NEWSLETTER  5
 IRAQ & PALESTINE UNDER OCCUPATION

   June 2010 choose your language:   FRANCAIS  NEDERLANDS  ESPAÑOL  info@brussellstribunal.org
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content of the newsletter:

1. PALESTINE
    ■ Israel and international law

    ■ Show your solidarity with the Gaza Flotilla and sign the petition
   
    ■
Another Israeli Massacre, Interview with Ian Douglas, member of the Executive Committee of The BRussells Tribunal
   
    ■ Palestine since 1948 and the Call for Boycot, Disvestment and Sanctions against Israel

2.  IRAQ
    ■ Occupied Baghdad
: Least livable city on planet


    ■
Photographic survey: Baghdad before the bombing of 1991

    ■
Photographic survey: Iraq after the bombing of 1991 and the reconstruction

    ■
Photographic survey: Iraq since the occupation in 2003

    ■
The Martyred Iraqi people

    ■
The Iraqi Government demands Spain to prevent the activities in Gijon and Madrid

3. AND ALSO
    ■ More news on the website

    ■ Support the BRussells Tribunal

 

is an international network of intellectuals, artists and activists, who denounce the logic of permanent war promoted by the American government and its allies, affecting for the time being particularly one region in the world: the Middle East. It started with a people’s court against the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and its role in the illegal invasion of Iraq, but continued ever since. It tries to be a bridge between the intellectual resistance in the Arab World and the Western peace movements.

ISRAEL AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
The siege on Gaza is a violation of norms of international humanitarian law. No state can justify the use of force to perpetuate an illegal situation, writes Curtis Doebbler
Curtis F.J.Doebbler

Dr Curtis F J Doebbler is an international human rights lawyer known for his outspoken opposition to human rights violations by the US government and his support of individuals in countries that have been subject to armed attacks by the United States.  He is professor of law at An-Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine, and representative of Nord Sud XXI to the United Nations in New York and Geneva. He is a member of the BRussells Tribunal Advisory Committee.

International law is important to states because it reflects agreed upon rules. In fact, the rules of international law are some of the only things that have been widely agreed upon among states.

In most cases states obey international law. If they did not we would likely have much more violence and injustice in the international community. It is for this reason that it is so important for states to ensure respect for the rule of international law.

In the last century the most significant failure to ensure respect for the rule of international law has arguably been in regards to Israel. No state has violated so many rules of international law so often and with such impunity as has Israel. Its violations have created a situation whereby it is considered a threat to international peace and security by the overwhelming majority of states in the international community, and its very existence as a state in the international community is being challenged.

Despite the serious effects of Israel’s failure to respect international law, the international community has been unwilling or unable to enforce international law. In part this is due to an effective Israeli lobby, but in part it is also due to the failure of those states and individuals who support the rule of international law to effectively ensure their words and intentions are realised through the actions of states.

Still, the rules of international law applying to Israel and Palestine are not too difficult to understand. It is hoped this short summary of some of the most important rules below will help those who support the rule of international law to muster the courage to implement this law.

 Palestinians’ right to self-determination and the creation of Israel

The starting point for any consideration of international law in relation to “the question of Palestine” — as the UN neutrally refers to it — is the right to self-determination. No right has been more important to so many peoples and states in the international community. Although we have a tendency to devote more attention to the international law of self-determination as it developed since the creation of the United Nations, the right to self-determination in the form that it is more relevant to “the question of Palestine” existed much earlier. In fact, this right can be traced back to the very existence of the nation-state, when it was decided that people living together in a particular territory have the right to form themselves into a sovereign state.

In other words, when there is no existing state, the right of self-determination gives the people concerned the right to form their own state. Applied to Palestine this means that after World War I when the Ottoman Empire was forced to relinquish sovereign over Palestine and when the British conquerors expressly denounced any interest in ruling Palestine, since that time the people living in Palestine have had the right to decide their own future.

As we know, this right was never recognised. Instead, first Britain and the international community acting through the United Nations denied the Palestinian people this right. This violated international law, as there is nothing in the UN Charter that allows the organisation the right to violate the right to self-determination. In fact, Article 1 of the UN Charter makes the right to self-determination one of the purposes for which the United Nations exists.

According to international law existing at time, the creation of the State of Israel was illegal. Moreover, we know that once an illegal act has been committed by states, the consequences of that act remain illegal and may not be recognised as legal by other states. Thus even today it is correct to say that Israel is an illegal state and has been since its creation, no matter what its de facto position might be.

Even if one were to acknowledge the creation of Israel by the UN General Assembly’s adoption of resolution 181 on 29 November 1947, that resolution itself states, in Part 1, Subsection A, Paragraph 3, that “independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem … shall come into existence in Palestine.” In other words, in the very same paragraph as the State of Israel is created, so is the state of Palestine and the “international” city of Jerusalem.

Neither Israel nor the international community have respected the terms of this resolution. Instead, not only has Palestine been denied statehood, but also Palestinians are being offered about 3.5 per cent of the territory to which they had — and have — a right under the “roadmap” that the Quartet stresses as the basis for negotiations. Instead of a solution, this looks more like the theft of the right of self-determination from the Palestinian people.

Moreover, Israel has continued from 1947 to date to violate UN resolutions with impunity.

The occupation and international law

Just a day before the UN actually created the State of Israel, Israel proclaimed its own independence. Again this was done in violation of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and in violation of the League of Nations Mandate to the British, which was still in effect.

When the Arab states took up arms to defend the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, Western states — as they had done regularly for centuries — supported the colonisation of Palestine by Zionists claiming to have a right to create the State of Israel. Whatever religious, historical or political basis the Zionists had, they did not have any grounds under international law and in fact violated this law.

Rather than reacting to a violation of international law, the international community allowed Israel to act unlawfully and even ratified the de facto outcome of the occupation of Palestine. Even territories that the international community agreed did not come under any Israeli claim were allowed to be annexed. The process of annexation continues to this day.

