, and Israelis in the 1954 "Suez Crisis", following Egypt’s nationalization of the Suez Canal. In that war, the three aggressor nations conspired to wage war upon Egypt, which resulted in an Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula. Under U.S. pressure, Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1957, but Egypt had not forgotten the Israeli aggression.
Moreover, Egypt had formed a loose alliance with Syria and Jordan, with each pledging to come to the aid of the others in the event of a war with Israel. Jordan had criticized Nasser for not living up to that pledge after the Israeli attack on West Bank village of Samu the year before, and his rhetoric was a transparent attempt to regain face in the Arab world.
That Nasser’s positioning was defensive, rather than projecting an intention to wage an offensive against Israel, was well recognized among prominent Israelis. As Avraham Sela of the Shalem Center has observed, "The Egyptian buildup in Sinai lacked a clear offensive plan, and Nasser’s defensive instructions explicitly assumed an Israeli first strike."
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin acknowledged that "In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."
Yitzhak Rabin, who would also later become Prime Minister of Israel, admitted in 1968 that "I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to the Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it."
Israelis have also acknowledged that their own rhetoric at the time about the "threat" of "annihilation" from the Arab states was pure propaganda.
General Chaim Herzog, commanding general and first military governor of the occupied West Bank following the war, admitted that "There was no danger of annihilation. Israeli headquarters never believed in this danger."
General Ezer Weizman similarly said, "There was never a danger of extermination. This hypothesis had never been considered in any serious meeting."
Chief of Staff Haim Bar-Lev acknowledged, "We were not threatened with genocide on the eve of the Six-Day War, and we had never thought of such possibility."
Israeli Minister of Housing Mordechai Bentov has also acknowledged that "The entire story of the danger of extermination was invented in every detail, and exaggerated a posteriori to justify the annexation of new Arab territory."
In 1973, in what Israelis call the "Yom Kippur War", Egypt and Syria launched a surprise offensive to retake the Sinai and the Golan Heights, respectively. This joint action is popularly described in contemporaneous accounts as an "invasion" of or act of "aggression" against Israel.
Yet, as already noted, following the June '67 war, the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 242 calling upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. Israel, needless to say, refused to do so and has remained in perpetual violation of international law ever since.
During the 1973 war, Egypt and Syria thus "invaded" their own territory, then under illegal occupation by Israel. The corollary of the description of this war as an act of Arab aggression implicitly assumes that the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza Strip were Israeli territory. This is, needless to say, a grossly false assumption that demonstrates the absolutely prejudicial and biased nature of mainstream commentary when it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict.
This false narrative fits in with the larger overall narrative, equally fallacious, of Israeli as the "victim" of Arab intransigence and aggression. This narrative, largely unquestioned in the West, flips reality on its head.
Myth #6 – U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 called only for a partial Israeli withdrawal.
Resolution 242 was passed in the wake of the June '67 war and called for the "Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." While the above argument enjoys widespread popularity, it has no merit whatsoever.
The central thesis of this argument is that the absence of the word "the" before "occupied territories" in that clause means not "all of the occupied territories" were intended. Essentially, this argument rests upon the ridiculous logic that because the word "the" was omitted from the clause, we may therefore understand this to mean that "some of the occupied territories" was the intended meaning.
Grammatically, the absence of the word "the" has no effect on the meaning of this clause, which refers to "territories", plural. A simple litmus test question is: Is it territory that was occupied by Israel in the '67 war? If yes, then, under international law and Resolution 242, Israel is required to withdraw from that territory. Such territories include the Syrian Golan Heights, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
The French version of the resolution, equally authentic as the English, contains the definite article, and a majority of the members of the Security Council made clear during deliberations that their understanding of the resolution was that it would require Israel to fully withdraw from all occupied territories.
Additionally, it is impossible to reconcile with the principle of international law cited in the preamble to the resolution, of "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war". To say that the U.N. intended that Israel could retain some of the territory it occupied during the war would fly in the face of this cited principle.
One could go on to address various other logical fallacies associated with this frivolous argument, but as it is absurd on its face, it would be superfluous to do so.
Myth #7 – Israeli military action against its neighbors is only taken to defend itself against terrorism.
The facts tell another story. Take, for instance, the devastating 1982 Israeli war on Lebanon. As political analyst Noam Chomsky extensively documents in his epic analysis "The Fateful Triangle", this military offensive was carried out with barely even the thinnest veil of a pretext.
