Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
Articles Archives - November 2011
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Friday, November 4, 2011
Apartheid and the occupation of Palestine
John Dugard, Al Jazeera 11/4/2011
      As the Russell Tribunal convenes to discuss apartheid, Israel has already surpassed South Africa's racist era.
     This week, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine will consider the question of whether Israel's practices in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) constitute the crime of apartheid within the meaning of the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. This Convention, which has been incorporated into the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, is not confined to apartheid in South Africa. Instead it criminalises, under international law, practices that resemble apartheid.
     The Russell Tribunal was initiated in the 1960s by the philosopher Bertrand Russell to examine war crimes committed during the Vietnam War. It has now been revived to consider Israel's violations of international law. It is not a judicial tribunal, but a tribunal comprising reputable jurors from different countries, that seeks to examine whether Israel has violated international criminal law and should be held accountable.
     In essence, the Russell Tribunal is a court of international public opinion. It will hear evidence in Cape Town on the scope of the 1973 Apartheid Convention, on apartheid as practiced in South Africa, on Israeli practices in the OPT, particularly the West Bank, and on the question whether these practices so closely resemble those of apartheid as to bring them within the prohibitions of the 1973 Apartheid Convention. The Israeli government has been invited to testify before the tribunal, but, at this stage, has not replied to the invitation. Most of the evidence will inevitably, therefore, be critical of Israel.
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Israel’s UNESCO fiasco
Abe Hayeem, Israeli Occupation Archive 11/4/2011
      Despite the machinations by Israel and the US, there was great joy expressed at the UNESCO Assembly when Palestine was voted in as a member state
     Like thwarted spoiled bullies, both Israel and the US reacted with theatrical pique and fury. The US, never applying sanctions against Israel’s decades- long war crimes in Gaza and the OPT’s by suspending its steadfast cornucopia of billions in aid and arms, immediately withdrew its $80 million contribution to UNESCO as a collective punishment. In addition Haaretz reported that it will “consider new legislation to impose additional restrictions on American funding of the UN, threaten cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority, and slash military assistance to key foreign countries in retaliation to their support for the Palestinian bid for full UN membership.” The US is bound by law to cut the funding to any UN body involved with recognition of a Palestinian state, even at the risk of harming its own and international interests
     Israel went even further, using the settler-type “price tag”. Haaretz reported the possibility of Israel “imposing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority… increasing settlement construction, and halting the transfer of tax money which Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.” Israel announced the go-ahead for yet another 2000 homes in East Jerusalem, using illegality and theft of land to punish a democratic vote in favour of the Palestinians, as it did with the democratic election of Hamas in 2006 (www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-it-is-israel-s-right-and-obligation-to-build-in-jerusalem-1.393341).
     Israel’s warning that it “will now reconsider its cooperation with UNESCO” is the biggest irony. Like its relentless impunity to international and humanitarian law and UN resolutions, Israel had disregarded all the warnings by UNESCO ever since its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem not to change the status of the historic Old City and its environs. -- See also: Ajazeera: The UNESCO mess by MJ Rosenberg and YouTube: Celebrations as Unesco vote to give Palestinians full membership
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Goldstone walks alone on a bridge to nowhere
Richard Falk, Al Jazeera 11/3/2011
      The former judge who wrote the Gaza War report recently - and wrongly - wrote that Israel does not practice apartheid.
     Surely the New York Times would not dare turn down a piece from the new Richard Goldstone. He had already recast himself as the self-appointed guardian of Israel’s world reputation. This, despite the fact that he had earlier been anointed as the distinguished jurist who admirably put aside his ethnic identity and personal affiliations when it came to carrying out his professional work as a specialist in international criminal law.
     Goldstone was even seemingly willing to confront the Zionist furies of Israel when criticised by one of their own adherents in chairing the UN panel appointed to consider allegations of Israeli war crimes during the Gaza War of 2008-09. A few months ago Goldstone took the unseemly step of unilaterally retracting a central conclusion of the "Goldstone Report" during those attacks on Gaza.
     The former judge wrote in a column in the Washington Post that the Goldstone Report would have been different if he had known then what he came to know now, an arrogant assertion considering that he was but one of four panel members designated by the UN Human Rights Council, and considering that the other three publicly reaffirmed their confidence in the original conclusion as presented in the report, which was written and released months earlier.
     This failure to consult with other members of the team before rushing his seemingly opportunistic change of heart into print with should have discredited this earlier Goldstone effort to restore his tarnished Zionist credentials....
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Book review: Fernández skewers empire's messenger Tom Friedman
Electronic Intifada: 4 Nov 2011 - David Cronin The Electronic Intifada After reading The Imperial Messenger by Belén Fernández, the thought of sharing a profession with Thomas Friedman revolts me, says EI reviewer David Cronin. The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work (Counterblasts) Manufacturer: Verso Part Number: Price: $16.95more

