Informative articles

March 1, 2011

In News

1. Gaddafi’s £3bn secret deposits in Mayfair
2. Shuhada Street Chaos
3. Why the Jewish Right Is Terrified by J Street’s Conference
4. Robert Fisk: The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil
5. Bush cancels keynote speech after learning of invite for WikiLeaks founder
6. The economic mirage in the West Bank – Ramallah
7. Qaddafi, Bush And The Iraq Big Lie
8. Website urges Christians to ‘adopt a terrorist for prayer’
1. Gaddafi’s £3bn secret deposits in Mayfair
  Times Online    26 February 2011
Colonel Gaddafi secretly deposited £3 billion with one of Mayfair’s private wealth managers last week as he sought to protect his family’s fortunes.
The deal was brokered on his behalf by a Swiss-based intermediary who had previously approached another well-known City stockbroking firm five weeks ago with a view to depositing funds. However, when that stockbroker discovered the ultimate identity of the source of the funds, it advised the intermediary to take his business elsewhere.
The chief executive of the firm told The Times: “I said no, because personally I’m not comfortable dealing with murdering tyrants with blood on their hands.”
The go-between then looked for another firm to take the funds.
The revelation confirms fears that the Libyan leader, whose 42-year regime is closer to collapse than ever, has been secreting money out of his oil-rich but financially impoverished nation and into private accounts around the world.
The Treasury yesterday stepped up efforts to trace and freeze Colonel Gaddafi’s assets in Britain, which are believed to include billions of dollars in bank accounts, some commercial property and a £10 million mansion in London.
The Treasury’s Asset Tracing Unit, set up in October 2007 to implement and administer international financial sanctions, is understood to be supervising the work.
At the same time, the US Government is escalating attempts to prevent the dictator from moving assets out of Libya, telling American banks to monitor closely transactions that may be linked to the crisis.
The Swiss Government told its banks yesterday to freeze any assets belonging to Colonel Gaddafi, issuing a comprehensive blocking order covering 29 people, including the dictator’s wife and children, some of his wife’s relatives and six officials of the regime. It is believed, though, that the Gaddafi family may have moved much of their money out of Switzerland already.
This follows a diplomatic row when, three years ago, Swiss police arrested the dictator’s son, Hannibal, over claims that he had beaten his servants in a Geneva hotel.
The chief executive of the stockbroking firm that was initially asked to take the money told The Times that he was approached by a Swiss intermediary who said that he wanted to invest £3 billion on behalf of a Libyan family. “It was all very odd — almost like they had looked us up in the Yellow Pages,” he said. “I think the intermediary was perfectly legitimate. You have to remember that, five weeks ago, dealing with Libya was legitimate. But there’s been loads of this — we understand Gaddafi has ten billion in the City.”
He said that the intermediary had indicated that the money was to have been used to buy stocks. Stockbrokers and investment managers have noted a surge of money from North Africa and the Middle East during the past month.
Lawyers told The Times that the Mayfair money manager would not have had to apply to the Financial Services Authority, the City watchdog, for clearance under regulations to combat money laundering because the intermediary was the client.
2. Shuhada Street Chaos
Six hundred are teargassed and sound-bombed in Al-Khalil/Hebron
Editor Palestine Monitor     25 February 2011
Closed exactly 16 years ago when American-born Israeli Baruch Goldstein killed 29 worshipers and wounded 125 with a IMI Galil assault rifle in the burial place of Abraham, this effective clotting of the heart of The Old City of Hebron has devastated the local market economy in tandem with rapacious settler colonization.
“The people want an end to the occupation,” bellowed the protesters. “The people want Shuhada Street.”
After the Friday prayer, the mixed crowd of foreigners, Israeli activists and Palestinians marched down into the border line of H1 and H2, respectively Palestinian Authority and Israeli military zones of control. At H1, riot-geared green military and blue police forces covered the ground and dotted buildings.
An initial cordon of six blue policemen could not hold the tide, and the protesters broke through. All began to run and made their way east towards Bab Al Baladia, or the entrance to the Old City. Israeli forces reformed in front of the Shavei Hebron yeshiva. When the protesters arrived, police detonated sound bombs and launched teargas canisters at close range and level to the ground – both actions areillegal under Israeli law.
