Jultra Truth. Freedom. Oh and the end of New Labour and Tony Blair, Ian Blair, ID cards, terror laws and the NWO and their lies

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Melanie Phillips: 'Sickening assault on family life'

Full title: MELANIE PHILLIPS: To place children with two gay men when an adoptive mother and father are available, just to uphold a brutal dogma, is a sickening assault on family life

"When homosexuality was legalised back in 1967 did anyone dream that some four decades on a British grandmother and grandfather wanting to adopt their own grandchildren would be refused permission and the children adopted instead by two gay men?

The case in Edinburgh reported today, where precisely this grotesque development has occurred, illustrates the sickening way in which what started out as a decent attempt to be tolerant towards a minority lifestyle has turned into a totalitarian assault upon family life and human rights.

For two years these grandparents fought for their right to care for the children, a five-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister, whose 26-year-old mother is a recovering heroin addict. But at 46 and 59 they were ruled to be too old to adopt.

Reluctantly, therefore, they agreed to the children being adopted by another couple, on the basis they would be brought up by a loving mother and father figure. But although several heterosexual couples were available to adopt them, the children were handed over instead to two gay men.

When the devastated grandparents objected they were threatened that unless they dropped their opposition they would never see their grandchildren again on account of their ‘negative’ attitude towards gay adoption.

There are so many layers to this gross and terrifying abuse of power that one hardly knows where to start.

The reason why adoption is so successful at raising healthy, well-adjusted children is that it replicates as far as possible the biological mother and father whose presence in the family is so crucial to the well-being of their children.

The prevailing argument that all types of family are as good as each other as far as the children are concerned simply isn’t true. While some children emerge relatively unscathed from irregular households, children need to be brought up by the two people ‘who made me’ - or, in adoptive households, in a family which closely replicates that arrangement.

Where that does not happen, the child’s deepest sense of his or her identity as a human being is at some level damaged.

A child needs a mother and father because their roles in bringing that child up, and the way the child sees each of them, are not interchangeable. They are different and complementary, which is why if one of them is absent the child suffers, in many cases very badly indeed.

For very young children the absence of a mother, whose nurturing role cannot be replicated even by the most loving and attentive of fathers, is particularly tragic.

Therefore to say that depriving children of a mother figure is in their best interests - as the Edinburgh social workers have said - is clearly ridiculous.

Yes, in certain very unusual cases a lesbian couple or individual might be the best option for a child without a functioning family - if for example the child already has a particular attachment to such individuals, or if the only alternative is life in a children’s home.

But where an adoptive mother and father are available, to place children instead with two gay men is beyond perverse. Quite obviously, the interests of these children have been subordinated to politically correct considerations.

The powers invested in social workers to interfere in family life are extensive and draconian, and are granted only because of the acknowledged need to safeguard the interests of children against abusive family situations.

But in this case, it is Edinburgh social services department that has grossly abused its position of trust by intentionally placing these most vulnerable children in a position of disadvantage and maybe even harm for nothing other than ideological reasons.

Worse still, they have threatened and intimidated the children’s grandparents - for daring to object to a course of action for their own grandchildren which they think with good reason would be detrimental to them.

It is beyond pathetic to read the grandfather trying to protest that he is not ‘homophobic’ - all for having the temerity to say that his own grandchildren need a mother and father figure in their lives. For that he is branded a bigot.

Indeed, where ‘gay rights’ are concerned the old joke that what was once forbidden becomes in due course mandatory has now come all too true in post-morality Britain.

Despite the fact that gay adoption is opposed by most people - polls suggest that some 90 per cent are opposed in Scotland - the law that enabled it was rammed through Parliament with the help, to their eternal shame, of the politically correct Cameroons. Ever since, it has been promoted assiduously by left-wing councils – some of which forbid adoption by smokers and obese people but actively support gay fostering and adoption.

Such people routinely claim that research shows there are no adverse outcomes for children from same-sex adoption. These claims are totally untrue. The fact is that there are virtually no studies of children adopted by gay couples - or raised by male same-sex couples. In general, studies of same-sex child rearing are in turn extremely thin on the ground and methodologically too unsound to be authoritative.

Nevertheless they do suggest cause for concern: their emerging theme seems to be that children raised by same-sex couples exhibit poor outcomes not so dissimilar to those raised by divorced heterosexual parents.

While such studies can’t be relied upon they can’t be dismissed either. An American account published 20 years described what happened when a male child was conceived by a surrogate mother for two homosexual men. They hired various nannies to help look after the child - who developed severe behavioural problems, fantasising about ‘buying a new mother’ because of his profound need for a mother figure in his life.

But even to raise such concerns is to run the gauntlet of shrieks of ‘homophobia’. Such vilification is designed for one purpose - to stigmatise and thus silence altogether all opposition as ‘bigotry’.

The underlying agenda behind gay adoption, as it is behind the whole gay rights movement, is nothing to do with protecting the rights of gay people. Were it really so, there would be no objection. No-one should be discriminated against simply on the grounds of his or her sexuality.

That does not mean, however, that gay lifestyles must be regarded as of equal value to heterosexual households when it comes to the raising of children. To say that anyone who makes such a distinction is prejudiced is to turn reality on its head.

But that is indeed the whole point of the gay rights movement - to destroy the very notion of heterosexual norms of sexual behaviour and the definition of the family so that gay lifestyles can present themselves as ‘normal’.

This in turn is part of the broader onslaught upon the Judeo-Christian principles upon which British society and western civilisation are based, which has been mounted now for decades by ideologues of the left and which has progressively eviscerated family life on the altar of individual ‘lifestyle choice’.

The result is a world turned on its head in which what is harmful is said to be good and what is good is said to be harmful; tolerance has turned into gross intolerance; and upholding human rights has turned into an onslaught upon human rights.

The hapless Scottish grandparents are but the latest victims of a brutal totalitarian dogma, which anyone with an ounce of real liberal principle should denounce for the attack on justice, humanity and common-sense that it undoubtedly is."

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UK ordered to publicize Iraq War files

Press TV: "The British government has been ordered to publish records of crucial cabinet meetings from 2003, held over the legality of invading Iraq. "This is an exceptional case," reads the Tuesday verdict of the UK's Information Tribunal -- which decides on requests for documents under freedom of information laws.

According to the decision, it is in the public interest to release minutes of the cabinet meetings from March 13 and 17, 2003, when ministers held talks about whether the decision to go to war was allowed under international law"

Clare Short quoted in The Scotsman feels this won't reveal a whole lot:

"I think people will be disappointed about how little the minutes will say. "For example, they never attribute different points to different people. They are always in very generalised terms."

