Informative articles

March 5, 2011

In News

1. ‘Mubarak to be questioned on corruption charges’
2. Diplomat: I can no longer represent Israel
3. Israel to Sue Bedouin Residents of Demolished Village for Demolition Costs
4. The Cost of US Terrorism in Afghanistan: Incalculable
5.  German interior minister reopens bitter row over Muslim integration
6. Fatah officials demand Abbas fires Western-backed Fayyad
7. Saudi Facebook activist planning protest shot dead
8. US Rendition and Torture: A New Front for Accountability Opens Up in Djibouti
9. US bill allows Holocaust survivors to sue for claims
10. Felicity Arbuthnot: “Liberation” : Beware the Ides of March. (Part One.)
11. Facing up to Jewish Nationalism and Racist Violence
12. Robert Fisk: The historical narrative that lies beneath the Gaddafi rebellion
1. ‘Mubarak to be questioned on corruption charges’
The Jerusalem Pos     Fri, Mar 4, 2011
Sources close to Egypt’s Prosecutor General say ousted president enjoys no immunity and would be sent to prison if convicted.
Former president Hosni Mubarak will be brought to Cairo next week for questioning in connection with a number of corruption charges, the Ahram Online website quoted sources close to Egypt’s prosecutor-general as saying on Thursday.
Mubarak enjoys no immunity and may well be made to stand trial on the charges, the source said. He added that Mubarak would be sent to prison if convicted.
Also on Thursday, Egypt’s prime minister resigned and the army asked a former transportation minister to form a new government, in a gesture to pro-democracy activists who want the regime purged of Hosni Mubarak’s old guard.
Ahmed Shafiq was appointed prime minister by Mubarak on January 29, in the president’s final days in office, and the weeks since then have brought protests and political pressure for Shafiq to step down.
Reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei told Reuters that Shafiq’s resignation showed the military was responding to popular demands. He said it should now also adjust the timetable for elections to give candidates more time to prepare.
One Shafiq aide said appointing Essam Sharaf prime minister was timed to defuse calls for another mass demonstration on Friday after a first modest reshuffle by Shafiq failed to mollify protesters who want a clean break with the Mubarak era.
The Muslim Brotherhood and other political groupings had also been calling for Shafiq and his government to step aside, and the army, in an apparent response, had vowed to halt any “counter-revolution” from hijacking Egypt’s revolution.
The key jobs of foreign, interior and justice ministers were also likely to be reshuffled shortly, an army source said, to cleanse the government of remaining links to Mubarak.
Since Mubarak’s overthrow, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have turned out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and other cities to celebrate his downfall and send a message to the military that the people will not be ignored.
Protesters, some of whom have erected tents in Tahrir Square, greeted the news of Shafiq’s resignation with jubilation and relief, chanting, “The people and the army are united.”
The Council of the Protectors of the Revolution, a body of technocrats and political figures, welcomed Sharaf as premier.
But not everyone was as positive.
“This is a change for the worse, not for the better,” said Hassan Nafaa, a political scientist at Cairo University who also actively campaigned against Mubarak. “Shafiq left but the one who has been installed has no political vision or anything to do with politics. There are other interests being secured that are thwarting change.”
Shafiq, like Mubarak a former air force commander, has been tipped by one military source as a potential contender for the presidency in a forthcoming election. Since 1952, all of Egypt’s presidents have been drawn from the armed forces.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, has emerged as an early front-runner after announcing his candidacy.
Former International Atomic Energy Agency head ElBaradei is also seen as a candidate.
Also on Thursday, Egypt’s prosecutor-general denied reports from a day earlier that Mubarak and his family were in Saudi Arabia, insisting they were still in the Egyptian Sinai resort of Sharm e-Sheikh, AFP reported.
The state-owned daily Al-Akhbar on Wednesday said Mubarak was receiving medical treatment for cancer in Saudi Arabia, citing “informed sources.” It said Mubarak, his wife and two sons were living on a military base in the northeastern Saudi city of Tabuk.
2. Diplomat: I can no longer represent Israel
Veteran diplomat Ilan Baruch quits, says he can no longer represent government; Israel’s foreign policy is ‘wrong,’ he says, adds that blaming global anti-occupation views on anti-Semitism is ‘simplistic, artificial’
Ynet       March 3, 2011
Foreign Ministry earthquake: A veteran diplomat says he has resigned from his post because he had a hard time defending the policies of Israel’s current government, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.
Ilan Baruch says he quit because “Israel’s foreign policy is wrong,” pointing to the Palestinian issue.
Should this trend continue, he warned, Israel will turn into a pariah state and face growing de-legitimization.
Baruch told Israel TV Wednesday that Israel’s standing was in danger because of its policies, which he said were “difficult to explain.”
“I can no longer honestly represent this government,” he said earlier. “As (Foreign Minister) Lieberman was elected by a large public in a legitimate manner, I cannot question him – but I don’t have to serve him, and therefore I’m quitting.”
“I have nothing against Lieberman the person,” Baruch added. However, he said he had a problem with the diplomatic messages conveyed by the Jewish state at this time and its dismissal of former understandings pertaining to the Road Map and the Palestinians.
‘Don’t blame anti-Semitism’
Baruch sent a personal letter to all Foreign Ministry employees Tuesday to explain the motives for his decision.
“Identifying the objection expressed by global public opinion to the occupation policy as anti-Semitic is simplistic, provincial and artificial,” he wrote. “Experience shows that this global trend won’t change until we normalize our relations with the Palestinians.”
A more than 30-year veteran, Baruch resigned a few years before the usual retirement age. His last overseas posting was ambassador to South Africa last year. He quit several months ago. The longtime diplomat lost an eye during the War of Attrition and joined the Foreign Service in 1974.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said it was unusual for a diplomat to criticize the government upon retirement. Officials at Lieberman’s office declined to respond to Baruch’s comments.
