Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Israel’s crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories - like the settlements, the killing of civilians and the demolition of homes - are openly condemned in the West by human rights groups and others like never before. But as the peace process remains stuck, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu forces the issue of Israel as a “Jewish state” into the spotlight, understanding the situation of Palestinian citizens of Israel has become crucial to grasping the core of the entire conflict.So-called “Israeli Arabs” have got it better than most Palestinians, who are either under military rule or forcibly excluded from their homeland. But the institutional discrimination they have faced since 1948 goes to the heart of the contradiction that Israel is “Jewish and democratic”.
Many people will concede that the military occupation of non-citizens for over 40 years is undemocratic. Yet, inside the pre-1967 borders, Israel is far from the “liberal democracy” central to the propaganda, in areas like land, planning, housing, immigration and state budgets. Rhetoric and policies associated with the far-right in Europe - like an obsession with “demographics” and birth rates, or boosting one kind of population in a given area to counterbalance an “undesirable” minority - are mainstream in Israeli politics.
In my new book, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy, I unpack some of the core elements of how Israel’s Palestinian citizens have been treated since 1948. One aspect is the area of nationality and citizenship rights, as this short extract explains:
A poorly understood aspect of Israel as a Jewish state is the distinction between “citizenship” and “nationality”, an issue confused by the fact that, in English, the two terms can often be used interchangeably. In Israel, “‘nationality’ (Hebrew: le’um) and ‘citizenship’ (Hebrew: ezrahut) are two separate, distinct statuses, conveying different rights and responsibilities”. Palestinians in Israel, as non-Jews, can be citizens, but never nationals, and are thus denied “rights and privileges” enjoyed by those “who would qualify for Israeli citizenship under the 1950 Law of Return”. More
Saturday, December 24, 2011
The Attawapiskat First Nation is a remote community in northern Ontario comprised of about 1,800 members. Mr. Anaya noted that the poor living conditions are particularly serious as winter approaches the area, which faces winter temperatures as low as minus 28 degrees Celsius. “The social and economic situation of the Attawapiskat seems to represent the condition of many First Nation communities living on reserves throughout Canada, which is allegedly akin to Third World conditions,” he stated.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The realistic prescription, from the UN and research institutes, is that global emissions need to peak between 2015 and ’17.
Historians, assuming sufficient social stability for dispassionate analysis a half-century from now, will search for reasons for our collective failure during the critical twenty-year period, 1992 – 2012. They will conclude that human technology outpaced human institutional capacity for rational decision-making. National leaders responded, as constitutionally and politically obliged, to national interest. More
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The four European Union members of the UN Security Council on Tuesday strongly criticized Israel’s decision to speed up construction of settlements, which they termed a “wholly negative” development.”
The statement, issued following the 15-country Security Council’s closed-door discussion on the situation in the Middle East, condemned Israeli settlers’ violence against the Palestinians, including the burning of the Nebi Akasha mosque in West Jerusalem and the Burqa mosque in the West Bank.
It called on Israeli leaders to boldly demonstrate political will and leadership to break the impasse in negotiations with the Palestinians. It called on both Israelis and Palestinians to agree on a package of proposals to settle security and border issues in order to advance negotiations toward ending the conflict.
The four countries reiterated support for the creation of a “sovereign, independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state living in peace and security side by side with Israel.” More
Monday, December 19, 2011
“Al Auja was a water spring, where the creek started”, Abdallah Awudallah, a 29-year-old from the Bethlehem district's Ubbedyia village, tells the Alternative Information Center. He came here with a group of internationals to discuss Israeli confiscation of land and water in the Jordan Valley. The tour would have finished in Al Auja water spring. But the water was gone.
Not a drop: the Israeli authorities have built a generator in order to draw up water from the once-flowing creek and to send it to the agricultural settlements in the Jordan Valley. The spring, which used to serve Jericho, is now reserved exclusively for Israeli settlements.
“In Arabic ‘auja’ means ‘in the opposite direction’" Awudallah explains. "We used to call the creek like that because for long stretches the water ran up and not down. Because of the high pressure and speed, the water received the boost it needed to flow [upstream]."
Not only was the spring unique, it colored the desert green. It also served as an educational tool for Palestinian children, Awudallah adds.
“Many schools in the West Bank used to bring the students for a trip to Jericho and Al Auja: it was the perfect place to spend a day between water and fish and to study one of the basic vital resources. No Palestinian schools can organize a journey in Tiberias, in Palestine ’48, because they lack the necessary permits to enter Israel. So, Al Auja was the only place to feel the importance of water." More
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has stepped up its demolitions of Palestinian property in occupied land this year, razing double the number of homes and water wells from 2010, human rights groups said on Tuesday.
