2016-17 Gaza Corner Archive
Heard live Saturday nights 11pm on Tangents 91.7 FM KALW San Francisco
This weekly feature includes news and opinion from the Middle East (and beyond) often ignored by the mainstream media followed by music from the relevant country or culture.
Gaza Corner was originally conceived to focus attention on relieving the humanitarian crisis in Gaza which has been under a severe blockade imposed by Israel since 2007. Gaza Corner has evolved to include the Middle East, Magreb, Kurdistan and Turkey.
March 18, 2017
audio coming soon
Palestinian protesters gesture as they climb over a section of the Israeli barrier at a protest marking the 12th anniversary of their campaign against the barrier, February 17, 2017. (credit: Reuters)
"Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid." This is the conclusion of a UN report that was withdrawn by the new Secretary General as soon as it was published, apparently due to intense US pressure. Gaza Corner digs deeper into this story.
'Apartheid' Israel: Head of UN body resigns over pressure to withdraw critical report
The report said it had established on the "basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.
"The secretary-general demanded yesterday that I withdraw the report, and I refused," said Rima Khalaf, adding: "I believe that discrimination on the basis of skin colour, religion or ethnicity is unacceptable."
Senior U.N. official quits after 'apartheid' Israel report pulled
It was the first time a U.N. body had clearly charged that Israel "has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole."
"I do not find it surprising that such member states, who now have governments with little regard for international norms and values of human rights, will resort to intimidation when they find it hard to defend their unlawful policies and practices," Khalaf, of Jordan, wrote to (Secretary General) Guterres.
"It is only normal for criminals to pressure and attack those who advocate the cause of their victims," Khalaf wrote in the resignation letter.
UN official resigns after pressure to withdraw Israel apartheid report
Rima Khalaf, the head of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) which published the report,said “I resigned because it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime, and I stand by all the conclusions of the report.”
The report finds “beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crimes of apartheid” as defined in international law.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the civil society coalition that leads the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, condemned Guterres’ intervention.
“The fact that a UN secretary general has bowed to threats and intimidation from the Trump administration to protect Israel from accountability, yet again, is hardly news,” the BNC said. “The real news is that this time round, Israel, with all its influence in Washington, cannot put the genie back into the bottle.”
Head of UN agency resigns after refusing to retract report calling Israel an ‘apartheid regime’
Officials in Israel made far-reaching allegations against the report and its authors, charging anti-Semitism and making comparisons to Nazi propagandists.
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon posted on social media: “#UN #ESCWA has issued today a ” Der Stürmer”like report, NOT endorsed by @UNSG . Friendly advice- dont read it without anti nausea pills….,” equating the UN report to the Nazi newspaper, Der Stürmer.
Landmark UN report backs Israel boycott
“The mission of preserving Israel as a Jewish state has inspired or even compelled Israel to pursue several general racial policies,” the report says.
These include “demographic engineering, in order to establish and maintain an overwhelming Jewish majority in Israel.”
This encompasses the ethnic cleansing of almost 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, the denial of the right of return for Palestinian refugees and “a range of other policies designed to restrict the size of the Palestinian population.”
Although they can vote, the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel – about a fifth of the state’s citizens – are also systematically restricted, while full rights are granted only to Jews.
Meanwhile, Israel’s discriminatory “Law of Return” automatically grants citizenship to Jews from anywhere in the world, “while denying citizenship even to those Palestinians who have a documented history of residency in the country.”
March 11, 2017
audio coming soon
Not to be outdone by Trump, this week Israel passed its own travel ban. The law's intent is to bar visitors who are critical of the occupation, including diaspora Jews who call for boycotting products from Israeli settlements.
Pro-Palestinian activist arrested after attempting a 'fly in' protest in Israel's Ben Gurion Airport (credit: Daniel Bar-On)
Israel's Travel Ban: Knesset Bars Entry to Foreigners Who Call for Boycott of Israel or Settlements
New law doesn't include caveat urged by Justice Ministry: To exempt Palestinians who reside in Israel.
Dore note: Haaretz articles require free registration. If interested in Israeli/Palestinian content, consider subscribing.
The leader of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, strongly criticized the legislation, telling the Knesset of his recent trip to the J Street conference in the U.S.: "I was in the U.S. two weeks ago, I saw there thousands of Jews who support a boycott of the settlements. These are people who act not against the state but against the occupation.
"I'm against the occupation and for a boycott of the settlements that are a war crime and the theft of land from private individuals. The occupation will end up making Israel a leper everywhere."
MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) said, “Who today doesn’t oppose a boycott of the settlements? Look at the UN, at the EU, at what’s happening in the international community. Do you want to boycott all of them and refuse them entry to Israel? The whole world thinks the settlements are illegal. You are essentially promoting a move that will strengthen the boycott of Israel.”
Five Ways Israel Will Make You Hate Israel This Week
The new Israeli law essentially creates a travel ban to be enforced by brain police. It would deny visitors entry to Israel if they were deemed to have called for boycotting Israel or the settlements.
In his government's version of a travel ban, Benjamin Netanyahu just handed the BDS movement to boycott, divestment from and sanction Israel – a movement already enormously and explicitly grateful to Bibi for its success – its most valuable single donation ever.
In one stroke, the new law simultaneously validates a range of the worst claims which Israel's critics level against the country.
A BDS demonstration in southern France, June 2015. (credit: George Robert, AP)
Israel's Travel Ban Backlash: Over 100 Jewish Studies Scholars Threaten to Not Visit Israel in Protest
"Among us are those who oppose the BDS movement, those who oppose BDS but support a settlement boycott, and those who support BDS”, says the petition that has come to the attention of Haaretz, although it has not yet been published.
“In spite of our different views, we stand in strong opposition to the new law. It will be bad for Israel, bad for the cause of democracy at this fragile moment, and bad for the principles of free speech and thought on which our scholarship is based."
Israel's Ugly New Travel Ban Tells the World: Stay Away if You Don't Agree With Us
Now, for the first time, Israel is rejecting Diaspora Jews who are engaged, who have a relationship with Israel, who care about her fate so deeply they are trying to do something about it in the form of actively choosing not to support the settlements.
A banner calling for the boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israel hanging from the Manhattan Bridge in New York during a protest against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza in 2014. (credit: Michael Appleton for The New York Times)
New Israel Law Bars Foreign Critics From Entering the Country
Some American Jewish leaders were alarmed that the new law makes no distinction between groups that support boycotts of Israel proper and those that support boycotting products made in the settlements in the occupied West Bank.
“It’s redefining as an enemy of Israel anyone who does not agree that the settlements are now and forever will be part of Israel,” said Lara Friedman, the director of policy and government relations for Americans for Peace Now. “That’s going to be problematic for a lot of American Jews who care about Israel. It’s just heartbreaking.”
A Palestinian man walks past graffiti calling to boycott Israel on a street in the West Bank city of Bethlehem Feb 11, 2015. (credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90)
Israel law banning entry to boycott supporters draws fire
Opponents of new anti-BDS measure describe it as ‘neither Jewish nor democratic,’ say it will further isolate Israel
“We think that border control should not be used as thought control,” Hagai El-Ad, executive director of prominent Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, told journalists.
He noted that Israel also controls who enters the West Bank and Gaza Strip, apart from through Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt, and said the law could “absolutely” affect his group’s work.
The law follows other recent measures seen as targeting left-wing NGOs, and human rights groups said it could affect their work.
Last year, Israel budgeted NIS 118 million ($32 million) to fight the movement.
Haaretz Editorial: Eligible for Aliyah, Barred From Israel: The Absurdity of the anti-BDS Law
The true purpose of the bill is to impose a sweeping sanction on anyone who doesn’t accept the Israeli occupation policy.
It’s clear that the true purpose of the law is to be a disproportionate whip against whoever criticizes Israeli policy, even if we’re talking about Palestinians whose lives are rooted in Israel and whose residency permit is in any case held as collateral. It’s not far-fetched to assume that the next stage will be preventing the entry of Israelis living abroad who express support for boycotts. Equally absurd is the possibility of any Jew living abroad who supports boycotting the settlements will be entitled to immigrate to Israel, but will not be able to enter the country under the new law.
...a “blacklist” will be input into the border inspection computers and anyone appearing on it will be stopped at Ben-Gurion Airport. This, together with enforcement of the Anti-Boycott Law, which applies to Israeli citizens, will turn Israel into a model of McCarthyism.
Boycotts for political reasons are a legitimate tool that falls under the protection of freedom of political expression.
March 4, 2017
Afghanistan surpassed Vietnam as America's longest war in 2012. Five years later it is still raging yet also largely forgotten. Just a handful of Western news organizations maintain a presence in Afghanistan as most have abandoned the effort.
Eyewitness to America’s Longest War, After Others Have Gone
Foreigners have become a rare sight in the capital these days; even more rare are foreign journalists. Only a couple of years ago, there would have been a hundred of us.
Afghanistan: The campaign's forgotten war
The United States first set out to test the proposition that has formed the cornerstone of our national security policy since 9/11: That the deft application of U.S. military power can not only eliminate those threatening to do us harm, but also install in their place a stable political order conducive to liberal values.
In Afghanistan, the United States and its allies have succeeded on neither count, despite considerable sacrifice and expenditures exceeding one trillion dollars.
An employee of Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of the organization's hospital after it was hit by a US airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. (credit: Najim Rahim/AP)
The case for a US withdrawal from Afghanistan
America’s Afghan presence has not deterred Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State from operating in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda as well as the Taliban has found sanctuary in Pakistan, and the Islamic State could do so as well.
Transparency International ranks Afghanistan 166 out of 168 in corruption.
February 25, 2017
Israel's racist double standard judicial system was on full display this week when a soldier who executed an incapacitated Palestinian was given a slap on the wrist.
Relatives of Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, who was shot dead as he lay on the ground by Israeli soldier Elor Azarya, watch television coverage of the sentencing of Azarya, at their Hebron home, 21 February. An Israeli court sentenced Azarya, an army medic, to 18 months in prison after he was convicted of manslaughter for the March 2016 executiion style killing of al-Sharif. (credit: Mamoun Wazwaz Xinhua)
Israeli soldier who executed incapacitated Palestinian gets slap on the wrist
“The sentence he received is less than a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones.”
At the time of the verdict, Human Rights Watch said that senior Israeli officials have been “encouraging Israeli soldiers and police to kill Palestinians they suspect of attacking Israelis even when they are no longer a threat.”
Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, similarly called the sentence a “slap on the wrist.” She said that this is “another example of the way in which the Israeli justice system is based on completely different standards depending on whether the victim and perpetrator are Jewish or Palestinian” – a reality she labeled “apartheid.”
Highlighting the double standard, journalist Ben White contrasted Azarya’s light sentence with the case of Ahmad Yasser Baraghithi, a Palestinian youth sentenced last year to eight years in prison on accusations of throwing stones and injuring an Israeli police officer in occupied East Jerusalem.
Video of Soldier executing Palestinian lying injured on ground
In video footage captured by Hebron resident ‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, who sent it to B'Tselem, he is seen lying on the road injured, with none of the soldiers or medics present giving him first aid or paying him any attention at all. At a certain point, a soldier is seen aiming his weapon at a-Sharif and shooting him in the head from close range, killing him. Although this occurs in the plain view of other soldiers and officers, they do not seem to take any notice.
The 18 month sentence for Israeli soldier Azaria who shot dead a Palestinian suggests those who commit violations 'protected by the system'
Israeli pop legend sings for “hero” who executed injured Palestinian
This stanza appears to give religious justification to Azarya’s act and to incite more such killings:
Your war is a holy war
Now is not the time to moan and cry
Do not fear
Operate under the rules of religion and morality
And any person who has a bit of sense in their head:
If anyone acts to kill you – be first to kill them.
There is such a terrible stench coming from the court,
Elor Azarya, we are here with you.
Elor Azaria: Israeli soldier sentenced to 18 months in jail for shooting dead wounded Palestinian attacker
In a damning January verdict, Justice Maya Heller said that Azaria had been aware that his actions in shooting the wounded Palestinian assailant would result in loss of life, and that “the terrorist did not pose a threat”.
In the past 18 months, 36 Israelis have been killed in mostly stabbing and shooting incidents carried out by Palestinian assailants. At least 244 Palestinians – including unarmed bystanders and demonstrators – have been killed by IDF forces in the same period.
Right-wing politicians call for Hebron shooter Azaria to be pardoned
Netanyahu and many coalition MKs urge clemency while left-wing MK says lenient term sends message that Arab blood is worthless.
“The security of the citizens of Israel requires an immediate pardon for Elor Azaria, who was sent to protect us. It is forbidden for Elor to sit in jail because we will all pay the price,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the right-wing Jewish Home party posted on Twitter.
Likud Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz wrote on Facebook that “the court said its piece, the legal process is done. Now is the time for clemency, to return Elor to his home.”
Youssef Jabareen of the Joint (Arab) List said, “The sentence does not reflect the severity of the act and it sends the harsh message that Palestinian blood is worthless. The case of Azaria is not an isolated incident but part of a widespread manifestation of the army, supported by the politicians, and nourished by not prosecuting soldiers.”
