Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR 28 Nov. – Kerja-kerja menurap dan menyelenggara jalan raya yang tidak dipantau secara serius oleh pihak berkuasa bertanggungjawab menyebabkan ia dibuat tidak mengikut spesifikasi ditetapkan.
Ketua Kluster Kejuruteraan, Teknologi dan Alam Bina Majlis Profesor Negara, Prof. Datuk Dr. Ahmad Darus berkata, kerja itu perlu diteliti dan dipantau secara serius kerana ia menyumbang kepada risiko kemalangan jalan raya selain meningkatkan kos penyelenggaraan yang terpaksa ditanggung kerajaan.
“Justeru, pihak berkenaan perlu membuat pemeriksaan mengejut bagi memastikan kerja dilakukan mengikut piawaian ditetapkan bagi mengelak berlaku kerosakan berulang,” katanya kepada Utusan
28 Nov. - Foto pra-perkahwinan pasangan pengantin baru Islam yang merakamkan aksi intim sebelum majlis akad nikah, dikategorikan sebagai budaya haram di sisi Islam. JAKARTA
Kelaziman bakal pengantin beragama Islam merakamkan foto secara intim termasuk berpelukan dan berbaring di atas katil sebelum sah bergelar suami isteri daripada segi hukum adalah bertentangan dengan ajaran Islam.
Sehubungan itu, Institut Kebudayaan Melayu Jambi mengeluarkan kenyataan bahawa budaya berkenaan harus dicegah seiring dengan fatwa yang dikeluarkan oleh Majlis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) berhubung isu yang sama.
Menurut pengerusi bahagian kajian dan pembangunan institut berkenaan, Djunaidi T. Noer, amalan merakamkan foto pra-perkahwinan bukanlah budaya masyarakat Jambi dan tersasar daripada hukum Syariah.
"Kami menyeru agar semua pasangan yang bertunang dan pengantin beragama Islam supaya tidak merakamkan foto pra-perkahwinan seperti berpeluk, berbaring antara satu sama lain di katil dan sebagainya. Ia merupakan haram," tegas Djunaidi seperti dilaporkan akhbar The Jakarta Post, hari ini…
Ulasan: Elakkan membuat maksiat kerana ini akan menjejaskan kebahagiaan rumah tangga yang akan dibina.
KAHERAH 28 Nov. – Rakyat Mesir hari ini keluar mengundi pada pilihan raya Parlimen pertama negara ini, selepas bekas Presiden Hosni Mubarak disingkirkan dalam satu pemberontakan pada Februari lalu.
Di Kaherah, pengundi beratur panjang di luar pusat-pusat pengudian sebelum ia dibuka, satu petanda luar biasa yang ditunjukkan orang ramai yang berminat dengan politik selepas berdekad-dekad menunjukkan sikap acuh tidak acuh.
“Saya mengundi untuk kebebasan. Kami telah lama hidup seperti hamba. Kini kami mahukan keadilan dan kebebasan,” kata Iris Nawar, 50, di daerah Maadi, pinggir bandar Kaherah.
Parti-parti Islam yang diiktiraf secara rasmi selepas kejatuhan Mubarak, dijangka menang besar dalam pilihan raya tiga pusingan itu yang akan berlangsung sehingga 10 Januari ini.
Parlimen baru perlu membentuk satu jawatankuasa untuk merangka Perlembagaan baru sebelum pilihan raya Presiden yang akan diadakan pada akhir Jun tahun depan. – Agensi..
28 Nov. - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak meminta rakyat memilih semula Barisan Nasional (BN) pada Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13 (PRU13) supaya setiap program transformasi yang dirancang oleh kerajaan sejak dua setengah tahun yang lalu dapat diteruskan…. KUALA LUMPUR
Ulasan: Jangan hanya anggap hanya BN yang boleh memerintah Malaysia sampai hari kiamat. Cukuplah BN memerintah negara sejak merdeka. Kini kita ada pilihan untuk bertukar kerajaan. Ke arah kerajaan pusat Pakatan Rakyat yang membenci rasuah dan membenci penyelewengan wang rakyat.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Muhyiddin minta rakyat Kedah tak ulangi kesilapan
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Erdoğan said during his Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary meeting that “for the welfare of your own people and the region, just leave that seat.”
“Assad is showing up and saying he would fight to the death. For God's Sake, against whom will you fight? Fighting against your own people is not heroism, but cowardice. If you want to see someone who has fought until death against his own people, just look at Nazi Germany, just look at Hitler, at [Benito] Mussolini, at Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania,” he said. “If you cannot draw any lessons from them, then look at the Libyan leader who was killed just 32 days ago in a manner none of us would wish for and who used the same expression you used.”
