Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Israel wants free warships from Germany

In a request that has caught the Berlin government off guard, Israel has asked for the delivery of two expensive German-made warships "free of charge".

The German daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Saturday that Tel Aviv has asked Germany to help bolster its defenses by providing a pair of MEKO corvettes that would probably cost hundreds of millions of euros.

Built at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, the ships feature advanced radar-evading capabilities and are exclusively designed to carry US-made missile systems.

Israel receives much of its military funding and equipment from the United States. According to the Wall Street Journal, US military aid to Israel will total $2.55 billion in 2009.

Tel Aviv has also received assistance from Germany over the years.

The Kiel shipyard Howaldtswerken Deutsche Werft had earlier delivered three submarines between 1999 and 2000.

In addition, two more submarines are currently being built in Kiel, costing at least 500 million euros apiece, for which Germany is to pay a third. They are slated to be delivered to Israel by 2012.

Berlin has not yet responded to the request, but according to the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, "influential politicians in northern Germany" are secretly supporting the deal, claiming it will help German shipyards weather the global economic downturn.

Source: Press TV
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Usual Suspects Look To Make "Hate" Laws A Worldwide Plague

A representative of the Senate Armed Services Committee told me today that they hope the national defense appropriations bill, with hate bill attached, will be passed by Friday. Already delayed more than two weeks, there still may be several days for patriots to keep emailing the President, urging veto.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration, along with the government of Egypt, has submitted to the United Nations a proposal granting the UN rights to condemn nations that do not enact laws against bias-motivated crimes. Recent passage of the proposal by the Human Rights Council is the first step toward approval by the General Assembly.

Filled with jargon and argumentation typical of the Anti-Defamation League, architect of hate laws worldwide, the proposal requires member nations to suppress "religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination." It "urges states to take effective measures, consistent with their obligations under international human rights laws…" It instructs the nations to pass federal hate crimes laws "insuring that relevant national legislation complies with their international human rights obligations and is effectively implemented." This resolution encourages condemnation of "national racial or religious hatred" but also of speech that incites discrimination against persons belonging to "minorities." Its broad use of the term "minorities" may well include sexual orientation, i.e., homosexuals.

In language identical to that of ADL's 56 member-nation hate crimes bureaucracy, The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), this initiative calls for UN condemnation of "racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia [fear of peoples different from you], and related intolerance." It also condemns use of the internet for "discriminatory racist and xenophobic discourse or content."

Passage of the U.S. federal hate crime bill is vital to implementation of UN authority over America. Clearly, President Obama is moving forward rapidly to end US sovereignty, making America part of "the federated continents" of the "truly United Nations" envisioned by Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, prophesied in Look magazine of January 16, 1962.

Such intentions are only confirmed by Obama's attendance and probable signing of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. The conference will grant global empowerment to force all industrialized nations (even in times of severe economic recession) to atone for 250 years of allegedly dumping industrial pollution on developing nations. How will such atonement be made? By requiring them to cut back on their own industrial emissions and economically subsidize the third world.

Obama's signing will constitute a treaty, considered by international law to take precedent over national sovereignty. It gives the globalists power to bleed America economically in order to build up the third world. It would reduce America to a vassal state and exalt global governance.

What can we do to slow down this fast forward toward world government?

We must preserve our free speech and national sovereignty at all costs! The only way we can do that right now is to continue to email the President against the defense/hate bill. But we must also now protest his signing away our national sovereignty at the Copenhagen conference.

Cut and paste these three messages in separate emails to the President at www.whitehouse.gov/contact:

1. Mr. President, I will vote out Democrats at mid-terms if you sign the freedom-destroying hate crimes bill.

2. Mr. President, I expect you to keep your promise to veto any military authorization bill that wastes $100 billion of taxpayers' money on unnecessary F-35 jet engines.

3. Mr. President, I will never forgive or forget if you sign away America's sovereignty at the Copenhagen conference in December.

Source: Blacklisted News
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Blood On Their Hands

The federal "hate crimes" measure recently signed into "law" by Barack Obama will do nothing to protect innocent people from criminal violence. But thanks to the cynical pressure group politics that led to passage of that measure, thousands of innocent people will certainly die.

