Thursday, June 30, 2011

Meaner Tougher IMF with Lagarde

Meaner Tougher IMF with Lagarde - by Stephen Lendman

On June 28, New York Times writer Liz Alderman headlined, "France's Lagarde Named New Head of IMF," saying:

She'll assume "one of the most powerful positions in global finance as a worsening crisis in Greece threatens the euro currency union and rattles financial markets worldwide."

Washington's choice all along, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner endorsed her over Mexico's central bank governor Agustin Carsten, her only competitor after IMF board of directors excluded Israeli central bank governor Stanley Fischer. Allegedly because of age, he, in fact, lacked support outside Israel, and US officials stuck with traditional IMF policy of a European in charge.

An American always heads the World Bank, yet Washington dominates all international lending agencies, assuring it anoints officials heading them, public discourse notwithstanding.

On June 28, a brief IMF statement announced Lagarde's appointment, saying:

"The executive board of the International Monetary Fund today selected Christine Lagarde to serve as IMF managing director and madame chairman of the executive board for a five-year term starting July 2011." China, Russia and Brazil also supported her besides America and most European nations.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne called it "good news for the global economy and for Britain." French President Nicolas Sarkozy said about his departing finance minister, it's a "victory for France." Indeed so, as French banks are heavily exposed to Greek (and other troubled nations') debt Lagarde is mandated to protect.

Her first move, in fact, was to back tough austerity Western banks demand, saying:

"If there is one message I have to send tonight, it is to say the Greek opposition must join a national entente with the party that is in power."

A previous article discussed it, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/06/banker-occupation-of-greece.html

Another explained IMF financial terrorism, accessed through the link below:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/06/imf-financial-terrorism.html

It discussed how the organization destructively obligates indebted nations to take new loans to service old ones, assuring rising indebtedness and structural adjustment harshness, including:

-- privatization of state enterprises, many sold for a fraction of their real worth;

-- mass layoffs;

-- deregulation;

-- deep social spending cuts;

-- wage freezes or cuts;

-- unrestricted free market access for western corporations;

-- corporate-friendly tax cuts;

-- tax increases for working households;

-- crushing trade unionism; and

-- harsh repression against opposition to a system incompatible with social democracy, civil and human rights.

Key is that debt service tops other obligations, assuring bankers get paid, no matter the hardships imposed on working households through no fault of their own or that bailing out European banks violates the IMF's charter.

In his June 29 article headlined, "A World Overwhelmed by Western Hypocrisy," economist and former Reagan administration Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts said the IMF "is only empowered to make balance of payments loans, but is lending to the Greek government for prohibited budgetary reasons (so it) can pay the banks."

The European Central Bank (ECB) is also "prohibited from bailing out member countr(ies)," but it's doing it for the same reason. In other words, banker bottom line priorities supersede institutional rules and legal standards, making a mockery of governments of, by and for the people they don't give a damn about and show it.

On June 29, the Wall Street Journal said Lagarde has unsettled legal questions at home, explaining that:

A "French criminal court (will) decide on July 8 whether to launch a probe into accusations that (she) overstepped her authority as finance minister in 2007 when dealing with a controversy pitting tycoon Bernard Tapie against the French state, or to dismiss the case."

Given broad consensus backing her, expect the latter though at this time it's unfinished business. At issue was her 403 million euro arbitration order benefitting him, not the government she was sworn to serve. As a result, French Court of Cassation (its highest court of appeal) Attorney General Jean-Louis Nadal ordered the Tapie dossier made public, including allegations that "Lagarde had indeed acted in a way to defeat the law....to help Tapie gain a favourable decision, against an earlier" appeals court judgment favoring the state.

Perhaps now it's old news with Lagarde replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, forced to step down over allegations of attempted rape, an implausible accusation on its face. In fact, he was targeted for backing more responsible IMF policies.

Anathema to bankers, he endorsed "employment and equity (as) building blocks of economic stability and prosperity, of political stability and peace, (adding) This goes to the heart of the IMF's mandate. It must be placed at the heart of the policy agenda."

Not for Wall Street and other financial giants, focused solely on extracting maximum wealth for themselves at the expense of working households and nations. Lagarde is mandated to assure it. Expertise aside, her background shows ready willingness to comply.

In 2009, the Financial Times called her the best Eurozone finance manager even though her background is law, not economics. The same year, Forbes ranked her the world's 17th most powerful woman. Her official and unpublicized credentials are broad and extensive.

Since June 2007, she was Sarkozy's Minister of Economic Affairs, Finances and Industry. Previously, she was Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's Minister of Agriculture and Fishing, as well as Minister of Trade. Earlier, she spent years in America, initially in the 1970s as an intern for Rep. William Cohen, later Senator Cohen and Defense Secretary.

In 1981, she joined Baker & McKenzie (B & K), a major international law firm, practicing antitrust and labor law. In 1995, she was elevated to its Executive Committee, was then appointed chairman of its Global Executive Committee in October 1999.

From 1995 - 1998, she chaired B & K's European Regional Council and Professional Development Committee. In 2004 and 2005, she was an ING Groep NV Supervisory Group member, and in 2004, she became president of its Strategy Committee, spending over two decades at B & K before returning to France as de Villepin's trade minister. She also served as Board of Governors chairman for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as well as a Board of Governors member at the European Investment Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.

In May, the Voltaire Network provided more information, excluded from her official resume, including her membership in America's Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), an influential organization emphasizing national security and "advancing (US) global interests." Specializing in crisis management, it's also connected to the highest government and Pentagon levels.

There and later, Lagarde put their interests above her native France, including while heading (with Zbigniew Brzezinski from 1995 - 2002) ISIS' Action USA/EU/Poland commission and the USA-Poland Defense Industries working group.

At B & K, she noticeably favored US corporate interests over French ones, including Boeing and Lockheed-Martin at the expense of Airbus and Dassault. In 2003, she became a Commission for the Expansion of the Euro-Atlantic Community member, in charge of potential Poland, Latvia, Romania, Czech Republic and Hungary investments.

According to Voltaire:

For many years with the above organizations, her actions represented "a case of conflict of interests. However, when the political positions defended by (these) groups....are analyzed, it is impossible to ignore that they are completely against the French position defended by de Villepin before the United Nations." For her part, Lagarde "promote(d) the interests of the US firms, not those of the Old Europe."

In his May 30 CounterPunch article, titled "The IMF After Strauss-Kahn," Philippe Marliere, a University of London Professor of French and European politics, said:

As Sarkozy's finance minister, it's "hard to find one single decision, debate or policy that she has initiated or imposed her mark on. At home, her voice has hardly been heard in economic debates, let alone in political debates in general."

No matter, she's a club member in good standing, a neoliberal hard-liner, chosen to enforce structural adjustment harshness, starting with Greece.

Beginning July 5, she's mandated to keep democracy's birthplace in debt bondage, assure bankers are paid, lower its standard of living, impoverish most Greek citizens, sell off all valued state assets at fire sale prices, strip mine Greece of everything of worth, then replicate the process elsewhere, in charge of a financial coup d'etat against entrapped sovereign states.

Beneath her bourgeois charm lies a financial predator, chosen to wreck economies, not heal them. Throughout its history, IMF policies perpetuated debt bondage, entrapping nations to service money master oligarchs, surrendering their sovereignty in the process.

Lagarde's now in charge to force feed austerity, well rewarded to ignore the pain and suffering she'll cause, but don't expect Western managed news to explain.

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, June 29, 2011

The Business of America Is War

The Business of America is War - by Stephen Lendman

Noted trends analyst Gerald Celente said it, and it's true. In fact, America's business is war, more war, multiple wars, permanent wars, pillaging one nation after another for wealth, power, and dominance, while homeland needs go begging.

America never was and isn't now the "land of the free and home of the brave." In fact, it's become a "Let 'em eat cake" society.

Whether or not Marie Antoinette actually said it, France's 1789-99 revolution was very real, delivering guillotine justice, not promised "Liberte, Egalite, and Fraternite," a status now destroying what's left of American freedom, heading for the trash bin of history if not already there.

Earlier articles discussed Washington's wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen, as well as numerous proxy ones in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and at home against Muslims, Latino immigrants, and working households.

Combined, they represent a shocking contempt for rule of law justice, democratic values and humanity, notions now mere artifacts long ago abandoned to advance America's imperium.

As previous articles explained, out-of-control imperialism is heading America for tyranny and ruin. In her 1951 book, "The Origins of Totalitarianism," Hannah Arendt said it's "never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism has discovered a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings from within."

She called it dictatorship based on:

"(1) an elaborate ideology;

(2) a single mass party;

(3) terror;

(4) a technologically conditioned monopoly of communication;

(5) a monopoly of weapons; (and)

(6) a centrally controlled economy."

Duplicitously called a democracy, today's America nearly qualifies:

(1) Its ideology is concentrated wealth and power.

(2) It's governed by a two-party duopoly - the money or property party, excluding alternative choices.

(3) It's the world's leading purveyor of state terrorism, waging global wars against nations, groups or individuals, including targeted assassinations of its own citizens.

(4) Major media managed news gives it dominant (not monopoly) communication control, but efforts to subvert Internet discourse and debate may undermine its free and open content.

(5) Corporate-run society makes it centrally controlled for bottom line priorities, excluding other choices.

In her book, "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil," Arendt said crimes of state aren't committed by fanatics or sociopaths, just "terrifyingly normal" (people)....neither perverted or sadistic....who accepted the premises of their superiors and their state" to continue current and/or longstanding policies.