According to the United Nations, parts of the territory over which the Palestinians were denied their right to self-determination became Israel. About 45 per cent of the original mandate territory was considered by the UN as occupied.

Putting aside disagreement about Israel’s illegitimacy, according to Article 47 of the Hague Regulations annexed to the Fourth Hague Convention from 1907, an act of occupation become de jure when the occupying power de facto exercises jurisdiction over a territory. By the 1970s, Israel had de facto jurisdiction over all of the mandate territory, including the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and parts of Southern Lebanon. As such Israel became an occupying power over these territories and people within in them.

Somewhat like a mandate holder under the League of Nations system, Israel was therefore required by the rules of international humanitarian law to provide for the occupied population under its control. This means ensuring proper administration, judicial facilities, educational facilities, and healthcare facilities. Instead, Israel has increasing denied Palestinians these services. This has been most notably the case in Gaza.

While claiming to be acting in the name of national security, Israeli soldiers have shot and killed infants, children, women and men. Israel has repeatedly denied Palestinians the right to reach school and hospitals. And Israel regularly imposes it own administrative system of checkpoints and other forms of harassment, including its own courts, on Palestinians. All of these actions violate the international legal duties of an occupying power.

Israel’s actions denying the people of Gaza the basic necessities of life are a particularly onerous form of oppression that violates norms of international humanitarian law including the prohibition against collective punishment that is found in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The right of self-defence

Israel has repeatedly invoked its right of self-defence to fight back against the Palestinians. While it is true that Israel may have a right to use force to protect itself from attack, it cannot justify the use of force to perpetuate an illegal situation. Thus, if one views the creation of Israel to be illegal, then so is any force used to maintain this illegal situation.

Even states entitled to use force in self-defence must satisfy several criteria. There must first be an armed attack against the state by another state, and any force used must be proportionate and necessary to achieve a lawful objective.

As indicated above, even if Israel had been entitled to use force against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla — which it was argued it was not — it would have only been able to use proportionate and necessary force.

A more interesting question is what type of force might be used against Israel, as it is the entity that has and continues to violate international law.

First, the UN Security Council could authorise the use of force against Israel, but this is a political decision that Israeli friends with veto power on the Security Council are likely to prevent.

Second, the UN General Assembly could authorise the use of force against Israel. This could be done by a simple majority of the assembly with no state having veto power. The action of the General Assembly is limited while the Security Council is seized of a matter, and arguably, acting on it, but it is the General Assembly that has the power to decide this question.

Third, Palestinians have a legitimate right of self-determination that entitles them to use force against Israel. Such use of force, although prima facie legal under international law, must conform to the rules of international humanitarian law. These rules include prohibition of attacks against civilians, either by design or because they are indiscriminate.

And fourth, every state in the international community has the right to assist the Palestinians in their struggle, including their armed struggle, to achieve their right to self-determination. Again, of course, such assistance must conform to the rules of international humanitarian law.

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is an example of such assistance.

Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is a general phrase that can be used to describe the boats attempting to bring humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. Even the Israelis do not deny that the boats are bringing humanitarian assistance. Nevertheless, Israel sees itself as entitled to stop the boats based on its suspicion that they will assist the self-determination struggle of the Gaza people, particularly their use of force against Israel.

The problematic nature of this argument is readily apparent. How can a state that is violating international law by subjecting an occupied people to inhuman and collective punishment justify actions to maintain its illegal ways? The simple answer is that it cannot. It is violating international law merely by maintaining an illegal regime, and just about everything it does that serves that end is illegal. This was the case with South Africa as it struggled to maintain its illegal apartheid regime. It increasingly exercised police powers to maintain its illegal hold over black South Africans. Sometimes the police acted less forcefully, and sometimes, black South Africans were subjected to court proceedings, but irrespective of the standards of these “concessions”, the South African government was acting illegally. Two UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights in Palestine — one a South African anti-apartheid campaigner and one a Jewish American professor — have criticised Israel for its illegal actions that they refer to as similar to, or worse than, the South African apartheid government’s actions.

The Israel argument is sometimes expressed in a more nuanced form concerning its embargo on Gaza. It claims that it no longer occupies Gaza and is therefore entitled to act against it in self-defence, through an embargo and the interdiction of ships bringing humanitarian assistance. The legal errors in this argument are many.

First, Israel interdicted the Gaza ships on the high seas. No state is allowed to stop and board ships on the high seas without the permission of the ship, unless the ships have been involved in international piracy. In fact, to act in violation of this fundamental rule of international law is itself piracy. Moreover, the crew of a ship under attack by pirates or unauthorised persons attempting to enter their ship by force are entitled to use necessary and proportionate force to repel the illegal invaders. In this case, this would mean that the ships crew would be entitled to use force that is equivalent to that of as highly qualified and heavily armed invader as the Israeli military.

Second, according to Article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Court of Justice in the Nicaragua Case, the provision of humanitarian assistance to people in need, especially under occupation, is always allowed and never an unfriendly act.

Third, the preventing of humanitarian assistance to a people in need is itself an illegal act.

Citizen voicces







Impotent unless applied

Despite the importance of international law, this law is impotent unless it is applied, and Israel and its allies have proven themselves to be quite intransigent in their failure to respect international law. The law, nevertheless, is a powerful tool in the hands of those who seek to promote the rule of law.

Thus even if pariah states like Israel do not respect the law, the law continues to exist as a minimum common denominator that has been agreed upon by states in the international community. It continues to serve as the best chance we have to live together, not even as friends, but merely without annihilating each other.

When we remove this lowest level of protection we fall into a lacuna where even the lowest form of respect for each other is no longer recognised. What fate could be worse for mankind?

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SHOW YOUR SOLIDARITY WITH GAZA FLOTILLA VICTIMS AND PALESTINE

Dead: 19? Injured: 60? : This is Israel !