Working with its congressional allies, the White House attached the hate crimes measure as an amendment to the most recent military spending measure, a $680 billion appropriation that contains at least $120 billion to fund the ongoing slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The brutally honest Chris Hedges describes how this arrangement managed to unite advocates of tyrannical "tolerance" on the home front with those who promote the mass murder of harmless foreigners abroad:

"It was a clever piece of marketing. It blunted debate about new funding for war. And behind the closed doors of the caucus rooms, the Democratic leadership told Blue Dog Democrats, who are squeamish about defending gays or lesbians from hate crimes, that they could justify the vote as support for the war. They told liberal Democrats, who are squeamish about unlimited funding for war, that they could defend the vote as a step forward in the battle for civil rights. Gender equality groups, by selfishly narrowing their concern to themselves, participated in the dirty game."

The price of "tolerance":
An Afghan child displays the burns inflicted by a NATO bombing (left); other "liberated" Afghans and Iraqis are seen below. Hundreds or thousands of additional victims will die thanks to the political deal that brought about the new hate crimes law.

Granted, it isn't likely that the Pentagon appropriation, including the war funding, would have been defeated.

The difference between this measure and its predecessors is this: The leading elements of the "hate industry" -- those sanctimonious scolds who make a handsome living tutoring the rest of us in the ways of "tolerance" -- are now directly implicated in the avoidable mass murder of innocent people in the Near East.

For the squalid collection of pressure groups that promoted passage of the hate crimes measure, -- the so-called Anti-Defamation League, the self-styled Human Rights Campaign, the fraudulently named Southern Poverty Law Center, et. al. -- this is an entirely acceptable arrangement. Their fund-raising will prosper; their stature in Washington will continue to grow; their influence over law enforcement will expand; most importantly, the power of the state to persecute their political enemies will be significantly enhanced.

Oh, sure -- the political trade-off behind this "victory" means that poor brown people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq will suffer violent death in their homes, streets, and houses of worship, cultivating understandable anti-American hatred that will yield a bloody harvest of terrorism and unending war.

But, hey, aren't we talking about religion-obsessed, hetero-patriarchal homophobes, anyway? Wouldn't the world be better off if we were to be rid of such intolerant people?

Through its involvement in the political deal that led to passage of the hate crimes bill, the Hate Industry (aka the Tolerance Lobby) took an ownership interest in the regime's wars of aggression abroad.

Those running that Lobby are certainly smart enough to have realized this. The moral calculus behind that trade-off must be similar to the self-serving calculations of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment: Since there is a certain sacrificial "percentage" of people who are fated to die each year to serve society's "greater" interests, why scruple over the death of a single unpleasant, greedy old woman -- or several thousand innocent Afghans, Pakistanis, or Iraqis? And wouldn't there be something redemptive in using that horrible war to do something to advance the cause of "tolerance" here?

The hate crimes legislation signed by Obama on October 28 bore the names of James Byrd and Matthew Shephard, murder victims whose assailants were found, prosecuted, and punished very efficiently without the dubious benefit of a federal "hate crimes" statute. There is no shortage of laws dealing with criminal violence against innocent people. But purposes served by "hate crimes" laws have nothing to do with protecting the innocent.

"Hate crimes" statutes invert the priorities described by Justice Felix Frankfurter (in a moment of atypical wisdom): "Law is concerned with external behavior and not the inner life of man." By enhancing the penalty for criminal acts either provably or putatively rooted in certain proscribed attitudes, "hate crimes" statutes impermissibly assert the government's jurisdiction over the inner life of individuals. This is, in principle, an assertion of totalitarian power.

The newly enacted hate crimes measure also expands the assault on what remains of federalism. During that brief and fondly remembered period during which the U.S. Constitution was recognized as the "law of the land," it was understood that whatever police powers could properly be exercised were (with very few specific exceptions) entirely within the purview of the individual states.

Briefly indulging the winsome fantasy that the Constitution is in some way relevant to the actions of the government ruling us, we dust off Federalist #45 in which Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, explained that the "few and defined" powers of the federal government do not include a general police power (as the Lopez ruling reminded us a few years ago).

"Did you take offense over an opinion, an unfriendly look, a politically incorrect bumper sticker or t-shirt inscription? Give us a call!"

By way of contrast, the "numerous and indefinite" powers reserved to the states "extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people" as well as matters of "internal order" -- that is, police power dealing with the protection of life, limb, and property.

There are myriad sound reasons why states shouldn't enact hate crimes laws, but they're constitutionally free to do so. The newly enacted federal measure, on the other hand, is facially incompatible with the assignment of powers described by Madison and required by the 10th Amendment precisely because it would permit federal intervention in criminal matters that fall entirely within the innate jurisdiction of the states.