Ms Short said there was "very little proper discussion", adding: "Cabinet meetings were limited and the minutes are very generalised and limited." Asked why the government did not want the public to see the minutes, she said: "One, it will be revealed what a weak instrument the Cabinet was."

While the Daily Mail (although not on their website, print edition only) says:

"If released, the papers will shed new light on the then Chancellor Mr Brown's role in the build-up to military action. It is thought he was originally sceptical ahout the war, but in his diary the late Foreign Secretary and leader of the Commons Robin Cook claimed that Mr Brown delivered 'a long and passionate statement of support' of then Prime Minister Tony Blair's strategy at a Cabinet meeting in the days before the war"

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stop Press: Catholic Church are behind the world's villainy!

It's struck me a number of times over the last year or so that there are a lot of basically good people out there who have acquired a kind of instinctive or reflex-like apathy, distrust or even repulsion toward religion but in particular Christianity, which, astonishingly is the main villain.

In America this is much worse where there appears to be a chunk of U.S society that has learned absolutely nothing from the last eight years and associates Christianity with Bush, and believes, amazingly, that Bush is the grand poobah mastermind behind the Iraq War and that the War in Iraq is some kind of Christian mission for Bush and Cheney.

I know it's amazing, and it's also the seeds of something potentially quite dangerous.

When you first see this it's so astonishing, it's so like a kind of 'backwardation' of thought, so tremendously saddening that's it's difficult to know exactly how to broach the topic, other than that you're dealing with some sometimes quite damaged and vulnerable people who want to believe something that suits them, and you when gently try to explain to them what's wrong, you can be met with a lot of anger, until reality starts to break through. And we're going to be talking more about that in detail soon.

And actually there are some interesting polls on this kind of thing, cited on a dreadful and almost otherwise worthless, but extremely revealing page on Wikipedia:

"David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Institute, and Gabe Lyons of the Fermi Project published a study of attitudes of 16-29 year old Americans towards Christianity. They found that about 38% of all those who did not regularly attend church had negative impressions of Christianity, and especially evangelical Christianity, associating it with conservative political activism, hypocrisy, anti-homosexuality, and judgmentalism.[5] About 17% had "very bad" perceptions of Christianity" (my emphasis -j)

Yeah we are gonna talk about this more directly at some point. Actually the Wikipedia article does a lot of the work for us.

And bringing this up to date there is little question that this height of irony, of letting 'Christianity' take the blame for the Iraq War has been allowed to fester in the minds of some vulnerable folks and go uncorrected in the dwindling months of the Bush presidency, if not outright brewed.

Christian fundamentalists/Christian Zionists in America are one thing, but the Catholic Church is also conspicuously regularly a subject of scorn, mistrust, ridicule, or spurious and inapplicable or juvenile moralising or even theorized as as some shadowy hand shaping events.

Most people have their own reasons about how they view religion that are personal to them, they may have had a religious upbringing, not all of them are exactly 'enamored' with every single experience of it, it's a mixed bag as it would be for everybody whatever the culture.

Others simply don't care for religion and so on. But then that brings up the question if they don't like religion and are not involved in it, where does the particular culture of dislike and scorn come from ?

As I said at the outset this can be a challenging topic for people new to it, but broadly radical hostility towards Christian institutions has a long history and irrespective of whether or not you feel about religion, in the 20th and 21st centuries the media has done a very effective job of setting up attitudes towards the Church, that are often distorted, skewed, provocative or Orwellian (note NYT's use of lanaguage) are just out and out attempts to demonize it.

And it's doing it constantly. Constantly the Catholic Church is framed and attacked (as is this extreme psychotic example) as a stuffy old villain or inanely being told it ought to be struggling with some crisis that is the fault of its own moral retardation.

And it's not lot like this stuff has gone unnoticed or something:

"The archbishop of Westminster declared that he feared contemporary society is increasingly marked by "secular dogmatism or cynicism" toward Christians. He stated: "So when Christians stand by their beliefs, they are intolerant dogmatists. When they sin, they are hypocrites. When they take the side of the poor, they are soft-headed liberals. When they seek to defend the family, they are right-wing reactionaries."

And it's funny that a lot of folks proudly claim they are 'freethinkers', and 'unencumbered' of institutional brainwashing, some even declare how they don't trust the media when it comes to something that Bush said about Iraq, or if it comes to the economy or crime statistics or this or that.

But when it comes to this they trust the media, and they trust the media's motives ?

And I've just linked to two examples, but the easiest way is just to carry on taking a look, and this is not exhaustive, this is a very very clumsy and crude quick glimpse at this:

But we are going to go with something a little different before we get back onto the mainstream, and it's something that was quite influential on me and a brilliant piece of alternative radio. Some people may say well Mr Jultra you're undermining the obvious point that you're making by choosing something like this. Well let's see.

There is a very famous debate in alternative news circles from May 16, 2006 between a fellow called Eric Jon Phelps who believes that the Vatican and the Black Pope and the Jesuits are controlling the world and perhaps one of the most interesting and perhaps one of the best non-mainstream serious political researchers and writers in the America, also a world expert on the JFK Assassination that's Michael Collins Piper.

And I should point out Mike Piper is 'controversial' as it were, and you may even find the topic of the debate they agreed to puerile or vulgar, but whatever you come away with you will not come away thinking the Vatican is behind all the bad stuff in the world and you will come away thinking Phelps probably shouldn't have come to that debate, and should be taking some medication.

The debate is fascinating listening and I think as far as we are talking about it's pretty well summarized when Mike says:

"The Civiltà Cattolica* which is a Vatican approved newspaper even went so far as to suggest that a lot of the newspaper over-emphasis on some of these sex scandals in the Vatican and in the Catholic Church which are rightly being reported I might add, they said that the over-emphasis on that was because of the mass media being disturbed about the fact the Vatican did not support the war against Iraq" (4:00+)

(* And I think I've got the name of this right, someone correct me if I haven't)

Let's look at something else, something more up to date, and bear in mind the above as we do so.

In Sunday's Guardian/Observer the Pope is reported as bringing back some bishops, one of which who held some controversial views on the Holocaust. Doesn't have to be the Guardian, Fox News has the same slant, which is far more extreme, perhaps the most extreme is the New York Times, which is almost beside itself with glee.

