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Quote Sign*Reader Replybullet Posted: 20 February 2009 at 7:10pm
 Premier of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan's interview with Newsweek.... it seems he is the only MAN who has taken a stand on the world stage about the issue! May his hands that I was afraid might have smacked Israeli Prez Peres in Davos be strengthened,,,, and may his tongue be more eloquent that he used to dress down that Zionist K9 .......Thumbs%20Up

During the World Economic Forum at Davos, tensions that have been brewing for weeks between Israel and Turkey broke out into the open. After fiercely debating the Gaza offensive with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan stalked offstage, vowing never to return to Davos. NEWSWEEK's Lally Weymouth spoke with Erdogan. Excerpts:

WEYMOUTH: You've been so critical of the recent Israeli operation into Gaza. Some say it's because Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert came to Turkey just before the operation started and didn't tell you it was about to start. Why have you pushed the Turkish-Israeli relationship to its limits?
If you're looking at it as pushing Turkish and Israeli relations to the edge, it's the wrong view.

What is the correct view?
At the request of Syria, we entered a phase of working together with Israel and Syria indirectly to get them to talk with each other. We are mediators in that process. This was an example of how much importance we put on peace in the Middle East. We had done this before with Pakistan and Israel.

I knew that Israel has a secret relationship with Pakistan but does it have an open one?
During the tenure of Mr. Pervez Musharraf, we brought them together in Istanbul: the foreign minister of Israel and the foreign minister of Pakistan.

And what happened?
In these talks, at least we started the process of coming together. The request came from Pakistan and Israel to bring them together, so we did. The meetings took place for two days in secret about two years ago. We also took part in the peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

Between Israel and Fatah, or Hamas?
I'm referring to the Palestinian Authority and President Mahmoud Abbas. On Dec. 23 we had a meeting with Prime Minister Olmert in Ankara. On that day we had the fifth round of the unofficial talks between Syria and Israel. That night we had very intense telephone diplomacy. I was talking on the phone to Syrian President Bashar Assad, and I was talking to Olmert in person and also to the Syrian Foreign Minister, so it was very intense diplomacy.

About what?
About the talks between Syria and Israel.

Were you trying to move the process to direct talks between Israel and Syria?

And did Assad agree?
Bashar Assad from the start had a very positive attitude towards these talks. On that night, we were very close to reaching an agreement between the two parties. It was agreed they were going to talk until the end of the week to come to a [positive] outcome.

So you felt you were close to coming to an agreement?
These talks on that night went on for five or six hours. On that night in Ankara when I was talking with Prime Minister Olmert, I said regarding the Palestine-Israeli talks, it would not be correct not to include Hamas in the negotiations. They entered the election in Palestine and won the majority of seats in the parliament. But Prime Minister Olmert said he could not do something like that. Moreover during that talk, I said to Prime Minister Olmert that I believed I could be successful in freeing the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

In order to release him, did you ask the Israelis to do something for Hamas?
I said to Prime Minister Olmert that if you want us to mediate in order to get the Israeli soldier free, we can do this and we believe we can achieve something. But on the other hand, once the soldier is free, Israel should set free Hamas' speaker of parliament and its members of parliament [who are in Israeli jails].

Why do you have such a close relationship with Hamas, which is an arm of Iran and is run by Khaled Meshal who lives in Damascus?
Let's not change the subject. First of all, Hamas is not an arm of Iran. Hamas entered the elections as a political party. If the whole world had given them the chance of becoming a political player maybe they would not be in a situation like that after the elections that they won. The world has not respected the political will of the Palestinian people. On the one hand, we defend democracy and we try our best to keep democracy in the Middle East, but on the other hand we do not respect the outcome of the elections that comes out of the ballot box. Palestine today is an open-air prison. The change and reform party, as much as they tried, could not change the situation. Just imagine: you imprison the speaker of a country as well as some ministers of its government and members of its parliament. And then you expect them to sit obediently?

It sounds like you and Prime Minister Olmert were on the eve of an actual breakthrough between Israel and Syria.
I'm sharing my excitement with you.