In his book, "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," Ward Churchill agreed, explaining what he called the "technocrats of empire," functioning as "little Eichmanns," banally serving imperial interests, no matter how lawless or evil. They could say "no," of course, but go along to get along, including at the highest levels. For them, it's to share spoils, no matter the harm or human misery globally.

Churchill's many books and writings discussed 500 genocidal years against America's indigenous peoples, as well as its global imperial apparatus. Touching the right nerves persuasively, the University of Colorado disgracefully fired him in summer 2007, a pattern repeated elsewhere against other activist professors, notably targeting Israeli critics like Norman Finkelstein, Joel Kovel, Denis Rancourt, and Sami Al-Arian among others.

Al-Arian was also lawlessly arrested, tried, acquitted, imprisoned, brutalized, then freed, but remains under house arrest awaiting dismissal of spurious charges against him.

Imperial America's War Machine

The empire never sleeps or tolerates anti-war activism, threatening its quest for unchallengeable "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any adversary, including with nuclear weapons preemptively.

September 11, 2001 served as pretext to consolidate power, destroy civil liberties and human rights, and wage permanent wars against invented enemies for global dominance over world markets, resources, and cheap labor - notably at home and throughout
Eurasia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia at the expense of democratic freedoms and social justice.

In its 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Pentagon called it the "long war." Dick Cheney said wars won't end in our lifetime, and former CIA Director James Woolsey said America "is engaged in World War IV, and it could continue for years....This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us."

In his 1990 address to a joint session of Congress, GHW Bush called it a "New World Order," preparing the public for Operation Desert Storm and years of war and occupation of Iraq, perhaps knowing Serbia/Kosovo, Afghanistan, and other targeted states would follow.

Obama is America's latest warrior president, succeeding numerous past ones, including Washington, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Wilson, F. Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, and GW Bush preceding him.

Today's stakes, however are far greater and riskier because of Pentagon grand plans, including militarizing space as a platform for future wars. A previous article explained, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/09/americas-grand-strategy-militarizing.html

It discussed plans to position nuclear, other state-of-the-art weapons, and delivery systems to wage multiple wars from space anywhere on short notice. Under Obama, the policy remains in place. His May 2010 National Security Strategy:

"reserve(s) the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests." In other words, to wage preemptive wars, using first-strike nuclear and other destructive weapons "to keep the American people safe (and advance the nation's) values and ideals," pursuing unchallengeable global/space dominance, ruling by intimidation and war, making the world safe for capital.

During the Cold War, MAD (mutually assured destruction) held both sides at bay. Today's strategy includes "more flexible options (for) a wider range of contingencies (with weapons) to optimize performance." It means destroy an adversary's capabilities preemptively, then target others to eliminate all challenges to US dominance.

With America on a nuclear hair-trigger, it reinvented MAD in new form, threatening potential global nuclear winter, defined as "a long period of darkness and extreme cold that scientists predict would follow a full-scale nuclear war, a layer of dust and smoke in the atmosphere cover(ing) the earth and block(ing) the rays of the sun, (causing) most living organisms (to) perish."

Anti-nuclear expert Helen Caldicott says "one single failure of nuclear deterrence could end human history (quickly). Once initiated, it would take one hour to trigger a swift, sudden end to life on this planet." Only nuclear disarmament and abolition of nuclear weapons can stop it, what's never discussed or considered.

On January 17, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower coined the phrase "military industrial complex" in his farewell address, saying:

"....we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

As he prepared to leave office, he could hardly imagine the difference 50 years would make, transforming fortress America into a colossus, waging permanent global wars, spending unconscionable amounts on militarism and threatening planetary survival in the process.

On April 17, 2010, Independent Institute analyst Robert Higgs said annual "defense-related spending greatly exceeds the amounts budgeted by the Department of Defense," presenting FY 2009 data, the most recent figures available.

The official $636.5 billion spent way understated a growing annual total even Higgs can't fully identify, given enormous black budgets and hidden add-ons, likely totaling hundreds of billions of dollars. What's known for FY 2009, however, in billions of dollars includes the following:

-- Department of Defense: $636.5

-- Department of Energy (nuclear weapons and environmental cleanup): $16.7

-- Department of State: $36.3

-- Department of Veterans Affairs: $95.5

-- Department of Homeland Security: $51.7

-- Department of the Treasury (for Military Retirement Fund): $54.9

-- Half of NASA's budget: $9.6

-- Net interest attributable to past-debt-financed defense outlays: $126.3

Total: $1,027.5 trillion

Moreover, the National Priorities Project's analysis of FY 2010 discretionary spending showed 62% spent for military-related purposes, including 4% for veterans' benefits.

For FY 2012, the House approved $690.1 billion, an 8.4% increase (though below the $725 FY 2011 budget, a temporary drop, likely compensated for with add-ons). The Senate will approve a similar amount. If the entire $1,027.5 trillion increases by the same amount, it raises known FY 2012 defense-related spending to $1,113.8 trillion.

In fact, with supplemental and hidden add-ons, as well as Pentagon, intelligence, and other unknown amounts, the grand total likely exceeds $1.5 trillion, a figure rising most years while popular needs go begging.

Higgs also cites the unreliability of official numbers. He believes it's more accurate to take the Pentagon's basic budget and double it because as much as 40% of it is black or hidden. Moreover, as Pentagon power grows, more spending accrues to congressional districts. As a result, Congress willingly goes along as jobs are allegedly created. In addition, generous campaign contributions follow - bribes to keep funding the war machine.

Congressional Affirmation of Permanent War

The current House bill, HR 1540 includes a worrisome/duplicitous Sec. 1034: Affirmation of Armed Conflict with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Associated Forces, affirming:

"(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad;

(2) the President has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40);

(3) the current armed conflict includes nations, organization(s), and persons, who --

(A) are part of, or are substantially supporting al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or

(B) have engaged in hostilities or have engaged in hostilities or have directly supported hostilities in aid of a nation, organization, or person described in subparagraph (A); and

(4) the President's authority pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force....includes the authority to detain belligerents, including persons described in paragraph (3), until the termination of hostilities."

In September 2001, Congress approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for "the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States." Still in force today, it began the "war on terror," giving George Bush carte blanche authority to wage global wars in violation of international and constitutional laws. A 2002 AUMF against Iraq followed.

The House (and likely the Senate) FY 2012 Defense Authorization bill affirms that authority, letting Obama as commander and chief, wage wars anywhere at his discretion. He's taking full advantage, duplicitous congressional posturing notwithstanding.

On June 24, in fact, House Republicans and 70 Democrats rejected support for Obama's Libya war, but defeated a measure to defund it. In other words, they authorized war at the same time symbolically rejecting it, exposing their gross hypocrisy.

America's Permanent War Agenda

In inflation adjusted dollars, annual defense spending more than doubled under George Bush and keeps rising under Obama despite growing budget cutting pressures, given a much greater national debt burden than reported.

Officially it's nearly $14.3 trillion (headed for an estimated $15.5 trillion by September 30), exceeding 100% of GDP at that time. Omitted, however, is another $7.6 trillion owed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other government agencies, besides future trillion dollar or more amounts added annually.

It hardly matters, given the military/industrial complex's power to demand what it wants and get it. Today, in fact, it comprises:

-- defense, technology, energy, financial, private military contractor (PMCs), and other corporate interests;

-- Congress;

-- America's media;

-- prominent think tanks and other pressure groups;

-- various others benefitting from militarism; and

-- the Pentagon colossus, a frightening power unto itself, threatening humanity's survival.

The Defense Department's FY 2010 Base Structure Report shows how large it's become, even with important information omitted:

DOD is the world's largest landlord with over 539,000 facilities (buildings, structures, and linear structures) located on nearly 5,000 sites, covering more than 28 million acres and over two billion square feet of space in America, its territories and overseas. In fact, these numbers way understate much higher totals as many Pentagon facilities are secret and/or unreported.

They include over 1,000 overseas bases in 150 or more countries, as well as additional secret ones shared with or leased from host countries. As of April 2009, Congressional Research Service data includes 1,402,000 total active duty US military personnel worldwide, 73,000 National Guard, and 208,000 Selected Reserves, for a 1,683,000 total.

Add to them America's private military contractor (PMC) army, corporate mercenaries profiting from US imperialism. They perform a wide range of functions from combat to consulting to logistics, virtually anything once done by the Pentagon. Moreover, America's intelligence agencies, State Department, Homeland Security, and other branches also use PMCs.

Overall, they're unregulated, unaccountable, and often out-of-control, involved in some of the most controversial aspects of war from over-billing to ritual slaughter of unarmed civilians. Yet they're not prosecuted, convicted or imprisoned, just rewarded with fat contracts costing far more for services military personnel once performed. Moreover, the more they're used, the greater they influence war making, sustaining their bottom line priorities at the expense of a free society and vital homeland needs.

America's New Military Industrial Complex

On March 1, 2003 Business 2.0 magazine writers Ian Mount, Matthew Maier and David Freedman headlined, "The New Military Industrial Complex" for digital age war, describing the Pentagon's "revolution in military affairs (RMA)," comprised of "faster, lighter, smarter" cutting-edge technology warfare. Readying for it, they're building an unchallengeable high-tech arsenal, more advanced now than then.

