Category Archives: Israel

Over 90% of Netanyahu reelection funds from US donors

The Times of Israel reports:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Tel Aviv, January 1, 2015 (photo credit: Amir Levy/Flash90)More than 90 percent of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection funds have come from the United States

Of the total contributions of nearly $259,000 — slightly over 1 million shekels — about $237,000 came from American donors, according to records made public by Israel’s State Comptroller and published by BuzzFeed.

Three wealthy families donated about half the amount from the Americans.

Israeli politicians may accept a maximum donation of about $11,500.’

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A City Divided: Jerusalem’s Most Contested Neighborhood

‘Throughout the past several months, Jerusalem has been a scene of clashes and violent attacks. Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood just steps away from Jerusalem’s Old City, has been at the heart of the unrest, and is becoming one of the most contentious neighborhoods in the most contested city in the world. As settlement expansion into East Jerusalem continues, Israeli authorities have ramped up their practice of demolishing homes built without proper permits — permits which are near impossible for Palestinians to acquire. In addition to the demolitions due to lack of permits, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in early November the reinstatement of the policy of demolishing terrorists’ homes, which Palestinians claim is a form of collective punishment. VICE News traveled to Silwan and met with Palestinians and Israelis living in this contested neighborhood at a time when Jerusalem is more divided than ever.’ (VICE News)

Palestinian step to join ICC will have implications, says U.S. State Dept.

Reuters reports:

‘The US State Department said on Friday that the Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court will have “implications” for US aid to the Palestinian Authority.

“It should come as no surprise that there will be implications for this step, but we continue to review,” the official told Reuters.

“US assistance to the Palestinian Authority has played a valuable role in promoting stability and prosperity not just for the Palestinians, but also for Israel as well,” the official added.

Washington sends about $400 million in economic support aid to the Palestinians every year. Under US law, that aid would be cut off if the Palestinians used membership in the International Criminal Court to make claims against Israel.’

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Behind the UN vote: How the Palestinian bid was defeated

Itamar Eichner reports for Ynet News:

  “There was a clear message from international community to the Palestinians: Do not try to use tricks to replace negotiations,” a top Foreign Ministry official told Ynet, but the American effort to torpedo the Palestinian’s UN Security Council resolution demanding Israel end its ‘occupation’ of the West Bank proved once again the importance of maintaining good relations with Washington.

Furthermore, the abstention by African nations also demonstrated the importance of the visits made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to the African continent. However, the change of power set to take place in the Security Council on Thursday will change the balance of power against Israel.

The rejection of the Palestinian resolution by the UN Security Council on Tuesday night was a reminder of the great extent to which Israel-US relations serve as a critical factor in Israeli national security. It only strengthens the need for Israel to maintain good relations with Washington in general and more specifically with the White House, and prevent disagreements such as the one that occurred between Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Israeli diplomats say that the US played a crucial role in the effort to block the Palestinian resolution which sought to set a time table for Israel’s disengagement from territories for a future Palestinian state without direct negotiations.’

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“When they say effective, they’re talking about the killing of civilians” – Interview with John Hilary on Drones

‘John Hillary, director of War on Want, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about drones. The UK is working with Israel, who are now the largest exporter of drones around the world, to develop drones.’ (Going Underground)

Why The Guardian Censored One of Its Top Journalists: Interview with Nafeez Ahmed

Editor’s Note: Nafeez Ahmed recently launched a crowdfunding drive in order to support his great journalism and with the hopeful aim of creating his own investigative journalism collective. Please support him in any way you can. You can find links to more of his work here.

Abby Martin interviews investigative journalist, Nafeez Ahmed, about what was not discussed in the torture report and his claims of censorship at the Guardian newspaper, where he used to work.’ (Breaking the Set)

New Evidence Suggests Israel Is Helping Syrian Rebels in the Golan Heights

Samuel Oakford reports for VICE News:

‘Israel continues to interact with Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights and allow them to cross the border, according to a new UN report corroborated by a VICE News team that visited the area in November, uncovering additional incidents beyond what has been described by the UN.