In the ensuing chaos, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi was dragged by his bodyguard after a confrontation with Israeli soldiers to the relative safety of the Old City’s souq. There, about forty Palestinians regrouped, wrecked by the gas. Palestinian Medical Relief Society health workers treated two suffering men as angry soldiers approached.
“They don’t want to arrest me,” Dr. Barghouthi said. “I told them I won’t move. They don’t want a scandal.”
After an Israeli officer tried in vain to escort Dr. Barghouthi away, the small group left the shadow of Al-Khalil’s trashnets and rejoined the protest’s other half. Soon, they chanted solidarity between Silwan and Hebron and “life to the revolution.”
The soldiers and police began advancing on the crowd and arrested two International Solidarity Movement activists and at least one Palestinian. They grabbed protest leaders and pulled them to the sides as once again chaos reigned in Al-Khalil.
“Why are you doing this?” Dr. Barghouthi said while being shoved. “We are non-violent.”
The crowd dispersed into the alleys and side streets of Al-Khalil as ISM and Israeli activists were apprehended. Young men and boys began throwing stones, and police and soldiers returned fire with teargas grenades. As the youth fell back into the narrow streets between stone Palestinian homes, fuming teargas canisters followed in pursuit.
After the shabab stopped throwing stones and soldiers retreated towards the settler enclaves in H2, the remnants of the protest massed on the west side of the Old City. Tired and worn from the day, they had little time to rest.
Two squads of Palestinian Authority riot-police marched towards the melange of international, Israeli and Palestinian activists, their batons swinging slightly to the left of their large plastic shields. Everyone left – according to Human Rights Watch, 95 percent of PA prisoners are tortured.
Photographers were told their work is mamnu3a – forbidden – by gruff plainclothes PA operators. The popular demand for the reopening of Shuhada Street began with Israeli overreaction and ended with PA police.
3. Why the Jewish Right Is Terrified by J Street’s Conference
Dan Fleshler
Media and public affairs strategist in New York City
“The Huffington Post         Posted: February 25, 2011 12:09 PM
J Street, the political arm of the American Jewish pro-Israel, pro-peace movement, will convene its second national conference on Saturday night. There will be an enormous turnout. An organizer told me that about 2100 people are pre-registered (at their last conference, only 850 people were pre-registered but 1500 people showed up). There will be about 500 students from 100 campuses.
Why are all of these people converging? There are many reasons. They are desperate to find hope in what often seems like a hopeless mess in Israel and the territories. They want answers to troubling questions, like, “Is the 2-state solution dead?” and “What, in God’s name, can the U.S. do to help?” They want community. They want inspiration. They crave ideas for mobilizing somnolent American Jews and cowardly U.S. politicians. I’m going, and I want all of those things.
This won’t be quite as large as AIPAC’s legendary policy conferences, but AIPAC has had more than 50 years to build momentum; J Street is only three years old.
So what is the reaction from the American Jewish and Israeli right? Abject terror.
There is no other way to explain the panicky screeds on the right-wing Judeo blogosphere. Check out these widely-publicized riffs from Noah Pollak of the Emergency Committee for Israel and the permanently truculent folks at Front Page magazine. I won’t dignify all their arguments and character assassinations by conveying them here, but one of their objections to the conference is that some of the speakers are, gasp, Arabs who are unhappy with Israel!
American Jews, you see, are not supposed to listen to Arabs who are unhappy with Israel, people with different narratives and perspectives than those of the pro-Israel community, people like James Zogby or Mustafa Barghouti. Spend three minutes reading about Barghouti here, and you will learn about the kind of impassioned, articulate Palestinian nationalist that not all Israelis like very much. But surely all Israelis need to figure out how to live with a neighbor like Mustafa Barghouti.