While one may read contemporary accounts insisting this war was fought in response to a constant shelling of northern Israeli by the PLO, then based in Lebanon, the truth is that, despite continuous Israeli provocations, the PLO had with only a few exceptions abided by a cease-fire that had been in place. Moreover, in each of those instances, it was Israel that had first violated the cease-fire.
Among the Israeli provocations, throughout early 1982, it attacked and sank Lebanese fishing boats and otherwise committed hundreds of violations of Lebanese territorial waters. It committed thousands of violations of Lebanese airspace, yet never did manage to provoke the PLO response it sought to serve as the casus belli for the planned invasion of Lebanon.
On May 9, Israel bombed Lebanon, an act that was finally met with a PLO response when it launched rocket and artillery fire into Israel.
Then a terrorist group headed by Abu Nidal attempted to assassinate Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Argov in London. Although the PLO itself had been at war with Abu Nidal, who had been condemned to death by a Fatah military tribunal in 1973, and despite the fact that Abu Nidal was not based in Lebanon, Israel cited this event as a pretext to bomb the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, killing 200 Palestinians. The PLO responded by shelling settlements in northern Israel. Yet Israel did not manage to provoke the kind of larger-scale response it was looking to use as a casus belli for its planned invasion.
As Israeli scholar Yehoshua Porath has suggested, Israel’s decision to invade Lebanon, far from being a response to PLO attacks, rather "flowed from the very fact that the cease-fire had been observed". Writing in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Porath assessed that "The government’s hope is that the stricken PLO, lacking a logistic and territorial base, will return to its earlier terrorism…. In this way, the PLO will lose part of the political legitimacy that it has gained … undercutting the danger that elements will develop among the Palestinians that might become a legitimate negotiating partner for future political accommodations."
As another example, take Israel’s Operation Cast Lead from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009. Prior to Israel’s assault on the besieged and defenseless population of the Gaza Strip, Israel had entered into a cease-fire agreement with the governing authority there, Hamas. Contrary to popular myth, it was Israel, not Hamas, who ended the cease-fire.
The pretext for Operation Cast Lead is obligatorily described in Western media accounts as being the "thousands" of rockets that Hamas had been firing into Israel prior to the offensive, in violation of the cease-fire.
The truth is that from the start of the cease-fire in June until November 4, Hamas fired no rockets, despite numerous provocations from Israel, including stepped-up operations in the West Bank and Israeli soldiers taking pop-shots at Gazans across the border, resulting in several injuries and at least one death.
On November 4, it was again Israel who violated the cease-fire, with airstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza that resulted in further deaths. Hamas finally responded with rocket fire, and from that point on the cease-fire was effectively over, with daily tit-for-tat attacks from both sides.
Despite Israel’s lack of good faith, Hamas offered to renew the cease-fire from the time it was set to officially expire in December. Israel rejected the offer, preferring instead to inflict violent collective punishment on the people of Gaza.
As the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center noted, the truce "brought relative quiet to the western Negev population", with 329 rocket and mortar attacks, "most of them during the month and a half after November 4″, when Israel had violated and effectively ended the truce. This stands in remarkable contrast to the 2,278 rocket and mortar attacks in the six months prior to the truce. Until November 4, the center also observed, "Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire."
If Israel had desired to continue to mitigate the threat of Palestinian militant rocket attacks, it would have simply not ended the cease-fire, which was very highly effective in reducing the number of such attacks, including eliminating all such attacks by Hamas. It would not have instead resorted to violence, predictably resulting in a greatly escalated threat of retaliatory rocket and mortar attacks from Palestinian militant groups.
Moreover, even if Israel could claim that peaceful means had been exhausted and that a resort military force to act in self-defense to defend its civilian population was necessary, that is demonstrably not what occurred. Instead, Israel deliberately targeted the civilian population of Gaza with systematic and deliberate disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks on residential areas, hospitals, schools, and other locations with protected civilian status under international law.
As the respected international jurist who headed up the United Nations investigation into the assault, Richard Goldstone, has observed, the means by which Israel carried out Operation Cast Lead were not consistent with its stated aims, but was rather more indicative of a deliberate act of collective punishment of the civilian population.
Myth #8 – God gave the land to the Jews, so the Arabs are the occupiers.
No amount of discussion of the facts on the ground will ever convince many Jews and Christians that Israel could ever do wrong, because they view its actions as having the hand of God behind it, and that its policies are in fact the will of God. They believe that God gave the land of Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to the Jewish people, and therefore Israel has a "right" to take it by force from the Palestinians, who, in this view, are the wrongful occupiers of the land.
