Tag Archives: Israel

Israel Is Exposing Africans to Danger of Slavery

You’ve probably heard that right now, in the year 2018, African men, women and children are being sold at slave auctions in Libya. What you may not have heard is that Israel—the recipient of more United States military aid than any other country in the world—is putting tens of thousands of Africans at risk of torture at the hands of those very slave traders. How did these refugees come to find themselves in Israel to begin with? And why is Israel now expelling them all?

First of all, Israel is connected to Africa—northeast Africa. And as African people flee the dictatorships oppressing them and ethnically cleansing them, they flee in every direction, including northeast, to Israel. Those that have fled to Israel believed its claim to be a democracy, and thought that a state supposedly established to provide a safe haven for refugees would understand them and grant them asylum.

But they were wrong. In 2012, Israel built a high-tech fence on its border, cutting the country off from the rest of the African continent, to ensure that no more refugees could enter. And once it was completed, the government worked on forcing out the 65,000 African refugees that had already made it into the country. At first, Israel feared what the world would say if it sent these refugees right back to the tortures they had fled. So instead of outright deporting them, it announced an official policy to “make their lives miserable” in order to drive them all out.

Hundreds of Israeli chief rabbis issued a joint religious edict decreeing that it is a sin against God to rent apartments to African refugees. Israel’s political leaders baselessly accused the Africans of being incorrigible criminals and of spreading diseases. And for years, the government outright refused to examine African refugees’ asylum requests. When it finally did, Israel earned itself the distinction of having a higher refugee rejection rate than any other country in the world, over 99 percent.

And then the government built the largest detention center in the world, and rounded into it thousands of refugees off the streets of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. All this in order to “make their lives miserable,” so that they buckle to the pressure, grudgingly relent and agree to self-deport back to Africa. In this way, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to ethnically cleanse the country of between a third and a half of all African refugees in just five years.

All this was bad enough. But now an old-new evil spirit is sweeping across the globe. Buoyed by a worldwide wave of white supremacy, Netanyahu now realizes that it’s no longer necessary to coerce consent from these African refugees in order to deport them. Netanyahu’s new plan is to simply round up the remaining 35,000 African refugees, and physically force them out of the country. If any refugees refuse to leave, Israel will jail them for life. In December, the measure passed in the Israeli parliament with a large majority, and the country’s Supreme Court gave the policy its stamp of approval.

Netanyahu is beginning to boast about Israeli xenophobia, and trying to convince some European Union allies to adopt its racist policies—and purchase its high-tech fences to keep refugees from reaching Fortress Europe. If Israel is allowed to expel its remaining African refugees, it will send a clear message to the EU that it’s legitimate for any country to adopt anti-refugee rules and keep out black and brown people that are fleeing for their lives—without even a sense of shame.

Let’s not pretend that Israel is some kind of safe haven for black folks. In recent years, the government’s racist rhetoric has led to lots of vigilante violence against this community. African refugees have been murdered by Israeli lynch mobs across the country. Even the babies of African refugees have been violently attacked by Israeli racists: In Tel Aviv, a kindergarten was firebombed, and a 1-year-old baby was stabbed in the head. No Israeli has ever been sentenced to jail for any of these savage hate crimes.

But the fate that awaits these refugees if they are forced out of Israel will be far worse. Israel has bribed the government of Rwanda with tens of millions of dollars to agree to take in the refugees that Israel expels. But the refugees aren’t granted status there. Instead their documents are confiscated, and they are quickly forced to leave the country and begin their search for safe haven all over again, from scratch. While seeking protection in Europe, they are falling into captivity in Libya, where they are tortured and raped, mutilated and murdered.

By David Sheen/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Threat to free speech

There is a Senate bill, along with a companion bill in the House, working its way through Congress with strong bipartisan support, that poses a significant danger to free speech. One would think this bill would be a big deal but, surprisingly, the bill has not received much coverage in the mainstream media.

