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International Workers’ Day: The most invisible workers of all

May 1. 2015

Photo by Ron Amir, 2012, from a series depicting the lives of Palestinians working in Israel. The persons photographs are unrelated to the witnesses.

A couple of weeks ago we spoke with a number of Palestinian workers who live just a few dozen kilometers from where they work in Israel, but the difficulties involved in reaching their place of work mean they remain at their place of work all week, away from their families and home environment. At times, they must confine themselves to living in rough conditions at their workplace, with no option of leaving it. As one worker told us: “I feel like I’m working in a small prison".

On International Workers’ Day, the first of May, think of the workers who are the most invisible of all: the Palestinians. Give a thought to the tens of thousands who have a work permit, yet must stand for endless, humiliating hours on line at a crowded checkpoint, people for whom every moment of their daily routine is part of a struggle for survival, for whom getting safely home is not a given. Under such conditions, a struggle for fair pay, reasonable working hours and a pension is no more than a distant pipedream.

This reality is a direct outcome of the policy of Israeli authorities who prevent the development of an independent Palestinian economy that would provide employment to West Bank residents. Work in Israel is the only option available to many Palestinians. Some are granted work permits, others are not, but the rights of all these people are infringed upon even before reaching their place of employment. The Israeli authorities, responsible for most of these violations, are well aware of this reality, yet do nothing to change it.

Workers' testimonies:


Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

World View: Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign

Patrick Cockburn
Sunday April 26, 2015

Yemen is short of many things, but weapons is not one of them. Yemenis own between 40 and 60 million guns, according to a report by UN experts published earlier this year. This should be enough for Yemen’s 26 million people, although the experts note that demand for grenades that used to cost $5, handguns ($150) and AK-47s ($150) has increased eightfold. Whatever else happens, the war in Yemen is not going to end because any of the participants are short of weaponry.

Yemeni politics is notoriously complicated and exotic, with shifting alliances in which former enemies embrace and old friends make strenuous efforts to kill each other. But this exoticism does not mean that the war in Yemen, where the Saudis started bombing on 26 March, is irrelevant to the rest of the world. Already the turmoil there is a breeding ground for al-Qaeda type attacks such as that on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The collapse of the country into a permanent state of warfare will send waves of boat-people towards Western Europe or anywhere else they can find refuge. It is absurd for European leaders to pretend that they are doing something about “terrorism” or the refugees drowning in the Mediterranean when they ignore the wars that are the root causes of these events.


Tawakkol Karman calls for ousted Yemeni President Saleh to be put on trial

Friday, 24 April 2015


US court rejects lawsuit against charity funding of settlements

April 25, 2015 4:26 P.M. (Updated: April 25, 2015 4:26 P.M.)

"Price tag" attack on a Palestinian monastery in 2013. (AFP/File)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The US Court of Appeals in New York has rejected an appeal from a group of 13 Palestinians seeking damages for alleged "terrorist attacks" by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported Friday.

The complaint was filed against US-based charities that financially support settlements, alleging that such support leads to terrorist activity and is in violation of US anti-terrorism laws, reported Israeli news source Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The USA Patriot Act enacted in October 2001 prohibits citizens from "knowingly providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization."

Plaintiffs in the case argued that charities were financially supporting terrorist activity by funding settlers who have carried out acts of violence against Palestinians and their land, and desecrated houses of prayer.

in full: http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=765080

From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

Sunday, April 19, 2015

World View: Tony Blair is still pilloried for the decisions he took over Iraq. David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging

Few recall that David Cameron led Britain into one war in Libya that overthrew Gaddafi, but was disastrous for most Libyans. Without this conflict, the drowned bodies of would-be emigrants to Europe would not be washing up in their hundreds on Libyan beaches. To get the full flavour of what went wrong, it is worth watching a YouTube clip of Cameron grandstanding on a balcony in Benghazi on 15 September 2011, as he lauds Libya’s new freedom. Then turn to almost any recent film of Benghazi or Tripoli showing militias battling in streets and buildings shattered by shellfire.

Another scene worth revisiting via YouTube is the House of Commons on 29 August 2013, when Cameron lost the vote which would have opened the door to British military intervention in Syria. Ostensibly this was in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government in Damascus, but would have had an effect only if it had turned into a Libyan-type air campaign to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. There is every reason to believe that al-Qaeda-type movements would have filled the vacuum and Syria would have descended even deeper into anarchy.

What is striking here is not so much that Cameron never seemed to have much idea about what was going on in Libya or Syria as the degree to which his culpability has never been an issue. Contrast this with the way in which Tony Blair is still pilloried for the decisions he took over going to war in Iraq in 2003. Focus on the decisions taken in the lead-up to the invasion has become a national obsession in which Blair is a scapegoat, as if most of the British establishment and popular opinion did not support him at the time. Admittedly this support was partly the result of concocted evidence about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMD, but there is something absurd about the fact that it is almost impossible these days to meet a diplomat or a general who does not claim to have been deeply, if silently, opposed to the whole venture at the time.