Israel has occupied the Golan Heights since the Six-Day War in 1967, when it captured it from Syria. In 1974, a UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNDOF, was established to police a 50-mile-long disengagement zone between the Israeli “Alpha” and Syrian “Bravo” lines. At the disengagement zone’s narrowest southern points, the distance between the two lines can be less than a kilometer.’

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Syria Complains to UN After Israel Attacks Damascus Airport

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Syria has filed a formal complaint with the United Nations about the attack [in and around Damascus airport], saying they believe the Netanyahu government attacked to try to distract attention from the early elections. Syria’s Foreign Ministry is pushing for immediate sanctions.

What was attacked is still a subject of no small speculation, as the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it was conceivable the sites were Hezbollah arms dumps, though they appeared to have no evidence supporting that.

By contrast, Lebanese TV was reporting that the sites hit were “crucial intelligence-linked locations” that Syria’s military was letting Iran use. Syrian state media said Russian anti-aircraft defenses were attacked, and Israel is refusing to either confirm or deny the attacks.’

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US, Israel are the only countries to oppose UN ban on weapons in outer space

Ali Abunimah reports for Electronic Intifada:

‘Israel and the United States were the only two countries to vote against a UN resolution calling for the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

The resolution was among several dealing with international disarmament passed by the General Assembly on 2 December, including one calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and bring its rogue nuclear program under international supervision.

China and India, which both have space programs, along with the member states of the European Space Agency, voted for the initiative aimed at keeping space free of weapons.

The US and Israel were also the only two countries to vote against a separate UN resolution calling for a prohibition on the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction.

That resolution passed with 174 countries voting in favor and a single abstention, Ukraine.’

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‘Palestine is not an environment story’: How Nafeez Ahmed was censored from The Guardian for writing about Israel’s war for Gaza’s gas

Editor’s Note: Nafeez Ahmed recently launched a crowdfunding drive in order to support his great journalism and with the hopeful aim of creating his own investigative journalism collective. Please support him in any way you can. You can find links to more of his work here.

Nafeez Ahmed writes Medium:

‘After writing for The Guardian for over a year, my contract was unilaterally terminated because I wrote a piece on Gaza that was beyond the pale. In doing so, The Guardian breached the very editorial freedom the paper was obligated to protect under my contract. I’m speaking out because I believe it is in the public interest to know how a Pulitizer Prize-winning newspaper which styles itself as the world’s leading liberal voice, casually engaged in an act of censorship to shut down coverage of issues that undermined Israel’s publicised rationale for going to war.

I joined the Guardian as an environment blogger in April 2013. Prior to this, I had been an author, academic and freelance journalist for over a decade, writing for The Independent, Independent on Sunday, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, among others.

On 9th July 2014, I posted an article via my Earth Insight blog at The Guardian’s environment website, exposing the role of Palestinian resources, specifically Gaza’s off-shore natural gas reserves, in partly motivating Israel’s invasion of Gaza aka ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ Among the sources I referred to was a policy paper written by incumbent Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon one year before Operation Cast Lead, underscoring that the Palestinians could never be allowed to develop their own energy resources as any revenues would go to supporting Palestinian terrorism.’

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‘Coercive diplomacy’ and the failure of the Iranian nuclear negotiations

Gareth Porter writes for Middle Easy Eye:

‘After more than a year of negotiations between the United States and Iran, the two sides have failed to reach an agreement by the agreed deadline in July.  They have agreed to continue negotiating, but the failure to meet the deadline was clearly not caused by the lack of time.

To understand why the talks have remained deadlocked, it is necessary to review the Obama administration’s stance on diplomacy with Iran in the context of the long US history of favouring “coercive diplomacy” over traditional negotiations in managing conflicts with adversaries.

Reliance on coercive diplomacy is deeply imbedded in the strategic culture of US national security institutions. It has evolved over decades of US military and economic dominance in international politics, which has allowed the United States to avoid genuine diplomacy repeatedly.’

