Tuesday, September 8, 2009


The Elders' View Of the Middle East

By Jimmy Carter
Sunday, September 6, 2009

During the past 16 months I have visited the Middle East four times and met with leaders in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. I was in Damascus when President Obama made his historic speech in Cairo, which raised high hopes among the more-optimistic Israelis and Palestinians, who recognize that his insistence on a total freeze of settlement expansion is the key to any acceptable peace agreement or any positive responses toward Israel from Arab nations.

Late last month I traveled to the region with a group of "Elders," including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil and Mary Robinson of Ireland, former prime minister Gro Brundtland of Norway and women's activist Ela Bhatt of India. Three of us had previously visited Gaza, which is now a walled-in ghetto inhabited by 1.6 million Palestinians, 1.1 million of whom are refugees from Israel and the West Bank and receive basic humanitarian assistance from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Israel prevents any cement, lumber, seeds, fertilizer and hundreds of other needed materials from entering through Gaza's gates. Some additional goods from Egypt reach Gaza through underground tunnels. Gazans cannot produce their own food nor repair schools, hospitals, business establishments or the 50,000 homes that were destroyed or heavily damaged by Israel's assault last January.

We found a growing sense of concern and despair among those who observe, as we did, that settlement expansion is continuing apace, rapidly encroaching into Palestinian villages, hilltops, grazing lands, farming areas and olive groves. There are more than 200 of these settlements in the West Bank.

An even more disturbing expansion is taking place in Palestinian East Jerusalem. Three months ago I visited a family who had lived for four generations in their small, recently condemned home. They were laboring to destroy it themselves to avoid much higher costs if Israeli contractors carried out the demolition order. On Aug. 27, we Elders took a gift of food to 18 members of the Hanoun family, recently evicted from their home of 65 years. The Hanouns, including six children, are living on the street, while Israeli settlers have moved into their confiscated dwelling.

Daily, headlines in Jerusalem newspapers say that certain areas and types of construction would be excluded from the settlement freeze and that it would, at best, have a limited duration. Increasingly desperate Palestinians see little prospect of their plight being alleviated; political, business and academic leaders are making contingency plans should President Obama's efforts fail.

We saw considerable interest in a call by Javier Solana, secretary general of the Council of the European Union, for the United Nations to endorse the two-state solution, which already has the firm commitment of the U.S. government and the other members of the "Quartet" (Russia and the United Nations). Solana proposes that the United Nations recognize the pre-1967 border between Israel and Palestine, and deal with the fate of Palestinian refugees and how Jerusalem would be shared. Palestine would become a full U.N. member and enjoy diplomatic relations with other nations, many of which would be eager to respond. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad described to us his unilateral plan for Palestine to become an independent state.

A more likely alternative to the present debacle is one state, which is obviously the goal of Israeli leaders who insist on colonizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A majority of the Palestinian leaders with whom we met are seriously considering acceptance of one state, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. By renouncing the dream of an independent Palestine, they would become fellow citizens with their Jewish neighbors and then demand equal rights within a democracy. In this nonviolent civil rights struggle, their examples would be Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

They are aware of demographic trends. Non-Jews are already a slight majority of total citizens in this area, and within a few years Arabs will constitute a clear majority.

A two-state solution is clearly preferable and has been embraced at the grass roots.

Just south of Jerusalem, the Palestinian residents of Wadi Fukin and the nearby Israeli villagers of Tzur Hadassah are working together closely to protect their small shared valley from the ravages of rock spill, sewage and further loss of land from a huge settlement on the cliff above, where 26,000 Israelis are rapidly expanding their confiscated area. It was heartwarming to see the international harmony with which the villagers face common challenges and opportunities.

There are 25 similar cross-border partnerships between Israelis and their Palestinian neighbors. The best alternative for the future is a negotiated peace agreement, so that the example of Wadi Fukin and Tzur Hadassah can prevail along a peaceful border between two sovereign nations.

