stat counter

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ILWU To Shut Down West Coast Ports May 1st Demanding End To War In Iraq and Afghanistan

READ: May Day 2008 Statement from the Iraqi Labour Movement
To the Workers and All Peace Loving People of the World

April 29th, 2008

ILWU To Shut Down West Coast Ports May 1st Demanding End To War In Iraq and Afghanistan

In a major step for the U.S. labor movement, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced that it will shut down West Coast ports on May 1, to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East. In a February 22 letter to AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, ILWU International president Robert McEllrath reported that at a recent coast-wide union meeting, “One of the resolutions adopted by caucus delegates called on longshore workers to stop work during the day shift on May 1, 2008 to express their opposition to the war in Iraq.”

This is the first time in decades that an American union has decided to undertake industrial action against a U.S. war. It is doubly important that this mobilization of labor’s power is to take place on May Day, the international workers day, which is not honored in the U.S. Moreover, the resolution voted by the ILWU delegates opposes not only the hugely unpopular war in Iraq, but also the war and occupation of Afghanistan (which Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republican John McCain all want to expand). The motion to shut down the ports also demands the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the entire region, including the oil sheikdoms of the strategically important Persian/Arab Gulf.

The Internationalist Group has fought from the moment U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan in September 2002 for American unions to strike against the war. Despite the fact that millions have marched in the streets of Europe and the United States against the war in Iraq, the war goes on. Neither of the twin war parties of U.S. imperialism – Democrats and Republicans – and none of the capitalist candidates will stop this horrendous slaughter that has already killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. The only way to stop the Pentagon killing machine is by mobilizing the power of a greater force – that of the international working class.

The action announced by the powerful West Coast dock workers union, to stop work to stop the war, should be taken up by unions and labor organizations throughout the United States and internationally. The ILWU should be commended for courageously taking the first step, and it is up to working people everywhere to back them up. Wherever support is strong enough, on May 1 there should be mass walkouts, sick-outs, labor marches, plant-gate meetings, lunch-time rallies, teach-ins. And the purpose of such actions should be not to beg the bourgeois politicians whose hands are covered with blood, having voted for every war budget for six and a half years, but a show of strength of the working people who make this country run, and who can shut it down!

Now is the time for bold class action. Opposition to the war is even greater in the U.S. working class than in the population as a whole, more than two-thirds of which wants to stop the war but is stymied by the capitalist political system. In his letter to Sweeney, the ILWU president asked “if other AFL-CIO affiliates are planning to participate in similar events.” Labor militants should make sure the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!”

There should be no illusions that this will be easy. No doubt the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) bosses will try to get the courts to rule the stop-work action illegal. The ILWU leadership could get cold feet, since this motion was passed because of overwhelming support from the delegates despite attempts to stop it or, failing that, to water it down or limit the action. And the U.S. government could try to ban it on the grounds of “national security,” just as Bush & Co. slapped a Taft-Hartley injunction on the docks during contract negotiations in the fall of 2002, saying that any work stoppage was a threat to the “war effort,” and threatened to occupy the ports with troops!

The answer to every attempt to sabotage or undercut this first labor action against this war, and against Washington’s broader “war on terror” which is intended to terrorize the world into submission must be to redouble efforts to bring out workers’ power independent of the capitalist parties and politicians. If the ILWU work stoppage is successful, it will only be a small, but very important, beginning that must be generalized and deepened. It will take industrial-strength labor action to defeat the imperialist war abroad and the bosses’ war on immigrants, oppressed minorities, poor and working people “at home.”

ILWU in the Forefront of Labor Action Against the War

Workers strike action against imperialist war isn’t new – it just hasn’t happened here for a long, long time. During World War I there were huge mass strikes in Germany against the battlefield carnage, culminating in the downfall of the kaiser in November 1918. A year earlier in Russia, working-class opposition to the war led to the overthrow of the tsar and the October Revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks. The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International call today for transport workers to “hot cargo” (refuse to handle) war shipments. In the early 1920s, Communist-led French dock workers did exactly that, boycotting ships carrying war materiel to suppress a colonial rebellion in the Rif region of Morocco, as they also did during France’s war in Indochina in the 1950s.

In the U.S., the ILWU struck in 1948 amid Cold War hysteria and in defiance of the “slave labor” Taft-Hartley Act to defend its union hiring hall against the bosses and government screaming about “reds” in the union leadership. In 1953, at the height of McCarthyite witch-hunting, the ILWU called a four-day general strike in Hawaii of sugar, pineapple and dock workers over the jailing of seven union members for being communists. During the Vietnam War, socialist historian Isaac Deutscher said that he would trade all the peace marches for a single dock strike. The ILWU was the first U.S. union to oppose the Vietnam war, but during war and especially during the 1971 strike union leader Harry Bridges refused to stop the movement of military cargo. (Ship owners made use of this by falsely labeling cargo as “military” to evade picket lines and undermine the strike.) This betrayal went hand in hand with a “mechanization and modernization” contract that slashed union jobs.

As the U.S.-led imperialist invasion of Iraq was looming, in January 2003 train drivers in Scotland refused to move a freight train carrying munitions to a NATO military base. The next month, Italian railroad unionists and antiwar activists blocked NATO war trains by occupying the rails. In the United States, ILWU dock workers were a target of “anti-terrorist” government repression, as police fired supposedly “less than lethal” munitions point blank at an antiwar protest on the Oakland, California docks, injuring six longshore workers and arresting 25 people (who eventually won their legal case against the police). And every year since the war started, the San Francisco/Oakland ILWU Local 10 has voted for motions for labor action against the war. Usually they were voted down at caucuses and conventions of the ILWU, but not this time.