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Editor’s Note: The below interview with Gareth Porter, author of “Manufactured Crisis:The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” begins at around 16:05

U.S. Firms Accused of Enabling Surveillance in Despotic Central Asian Regimes

Cora Currier reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - U.S. Firms Accused of Enabling Surveillance in Despotic Central Asian Regimes‘U.S. and Israeli companies have been selling surveillance systems to Central Asian countries with records of political repression and human rights abuse, according to a new report by Privacy International. The U.K.-based watchdog charges that the American firms Verint and Netronome enable surveillance in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Verint’s Israeli arm provides those countries with monitoring centers “capable of mass interception of telephone, mobile, and IP networks,” the report says, as does the Israeli company NICE systems. Verint also enlisted California-based Netronome to give Uzbek agents the ability to intercept encrypted communications, Privacy International says, though it’s not clear whether the program was carried out successfully.

The report provides a broad picture of surveillance in a region that is marked by repression. Kazakhstan has been condemned for laws restricting free speech and assembly, flawed trials, and torture. As for Uzbekistan, Human Rights Watch bluntly characterizes the country’s human rights record as “atrocious.”

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On Berlin Wall’s collapse anniversary, Palestinians punch hole through West Bank wall

Haaretz reports:

West Bank wall, Nov. 8, 2014.‘As the world marks the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s collapse Sunday, Palestinians knocked a hole through an altogether different wall this weekend.

Palestinian activists affiliated with local popular resistance committees broke through the West Bank separation barrier Saturday, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.

“No matter how high walls are built, they will fall,” the popular committees said in a statement cited by Ma’an. “Just as the Berlin Wall fell, the wall in Palestine will fall, along with the occupation.”‘

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Iran’s Non-Existent Nuke Program: Interview with Gareth Porter

Editor’s Note: Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist and historian who specialises on the Iranian nuclear issue. His latest book is ‘Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare‘. The below interview was recorded over two weeks ago. 

Inside the UN Resolution on Depleted Uranium

John LaForge writes for CounterPunch:

‘On October 31, a new United Nations General Assembly First Committee resolution on depleted uranium (DU) weapons passed overwhelmingly. There were 143 states in favor, four against, and 26 abstentions. The measure calls for UN member states to provide assistance to countries contaminated by the weapons. The resolution also notes the need for health and environmental research on depleted uranium weapons in conflict situations.

This fifth UN resolution on the subject was fiercely opposed by four depleted uranium-shooting countries — Britain, the United States, France and Israel — who cast the only votes in opposition. The 26 states that abstained reportedly sought to avoid souring lucrative trade relationships with the four major shooters.

Uranium-238 — so-called “depleted” uranium — is waste material left in huge quantities by the nuclear weapons complex. It’s used in large caliber armor-piercing munitions and in armor plate on tanks. Toxic, radioactive dust and debris is dispersed when DU shells burn through targets, and its metallic fumes and dust poison water, soil and the food chain. DU has been linked to deadly health effects like Gulf War Syndrome among U.S. and allied troops, and birth abnormalities among populations in bombed areas. DU waste has caused radioactive contamination of large parts of Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and perhaps Afghanistan.’

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Hawks Triumph in Senate; Will Push More Aggressive US Policy

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘The Republicans took control of the Senate in Tuesday’s elections, but much more important than which party took control is the nature of the incoming Senators from the new ruling party.

It’s not an influx of Tea Party members, reluctant to waste US funds on overseas adventures and suspicious of federal power, but rather a series of hawks in the model of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC) that seized the reins of power last night.

The new senators are typified by Jodi Ernst (R – IA) and Tom Cotton (R – AR), who campaigned heavy on escalating the ISIS war in Iraq and Syria, as well as being more hawkish at essentially every opportunity.”