3. Israel to Sue Bedouin Residents of Demolished Village for Demolition Costs
Alternative Information Center         March 3, 2011
Israel’s State Attorney’s Office is currently preparing a legal petition for more than NIS 1 million against the residents of El Araqib, a Bedouin village in the Negev Desert under increasing attack.
The State’s Attorney’s Office is demanding that residents cover the costs incurred to evict them and demolish their village, which to date Israel has done 18 times.
According to the right-wing affiliated news source Arutz 7, the State Attorney’s Office is currently gathering information on the costs related to evicting the Bedouin-Palestinian residents of El Araqib in order to calculate an exact sum for the petition. Expenses to be reviewed include working hours of police officers who evicted the El Araqib residents, costs of helicopters and/or airplanes and the trucks employed in hauling away the demolished village.
The many demolitions of El Araqib are part of the aggressive attempts of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and Israel Land Authority (ILA) attempt to claim their historic land and use it for forestation and future Jewish settlement.
More than 150,000 Bedouin, the indigenous inhabitants of the Negev region, live in informal shanty towns, or “unrecognized villages,” in the south of Israel. They account for around 12% of the Palestinian population of the country, and yet discriminatory land and planning policies have made it virtually impossible for Bedouin to build legally where they live.
Despite being unrecognized by Israel, the village of El Araqib has existed since before the creation of Israel in 1948. Bedouin residents were evicted by the newly declared Israeli state in 1951, but returned to the land on which they live and where they cultivate. Ownership of the land is has been the subject of proceedings in the Be’er Sheva District Court.
The first of the 18 demolitions occurred on 27 July 2010, when Israel demolished 40 homes. At 4:30 a.m., 1500 police officers carrying firearms and stun grenades, followed by a special patrol unit, helicopter, mounted horsemen and bulldozers, entered el Araqib and began demolishing everything in the village.
The more than 300 Bedouin village residents, mainly children, were forcefully removed from their village as they watched the Israeli police destroy their homes and property.
Israel has yet to decide against whom to submit the petition. It has yet to be decided against who specifically to present petition, but apparently it will be against those suing for ownership over the land and specifically head of the Al Turi Tribe.
4. The Cost of US Terrorism in Afghanistan: Incalculable
by Kathy Kelly
Kathy Kelly, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Kathy Kelly’s email is
Published on Friday, March 4, 2011 by
Recent polls suggest that while a majority of U.S. people disapprove of the war in Afghanistan, many on grounds of its horrible economic cost, only 3% took the war into account when voting in the 2010 midterm elections.  The issue of the economy weighed heavily on voters, but the war and its cost, though clear to them and clearly related to the economy in their thinking, was a far less pressing concern. 
U.S. people, if they do read or hear of it, may be shocked at the apparent unconcern of the crews of two U.S. helicopter gunships, which attacked and killed nine children on a mountainside in Afghanistan’s Kumar province, shooting them “one after another” this past Tuesday March 1st.  (“The helicopters hovered over us, scanned us and we saw a green flash from the helicopters. Then they flew back high up, and in a second round they hovered over us and started shooting.” (NYT 3/2/11)).
Four of the boys were seven years old; three were eight, one was nine and the oldest was twelve.  “The children were gathering wood under a tree in the mountains near a village in the district,” said Noorullah Noori, a member of the local development council in Manogai district. “I myself was involved in the burial,” Noori said. “Yesterday we buried them.” (AP, March 2, 2011)  General Petraeus has acknowledged, and apologized for, the tragedy. 
He has had many tragedies to apologize for just counting Kunar province alone.  Last August 26th, in the Manogai district, Afghan authorities accused international forces of killing six children during an air assault on Taliban positions. Provincial police chief Khalilullah Ziayee said a group of children were collecting scrap metal on the mountain when NATO aircraft dropped bombs to disperse Taliban fighters attacking a nearby base. “In the bombardment six children, aged six to 12, were killed,” the police commander said. “Another child was injured.”
In the Bamiyan province of Afghanistan, Zekirullah, a young Afghan friend of mine, age 15, rises at 2:00 a.m. several mornings each week and rides his donkey for six hours through the pre-dawn to reach a mountainside where he can collect scrub brush and twigs which he loads on the donkey in baskets.  Then he heads home and stacks the wood – on top of his family’s home – to be taken down later and burned for heat.  They don’t have electrical appliances to heat the home, and even if they did the villagers only get electricity for two hours a day, generally between 1:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.  Families rely on their children to collect fuel for heat during the harsh winters and for cooking year round.  Young laborers, wanting to help their families survive, mean no harm to the United States.  They’re not surging at us, or anywhere: they’re not insurgents.  They’re not doing anything to threaten us.  They are children, and children anywhere are like children everywhere: they’re children like our own. 
Sadly, more and more of us in America are getting used to the idea of child poverty – and even child labor – as our own economy sinks further under the burden of our latest nine years of war, of two billion dollars per week we spend creating poverty abroad that we can then emulate at home.   Things are getting bad here, but in Afghanistan, children are bombed.  Their bodies are casually dismembered and strewn by machines already lost in the horizon as the limbs settle.  They lie in pools of blood until family members realize, one by one, that their children are not late in returning home but in fact never will.
In October and again in December of 2010, our small delegation of Voices for Creative Nonviolence activists met with a large family living in a wretched refugee camp.  They had fled their homes in the San Gin district of the Helmand Province after a drone attack killed a mother there and her five children. The woman’s husband showed us photos of his children’s bloodied corpses. His niece, Juma Gul, age 9, had survived the attack.  She and I huddled next to each other inside a hut made of mud on a chilly December morning.  Juma Gul’s father stooped in front of us and gently unzipped her jacket, showing me that his daughter’s arm had been amputated by shrapnel when the U.S. missile hit their home in San Gin. 
