Monday, May 31, 2010

Brave Israeli Commandos Slaughter Aid Activists at Sea

Brave Israeli Commandos Slaughter Aid Activists at Sea - by Stephen Lendman

Even America's major media can't duck a crime this grave - attacking and slaughtering up to 20 Gaza Freedom Flotilla activists and injuring dozens more.

New York Times writer Isabel Kershner headlined "At Least 10 Killed as Israel Intercepts Aid Flotilla, saying:

"The Israeli Navy raided a flotilla carrying thousands of tons of supplies for Gaza in international waters on Monday morning....The incident drew widespread international condemnation, with Israeli envoys summoned to explain their country's actions in several European countries....The killings also coincided with preparations for a planned visit to Washington on Tuesday (June 1) by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."

Late word is it's postponed.

The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times carried similar reports, trying, but hardly able to downplay a major crime.

The UK-based Stop the War Coalition called it "Yet another act of Israeli barbarism" in announcing an "emergency demonstration" at 2:00PM near the prime minister's Downing Street residence, saying spread the word and come.

In Gaza, thousands protested, expressing anger, outrage and sympathy, carrying banners condemning willful crimes, and calling for Arab solidarity. Similar demonstrations turned out in Amman, Cairo, Damascus, Tehran, Ankara, Istanbul, Beirut and other regional cities.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed the Flotilla organizers for inciting the attack, while his deputy, Danny Alalon said they were connected to international terrorist organizations and were trying to smuggle in arms. Weapons were found on board, he claimed.

At a hastily called news conference, sparsely attended, he referred to "the armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terror organization," accusing peaceful activists of a "premeditated and outrageous provocation," saying "The organizers are well known for their ties with global Jihad, Al Qaeda and Hamas. (Their) intent was violent, their method was violent, and the results were unfortunately violent."

Shameless lies from a criminal caught red-handed, Haaretz's Gideon Levy saying:

"The Israeli propaganda machine has reached new highs (distributing) false information. It embarrassed itself by entering a futile public relations battle....There is nothing to explain, certainly not to a world that will never buy (its) web of explanations, lies and tactics."

In Washington, of course, they're echoed along with toned down pious indignation publicly, but privately, assurances of solid US-Israeli relations are affirmed.

On May 31, White House spokesman William Burton said:

"The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy," stopping short of condemning crimes too grave to ignore and demanding harsh measures in response to premeditated slaughter.

Much the same from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (a reliable Israeli ally) stating:

"It is vital that there is a full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place. I believe Israel must urgently provide a full explanation," stopping short of demanding it and full accountability.

Saying he "deplored in the strongest terms the killing of civilians," Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, like his EU counterparts, said it was "indispensable that there be an inquest to ascertain the facts, which are still not clear."

They're very clear. Israeli forces planned and executed a premeditated attack against peaceful humanitarian activists, trying to deliver essential to life aid to Gazans under siege - to break Israel's attempt to suffocate and starve them.

The Wall Street Journal online headlined "More than 10 Dead After Israel Intercepts Gaza Aid Convoy," saying (like most US media reports) that "An Israeli military spokesman said later in the day that some activists 'appeared' to be armed with guns, and fired at the Israeli soldiers, though it wasn't clear who fired first."

The activists, in fact, were unarmed civilians, delivering vitally needed humanitarian aid to 1.5 million Gazans, trapped under siege for three years this month. Without provocation, they were maliciously and willfully attacked in international waters by armed Israeli commandos with orders to open fire if the convoy failed to abort its mission.

The best Journal writer Joshua Mitnick could say was "whether the military action was warranted or not (it) threatens to further sully Israel's international reputation, after a series of recent diplomatic setbacks."

No mention of the Gaza war, daily West Bank and East Jerusalem incursions, the three-year siege, a 43-year occupation, daily killings, targeted assassinations, homes bulldozed, mass arrests, torture, and Palestinian communities throughout the Territories and in Israel threatened by daily terror.

No mention by European nations either, the EU merely calling for a full inquiry, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (a staunch Israeli supporter) saying he was "deeply shocked by the 'tragic' consequences of Israel's military operation (against) a humanitarian initiative," but little else. The same hypocrisy echoed from most European capitals, much like already from Washington.

Turkey's Communist Party's press statement, in contrast, said:

"The pirate commandos trained by Israel Naval Forces mounted an operation this morning to capture the flotilla carrying aid to Gaza and slaughtered unarmed civilians in the course of this outrageous operation."

Calling the attack "barbarous," it "demanded" immediate deportation of Israel's diplomatic mission, cancellation of Turkish-Israeli military and other agreements, and Israel held fully accountable for its crime against humanity - its specialty against civilians and nonviolent activists.

Al Jazeera reported that "Thousands of Turkish protesters tried to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul soon after the news (shouting) 'Damn Israel' as police blocked them."

It also said Israeli radio confirmed at least 19 were killed and dozens injured, quoting IDF spokeswoman, Avital Leibovich, saying, "This happened in waters outside Israeli territory, but we have the right to defend ourselves," - the usual response from scoundrels caught red-handed.

Video footage on board the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara showed Israeli commandos opened fire during the assault, activists saying it began immediately after storming on board.

Al Zazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, on the ship, said "a white surrender flag was raised (and) there was no live fire coming from the passengers."

The Free Gaza Movement reported that "Under darkness of night, Israeli commandos dropped from a helicopter onto the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, and began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck." No action on board provoked it. It was premeditated, willful slaughter.

The Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement expressed sorrow in denouncing the attack, citing it as further "proof that despite claims to the contrary, Israel never 'disengaged' from the Gaza Strip but rather continues to control its borders - land, air and sea....hermetically (cutting off) 1.5 million human beings (from) access to the outside world" and vitally needed humanitarian aid.

Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, claimed "They initiated the violence," and the IDF insisted it responded when its forces "were attacked with knives, clubs, and even live fire." Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said soldiers were forced by violent acts to respond with live fire.

They lied.

Viewing the video footage, Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin reported that:

"All the images being shown from the activists on board those ships show clearly that they were civilians and peaceful in nature, with medical (and other humanitarian) supplies on board."

Other footage showed black-clad commandos descending from helicopters, then immediately opening fire on deck against peaceful activists.

Israeli forces seized the ship and a smaller one, took them to Israel's port of Ashdod, and censored all information on the assault.

The Flotilla, with 700 activists, left Cyprus at 3:00PM (1200 GMT) Sunday, on the last leg of their journey, heading for Gaza, hoping to arrive by daylight. Six hours after departure, three Israeli missile boats left Haifa to interdict it, according to reporters on board before being ordered to turn off their cell phones.

The convoy hoped to break the siege and deliver over 10,000 tons of vitally needed aid, including food, medicines, educational, construction, and other materials. Israel warned it would intercept and abort the mission, giving no details except to say ships would be seized, then taken to Ashdod.

A May 31 Gaza Freedom March.org press release called for a "global response to killings on the Freedom Flotilla," saying:

"We, Gaza based Palestinian Civil Society Organizations and international activists, call on the international community and civil society to pressure their governments and Israel to cease the abductions and killings....against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla....and begin a global response to hold Israel accountable for the murder of foreign civilians at sea and illegal piracy of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza."

"We, from Gaza, call on you to demonstrate and support the courageous men and women on the Flotilla and join the many now murdered on a humanitarian aid mission. We insist on severance of diplomatic ties with Israel, trials for war crimes and the international protection of the civilians of Gaza. We call on you to join the growing international boycott, divestment and sanction campaign of a country proving again" to be an international outlaw. "Join a growing critical mass around the world with a commitment to the day when Palestinian are entitled to the same rights as (all) other people, when the siege is lifted, the occupation over and the 6 million Palestinian refugees are finally granted justice."

Stand in solidarity for their freedom in peace, and demand nothing less, including full accountability for Israeli officials responsible for high crimes of war and against humanity.

On board the Flottilla are over 700 activists from 40 countries, including 35 politicians and a Nobel Peace laureate, Mairead McGuire, who protesting with Bil'in village activists against Israel's Separation Wall, in April 2007, was shot and injured with a rubber bullet, then tear-gassed, overcome, and had to be taken by stretcher to an ambulance.

Again, she and 700 others risked their lives to deliver vitally needed aid. In solidarity, people of conscience everywhere must support them and demand full accountability for the latest Israeli crimes too grave to ignore.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Eroding Free Expression in Israel

Eroding Free Expression in Israel - by Stephen Lendman

This writer's earlier article exposed how Israel restricted free expression protests to suppress opposition to its Gaza war. It covered efforts by the police, State Prosecutor's Office, General Security Services (GSS), the courts, and academic institutions to support arrests and imprisonments of Israeli Arabs and Jewish protestors, to keep nonviolent resistance from spreading.

See the complete article at: http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/01/isaeli-prohibitions-against-free.html.

A mid-April article stayed on the theme in discussing state persecution of Israeli journalists, Anat Kam and Uri Blau.

For the complete article, see: http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/04/accelerating-fascism-in-israel.html.

On April 28, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) covered more recent abuses by Israel's West Bank proxy, Fatah's General Intelligence Service (GIS) against Muhannad Salahat, a writer and human rights activist. Also, writer Walid al-Hodali's Preventive Security Service (PSS) arrest, confiscation of his personal computer, and refusal to return it after his release. These actions violate international human rights standards, the Palestinian Basic Law, and other relevant PA ones.