But Americans Jews, you see, are not allowed to hear him speak. Perish the thought! And, of course, if an organization gives him a podium, that automatically means the organization endorses each and every one of his views. That is an enduring principle of the Jewish thought police. He will be speaking at a panel on Hamas, summarized as follows: “Hamas remains in control of the Gaza Strip, armed and opposed to the existence of the State of Israel. What is the best way to counter the threat posed by Hamas? Is reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah a prerequisite to peace, or would it make peace more difficult to achieve? Can Hamas be neutralized by undermining its popular support among Palestinians or splitting its moderate elements from its militants?” It would make perfect sense to exclude Palestinians from the ground who actually know what they are talking about from such a panel, wouldn’t it?
American Jews are not supposed to hear from Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, the physician and friend to many Israeli moderates whose daughters were tragically killed by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead. Perish the thought! He has devoted his life to reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. But we must not hear about his experiences or his three lovely, lost daughters because, Front Page asserts, he denounced the Israelis but not Hamas. We must run the other way if we see him coming.
Front Page sums up the other principal objection: “Any illusion that J Street has included these speakers merely to give insight into “the other side” is dispelled by the roster of Jewish speakers scheduled to speak at `Giving Voice to Your Values.’ All are leftists, and most are even more radically anti-Israel than the Islamists who will appear.” There are certainly a lot of leftists, and it is not hard to show that they are, in fact, pro-Israel. But what scares these righties more than anything, I think, is all of the thoroughly mainstream, centrist speakers who are also gracing J Street with their presence: Knesset Members from Kadima; Dennis Ross; Kenneth Pollack of Brookings; Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Peace; Tom Dine, who used to run AIPAC; Ethan Felson of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Rabbi David Sapirstein, head of the Religious Action Center of the Reform movement–the largest synagogue movement in the US.
“Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself,” wrote Justice Potter Stewart. And that is what is going on here. We are listening to the sputterings of an insecure right wing that has no answers. They have no suggestions about the Israeli-Palestinian situation other than grim, bloody “conflict management,” which should really be called “nightmare management.” They have no notion of how to preserve the democratic Jewish state. They don’t know how to stop the steady drift of young people out of the American Jewish community because what is happening to the Palestinians cannot be reconciled with either Jewish or universal values.
And they are panicking. They want us to put our hands over our ears, like the haredim who don’t want to hear women’s voices singing, or the fanatics who want to burn down the offices of newspapers that print cartoons of the prophet Muhammed. Sorry folks. It won’t work. Thousands of American Jews and others will show up in DC this weekend, eager to hear complicated truths and nuanced arguments, instead of the useless pablum of those who cling to a horrific status quo.
4. Robert Fisk: The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil
Independent      Saturday, 26 February 2011
The Middle East earthquake of the past five weeks has been the most tumultuous, shattering, mind-numbing experience in the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman empire. For once, “shock and awe” was the right description.
The docile, supine, unregenerative, cringing Arabs of Orientalism have transformed themselves into fighters for the freedom, liberty and dignity which we Westerners have always assumed it was our unique role to play in the world. One after another, our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever.
The tectonic plates continue to shift, with tragic, brave – even blackly humorous – results. Countless are the Arab potentates who always claimed they wanted democracy in the Middle East. King Bashar of Syria is to improve public servants’ pay. King Bouteflika of Algeria has suddenly abandoned the country’s state of emergency. King Hamad of Bahrain has opened the doors of his prisons. King Bashir of Sudan will not stand for president again. King Abdullah of Jordan is studying the idea of a constitutional monarchy. And al-Qa’ida are, well, rather silent.
Who would have believed that the old man in the cave would suddenly have to step outside, dazzled, blinded by the sunlight of freedom rather than the Manichean darkness to which his eyes had become accustomed. Martyrs there were aplenty across the Muslim world – but not an Islamist banner to be seen. The young men and women bringing an end to their torment of dictators were mostly Muslims, but the human spirit was greater than the desire for death. They are Believers, yes – but they got there first, toppling Mubarak while Bin Laden’s henchmen still called for his overthrow on outdated videotapes.