The old one remains and gets huge contracts for new and more traditional weapons. The result is an influential "iron triangle" of Congress, the Pentagon and defense industry. Besides major media support, conservative think tanks also like:

-- the Project for a New American Century (PNAC); its "Rebuilding America's Defenses" scheme promotes US global hegemony;

-- the Center for Security Policy (CSP) headed by super-hawk Frank Gaffney endorses a policy of "Peace through Strength" and perpetual wars for perpetual peace;

-- the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) composed of hard right leaders and members, "fighting terrorism and the ideologies that drive it;"

-- the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP), focusing on defense issues, tied to the nuclear weapons industry; and

-- the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), emphasizing national security and "advancing (US) global interests;" specializing in crisis management, it's connected to the highest levels in government and the Pentagon.

The nation's 16 intelligence agencies, including CIA, NSA, DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), FBI, Army, Navy and Air Force Intelligence, DHS (Department of Homeland Security), and Department of State comprise another component destroying a free society. They comprise a multi-billion dollar funded, largely off-the-books, clandestine anti-democratic network. Interconnected with thousands of private contractors, they're tied to world governments and their intelligence services.

Moreover, they comprise a government/military/industrial/intelligence service/media/think tank colossus, waging global wars, bankrupting the nation, wrecking the remnants of a free society. Plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires unwilling to change, they also pursue the misguided notion that militarism sustains growth.

In fact, it erodes it by sacrificing industrial America, shifting production and other high-paying service operations abroad to focus on war making. As a result, essential homeland needs go begging, including healthcare, education, job creation, and the nation's infrastructure, crumbling from years of neglect.

In his farewell address, Eisenhower said:

"Every gun that is made, every war ship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, from those who are cold and not clothed."

In his November 2003 Harper's article titled, "The War Business," Chalmers Johnson said:

"(M)unitions and war profiteering have (become) the most efficient means for well-connected capitalists to engorge themselves at the public trough." Even Wall Street profits hugely. "To call these companies 'private,' though, is mere ideology. (Weapons and) munitions making in the United States today (and related industries profiting from them are) not really private enterprise. It is state socialism."

They also destroy constitutional freedoms, what George Washington in 1796 warned about, saying "overgrown military establishments (are) inauspicious to liberty." Johnson called it America's future, now more the present, saying, "When war becomes the most profitable course of action, we can certainly expect more of it," sacrificing a free society for private interests reaping short-term gains.

In his book titled, "Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War," Andrew Bacevich discussed America's "trinity," its global military presence, power projection, and intervention, creating a "permanent national security crisis....propell(ing) the United States into a condition approximating perpetual war." However, "(no) evidence exists - none - to suggest that US efforts advance the cause of global peace," just the opposite. As a result, "(o)ver the horizon, a shipwreck of epic proportions awaits."

It's coming perhaps when least expected. Nations that live by the sword, die by it. America is no exception, nor any other.

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/.

Israeli Anti-Freedom Flotilla II Propaganda

Israeli Anti-Freedom Flotilla II Propaganda - by Stephen Lendman

On June 27, its press release headlined, "GAZA, WE ARE COMING. Despite pressure and threats of violence, flotilla will sail."

On June 27, A US Boat to Gaza Audacity of Hope press conference reiterated a determination to sail despite threats, pressure and other measures used to stop it.

Participants on board all 10 ships haven't come this far to turn back or let imperial viciousness deter them, especially when their mission is vital and just.

In response to spurious claims that passengers may have chemicals to attack Israeli commandos, perhaps the same ones responsible for the May 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre, Flotilla participants signed a declaration of nonviolence. Spokesman Dror Feiler told Army Radio that if Israel has other information, it should inform Flotilla organizers.

He responded to IDF spokesperson Major Avital Leibovich, citing intelligence reports that dangerous chemicals may be used as weapons, and that extremist passengers were heard threatening "to spill the blood" of Israeli soldiers.

According to an unnamed defense official, "The picture emerging here is that some of the flotilla participants clearly intend a violent clash," when, in fact, he knows this is a bald faced lie, an Israeli specialty, regurgitated by major media flacks, while suppressing Israel's intention either to block or confiscate vessels it interdicts and all passenger possessions as it did against Flotilla I.

According to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Israel may establish a special naval court to do it, Barak saying:

"There's no doubt that impounding vessels is a deterrent measure that could prevent the need to use force against future (flotilla) violations."

Destroying them works better, what Dror Feiler disclosed, saying a scuba diver examining one of the boats discovered its propeller shaft cut off. It was deliberate sabotage that can be fixed but may take time.

Anti-Flotilla Agitprop and Misinformation

The Washington Post lists a Gaza Flotilla 101 section, vilifying humanitarian activism with vicious disinformation. For example, it says:

-- Flotilla I "participants came aboard armed, with some declaring they were prepared for martyrdom; the same is expected this year."

-- It describes organizers as a broad coalition and umbrella organization of pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas participants, as well as an officially designated "terrorist organization," the Turkish IHH charity Ankara pressured not to come; it also cited Israeli intelligence saying the Free Gaza Movement includes "dangerous organizations with terrorist links."

-- It listed a litany of lies about Gaza, including life there now eased, saying: "Israel now permits almost all goods (in) except items it fears could be used to stage attacks."

-- It said many 2010 Mavi Marmara participants came armed with "guns, knives, metal pipes and chains - not humanitarian goods...There was no humanitarian aid on the (ship), and organizers stated their violent intent on the record."

-- It claims "international legal authorities consider (Israel's) blockade legal" during an armed struggle Israel instigated and sustains, blaming Gazan victims for its own crimes, including the lawless siege.

All the above claims are maliciously false. The section, in fact, supports Israeli crimes of war and against humanity by substituting brazen lies for vital truths.

On June 28, Israeli Foreign Minister/Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman included his own, saying participants plan "confrontation and blood," adding:

"They are clearly there to create a provocation, looking for confrontation and blood and for many pictures on television screens....hard core....terror activists" are among them.

At the same time, his Foreign Ministry and Israeli security and defense officials told a June 26 cabinet meeting that no information indicates terrorists or anyone affiliated with terror groups participating.

Those coming, they said, include EU, US, and Canadian human rights activists, not bomb-throwing, gun toting, knife wielding, chemical carrying extremists planning violence. Moreover, they added that peaceful participants present a "more difficult public diplomacy challenge" if clashes with Israel soldiers occur.

Lieberman, however, implied that Israel exerted enormous pressure on foreign officials to deter the mission. Responding, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero called the flotilla:

"a bad idea that can only exacerbate tensions and we don't need more reasons for conflict at the moment," omitting that French aircraft slaughter Libyan civilians daily, while adding:

"We don't have the legal recourse to stop boats leaving, but with others, including the UN Secretary-General, we have made clear we are against this."

On June 28, Israel National News writer Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu headlined, "Flotilla for War or Peace? Charges of Plot to Kill," saying:

"Israel is in the midst of a massive diplomatic and (dis)information campaign to scuttle the planned attempt to break the maritime embargo...."

In fact, it's using whatever it takes to do it, including agitprop, sabotage, political pressure, the Israel Law Center Shurat HaDin filing irresponsible lawsuits, and military interdiction in international waters, perhaps a repeat of 2010 if things get out of hand.

According to Jerusalem Post writer Yaakov Katz in his June 28 article headlined, "Analysis: A season of flotillas and marches:"

Better prepared this time, "Navy commandos have developed new techniques on how to fast-rope onto the ships' upper decks quickly. They also have new equipment such as water cannons, attack dogs, (and) riot control specialists from the Prison Service's elite Masada Unit."

At the same time, Israel hasn't "formulate(d) a clear strategy or policy" to "handle" the media other than steady disinformation to discredit the mission and its participants. The message long ago wore thin.

The pro-Israeli Stand With Us organization launched a new Flotillafacts.com site, accessed through the following link:

http://www.flotillafacts.com/

Maliciously misstating truths, it says:

-- "Flotilla Violates International Law, Intends to Provoke Violent Confrontation;

-- ....these flotillas are anti-peace;

-- ....international pressure should be placed on the terrorist group Hamas which rules Gaza;"

-- In 2010, "anti-Israeli extremists and Turkish jihadists organized a flotilla to violate Israel's naval blockade....;"

-- Mavi Marmara "jihadists brutally attacked (Israeli commandos) with knives, metal bars, and guns. Nine jihadists were killed.

-- This year, the same anti-Israel extremists are planning another international flotilla battalion....purportedly to bring humanitarian goods to Gaza."

The site also includes a section called "Facts - 2011 Flotilla II: 9 Basic Facts," regurgitating brazen Israeli lies, suppressing truths it's too cowardly to state.

Notoriously, America's Anti-Defamation League also dispenses pro-Israeli propaganda and smear campaigns against Israeli critics, under the guise of fighting anti-semitism and supporting human rights equitably.

On June 24, its web site (adl.org) headlined, "Background on the 2011 Gaza Flotilla," saying:

-- Anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist, pro-Hamas participants are coming, including the Free Gaza Movement, allied with others responsible for violent 2010 clashes. Omitted was explaining that Israel instigated violence against unarmed, peaceful activists.

-- Israel's "blockade is primarily a defensive measure (against) the ongoing barrage of rockets targeting Israeli civilians and the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit." In fact, Shalit is a war prisoner, victimized by IDF aggression against Gaza civilians. Moreover, Hamas homemade "rockets" respond to Israeli attacks using sophisticated terror weapons.

