ISRAELI OCCUPATION BANALITY: ‘Settlers’ desecrate W Bank mosque


Palestinian security officials have said that Israeli settlers desecrated a mosque in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli army confirmed that “anonymous suspects” scrawled graffiti, including a Jewish star of David alongside the name of the Prophet Mohammed written in Hebrew.

Palestinian and Israeli officials said on Wednesday that the suspects set fire to two cars outside the mosque in Huwara, near Nablus.

Brigadier General Nitzan Alon, the Israeli military commander for the West Bank,  “ordered an immediate investigation into the incident, condemned the acts and said that those responsible should be brought to justice.”

Israeli soldiers erased the graffiti after the attack.

In December, Israeli settlers vandalised another mosque in the northern West Bank village of Yasuf, torching Muslim holy books and spraying hate messages in Hebrew.

The incident triggered clashes between villagers and Israeli troops.

A 17-year-old Israeli from a nearby settlement was later detained.

Last month there were skirmishes between Palestinians and Israeli police who were on high alert in Jerusalem where they prevented men under the age of 50 from entering the al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City.

The skirmishes intensified an already charged atmosphere there as a rebuilt 17th-century synagogue was opened in the Jewish quarter of the Old City, a few hundred metres from the al-Aqsa compound.

Many Palestinians view Israeli projects near the mosque compound – a site holy both to Jews and Muslims – as an assault on its status quo or a prelude to the building of a third Jewish temple there.

REF: AL JAZEERA

Why McCain Lost – He Blew It With the Word “Fundamentals”

“I don’t know what more we could have done to win this election,” John McCain said in his concession speech in the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix. Actually there was a lot he could have done. He ran an awful campaign. Obama is now enveloped in an aura of inevitability, but let us raise a toast to that vital ingredient, luck. Never was there a luckier man in the timing of economic collapse, the ultimate October surprise.

The morning of the third presidential debate, a friend of ours in Landrum, South Carolina, conducted an informal survey of voter sentiment in this rural town in the heart of Dixie. He pulled over at a convenience store-cum-coffee shop, and walked in with a wad of McCain/Palin stickers. “Don’t you bring those things in here,” said the man behind the register. Our friend strolled around among the regulars sipping their coffee, most of them retired, and could find no takers. “Not one, and these were people who voted 100 per cent for Bush in 2004. They’re angry.” Why? After a terrible summer of soaring gas prices and plunging stock portfolios, “a lot of them have lost their retirement funds and health savings.” Our friend said that at local nursing homes – an upscale place near Tryon – some residents are telling staff they can’t afford to stay. He added that all the talk about Obama’s links to terror, to Islam, to bombers has also had the effect of intimidating elderly Republicans from even putting McCain/Palin signs in their yards.

Our friend’s experience in Landrum came amid the inglorious tailspin of the disastrous strategy of trying to sink Obama by hanging former Weatherman Bill Ayers round his neck. When Republican consultants like Mary Matalin and Steve Schmidt first pondered this tactic in the late summer, it must have seemed to them like a no-brainer – a reprise of the way George H.W. Bush finished off Michael Dukakis in 1988. Lee Atwater, Bush’s smear manager, picked up Al Gore’s use of Horton – the black rapist furloughed for a weekend, under a law passed by Gov. Dukakis – and retooled it, throwing in slurs about Dukakis as being some foreign outsider. So, in the final weeks of Campaign 2008, Barack Hussein Obama would be hit with similar accusations (actually, first aired by Hillary Clinton last April) of being an alien radical, with intimate ties to a man who had tried to blow up Congress and the Pentagon.

It might have worked but for the fact, which apparently escaped the notice of the well-paid campaign consultants running the McCain campaign – that America was engulfed in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. There was a total disconnect between the financial hurricane hitting America and some archaeology about a Sixties radical sitting with Obama on the board of the Woods Fund, a nonprofit financed by the Annenberg Foundation (and today featuring board members from other known terrorist organizations such as British Petroleum and the Swiss banking giant UBS, whose U.S. operation has on its payroll as a vice president McCain’s pal and advisor, Phil Gramm).