The Israelis have been frustrated that they couldn't talk directly to the Syrians.
We were trying to be their hope. Olmert's last sentence [as he left] was, as soon as I get back I will consult with my colleagues and get back to you. As I waited for his response, I found out that on Dec. 27, bombs started falling on Gaza. There had not been any casualties in Israel since the ceasefire of June 2008. The Israelis claim that missiles were being sent [from Gaza]. I asked Prime Minister Olmert, how many people died as a result of those missiles? Since Dec. 27 [in Gaza] there have been almost 1,300 dead, 6,000 injured, no infrastructure left, no buildings left, everything is damaged. Gaza is a total wreck right now. It's all closed, under total siege. The United Nations Security Council makes a decision and Israel announces it does not recognize the decision. I'm not saying that Hamas is a good organization and makes no mistakes. They have made mistakes. But I am evaluating the end result.

Starting now, do you see a role for Turkey? There was a discussion about Turkish troops being part of a peacekeeping force in Gaza.
This is totally out of the question. Only maybe as observers. It would be a major mistake for us to send security forces. There are those who try to claim that my attitude towards Israel's latest attacks on Gaza is because I'm anti-Semitic or against the Jewish people.

And some American Jews are very upset about it.
And I'm very upset at them. Beginning with the Jews who live in my country, they are witnesses to my attitude towards Jews. As an individual, I have always declared that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity. As a prime minister I have always been against anti-Semitism and my frustration is against the current Israeli government because they did not act fairly towards us.

But I've seen the anti-Semitic signs around Turkey recently…
These are individual attempts.

But they're very extreme. The Israeli Consulate has been picketed. It's been ugly.
There have been democratic demonstrations … There are demonstrations in the United States, even in Israel. Everything we have said is against the current Israeli government, nothing against Jews. In my speeches I have stated very clearly that anyone who even thinks about doing anything against the Jews in Turkey will find me against them.
Of course, I'm not going to ask Olmert to write my speeches.

Is your relationship with Israel over?
We have a serious relationship. But the current Israeli government should check itself. They should not exploit this issue for the upcoming elections in Israel.

Do you expect President Barack Obama to play a more even-handed role between the Palestinians and the Israelis?
There is no justice right now. We expect justice from now on.ClapClap

Edited by Sign*Reader - 20 February 2009 at 11:12pm
Kismet Domino: Faith/Courage/Liberty/Abundance/Selfishness/Immorality/Apathy/Bondage or extinction.
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Quote abuayisha Replybullet Posted: 20 February 2009 at 9:17pm
Excellent post. Very refreshing to hear straight talk.
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Quote hat2010 Replybullet Posted: 04 March 2009 at 11:03am
Yoni Goodman, director of animation for the Academy Award-nominated film, "Waltz with Bashir", talks about the process of making his new animated film on the closure of Gaza together with the human rights group Gisha.
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Quote abuayisha Replybullet Posted: 24 March 2009 at 7:02am
From The Times
March 20, 2009

Israeli soldiers admit to deliberate killing of Gaza civilians


(Ali Ali/EPA)

Palestininian women beside the rubble of their houses. Israeli soldiers were allegedly ordered to throw furniture out of homes

James Hider in Jerusalem
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The Israeli army has been forced to open an investigation into the conduct of its troops in Gaza after damning testimony from its own front line soldiers revealed the killing of civilians and rules of engagement so lax that one combatant said that they amounted on occasion to “cold-blooded murder”.

The revelations, compiled by the head of an Israel military academy who declared that he was “shocked” at the findings, come as international rights groups are calling for independent inquiries into the conduct of both sides in the three-week Israeli offensive against Palestinian Islamists.

The soldiers’ testimonies include accounts of an unarmed old woman being shot at a distance of 100 yards, a woman and her two children being killed after Israeli soldiers ordered them from their house into the line of fire of a sniper and soldiers clearing houses by shooting anyone they encountered on sight.

“That’s the beauty of Gaza. You see a man walking, he doesn’t have to have a weapon, and you can shoot him,” one soldier told Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy, who asked him why a company commander ordered an elderly woman to be shot.

"I gathered the graduate students of the course who fought in Gaza, to hear their impressions from the fighting. I wasn't prepared for any of the stuff I heard there. I was shocked,” Mr Zamir said. “I think that the writing was on the wall, but we just didn't want to see it, we didn't want to face it."

One non-commissioned officer told Mr Zamir, himself a deputy battalion commander in the reserves, that the army “fired a lot of rounds and killed a lot of people in order for us not to be injured or shot at.