-- "Israel enables the flow of goods into Gaza each day, and particularly ensures the transfer of food, medicines, fuel and electricity." In fact, siege restrictions eased modestly. Shortages of everything exist. Poverty, unemployment and depravation are extreme. Most construction materials are banned, deterring rebuilding Cast Lead destruction, and a recent report indicated critical shortfalls of medicines and other medical supplies because Israel blocks them.

-- "There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza." In fact, it's been ongoing for years, exacerbated by Israel's longstanding slow-motion genocide policy ADL chooses to ignore.

-- In May 2010, "Israel and the IDF made several attempts to avoid confrontation with" Freedom Flotilla I vessels. In fact, IDF commandos rehearsed a well-planned terror attack, using photos of targeted Turkish activists on board the Mavi Marmara mother ship to murder them in cold blood, forensic evidence showing them shot multiple times at close range, including in the head.

-- Nonetheless, Israel's "independent panel of inquiry, the Turkel Commission....investigate(d) and assess(ed) Israel's action. (It) found that the Gaza blockade and the use of force during the (interdiction) were legal under international law." It lied, whitewashing Israeli crimes against humanity against nonviolent participants in international waters.

Like 50 other US Zionist organizations, ADL is an Israeli front group, demagogically supporting its worst crimes and spreading malicious Islamaphobic hate-mongering, including smear campaigns against pro-Palestinian groups, supporting liberation and justice.

In a June 4 letter The New York Times disgracefully published, ADL called it "an abomination for American (Flotilla) participants....to liken themselves to the Freedom Riders who challenged segregation in the American South....(They) were pacifists who were on the right side of history; the flotilla organizers (challenge Israel and) align themselves with Hamas," a Palestinian "terror(ist)" organization.

In fact, Flotilla activists indeed are modern-day Freedom Riders, coming by sea and/or land, courageously challenging Israeli terror against besieged Gazan civilians, under the government they fairly elected, maliciously called a terrorist organization.

They're coming like others earlier and many more until Gaza's siege ends, and all Palestinians are liberated on their own land, in their own country, free from occupation. Neither ADL hate or Israeli terror will stop them.

A Final Comment

On June 29, Haaretz writer Amira Hass said the French ship "Dignity" and Irish one "Freedom" set sail to rendezvous at sea with others delayed from departing Greece, one needing its sabotaged propeller repaired.

On June 28, New York Times writer Scott Sayare headlined, "Israeli Advocacy Group Helps Delay Departure of Gaza-Bound Flotilla," saying:

The pro-Israeli Shurat HaDin "suggest(ed) that seven of the ships might be lacking insurance or were improperly registered." Laughably calling itself a "civil rights organization," it also threatened 30 maritime insurers, warning that covering the vessels leaves them vulnerable to suits for "aiding a terrorist organization."

On June 27, Max Blumenthal explained that pro-Israeli, Islamophobic hate-monger Pastor John Hagee is one of Shurat HaDin's major funders. His ideology, in fact, includes a totalitarian Christian ethic, white Christian supremacy, racial hatred, gay-bashing, male gender dominance, and waging preemptive war against Islam.

Nonetheless, Shurat HaDin gratefully takes his money, suggesting perhaps they're soul mates, for sure behind efforts to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Gazans.

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/.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

FBI Entraps Two More Muslims

FBI Entraps Two More Muslims - by Stephen Lendman

By now, the familiar storyline sounds more like a film plot than criminal indictment, especially when Muslims are involved, and the most recent case repeats the same scenario used last December.

Then it involved Antonio Martinez, aka Muhammad Hussain, accused of plotting to attack an armed forces recruiting center. An undercover FBI agent lawlessly entrapped him, supplying an inert bomb, then stopping him after he allegedly tried to detonate it by remote control. A previous article discussed him, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/fbi-sting-entraps-another-victim.html

In fact, like dozens of others, he was maliciously ensnared by an FBI orchestrated sting operation, entrapping him to declare another war on terror victory. Innocence or guilt doesn't matter, just the illusion that America is now safer when, in fact, each conviction assures greater insecurity, leaving many to wonder who's next.

Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif (aka Joseph Anthony Davis) and Walli Mujahidh (aka Frederick Dominque) are the latest victims, a June 23 Justice Department press release headlining, "Two Men Charged in Plot to Attack Seattle Military Processing Center - Defendants Sought Firearms and Grenades to Attack Complex where Enlistees Report," saying:

Arrested on June 22, both men were "charged by criminal complaint with terrorism and firearms related charges....Unbeknownst to the defendants, the weapons were rendered inoperable and posed no risk to the public. (They) initially planned an attack on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but later changed targets. (They) intended to carry out their attack with both grenades and machine guns."

Other bogus plots involved surface-to-air and stinger missiles, automatic weapons, bombs and other explosive devices, as well as other heavy firepower beyond the ability of ordinary people to obtain even with help. Yet indictments suggest it's simple for anyone to get them over the counter or by other means.

According to US Attorney Jenny Durkan:

"The complaint alleges these men intended to carry out a deadly attack against our military where they should be most safe, here at home. This is a sobering reminder of our need to be vigilant and that our first line of defense is the people who live in our community. We were able to disrupt the plot because someone stepped forward and reported it to authorities."

In fact, according to Seattle Post-Intelligencer writers Levi Pulkkinen and Scott Gutierrez, a convicted felon informant entrapped both men in a plot they may never have conceived without prodding.

However, the storyline goes that both defendants met with the unnamed man, explained the planned attack, then surveilled the recruiting station together. Why three were needed for a one-man job wasn't explained, other than for help to provide weapons no ordinary person could get.

According to the FBI, Abdul-Latif told the informant he wanted to obtain AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, other grenades, and bullet proof vests.

The Justice Department indictment said:

"Law enforcement (learned) of the potential threat when a citizen alerted them that he/she had been approached about participating in the attack and supplying firearms to the conspirators. The person then agreed to work with law enforcement, which began monitoring" both men.

Since early June, "the conspirators were captured on (easily manipulated) audio and videotape, discussing a violent assault on the Military Entrance Process Station (MEPS)....where each (military branch) screens and processes enlistees."

According to Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Todd Hinnen:

"Driven by a violent, extreme ideology, these two young Americans are charged with plotting to murder men and women who were enlisting in the Armed Forces to serve and protect our country."

Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh are charged with:

-- conspiracy to murder US officers and employees;

-- conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (grenades); and

-- possession of firearms to commit violent crimes.

If convicted on all charges, both men face up to life in prison. On June 24, they were arraigned in court, then held without bail. On July 7, a preliminary hearing is scheduled after which a trial date will be set.

Abdul-Latif's wife described him as loving man, saying she didn't believe her husband could be accused of a terror attack, adding:

"He's not that type of person. I don't know if he got involved with bad people or something, but I don't have any idea. (Investigators) told me they (were) looking for weapons, and I told them I don't have weapons in this house."

Calling her husband a good man and good husband, she explained:

"He goes to mosque. He works hard. I don't have to pay rent. I don't have to (buy) food. I don't have to pay (for) clothes. He's clothing me. He's housing me."

Neighbors also expressed surprise, including Mozaia Walton, saying:

"Well, he just seemed like a working guy, like he would come and he would go. His wife was really nice."

Another neighbor, Janice Ackman, said:

"It's an absolute surprise. As they say in the media, he's the last person I would have expected."

After entrapping victimized targets, the Justice Department disingenuously ends relevant press releases, saying:

"The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law."

In fact, prosecutors have already convicted them by accusation, hanging them out to dry for being Muslims in America at the wrong time, imprisoning hundreds of innocent victims of Washington's war on terror.

On June 24, Los Angeles Times writer Kim Murphy headlined, "Pair accused of plotting Seattle attack," saying:

"A bankrupt janitor from Seattle who admired Osama bin Laden and a Los Angeles man who said he was going on jihad were accused of plotting (the alleged attack) as vengeance for violence committed against Afghan civilians, describing a storyline straight out of Hollywood, including:

-- obtaining automatic weapons, rocket-propelled and other grenades;

-- planning to use a truck with a battering ram "that looks like the Titanic;"

-- approaching the recruiting center; and

-- attacking "anybody wearing green or a badge," alleged conversations explaining their plan like a screenplay.

A Final Comment

A previous article explained how innocent Muslims are entrapped, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/06/entrapping-innocent-muslims.html

It discusses a recent New York University School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) report titled, "Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the 'Homegrown Threat' in the United States."

It explains how innocent Muslims have been ruthlessly targeted, paid informants often performing services in return for reduced charges or sentences they face, a powerful incentive why they cooperate.

Several high-profile examples explained the threat all Muslims today face, entrapped for political advantage. Nearly always, Washington invents plots. America's media headline them. People feel safer, unaware innocent people face spurious charges. The pattern repeats regularly, often strategically timed.

Instead of pursuing criminals, Homeland Security, the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors embrace racist radicalization notions to entrap innocent victims despite no plot or crime except ones they invent. As a result, everyone today is vulnerable when government repressively works against people, not protectively for them.

That's today's America, besides wasting the nation's resources on imperial wars and handouts to corporate predators.

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/.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for June 30, July 2 and 3, 2011

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for June 30 and July 2 and 3, 2011

Thursday, June 30 at 10AM US Central time: Lizzie Phelan

Cocker is a journalist/activist, supporting people's struggles globally against US/Western imperialism.

She spent time in Tripoli, may go back, and will discuss what she saw firsthand, including bombing civilian targets and killing noncombatants.

