Thursday, July 31, 2014

UN rights chief: Israel defying international law in Gaza, must be held accountable

Navi Pillay, the United Nations' senior human rights official said on Thursday she believed Israel was deliberately defying international law in its military offensive in Gaza and that world powers should hold it accountable for possible war crimes.
Israel has attacked homes, schools, hospitals, and UN premises in apparent violation of the Geneva Conventions, Pillay said, a week after her Human Rights Council resolved to open a commission of inquiry into Israel's alleged crimes against humanity.
"Therefore I would say that they appear to be defying... deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes on Israel," Pillay told a news briefing. "This is why again and again I say we cannot allow impunity, we cannot allow this lack of accountability to go on."
She also criticized the United States, Israel's main ally, for failing to use its influence with the Jewish state to halt the carnage.
"Many of my remarks have been directed to the United States since they are a party with influence over Israel to do much more to stop the killing, to bring the parties to the negotiating table. I've called also for an end to the blockade and an end to the occupation."
Pillay said that she was appalled at Washington consistently voting against resolutions on Israel in the Human Rights Council, General Assembly and Security Council.
"They have not only provided the heavy weaponry which is now being used by Israel in Gaza but they've also provided almost $1 billion in providing the 'Iron Domes' to protect the Israels from rocket attacks," she said. "But no such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing international alarm over a rising civilian death toll in Gaza, said on Thursday he would not accept any cease- fire that stopped Israel completing the destruction of militants' infiltration tunnels.
Gaza officials say at least 1,372 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and nearly 7,000 wounded. Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza clashes and more than 400 wounded. Three civilians have been killed by Palestinian shelling in Israel.
Pillay said that as Israel prosecuted only four Israeli soldiers for its 2008/09 Operation Caste Lead, including one for alleged theft of a credit card, she did not expect it to investigate properly violations committed during its air strikes and ground assault on Gaza, now in its fourth week.
"But international law is clear that where a state is unable or unwilling to carry out investigations and prosecutions, the international (criminal justice) system applies," she said.
Previous UN commissions of inquiry into Israel incursions into Gaza have called for the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to Pillay, a former UN war crimes judge.
"Accountability and justice cannot be expected to be achieved through (Israeli) domestic proceedings. This is evident from the lack of adequate investigations by Israel and no attempt whatsoever made by the international community to implement the recommendations made by the Gaza fact-finding mission report," Pillay said.
 
You can read the news by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Has the US government been an honest broker for peace in the Middle East?

  Rashid Khalidi is Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University’s Department of History and the author of several books, including his latest, Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East. He has been very critical of US's role as a peace broker. In this book, Khalidi draws on his research as a historian, and on his own experience as an adviser to Palestinian negotiators, to argue that far from being an impartial broker, the United States has effectively acted as Israel’s lawyer.

In March 2013, he gave an interview to Democracy Now, which was published in two parts. You can read his interview by clicking here and here.

Jewish Peace Activists Condemn Massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

There are many Jewish peace activists who have always been very vocal about Israel's crimes against humanity.  In New York City, a group of demonstrators recently blocked traffic by laying down in the streets outside Israel’s Mission to the United Nations. Twenty-six people were arrested after refusing police orders to disperse. The action was organized by the author and scholar Norman Finkelstein.
Norman Finkelstein: "Well, I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for the past 21 days, morning and night, watching the horror unfold, and I felt I wasn’t doing enough, I wasn’t rising to the occasion, I wasn’t acting commensurate to the horror. So I decide it’s time to do something more, time to go past the computer, remove myself from the computer and get arrested." 
Tuesday’s act of civil disobedience comes one day after nine Jewish peace activists were arrested protesting the Israeli assault outside the office of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. The group of mostly young activists are calling themselves "If Not Now, When?" In Seattle, peace activists held a "die-in" outside the headquarters of Boeing, which manufactures weapons supplied to the Israeli military.

Many of the Jewish peace activists carried posters that said, "Jews for Justice in Palestine," "Not in our name." You can read more by clicking here.

Ilan Pappé is a professor of history and the director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter. He is the author of several books, including most recently, "The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge." He said, "I think Israel in 2014 made a decision that it prefers to be a racist apartheid state and not a democracy." Pappé said,"It still hopes that the United States will license this decision and provide it with the immunity to continue, with the necessary implication of such a policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians wherever they are."