"When we entered a house, we were supposed to bust down the door and start shooting inside and just go up storey by storey? I call that murder. Each storey, if we identify a person, we shoot them. I asked myself – how is this reasonable?"

The same unnamed NCO said that his commanding officer ordered soldiers on to a rooftop to shoot an old woman crossing a main street during the fighting, which a Palestinian rights groups said left 1,434 people dead, 960 of them civilians.

"I don't know whether she was suspicious, not suspicious, I don't know her story,” the NCO said. “I do know that my officer sent people to the roof in order to take her out? It was cold-blooded murder."

Another NCO recounted a military blunder that led to a mother and her two children being shot dead by an Israeli sniper. "We had taken over the house? and the family was released and told to go right. A mother and two children got confused and went left? The sniper on the roof wasn't told that this was okay and that he shouldn't shoot? you can say he just did what he was told? he was told not to let anyone approach the left flank and he shot at them.

"I don't know whether he first shot at their feet or not, but he killed them," the soldier said.

The soldiers’ accounts were submitted anonymously at a meeting at the academy around a month ago. The Israel army said that it had started an investigation, but that this was the first time it had heard such testimony, despite having debriefed troops itself.

Breaking The Silence, an organisation of former soldiers who gather witness accounts from troops in the Palestinian territories, said that its own investigation into Operation Cast Lead, as the war was known in Israel, had revealed a similar picture of the fighting.

“It’s definitely in line with what we are hearing,” said one of the researchers.

Another disturbing element reported by the soldiers was the role of military rabbis in distributing booklets that framed the fighting as a religious war. “All these articles had a clear message: we are the Jewish people, we have come to the land by miraculous means, and now we have to fight to remove the Gentiles who are getting in our way and preventing us from occupying the Holy Land? a great many soldiers had a feeling throughout this operation of a religious war,” said one soldier.

There were also accounts of soldiers being ordered to throw all the furniture out of Palestinians’ homes as they were taken over.

“We simply threw everything out the windows to make room and order. The entire contents of the house flew out the windows: refrigerator, plates, furniture. The order was to remove the entire contents of the house.”

Edited by abuayisha - 24 March 2009 at 7:03am
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Quote abuayisha Replybullet Posted: 30 March 2009 at 6:47am

Oliphant Israel-Gaza cartoon called 'hideously anti-Semitic'

Jeremy Gantz
Published: Wednesday March 25, 2009

The latest cartoon by the most widely syndicated political cartoonist in the world has raised the ire of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism.

The ADL's director called the syndicated cartoon, published Wednesday and reprinted below, "hideously anti-Semitic."

"Pat Oliphant's outlandish and offensive use of the Star of David in combination with Nazi-like imagery is hideously anti-Semitic," Abraham Foxman said in a statement released Wednesday. "It employs Nazi imagery by portraying Israel as a jack-booted, goose-stepping headless apparition. The implication is of an Israeli policy without a head or a heart."

As of late Wednesday, Oliphant had not responded publicly to the ADL's criticism of the cartoon.

Israel in late December launched a three-week offensive in Gaza which left over 1,300 Palestinians dead and countless homes destroyed. The offensive was a retaliation for Palestine rocket attacks on Israeli territory. Rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli military responses have occurred sporadically since the end of the offensive.

On Monday, a United Nations expert called called for a probe to assess if the Israeli forces could differentiate between civilian and military targets in Gaza. A U.S. State Department spokesman called that official's views "biased."

The cartoon by the Pulitzer-Prize winning Australian native was published by the Washington Post, Slate, and Yahoo! News, among other publications and websites.

Oliphant, who has published 20 books collecting his drawings, is no stranger to controversy, having once said that political correctness "drives me crazy." His cartoons upset the Asian American Journalists Association in 2001 and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in 2005.

But while Oliphant's work has made him enemies, it has also won him accolades: He has won the National Cartoonist Society Editorial Cartoon Award, along with a Pulitzer.

Oliphant's cartoon comes barely one month after a New York Post cartoon depicting a dead chimp triggered protests. Protesters believed the chimp represented President Barack Obama and demanded the newspaper be shut down. Post Publisher Rupert Murdoch later apologized for the cartoon.