Of course he's not being welcomed back because of that, the fact of which may as well be a side issue or non-existent wherever this story appears, however it contains a very sensitive topic so lets have a look at some of the rhetoric from The Guardian:

"Shimon Samuels, of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Paris, said he understood the German-born pope's desire for Christian unity but said Benedict could have excluded Williamson, whose return to the church will "cost" the Vatican politically."

and note this that's found it's way into the same article:

"Israeli officials recently protested when a senior cardinal said Israel's offensive in Gaza had turned it into a "big concentration camp"

A big concentration camp ? I think a lot of people would find that's a very polite and rather diplomatic understatement and it gives us a clue about what is being obscured here, after all it's not like the world doesn't understand the situation in Gaza, or that we need to look far for corroboration and we can just take out pick from anywhere. For example in 2006, special UN envoy John Dugard described the situation in Gaza as one where:

"Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into a prison for Palestinians
and have thrown away the key," adding that "in other countries this process might be described as ethnic cleansing"
(ynet news)

More recently scholar and expert Norman Finkelstein, who last time I checked is not a Catholic described the situation in Gaza as a 'holocaust' and Israel a 'Satanic state' and goes on pithily:

" This state invaded in 1978, again in 1982, again in 1993, again in 1996, again in 2006, and 2008, and it always destroys, destroys and destroys. And then these satanic narcissistic people throw their hands up in the air and ask, “Why doesn’t anybody love us? Why don’t our neighbors want us to be here?” Why would they? "

So it's rather difficult to take that line of protestation by Israeli officials seriously when it comes to trying to aim it specifically at the Church.

Or try this for framing an issue also from the Guardian:

"The pope sparks controversy by defending heterosexuality!" Gosh what a monstrous thing to do. How evil and outrageous and wicked the Pope is I can't believe it. How dare heterosexuality be defended, it can't be right.

A few years ago such a headline would have been a spoof, and we'd all be laughing at it. Maybe we are supposed to be today ?

Or read some of the tone in this CNN obituary about Pope John Paul II, loaded with phrases like 'controversial', and 'moral opinions alienated many' (who? why ? Pope John Paul II was one of the popular Popes in modern times)

And this is not peculiarly about your view of religion. And it's not about trying to cover up where institutions have had people in them who have done immense wrong either. And if you want more conservative critique then here is an interview by Alex Jones with Hutton Gibson.

But there is no question media perpetuates an insidious culture of this which seems to be intended to become a cultural norm among the public, and certainly there is a chunk of the public that seems to go along with it, and yet declares they are enlightened in doing so, and it's little surprise because that's how it's sold to them.

And we could go on with examples all day long about this in the media. All of which seem to be designed to obscure and play down and attack the Church, its mission, its people, its works, its cultural influence and which politically has pitted it against the monstrous horrors of communism (CNN article again - don't be too happy with anti-communism), the atrocious crime of the Iraq War (take any pick), made Latin American Catholics the subjects of assassinations and attacks for delivering the liberation message of Christianity under a reign of state terror, received upon itself horrendous massacres and tortures of Catholics in Spain at the hands of communists, to something like today of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor fighting for all our basic freedoms (note the first comment on the article - is it a real person ?) and on and on and on.

No the Catholic Church are not a force for bad in the world. The Catholic Church are not 'bad' because they don't support abortion or homosexuality, because the media 'says' that's bad.

To put it simply the Catholic Church are rightly a hugely influential force for infinite good and reason and human dignity in the world and irrespective of individual faith, that's why they are demonized, marginalized and subject to ridiculous ongoing puerile critique in the media.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Falk: sealing Gaza: new sinister war crime

Richard FalkA couple of days old but still important (linked to from someone's blog somewhere sorry can't recall):

Israel's refusal to allow civilians any exit route from Gaza as its defence forces rained bombs down on schools and houses appears unprecedented in modern warfare, a United Nations investigator has said.

Richard Falk, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, described the sealing off of the Gaza Strip in order to ensure that nobody could flee it as 'a distinct, new and sinister war crime.'

'For the first time in a military operation, the civilian population as a whole has been locked into a war zone,' he told a meeting of the European Parliament by telephone. 'No children, women, sick people or disabled people were allowed to leave. For the first time, the option of becoming a refugee has been withheld.'

Arguing that the conduct of the three-week offensive against Gaza could amount to a 'horrible abuse of Israel's role as the occupying power,' he noted that international law - particularly the 1949 Geneva convention - obliges the occupier to provide adequate food and medical facilities to the population it seeks to control. The 18-month blockade which preceded Operation Cast Lead was 'unlawful', he added.

Aged 78, Falk boasts a lengthy record as an academic, and as a campaigner for disarmament and human rights and on environmental issues. Yet his outspoken defence of Palestinian civilians has made him something of a persona non grata for the Israeli government. Last year it refused to allow him to enter the occupied territories, accusing him of an anti-Israel bias.

Read On

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More on Gaza devastation

LA Times: "Reporting from Jerusalem -- Israel finished pulling its forces out of the Gaza Strip today, timing the withdrawal to President Obama's first full day in office."

"Palestinian sisters Dunia, 10, and Dana, 5, sort out their school books after finding them among the debris of their destroyed parents' home on Tuesday in the southern part of Gaza City"

BBC: (yesterday):

"Fresh images from the Gaza Strip are showing the massive scale of destruction of Israel's three-week bombardment and ground offensive, which ended on Saturday.

In Ezbat Abed Rabbu, part of Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza, residents have been returning to find their entire neighbourhood reduced to rubble.

Palestinian families left destitute by the Israeli military campaign struggle to utilise some of what remains of their property, in this case a veranda which somehow escaped unscathed.

Dangers remain for Gazans - more than 36 hours after Israeli leaders declared a unilateral ceasefire, a suspected lump of Israeli-fired white phosphorus is ignited in a street in Beit Lahiya.

The UN has warned reconstruction in Gaza Strip will cost billions of dollars, with tens of thousands of people left homeless and hundreds of thousands with with no running water or electricity"

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama celebrity pledge video

Paul Joseph Watson/Prison Planet:

"A mind-numbingly cringeworthy and deeply disturbing MySpace video release shows vacuous celebrities pledging their “service” to the incoming Obama government in the form of activities such as not flushing the toilet after taking a piss and selling their “obnoxious” cars.

The video was produced by actress Demi Moore for the MySpace Presidential Pledge project, and features a gaggle of highly annoying actors, singers and other patent phonies such as Sean P. “Diddy” Combs, Courtney Cox Arquette and Ashton Kutcher.

“The Presidential Pledge is a platform for people across the nation and throughout the world to make a first person commitment of service to our new President, articulating a specific intent or action to become an agent of positive change,” said Kutcher.

In the video, Sean P. “Diddy” Combs pledges to “turn the lights off,” presumably to help Obama combat “global warming” as America freezes under record low temperatures, while actor Jason Bateman promises to “flush only after a deuce never a single” and another celebrity states his pledge to “sell my obnoxious car and drive a hybrid”. Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis pledges “to be of service to Barack Obama”.