The writer was the 39th president. He founded The Carter Center, a nongovernmental organization focused on global peace and health issues.

Source: The Washington Post

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Accountability and the organ theft controversy
Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada,

The hyperventilating by Israel's leaders over a story published in a Swedish newspaper last month suggesting that the Israeli army assisted in organ theft from Palestinians has distracted attention from the disturbing allegations made by Palestinian families that were the basis of the article's central claim.

The families' fears that relatives, killed by the Israeli army, had body parts removed during unauthorized autopsies performed in Israel have been overshadowed by accusations of a "blood libel" directed against the reporter, Donald Bostrom, and the Aftonbladet newspaper, as well as the Swedish government and people.

I have no idea whether the story is true. Like most journalists working in Israel and Palestine, I have heard such rumors before. Until Bostrom wrote his piece, no Western journalist, as far as I know, had investigated them. After so many years, the assumption by journalists was that there was little hope of finding evidence -- apart from literally by digging up the corpses. Doubtless, the inevitable charge of anti-semitism such reports attract acted as a powerful deterrent too.

What is striking about this episode is that the families making the claims were not given a hearing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the first intifada, when most of the reports occurred, and are still being denied the right to voice their concerns today.

Israel's sensitivity to the allegation of organ theft -- or "harvesting," as many observers coyly refer to the practice -- appears to trump the genuine concerns of the families about possible abuse of their loved ones.

Bostrom has been much criticized for the flimsy evidence he produced in support of his inflammatory story. Certainly there is much to criticize in his and the newspaper's presentation of the report.

Most significantly, Bostrom and Aftonbladet exposed themselves to the charge of anti-semitism -- at least from Israeli officials keen to make mischief -- through a major error of judgment.

They muddied the waters by trying to make a tenuous connection between the Palestinian families' allegations about organ theft during unauthorized autopsies and the entirely separate revelations this month that a group of US Jews had been arrested for money-laundering and trading in body parts.

In making that connection, Bostrom and Aftonbladet suggested that the problem of organ theft is a current one when they have produced only examples of such concern from the early 1990s. They also implied, whether intentionally or not, that abuses allegedly committed by the Israeli army could somehow be extrapolated more generally to Jews.

The Swedish reporter should instead have concentrated on the valid question raised by the families about why the Israeli army, by its own admission, took away the bodies of dozens of Palestinians killed by its soldiers, allowed autopsies to be performed on them without the families' permission and then returned the bodies for burial in ceremonies held under tight security.

Bostrom's article highlighted the case of one Palestinian, 19-year-old Bilal Ahmed Ghanan, from the village of Imatin in the northern West Bank, who was killed in 1992. A shocking picture of Bilal's stitched-up body accompanied the report.

Bostrom has told the Israeli media that he knows of at least 20 cases of families claiming that the bodies of loved ones were returned with body parts missing, although he did not say whether any of these alleged incidents occurred more recently.

In 1992, the year in question, Bostrom says, the Israeli army admitted to him that it took away for autopsy 69 of the 133 Palestinians who died of unnatural causes. The army has not denied this part of his report.

A justifiable question from the families relayed by Bostrom is: why did the army want the autopsies carried out? Unless it can be shown that the army intended to conduct investigations into the deaths -- and there is apparently no suggestion that it did -- the autopsies were unnecessary.

In fact, they were more than unnecessary. They were counterproductive if we assume that the army has no interest in gathering evidence that could be used in future war crimes prosecutions of its soldiers. Israel has a long track record of stymying investigations into Palestinian deaths at the hands of its soldiers, and carried on that ignoble tradition in the wake of its recent assault on Gaza.

Of even greater concern for the Palestinian families is the fact that at around the time the bodies of their loved ones were whisked off by the army for autopsy, the only institute in Israel that conducts such autopsies, Abu Kabir, near Tel Aviv, was almost certainly at the centre of a trade in organs that later became a scandal inside Israel.