The prime minister referred to Assad's remarks over the weekend, when the Syrian leader defiantly vowed to fight and die if needed as an Arab League deadline for his government to stop its lethal crackdown on protesters expired with 20 more people killed.
Condemning Monday's attack on three buses carrying returning Turkish pilgrims to Turkey passing through Syria, Erdoğan called on Assad to find the perpetrators of the attack as well as those responsible for earlier attacks on Turkish missions in Syria. Erdoğan has grown increasingly critical of the Syrian regime and said last week that the world must urgently “hear the screams” of Syria and do something to stop the bloodshed...
Comment: A reminder from your neighbour.
Hamadi Jebali yang merupakan Setiausaha Agung Parti Ennahda, parti yang memperolehi undi majoriti dalam pilihan raya bulan lalu, dilantik menjadi Perdana Menteri manakala jawatan utama lain seperti Presiden dan Pengerusi Dewan Perhimpunan akan dibahagikan antara dua parti sayap kiri.
Moncef Marzouki dari Kongres bagi Parti Republik (CPR) akan menjadi Presiden dan dan Mustapha Ben Jaafar dari Parti Ettakatol akan mempengerusikan Dewan Perhimpunan untuk mendraf Perlembagaan baru.
Seramai 217 anggota dewan baru akan berhimpun buat pertama kalinya hari ini bagi mengesahkan tiga jawatan itu.
Dewan Perhimpunan didominasi oleh Parti Ennahda, parti yang diilhamkan oleh Ikhwan Muslimin dengan memiliki 89 kerusi, sementara Parti CPR dan Ettakatol masing-masing mempunyai 29 dan 22 kerusi perwakilan. – AFP
Ulasan: Bekerjasama untuk keadilan rakyat.
Khamis lalu, Jabatan Agama Islam Sarawak (JAIS) memanggil lima peserta Miss Borneo 2011 yang beragama Islam untuk sesi kaunseling selepas dikatakan berpakaian menjolok mata dalam gambar promosi acara itu…
Ulasan: Atau nak melihat kesungguhan kita mempertahan maruah kita?
Beliau berkata, pihak berkuasa yang turut membiarkan warga asing berniaga tanpa ada penguatkuasaan juga tidak terkecuali daripada dikenakan tindakan sewajarnya.
Ulasan: Kenapa orang kita mudah mengambil jalan pintas untuk berjaya? Usaha sendiri akan menjadikan kita lebih berpengalaman. Bukan hanya tahu jual lesen.
Tiada laporan polis terhadap Liong Sik
KUALA LUMPUR 16 Nov. – Tiada sebarang laporan polis yang dibuat khusus terhadap bekas Menteri Pengangkutan, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik sehingga ke hari ini berhubung dakwaan penipuan dalam projek Zon Bebas Pelabuhan Klang (PKFZ).Pegawai penyiasat, Supritendan R. Rajagopal memberitahu Mahkamah Tinggi di sini hari ini, laporan khusus daripada Perdana Menteri ketika itu, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad berhubung penipuan yang didakwa dilakukan juga tidak dibuat terhadap Liong Sik…
Liong Sik, 67, dibicarakan atas tuduhan menipu Kerajaan Malaysia dengan tidak mendedahkan kepada Jemaah Menteri fakta-fakta berkaitan pembelian tanah membabitkan RM1.08 bilion antara 25 September dan 6 November 2002 di Tingkat 4, Pejabat Perdana Menteri, Bangunan Perdana Putra, Putrajaya.
Ulasan: Tun pun menipu wang rakyat juga?
Kedua-dua pihak juga bersetuju dengan beberapa pindaan yang akan menjaga kebajikan pembantu rumah dan majikan termasuk potongan gaji oleh majikan, bayaran dikenakan oleh agensi, kursus dan cuti mingguan…
Ulasan: Elakkan menjadikan pembantu rumah kita sebagai gundik, isteri tidak rasmi; bini gelap. Isteri sewajarnya lebih berhati-hati dalam perkara ini.
Friday, November 11, 2011
In A Road to Mecca, filmmaker George Misch sets out to explore the frontline between the Muslim world and the West. His guide for this journey is a man from the past - somebody who, 80 years earlier, crossed all boundaries between countries, cultures and religions.
Leopold Weiss was born a Jew on the edge of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1900. But his story would unfold far away in the deserts of Arabia.
Feeling restless and unhappy in Europe, in 1922 Weiss accepted an uncle's invitation to join him in Jerusalem. But what began as a family visit soon turned into a life-changing journey.