But now a warning. It’s not over. We are experiencing today that warm, slightly clammy feeling before the thunder and lightning break out. Gaddafi’s final horror movie has yet to end, albeit with that terrible mix of farce and blood to which we are accustomed in the Middle East. And his impending doom is, needless to say, throwing into ever-sharper perspective the vile fawning of our own potentates. Berlusconi – who in many respects is already a ghastly mockery of Gaddafi himself – and Sarkozy, and Lord Blair of Isfahan are turning out to look even shabbier than we believed. Those faith-based eyes blessed Gaddafi the murderer. I did write at the time that Blair and Straw had forgotten the “whoops” factor, the reality that this weird light bulb was absolutely bonkers and would undoubtedly perform some other terrible act to shame our masters. And sure enough, every journalist is now going to have to add “Mr Blair’s office did not return our call” to his laptop keyboard.
Everyone is now telling Egypt to follow the “Turkish model” – this seems to involve a pleasant cocktail of democracy and carefully controlled Islam. But if this is true, Egypt’s army will keep an unwanted, undemocratic eye on its people for decades to come. As lawyer Ali Ezzatyar has pointed out, “Egypt’s military leaders have spoken of threats to the “Egyptian way of life”… in a not so subtle reference to threats from the Muslim Brotherhood. This can be seen as a page taken from the Turkish playbook.” The Turkish army turned up as kingmakers four times in modern Turkish history. And who but the Egyptian army, makers of Nasser, constructors of Sadat, got rid of the ex-army general Mubarak when the game was up?
And democracy – the real, unfettered, flawed but brilliant version which we in the West have so far lovingly (and rightly) cultivated for ourselves – is not going, in the Arab world, to rest happy with Israel’s pernicious treatment of Palestinians and its land theft in the West Bank. Now no longer the “only democracy in the Middle East”, Israel argued desperately – in company with Saudi Arabia, for heaven’s sake – that it was necessary to maintain Mubarak’s tyranny. It pressed the Muslim Brotherhood button in Washington and built up the usual Israeli lobby fear quotient to push Obama and La Clinton off the rails yet again. Faced with pro-democracy protesters in the lands of oppression, they duly went on backing the oppressors until it was too late. I love “orderly transition”. The “order” bit says it all. Only Israeli journalist Gideon Levy got it right. “We should be saying ‘Mabrouk Misr!’,” he said. Congratulations, Egypt!
Yet in Bahrain, I had a depressing experience. King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman have been bowing to their 70 per cent (80 per cent?) Shia population, opening prison doors, promising constitutional reforms. So I asked a government official in Manama if this was really possible. Why not have an elected prime minister instead of a member of the Khalifa royal family? He clucked his tongue. “Impossible,” he said. “The GCC would never permit this.” For GCC – the Gulf Co-operation Council – read Saudi Arabia. And here, I am afraid, our tale grows darker.
We pay too little attention to this autocratic band of robber princes; we think they are archaic, illiterate in modern politics, wealthy (yes, “beyond the dreams of Croesus”, etc), and we laughed when King Abdullah offered to make up any fall in bailouts from Washington to the Mubarak regime, and we laugh now when the old king promises $36bn to his citizens to keep their mouths shut. But this is no laughing matter. The Arab revolt which finally threw the Ottomans out of the Arab world started in the deserts of Arabia, its tribesmen trusting Lawrence and McMahon and the rest of our gang. And from Arabia came Wahabism, the deep and inebriating potion – white foam on the top of the black stuff – whose ghastly simplicity appealed to every would-be Islamist and suicide bomber in the Sunni Muslim world. The Saudis fostered Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Let us not even mention that they provided most of the 9/11 bombers. And the Saudis will now believe they are the only Muslims still in arms against the brightening world. I have an unhappy suspicion that the destiny of this pageant of Middle East history unfolding before us will be decided in the kingdom of oil, holy places and corruption. Watch out.
But a lighter note. I’ve been hunting for the most memorable quotations from the Arab revolution. We’ve had “Come back, Mr President, we were only kidding” from an anti-Mubarak demonstrator. And we’ve had Saif el-Islam el-Gaddafi’s Goebbels-style speech: “Forget oil, forget gas – there will be civil war.” My very own favourite, selfish and personal quotation came when my old friend Tom Friedman of The New York Times joined me for breakfast in Cairo with his usual disarming smile. “Fisky,” he said, “this Egyptian came up to me in Tahrir Square yesterday, and asked me if I was Robert Fisk!” Now that’s what I call a revolution.
