Posts Tagged ‘homes’

Americans: Serfs Ruled by Oligarchs

August 20, 2009

By Paul Craig Roberts | Counterpunch, Aug 19, 2009

“In a little time [there will be] no middling sort.  We shall have a few, and but a very few Lords, and all the rest beggars.”  R.L. Bushman

“Rapidly you are dividing into two classes–extreme rich and extreme poor.”    “Brutus”

Americans think that they have “freedom and democracy” and that politicians are held accountable by elections.  The fact of the matter is that the US is ruled by powerful interest groups who control politicians with campaign contributions.  Our real rulers are an oligarchy of financial and military/security interests and AIPAC, which influences US foreign policy for the benefit of Israel.

Have a look at economic policy.  It is being run for the benefit of large financial concerns, such as Goldman Sachs.

Continued >>

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American Jewish groups must speak up over Gaza

April 20, 2009

It is a sensitive subject, but the movement for Gaza accountability needs full Jewish participation

Richard Silverstein

guardian.co.uk, Monday 20 April 2009 09.00 BS

    When Israeli forces left Gaza in January, they left behind 1,400 Palestinian dead, 4,000 homes destroyed, universities and government buildings flattened, and tens of thousands homeless. The Israeli and world press documented IDF atrocities including the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in densely populated urban areas, the assault on United Nations humanitarian facilities, the shelling of civilian homes, and the shooting in cold blood of unarmed civilians.

    Israeli human rights groups have called for war crimes investigations of IDF actions. In the last few weeks, on-the-ground reports supported by eyewitness testimony have become available. They paint an even more damning picture. The attacks on UN facilities spurred the Palestinian Authority to call for a security council investigation. Officials announced they are investigating whether the international body has jurisdiction, but it seems likely that US opposition will doom such an avenue of redress.

    The UN human rights council has just appointed a distinguished jurist, Richard Goldstone, to head an investigation of both IDF and Palestinian actions in Gaza. The council made a wise choice in Goldstone, who served as chief prosecutor of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda: he has an impeccable record in his field and can be expected to issue a fair, balanced and thorough report.

    Last week, Judge Balthazar Garzon announced the investigation of six Bush-era officials for devising a scheme that justified torture of terror suspects. With this development, it became clear there was a new method to hold violators accountable for their alleged crimes, and I am certain activists are already preparing dossiers for submission. Earlier this month, an international assemblage of individuals announced the formation of the Russell tribunal on Palestine. Modelled on the Russell tribunal on war crimes in Vietnam, and named after philosopher and peace campaigner Bertrand Russell, it aims to bring to bear international law as a force for adjudicating and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The tribunal will hear a legal case prepared by volunteer experts from around the world. A jury of respected individuals will hear evidence from both sides and announce its finding of guilt or innocence to the world.

    There is one important consideration that should encourage Israel to participate. If it truly believes Palestinian rocket attacks constitute war crimes, then it should vigorously make this point. The tribunal has already taken pains to point out that this is a part of its mandate: “Do the means of resistance used by the Palestinians violate international law?” However, I would imagine that Israel will not participate.

    While Israel’s savage assault against Hezbollah in Lebanon during the 2006 war generated an uproar, one wonders whether the massacres that occurred in Gaza crossed a moral threshhold. Can an effort to end Israeli impunity have real impact, both in terms of influencing world opinion and of impacting on Israeli behaviour? Israel has become an expert at wearing down its opponents, honing such skills during 40 years of occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The question is: what, if anything, can the peace community do differently this time?

    Each time the world witnesses another humanitarian tragedy resulting from Israeli military action, the outcry is louder. For example, the UN has never before entertained the possibility of investigating Israeli war crimes. The EU has informally made known that it intends to freeze a planned upgrade in relations with Israel and cancel of visit of Israel’s prime minister as an indirect result. American universities such as Hampshire College and church denominations such as the Presbyterians contemplate ever more seriously the issue of divestment. Gaza crossed a red line. Now, new methods of protest and new means of ensuring accountability must be devised.

    Horrors such as the Gaza war also breathe new life into movements like the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions initiative. Recently, Naomi Klein and Rabbi Arthur Waskow engaged in a provocative debate at In These Times about BDS. The Gaza war made Klein a believer. Recently, Rabbi Brant Rosen wrote words that many in the American Jewish community might find heretical, that BDS could be a legitimate expression “of a weaker, dispossessed, disempowered people”.

    There can be no doubt that horrors such as Gaza serve as moral ice-breakers in the psyche of diaspora Jews. Ideas that hitherto might have been taboo or “anti-Israel” become suddenly legitimate. As Israel drifts farther to the right, American Jews are challenged to respond morally. In this context, the forbidden becomes acceptable. Boycotts, divestment, sactions and war crimes investigations now appear tools through which to try to draw Israel back from the brink.

    No major American-Jewish peace group has called for a Gaza war crimes investigation. It is a sensitive subject among diaspora Jews. But if Israeli human rights organisations can make such a call, there is no reason why Americans should be afraid to do so. The movement for Gaza accountability needs full Jewish participation.

    My motivation in writing this is not to avenge the deaths of innocent Palestinians. Nor is it for pure justice. It is rather to bring Israel back from the brink. Like one of the slogans of the Israeli military during the Gaza war – “baal habayit hishtageya” (“the boss has lost it”) – Israel’s policy has verged on madness. Nor has it achieved its objective of pacifying Gaza or toppling Hamas. And isn’t one of the definitions of madness to repeat a behaviour even after it has failed, with the conviction that it will succeed the next time? When you see a loved one or family member descending into self-destruction, you reach out and help. My goal is to turn Israel away from the path of madness.

    Obama urged to halt Israel demolitions

    February 25, 2009

    From correspondents in Ramallah

    Herald Sun, February 24, 2009 04:42am

    THE Palestinian Authority has urged the US president to press Israel to scrap a plan to raze almost 90 homes in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

    “We call on President Barack Obama to intervene personally to have this project stopped,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, one of the main aides of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, said overnight.

    The Palestinian owners of 88 houses in the Silwan neighbourhood have received eviction notices saying the structures will be destroyed because they were built or expanded without the necessary permits. The move would affect about 1500 people.

    “It is a massacre that Israel will commit in this Holy City,” Abed Rabbo said, calling for “urgent Arab and international action to halt this dangerous project”.

    He said some of the houses affected by the orders had been built before Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War.

    He called for a day-long strike in east Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank to protest against the plan.

    The Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups the six Gulf Arab states, backed the call for US intervention to stop what it called these “racist acts that defy human rights and international law”.

    “This is a dangerous step taken within the Zionist entity’s strategy to change the demographic reality in Jerusalem, signalling the occupier’s attempts to turn the city Jewish,” the grouping’s secretary-general Abdulrahman al-Attiya said according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

    Silwan, which abuts the Old City of Jerusalem, is home to 10,000 Palestinians.

    Sixty Jewish families also live in the neighbourhood around the City of David archaeological park which Israeli authorities say was the capital of the ancient Israelite kingdom.

    Israel, which considers the whole of Jerusalem its “eternal, undivided” capital, rarely grants building permits to Arab residents of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want to make the capital of their promised state.

    According to the Israeli B’Tselem human rights organisation, Israeli authorities have demolished about 350 houses in east Jerusalem since 2004, saying they were built without permits.


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