Weiss enjoyed the hospitality of the Arabs he met in the Middle East and was enchanted by their lifestyle. With the passion of an explorer, he began to travel across the region.
His travels and encounters nurtured in him a sense that Zionism was causing a great injustice to the Palestinian Arabs. In Jerusalem, he got into heated arguments with the leaders of the Zionist movement and began to feel at a greater distance from the religion of his ancestors than ever before.
"Islam should be presented without any fanaticism. Without any stress on our having the only possible way and the others are lost. Moderation in all forms is a basic demand of Islam." - Muhammad Asad.
As he discovered the Muslims of the Middle East, Weiss also discovered Islam - studying the Quran and finding not only the answer to the spiritual emptiness he had felt but also an alternative to the materialism of Europe's Roaring Twenties. In Saudi Arabia, Weiss felt truly at home, writing: "I am no longer a stranger."
Curious to get to know other Muslim communities, in 1932 Asad left Saudi Arabia - travelling to Turkistan, China and Indonesia. In India, he met poet and philosopher Muhammad Iqbal. Iqbal dreamed of creating a separate Islamic state as a solution to the bloodshed between Indian Muslims and Hindus. Iqbal's vision of Pakistan quickly became Asad's own dream.
Asad campaigned for the creation of Pakistan by writing books, giving public lectures and hosting radio programmes. He also drafted the outline for an Islamic constitution in which equal rights for women were secured.
In 1951, Asad became Pakistan's envoy to the United Nations. But to his dismay he was forced out of the position after just one year. Deeply disappointed, he turned his back on politics, deciding instead to write his autobiography in the hope that it would promote better understanding between Muslims and the West. The Road to Mecca quickly became a bestseller.
By 1970, Asad had grown increasingly concerned that the Quran was being misinterpreted and misused for political goals. This motivated him to undertake his biggest challenge: a new translation of and commentary on the Quran. He settled in Morocco and estimated that it would take him four years to complete. Seventeen years later it was finished. He dedicated it to "people who think".
"Every age requires a new approach to the Quran for the simple reason that the Quran is made for all ages. It is our duty to look for deeper meanings in the Quran in order to increase our knowledge and experience. The Quran wants your intellect to be always active and trying to approach the message of God. God himself dedicated this book to people who think." - Muhammad Asad.Despite the fact that Asad today has a loyal following among those who share an interest in his writings and an intellectual affiliation with him, his translation was not embraced by all. Rumour has it that there were even book burnings of Asad's Quran.
Emotionally and financially exhausted, he withdrew to Europe - settling in Spain in 1987. He planned to revise his translation once more but old age and prolonged illness prevented him from completing it. On February 20, 1992, he died, alone and secluded.
KUALA LUMPUR, 9 Nov: PKR menasihatkan menteri dan wakil rakyat BN segera menjawab dakwaan mengenai penyelewengan dana rakyat melalui National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFC).
Setiausahanya, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail berkata, selagi mereka mengelak daripada menjawab dakwaan ini, rakyat akan terus mempersoalkan penyelewengan yang terbukti melalui pemindahan dana berjumlah RM83 juta ke syarikat-syarikat milik keluarga Menteri Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil.
Selain itu, penyelewengan juga terbukti memalui perbelanjaan luar negara dan keraian melampau sehingga mencecah RM828,000 setahun dan pemberian subsidi sebanyak RM3 juta menggunakan wang rakyat kepada restoran Meatworks milik keluarga Shahrizat.
"Ketiga-tiga perkara ini masih belum dijawab menteri dan wakil BN. Semakin lama mereka mengelak, semakin rakyat yakin bahawa BN cuba melindungi penyelewengan dalam NFC," kata beliau pada sidang media di lobi Parlimen hari ini.
Mengulas lanjut mengenai NFC, Saifuddin yang juga Ahli Parlimen Machang berkata, tindakan Menteri Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani, Datuk Noh Omar dan Ahli Parlimen Rembau, Khairy Jamaludin mempertahankan hanya RM181 juta daripada RM250 juta pinjaman disalurkan kepada NFC adalah satu pembohongan.
"Dalam kes pinjaman RM250 juta yang diambil NFC, PKR telah membuktikan bahawa wang-wang pinjaman sebanyak RM130 juta iaitu bayaran pertama dan RM120 juta iatu bayaran kedua telah masuk ke akaun milik NFC.
"Bukti jelas menunjukkan keseluruhan RM250 juta disalurkan kepada NFC berdasarkan rekod penyata bank, bukannya diletakkan dalam escrow account seperti yang dinyatakan BN," jelasnya.