Israel’s killing of 19 innocents with 60 more injured must have maximal consequences

Israel impunity is a threat to all

sign the petition here

Even for eyes burnt witnessing human suffering, there is something shocking, something impossible, about watching Israeli soldiers, armed and in gas masks, fast-roping from helicopters onto an aid ship filled with civilians — journalists, parliamentarians, human rights activists, mothers, doctors — headed to Gaza to break the inhuman siege that keeps 1.5 million people somewhere between life and death.

The Mavi Marmara, carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid, was flying a white flag: a universal symbol of non-violence. It was also flying the Turkish flag, in international waters, giving it status as a sovereign extension of Turkey. Regardless, Israel attacked. For what does Israel fight? Its existence, or the continuance of a regime of collective punishment calculated to destroy the Palestinians? Or are these the same thing? Dead: 19. Injured: 60. Who gave the order? Will NATO react to an attack on one of its members?

Simple public murder

The right to exist cannot be asserted through murder. The very acceptance of Israel into the United Nations System was — in 1948 — conditioned on the former recognising the equal rights of Arabs, in particular the right of return of Palestinians. Not only has Israel prevented the return of refugees, it took over by force and occupied in 1967 the rest of historic Palestine. From founding until now we have witnessed an unending catalogue of Israeli atrocities. By these countless atrocities, Israel has forfeited any claim to legality — it is moreover a state that refuses to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or consider giving up its nuclear weapons.

Gaza is both the world’s largest open-air prison and the 21st century’s undeclared concentration camp. Everybody knows it. The UN knows it. The US president knows it. Tens of thousands of civil servants in countries across the world know it. The siege is a way of sealing the exits, and of slow killing. It is an atrocity on the same level as genocide. Here every man and woman has a moral duty: inaction is complicity and a betrayal of humanity. All legal rights are with those who attempt to end this situation by whatever means.

The Freedom Flotilla is such an attempt: it is a refusal of inhuman suffering. Its symbolism is more powerful than any navy. As such, it remains what it was as it embarked on its journey: a signal of the collapse of the blockade. Where earlier lone vessels tried to reach Gaza, now they go in groups. More will follow. When a thousand ships set sail, what would Israel do?

Israel on trial

Israel lost the battle for international public opinion a long time ago. None can forget the relentless strafing of a captive civilian population in Israel’s last war on Gaza. Who can Israel hope to persuade now?


We condemn the illegal, immoral and inhuman blockade on Gaza, and all who uphold it

We condemn Israel

We condemn Israel’s brutal attack on peace activists in international waters. We declare that 700 brave souls, from 50 nations, represent something real that Israeli propaganda cannot erase

We mourn the 19 murdered and express hope and solidarity with the 60 injured. We demand of Israel the release of all activists detained

We call on all international institutions — including the UN, the EU and human rights agencies and organisations — to declare themselves unequivocally on this latest Israeli atrocity and to work towards ending Israeli impunity

We demand an international tribunal to judge all Israeli crimes, past and present. We call on the UN General Assembly to request of the International Court of Justice an advisory opinion on the legality of Israel within the United Nations System given its systematic and gross disrespect of international law and moral authority

We support all efforts by all means to free the people of Gaza from their prison and their suffering, including sanctions and divestment against Israel, a general boycott, and the boycott — by workers federations — of all ships going to and from Israel

We call upon people everywhere to express their solidarity with the dead and injured, and with Palestinians under occupation, in local expressions of outrage wherever it is deemed useful.

We call on all associations, unions, parliaments, professionals and others to endorse this appeal and its demands. Please distribute and act upon it.

The BRussells Tribunal Committee                                                        top of page                                                                                         sign the petition here
POSTSCRIPT: As of time of writing (Wednesday, 2 June 2010, 17:30 GMT) Israel refuses to verify the identity of the dead. Until now, no figure of the number killed has been independently confirmed. When writing the statement below, on Monday, 31 May, we referred to reliable mainstream media sources. At time of publication, we retained the figure Al-Jazeera quoted all day Monday. It remains to be seen if this figure is erroneous, though a majority of sources now put the number of dead at nine. There is no confirmed number of those injured, or reports on their status. Further, the number of nationalities involved in the flotilla appears to have been revised down, to around 40 nationalities overall. One error in the text is the suggestion that the Mavi Marmara was carrying 10,000 tons of aid. It was, of course, the entire flotilla that amounted to 10,000 tons of aid.

YET ANOTHER ISRAELI MASSACRE

Interview with Dr Ian Douglas, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal

 

 

 

 by Victor Thorn of the America Free Press

 6 June 2010
























The humanitarian aid ship recently attacked by the Israeli Defense Forces flew a white flag and was sailing in international waters. How can anyone say it was a threat to “Israel’s right to exist”?

No one can, and it wasn’t. The real existential threat to Israel is the violence upon which it was founded and that it continues to impose on the Palestinians. If the Palestinians are a threat to Israel’s existence, it is not because tomorrow militarily they can defeat the Israeli army, corner the government and dissolve the state. It is because their cause is just, and that cause is what Israel has been trying to bury since 1948. The more it tries, the more it finds it cannot do it. And the more it cannot do it, the more it tries. So we witness the horror of what happened on the Mavi Marmara. Israel is seemingly unconcerned about committing murder in front of the eyes of the world.

But even it was more than murder. Five of the victims were shot in the back, or in the back of the head. One victim was shot five times from 45 centimetres. This is not murder; it is destruction. There is a level of violence here that is sadistic and vengeful. In reality, this is what Gazans and Palestinians face every day. And it is becoming more and more clear to the world — that is to say, to the world’s people, because governments know very well how brutal and ruthless Israel is, whatever they pretend otherwise.

Norman Finkelstein recently said that Israel is now a lunatic state with 300 nuclear warheads. He is right and it is time, before the unimaginable is what we are obliged to live through, that the world deals with this massive threat that is Israel. Another analogy is Macbeth. Israel has so much blood on its hands that it sees phantoms everywhere, and can only go forward by more killing. It is not individual Palestinians that haunt Israel. It is Israel’s injustice to the Palestinians.