Former Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheim wrote on Twitter that the sentence was “embarrassing in its leniency, and even more embarrassing is the conduct of politicians who still demand pardon for a man who shot a terrorist in the head, because he ‘deserved’ it.”
Conviction of Israeli soldier must pave the way for justice for unlawful killings
For a soldier to carry out the deliberate killing of someone who had been captured and posed no imminent threat to life would amount to an extrajudicial execution and is a crime under international law.
Palestinian who filmed Israeli soldier shooting disarmed man dead in Hebron receives death threats
Mr Abushamsiya said he was shocked at the level of reaction to his video, claiming that similar incidents happen on a “daily basis” in Hebron.
“It is a surprise to us that people care now,” he added. “What would have happened if I was not there to film?”
Palestinians have flooded Mr Abushamsiya with messages of support, but Israeli settlers have also allegedly distributed his photo on posters calling for his death.
February 18, 2017
Mohammed-Aamar Jalad's father, Thabath. (credit: Alex Levac)
Mohammed-Aamar Jalad lies by highway after being shot by Israeli soldiers. (uncredited)
Palestinian Dies After Being Shot by Israeli Troops on His Way to His Last Chemo Session
No one bothered to keep the young Palestinian's family informed.
We asked the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit five questions:
- Why was Mohammed Jalad shot by the soldiers?
- Why was his family not allowed to visit him in the hospital?
- Why did his parents not receive an authoritative report about his condition?
- Why didn’t the IDF bother to inform them of his death and the reasons for his death?
- Why hasn’t his body been returned?
Palestinian succumbs to gunshot wounds inflicted 3 months ago by Israeli forces
Israel has come under repeated criticism for using lethal force on Palestinians when they pose no harm or they could be detained through nonlethal means, with the PLO labeling the deaths "extrajudicial executions."
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian after alleged stab attack in Nablus
Abdullah Abu Salim, 43, a merchant from Huwwara, told Ma'an at the scene that he and two of his friends, "saw [Amr] attempting to cross the road in Huwwara before being shot at by an Israeli soldier who then took out a knife and threw it next to the youth."
February 11, 2017
For decades it has been taboo for African-American athletes to express solidarity with Palestinians who also suffer under a system of oppression.
The blowback from a propaganda tour for NFL players sponsored by the Israeli government may be the catalyst that galvanizes African-American athletes into a more activist role connecting their own history of racial injustice with the Palestinian people.
Due to the fluid nature of this subject, several subsequently published articles are linked among the related stories.
Most NFL Players Pull Out of Planned Trip to Israel
Eleven NFL players were scheduled to take a trip to Israel this week. But only five players went through with the trip.
Why Michael Bennett Walked Away From the NFL’s Israel Delegation
Michael Bennett plans to visit Israel soon, but only if Palestinian people aren’t rendered invisible.
Open Letter to NFL Players Traveling to Israel on a Trip Organized by Netanyahu’s Government
“Palestinians have for decades been fighting policies similar to the ones people are protesting in cities across the United States.”
Below is an open letter signed by luminaries such as Angela Davis and Alice Walker as well as athlete-activists such as John Carlos and Craig Hodges, and organizations including Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. The letter asks NFL players to consider the political ramifications of a propaganda trip organized by the Israeli government that aims to prevent players from seeing the experience of Palestinians living under military occupation.
These trips bringing celebrities to Israel are part of a larger “Brand Israel” campaign to help the Israeli government normalize and whitewash its ongoing denial of Palestinian rights. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dedicated a lot of resources to this campaign, which is designed explicitly to improve Israel’s image abroad to counter worldwide outrage over its massacres and war crimes.
In 2015, more than 1,100 Black activists, artists, scholars, students and organizations, including Angela Davis, Cornel West, and Talib Kweli, signed a Black Solidarity Statement with Palestine, declaring their commitment to working to “to ensure Palestinian liberation at the same time as we work towards our own.
Palestinians are struggling today for their rights just like those who struggled in the U.S. Civil Rights and South African anti-Apartheid Movements, and just like brown and black communities are doing so across the United States now.
We urge you to rethink your participation in this trip to Israel and the message it will send to your millions of fans who look up to you. The power athletes have in contributing to the fight for justice is evidenced in the legacy of the late Muhammad Ali, who himself was an advocate for Palestinian rights.
NFL players head to Israel to be used as 'opinion-formers' and 'ambassadors of good will'
Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan: “The ministry which I lead is spearheading an intensive fight against the delegitimization and BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanction] campaigns against Israel, and part of this struggle includes hosting influencers and opinion-formers of international standing in different fields, including sport.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin echoed the sentiment. “Football stars are a source of inspiration for all American citizens. I am sure that, after the experiences that the players will enjoy in Israel and after they have seen the unique tourist sites and the special atmosphere here, they will become ambassadors of good will for Israel.”
February 4, 2017
Gaza Corner dissects the lies spoken by Trump and press secrectary Sean Spicer following the botched raid in Yemen. The attack targeted a low level Al Qaeda operative who was killed, along with many civilians including children and women.
Nawar Anwar al-Awlaki, 8, was killed in a commando raid in Yemen ordered by President Trump. (Yemeni media / via Twitter)
A woman in Sana, Yemen, on Sunday walking past a graffiti protesting United States military operations in the war-torn country. (Credit: Yahya Arhab/European Pressphoto Agency)
Yemen: Jeremy Scahill & Advocates Question "Success" of Trump Raid That Killed Many Civilians
Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept:
"The idea that they were senior figures within al-Qaeda is just a joke, and a sick one at that, to anyone who actually knows about the inner workings and the structure of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Let’s remember that AQAP has long since been incapable of organizing any kind of a threat to the United States or U.S. interests, and their primary war right now, ironically, is against the same forces that the Trump administration claims are Iranian proxies—the al-Houthi militias and leaders inside of Yemen.
It’s never a success when you have 8-year-old kids and infants being killed, or when you have, you know, Navy SEALs being sent on missions that are not really about the defense of the United States.
Baraa Shiban, Yemen project coordinator for Reprieve: "There are 10 children who were killed, six women and eight other villagers."
International Crisis Group: Deadly U.S. raid may bolster Yemen's al Qaeda
"The raid ... is a good example of what not to do," ICG's senior Arabian Pensinsula analyst April Alley wrote.
"The use of U.S. troops and the high number of civilian casualties ... are deeply inflammatory and breed anti-American resentment across the Yemeni political spectrum that works to the advantage of AQAP," she added.
Raid did not have sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations
U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.
One of the three U.S. officials said on-the-ground surveillance of the compound was “minimal, at best.”
Senior US Military Official: "Almost everything went wrong."
"A senior military official said "the raid was Trump's first clandestine strike — not a holdover mission approved by President Barack Obama."
Nasser al-Awlaki, Yemen's former agriculture minister and the grandfather of Nawar Anwar al-Awlaki, 8, who was killed in the raid:
"My granddaughter was staying for a while with her mother, so when the attack came, they were sitting in the house, and a bullet struck her in her neck at 2:30 past midnight. Other children in the same house were killed," al-Awlaki said. He said the girl died two hours after being shot.
"They [the SEALs] entered another house and killed everybody in it, including all the women. They burned the house."
Pentagon officials backtrack on claim no civilian casualties while Yemeni officials express outrage
After initially denying there were any civilian casualties, Pentagon officials backtracked somewhat on Sunday after reports from the Yemeni authorities begin trickling in and grisly photographs of bloody children purportedly killed in the attack appeared on social media sites affiliated with Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen.
Yemen’s foreign minister, Abdul Malik Al Mekhlafi, appeared to take issue with the American military’s account on Monday, condemning the Special Operations raid on his official Twitter feed: “The extrajudicial killings and killing civilians are condemned acts that support terrorism.”
On Sunday, another Yemeni official said that at least eight women and seven children, ages 3 to 13, had been killed in the raid.
January 28, 2017
Russia, the powerbroker in Syria, has drafted a proposal for a future Syrian constitution recognizing it's up to Syrians to ultimately decide. Respect for minority’s rights and rejection of Islamic sharia as the basis for law are among its conerstones. Importantly, the document appears to favor Kurdish autonomy.
Power split & minority rights among cornerstones of Russia-proposed Syrian Constitution
It stresses that all “faiths and religious groups” are “respected,” as long as they do not violate public order.
The draft further covers the rights of minorities in the country.
The draft also notes that Syria...not use its armed forces to “suppress” own people.
UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference following Syria peace talks in Astana. (credit: Reuters)
Key points of the Russian proposal for Syria’s new constitution
One of the conditions mentioned in the draft included that the word “Arab” be removed from the official name of the country “Syrian Arab Republic”.
The draft from the Russian delegation also proposed the dropping of religion as criteria for electing a president. Article 3 of the current Syrian constitution stipulates that the president has to be part of the Muslim faith.
Russia insists Kurdish participation in the Geneva process is “necessary” despite Turkish objections
In a move certain to rattle Turkey, representatives of Syria’s leading Kurdish party also attended the Moscow gathering (a mini-summit with state-approved representatives of the Syrian opposition) on Friday.
Turkey is waging a low-grade war against the Democratic Union Party in Syria, which Ankara views as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency within its own borders.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Kurdish participation in the Geneva process is “necessary.”
(Russian Foreign Minister Sergey) Lavrov said that Russia floated a draft proposal for a future Syrian constitution in a bid to encourage debate — not as an attempt to enforce Moscow’s will on the Syrians.
Russian Foreign Ministry: Russia did not offer to enshrine Kurdish autonomy in the new draft Syrian сonstitution
"We have identified an array of issues to be addressed by the participants in the discussion on the Syrian сonstitution one way or another," explained Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova. "...the way the Syrian state will be organized, the way it will exist and develop is not Russia’s objective. This task belongs to the Syrians themselves..."
Concerning the participation of the Syrian Kurds in the negotiation process, Zakharova noted that Russia’s stance on the issue is well known. "We proceed from the assumption that that they must join the process."
Russia-drafted new constitution for Syria offers Kurds greater autonomy
A draft version of proposed new constitution for Syria drawn up by Russia would grant Kurds greater administrative freedoms within a more decentralised government.
"The Arabic and Kurdish languages are equals in Kurdish areas of cultural autonomy," the draft says, adding that other regions have the right to approve the use of languages spoken by a majority of residents.
The draft suggests that the principle of "decentralised authorities" be applied and that greater powers should be granted to local administrations.
(The) constitution would confine presidential terms to a single seven-year period in office and no longer only allow Muslims to hold the top post.
Russian Delegation to Syria Proposes Kurdish Autonomy
Russia's delegation to the Syrian peace talks in Astana has recommended giving Kurds in northern Syria autonomy, the (Russian) RBC newspaper has reported.
RBC managed to obtain a copy of the text, which the newspaper reports contains 27 constitutional amendments. One of the provisions would give Kurds in northern Syria autonomy, as well as language equality.
Rojava (Syria Kurdistan) as gained worldwide attention, not only for its struggle against the Islamic State, but also for its radical mode of government which is based on direct democracy as well as ethnic and gender equality.
What the Syrian Kurds Have Wrought
The radical, unlikely, democratic experiment in northern Syria
There is one pocket of the country where the desperate and dispossessed are still welcome. This is Rojava, where the Kurds have established a relative oasis of security and opportunity in a desert of anarchy and oppression. With their backs against the wall, they rescued the Yazidis of Sinjar from annihilation by ISIS, and have sheltered refugees through years of civil war in Syria and Iraq. Now, they’ve opened their arms to those fleeing Mosul.
January 21, 2017
Gaza Corner discusses Israel's surge of house demolitions in the heart of Arab communities inside Israel while continuing the ongoing destruction of Bedouin villages in the Negev.
Bedouin women react to the destruction of houses on January 18, 2017 in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, which is not recognized by the Israeli government, near the southern city of Beersheba, in Menahem Kahana (credit: AFP)
Hasounah Makhlouf with some of his family members in the rubble of one of their demolished homes in the Israeli Arab town of Kalansuwa on January 10,2017. The razing of the 11 illegally built houses is one of the biggest demolition operations in the Arab sector in recent years. (credit: Heidi Levine for The National)
Israeli officials demolished 11 buildings put up without proper permits in the Israeli Arab city of Kalansua. January 10, 2017. (credit: Moti Milrod)
Violent clashes erupt in Israel as Palestinians protest the largest increase in house demolitions in decades
Protests have intensified after an autopsy report casts doubt on claims that Palestinian teacher was killed after driving his car into soldiers
Israeli demolitions spark deadly violence in Palestinian village
"The Israeli supreme court’s decision to allow the state to proceed with its plan to demolish the village, Umm al-Hiran, which has existed for 60 years, in order to establish a Jewish town called ‘Hiran’ over its ruins, is one of the most racist judgments that the court has ever issued," Palestinian-run rights group Adalah, which has represented the villagers in court.
Israeli Arabs vow to press on against Netanyahu’s demolition plans
Arab leaders and citizens argue that discriminatory government planning policies preclude Arabs from getting building permits, forcing them to build illegally on their own land.