But one may simply turn to the pages of their own holy books to demonstrate the fallaciousness of this or similar beliefs. Christian Zionists are fond of quoting passages from the Bible such as the following to support their Zionist beliefs:
"And Yahweh said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: 'Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants could also be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you." (Genesis 13:14-17)
"Then Yahweh appeared to him and said: 'Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in the land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father." (Genesis 26: 1-3)
"And behold, Yahweh stood above it and said: 'I am Yahweh, God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants." (Genesis 28:13)
Yet Christian Zionists conveniently disregard other passages providing further context for understanding this covenant, such as the following:
"You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out." (Leviticus 20:22)
"But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments … but break My covenant … I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste … You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up." (Leviticus 26: 14, 15, 32-33, 28)
"Therefore Yahweh was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone…. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day." (2 Kings 17:18, 23)
"And I said, after [Israel] had done all these things, 'Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also." (Jeremiah 3: 7-8)
Yes, in the Bible, Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, told the Hebrews that the land could be theirs – if they would obey his commandments. Yet, as the Bible tells the story, the Hebrews were rebellious against Yahweh in all their generations.
What Jewish and Christian Zionists omit from their Biblical arguments in favor of continued Israel occupation is that Yahweh also told the Hebrews, including the tribe of Judah (from whom the "Jews" are descended), that he would remove them from the land if they broke the covenant by rebelling against his commandments, which is precisely what occurs in the Bible.
Thus, the theological argument for Zionism is not only bunk from a secular point of view, but is also a wholesale fabrication from a scriptural perspective, representing a continued rebelliousness against Yahweh and his Torah, and the teachings of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) in the New Testament.
Myth #9 – Palestinians reject the two-state solution because they want to destroy Israel.
In an enormous concession to Israel, Palestinians have long accepted the two-state solution. The elected representatives of the Palestinian people in Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had since the 70s recognized the state of Israel and accepted the two-state solution to the conflict. Despite this, Western media continued through the 90s to report that the PLO rejected this solution and instead wanted to wipe Israel off the map.
The pattern has been repeated since Hamas was voted into power in the 2006 Palestinian elections. Although Hamas has for years accepted the reality of the state of Israel and demonstrated a willingness to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip alongside Israel, it is virtually obligatory for Western mainstream media, even today, to report that Hamas rejects the two-state solution, that it instead seeks "to destroy Israel".
In fact, in early 2004, shortly before he was assassinated by Israel, Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin said that Hamas could accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Hamas has since repeatedly reiterated its willingness to accept a two-state solution.
In early 2005, Hamas issued a document stating its goal of seeking a Palestinian state alongside Israel and recognizing the 1967 borders.
The exiled head of the political bureau of Hamas, Khalid Mish’al, wrote in the London Guardian in January 2006 that Hamas was "ready to make a just peace". He wrote that "We shall never recognize the right of any power to rob us of our land and deny us our national rights…. But if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms."
During the campaigning for the 2006 elections, the top Hamas official in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar said that Hamas was ready to "accept to establish our independent state on the area occupied [in] '67″, a tacit recognition of the state of Israel.
The elected prime minister from Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, said in February 2006 that Hamas accepted "the establishment of a Palestinian state" within the "1967 borders".
In April 2008, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met with Hamas officials and afterward stated that Hamas "would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders" and would "accept the right of Israel to live as a neighbor next door in peace". It was Hamas’ "ultimate goal to see Israel living in their allocated borders, the 1967 borders, and a contiguous, vital Palestinian state alongside."
That same month Hamas leader Meshal said, "We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition."
In 2009, Meshal said that Hamas "has accepted a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders".
Hamas’ shift in policy away from total rejection of the existence of the state of Israel towards acceptance of the international consensus on a two-state solution to the conflict is in no small part a reflection of the will of the Palestinian public. A public opinion survey from April of last year, for instance, found that three out of four Palestinians were willing to accept a two-state solution.
Myth #10 – The U.S. is an honest broker and has sought to bring about peace in the Middle East.
Rhetoric aside, the U.S. supports Israel’s policies, including its illegal occupation and other violations of international humanitarian law. It supports Israel’s criminal policies financially, militarily, and diplomatically.
The Obama administration, for example, stated publically that it was opposed to Israel’s settlement policy and ostensibly "pressured" Israel to freeze colonization activities. Yet very early on, the administration announced that it would not cut back financial or military aid to Israel, even if it defied international law and continued settlement construction. That message was perfectly well understood by the Netanyahu government in Israel, which continued its colonization policies.