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The Special Interest Problem: How AIPAC and the NRA Came to Rule American Politics

Lawrence Davidson writes for CounterPunch:

‘The problem of special interests or lobbies was one of the foremost concerns of the Founding Fathers of the United States. In their day they were called factions. James Madison, who is considered the architect of the U.S. Constitution, devoted the entire tenth Federalist Paper (1787) to the problem. He defined a faction as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority … actuated by some common … interest, adverse to … the aggregate interests of the community,” and believed that within the context of liberal republicanism, they could never be eliminated. However, he did feel they could be controlled. To this end he sought to create representative bodies with high numbers of delegates and a wide diversity of interests in the hope that they would counterbalance each other.

When George Washington delivered his famous Farewell Address in 1796, he too noted the problem. Washington warned of “combinations and associations” which attempt to “direct, control, counteract and awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities” and thereby substitute their own desires for the “delegated will of the nation.” As Washington’s continued concern implied, James Madison’s approach to controlling special interests or factions never proved adequate.’

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Noam Chomsky at United Nations: It Would Be Nice if the United States Lived up to International Law

Israel Sidelined as Nations Pledge $5.4 Billion to Rebuild Gaza

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Israeli officials were unsuccessful in their attempts to condition the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, badly damaged during the summer Israeli invasion, on a full disarmament of Hamas and other factions within the strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly demanded the precondition, but it was ultimately sidelined, as the donor nations pledged $5.4 billion for reconstruction, solely on the condition that the ceasefire with Israel hold.’

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British parliament passes non-binding motion to recognize Palestinian state

Anshel Pfeffer reports for Haaretz:

‘The British parliament voted Monday in favor of a non-binding motion to recognize the state of Palestine, in a majority vote of 274-12.

The vote, which followed a debate that lasted nearly five hours, has no practical significance since it does not oblige the British government to change its current policy of recognizing Palestine only after a peace deal is reached between Israel and the Palestinians. The vote passed thanks to the Labour Party’s mobilization, as well as the Conservative Party’s virtual absence from the vote.

Outside the Palace of Westminster over the course of the debate, a small group of Pro-Palestinian demonstrators held a banner saying “Time to start giving back what we had no right to take” – a reference to the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which the British government committed itself to establishing a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine. Inside, many of the speakers in the debate, in which over 50 members of parliament asked to participate, mentioned the Balfour Declaration as well, and with it what they saw as Britain’s special responsibility to solving the Israel-Palestine conflict.’

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How Former Treasury Officials and the UAE Are Manipulating American Journalists

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - How Former Treasury Officials and the UAE Are Manipulating American Journalists‘The tiny and very rich Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar has become a hostile target for two nations with significant influence in the U.S.: Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Israel is furious over Qatar’s support for Palestinians generally and (allegedly) Hamas specifically, while the UAE is upset that Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (UAE supports the leaders of the military coup) and that Qatar funds Islamist rebels in Libya (UAE supports forces aligned with Ghadaffi (see update below)).

This animosity has resulted in a new campaign in the west to demonize the Qataris as the key supporter of terrorism. The Israelis have chosen the direct approach of publicly accusing their new enemy in Doha of being terrorist supporters, while the UAE has opted for a more covert strategy: paying millions of dollars to a U.S. lobbying firm – composed of former high-ranking Treasury officials from both parties – to plant anti-Qatar stories with American journalists. That more subtle tactic has been remarkably successful, and shines important light on how easily political narratives in U.S. media discourse can be literally purchased.’

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IAEA rejects Arab bid to curb Israel’s nuclear capabilities

The Jerusalem Post/Reuters reports:

Vienna ‘Member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency rejected on Thursday an Arab resolution criticizing Israel over its assumed atomic arsenal, in a diplomatic victory for Western states that opposed the initiative.

Arab states had submitted the non-binding resolution – which called on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear weapons pact – to the annual meeting of the 162-nation UN nuclear agency, in part to signal their frustration at the lack of progress to move towards a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.’