Last May, Local 10 longshoremen and Local 34 ships clerks refused to cross picket lines set up by the Oakland Teachers Association and antiwar activists, defying arbitrators’ orders by refusing to work ships of the notorious antiunion outfit, Stevedoring Services of America (see “Oakland Dock Workers Honor Picket, Shut Down War Cargo Shipper,” The Internationalist No. 26, July 2007). In the aftermath of that action, the union issued a call for a Labor Conference to Stop the War that would “plan workplace rallies, labor mobilizations in the streets and strike action against the war.” The Call to Action stated:

“ILWU Local 10 has repeatedly warned that the so-called ‘war on terror’ is really a war on working people and democratic rights. Around the country, hundreds of unions and labor councils have passed motions condemning the war, but that has not stopped the war. We need to use labor’s muscle to stop the war by mobilizing union power in the streets, at the plant gates and on the docks to force the immediate and total withdrawal of all U. S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.”

As the conference date approached, the union was the target of several police attacks, including a vicious cop assault on two black dock workers from San Francisco working in the port of Sacramento. Some 250 demonstrators from every ILWU local in Northern California rallied in their defense outside the courthouse. Their trial to be set march 18 at a hearing will encounter even larger demonstrations.

The Internationalist Group and its union supporters helped build and attended the October 20 conference, along with some 150 labor and socialist activists from the Bay Area, elsewhere in California and across the country. At the meeting, a particular focus was resistance to the Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC), which threatens minority workers and the union hiring hall, and which the Democratic Party in particular has been pushing in order to carry out a purge of dock workers in the name of the “war on terror.” Not long after that conference, a federal judge ordered Local 10 elections canceled and replaced by a Labor Department-run vote, on the eve of 2008 contract bargaining. Federal agents even invaded the union hall to enforce their order. This action is a threat to the independence of all unions.

This set the stage for the recent longshore-warehouse caucus, which voted a motion for a 24-hour “No Peace, No Work Holiday” against the war. The resolution was introduced in Local 10 by Jack Heyman, who also presented the motion for the 24 April 1999 coast-wide port shutdown demanding freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther and renowned radical journalist who has been on Pennsylvania’s death row for the last quarter century. Although the union tops maneuvered to prevent Heyman from being elected as a delegate to the Coast Caucus, the motion passed in Local 10. At the Caucus, the delegate from Local 34 referred to the October Labor Conference to Stop the War as the origin of the motion.

At the close of the Caucus on February 8, there was a vigorous debate on the resolution. The union tops tried to stop it, to no avail. They kept asking, “are you sure you want to do this action.” The delegates overwhelmingly said “yes.” Even conservative trade unionists, including veterans of the Vietnam War, were getting up saying the government is lying to us, we’ve had it with this war, we’ve got to put a stop to it now. So instead the bureaucrats tried to gut the motion, which was cut down from 24 hours to 8, and changed into a “stop-work” meeting (covered by a contract clause) instead of a straight-out shutdown, thinking that this would lessen opposition from the employers. In the end there was a voice vote and only three delegates out of 100 voted against.

The efforts to undercut the motion continue, as is to be expected from a leadership which, like the rest of the pro-capitalist labor bureaucracy, seeks “labor peace” with the bosses. In his letter to Sweeney, ILWU International president tried to present the action as an effort to “express support for the troops by bringing them home safely,” although the motion voted by the delegates says nothing of the sort. Playing the “support our troops” game is an effort to swear loyalty to the broader aims of U.S. imperialism. It aids the warmongers, when what’s needed is independent working-class action against the system that produces endless imperialist war. Yet despite the efforts to water it down and distort it, the May 1 action voted for by the ILWU delegates is a call to use labor’s muscle to put an end to the war.

Mobilize Labor’s Power to Defeat the Bosses’ War!

For the West Coast dock workers union to shut down the ports against the war means a big step forward in the class struggle. The Internationalist Group has uniquely fought for workers strikes against the war, when all the popular-front “peace” coalitions dismissed this and even some shamefaced ex-Trotskyists refused to call for it, saying it had “no resonance” among the workers (see our October 20007 Special Supplement to The Internationalist, “Why We Fight For Workers Strikes Against the War [and the Opportunists Don’t]”). With signs, banners and propaganda we have sought to drive home the central lesson that it is necessary to defeat the imperialist war abroad and the bosses’ war “at home” by mobilizing the power of the workers movement independent of and against the capitalist parties.

That means fighting the war mobilization down the line. First and foremost, this means actively joining the struggle for immigrant rights as the government turns undocumented working people into “the enemy within.” Class-conscious workers should demand full citizenship rights for all immigrants. Last year, San Francisco Local 10 voted to stop work and join marches for immigrant rights on May 1, but this was opposed by the employers PMA and sabotaged at the last minute by the union tops. Shamefully, Local 13 in Los Angeles, a majority Mexican American port, made no protest when police attacked immigrant rights protesters that same day. Today, as the ICE immigration police stage Gestapo-style raids across the country, organized labor should take the lead in organizing rapid response networks to come into the streets to block the raids. Despite the campaign by the capitalist media and politicians to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria, there is widespread disgust among American working people toward the jackbooted storm troopers who are terrorizing immigrant communities.

At the same time, the unions should use the power to put a halt to the attacks on civil liberties which are part of the home front of the imperialist war. Driver’s licenses with biometric data, TWIC identification cards with “background checks,” warrantless spying and phone tapping, setting up special military tribunals for “trials” in which defendants are denied the right of habeas corpus, to know the “evidence” or even the charges against them – all these are part of a drive that is in high gear pushing the United States toward a full-fledged police state. There have been scores, perhaps hundreds of resolutions by unions and city, county and state labor bodies against the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, showing that labor activists are well aware of the danger. But just as is the case with the countless union antiwar resolutions, there has been no labor action. It is commonplace in the labor movement to bemoan the lack of real action when Reagan broke the 1981 PATCO air traffic controllers’ strike, paving the way for massive union-busting, takeaways and racist attacks all down the line. Let’s not let the labor bureaucrats bury the vital struggles of today.