The demolitions came nearly a month after Mr Netanyahu called for increased demolitions of illegal buildings in Arab towns, apparently to counterbalance the expected demolition of the illegal Amona settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank.
Demonstrators said there was no comparison between illegal Arab building and the Amona settlement outpost, stressing that the Arab citizens had built on their own land, while the Amona construction was carried out on the private property of Palestinians.
While Coddling Illegal Outpost, Israel Demolishes Arab Construction With Glee
The government cites a lack of permits, but the Arab community can't accept its bleak situation for long.
Israeli Arabs – particularly their elected officials – fiercely object to the comparison with the settlers. Arab citizens aren’t stealers of land and haven’t built towns under the auspices of the occupation. They’re building on their own private land they bought with their own money, or inherited.
Israel’s political leaders are taking a stand to find a solution for 40 families of land thieves – the settlers at the Amona outpost. The political leaders are recruiting the attorney general and top experts in order to bypass the High Court of Justice’s decision to evacuate Amona. But they’re refusing to discuss any proposal to legalize tens of thousands of Arab homes built on private land in the heart of Arab communities and lead a consensual move for efficient planning for Arab society.
added after broadcast
Despicable terrorist? Bedouin village in Israel's south mourns a beloved teacher
No one in Umm al-Hiran believes Yakub Musa Abu al-Kiyan, a father of 13, intentionally ran over a police officer; residents remember his calls against violence: 'Let them demolish the house, only let no one be hurt.'
January 14, 2017
Turkey's two month battle for al-Bab to oust IS is resulting in a military quagmire and causing many civilian casualties. Turkey's costly misadventure could eventually lead to confrontations with Syrian Kurds or Assad's forces.
This still image taken from drone footage posted online Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, purports to shows an aerial image of a neighborhood damaged by Turkish airstrikes in the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, in Aleppo province, Syria. (Aamaq News Agency via Associated Press)
Turkey bogged down in Syria as it realigns with Russia
Nearly two months into its assault, Turkey has become bogged down in an unexpectedly bloody fight to retake the Islamic State group’s last stronghold in northern Syria. It has been forced to pour in troops, take the lead in the battle from its Syrian allies and reach out to Russia for aerial support -- a move that tests its alliance with the United States and the Syrian opposition.
More than 200 civilians are believed to have been killed since the attack began Nov. 13.
"The battle for al-Bab has been mostly about killing civilians and destroying the city, whether by Daesh or the Turks," said Mustafa Sultan, a resident of al-Bab and a media activist. "The town is almost half destroyed."
For the U.S., the al-Bab assault risks causing direct confrontation between Turkish troops and Syrian Kurdish forces, which are leading a U.S.-backed offensive toward the de facto IS capital, Raqqa. Washington supports and relies on the Kurds in the fight against IS.
The Battle for al-Bab is Bringing U.S.-Turkish Tensions to a Head
Contrary to Turkey President Erdogan's rhetoric about cleansing the Islamic State from northern Syria, the main goal of his Syrian intervention is to prevent the unification of the two large Kurdish cantons along the northern border. Al-Bab is the key junction point between them.
On January 4 Erdogan threatened to close Incirlik Air Base to the international coalition against the Islamic State, citing the lack of U.S. support for his efforts to take the IS-held Syrian city of al-Bab. That battle will likely force Washington to make some hard choices about which ally is most important in the anti-IS campaign — Turkey or the Kurds.
Russia pleased with deepening US-Turkey rift over Syria
It is clear that the rift between Ankara and Washington over the Syrian crisis is becoming a crisis in itself.
Moscow is adeptly using the semi-paralyzed state of US decision-making, pending the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Russian-Turkish cooperation, which was evident on the ground in Syria with the evacuation of opposition groups from Aleppo, has sidelined the United States and Europe.
Why is Turkey so focused on Syria's al-Bab?
Turkey cooperated with Russia for Aleppo and signed the Moscow Declaration, which acknowledged the legitimacy and the rights of sovereignty of the Bashar al-Assad regime. This was an admittance of the defeat of Turkey’s 5-year-old Syria policy that prioritized the removal of Assad. It was also a 180-degree about-face.
With an apparent policy failure impossible to cover up, Turkey sought a face-saving success story for its Syria policy: the fixation to move into al-Bab and to cleanse it of IS.
The underlying reason for the focus on al-Bab is more about the Kurdish PYD and YPG...taking al-Bab from IS serves as a pretext for preventing the establishment of the Kurdish corridor adjacent to Turkey’s border with Syria.
The fears that Turkey, with no exit strategy, can be dragged into a Syrian quagmire are being verified.
Al-Bab shaping up as more trouble for Turkey
The formal US stance has been that it will not help the Turkish-backed Operation Euphrates Shield coalition or the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), led by the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), capture al-Bab. It has refused to do so because it does not want to be dragged into Turkey’s ongoing battle to prevent the Syrian Kurds from linking territories under their control.
The Turks and the Kurds are US allies in the fight against IS, but their bloody tussles are disrupting coalition operations to seize Raqqa, the “capital” of the jihadists’ so-called caliphate, and playing straight into the hands of Russia, the Syrian regime and Iran.
Ankara appears to have won Russia’s approval to advance on al-Bab...Few believe Russia will relinquish its support for the YPG, because it gives Moscow leverage over Turkey and the regime alike.
Note: Turkey has since taken away Ms. Zaman's press credentials and blocked her from reporting in Turkey. This is just one of many examples. Although Ms. Zaman is free, Turkey has the most jailed journalists of any country in the world.
January 7, 2017
Waiting to Die: Israel's increasingly restrictive medical travel permit policy sentences Gazans who require treatment outside Gaza to “premeditated death sentences.”
Israeli Witness in Gaza: No Water, No Electricity and Gazans Dying Unnecessarily Due to Israel's Restrictive Medical Permit Policy
An eye-opening interview with Salah Haj Yahya, an Arab Israeli who has been leading delegations from Physicians for Human Rights to the Gaza Strip for 30 years.
Salah Haj Yahya: It can take months (for a medical travel permit). Sometimes there is no reply at all. Many people die while waiting. There is also the issue of blackmail.
Haaretz: Meaning what?
Salah Haj Yahya: Their travel permit is granted only on condition that they collaborate – information in exchange for an entry permit.
Haaretz: You’re saying that the Shin Bet blackmails these patients? Can you prove that?
Salah Haj Yahya: We (Physicians for Human Rights) have filmed documentation of patients being threatened or blackmailed in exchange for a permit. We’ve written a report on this. The questioning often deteriorates into unpleasant and humiliating situations. Violence is sometimes resorted to. There are also all sorts of regulations, such as prohibiting the entry of men aged between 18 and 45. So if there is a sick child, they won’t allow the parents to accompany the child. Even when it’s a baby they separate it from its parents. Many times, when we pressure the Shin Bet or the Israeli side, all of a sudden the patient gets a permit. In other words, there wasn’t really a reason for denying a permit in the first place.
Gazan women protest Israel's travel ban which prevents them access to cancer treatment, Jan 2016. Credit: Hope & Aid Organization for Cancer Patients
Gazan Women Protest Israel for Cancer Treatment
'Premeditated death sentence,' is what Gazan patients are calling Israel’s travel ban and delays that prevent them from accessing medical treatment in Israel and the West Bank.
The number of denials of requests to leave Gaza for treatment has risen dramatically.
Physicians for Human Rights, an NGO that helps patients from Gaza obtain permits to leave the Gaza Strip for treatment, says that over the past year the number of denials to allow patients to leave for treatments has risen by 44 percent.
Sihan al-Tatri, 53, suffers from lymphatic leukemia and must undergo chemotherapy treatments once every three weeks.
“If they don’t give me a permit they are sentencing me to death. What country can agree to us dying because we didn’t get the right to medical treatment?”
Fact sheet documents the freedom of movement restrictions that prevent Palestinians from receiving proper breast cancer treatment.
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) have documented obstacles placed by the occupation that prevent Palestinian women from accessing proper treatment for breast cancer, in violation of international law. Although breast cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, for Palestinian women diagnosed with the disease estimates of five-year survival rates can be as low as 40 percent.
#DENIED : Harassment of Palestinian Patients Applying for Exit Permits
Report exposes Israel’s policy of arbitrarily denying medical treatment from Palestinians, even when such treatment can save their lives.
Out of 246 denied patients 117 were no longer considered “security threat” following PHRI’s intervention.
December 31, 2016
Gaza Corner discusses Israel's attempt to criminalize human rights groups critical of the Occupation speaking at schools.
Stormy debate erupts over bill to ban Breaking the Silence from schools
The bill, which was proposed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, gives the education minister the power to ban any human rights group deemed guilty of 'moral turpitude' or hostile to the IDF from entering schools.
Israeli Principal Reprimanded Over Inviting Break the Silence Group to Speak at High School
Ram Cohen rejects Education Ministry’s demand to give 'equal time' to pro-settlement groups after talk with veterans' group Breaking the Silence causes educational storm.
Ram Cohen: “I said unequivocally that I have no intention of balancing the picture by bringing groups that could justify the occupation, and certainly not groups that would say there’s a place for harming the civilian population in order to justify the occupation,” he said.
“I told her that in my view, the occupation is intolerable and can’t continue, and I’ll do everything possible, in the context of values-based education, to express that to the students.”
Cohen is the first principal to be summoned by the ministry since it published new directives on inviting outside organizations to address students. The ostensible purpose of the new rules was to keep Breaking the Silence out of the schools. But it seems that aside from summoning principals for a reprimand, the ministry has no way to enforce such a ban.
“I’m happy to announce that the thought police don’t operate in Tel Aviv’s education system,” Cohen proclaimed. “Democracy triumphed over political attempts to undermine it and to intimidate principals and teachers."
Breaking the Silence Executive Director Yuli Novak said the Cohen-Shitai meeting, “is a democratic victory by students, principals and teachers who didn’t capitulate to a campaign of intimidation and incitement by the education minister and settler organizations. We’ll continue to speak with Israel’s future generations about service in the territories and the moral price of the occupation until it ends.”
'Minister Bennett uses education to indoctrinate kids with nationalist ideas'
Tel Aviv high school principal, Dr. Zeev Degani, accuses the education minister of tearing the country apart.
interview excerpt: words of Dr. Zeev
Do you know that it’s prohibited to even say the word “Nakba”?
When the chief scientist of the Education Ministry develops a program to combat racism, and the education minister fires him, he is making a very clear statement. He is saying that racism is not a subject he wants to put on the agenda, that there is no racism in Israel, just as there is no occupation. When no one speaks and no one asks questions, the issue does not exist. It’s an approach that also forestalls activism and opposition movements, because there is nothing to oppose.
In the short run he (Bennett) may be getting what he wants... but in the long run he is breaking us apart as a country and as a society.
He has no interest in education. He is using it only as a platform to promote nationalist political ideas. He is firing or removing all the people who think and express themselves differently – and there aren’t many of them to begin with, because everyone there is afraid of him – and bringing in others who serve his ideology.
December 24, 2016
A Palestinian man stands in the ruined village of Iqrit during an annual pilgrimage to the village whose residents were expelled by the Israeli army in 1948 and then destoyed by IDF bombs on Christmas eve 1951. The villagers have never been able to permanently return despite a 1951 Israel High Court ruling in their favor for their right of return. (photo taken 5/10/08 by Reuters/Ammar Awad)
Gaza Corner marks Christmas Eve, December 24, 1951, the date when the Israeli army bombarded and destroyed the village Iqrit so that its Palestinian Christian Israeli citizens could not return. The bombing occurred after Israel's High Court authorized the villagers right of return. 68 years after their 1948 expulsion, Israel has still not allowed the Iqrit community to permanently return.
Iqrit: A Christmas Eve Displacement Tragedy
"In July 1951 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of another Christian village, Iqrit, whose inhabitants had been ordered, three years earlier, to leave their homes 'for two weeks' until 'military operations in the area were concluded.' After this judgement the Military Government found another justification to prevent them from returning. The villagers once more appealed to the Supreme Court, which decided to consider the case on 6 February 1952. But a month and a half before that date, on Christmas Day to be precise, the Israeli Defense Forces took the mukhtar of this Christian community to the top of a nearby hill and forced him to watch the show—the blowing up of every house in the village."
(David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East)
Full Background and Details of the Iqrit Displacement Tragedy
Dec 24, 1951
"On Christmas Eve, the Israeli army demolishes the village. Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben Gurion denies the action. Later, on January 16, 1956, he is to claim that the IDF acted on its own initiative, without an order from him."
Christmas and the Nakba
'December 25, 1947, the situation was tense in Palestine. But very few imagined that this would be the last Christmas that they would spend in their hometowns. Among the hundreds of villages that were totally cleansed during the Nakba of 1948 were dozens of Christian communities.
Between December 1947 and 1949, almost 800,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced, among them dozens of thousands of Palestinian Christians.