That jurisdictional arrangement can be changed, of course -- through a constitutional amendment. That not being the case here, there are ample legitimate grounds for state governments to nullify the new federal hate crimes measure. Ironically, one of the arguments used by the measure's supporters actually amounts to what could be called "nullification in reverse."

The new hate crimes "law" provides for an end-run around the Constitution's prohibition of double jeopardy, thereby encouraging federal prosecution of people either acquitted by local courts, or charged with offenses other than "hate crimes."

Defenders of this approach insist that this is "necessary" because some local jurisdictions are fetid pools of bigotry, thereby creating the prospect of jury nullification on the basis of racial or other prejudice. They say that this approach is constitutionally appropriate because of the "dual sovereignty" relationship between states and the federal government.

Bear in mind that this argument comes from the lips and keyboards of left-collectivists who ordinarily regard any reference, however oblique, to state "sovereignty" as covert code for segregation or other offenses against "tolerance."

Tearing away the gauze of sophistry in which they've been swaddled, "dual sovereignty" prosecutions are substantively indistinguishable from double jeopardy. They also tend to be dictated by considerations extraneous to individual justice -- such as race-based interest group politics.

To understand how the "dual sovereignty" doctrine operates in practice, consider this contrast: After being acquitted of criminal charges by a local jury, the four police officers who beat Rodney King were subjected to a federal "civil rights" trial for the same offense, based on the same facts; two of them were convicted. However, when O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder in what many regarded as a race-based act of jury nullification, he was not subjected to a "dual sovereignty" civil rights or hate crime prosecution.

But this sort of thing is to be expected of a system in which "justice" is a function of belonging to a government-protected collective. That's the vision being inflicted on our society through the new "hate crimes" law, a progressive victory purchased for the paltry cost of $120 billion to kill helpless foreigners.

Such a deal!

Source: Pro Libertate

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Top American intellectual sees no significant change of US foreign policy under Obama
By Mamoon Alabbasi - LONDON

As civilised people across the world breathed a sigh of relief to see the back of former US president George W. Bush, top American intellectual Noam Chomsky warned against assuming or expecting significant changes in the basis of Washington's foreign policy under President Barack Obama.

During two lectures organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, Chomsky cited numerous examples of the driving doctrines behind US foreign policy since the end of World War II.

"As Obama came into office, Condoleezza Rice predicted that he would follow the policies of Bush's second term, and that is pretty much what happened, apart from a different rhetorical style," said

"But it is wise to attend to deeds, not rhetoric. Deeds commonly tell a different story," he added.

"There is basically no significant change in the fundamental traditional conception that we if can control Middle East energy resources, then we can control the world," explained Chomsky.

Chomsky said that a leading doctrine of US foreign policy during the period of its global dominance is what he termed as "the Mafia principle."

"The Godfather does not tolerate 'successful defiance'. It is too dangerous. It must therefore be stamped out so that others understand that disobedience is not an option," said Chomsky.

Because the US sees "successful defiance" of Washington as a "virus" that will "spread contagion," he explained.


The US had feared this "virus" of independent thought from Washington by Tehran and therefore acted to overthrow the Iranian parliamentary democracy in 1953.

"The goal in 1953 was to retain control of Iranian resources," said Chomsky.

However, "in 1979 the (Iranian) virus emerged again. The US at first sought to sponsor a military coup; when that failed, it turned to support Saddam Hussein's merciless invasion (of Iran)."

"The torture of Iran continued without a break and still does, with sanctions and other means," said Chomsky.

"The US continued, without a break, its torture of Iranians," he stressed.

Nuclear attack

Chomsky mocked the idea presented by mainstream media that a future-nuclear-armed Iran may attack already-nuclear-armed Israel.

"The chance of Iran launching a missile attack, nuclear or not, is about at the level of an asteroid hitting the earth -- unless, of course, the ruling clerics have a fanatic death wish and want to see Iran instantly incinerated along with them," said Chomsky, stressing that this is not the case.

Chomsky further explained that the presence of US anti-missile weapons in Israel are really meant for preparing a possible attack on Iran, and not for self-defence, as it is often presented.

"The systems are advertised as defense against an Iranian attack. But ...the purpose of the US interception systems, if they ever work, is to prevent any retaliation to a US or Israeli attack on Iran -- that is, to eliminate any Iranian deterrent," said Chomsky.