Now is the time to turn words into deeds, to speak to the capitalist rulers in the only language they understand. The imperialist war parties must be defeated by a class mobilization of the working people at the head of all the oppressed. The ILWU motion to stop work on May Day to put a stop to the war can provide working people everywhere with the opening to turn from impotent protest to a struggle for power. For that the key is to build a class-struggle workers party fighting for a workers government, for socialist revolution here and around the world, that will put an end once and for all to the system of endless war, poverty and racism.

Write to the Internationalist Group, Box 3321, Church Street Station, New York, NY 10008. E-mail: Visit us on the Internet at:

Palestinian Life in East Jerusalem Photo Album


Annexed land–
After its victory in the Six Day War in 1967, Israel annexed 70 sq km of the West Bank adjacent to West Jerusalem. This land, East Jerusalem and outlying areas, contained 28 Palestinian towns and villages. Today 250,000 Palestinians live within the municipality of Jerusalem as defined by Israel. They pay city and state taxes and are considered residents, though not citizens, of Israel. In this picture a Muslim Palestinian prays in the street near to the al-Zayyem checkpoint.

International law–
Palestinian and Jewish areas are very close to each other but their residents rarely interact. Here, a Palestinian grazes his animals on land between the Jewish neighbourhood or settlement of East Talpiot and the Palestinian village of Zur Baher. Under international law, what Israel characterises as neighbourhoods are considered settlements built illegally on occupied territory. About 30% of the annexed land has since been expropriated for settlements which are today home to 200,000 Jews.

The West Bank barrier was built, Israel argues, to prevent the Palestinian suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israeli civilians. But in several areas the wall is redrawing the borders of East Jerusalem, locking Palestinian residents outside the city. Palestinians argue that the barrier is an attempt to grab land and redefine the boundary between the West Bank and Israel, and the International Court of Justice has declared it illegal.

Refugee camp–
Outside the barrier, but within the Jerusalem municipality, is the Palestinian refugee camp of Shuafat. Its residents pay city and state taxes though they are now outside the barrier. The camp is severely neglected. Here the sewer runs in a ditch next to the wall.

Cut off–
The Shuafat refugee camp is today home to about 20,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are still legally residents of Jerusalem. It was built in 1965 to house 1,500 Palestinian refugees who were living in a refugee camp in the Jewish quarter of the Old City when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule. After the 1967 war it became home to many more refugees.

A football pitch in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukabar. The Jerusalem municipality has not built any parks in the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem. A study in 2006 by liberal Israeli historian Meir Margalit showed that Arabs living in Jerusalem, about 33% of the population, received 12% of its welfare budget and 15% of the education budget.

Ottoman roads–
In this area, Umm Tuba, there is no sewage system and the roads date back to Ottoman times. The new buildings in the background are part of the settlement, or neighbourhood, of Har Homa.

Building restrictions–
Out of the portion of the city budget spent on Palestinians, part goes into financing the demolition of illegally built Palestinian houses. The process of acquiring a permit for Palestinians is arduous if not impossible as most of the areas in East Jerusalem were designated as “green zones” where building is prohibited.

Some families still live in shacks next to their demolished homes, such as this boy and his family in the Wadi Dam area of the Beit Hanina neighbourhood.

The 2006 study estimated that 62% of Palestinians in East Jerusalem live in poverty, as compared with 23% of Jewish families in East Jerusalem. This picture shows a one bedroom home lived in by a family of six.

Holy Basin–
A recent development in East Jerusalem is the establishment of Jewish settlements inside Palestinian neighbourhoods, especially in areas in or close to the Holy Basin – the area containing the Old City and surrounding holy sites. New heavily guarded compounds for Jews are appearing such as this one in the Ras al-Amud neighbourhood near the Mount of Olives.

Competing hopes–

While Israel talks of its eternal and undivided capital in all of Jerusalem, Palestinians hope to establish their capital in East Jerusalem.

On the ground, Jewish and Palestinian areas of the city have in places become so cluttered that they are more and more difficult to separate.

Hat-tip to Desert Peace

Israel Closes Down Hebron Orhanage and Steals SEWING MACHINES!

Another Hebron Raid Further Puts Orphans at Risk

At 1:00 AM this morning, Israeli Defense Forces soldiers raided the Hebron Girls’ Orphanage, and confiscated more than $45,000 of sewing machines, supplies, finished clothing and office equipment from the building’s workshop, leaving behind nothing but a bare floor. This heavy-handed operation destroyed the means by which these orphans are supported and eliminated much needed jobs for local residents. This invasion of security and livelihood is a continuation of recent operations to commandeer all the assets of the Islamic Charitable Society, a group Israel claims has connections with Hamas but has yet to offer proof.

As President Jimmy Carter wrote on April 24th, “The Islamic Charitable Society has been serving the needs of the poor in Hebron since 1962, and should be allowed to continue their good work.” Both President Carter and Luisa Morgantini, Vice President of the European Union, have issued statements condemning these operations that harm society’s most vulnerable population.


Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and other internationals from Belgium, Britain, Canada, Germany, Holland, Scotland and the United States have been sleeping in the orphanage to try to protect the children living above the workshop. Their presence did not prevent the army’s raid but they have documented the attack. Please visit for Christian Peacemaker Teams’ pictures of the raid and a list of whom to contact to raise your voice against this ongoing tragedy.