Next to Juma Gul was her brother, whose leg had been mangled in the attack.  He apparently has no access to adequate medical care and experiences constant pain.  The pilot of the attacking drone, perhaps controlling it from as far away as Creech Air Force Base here in the United States, knows nothing of this family or of the pain that he or she helped inflict. Nor do the commanders, the people who set up the base, the people who pay for it with their taxes, and the people who persist in electing candidates intent on indefinitely prolonging the war.
But sometimes the war is like it was this past Tuesday March 1st.  Sometimes the issue is right in front of us – as it was to those helicopter crews – it’s up close so there can be no mistake as to what we are doing.  According to the election polls we see the cost of war, dimly, but, as with the helicopter crews, it doesn’t affect – or prevent – our decisions.  Afterwards we deplore the tragedy; we make a pretense of acknowledging the cost of war, but it is incalculable.  We can’t hope to count it. We actually, finally, have to stop making people like the nine children who died on March 1st, pay it.
5.  German interior minister reopens bitter row over Muslim integration
Hans-Peter Friedrich criticised after claiming Islam ‘does not belong’ in Germany
Helen Pidd in Berlin, Friday 4 March 2011 13.26 GMT
Germany’s new interior minister has said Islam does not “belong” in the country, reopening a bitter debate over the integration of Germany’s 4 million Muslims.
Hans-Peter Friedrich, who took office on Wednesday, was being asked by reporters about a gun attack at Frankfurt airport in which two US servicemen were killed and another two injured. Investigators suspect the attack, carried out by a 21-year-old Muslim immigrant from Kosovo, was an act of Islamist terrorism. A federal judge in Karlsruhe on Thursday ordered the suspect be remanded to jail on two counts of murder and three of attempted murder, pending further investigation.
In his first press conference as minister, Friedrich said on Friday that Muslims should be allowed live in modern Germany, but he added: “To say that Islam belongs in Germany is not a fact supported by history.”
He was immediately criticised by another government minister. “Of course Islam belongs in Germany,” said the justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, of the FDP party, which rules in a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). “I assume that the new minister will follow the lead of his predecessor [Thomas de Maizière] and will take his responsibility for integration policy seriously, and campaign for cohesion rather than exclusion,” she added.
Another FDP politician, Hartfrid Wolff, said on Friday in Berlin: “Islam has been a real part of Germany for several generations … It is just as unhelpful to deny this fact as to naively romanticise multiculturalism.”
Dieter Wiefelspütz, of the opposition SPD party, said Friedrich was talking “nonsense”. The interior minister had started his new job by making a “misjudgment”, he added.
Friedrich was promoted to his post after Merkel was forced to reshuffle her cabinet because of the high-profile resignation of her defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who was disgraced in a plagiarism scandal.
Aiman Mazyek, chairman of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims, said Muslims should no longer be dismissed as a social group. He said he agreed with comments made in October by Germany’s president, Christian Wulff, who called on Germans to recognise that Islam is a part of the nation.
Immigration has been a hot topic in Germany over the past year, following the publication of an incendiary book by a board member of the central bank. Thilo Sarrazin provoked outrage with Germany Is Making Itself Redundant (Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab), which claimed the country was facing collapse because of the growing number of undereducated Muslims who were increasingly resistant to being integrated into German society. He said members of the Turkish and Arab communities were making Germany “more stupid”.
Sarrazin was sacked by the bank’s board, but his comments were backed up by Horst Seehofer, premier of the conservative southern German state of Bavaria, a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who called for a halt to immigration from Turkey and Arabic countries.
Seehofer told a German magazine it was time for the country to look elsewhere for qualified workers, at a time when many parts of the labour market were facing grave shortfalls. “It’s clear that immigrants from other cultural circles like Turkey, and Arab countries, have more difficulties. From that I draw the conclusion that we don’t need any additional foreign workers from other cultures,” he said.
6. Fatah officials demand Abbas fires Western-backed Fayyad
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has no significant political base of his own but wields substantial power as a former World Bank economist.
By Reuters
 Haaretz    Fri, March 04, 2011
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ dominant Fatah political faction has demanded that he sack Western-backed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, according to a letter shown to Reuters on Thursday.
The letter, signed by senior Fatah officials, was sent to Abbas on Saturday, but the president “did not take it seriously”, a Fatah official told Reuters.
However, the request underlined deep political friction at the heart of the Palestinian Authority, with many Fatah activists clearly frustrated by Fayyad, who has no significant political base of his own but wields substantial power.
Fayyad, a former World Bank economist, is widely credited by Western governments with transforming the institutional landscape in the West Bank, successfully building the core structures needed for a planned independent Palestinian state.
As prime minister he controls finances and security, leaving many Fatah members to complain bitterly in private that his high-profile activities are overshadowing their own work.
“We suggest you reconsider re-appointing Dr. Fayyad and (instead) ask that a strong Fatah figure do the job,” said the letter, backed by Fatah’s central revolutionary council.
Looking to show his commitment for change in the wake of popular protests across the Arab world, Abbas on February 14 asked Fayyad to appoint a new cabinet and prepare for elections.
Talks aimed at drawing up a new list of ministers have not gone as quickly as hoped, and the Fatah discontent is likely to further complicate Fayyad’s task.
Fatah was particularly upset when Fayyad proposed forming a unity government with Hamas Islamists, who seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after a brief civil war with Fatah forces.
Hamas rejected Fayyad’s advances and denounced him as a puppet of the West, which provides much of the aid needed to prop up the West Bank economy under Israeli occupation.
Fatah has dominated Palestinian politics for generations and many activists are angered by Abbas’s apparent reliance on Fayyad, saying it risks eroding their credibility.
7. Saudi Facebook activist planning protest shot dead
 Monsters and Critics     Mar 2, 2011, 11:14 GMT
Riyadh/Cairo – Saudi activists alleged Wednesday that state security shot dead a leading online activist, who was calling for a ‘Day of Rage’ on March 11 in the oil-rich kingdom.