A problem about this obsession with the events of 2002 and 2003 is that they have led to amnesia about what happened subsequently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even the mourning for soldiers killed in these two wars treats them as if they were victims of a natural catastrophe rather casualties in conflicts which were the result of political decision-making. This is deeply convenient for the governments responsible since they don’t have to answer too many questions about their war aims and why they failed to achieve them.

in full: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/from-iraq-to-libya-and-syria-the-wars-that-come-back-tohaunt-us-10187065.html

On Developments in Yarmouk: France 24 Interview with Jadaliyya Co-Editor Mouin Rabbani

In this interview with France 24, Jadaliyya Co-Editor Mouin Rabbani speaks about the situation in the Yarmouk district of Damascus. Yarmouk has historically been the primary center of Palestinian life in Syria, and much of it was recently seized by the Islamic State movement. Rabbani discusses the situation of the Palestinian community in Syria, the failure of Palestinian leaderships to serve their interests, and also the efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Syria.


The Bernie Buzz: Stop the Ugland House Scam

On April 15, the income tax deadline for most Americans, Bernie introduced a bill to stop corporations from avoiding their fair share of taxes by stashing profits in the Cayman islands, Bermuda and other tax havens. He spoke at a Capitol news conference in front of a photo of the notorious Ugland House, the Cayman Islands office that is the registered address of more than 18,000 companies. Yes. There are supposedly 18,000 companies doing business in one small building. Needless to say, it's all a scam to avoid paying taxes to the U.S. government.

Nobody is really doing business there. It's just a postal address to allow the companies to claim that they do business in the Cayman islands which has no corporate income tax. “At a time when we have an $18.2 trillion national debt; at a time when many of the largest corporations in America are paying no federal income taxes; and at a time when corporate profits are at an all-time high, it is past time for corporate America to pay their fair share in taxes so that we can address the many problems which this country faces," Bernie said.


The reproduction of tyranny

Lamis Andoni

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The most painful aspect of the success of the post-Arab Spring counter-revolution is not only the return of tyranny across the Middle East, but also the reproduction of tyrannical culture by both media and society. It is almost as if tyranny were the natural state of things, and that justice and fairness are the exception, not the rule, in the Arab countries.

snip* Governments have resorted to intimidation and spreading panic by means of media outlets – a goal that would not have succeeded in recent months without the spectre of the Islamic State (ISIS) and other such terrorist organisations. This raises many questions regarding the true origins and purpose of such groups, especially since they can be seen to serve the interests of the counter-revolution, or even, can be considered an integral part of the regional counter-revolution that has driven many to support the return of oppression in search of safety.

The victory of the counter-revolution is also explained, to some extent, by the acceptance, and even encouragement of some elites for the return of colonialism under the pretexts of stability and the desire to get rid of the terrorist threat posed by ISIS and other armed militias ( some of whom actually work directly with the governments). These elites are, in fact, trying to prevent the destruction and barbarism that spares no one.

The deep psychological impact of what is currently happening – the shift from hope of freedom to the darkness of destruction, torture, killings and massacres – has restored subservience to the hearts of many. Such submission is the greatest tool for rallying the masses and driving them to accept tyranny and even participate in violence and murder, as we have seen throughout history, including during the Nazi era. This psychological impact will also be reflected in human interaction, as we have noticed that frustration and defeat leaves the impression that the calls for freedom and justice meant nothing and that the only rule that now applies is the survival of the fittest. It also leads people to believe that oppression and bulling, either in at home, work or school, are conditions that guarantee the preservation of power, status and control.

in full: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/18054-the-reproduction-of-tyranny

In the Middle East, our enemy's enemy must be our friend

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 12 April 2015

World View: Al-Qaeda-type movements are gaining land and power, and there is only one way to stop them

The ghost of Osama bin Laden will have been chuckling this month as he watches the movements he inspired conquer swathes of the Middle East. He will be particularly gratified to see fighters from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) storm into Al Mukalla, the capital of Yemen’s eastern province of Hadhramaut from which the bin Laden family originated before making their fortune in Saudi Arabia.

As happened in Mosul, Iraq last summer when the Iraqi army fled before a jihadi attack, Yemeni government soldiers abandoned their bases in Al Mukalla leaving US Humvees and other military equipment. Earlier, AQAP had seized the central prison in the city and freed 300 prisoners, including Khaled Batarfi, one of the most important jihadi leaders in Yemen.