You can read more by clicking here.

From 1978 to 1994, American Jewish leader Henry Siegman served as executive director of the American Jewish Congress, long described as one of the nation’s "big three" Jewish organizations along with the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. He now serves as president of the U.S./Middle East Project and is a vocal critic of Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories. In his recent interview with Democracy Now, he said, "When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis — and should be a profound crisis in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success," Siegman says. Responding to Israel’s U.S.-backed claim that its assault on Gaza is necessary because no country would tolerate the rocket fire from militants in Gaza, Siegman says: "What undermines this principle is that no country and no people would live the way that Gazans have been made to live. … The question of the morality of Israel’s action depends, in the first instance, on the question, couldn’t Israel be doing something [to prevent] this disaster that is playing out now, in terms of the destruction of human life? Couldn’t they have done something that did not require that cost? And the answer is, sure, they could have ended the occupation."

In this interview Siegman mentioned how Israeli leaders like Ben Gurion had instructed his generals to kill Palestinian civilians in Israel's so-called War of Independence. They were ordered to line the Palestinians up against the wall and shoot them, in order to help to encourage the exodus, that in fact resulted, of 700,000 Palestinians, who were driven out of their homes, and their towns and villages were destroyed. [Ref: Righteous Victims by Benny Morris; My Promised Land by Ari Shavit]

You can read the full interview by clicking here.

Muslim Americans Coerced Into Becoming Informants

Naveed Shinwari is one of four American Muslims who filed suit against the government this week for placing them on the U.S. "no-fly list" in order to coerce them into becoming FBI informants. The plaintiffs say the government refuses to explain why they were named on the no-fly list. They also believe that their names continue to be listed because they would not agree to become FBI informants and spy on their local communities. "It’s very frustrating, you feel helpless," Shinwari says. "No one will tell you how you can get off of it, how you got on it. It has a profound impact on people’s lives."

Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, is seeking to remove the men from the no-fly list and establish a new legal mechanism to challenge placement on it.

Shinwari and Kadidal were interviewed in the Democracy Now program in April. You can read their interview by clicking here.

Arundhati Roy on India and Totalitarianism

Award winning author and activist Arundhati Roy needs no introduction. She was interviewed in the Democracy Now in April 9, 2014 on the subject of "Is India on a Totalitarian Path?". Parts of her interview is posted below:

