Sunday, November 13, 2016
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Monday, April 25, 2016
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
4 March 2016: A global temperature increase of one or two degrees Celsius would adversely affect human rights, including the rights to life, development, food, water, health and housing, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, told the Human Rights Council (HRC).
Knox stressed that human rights obligations with respect to climate change include decisions about how much climate protection to pursue, as well as the mitigation and adaptation measures through which protection is achieved.
Sunday, February 7, 2016
After the massacre, a letter was sent to the editor of the leftist affiliated newspaper Al-Hamishmar, but never published.
As Auron notes, there are still many archives of the time which are classified. Auron also states that there was an investigation that was never concluded and “died out” as a massive amnesty was provided to military personnel in February 1949.
This is a very exhaustive article, but I found it useful enough to translate this letter in full on its own. The letter, which first “disappeared,’ was provided to Auron by historian Benny Morris. Although these matters have been referred to in passing in historical summaries, the letter has never been published before in full.
The letter is brought forth by a member of the MAPAM leftist party, S. Kaplan, who got the letter of testimony from the soldier. It is written to Eliezer Peri, editor of Al Hamishmar, and dated 8th November 1948 (18 days after the massacre):
To comrade Eliezer Peri, good day,
Today I have read the editorial of “Al Hamishmar” where the question of our army’s conduct was aired, the army which conquers all but its own desires.
A testimony provided to me by an officer which was in [Al] Dawayima the day after its conquering: The soldier is one of ours, intellectual, reliable, in all 100%. He had confided in me out of a need to unload the heaviness of his soul from the horror of the recognition that such level of barbarism can be reached by our educated and cultured people. He confided in me because not many are the hearts today who are able to listen.
There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. There was not a house without dead. The second wave of the [Israeli] army was a platoon that the soldier giving testimony belongs to.
In the town were left male and female Arabs, who were put into houses and were then locked in without receiving food or drink. Later explosive engineers came to blow up houses. One commander ordered an engineer to put two elderly women into the house that was to be blown up. The engineered refused and said he is willing to receive orders only from his [own] commander. So then [his] commander ordered the soldiers to put the women in and the evil deed was performed.
One soldier boasted that he raped an Arab woman and afterwards shot her. An Arab woman with a days-old infant was used for cleaning the back yard where the soldiers eat. She serviced them for a day or two, after which they shot her and the infant. The soldier tells that the commanders who are cultured and polite, considered good guys in society, have become vile murderers, and this occurs not in the storm of battle and heated response, but rather from a system of expulsion and destruction. The fewer Arabs remain – the better. This principle is the main political motive of [the] expulsions and acts of horror which no-one objects to, not in the field command nor amongst the highest military command. I myself was at the front for two weeks and heard boasting stories of soldiers and commanders, of how they excelled in the acts of hunting and “fucking” [sic]. To fuck an Arab, just like that, and in any circumstance, is considered an impressive mission and there is competition on winning this [trophy].
We find ourselves in a conundrum. To shout this out in the press will mean to assist the Arab League, which our representatives deny all complaints of. To not react would mean solidarity with moral corruption. The soldier told me that Deir Yassin [another massacre, by Irgun militants, April 1948] is not the peak of hooliganism. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?
It is necessary to initiate a scandal in the internal channels, to insist upon an internal investigation and punish the culprits. And first of all it is necessary to create in the military a special unit for the restraint of the army. I myself accuse first of all the government, which doesn’t seem to have any interest to fight the phenomena and perhaps even encourages them indirectly. The fact of not-acting is in itself encouragement. My commander told me that there is an unwritten order to not take prisoners of war, and the interpretation of “prisoner” is individually given by each soldier and commander. A prisoner can be an Arab man, woman or child. This was not only done at the exhibition windows [major Palestinian towns] such as Majdal and Nazareth.
I write this to you so that in the editorial and in the party the truth will be known and something effective would be done. At least let them not indulge in phony diplomacy which covers up for blood and murder, and to the extent possible, also the paper must not let this pass in silence.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
6 FEBRUARY 201 - Something extremely dangerous is happening before our eyes as we watch British officials and the corporate media respond to today’s ruling of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which found that Julian Assange is being arbitrarily detained in the UK.
A major international institution upholding the rights of political dissidents around the world as they face illegal detention, abuse and torture is being turned into a laughing stock with the enthusiastic connivance of supposedly liberal media outlets like the Guardian and the BBC.
Reporters, columnists and comedians are pouring scorn on the UN group, legal experts who until yesterday were widely respected in the west and seen as a final bulwark against the most oppressive regimes on earth.
In desperate moments, confined and isolated, dissidents like Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia could take solace from the knowledge that a respected UN group stood shoulder to shoulder with them. In some cases, faced the weight of its opinion, regimes preferred to release such dissidents.
Now the UN Working Group’s status and the significance of its decisions are being irreparably undermined. In their desperation to keep Assange reviled, British officials and their collaborators in the media are destroying the last vestiges of protection for political dissidents around the world.
The most glaring example of this process, as pointed out by the former UK diplomat Craig Murray, is an outright lie being peddled by the British Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond. He says the UN panel is “made up of lay people and not lawyers”.
In reality, the panel consists of distinguished legal experts in the field of international law. You can see their CVs here.
Unlike Hammond, who is doubtless looking over his shoulder to the other side of the Atlantic, these are truly independent figures – that is, they are not beholden to the governments of the countries they are from. And if Mats Andenas, the Norwegian chair of the Working Group for much of its investigation, is to be believed, they are brave too. He says the panel has come under intense pressure from the US and UK to arrive at a decision contrary to the one they actually reached.