At the end of the clip, in perhaps the creepiest moment, Moore and Kutcher pledge to “be a servant to our President” as the shot pans out to show all the actors echoing a cult-like mantra, “because together we can, together we are and together we will be the change that we see,” as the shot morphs into the now familiar Marxist motif 1984-style image of Obama.

Several respondents to the video noted that the sentiments expressed were at best misguided and at worst “creepy,” “sick” and “cult-like”...
Read On...

Video here

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Gaza 'looks like earthquake zone'

BBC: "The worst-hit areas in the Gaza Strip after Israel's three-week offensive look as if they have been hit by a strong earthquake, aid agencies say.

Correspondents in Gaza City say entire neighbourhoods have been flattened and bodies are still being recovered.

The UN says it is still sheltering at least 35,000 Palestinians while 400,000 people are without running water."


Monday, January 19, 2009

More on White Phosphorus use on Palestinians

From a couple of days back which I should have linked to at the time. From our friends at Rick Writes who have a photo essay on this:

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Friday, January 16, 2009

White Phosphorous use on Palestinians

London Times:

"Remnants of an Israeli white phosphorus shell, identified by the marking on the outer casing — M825A1 — have been found in the village of Sheikh Ajilin in western Gaza.

Witnesses in Gaza said that the shell was fired on January 9 and was taken indoors as evidence. They recalled seeing thick smoke and smelling a strong odour in keeping with the garlic-like smell associated with white phosphorus.

Hebrew writing on the shell casing reads “exploding smoke” — the term the Israeli army uses for white phosphorus. Doctors who examined the shell said that it appeared to include phosphorus residue.

Residents said that they suffered burns on their feet when they walked where the shelling had taken place.

A suspected phosphorus victim was taken from Gaza across the border into Egypt yesterday. Abdul Rahman Shaer, 16, was transferred to an Egyptian hospital from Rafah. He was suffering from severe chemical burns to his face and body. Paramedics from Gaza said that doctors at the hospital were sure the chemical agent was phosphorus.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) reiterated that they would not comment on specific weaponry being used in Gaza but added that any ammunition used by the IDF was “within the scope of international law”.

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Venezuela cuts ties with Israel over Gaza attacks

Reuters: "Venezuela has cut ties with Israel in protest over its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

Last week President Hugo Chavez expelled Israel's ambassador from Venezuela over the attacks, which have sparked international condemnation.

"Venezuela ... has definitively decided to break diplomatic ties with the state of Israel given the inhumane persecution of the Palestinian people carried out by the authorities of Israel," said a statement read over state television.

Israel's 20-day offensive, launched to halt rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas Islamist militants, has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians. A Palestinian rights group said 670 of those killed were civilians. Thirteen Israelis have been killed -- three civilians hit by Hamas rocket fire and 10 soldiers.

Socialist Chavez is a harsh critic of both Israel and the United States and has called the Israeli offensive in Gaza a Palestinian "holocaust."

Bolivian President Evo Morales, a close Chavez ally, on Wednesday also cut ties with Israel to the protest the attacks.

An envoy from Israel, which is under increasing pressure to negotiate a cease-fire, is scheduled to meet Egyptian mediators in Cairo on Thursday.

Chavez in 2006 threatened to break ties with Israel over its five-week war in Lebanon in a diplomatic spat that led both countries to withdraw their envoys"

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Israel faces calls for Gaza war crimes investigation

Guardian: "Israel is facing growing demands from senior United Nations officials and human rights groups for an international war crimes investigation in Gaza over allegations such as the "reckless and indiscriminate" shelling of residential areas and the use of Palestinian families as human shields by soldiers.

With the death toll from the 17-day Israeli assault on Gaza climbing above 900, pressure is increasing for an independent inquiry into specific incidents, such as the shelling of a UN school turned refugee centre where about 40 people died, as well as the question of whether the military tactics used by Israel systematically breached humanitarian law.

The UN's senior human rights body approved a resolution yesterday condemning the Israeli offensive for "massive violations of human rights". A senior UN source said UN humanitarian agencies were compiling evidence of war crimes and passing it on to the "highest levels" to be used as seen fit.

Some human rights activists allege that the Israeli leadership gave an order to keep military casualties low no matter what cost to civilians. That strategy has directly contributed to one of the bloodiest Israeli assaults on the Palestinian territories, they say.

John Ging, head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said: "It's about accountability [over] the issue of the appropriateness of the force used, the proportionality of the force used and the whole issue of duty of care of civilians.

"We don't want to join any chorus of passing judgment but there should be an investigation of any and every incident where there are concerns there might have been violations in international law."

The Israeli military are accused of:

• Using powerful shells in civilian areas that the army knew would cause large numbers of innocent casualties.

• Using banned weapons such as phosphorus bombs.

• Holding Palestinian families as human shields.

• Attacking medical facilities, including the killing of 12 ambulance men in marked ambulances

• Killing large numbers of policeman who had no military role.

Israeli military actions prompted an unusual public rebuke from the International Red Cross after the army had moved a Palestinian family into a building and shelled it, killing 30. The surviving children clung to the bodies of their dead mothers for four days while the army blocked rescuers from reaching the wounded.

Human Rights Watch has called on the UN security council to set up a commission of inquiry into alleged war crimes.

Two leading Israeli human rights organisations have separately written to the country's attorney general demanding he investigate the allegations.

But critics remain sceptical that any such inquiry will take place given that Israel has previously blocked similar attempts with the backing of the US.

Amnesty International says the dropping of powerful shells on residential streets that send blast and shrapnel over a wide area constitutes "prima facie evidence of war crimes".

"There has been reckless and disproportionate and in some cases indiscriminate use of force," said Donatella Rovera, an Amnesty investigator in Israel. "There has been the use of weaponry that shouldn't be used in densely populated areas because it's known that it will cause civilian fatalities and casualties."

"They have extremely sophisticated missiles that can be guided to a moving car and they choose to use other weapons or decide to drop a bomb on a house knowing that there were women and children inside. These are very, very clear breaches of international law."

Israel's most prominent human rights organisation, B'Tselem, has written to the attorney general in Jerusalem, Meni Mazuz, to press him to investigate a number of suspected crimes including how the military selects its targets and the killing of scores of policemen at a passing out parade.

"Many of the targets seem not to have been legitimate military targets as specified by international humanitarian law," said Sarit Michaeli of B'Tselem.

Rovera has also collected evidence that the Israeli army holds Palestinian families prisoner in their own homes as human shields. "It's standard practice for Israeli soldiers to go into a house, lock up the family in a room on the ground floor and use the rest of the house as a military base, as a snipers' position. That is the absolute textbook case of human shields.

"It has been practised by the Israeli army for many years and they are doing it again in Gaza now," she said.