Saturday, July 2 at noon US Central time: Jack Rasmus

Rasmus is 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 his latest book titled, "Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression."

His forthcoming book soon out is titled, "Obama's Economy: Recovery for the Few."

His current views on the economy will be discussed.

Sunday, July 3 at noon US Central time: Peter Dale Scott

Scott is a poet, author, researcher, former Canadian diplomat and UC Berkeley English Professor. He's also been an anti-war activist since the 1960s.

His latest book is titled, "American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan."

Scott's latest writing will be discussed.

Breaching Gaza's Siege Update

Breaching Gaza's Siege Update - by Stephen Lendman

Israel keeps exerting pressure to block humanitarian efforts to deliver vital to life and other essential aid to besieged Gazans.

Endorsing Israeli lawlessness, the State Department issued a June 22 "Travel Warning - Israel, the West Bank and Gaza," saying in part:

"The Department of State warns US citizens of the risks of traveling to Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, and about threats to themselves and to US interests in those locations," adding "avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip."

Access the full statement through the following link:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5511.html

On June 23, Secretary of State Clinton added:

"We do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza. And we think that it's not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves."

Defend against whom she didn't explain or that Gazan waters belong to Palestine, not Israel. Moreover, delivering humanitarian aid is essential until Gaza's blockade is ended, a crime against humanity Washington funds and supports.

This week, "Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human" sails to Gaza. Neither Israel nor Clinton will stop it, but they're trying by blocking its departure or planned interdiction surprises if it comes.

The US Boat to Gaza (The Audacity of Hope) is one of 10 participating ships, now blocked by Greek officials, saying the vessel is unseaworthy, a spurious claim with no validity.

A June 26 US Boat to Gaza press release asked "Greek government officials to clarify whether (their leased boat) is being blocked....because of an anonymous request of a private citizen....or whether (Greece) made a political decision....in response to US and Israeli" pressure.

Specifically they want to know if bailout help is contingent on succumbing to blackmail, besides Greece already surrendering its sovereignty to foreign bankers.

A previous article explained, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/06/banker-occupation-of-greece.html

On June 27, a US Boat to Gaza press release responded to reports that an Israeli "Lawfare" group (Shurat HaDin) complaint is delaying the boat's departure.

Israel, Washington, AIPAC, and the Shurat HaDin Law Center (SH) are directly involved. In fact, SH's web site claims it's "bankrupting terrorism one lawsuit at a time," adding on June 19:

"I am happy to report that we have achieved some important victories in the struggle to block the anti-Israel Flotilla from 'smuggling contraband' to the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip."

Specifically, it referred to a French insurance company succumbing to intimidation not to cover a French boat from Marseilles, and the Turkish ship pressured by Ankara to cancel its participation.

On June 15, SH announced a Manhattan federal court lawsuit to "confiscate 14 ships outfitted with funds unlawfully raised in the United States by anti-Israeli groups, including the Free Gaza Movement."

SH, the Obama administration, AIPAC and other Israeli Lobby members clearly support state terrorism in violation of international, US and Israeli law. Nonetheless, America's "Audacity of Hope" is confident it will sail, saying:

SH is notorious for filing "frivolous legal complaints against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. We reiterate that the boat we are leasing....was surveyed by a professional surveyor and successfully completed its sea trials."

At noon Athens time June 27, a press conference will announce its readiness to sail, but expect continued pressure to stop it - criminal co-conspirators determined to lawlessly suffocate besieged Gazans.

On June 27, a Haaretz editorial headlined, "Let the flotilla go," saying:

Israel equates "flotilla" with terrorism or "a declaration of war," no matter that cargo includes food, medicines, educational materials and other humanitarian aid raised by private donations.

Nonetheless, Israel "seems to be as frightened of the flotilla as one would think it would be of an attack by an armed naval fleet." As a result, it's "preparing to fight an enemy" comprised of unarmed, nonviolent men and women who care enough to risk their safety to deliver vital aid and symbolically oppose Israeli lawlessness.

Thirteen months after the Mavi Marmara massacre, "Israel is showing that it has learned just one lesson: the military lesson....The country is not willing to give up a display of power, thereby no doubt contributing to inflating the flotilla's importance" and Israel as a rogue terror state. "From Israel, we can at least demand that it let the flotilla get through....without once again endangering the country's position in the world."

On June 27, Israel National News said former US Ecuador ambassador Samuel Hart (a 27-year Foreign Service veteran) will participate in the Flotilla mission.

In a 1992 Foreign Affairs Oral History Project for the Association for Diplomatic Studies interview, Hart said:

"I've always felt that Israel has been a little bit of a burr in the saddle in our foreign policy. Here is a small country with no particular interest to us in any real strategic terms, yet it sort of jerks us around because it has not only a very vocal Jewish population, but also supporters of Israel from non-Jewish groups."

He also once wrote an essay calling Israel "an exhausting place to live (because) the tension, anxiety and intensity wear you out."

Now aged 77, he told a Jacksonville, FL newspaper he joined the Flotilla because he "missed" participating in the 1950s and 1960s civil rights movement to end segregation. "I see great similarities between this and the civil rights movement," he said. "I am pleased to be part of it."

He also asked, "What did the residents of Gaza do to deserve such punishment? The honest answer is they" elected Hamas in 2006 democratically and now suffer lawlessly.

On June 26, New York Times writer Ethan Bronner headlined, "Avoid Gaza Flotilla, Israel Warns Foreign Journalists," saying:

"Israel threatened Sunday to bar for up to a decade any foreign journalist who boards a flotilla seeking to challenge an Israeli naval blockade of Gaza."

Moreover, Israel's Government Press Office director Oren Helman said their equipment will be impounded and they'll be subjected to "additional sanctions." He sent a warning letter to registered foreign correspondents, stopping short of saying they'll be arrested and jailed.

Perhaps all Flotilla participants will be mistreated, imprisoned, their personal possessions confiscated, then summarily deported the way Flotilla I activists were treated after being attacked, beaten and otherwise abused, besides nine on board massacred in cold blood.

On June 26, Israel's Foreign Press Association responded, saying:

Journalists "covering a legitimate news event should be allowed to do their jobs without threat and intimidation. (Helman's letter) sends a chilling message to the international media and raises serious questions about Israel's commitment to freedom of the press."

Bronner said an unnamed New York Times journalist would participate, joining other international correspondents.

Further updates will follow, highlighting courageous activism against lawless Israeli brutality, complicit with its Washington paymaster/partner.

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/.

Israel Toughening Conditions for Palestinian Detainees

Israel Toughening Conditions for Palestinian Detainees - by Stephen Lendman

On June 24, Haaretz writers Barak Ravid and Revital Hoval headlined, "Netanyahu: Israel to toughen conditions for Palestinian prisoners," saying:

On June 23, Netanyahu announced plans "to toughen the conditions of Palestinian security prisoners," meaning all of them wanting Palestine to be free, yet few committed crimes warranting imprisonment.

During his Jerusalem Israeli Presidential Conference, he said:

"We will give them all that they deserve according to international law, but nothing beyond that," despite systematically brutalizing detainees ruthlessly. More on that below. He added that:

"We will stop, among other things, the absurd practice in which terrorists who murdered innocent people enroll in academic studies. There will be no more 'doctors of terror' - the celebration is over."

Netanyahu spoke after the International Red Cross' request for proof that IDF soldier Gilat Shalit is alive went unanswered. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters:

"The Red Cross should not get involved in Israeli security games aimed at reaching Shalit. It should take a stand that results in ending the suffering of (thousands) of Palestinian prisoners" held under brutalizing conditions.

At the same time, Shalit's father, Noam, criticized Red Cross officials for not doing more, saying:

"We demand that the Red Cross' approach be more active and decisive. I would like to believe that they would give us a sign of life from Gilad. We are conducting ongoing dialogue with the Red Cross but it has not been much help. I did not hear them condemn Hamas on its crime against Gilad. The Red Cross has been a complete failure in this affair."

Shalit's been held captive since June 25, 2006 after Hamas responded to repeated IDF attacks, including a widely reported beach shelling, killing eight Palestinians and injuring 32 others, 13 children among them. Israel denied responsibility, falsely blaming a Hamas mine despite forensic evidence proving otherwise.

In retaliation, Hamas struck an Israeli military post near Kerem Shalom crossing, southeast of Rafah, killing two soldiers, injuring several others and capturing Shalit. He's been held ever since because Israel refuses to negotiate responsibly to free him, preferring to use his captivity to vilify Hamas, what his father doesn't understand or won't admit.

On June 24, Haaretz writer Avi Assacharoff headlined, "Hamas: Israel's decision to toughen prison conditions violates international law," saying:

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called it an attempt to cover up Netanyahu's failure to secure Shalit's release, explaining:

"Israel has failed to reach the captured IDF soldier. Netanyahu is responsible for Shalit not having been returned. (He'll) only be returned in exchange for Palestinian prisoners."

Thousands, in fact, are held lawlessly under horrific conditions. Netanyahu now spuriously claims international law justifies toughening them further. In March 2009, a Knesset committee recommended ways for Hamas prisoners and their sympathizers, including further limiting family visits already denied or greatly restricted, as well as prohibiting physical contact, banning television, radio and print publications, and denying administrative release and lawyer contacts.