Salahat was arrested, prevented from traveling, and summoned to appear before GIS interrogators. He explained what happened as follows:

On March 28 at 10PM, he was arrested at the Jericho Palestinian Crossing and Search Center, interrogated several times, and not at first given reasons. He was then asked about his writings and documentary films for Al-Jazeera television - "crimes and grave errors that he committed against the Palestinian national project, represented by the Palestinian Authority."

During detention and interrogation, he was mistreated and forced to let GIS read his incoming emails. After release on April 12, GIS kept his laptop, camera, and external hard drive containing documentary film footage. They also required him to call "all his friends and ask them to end the media campaign that they had launched against the Palestinian Authority."

On April 15, GIS returned his belongings, after deleting 23 hours of video from his hard drive. On April 19, he tried to cross from Jericho to Jordan, was stopped, then allowed to enter, but prevented by a Jordanian officer who said the PA prohibited his entry. On April 26, he was ordered to appear before the GIS on May 1 with a warning that "failure to appear at the specified time and on the specified date, would result in the issuing of an arrest warrant against him."

Besides his writing and filmmaking, Salahat is a member of the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (RASED). His persecution continues.

On April 26, al-Hodali was arrested at his Ramallah home. His property was also searched and his personal computer confiscated. He was then taken to PSS headquarters, interrogated about his political affiliations, and released. He reported that as of late April, his computer hadn't been returned.

PCHR expressed "grave concern (about) the re-occurrence of attacks against the right to freedom of expression and press freedoms." It stressed the importance of protecting journalists, the media, and human rights activists, "and of taking all necessary measures to allow them to perform their work freely."

The Palestinian Basic Law and international standards affirm free expression and opinion. So is the freedom of movement principle. Violating them by or for Israel or any other authority is unacceptable any time, under any conditions, for any purpose.

Knesset Legislation to Conceal Information and Stifle Dissent

An Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel April 29 press release discussed Israeli human rights groups' response to a proposed Knesset bill to suppress information exposing serious international law breaches, calling it a danger to democracy.

At issue is a proposed Associations (Amutot) Law (Amendment - Exceptions to the Registration and Activity of an Association), introduced on April 28, that if passed, will prohibit the registration of any NGO if:

"there are reasonable grounds to conclude that the association is providing information to foreign entities or is involved in legal proceedings abroad against senior Israeli government officials or IDF officers, for war crimes."

Existing NGOs will also be subject to closure under the proposed law.

It's contrary to international criminal and humanitarian law standards. If enacted, it will be "an official admission (by Israel) that it is committing war crimes." It will also force human rights organizations (and other public voices) to be silent and cease efforts to prevent the continuity of such actions, or face prosecution.

The bill validates other Israeli crackdowns against human rights organizations in recent months. More on that briefly below.

"The legislation also seeks, contrary to all constitutional principles, to restrict the freedom of expression and freedom of association of these organizations, and also creates public de-legitimization of their educational, legal and public role."

Further, the bill will impede efforts of victims to seek redress by excluding them from Israel's legal system. It tells Palestinians and the world that their lives and rights don't matter, a message well understood in the Territories.

What better argument for exercising universal jurisdiction, the right of all nations to investigate and prosecute foreign nationals who commit the most serious crimes, especially related to war and against humanity - Israel's specialty, yet they, in fact, used it to convict and execute Adolph Eichmann for his holocaust crimes, only indirectly connected to Israel.

Universal jurisdiction doesn't supersede national prosecutions. It complements them as an authority to act when criminal nations won't, and implicit in the principle is they must to assure the rule of law and not let its worst abusers go unpunished.

The following Israeli human rights groups responded to the proposed legislation: Adalah, B'Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Bimkom, Gisha, Hamoked, Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PACTI), and Yesh Din.

They accused Israel of breaching international law, saying:

"Instead of defending democracy, the sponsors of this bill prefer to reduce it to ashes. This bill is the direct result of irresponsible leadership that is doing all it can to undermine democratic values and the institutions that are the backbone of a democracy: the Supreme Court, a free press, and human rights organizations," supporting rights that nations and others violate.

If enacted, this measure will represent "an unprecedented moral nadir within the Israeli house of parliament," that in recent years has become increasingly hard line, embracing a doctrine typical of fascism.

For months, Israel security forces, politicians, and extremist groups have been targeting the above human rights organizations and others (including Breaking the Silence, Rabbis for Human Rights, and international ones) for supporting Goldstone Commission findings and demanding accountability.

In February, 2010, activists were arrested, held in prison and then deported, including Spanish journalist Ariadna Jove Marti and Australian student Bridgette Chappell. Both women belong to the International Solidarity Movement, yet an IDF spokesperson said they were "involved in illegal riots that obstruct Israeli security operations."

Thirteen human rights organizations condemned this and similar abuses, B'Tselem among them (on February 2) saying:

"A democracy must not silence critical voices; protecting human rights is vital."

Hagai Ed-Ad, Executive Director of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) added:

"Human rights organizations are the moral conscience of our society. Their activity is a critical element of a healthy democracy. A democratic country does not support the deliberate silencing of the critical voices that operate within it but deals honestly with what needs to be corrected."

Netanyahu's government has accelerated Israeli fascism with a supportive Knesset, its most racist in history according to a recent Mossawa Advocacy Center study, including passing laws in violation of Supreme Court rulings as well as international norms and standards.

In Israel and the Territories, extremism and repression occur daily. In a May 2 press release, the West Bank-based "Friends of Freedom and Justice - Bilin" highlights one of many abuses, saying:

"Iyad Burnat, a leader in the popular struggle against the Israeli wall, was banned by Israel's military from crossing (into) Jordan on Saturday."

Burnat heads the local anti-Wall committee in Bilin, where organized protests have been ongoing for five years, despite repressive violence, arrests, and unprovoked killings.

He called this latest incident "just another episode of Israel's aggression on us....soldiers detained me for three hours and then told me to go back (saying it was) for security reasons."

In 2009 and recent months, Israeli security forces killed 29 Palestinians during nonviolent protests against the Separation Wall, including Bassem Abu Rahma, shot at close range in the chest with a high velocity tear gas bomb. Dozens of others have been targeted, arrested, brutalized during incarceration, and held up to 10 months for their activism and popular resistance.

On April 30, in honor of International Workers' Day by the Union of Palestine Workers, Bilin protestors gathered at the Wall. Straightaway, they were attacked by tear gas, then arrests, including an international activist (roughed up, thrown to the ground, and injured), a female journalist, and Al-Jazeera cameraman, Haitham al-Khatib, struck in the stomach by a tear gas canister.

In March 2010, the IDF declared the area between Bilin and the Separation Wall a closed military zone from 8AM - 8PM on Fridays, the day protest marches and demonstrations occur. Nonetheless, Burnat says:

"We will not be silenced, we will continue to resist, we refuse to die in silence, we will continue to cry out for peace and justice to a world whose ears are deaf to the agony of Palestine," as well as to increasing harshness against Jews and others who expose Israeli crimes and demand accountability.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Barack Obama: Liar, Warlord and Corporate Shill

Barack Obama: Liar, Warlord, and Corporate Shill - by Stephen Lendman

It shouldn't surprise because no one gets the top job or any government position of power unless they're safe, yet, naively, most people thought Obama was different. Many still do.

As a candidate, he promised change, a new course, sweeping government reforms, addressing people needs, and "ensur(ing) that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists" - the same ones who bought and now own him.

He promised peace and delivered war; real health and financial reform, not same old, same old; help for millions losing jobs, homes, hope and futures, not handouts to Wall Street and other industry favorites; regulatory oversight, not the usual incestuous government-industry ties, making disasters like in the Gulf possible, and when they happen conspiring with offenders in coverup, distortion, lies, and a total disregard for the environment, wildlife, and way of life for thousands - let alone permanent damage to a vital ecosystem.

At the same time, Big Oil gets billions in subsidies, special tax breaks and other financial benefits, besides operating in a regulatory-free environment.

The 1995 Outer Continental Shelf Deep Water Royalty Relief Act (DWRRA - courtesy of Bill Clinton) exempted royalties on defined amounts of deep water production. After its 2000 expiration, the law was redefined and extended to promote further deep water drilling.

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) defines it as having a water depth of 200 meters (656 feet). To be eligible, leases must be in the Gulf of Mexico, west of 87 degrees and 30 minutes west longitude (the Florida-Alabama boundary), and MMS must determine that the site isn't economically viable without relief.

Given longstanding MMS-industry coziness, it's practically rubber-stamp. DWRRA also reduced royalties on pre-November 28, 1995 leases, decided by the Interior Department Secretary on a case-by-case basis - again, practically assured by officials with close industry ties.

The 2005 Energy Policy Act was one of the friendliest ever with over $10 billion in handouts. It lets oil giants pay federal royalties in barrels of oil and grants exemptions on some wells, subsidizes a new R & D program for ultra deep water drilling and unconventional oil and gas development, creates hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax breaks, increases what oil and gas companies can deduct on pipeline expenses, provides more liability protection besides the $75 million cap (established by the 1990 Oil Pollution Act after the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, an amount too small to matter).

As an Illinois senator, six months into his term, Obama supported it, an early clue to where he stood, and how he hoped to gain - the usual "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" payoff.

It worked hugely with BP, the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) reporting that its employees and political action committees gave more to him than to any other federal candidate in the past 20 years.