In a speech last week, Binyamin Netanyahu proclaimed that those aboard this ship were “violent supporters of terrorism”. What is your response to this statement?

Netanyahu is so cynical, and this statement so outlandish, it is a challenge to know how possibly to respond.

First, this flotilla was bringing wheelchairs, spare parts for wheelchairs, paper, medical supplies, basic goods. It seems for Netanyahu a terrorist act to help the disabled. Second, no one aboard was armed, but in the attack it seems Israel expected those onboard to be shot by its soldiers without protest. Third, for Netanyahu, anyone who supports the Palestinians in Gaza in any capacity whatsoever is a “supporter of terrorism”. Given that Israel blocks all attempts to support the Palestinians in Gaza, anyone who insists on supporting them is deemed “violent”. The same was true up until only a few years ago of anyone who supported Fatah in the West Bank. In reality, Israel regards all Palestinians as terrorists or potential terrorists. This is all it sees. Around every corner, at every window, for Israel, is an existential crisis. What it refuses to see, and what it cannot see, is that it is an occupying power, not just of the Arab lands seized in 1967, but the Arab lands seized and expropriated by force in 1948.

Again, Israel simply cannot face up to its own bloody origin. It is a settler state, founded in violence by individuals who came from outside to an Arab country. Given this reality, international law affirms that the Palestinians — and indeed anyone else who wishes to assist them — have the right to use any and all means necessary, including use of armed force, to end this colonial situation and achieve self-determination in Palestine. The law of self-determination is unequivocal on this point. Even if we ignore that Israel’s admission to the United Nations System was conditional and that it has failed to meet the conditions set down, and even if we pretend that its occupation concerns only the land seized after 1967, we still cannot call resistance to Israeli occupation terrorism. The Palestinians constitute a national liberation movement and this has legal meaning under international law. Moreover, other states are freely permitted to support this movement, and any component of it, if they wish.

Not that anyone is actually arming the Palestinians, as we can see from the homemade rockets they are occasionally able to fire into Israel from Gaza. But if states wanted to, they could arm the Palestinians. And who — having seen the horrid destruction and loss of life Israel inflicted in but its latest wholesale offensive on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 (the latest in a very long line of offensives) — could say that the Palestinians in Gaza didn’t have the right to defend themselves by use of arms?

In short, Netanyahu is the violent supporter of terrorism, and an instigator of it: the terror of the Israeli state against the Palestinians.

Gaza is the world’s largest open-air prison: in essence, a concentration camp. Why is Israel permitted to perpetuate this genocide against the Palestinian people?

There are a number of factors. In what order they come is difficult to say.

There is Western racism against Arabs. There is the entire Orientalist attitude, which sees the Arabs as little more than Bedouins, camel rangers, or the nouveau riche. In a word, slaves or former slaves. Then there is fear of organised Jewish power, in the form of the political lobby and financial and media-based Jewish interests. Then there are Western strategic interests in the Arab world, based principally around hydrocarbon resources, and which run counter to Arab interests in autonomous development. Then there was the horse-trading that divided up the Arab world in the time Sykes-Picot.

All these factors militate towards Western tolerance of Zionist aggression against the Palestinians, both over the last 60 to 90 years and still today. Gaza is but the highest expression of this. And while the overwhelming majority of state actors know the reality of it, the international arena is so filled with cynicism, self-interest and continual threats from imperial and colonial powers that nothing seemingly can be done about it.

This is where ordinary people come in, and this is where ordinary people are changing the logic. For Israel is no longer able to perpetuate this genocide against the Palestinian people — at least no longer without consequence. Perhaps the greatest expression of this popular power is the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, that every day is gathering more and more momentum. Meanwhile, brave souls like those aboard the Mavi Marmara, at least nine of which died doing so, will continue to attempt to break Israel’s stranglehold over the Palestinians and expose for lies Israeli propaganda.

We in the BRussells Tribunal said it and I am sure of it: this is not the end, but only the beginning. Whereas aid ships used to try to get through alone, now they come in groups. When a thousand ships set sail, what will Israel do?

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Israel’s murderous deeds with these words: “It is no longer possible to cover up or ignore Israel’s lawlessness.” What are your thoughts?

He is right, but this realisation was a long time coming. And many Palestinians were killed in the meantime. Israel’s crimes are practically numberless. Decade upon decade, we see incident after incident. But it is one thing to recognise crimes and another to do something to end them. Above all, the Palestinians need not words but actions. If they want words, they can turn to Arab leaders. Israel’s victims in the future — whether next week, tomorrow or next year — need action now.

As for Turkey, it is not about starting a war against Israel. We need Turkey to use its influence and to build a coalition first to break the siege on Gaza, if necessary by threat of deploying a multinational naval escort; second, to demand that Israeli leaders responsible of grave crimes (which means all of Israel’s leaders) are brought to justice. Third, the international community must cut all economic ties, all defence coordination and contracts, and all diplomatic, intellectual and cultural links with Israel until Zionism is recognised as racism, the right of Palestinians to self-determination and the right of return of Palestinian refugees are realised, and equal rights are guaranteed for all in historic Palestine. Until this happens, Israel will continue to be the single biggest threat to world peace, and the possibility of a better world will continue to fall into and be suffocated by the black hole of Israel’s insistence on perpetuating injustice against the Palestinians.

 Considering the Goldstone Report, the assassination of a Hamas leader in a Dubai hotel, and this latest incident (not to mention dozens of other Israeli crimes against humanity), when will the world reach critical mass in regard to Israel’s reign of terror?

It has already happened. We wait for events to catch up. The overwhelming majority of the world’s population knows the truth about Israel and its leaders. They know that Israel is a lunatic state that insists on racial and religious purity; that it is at war with all of its neighbours, and that it practices brutality morning, noon and night. Who really needs convincing who could be convinced?

In your opinion, why does America continue to blindly follow (and enable) Israel’s pathological bloodlust in light of so much global condemnation?

