Monday, 27 April 2009

Finkelstein beats Clark University ban on Gaza lecture

Clark University President John Bassett fails in his efforts to cancel a lecture by Norman Finkelstein on the Israeli massacre of Gazans.

Basset sparked student fury earlier this month after he nixed the appearance of Finkelstein -- an outspoken critic of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians -- for fear that any support would undermine a university-sponsored conference on the Holocaust.

The Students for Palestinian Rights and other organizations responded by circulating petitions and organizing a protest rally in criticism of what they believed to be a violation of the right of freedom of speech granted under the First Amendment.

The American Civil Liberties Union also wrote a letter Basset, reprimanding him for infringing upon academic freedom.

In the face of the angry outburst, Basset revoked the cancellation and rescheduled Finkelstein's appearance for Monday, after the conference more at Press TV

Israel's campaign of deadly force against non-violent apartheid wall protesters

Protest against the apartheid wall, Nilin, Palestine, 27/3/2009. by activestills.
A protester (left) reacts to tear gas shot by the Israeli army during a protest against the apartheid wall in the West Bank village of Nilin, on the 27/3/2009. The Israeli army attacked the weekly protest in Nilin, entering the center of the village with large forces and trying to prevent the protest from taking place. Photo by: Oren Ziv/

Thanks to Rory McCarthy at the Guardian for reporting on the deadly force being used by Israel's soldiers against people protesting the apartheid wall. Video link here.

From the Guardian
It began calmly enough with a march down the high street after midday prayers at the mosque. Palestinian villagers were surrounded by dozens of foreigners singing and waving flags. They turned and headed out to the olive-tree fields and up towards the broad path of Israel's West Bank barrier. There, behind a concrete hilltop bunker, the Israeli soldiers looked down on them.

The crowd approached the barrier, still singing. One man flew a paper kite shaped as a plane. "This land is a closed military zone," an Israeli soldier shouted in flawless Arabic over a loudspeaker. "You are not allowed near the wall." Then the soldiers fired a barrage of teargas.

It has been like this every Friday in the village of Bil'in for more than four years – the most persistent popular demonstration against Israel's vast steel and concrete barrier. It is a protest founded on non-violence that is spreading to other West Bank villages. But it has become increasingly dangerous. more

The Death of Bassem Abu Rahme - Thanks to Moments of Gaza
By Frank Barat

On April the 17th, like any Fridays afternoon for the last 4 years, the small village of Bil'in, north of Ramallah, was preparing for the usual demonstration against Israel's annexation wall (some people call it apartheid wall or separation wall. The Israeli government refers to it as the security fence)...more

US and UK worries over Pakistan deepen as Taliban expand

[update 16:07 BST]
Asif Ali Zardari's pulls out of press conference in Islamabad after Brown calls country 'terror crucible'.

Gordon Brown this morning made it clear he is following the US game plan - Afghanistan and Pakistan are the 'crucible of terrorism' he tells us, as the UK government announces more troops for the Afghan disaster. Pakistan is desperately trying to block a drive by the Taliban in the Swat valley towards the Afghan border. The US has demanded this offensive. Thousands of ordinary people are fleeing the Malakand division. Clinton says she couldn't 'even contemplate' a situation where Pakistan's nuclear weapons are at risk. Gordon Brown sees no contradiction in appealing to Pakistan to step up its civil war in the name of the war on terror, while detaining its students on false terrorism charges here in the UK.
The Swat Taliban remain defiant. Overnight the militants seized control of a telephone exchange in Bahrain, a village in the upper Swat valley.

"The more they carry out operations the more we will expand across Pakistan," said spokesman Muslim Khan. "God willing, one day we will touch its last boundary."

Brigadier Mehmood Shah, a Peshawar-based analyst, said Pakistan was finally waking up to the seriousness of the Taliban threat.

"The Taliban have exposed their real intention – not the implementation of Sharia law, but to seize power in Pakistan. It is now clear that al-Qaida is driving these people, and the government has realised it can't [defeat] them with a small effort," he said.

More demolition notifications in Jerusalem

More demolitions in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli-controlled municipality of occupied Jerusalem on Sunday sent its so-called construction observation teams to deliver demolition notifications to 30 Palestinian families.

Local sources said that some of those homes were built 20 years ago and their owners paid fines, noting that the notified homes were located in Beit Hanina, Sha'fat, Aisawiya and Jabal Mukabir neighborhoods.

The sources pointed out that the new demolition orders raise the number of Palestinian homes threatened with destruction since start of this year to 1,052 inhabited by around 5,000 people.

They said that 60% of those houses were ordered to be flattened by the occupation municipality's local affairs court while 40% had received judicial rulings to the effect over the past years.

The local sources charged that the Israeli occupation authority was exercising "racist cleansing" against the Palestinian inhabitants of the holy city.

Palestinian prisoners pressured for information in exchange for treatment

Dr. Bassem Na'eem, the minister of health, told the visiting Scottish delegation headed by MSP Pauline McNeill, that Israel pressures Palestinian patients to give information about resistance fighters in exchange for receiving medical treatment in its hospitals.