Chomsky reminded the audience of America's backing of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during and even after Iraq's war with Iran.

"The Reaganite love affair with Saddam did not end after the (Iran-Iraq) war. In 1989, Iraqi nuclear engineers were invited to the United States, then under Gorge Bush I, to receive advanced weapons' training," said Chomsky.

This support continued while Saddam was committing atrocities against his own people, until he fell out of US favour when in 1990 he invaded Kuwait, an even closer alley of Washington.

"In 1990, Saddam defied, or more likely misunderstood orders, and he quickly shifted from favourite friend to the reincarnation of Hitler," Chomsky added.

Then the people of Iraq were subjected to "genocidal" US-backed sanctions.

Chomsky explained that although the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was launched under many false pretexts and lies, was a " major crime", many critics of the invasion - including Obama - viewed it as merely as "a mistake" or a "strategic blunder".

"It's probably what the German general staff was telling Hitler after Stalingrad," he said

"There's nothing principled about it. It wasn't a strategic blunder: it was a major crime," he added.

Chomsky credited the holding of elections in Iraq in 2005 to popular Iraqi demand, despite initial US objection.

The US military, he argued, could kill as many Iraqi insurgents as it wished, but it was more difficult to shoot at non-violent protesters in the streets out on the open, which meant Washington at times had to give in to public Iraqi pressure.

But despite being pressured to announce a withdrawal from Iraq, the US continues to seek a long term presence in the country.

The US mega-embassy in Baghdad is to be expanded under Obama, noted Chomsky.


Chomsky stressed that public pressure in the 'West' can make a positive difference for people suffering from the aggression of 'Western' governments.

"There is a lot of comparison between opposition to the Iraq war with opposition to the Vietnam war, but people tend to forget that at first there was almost no opposition to the Vietnam war," said Chomsky.

"In the Iraq war, there were massive international protests before it officially stated... and it had an effect. The United Sates could not use the tactics used in Vietnam: there was no saturation bombing by B52s, so there was no chemical warfare - (the Iraq war was) horrible enough, but it could have been a lot worse," he said.

"And furthermore, the Bush administration had to back down on its war aims, step by step," he added.

"It had to allow elections, which it did not want to do: mainly a victory for non-Iraqi protests. They could kill insurgents; they couldn't deal hundreds of thousands of people in the streets. Their hands were tied by the domestic constraints. They finally had to abandon - officially at least - virtually all the war aims," said Chomsky.

"As late as November 2007, the US was still insisting that the 'Status of Forces Agreement' allow for an indefinite US military presence and privileged access to Iraq's resources by US investors - well they didn't get that on paper at least. They had to back down. OK, Iraq is a horror story but it could have been a lot worse," he said

"So yes, protests can do something. When there is no protest and no attention, a power just goes wild, just like in Cambodia and northern Louse," he added.


Chomsky said that Turkey could become a "significant independent actor" in the region, if it chooses to.

"Turkey has to make some internal decisions: is it going to face west and try to get accepted by the European Union or is it going to face reality and recognise that Europeans are so racist that they are never going to allow it in?," said Chomsky.

The Europeans "keep raising the barrier on Turkish entry to the EU," he explained.

But Chomsky said Turkey did become an independent actor in March 2003 when it followed its public opinion and did not take part in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Turkey took notice of the wishes of the overwhelming majority of its population, which opposed the invasion.

But 'New Europe' was led by Berlusconi of Italy and Aznar of Spain, who rejected the views of their populations - which strongly objected to the Iraq war - and preferred to follow Bush, noted Chomsky.

So, in that sense Turkey was more democratic than states that took part in the war, which in turn infuriated the US.

Today, Chomsky added, Turkey is also acting independently by refusing to take part in the US-Israeli military exercises.

Fear factor

Chomsky explained that although 'Western' government use "the maxim of Thucydides" ('the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must'), their peoples are hurled via the "fear factor".

Via cooperate media and complicit intellectuals, the public is led to believe that all the crimes and atrocities committed by their governments is either "self defence" or "humanitarian intervention".


Chomsky noted that Obama has escalated Bush's war in Afghanistan, using NATO.

NATO is also seen as reinforcing US control over energy supplies.

But the US also used NATO to keep Europe under control.

"From the earliest post-World War days, it was understood that Western Europe might choose to follow an independent course," said Chomsky."NATO was partially intended to counter this serious threat," he added.