Israel is a proxy of the United States in the Arab world. Its function is to divide Arab states internally and against one another. Washington’s greater aim is to block all sovereign Arab development and dominate natural energy production and consumption from the region. When America spends $200,000 a minute on oil, you can guess at how important it is to keep the Arabs from realising their geo-economic potential. This also suggests the unbreakable link between resistance in Palestine and resistance in Iraq — indeed resistance anywhere to US geostrategic plans for the region.

Ultimately it comes down to the internal system of power in the United States. It is one built on consumption of oil. Practically nothing in the consumer market doesn’t have an oil derivative in it. It is about far more than gasoline. If that system of consumption collapsed, how would America’s elite keep 300 million people in line? Consumption in the United States is a technology of government, and its currency is oil, of which the Arabs have a lot — enough to keep the US order of things going for a few decades yet.

Why seize that oil instead of buying it? Because America has the military might to do so, or to try to do so. And military technology and equipment has its own sequence of obsolescence. Hence the unnecessary wars in which, also, vast profits are made. Some think that George W Bush was ignorant. On the contrary, he knew what the United States is. And during his time in office, Washington became indistinguishable from Tel Aviv, or vice versa.

Obama is either unwilling, unable or doesn’t want to break from that. I feel genuinely sorry for those who bought into the lie that he would. He won’t and he never intended to. To quote from Borowski, “It is hope that compels man to hold on to one more day of life, because that day may be the day of liberation.” Obama might be able to sell hope to America, but the Palestinians have no hope in Obama. Thus they will continue — for they have nothing to lose — to confront Israeli injustice, and so should we.      top of page

NAKBA DAY,  14 MAY 1948, THE DATE THE STATE OF ISRAEL WAS DECLARED
Every year Palestinians commemorate the Nakba ("the catastrophe"): the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948.


In 1948 more than 60 percent of the total Palestinian population was expelled.


More than 530 Palestinian villages were depopulated and completely destroyed.


To date, Israel has prevented the return of approximately six million Palestinian refugees, who have either been expelled or displaced.
 


Approximately 250,000 internally displaced Palestinian second-class citizens of Israel are prevented from returning to their homes and villages.
A woman sits on the rubble of a house hit by an Israeli warplane in Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, 14 October 2006. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)   
T

CALL FOR BOYCOT – DISVESTMENT – SANCTIONS

      Palestinian families forced to leave the village of Faluja in 1948. The village was ethnically cleansed        by Jewish forces. On its looted lands, Israeli settlers founded Qiryat Gat in 1954. (UN Photo)

You can read on the BDS-site the Palestinian Unified Call for BDS against Israel: “We call for boycott, disvestment initiatives and embargoes and sanctions against Israel” – July 9 2005.  BDSMovement.net is born out of the need to offer all those interested and active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement a shared space for information, analysis, exchange of ideas and experiences.

You can endorse the BDS Call here

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OCCUPIED BAGHDAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEAST LIVABLE CITY ON PLANET

 


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Thursday, May 27, 2010 - By: Derek Ford

The Iraq war is still being touted by Washington and the Pentagon as a war for progress and stability in the region. A study released May 26, however, reveals a radically different reality.

The Mercer Quality of Living survey ranked Baghdad last in a list of "most livable cities." The study took into account political, economic, ecological, social and cultural factors.

The result is not surprising considering the devastation brought on by the U.S.-led invasion. Sewage treatment plants, factories, schools, hospitals, and museums have been destroyed. As a result, Iraqi citizens now have scarce access to water and electricity.

The demolition of infrastructure is an important tactic in imperialist war and helps explain why the study found that, "A lack of security and stability continue to have a negative impact on Baghdad’s quality of living."

The only benefactors from the occupation have been big corporations like BP, who got access to the giant Rumaila oil field. The citizens of Iraq continue to pay with their lives.              1991  top of page


















 
Baghdad before the bombing of 1991
   
   
 Iraq after the bombing of 1991                      Reconstruction 1991-1993
(Free) Iraq -  after the occupation (since 2003)
   
   
   
   
 

 

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Review in Al Ahram



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THE MARTYRED IRAQI PEOPLE

Since Shock and Awe, Seven Years ago until now, Iraqi civilians did not stop suffering: Military operations, arrests, kidnappings, assasinations, torture, sectarian terror, depleted uranium, urbicides, forced deportation and displacement, laying offs, abuse, absence of drinkable water, electricity and other services, absence of law and justice, etc.

The US administration presented the March 7th elections as a remedy to the deterioration of the life of Iraqis. Neither before the elections, nor during, nor after them did the situation of Iraqis change.

 




FOLLOWING ARE SOME REPORTS OF WHAT IRAQIS SUFFERED SINCE THE ELECTIONS

Iraq: Detainees Describe Torture in Secret Jail  - Human Right Watch - Prosecute Officials Involved at All Levels - April 27, 2010 ■ (Baghdad) - Detainees in a secret Baghdad detention facility were hung upside-down, deprived of air, kicked, whipped, beaten, given electric shocks, and sodomized, Human Rights Watch said today. Iraq should thoroughly investigate and prosecute all government and security officials responsible, Human Rights Watch said. ■ read more

Mosul in revolt over torture claims at ‘al Maliki’s secret jail’ - Nizar Latif, Foreign Correspondent – April 28, 2010 - An Iraqi solider on patrol in Mosul, where officials have threatened to launch a civil disobedience movement. Phil Sands / The National BAGHDAD ■ Officials in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul have threatened a campaign of civil disobedience against the government and the army after allegations of torture and abuse at a secret prison controlled by the office of the prime minister, Nouri al Maliki. More than 400 men from Ninewah province were arrested last year and taken to the makeshift jail at the Old Muthanna military airbase in northern Baghdad. ■ read more