5. Bush cancels keynote speech after learning of invite for WikiLeaks founder
By Agence France-Presse
Raw  Story   Friday, February 25th, 2011 –
WASHINGTON — Former president George W. Bush scrapped plans to address a summit of young leaders and business executives this weekend because Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would also speak to the group, his office said Friday.
“The former president has no desire to share a forum with a man who has willfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States,” his spokesman, David Sherzer, said in a statement.
Bush had accepted an invitation six months ago to deliver the closing keynote speech on Saturday to the Young Presidents’ Association’s “Global Leadership Summit” in Denver, Colorado, Sherzer said.
“This week, upon learning that Julian Assange had recently been invited to address the same summit, President Bush decided to cancel his appearance,” said Sherzer.
The summit’s schedule lists Bush as making the closing keynote speech, while Assange does not appear, but the Denver Business Journal reported this week that the 39-year-old Australian was slated to address attendees via satellite.
YPO describes itself on its website as a global network of 18,000 successful young business executives in more than 100 countries.
It also says the summit aimed to foster a discussion of “the latest developments in globalization, the role of visionary leadership, and global political and social conflicts.”
6. The economic mirage in the West Bank – Ramallah
Middle East Monitor       February 25, 2011
Ramallah in the West Bank is seen as a beacon of economic success and the symbol of economic development as the Palestinian Authority has pursued peace with – Israel. As a sprawling metropolis has begun to develop and the sound of construction can be heard echoing across the city, Ramallah is viewed as evidence of economic progress in the West Bank. This is despite the fact that the West Bank remains in the grip of a military occupation and is stifled by checkpoints, settler-only roads and the apartheid wall. The economic strangulation of the whole West Bank has worsened as Israeli “security” incursions increase and illegal settlements thrust deeper into occupied Palestinian territory. With the growth of industry in the city, Ramallah has become an economic mirage oft cited by Israel’s supporters against criticism of the occupation.
Peddling the myth of economic peace
During a recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions session in the House of Commons, Conservative MP James Clappison cited the economic development of Ramallah as an example of the prosperity in the West Bank and a sign of improvement. Foreign Secretary William Hague responded by pointing out that Ramallah is not representative of the overall situation in the occupied West Bank.
Politicians such as Clappison and Louise Ellman (Labour) often seek to justify and defend Israel’s continuing occupation of the Palestinian Territories by citing Ramallah as an example of what happens with improved relations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. Yet whilst Ramallah is used as an exemplar in this way, it belies its own fortunes; alongside the construction of new homes and buildings stand refugee camps, home to Palestinian refugees from the Nakba of 1948 as well as the 1967 war. However, internationally, politicians have pedalled the message that peace in the region will really take root with the development of economic harmony between Israel and Palestine in the guise of the Palestinian Authority (based in Ramallah) as the main interlocutor in the stalled peace process.
During Tony Blair’s premiership and in the run up to the elections in Palestine of 2006, the G7 nations called for greater economic co-operation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Ed Balls MP, then a minister in HM Treasury, said that he believed that “economic regeneration [would be] a catalytic agent for peace”. At the time there were calls to rebuild infrastructure in the West Bank, create jobs and open borders in order to regenerate the Palestinian community. Since then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for an “economic peace” to exist between Israel and Palestine. This would, of course, provide a convenient substitute for a real agreement between the two parties, sparing Israel the trouble of having to address the numerous abuses it commits with its occupation. The hope of many in the international community was that economic development would create a prosperous economy which would alleviate the social problems facing the Palestinians living under the illegal occupation. Yet Israeli restrictions on such development have continued even though the theory is that economic regeneration will act as a driving force for peace and social justice. The Palestinian economy is one of the many victims of the illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories, despite claims that industrial and commercial development in Ramallah is much more than a facade.