Middle East oil

Chomsky explained that Middle East oil reserves were understood to be "a stupendous source of strategic power" and "one of the greatest material prizes in world history," the most "strategically important area in the world," in Eisenhower's words.

Control of Middle East oil would provide the United States with "substantial control of the world."

This meant that the US "must support harsh and brutal regimes and block democracy and development" in the Middle East.


Chomsky tackled the origins of the Somali piracy issue.

"Piracy is not nice, but where did it come from?"

Chomsky explained that one of the immediate reasons for piracy is European counties and others are simply "destroying Somalia's territorial waters by dumping toxic waste - probably nuclear waste - and also by overfishing."

"What happens to the fishermen in Somalia? They become pirates. And then we're all upset about the piracy, not about having created the situation," said Chomsky.

Chomsky went on to cite another example of harming Somalia.

"One of the great achievements of the war on terror, which was greatly hailed in the press when it was announced, was closing down an Islamic charity - Barakat - which was identified as supporting terrorists.

"A couple of months later... the (US) government quietly recognised that they were wrong, and the press may have had a couple of lines about it - but meanwhile, it was a major blow against Somalia. Somalia doesn't have much of an economy but a lot of it was supported by this charity: not just giving money but running banks and businesses, and so on.

"It was a significant part of the economy of Somalia...closing it down... was another contributing factor to the breaking down of a very weak society...and there are other examples."


Chomsky also touched on Sudan's Darfur region.

"There are terrible things going on in Darfur, but in comparison with the region they don't amount to a lot unfortunately - like what's going on in eastern Congo is incomparably worse than in Darfur.

"But Darfur is a very popular topic for Western humanists because you can blame it on an enemy - you have to distort a lot but you can blame it on 'Arabs', 'bad guys'," he explained.

"What about saving eastern Cong where maybe 20 times as many people have been killed? Well, that gets kind of tricky ... for people who... are using minerals from eastern Congo that obtained by multinationals sponsoring militias which slaughter and kill and get the minerals," he said.

Or the fact that Rwanda is simply the worst of the many agents and it is a US alley, he added.

Goldstone's Gaza report

Chomsky appeared to have agreed with Israel that the Goldstone report on the Gaza war was bias, only he saw it as biased in favour of Israel.

The Goldstone report had acknowledged Israel's right to self-defence, although it denounced the method this was conducted.

Chomsky stressed that the right to self-defence does not mean resorting to military force before "exhausting peaceful means", something Israel did not even contemplate doing.

In fact, Chomsky points out, it was Israel who broke the ceasefire with Hamas and refused to extend it, as continuing the siege of Gaza itself is an act of war.

As for the current stalled Mideast peace process, Chomsky said that despite adopting a tougher tone towards Israel than that of Bush, Obama made no real effort to pressure Israel to live up to its obligations.

In the absence of the threat of cutting US aid for Israel, there is no compelling reason why Tel Aviv should listen to Washington.

What can be done?

Chomsky stressed that despite all the obstacles, public pressure can and does make a difference for the better, urging people to continue activism and spreading knowledge.

"There is no reason to be pessimistic, just realistic."

Chomsky noted that public opinion in the US and Britain is increasingly becoming more aware of the crimes committed by Israel.

"Public opinion is shifting substantially."

And this is where a difference can be made, because Israel will not change its policies without pressure from the 'West'.

"There is a lot to do in Western countries...primarily in the US."

Chomsky also stressed the importance of taking legal action in 'Western' countries against companies breaking international law via illegitimate dealings with Israel, citing the possible involvement of British Gas in Israeli theft of natural gas off the coast of Gaza, as one example that should be investigated.

In conclusion of one of the lectures, Chomsky quoted Antonio Gramsci who famously called for "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will."

Source: dandelion salad

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The ADL are a busy little gang these days. What with directing Clinton’s praise to Israel for their “unprecedented moves” on settlements. (Note the comedy there) And then of course scanning the world for anything that they can remotely fashion into a victimization of Jews or the 2nd coming of the holocaust. But I have noticed the ADL seems to be suffering from a severe case of Schizophrenia. Let me illustrate this phenomenon.

On October 30th this was reported:
ADL after LA synagogue attack:Jews most targeted religious group

The Anti-Defamation League has expressed deep concern over Thursday's shooting at the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue in North Hollywood. "Statistics consistently show Jews to be far and away the most frequently targeted religious group
Only the ADL can decide, before ANY police investigation what so ever, that an attack on 2 Jews outside a Synagogue in a “dangerous” LA neighbourhood is automatically an attack on “Jews” and “Anti Semitic.” Using this same logic, anyone shot outside of a bar is clearly being attacked because they drink.