Edited by abuayisha - 30 March 2009 at 6:48am
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Quote hat2010 Replybullet Posted: 04 April 2009 at 3:00pm
Israeli 'Investigators' Whitewash Gaza Killings

Israeli 'Investigators' Whitewash Gaza Killings

Dorsett Bennett
Israel Defense Forces ends Gaza probe, says misconduct claims are 'rumors'

(SALEM, Ore.) - It has been politically not advisable to say anything negative about how Israel deals with the Arabs who greatly outnumber and surround them.

The horrors inflicted upon the Jewish people in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s are not deniable by anyone with a rational mind. The United States was the strongest supporter of the creation of Israel in 1948. Almost immediately the armies of several nearby Arab countries invaded Israel. Atrocities were committed by both sides.

Many of us have seen examples via a film re-creation or archived German film on how the German army crushed the Jewish Warsaw ghetto towards the end of World War II, which had risen up in rebellion when Soviet forces got close to the city.

The Soviet army stopped their advance on the Polish capital, giving the Germans plenty of time to destroy the Jewish revolt. That was more than 60 years ago. The Israeli Defense forces attacking Gaza was more akin to the Germans crushing the Warsaw ghetto, then it was a battle between two armies, because Gaza and Hamas have police, but no army.

The IDF was certainly not as brutal as the Germans, but abuses did occur, and it appears that those abuses are being covered up. American supporters of Israel should not do so blindly, and should insist that a new cease-fire be entered, and that the blockade of Gaza be ended.

This week Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit instructed the Military Police Investigation unit to close the inquiry into soldiers' accounts of alleged misconduct and serious violations of the army's rules of engagement during [the assault on Gaza].

He said it was unfortunate that the soldiers, who discussed their Gaza experiences in private on Feb. 13 at a military academy session which was later leaked verbatim to the media, had been careless about accuracy.

"It will be difficult to evaluate the damage done to the image and morals [of the armed forces] in Israel and the world", his statement said.

In a press release issued Monday the army said that the preliminary Military Police investigation into the testimonies revealed that they "were based on hearsay and not first-hand experience."

The probe was launched earlier this month after IDF soldiers were quoted as telling a military cadet academy that combat troops in Gaza fired at unarmed Palestinian civilians and vandalized property during "Operation Cast Lead."

Witnesses barred from speaking to the press

The army has barred those soldiers from speaking to the press. This is not dissimilar to Israel neither denying nor admitting that it possesses nuclear weapons. The allegations about the Gaza incidents first surfaced in the media on March 19th.

The testimonies include a description by an infantry squad leader of an incident where an IDF sharpshooter mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her two children.

"There was a house with a family inside ... We put them in a room. Later we left the house and another platoon entered it, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sniper position on the roof," the soldier said.

Another squad leader from the same brigade told of an incident where the company commander ordered that an elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed; she was walking on a road about 100 meters from a house the company had commandeered.

Calls for independent investigation

IDF investigators said the soldier who alleged that a comrade was given orders to shoot an elderly woman had not witnessed such an event and "was only repeating a rumor he had heard". They noted, on the other hand, that a woman who approached troops and was suspected of being a suicide bomber had been fired upon repeatedly to try to stop her advancing at them.

The Israeli human rights groups B'Tselem, Yesh Din, Physicians for Human Rights and others issued a statement Monday saying "the speedy closing of the investigation immediately raises suspicions that [it] was merely the army's attempt to wipe its hands of all blame for illegal activity ... "

The groups said the allegations should be investigated by a non-partisan body.

Acknowledgments to Haaretz
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Quote abuayisha Replybullet Posted: 05 April 2009 at 6:41am

Goldstone to head UNHRC Gaza inquiry

By Ron Kampeas · April 3, 2009

(JTA) -- A Jewish South African with close ties to Israel will head a U.N. inquiry into war crimes during Israel's recent war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Richard Goldstone, a trustee of Hebrew University, will head the commission appointed Friday by the U.N.'s Human Rights Council.

Israel did not say whether it will cooperate; it has in the past ignored other UNHRC probes, noting the body's tendency to single out Israel for criticism while ignoring other major violators.

Goldstone, who headed war crimes prosecutions in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, said he would investigate alleged war crimes by both sides.

"It's in the interest of the victims," Goldstone said in Geneva, where the UNHRC is headquartered. "It brings acknowledgment of what happened to them. It can assist the healing process."