Ramallah’s bubble
Ramallah is, in fact, a bubble within the Palestinian economy of the West Bank just waiting to burst. As the home of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council, as well as numerous government and political buildings, Ramallah has been the beneficiary of international financial investment. For example, £112 million has been given by the Britain’s Department for International Development between March 2008 and 2011 to fund a general government and civil society project. With the growth of Ramallah as the political and administrative centre of the West Bank the city has attracted a growing population with people moving there from across the West Bank in search of work. This population shift has led to the growth of the private sector so that Ramallah has slowly but surely become the economic centre of the West Bank. New buildings have cropped up across the city to house newcomers, businesses and other commercial and financial ventures. Indeed, visitors to the city in July 2010 commented that the growth in construction since their previous visit post the second intifada inspired comparisons with the building boom in the United Arab Emirates.
Although much of the economic development is funded by international support, it is significant that Ramallah has seen large investment from expatriates who have poured money into the city. It is this expatriate investment which is the catalyst for the construction projects that have gathered pace over recent years. Walking around Ramallah, one is faced with features found in many other modern cities, such as bowling alleys, hotels, restaurants and cafes, as part of the new cosmopolitan feel that the city is encouraging. The international luxury hotel chain Movenpick expects to open its first Palestinian branch in Ramallah.
Nevertheless, the mayor of Ramallah noted in an interview with the American Task Force of Palestine that whilst the growth is welcome Ramallah is not the “new Jerusalem”, and herein lies the problem. While the city appears to come into its own, the hope of the Palestinian people remains that Jerusalem will be the future capital of a Palestinian state. Ramallah, though, remains separated from Jerusalem by the network of Israel roadblocks and checkpoints, the apartheid wall and other Israeli incursions into the OPTs which make travel between the two cities very difficult. What should be a ten-minute journey between the two cities is now subject to so many barriers placed by the Israeli “partners for peace” that the trip can take many hours, dependent largely on the whims of the soldiers at the checkpoints.
In the aforementioned interview Ramallah’s mayor described the occupation and settlement of the West Bank, illegal under international law, as a hindrance to the economic growth of the city; the “political situation” inhibits growth. However, displaying the resolve present in the city she noted that despite the occupation the Palestinians would continue to encourage the growth of the city and not allow the occupation to stifle them. The occupation has undoubtedly hindered growth beyond Ramallah’s boundaries; businesses cannot trade with other parts of the West Bank because transport between cities, towns and villages is hampered by the wall, the settler-only roads and the numerous checkpoints and roadblocks. Inevitably, as exports and imports are rendered nigh on impossible by the occupation, so too are business and commercial aspirations stifled, with a calamitous effect on the workforce.
Thus, Ramallah remains in its own economic bubble and while the International Monetary Fund expects the economy in the West Bank to experience an 8 – 10 percent growth, the real time effect will be minimal as poverty remains high, with an estimated 60 per cent of the population living below the official poverty line.
The economic truth
In a World Bank ranking of 156 countries relating to the ease of doing business, Palestine was ranked at 135. Unsurprisingly, the World Bank reported that Palestine remains one of the most difficult countries for business, despite some growth in the economy of the West Bank (boosted mainly by Ramallah’s statistics). Despite the huge natural resources available in the West Bank the agricultural sector amounts to only 17 percent of the labour force; 68 percent is based in the service industry. The World Bank described the illegal occupation of the West Bank as having created “a fragmented set of social and economic islands or enclaves cut off from one another” which has choked the Palestinian economy. It noted that the “apparatus of control… affect(s) every aspect of Palestinian life including job opportunities, work and earnings”.
As a result of the continuing occupation the Palestinian economy has remained solidly reliant upon international aid. In 2008 foreign aid investment was estimated at approximately $1.8 billion; that’s around $487 per Palestinian per year in the West Bank. With the Palestinian Authority one of the main employers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a huge number of people are reliant upon the international “development” aid which funds the PA to pay their wages. Though there have been numerous calls for the PA to develop its own funding sources, it remains a victim of the occupation as much as the rest of the West Bank economy, unable to focus on its own domestic economic agenda as it pursues a peace settlement and negotiations with Israel, its officials “salary slaves” beholden to the occupying power. The West Bank economy remains in the grip of the Israelis who exert full control over the occupied territories. In November 2010, the Portland Trust reported that the World Bank had yet again increased its funding to the PA by $40 million. Yet despite the input of international aid the West Bank economy remains a casualty of the occupation.