Equally disturbing, the doctor behind the plunder of body parts, Prof. Yehuda Hiss, appointed director of the Abu Kabir institute in the late 1980s, has never been jailed despite admitting to the organ theft and he continues to be the state's chief pathologist at the institute.

Hiss was in charge of the autopsies of Palestinians when Bostrom was listening to the families' claims in 1992. Hiss was subsequently investigated twice, in 2002 and 2005, over the theft of body parts on a large scale.

Allegations of Hiss' illegal trade in organs was first revealed in 2000 by investigative reporters at the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, which reported that he had "price listings" for body parts and that he sold mainly to Israeli universities and medical schools.

Apparently undeterred by these revelations, Hiss still had an array of body parts in his possession at Abu Kabir when the Israeli courts ordered a search in 2002. Israel National News reported at the time: "Over the past years, heads of the institute appear to have given thousands of organs for research without permission, while maintaining a 'storehouse' of organs at Abu Kabir."

Hiss did not deny the plunder of organs, admitting that the body parts belonged to soldiers killed in action and had been passed to medical institutes and hospitals in the interests of advancing research. Understandably, however, the Palestinian families are unlikely to be satisfied with Hiss' explanation. If the wishes of a soldier's family were disregarded by Hiss, why not Palestinian families' wishes too?

Hiss was allowed to continue as director of Abu Kabir until 2005 when allegations of a trade in organs surfaced again. On this occasion Hiss admitted to having removed parts from 125 bodies without authorization. Following a plea bargain with the state, the attorney general decided not to press criminal charges and Hiss was given only a reprimand. He has continued as chief pathologist at Abu Kabir.

It should also be noted, as Bostrom points out, that in the early 1990s Israel was suffering from an acute shortage of organ donors to the extent that Ehud Olmert, health minister at the time, launched a public campaign to encourage Israelis to come forward.

This offers a possible explanation for Hiss' actions. He may have acted to help make up the shortfall.

Given the facts that are known, there must be at least a very strong suspicion that Hiss removed organs without authorization from some Palestinians he autopsied. Both this issue, and the army's possible role in supplying him with corpses, needs investigation.

Hiss is also implicated in another long-running and unresolved scandal from Israel's early years, in the 1950s, when the children of recent Jewish immigrants to Israel from Yemen were adopted by Ashkenazi couples after the Yeminite parents had been told that their child had died, usually after admission to hospital.

After an initial cover-up, the Yeminite parents have continued pressing for answers from the state, and forced officials to reopen the files. The Palestinian families deserve no less.

However, unlike the Yemenite parents, their chances of receiving any kind of investigation, transparent or otherwise, look all but hopeless.

When Palestinian demands for justice are not backed by investigations from journalists or the protests of the international community, Israel can safely ignore them.

It is worth remembering in this context the constant refrain from Israel's peace camp that the brutal, four-decade occupation of the Palestinians has profoundly corrupted Israeli society.

When the army enjoys power without accountability, how do Palestinians, or we, know what soldiers are allowed to get away with under cover of occupation? What restraints are in place to prevent abuses? And who takes them to task if they do commit crimes?

Similarly, when Israeli politicians are able to cry "blood libel" or "anti-semitism" when they are criticized, damaging the reputations of those they accuse, what incentive do they have to initiate inquiries that may harm them or the institutions they oversee? What reason do they have to be honest when they can bludgeon a critic into silence, at no cost to themselves?

This is the meaning of the phrase "power corrupts," and Israeli politicians and soldiers, as well as at least one pathologist, demonstrably have far too much power -- most especially over Palestinians under occupation.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

Source: Dessert peace
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kenny's sideshow: The thieves, liars, murderers and traitors return to Washington

The thieves, liars, murderers and traitors return to Washington

Congress goes back into session which means the war on the American public is back in full swing.

As Congress returns today after a month long recess, lawmakers face a pileup of pressing legislation, from immigration to energy, that so far has been eclipsed by the all-consuming battle over health care.
This USA Today article doesn't even go into the wars. Not a lot of debate to be seen on the most hideous aspect of US policy.