In fact, some of the archaeology was of scant comfort to McCain. In the early 1970s, when Ayers was underground and being sought by the FBI, he found refuge in an old mining camp in the Oregon Cascades, called Jawbone Flats. This mining camp was then owned by Vic Atiyeh and his wife. The camp was being run at the time as a kind of hostel by Atiyeh’s nephew George, a Vietnam vet who would later play a central role in the campaign to protect the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest. The crown jewel of these old-growth stands, Opal Creek, is adjacent to the mining camp.

Vic Atiyeh, a Republican of Syrian descent, became the first Arab-American governor in the United States, when Oregonians elected him to the post in 1979. He served as one of best and most popular governors in Oregon’s history, from 1979 to 1987. And in 2008 , Atiyeh the Arab, host of domestic terrorists, wasJohn McCain’s honorary campaign chairman in Oregon.

It could have been different. At the end of August, the gods seemed to be smiling on McCain. Hurricane Ike kept Bush and Cheney out of the Convention in St Paul. Palin’s surprise nomination nullified Obama’s bounce and seemed to invigorate McCain. Then the economic crisis intensified. At this fraught moment, with Obama keeping a cautious profile, McCain could have seized the initiative. Even after the stumble about the fundamentals of the economy being sound, the senator could have recouped by saying that he was returning to Washington to lead the opposition to the bailout. McCain could have gone into the first debate attacking Obama for his support of the bailout. He could have sent Palin round the country denouncing Wall Street greed and predatory bankers, as she did in her debate with Biden. Unlike McCain, Obama and Biden, Palin had no Wall Street cash showing in her campaign war chest, filled only with virtuous mooseburgers. Unfortunately for McCain, Palin’s brain wasn’t filled with much useful material either. She helped McCain keep the Christian fundamentalist vote. She helped lose him the vital suburban vote.

With Phil Gramm whispering in his ear and McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis’ lobby shop still on Fanny Mae’s payroll, McCain chickened out. He played a feeble role in Washington and voted meekly for the bailout, and, thereby, threw away the chance to put Obama on the defensive.

This election advertised not only McCain’s stupidity but also the absence of an effective third force in American politics, at a moment when the credibility of both parties and of both major candidates is open to sweeping challenge. Voters were disgusted with the entire system and the direction the country has taken. Disapproval of Bush and of the Democrats running Congress has been at the same high level. Obama and McCain share many positions, starting with the bailout and continuing with endorsement of a belligerent foreign policy from Georgia to Iran, total fealty to Israel and a ramp-up of the doomed Afghan campaign. With this in mind, it is instructive to look back at the Perot campaign of 1992.

After scoring very high polling numbers in June of 1992, showing him to be in the lead over Clinton and Bush, Perot announced his withdrawal from the race, later disclosing that he didn’t want his candidacy to prompt release, by Republican operatives, of compromising photos of his daughter before her wedding. Perot didn’t re-enter the race until October 1. He talked his way into the debates and riveted the nation with his famous denunciations of free trade and laments for America’s industrial decline, which he blamed on both the major parties. Five weeks later, he won 19 per cent of the vote, thereby costing George H.W. Bush the election.

A similar scenario could have unfolded in this election, with the most likely standard bearer of a third force being Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman from Texas. Paul had plenty of money and a national organization. He would have able to launch effective attacks on both candidates, on the issue of war and the bailout. At his well-attended shadow convention in St Paul, he could have declared as an independent. He declined.

Ralph Nader is a man for whom the economic crisis has come as total vindication of everything he has been proclaiming for decades about the corruption of Wall Street, the ties between Wall Street and Congress, the economic sellouts of Clinton time, from free trade deals to the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Yet, Nader had no party and hence suffered from hugely diminished political purchase on everything, from volunteers to finance to media presence, at a moment when his message could have resonated hugely with the furious and fearful electorate. The political groups and coalitions that rallied to Nader in 2000 were all shadows of their former selves. Eight years of Bush have pushed the environmental and labor lobbies back into the Democratic Party, where their voices are inaudible and political influence scarcely visible to the naked eye. Obama pounds the drum for nuclear power and hugely toxic coal-to-gas conversion plants and campaigns through the industrial wastelands of the Midwest, while remaining more or less mute on “free” trade.

