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Forum Post: America And Its Allies

Posted 9 months ago on July 5, 2013, 9:32 p.m. EST by LeoYo (4825)
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UN Accuses Israel of Torturing Palestinian Children

Friday, 05 July 2013 12:00 By Jessica Desvarieux, The Real News Network | Video Report

http://truth-out.org/news/item/17405-un-accuses-israel-of-torturing-palestinian-children

Shir Hever: Israeli forces proven to be using Palestinian children as human shields despite attempts to cover it up to protect image.

TRANSCRIPT:

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

A United Nations human rights body recently accused Israeli forces of abusing Palestinian children. There is a whole list of abuses, ranging from torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.

Here to discuss all this is Shir Hever. Shir is an economist studying the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories for the Alternative Information Center, a joint Palestinian-Israeli organization dedicated to publishing alternative information and analysis.

Thank you for joining us, Shir.

SHIR HEVER, ECONOMIST, ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION CENTER: Thank you for having me.

DESVARIEUX: So, Shir, what is actually new about this report?

HEVER: In many ways this is not new at all. The Israeli forces have been abusing Palestinian children ever since the occupation began, and especially starting from 1987 with the first intifada. Israel has arrested thousands of minors, and as young as seven years old, and have kept them in solitary confinement at times. Some of them were kept in administrative detention, which means that no charges were pressed against them and they were nevertheless kept in prison. And that sort of treatment certainly is not something new, but periodically the international organizations look a little bit more into that.

Now, what's starting to be a bit new now is the fact that an Israeli organization, actually, called B'Tselem published a report called No Minor Matter. And this report was published in 2011. It takes the UN a little bit of time to process this data, and they found that based on this information, there is a real concern that the human rights of Palestinian children are regularly violated by the Israeli army and by the Israeli police. And now they published their report two years later, by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

DESVARIEUX: And why would the Israeli government continue to do such things, continue with these practices, essentially, if it's just such terrible PR for them?

HEVER: The Israeli government is very concerned about its international image, and you're right that the sort of activities that the Israeli government is doing, when they get publication, when there are videos that come out that show Israeli soldiers beating Palestinian children or torturing them, that is something that of course harms Israel's image around the world.

I think the Israeli government is much more concerned about the image than about the moral concerns, than about the actual lives and safety of Palestinian children. And indeed the Israeli government is trying to limit those bad-looking incidents, those bad PR instances. In a law from September 2011, Israel has recognized for the first time after about 45 years of occupation that Palestinian children would be considered children until the age of 18 rather than until of age of 16. So they would have the same age categories as Israeli children.

But despite that decision, Palestinian children are still being tried by martial court, by military court, and in the Hebrew language, which is not their language, so often they don't understand what they're being accused of, what they're signing, what they are admitting. They are not allowed the rights to see a lawyer, to have an adult or their parent in the room while they're being interrogated is not observed. So these violations continue.

And one of the reasons for this is that there is a sort of disconnect inside the Israeli political and military system between the part that looks outward, that tries to improve Israel's foreign relations, and the part that looks inward that is more concerned with gaining popularity and mobilizing the public for more solidarity with the national cause against Palestinians and for the occupation.

The Israeli army has hired philosophers to write its ethical code, and these military philosophers wrote that when it comes to choosing between the safety of Israeli soldiers and the safety of enemies or even foreign civilians regardless of their age, the Israeli soldiers should always prefer the safety of themselves, of the Israeli soldiers. And an Israeli blogger, Yossi Gurvitz, commented on that--not legislation--that recommendation that it actually means that if the Israelis would believe that they could tie Palestinian children to their tank and surround their tank by bodies of Palestinian children to deter Palestinians from shooting at that tank, there is actually no moral reason for them not to do so according to this ethical book of the Israeli military. This is the sort of message that the Israeli soldiers are receiving--Palestinian children are dispensable and the lives of Israeli soldiers is sacred. And that's why one of the most key issues in that report by the United Nations human rights council, but also in other reports, is the issue of human shields.

DESVARIEUX: And the issue of human shields, have you looked at the data? Have you seen that there's an increase of abuses in the recent government, the Netanyahu government, compared to the governments of the past?

HEVER: I think the amount of human shield use that we see or the frequency of the use of human shields is not correlated to which government is in power, but it's correlated to when there are wars, when there are invasions.

Actually, the Netanyahu government is a bit concerned about launching a massive invasion into Gaza like the previous government in 2008 until the beginning of 2009. And in that attack, a group of soldiers actually forced Palestinian children at gunpoint to open doors for them or to check suspicious objects for them for fear that they might be bombed, so if it is a bomb, the child would explode rather than the soldiers.

And in one case there were two Israeli soldiers that were actually accused in an Israeli court of using that procedure, because according to the Israeli law this is illegal. These two soldiers have forced at gunpoint Palestinian children to open bags for them, so that if there's a bomb in the bag, the child will be harmed rather than the soldier. And even though they were convicted, they only received suspended sentences. So they didn't serve one day in jail for something that is a very serious offense. And, of course, that sends a message to the other soldiers: they can continue to do so. So that's the real story about human shields.

I think since that attack on Gaza in 2008, 2009, there were fewer cases in which Israeli soldiers needed to resort to using Palestinian children as human shields, although, according to the UN report, there were cases nevertheless. But I think next time the Israeli army invades a Palestinian city and starts going door-to-door, the Israeli soldiers have already gotten the message that if they use Palestinian children as human shields, they're probably not going to be punished by an Israeli court.