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Israeli envoy: Nuclear Iran ‘a thousand times’ more dangerous than Islamic State

Ron Kampeas reports for The Times of Israel:

‘Saying a nuclear Iran would be a “thousand times” greater threat to the world than the Islamic State, Israel’s ambassador to the United States warned against including Iran in any coalition to derail the jihadist group.

Ron Dermer, speaking Wednesday to guests at a pre-Rosh Hashanah reception at his residence in suburban Maryland, also cautioned the US against accommodating Iran during the current effort to degrade IS.His urgent tone was the latest sign of a split between the Obama and Netanyahu governments over how to deal with Iran’s role in stopping IS, which is seizing swaths of Iraq and Syria.’

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Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal

James Bamford reports for The New York Times:

‘In Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.’

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John Pilger: Breaking the last taboo – Gaza and the threat of world war

John Pilger recently delivered a speech at the Edward Said Memorial Lecture in Australia:

C2t.jpg‘”There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”

For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can’t look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.

The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.’

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Gideon Levy: ‘Holocaust makes Israelis think international law doesn’t apply’

Lara Marlowe writes for The Irish Times:

‘Gideon Levy is preaching in the wilderness. Week after week, the columnist for Haaretz newspaper tells his compatriots what they do not want to hear: that the siege of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank are immoral and counter-productive; that the continued seizure of Palestinian land and the construction of settlements is a “criminal enterprise” intended to foil any chance for peace.

[…] Levy is grateful to Amos Schocken, the third-generation owner of Haaretz, for standing by him. Some 2,000 readers cancelled subscriptions because of his July 14th column criticising Israeli air force pilots who bombed Gaza… During the war, Levy was threatened, heckled and spat upon. Haaretz hired bodyguards to protect him. Yariv Levin, the leader of the Likud Yisrael Beiteinu coalition in the Knesset, said he should be tried for treason, which carries the death penalty in time of war.’

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Jerusalem teachers warn of increase in racism after Gaza war

Yarden Skop reports for Haaretz:

‘Teachers in Jerusalem say they are concerned about facing more racism than ever before in the capital’s schools, especially following Operation Protective Edge. As the school year opens, the Education Ministry has published lesson plans on racism to be taught during the first two weeks, but many teachers say that is not enough.’

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Losing the Plot: Israel’s Premier to Face New Gaza Reality

Ramzy Baroud writes for The Palestine Chronicle:

‘Netanyahu’s war-turned-genocide in Gaza has backfired badly – his strategy has helped resurrect Hamas, the very movement he tried desperately to crush

Aside from being a major military setback, Israel’s war on Gaza has also disoriented the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu like never before. Since the announcement of a ceasefire on 26 August, his statements appear erratic and particularly uncertain, an expected outcome of the Gaza war.’

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Netanyahu eyes big increase in Israel’s defense spending

Xinhua reports:

‘Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he supports largely increasing defense spending in the upcoming 2015 budget in opposition to the stance of the finance minister, which may lead to the collapse of his political coalition.

“The billions we’ve invested in Israel’s defense in recent years saved the Israeli economy … Due to the threats in our area we need a substantial increment of billions in the defense budget, and we must do so in a responsible way without a great deficit,” Netanyahu said at the fourth international cyber convention held at the Tel Aviv University.’

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War is a racket: $6 billion Gaza reconstruction aid will be ‘made in Israel’

EurActiv reports 

How did we miss that one? Destruction in Gaza, July 2014. Photo: Oxfam International via Flickr.‘As the world gears up to finance Gaza’s $6bn reconstruction after Operation Protective Edge, an EU source has revealed that Israel will earn billions of euros by making sure that all the steel, concrete and other materials and other aid are sourced in Israel and benefit Israeli companies.

At least 65,000 people in the Gaza Strip are homeless after the recent seven-week conflict. Infrastructure ranging from water desalination centres to power plants lies in ruins.

No formal Israeli ban prevents the import of reconstruction materials that were not made in Israel, but EU sources speaking on condition of anonymity say that in practice, Israeli security demands present them with a fait accompli.’

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