Tambahnya, akaun-akaun NFC di Maybank dan Public bank bukan atas nama pihak ketiga seperti konsep berbentuk amanah (escrow account) tapi atas nama NFC.
Penjelasan Noh bahawa wang selebihnya masih berada dalam escrow account yang dikawal kementeriannya juga tidak boleh diterima kerana daripada rekod kewangan NFC, pelbagai perbelanjaan melampau dan pindahan wang dibuat sepanjang tahun 2008 dan 2009.
Selain itu, Saifuddin turut mempersoal cara perbelanjaan melampau yang dilakukan NFC sehingga aset bersihnya berjumlah RM239 juta pada 31 Disember 2009 jika Noh mendakwa hanya RM181 juta yang disalurkan.
"Ini adalah kepincangan-kepincangan alasan yang diberikan oleh BN setakat ini yang cuba mengaburi mata rakyat," katanya.
Ulasan: Mana SPRM? Mana Shahrizat? Wajarkah Menteri berbohong? Wajarkah pembohongan dilakukan di Parlimen? Mana Speaker? Yang bersalah perlu dihukum.
KUALA LUMPUR, 9 Nov: Tindakan Kerajaan BN untuk mewujudkan sebuah entiti baru, National Sewerage Company (Nascom) disifatkan hanya membuang duit pembayar cukai, masa dan tenaga, malah untuk menyelamatkan sebuah syarikat GLC yang makin nazak dengan mengorbankan sebuah jabatan kerajaan.
Kewujudan Nascom seperti yang dicadangkan oleh Kementerian Tenaga, teknologi Hijau dan Air itu adalah untuk menggantikan atau ‘rebranding’ Indah Water Konsortium yang melibatkan penggabungan antara Indah Water Konsortium dengan Jabatan Perkhidmatan Pembetungan.
Ahli Parlimen Padang Terap, Nasir Zakaria berkata, dengan kewujudan entiti baru itu bermakna Jabatan Perkhidmatan Pembetungan akan dimansuhkan dan semua kerja-kerja pelaksanaan projek pembetungan negara, operasi dan penyelengaraan loji rawatan kumbahan akan diambil alih pihak Nascom yang merupakan sebuah entiti swasta.
Menurut beliau, tindakan untuk rebranding itu adalah perbuatan yang hanya membuang duit pembayar cukai kerana proses tersebut seumpama mengecat kereta yang lama untuk kelihatan baru, sedangkan enjin dan lain-lain komponen dalaman masih lama.
Katanya, tindakan tersebut adalah suatu kerja yang membuang masa dan tenaga, sedangkan Jabatan Perkhidmatan Pembetungan ditubuhkan dahulu setelah pihak IWK gagal dalam melaksanakan pembinaan loji-loji rawatan kumbahan.
"Disebabkan kegagalan IWK itu kerajaan terpaksa menghadkan fungsi IWK hanya kepada kepada kerja-kerja operasi loji dan penyelenggaraan sahaja dalam tahun 2000, manakala projek-projek kerajaan diletakkan di bawah Jabatan Perkhidmatan Pembetungan.
"Dengan tertubuhnya sebuah entiti ini, semua projek-projek penyediaan prasarana pembetungan yang kini dikawal selia oleh Jabatan Perkhidmatan Pembetungan yang dianggarkan berjumlah 6.8 billion akan diuruskan oleh sebuah badan swasta yang mempunyai track record bermasalah dalam mentadbir projek dan membuka peluang kepada ketirisan duit rakyat," katanya.
Berucap membahaskan Rang Undang-undang Perbekalan 2012 Peringkat Jawatankuasa pada persidangan Dewan Rakyat, hari ini, beliau berkata, maklumat dalaman IWK yang dimaklumkan kepada beliau menjelaskan bahawa cadangan tersebut akan dimajukan oleh kementerian terbabit untuk kelulusan dalam masa terdekat.
Oleh itu, beliau memohon agar kajian lanjut dan terperinci diadakan sebelum pihak jemaah menteri membuat sebarang keputusan mengenainya.
"Kita melihat usaha untuk menutup jabatan kerajaan ini adalah satu tindakan yang akan menghakis konsep check and balance dalam pengurusan pembetungan negara, di samping akan menguatkan lagi monopoli IWK dalam industri pembetungan," tegasnya.