DESVARIEUX: Well, thank you for joining us, Shir.

HEVER: Thank you, Jessica.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.


Spain: We were Told Snowden was on Bolivia Plane

http://news.yahoo.com/spain-were-told-snowden-bolivia-plane-173406207.html

MADRID (AP) — Spain on Friday said it had been warned along with other European countries that former U.S. intelligence worker Edward Snowden was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane this week, an acknowledgement that the manhunt for the fugitive leaker had something to do with the plane's unexpected diversion to Austria. It is unclear whether the United States, which has told its European allies that it wants Snowden back, warned Madrid about the Bolivian president's plane. U.S. officials will not detail their conversations with European countries, except to say that they have stated the U.S.'s general position that it wants Snowden back.

President Barack Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden's movements, saying last month that he wouldn't be "scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker."

But the drama surrounding the flight of Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose plane was abruptly rerouted to Vienna after apparently being denied permission to fly over France, suggests that pressure is being applied behind the scenes.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Spanish National Television that "they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside."

He did not identify who "they" were and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the U.S. But he said that European countries' decisions were based on the tip. France has since sent a letter of apology to the Bolivian government.

Meanwhile, secret-spilling website WikiLeaks said that Snowden, who is still believed to be stuck in a Moscow airport's transit area, had put in asylum applications to six new countries.

The organization said in a message posted to Twitter on Friday that it wouldn't be identifying the countries involved "due to attempted U.S. interference."

A number of countries have already rejected asylum applications from Snowden.

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[-] 1 points by LeoYo (4825) 9 months ago

Forcing Down the Bolivian President's Plane Was an Act of Piracy

Friday, 05 July 2013 12:11 By John Pilger, Truthout | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17408-forcing-down-the-bolivian-presidents-plane-was-an-act-of-piracy

Imagine the aircraft of the President of France being forced down in Latin America on "suspicion" that it was carrying a political refugee to safety - and not just any refugee, but someone who has provided the people of the world with proof of criminal activity on an epic scale. Imagine the response from Paris, let alone the "international community," as the governments of the West call themselves. To a chorus of baying indignation from Whitehall to Washington, Brussels to Madrid, heroic special forces would be dispatched to rescue their leader and, as sport, smash up the source of such flagrant international gangsterism. Editorials would cheer them on, perhaps reminding readers that this kind of piracy was exhibited by the German Reich in the 1930s.

The forcing down of Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane - denied air space by France, Spain and Portugal, followed by his 14-hour confinement while Austrian officials demanded to "inspect" his aircraft for the "fugitive" Edward Snowden - was an act of air piracy and state terrorism. It was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world and the cowardice and hypocrisy of bystanders who dare not speak its name.

In Moscow for a summit of gas-producing nations, Morales had been asked about Snowden, who remains trapped in Moscow airport. "If there were a request [for political asylum]," he said, "of course, we would be willing to debate and consider the idea." That was clearly enough provocation for the Godfather. "We have been in touch with a range of countries that had a chance of having Snowden land or travel through their country," said a US state department official. The French - having squealed about Washington spying on their every move, as revealed by Snowden - were first off the mark, followed by the Portuguese. The Spanish then did their bit by enforcing a flight ban of their airspace, giving the Godfather's Viennese hirelings enough time to find out if Snowden was indeed invoking article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."

Those paid to keep the record straight have played their part with a cat-and-mouse media game that reinforces the Godfather's lie that this heroic young man is running from a system of justice, rather than preordained, vindictive incarceration that amounts to torture. Ask Bradley Manning and the living ghosts in Guantanamo.

Historians seem to agree that the rise of fascism in Europe might have been averted had the liberal or left political class understood the true nature of its enemy. The parallels today are very different, but the Damocles sword over Snowden - like the casual abduction of the Bolivian president - ought to stir us into recognizing the true nature of the enemy.

Snowden's revelations are not merely about privacy, nor civil liberty, nor even mass spying. They are about the unmentionable: that the democratic facades of the United States now barely conceal a systematic gangsterism historically identified with if not necessarily the same as fascism. On Tuesday, a US drone killed 16 people in North Waziristan, "where many of the world's most dangerous militants live," said the few paragraphs I read. That by far the world's most dangerous militants had hurled the drones was not a consideration. President Obama personally sends them every Tuesday.

In his acceptance of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature, Harold Pinter referred to "a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed." He asked why "the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities" of the Soviet Union were well known in the West while America's crimes were "superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged." The most enduring silence of the modern era covered the extinction and dispossession of countless human beings by a rampant America and its agents. "But you wouldn't know it," said Pinter. "It never happened. Even while it was happening it never happened. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."

This hidden history - not really hidden, of course, but excluded from the consciousness of societies drilled in American myths and priorities - has never been more vulnerable to exposure. Edward Snowden's whistleblowing, like that of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, threatens to break the silence Pinter described. In revealing a vast Orwellian police state apparatus servicing history's greatest war-making machine, they illuminate the true extremism of the 21st century. Unprecedented, Germany's Der Spiegel has described the Obama administration as "soft totalitarianism." If the penny is finally falling, we might all look closer to home.

Copyright, Truthout.