So for 24 hours the cries of “Anti-Semitism” rang out, the LA police had to beef up security for Jews in the area, (or else) because of the predicited outcry. All the major Jewish news papers had the headliner “Jews Attack At Synagogue-Anti Semitism” et al. Fanning the flames of victimization and “poor us” as usual. But then came this:
link By day's end, authorities had come to believe that the shooting, in which two men were wounded, was probably a far more mundane crime."There is absolutely no evidence to support any connection to terrorism or a hate crime," said Mike Downing, deputy chief of the LAPD's Counter Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau
.And with that the ADL still was not convinced, however they rolled back pushing the 2nd holocaust theory as much. And then the bombshell came:
link Several law enforcement sources told The Times that investigators were exploring whether the shooting was related to a business or personal dispute. The sources said detectives believe that one of the victims was the target and that the second victim may have been shot because he witnessed the attack.
OMG could it be? One of the “poor persecuted victims of worldwide Anti-Semitism” just may be involved in shadly dealings….oooops! Far be it for the ADL to think for one minute that one of their “precious persecuted people” might be involved in nefarious dealings and that the crime was brought about by his own activities. No that can’t possibly be correct, Jews are ALWAYS the victims, so say the ADL. So now let’s get to the ADL’s Schizophrenia episode. Remember the headline on the 30th of October was this: ADL after LA synagogue attack: Jews most targeted religious groupBut look what they published the very next day:
link The level of anti-Semitism in the United States has tied a historic low point, according to an Anti-Defamation League poll. "The fact that anti-Semitic attitudes have reached their lowest point to date is good news, the product of many years of constant and intense efforts by ADL
Now perhaps the ADL might want to have a wee look at THESE statistics below. Because in America they are not the real victims of hate crimes. They don’t even come close.
link Among groups currently included in the Hate Crime Statistics Act, the greatest number of hate crimes of any kind are perpetrated against African-Americans. From the lynching to the cross-burning and the church-burning, anti-black violence has been and still remains the prototypical hate crime - an action intended not only to injure individuals but to intimidate an entire group of people. Hate crimes against African-Americans impact upon the entire society not only for the hurt they cause but for the history they recall, and perpetuate.
But hey, it’s the ADL and facts are not important to them, grabbing headlines with false and phony cries of Anti-Semitism, That’s the game they play.

A big thanks to Irish4Palestine where we first read this blog.


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EU court: No customs breaks for Israeli goods from settlements

Ora Coren


3 November 2009

Israeli goods produced in West Bank settlements are not eligible for customs benefits in the European Union, stated an advocate general of the European Court of Justice last week.

Israel and the EU have a free-trade agreement that gives Israeli exports substantial customs breaks.

The advocate general’s non-binding opinion, if followed, could mean that goods produced in the territories may be saddled with full customs duties.

The opinion, submitted in a case in Germany brought by water purification firm Brita in 2002, could serve as a precedent in the EU. The company was ordered to pay 19,155 euros in customs for equipment it imported from the Israeli firm Soda Club, whose factory is in the West Bank.

Thanks for taking this step Brita!

German customs authorities asked Israeli authorities whether the goods were produced in the territories, and when no answer was received, Brita was ordered to pay customs duties.

Brita then appealed the decision to the German court system, and the Finance Court in Hamburg requested advice on the matter from European Union legal authorities.

In the past, EU authorities have ruled that the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem are also part of the “occupied territories,” but in this case, the advocate general said his opinion referred only to the West Bank and Gaza.

Currently, for goods from the territories to receive customs breaks, they must bear a certificate issued by the Palestinian Authority.

The disagreement with the EU over Israeli exports from the territories has been going on for a long time. At one point, the EU threatened sanctions against all Israeli exports if an agreement was not reached. However, Israel refused to label or otherwise differentiate products from the settlements.

Five years ago, Israel and the EU agreed that all exports would be labeled with the place of manufacture, or the factory’s zip code, and the EU customs authorities would then decide whether to levy customs.

Israeli exports to the EU totalled $17.8 million in 2008, of which only a tiny fraction were from the territories. However, Der Spiegel recently reported that a third of Israeli exports to Europe are made in part or in full in the territories.

A big thanks to Snippits and Snappits where we first read this news.


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