Dr. Na'eem also accused the PA in Ramallah of assisting Israel in its blockade on Gaza through instigating foreign powers against the Palestinian government and its refusal to provide Gaza patients with passports.

From PIC

Total closure of West Bank and Gaza for 61 anniversary 'celebrations'

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation forces' command on Sunday imposed a hermetic closure on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as of Sunday evening until Wednesday evening.

The command said that the closure was on the occasion of celebrating the 61st anniversary for the establishment of the state of Israel on the land of Palestine.

It said that no Palestinian would be allowed into Palestinian lands occupied in 1948 and whoever is caught in violation of this decision would pay a double fine.
From the Palestinian Information Center

Egypt raids Sinai Bedouins in search for Hezbollah link

The fallout from the suspicious 'Hezbollah cell' arrests continues in Egypt where Bedouins of the Sinai are being killed and harassed by state security. They tried to hold a protest on Saturday.
Bedouins in Sinai attempted in vain to protest Saturday against increased security raids in the wake of the Hezbollah cell case.

Security forces managed to scupper the protest but the assembled Bedouins who gathered near Al-Oja in an area called Abu Hashad decided that another protest would be held on June 1...

...Security forces have stated that they are searching for some 25 people in Sinai who they believe are involved with the alleged Hezbollah terror cell that was exposed and captured in Egypt. From Daily News Egypt

Turkey-Syria military exercise 'distrurbing' says Israel

Israel's Gaza War continues to strain its strategic alliance with Turkey.

The row between Peres and Erdogan at Davos was the public manifestation of this, although Turkey has not ripped up its military agreements with Israel, despite the rhethoric. Nevertheless both the military and the government in Turkey are making it clear to the US and Israel that they may have other options. The uncovering of an Israeli plot to kill Turkish prime minister Erdogan will not ihave helped things either.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the joint Turkish-Syrian maneuver launched Monday was a "disturbing development."

Turkey and Syria staged their first joint military exercise, with the aim of boosting ties between the two countries’ land forces.

Millwall leafleting great result for police brutality campaign

Protesters from the United Campaign Against Police Violence (UCAPV)leafleted Millwall on Saturday, and were joined by the family of Sean Rigg who died in police custody. Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT trade union, also gave a hand.

Campaigners received a warm reception from Millwall fans. Bob Crow took a banner advertising the national demonstration on 23 May into the stadium.

On Saturday members and supporters of the UCAPV, including Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT, went to The Den, homeground of Millwall FC, to give out leaflets about the campaign and forthcoming events.

Ian Tomlinson was a big Millwall fan, as is Bob Crow, and the support for the campaign was immense. We got rid of well over 1,000 leaflets within half an hour, with many Millwall fans coming back for more.

The press were in attendance too with Bob being interviewed for both Channel 4 News and The Times.

In fact, the only people who weren't happy to see us were a few shifty Met officers pacing around the ground.

Obama 'aid for Hamas' move has Israel supporters in a sweat

More evidence of daylight emerging between the US and Israel. The two allies don't quite see eye to eye on two states, with the new Israeli government set against any such move and linking the issue to Iran.

At the weekend the Obama administration signaled it wishes to see changes in US law to allow it to provide aid to a unified Palestinian government that would include Hamas. This is welcome, albeit purely theoretical as there is no such government in position.

Obama's timid move has enraged the pro-Israel lobby in the US and is worrying Israeli leaders, which is no bad thing, even if their fears are overstated.
The administration seeks changes that would permit aid to Palestinians even if officials backed by Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist group, become part of a unified Palestinian government...

...Nevertheless, the move has alarmed congressional supporters of Israel, who are watching for signs that the new Democratic team at the White House might be more sympathetic to Palestinians than was the Bush administration.

The administration's proposal is akin to agreeing to support a government that "only has a few Nazis in it," Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) told Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a House hearing last week. From the Los Angeles Times

Another attack on Sudan 'arms shipment' by Israel

Israel's undeclared war on Sudan continues. We reported in March that in January Israel attacked an overground convoy traveling through the country and supposedly carrying arms for the resistance in Gaza.

Now this Saturday there were reports of an attack on an Iranian ship about to dock in the country. The suspected arms ship was torpedoed by an unknown power.

Israel denied the earlier attack only for the US to reveal that it was indeed the Israeli, and not themselves, that had launched the attack.

There have been no reports of casualties so far or statement from the Sudanese government.
An Iranian vessel laden with weapons bound for the Gaza Strip was torpedoed off the coast of Sudan last week, allegedly by Israeli or American forces operating in the area, the Egyptian newspaper El-Aosboa reported yesterday.

Anonymous sources in Khartoum told the newspaper that an unidentified warship bombed the Iranian vessel as it prepared to dock in Sudan before transferring its load for shipment to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The sources said they suspect U.S. or Israeli involvement in the attack, but neither Washington nor Jerusalem have released a statement on the matter. From Haaretz