While there is growing agreement on the need for an international investigation, the form it would take is less clear-cut. The UN's human rights council has the authority to investigate allegations of war crimes but Israel has blocked its previous attempts to do so.

The UN security council could order an investigation, and even set up a war crimes tribunal, but that is likely to be vetoed by the US and probably Britain.

The international criminal court has no jurisdiction because Israel is not a signatory. The UN security council could refer the matter to the court but, again, is unlikely to."

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Sunday, January 11, 2009


Well I'm truly ashamed to admit that I've not actually written anything myself about the catastrophe in Gaza, an absolutely terrifying, horrendous and vile campaign that seems to have been well summarized and obviously has rightly caused huge outrage and protest across the world, along with fresh impetus about how Israel's policies toward the Palestinians are tackled in the long term.

It goes without saying we simply can't do any kind of justice in words to the realities of this and people affected by it, but just seeing some of the harrowing images of death and suffering from this conflict have been just absolutely sickening and devastating to the say the least and a shameful, monstrous and horrifying blight on the conscience of the world.

From what we've all been following in the news some of the tactics employed by Israel have been utterly obscene and outrageous crimes and what's so additionally scary is that from the last 8 years Israel and the US seem to have learned absolutely nothing.

Where is the process of persuasion here ?

It's getting more and more difficult to disagree with the wide body of opinion on different sides of the political spectrum that far far from 'maintaining its security', Israel itself is on the path to complete self destruction.

Maybe it's time to get those nuclear weapons of mass destruction out of Israel's hands.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Kucinich letter

via Prison Planet:

Raw Story
Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Responding to media reports that Israel had bombed a UN school serving as a refuge for Palestinian civilians, Congressman Dennis Kucinich is calling for a Congressional report on Israel’s possibly illegal misuse of US weapons.

His letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice follows.

Dear Dr. Rice:

I am writing concerning Israel’s military offensive against Gaza, which began on December 27th. I support Israel’s security and its right to exist in peace, without the fear of rocket attacks from Hamas. Moreover, I abhor the violence being visited upon the citizens of our firm ally. However, no nation is immune from the legal conditions placed on the receipt of U.S. military assistance.

I believe that with the current escalation of violence in Gaza, a legal threshold has been reached, warranting a Presidential examination and report to Congress. I hereby request an examination of Israel’s compliance with the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (AECA).

While neither the AECA nor the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA) define “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense,” I believe that Israel’s most recent attacks neither further internal security nor do they constitute “legitimate” acts of self-defense. They do, however, “increase the possibility of an outbreak or escalation of conflict,” because they are a vastly disproportionate response to the provocation, and because the Palestinian population is suffering from those military attacks in numbers far exceeding Israeli losses in life and property.

Israel’s current military campaign in Gaza has inflicted a significant toll on Palestinian civilians and society. Israel’s recent aerial and ground offensive against Gaza has killed nearly 600 and injured over 2,500. The Associated Press reported: “children are paying the price… The United Nations has said the death toll includes 34 children… But the broad range of Israel’s targets–police compounds, fire stations, homes of militants, Hamas-run mosques and university buildings–means most shelling is occurring in residential areas.”

The extensive destruction of such civilian institutions violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the wanton destruction of property and collective punishment of a civilian population. There have also been reports of bombings of United Nations (UN) schools, despite the fact that Israeli Defense Forces were allegedly given coordinates of the facilities prior to the current escalation in violence.

The blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza since 2006 has further exacerbated the extent of collateral damage, as hospitals and morgues have been unable to cope with the magnitude of deaths and injuries as a result of the current escalation in violence and hospitals lack proper supplies needed to treat the injured.

I believe that Israel’s use of defense articles provided by the U.S in the current Gaza military attacks may constitute a violation of the AECA. At a minimum, the conflict is sufficient to warrant an immediate report to Congress as required by 22 U.S.C. §2753. Please contact my office by close of business on January 7, 2009 with the date the report will be submitted.


Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress

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"Hot weather" warning (Guardian)

Guardian: "As temperatures stay stubbornly well below freezing, it may feel like the last issue on anyone's mind, but the government has been warned it may need to start thinking about introducing emergency hot weather payments to help poorer households keep cool.

The Department for Work and Pensions is studying a specially commissioned report from the Met Office which concludes that the weather may become so hot that Britain's poor and elderly people may need state help to pay their summer energy bills as they reach for air conditioners to prevent themselves dying from heat exhaustion."

It's the level of it's that frightening. Just stop, please stop. It's embarrassing to watch.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Gaza Bloodbath (Counter Punch)

via Prison Planet: The Gaza Bloodbath

Mike Whitney
Tuesday, January 6, 2009

In a rare moment of honesty, the New York Times divulged the real motive behind the bombardment and invasion of Gaza. In Ethan Bronner’s article, “Israel Weighs Goal: Ending Hamas Rule, Rocket fire, or Both”, Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon said, “We need to reach a situation in which we do not allow Hamas to govern. That is the most important thing. If the war ends in a draw, as expected, and Israel refrains from reoccupying Gaza, Hamas will gain diplomatic recognition…No matter what you call it, Hamas will obtain legitimacy.”

According to the Times: “In addition, any truce would probably include an increase in commercial traffic from Israel and Egypt into Gaza, which is Hamas’s central demand: to end the economic boycott and border closing it has been facing. To build up the Gaza economy under Hamas, Israeli leaders say, would be to build up Hamas. Yet withholding the commerce would continue to leave 1.5 million Gazans living in despair.” (Israel Weighs Goal: Ending Hamas Rule, Rocket fire, or Both; Ethan Bronner)

If Israel wants to prevent Hamas from “obtaining legitimacy,” than the real objective of the invasion is to either severely undermine or topple the regime. All the talk about the qassam rockets and the so-called “Hamas infrastructure”, (the new phrase that is supposed to indicate a threat to Israeli security) is merely a diversion. What really worries Israel is the prospect that Obama will “sit down with his enemies”–as he promised during the presidential campaign–and conduct talks with Hamas. That would put the ball in Israel’s court and force them to make concessions. But Israel does not want to make concessions. They would rather start a war and change the facts on the ground so they can head-off any attempt by Obama to restart peace process.

Just days ago, Obama advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said in a televised interview, that the last eight years proves that resolving the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is critical to US interests in the region. He added that the recent fighting shows that the two parties cannot achieve peace without US involvement. Brzezinski’s comments suggest that, at the very least, the Obama camp is considering low-level (secret?) talks with Hamas representatives. Every day that Hamas abstains from violence; its legitimacy as a political party grows and the prospect of direct negotiations becomes more likely. This is Israel’s worst nightmare, not because Hamas constitutes a real threat to Israeli security, but because Israel wants to install its own puppet regime and unilaterally impose its own terms for a final settlement. Neither Ehud Olmert or any of the candidates for prime minister have any intention of getting bogged down in another 8 years of fruitless banter like Oslo where plans for settlement expansion had to be concealed behind an elaborate public relations smokescreen. No way. The Israeli leadership would rather skip the pretense altogether and pursue their territorial aims openly as they have under Bush. And the goal is the same as always; to integrate the occupied territories into Greater Israel and leave the Palestinians trapped in bantustans. Negotiations just make that harder.