Families of Iraqi prisoners who suffocated in truck allege torture - By Hannah Allam and Jamal Naji | McClatchy Newspapers – May 20, 2010 BAGHDAD, Iraq ■ The corpses of at least three of the six Sunni Muslim detainees who died while in Iraqi government custody earlier this month showed signs of torture, their families said Thursday as they vowed revenge at emotionally charged funerals. Iraqi authorities announced an investigation into the suffocation deaths of six men who were being transported on May 12 in a poorly ventilated truck en route to appear before an investigative committee in Baghdad. The families said they were informed the men died in a "shipping container." ■ read more

Iraqi court hands out 62 death sentences in five months - Earth Times (post) – May 19, 2010 - Baghdad ■ An Iraqi court has sentenced a total of 62 people to death under the country's anti-terrorism law since the beginning of 2010, the Iraqi state run paper al-Sabah reported on Wednesday.  The decisions came from the federal court in the city of al-Anbar, around 200 kilometres west of the capital of Baghdad. "The court also issued sentences ranging from five years to life in prison for 158 militants who cooperated with al-Qaeda," said Bahaa al-Qaisi, head of al-Anbar police. In addition, the court has sentenced seven people, including an Iranian national, to periods ranging between five and fifteen years in prison for drug trafficking. ■ read more

Writer Killed Over a Poem in Iraq - The Huffington Post on line – May 16, 2010 ■ The murder of a young man named Zardasht Osman earlier this month called attention to the growing problem of government crackdowns on journalists and writers in Northern Iraq, and reminds us not to take our freedom of speech here for granted. The ruling party of Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq, under president Massoud Barzani, is under growing scrutiny by international watchdog organizations for its intolerance of criticism in the press. The New York Times reported that the party's security forces "are often accused of intimidating, threatening and assaulting journalists affiliated with opposition parties or critical of the corrupt patronage system fostered by the two governing parties." ■ read more

Killing of Journalist Inflames Iraqi Kurds - By Sam Dagher – May 10, 2010 ERBIL, Iraq ■ Hundreds of university students tried to storm the local Parliament building here in the capital of the semiautonomous Kurdistan region on Monday during an angry protest against the recent abduction and killing of a Kurdish journalist. The journalist, Zardasht Osman, 23, had been critical of the authorities and the entrenched patronage system, and many of the protesters accused security and intelligence forces of being behind the killing. The students scuffled with baton-wielding riot police officers. Some waved their shoes and threw water bottles and pieces of broken glass at soldiers and police officers. “Whose hands are stained with the blood of Zardasht?” they asked ■ Read more

Blast hits Iraq football match - Aljazeera Net – May 14, 2010 ■ Suicide bombers have struck a football match in northern Iraq, leaving at least 25 people dead and many more wounded. The blast targeted a game taking place in the town of Tal Afar, around 60km west of the city of Mosul.  A local police official said a car bomb exploded at about 6pm local time (1500GMT) near a crowd of spectators. As people fled the scene of the first blast, two more bombers activated explosive belts in the crowd, other sources said. Local hospital officials put the number of injured at 125 ■ Read more

The Lion of Babylon and Iran's rabid dogs... - Layla Anwar - May 23, 2010 ■ Some important information is to be conveyed to the public - not that anyone really cares....unless there's a video of real massacres - your eternal turn on. Only then you might move, but only for as long as the video lasts - maximum 5 mn...and am not holding my breath either. Anyways, I need to do what I need to do...regardless... - received this from someone who has just arrived from Falluja /Anbar province (thanks A.H) and this is what the message reads : I must get this you...very fresh from Falluja....the whole of the Anbar Province is in the hands of Maliki - the local police have no power whatsoever - arrests and detentions are taking place all the time and they are arresting former army officers and Ba'ath party members - helicopters from the Dirty Regiment just come in and take people away - the man who is in command of all the police in Anbar is very closely connected with Maliki and takes his direct orders from him - his name Baha'a Al Qaissi - he was born in Karkh. He is the Chief of Police in Anbar and on the military side, the Commander of All Military Operations in Anbar is called Abdul Azeez Al Obaidi and he is the brother of the Minister of Defense, Abdul Qadir Al Obaidi. They are using the "katim" (the silencer/gun) in Anbar and people are just being killed off in this way...people are really frightened and just pray that their turn will not come during the night...please tell the world... The sectarian Shiite government run by the sectarian parties and their militias, all backed by Iran have not ceased in their policy of ethnic/sectarian cleansing of Sunni areas like the Anbar. These news don't reach you, and if they do, you will always read that "Al-Qaeda Iraq" did this, that, or the other...but wait a second and read the second point... ■ Read more

Bombs Hit School Buses in North Iraq - By Sam Dagher - Published: May 2, 2010 ERBIL, Iraq ■ About 70 college students, most of them Christians, were wounded Sunday and another Iraqi was killed when a convoy of school buses was attacked in a double bombing on the outskirts of the northern city of Mosul, according to a security official.   Read more

Iraq boosts security after deadliest day this year - By Saad Abdul-Kadir (AP) – May 11, 2010 BAGHDAD ■ Iraq boosted security around Baghdad and the rest of the country Tuesday, a day after a string of attacks across the country killed 119 people and wounded hundreds. ■ Read more

Bomb at market in northern Iraq kills 30 - BAGHDAD (Reuters)  - May 16, 2010 ■ A minivan packed with explosives blew up at a crowded market in Iraq's troubled northern Diyala province on Friday, killing at least 30 people and wounding 80 others, police and officials said. ■ Read more

Prominent Sunni cleric gunned down in Baghdad - BAGHDAD (Reuters) – May 5, 2010 ■ Gunmen in a speeding car riddled a prominent Sunni cleric and his guards with bullets on Wednesday, killing the imam and three other people in western Baghdad, a source in the Iraqi Interior Ministry said. Abdul-Jalil al-Fehdawi, deputy head of the Council of Iraqi Scholars, an independent body that issues religious instructions, or fatwas, was leaving his home in the Sunni district of Amiriya when he was attacked, the source said. Two of his guards and a relative were also killed in the incident, police added. Colleagues accused the government of failing to protect him at a time of rising sectarian tensions resulting from an inconclusive election in March. ■ Read more