Faisal Ahmed Abdul-Ahadwas, 27, was believed to be one of the main administrators of a Facebook group that is calling for protests similar to that have swept North Africa and the Middle East.
The Facebook group, which has over 17,000 members, is calling for nationwide protests and reforms, including that governors and members of the upper house of parliament be elected, the release of political prisoners, greater employment, and greater freedoms.
Online activists said they believe Abdul-Ahadwas was killed by state security and that his body was taken by authorities to ‘hide evidence of the crime.’
They argued he was killed because of ‘his commitment to a better future for his country.’
Although these allegations could not independently verified, the religiously and socially-conservative kingdom has moved in recent days to quell a possible uprising similar to those in nearby Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen.
Saudi authorities were recently slammed by rights groups, including the US-based Human Rights Watch, for the arrest of Sheikh Tawfiq al-Amir, a Shiite cleric who was calling for a constitutional monarchy and equal rights for minority Shias.
Salih al-Chaslan, spokesman for the National Human Rights Society of Saudi Arabia said, when asked, that he knew nothing of the arrest of the religious leader, nor of the death of the man from Riyadh.
8. US Rendition and Torture: A New Front for Accountability Opens Up in Djibouti
Andy Worthington
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison
 Cageprisoners.      March 3, 2011
The mainstream media in the US may not care about the significance of the Spanish National Court’s recent decision to allow an investigation into torture at Guantánamo to proceed (the story was ignored by both the New York Times and the Washington Post, even though the Center for Constitutional Rights called it “the first real investigation of the US torture program”), but the Washington Post has at least partly made up for this omission by reporting that a new front in the quest for accountability for those who conceived, justified and ordered America’s program of “extraordinary rendition”and torture in the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” has opened up in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, where the US maintains a significant military presence at Camp Lemonnier.
On Monday, the Post reported that the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, based at New York University’s School of Law, and Interights, a British human rights law organization, had filed legal documents (PDF) with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, based in the Gambia. Described by the Post as “a quasi-judicial body that has jurisdiction over nations that have ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which includes Djibouti,” the case involves Mohammed al-Asad, a Yemeni who was seized on December 26, 2003 at his home in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, where he had lived since 1985, and was then blindfolded and flown to a secret CIA prison in Djibouti.
After two weeks of torture in Djibouti, he disappeared into a network of secret CIA prisons in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe, where he was, for a time, held with two other Yemenis subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and torture in a network of secret prisons, as Amnesty International explained in November 2005, in a report entitled, “United States of America/Yemen: Secret Detention in CIA ‘Black Sites’” (PDF). The other two men were Salah Nasser Salim Ali (aka Darwish), who was seized in Indonesia in October 2003, and Mohammed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, who was detained by Jordanian intelligence agents in October 2003, when he was in Jordan to assist his mother who was having an operation.
In May 2005, the three men were returned to Yemen, where they continued to be held — almost certainly at the request of the US authorities — until they were released without charge in 2006.
On Monday, the groups representing al-Asad publicized his case, revealing for the first time documents urging the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to demand that the government of Djibouti “answer for abuses it committed” as part of the CIA’s secret program. Although the case was made public on Monday, the documents were first filed confidentially in December 2009.
As the Post noted, “If the commission accepts the case, it would represent the first international case to inquire into the role of an African country in the US rendition program,” and it is therefore of great significance. Jayne Huckerby, the research director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, stated, “By serving as the doorway for the US secret detention and rendition program in Africa, Djibouti directly violated the human rights of our client.”
The Post also spoke by phone to Mohammed al-Asad, at his home in easterrn Yemen, and he ran through his story, stating that he believes that he was seized simply because the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi Arabian charity, had “rented space in a building [he] owned,” and the charity was “blacklisted after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for allegedly funding terrorism.” Operating on this kind of vague hunch was not unusual for the Americans after 9/11, unfortunately, and other men held in secret prisons were also picked up because of the alleged activities of al-Haramain, one example being Laid Saidi, an Algerian seized in Tanzania in May 2003, who was held for a week in a detention facility in the mountains of Malawi, then rendered to Afghanistan, where he was held in the “dark prison”, the “salt pit” and another unidentified prison. About a year after he was seized, he was flown to Tunisia, where he was detained for another 75 days, before being returned to Algeria, where he was released.
Describing his detention in Djibouti, Mohammed al-Asad told the Post that he “was placed in a small cell, and not given a change of clothes for the two weeks he was there.” He added that “A woman who identified herself as an American interrogated him,” and also explained that a guard “told him he was in Djibouti and he also noticed a photograph of the country’s president on a wall in the prison.” Later, the Tanzanian authorities “told his father that he had been taken to Djibouti.”
As with all the reported rendiitons, Al-Asad’s transfer from one CIA-run facility to another involved him being blindfolded and bound, and taken to an airport where “five black-clad men masked with balaclavas tore off his clothing and photographed him naked before assaulting him.” He was then chained, hooded, put on a small plane, and flown to what he believes was Afghanistan, where he was held in two separate facilities, and then another country — possibly Romania or Lithuania, where secret prisons are known to have existed, along with a specific torture prison for “high-value detainees” in Poland, even though the Romanians continue to deny their prison’s existence, and the Lithanians recently closed an investigation into their own secret prison.
Mohammed al-Asad told the Post, “I am sure there was a powerful authority behind this kind of treatment,” adding, “It definitely was the United States.” He also explained, “I want those who treated me badly to be brought to justice. I lost everything, my business, my life. I want my rights back.”