Numbers imprisoned range at different times from about 6,000 to 12,000 or more. Most are held unjustly as political prisoners. From 1967 - 2008, Addameer reported over 650,000 detained, or about 20% of the total Occupied Territory (OPT) population and 40% of all males. Moreover, since the beginning of the September 2000 second Intifada, over 70,000 were interned. Earlier, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said 760,000 were held since 1967, including hundreds of children and many women.

Most are held in Palestine. Many others, however, are in Israeli civil and military prisons, in violation of numerous Fourth Geneva provisions, including Article 49 stating:

"....forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons (including prisoners) from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."

Moreover, children are treated like adults in brazen violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), defining a minor is anyone below age 18. Israel is a CRC signatory yet violates this law like all other international ones flagrantly.

On June 7, 1967, Military proclamation No. 1 justified detentions "in the interests of security and public order," subjecting all Palestinians to police state persecution. Hundreds of other orders followed, gravely harming their rights and well-being.

As a result, they may be held indefinitely, as well as subjected to months of abusive, inhumane and degrading interrogations and treatment, then detained without charge or tried in military courts, denying due process and judicial fairness.

In confinement, international humanitarian law is grievously violated, including Geneva's Common Article 3, requiring:

"humane treatment for all persons in enemy hands, specifically prohibit(ing) murder, mutilation, torture, cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment (and) unfair trial(s)."

Instead, they're subjected to:

-- severe overcrowding;

-- poor ventilation and sanitation;

-- no change of clothes or adequate clothing;

-- sleeping on wooden planks with thin mattresses, some infested with vermin; blankets are often torn, filthy and inadequate; hot water is rare and soap is rationed;

-- at the Negev Ketziot military detention camp, threadbare tents are used, exposing detainees to extreme weather conditions; in summer, vermin, insects, scorpions, parasites, rats, and other reptiles are a major problem;

-- Megiddo and Ofer also use tents; in addition, Ofer uses oil-soiled hangers;

-- for some, isolation in tiny, poorly ventilated solitary confinement with no visitation rights or contact with counsel or other prisoners;

-- no access to personal cleanliness and hygiene; toilet facilities are restricted, forcing prisoners to urinate in bottles in their cells;

-- inadequate food in terms of quality, quantity, and dietary requirements;

-- poor medical care, including lack of specialized personnel, mental health treatment, and denial of needed medicines and equipment; as a result, many suffer ill health; doctors are also pressured to deny proper treatment, some later admitting it;

-- extreme psychological pressure to break detainees' will;

-- widespread use of torture, abuse, cruel and degrading treatment;

-- women and children are treated like men; and

-- family and lawyer visitation rights are restricted or denied.

Many are also subjected to barbaric solitary confinement. If sustained long enough, it destroys the human spirit, psyche, mind and body.

Over time, it causes:

-- severe anxiety;

-- panic attacks;

-- lethargy;

-- insomnia;

-- nightmares;

-- dizziness;

-- irrational anger, at time uncontrollable;

-- confusion;

-- social withdrawal;

-- memory and appetite loss;

-- delusions and hallucinations;

-- mutilations;

-- profound despair and hopelessness;

-- suicidal thoughts;

-- paranoia; and

-- for many, a totally dysfunctional state and inability ever to live normally outside of confinement.

In December 2010, an Israeli Bar Association (IBA) report called Ayalon and Shikma prison isolation wings unfit for human habitation, looking more like dungeons, with crammed solitary cells rancid with sewer and mold smells, as well as infested with insects.

It said "(m)any isolated inmates testified to have developed paranoia, a tendency for uncontrollable fits of rage, and eyesight problems because of the lack of natural light through most hours of the day."

In Israeli prisons, however, it's common practice under sub-minimal conditions. Yet "(k)eeping human beings in such unreasonable conditions for extended periods of time (for any reason) deals a critical blow to the most basic human rights."

Moreover, torture, abuse and degrading treatment are commonplace in violation of international law prohibiting it at all times, under all conditions with no allowed exceptions. Nonetheless, a 2007 B'Tselem/HaMoked report titled, "Absolute Prohibition: The Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Detainees" estimated that around 85% are subjected to torture and mistreatment.

These practices are routinely used against political activists, students accused of being pro-Islam, sheikhs and religious leaders, people in Islamic charitable organizations, relatives of wanted individuals or any man, woman or child Israel targets for any reason.

Methods used include:

-- beatings that involve punching, slapping, and kicking all parts of the body, including with rifle butts and clubs;

-- painful shackling and binding for prolonged periods, at times in painful positions;

-- sleep deprivation;

-- abusive and intimidating interrogations;

-- extreme heat or cold;

-- cursing, yelling, strip searches and other forms of intimidation including threatened rape or sodomy;

-- oppressive noise to disrupt sleep; and

-- other ways to inflict pain and suffering, including against children.

Some as young as 10 or 12 are detained, terrorized, beaten, hooded, denied food and water for prolonged periods, as well as access to toilets and washing facilities, exposed to extreme heat or cold, painful shackling, sometime brutally for prolonged periods, threatened with sexual abuse (including rape), sleep deprived like adults, then forced to sign confessions in Hebrew most don't understand.

In fact, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Adalah, and Defence for Children International/Palestine obtained dozens of affidavits detailing the above abuses.

On June 26, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy headlined, "A Society is judged by the way it treats its prisoners," saying:

Palestinians "are all incarcerated under harsh conditions," often appalling "in solitary confinement in cells the width of a mattress, in shocking sanitary conditions, under constant light and deprived of sleep. Thousands of Palestinians bear the physical and emotional scars of the torture they have undergone in interrogation rooms."

Nonetheless, for many Israelis and Netanyahu, it's "not enough. They want more suffering and vengeance."

On June 26, Noam Shalit lashed out at Netanyahu, telling reporters:

"We say to (him): you have no mandate to sentence Gilad to death. The stubbornness and the obstinacy that you prime minister display in this sad affair is a real and immediate threat - not imaginary and not our fantasy - to Gilad's life. It is also a threat to the national strength and values of the state of Israel which we have been raised on for generations."

He noted earlier prisoner exchanges, as well as regular "security" prisoner releases, saying he's launching a new campaign to free his son called "The National Referendum to Save Gilad."

Former senior Israeli security officials offered support, perhaps enough to resolve the issue. Either way, however, thousands of Palestinians still rot in Israeli prisons, subjected daily to degrading, abusive treatment, joined by numerous others lawlessly arrested, sometimes daily.

Resolving that crime against humanity is the real issue, as well as liberating Palestine altogether.

A Final Comment

This week, 10 participating Freedom Flotilla II ships sail for Gaza with vitally needed humanitarian aid, hoping to breach the siege to provide it. Israel is determined to stop them. So is America, perhaps other nations, and apparently Greece, according to a US Boat to Gaza June 25 email headlined:

"Greek Officials Attempt to Block US Boat to Gaza from Leaving Greek Port - Passengers Suspect Israel/US Economic (and Political) Pressure on Beleaguered Greek Government," already willing to surrender its sovereignty to predatory banker diktats in return for bailout help.

On June 23, passengers learned about a "private complaint" of unknown origin, filed to stop its mission, claiming the vessel ("The Audacity of Hope") is unseaworthy. Until it's resolved, authorities won't let it leave.

Clearly, Israel, America, Greece, and perhaps other co-conspirator nations will stoop to anything to keep Gazans under siege, endorsing slow-motion genocide to ruthlessly suffocate them.

Courageous passengers aboard all 10 ships, as well as others previously and more to follow, are determined to stop them. Growing millions worldwide support them. So should everyone.

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, June 26, 2011

Banker Occupation of Greece

Banker Occupation of Greece - by Stephen Lendman

Economist Michael Hudson calls it "Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy" in a June 5 article by that title, saying:

After being debt entrapped, or perhaps acquiescing to entrapment, the Papandreou government needs bailout help to pay bankers that entrapped them. Doing so, however, requires "initiat(ing) a class war by raising its taxes (harming working households most), lowering its standard of living - and even private-sector pensions - and sell off public land, tourist sites, islands, ports, water and sewer facilities" - in fact, all the country's crown jewels, lock, stock and barrel, strip-mining it of everything of worth at fire sale prices.

Why? Because the US-dominated IMF, EU and European Central Bank (ECB), the so-called "Troika," demand it as the price for bailout help that wouldn't be needed if Greece wasn't trapped in the euro straightjacket. Membership means foregoing the right to devalue its currency to make exports more competitive, maintain sovereignty over its money to monetize its debt freely, and be able to legislate fiscal policies to stimulate growth.

Instead they're entrapped by foreign banker diktats demanding tribute. They call it a "rescue." In May 2010, the Papandreou government agreed to earlier austerity in return for loans. Now they're at it again, demanding more or they'll collapse the entire economy, or so they say. And the same scheme is replicated in Ireland and Portugal. Moreover, it's heading for Spain, and potentially most of Europe and America as representative governments head closer to "financial oligarchy."

In other words, it amounts to financial coup d'etat authority over sovereign governments unless popular anger prevents it, involving more than street protests or short-term strikes accomplishing nothing.

Former Wall Street broker, financial analyst, radio/TV host, and consummate critic Max Keiser calls it "banker occupation" for good reason. They:

-- make the rules;

-- set the terms;

-- issue diktats;

-- pressure, bribe or otherwise cajole or force governments to acquiesce; and

-- burden working households with higher unemployment, wage and benefit cuts, higher taxes, and other austerity measures to assure financial predators profit - always at their expense, forcing once prosperous nations to surrender sovereignty to financial oligarchs, ruling world economies like fiefdoms.