During his 2008 campaign, CRP reported that the oil and gas industry overall gave him $884,000, more than any to other lawmaker except John McCain, and no wonder. His Senate voting record showed what they bought:

-- the right of mining companies to strip mine everywhere, including on government lands;

-- vast new powers and handouts to the nuclear industry;

-- harmful biofuels production;

-- lax regulation; and

-- other pro-business, anti-populist measures - besides supporting the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Obama promised change, and delivered betrayal - evident now in the Gulf, America's greatest ever environmental disaster, fast becoming the most catastrophic in history, a shameless addition to his resume, already revealing a world class rogue and failed president less than a year and half into office. No wonder calls for his impeachment have begun, including by James Petras on May 27, on the Progressive Radio News Hour, hosted by this writer who wholeheartedly agrees.

Disaster in the Gulf - Maybe Worse than Now Known

According to prominent oil industry insider, Matt Simmons, former head of Simmons & Company International, a private investment bank specializing in energy research, trading and capital structuring, the Gulf disaster is much worse than reported, and a far greater problem to fix.

Appearing on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show on May 27, he described the riser on BP's video as 21.5 inches in diameter with a six or seven inch rip at the top. But that's the small rupture, in his judgment. There's a giant oil plume about five or six miles away, getting little attention.

"I believe the eruption blew off the wellhead," he said. If so, that's the real story, and "we have an enormous problem," suppressed and unreported. BP's video shows a small leak, not the bigger one. It looks like its "top kill" is "chasing a mouse and behind it is a tiger," the real problem creating two giant plumes of thick oil (discussed below), neither BP or the Obama administration wants to acknowledge or explain.

Nor that perhaps the "top kill" is a PR stunt, not a serious attempt to cap the well. Worse still, according to the Washington Blog on May 27, it "FAILED In the Attempt to Plug the Oil Leak Using Mud."

"Now BP Will Try to Add Some 'Junk' to the Mix to Try to Seal the Holes," or at least one of them. It cites a same day New York Times report saying BP "stopped pumping (mud) the night before when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid was escaping along with the oil." In other words, it failed, so pumping stopped for over 16 hours. So far, "top kill" 2.0 hasn't worked better after two attempts (so-called "junk shots" with chunky debris) - why some experts believe only a relief well will relieve pressure and allow capping.

But completing one is at least a few months away, and even then the big rupture Simmons cites may be too severe to handle. Time alone will tell, but in the meantime, vast environmental contamination grows, wildlife is dying, the lives and livelihoods of thousands more residents are being devastated, and late Saturday BP abandoned its "top kill" approach, admitting what they likely knew all along. It failed because there was no chance it could work.

More Evidence of Industry-Government Ties

A May 26 Josh Harkinson Mother Jones article headlined, "Steven Chu's Ties to BP."

On December 11, 2008, Obama chose Chu as his Energy Secretary, the same day he picked Carol Browner to oversee energy, environmental and climate policies and Lisa Jackson as EPA head.

Chu had been professor of physics and molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley and director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), originally called the UC Radiation Lab.

Today the Energy Department runs LBNL, continuing its radiation research, what it's done since the 1940s with little regard for public or environmental concerns, true as well under Chu. He was picked for his commitment to nuclear power, while downplaying the risks.

When asked in 2005 if fission-based plants should be a larger part of the energy-producing portfolio, he responded: "Absolutely," displaying a cavalier attitude about its dangers in advocating for "recycling" of waste, when experts say doing it spreads poisons causing cancer, genetic damage, and premature deaths.

Harkinson asked: "Is Steven Chu too cozy with BP," given his longstanding ties to the oil industry that "funded the Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley that (he) founded a year before he joined the DOE."

BP's chief scientist, Steven Koonin, gave him a $500 million grant. In return, Chu appointed him DOE undersecretary for science. But instead of them both getting involved in the Gulf disaster, they stood aside, telling reporters earlier that "things are looking up" when, in fact, they're worsening.

It's unclear "to what extent Chu has given BP favorable treatment, either in terms of crafting DOE's research agenda or its response to the oil spill. But what is clear is that the close ties are casting a shadow over the agency, sowing doubt among the public that the government is truly an independent watchdog."

Also clear is that $500 million buys a lot of influence, expecting payback in far greater amounts and nearly always getting it and then some. When Chu arranged it, UC Berkeley Professor Ignacio Chapela called it "the coup de grace to the very idea of a university that can represent the best interest of the public," benefitting a man who looks deeply compromised - the same "qualification" as other Obama officials for their close industry ties, serving their interests, not the public's.

BP's Specialty: Spill Baby, Spill - Its Other One in Alaska

On May 28, investigative journalist Greg Palast headlined his Buzzflash.com article, "BP's Other Spill this Week," saying:

During the week of May 25, BP's "Pump Station 9, at Delta Junction on the 800-mile (Alaska) pipeline, busted" - spewing over 100,000 gallons because "procedures weren't properly implemented," according to state inspectors. In 2006, irresponsible maintenance caused another one, polluting Prudhoe Bay.

BP "owns the controlling stake in the trans-Alaska pipeline," but tries to hide it, given its poor management practices. The pipeline is understaffed, corroded, and "basic maintenance" is poor - standard procedures for BP, notorious for having the worst safety and environmental record in the industry.

In his earlier investigatory work, Palast learned that BP was most to blame for the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. As the controlling Alyeska pipeline owner, it was responsible for the spill response, but handled it the same way as now - by "l(ying, prevaricat(ing) and obfuscatin(ing)," making a serious spill disastrous.

BP is a notorious liar, scofllaw, environmental and employee safety criminal. But it's never been held accountable, nor will it for its Gulf disaster.

A Second Underwater Oil Plume Discovered

Licensed to the University of South Florida, WUSF broadcasts from its campus. On May 27, it reported that USF scientists discovered "what appears to be a massive second underwater plume (six miles deep, measuring 3,300 feet from top to bottom) in previously untested waters northeast of the leaking BP wellhead..." Its estimated to be six miles wide, stretching 22 miles, heading toward Mobile Bay, Alabama, affecting the DeSoto Canyon area, an important habitat for numerous species, including:

-- bluefin tuna, swordfish, king mackerel, grouper, giant tube worms, sea turtles, sharks, whales and dolphins.

It also threatens the continental shelf, including west Florida's wetlands and beaches. USF oceanographer Robert Weisberg called it "a very serious concern." Rowan Gould, US Fish and Wildlife Service acting director, said the spill "will affect fish and wildlife resources....for years to come, if not decades," literally destroying formerly pristine areas of the Gulf.

Calling it "insidious," chemical oceanographer, David Hollander, believes it contains chemically dispersed hydrocarbons, calling it "an invisible component we really don't know the short or the long term impact" about. He expressed serious concerns that the oil/dispersant toxicity may cause great harm to fish larvae, "and we also may see a long term response as it cascades up the food web," endangering human health.

The other plume stretched from the wellhead southwest toward the open sea, heading for the Florida Keys and beyond.

Some Final Comments

On May 27, the Center for Biological Diversity's Senior Counsel, Brendan Cummings, responded to Obama's same day Gulf disaster press conference, saying:

No technology exists to deal with disasters like in the Gulf...."even in areas with existing infrastructure and significant spill response assets, containment and response capability to a large oil spill is wholly inadequate. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Obama administration should not pretend that a six-month review of drilling procedures will change anything. Expanding offshore drilling to new areas needs to be permanently taken off the table."

Obama's comments follow "a month of half-steps and broken promises by the Interior Department....in which a pledged 'moratorium' on oil drilling turned out to be largely a fiction, with multiple drillings plans approved after no environmental review, and drilling permits similar to those given to BP continuing to be used."

What else to expect from a corporate shill president, spearheading the Gulf disaster coverup from day one, while claiming he's been "in charge" since it happened, and it's his "job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down."

Gulf residents say he "hasn't done a damn thing but run his mouth," according to an angry and frustrated Louisianan, after waiting weeks for help, and hearing nothing but excuses, saying BP is in charge. That's the problem. Corporate interests always run things, presidents and their officials salute and obey, sacrificing people, wildlife and the environment. It's the "American way," partnering with business for plunder and profits, the public interest be damned.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Targeting Civilians: Israel's Specialty

Israel's Specialty: Targeting Civilians - by Stephen Lendman

Professor Jeremy Salt teaches political science at Ankara, Turkey's Bilkent University. He's also the author of "The Unmaking of the Middle East: A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands." On January 9, 2009, during Israel's war on Gaza, he wrote "A Message to the brave Israeli Airmen," asking:

-- "What's it like, firing missiles at people you can't see?

-- Does that help, that you cannot see who you are killing?

-- does it ease your conscience that you are not deliberately targeting civilians," when, in fact, you are under Israel's Dahiya Doctrine to use enough "disproportionate force (to inflict) damage and met(e) out punishment" against civilian infrastructure, "economic interests and the centers of civilian power," willfully slaughtering noncombatant men, women and children;

-- "How does this sit on your conscience?

-- Do you sleep well at night or do you have nightmares of the women and children you killed in their homes, in their beds, in their kitchens and living rooms, in their schools and mosques?"

Do you really believe they threaten your security - farmers in their fields, mothers with their children, teachers in classrooms, imams in mosques, children at play, the elderly, frail or disabled?

Do you ever question what you've done and why? Have you no shame, no sense of decency, no idea of the difference between right and wrong? Will you follow orders blindly and do it again and again, mindless about crimes of war and against humanity you, your superiors, and government officials are accountable for under fundamental international law?