Source WRMEA Alert.

BAR Interview with Ali Abunimah

Envisioning the End of Israeli Apartheid: An Interview With Ali Abunimah PDF Print E-mail
American Empire - Zionism
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
A Black Agenda Report Interview by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon
montage080Why is Israel an apartheid state? What are the similarities between it and the old South African regime? Is the separate Palestinian state talked about by Bush and the foreign policy elite of both Democrats and Republicans a real solution? Is the separate Palestinian state any different from Indian reservations, or the bantustans South Africa tried to impose on its black citizens? Can the Israeli state as it exists today ever be legitimate? Is there a practical, peaceful way out of the Israel-Palestine dilemma, and if so, what is it?
Chicago-based Palestinian educator Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, took the time to explore these questions with us.
Envisioning the End of Israeli Apartheid: An Interview With Ali Abunimah
by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

B DIXON:: Tell us how long you have been doing Electronic Intifada, and why you started it.

A. ABUNIMAH: Along with several other collaborators I started Electronic Intifada about four and a half years ago. We did it for much the same reason that you started Black Agenda Report, because there were vibrant and important concerns and conversations going on among the Palestinian people and their allies, conversations of which we could find no trace in the mainstream media. In the beginning we did a lot of political analysis, which we still do, along with some coverage of Palestinian arts and culture. Lately we have been emphasizing on first-hand, on-the-ground coverage of life as it is lived by Palestinians under the occupation and blockade.

The conversation about Israel-Palestine in this country might as well be about some other universe, it contains so many misconceptions and outright lies. There has been very little very little attention given to the context, to the history and daily lives of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, living under apartheid-like laws and practices in Israel. There's been very little attention given to Palestinian art, music and culture, to the Palestinian Diaspora, which is world wide by now, including here in the United States,. These are all things you very rarely find reflected in the mainstream media, and when you do it's often from a very distorted perspective. The so-called experts on Palestine and Palestinians are very often those who do not wish the best for the people of Palestine. That's why Electronic Intifada exists.

B. DIXON:: You made a reference to apartheid-like laws in Israel-Palestine. What should Americans know about that situation, and if there was one thing that black people in particular needed to know about these apartheid-like laws and situations in Israel-Palestine, what would that be?

A. ABUNIMAH: I've been focuses a lot on this in recent years. I devoted a chapter in my book One Country to the lessons of South Africa for how we can move forward in Israel-Palestine. Looking at some of the comparisons between Israel and South Africa, there's so much to know. One of the things to know is we are not having this discussion in the United States. But in the rest of the world they are having it. Some of the key anti-apartheid leaders that are known by Americans, and known by many black Americans, like Archbishop Desmond Tutu have been very, very forthright in stating that what is happening to Palestinians is apartheid. Ronnie Kasrils, a minister in the south African government who happens to be Jewish. He has been one of the most outspoken allies of therepublican_jesus Palestinians, declaring that Israel is an apartheid state. And of course many Israeli leaders say it. For example just today (April 25, 2008) in Ha'aretz, the newspaper of record in Israel, a former member of Knesset, Israeli politician Yossi Sarid has an article entitled “Yes, It's Apartheid”. In which he compares Israel to the apartheid state of south Africa.

The other thing I think is important to know is the history, that throughout the 1970s and 80s, when black Americans were leading the struggle against apartheid in this country, when they were the conscience of this country in terms of putting apartheid South Africa on the American political agenda, Israel was one of the key supporters of apartheid South Africa. Israel is the country that systematically violated the international arms embargo on South Africa. The weapons used to beat and kill black demonstrators and freedom fighters in South African townships were made in Israel, right down to the water cannon used in the townships... the fighter jets, the gunboats, all the heavy armament of the South African military used were in large part supplied by Israel.

It's less well known, there is less hard evidence about it, although some information is in the public domain regarding Israeili-South African cooperation in their nuclear weapons programs.

B. DIXON::: We've in the midst of a presidential election here. What difference will it make who gets elected US president to someone living right now, say, in Gaza and to the Palestinian Diaspora?

A. ABUNIMAH: I am very pessimistic that it makes any difference at all, because the tone and content of the politics on this issue in the United States is really a competition to see who can be the most pro-Israel candidate. That has been the case across the board with the three candidates who are out there now. All three are competing to be the most pro-Israeli to the point where Hillary Clinton has threatened to “totally obliterate Iran” on behalf of Israel.

Barack Obama too has been, from his past and I know some of this because I knew him hack in his Chicago days, he was much more sympathetic and much more attuned to the plight of the Palestinians. He used to be a lot more open minded, and now he is busy denying all that and trying to portray himself as a stalwart and unconditional supporter of Israel. So I don't see much change coming from mainstream politics. I think we have to keep pushing from the grassroots for the kind of change we want to see, that's where it will have to come from.

That's where it came from with the anti-apartheid struggle. The Reagan administration didn't want to impose sanctions. Congress didn't want to impost sanctions. There was a grassroots movement from the civil rights leaders from the black churches and from others that finally put pressure on the establishment to begin to do the right thing.signup

B. DIXON:: Back to Obama, we've got a lot of people who say that he's just shammin', he's just doing what he has to do to get elected, doing what he has to do to get in, but once he gets in, he's going to bring change.

A. ABUNIMAH: None of us can know what's deep down in his heart, we have to take him ast his word. He says he is going to stand by Israel, tha he's going to veto any UN resolutions which criticize Israel, the he thinks Palestinians are largely to blame for their own problems.. We have to take his word for that, and hold him accountable for the positions which he has stated. As for whether he is going to turn around and do something different, well, I understand that a lot of people hope that will be the case. But the reality of politics in this country is that the things you have to do to get elected are the same things you have to do to stay in office. I don't see what wold really push him to change.