It is a measure of the severity of the multiple crises engulfing the region that AQAP, previously said by the United States to be the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda, can capture a provincial capital without attracting more than cursory attention in the outside world. How different it was on 2 May 2011 when President Obama and much of his administration had themselves pictured watching the helicopter raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan where bin Laden was killed. The grandstanding gave the impression that his death meant that the perpetrators of 9/11 had finally been defeated.

But look at the map today as unitary Muslim states dissolve or weaken from the north-west frontier of Pakistan to the north-east corner of Nigeria. The beneficiaries are al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda inspired groups which are growing in power and influence. The US and its allies recognise this, but cannot work out how to prevent it.

in full: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/in-the-middle-east-our-enemys-enemy-must-be-our-friend-10169984.html

The Libertarian Plea to Bring Back Jim Crow: An Oxymoron by a Regular Moron

By William K. Black
Quito: April 7, 2015

My April 4, 2015 column discussed the Wall Street Journal’s express endorsement of a right of merchants to discriminate against groups they detest. I explained that the WSJ was adopting the position of Richard Epstein and quoted Epstein about the policy question he found to be a “very hard question.” That question was “voluntary” hereditary slavery – he’s in favor of it as a “right” essential to “liberty.” But he admits that he finds it “very hard” to justify the impact of the “voluntary” contract of slavery on the “externalities” – and yes, he is talking about children as commodities. I quoted the passage from Epstein’s famous defense of discrimination in his book Forbidden Grounds to show how zany the policy views are that emerge like mold spores as soon as one endorses discrimination by merchants against groups they despise as a means of increasing “liberty.”

I also noted that, according to conservatives, every leading candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency rushed to embrace the right of merchants to discriminate in the Indiana Act as originally passed. I stressed that the Indiana’s Act allowed merchants to discriminate against any group – blacks, Jews, women wearing “immodest” dress, LBGT, or Latinos as long as the merchant phrased his bigotry as a product of his personal religious views. Republican Party strategists try valiantly every couple years to wean the Party from hostility to women and minorities, but the fear of losing in the Republican primary to someone to ultra-right has so terrorized every major Republican candidate for the presidential nomination that they keep on taking symbolic and substantive actions that constitute “revealed prejudices.” That same dynamic explains the Indiana legislature’s Republican members’ votes and Governor Mike Pence’s original enthusiastic support for authorizing merchants to discriminate on the basis of factors such as race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. It is odd that a law that would allow a merchant to discriminate against customers on the basis of their religious beliefs could be labeled a bill protecting religious freedom. One might hope the media would point this out in their articles and on radio and television rather than parroting the original Indiana Act’s oxymoronic title.

I explained that this fear of the primary opponent from the ultra-right was acute in Indiana because the most respected Republican Senator, “Dick” Lugar, was annihilated in the primary by a loon. The loon was so extreme (describing women who were impregnated by their rapists as receiving a “gift” from G-d), that he lost in the general election even though Indiana is an infra-red state. The true “gift” that keeps on giving in terms of U.S. presidential elections is the Republican Party’s palpable hostility to enormous numbers of Americans. Mitt Romney even gave these people a number – he said that it was his job if elected not to represent the 47% of Americans.

My April 4 column was responding to the WSJ’s claim that such discrimination by merchants represented “dissent” and that “liberals” (by which they meant often conservative major business leaders) were acting outrageously because they did not “tolerate” such “dissent.” The great thing about the modern WSJ is that it only takes a few hours to start crazy and then spin into full zany. Sure enough, by April 6, 2015, William McGurn (WSJ alum gone even wackier as the New York Post’s editor), had written in the WSJ calling for libertarians to go full-Epstein and endorse merchants’ “right” to discriminate against groups they despise.

in full: http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2015/04/the-libertarian-plea-to-bring-back-jim-crow-an-oxymoron-by-a-regular-moron.html

Unworthy victims: Western wars have killed four million Muslims since 1990


Landmark research proves that the US-led ‘war on terror’ has killed as many as 2 million people, but this is a fraction of Western responsibility for deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two decades.

Last month, the Washington DC-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PRS) released a landmark study concluding that the death toll from 10 years of the “War on Terror” since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as 2 million.

The 97-page report by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning doctors’ group is the first to tally up the total number of civilian casualties from US-led counter-terrorism interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The PSR report is authored by an interdisciplinary team of leading public health experts, including Dr. Robert Gould, director of health professional outreach and education at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and Professor Tim Takaro of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Yet it has been almost completely blacked out by the English-language media, despite being the first effort by a world-leading public health organisation to produce a scientifically robust calculation of the number of people killed by the US-UK-led “war on terror”.

in full: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/unworthy-victims-western-wars-have-killed-four-million-muslims-1990-39149394

Physicians for Social Responsibility
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