It remains to be seen whether his attempt to secure justice will be successful. Certainly, the chances of securing success have to be more positive than in the US, where his fellow detainee, Mohammed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, was thwarted by the Obama administration. With four other victims of the torture program — including British residents Binyam Mohamed and Bisher al-Rawi — Bashmilah, whose detailed account of his “extraordinary rendition” and torture is entitled, “Surviving the Darkness” (PDF), had submitted a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., a Boeing subsidiary that had acted as the CIA’s travel agent for torture. However, although they won the first round in April 2009, last September the Obama administration invoked the little-known and easily abused “state secrets doctrine” to prevent a court from even hearing their claims, on the basis of national security, and an appeals court in California turned down their claim.
Bashmilah and the other plaintiffs may yet succeed in the Supreme Court, although it seems unlikely, given the manner in which the Obama administration has shown itself determined to prevent any calls for accountabiity from even receiving a hearing in the US courts.
Margaret Satterthwaite, one of al-Asad’s attorneys, told the Post that his legal team “had not tried to sue the US government,” although she conceded that it “remains an option.” She noted, however, that, although they had filed a number of Freedom of Information Act requests for documents relating to their client from the CIA and other agencies, most of the agencies “responded that they could ‘neither confirm nor deny’ holding records about Asad or denied they had any.” She added, bluntly, “The reason we have not sued the US government is that Mohammed’s goals are to seek justice in a forum that will actually hear him.”
Satterthwaite also explained that the African Commission had “taken preliminary steps to accept the case” but had still “not fully committed to proceed forward with actions against Djibouti,” and the Post noted that the decision to make the case public on Monday was “apparently intended to add pressure” on the Commission to proceed.
She added, “We do hope that making the case public will ensure that all parties involved in the case proceed as expeditiously as possible given the seriousness of the injustice Mr. al-Asad has suffered.”
Finally, the Post spoke to the lawyer and private investigator John Sifton, who has worked extensively on cases involving the CIA program of “extraordinary rendition” and torture. Sifton explained that lawyers first “tried suing the CIA,” before the Jeppesen case, but that, after both approaches failed, “Asad’s attorneys are now using an African forum, on the grounds that an African country — Djibouti — was complicit in the CIA’s acts.” He added, “This is a natural legal strategy, given that US courts have closed their doors to the CIA’s victims.”
He also noted that, “If Asad’s case is accepted and Djibouti is held accountable, it could pave the way for other former CIA detainees who were later found to have no links to terrorism to file suit,” and could “have direct bearing on cases involving several Guantánamo Bay detainees.” He told the Post that “Asad was held at a CIA site with several detainees who are still at Guantánamo,” and that he “may be able to corroborate the forms of mistreatment and torture that were used on detainees, including ones who are still in custody.”
9. US bill allows Holocaust survivors to sue for claims
The Jerusalem Pos     Fri, Mar 4, 2011
Senator Nelson: People who are wronged are entitled to seek justice; survivors’ group planned protest outside Obama event in Florida.
A bill that would give Holocaust survivors the right to sue European companies for unpaid life insurance claims was introduced in the US Senate this week.
US Sen. Bill Nelson (D.-Fla.) offered the bill on the floor of the Senate Wednesday, two days before a planned protest by Holocaust survivors at a Nelson fundraising event in Miami Beach with President Obama, the Miami Herald reported Thursday.
Nelson reportedly has been working on the legislation since early February at the request of the Miami-based Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation-USA, which had announced the demonstration.
Last month, the survivors’ group held a protest at a golf tournament in Boca Raton, Fla., sponsored by the international insurance company Allianz, which survivors say owes an estimated $2 billion in unpaid claims to Holocaust survivors.
“People who are wronged are entitled to seek justice,” Nelson said in a statement issued late Wednesday, according to the newspaper.
“It is now our expectation to work with Congress and the White House to restore our rights and address the survivors’ desperate needs that have been ignored for so long,” read a statement by the survivors’ foundation.
South Florida survivors told the Miami Herald that Nelson promised them in his Washington office three years ago that he would file legislation to allow them to sue European companies that sold life insurance policies to their families before World War II.
10. Felicity Arbuthnot: “Liberation” : Beware the Ides of March. (Part One.)
March 3, 2011
“To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace.” (Publius Cornelius Tacitus – 55-117)
2nd March, marked the twentieth anniversary the mass murder thousands of Iraqis by the US 24th Mechanised Infantry Division, two days after the ceasefire, a final murderous act in the forty two day carpet bombing of Iraq. It also began the continuation of the silent decimation of a nation and people through a United Nations flagged siege of historic severity. Denied were food, medications, medical and dialysis equipment, scanners and X-ray machines and all supplies needed to rebuild a country now reduced to “a pre-indistrial age.”.
It also denotes planning of the illegal bombings for the following thirteen years, then the destruction of Iraq, starting on 20th March 2003; the murder of a legitimate government – and final destruction of civil society, previously denied even life support. Indeed, even oxygen cylinders were embargoed.
Millions of words have been written of the war crimes committed in Operation Desert Storm. The burying alive by US troops of young Iraqi conscripts in the desert, the Basra Road massacre, the deliberate destruction of t water purification plants, electricity, schools, hospitals, food stores, factories, farms and broadly fifty to seventy five percent percent of all livestock, from chickens to buffalo. Not enough, however has been written about the crime which makes even these, with the genocidal, possibly over three million dead, from 1991 to now, pale. The destruction of the gene pool in generation after generation, the mutilation of future generations until a time unknown.
Professor Malcolm Hooper, Emeritus Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Sunderland, wrote a detailed Report on this destruction which may never end : “The most Toxic War in Western Military History.” This poisonous, near eternal, environmental and body burden (Depleted Uranium residue from weapons, 4.5 billion years) has now been added to, in orders of magnitude, from the March 2003 invasion.