They urged members of the Middle East peacemaking “Quartet” — the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia — to put pressure on Israel to “reverse its settlement policies and freeze all demolitions that violate international law.”
Quartet representatives were expected in the region again on Wednesday for yet another effort to revive peace talks frozen since last year over settlement construction.
The statement, citing U.N. figures, said Israel had destroyed more than 500 Palestinian homes, wells and other structures in 2011, displacing more than 1,000 people, the greatest number in a single year since 2005.
Settler assaults on Palestinians, including deliberate damage to some privately owned 10,000 olive trees, have also risen to their worst level since 2005, with a 50 percent increase over 2010, and more than a 160 percent increase over 2009, the U.N. figures show. More
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Research by the National University of Río Cuarto in the northwestern province of Córdoba demonstrated that glyphosate, the herbicide used on transgenic soy crops, causes genetic damage in mice and amphibians, like frogs.
Genetically modified (GM) soy seeds, approved amid controversy in the 1990s for use in Argentina, were developed by the U.S.-based multinational biotechnology corporation Monsanto to be resistant to glyphosate, the active principle in the "Roundup" herbicide sold by the company.
Introduction of the GM seeds launched an expansion of soy cultivation and increased use of glyphosate. Today, 18 million hectares are planted to soy, out of a total of nearly 30 million hectares of all kinds of grain crops. Sales of "Roundup" herbicide, which contains glyphosate and other ingredients that aid its absorption by plants, soared dramatically from one million litres a year in the 1990s to nearly 300 million litres a year today, according to official figures. In 2006, a group of NGOs with access to medical reports from provinces where soy cultivation was expanding, launched the "Stop the Spraying" ("Paren de Fumigar") campaign, which managed to get an official commission created to look into the reports of health damages.
But the commission produced no results, and Monsanto insists that, with proper precautions, the herbicide is not toxic. Delia Aiassa, a biologist in the Genetics and Environmental Mutagenesis group at the Natural Sciences Department of the University of Río Cuarto, leads a research team studying the impact of glyphosate on health. The expert explained that exposure to glyphosate can cause asthma, chronic bronchitis, skin and eye irritation, damage to the kidneys, liver and nervous system, cancer, developmental problems in children and birth defects. More
Thursday, December 8, 2011
U.S. Boosts Monitoring of Iran Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011
The drone was being used in the hunt for subterranean passageways, installations or other locations that might house secret uranium enrichment operations or production of centrifuge components, the newspaper reported. Uranium enriched to high levels can be used to fuel nuclear weapons.
The United States, France and the United Kingdom in 2009 announced the existence of a secret Iranian enrichment plant at Qum. That find, though, seemed to be largely the result of efforts by Israel.
"We've got nothing of that scale yet," said one high-level U.S. official, but "we are looking every day." More
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Demonstrators in Nice, France, last month urged the leaders of the Group of 20 nations to do more to help the poor.
They call it the Robin Hood tax — a tiny levy on trades in the financial markets that would take money from the banks and give it to the world’s poor.
And like the mythical hero of Sherwood Forest, it is beginning to capture the public’s imagination.
Driven by populist anger at bankers as well as government needs for more revenue, the idea of a tax on trades of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments has attracted an array of influential champions, including the leaders of France and Germany, the billionaire philanthropists Bill Gates and George Soros, former Vice President Al Gore, the consumer activist Ralph Nader, Pope Benedict XVI and the archbishop of Canterbury.
“We all agree that a financial transaction tax would be the right signal to show that we have understood that financial markets have to contribute their share to the recovery of economies,” the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, told her Parliament recently.
On Sunday, Mario Monti, the new prime minister of Italy, announced plans to impose a tax on certain financial transactions as part of a far-reaching plan to fix his country’s budgetary problems, and he endorsed the idea of a Europewide transactions tax. More
BEIRUT — Syria’s president has denied he ordered the deadly crackdown on a nearly 9-month-old uprising, claiming he is not in charge of the troops behind the assault.“They’re not my forces,” Assad responded when asked if Syrian troops had cracked down too hard on protesters. “They are military forces (who) belong to the government. I don’t own them. I’m president. I don’t own the country.”
In fact, in his role as president, Assad is the commander of Syria’s armed forces.
The U.N. estimates more than 4,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March. “Who said the United Nations is a credible institution?” Assad said, when Walters asked him about allegations of widespread violence and torture. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Assad was trying to shirk responsibility. “I find it ludicrous that he is attempting to hide behind some sort of shell game but also some sort of claim that he doesn’t exercise authority in his own country,” Toner said. Assad has responded with once-unthinkable promises of reform in one of the most authoritarian states in the Middle East. But he simultaneously unleashed the military to crush the protests with tanks and snipers.
Still, he insisted he still had the support of Syrians. More