Hudson said European central planning concentrated financial power in "non-democratic hands" from inception under European Central Bank (ECB) dominance. Operating like a financial czar over its 17 Eurozone members, it:

-- "has no elected government (to) levy taxes;

-- (t)he EU constitution prevents (it) from bailing out governments," unlike the Fed able to monetize US debt in limitless amounts; and

-- "the IMF Articles of Agreement also block it from giving domestic fiscal support for budget deficits," saying:

"A member state may obtain IMF credits only on the condition that it has 'a need to make the purchase because of its balance of payments or its reserve position or developments in its reserves.' "

However, despite ample foreign exchange reserves, IMF loans are offered "because of budgetary problems," precisely what it's not allowed to do. As a result, "when it comes to bailing out bankers," said Hudson, "rules are ignored" to save them and their counterparties from incurring losses. And it works the same way in America under the Fed, dispensing open-checkbook amounts to Wall Street on demand.

No wonder Hudson calls finance "a form of warfare," operating like pillaging armies, taking over land, infrastructure, other tangible assets, and all material wealth, devastating nations in the process, causing unemployment, poverty, neoserfdom, "demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight."

Greece's business-friendly fiscal legacy, in fact, caused today's crisis, squeezing public spending in favor of the rich, especially with sweetheart tax policies letting much of their income go undeclared.

Financial deception followed. On February 8, 2010, Der Spiegel writer Beat Balzli headlined, "How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt," saying:

In 2002, Goldman helped them borrow billions by circumventing Eurozone rules in return for mortgaging assets. Using creative accounting, debt was then hidden through off-balance sheet shenanigans, employing derivatives called "cross-currency swaps in which government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euro debt for a certain period - to be exchanged back into the original currencies at a later date."

Debt entrapment followed, nations like Greece held hostage to repay it, the usual price being structural adjustment harshness, making a bad situation worse. In 2010, in return for a $150 billion loan, Papandreou imposed:

-- large public worker layoffs (around 10% overall);

-- public sector 10% wage cuts, including a 30% reduction in salary entitlements;

-- cutting civil service bonuses 20%;

-- freezing pensions;

-- raising the average retirement age two years; and

-- higher fuel, alcohol, tobacco, and luxury goods taxes, knowing much more lay ahead given Greece's worsening debt problem.

More bailout help is now needed in return for greater austerity, as well as selling off Greece's crown jewels as explained above. On June 24, New York Times writer Stephen Castle headlined, "Europeans Agree to a New Bailout for Greece with Conditions," saying:

The deal "came a day after Greece agreed with international creditors to more austerity measures (requiring parliamentary approval) as part of revised plans for 2011-15 aimed at" assuring bankers are first in line to get paid, popular and national interests be damned.

An agreement in principle expects half the funds offered to come from new loans, a fourth from state asset sales, and the remainder from private sector contributions.

An unspecified larger amount (of around 110 billion euros in total) will follow an initial 12 billion euro emergency loan with strings. They include:

-- laying off another 20% of public workers;

-- privatizing public enterprises and assets on the cheap;

-- a one-time personal income levy from 1 - 5%, depending on income;

-- lowering the tax-free income threshold to 8,000 euros annually from 12,000;

-- setting the lowest tax rate at 10%, with exemptions for people up to age 30, over-65 pensioners, and disabled people; and

-- annually taxing the self-employed an additional 300 euros.

Up to $120 billion in cuts are expected though final figures haven't been announced, depending on amounts raised from asset sales and private contributions.

In response, public anger is visceral through daily protests. The ruling PASOK party's approval rating is 27%. Over 90% of the public are dissatisfied with Greece's governance. Another 90% say the country is "on the wrong path." About 80% are unhappy with their lives, and 70% are concerned that conditions will keep deteriorating.

Nonetheless, on June 22, Papandreou won a parliamentary vote of confidence ahead of two more steps the IMF and Eurozone leaders require before releasing more funds - agreeing on their demanded austerity plan and enacting measures to implement it.

In fact, acting IMF managing director John Lipsky (a former JP Morgan Investment Bank vice chairman) said no opposition will be tolerated. In other words, Eurozone nations have no option but to obey IMF diktats, Lipsky acting more like a commissar than banker.

At the same time, austerity, privatizations, and greater debt amounts are self-defeating. Workers, of course, are hardest hit unless mobilized mass action stops it. Ideally they can do it by general strike, shutting down the country, setting non-negotiable demands, staying out until predatory banker diktats are rejected, and prevailing by letting nations regain their sovereignty and people their rights.

That's how labor battles are won. It works the same everywhere when rank and file determination stays the course to victory.

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, June 25, 2011

Breaching Gaza's Siege

Breaching Gaza's Siege - by Stephen Lendman

Suffocating besieged Gazans, Israel is committing slow-motion genocide. Global activists are determined to stop it and hold Israeli officials accountable for decades of crimes of war and against humanity - unspeakable atrocities financed by criminal co-conspirators in Washington.

In May 2010, Israeli commandos illegally interdicted six Freedom Flotilla ships in international waters, massacring nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara mother ship.

Nonetheless, global activists are determined to break Gaza's siege, the first step to ending it altogether and freeing nearly 1.7 million people, isolated in the world's largest open-air prison.

They're coming, Freedom Flotilla II, heading to Gaza with vitally needed humanitarian aid. Planning more high seas barbarism and piracy, Israel will again interdict. In preparation, mobilized reserve combatants held drills, focusing on riot-control measures, including brute force and "surprises" if needed.

On June 19, Israeli Admiral Eliezer Marom said:

"The Navy has prevented and will continue to prevent the arrival of the 'hate flotilla' whose only goals are to clash with (Israeli) soldiers, create a media provocation, and delegitimize the State of Israel."

Besides interdiction, imprisonment awaits participants, Israeli authorities saying blockade violators will be arrested and jailed, treated harshly, then deported. All of it, of course, is lawless, including seizure of humanitarian supplies and personal belongings like Flotilla I was pillaged, the way pirates have done it for centuries.

Israel is a rogue terror state. Activists know the risks. They're coming anyway and will keep coming, no matter what Israel plans.

A June 23 "Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human" press release headlined, "Sailing to Gaza," saying:

Within days, 10 participating ships will sail. Two carry cargo. Hundreds of activists from 20 countries are aboard the others, including politicians, writers, religious figures, journalists, TV crews from major broadcasters, doctors, lawyers, holocaust survivors, artists, and various other distinguished and ordinary committed activists for justice.

On June 18, Turkey's IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation pulled out, yielding to government pressure at a time Israeli and Ankara officials are holding secret rapprochement talks.

Despite Israeli threats, lies, pressure, blackmail, and governments not supporting their own citizens, preparations are nearly complete to sail.

A June 24 Free Gaza.org press release headlined, "Israel proves that Flotillas work," saying:

Israel's recent authorization of token aid amounts, including construction materials for 1,200 homes and 19 truckloads of medicines, shows pressure works even though not enough. Key is stiffening it until Gazans and all Palestinians are free. It's coming because global millions support it. For now, "Freedom Flotilla 2: Stay Human" sails for Gaza next week. "(O)ur destination is freedom."

Organized by 14 national groups and international coalitions, a US Boat to Gaza is included, named "The Audacity of Hope." Participants call this "an important moment in history." They're defying Israeli US ambassador Michael Oren describing organizers as "radical anti-Israel organizations known also for anti-American activities," and Netanyahu saying the mission is a "provocation." Earlier, he told European ambassadors in Jerusalem, "This flotilla must be stopped." Responding to it, he mounted a PR stunt to pretend Gaza's siege is eased.

Like other global activists, Americans are determined to help, despite Washington's efforts to deter them. On June 14, passengers wrote Obama, saying:

"We are writing to inform you that 50 unarmed Americans will soon be sailing....to Gaza....challeng(ing) Israel's (illegal) blockade (in) friendship (and solidarity) in support of the Palestinian people and their human rights."

Telling Gazans they're not alone, "it will call attention to the morally and legally indefensible collective punishment of a population of civilians....As US citizens, we expect our country and its leaders to help ensure the Flotilla's safe passage (and) demand that the Gaza blockade be lifted. This should begin by notifying the Israeli government in clear and certain terms that it may not physically interfere with" any participating vessel. We "expect no less from our President and your administration."

On June 24, Audacity of Hope participants "expressed profound disappointment" by the State Department's June 22 response, issuing a scandalous "travel advisory," advising Americans against coming by sea or other means. Saying previous attempts were "stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of US citizens," it didn't warn Israel that interdiction won't be tolerated, especially if on board activists are harmed.

Participating in the mission, University of Southern California Professor Hagit Borer said:

"Apparently, the State Department subscribes to the view that Israel's anticipated violence against unarmed protesters is an immutable act of nature. This is a remarkable attitude, coming from a government that provides the Israeli government with billions of dollars in military aid and routinely uses its veto to protect (its) government from censure of its occupation policies by the UN Security Council."

In fact, Washington officials are legally bound to protect US citizens. Nonetheless, they plan nothing to do it, effectively green-lighting Israeli commandos to lawlessly interdict, brutalize, and kill again if if they choose, perhaps with funding, weapons and munitions America supplies for that purpose.

A Final Comment

On June 24, Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor said:

"Israel is determined to stop the flotilla. Israel has the right to self-defense. The flotilla has nothing constructive. There is nothing humanitarian in the shipments," calling the mission a "provocation."