Ironically, anniversary of the start of the 1991 bombardment (17th January) this year, fell on Martin Luther King Day. Marking it, the President stated on the White House website, that progress is: ” .. underway at the memorial being constructed … in Dr King’s honor.” President Obama: ” … visited the site with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator, Lisa Jackson … When completed later this year, the memorial will serve to remind us of Dr. King’s hope, sense of justice and quest for equality.” The cynic might think the President and the EPA Administrator might be better placed marking Dr King’s aspirations by visiting the poisoned lands of Iraq, Afghanistan and Balkans in which all Dr King’s “dream” have become arguably, his worst nightmare, courtesy US-initiated actions.
Iraq’s infrastructure, education and progress is “liberated” backwards a hundred years, with America’s imported fundamentalists dominating. Electricity is often just an hour a day even in Baghdad, social security and government rations have been cut to Iraq’s up to seventy percent unemployed (figures differ) and foreign workers are imported by foreign companies, whilst skilled, willing and graduate Iraqis sit desperate and idle. US puppet “Prime Minister” Maliki, allegedly still clutching his foreign passport, has done nothing to put a quota on overseas workers, thus giving Iraqis a chance of a living, in their own land. But then, his orders are from his Master’s voice.
Perhaps the most chilling of all, in a country pre-embargo and invasion, considered an example of the advanced and secular in the Middle East, there are now so many widows created by the invasion and subsequent violence, unsupported by government welfare, and with children to bring up, that “temporary marriages” are spreading across the country. A woman is married for two days, two weeks, whatever, and paid an agreed amount for sharing her bed and body. Legalised prostitution, with a religious fig leaf over it, to which the desperate resort. Welcome to the “New Iraq”, courtesy Uncle Sam and the now “Middle East Peace Envoy”,Tony Blair.
Just eight months after the invasion I met a group of Iraqi professionals, anti the former regime to a man and woman. How was everything going? I asked. There was a moment’s silence as they caught each others eyes, then: “We wish Saddam was back.”
Wholesale killings, of pilgrims, people going about daily business, sitting socialising in the evenings on their flat roofs, in the balmy air; in schools, hospitals, cars, on foot,. Mosque and Church attacks and bombings, unheard historically, the wholesale destruction in cities and towns, from Basra to Baquba, Samarra to Falluja, Tel Afar to the holy cities of Najav and Kerbala, continued year after gruelling year.
Hilary Clinton paid her first visit as Secretary of State to Iraq. The woman who wrote : “It Takes a Village ..” (to raise a child) stood in the country where countless villages had been destroyed and declared that ” … Iraq is going in the right direction … I really believe that, on the whole, Iraq is on the right track (there was) overwhelming evidence of really impressive progress.” She spoke the day after suicide bombers killed seventy one people outside Baghdad’s most revered Shia shrine and a further seventeen in Muqdadiyah, north of the capital. (Guardian, 25th April 2009.) Suicide bombers, also unknown in Iraq, too, came in with the invasion
Currently those exercising their “audacity of hope”, demonstrating for jobs, electricity, clean water, normality, are being killed, disappeared, tortured, in a country where Donald Rumsfeld told Iraqis they were : ” … free to live their lives and do wonderful things … that’s what’s going to happen here.” (Department of Defence, news briefing, 11th April 2003.)
Meanwhile, Britain, whose formerly declared “ethical foreign policy” has become somewhat tarnished, marked this twentieth anniversary of decimation by phasing out aid to Iraq, declaring that it was concentrating on countries with the highest infant mortality. Iraq’s infant mortality (CIA Factbook) is 48.5 per thousand live births. Libya’s, in context, is 18.5 (Iceland, Sweden under 4.) Other agencies have Iraq’s infant mortality at up to 128. Either way, it is an appalling, shaming figure in a country still occupied (however renamed) thus welfare the responsibility of the US occupier – for which fellow invader, Britain, bears an equal responsibility.
In, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, 1st., March heralded the shooting dead, from the air, by their US liberators, nine children, collecting firewood for warmth, in the freezing mountain winter. Noorullah Noori, of the local development council, is quoted as saying that four of the boys were seven, three eight, one nine and one twelve. A thirteen year old was wounded. (McClatchy.) The previous week, the Afghan government and local residents claim sixty five civilians were killed in the same province. General Petraeus called the first a “tragic mistake” for which he would: “… apologise”, to families and government – and the second: “insurgents.”
But the eyes of the world are not focussed on invasion’s atrocitites, they are fixed on the latest bogey man, the one Tony Blair, in 2004, brought in out of the cold, and said the West could now do business with. They certainly did. But this March, “Operation Intervention Libya” (I made that up, liked the acronym) is in the air. Two US Navy warships and four hundred marine are already off shore readying for “humanitarian efforts.” The Iraq hand book has been dusted down, assets have been frozen, sanctions have been slapped on at breath taking speed and a “no fly zone”, mooted, to protect the population.
As with Iraq, Libya will be isolated, prohibited from using its own air space but the US and its allies will bomb with impunity. It’s leader has already been likened to Hitler and Pol Pot. We have had the “Butcher of Baghdad”, the Butcher of Belgrade”, the “Butcher of Benghazi”, is only a matter of time. As I finish this, it is announced that the International Criminal Court is to investigate crimes committed by Libya’s regime, during the uprising. Not those of Bush, Blair, Obama, Cameron’s continued support for the deaths of certainly approaching two million since Afghanistan’s invasion in 2001.
Martin Luther King said:
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.
“I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.
“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up.
“I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land.
” ‘And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.’ I still believe that We Shall overcome!’
We can only, fervently, hope.
Post Script. Al Jazeera asked, randomly, people in Libya, whatever happened, what did they think about US led “humanitarian intervention.” All replied with one word: “Iraq.”
11. Facing up to Jewish Nationalism and Racist Violence
By Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana
Joseph Dana is a writer based in Jaffa who has published in The Nation, Le Monde, The National, Alternet, Huffington Post, Haaretz and Al Jazeera English.
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author. His articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Huffington Post,, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a writing fellow for the Nation Institute. His book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.