"Brave" Israeli airmen, soldiers, sailors, and other security force personnel have acted lawlessly for decades, including committing appalling human rights crimes - a snapshot of some victims follows.

Persecuting Mazin Qumsiyeh

Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in the West Bank. Earlier he taught at Yale, Duke, and the University of Tennessee. Interested mainly in media activism and public education, he's been a board, steering, and executive committee member of numerous activist organizations, and is President of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Apartheid Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour. His most recent book is titled, "Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment."

On the morning of May 6, Qumsiyeh and three others were arrested, handcuffed, and taken to an unknown destination. He explained what happened.

In Al-Wallaja, his "ten hour ordeal" began at 8:30AM. The village is near the Green line. Israel's Separation Wall route will encircle it. It's already lost much of its land. Residents fear losing the rest, so to prevent it they resist.

Israeli bulldozers have demolished numerous homes. Heroic villagers inspired others, "including Internationals and Israelis to join them in their popular resistance....Today's started as we came through the woods and sat in front of the bulldozer."

"As the soldiers gathered their forces around us, you could feel (them) preparing themselves for attack. We remained calm and peaceful. They dragged us one by one forcefully from the bulldozed lands. They picked the four of us for arrest for no obvious reason" - Qumsiyeh, two Palestinian brothers, and a Canadian activist.

They beat, clubbed, rifle-butted, and pepper-sprayed the two brothers. All four were then taken to a military checkpoint, told to sit and wait, then ordered "to sign a paper claiming....we were not beaten or mistreated."

They refused, then taken to "the investigation offices near Qubbit Raheel (Rachel's tomb), (and) locked up in a metal container." Hours later, they were interrogated individually, asked, but refused, to sign other papers. Painfully handcuffed, they were returned to the container.

Next on to Talpiot police station to be fingerprinted and photographed. "It was now nearly 5:30 and we were starving....Finally they br(ought) us some bread, each a slice of cheese and a small packet of jam." Together they were "dragged in front of a new investigator who asked us to sign a release form that says we are told to stay away from the wall....for 15 days and if we don't we will (each) have to pay" about $1,200. They signed, were released, but not given their ID cards. Later they got them. "Life goes on in the land of Apartheid. Stay tuned."

As coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Apartheid Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour, Qumsiyeh leads Palestinian grassroots resistance against "Israeli occupation and colonization" as well as "stopping and dismantling" what the International Court of Justice (ICJ) called illegal, ordering the Wall's demolition and for Israel "to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction....including in and around East Jerusalem."

As the "main national grassroots body mobilizing and organizing resistance against" the Wall, the Campaign "coordinates the work of 54 popular committees in communities" targeted for (or now being) destroyed by its construction.

Strategies against it include raising awareness internationally; national and community resistance; mobilizing solidarity among affected communities, the Arab world, civil society, and unions; calling for global boycott, divestment and sanctions; and enlisting international popular support for justice.

Attacking Disabled Palestinians in Gaza

Besides the occupation, siege, regular incursions, and overall reign of terror against 1.5 million people, Israel targets the disabled, explained by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in a December 2009 report titled, "Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Disabled Persons in the Gaza Strip," from September 1, 2003 - November 30 2009.

It covers willful assaults against disabled civilians, and others incapacitated by attacks. Of most concern was Operation Cast Lead's 23-day assault from December 27, 2008 - January 18, 2009, inflicting massive numbers of deaths and injuries, as well as widespread destruction, mostly against civilians, their homes, mosques, businesses, factories, farms, schools, and hospitals - clear non-military targets. The siege's effect on health, education, and other vital services was also addressed.

During the reporting period, 31 disabled Palestinians were killed, including four women, and six children. Another 600 sustained permanent disabilities, mostly physical. In addition, because of inadequate or unavailable food, medicines, medical equipment, fuel, clean water, sanitation, and the ability to leave or enter freely, the negative impact has been enormous.

"At the same time, foreign medical and technical personnel have not been able to enter (Gaza) to help the disabled and provide them with necessary medical and rehabilitation services." As for the overall effect of the siege, the longer it continues the more harm it inflicts on those least able to cope. Precisely Israel's strategic aim - to strangle and smother all Gazans, the elderly, infirm and disabled the most vulnerable.

Amnesty International (AI) on Israeli War Crimes

In its 2010 annual report, AI accused Western nations of shielding Israel from accountability during the Gaza war and for nearly three years of siege, depriving the population of vital essentials to survive and endure. At the same time, it praised the Goldstone Commission for heroically telling the truth.

In documenting Israeli crimes of war and against humanity, AI said:

"Among other things, (Israel) carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians, targeted and killed medical staff, used Palestinian civilians as 'human shields,' and indiscriminately (used) white phosphorous (and other illegal weapons) over densely populated residential areas." As a result, the toll was devastating.

In response, the US State Department downplayed the accusations, saying it "supports the need for accountability for any violations that may have occurred in relation to the Gaza conflict by any party," ignoring Israel's premeditated aggression, willfully attacking civilians and committing horrendous war crimes.

AI also condemned America's human rights abuses, saying:

"In the counter-terrorism context, accountability for past human rights violations by the USA remains largely absent, particularly in relation to the CIA programme (sic) of secret detention. In litigation, the US administration continues to block remedy for victims of such human rights violations. 181 detainees remain in Guantanamo despite President Obama's commitment to close the detention facility by January 2010. A new Manual for Military Commissions released by the Pentagon in April confirmed that even if a detainee is (uncharged or) acquitted by a military commission, the US administration reserves the right to continue to hold them in indefinite detention."

Obama Administration's Brazen Lawlessness

The latest example comes from a just revealed September 2009 secret directive about expanded covert military activity in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Horn of Africa or anywhere in the world to counter alleged threats. In other words, the Obama administration reserves the right to send US forces anywhere clandestinely, with or without host nation approval, to "penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy" designated targets by state terrorism, war, or any other means on the pretext of defending national security - a justification only scoundrels would invoke.

Italian New Weapons Research Committee (NWRC) Accuses Israel of Contaminating Gaza Soil

In its May 11 press release, NWRC (a group of independent scientists and doctors) said Israel's 2006 and 2009 bombings left a high concentration of toxic/carcinogenic metals residue in soil and human tissue, likely to cause tumors, fertility problems, and serious harm to newborns, including deformities and genetic mutations.

Of particular concern were "wounds provoked by weapons that did not leave fragments in the bodies of the victims, a peculiarity that was pointed out repeatedly by doctors in Gaza. This shows that experimental weapons, whose effects are still to be assessed, were used."

Some elements found are carcinogenic, including mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel and uranium (from weapons with depleted uranium). Others are potentially carcinogenic, including cobalt and vanadium, and still more are fetotoxic (harmful to fetuses), including aluminum, copper, barium, lead, and manganese. All of them in high enough amounts produce genetic mutations as well as pathogenic effects on human respiratory organs, kidneys, skin, neurological development, and other bodily functions.

The combination of environmental contamination, direct wounds or inhilations, aggravated by dire living conditions, presents a serious risk to large numbers of people, worsened by repeated armed incursions. According to Paola Manduca, NWRC's spokesperson:

"Our study indicates an anomalous presence of toxic elements in the soil (and human tissue). It is essential to intervene at once to limit the effects of the contamination on people, animals and cultivations."

Thus far, Israeli-Western collaborators still prevent 1.5 million Gazans from getting the critical help they need, while Moshe Kantor, president the European Jewish Congress, equated NWRC's research to "ancient blood libels against the Jewish people, when rumors were spread about Jews poisoning wells. Today we are seeing a recurrence of all the worst excesses of anti-Semitism and diatribes that we perhaps naively thought had remained in the Dark Ages."

The pro-Israeli NGO Monitor's Gerald Steinberg called the accusations "designed to stigmatize Israel and erase the context of mass terror, (similar to other) false or unverifiable claims." These are typical responses from rogues and their defenders caught red-handed.

But clear evidence they deny can't be hidden. Nor can the growing disenchantment of young American Jews, a phenomenon Steven Rosenthal discussed in his 2001 book "Irreconcilable Differences: The Waning of the American Jewish Love Affair with Israel," citing policies that transformed the relationship from uncritical "Israelotry" to disapproval and distress. The 1982 Lebanon invasion, repressive occupation, Intifada, regular incursions, and greater concern about home-grown issues shattered American Jewish unanimity, diluting Israel's next generation support.

On May 10, 2009, The Forward and Brandeis University Professor Jonathan D. Sarna asked why, noting "a critical difference between support for Israel in the past and today. For much of the 20th century, the Israel of American Jews - the Zion that they imagined in their minds, wrote about and worked to realize - was a mythical Zion, a utopian extension of the American dream."

They imagined a "social commonwealth," an "outpost of democracy, spreading America's ideals eastward in a Jewish refuge where freedom, liberty and social justice would someday reign supreme." Utopias, of course, are illusions, now dispelled to reveal "unlovliest warts." Today, bloom is off the rose, unsurprising given convincing reasons to remove it.

A Final Comment

On May 26, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire paid "Tribute to the People of Gaza," saying:

"I never cease to be amazed at the power of the human spirit to survive....In a triumph of hope over adversity and tremendous suffering, love still abides....Gaza's people have suffered an Israeli occupation for over 40 years," enduring wars and current medieval-type siege.