Dalam cadangan yang dikemukakan oleh pihak kementerian terbabit, tambahnya, selain cadangan untuk menutup jabatan kerajaan bagi menyelamatkan IWK, terdapat juga cadangan untuk menaikkan tariff pembetungan selain permohonan mendapatkan suntikan modal daripada pihak kerajaan untuk memulakan entiti baru itu.
"Kita risau sekiranya ini berlaku, maka peristiwa lama sejarah penubuhan IWK akan berulang dan syarikat akan terus rugi sepertimana sekarang. Kita tidak mahu pisang berbuah dua kali.
"Kita ingin cadangkan agar pengurusan sistem pembetungan diserahkan kembali kepada pihak Majlis Tempatan masing-masing sepertimana sebelum tahun 1994 sebelum akta Perkhidmatan Pembetungan 1994 di gubal," ujarnya.
Telah hampir 18 tahun berlalu, tegasnya, didapati konsep penswastaan sistem pembetungan negara yang diserahkan kepada pihak IWK lebih menjurus kepada kegagalan dan pihak kerajaan terpaksa menanggung kerugian setiap tahun dengan pemberian subsidi dan lain-lain bantuan kepada IWK.
"Kita melihat fungsi Jabatan Perkhidmatan Pembetungan masih relevan dan penting untuk melaksanakan projek-projek pembetungan negara di seluruh negara dan sepatutnya jabatan ini tidak harus ditutup, sebaliknya perlu diperbesarkan lagi fungsinya dan jabatan itu sendiri .
"Kita tidak mahu pihak kerajaan melepas tangan dalam melaksanakan penyediaan prasarana pembetungan negara yang sebenarnya setanding dengan kepentingan menyediakan prasarana air minum," katanya.
Kerajaan, tegas beliau, telah banyak membantu pihak IWK melalui pemberian suntikan modal dan juga perlantikan sebagai Projek Management Consultant (PMC) secara lantikan terus untuk projek-projek pembetungan.
Menurutnya, sedangkan Kementerian Kewangan telah mengeluarkan pekeliling untuk tidak membenarkan sebarang perlantikan PMC untuk projek-projek kerajaan kerana penggunaan PMC didapati tidak efisien dan menambahkan kos projek.
"Sedangkan IWK masih diberi peranan tersebut dalam melaksanakan projek-projek kerajaan dan mendapat bayaran yang lumayan," katanya.
Beliau hairan, kenapa IWK diberi keistimewaan seperti itu, sedangkan pihak Kementerian Kewangan sendiri telah menegaskan ketidakperluan perlantikan PMC dalam projek-projek kerajaan.
"Adakah ini satu proses penyaluran dana kepada pihak IWK secara tidak langsung? Malah IWK juga telah mengutip bil pembetungan di Jelutong secara percuma kerana kos penyelenggaraan Loji Jelutong dan lain-lain kos berkaitan loji itu masih ditanggung oleh pihak kontraktor yang telah menyiapkan loji tersebut beberapa tahun yang lalu.
"Ini bermakna pihak IWK dapat mengutip bil dari pengguna tanpa perlu mengeluarkan belanja kos untuk loji rawatan kumbahan Jelutong. Ini adalah satu perniagaan yang paling menguntungkan di dunia ini iaitu tanpa mengeluarkan modal masih dapat pendapatan," tambahnya.
Sehingga ke tahap ini, katanya, kerajaan cuba membantu pihak IWK tetapi masih tetap mengalami kerugian demi kerugian.
"Kita juga dimaklumkan pihak IWK telah diberi pelbagai bantuan daripada pihak kerajaan melalui pelbagai sumber, namun masih tetap gagal dan rugi," ujarnya.
Beliau juga hairan bagaimana IWK yang kerugian saban tahun mampu memberikan bonus kepada kakitangan-kakitangannya yang mencecah ribuan orang, di samping cadangan pihak pengurusan IWK untuk menggantikan semua kereta-kereta Perdana untuk pihak pengurusan IWK kepada kereta-kereta import Volkswagen.
Beliau turut bertanya menteri terbabit mengenai Majlis Perjanjian Kontrak bagi pembinaan Loji Rawatan Kumbahan Pantai 2 Wilayah Persekutuan yang diadakan pada 3 November lalu di Pusat Komuniti Bukit Bandaraya, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, antara pihak kerajaan Malaysia dan Syarikat Beijing Enterprise Water Group Limited (BEWG) dari China.
"Projek itu bernilai RM1 bilion dan akan dibiayai kementerian terbabit. Berdasarkan tinjauan yang dibuat, didapati bahawa harga pembinaan loji rawatan kumbahan bawah tanah itu adalah terlalu tinggi.