B. DIXON:: Tell us what is the Nakbah

A. ABUNIMAH: The Nakbah is an Arabic word, el nakbah. It means the catastrophe. Palestinians use to to describe the events which took place in late 1947 and continued into late 1948, when three quarters of the Palestinan population were ethnically cleansed from their that the state of Israel could be established upon the ruins of their society. In that process, 750,000 Palestinian were forced out of their homes by an organized campaign carried out by the Zionist movment. It wasn't yet the Israeli state. More than 500 Palestinian towns, villages and cities were depopulated and destroyed, and the Palestinians were driven into exile.

We're now in the third or fourth generation of that, though acutally for many it's still a first generation experience. My parents for example, lived though that, so this is very much a live and ongoing catastrophe, not something that is only in the past because thisof ethnic cleansing is continuing in Palestine against Palestinians who are still there.

B. DIXON: How is it continuing?

A. ABUNIMAH: It's continuing in many ways. The irony of it is that although the Zionist leaders very clearly intended, and this is something that the Israili historian Ilan Pape talks about in his latest book, The Ethnic Cleansiing of Palestine. They had a very claer intentiuon to get rid of the Palestinians because you cn't set up a Jewish state in a place where the majority of the population is not Jewish.

They had to get rid of that majority population. Despite that, the Palestinian population today is actually larger, with more Palestinians living in Palestine than any time before. They have a very high birth rate, and they have a very strong commitment to their land, regardless of the obstacles put in their way.

What Israel has been trying to do is exclude or expel the Palestinians politically and literally. They do it by taking their land to build fortified Jewish-only settlements which the American media calls “neighborhoods”. They do it by building walls around entire Palestinian cities and communities, a wall the rest of the world outside the United States calls “the apartheid wall”. We can see that not only in Gaza, where almost a million and a half Palestinians are confined to a vast open air prison. We can see it by the other Palestinian cities and towns that are surrounded by these walls and barbed wire fences. It's a process of physical expulsion as well, as every day more and more land is taken, more and more Palestinians are pushed off it.

Israel has moved this population in exactly the same ways that the former South African government did when it tried to pen up its black population in bantustans.

It's exactly the same thing that South Africa did when they said OK, blacks are physically present on this land but we are going to make your politically invisible gy creating these fake independent states. If you want citizenship, if you want the right to vote, go home to one of your bantustans and exercise your political rights there, but you don't get to vote for the real government of the country.

B DIXON Exactly what is goiing on in Gaza right now, and what is collective punishment

A. ABUNIMAH: Imagine that here on my block in Chicago, a kid is accused of a crime, let's say robbing a store. Instead of the police looking for the individual, arresting and charging that person with a crime, they simply surround the block with armored vehicles and tanks, order everyone out of their houses, arrest all the men, or simply destroy the entire block. That is an example of the kind of collective punishments which have been implemented against Palestinians for decades. Israelis claim that they are defending themselves against the Palestinians, but that's just like saying the United States was defending itself against the Native Americans.

So now Gaza is totally cut off from the outside world. There are a million and a half Palestinians living there, I have friends living there. We try to stay in touch by email when they have electricity, but the electricity is frequently cut off by the Israelis who deny Gaza the fuel to keep the power plants running. The universities have shut down because there is no power, cancer patients are dying because they can't get chemotherapy, the lives of dialysis patients are threatened because they cannot get the treatment they need. People cannot get to school to work, can't keep their businesses open. Eighty percent of the population, and these are proud, independent-minded people, are subsisting on charity, on rations handed out by the UN, malnutrition is rampant....

B DIXON: And why would the Israeli government do that?

A. ABUNIMAH: We've reprinted the statements of Israeli officials at Electronic Intifada which appeared in the Israeli press. They say their objective is to put pressure on the Palestinian populaiton so they will put pressure on their leaders to submit to what we want. Palestinians had a democratic election, back in 2006 and they elected the “wrong leaders”., leaders which Israel and the United States don't want, so they have to be starved into submission for that crime.

B. DIXON: We hear all the time from the mouths of the US Secretary of State, from Bush, from the presidential candidates about what they call an independent Palestinian state, but which you call a bantustan. What's wrong with an independent Palestinian state?

A. ABUNIMAH: What's wrong with an independent Palestinian state is that it' is a bantustan, just like the little back country South African reservations to which the apartheid government proposed to relocate most of its black population. A so-called independent Palestinian state is a complete farce, with no possibility of an independent economy, since Palestinian territory is divided into dozens of pieces separated by Israeli-only roads and fortified settlements, by walls, barbed wire and checkpoints.

In the case of South Africa, nobody bought it. The South African people didn't buy it, and no country in the world acknowledged these little puppets as real independent states. Most importantly, the South African leadership, Nelson Mandela and the ANC refused to play this game. They said we want our whole country, we want our full rights.

palestineThe difference, I would say, between the proposed Palestinian state and the bantustans is that the bantustans actually had more territory, and more resources than the fake Palestinian state. The Palestinian state is simply a ruse to hide and to perpetuate the fact of Israeli apartheid.

B. DIXON: If a separate Palestinian state is no solution, then what needs to happen in Israel-Palestine?

A. ABUNIMAH: We have to recognize that in Israel-Palestine today there are 10.8 million people. 48% of them are NOT Israeli Jews. The majority population right now are Palestinians and others, with the numbers of Jews and Palestinians being about equal, at just under half. Another five percent who are neither Palestinians nor Jews make up the rest. But the trends are very clear. Within five to ten years at most, Palestinians will be an absolute majority of the population of the state of Israel-Palestine, just as they were sixty years ago.