Electronic Intifada   March 03, 2011
 — When we released the now famous and censored video Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem, we were widely attacked and dismissed for daring to publicize footage of college-age Jewish kids behaving like racist fanatics while intoxicated. We argued that our footage revealed a deep sickness within Israeli society and among diaspora Jews who defined their Jewish identity according to extreme Zionist ideology (“Censored by the Huffington Post and Imprisoned By The Past: Why I Made ‘Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem,'” 6 June 2009).
We insisted that Jews should focus their outrage not at us, but at the statements the subjects of our video made, and recognize the extent to which they echoed the rhetoric of leading Israeli politicians, military figures, pundits and rabbis.
In response, Ben Hartman claimed in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper that we were “on a mission to humiliate the Jewish people” (“Jews gone wild: Why camcorders and booze don’t mix,” 11 June 2009).
American-born Israeli author Gershom Gorenberg argued on his blog that the statements of “a drunken kid in a bar” have no journalistic value, and therefore we were unprofessional (“Racism, Amalek and Videotape ” 13 June 2009).
Gorenberg even asserted that because some of the people who appeared in our video were American, their racist opinions had no little or no connection to the Israeli situation. At the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Ron Kampeas, who has disclosed that he purchased an apartment with an Israeli-government subsidized loan in a Jewish colony in occupied East Jerusalem, wrote that it’s “time for [Blumenthal] to grow up and put [his talents] to good use.” (“Best take so far on Blumen-journalism,” 5 June 2009).
Meanwhile, YouTube and Vimeo banned Feeling the Hate, while the Huffington Post’s Roy Sekoff refused to allow us to publish it, claiming in an email that it had no “real news value,” as though the soft core porn that accounted for the content on his and Arianna Huffington’s (now AOL owned) site each day did.
A year and a half later, hate crimes carried out by Jewish youths against random Arabs are increasingly common in Jerusalem, and throughout Israel (“Never again? Elderly Palestinian women called “whores” on Yad Vashem tour, while racism explodes across Israel,” 30 December 2010).
The most recent attack occurred on 11 February on King George Street, just blocks from the warren of seedy bars where we filmed Feeling the Hate. There, a group of drunken religious nationalist youths attacked Hussam Rwidy, a 24-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem, stabbing him while they allegedly chanted “Death to Arabs!” Rwidy and his friend, Murad Khader Joulani, staggered into a nearby restaurant drenched in blood and begging for help. Hours later, Rwidy was pronounced dead (“The final moments of the martyred Husam Rwidy,” Wadi Hilweh Information Center — Silwan, 20 February 2011).
What happened next was eerily familiar to us. After a media blackout imposed by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security police, the Israeli media produced a series of articles dismissing the gravity of the murder (“Did Israeli media sideline racist motives in killing of Arab youth in Jerusalem?” 23 February 2011).
“A drunken brawl gone bad” was how several reports described the killing of Rwidy, parroting statements by the Jerusalem police that his death was the result of a fight. The two main assailants were initially indicted for manslaughter before overwhelming evidence forced Israeli government prosecutors to charge them with premeditated murder. As with the reaction by prominent Israeli media figures to Feeling the Hate, the racist behavior of Jewish nationalists was downplayed as a product of intoxication, if not dismissed altogether, while the incident was portrayed as an aberration. Any reflection about the trend of racial murders inside Israel was officially discouraged (“Murder of Palestinian highlights Israeli judicial discrimination,”, 23 February 2011). And so the band plays on.
With Feeling the Hate, we edited an hour of footage into a four-minute video that focused on the hatred many Jewish nationalists in Israel and the United States felt towards President Barack Obama. Our unreleased footage contains statements by the same kids about Palestinians. The political science major who said “I know my shit” but didn’t know who the Israeli prime minister was told us that the Palestinians should all be transferred to a small corner in the West Bank and kept there in a virtual cage. The boisterous young man with the mesh hat who remarked, “We don’t want any Nazi shit, Obama!” defended Israeli Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman’s proposal to strip citizenship from “disloyal” Palestinian citizens. These drunk kids in bars had a coherent, if very simplistic, ideological basis for their racism. It is called Jewish nationalism.
Because Jewish nationalism is an exclusivist project that defines everyone who exists outside the Zionist spectrum as a potential threat and an obstacle to the ultimate ambitions of Israel, racism directed against Obama and anti-Palestinian racism form a seamless thread. This thread connects automatically to the African and Asian migrant workers who Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called “a concrete threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the country” (“Netanyahu: Illegal African immigrants – a threat to Israel’s Jewish character,” Haaretz, 18 July 2010).
It is no coincidence that migrant workers in Israel are increasingly targeted alongside Palestinians in racist vigilante attacks. They are seeking a place in a country that views the removal of non-Jews from as much territory as it can gain control over as a national goal (“Police: Sudanese men stabbed by Israeli gang,” Ynet, 12 February 2011).
While young rightists attack migrants in the street, the government may warehouse some migrant workers in what Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has called a “concentration camp” in the Negev Desert (planners from the Israeli Prison Service described the camp as an “accommodation center” in official material) (“Knesset Speaker: Racist rabbi’s letter shames the Jewish people,” Haaretz, 9 December 2010).
Though Rivlin condemned the plan, he has simultaneously endorsed a $1.5 billion shekel proposal to build a wall along the border of Egypt. “The goal is to ensure Israel’s Jewish and democratic nature,” Netanyahu said about the proposed wall.
Tzipi Livni, former foreign minister and leader of the opposition Kadima Party, recently warned that an “evil spirit has been sweeping over the country” (“‘Evil spirit’ sweeping over Israel, warns opposition leader Tzipi Livni,” The Guardian, 10 January 2011).
Her words rang hollow, not only because her party had co-sponsored many of the racist and anti-democratic bills winding their way through the Knesset (see “Can’t we all just get along — separately?” — David Sheen’s disturbing 24 February 2011 interview in Haaretz with Kadima lawmaker Shai Hermesh on the “Communities Acceptance Law”), but because she has personally fanned the flames of extremism through her words and actions.