Thomas Friedman's bouts of hypocrisy
Electronic Intifada: 4 Nov 2011 - Belén Fernández The Electronic Intifada Belén Fernández takes The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to task in this excerpt from her new book, The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work.more

Territory of Lies: Israeli-Occupied Hearing on 'Iranian Plot'
Palestine Chronicle: 4 Nov 2011 - By Maidhc Ó Cathail In the wake of the much-heralded FBI sting that supposedly foiled a dastardly plot by Iran's Revolutionary Guard elite Qods Force – involving a bumbling, failed used-car salesman's botched attempt to hire a reportedly Mossad-trained Mexican drug cartel – to blow up the Saudi ambassador in a crowded but fictitious Washington D.C. restaurant, a duly alarmed U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security convened an urgent hearing on “Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil.” As evidence of Tehran’s supposed threat to the Homeland, the Committee heard testimony from “expert witnesses” who could best be described as propagandists for Israel. Commenting on the partisan line-up, an expert on U.S.-Israeli relations remarked, “If it wasn’t so serious, it would be satire.” Among the five witnesses, two were from “conservative” think tanks closely aligned with the Israel lobby, while a third represented a supposedly more “progressive” pro-Israeli position....more

Egypt and the IMF: 'Topple Their Debts'
Palestine Chronicle: 4 Nov 2011 - By Eric Walberg – Cairo The Popular Campaign to Drop Egypt's Debts was launched at the Journalists' Union 31 October, with a colourful panel of speakers, including Al-Ahram Centre for Political & Strategic Studies Editor-in-Chief Ahmed Al-Naggar, Independent Trade Union head Kamal Abbas, legendary anti-corruption crusader Khaled Ali, and the head of the Tunisia twin campaign Dr Fathi Chamkhi. Moderator Wael Gamal, a financial journalist, described how he and a core of revolutionaries after 25 January started the campaign with a facebook page DropEgyptsDebt. The IMF offer of a multi-billion dollar loan in June was like a red flag in front of a bull for Gamal, and their campaign really got underway after that, culminating in the formal launch this week, just as election fever is rising. “Just servicing Egypt’s debt costs close to $3 billion a year, more than all the food subsidies that the IMF harps about, more...more

Jailed for Sailing to Gaza, Challenging the Blockade
Dissident Voice: 4 Nov 2011 - Two boats full of courageous passengers were on their way to Gaza when they were intercepted on Friday, November 4, by the Israeli military in international waters. We call the passengers courageous because they sailed from Turkey on November 2 with the knowledge that at any moment they might be boarded by Israeli commandos intent on stopping them—perhaps violently, as the Israeli military did in 2010 when they killed nine humanitarian aid workers on the Turkish boat named Mavi Marmara. The boats—one from Canada and one from Ireland—were carrying 27 passengers, including press and peace activists from Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia and Palestine. They were unarmed, and the Israeli military knew that. They were simply peace activists wanting to connect with civilians in Gaza, and the Israeli military knew that. Yet naked aggression was used against them in international waters—something that is normally considered an act of piracy....more

Why I’d Love to Stop Worrying and Love Occupy Wall Street
Dissident Voice: 4 Nov 2011 - I love occupations. I really, really do. Not only can they be really fun (its like a sleepover! Where people talk about Žižek and Marx!), but I honestly think they can be an effective tactic for change – they are the right mix of political theatre and direct action, and given the right conditions and demands, can be quite useful. I love occupying, I love occupations, and so what I’m writing here almost pains me to admit. I do not like the Occupy Wall Street movement. … Except it’s not that clearcut. I want it to be that clearcut, but it’s not. Let me try again. I like what the Occupy Wall Street movement was – and more importantly, what it can be — but right now I think it is damaging to itself and a waste of good people power. That’s a bit better. OWS started out as an...more

Territory of Lies
Dissident Voice: 4 Nov 2011 - In the wake of the much-heralded FBI sting that supposedly foiled a dastardly plot by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard elite Qods Force – involving a bumbling , failed used-car salesman’s botched attempt to hire a reportedly Mossad-trained Mexican drug cartel – to blow up the Saudi ambassador in a crowded but fictitious Washington D.C. restaurant, a duly alarmed U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security convened an urgent hearing on “Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil.” As evidence of Tehran’s supposed threat to the Homeland, the Committee heard testimony from “expert witnesses” who could best be described as propagandists for Israel. Commenting on the partisan line-up, an expert on U.S.-Israeli relations remarked, “If it wasn’t so serious, it would be satire.” Among the five witnesses, two were from “conservative” think tanks closely aligned with the Israel lobby, while a third represented a supposedly more “ progressive ” pro-Israeli position. The first think-tanker...more

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