We know why the US wanted the panel’s decision to go against Assange – after all, he is in the Ecuadorean embassy precisely because he fears extradition to the US, where a secret grand jury is awaiting him.
But one has to wonder why the UK was so keen to overturn the Working Group’s ruling. Doesn’t the UK claim it is simply a “bobby on the beat”, trying to uphold the letter of the law as it spends millions on policing Assange’s detention? If the UN group says Assange should go free, that’s a nice little saving for the British taxpayer, isn’t it?
Hammond’s lie has not been challenged in the British media, even though a quick Google search would prove it is a falsehood. And now Murray informs us, the Foreign Office’s official spokesman has said the government department stands by the lie. In short, Hammond’s lie is no longer simply one politician’s foolish spin, but the official view of the diplomatic service.
The readiness of all sections of the British media to spread this lie and even expand on it is illustrated by a truly despicable piece of journalism from the Guardian’s columnist Marina Hyde. She is not some freelance blogger; she’s one of the most senior staff writers at the newspaper. Her voice can be considered to reflect the prevailing view of the paper’s editors.
Hyde not only echoes Hammond but uses her well-known cutting wit to deride the UN panel. Apparently, these leading experts on international law are really know-nothings:
I don’t want to go out on too much of a limb here, but my sense is that the finest legal minds are not drawn to UN panels as a career path. … Perhaps UN panellists are like UN goodwill ambassadors, and even Geri Halliwell could be one. …
As for their almost-amusing diagnosis of “house arrest”, the only possible rejoinder, if you’ll forgive the legalese, is: Do. Me. A. Favour. Assange’s bail conditions – I’m sorry if the term is confusing to the panel – saw him placed with an electronic tag in a stately home from which he was free to come and go all day long.
And so on.
Similar ridicule has already been heaped on the UN decision by a popular BBC comedy show, slowly settling in the British public’s mind that Assange is a rapist refusing to face the music (even though he has not yet been charged); that the UN’s legal experts are buffoons who cannot hold a candle to our own resolutely independent judges; and that Britain is a disinterested party simply honouring the letter of the law. More
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
The National – 26 January 2016 - Israel, it seems, has found a new weapon against Palestinian attacks – the humble cucumber seed.
Soldiers have been handing out seeds at checkpoints with advice to Palestinians – a nation of farmers until their lands were swallowed up by Jewish settlements – to stop their recent knife attacks on Israelis and invest in a peaceful future.
Palestinians were not fooled. The seeds, the packets revealed, were produced by the very settlements that corralled them into their urban enclaves.
Israel’s image-laundering is directed at western nations that have propped up the occupation – economically and diplomatically – for decades. As ever, Israel hopes to persuade outsiders that the occupation is benevolent.
The futility of its PR, however, is highlighted by the latest initiative of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
New legislation is designed to intimidate and silence Israeli human rights organisations – the international community’s eyes and ears in the occupied territories. These groups are to be defined as “moles”, or agents of foreign governments. Justice minister Ayelet Shaked warned that such foreign intervention “endangers democracy”.
The problem is that the governments funding the human rights activity are not Israel’s enemies, but some of its staunchest supporters – European states.
Israel treats Europe’s support for human rights as malign interference, but it welcomes the vast sums channelled its way via the European Union’s special trade agreement and the billions in US military aid. It is this kind of foreign intervention that sustains the occupation.
The new legislation, however, risks leaving the EU and US exposed. Removing the minimal restraints imposed on the Israeli army by monitoring activity, the crimes of occupation – and western complicity in them – will be all the starker. More
Monday, January 4, 2016
In a column at the Washington Post, Jannell Ross says the obvious (which doesn't mean the commonplace, not by any means in this case).
Armed men, threatening violence, occupy government buildings (even if they are in a "bird sanctuary" in Oregon) and they are described in the mildest terms. I wonder what descriptive language would have been used if they were Muslim or black protesters? Actually, we all know. As Ross makes clear, in either of those cases, the descriptive language would be ugly and in the case of Muslims the word "terror" and "terrorism" would instantly be on the table. Whites of a right-wing armed variety seem to be exempt from this. Curious indeed. ViTomDispatch
As of Sunday afternoon, The Washington Post called them "occupiers." The New York Times opted for "armed activists" and "militia men." And the Associated Press put the situation this way: "A family previously involved in a showdown with the federal government has occupied a building at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon and is asking militia members to join them.
Not one seemed to lean toward terms such as "insurrection," "revolt," anti-government "insurgents" or, as some on social media were calling them, "terrorists." When a group of unknown size and unknown firepower has taken over any federal building with plans and possibly some equipment to aid a years-long occupation — and when its representative tells reporters that they would prefer to avoid violence but are prepared to die — the kind of almost-uniform delicacy and the limits on the language used to describe the people involved becomes noteworthy itself.
It is hard to imagine that none of the words mentioned above — particularly "insurrection" or "revolt" — would be avoided if, for instance, a group of armed black Americans took possession of a federal or state courthouse to protest the police. Black Americans outraged about the death of a 12-year-old boy at the hands of police or concerned about the absence of a conviction in the George Zimmerman case have been frequently and inaccurately lumped in with criminals and looters, described as "thugs," or marauding wolf packs where drugs are, according to CNN's Don Lemon, "obviously" in use.
If a group of armed Muslims took possession of a federal building or even its lobby to protest calls to surveil the entire group, it's even more doubtful they could avoid harsher, more-alarming labels. More