The 1948 Nakba has significantly affected Christian life in the Holy Land. In addition, since 1967, with almost fifty years of Israeli occupation, the construction and expansion of settlements, the construction of Israel’s Annexation Wall around Occupied Jerusalem – separating Jerusalem and Bethlehem for the first time in 2,000 years of Christianity – the prevailing lack of access to holy sites, the siege on Gaza, and the separation from the rest of the Christian communities in the Arab world have all given Christmas a meaning that goes beyond a traditional religious occasion."
Knesset plans lobby for return of Palestinians to their villages
"A most unusual group of Knesset members met to support the rights of the residents of two Palestinian villages (Iqrit and Kufr Birim,) who have been denied to return to their villages for 68 years now. The group included members of the governing coalition Kulanu Party and the opposition Zionist Camp, as well as former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens.
Israeli governments have been opposing the return of Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship, for fear that this will create a precedent for all Palestinians in terms of the right of return."
December 17, 2016
President-elect Donald J. Trump, center, his daughter Ivanka Trump and David Friedman exit U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden, New Jersey, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010. (Photo: Bradley C. Bower / Bloomberg)
Dore Stein adds his voice to the outrage over David Friedman as Trump's pick as US ambassdor to Israel.
David Friedman, Trump's Radical-right Ambassador
He makes Benjamin Netanyahu seem like a left-wing defeatist. From where Friedman stands, most Israelis, never mind most American Jews, are more or less traitors.
Friedman has expressed opinions that are considered radical even in today’s more right-wing Israel. He opposes a two-state solution, supports settlements and advocates annexation, has denigrated President Obama as an anti-Semite, questioned the citizenship of Israeli Arabs, compared J Street to Holocaust-era kapos and so on. It’s good he’ll be coming with diplomatic immunity: For some of his articles and statements, Friedman could get arrested by the Israeli police on suspicion of incitement.
This is not an ambassador that a rational U.S. administration would send if it had any plans whatsoever to advance the peace process. This is an ambassador who will please Evangelicals, delight Jewish settlers and bring pleasure to Land of Israel zealots far and wide.
If Friedman’s appointment is a harbinger of Trump’s intention to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem: It could weaken Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority – which would please Friedman, as he has often written – and give rise to more extreme leaders who will try to spark a new and violent intifada.
Trump’s Daily Bankruptcy and the Ambassador to Israel
President Obama, in his (Friedman's) view, is guilty of “blatant anti-Semitism.”
Friedman has described J Street, the liberal Zionist lobbying group, as comparable to the “Kapos during the Nazi regime.” The reference is to the prisoners forced to work as functionaries in the concentration camps.
“Finally, are J Street supporters really as bad as kapos? The answer, actually, is no,” Friedman wrote in Arutz Sheva. “They are far worse than kapos – Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps. The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty and who knows what any of us would have done under those circumstances to save a loved one? But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas – it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.”
Trump Chooses Hard-Liner as Ambassador to Israel
Mr. Friedman's outspoken views stand in stark contrast to decades of American policy toward Israel.
Mr. Friedman, who has no diplomatic experience, has said that he does not believe it would be illegal for Israel to annex the occupied West Bank
Daniel Levy, a left-leaning former Israeli peace negotiator, said that in naming an ambassador with the hard-line views of Mr. Friedman, Mr. Trump could end up undercutting the security of Israel and the United States and condemn “the Palestinians to further disenfranchisement and dispossession.”
“If an American ambassador stakes out positions that further embolden an already triumphalist settler elite, then that is likely to cause headaches for American national security interests across the region and even for Israel’s own security establishment,” Mr. Levy said. “Especially an ambassador committed to the ill-advised relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.”
Donald Trump's Israel ambassador is hardline pro-settler lawyer
Donald Trump has named as his ambassador to Israel a pro-settler lawyer who has described some US Jews as worse than concentration camp prisoner-guards.
An indication of how Friedman views Israel came in a 16-point action plan he issued with another Trump adviser in November. It included a declaration of war on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and pro-Palestinian campus activism.
Trump's Pro-Settlement Ambassador to Israel Panned as "Beyond the Pale"
Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer who supports Israeli settlement construction, said in a statement from the Trump transition team that he looks forward to doing the job "from the U.S. embassy in Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem."
Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a right-wing priority that opponents warn "could lead to an outbreak of violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in particular, and in the Arab and Muslim world as a whole."
6:54 PM - 15 Dec 2016 Lisa Goldman @lisang
David Friedman's views lie to the right of Meir Kahane's. Trump naming him as Amb to Israel is a FU to the 70% of US Jews who vote Democrat.
December 10, 2016
RUBBLE: A government compound following Saudi-led air strikes, in the northwestern city of Amran in July 2015. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
House destroyed during recent fighting in the southwestern city of Taiz, Yemen, Nov. 26, 2016. (REUTERS/Anees Mahyoub)
Gaza Corner describes how US sponsored military intevention in Yemen has fostered a strong resurgence in Al Queda in the Peninsula (AQAP).
'Everything is over now': the last survivors in Yemen's ground zero
The 20-month (US sponsored) Saudi campaign in Yemen, is a largely forgotten conflict that has killed more than 10,000, uprooted 3 million and left perhaps 14 million (out of 21 million) short of food, many on the brink of starvation.
How Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen has made al Qaeda stronger – and richer
The US backed Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen has helped Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to become stronger than at any time since it first emerged almost 20 years ago.
“We may be facing a more complicated al Qaeda,” a diplomat said, “not just a terrorist organisation but a movement controlling territory with happy people inside it.”
Former U.S. Diplomats Decry the U.S.-Backed Saudi War in Yemen
“The Saudis have been implicated, according to U.N. special panels, in war crimes,” “Given what we in the United States have been doing to support the war effort, we are implicated as well."
— Nabeel Khoury, deputy chief of mission in Yemen between 2004 and 2007
Chas Freeman (US ambassador to Saudi Arabia between 1989 and 1992) offered an explanation for silence on Capitol Hill. “Congress is amazingly responsive to the military-industrial complex, and it’s making a bunch of money by providing munitions, ordinance, as it’s expended.”
“I don’t think you can restore a government, especially an unpopular one, from the air, and I don’t think the use of force in this matter does anything but create long-term enmity.”
— Chas Freeman, US ambassador to Saudi Arabia between 1989 and 1992.
As the US meddles in another Middle East war, candidates must address it
Since the bloodshed in Yemen started, it has been obvious to experts in the region that the Saudi bombing campaign would only turn the Yemeni population against the United States, create sympathy for al-Qaida and a breeding ground for terrorists.
The fact that the Obama administration has not only stayed largely silent on the war but actively supported it behind the scenes should be one of the true scandals of its foreign policy posture toward the Middle East.
Obama’s Horrible Blunder in Backing the War on Yemen
There is no American interest being served by pummeling and strangling Yemen. Insofar as the war has aided Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, it has actually harmed U.S. interests, and it has done so at a terrible cost to the people of Yemen.
December 3, 2016
Gaza Corner delves into the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) defaming of African-American Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison who is vying to become the next chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The Smear Campaign Against Keith Ellison Is Repugnant but Reveals Much About Washington
No, the Keith Ellison Tape Isn’t Anti-Israel — and Shouldn’t Torpedo His Democratic Run
"There’s been a furious effort by Jewish activists in the last week or two to block him on the grounds that he’s anti-Israel, anti-Semitic or both.
Of course, if the image of Ellison that’s been laid out for us in the last few days were remotely true, any effort to stop him would be justified. But it isn’t."
Squabble Over Keith Ellison Reveals Dilemma for Democrats on Israel
Conflating anti-Israel policies with anti-Semitic bigotry, some American Jewish organizations are foretelling a split within the Democratic party.
Anti-Defamation League Says "Speech Raises New Doubts about Rep. Ellison’s Ability to Represent Traditional Democratic Support for Israel.
ADL: Ellison’s remarks ‘deeply disturbing and disqualifying’
Rep. Keith Ellison faces renewed scrutiny over past ties to Nation of Islam, defense of anti-Semitic figures
"None of the records reviewed found examples of Ellison making any anti-Semitic comments himself."
November 26, 2016
Fidel Castro, 1926 - 2016
- That Time Fidel Castro Embarrassed Netanyahu - and Praised His Father
- A Look at the Challenges Endured and Privileges Enjoyed by the Jewish Community in Cuba
- Cuba's Jews: People of a Solitary Star
- Ruth Behar, An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba
- Obama left Israel in the cold when he revived ties with Cuba
November 19, 2016
Co-chairs of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, who were recently abducted from their homes and imprisoned on groundless charges. (photo Reuters)
Dore Stein discusses the end of democracy in Turkey thru the lens of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), whose leaders were recently imprisoned. HDP is the most progressive political party in Turkey's history. This pro-Kurdish party champions the environment, gay rights, gender equality and preaches non-violence and democratic principles.
HDP Statement: The End of Democracy in Turkey
"Thousands of members, executives, elected mayors and city council members affiliated with the HDP have already been sent to prison on groundless charges. There is no freedom of expression and no freedom of press, no academic freedom, and no fair and independent judicial system any more. More than 80,000 people have been detained since July 15, and about half of them are in prison now."
"We call upon our friends around the world to stand in solidarity in our struggle to prevent Erdogan to steer the country into a civil war and further despotism."
HDP's letter to CNN
"It has been glaringly obvious that Erdoğan sees the coup attempt of July the 15th 2016 not as an opportunity to reinforce democracy in Turkey, but as an opportunity to establish his totalitarian and authoritarian regime. In particular, by bypassing the parliament and ruling by decrees, the government conducted a massive purge against media of all sorts, and a great number of printed and digital media as well as television and radio channels were closed down."
"Sadly, CNN Türk TV channel, instead of resisting these pressures, adhering to the universal principals of press freedom and ethics, defending the freedom of thought and expression and protecting the right of opposition to its opinion, has chosen to broadcast in line with Erdoğan’s directives."
"‘The right to reply’, one of the media’s most basic universal ethical principles, is systematically ignored by the executives of the channel. We face an even graver problem in panel discussion programs on this channel. On such programs during which our party is accused of unsubstantiated allegations, defamed and libeled against regularly by pro government panelists, nobody is invited to represent our party. To make matters worse, our written and verbal appeals to reply those allegations are consistently refused since June 2015."
Demirtaş: This empire of fear will no doubt be dispersed soon
"We, along with our members of parliament, were taken hostage as the result of what amounts to a civilian coup d’état is not merely an attack on us as individuals. This is a new step taken by those who have, step by step, implemented various plots to consolidate a one-man rule [in Turkey]."
"This empire of fear will no doubt be dispersed soon. We will continue our struggle under all conditions and without losing our faith in democratic politics. Even if we are between four walls, we will continue to be part of the struggle outside, and benefit from the joy of the never ending halay of freedom –never forgetting that we are all under the same sky."
November 12, 2016
This photo obtained by Mother Jones shows Walid Phares conducting a press conference in 1986 for the Lebanese Forces, an umbrella group of Christian militias that has been accused of committing atrocities. He was also a close adviser to Samir Geagea, a Lebanese warlord who rose from leading hit squads to running the Lebanese Forces. Photo courtesy of An-Nahar.
Who is Walid Phares? This segment sheds light on Walid Phares, one of President-elect Trump's top foreign policy advisors. Dore Stein reveals one chapter of his life you won't find on his CV.
Controversial Trump adviser Walid Phares signals major US foreign policy changes
Phares was a key ideologue of a far right Lebanese Christian militia that committed massacres during Lebanon's 15-year civil war.
Top Adviser Tied to Militia That Massacred
How Walid Phares went from advising Lebanese warlords to counseling the GOPDore note: The above is an excellent investigative piece.
November 5, 2016
Gaza Corner discusses why the incoming UN Secretary-General's plan for a two-state solution is a non-starter.
While empathizing with Gazans during 2014 war, Antonio Guterres has mostly stayed mum on the Palestinian question
October 29, 2016
Interview and music with Palestinian oudist and composer Adnan Joubran of Le Trio Joubran. [1 hr 45 min]. Recorded at WOMEX 2016, Radio Galega, 10/22/16
Adnan Joubran performing at WOMEX 2016
Adnan Joubran and Dore Stein during Gaza Corner recording at Radio Galega, WOMEX 2016
October 1, 2016
September 24, 2016
Amazigh women flashing the three-finger Amazigh symbol during a sit-in on 2 March 2012 against the company exploiting the Imiter silver mine near Tinghir, central eastern Morocco (AFP)
Morocco's indigenous Berber people are struggling to make their voices heard despite their ancient Amazigh language winning official recognition in 2011. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
This segment reports on Morocco's feminist activist group "Voice of Amazigh Women" which is dedicated to improving the lives of Amazign women including fighting against polygamy, child marriage, and impunity for perpetrators of domestic violence.
Morocco's Amazigh women fight for language rights and place in society
Time is running out for a new law to be passed that would make the Tamazight language an official state language
Morocco’s indigenous Amazigh women unite against Islamists and Arab elites
In Morocco, Amazigh (Berber) women have banded together to fight political Islamism, polygamy, child marriage and domestic violence
September 17, 2016
Dore Stein shares comments, both positive and negative, about Gaza Corner during KALW's September Membership Campaign.