Ariel Sharon’s senior advisor, Dov Weisglass, clarified Israel’s position three years ago when he admitted, “The disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians… this whole package that is called the Palestinian state has been removed from our agenda indefinitely.” “Formaldehyde”; that says it all. The point of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was to silence critics and to make it appear as though the Palestinians had achieved some type of statehood. It was a complete sham. Sharon believed that disengagement would stop foreign leaders from badgering him to sit down with the Palestinians and work out a mutually-acceptable agreement. He never expected that elections would throw a wrench in his plans and raise the credibility of Hamas to the extent that it has today. In the last two years, Hamas hasn’ t launched one suicide mission in Israel, which shows that it has abandoned the armed struggle and can be trusted to negotiate on its people’s behalf. That scares Israel, which is why they initiated hostilities. Now, they need to seal the deal by either removing Hamas before Obama is sworn in or face pressure from the new administration for dialogue. Meanwhile, Israeli troop movements indicate that a plan may be in place to divide Gaza into three parts, thus making it impossible for Hamas to rule.

The UK Guardian confirms that the invasion was really about regime change not rockets or Hamas infrastructure.

According to the Guardian: “A couple of days into the assault on Gaza, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, said it would continue for ‘as long as it takes to dismantle Hamas completely’. Infuriated Israeli officials in Jerusalem warned her that such statements could set back the diplomatic offensive.

Dan Gillerman, Israel’s ambassador to the UN until a few months ago, was brought in by the Foreign Ministry to help lead the diplomatic and PR campaign. He said that the diplomatic and political groundwork has been under way for months.

“This was something that was planned long ahead,” he said. “I was recruited by the foreign minister to coordinate Israel’s efforts and I have never seen all parts of a very complex machinery - whether it is the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the prime minister’s office, the police or the army - work in such co-ordination, being effective in sending out the message.”

In briefings in Jerusalem and London, Brussels and New York, the same core messages were repeated: that Israel had no choice but to attack in response to the barrage of Hamas rockets; that the coming attack would be on “the infrastructure of terror” in Gaza and the targets principally Hamas fighters; that civilians would die, but it was because Hamas hides its fighters and weapons factories among ordinary people.

Hand in hand went a strategy to remove the issue of occupation from discussion.” (UK Guardian, “Why Israel went to war in Gaza”)

The invasion was mapped out months ago, right down to the bullet points that were passed out to friends in the media. Nothing was left to chance. That said, the public relations campaign was on full display over the weekend when Israeli ground troops and armored divisions swept into Gaza unopposed. CNN had a coterie of ardent Zionists on hand to justify the invasion in a carefully scripted analysis of developments. Retired Brigadier Gen. David Grange accompanied the blatantly pro-Israel Wolf Blitzer saying that the IDF had been “lured” into Gaza by Hamas so that Hamas could execute its plan for “urban warfare”. Utter nonsense. Grange implied that the subsequent slaughter of civilians was the work of Hamas, not Israel. Even by CNN’s abysmal standards, this is new low.

The media has worked in concert with the IDF throughout, spinning a rationale from whole cloth and cheerleading from every available soapbox. But recent polls show that the public has remained skeptical. Anti-Israel protests have sprung up in capitals across the world, and support for Israel is at its nadir. . Many people are simply shocked to see the most advanced, technological weaponry in the world being used in densely populated areas where collateral damage is bound to be heavy. It just makes Israel look like a bully while the media looks like an enabler. So far, the war has been a public relations catastrophe. Over 500 Palestinians have been killed and 2,400 wounded in a debacle of Biblical proportions. Every day, new photographs circulate on the internet showing the carnage produced by the steady bombardment. On Monday, the IDF killed two more Palestinian families, in two separate incidents. The mother, father and eight children were killed when their house was bombed by an American made F-16 early Monday morning. Another family in the Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City, was butchered when their home was struck by a shell from an Israeli ship off the coast. The civilian toll continues to balloon with no end in sight.

Here’s how one Gaza resident summed up the bombing in an interview with an AP journalist: “The Israeli forces attack everywhere. They have gone crazy. The Gaza Strip is just going to die … it’s going to die. We were sleeping. Suddenly we heard a bomb. We woke up and we didn’t know where to go. We couldn’t see through the dust. We called to each other. We thought our house had been hit, not the street. What can I say? You saw it with your own eyes. What is our guilt? Are we terrorists? I don’t carry a gun, neither does my girl. What does Israel want? There’s no medicine. No drinks, no water, no gas. We are suffering from hunger. They attack us. Can it be worse than this?” All of Gaza has been traumatized.

The “invasion”–which is a word none of the Israeli-centric media dares to use–(Israel “entered” Gaza) is the equivalent of rampaging through a concentration camp. (similar to the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla) Still, newspapers, like the New York Times, provide cover for the attack by referring to Hamas “bases” within Gaza. In truth, there are no bases nor military installations of any kind. It’s just more lies. They have no army, no navy, and no air force. The only threat that Gaza poses to Israel is its people’s unshakable commitment to end the occupation.

On CNN, Alan Dershowitz and other prominent Zionists defend the invasion in their most polished, lawyerly prose, but the public remains unconvinced. What observers are seeing on the internet is the broken bodies of children pulled from the rubble of their homes and the terrifying explosions in a city that languishes in complete darkness. Nothing Dershowitz says can match the imagery splattered minute by minute on the screen. Israel has bombed mosques, ambulances, bridges, tunnels, even a terrorist girls dormitory. Since when is a girl’s dormitory part of “Hamas infrastructure”? Five sisters and their mother were blow apart as they sat peacefully in their own living room. Does Dershowitz really believe he can elicit sympathy for the perpetrators of these crimes? American support for Israel is being tested; and that support is quickly eroding.

War is a blunt instrument for achieving one’s political objectives, and the costs can be enormous for winner and loser alike. If Israel manages to incite Hamas to the point where they deploy suicide bombers to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem then, perhaps, attitudes will shift in Israel’s favor. It is impossible to predict. But, clearly, retaliation with suicide missions would be the worst possible strategy for Hamas at this point. Israel has lost the moral high-ground, but one suicide bomber can change all that in a flash. Besides, the bombings alienate the people who sympathize with the Palestinian cause and make it harder for them to be openly supportive. The only people who benefit from suicide missions are the right-wing fanatics within the Israeli political establishment. Every Israeli civilian that’s killed just strengthens the Likudniks and their ilk.