"Saya ingin menegaskan di sini bahawa dengan konsep dan teknologi yang dicadangkan itu, loji tersebut dapat dibina oleh kontraktor tempatan dengan harga yang tidak mencecah RM500 juta dan mungkin lebih rendah sekiranya dibuat tawaran secara terder terbuka.
"Mengikut pakar-pakar system pembetungan juga, system yang akan di buat oleh pihak BEWG itu tiada sebarang keistimewaan dan biasa sahaja. Malah lebih menakutkan apabila didapati system yang diperkenalkan itu juga tidak pernah mendapat sebarang kelulusan daripada pihak Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara dan tidak pernah digunakan di Malaysia.
"Kita amat hairan kenapa projek ini di buat dalam keadaan tergesa-gesa seperti cuba menyembunyikan sesuatu kepada rakyat," katanya….
Ulasan: Pusing-pusing, sama saja gaya BN/UMNO. Hanya fikir bagaimana untuk menghabiskan wang rakyat.
Ynetnews Published: 09.27.11
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is advocating imposing UN sanctions on Israel. In an interview with Time magazine the Turkish leader said that had prospective UN sanctions been imposed on Israel "the Palestine-Israel conflict would have been resolved a long time ago."
Appearing at the UN General Assembly Erdogan claimed that the US approach towards the Middle East peace process had failed. Asked what he would have done differently, Erdogan said: "Do we really want to resolve this issue or not? Unfortunately, I do not even see traces of this within the Quartet. Because if the Quartet was so willing to resolve this issue, they would have imposed certain issues on Israel today.
"Until today, the UN Security Council has issued more than 89 resolutions on prospective sanctions related to Israel, but they've never been executed. And furthermore, there were about 200 resolutions issued by the General Assembly and neither have those been complied with."
He further added: "One might wonder why no sanctions have been imposed on Israel. When it's Iran in question, you impose sanctions. Similarly with Sudan. What happens with Israel then?"
Erdogan also criticized the make-up of the Security Council: "What's the deal with these permanent seat holding members in the Security Council? They should be eliminated. The entire world is literally a slave to the decisions of these five permanent seat holders."
On the issue of the diplomatic crisis with Israel, Erdogan blamed Israel for "victimizing the positive relations of two countries with (its 2010 raid) on the Mavi Marmara."
The Turkish premier also stressed relations between Ankara and Jerusalem will never become normalized until Israel apologizes for the deaths of nine Turkish citizens, pays compensation to the families of the victims and lifts the Gaza blockade.
He claimed the flotillas were carrying nothing but humanitarian aid and mentioned that one of the casualties was an American citizen of Turkish decent.
"And right now the Israeli Prime Minister still alleges that the flotillas were actually loaded with weapons. Had they possessed the weapons that were alleged, why didn't they fire back? There are reports issued by both the UN Security Council and UN agencies in Geneva about this incident and you never see the slightest trace that the flotillas were carrying guns. The Israeli government is not being honest at all. "
Addressing the Palestinian bid for statehood, Erdogan said that first and foremost the Security Council must accept the proposal. He added: "Israel first seems to have accepted going back to the borders of 1967, but somehow seemed to have got distanced from this ideal. They need to get closer back to it.
"Through TIME, I'd like to make a call out to humanity: (the Palestinians) are there to exist. They are not there to be condemned to struggle in an open-air penitentiary. Israel's cruelty in that regard cannot be continued any longer. "
There is a disturbing lack of historical perspective to the Clinton administration's efforts during its first days in office to shield Israel from United Nations sanctions. Like former Secretary of State James Baker's repeated assertion that both sides must want peace for it to occur, the Clinton-Rabin agreement ignores the sorry record of the 26 years since Israel's conquest of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. During that period Israel has unequivocally demonstrated that it does not want peace in exchange for territory. Its insistence on expelling Palestinians who oppose the occupation and on establishing Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are only the latest manifestations of its desire to retain them. Equally important in revealing its true policy is Israel's successful record of resisting American and other peace initiatives over the years.
These include defeating such imaginative initiatives and tireless mediators as the U.N.'s Gunnar Jarring in the late 1960s, Secretary of State William Rogers' major peace proposals of 1969, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy of the mid-1970s, the lackadaisical journeys of Secretary of State George Shultz in the 1980s, and the intense Bush and Baker efforts of 1991 and 1992. The one success was Jimmy Carter's Camp David process.
However, the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was unique. It came at the expense of the Palestinians, which was by Israeli design, and in exchange for Sinai, to which Israel never laid claim. Moreover, Israel received in return for signing the peace treaty with Egypt commitments from the U. S. that have now reached a level of economic and military aid unsurpassed in our history.