To cite another straightforward example, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions openly declaring support for Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, despite a constant stream of reports evidencing Israeli war crimes.
On the day the U.S. Senate passed its resolution "reaffirming the United States’ strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas" (January 8, 2009), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a statement demanding that Israel allow it to assist victims of the conflict because the Israeli military had blocked access to wounded Palestinians – a war crime under international law.
That same day, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement condemning Israel for firing on a U.N. aid convoy delivering humanitarian supplies to Gaza and for the killing of two U.N. staff members – both further war crimes.
On the day that the House passed its own version of the resolution, the U.N. announced that it had had to stop humanitarian work in Gaza because of numerous incidents in which its staff, convoys, and installations, including clinics and schools, had come under Israeli attack.
U.S. financial support for Israel surpasses $3 billion annually. When Israel waged a war to punish the defenseless civilian population of Gaza, its pilots flew U.S.-made F-16 fighter-bombers and Apache helicopter gunships, dropping U.S.-made bombs, including the use of white phosphorus munitions in violation of international law.
U.S. diplomatic support for Israeli crimes includes its use of the veto power in the U.N. Security Council. When Israel was waging a devastating war against the civilian population and infrastructure of Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the U.S. vetoed a cease-fire resolution.
As Israel was waging Operation Cast Lead, the U.S. delayed the passage of a resolution calling for an end to the violence, and then abstained rather than criticize Israel once it finally allowed the resolution to be put to a vote.
When the U.N. Human Rights Council officially adopted the findings and recommendations of its investigation into war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, headed up by Richard Goldstone, the U.S. responded by announcing its intention to block any effort to have the Security Council similarly adopt its conclusions and recommendations. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution rejecting the Goldstone report because it found that Israel had committed war crimes.
Through its virtually unconditional support for Israel, the U.S. has effectively blocked any steps to implement the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The so-called "peace process" has for many decades consisted of U.S. and Israeli rejection Palestinian self-determination and blocking of any viable Palestinian state.
- Jeremy R. Hammond is an independent journalist and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, an online source for news, critical analysis, and opinion commentary on U.S. foreign policy. He was among the recipients of the 2010 Project Censored Awards for outstanding investigative journalism, and is the author of "The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination", available from Amazon.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com
Song For Gaza
End Gaza Blockade
25th May 2010
"Over the new year 2009-2010, an international group of 1500 men and women from 42 nations went to Egypt to join a Freedom March to Gaza. They did this to protest the current blockade of Gaza. To protest the fact that the people of Gaza live in a virtual prison. To protest the fact that a year after the terror attack by Israeli armed forces destroyed most of their homes, hospitals, schools, and other public buildings, they have no possibility to rebuild because their borders are closed. The would be Freedom Marchers wanted to peacefully draw attention to the predicament of the Palestinian population of Gaza. The Egyptian government, (funded to the tune of $2.1 billion a year, by us, the US tax payers), would not allow the marchers to approach Gaza. How lame is that? And how predictable! I live in the USA and during this time Dec 25th 2009-Jan3rd 2010 I saw no reference to Gaza or the Freedom March or the multi national protesters gathered there. Anyway I was moved, in the circumstances, to record a new version of " We shall overcome". It seems appropriate.
June 18, 2010
Watching TV is not a good idea...it makes me see Red.
All is devoted to the BP spill...
Believe it or not tourists from other states, like Texas are flocking to visit the spill...
Americans are now complaining of "lack of Ethics", kid you not.
Now Americans know all about Ethics because shrimp, oyster and crab farmers have lost their jobs. And small businesses complain that 20 Billion dollars compensation is not enough. They want guarantees for the future. What if BP runs out of money - they say. American jobs and lives are ever so precious aren't they ?
Congress has grilled BP's CEO, with the usual American moral high ground position, the hypocritical attitude that is so characteristic of Americans. Makes me shiver.
And the best bit - J.Biden taking on the plight of the poor people whose income is only 10'000 dollars a month like those seafood farmers in Louisiana..
Is that not the same J.Biden, the war monger who wanted Iraq divided so it can be pillaged and plundered further, with more expediency ? Is that not the same America who cheered a brutal occupation where over 50% of the Iraqi population lives in absolute poverty since 2003, on less than 1$ a dollar a day ? Is that not the same America under whose occupation our rivers dried up and we have no more water and no more fishermen.