Seldom has economic caastrophe come so propitiously for a candidate. But though crisis helped him, Obama did not rise to the occasion. He actually got less inspiring as the weeks pass. On September 23, he stated on NBC that the crisis and prospect of a huge bailout required bipartisan action and meant he likely would have to delay expansive spending programs, outlined during his campaign for the White House. Thus did he surrender power even before he gained it. The next day, he told reporters in Clearwater, Florida, that “issues like bankruptcy reform, which are very important to Democrats, is probably something that we shouldn’t try to do in this piece of legislation.” In addition, he said that his proposed economic stimulus program “is not necessarily something that we should have in this package.” Then he worked the phone, hectoring recalcitrants in the Congressional Black Caucus to vote for the bailout, whose paramount importance was as a show of force, as dramatic as nineteenth-century cavalry cutting down demonstrators at Peterloo. As an instigator of beneficial change, the Clinton administration was over six months after election day 1992, when Clinton turned to Al Gore and said, “You mean my re-election hinges on the Federal Reserve and some fucking bond traders?” Gore nodded, and Clinton promptly abandoned his economic plan to follow the dictates of Wall Street tycoons like Robert Rubin, now a top advisor to Obama. Obama beat the speed of Bill Clinton’s 1993 collapse by almost seven months.

In terms of political change one can invoke 1932 and 1964, but the strongest parallel here is really with 1960 and John Kennedy, respository of so many youthful hopes. Of course it wasn’t long before reality caught up with the hopes, and overtook them, with deepening involvement in Vietnam and the disaster of the Bay of Pigs. There will be similar bruising engagements with reality in the months ahead, and with America in a weaker condition. But for the moment of triumph for Obama and his supporters is unalloyed.

Ref: Counterpunch

Lieberman: Shin Bet could be behind settler violence

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said on Saturday that recent acts of violence by settlers near Hebron could have been perpetrated by Shin Bet undercover agents.

“I only want to say that the actions there appeared strange to me. I hope this isn’t a case of a ‘Champagne’ or of another Shin Bet agent,” said the right-wing lawmaker, speaking in an interview with Channel 2.

‘Champagne’ was the code-name for Avishai Raviv, an agent-informer the Shin Bet security service used to participate in, and even initiate, right-wing violence against Arabs in the territories, particularly in the Hebron-Kiryat Arba area of the West Bank, while filing reports to his controllers about radical Jewish activity.
Advertisement

Last month, prominent settler leader Daniela Weiss claimed a pipe bomb attack against outspoken left-wing advocate Ze’ev Sternhell was masterminded by the Shin Bet to turn public opinion against the settlers.

In the TV interview, Lieberman also declared that Israeli Arabs are a greater problem for Israel than the Palestinians.

“We warned before the October [2000] riots, and also before the Acre riots, and I say today: At least to me it is clear that our central problem is not Palestinian at all,” he said.

“The subject of Arab Israelis is a complex, charged matter and we also need to sort it out.”

Lieberman was referring to the violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in the northern city of Acre that erupted on the holiday of Yom Kippur last month.

He also said that the prompt apology that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres issued after he lambasted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is “tantamount to the behavior of a battered wife.”

Continuing his verbal assault on Egypt, Lieberman said that Cairo is preparing for war against Israel.

“It is obvious that Egypt is waiting for the right time to deploy troops in [demilitarized] Sinai.”

Following Liebereman’s comments, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Saturday that the peaceful relations with Egypt are a strategic asset.

“Egypt is a responsible and important player in the Middle East, and Lieberman’s comments are irresponsible. Even electioneering should not compromise our delicate and important relationship with the Egyptians,” Barak said.