After the Israeli assault on Gaza in winter 2008-2009, Livni boasted, “Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation, which I demanded” (I Lost Everything,” Human Rights Watch, 10 May 2010).
She also praised the Israeli army for “going wild” in Gaza, as The Independent, reported on 13 January 2009 (Israeli cabinet divided over fresh Gaza surge”).
Now that some Jewish Israelis are “going wild” against Palestinians inside Israel, and demonstrating “real hooliganism” in racial attacks, does the opposition leader think she has the moral authority to condemn them? If the hooliganism starts in Gaza, where will it end?
Last summer, while living off of Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street, we regularly taped interviews with locals. After the murder of Rwidy, we decided to compile some of those clips into a short video so viewers could get a sense of the atmosphere we lived in. Now everyone can meet a few of our neighbors, like the Birthright Israel alum who believes that if Palestinian resistance becomes too acute, “you gotta just annihilate them.” Or the Canadian lone soldier who joined the Israeli Army’s Kfir Brigade, a notoriously abusive unit that serves exclusively in the Occupied Territories, who believes he’s defending the Jews “from terror, and such,” and that there is no such thing as the occupation (“Kfir brigade leads in W. Bank violations,” Haaretz, 11 May 2008).
Living among droves of heavily indoctrinated extremists on Ben Yehuda Street was not always a pleasant experience. But then again, had either of us been a Palestinian, it might have been impossible. Though many might want to ignore this fact, after Rwidy’s murder, it is increasingly hard to dismiss.
12. Robert Fisk: The historical narrative that lies beneath the Gaddafi rebellion
The Independent     Thursday, 3 March 2011
Poor old Libyans. After 42 years of Gaddafi, the spirit of resistance did not burn so strongly. The intellectual heart of Libya had fled abroad.
Libyans have always opposed foreign occupiers just as the Algerians and the Egyptians and the Yemenis have done – but their Beloved Leader has always presented himself as a fellow resister rather than a dictator. Hence in his long self-parody of a speech in Tripoli yesterday, he invoked Omar Mukhtar – hanged by Mussolini’s colonial army – rather than the patronising tone of a Mubarak or a Ben Ali.
And who was he going to free Libya from? Al-Qa’ida, of course. Indeed, at one point in his Green Square address, Gaddafi made a very interesting remark. His Libyan intelligence service, he said, had helped to free al-Qa’ida members from the US prison at Guantanamo in return for a promise that al-Qa’ida would not operate in Libya or attack his regime. But al-Qa’ida betrayed the Libyans, he insisted, and set up “sleeper cells” in the country.
Whether Gaddafi believes all this or not, there have been many rumours in the Arab world of contacts between Gaddafi’s secret police and al-Qa’ida operatives, meetings intended to avoid a recurrence of the miniature Islamist uprising that Gaddafi faced years ago in Benghazi.
And many al-Qa’ida members did come from Libya – hence the frequent nomme de guerre of “al-Libi” which they added as a patronymic. Natural it then was for Gaddafi, who once hosted Abu Nidal’s Palestinian assassination groups (who never betrayed him), to suspect that al-Qa’ida lay somewhere behind the uprising in eastern Libya.
It is only a matter of time, needless to say, before Gaddafi reminds Libyans that al-Qa’ida was a satellite of the very Arab mujahedin used by the United States to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Yet Libya’s own ferocious resistance to Italian colonisation proves that its people know how to fight and die. In “Tripolitania”, Libyans were expected to walk in the gutter if Italians were walking towards them on the same pavement and Fascist Italy used aircraft as well as occupation troops to bring Libya to heel.
Ironically, it was the forces of the British and Americans rather than the Italians that liberated Libya. And they themselves left behind a legacy of millions of landmines around Tobruk and Benghazi that Gaddafi’s weird regime never ceased to exploit as Libyan shepherds continued to die on the old battlefields of the Second World War.
So Libyans are not disconnected from history. Their grandfathers – in some cases their fathers – fought against the Italians; thus a foundation of resistance, a real historical narrative, lies beneath their opposition to Gaddafi; hence Gaddafi’s own adoption of resistance – to the mythical threat of al-Qa’ida’s “foreign” brutality – is supposed to maintain support for his regime.
Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, however, the “People’s Masses” of Libya are a tribal rather than a societal nation. Hence two members of Gaddafi’s own family – the head of security in Tripoli and the most influential intelligence officer in Benghazi – were respectively his nephew, Abdel Salem Alhadi, and his cousin, Mabrouk Warfali. Gaddafi’s own tribe, the Guedaffi, come from the desert between Sirte and Sebha; hence the western region of Libya remains under his control.
Talk of civil war in Libya – the kind of waffle currently emerging from Hillary Clinton’s State Department – is nonsense. All revolutions, bloody or otherwise, are usually civil wars unless outside powers intervene, which Western nations clearly do not intend to do and the people of eastern Libya have already said they do not wish for foreign intervention (David Cameron, please note).
But Gaddafi went to war in Chad – and lost. Gaddafi’s regime is not a great military power and Colonel Gaddafi is not General Gaddafi. Yet he will go on singing his anti-colonial songs and as long as his security teams are prepared to hold on in the west of the country, he can flaunt himself in Tripoli.
And a warning: under UN sanctions, Iraqis were supposed to rise up against Saddam Hussein. They didn’t – because they were too busy trying to keep their families alive without bread or fresh water or money. Saddam lost all but four provinces of Iraq in the 1991 rebellion. But he got them back.
Now western Libyans live without bread or fresh water or money. And Gaddafi yesterday spoke in Tripoli’s Green Square with the same resolution to “rescue” Benghazi from “terrorists”. Dictators don’t like or trust each other; but unfortunately they do learn from each other.
Director : Abie Dawjee
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