Is that not the same Americans from Texas, to Mississippi, to Florida, to Washington DC to elsewhere in this shit thole of a country who voted and cheered for more liberation efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, be it under Bush or Obama ?
Is that not the same America that worships the dollar and the oil corporations, are these not, the same political and cultural whorish offspring of the military industrial complex ?
Now that same America is whining about the lack of ethics of big companies.
One African American woman from Louisiana said " They keep considering us resilient, so they think, we can handle more, so they dish out more our way. Well am not resilient, I want accountability"
I suggest to Iraqis - stop being so resilient and read that last sentence over and over again and turn it into your daily mantra, because it won't get any better unless you spill it !
CIA Hit Coming?
Friday, June 18, 2010
Reflections Of Fidel
(Taken from CubaDebate)
I affirmed recently that the world would soon forget the tragedy that is about to occur as the fruit of the policy followed, for more than two centuries, by the neighboring superpower: the United States.
We are familiar with its devious and cunning way of acting; the impetuous economic growth attained on the basis of its technical and scientific development; the enormous wealth accumulated at the expense of the vast majority of its working people and those of the rest of the world for a demanding minority which, in that country and others, enjoys the unlimited wealth at its disposal.
Who are those who are complaining more and more but the workers, the professionals, those who provide services for the population, the retired, those lacking employment, street children, people deprived of elementary knowledge, all of whom constitute the vast majority of the close to seven billion inhabitants of the planet, whose vital resources are being visibly exhausted?
How do the so-called forces of order, whose job is supposedly to protect them, treat them?
Who are those beaten by the police, armed with every instrument of repression possible?
I do not need to describe events that peoples everywhere, including in the United States, observe via televisions, computers and other mass media.
It is somewhat more difficult to work out the sinister projects of those who have in their hands the destiny of humanity, absurdly thinking that such a world order can be imposed.
What did I write in the last five reflections with which I took up space in Granma and on the CubaDebate website between May 30 and June 10, 2010?
By now the basic elements of a very near future have been launched into flight and there is no possible going back. In the course of a few brief days, the impressive events at the World Cup in South Africa have captured our minds.
We barely have time to breathe during the six hours broadcast live and direct on television in almost all the countries of the world.
Having witnessed the encounters between the most prestigious teams in just six days, and applying my not very reliable points of view, I am venturing to say that the champion of the cup lies between Argentina, Brazil, Germany, England and Spain.
Now there is no team left that has not shown its lion claws in that sport, whereas earlier on I didn’t see anything more than people running across the expansive field from one goal to the other. Now, thanks to famous names like Maradona and Messi, and aware of the feats of the former as the finest player in the history of this sport and his belief that any other player is the same or better than him, I can distinguish the role of each one of the 11 players.
I also learned in the last few days that the new football has a variable geometry in the air, that it is faster and rebounds much more. The players themselves, starting with the goalkeepers, are complaining about these new characteristics, but the forwards and defense are complaining too, and strongly, given that the ball travels faster and they have spent all their lives learning to handle a different one. It is the FIFA directors who decide things in each World Cup.
This time around they have transformed that sport; it’s another, although it still goes by the same name. The fans, who don’t know about the changes introduced to the ball – the soul of a large number of sports activities – and fill the stands of any stadium, are those who enjoy its beauty and all of them will accept those changes in the magical name of glorious football. Even Maradona, who was the best player in history, will calmly resign himself to the fact that other athletes will score more goals, from a greater distance, more spectacular and with better aim than him, in the same goal of the same size as the one where his fame rose to such a dizzying height.
In amateur baseball it was different; the bats changed from wood to aluminum or from aluminum to wood, but specific requisites were established.
The powerful professional clubs in the United States decided to implement rigid standards in relation to the bats and another series of traditional requisites that maintain the characteristics of the old sport. They really gave the spectacle a special interest and also enormous profits paid for by the public and advertising.
In the current sports whirlwind, a sport as exceptional and noble as volleyball, so much enjoyed in our country, is immersed in its World League, the most important tournament in this specialty every year, apart from titles derived from the first place in Olympic or world championships.
The penultimate games scheduled to be played in Cuba took place on Friday and Saturday of last week in Sports City. To date, our team has not lost a single game. The last opponent was no less than Germany. Its athletes included a German giant of 2.14 meters and an excellent spiker. It was a veritable feat to win all the sets, apart from the third in the second game. Our team members, all of them very young, and one of whom is only 16, demonstrated a surprising capacity for reaction. Poland is the current European champion and the German team won the two encounters it had again that team. In the face of these successes, nobody imagined that the Cuban team would once again be among the best in the world.