What we need to be saying is that this Jewish minority has a right to live in peace. It has a right to be secure. It has a right to be part of the country. It cannot have better rights and special rights over the rest of the population. It must not have the exclusive right to determine the destiny of the country. What we need to do, and this is what I have been arguing with other Palestinians, is we need to be talking not about a separate Palestinian state because that is a pipe dream. The geography doesn't work, the economy doesn't work.

We should be calling for full civil and economic rights for everyone who lives within the boundaries of the country, whether they are Jewish or Palestinian or anything else. And of course we need to be calling for full decolonization, for reparations and restitution for the victims of the current regime.

Those are the two things that have to happen; equality and restitution. Legal equality without restitution is not enough, as we know from the history of this country. There also has to be active restitution for the victims. I don't see why Palestinians and Israeli Jews cannot live together peacefully under such a situation.

B. DIXON: The picture you have painted for us is not a bright and happy one. What if anything, makes you hopeful?

A. ABUNIMAH: What makes me hopeful is that 60 years of catastrophe have not dimmed the will of Palestinians to see justice done. 60 years of brutality, of oppression, by Israel have not succeeded in establishing the legitimacy of that regime. Each day, the Israelis have to wake up and prove to the world that their state has a right to exist as what they call a Jewish state, and what I call an apartheid state. They have not been able to succeed. There is growing, nonviolent global political movement to bring justice to Palestinians, and only that can bring peace to Israelis.

Apartheid and colonialism lasted for 300 years before they were brought down. The Soviet Union lasted for eighty years, and nobody anticipated its collapse either. You look at the history of this country where there is so much further to go, and yet there was change here as a result of social movements, not from the top down, but from the bottom up, coming from the efforts of people who decided they were not going to take this any more, that they would stand up for their rights. Every single one of these social movements has prevailed against overwhelming odds, and against enemies determined to hold onto power at any cost.

So Palestinians are in good company in this struggle, and we are in a position to put forth a vision of justice that can serve all the people living in Israel-Palestine.one_state

Mr. Abunimah is the author of One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, and co-counder of Electronic Intifada. EI publishes news, commentary, analysis, and reference materials about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from a Palestinian perspective. EI is the leading Palestinian portal for information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its depiction in the media.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

US Department of Justice "Vandalizes" Wikipedia to Protect CAMERA

First there is CAMERA attempting to manipulate Wikipedia, now we have someone at the Department of Justice hacking Wikipedia's articles about CAMERA trying to manipulate it.

US Dept of Justice IP address blocked after 'vandalism' edits to Wikipedia

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!

Jump to: navigation, search

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wikinews has learned that a United States Department of Justice (DOJ) IP Address has been blocked on Wikipedia after making edits to an article which were considered "vandalism". In two separate instances, the IP address from the DOJ removed information from the Wikipedia article about the organization Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), regarding an attempt by the organization to secretly gain influence on the site. The IP address has been confirmed by Wikinews to be registered and used by the DOJ located in Washington, D.C.

On April 21, Electronic Intifada published a report based on leaked emails written between CAMERA and Wikipedia contributors who are allegedly planning to gain influence on the online encyclopedia. Information about CAMERA's campaign to influence Wikipedia was first added to the site's article about the organization on April 21 by user 'Bangpound', who cited the Electronic Intifada article.

According to the edit history on the Wikipedia article CAMERA, the entire subsection relating to this controversy was removed by the IP address, which is hosted by '' and is used by the DOJ. The IP address removed information regarding CAMERA's plan to "cooperate with prominent Wikipedia editors to promote a Zionist viewpoint and oppose pro-Arab viewpoints on Wikipedia" at least two separate times, on April 24 and April 25.

The IP address belonging to the DOJ also made edits identified as vandalism to the Wikipedia articles Tracy Jordan, Roger Ebert, and James E. Akins. After several warnings on the IP address's "talk page", the IP address was blocked for four days for "repeated vandalism." Several hours prior to the DOJ edits, an IP address also from Washington D.C.,, removed the same information. Wikinews can confirm the IP address is located in Washington D.C. and belongs to Verizon.

US Dept of Justice IP address blocked after 'vandalism' edits to Wikipedia
The Justice employee is attempting to scrub any mention of CAMERA's activities to influence Wikipedia.
US Dept of Justice IP address blocked after 'vandalism' edits to Wikipedia

—Wikipedia editor Lawrence Cohen

Wikipedia administrators were kept apprised in an ongoing discussion about the incident at Wikipedia's Administrators' noticeboard. "The Justice employee is attempting to scrub any mention of CAMERA's activities to influence Wikipedia (now double-sourced) as seen here in this edit," said Wikipedia editor Lawrence Cohen, in an initial post to the Administrators' noticeboard.

Founded in 1982, CAMERA is a pro-Israel media-monitoring and research non-profit organization based in Boston, Massachusetts. On April 21 the Electronic Intifada, a not-for-profit online publication which covers the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from a Palestinian perspective, published an article describing efforts by CAMERA to secretly influence Wikipedia articles. According to the article, Electronic Intifada obtained a series of emails between CAMERA and members of Wikipedia, attempting to game the encyclopedia and influence articles on the site related to Israel.

US Dept of Justice IP address blocked after 'vandalism' edits to Wikipedia
There is no need to advertise the fact that we have these group discussions.
US Dept of Justice IP address blocked after 'vandalism' edits to Wikipedia

—Gilead Ini, Senior Research Analyst, CAMERA

Electronic Intifada quoted a March 13 email from Gilead Ini, a Senior Research Analyst at CAMERA, who enlisted volunteers to make sure articles about Israel on Wikipedia were "free of bias and error, and include necessary facts and context". In a follow-up email from March 17, Ini emphasized secrecy, telling the email list members not to "forward it to members of the news media", and wrote that "There is no need to advertise the fact that we have these group discussions." The media criticism organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting criticized the CAMERA emails, calling them "particularly insidious" because "stealth and misrepresentation are presented as the keys to success."