Lives have been shattered, crops destroyed, soil poisoned, and sustainability comprised, so "Where is the hope? Where is the love in the midst of such suffering and injustice?" In the will to survive; in growing worldwide solidarity; in the "Freedom Flotilla" defying the blockade to deliver aid, Maguire on it, "inspired by the people of Gaza whose courage, love and joy in welcoming us, even in the midst of such suffering gives us all hope. They represent the best of humanity," no amount of Israeli repression can extinguish, nor their redoubtable "nonviolent struggle for human dignity, and freedom."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Education in Occupied Palestine

Education in Occupied Palestine - by Stephen Lendman

A 2007 UNESCO/Save the Children UK report titled, "Fragmented foundations: education and chronic crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory" addressed issues "in emergency and reconstruction situations, as well as in chronic conflict." It explained that in 1994, the Palestinian Authority established the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) with formal responsibility for the system, including planning, budgeting and coordination throughout the Territories.

Through at least 2007, it administered about three fourths of OPT schools, handled two-thirds of its students, and, as able, requires 10 years of basic education, two additional non-compulsory ones, then higher education for those qualified. See below.

UNWRA runs 13% of schools for 24% of the students, the private sector another 11% of schools and 6% of students as of 2006, according to World Bank figures. Israel maintains authority in East Jerusalem although MoEHE supports a number of its schools.

In the 1990s, school enrollment increased substantially. A priority was placed on new construction and rehabilitation, and efforts toward greater inclusiveness was stressed, especially for girls and children with disabilities. Technical, vocational, and early childhood education were also addressed, as well as a curriculum reflecting Palestinian history and heritage, culminating the the final year Tawjihi (university entrance) exam that assesses student readiness for higher education as well as their qualifications in certain fields.

An education system depends, of course on the quality and number of good teachers, the report saying that under the PA, "teacher training has been relatively piecemeal, with no concrete standards or coordination mechanisms for higher education institutions engaged in teacher training." A number of teacher strikes earlier also took its toll.

The second Intifada especially impacted education, the result of Israel's harsh response and its human and structural toll. Earlier momentum was lost. As a result, educational access and quality suffered, and the more repressive Israel becomes, the more adaptive MoEHE had to be to function under conditions of chronic instability, conflict and crisis.

Throughout decades of occupation and dispossession, education has been a bedrock of survival, for youths and the nation. Yet as long as occupation continues in a conflict-plagued environment, normal OPT functions will be severely impeded, including for education. The report drew conclusions but no solutions or condemnation of Israeli practices.

Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) on Palestinian Education

IMEU asked "What kind of education do Palestinian children receive," then gave a capsule account of its state, explaining that students at all levels comprise over one-third of the OPT population. In addition:

-- among the 15 - 24 year olds, literacy is 98.2%, and overall adult literacy is 91.1% - both figures much higher than in America, the National Right to Read Foundation reporting in September 2007 that:

-- 42 million American adults can't read at all;

-- 50 million read at a fourth or fifth grade level;

-- each year, over two million adults swell the illiteracy ranks; and

-- 20% of high school seniors are functionally illiterate at graduation.

In addition, America ranks low in math and computer skills, and given an agenda to privatize public education, these numbers will grow because millions of kids won't be educated - what the Bush administration called reform and Obama's "Race to the Top" will continue.

Education Under Occupation

OPT schools face numerous obstacles under occupation. Israel ordered many West Bank ones closed, while checkpoints, free movement restrictions, curfews, and other civil liberty violations impede access to classes as well as a conducive learning environment in them.

Since September 2000 (the onset of the second Intifada), hundreds of students and dozens of teachers were killed, many more injured, and over 2,500 others arrested. In addition, Israeli shelling destroyed hundreds of schools and damaged dozens more. More on that below.

Gaza Under Siege

Over half the population is under age 18. Pre-Operation Cast Lead, over 640 schools operated - 383 government ones, 221 by UNRWA, and 36 private schools for a student population of over 440,000. Under siege, however, university and post-graduate students are impeded from studying abroad, some having to forgo scholarship grants as a result. From July - September 2008, 70 students got exit permission through Egypt, while hundreds of others were denied, the result of Israel's diplomatic escort requirement most can't get and some who do are still rebuffed.

Each year, over 1,000 Gazan students apply abroad to study, yet no official body or channel handles their requests or ability to exit so most of them can't go even if accepted.

Gaza overcrowding was a problem pre-conflict, forcing most government and UNWRA schools to use a shift system for the growing student population. Under siege and post-conflict, construction of new schools is impossible and repairing damaged ones challenging at best with basic materials unavailable or allowed in only in token amounts.

In April 2010, "confidential information" supplied by international groups listed items Israel permits. Among less than seven dozen are wheat, cooking oil, dates, chickpeas, rice, beans, lentils, some fruit, frozen vegetables, canned meat, frozen meat and fish, cinnamon, soap, detergent, toothpaste, toothbrushes, coffee and tea, combs, and potatoes.

All of these are in restricted amounts that can be changed or cut off arbitrarily any time for any reason or none at all.

Prohibited items include common ones like jam, vinegar, chocolate, fruit preserves, dried fruit, sage, fabric for clothing, fresh meat, writing implements, notebooks, heaters and newspapers.

Pre-siege, thousands of items were permitted (including essential construction materials), and Gazans could export produce and other goods. No longer with rare exceptions under a siege nearing its third anniversary, one so strict that it's strangling 1.5 million people, causing widespread malnutrition, serious illnesses and premature deaths - slow motion genocide affecting the entire Territory, and to a lesser degree the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

IMEU reported that in north Gaza, 9,000 students from 15 damaged schools were accommodated in 73 others, 4,000 in two schools alone. Also, 1,200 secondary school students in north Gaza government schools got no accommodation during the 2009-10 school year.

In government schools overall, attendance and performance suffered because of aging, destroyed and damaged infrastructure, overcrowding, and frequent military attacks. Even in the 2007-08 first semester, only 20% of 16,000 sixth graders were able to pass standardized exams in math, English, Arabic, and science because of hardships placed on study.

As a result of Operation Cast Lead, hundreds of schools and kindergartens were damaged, and another 18 destroyed (eight government, two private, and eight kindergartens). Six are in north Gaza, affecting 9,000 students, forced to relocate elsewhere if able.

In addition, six university buildings were destroyed and 16 damaged. According to the Education Ministry, 98 students were killed in north Gaza, another 454 injured and five teachers. For UNRWA schools, 86 children and three teachers were killed, another 402 students and 14 teachers injured. As a result, the entire Strip is traumatized, especially children. Those who lost family members need psycho-social support under very trying conditions, especially for the numbers in need.

Various other problems are endemic from basic nutrition, clean water, sanitation, medical care, shelter, essential goods and services, and the urgency to end the crushing siege and regular Israeli attacks, targeted killings, occasional incursions, and an occupation designed to inflict pain and suffering, besides its harm tp education.

Education in East Jerusalem

A September 2009 Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) report titled, "The Arab-Palestinian School System in East Jerusalem As the 2009-10 School Year Begins" highlights the plight of Palestinian children because Israel denies them free public education under administered system, although it's required under the Compulsory Education Law and a High Court of Justice (HCJ) ruling to provide it (in The Community Administration for the Development of Beit Hanina et al v. Jerusalem Municipality and Ministry of Education).

Even so, thousands of East Jerusalem's 95,000 school-age children can only partially register for regular schooling. Many others are entirely denied. As a result, in 2008, less than half the youth population attended municipal public schools. If able, parents send them to private or unofficial ones operated by private firms, churches, the Islamic Authority (Waqf), UN, or other Palestinian organizations.

Given widespread poverty, tuition is a problem, so thousands lose out altogether. Others able to enter public schools are forced into "unsuitable structures" that are small, overcrowded, unventilated, and lack support classes or playgrounds.

In fact, over half of East Jerusalem classrooms are sub-standard, over 200 of the nearly 1,400 total classified "unsuitable" by city authorities.

A core problem is overcrowding because of a shortage of public classrooms - for the 2007-08 school year estimated at around 1,000 from pre-school through secondary and special ed. By 2011, an estimated 1,500 shortfall is forecast.

Nonetheless, the HCJ ruled that the Education Ministry and Jerusalem municipality are obligated to construct schools for Palestinians as well as Jews. Yet despite repeated promises, they're not built, and no authority compels it. As a result, each year, public schools deny large numbers of children access for lack of space, a problem continuing to grow.

The Jerusalem municipality says it's because of a land shortage even though property mapping given the Court showed otherwise with many vacant spaces for construction, enough for hundreds of classrooms.

An earlier 2002 Master Plan for Arab Education lists many lots suitable for school construction. It's no different today.

In recent months, some softening will allow 60 classrooms to be built on five lots, and appropriation procedures began for 90 more on another five. In total, up to 650 classrooms may be built on 25 lots if the Ministry of Education approves a proposed appropriation. Even this falls far short, however, of growing needs for at least 1,500 new classrooms by 2011 as explained above.

So given current shortfalls and new proposals, little more than one-fourth of needed classrooms will be available in the new year. Once again, government schools will deny most Palestinian children for lack of space. Jews, of course, come first, and authorities make it hard administratively for Palestinian parents in all respects. As a result, children go on waiting lists and remain there, besides, at times, being charged service fees, an unauthorized practice of up to hundreds shekels, unaffordable for most parents.