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with the world-renowned author Arundhati Roy. Voting has just begun in India in the largest election the world has ever seen. About 815 million Indians are eligible to vote over the next five weeks. The number of eligible voters in India is larger than the total population of the United States and European Union combined. Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things. Her latest book is called Capitalism: A Love Story [sic]. Democracy Now!'s — Capitalism: A Ghost Story. Democracy Now!'s Nermeen Shaikh and I talked to Arundhati Roy about the changes in India she describes in her latest book and the implications for the elections.
ARUNDHATI ROY: So, I’m talking about how, when you have this kind of control over all business, over the media, over its essential infrastructure, electricity generation, information, everything, then you just field your, you know, pet politicians. And right now, for example, what’s happening in India is that one of the reasons that is being attributed to the slowdown of the economy is the fact that there is a tremendous resistance to all of this from the people on the ground, from the people who are being displaced, from the—and in the forests, it’s the Maoist guerrillas; in the villages, it’s all kinds of people’s movements—all of whom are of course being called Maoist. And now, there is a—you see, these economic policies—these new economic policies cannot be implemented unless—except with state—with coercive state violence. So you have a situation where the forests are full of paramilitary just burning villages, you know, pushing people out of their homes, trying to clear the land for mining companies to whom the government has signed, you know, hundreds of memorandums of understanding. Outside the forests, too, this is happening. So there is a kind of war which, of course, always existed in India. There hasn’t been a year when the Indian army hasn’t been deployed against its own people. I mean, I’ll talk about that later—
AMY GOODMAN: Since when?
ARUNDHATI ROY: Since independence, since 1947, you know? But now the plan is to deploy them. Now it’s the paramilitary. But this new election is going to be who is the person that the corporates choose, who is not going to blink about putting the Indian—about deploying the Indian army against the poorest people in this country, you know, and pushing them out to give over those lands, those rivers, those mountains, to the major mining corporations. So this is what we are being prepared for now—the air force, the army, going in into the heart of India now.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Before we go to the elections, could you—one of the operations, the military operations, you talk about is Operation Green Hunt.
ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Could you explain what that is, when it started, and who it targets?
ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, Operation Green Hunt, basically—you know, in 2004, the current government signed a series of memorandums of understanding with a number of mining corporations and infrastructure development companies to build dams, to do mining, to build roads, to move India into the space where, as the home minister at the time said, he wanted 75 percent of India’s population to live in cities, which is, you know, moving—social engineering, really, moving 500 million people or so out of their homes. And so, then they came up against this very, very militant resistance from the ground. As I said, in the forests, there were armed Maoist guerrillas; outside the forest, there are militant, you know, some call themselves Gandhians, all kinds. There’s a whole diversity of resistance but, although strategically they had different ways of dealing with it, were all fighting the same thing. So then, in the state of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, which are where there are huge indigenous populations—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: In central India.
ARUNDHATI ROY: In central India—the first thing the government did was to—very similar to what happened in places like Peru and Colombia, you know, they started to arm a section of the indigenous population and create a vigilante army. It was called the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh. The Salwa Judum, along with local paramilitary, went in and started decimating villages, like they basically chased some 300,000 people out of the forests, and some 600 villages were emptied. And then the people began to fight back. And really, this whole Salwa Judum experiment failed, at which point they announced Operation Green Hunt, where there was this official declaration of war.
And there was so much propaganda in the media. As I explain to you now, the media is owned by the corporations who have vested interests. So there was this—you know, the prime minister came out and said, "They are the greatest internal security threat." And, you know, there was this kind of conflation between the Maoists with their ski caps and, you know, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and all these people who are threatening the idea of India.
What the government wasn’t prepared for was the fightback, not just from the people in the forest, but even from a range of activists, a range of people who were outraged by this. And, you know, they passed these laws which meant that anybody could be called a Maoist and, you know, a threat to security. And thousands—even today, there are thousands of people in jail under sedition, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and so on. And—but that was Operation Green Hunt. But that, too, ran aground, because it’s very difficult terrain and—you know, so now the idea is to deploy the army. And now the corporations feel that this past government hadn’t—didn’t have the nerve to send out the army, that it blinked. And so—
AMY GOODMAN: This is the Congress party.
ARUNDHATI ROY: The Congress party and its allies. So now all the big corporations are backing the chief—the three-times chief minister of the state of Gujarat, the western state of Gujarat, who has proved his mettle, you know, by being an extremely hard and cold-blooded chief minister, who is now—I mean, he is, of course, best known for having presided over a pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about who Modi is—I mean, this moves us into the election of April; it’s going to be the largest election in the world—who the contenders are, who this man is who could well become the head of India, who the United States has not granted a visa to in years because of what you’re describing.
ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, who is Narendra Modi? I think he’s, you know, changing his—changing his idea of who he himself is, you know, because he started out as a kind of activist in this self-proclaimed fascist organization called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, which was founded in 1925, who the heroes of the RSS were Mussolini and Hitler. Even today, you know, their—the bible of the RSS was written by a man called Golwalkar, you know, who says the Muslims of India are like the Jews of Germany. And so, they have a very clear idea of India as a Hindu nation, very much like the Hindu version of Pakistan.
AMY GOODMAN: Where, you’re saying, the Muslims should be eradicated.
ARUNDHATI ROY: Where they should be either made to live as, I think, second-class citizens and—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Or they should move to Pakistan.
ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, or they should move to Pakistan. Or if they don’t behave themselves, they should just be killed, you know? So, this is a very old—you know, Modi didn’t invent it. But he was—he and even the former BJP prime minister, Vajpayee, the former home minister, Advani—all of these are members of the RSS. The RSS is an organization which has 40,000 or 50,000 units across India, extremely—I mean, they were at one point banned because a former member of the RSS killed Gandhi. But now—you know, now they are of course not a banned organization, and they work—
AMY GOODMAN: Killed Mahatma Gandhi.
ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, assassinated him. But that—but, so, Modi started out as a worker for the RSS. He, of course, came into great prominence in 2002, when he was already the chief minister of Gujarat but had been losing local municipal elections. And this was at the time when the BJP had run this big campaign in—they had demolished the Babri Masjid, this old 14th century mosque, in 1992. But they were now saying, "We want to build a big Hindu temple in that place." And a group of pilgrims who were returning from the site where this temple was supposed to be built, the train in which they were traveling, the compartment was set on fire, and 58 Hindu pilgrims were burned. Nobody knows, even today, who set that compartment on fire and how it happened. But, of course, it was immediately, you know, blamed on Muslims. And then there followed an unbelievable pogrom in Gujarat, where more than a thousand people were lynched, were burned alive. Women were raped. Their abdomens were slit open. Their fetuses were taken out and so on. And not only that—
AMY GOODMAN: These were Muslims.
ARUNDHATI ROY: These were Muslims, by these Hindu mobs. And it became very clear that they had lists, they had support. The police were, you know, on side of the mobs. And, you know, 100,000 Muslims were driven from their homes. And this happened in 2002, this was 12 years ago. And subsequently, they have been—you know, the killers themselves have come on TV and boasted about their killing, come on—in sting operations. But the more they boasted, the more it became—I mean, for people who thought other people would be outraged, in fact it worked as election propaganda for Modi.
And even now, though he took off his sort of saffron turban and his red tikka and then put on a sharp suit and became the development chief minister, and yet, you know, when—recently, when he was interviewed by Reuters and asked whether he regretted what happened in 2002, he more or less said, "You know, I mean, even if I were driving a car and I drove over a puppy, I would feel bad," you know? But he very expressly has refused to take any responsibility or regret what happened.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: But that’s one of the extraordinary things that you describe in the book, is that following liberalization and the growth of this enormous middle class, 300 million, there was a simultaneous shift, gradual shift, to a more right-wing, exclusive, intolerant conception of India as a Hindu state. So, simultaneously, this class embraces neoliberalism, the neoliberalism in India, and also a more conservative Hindu ideology. So can you explain how those two go together, and how in fact, along with what you said now about Modi, how that might play out in this election?
ARUNDHATI ROY: You know, whenever I speak in India, I say that in the late '80s what the government did was they opened two locks. One was the lock of the free—of the market. The Indian market was not a free market, not an open market; it was a regulated market. They opened the lock of the markets. And they opened the lock of the Babri Masjid, which for years had been a disputed site, you know, and they opened it. And both those locks—the opening of both those locks eventually led to two kinds of totalitarianisms. One—and they both led to two kinds of manufactured terrorisms. You know, so the lock of the open market led to what are now being described as the Maoist terrorist, which includes all of us, you know, all of us. Anybody who's speaking against this kind of economic totalitarianism is a Maoist, whether you are a Maoist or not. And the other, you know, the Islamist terrorist. So, what happens is that both the Congress party and the BJP has different prioritizations for which terrorist is on the top of the list, you know? But what happens is that whoever wins the elections, they always have an excuse to continue to militarize.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So the two main parties who are contesting this election are Congress, which is the ruling party now, and the BJP, the Bharatiya Janata Party, of which Narendra Modi is the head. And you’ve said that the only difference between them is that one does by day what the other does by night, so as far as these policies are concerned, you can see no difference, irrespective of who wins.
ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, well, you know, when it comes down to the wire, I agree with what I’ve said. And yet, you know, there is something to be said for hypocrisy, you know, for doing things by night, because there’s a little bit of tentativeness there; there isn’t this sureness of, you know, "We want the Hindu nation, and we want the rule of the corporations," and so on. But, yes, I mean, what happens is that everybody knows. It’s like whoever is in power gets 60 percent of the cut, and whoever is not in power gets 40 percent. That’s how the corporates work. You know, they have enough money to pay the government and the opposition. And all these institutions of democracy have been hollowed out, and their shells have been placed back, and we continue this sort of charade in some ways.