The media has made a big issue of the fact that Hamas ended its ceasefire with Israel just days before the bombardment of Gaza. But as Johann Hari points out in his article “The True Story Behind this War Is Not The One Israel Is Telling” Hamas offered to maintain the ceasefire if Israel agreed to lift the blockade.

According to Hari:

“The core of the situation has been starkly laid out by Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. He says that while Hamas militants – like much of the Israeli right-wing – dream of driving their opponents away, “they have recognized this ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future.” Instead, “they are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967.” They are aware that this means they “will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals” – and towards a long-term peace based on compromise…..Halevy explains: “Israel, for reasons of its own, did not want to turn the ceasefire into the start of a diplomatic process with Hamas.”

Why would Israel act this way? The Israeli government wants peace, but only one imposed on its own terms, based on the acceptance of defeat by the Palestinians. It means the Israelis can keep the slabs of the West Bank on “their” side of the wall. It means they keep the largest settlements and control the water supply. And it means a divided Palestine, with responsibility for Gaza hived off to Egypt, and the broken-up West Bank standing alone. Negotiations threaten this vision: they would require Israel to give up more than it wants to. But an imposed peace will be no peace at all: it will not stop the rockets or the rage. For real safety, Israel will have to talk to the people it is blockading and bombing today, and compromise with them. (Johann Hari, “The True Story Behind this War Is Not The One Israel Is Telling”)

Hari’s article further confirms our basic thesis that the aggression in Gaza has nothing to do with terrorism, security, or Hamas infrastructure. In fact, Hamas appears to be ready to settle for much less than they originally hoped for. In this particular case, all they wanted was a promise from Israel to end the blockade, but Israel refused. Collective punishment of Palestinians has become a habit, like smoking or taking drugs. Israel can do what it wants. If it decides to cut off the food and medicine to 1.5 million people or bomb them into oblivion; no one can stop them. The UN and Washington just roll over and play dead. Why should they negotiate; they can do whatever they want. The world is their apple.

ISMAIL HANIYEH: “We do not wish to throw the Jews into the sea”.

“Oh…who will stop the windmills in my head?
Who will remove the knives from my heart?
Who will kill my poor children…?
In order that they do not…grow up in the red
furnished apartments…”

(”Ending” by Amal Dunqul; translated by Angry Arab News Service)

On Monday, Israeli warplanes bombed the offices of a man who has helped to save the lives of more Jews than anyone in the Knesset. That man is Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Haniyeh has supported the ban on suicide missions which has lasted for more than two years despite the blockade of food, medicine, fuel, and electrical power to the Gaza Strip and despite the daily bombings, incursions, arrests, assassinations and countless other humiliations associated with occupation. Hundreds of Israeli civilians are alive today because Haniyeh and his Hams colleagues abandoned the armed struggle and entered politics.

On Friday, Israeli spokeswoman, Major Avital Leibovich, announced that “Hamas leaders were also marked men. We have defined legitimate targets as any Hamas-affiliated target.” That means that Haniyeh is now on Israel’s hit list.

In a February 2006 interview with the Washington Post, Haniyeh dispelled many of the lies circulating in the western media about Hamas. He said that he wanted to see an end the “vicious cycle of violence” and vehemently denied the claim that “Hamas is committed to destroying Israel”. He said, “We do not have any feelings of animosity toward Jews. We do not wish to throw them into the sea. All we seek is to be given our land back, not to harm anybody….We are not war seekers nor are we war initiators. We are not lovers of blood. We are oppressed people with rights.”

Wa Post: “Would Hamas recognize Israel if it were to withdraw to the ‘67 borders?”

Haniyeh: “If Israel withdraws to the ‘67 borders, then we will establish peace in stages… We will establish a situation of stability and calm which will bring safety for our people.

Wa Post: “Do you recognize Israel’s right to exist?”

Haniyeh: “The answer is to let Israel say it will recognize a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, release the prisoners and recognize the rights of the refugees to return to Israel. Hamas will have a position if this occurs.”

Wa Post: “Will you recognize Israel?”

Haniyeh: “If Israel declares that it will give the Palestinian people a state and give them back all their rights, then we are ready to recognize them.”

Haniyeh’s answers are straightforward and rational. He asked for nothing that isn’t already required under existing United Nations resolutions; a return to the 1967 borders, basic human rights, and settlement of the final status issues. An agreement could be facilitated tomorrow if Israel was willing to conform to international law. Instead, Israel has chosen to invade Gaza. For 60 years it has employed the same failed strategy.

Haniyeh again:

“Israel’s unilateral movements of the past year will not lead to peace. These acts — the temporary withdrawal of forces from Gaza, the walling off of the West Bank — are not strides toward resolution but empty, symbolic acts that fail to address the underlying conflict. Israel’s nearly complete control over the lives of Palestinians is never in doubt, as confirmed by the humanitarian and economic suffering of the Palestinians since the January elections.”

“We want what Americans enjoy — democratic rights, economic sovereignty and justice. We thought our pride in conducting the fairest elections in the Arab world might resonate with the United States and its citizens. Instead, our new government was met from the very beginning by acts of explicit, declared sabotage by the White House. Now this aggression continues against 3.9 million civilians living in the world’s largest prison camps. America’s complacency in the face of these war crimes is, as usual, embedded in the coded rhetorical green light: “Israel has a right to defend itself.”

Haniyeh’s efforts for reconciliation are doomed. Israel will not bargain or compromise. The Israeli state is driven by an ideology which requires continuous expansion and subjugation. There’s nothing Haniyeh can do to change that. The answer to the present crisis lies within Zionism itself, the philosophical underpinning of Jewish nationalism.

In his recent article, “Israel’s Righteous Fury and its Victims in Gaza”, Ilan Pappe, the chair in the Department of History at the University of Exeter, explains Zionism in terms of its effect on Israeli policy vis a vis the invasion of Gaza:

“There are no boundaries to the hypocrisy that a righteous fury produces. The discourse of the generals and the politicians is moving erratically between self-compliments of the humanity the army displays in its “surgical” operations on the one hand, and the need to destroy Gaza for once and for all, in a humane way of course, on the other.

This righteous fury is a constant phenomenon in the Israeli, and before that Zionist, dispossession of Palestine. Every act whether it was ethnic cleansing, occupation, massacre or destruction was always portrayed as morally just and as a pure act of self-defense reluctantly perpetrated by Israel in its war against the worst kind of human beings. In his excellent volume The Returns of Zionism: Myths, Politics and Scholarship in Israel, Gabi Piterberg explores the ideological origins and historical progression of this righteous fury. Today in Israel, from Left to Right, from Likud to Kadima, from the academia to the media, one can hear this righteous fury of a state that is more busy than any other state in the world in destroying and dispossessing an indigenous population.