ACRI calls the situation "a severe violation of (the) fundamental rights (of children) to development and self-realization. Clearly the result will be irreversible damage to the(ir) ability to develop as they grow older. It is imperative to end the ongoing travesty" and injustice. "It is unconscionable that education reforms in other parts of Israel should preempt the most basic obligation - the provision of free public education in East Jerusalem" and throughout the Territories.

Preventing Gazan Students from Studying Abroad

A November 2009 Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) report titled, "An Education Denied: Report on the Impact of the Closure of Border Crossings on Students from the Gaza Strip Studying Abroad," explained that Israel's illegal siege denies a fundamental right and the futures of many thousands of students.

As a result, hundreds have sacrificed dreams for limited home opportunities, in Gaza alone as third level study in the West Bank is also denied by travel restrictions.

Before the second Intifada, Palestinian students could travel abroad through Gaza's Rafah International Crossing, Ben-Gurion Airport, Gaza's International Airport when it operated, and the West Bank's al-Karama International Crossing to Jordan.

During the Intifada, things changed. Beit Hanoon (Erez) crossing (the only one to Israel) closed. Gaza's airport was destroyed. Rafah became the Strip's only exit. Then, since mid-2007, it closed under siege.

Because of more limited opportunities in Gaza, students depend heavily on studying abroad, especially in medicine, the sciences, and engineering. In addition, Gazan universities don't offer doctorate level study.

Cast Lead delivered another blow, destroying or damaging many facilities and buildings, preventing reconstruction for lack of materials, and inflicting numerous other acute hardships, in all, more than ever impeding education. Gazan students had to cancel foreign registrations, give up scholarships, and stay home. Some examples include:

Rashid Jamal Hmeidan Sha'at, hoping to become an engineer, joined the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Egypt. But under siege, he changed fields and longtime ambition, explaining:

After high school in 2009, he applied to the faculty of engineering at the Egyptian Academy and was admitted. He immediately applied for the right to travel but couldn't through closed borders. As a result, "I joined the Faculty of Commerce at Al-Azhar University. (There, he) found many students who preferred to study majors available in Gaza to waiting for an unknown future."

Osama Al-Jadi was admitted to Cairo University to study medicine, attended for four years, then returned home for three months "due to urgent family circumstances." He now fears that his "future will be devastated because" he missed two months of the new semester of his fifth year, and has to deal with border closures that may prevent him entirely, besides not having returned to Cairo before his residency permission expired.

Asma' Emadeddin 'Awad Shhada "was admitted at Damascus University, Faculty of Law," but can't leave Gaza to attend despite having "all required documents (and) fulfilling travel conditions." Now she fears having to forgo her education entirely.

Mohammed Mahmoud Tabasha received "a scholarship to study medicine at Hodeidah University in Yemen," then obtained a visa through its embassy in Cairo. He registered at the Interior Ministry to travel but so far has been denied. This "means destroying my future as I will lose the scholarship and I will lose the chance of studying my favorite major."

Many other students expressed the same fears - lost scholarships and futures in their chosen careers, some in fields Gaza vitally needs like medicine, engineering, and the sciences.

Israeli harshness even prevents them from studying in the West Bank, and those there fear expulsion under Israel's new military Orders No. 1650 (Prevention of Infiltration) and No. 1649 (Security Provisions) that subject anyone in the Territory without a permit to arbitrary deportation.

Effective April 13, 2010, they're presumed to be unlawful "infiltrators," and may be told to leave on short notice or be fined and/or imprisoned, then expelled. Some have already been deported.

Prior to military restrictions, thousands of Gazan students studied in the West Bank. Then on March 12, 1996, a military order expelled 1,200, at most let a few dozen remain, before during the Intifida Israel tightened restrictions further. Then the siege sealed off Gaza entirely, allowing only small numbers to leave, and now West Bank Palestinians may be arbitrarily expelled.

Berlanti Jaris Boulus 'Azzam was one, deported to Gaza on October 28, 2009 after she was stopped at a military checkpoint, detained many hours, then charged with illegal West Bank residency. She was arrested, interrogated, handcuffed, blindfolded, detained, then taken to the Erez crossing and expelled to Gaza. Since 2005, she's been a Bethlehem University business administration student, in her last semester, two months short of graduation.

Gisha, the Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, intervened in her behalf to Israel's High Court of Justice (HCJ) to no avail, even though it ruled that the IDF failed to follow proper procedures by not letting her present her case. Israel's government and military routinely disregard Supreme and other court rulings. Follow-up judicial action is absent.

Yet denying Palestinians their right to education violates fundamental international human rights and humanitarian laws, including Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating:

"Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. (Higher) education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit."

Also, Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) stating:

"The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. (It) shall also enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society (and) be made equally accessible to all...."

As a signatory, Israel is legally bound to ICESCR provisions, yet its actions defile it like other human and humanitarian rights laws. As the occupying power, it's legally obligated to fulfill its responsibilities. Yet as a belligerent, it refuses in all respects, so far with impunity.

Not condemned or opposed, Israel not only denies Palestinians education and other vital services, it's unaccountable for high crimes and abuses, including mass incarcerations, murder, torture, slow motion genocide in Gaza, and to a lesser degree in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

PCHR calls on other nations to fulfill their obligations "to immediately act to stop the policy of collective punishment" against defenseless Palestinian civilians - so far not achieved, but with continued pressure, it's coming.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

US Inspector General Report: Falsified Oil Rig Inspections and Other Improprieties

US Inspector General Report - Falsified Oil Rig Inspections and Other Improprieties - by Stephen Lendman

On May 24, Mary L. Kendall, Acting Interior Department Inspector General's memo to her boss, Secretary Ken Salazar, discussed an "Investigative Report," titled "Island Operating Company, et al," addressing allegations that Lake Charles, Louisiana District Office Minerals Management Service (MMS) employees (in charge of inspections and oversight) "accepted gifts from oil and gas production companies."

Occurring prior to 2007, it provides evidence that "a much-needed (MMS ethics) change is required." Ordinarily, public release would have followed a formal MMS response, 90 days after getting it. But today's events forced Kendall "to release it now," saying her greatest concern is the "environment in which these inspectors operate - particularly the ease with which they move between industry and government."

She found evidence that MMS and industry personnel fraternized and exchanged gifts, and have known each other since childhood. MMS staff used illegal drugs, viewed pornography on their government computers, and sent emails with racist comments, citing one manager saying:

"Obviously, we're all oil industry. We're all from the same part of the country. Almost all of our inspectors have worked for oil companies out on these same platforms. They grew up in the same towns." They've been friends all their lives. "They've hunted together. They fish together. They skeet shoot together....They do this all the time."

John E. Dupuy, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, prepared the report for S. Elizabeth Birnbaum, MMS's Director.

It says industry gifts included hunting and fishing trips, lunches, and other favors from the Island Operating Company (IOC), working on Gulf oil and gas rigs. In addition, one inspector was in the process of "negotiating and later accepting employment with that company."

The investigation followed an anonymous October 28, 2008 letter, addressed to the New Orleans US Attorney's office, citing improprieties and recommending an investigation. Dupuy found "a number of MMS employees....admitted to attending sporting events prior to 2007 in which which oil and gas production companies sponsored teams, as well as receiving lunches" and other gifts.

His investigation showed a pervasive gift-acceptance culture in the Lake Charles, LA District Office, suggesting similar improprieties elsewhere.

Background

MMS leased Gulf drilling sites to about 130 oil and gas companies, including BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, and many others. About 4,000 rigs are located throughout four Louisiana districts - Lake Charles, Lafayette, New Orleans, and Houma - as well as one in Lake Jackson, TX.

The Outer Continental Shelf Act requires that MMS inspect these platforms to assure they comply with federal regulations with regard to safety and environmental considerations, issuing "incidents of non-compliance" for known deficiencies. From 2004 - 2009, IOC's experience was instructive. It was fined a mere $572,500, pocket change too little to matter.

The current investigation followed an earlier one into former New Orleans regional supervisor Don Howard's activities - fired in January 2007 for accepting drilling contractor gifts, failing to report them, then making false statements for cover.

His impropriety "appears to have been a generally accepted practice by MMS inspectors and supervisors in the Gulf of Mexico region."

Gifts included sports tickets, skeet-shooting contests, hunting and fishing trips, golf tournaments, crawfish boils, Christmas parties, among others, at times including travel and other expenses. If they exceed $335 dollars from any one source during the reporting period, they're required to be disclosed, and the identity of the source.

According to one former Lake Charles inspector, "everyone has gotten some sort of gift before at some point," showing a practice way out of hand, suggesting the possibility that maybe cash and other favors were given.

According to one inspector, what oil and gas companies got in return was a "better working relationship." Indeed so, including letting them prepare their own audits in pencil, inked over by inspectors to look legitimate - a practice far worse than gross mismanagement.

It's a crime demanding prosecutions of industry and government offenders. They're not coming. Informed about the Inspector General's report, the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana declined further action, absolving serious offenses.

One or more inspectors also used cocaine and methamphetamine, may have been under the influence on the job, and not for the first time according to an internal 2008 investigation, prepared by Inspector General Earl E. Devaney.

On May 11, AP noted a "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" by MMS inspectors and other workers. The agency has a duel role - collecting over $10 billion in annual royalties while enforcing drilling regulations, a clear conflict of interest.