Fortunately the American Civil Liberties Union is alert to efforts undermining free speech. Thus, in a July 20th article on the ACLU website about S. 720/H.R. 1697, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, Bryan Hauss, Staff Attorney, wrote:

The bill would amend existing law to prohibit people in the United States from supporting boycotts targeting Israel — making it a felony to choose not to engage in commerce with companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Violations would be punishable by a civil penalty that could reach $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Hauss continues:

The bill is aimed at advocates of boycotts targeting Israel, most notably the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement — a global campaign that seeks to apply economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with international law. Specifically, the bill sponsors intend the act as a response to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s 2016 resolution calling on companies to respect human rights, including in occupied Palestinian territories. No matter what you think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one thing is clear: The First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts.

Amazingly, supporters of this bill seem to have a problem with calling on companies to respect human rights! Who would draft such a problematic bill that stifles free speech and nonviolent political action?

The theintercept.com website carried a July 19th article by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim that said:

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that the bill “was drafted with the assistance of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” Indeed, AIPAC, in its 2017 lobbying agenda, identified passage of this bill as one of its top lobbying priorities for the year.

This AIPAC-influenced bill is consistent with AIPAC’s long-term pattern of advocating for the interests of a foreign nation, Israel. AIPAC is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, D.C. and many members of Congress seem to automatically toe its line. Thus it is not surprising that 46 senators and 245 representatives have already signed on to the bill originally introduced on March 23rd.

Greenwald and Grim added that cosponsors include liberal Senators Ron Wyden, Richard Blumenthal, Maria Cantwell as well as conservative Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse. In the House, cosponsors include conservatives such as Jason Chaffetz, Liz Cheney, and Peter King as well as liberals Ted Lieu, Adam Schiff, and Eric Swalwell. Greenwald and Grim noted that these latter three members, who have built a wide public following by posturing as opponents of authoritarianism, are cosponsoring one of the most oppressive and authoritarian bills that has pended before Congress in quite some time.

Many of the cosponsors claim they were unaware of the penalties that could be applied in the bill whereas a few others state that they have a different reading of the bill, particularly related to the criminal penalties.

In addition to using AIPAC and other groups to lobby Congress, Israel previously directly inserted itself into our legislative process. For example, in 2015 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blatantly campaigned to derail the nuclear agreement with Iran. Also of concern, many U.S. and Israeli political experts thought Netanyahu clearly tried to sway the outcome in the 2012 U.S. Presidential election in favor of the Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

We must protect our free speech by opposing this highly questionable bill designed to benefit a foreign nation. In Colorado this means questioning Senator Bennet and Representatives Lamborn, Coffman and Buck, about their support for this appalling bill. We can also thank the other members of the Colorado delegation for not cosponsoring this terrible affront to free speech and the Constitution.

By Ron Forthofer/DissidentVoice

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Ellison Loses DNC Race After Heated Campaign Targeting Him For His Views On Palestine

 

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Image: Politico

Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison lost his bid to become the chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Saturday after  a scorched-earth smear campaign targeting  his religious faith, his affinity for the Nation of Islam in his youth, and his support for Palestinian rights alongside a secure Israel.

Instead, the majority of the DNC’s voting members chose former labor secretary Tom Perez to lead the party. After two rounds of voting in Atlanta, Perez netted 235 votes to Ellison’s 200.

Perez was widely perceived as being brought into the race by allies of President Obama, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other members of the party establishment. One of the speakers who introduced his nomination, South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison, also works as a corporate lobbyist for the D.C.-based Podesta Group. After neither candidate reached a majority of votes in the first round of voting, Harrison was on the floor, whipping votes for Perez.

More from the Intercept

Posted by Libergirl

Israel approves permits for 566 settler homes

Building plan in East Jerusalem approved by local council after being held up until Donald Trump took office in the US.

Israeli authorities have approved building permits for 566 settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem, according to local officials, a move that has drawn condemnation from Palestinian leaders.

The approval of the building plan on Sunday came two days after the inauguration of Donald Trump in the United States, with Israeli official saying the permits had been held up until the end of Barack Obama’s administration, which had been critical of Israeli settlement activity.

“The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’s arrival as president,” Meir Turgeman, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, told AFP news agency.

“We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build.”

Turgeman said that city officials approved the plans that had been previously postponed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request following a UN Security Council resolution in December against Israeli settlement building.