Pro-Allawi MP gunned down in north Iraq - Mujahid Mohammed – May 24, 2010 ■ An Iraqi MP from ex-premier Iyad Allawi's bloc was assassinated on Monday, the first first such murder since elections more than two months ago which have still not resulted in a new government. Bashar Hamid Agaidi, 32, was ambushed outside his home in the restive northern city of Mosul and died of his wounds in hospital, a doctor and a senior Iraqiya leader said. "Gunmen set up an ambush for MP Bashar Hamid Agaidi outside his house in the Amil neighbourhood and opened fire when he got home," a police officer said, adding the lawmaker was rushed to hospital in "serious condition." ■ Read more

Baghdad to enclose city with 15ft wall to keep suicide bombers out - Oliver August, Baghdad – May 18, 2010 ■ Baghdad is to resort to one of the oldest forms of defence by building a massive wall around the capital to keep out insurgents, The Times has learnt. A series of recent suicide bombings has driven the governor of the Iraqi capital to propose the concrete barrier, which will be 15ft (4.5m) high and 70 miles (112km) long. Every man, beast and vehicle entering will be searched at one of only eight gates along the main highways. Baghdad, roughly the same size as London and with approximately five million inhabitants, will face severe disruption as a result. Freedom of movement will be limited and workers and visitors alike will probably have to wait for at least an hour to enter. Once inside, though, it is hoped they will be much safer. Shatha al-Obeidi, an aide to Salah Abdul Razzaq, the governor, said: “We want to stop the terrorist from sneaking in. With the wall it will be much easier.” ■ Read more

Iraq: water formerly a blessing, increasingly a problem - ICRC – May 14, 2010 ■ Millions of people in Iraq cannot get clean water or water in sufficient quantity. The ICRC is doing its best to improve access to safe water. This is an update on ICRC activities carried out in Iraq in March and April. The Tigris and the Euphrates, which supply the bulk of Iraq's water, are slowly dwindling and in some areas can no longer be used as a reliable source of drinking water. Across the country, the shrinking of the rivers is having serious consequences on the functioning of water treatment plants. It also affects underground aquifers, where the salt content of the water is increasing. This water is often unfit for human consumption or even for agricultural use. The volatile security situation in some areas and the rising price of fuel have put additional strain on already scarce services, as have population growth and displacement. In many places, the strain is further compounded by a lack of qualified engineers and staff able to maintain and repair water and sanitation facilities. Many farming communities were hard hit by the drought that struck northern Iraq in 2008. Average rainfall over the past 10 years has been far lower than in previous decades. In the north, water supply systems fed by springs and shallows aquifers have been depleted and often have less water available to meet demand. Although rainfall has been better in many places during 2009 and 2010, low water-levels continue to affect agriculture production, meaning Iraq needs to import more rice and wheat. With less water of sufficient quality generally available, management of the existing resources is key. ■ Read more

MALIKI REFUSES TO STEP DOWN

The Obama administration and western mainstream media continue to try to portray the situation in Iraq as a blossoming democracy and its latest elections, the proof of it. Three months have passed since Iraqis went to the polls to elect a new parliament. Factions have been battling each other, accusing their rivals in turn of fraud, ties to the Baath party or terrorism. The Iraqi Supreme Court has yet to announce final results and a government to be formed. Despite the secular Al Iraqiyah bloc headed by Ayad Alawi believed of having secured 91 seats, Nuri Al Maliki, whose list has won 89 refuses to step down as Prime Minister. Maliki’s SLA coalition formed a sectarian based Shia alliance with the INA, so as to bloc the Iraqiyah from its constitutional right to form a government. The SLA/INA agreement stipulates that in case of dispute, the latter would be solved by the Marjaiyah in Najaf, the Shia Clergy, bringing Iraq towards a theocratic system of Wilayat al Faqih. Ayad Allawi warned that by disenfranchising Iraqi voters, the premiership and its allies were pushing Iraq on the verge of a civil war that could spell into a regional conflict.

 

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The Exit and Legacy of Ali Faysal al-Lami - Posted by Reidar Visser on Sunday, 23 May 2010 14:31 ■ Hopefully the Iraqi judicial authorities will not opt to wait for the All Clear from the politicians to certify the election results, since the weekend has been a pretty ordinary one with the usual wide-ranging array of predictions as to when the new Shiite alliance will become a kutla in its own right with a leader and a name – and a premier candidate. Estimates varied from “very soon” to “within 10 days”; in other words an echo of the situation in July 2009 and indicating that agreement is not even close. Unless Ayad Allawi of Iraqiyya and Nuri al-Maliki can agree to cut through the crap and meet in private, the intra-Shiite process can take many, many weeks, and that is before they even begin talking to the Kurds. ■ read more

Iraq risks sectarian war, warns election winner Iyad Allawi - guardian.co.uk - May 10, 2010 ■ Iraq's former prime minister Iyad Allawi, who scored a surprise win in the recent general election, warned today that the country risks descending into a new sectarian war, with feuding politicians attempting to sideline his supporters and the international community standing idly by. In an interview with the Guardian Allawi said that since the bitterly contested 7 March election, in which his Iraqiya party list won 91 seats, political groups had abandoned efforts to build a united government and were regressing into sectarianism, encouraged by Iran. ■ read more

Al Maliki: State of Law Coalition to Keep Premiership - London, Asharq Al-Awsat by Maad Fayad – May 21, 2010 ■ Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said on Thursday that the next premiership will only come out of the State of Law coalition, indicating that he will remain Prime Minister for a second term as there are no other candidates from the coalition for this position. Al Maliki made this statement at the end of the “political banquet” held by the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Thursday for leaders of the political blocs and members of electoral lists who won in the legislative elections that took place last March. In a brief statement, al Maliki told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the premiership will not leave the two allied coalitions,” in reference to the State of Law coalition headed by al Maliki and the National Iraqi Alliance headed by Ammar al Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, adding that “the premiership will not leave the State of Law coalition.” read more