September 10, 2016
Eno pictured inside liner notes of Neroli (1993)
Brian Eno denies Israeli dance company use of his music "Neroli" after discovering the Israeli embassy was sponsoring the event
Eno is also one of 1,200 artists who have signed the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine, refusing funding from or cultural contacts with Israel’s government.
Musicians Should Boycott Israel Until Palestinians Are Free
Ohal Grietzer is a musician and also an activist with the Israeli group BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within.
Brian Eno on the Israel-Gaza crisis: How can you justify images such as this?
When Brian Eno saw a picture of a Palestinian man carrying the remains of his dead son in a plastic bag, he was moved to write a cri de coeur to his American friends, asking them to explain their country’s unconditional support for Israel. This is his letter. "I sense I’m breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can’t keep quiet any more..."
September 3, 2016
Contrary to the Netanyahu narrative, newly replaced Mossad chief Tamir Pardo asserts the greatest danger facing Israel is not Iran, but potential civil war.
August 27, 2016
Featured artist is the Gaza Youth Choir who were not permitted to enter the West Bank for the album recording or the cd launch event on August 26. The choir was able to participate in the cd launch event thru video transfer from Gaza.
The new CD "Salute to Gaza" is released by Norwegian record label KKV. All the musicians and singers in the choir are students in the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM), which has departments in four locations in the Palestine territories: Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Gaza. Recording of the instruments was mostly done in the ESNCM studio in Ramallah, which has a collaborative agreement with KKV. The choir and soloists were recorded in a modern studio in Gaza. The equipment in the studio was smuggled through tunnels from Egypt before they were closed and destroyed two years ago.
The album is produced by Erik Hillestad. He and the sound recordist Martin Abrahamsen had to wait a year before the Israelis granted an entry permit to Gaza in January 2016, after three applications. The album is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This Gaza Corner segment discusses the new State Department travel advisory to Gaza which warns all Americans to leave at a time when Gaza needs help more than ever.
A Palestinian man inspects the rubble of a makeshift dwelling following an Israeli airstrike that targeted Hamas positions, Beit Lahia, Gaza Strip, August 22. Photo credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images
New State Dept Gaza Travel Advisory
Warning states "Avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip, and if you are there, leave as soon as you are able." Advisory comes at a time when humanitarian work is needed more than ever in Gaza.
Unexploded Rocket Lands in Sderot on Gaza Border; IDF Responds With Airstrikes and Artillery Fire
A local Gaza group that identifies with ISIS's ideology claims responsibility for the rocket fire, which is seen as a challenge to Hamas in Gaza.
Gaza artists not allowed to leave Strip despite official invitations to perform at Palestine Choral Festival in West Bank
In the past few months, the Gaza Strip has witnessed a burgeoning arts scene. The number of bands has skyrocketed, large concerts have taken place on a regular basis, and musicians have been invited to perform outside the densely populated, besieged area.
However, much to the dismay of the musicians, Israel has routinely refused to give permits, most often without explanation.
The latest example is The Palestine Sings children's chorus, which is a part of the UNICEF-funded Al-Sununu Institution for Culture and Arts which was recently invited to perform in the Palestine Choral Festival in the West Bank yet barred from participating by Israel.
August 20, 2016
Protesters march in an annual demonstration to reopen Shuhada Street to Palestinians, Hebron, West Bank, February 2015. (CC by-SA 2.0)
Activists with the Center for Jewish Non-Violence clear debris from the yard of the would-be cinema as Israeli soldiers and settlers look on, Hebron, July 15, 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)
Israeli authorities removing activists from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence from property in the West Bank city of Hebron, July 16, 2016. (Andrew Tobin)
Activists from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence protesting outside the jail in the West Bank Jewish settlement Kiryat Arba where 6 of its members were detained in the prison. July 16, 2016. (Andrew Tobin)
Jewish Voice for Peace activist Jim Haber reports back on his recent trip with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence delegation to Palestine. Highlights include their visit to Hebron which is the most combustible flash point in the West Bank and accompanying Palestinian residents of Susya into an archaeological park where their village once stood before being expelled.
Diaspora Jews Are Joining Palestinians in Nonviolent Resistance to the Occupation
There’s a power in using our privilege as American Jews to stand for peace and justice.
What I Saw Last Friday in Hebron
Palestinians asked American Jews to join them in a 'Freedom Summer.' The result was extraordinary.
Jewish, Palestinian activists try to build a cinema in Hebron
As soldiers and settlers look on, dozens of foreign Jews join Palestinians in the segregated city of Hebron ‘to try to make the unbearable a little more bearable.’ Police detain six Israelis among the group, prevent others from even joining.
Using My Jewish Privilege To Make a Difference for Palestinians in Hebron
There’s a power in using our privilege as American Jews to stand for peace and justice.
August 13, 2016
Gaza Corner discusses the systematic abduction of thousands of mostly Yemeni infants in Israel from 1948-1954.
Frecha Amar, 84, an Israeli Jew of Moroccan descent, holds a picture of her baby, who she says was abducted in 1958, at her home in the village of Kfar Chabad, near Tel-Aviv (AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana)
Israel’s stolen babies remains the state’s darkest secret
Last month Tzachi Hanegbi, minister for national security, became the first government official to admit that hundreds of babies had been stolen from their mothers in the years immediately following Israel’s creation in 1948. In truth, the number is more likely to be in the thousands.
By now, Israel’s critics are mostly inured to the well-known litany of atrocities associated with the state’s founding. Not least, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homeland in 1948 to make way for Israel and its new Jewish immigrants.
The story of the stolen babies, however, offers the shock of the unexpected. These crimes were committed not against Palestinians but other Jews.
But the kidnapping of the children and the mass expulsion of Palestinians at much the same time are not unrelated events. In fact, the babies scandal sheds light not only on Israel’s past but on its present.
A Yemenite Jewish boy at a transit camp in Aden, December 1949. (David Eldan/GPO)
Time for Israel to Admit: The Yemenite Children Were Systematically Kidnapped
For 60 years, the establishment, media and courts have colluded to hide the truth about this ugly affair that dismantles the Zionist story we like to tell ourselves.
Hundreds of Yemenite Children Were Abducted in State's Early Years, Says Israeli National Security Minister
National security mInister refers to a 65-year-old affair that returned to the headlines a few months ago. Between 1948 and 1954, between 1,500 and 5,000 children, mainly Yemenite toddlers, were reported missing, with many parents being told their children had died, sparking claims they were taken and given to Ashkenazi couples.
Yemenite Jewish children at a transit camp in Aden await transferred to Israel, December 1949. (David Eldan/GPO)
Who's Responsible for Disappearance of 1,000 Children in Israel? Inquiry Fails to Say
Some 50,000 immigrants from Yemen arrived in Israel between 1948 and 1954 in Operation On Wings of Eagles (popularly known as Operation Magic Carpet). The vast majority of those who disappeared were infants. According to the statistical data, there were 5,824 immigrants from Yemen of the appropriate age (from birth to 4 years). Hence, of every eight infants, at least one disappeared.
A racist approach appears to have existed holding that it was preferable for the children of the immigrants from Yemen to be raised in more established families. To admit this undermines the fine Zionist narrative we like to tell ourselves.
Decades later, disappearance of 1,000 children in Israel remains a mystery
Twenty years ago, Haaretz ran a series of reports about the disappearance hundreds of Mizrahi infants, most from Yemenite families, during Israel’s early years. Were they kidnapped and put up for adoption? Had they died and been buried without their parents’ knowledge? Or is there a third possibility?
Between 1948 and 1950, about 50,000 Jews from Yemen were flown to Israel from the city of Aden. This means that 1.5 percent of the community disappeared – 50 percent more, proportionally, than the number of Israelis killed in the War of Independence. In today’s terms, it’s as though 100,000 infants had vanished in Israel during the past five years – or died and were buried without their parents’ being informed.
Ehud Ein-Gil was deputy editor of Haaretz Magazine and took part in the investigations of the Yemenite children affair.
Dozens of Ashkenazi Babies Mysteriously Disappeared During Israel's Early Years
Haaretz has received information about dozens of new immigrants from Eastern Europe, many of whom were Holocaust survivors, who were separated from their infant children and do not know what happened to them. It happened both in hospitals in Israel and at the British detention camps in Cyprus before the founding of Israel.
August 6, 2016
Gaza Corner discusses how PM Netanyahu is increasingly stifling freedom of the press amid a broader attack by his government on Israel’s democratic institutions.
Will Bibi bring down Israel's public broadcasting?
In the last seven years, Netanyahu has inched closer to autocratic rule than any other Israeli leader.
The first stage in Netanyahu’s efforts to weaken media criticism was the founding of the newspaper Israel Hayom owned by Jewish-American ultra Zionist casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Netanyahu has a stockpile of tycoons who are ready to invest and prepared to lose money to help him take over the media.
The fight over public broadcasting... is the struggle of the remnants of Israel’s free media for its freedom, independence and chances for survival.
How Benjamin Netanyahu Is Crushing Israel’s Free Press
It should as no surprise to anyone following Israeli news media over the past year and a half that in its 2016 Freedom of the Press Report, (pdf), Freedom House downgraded Israel’s freedom of the press ranking from “free” to “partly free.”
Efforts to stifle freedom of the press is part of a broader attack by Netanyahu and his ministers on Israel’s democratic institutions, including the Supreme Court and nongovernmental organizations
An atmosphere of intimidation has begun to take hold in many, if not most, of the country’s newsrooms.
All three of Israel’s main television news channels — Channel 2, Channel 10 and the aforementioned Israel Broadcasting Authority — are now in danger of being fragmented, shut down or overhauled, respectively.
The only remaining liberal newspaper — Haaretz — is struggling to stay afloat.
A member of Israel’s Border Police assaults journalists and medics assembled near Al Bireh, West Bank (credit: Fadi Arouri)
Partly free'? The real state of Israeli press freedom is much worse
Freedom House has downgraded its ranking of Israel’s media from ‘free’ to ‘partly free,’ citing closer ties to the government and a spike in paid media content. But it has one flagrant omission: Israel’s poor treatment of Palestinian journalists especially in the Occupied Territories.
Palestinian journalists going about their jobs reporting in the field are regularly subjected to physical assault and arrest without charge at the hands of Israeli soldiers.
Israeli soldiers also frequently raid and shut down Palestinian media outlets.
Palestinian journalists in the Occupied Terrritories are without rights or legal recourse. And while they are not citizens, they are obviously under Israeli control.
Roger Waters Sets the Record Straight: I Hate Apartheid, Not Israel
excerpt from interview with Roger Waters:
"Will someone give me an alternative to nonviolent protest, if we believe that the occupation is wrong and if we believe that the Palestinian citizens of Israel should operate under the same laws as Jewish citizens of Israel.”
"You cannot, in my view, maintain a status quo that is built on the idea that it’s okay to expel people from their homes – whether it’s people’s homes in East Jerusalem now, or people who lived in villages during the Nakba [the Palestinian term for the creation of Israel in 1948]. Both things are wrong, and it’s very difficult to sustain a country based upon invasion and colonization.”
“I would like to say that in 1945, or ’47-’48, you (Israel) had the goodwill, the sympathy and good wishes of the rest of the world. You were a bit like the United States after 9/11. But you’ve sadly frittered away that goodwill and you need to look at what happened in ‘47-’48, and what has happened since. But for the sake of your country and your countrymen, you need to accept that you’ve made mistakes. And you need to find the courage to live with your neighbors. You need courage. It takes courage to look at the reality, rather than trying to maintain the image of a false reality.”
July 30, 2016
Gaza Corner discusses why the US political conventions ignored Palestine and how profoundly different Israel has become from what its founders imagined.
Raising the Palestinian cause at the DNC
In stark contrast to public support and activism, the (Democratic) party's platform did not include references to the Israeli occupation and its settlements. Clinton supporters cut out these references, fearing retribution from billionaire mogul and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson.
The End of the Old Israel: How Netanyahu has Transformed the Nation
Israel—at least the largely secular and progressive version of Israel that once captured the world’s imagination—is over.
A number of slow-moving trends have accelerated dramatically. Should they continue, they could soon render the country unrecognizable.
Israel’s current leaders—headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who metamorphosed after the election from a risk-averse conservative into a right-wing radical—see democracy as synonymous with unchecked majority rule and have no patience for restraints such as judicial review or the protection of minorities. In their view, Israel is a Jewish state and a democratic state—in that order. Only Jews should enjoy full rights.
Meanwhile, the two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians has been taken off the table, and Israel is steadily making its occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank permanent.
Battle over Palestine may spill into Democratic convention
The amendments, (both defeated), would have added language to the platform to “provide the Palestinians with an end to occupation and illegal settlements so they may live in independent sovereignty and dignity” and “an international effort to rebuild Gaza, which the UN warns could be uninhabitable by 2020.”
"The oppression of Palestinians “is a moral issue, it’s an issue of our time,” Cornel West said. “And for the younger generation, it’s more and more becoming what Vietnam was for the ‘60s or what South Africa was for the ‘80s.”