The new permits are for homes in the settlement neighbourhoods of Pisgat Zeev, Ramot and Ramat Shlomo, according to Turgeman, who also heads the planning committee that approved them.

Turgeman said plans for about 11,000 other homes were also in process in East Jerusalem, though he did not say when they could proceed.

‘State above law’

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law and have been major stumbling blocks in negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

Between 2009 and 2014, Israeli settlements expanded by 23 percent in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the building plans and called on the United Nations to take action, particularly given the recent Security Council resolution.

“It is time to stop dealing with Israel as a state above the law,” he said.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from West Jerusalem, said that with Trump now in the White House the Israeli government feels it can build illegal settlements on Palestinian land without facing much criticism.

“They think that this is a retooling of the relationship with the US,” Khan said. “Under President Trump the Israelis feel that they will have a lot more leeway to build on Palestinian land,” he added.

“And this is a message to the world that they can build wherever they want, including on the land of a future Palestinian state.”

Netanyahu-Trump talks

Netanyahu said on Sunday that he was to speak with Trump later in the day, their first conversation since the billionaire businessman took office.

Trump has pledged strong support for Israel and vowed during his campaign to recognise Jerusalem as the country’s capital despite the city’s contested status.

READ MORE: Abbas warns Trump not to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Israel clashed frequently with Obama over construction in areas it conquered in 1967.

But Trump’s appointed ambassador to Israel has close ties to Jewish West Bank settlements, as does the foundation run by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

From Al Jazeera and news agencies

Posted by The NON-conformist

Netanyahu calls nuclear deal ‘mistake of historic proportions’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the nuclear deal announced by world powers and Iran on Tuesday a “mistake of historic proportions” and vowed to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

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Image: Ahikam SerI, EPA

“I call on all of Israel’s leaders to set aside petty politics and to unite around the most fateful issue for the security of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem later Tuesday, the Israeli leader said his nation is not bound by the deal and reserves the right to defend itself.

The deal makes the world a “much more dangerous place,” Netanyahu said, adding it will free up billions of dollars that Iran can use to support terrorism.

More from USA Today

Posted by Libergirl

Netanyahu’s Great Fear: Iran Will Comply With Nuclear Deal

Image: newsantiwar.com

Israeli officials have loudly and repeatedly condemned the Iran deal as insufficient, but those familiar with the situation have revealed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s great fear is not Iran violating the deal, but rather them abiding by it.

“Netanyahu said at the meeting it will be impossible to catch the Iranians cheating simply because they will not,” noted one of the officials. This is in direct contrast to his repeated claims Iran could not be trusted on the deal.

The big problem from the Israeli perspective is that this changes the status quo over the last 35 years, where new sanctions were easy and Israel could threaten to attack Iran all it wanted.

More from Newsantiwar.com

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Netanyahu, the other Israelis and Bobby Burns

Apart from inadvertently making the case for equal time by his Israeli pre-election opposition, the spectacle of Benjamin Netanyahu’s wild diatribe at the joint session of Congress amidst the feral cheers of his congressional yahoos will be remembered as a textbook case of propaganda unhinged from reality.

Starting from his preposterous premise that Iran, a poor country of 77 million people with an economy nearly the size of Massachusetts’, is planning a caliphate to conquer the world, Mr. Netanyahu builds his case on belligerent words by Iranian leaders, who believe they are responding to Israeli belligerence backed by its ultra-modern, U.S. equipped military machine and its repeated threats of preemptive attacks against Tehran.

Unwilling, unlike his Israeli opponents, to subject himself to questions before congressional committees, this three-time soliloquist at joint congressional sessions (1996, 2011 and 2015) was received with hoopla quite different from his reception in a much more critical Knesset. The Prime Minister’s 42 minute speech was punctuated by 23 standing ovations and sitting applauses that took up 10 minutes.

The U.S. Israeli lobby has made Congress a rubber stamp for lopsided policies in the Middle East.

Only about fifty Democrats boycotted his address.

It is as if Israel doesn’t frighten Iran with its 200 nuclear weapons and its rejection of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty whose international inspections are required for all other signatory nations on Earth, including Iran.