He said his Jewishness and ties to Israel were added values. "I've taken a deep interest in what happens in Israel," he said. "I'm associated with organizations that have worked in Israel. And I believe I can approach the daunting task that I have accepted in an evenhanded and impartial manner."

Joining him on the commission are Christine Chinkin, a British professor of international law; Pakistani lawyer Hina Jilani; and retired Irish Army Col. Desmond Travers.

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Quote abuayisha Replybullet Posted: 06 April 2009 at 7:08am

Changing the rules of war

George Bisharat

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The extent of Israel's brutality against Palestinian civilians in its 22-day pounding of the Gaza Strip is gradually surfacing. Israeli soldiers are testifying to lax rules of engagement tantamount to a license to kill. One soldier commented: "That's what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn't have to be with a weapon, you don't have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him."

What is less appreciated is how Israel is also brutalizing international law, in ways that may long outlast the demolition of Gaza.

Since 2001, Israeli military lawyers have pushed to re-classify military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from the law enforcement model mandated by the law of occupation to one of armed conflict. Under the former, soldiers of an occupying army must arrest, rather than kill, opponents, and generally must use the minimum force necessary to quell disturbances.

While in armed conflict, a military is still constrained by the laws of war - including the duty to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and the duty to avoid attacks causing disproportionate harm to civilian persons or objects - the standard permits far greater uses of force.

Israel pressed the shift to justify its assassinations of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, which clearly violated settled international law. Israel had practiced "targeted killings" since the 1970s - always denying that it did so - but had recently stepped up their frequency, by spectacular means (such as air strikes) that rendered denial futile.

President Bill Clinton charged the 2001 Mitchell Committee with investigating the causes of the second Palestinian uprising and recommending how to restore calm in the region. Israeli lawyers pleaded their case to the committee for armed conflict. The committee responded by criticizing the blanket application of the model to the uprising, but did not repudiate it altogether.

Today, most observers - including Amnesty International - tacitly accept Israel's framing of the conflict in Gaza as an armed conflict, as their criticism of Israel's actions in terms of the duties of distinction and the principle of proportionality betrays. This shift, if accepted, would encourage occupiers to follow Israel's lead, externalizing military control while shedding all responsibilities to occupied populations.

Israel's campaign to rewrite international law to its advantage is deliberate and knowing. As the former head of Israel's 20-lawyer International Law Division in the Military Advocate General's office, Daniel Reisner, recently stated: "If you do something for long enough, the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries ... International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal molds. Eight years later, it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy."

In the Gaza fighting, Israel has again tried to transform international law through violations. For example, its military lawyers authorized the bombing of a police cadet graduation ceremony, killing at least 63 young Palestinian men. Under international law, such deliberate killings of civilian police are war crimes. Yet Israel treats all employees of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip as terrorists, and thus combatants. Secretaries, court clerks, housing officials, judges - all were, in Israeli eyes, legitimate targets for liquidation.

Israeli jurists also instructed military commanders that any Palestinian who failed to evacuate a building or area after warnings of an impending bombardment was a "voluntary human shield" and thus a participant in combat, subject to lawful attack. One method of warning employed by Israeli gunners, dubbed "knocking on the roof," was to fire first at a building's corner, then, a few minutes later, to strike more structurally vulnerable points. To imagine that Gazan civilians - penned into the tiny Gaza Strip by Israeli troops, and surrounded by the chaos of battle - understood this signal is fanciful at best.

Israel has a lengthy history of unpunished abuses of international law - among the most flagrant its decades-long colonization of the West Bank. To its credit, much of the world has refused to ratify Israel's violations. Unfortunately, our government is an exception, having frequently provided diplomatic cover for Israel's abuses. Our diplomats have vetoed 42 U.N. Security Council resolutions to shelter Israel from the consequences of its often illegal behavior.

We must break that habit now, or see international law perverted in ways that can harm us all. Our government has already been seduced to follow, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Israel's example of targeted killings. This policy alienates civilians, innocently killed and wounded in these crude strikes, and deepens the determination of enemies to harm us by any means possible.

We do not want civilian police in the United States to be bombed, nor to have anyone "knock on our roofs." For our own sakes and for the world's, Israel's impunity must end.

George Bisharat is a professor of law at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, and writes frequently on law and politics in the Middle East.

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