Poverty in the West Bank – crisis point
In June 2010 the European Commission funded a report by Save the Children which declared that some of the poorest areas in the West Bank were worse off than those in the Gaza Strip, which has been blockaded illegally by Israel (with Egyptian help and Western support) ever since the election of Hamas in 2006. Despite the on-going blockade and the destruction caused during Israel’s infamous Operation Cast Lead which is as yet unrepaired, some parts of the West Bank have been so severely damaged by Israel’s occupation that children living in these areas face harsher living conditions than their peers in Gaza. The worst areas according to Save the Children were those in Area C – the area of the West Bank under direct Israeli administrative control; infrastructure has been damaged and the Israeli authorities have refused permission for its redevelopment.
As illegal settlements expand across the Occupied Palestinian Territories the land left to the Palestinian population must rely on virtually non-existent water supplies, as Israel has used its control of the water table to divert the supply and availability of water away from Palestinians towards its own population and the illegal settlers. Israel has also imposed restrictions on land use which means that only minimal agriculture can be developed. Agricultural produce is then faced by export restrictions imposed by the occupying forces. It is the lack of access to fresh agricultural produce which was suggested as a reason for the malnourishment of children in Area C in the EC-funded report. Save the Children commented that a lack of fresh food was the reason for so many Palestinian children being ill, which is ironic given that the region is extremely fertile and has an abundance of agricultural produce; Israel is one of the EU’s main trading partners for agricultural produce despite its appalling human rights record. The favourable EU-Israel trade agreement allows Israeli produce favourable import export tariffs, even when a great amount of produce appears to come from illegal settlements; companies such as Agrexco maintain dominance over the fruit and vegetable market in the EU. Yet in the Save the Children study 44 percent of the children suffered from diarrhoea and nearly 50 percent of the families received no international humanitarian assistance to combat poverty or ill-health. The survey estimated that 79 percent of the population in Area C lacked sufficient food; the figure in the Gaza Strip is 61 percent.
As homes, schools and roads remain unrepaired due to the Israeli authority’s refusal to grant building permits and permission for repair work, the infrastructure across the West Bank continues to deteriorate. It is Israeli whims which have led to a purely man-made poverty across the West Bank and it is more or less condoned by the international community. While Israel strangles the wider Palestinian economy and maintains its military occupation, governments in the West point ostrich-like to Ramallah as a beacon of economic success, concluding that if Ramallah has managed to develop so effectively then the wider West Bank situation cannot be as bad as critics claim.
This is where the danger lies, because the development of Ramallah is part of a massive deception reported faithfully by the media and cited by politicians as the model. It should be obvious that this cannot be a true reflection of the overall situation in the West Bank as long as areas of the West Bank are worse than those of the “prison camp” of Gaza, as British Prime Minister David Cameron described it last year. It is the myth of economic success which conceals the truth – Israel is continuing to inflict its torturous occupation by every which way it can, including the destruction of the Palestinian economy.
Ramallah is a useful mirage for the Israeli authorities but behind the façade of economic peace and stability the Israeli government continues to colonise the land it is occupying illegally. The international community has been blinded by the limited economic success of Ramallah, while the rest of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip remains constricted in the most brutal way imaginable.
7. Qaddafi, Bush And The Iraq Big Lie
Russ Baker
Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of and author of “Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years.”        February 25, 2011
While the US government expresses outrage over the brutality of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi toward his own people, we’re missing a complex but significant wrinkle that ties Qaddafi to America’s cover-up of the true path to war in Iraq.
In May, 2009, a man named Ibn Shaikh al-Libi supposedly committed suicide while being held in a Libyan jail. Al-Libi is a deeply, deeply interesting fellow. Back in 2002, he was tortured by Egypt under US direction. It appears that the reason the US government had him tortured was not to stop some imminent attack on the United States, but to generate alleged—and false— links between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that could justify invading Iraq.