It is crucial to explore the ideological origins of this attitude and derive the necessary political conclusions form its prevalence. This righteous fury shields the society and politicians in Israel from any external rebuke or criticism. But far worse, it is translated always into destructive policies against the Palestinians. With no internal mechanism of criticism and no external pressure, every Palestinian becomes a potential target of this fury. Given the firepower of the Jewish state it can inevitably only end in more massive killings, massacres and ethnic cleansing.

The self-righteousness is a powerful act of self-denial and justification. It explains why the Israeli Jewish society would not be moved by words of wisdom, logical persuasion or diplomatic dialogue. And if one does not want to endorse violence as the means of opposing it, there is only one way forward: challenging head-on this righteousness as an evil ideology meant to cover human atrocities. Another name for this ideology is Zionism and an international rebuke for Zionism, not just for particular Israeli policies, is the only way of countering this self-righteousness.” (”Israel’s Righteous Fury and its Victims in Gaza”, Ilan Pappe)

It wouldn’t make a bit of difference if Hamas surrendered tomorrow and handed-over all its weapons to Israel, because the problem isn’t Hamas; it’s Zionism, the deeply-flawed ideology which leads to bombing children in their homes while clinging to victim-hood. Ideas have consequences. Gaza proves it.

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UN Probe in to Gazan School Massacres

Prison Planet: "The United Nations has called for a probe into the Israeli attacks that killed at least 45 civilians in UN-run schools in the Gaza Strip.

“These tragic incidents need to be investigated, and if international humanitarian law has been contravened, those responsible must be held accountable,” Max Gaylard, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories said Tuesday.

On the eleventh day of an Israeli offensive against the strip, the Israeli army targeted three UN-run schools.

Palestinian medics said Tuesday that most of the victims were people who had been given shelter inside the schools, adding that several dozen individuals were also wounded in the strike.

“These deaths highlight the tragic reality of the situation in Gaza that for civilians, neither homes nor UN shelters are safe,” said Gaylard.

UN official added that there are no safe shelters for the 1.5 million civilian population of the coastal strip..."

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

UK Protests against Israeli offensive in Gaza

As covered by our friends at Rick Writes...

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480 dead, 2300 wounded in Gaza

Guardian: "Israeli tanks and thousands of troops today pushed deep into the Gaza strip in a dramatic escalation of the conflict.

Soldiers reached as far as the Mediterranean coast, cutting Gaza in half and seizing control of large areas of the overcrowded territory.

Israel's ground operation, which had been widely anticipated, began on Saturday night, the eighth of the conflict, and is the biggest Israeli assault on Gaza since it withdrew its Jewish settlers in 2005.

Television footage showed troops wearing night vision goggles, their faces painted in camouflage, marching in single file across the border.

Thick clouds of smoke hovered over Gaza as the Israeli attack targeted the northern towns of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Jabaliya, all of which have been scenes of frequent scenes of Israeli incursions over recent years.

Israeli troops were also seen in the southern Gaza strip, near the town of Rafah, along the Egyptian border.

The streets of Gaza City were deserted and the city was surrounded by Israeli forces to the north, east and south.

Naval ships in the Mediterranean continued to fire shells into Gaza, along with artillery rounds from the east and repeated air strikes across the length of the territory.

Tens of thousands of Israeli reservists were called up, a sign that the operation could yet deepen.

Palestinian hospital doctors said 23 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's ground offensive since midnight. They said three were Hamas fighters and the rest civilians.

Dr Said Judeh, of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, said eight people had been killed in an Israeli artillery strike. He said they were among a group of people trying to leave their homes to shelter in a nearby school.

Beit Lahiya is the scene of some of the heaviest fighting, and it was reported today that five members of the same family had been killed in two separate artillery strikes on their home there.

At least 30 Israeli troops were injured after the invasion began late on Saturday night, with two, a soldier and an officer, seriously hurt.

The Hamas al-Aqsa television channel today reported that Hamas fighters had captured two Israeli soldiers, but the Israeli army said it had no knowledge of any such incident and that previous Hamas reports of Israeli casualties had proved inaccurate.

The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, said the Israelis were "peace seekers". "We are not war hungry, but we shall not, I repeat shall not, allow a situation where our towns, villages and civilians are constantly targeted by Hamas," he said. "It will not be easy or short, but we are determined.

Brigadier General Avi Benayahu, an Israeli military spokesman, said the military's goals in launching what it called "phase two" of its campaign in Gaza were "to deal a heavy blow to the Hamas terror organisation, to strengthen Israel's deterrence and to create a better security situation for those living around the Gaza Strip that will be maintained for the long term".

The decision to launch a ground offensive came after a late-night meeting between the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, Barak and the foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, which lasted until 4am on Saturday.

A security cabinet meeting then approved the operation, although two ministers reportedly abstained.

The development followed another day of intense Israeli bombing in Gaza on Saturday. Among the targets destroyed was the American International School in northern Gaza, a private school which has been attacked by Palestinian militants in the past.

Another air strike destroyed a mosque in Beit Lahiya, killing around a dozen Palestinians.

The death toll in Gaza climbed to at least 480, with more than 2,300 wounded, according to Palestinian medical officials."

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Richard Falk on Gaza Catastrophe

Some commentary from a couple of days ago by Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories via The Huffington Post:

"For eighteen months the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza experienced a punishing blockade imposed by Israel, and a variety of traumatizing challenges to the normalcy of daily life. A flicker of hope emerged some six months ago when an Egyptian arranged truce produced an effective ceasefire that cut Israeli casualties to zero despite the cross-border periodic firing of homemade rockets that fell harmlessly on nearby Israeli territory, and undoubtedly caused anxiety in the border town of Sderot. During the ceasefire the Hamas leadership in Gaza repeatedly offered to extend the truce, even proposing a ten-year period and claimed a receptivity to a political solution based on acceptance of Israel's 1967 borders. Israel ignored these diplomatic initiatives, and failed to carry out its side of the ceasefire agreement that involved some easing of the blockade that had been restricting the entry to Gaza of food, medicine, and fuel to a trickle..."

Continue reading

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year.

I know we haven't exactly been guns blazing for quite some time on here and sorry about the lapses, I was away again briefly over the New Year period. I can only defer to the excellent commentary This Old Brit has given on the horrendous stuff that's been going on in Gaza.

I hope this year we are going to do some pretty hard hitting essays on some different topics, and hopefully cover some slightly different areas than we did in the past.

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