The result is that Israel has managed to retain what it has wanted most: East Jerusalem and the West Bank. After so many diplomatic initiatives, it seems fair to conclude Israel does not want peace on any terms but its own.
An end to expulsions is only the latest demand of the international community on Israel, whose defiance goes back to its very beginnings. There remain on the books of the United Nations a collection of resolutions criticizing Israel unmatched by the record of any other nation.
These resolutions, which now number 66, contain the international community's list of indictments against the Jewish state. The basic issues were all spelled out even before the 1967 Security Council resolution calling for a land-for-peace settlement.
Core Issues and Major Themes
The core issues, as contained in resolutions passed before 1967, remain the Palestinian refugee problem, the status of Jerusalem, and the location of Israel's boundaries. These are the basic issues. They spring from 1948, not 1967.
The early U.N. resolutions call for Israel to repatriate or compensate the original 750,000 refugees of 1948-9 and to renounce Jerusalem as its capital and regard it as a corpus separatum, an international city dominated by neither Arab nor Israeli. (The U. S. position on Jerusalem is slightly different and, not surprisingly, closer to Israel's. It says Jerusalem should not be a divided city and its final status should be decided by the parties.) Finally, the original U.N. partition of Palestine awarded Israel an area only about three-quarters of its current official size. Israel's increase was gained at the expense of the Palestinians in the earlier conquests of 1948.
Other unreconciled issues from this earlier period include such sticky situations as a demilitarized zone that Israel had shared with Syria near the Sea of Galilee. Israel forcefully and unlawfully occupied this zone in the 1950s and 1960s, in defiance of its 1949 armistice with Syria. This deception predates Syria's complaints about Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967. The zone is now integrated into Israel's economy and infrastructure. But Syria retains a legitimate claim to it as disputed territory to be decided only after negotiations.
Aside from the core issues—refugees, Jerusalem, borders—the major themes reflected in the U.N. resolutions against Israel over the years are its unlawful attacks on its neighbors; its violations of the human rights of the Palestinians, including deportations, demolitions of homes and other collective punishments; its confiscation of Palestinian land; its establishment of illegal settlements; and its refusal to abide by the U.N. Charter and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
A History of U.S. Vetoes
There is another major area, largely ignored, that at some point must be faced. It involves the serious distortion of the official Security Council record by the profligate use by the United States of its veto power. In 29 separate cases between 1972 and 1991, the United States has vetoed resolutions critical of Israel. Except for the U.S. veto, these resolutions would have passed and the total number of resolutions against Israel would now equal 95 instead of 66.
These resolutions would have broadened the record by affirming the right of Palestinian self-determination, by calling on Israel to abandon its repressive measures against the Palestinian intifada, by sending U.N. Observers into the occupied territories to monitor Israel's behavior and, most serious, by imposing sanctions against Israel if it did not abide by the Council's resolutions.
Such a list of resolutions passed and resolutions vetoed is unparalleled in United Nations history. The list in itself forms a stunning indictment of Israel's unlawful and uncivilized actions over a period of 45 years and of America's complicity in them.
The point is that aggressors have always answered the question of whether they want peace by their actions. If the United States really wants peace in the Middle East, it must insist that Israel abide by the judgment of the world community as expressed in resolutions by the United Nations. The U.S. can do this at any time simply by forsaking the use of the veto and joining the world consensus. Anything less makes a sham of the peace process, and is demeaning to leaders of a democratic country.
Friday, November 04, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, 4 Nov: Dewan Muslimat PAS Pusat (DMPP) mempersoal pihak polis yang baru tahun ini bertindak mengharamkan Festival Seksualiti Merdeka sedangkan ia sudah wujud sejak 2008 lagi.
Meskipun menyambut baik pengharaman tersebut, Ketua Penerangannya, Aiman Athirah Al Jundi berkata, polis hanya bertindak apabila rakyat bangkit membantah walaupun jelas program tersebut seolah-olah menghina kedudukan agama Islam sebagai agama rasmi Persekutuan.
"Persoalannya, mengapa baru tahun ini pihak berkuasa menyedari adanya acara ini? Bolehkah kita simpulkan bahawa PDRM dan pihak-pihak berkuasa yang lain selama tiga tahun yang lepas gagal menjalankan tugas mereka?
"Apakah sudah menjadi budaya Pentadbiran Umno BN yang akan hanya bertindak bila rakyat kebanyakan mula menunjukkan bantahan atau lebih malang jika ianya membabitkan individu atau pihak yang tidak seiringan dengan Umno BN?" soalnya dalam kenyataan kepada Harakahdaily....