Men with Guns, in Kabul and Washington
"Last year, while the U.S. government was spending nearly $100 million a day on military efforts in Afghanistan, an Oxfam report put the total amount of humanitarian aid to the country from all sources at just $7 million per day. Not much has changed since then. The supplemental funding measure that the White House pushed through Congress a few months ago devotes 90 percent of the U.S. spending in Afghanistan to military expenditures."{more - Media Monitors Network}
$100 million a day to protect the opium trade, pipelines and general destruction of a country for contractor/corporate profits would go a long way to curing some ills in our country.

Debate heats up as conflict in Afghanistan worsens?
As the Obama administration and Congress begin a heated debate about how many more American troops to send to Afghanistan, military observers, soldiers on the ground there and some top Pentagon officials are warning that dispatching even tens of thousands more troops might not ensure success.
Some fear that deploying more U.S. troops, especially in the wake of a U.S. airstrike last week that killed and wounded scores of Afghan civilians, would convince more Afghans that the Americans are occupiers rather than allies and relieve the pressure on the Afghan government to improve its security forces.

The heart of the problem, soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and some officials in Washington said, is that neither Barack Obama's White House nor the Pentagon has clearly defined America's mission in Afghanistan.{more}
The mission statement for Afghanistan must always include the same old Bush administration mantra;
al Qaeda, terrorists, bin Laden, nation building, democracy, etc. etc. etc.
It's hard for government to come up with new lies, repeating the same ones gives continuity to the purpose.

The 'vacations' in Israel by members of Congress during the recess assures the continued groveling to that criminal state.

"US Knesset Members Visit Apartheid Israel"
What do the following US Congress members have in common? They have foresworn allegiance to the USA and now serve Israel. {more - Greg Bacon}
Is allowing the continued cost of Israel to the U.S. treason?
Is Zionism a sophisticated Hegelian Dialectic?

The Wall Street Journal is a shill for the Afghanistan war and always has to perpetuate the lie that it all goes back to 9/11. Congress members probably read this crap and although they all can't be so stupid as to believe it, they will reaffirm the lies..

The Afghan Stakes
But Afghanistan matters not because that's where 9/11 was conceived. It matters because that's where it was imagined.
Put simply, it was the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan that laid much of the imaginative groundwork for 9/11. So imagine the sorts of notions that would take root in the minds of jihadists—and the possibilities that would open up to them—if the U.S. was to withdraw from Afghanistan in its own turn.

The alternative is a winding and bloody struggle to defend and improve a hapless and often corrupt government in a godforsaken land of often (though by no means pervasively) ungrateful people. This is not the noblest fight, and no sane nation would wage it by choice. But we did not choose it and, if we keep our nerve, we can win it. Otherwise, the consequence will be ashes flying again in our own streets, something to remember on the eve of another 9/11 anniversary. {more BS}

All of this money for wars and killing and destruction while here at home an increasing number of Americans can not afford to bury their own family members.

Overload of bodies fills Tennessee morgues - Families can't afford burials
People who had next to nothing in life are facing even more hardship in death.

There are more unclaimed bodies at the Davidson County medical examiner's office this year, as families found themselves unable to cover the expense of a funeral and burial. So many bodies have been donated to science in Tennessee this year that the Vanderbilt School of Medicine and the University of Tennessee Body Farm have stopped accepting cadaver donations.{more}
The MSM is reporting at this moment (10:AM) that 4 more Americans have been killed in Afghanistan.
I guess they will get a free burial.

Things are going deadly wrong in this country. The Congress and the Obama administration are filled with traitors whose masters are money and power.

But let's forget all about that and watch Obama speak to the school kids. They are the future you know. Future bodies for the war machine.

Thanks to Kenny's Sideshow where we first read this blog. Check him out!

Source: kenny's sideshow: The thieves, liars, murderers and traitors return to Washington

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