Al-Libi was captured and sent to Egypt, where under severe torture including waterboarding, he related what turned out to be false information about purported Saddam-9/11 links. Al-Libi later explained that he provided that material because that’s what his captors wanted to hear, and it ended his torture.
Nick Baumann wrote about it in 2009 in Mother Jones:
Al-Libi was the man whose false confession, obtained under torture, of a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda provided the Bush administration with its casus belli for war with Iraq. It didn’t seem to matter that al-Libi’s claim that Bin Laden had sent operatives to be trained in the use of weapons of mass destruction by Hussein’s people didn’t make any sense. “They were killing me,” al-Libi later told the FBI about his torturers. “I had to tell them something.” A bipartisan Senate Intelligence committee report would later conclude that al-Libi lied about the link “to avoid torture.”
More on this at The Washington Note, where former Colin Powell aide Lawrence Wilkerson weighed in.
Given the enormity of what al-Libi’s revelations represent, then his continued presence and ability to witness the true background to the Iraq invasion made him a grave threat to the Bush-Cheney administration and the potential vulnerability of its leading lights to war crimes prosecution.
Thus, the fact that he suddenly “killed himself” while being held by Qaddafi’s police state at least raises the question of whether Qaddafi was doing a favor for the US. Of course, by 2009, when al-Libi suddenly died, Obama had become president—but it’s safe to say that deep, covert cleanup operations don’t end with an inauguration.
With the world delighting in the abdication of the dictator Mubarak in Egypt and now the Libyan Qaddafi’s potential demise, the least we can do is examine the threads back to our own country. If we do not pay attention to these things, we are all culpable.
8. Website urges Christians to ‘adopt a terrorist for prayer’
By Muriel Kane
Raw Story   Friday, February 25th, 2011 — 9:01 pm
Founder says he’s considered adding eco-terrorists to his list “but the movement doesn’t threaten existentially our existence the same way the Islamic terrorists do.’”
A recent CNN story is drawing attention to the little-known Adopt-a-Terrorist website, which urges Christians to take literally the injunction to love their enemies in hopes of spiritually reforming them through prayer.
The group’s spokesman, Thomas Bruce, told CNN that his site has been offering its interactive adoption feature since 2009. So far, 603 people have registered to adopt a terrorist, with some names, like Osama bin Laden, drawing multiple sponsors. Another 165 names drawn from FBI and State Department listings are currently listed as open for adoption.
“We’ve been fighting this [war on terror] for about 10 years with material means, and it hasn’t really changed the nature of it,” Bruce told CNN. “By bringing spiritual perspective to it, and as the Lord answers some of those prayers, it could and should hopefully have a profound change on the viciousness of the conflict we’re in.”
As a further inducement to potential members, the site suggests that “associating with this movement marks you as one who is not afraid of either Satan or his minions. It raises your profile in the spiritual realm.”
It appears that the chief goal of the site is not to change the hearts of terrorists, however, but to turn them to Jesus. Sample prayers include such formulas as “Holy Spirit, relentlessly pursue Al Zawahiri to the depths of his hideout, that he may not escape your grace” and “Father, provide an environment to Jamal Ahmed in which he is free to confess and believe in Jesus as Lord openly” and “Jesus, may news of your free gift of eternal salvation reach the opened ears of Rahman Yasin.”
When CNN asked why all the terrorists listed had ties to Islam, Bruce replied that “while he’s considered adding Christian or even eco terrorists to the list, they ‘aren’t a big threat to national security, our way of life, or our freedom. We should pray for them too, but the movement doesn’t threaten existentially our existence the same way the Islamic terrorists do.’”
Bruce, who has degrees in geology and intercultural studies, obtained a degree in Christian ministray in 2004 from New Geneva Theological Seminary and served as a military chaplain in Iraq. He acknowledges that his idea has been subjected to mockery but insistes that “the ridicule comes from people who don’t believe that spiritual things are valid.”
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