Unfortunately, on another front, the road in the political sphere is saturated with enormous risks.
One of the subjects that I pointed to earlier, among the basic elements of a very near future launched into flight with no possible retreat, is the sinking of the Cheonan, the flagship of the South Korean Navy, which sank in a matter of minutes on March 26, causing the death of 46 marines and dozens of injuries.
The government of South Korea ordered an investigation to find out whether the event was the consequence of an internal or external explosion. On confirming that it came from the exterior, it accused the Pyongyang government of sinking the submarine. North Korea only had at its disposal an old torpedo model of Soviet manufacture. It lacked any other element except for the most elemental logic. It couldn’t even imagine another cause.
This past March, as an initial step, the government of South Korea ordered the activation of propaganda loudspeakers at 11 points on the demilitarized shared border separating the two Koreas.
For its part, the chief of general staff of the Armed Forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stated that the loudspeakers would be destroyed as soon as that activity began. It had been suspended since 2004. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stated textually that it would convert Seoul into a "sea of fire."
Last Friday, the South Korean Army announced that it would initiate that as soon as the Security Council announced its measures in relation to the sinking of the South Korean Cheonan corvette. Both Korean republics already have their fingers on the trigger.
The government of South Korea could not believe that its close ally, the United States, had attached a mine to the bottom of the Cheonan, as research journalist Wayne Madsen related in an article published by Global Research on June 1, 2010, with a coherent explanation of what had happened. He bases his information on the fact that North Korea does not possess any type of rocket or instrument to sink the Cheonan that would escape detection by the sophisticated equipment of an anti-submarine warfare corvette.
North Korea had been accused of something that it did not carry out, which prompted the urgent journey of Kim Jong II to China in an armored train.
When these events suddenly occurred, in the mind of the government of South Korea there was and still is no space for any other possible cause.
In the midst of the sporting and happy atmosphere, the sky is growing darker and darker.
The intentions of the United States have been obvious for quite some time, given that the actions of its government are obligatorily measured to its own designs without any possible alternatives.
Its intention – being accustomed to the imposition of its designs by force – is that Israel should attack the enriched uranium facilities in Iran, utilizing the most modern aircraft and sophisticated weaponry that the superpower irresponsibly supplies it with. The United States suggested to Israel, which does not have a border with Iran, that it ask Saudi Arabia for permission to overfly a long and narrow air corridor, thus considerably reducing the distance between the take-off point for the attacking aircraft and the objectives to destroy.
According to the plan, essential parts of which have been made public by Israeli intelligence, waves of aircraft are to attack time and time again in order to obliterate the targets.
This past June 12, major Western newspapers published information on an air corridor granted by Saudi Arabia to Israel, following a previous agreement with the U.S. State Department, with the objective of making test flights with Israeli hunter bombers for a surprise attack on Iran, and that these had already been carried out in Saudi Arabian airspace.
Israeli spokespersons did not deny that, but confined themselves to merely stating that the countries mentioned were more afraid of Iranian nuclear development than Israel itself.
On June 13, when the London Times published information taken from intelligence sources, confirming that Saudi Arabia had announced an agreement authorizing Israel to pass through an air corridor over its territory for an attack on Iran, President Ahmadinejad stated, on receiving the accreditation letters of Mohamad ibn Abbas al Kalabi, the new Saudi ambassador in Tehran, that there were many enemies who did not want close relations between the two countries. "But if Iran and Saudi Arabia remain by each other’s sides, those enemies will give up continuing their aggression."
From the Iranian point of view, in my judgment, that statement was justified, whatever the reasons were for making it. It is quite possible that he did not wish to hurt his Arab neighbors in the slightest way.
The yankis have not uttered a single word, only to reflect more than ever their ardent desire to sweep away the nationalist government that is leading Iran.
One now has to ask, when the Security Council analyses the sinking of the Cheonan, the flagship of the South Korean Navy: what conduct it will follow after the fingers on the triggers of the weapons on the Korean peninsula fire those weapons; and if it is a certain fact or not that Saudi Arabia, in agreement with the State Department, has authorized an air corridor so that waves of modern Israeli bombers can attack Iranian facilities, possibly even employing nuclear weapons supplied by the United States.
Diabolical news is filtering little by little between games and games in the World Cup, in a way that nobody is paying much attention to it.
Fidel Castro Ruz
June 16, 2010