Later discussions in the series of emails obtained by Electronic Intifada included advice on how to get members of CAMERA elected as Wikipedia administrators, in order to gain influence. Wikipedia user 'Zeq' posted to the list: "One or more of you who want to take this route should stay away from any Israel realted [sic] articles for one month until they [sic] interact in a positive way with 100 wikipedia [sic] editors who would be used later to vote you as an administrator."

After the IP address belonging to the DOJ was blocked, Wikipedia editors informed the Wikimedia Foundation's Communications committee about the incident. Both Wikinews and Wikipedia are projects of the Wikimedia Foundation. In addition to the DOJ IP address, several Wikipedia users determined to be cooperating with the CAMERA campaign to influence Wikipedia had also previously been blocked by Wikipedia administrators.

Wikinews requested a statement from the Department of Justice on the edits to Wikipedia, but as of this article's publication had not received a response.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Learn more about CAMERA, Electronic Intifada and U.S. Department of Justice on Wikipedia.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Orwell Meets Nazi Israel: Robots Built to Kill

If there was ever any doubt in your mind concerning the inhumanity of the Israeli "defense" forces, rest assured, your dilemma has been solved by none other than the Israeli military itself.

They are now planning to play video games with real life robots built to kill Palestinians.


Orwell meet Nazi Israel, kill without the SLIM chance of your soldiers on the ground hesitating, remove ANY trace of possible reluctance, remove all chance of harm to yourselves.

Just have a machine do it as you direct it from the comfort of your guard tower with a joystick.

Just shoot Palestinians with a ROBOT!

Quite honestly, this is one of the sickest things I have ever learned of in my life.

Israeli Military Unveils Armed Patrol Robot

Monday, April 28, 2008

NES TZIONA, Israel — Israel's newest soldier can see at night, never nods off on sentry duty and can carry 660 pounds without complaining.

The Guardium, an unmanned ground vehicle commissioned by the Israeli military and shown to The Associated Press on Monday, is essentially a robotic soldier, among the first in the world to be operational. It can replace human soldiers in dangerous roles, cutting casualty rates. (WHOSE casualty rates?)

Like the pilotless drones that have become a mainstay of air forces in Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere, the four-wheeled Guardium is operated from a command room that can be far from the front line.

It can be mounted with cameras, night-vision equipment and sensors, as well as more lethal tools like machine guns.

Following pre-programmed routes, it can navigate alone through cities — the vehicle knows how to deal with intersections, traffic and road markings. It can patrol borders, its cameras scanning 360 degrees at all times, and alert operators if it spots anything suspicious.

The Guardium never mentally wanders or falls asleep, as soldiers have been known to do during mind-numbing guard or patrol missions. And it doesn't have a family that will miss it when it's away on reserve duty. (Oh, Palestinians have no emotions, only IOF soldiers do!)

"Representatives of armies with troops who are taking high casualties in asymmetric warfare from threats like roadside bombs get excited about this product," said Erez Peled, general manager of G-Nius Unmanned Ground Systems, the company that developed the robot.

The control panel includes two large screens and a joystick. If the operator wants to take control, he can do so from a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals that lend the console the look of a video arcade game.

"Any kid who grew up with a PlayStation will be able to come in here and learn this in seconds," Peled said.

A vehicle alone costs approximately $600,000. With the operating system, the price runs to several million dollars, depending on what equipment is installed on the robot.

The Israeli military said the Guardium has yet to enter operational service, and would provide no further comment.

John Pike, director of the Virginia-based military think tank, said there is only one other similar vehicle operational — a South Korean robot used to patrol the demilitarized zone with North Korea.

With the details of the Korean vehicle classified, Pike could not say which was more advanced.

Robots like this are potentially the future of ground warfare, Pike said.

"A robot does what it's told, and you'll be able to get them to advance in ways its hard to get human soldiers to do. They don't have fear, and they kill without compunction."

But more importantly, he said, "A robot means you don't have to write a condolence letter."


Of COURSE no letters of condolence to Palestinians killed by robots. They aren't human after all are they? Robots are built to kill them.

Friday, April 25, 2008

US Officials Say Israel Might Have Many More Spies Here (DUH!)

Israel Might Have Many More Spies Here, Officials Say

The elderly New Jersey man arrested last week on charges of spying for Israel years ago was probably still working for the Jewish state’s espionage service in tandem with another, as yet unidentified spy, former American intelligence officials say.

Ben-Ami Kadish, now 84, was employed as a mechanical engineer at a U.S. Army weapons center in New Jersey when he allegedly supplied his Israeli handler with classified military documents, according to charges filed last week.

The handler was named only as “CC-1,” or co-conspirator 1, in the criminal complaint. But its description of him as the same man who was handling the notorious Israeli mole Jonathan Pollard all but identified him as Yosef Yagur, formerly the consul for scientific affairs at the Israeli consulate in New York.

Pollard, who gave Yagur thousands of highly classified documents while working as a navy intelligence analyst in the 1980s, is in the 21st year of a life sentence for espionage.

Kadish, who worked at the U.S. Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, N.J., from 1963 to 1990, could also spend the waning years of his life in jail if he is convicted.

A former senior CIA counterintelligence operative believes the case “will never go to trial, because of all the ugly stuff that would come out” about Israeli activities in the United States.

But the point might be moot.

On Tuesday, April 29, two officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Steven Rosen and Keith Weiss, are scheduled to go on trial for accepting classified documents from a Pentagon official, Larry Franklin.