Democratic Party: Closer to justice on Palestine?
"Not using the words 'occupation and settlements' is the triumph of politics over policy, at a time when Sanders and many other Democrats feel that politics and policy should be the same, in order to achieve integrity in our national policy," said James Zogby, Sanders appointed platform committee member and President of the Arab American Institute.
July 23, 2016
A baby is buried among the 56-160 civilians, mostly women and chilldren killed by US Coalition airstrikes in the village of al-Tukhar just north of the city Manbij in northern Syria earlier this week. (not credited)
Gaza Corner discusses mass murder that doesn't make front page headlines.
International coalition warplanes massacre civilians north of Manbij
US-led international coalition warplanes killed more than 160 civilians (number not verified) on Tuesday, July 19, mostly women and children, in the village of al-Tukhar about 10 miles north of Manbij. The bombardment destroyed more than 50 houses, around 75 percent of the small village. Al-Tukhar is technically in an area of IS control, but there are no soldiers inside, said a resident.
BBC report from inside IS-held Manbij
Video from first journalist employed by international media to get inside Manbij
An airstrike in Syria killed entire families instead of ISIS fighters
US coalition airstrikes pulverized entire families, including young children — families that were fleeing Islamic State but were instead mistaken for being those very fighters. Depending on whom you ask, the number of bodies found in the rubble is 56, 85, 160 or 212.
This is the highest civilian toll from any action by the coalition since it formed in 2014.
The U.S. military announced it is launching an investigation. Iit is probably another internal investigation that will wear on until the public has largely forgotten which airstrikes and which civilians it is talking about. The average time between a strike and the release of a redacted Centcom investigative report is seven months. in November, Centcom announced that it would stop publicly releasing the results of each and every investigation.
Dozens Of Civilians Killed In U.S-Led Coalition Strike In Syria
Both the opposition and [Syrian President Bashar] Assad's regime put the death toll above 120 killed.
US-led coalition purportedly levels northeast Aleppo school with internally displaced Syrians inside
“That school housed displaced people from neighboring villages,” Abu Omar al-Manbiji, a local citizen journalist, told Syria Direct. “So far we count 124 dead from the attack, and that number could very well increase.”
“These airstrikes hurt civilians more than anyone,” said Sa’ad al-Manbaji, a citizen journalist in the area. What’s more, “IS didn’t even have a military presence in a-Tokhar.”
US-led international coalition bombings have knocked out Manbij city’s infrastructure and municipal facilities, leading to shortages of fuel, food, water and electricity.
Alarm over reports of high civilian death toll from US-led airstrikes on Manbij
The bombing of al-Tukhar may have resulted in the largest loss of civilian life by coalition operations in Syria. There must be a prompt, independent and transparent investigation to determine what happened, who was responsible, and how to avoid further needless loss of civilian life. Anyone responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be brought to justice and victims and theirfamilies should receive full reparation.
At least 200,000 civilians in dire straits as noose tightens in three Syrian towns including Manbij
Approximately 70,000 civilians, are believed to be trapped in Manbij, with the town itself and surrounding areas subjected to near-daily airstrikes and ground strikes since early June.
“We understand the civilians in Manbij are in a dire position as they are trapped between the warring parties.
“The town has no electricity or water at present, and no medical facilities are known to be operating."
July 16, 2016
Turkish Parliament building the day after (uncredited)
sources: al Jazeera, Agencies
Gaza Corner discusses the coup in Turkey from various souces including Dore Stein, Dore's friends in Istanbul and two journalists.
Aftermath of Turkey coup attempt will be bloody and repressive
Mob rule will shape country’s politics as attacks on anyone seen to oppose Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his party continue
Turkey's coup may have failed – but history shows that it won’t be long before another one succeeds
Too late did Erdogan realise the cost of the role he had chosen for his country – when you can no longer trust your army, there are serious issues that need to be addressed
Erdoğan clamps down after crushing attempted military coup
Rebel leaders could face death penalty, while more than 2,700 judges are dismissed over ‘links to plotters’
Timeline: A history of Turkish coups
The military has intervened directly in Turkish politics three times, and in 1997 carried out a "postmodern coup."
July 2, 2016
Gaza Corner discusses why Turkey backed down from its vow to restore full relations with Israel only if the Gaza blockade is lifted.
Israel and Turkey Officially Announce Rapprochement Deal, Ending Diplomatic Crisis
Gaza blockade to remain, but Turkish aid to Gaza to be permitted through Israel
The Deal With Turkey Hasn't Challenged Israel's Shameful Control Over Gaza
PM Netanyahu rejected the chance to begin the real rehabilitation of Gaza, would include connecting Gaza to the West Bank and allowing people to thrive instead of just survive, but that wasn't even up for negotiation in the Israel: Turkey deal.
Unravelling the economy, blocking opportunities for young people, and dividing families, not to mention various rounds of violence, over the course of a shameful near-decade have violated rights, defied any sense of decency, and also led nowhere.
Tania Hary is executive director of Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement (in Gaza).
Turkey-Israel deal leaves Gaza siege intact
“Lifting Gaza siege means freedom of movement, not more food and aid,” Gaza writer Omar Ghraieb tweeted. “Is that too hard to comprehend?”
It will be difficult for many Palestinians to avoid the conclusion that Turkey has joined other members of the so-called international community, especially the United Nations, in helping Israel administer the siege rather than challenging its continuation.
Turkey-Israel Pact Betrays Gazans, Grants Immunity for 2010 Flotilla Attack
Normalized relations allow Israel to maintain siege on Gaza and raise the prospect of a mutually-beneficial natural gas deal for Israel and Turkey.
Netanyahu's Turkish Coup: How Erdogan Realized He Really Does 'Need Israel
Rooted in the AKP's staunchly anti-Israel past, Erdogan has always treated Turkey's relations with Israel with disdain. What changed?
Ending years of rancor, Israel and Turkey reboot relationship
Israel to pay $20m compensation for families of Mavi Marmara dead in deal renewing full diplomatic ties; Ankara to send aid shipment to Gaza
June 25, 2016
Gaza Corner provides details missing from most coverage of proposed artificial island off Gaza.
Katz: Gaza port would absolve us of responsibility for Gaza
Transport and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz describes the benefit of building a port near Gaza.
Israel may build artificial island off Gaza Strip coast
Environmentalists says plans are 'complete madness' and warn public to be skeptical
June 18, 2016
ISIS abducts 210 Kurdish civilians in Syria’s Aleppo
“They drove young people out of their homes, including men and women, and they moved them away by large trucks. We don’t know where they’ve been taken,” an eyewitness told ARA News, speaking on condition of anonymity. “ISIS fighters left behind the elderly and children."
“Most of the kidnapped were young men and some of them were women. We are concerned about their destiny, as the group may use them as human shields in its battles with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces,” Kurdish lawyer Omran Mansour told ARA News in Aleppo.
The best source for updates on Syrian War and Kurdish news in Rojava (Western Kurdistan): PeterCliffordOnline.com
June 11, 2016
In addition to being a symbol for black nationalists and anti war activists, Muhammad Ali became a symbol of Palestinian solidarity.
Ali leaves behind a legacy of forging ties between black and Palestinian struggles. The Black-Palestinian Solidarity he championed continues to grow, especially between Black Lives Matter and Palestinians living under occupation.
Muhammed Ali in a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, 1974. (unknown credit)
Millions Mourn The Death Of Muhammad Ali As The Black-Palestinian Solidarity He Championed Continues
‘I declare support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland and oust the Zionist invaders,’ Muhammad Ali said during a 1974 visit to Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon.
Sometimes he stung like a bee: Muhammad Ali’s uneven ties with the Jews
Ali raged against ‘Zionist control’ and slammed Jewish promoters, but also attended grandson’s bar mitzvah, appealed for Daniel Pearl.
Billy Crystal at Muhammad Ali funeral: I was his Jewish ‘little brother’
Comedian reveals how Ali helped him raise funds for a Hebrew U. peace theater group and quit a sports club that didn’t accept Jews
June 4, 2016
Gaza Corner reflects on 1953's Qibya massacre, a virtually forgotten massacre, up there with the worst of Israel's Palestinian terror attacks.
May 28, 2016
Gaza Corner discusses the "Basement Massacre" by Turkish forces in Cizre. a Kurdish town in SE Turkey. Turkey's military committed mass murder when it deliberately burned to death about 175 people who sought refuge in 3 basements.
This is a war crime that European countries and the US have chosen to ignore for geopolitical reasons. Europe wants Turkey to take in the majority of refugees. The US is reluctant to criticize Turkey because it wants it as an ally in the fight against the Islamic State.
Inside Cizre: Where Turkish forces stand accused of Kurdish massacre
Includes 4 minute video with scenes of devastation and heartbreak in Cizre.
Cizre destruction (photo by Getty Images)
'Unprecedented destruction' of Kurdish city of Cizre
An extensive independent report from the Turkish human rights NGO Mazlumder (pdf file) concludes that Turkish army campaigns in the predominantly Kurdish city of Cizre in the country's far southeast turned the city into a "war zone" where over 200 people were killed during the curfew. More than 10,000 homes were destroyed.
The majority were killed when Turkish security forces stormed three residential basements in which hundreds were sheltering from the fighting. Kadir Kunur, co-mayor of Cizre, told the NGO. "A total of 176 people were massacred altogether in three basements."
The war in southeast Turkey: ‘This country hates the Kurds’
Cizre, originally a city of some 130,000 inhabitants, had been under constant siege since December last year and the clashes between young armed PKK sympathisers and the Turkish army were merciless. Groups of civilians ended up stuck in basements of half destroyed buildings with hardly enough water and food, often injured and without ambulances being permitted to take them to hospital. Kurdish politicians kept in touch with people in the basements and tried to convince the Minister of the Interior to intervene, but to no avail: the basements were set alight. Post-siege videos showed civilians, politicians and journalists in the basements, their faces showing abhorrence at the sight of charred human remains and the smell of decaying flesh.
Alarming' reports of major violations in south-east Turkey – UN rights chief
“Most disturbing of all,” the High Commissioner said, “are the reports quoting witnesses and relatives in Cizre which suggest that more than 100 people were burned to death as they sheltered in three different basements that had been surrounded by security forces.”
Cizre destruction (no photo credit)
Kurds make ends meet in the ruins of Cizre
Article includes 2 minute video
The city has experienced a kind of destruction without parallel in Western Europe since World War II: street after street has been reduced to rubble, houses with holes in their sides the size of articulated lorries, multi-story apartment buildings burned out leaving only hollow shells, the rooms within them now a trichrome scheme of black, grey, and white ash.
Turkish forces accused of 'mass murder' in southeast
Article includes 2 minute video
The Turkish army has been accused of committing "mass murder" in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Cizre by the leader of one of the country's major political parties.
Based on the evidence some sort of incendiary device may have been used "because many of the bodies were burned - they were totally unrecognizable they had been burned so badly."
Behind the Barricades of Turkey’s Hidden War
Much of the violence has been hidden from public view by state censorship and military “curfews” — a government word that scarcely conveys the reality of tanks encircling a Kurdish town and drilling it with shellfire for weeks or months on end. The conflict has revived and in some ways exceeded the worst days of the P.K.K.’s war with the Turkish state in the 1990s.
Journalists are strictly barred by the Turkish government from reporting on the insurgency, and even the mildest expression of sympathy for the rebels can earn a prison sentence. As a result, what has happened behind the barricades and under “curfew” has gone largely unreported."
Dore note: This is an in-depth article written by a reporter who was able to avoid Turkish check points and meet with the Kurdish YPS Civil Protection Units in Nusaybin and visit Cizre after the curfew was partially lifted.
Back home after months of fighting, Kurds in Turkey's historic Sur district in Diyarbakir find only debris
Some look for their homes, others for the bodies of relatives as Kurdish civilians are finally allowed to return to devastated neighborhoods in Diyarbakir after months of fighting between the Turkish military and Kurdish Civil Protection Units (YPS).
May 21, 2016
Israelis Will Pay Dearly for Their Prime Minister's Reckless Appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as Defense Minister
Netanyahu has demonstrated that he is prepared to drag the country into a potentially disastrous military adventure, to remove all moral constraints and to encourage blatant racism for the sole purpose of staying in power.
Avigdor Lieberman (photo by Emil Salman)
Israeli PM asks Avigdor Lieberman to be defence minister in shock move
One of Israel’s most outspokenly hawkish and divisive political figures, the ultranationalist politician Avigdor Lieberman, has been offered the post of defence minister.
Lieberman, a former nightclub bouncer from Moldova with little military experience, has advocated for policies including the bombing of Egypt’s Aswan dam, the toppling of the Palestinian Authority, the introduction of the death penalty for terrorism as well as the transfer of Israeli Arabs into the Palestinian territories.
Dore note: Lieberman has also called for the assassination of Hamas leaders and urged the reconquering of the Gaza Strip.
To Preserve His Rule, Netanyahu Willing to Stomach Even His Greatest Political Rival
Even from the perspective of Israeli politics, which have always lacked dignity, morality and ethics, Wednesday's events were among the most insane and unpredictable ever.