Ref: Haaretz

Dichter: Jewish terrorists tried to murder Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell

Israel Prize winner Zeev Sternhell was lightly injured Wednesday when a pipe bomb exploded outside his home in Jerusalem, in what police suspect could be a new campaign by right-wing extremists to target prominent left-wingers.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter called the incident “a nationalist terror attack apparently perpetrated by Jews” and said the police would not rest until “those terrorists” were behind bars.

“We should see the explosive as aimed at killing,” Dichter said, adding that the attack “takes us back to the days of [Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin’s assassination.”
Advertisement
Professor Sternhell walked out of his home in a quiet Jerusalem neighborhood shortly after midnight to shut a courtyard gate when the bomb went off, lightly wounding him in one leg, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.

Outside Sternhell’s home and in nearby streets Wednesday, the police found fliers offering NIS 1.1 million to anyone who killed members of left-wing human rights movement Peace Now. This led to the suspicion that Jewish terrorists were behind the pipe-bomb attack, due to Sternhell’s harsh criticism of West Bank settlers and their harassment of Palestinians.

The police stressed that the bomb was not meant to intimidate but was a murder attempt.

After the attack on the professor, the police have beefed up security around the home of Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer.

“If this was not an act committed by a deranged person but by someone who represents a political view, then it is the beginning of the disintegration of democracy,” Sternhell said Wednesday from his hospital bed in the capital’s Shaare Tzedek Medical Center.

He said that “the incident illustrates the fragility of Israeli democracy, and the urgent need to defend it.”

“On the personal level, if the intent was to terrorize, it has to be very clear that I am not easily intimidated,” he said. “But the perpetrators tried to hurt not only me, but each and every one of my family members who could have opened the door, and for that there is no absolution and no forgiveness.”

Sternhell, an internationally renowned expert on the history of fascism, was awarded the country’s highest honor, the Israel Prize, earlier this year. The award drew fire from West Bank settlers and their supporters, who unsuccessfully petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to block it.

Kadima leader and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni condemned Wednesday’s attack, saying that the incident was “intolerable, and cannot be glossed over.”

At a ceremony marking the Rosh Hashanah holiday at the Foreign Ministry, Livni said that “Israel is a lawful state and is populated by a society with values. It is the responsibility of the government and Israeli society to renounce such phenomena as soon as they rear their heads.”

Senior political figures also expressed outrage at the news of the attack on Sternhell, which has touched a nerve given the country’s history of political violence, they said.

“We are returning to the dark era of pipe bombs aimed at people, in this case against a very gifted person who never hesitates to express his opinion,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

According to the chairman of the Knesset’s internal affairs committee, Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz: “The attack on Prof. Sternhell is a cowardly, terrorist act by those with no sense of justice.” He urged the police and Shin Bet security service to strive to capture the perpetrators quickly and ensure that they receive hefty prison sentences.

“They’d better not talk to us about a few wild weeds,” Meretz chairman Haim Oron said. “These people appear on the right wing.”

“This thuggish and dangerous act is the result of the continuing see-no-evil approach toward the vicious violence against soldiers and police officers and anyone else who doesn’t agree with the brutish section of the extreme right wing,” Oron added.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, an activist with a fringe settler group calling itself the National Jewish Front, said Sternhell was an irrelevant figure and that he did not believe settlers were behind the attack. “I don’t denounce this incident, but say categorically that we are not involved,” Ben-Gvir said.

Sternhell had recently received threatening phone calls, but the bomb attack on him took the Shin Bet and police by surprise. They had no intelligence of a terror group targeting left-wing activists.

A special police team started taking statements from neighbors of the Sternhell family. The police believe the perpetrators stayed in a house nearby in the past few weeks, studying Sternhell’s movements, and that passersby and neighbors must have seen them.

“There are hundreds of peace activists in Jerusalem. We have no sign of any intention to harm anyone specific and cannot protect so many people without more specific information,” a police source said.

Ref: Haartez

Also read – Leftist professor: Bombing of my home signals end of Israeli democracy