In fact, it's bringing vital humanitarian aid Israel lawlessly restricts or blocks entirely for nearly 1.7 million besieged people, ruthlessly persecuted for not being Jewish and electing the wrong government. Abhorrent by any standard, under international law it's illegal but continues because global leaders are complicit for doing nothing to stop it.

In America's Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson endorsed citizen action against destructive government policies. Flotilla participants are acting in the best tradition of his message, challenging Israeli repression for justice.

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/.

Violating Palestinian Rights

Violating Palestinian Rights - by Stephen Lendman

Besides its Knesset, security forces and intelligence services, Israel's High Court and Civil Administration ravage Palestinian civil society repressively. Two examples illustrate the problem.

On June 22, a B'Tselem press release headlined, "Sharp increase in West Bank home demolitions," saying:

Through late June, Israel's Civil Administration, its Judea/Samaria (West Bank) governing body, illegally "demolished more Palestinians homes....than in all of last year." Most often, soldiers and Border Police accompany them, forcefully evicting longtime residents.

Over the most recent seven day period, 33 residential buildings were demolished in Jordan Valley Fasayil, al-Hadidiyeh, and Yarza communities, as well as southern Hebron Hills Khirbet Bir al-'Id. As a result, 238 Palestinians, including 129 minors, lost homes.

Since January 2011, 103 Israeli controlled Area C (62% of the West Bank) structures were demolished, affecting 706 Palestinians, including 341 minors. This represents a sharp increase over 2010 and 2009 when 86 and 28 were bulldozed respectively.

At the same time, Civil Administration officials made few plans to help Palestinian communities. Instead, they prevent new construction and development beyond what now exists, "making it impossible for Palestinians to build legally in these areas."

Israel contrives ways to enforce policies. For example, some homes are demolished in areas the IDF declares "firing zones," including half of Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea land, even places located along main traffic arteries or next to or comprising settlements. As a result, even though Palestinian dwellings date back generations, they're prohibited from living there henceforth.

Discriminatory planning and building laws affect communities like Khirbet Bir al-Id, adjacent to the 1998-built Mizpe Ya'ir outpost. Though illegal, Israel approved connecting it to water, electricity, other public services, and basic infrastructure, funding it, including an access road. Moreover, it did nothing to prohibit its establishment, compared to Civil Administration harshness, demolishing Palestinian structures on their own land without permit permission.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) helps rebuild homes. It also resists "land expropriation, settlement expansions, by-pass road construction, policies of 'closure' and 'separation,' " destruction of agricultural land and crops, and the occupation's repressive effects overall, beyond its original mission to oppose and resist Palestinian house demolitions.

From June 1967 - July 28, 2010, ICAHD said Israel destroyed nearly 25,000 Palestinian structures, based on Interior Ministry, Civil Administration, OCHA, other UN sources, and Palestinian Center for Human Rights data, as well as Israeli and other Palestinian human rights groups, Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), its own field work, and other sources.

It classifies demolition types as:

-- punishment for actions associated with the structures (about 8.5%);

-- administrative for lacking building permits (about 26%);

-- land-clearing/military demolitions for any reason, including achieving IDF goals or accompanying extrajudicial assassinations (about 65.5%); and

-- other undefined reasons.

Israel, in fact, annexes Palestinian land one home demolition at a time. From July 10 - 25, 2011, ICAHD will again rebuild a bulldozed home, belonging to the Abu Omar family. Built in 1990 on privately owned land, Israel demolished it in 2005.

Ahmed Abu Omar applied for permit permission, but agricultural zoning restrictions denied him, a familiar story heard often to prevent Palestinians from living on their own land. With his wife and seven children, he built anyway, but was told in 2003 he did it illegally followed by a March 2005 demolition order. A month later, Israel bulldozed it despite his lawful presence, offering no compensation for destroying his property.

Since then, the Omars got by in a small house provided by neighbors and an ICAHD-built small, temporary shelter. Omar describes the experience as "dying every day." ICAHD decided to help him. The family response was gratitude and eagerness to regain what they lost. "Their courage to defy the Israeli Occupation's atrocious practice of demolition, forced eviction, and land expropriation is an inspiration to" everyone to resist.

ICAHD stresses that the "right to adequate, permanent, and safe housing, when fulfilled, provides the foundation for the realization of other rights," including to work, education, healthcare and other social benefits, as well as self-determination and political, civil and human rights. "When Palestinians are denied their right to housing, other economic, social, cultural, and political rights" are compromised.

As an occupying power, Israel is legally bound to provide them, and is prohibited from collectively punishing. It nonetheless persists because world leaders don't stop it. Palestinians, of course, lose out in isolation, ignored by powers that can help.

Israel's High Court of Justice (HCJ) Orders Cast Lead Victims Case Reheard

On June 23, a Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) press release headlined, "Israel (HCJ) vacates verdict in Case Lead Case: Appoints New Panel of Judges and Orders Case on behalf of 1,046 victims be Re-heard."

Earlier on April 28, Israel's High Court dismissed a Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) petition filed on behalf of over 1,000 Cast Lead victims. It asked the High Court to order Israel's State Attorney "to refrain from raising a claim under the (two-year) statute of limitations in future civil suits" for just compensation.

An earlier article discussed the case, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/05/new-israeli-discriminatory-laws.html

Pertinent information from it is repeated below.

At issue, is the universally recognized right to compensation for violations of international law, what neither Israeli governments nor its High Court respect. Its April 28 dismissal of legitimate redress is a blight on its reputation as an equitable tribunal. It's also a serious setback for Israel's victims.

"Significantly, the Court's decision to dismiss the petition was procedurally flawed." It denied PCHR its lawful right to reply by May 3. It showed Court complicity with rogue officials and soldiers, shielding them from justice, as well as denying legitimate compensation to their victims.

Moreover, the UN Cast Lead Fact-Finding Mission concluded that such actions amount to "persecution, a crime against humanity."

International law, in fact, recognizes the right of all victims to redress, including compensation, when violations have been committed against them. Yet Gazans are now prevented from "accessing justice, in violation of their fundamental rights." They now face three major obstacles:

(1) Statute of limitations: Under Israeli law, civil damage claimants have two years to act from the date of the incident, or lose out entirely. However, Gaza's closure and other restrictions prevented them from submitting filings within the required time. In fact, before August 2002, the period allowed was seven years.

(2) Monetary barrier: Israeli courts require claimants to pay court insurance fees before filing. While courts may, in fact, wave them, they're always applied to Palestinians, putting them under an unfair burden. Moreover, exact amounts aren't fixed. They're determined on a case-by-case basis. For lost or damaged property, they're usually a percent of its value. In cases of injury or death, no formal guideline exists.

PCHR said that in recent wrongful death cases it filed, claimants had to pay insurance costs of $5,600, an insurmountable amount for most Palestinians. "Simply put," said PCHR, "claimants from Gaza - crippled by the economic devastation wrought by the occupation and the illegal closure - cannot afford this fee and their cases are being dismissed and closed," denying them justice.

(3) Physical barriers: Under Israeli law, valid testimonies require victims or witnesses be in court to undergo cross-examination. Under siege, however, since June 2007, Gazans were denied permission to appear. As a result, their claims were dismissed.

Moreover, PCHR lawyers are prohibited from entering Israel to represent clients and must hire Israeli ones at extra cost. However, plaintiffs also are denied entry to meet with attorneys, and they, in turn, get no permission to enter Gaza. In fact, the entire process is rigged to insure injustice, another indictment of cruel and discriminatory intolerance.

PCHR said the policies and practices it challenged "perpetuate a climate of pervasive impunity." As a result, they effectively made Gaza an "accountability free zone," what, in fact, applies throughout Occupied Palestine, reinforced by rogue justices misinterpreting international law by violating it.

On June 15, Israel's High Court in part agreed, ordering new judges rehear the case, whether or not justice this time will be rendered. It's rare Palestinians get it in any Israeli military or civilian court.

PCHR's petition was litigated by Michael Sfard and Carmel Pomerantz, challenging the two-year statute of limitations and numerous other judicial barriers, including blockading Gaza under siege. It's on behalf of 1,046 Cast Lead victims, representing most cases prepared after the war.

"They cover virtually the entire spectrum of international humanitarian law violations," including "the most infamous cases," affecting the Samouni, Abu Halima, and Al-Daia families. The Al-Samounis lost 23 of their 48 members, Masouda Al-Samouni saying:

"I have no hope, no future. I lost everything in the offensive. I was in the corner with my children just watching. I was screaming and crying. I saw everything, the blood and the brains. There was smoke everywhere. I saw my brother-in-law falling down, and my mother-in-law. I realized that my three brothers-in-law and my mother-in-law were dead....I was injured in the chest and couldn't move....I was bleeding and five months pregnant."

Soldiers entered Ateya Al-Samouni's home forcibly, shooting him in cold blood. Mona Al-Samouni saw her parents shot to death. Others witnessed similar trauma. Survivors suffer from depression and nightmares. They're also impoverished.

The Halima family's experience was similar, losing eight members, including six children. Seven others were injured, including four children.

Israel killed the entire Al-Daia family, destroying its residence, then blaming the tragedy on an operational error when, in fact, it deliberately targets non-military sites, including homes, schools, hospitals, universities, mosques, historic sites, and many others unrelated to military necessity.

As a result, most Cast Lead casualties were civilians. It was no accident. It's now up to Israel's High Court to provide redress, though no amount will restore lost lives or remove permanent scars.

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/.