Devaney found MMS royalty collection personnel having sex and using drugs with energy company employees, besides inspectors on the take. He described a "culture of ethical failure" in an agency rife with conflicts of interests, including the longstanding practice of being too cozy with the oil and gas industry.

On May 24, New York Times writer Ian Urbina headlined, "Inspector General's Inquiry Faults Regulators," saying:

MMS "inspectors (also) accepted meals, tickets to sporting events and gifts from at least one oil company (from 2005 - 2007) while they were overseeing the industry," more evidence of lax oversight and cozy industry ties.

"At least seven inspectors cited in the report as having been involved in inappropriate or illegal activities were still employed by the agency when the report was completed in March." No surprise under Ken Salazar's watch at Interior, a man rife with conflicts of interest.

He's a rancher, former Colorado junior senator, and one of the "Gang of 14" against filibustering extremist Bush judicial appointments. In addition, he supported Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, then introduced and sat with him at his Senate confirmation hearing.

In 2001, he also backed Gale Norton (a former Colorado Attorney General) for Interior Secretary, and the worst of her pro-business, anti-environmental policies. William Myers III as well, a former ranching industry lobbyist and Interior Department solicitor, for the federal bench even though the American Bar Association rated him "not qualified."

It gets worse. His overall environmental record is abysmal. In 2005, he voted against higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, so-called "Corporate Average Fuel Economy" (CAFE). He also opposed an amendment to repeal tax breaks for Exxon Mobil and other Big Oil and gas companies, and supports unregulated drilling on federal lands, including offshore.

He voted limiting offshore Florida Gulf coast drilling, and backed subsidies for the livestock industry, ranchers, and other users of public lands and national forests. He fought efforts to increase Farm Bill protections for endangered species and the environment, and threatened to sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service when its scientists determined that the black-tailed prairie dog was endangered.

In 2007, he was one of the few Democrats against a bill requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to consider global warming when planning water projects. According to Project Vote Smart, the US Humane Society rated his voting record a low 25%. The Fund for Animals scored him zero during 2005 and 2006.

Other critics expressed dismay about a man with close ranching and mining industry ties as well as no interest in environmental protection or reforming drilling and other energy development practices. Unsurprisingly, the criminal Gulf incident happened on his watch, and he's spearheading coverup.

When the Interior Department's head is compromised, inspectors on the take, using drugs, and engaging in other improprieties follow - apparent longstanding practices at Interior, likely also throughout government agencies, serving business when they're supposed to be watchdogs.

A Final Comment

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) reported that since the April 20 Gulf incident, MMS approved 27 new regional offshore projects and exempted 26 others from environmental review, from April 21 - May 7 - 26 got "categorical exclusion(s)" under the National Environmental Policy Act. According to Salazar, Interior has no intention of stopping new oil and gas operations in the Gulf, despite Obama's announced moratorium.

CBD's executive director, Kieran Suckling said:

"Under pressure from the oil industry and an agency he seems incapable of controlling, Secretary Salazar has watered down the drilling moratorium to a point where it is virtually meaningless." Like Obama, he's more interested in political damage control than protecting the environment. His "so-called moratoriums and reforms are little more than rhetorical dispersants designed to break up the hide the political scandal threatening to wash up on his shore."

On May 25, New York University Professor Paul Light called the moratorium "so ridiculous that it defies understanding." Instead of one with teeth, it "appears to have been basically done through the most casual way possible under federal law," to deflect criticism, not institute reform or environmental protection.

Lewis and Clark Law School Professor Daniel J. Rohlf said "The moratorium does not even cover the dangerous drilling that caused the problem in the first place." He and others doubt that the Interior Department can institute reforms, given its longstanding coziness with the industry.

On May 25, the Center for Biological Diversity responded to the Inspector General's Report, citing an agency "riddled with illegal drug use, and worst of all, falsification of inspection reports crucial to ensuring the safe operation of drill rigs in our waters....The extent of the culture of corruption in the MMS is mind boggling. Steps (Salazar) proposed to fix this dysfunctional organization do not come close to what is needed to root out the systematic corruption of the agency."

Shades of Paddy Bauler, former Chicago alderman who once famously said: "Chicago ain't ready for reform," nor is it today under Mayor Richard M. Daley or his predecessors, in Illinois under successive governors, or in Washington where the criminal class is bipartisan, Obama no different from the rest, and in many respects much worse.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for May 27, 29 and 30, 2010

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for May 27, 29 and 30, 2010

Thursday, May 27 at 10AM US Central time: James Petras

Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus, a noted figure on the left, a well-respected Latin American expert, and a longtime chronicler of the region's popular struggles.

He's also a prolific author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, including his latest titled, "Global Depression and Regional Wars."

His latest views on world and national events will be discussed, including the Gulf disaster.

Saturday, May 29 at noon US Central time: Jack Rasmus

Rasmus is a Professor of Political Economy at St. Mary's College and Santa Clara University, CA. He's also a freelance journalist, frequent speaker, a playwright and author, including newest book now available titled, "Epic Recession and Financial Crisis: Prelude to Global Depression."

The book and Rasmus' latest views on the economy will be discussed.

Sunday, May 30 at noon US Central time: Edward Herman

Herman is Professor Emeritus of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School where he taught for many years. He's also an economist, political and media analyst, prolific writer and author of numerous books, including his latest, co-authored with David Peterson, titled, "The Politics of Genocide."

The book and Herman's current views on world events will be discussed.

Vilifying Justice Goldstone

Vilifying Justice Goldstone - by Stephen Lendman

This writer's September 21, 2009 article titled "Goldstone Commission Gaza Conflict Findings and Reactions" (http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/09/goldstone-commission-gaza-conflict.html) explained the following:

On April 3, 2009, a UN press release stated:

"The Human Rights Council (HRC) today announced the appointment of Richard J. Goldstone....to lead an independent (four-person) fact-finding mission to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip....The team will be supported by staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights....Today's appointment comes following the adoption of a resolution by the Human Rights Council....to address 'the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip."

Established by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006, the HRC's 47 member states are "responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe."

As a former South African Constitutional Court justice, Goldstone is a respected jurist. He also served as chief prosecutor for the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals and is a Hebrew University board member. As a Jew, he promised to be fair and even-handed, and "hope(s) that the findings....will make a meaningful contribution to the peace process....and will provide justice for the victims."

At the time, Israel refused to cooperate, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, saying: "This committee is instructed not to seek out the truth but to single out Israel for alleged crimes." He then accused the Council of having "practically (no) credibility at all."

On September 15, the HRC released the Commission's 575 page report, titled Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

It covered Operation Cast Lead, the Gaza siege, the impact of Israel's West Bank military occupation, and much more including:

-- events between the "ceasefire" period from June 18, 2008 to Israel's initiated hostilities on December 27, 2008;

-- applicable international law

-- Occupied Gaza under siege;

-- an overview of Operation Cast Lead;

-- the obligations of both sides to protect civilians;

-- indiscriminate Israeli attacks on civilians resulting in many hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries;

-- "the use of certain weapons;"

-- attacking "the foundations of civilian life in Gaza: destruction of industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, sewage treatment plants and housing;"

-- using Palestinians as human shields;

-- detention and incarceration of Gazans during the conflict;

-- the IDF's objectives and strategy;

-- impact of the siege and military operations on Gazans and their human rights;

-- the detention of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit;

-- internal Gaza violence - Hamas v. Fatah;

-- the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem;

-- Israel's treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank, including excessive or lethal force during demonstrations;

-- Palestinians in Israeli prisons;

-- Israeli violations of free movement and access rights;

-- Fatah targeting Hamas supporters in the West Bank, and restricting free assembly and expression;

-- rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians;

-- repression of dissent, access to information, and treatment of human rights defenders in Israel;

-- Israeli responses to war crimes charges;

-- proceedings by Palestinian authorities;

-- universal jurisdiction;

-- reparations; and

-- conclusions and recommendations.

Commission's Findings

A UN September 15 press release stated that the Mission concluded that "there is evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity."

Evidence presented was detailed and damning, resulting in the deaths of over 1,400 Palestinians, thousands injured, many seriously, and extensive damage or destruction of homes, businesses, factories, schools, hospitals, mosques, farmland, infrastructure, and various other targets unrelated to military necessity in violation of international law.

Operation Cast Lead disregarded the principles of distinction and proportionality:

-- distinction between combatants and military targets v. civilians and non-military ones; attacking the latter ones are war crimes except when civilians participate in hostilities; and

-- proportionality prohibits disproportionate, indiscriminate force likely to cause damage to or loss of lives and objects.

Israel willfully and maliciously violated international law by attacking 1.5 million people under siege, mostly civilians, indiscriminately and disproportionately, and continues to this day intermittently through incursions, bombings, expanding buffer zones preventing farmers from using up to 30% of their land, and other actions.

Unsurprisingly, the Commission concluded "that the Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population. The destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses was the result of a deliberate and systematic policy which has made the daily process of living, and dignified living, more difficult for the civilian population."

Israel's Response

Unsurprisingly, Israeli officials condemned the report, dismissing it out of hand. President Shimon Peres called it "a mockery of history" and charged that it "fails to distinguish between the aggressor and a state exercising its right of self defense....The report legitimizes terrorist activity, the pursuit of murder and death. The report disregards the duty and right of self-defense...."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

"The Goldstone report is a kangaroo court against Israel, whose consequences harm the struggle of democratic countries against terror."

Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, called the report "a dangerous attempt to harm the principle of self-defense by democratic states and provides legitimacy to terrorism. (It's) a cynical attempt at role reversal in blaming Israel for war crimes instead of terrorist organizations." He added that Israel would enlist the support of Western democracies in a campaign "to prevent turning international law into a circus."

Defense Secretary, Ehud Barak, said the report constituted "a prize for terrorism. The comparison between those who foment terrorism and its victims is unconscionable."

Because world outrage was audible and damning, Israel was forced on the defensive to explain egregious, unjustifiable crimes, damage control it's engaged in since with help from its usual allies - the dominant media, Washington, other Western governments, and an array of pro-Israeli zealots, some examples below.

Washington's Response

On September 17, Washington Post writer Colum Lynch headlined, "US Rejects UN Proposal to Compel War Crimes Probes of Gaza Conflict," saying:

Ambassador Susan Rice "rejected a UN proposal to compel Israel and Hamas....to conduct credible investigations into war crimes during last winter's war in Gaza or face possible prosecution by an international prosecutor." In August, Washington blocked efforts for an emergency Security Council session to discuss Goldstone's findings.

In November 2009, the US House passed a non-binding resolution denouncing the Goldstone report (344 - 36), urging Obama and Secretary Clinton to unequivocally oppose it.

In September, calling the Goldstone Report flawed and biased, 30 Senators (Republicans and Democrats) wrote Secretary Clinton, saying it's "critical that the US continue to work very hard to block any punitive actions against Israel....whether at the Security Council or other UN bodies."

For over a half century, Washington vetoed dozens of Security Council resolutions condemning or censuring Israel for its actions, deploring it for committing them, or demanding, calling on or urging its leaders to end what international law calls crimes of war and against humanity.

Selected Media and Other Responses

On May 6, 2010, Israel's largest circulation newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, assailed Goldstone's "dark side" as a judge during South Africa's apartheid era, saying he "sentenced dozens of blacks mercilessly to their death." (Most) of them were found guilty of murder and sought to appeal the verdict," Goldstone saying in one verdict that society "demands that a price be paid for crimes it rightfully views as frightening." In another, that "the death penalty is the only punishment likely to deter such acts."

Goldstone maintained that he never discriminated against black defendants, and acted fairly even though he was morally opposed to the laws he was accountable to uphold.

Former South African Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson, a defender of apartheid victims, agreed, saying:

"It is absolute nonsense to say that Justice Goldstone took the side of the racist policies of the apartheid regime. He was one of a small group of judges who did their best to mitigate (its) harshness....and when we went to court to defend (its) victims....in criminal cases or to make claims on their behalf in the civil courts he was one of the judges that we hoped would hear our cases" because of his fairness.

In addition, President Nelson Mandela, a former victim, appointed him to a post-apartheid constitutional court. In 1991, he had him chair a human rights inquiry into the regime's abuses.

Nonetheless, Israel's Foreign Ministry welcomed the revelations, calling them "explosive PR material" to be distributed worldwide and used against him. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called Goldstone a "man of double standards, (and that) Such a person should not be allowed to lecture a democratic state defending itself against terrorists...." Other Israeli officials expressed similar views.

On May 7, the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg labeled Goldstone a "Hanging Judge," calling him a man without a moral compass....intermittently principled (who) knew his....record would one day catch up with him."

The New Republic's Jonathan Chait called South Africa's apartheid "The Real Kind" and that Yedioth Ahronoth added "some texture to the portrait of Goldstone as a man....disinclined to make a brave, lonely stand against the prevailing currents."

Commentary's Jennifer Rubin implied Goldstone is a racist in assailing Tikkun and J Street's support. She then addressed "the endemic problem of the UN - they always get their man - i.e., Israel - because the 'investigators' are selected for the express purpose of dummying up evidence to defame and delegitimize the Jewish state. It's no accident Goldstone reached the conclusions he did, and it's no accident that the UN selected him."

The Anti-Defamation League called the "Goldstone Report (a) Grave Danger to Israel," saying it "undermines Israel's right to self-defense (in) calling on (him) to repudiate his report" in an open letter.

It accused him of "plac(ing) Israel and the Jewish people in significant danger (and) has become the major focal point for action by every anti-Israeli force in the world."

The Jewish Daily Forward's Nathan Guttman worried about the Report's damning findings and its "recommendation to refer the issue to the International Criminal Court if Israel refused to launch an independent investigation of its own." He expects "Jewish groups and pro-Israel activists (to) fight (the Report) in the public arena to ensure that its findings are not adopted as world public opinion," hoping for "a quick burial" of its revelations.

The pro-Israeli NGO Monitor accused Goldstone-supportive human rights NGOs of "fail(ing) to meet....fundamental ethical standards" for their bias, lack of objectivity and proper sources, and drawing predetermined conclusions. It accused Commission members for their lack of "competence, experience and expertise."

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) praised the Obama administration's "principled criticism of Goldstone('s) fact-finding mission." Weeks earlier, ZOA "condemn(ed) Goldstone's despicable anti-Israeli UN report, based on unsubstantiated testimony & perversion of legal norms."

Its president, Morton Klein, said: "The ZOA condemns this atrocious, new installment in the international effort to delegitimize Israel, using perverted and spurious norms of international law in order to invalidate Israel's elementary, fundamental right and obligation to defend its territory and its citizens. It is nothing less than an anti-Semitic, Israel-bashing, immoral piece of trash."

Shakespeare's Hamlet quote comes to mind: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks," here meaning those doing it know disturbing truths and wish to suppress them.

On November 5, 2009, the UN General Assembly, in support of the Goldstone Report, passed Resolution 10883 (114 to 18 with 44 abstentions) titled, "By Recorded Vote, General Assembly Urges Israel, Palestinians to Conduct Credible, Independent Investigations into Alleged War Crimes in Gaza," saying:

"By its decision, the 192-member Assembly endorsed the report of the world body's Geneva-based Human Rights Council('s) Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict....known as the 'Goldstone Report....' "

Israel, America, and 16 other nations opposed the resolution. Before the vote, Prime Minister Netanyahu said a Goldstone endorsement would legitimize Hamas, undermine the UN, and gravely harm the peace process.

The Shalom Center's Rabbi Brian Walt grew up in South Africa under apartheid. Indicating Jews in South Africa were proud of him, he praised Goldstone's dedication to the rule of law, saying "A commitment to human rights means a commitment to the human rights of all human beings and it must include those living in Israel, those living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, and those living under an Israeli blockade in the Gaza Strip. We can't expect Israel or the members of our 'tribe' to get a 'pass' on human rights violations."

Alan Dershowitz's Unprincipled Israeli Support

Well-known for his one-sided Israeli support, Dershowitz raged in an article titled, "Legitimating Bigotry: the Legacy of Richard Goldstone," saying:

He "helped legitimate one of the most racist regimes in the world by granting the imprimatur of the rule of law to some of the most undemocratic and discriminatory decrees. Goldstone was - quite literally - a hanging judge" (by) affirm(ing) death sentences....physical torture....miscegenation and other racist laws with nary a word of criticism or dissent. He was an important part of the machinery of death, torture and racial subjugation that characterized Apartheid South Africa."

Those familiar with him know Dershowitz is a notorious bigot; a purveyor of myths, canards, and false logic; a misinterpreter of fundamental law standards; a believer in unique Jewish suffering, mindless of all others; an advocate for torture and targeted assassinations; and a committed Zionist and Israeli apologist who legitimizes its aggression, its worst crimes and abuses, and who believes that "international law, and those who administer it, must understand that (in times of war) the old rules" don't apply against "fanatical foes."

Further, "the laws of war and the rules of morality must adapt to (new) realities," - the same rationale former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales used for the Geneva Conventions, calling them "quaint and out-of-date," not applicable to Al Qaeda or the Afghan war. Dershowitz, of course, agrees.

He also defends preventive and preemptive wars, despite nothing in international law permitting them - law that under the UN Charter's Article 51 limits attacks to self-defense until the Security Council acts. In addition, under the US Constitution's Article I, Section 8, only Congress may declare war, not the executive.

Nonetheless, he called Article 51 "anachronistic, (a) mid-twentieth century view of international law" that doesn't consider the "nuclear annihilation" threat in justifying war on Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, Israel's 1981 Iraq Osirak reactor attack, and its unilateral right to prevent other regional states from acquiring nuclear weapons while it's maintained its own for decades.

In supporting Israel, Dershowitz believes its interests matter - not truth, equity, justice, or fundamental international law standards, applying to others, but not its unilateral right to do as it pleases, including suppressing its crimes - the last refugee of scoundrels caught red-handed and Dershowitz types who support them.

A Final Comment

On May 14, Jerusalem Post writer EB Solomont headlined, "Attorney seeks to bar Goldstone from US," saying:

A former US Justice Department official and "well-known American Jewish attorney (wants) American officials to bar (him) from entering the country over his rulings during South Africa's apartheid regime."

Neal Sher, a former AIPAC head, wrote Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano charging Goldstone with "moral turpitude," urging federal authorities investigate him.

He, however, has his own cross to bear, having been investigated for misappropriating funds from the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. As a result, on September 5, 2003, the Jewish Forward reported that he was disbarred a year after admitting wrongdoing.

In contrast, Goldstone is a hero to millions worldwide for documenting horrendous Israeli crimes of war and against humanity. Long after Sher and his kind are forgotten, Goldstone will be remembered and honored.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.