You can read the full interview by clicking here.

Indian-American physician allege rape by Indian Military Attache in NY

Dr. Anurita Kapur, a single woman with a nine-year old child has alleged that she was raped by Colonel Manoj Tiwari who worked was senior commissioned Indian Army officer and Military Attache at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York, who also served as a New York Liaison for the Defense of India. Tiwari who calls himself Tiger Tiwari is believed to be now hiding out at the Army War College at Mhow, India after her complaint.

Anurita reported the incident to The Permanent Mission of India (PMI) to the United Nations in New York including Permanent Representative of India to the UN Ambassador Ashoke Mukherjee, Deputy Permanent Representative of India Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri and other officers.
The Permanent Representative of India then passed on the complaints to his lower officers and nothing moved for over six months. No one investigated the matter at PMI instead passed the buck without any outcome. She feared that the officers are covering up for Tiwari.

Anurita also reported the matter to The Indian Embassy, all past and current Ambassadors Permanent Representatives (PR) and Deputy Permanent Representative (DPR), Counselors, Military Attache, Air Attache and Naval Attache in Washington and New York and to her dismay none investigated her complaint.

She also reported the matter to President of India, Prime-Minister of India, Minister of External Affairs, former Minister at the Ministry of Defense, Minister of Home Affairs, Chief of Army Staff, Director of Mechanized Infantry, Madras Regiment and leaders of the Indian Congress Party, he said.
Unfortunately, it has been over a year since Tiwari ran away to India, but no justice has been given to Anurita.

Instead the previous Indian Government tried to hush everything and shoved it under the rug to protect their high official Colonel Manoj Tiwari who is a sex predator and a rapist, the press release said.

After Dr. Kapur made complaints against him to Indian Government last year, Tiwari started making death threats to stop her from going public and filing complaints against him, she alleged.

You can read the news by clicking here.

Israel’s latest crime - another UN compound hit

As it has happened repeatedly in this latest genocidal campaign in Gaza, the rogue state of Israel has attacked a UN school. The head of the main UN relief agency in Gaza has denounced the Israeli strike on one of its schools, which killed 19 people.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces," said UNRWA commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl.

"This is the sixth time that one of our schools has been struck," he said. He Tweeted, “We have moved beyond realm of humanitarian action alone. [We] Are now in the realm of accountability and the need for action to end the carnage.”

He said the location of the school was given to the Israeli army 17 times.

Mr Krahenbuhl said about 3,300 people had been sheltering in the school at the moment it was struck.

Elsewhere, eight people, including five members of the same family in Jebalya, were killed in other strikes, Gaza officials said.

Seven other people were killed in Israel tank shelling in Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah.

Jebalya, which has been under Israeli fire for the past 24 hours, is the largest refugee camp in Gaza.

Its population of 120,000 has been swollen by Palestinians trying to escape the fighting.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness tweeted: "UNRWA condemns in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces.

"Tens of thousands may soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza, without food, water and shelter if attacks on these areas continue.

"[The] international community must take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage in Gaza."

Hospital officials put the total number of Palestinians killed in the conflict at 1,245, most of them civilians.

On the Israeli side, 53 soldiers and three civilians have been killed since the start of the offensive on 8 July.

UNRWA, the main UN relief agency in Gaza, said it was at "breaking point" with more than 200,000 Palestinians having taken shelter in its schools and buildings following calls by Israel for civilians to evacuate whole neighborhoods before military operations.

124 civilians in Gaza died in Tuesday alone.

Yesterday, Israel knocked down Gaza’s only power supply station, thus cutting down power supplies to all inside Gaza. Gazans now have no electricity, no water, and no sewage system. Through such attacks, Israel has essentially denied services in hospitals that rely on electricity and water to treat patients. Twenty-three medical
centers in  Gaza haved also been bombed by Israel.

In spite of such crimes against humanity, the western media try to  shield Israel from any blame. In particular, I am disappointed with the news coverage and the line of questioning and the answers within the US media - all seemingly to shield Israel from taking responsibility for crimes against humanity. Since its birth, one after another the pariah state has been committing horrendous crimes and strengthening its positions through never ending negotiations with a clear cut objective on its side never to give away anything annexed thus far. And yet the western media like CNN and neo-pundits of world affairs like Dr. Fareed Zakariya continue to evade such facts that are root causes for the crisis since 1948.

In the last few weeks alone some 1300 Palestinians have been killed because of Israel's latest mayhem in Gaza where 90% of the victims have been children and unarmed people. The Israeli casualty was only 3  civilians. And yet, Israel and her mouthpieces in the western world propagates that Israel is fighting terrorists of Hamas, and not civilians. What a joke! And guys like Fareed and media like CNN propagate such lies for our consumption! It is shameful, disgusting! The CNN and Fareed should be ashamed of justifying Israel's murderous campaign which is an international crime.

You can view CNN’s interview of Fareed by clicking here and let them know that you are appalled by their insensitivity to the crisis in which Israel is the culprit.