Lieberman (“the man who isn’t qualified to be a military analyst,” as Netanyahu put it a few weeks ago), is the ultimate evidence of what Netanyahu really cares about – diminishing and restraining the military brass in an effort to stay in power. To achieve this, all means are justified – risking Israel’s security and undermining the relative, fragile quiet in the volatile West Bank by throwing a lit match named Lieberman into it.
With Lieberman as Defense Minister, Israelis Should Head for the Bomb Shelters
The mere fact of offering Avigdor Lieberman the position of defense minister is the crossing of a red line that has never been crossed. The offer has no legitimacy because Lieberman has no legitimacy. For the first time in Israeli history, fascism is a clear and possibly present danger.
Now the state is in the hands of someone who could destroy it.
May 14, 2016
Times are changing in American politics as bipartisanship on Israel is falling by the wayside. A Pew research survey reveals for the first time that more "liberal Democrats" are sympathetic toward Palestinians than toward Israel.
Gaza Corner music segment features a track from Istanbul based Israeli artist Yinon Muallem's new album "Meeting of Hearts". It is an intercultural project combining works of Turkish Sufi poet Yunus Emre with poets of the Spanish tradition of Judaism.
May 7, 2016
Two prominent Turkish journalists were sentenced to 5+ years for revealing the truth about Turkey's intelligence service (MIT) smuggling weapons into Syria.
Gaza Corner's music segment features two songs by Ferhat Tunç who is a Kurdish singer, human rights activist, writer, and dissident artist.
I revealed the truth about President Erdogan and Syria. For that, he had me jailed.
"When the state’s need for security contradicts the public’s right to information, which carries a higher priority? Can the threat to security be an excuse for government attempts to muzzle the media? When the stamp of “state secret” has turned into a veil concealing the dirty dealings of administrations, is it not the duty of a journalist to tear it away? Who determines what is in the best interests of the society?
As a journalist detained in solitary confinement in a prison in İstanbul, faced with accusations of “espionage”, I have been seeking answers to these questions. My conclusion is that no label of “state secret” and no rationale for “state security” permits a state crime."
April 30, 2016
Gaza Corner previews Middle Eastern flims scheduled May 1-5 at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
I recently screened this outstanding film but unfortunately it played earlier in the festival. However word is it will be independently distributed in the States. Therefore, I will plug this compelling documentary with a most unusual story.
Sonita Alizadeh is an undocumented Afghan refugee who escapes to Tehran after having fled from a close encounter with the Taliban.
She lives at the Tehran Society for the Protection of Working and Street Children. The charismatic Sonita discovers a passion and natural talent for rap music. At the same time she is from a poor family and at constant risk of being sold into marriage under the Afghan "bride price" system. The film exposes the nightmarish patriarchal control that is part of Afghani culture.
Ultimately what makes a good movie or documentary is the story. This story would seem unbelievable but it really occurred.
Winner of both a World Cinema Grand Jury Prize and an Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
This is a Cinderella like true story is about a New Orleans rest-home caregiver with a sort of secret life writing and singing her own songs, primarily by posting Youtube videos that have virtually no followers.
An Israeli producer/composer who lives in a kibbutz in the Negev Desert creates mash-up versions of songs from scouring Youtube videos. He finds one of her songs, transforms it and the resulting video goes viral. This happens without the artists even knowing they’re part of his projects until they're posted on-line.
Ziad is determined to leave the family pizza business which is a front for criminal activity. Ziad aims to move up Beirut's underworld ladder. He comes up with the idea of smuggling stolen drugs past customs in film-reel canisters. In order to make the scam work, he and has brothers have to put together the semblance of a real movie production and their cover story starts to evolve into a genuine passion project. All of the skills Ziad honed as a criminal turn out to make him a top-notch movie producer.
Suspenseful war film that uses fear of the dark to great effect. There is a no-man’s land between the army and The Taliban where two army soldiers disappear. The Taliban send out a patrol in search of two of their own who have similarly vanished. The only clue to the odd occurrences is a supernatural tale spun by a village teenager. "The no-man’s land is the abyss that imperious Westerners plunge themselves into when they are on soil that doesn’t belong to them."
Described as a shiveringly good ghost story set in a Tehran apartment building in the waning days of the Iran-Iraq War. "It’s a rare and refreshing example of a horror film and political allegory that doesn’t need to spill blood to be truly scary."
The film is set in Tunisia the summer before Tunisia's 2011 Jasmine Revolution. The drama follows an 18-year-old who is a headstrong singer in an underground band who pushes back against her mother’s attempts to control her. The teenager also confronts the government-sanctioned cultural policing and dangers that she faces from the repressive Tunisian regime. The film shows interesting scenes of nightlife in Tunis. As I Open My Eyes provides perspective on the simmering unrest that propelled Tunisians to overthrow President Ben Ali and his corrupt government and spark the Arab Spring.
Billed as a psychological thriller, which recasts modern-day Istanbul as an eerie, dystopian surveillance state where no man, woman or even canine is safe.
Filmed in Jerusalem and shot against the tombstones of Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
- Abu Ammar Is Coming
- A black-and-white photo of five men in 1980s Lebanon opens a speculative inquiry into the history of Bangladeshi freedom fighters in the PLO.
- My Aleppo
- Story of a young displaced Syrian family living in a cramped Pretoria, South Africa apartment. It examines their heartbreak and guilt when thinking about their beloved Aleppo - one of the oldest cities on earth.The film also shows them Skyping family and friends still living under war conditions in Aleppo.
- Sept-Oct 2015, Cizre
- Turkey unleashed war on the Kurds living in SE Turkey last summer. This 15 minute film focuses on the Kurdish populated town Cizre which is near the Syrian border and has been under siege by the Turkish military. Cell phones provide visual evidence of the aftermath of Turkey's devastating attacks in Cizre - which is still going on - and for the most part blacked out by the mainstream media.
Executive produced by Wim Wenders and Errol Morris (Director of The Fog of War), this documentary is about what the US government doesn’t want you to know about drone warfare by focusing on three veterans whose service experience causes them to question the usage of drones in overseas combat.
The story of Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble, which was originally conceived as a collective of musicians drawn from the Central Asian “Silk Road” countries including regions of China, India, Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. The group eventually broadened to include talents from all over the globe.
As the Oscar®-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville frames it, the Silk Road Ensemble arose out of Yo-Yo Ma’s quest to uncover Leonard Bernstein’s theoretical “universal language of music,” and to identify and cultivate the intersections between cultures where harmony connects disparity.
The film features archival footage from Ma’s career, including his performance as a seven-year-old prodigy in front of President Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline. This documentary includes many of the backstories of the ensemble members: Damascus-born clarinetist Kinan Azmeh (who was interested in working with Dore Stein on a Tangents Syria music tour before the war changed everything); Iranian exile and acclaimed kamancheh player, Kayhan Kalhor; and Wu Man, master of the Chinese stringed instrument. the pipa.
April 23, 2016
UN photo from 2014 of survivors at Yarmouk refugee camp waiting for food distribution.
Clashes between IS, Jabhat al-Nusra spell despair for Yarmouk residents
The fighting that broke out between Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp two weeks ago is compounding the already dire situation for several thousand families still inside the camp and many more previously displaced to the surrounding areas. The fighting that erupted on April 7 in what was once Syria's largest Palestinian refugee camp has placed several thousand civilians amid the frontline clashes between the two militant groups.
Destruction in the Yarmouk refugee camp (photo credit: AFP/STR)
Yarmouk’s Palestinians in Crossfire as ISIS, al-Nusra Vie for Control
ISIL and Nusra put Yarmouk civilians in line of fire
April 16, 2016
Dore Stein critiques Hilary Clinton's AIPAC speech. Hilary vowed to destroy BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and worked up the crowd by proclaiming: “Are we prepared to take the US/Israel alliance to the next level?”
BDS’s “South Africa moment”?: As states pass resolutions condemning BDS, it’s more important than ever to fight for Palestinian freedom
April 9, 2016
The Dome of the Rock - the only Muslim site to be included in the new map of the Old City of Jerusalem issued by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism; photo by Moshe Gilad
Official Map of Jerusalem’s Old City Omits Key non-Jewish Sites
Map distributed to visitors features one Muslim site - Dome of the Rock - and dozens of synagogues, yeshivas and Jewish-owned buildings, many of which local tour guides have never heard of.
Israel’s constant attempts to turn Jerusalem into an exclusively Jewish city have taken another blatant turn
A map of the Old City of Jerusalem issued by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism attempts to reinforce their twisted narrative by trying to deny the physical reality of Jerusalem.
The map underreports Christian and Muslim sites while overexaggerating Jewish locations. Of the 57 sites on the map, only one Muslim site and five Christian sites are identified.
April 2, 2016
Hanin Zoabi being removed from the podium at the Knesset, Feb 8, 2016 (photo br Emil Salman)
Silencing Arab members of the Knesset would be a new low for Israeli democracy
MKs could find themselves suspended for having minority views, under a bill that doesn’t conform to the most basic principles of a democratic society.
Dr. Yousef Jabareen is a member of Knesset and a law lecturer.
“Suspension Law,” Aimed at Arab Members, Passes Knesset Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni called the law “intolerable,” and predicated on “hatred and fear.”
“We must not transform the Knesset into a courtroom,” said Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Peri, a former head of the Shin Bet, adding that “Israel has a clear interest in the Arab community participating in the Knesset.”
Israel gives preliminary approval to controversial bill that could suspend Palestinian-Israeli lawmakers
The Knesset passed the first reading of a bill aimed at elected Palestinian-Israeli lawmakers that will see them suspended indefinitely for dissent.
Last month, three Palestinian MKs were suspended from speaking in the Knesset as a "punishment" for supporting the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and whose bodies remained with Israeli authorities.
The Knesset's Latest Attempt to Disenfranchise Israeli Arabs
The bill by which lawmakers could be suspended from the Knesset is another phase in the Knesset’s years-long efforts to eject Arab MKs who support the Palestinian struggle against the occupation.
Knesset Attempting to Throw Out Its Arab Members
This means that – unless the Supreme Court declares this bill unconstitutional – the Knesset will soon be Araber-rein, free from Arabs. A purely Jewish Knesset for a purely Jewish state.
THIS WOULD be a disaster for Israel.
March 26, 2016
Dore Stein(berg) speaks out against UC Regents inclusion of anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism at 3/23/16 hearing
U of California Board Approves Intolerance Statement
The University of California's full Board of Regents voted Thursday, March 24, to endorse a controversial statement against intolerance that condemns anti-Semitism, including "some forms of anti-Zionism."
Jewish groups say this is an important step toward halting the anti-Semitism they say is growing on UC campuses, whereas others warn these principles, which do not specify which forms of anti-Zionism are anti-Semitic, may inhibit free speech on campus.
Suppressing criticism of Zionism on campus is catastrophic censorship
"The report is merely the latest manifestation of a well-funded and increasingly desperate — even panicky — political campaign to eradicate criticism of Israeli policy from American campuses."
March 19, 2016
The Greatest Threat to Campus Free Speech is Coming From Dianne Feinstein and her Military-Contractor Husband
March 12, 2016
The first in-depth study of religion in Israel conducted by the Pew Research Center in Washington found that religious and social divisions are reflected in “starkly contrasting positions on many public policy questions.,”
“These groups live in the same country, a small country, but it’s almost like they live in different worlds,” said Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research.
“All societies have various kinds of fractures and divisions,” he said, “but the size of the fractures in Israel, from a pollster’s point of view, are jaw-dropping.”
While 89 percent of Israel’s secular Jews, who make up 40 percent of the population, think democratic principles should take precedence over Jewish law on issues where the two collide, 89 percent of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews, a smaller but fast-growing group, think the opposite.
The study found substantial differences among Israeli Jews on crucial questions. Even among self-identified centrists, opinion was split three ways on the issue of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Over all, a third believed the settlements hurt Israel’s security, a third thought they helped security and the remainder said they made no difference.
One alarming finding was that nearly half of Israeli Jews surveyed said that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.
One thing most Israeli Jews agreed on is that 76 percent of Israeli Jews believe Israel can be both a Jewish state and a democracy.
Dore note: This implies that either a majority of Israeli Jews believe democracy is compatible with unequal laws for its citizens or that 3/4 of Israeli Jews are blind to the unequal laws for Israeli Jews and Palestinians, within both Israel and the Occupied Territories.
The new study follows a major Pew survey of American Jews published in 2013 that found a significant rise in those who are not religious, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish, resulting in rapid assimilation in every branch of Judaism except Orthodox.
The new studhy also found that overwhelming majorities among both West Bank settlers (85 percent) and other Israeli Jews (79 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that Jews deserve preferential treatment in Israel.
Dore note: How can the above finding be aligned with the principles of democracy?
According to the poll, about eight in 10 Palestinian citizens of Israel believe there is heavy discrimination in Israeli society against Muslims, the biggest of the religious minorities, while a vast majority of Jewish respondents (74 percent) said they did not see such discrimination.