It is as if Israel has not threatened Iran with annihilation, sent spies to sabotage and slay Iranian scientists and worked with its Arab allies to undermine the Iranian regime;

It is as if Iranians do not remember that the United State overthrew their popularly elected Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953 to reinstate the Shah’s dictatorship for 26 years;

It is as if the Iranians do not mourn the loss of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians killed by Saddam Hussein’s brutal invasion of their country from 1980 to 1988 with the military, intelligence and diplomatic support of the United States;

It is as if Iranians are not frightened into thinking they’re next when George W. Bush named Iran as part of the “axis of evil” (along with Iraq and North Korea), and proceeded to destroy Iraq and surround Iran with U.S. armed forces that are still in place to this day;

It is as if the Iranian people are not suffering from economic boycotts which, by impacting disproportionately civilian health and safety there, (See Public Citizen’s Health Letter) violate international law;

It is as if Iran should accept a wide sphere of influence by the U.S. and not try to expand its sphere of influence for its own defense;

It is as if Iran had not proposed a serious plan to George W. Bush over ten years ago to settle disputes and establish a nuclear-weapons free zone in the Middle East, which Mr. Bush completely ignored;

It is as if Iran is not, in the words of former Obama adviser, Vali R. Nasr, carrying “most of the weight” in the “battles on the ground” against ISIS in Iraq, thereby saving the U.S. from committing again U.S. soldiers to avert a complete rout of those left behind after our deadly debacle in Iraq since 2003;

It is as if Iran is not claiming it is building nuclear power plants for electricity (a foolishly dangerous move for its own people) and not building an atomic bomb, has not been in full compliance with the Geneva interim accord (November 2013) with the P5+1 countries, as these parties, led by the United States, strive to conclude a complete agreement this year;

It is as if Israel has not illegally occupied, colonized and stolen Palestinian land and water over the decades (including regularly invading a blockaded Gaza, invading Lebanon five times and attacking other nearby countries pre-emptively) and caused hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties;

It is as if Israel, while complaining about Iranian behavior, does not continue their Palestinian policies that violate several United Nations’ resolutions, while goading the U.S. toward war against Iran;

It is as if the Arab League, with 22 member nations, has not offered repeatedly since 2002 a comprehensive peace treaty in return to Israel returning to its 1967 borders that was also rejected by Israel;

It is as if Iran has forgotten the shooting down of a scheduled Iranian civilian Airbus by the U.S. Navy in 1988 with a loss of 290 innocent lives, including 66 children;

It is as if Iran, a country that hasn’t invaded any country for over 250 years, should remain cool in the face of such attacks, threats, infiltrations, boycotts, U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf, and not engage in any military alliances; and

It is as if Iran’s authoritarian leaders are not preoccupied enough with pressures inside their country that are both internally and externally driven without also planning to conquer the world.

The pop-up lawmakers in Congress on Tuesday have not shown any interest in their own government’s causal responsibility for Iranian animosities. The priority for many in Congress is marching to the drumbeat of whatever the U.S. Israeli lobby wants from the Pentagon, the State Department and the American taxpayers. (Some members of Congress have spoken up in the past, notably Republican Congressmen Ron Paul and Paul Findley and Senators Chuck Percy and James Abourezk.)

Why does a large majority of Congress block the viewpoints and policies that could lead to peace as advocated by many former chiefs of Israel’s security, intelligence, military and political institutions? They have spoken up repeatedly in Israel but are never allowed to testify before congressional committees. This entrenched anti-Semitism on Capitol Hill against the “other Israeli” Jews needs to be challenged by peace and justice-loving Americans who want to avoid future blowbacks and war quagmires for our soldiers.

A way to clarify jingoistic biases in foreign policy is to ask the questions: who was the initial aggressor? Who is the invader, the occupier, the ever hovering armed drone operator? Who has backed and armed dictators to repress their people who want no more such nation-building by the U.S.?

For a century, is it we, with the British and French, who have been over there or is it they who have been over here? Brutish conditions breed brutish behavior in all directions.

The poetic wisdom of the great Scottish poet Bobby Burns teaches the crucial empathy: “O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”

By Ralph Nader

Posted by The NON-Conformist