Press statement by the association of muslim scholars in Iraq - May 20, 2010 ■ In its Statement No. 708, dated 20th May, 2010, The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, addressing Iranian politicians, demanded that they abandon their illegitimate claims for financial compensation from Iraq as a result of the war which took place between the two countries in the '80's during the last century, as well as refrain from provoking the Iraqi People.  The Association explained that the Iranian politicians' claims for US Dollars One Billion are in the context of exercising further political pressure on the present government and the rest of the Iraqi politicians and is always in the context of making further gains… however, at the same time, these demands, in effect, expose the real Iranian greedy ambitions to take control of Iraq's wealth, particularly its oil wealth, and it pointed out that Iranian occupation of the Fakka oil wells is an example and a part of this exercise. ■ read more

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THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT DEMANDS SPAIN TO PREVENT THE ACTIVITIES IN GIJON AND MADRID

News Release from the State Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq - CEOSI - www.iraqsolidaridad.org, May 25, 2010

“The Iraqi government has reported that it will demand that the Spanish government block the holding of conference activities scheduled in Gijón and Madrid between June 18-21. The conference, titled "International Conference on the Iraqi Political Resistance —Iraq, Sovereignty and Democratic Reconstruction," has been organized by the Spanish Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI). According to the official note, the al-Maliki government will demand that Spain not allow the conference to be held, in which "persons will participate who are claimed [by the Iraqi government] to have lent financial aid and support to violence." Through Ali Musawi, Press Secretary for the Iraqi Prime Minister and Director of the National Press Center, it has threatened Spain with "negative repercussions." According to Arab media, the collaborationist Iraqi authorities may even demand the surrender of the Iraqi participants, the majority of whom have visited Spain previously and certain of whom have already obtained their entry visa”. It revokes the decision to issue visas to the Iraqi leaders

THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO STOP THE ACTIVITIES IN GIJÓN AND MADRID

Memo from the Spanish Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq - CEOSI - May 28, 2010

“CEOSI deplores the change of attitude of the Spanish government, which will complicate or delay what would have been an invaluable contribution to the success of a negotiated, democratic and binding solution in Iraq. The meetings organized in Spain encompass the participation of the highest representatives of the currents in the anti-occupation camp, along with Iraqi intellectuals and activists, international personalities and representatives of European and U.S. organizations. The rough draft of the final communiqué, which would be signed and presented in Gijón, would have been a remarkable contribution to this objective, as it would display for the first time a united and public commitment to a democratic reconstruction of Iraq and condemnation of terrorism.”

Today, on May 28, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation has informed the Spanish Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI) of “the impossibility of its giving support of any type” to the activities planned in Gijón and Madrid between June 18 and 21 within the framework of the International Conference of the Iraqi Political Resistance: Iraq, sovereignty and democratic reconstruction [1]. CEOSI believes that with this unexpected decision, the Spanish Government is preventing (in fact, prohibiting) the two activities from being carried out as initially programmed [2], and is unexpectedly failing to fulfill commitments agreed upon with the activities’ organizers.

THE CEOSI CANCELS THE ACTIVITIES ORGANIZED IN GIJÓN AND MADRID FROM 18TH TO 21ST JUNE DUE TO TERRORIST THREATS BY GROUPS LINKED TO THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT

The Spanish Campaign Against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI) has decided to cancel the activities that were to take place in Gijón from 18th to 20th June and in Madrid on 21st June in the framework of the Internacional Conference of the Iraqui Political Resistance: Iraq, Sovereignty and Democratic Reconstruction. This decision has been taken as a result of death threats against members of the organization and their families, in addition to threatened attacks against Spanish institutions. These threats have been transmitted directly to the Spanish government by the Iraqi authorities, demanding the cancellation of the Conference and related activities. It is to be supposed that such threats would be implemented by paramilitary groups linked to the government of Nuri Al-Maliki itself.

The CEOSI considers that the Spanish government has not taken any efficient measures against this situation, and this has forced the CEOSI to take such measures. Given the fact that the Spanish government, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union,   has failed to act and bearing in mind the delays and lack of clarity in the communication between the government and CEOSI representatives, the CEOSI, in order to guarantee the safety of its members and their families, has decided to cancel the activities which had been planned.

The CEOSI confirms the visit to the Spanish Parliament by a delegation from the Conference on Monday 21st. During this visit the situation will be explained, as will occur in the press conference to be held today, Friday, in Gijón.

The CEOSI denounces the attitude of the Spanish government which, first, has given in to the threats of economic reprisals by the acting government in Iraq, going back on its initial commitment to grant visas. Subsequently, it has acted as a channel for the transmission of direct threats of indiscriminate and selective attacks against Spanish interests and citizens both inside and outside Iraq. Such threats have been issued by the entity which the Spanish government considers its sole, legitimate partner for dialogue in Iraq, the Iraqi government, a government which is a result of and is sustained by the occupation. This situation has made it patently clear who exercises terror in Iraq – the collaborationist institutions themselves – and how a government which claims to be sovereign has bowed to them, contradicting the antiterrorist discourse it upholds at a domestic level. Such an attitude has sabotaged the initiative of Iraqi organisations which planned to express their commitment to the liberation of Iraq, national dialogue as a response to terror, and the democratic, all-embracing, civic and non-sectarian reconstruction of the country.

We thank the Principality of Asturias and the distinguished Municipal Authorities of Gijón for their permanent commitment to, support of and trust in this initiative. For this reason, they have also been the target of pressure related to non-specific security issues.

Finally, we thank our Iraqi, European and American friends and colleagues for maintaining their commitment and travelling to Gijón. We encourage the former to uphold legitimate resistance and the latter to maintain their commitment of solidarity with the Iraqi people.

Spanish State Campaign Against the Occupation and For the Sovereignty of Iraq - Madrid, 18th June 2010

more information: www.iraqsolidaridad.org
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