Dore note: When I was in Israel last October, I was stunned to learn that none of the Israeli Jews I spoke to had met a Palestinian. Outside of Jaffa and Haifa, Israel is a segregated country. In this context the above Pew finding about differing pespectives on discrimination is better understood.
Palestinians comprise approximately 20 percent of Israel's population of more than eight million people.
President Rivlin urges ‘soul-searching’ over poll showing support for Arab transfer
Rivlin: "It’s ‘unconscionable’ for Jewish citizens to think democracy only applies to them"
Arab MK: "Findings should keep Israelis up at night"
March 5, 2016
courtesy of Palestine Advocacy Project
Words of Palestine’s national poet on San Francisco buses
If you ride on San Francisco’s Muni buses or light rail cars this month, you might pass the time contemplating the words of the late Mahmoud Darwish, often described as Palestine’s national poet. Throughout March, the nonprofit Palestine Advocacy Project is running ads on the public transportation system featuring selections of Darwish’s poetry. The posters also feature images of everyday life in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The group creates “public media and education campaigns that expose Americans to the Palestinian struggle and advocate for an end to Israeli human rights abuses.”
Supreme Court declines to hear case over controversial ads on Boston's MBTA
The MBTA decided it would no longer accept advertisements about political or social issues, saying the moratorium did not violate the First Amendment.
New York MTA fights to prevent provocative anti-Islam ads
A series of provocative anti-Islam advertisements has embroiled New York City’s transportation authority in a free speech legal battle after a pro-Israel political group filed a federal lawsuit to force the city to include a rejected phrase in one of its controversial ads.
The group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, launched in 2010 by blogger Pamela Geller, proposed an ad that displayed the quote, “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” The quote is displayed next to the head of a sinister-looking face wrapped in an Arab keffiyeh scarf, and also includes, “That’s #MyJihad. What’s yours?”
“These ads are outrageous, inflammatory and wrong, and have no place in New York City, or anywhere,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
February 27, 2016
SeaMac billboard in Chicago
Lamar Advertising censors ‘Boycott Israel’ billboard in Chicago
HELP SEAMAC BRING THE TRUTH TO PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY
More and more people are coming to understand that Israel is an apartheid state that commits ongoing crimes against Palestinians. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is making significant progress even while Israel and the U.S. try to outlaw it. Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation and apartheid regime are increasingly desperate, with an extreme right-wing government taking control of Israel while a generation of traumatized children in Gaza try to survive without medicines, clean water or proper nutrition.
SeaMAC’s bus ads and billboards use the fewest possible words and compelling graphics to reach people who might not read a book on this topic or attend a presentation or a film. Our neighbors everywhere are bombarded with falsehoods and stereotypes about Palestinians and Israel, and everywhere there are efforts to blockade our facts and information. SeaMAC uses mainstream advertising to break through and show our neighbors everywhere that people like themselves care deeply about justice and equal rights for Palestinians.
Anti-BDS Laws Pick Up Steam — But Do Some Go Too Far?
excerpt:Nearly half the states in the country are considering legislation aimed at countering the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement. But critics say some bills are cause for concern, either because they seek to confer legitimacy on Israeli settlements or go so far in punishing boycott supporters they infringe on constitutionally protected speech.
February 20, 2016
Here, a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders near Maaret al-Numan believed to have been hit in a Russian airstrike. Putin is now the most powerful man in Damascus and he appears to be following a strategy similar to the one he once employed in Chechnya: destroy everything until there are no more people left, there is no more resistance and no political alternative. (AFP)
The War of Western Failures: Hopes for Syria Fall with Aleppo
Russia has seized on the Syrian civil war to expose an impotent West and show its own geopolitical muscle. The West has been observing the consequential brutality of Putin's new foreign policy strategy with a mixture of awe, indignation and horror. The price of Western passivity is the endless suffering of people in Syria, the strengthening of Putin, divisions in Europe and the rise of the extremists.
While Obama has maintained there can only be a political solution to the war, the reality on the ground is there could very well be a military solution for Syria: the victory of Assad achieved with the help of Russian bombs and Syrian and Iranian ground troops.
The war has long since ceased being solely about Syria. The country has become Ground Zero of global geopolitics, an unholy mixture of Russia's desired return to superpower status, an increasingly authoritarian Turkey, tentative US foreign policy, the Kurdish conflict, the arch-rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Islamist terror and the inability of a divided, crisis-ridden EU to do much of anything.
The greatest risk right now, though, is that of a direct confrontation between Turkey and Russia.
As Russian planes decimate Aleppo, and hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria’s largest city prepare for encirclement, blockade and siege — and for the starvation and the barbarity that will inevitably follow — it is time to proclaim the moral bankruptcy of American and Western policy in Syria.
It is time for those who care about the moral standing of the United States to say that this policy is shameful. If the United States and its NATO allies allow their inglorious new partners to encircle and starve the people of Aleppo, they will be complicit in crimes of war.
February 13, 2016
Bernie Sanders and the question of Palestine
At a March 1988 news conference Bernie Sanders blasted Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinian protesters as “an absolute disgrace.” “The sight of Israeli soldiers breaking the arms and legs of Arabs is reprehensible. The idea of Israel closing down towns and sealing them off is unacceptable,” said the then mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
Sanders was referring to the television images in those early months of the first intifada, of Israeli soldiers methodically breaking the limbs of Palestinian youths on the orders of then defense minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Sanders went so far as to suggest that the US use the “clout” that its billions in military aid to Israel and its neighbors gave it to force a change in behavior, “or else you begin to cut off arms.”
This was a bold appeal for any elected official in the United States both then and now.
Fast forward to August 2014 and the Vermont senator struck a very different tone, angrily shouting at his constituents as they challenged his defense of Israel’s killing rampage in the Gaza Strip that summer.
“You have a situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel … from populated areas,” Sanders said, deploying standard Israeli government talking points.
A year later, Palestine solidarity activists were thrown out of a Sanders campaign rally in Boston and threatened with arrest for bringing a sign that read, “Will ya #FeelTheBern 4 Palestine?”
The issue of Palestine has been virtually absent from the Democratic party debate. In an attempt to halt the momentum of voters flocking to Sanders’ populist demands for economic equality, Clinton has employed neoconservative anti-Iran talking points that frame the Vermont senator as dangerous for Israel.
It marks one of the few moments in which Israel has been mentioned at all during the Democratic primary campaign.
It is therefore worth examining his record on Palestine and the Israel, how his views have shifted and what we might expect from him as he attempts to broaden his appeal.
A review of Sanders’ record suggests that the changes in his views are rooted in political expediency rather than ideological commitment.
During a 1988 news conference Sanders said “You have the ability, when you have the United States of America, which is supporting the armies of the Middle East, to demand these people work out a reasonable settlement, protecting the rights of the Palestinians, protecting the rights of Israel,” Sanders said.
Later that same year, as he ran for a congressional seat, Sanders stuck to his position.
“The policy that Israelis shoot people is unacceptable. It is wrong that the United States provides arms to Israel,” Sanders told students at the University of Vermont. “We are not going to be the arms merchant for Middle Eastern nations.”
When questioned in 2015 about those statements from nearly three decades earlier, campaign spokesperson Michael Briggs claimed “He didn’t call military aid to Israel wrong, Bernie does not and has not ever supported cutting off arms to Israel and that has never been his position.”
Briggs’ attempt to revise history is contradicted by Sanders’ clear statements at the videotaped 1988 press conference. (see 16:24 mark)
February 6, 2016
Turkey's Hidden Humanitarian Crisis
Kurdish human rights organisations say fighting across southeastern Turkey has displaced 200,000 people in the last two months alone. At least 220 Kurdish civilians have been killed in the last six months, according to the opposition and pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Turkish authorities report that 246 security force personnel were killed in during the same period.
(Dore note - Perhaps 1000's of PKK associated fighters have been killed in the same time period as there are no reliable numbers.)
There are no camps for the displaced and no international organisations have offered help as yet according to IRIN news.(uncredited photo)
Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said long-term displacement is a concern as more and more homes and business are wrecked across the southeast. “These are densely-populated residential neighbourhoods where tanks are being used, heavy artillery which will cause casualties to ordinary residents,” he said, citing allegations that security forces have been reckless or targeted civilians. “We do know that lots of people who are not carrying guns have been killed and injured – small children, women, elderly people who [don’t fit the] regular profile for fighters.” Gardner said civilians in the areas under curfew who need medical care or food can’t get it. Cuts in water, electricity, and mobile internet signals are becoming common in Kurdish areas across southeastern Turkey. Gardner said “all these things put together are starting to look like collective punishment.”
Fahriye Cukur has been spending her days on the stage of a public hall in Diyarbakir, clutching a photograph of her 16-year-old daughter, Rozerin. She and other mothers are demanding that the authorities’ release their children’s bodies, which they believe to be rotting inside Sur. The high school student was in Sur studying for her university entrance exams, trapped inside the city, when fighting began and a curfew was imposed. Witnesses said she was shot in the head by a government sniper. “For 20 days, her body has been lying in the street,” Cukur protests. “They are killing our children. Our only crime is to be a Kurd.”
Undoing Years of Progress in Turkey
Abdullah Demirbas is the former mayor of Diyarbakir’s Sur district and a founding member of the Council of Forty, an interfaith dialogue group. Demirbas' piece is a must read if you are interested in this topic.
"Entire towns and districts are under siege. Tanks ram through narrow alleys closed off by barricades and trenches. Residents are trapped indoors for weeks because of curfews. Those who venture outside risk sniper fire. Their bodies lie on the streets for days before they can be collected. Bullets fly in through windows and buildings collapse under shelling, killing those seeking shelter at home. This is not Syria. This is Turkey."
January 30, 2016
BAN KI-MOON: GLOBAL CUPCAKE
Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in his last year of office apparently got tired of being a global cupcake. He did not mince words when it comes to Israel and Palestine during an address to the Security Council on Jan 26.
"Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process.
Some have taken me to task for pointing out this indisputable truth.
Yet, as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.
Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community."
The words of out going UN Sec General Ban Ki Moon who in his 10th year in office finally had the chutzpah to tell it like it is.
Global Cupcake Octo
(poem by Clara Hsu)
Whipped cream serves up a no-fault kiss.
Hi and bye to world oppression.
Better stay sweet than be gritty.
It doesn’t pay to be pretty
When dealing with world oppression.
A diet change—no cream, no kiss,
No more Ban-ki Global Cupcake.
January 23, 2016
In Syrian fog of war Israel has provided military and medical support to Jabhat al-Nusra (aka al-Nusra Front), the Syrian branch of al Qaeda, while the U.S. and Russia target al-Nusra with airstrikes.
combined excerpt from below articles
Syrian opposition activists in southern Syria say Israel has played a vital role in Jabhat al-Nusra gains near the Golan. There is clearly a growing divergence in U.S. and Israeli approaches over who represents the biggest danger—and who should be seen, if not as an ally, at least as a lesser evil in the regional crisis sparked by the dual implosion of Syria and Iraq.
In nearly two and a half years, around 2,000 Syrians have been admitted to Israeli hospitals. Only about 1/3 of the Syrians treated in Israel are women and children. The rest are combatants. An Israeli military official acknowledged most of the rebels on the other side of the fence belong to al-Nusra.
Al Qaeda a Lesser Evil? Syria War Pulls U.S., Israel Apart
note: may require registration
January 16, 2016
“We demand Turkey’s state to abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region.”
For international support, please send your signature, name of your university and your title to firstname.lastname@example.org
January 9, 2016
Kurdish youth run through smoke from gas canisters in Diyarbakir (photo not credited)
The (Turkish) State Doesn’t Talk; It Only Shoots
Turkey is waging a brutal war against Kurds (including civilians and youth) in Turkey's southeast (aka North Kurdistan). Few know what's really going outside this region because Turkey blocks media, politicians and humanitarian aid agencies from entering towns and villages under curfew. 'Curfew' is a polite term for total military siege where the military prevents civilians from leaving and does whatever it wants without the world watching. This chilling report is from a resident of Diyarbakir.
January 2, 2016
Endless Afghanistan War
The Taliban now holds more territory than in any year since 2001 when the US invasion removed the Taliban from power.
Meanwhile Afghan military attrition rates, are soaring. As Afghan security forces struggle, U.S. Special Operations troops are increasingly being deployed. Afghans, including senior military officials, no longer even pretend that they can fight the Taliban effectively on their own.
The True Cost of the Afghanistan War May Surprise You
According to a CRS report (Congressional Research Service), the cost of keeping a single American soldier in Afghanistan is $3.9 million.
Israel Bans Novel on Palestinian-Jewish Romance From Schools for 'Threatening Jewish Identity'
note: may require registration
Bennett wages a campaign against literature
Writer and Israel Prize laureate Amos Oz who is regarded as Israel's most famous living author wrote the blurb for the novel. The decision outraged Oz who called out Bennett for not taking parts of the Bible out of the official curriculum. “In everything dealing with sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews, the Bible is a thousand times more dangerous than Rabinyan’s book,” he wrote.