A number of U.S. intelligence officials doubt whether that trial will get far, either, for the same reason.

Neither the U.S. nor Israel, strategic allies struggling with Middle East terrorism, the war in Iraq and the rising threat of Iran, can afford a breech in relations triggered by either case.

The Justice Department said Kadish brought home briefcases full of classified documents, which “CC-1” photographed in his basement. Among the documents was “restricted data” on nuclear weapons, classified information on a modified F-15 fighter that was sold to an unnamed foreign country (most likely Saudi Arabia), and a document relating to the Patriot anti-missile system, which the United States deployed to Israel during the first Gulf War in 1990.

Yagur fled New York in 1985 as U.S. counterintelligence agents closed in on Pollard. He has not been back since, U.S. officials believe.

They thought that was the end of his espionage operations here.

| Next >>

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bush Secretly Gave Nod To Illegal Settelment Activity

So the US is denying the below. And? So let's play the devil's advocate and say the letter never existed as the Israelis are saying it does. What then? Are we going to do anything about our "friend" that makes up stories for their own benefit and spies on us? I highly doubt that.

Wake up America, Israel is NO friend to us!


24 April 2008

A letter that President Bush personally delivered to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon four years ago has emerged as a significant obstacle to the president’s efforts to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians during his last year in office.

Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli prime minister, said this week that Bush’s letter gave the Jewish state permission to expand the West Bank settlements that it hopes to retain in a final peace deal, even though Bush’s peace plan officially calls for a freeze of Israeli settlements across Palestinian territories on the West Bank. In an interview this week, Sharon’s chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed this understanding in a secret agreement reached between Israel and the United States in the spring of 2005, just before Israel withdrew from Gaza.

U.S. officials say no such agreement exists, and in recent months Rice has publicly criticized even settlement expansion on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which Israel does not officially count as settlements. As peace negotiations have stepped up in recent months, so has the pace of settlement construction, infuriating Palestinian officials, and Washington has taken no punitive action against Israel for its settlement efforts.

Israeli officials say they have clear guidance from Bush administration officials to continue building settlements, as long as it meets carefully negotiated criteria, even though those understandings appear to contradict U.S. policy.

Many experts say new settlement construction undermines the political standing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - who is to meet with Bush Thursday at the White House - and adds to Palestinian cynicism about the peace process. Palestinians view the settlements as an Israeli effort to claim Palestinian lands, and in a meeting yesterday with Rice, Abbas said settlement construction was “one of the greatest obstacles” to a peace deal.

U.S. and Israeli officials privately argue that Israel has greatly restricted settlement growth outside the settlements it hopes to retain in a peace deal with the Palestinians, and Olmert has said Israel has stopped building new settlements and confiscating Palestinian lands.

Housing starts - not counting the Jerusalem settlements - have declined 33 percent since 2003, according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics; but officials say it is politically damaging for Olmert to admit that, so instead he publicly emphasizes that he is adding to the settlements, which now house about 450,000 Israelis.

“It was clear from day one to Abbas, Rice and Bush that construction would continue in population concentrations - the areas mentioned in Bush’s 2004 letter,” Olmert declared in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, published Sunday. “I say this again today: Beitar Illit will be built, Gush Etzion will be built; there will be construction in Pisgat Ze’ev and in the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem,” referring to new settlement expansion plans. “It’s clear that these areas will remain under Israeli control in any future settlement.”

In a key sentence in Bush’s 2004 letter, the president stated, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”

In a companion letter to “reconfirm” U.S.-Israeli understandings, Weissglas wrote Rice that restrictions on the growth of settlements would be made “within the agreed principles of settlement activities,” which would include “a better definition of the construction line of settlements” on the West Bank. A joint U.S.-Israeli team would “jointly define the construction line of each of the settlements.”

Weissglas said that the letter built upon a prior understanding between then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and then- U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, which would allow Israel to build up settlements within existing construction lines. But Powell denied that. “I never agreed to it,” he said in an e-mail.

Daniel Kurtzer, then the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said he argued at the time against accepting the Weissglas letter. “I thought it was a really bad idea,” he said. “It would legitimize the settlements, and it gave them a blank check.” In the end, Kurtzer said the White House never followed up with the plan to define construction lines. “Washington lost interest in it when it became clear it would not be easy to do,” he said.

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, at a news briefing in January, suggested that Bush’s 2004 letter was aimed at helping Sharon win domestic approval for the Gaza withdrawal. “The president obviously still stands by that letter of April of 2004, but you need to look at it, obviously, in the context of which it was issued,” he said.

Weissglas said that in 2005, when Sharon was poised to remove settlers from Gaza, the Bush administration made a secret agreement - not disclosed to the Palestinians - that Israel could add homes in settlements it expected to keep, as long as the construction was dictated by market demand, not subsidies. He said the agreement was necessary because Sharon needed the support of municipal leaders in the main West Bank settlements. The settlement leaders, he said, focused on the “inner contradiction” of Bush’s letter, mainly that it made no sense to have a settlement freeze in places that Bush said would become part of Israel.

Weissglas said he then negotiated a “verbal understanding” with deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams that would permit new construction in those key settlements; Rice and Sharon then approved the Weissglas-Abrams deal. “I do not recall that we had any kind of written formulation,” said Weissglas.

“There is no understanding,” said White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Indeed, as settlement starts soared after the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis in November, Rice said “the United States doesn’t make a distinction” among settlement locations.

Powell said that in 2004, he did not anticipate that Bush’s letter would be perceived as a green light by Israel for adding to the settlements. “I consistently spoke against settlement growth, but as you know all I could do is talk against it,” said Powell. “There would be no consequences and there still aren’t.”