Ulasan: Menunjukkan kerajaan BN tidak serius dengan maksiat.
NEW YORK 3 Nov. - Presiden Amerika Syarikat (AS), Barack Obama mengungguli senarai orang paling berkuasa di dunia tahun ini menurut majalah Forbes, pengaruh yang semakin meningkat sejak pembunuhan pemimpin al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden dan diktator Libya, Muammar Gaddafi baru-baru ini...
Ulasan: Berkuasa tapi masih dalam kocek Yahudi. Merdekakah jiwa sebegini? Jadi pelakon atau pengarah? Yang hebatnya financiers. Duit telah menenggelamkan ramai manusia.
JAKARTA 1 Nov. — Pekerja Indonesia di Malaysia dilaporkan mengirim pulang wang ke tanah air berjumlah AS$1.7 bilion (RM5.27 bilion) pada suku ketiga tahun ini, menurut rekod Bank Indonesia (BI)…
Ulasan: Pastikan dari kerja yang halal saja.
NEW YORK 3 Nov. - Presiden Amerika Syarikat (AS), Barack Obama mengungguli senarai orang paling berkuasa di dunia tahun ini menurut majalah Forbes , pengaruh yang semakin meningkat sejak pembunuhan pemimpin al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden dan diktator Libya, Muammar Gaddafi baru-baru ini...
Ulasan: Berkuasa tapi dalam ikut perintah Yahudi.
They come from across the planet and meet in the shadow of Israel's 12m concrete wall. They strap olive saplings and water bottles to the back of a donkey, silent under its burden. Former police officers from Sweden, German punks, Australian conservationists, leftist activists from the US, South African priests, and a Celtic fringe of Welsh students join Israeli anarchists and Palestinian pacifists.
These are the guerilla gardeners of the occupied West Bank.
And it's a growing movement, with more than 120 international volunteers arriving in Bethlehem governorate alone to assist with this year's harvest.
"Guerilla gardening" has its roots among the Levellers and the Diggers of mid-17th Century England, but today has branches spanning the globe. From Toronto to Moscow, cabals of city-dwelling horticulturalists have sprung up in most population centres with any form of urban anarchist presence.
Seeking to "reclaim public space from its corporate governors", these green-fingered activists plant flowers, sometimes vegetables, in waste ground under overpasses, at the side of roads and in the centres of cities where concrete has long since replaced living, breathing flora and fauna.
But in the occupied Palestinian territories, it is a slightly different story.
Here, it isn't merely a symbolic attempt to reclaim pockets of neglected or misused terrain. Here, farmers and their band of globalist shovel-toting supporters are locked into what they see as a life-or-death struggle to resist an illegal land grab.
More than half a million olive trees have been uprooted or destroyed by Israeli civil and military forces in the past 10 years, according to the Palestinian ministry of agriculture, while the fates of hundreds of farming communities are tied to the humble plant - a tree renowned for its symbolism since before the time of Noah. The Palestinians' largely agricultural economy has traditionally been dependent on its harvest - olive oil, soap, lamp fuel - let alone the fruit itself - as well as the olive wood Nativity carvings sold to tourists in Bethlehem's old city - they have all been central to the Palestinian economy for hundreds of years.
But the olive tree has now found itself pitted in a battle for survival.
Farmers losing their grove
As the more-than 120 illegal Israeli settlements expand further into occupied Palestinian territory, it is Palestine's olive farmers who often find themselves facing violence.
"When I saw them cutting down the trees I felt as if my heart was being uprooted from between my lungs," said Izzat Abu Latifa, a farmer from Jab'a, near Bethlehem.
At 7 am on Tuesday, February 22, Abu Latifa got a phone call to tell him that Israeli troops were on his family's farmland - adjacent to route 367, a road between illegal Israeli settlements - and were taking chainsaws to the trees.
When he arrived at the field that his family had cultivated for the past 40 years, he said he found soldiers had cut down 150 trees and were poisoning the roots.
"I planted every year as many trees as I could manage and now they come to destroy what I have been working on," he said. "Olive trees are holy; what faith, what religion allows this to happen? How does any human being have the heart to kill trees like this?"
The commanding officer told Abu Latifa his trees had been planted on Israeli state land, despite the farmer producing the legal title deeds document.
But just a few months later, under the noses of the military - and as the watchtowers loom above - the guerilla gardeners (and their donkeys) get to work.
"We've planted 8,600 trees this season, a total of 69,300 since this programme began in 2001," said Baha Hilo, coordinator of the Olive Tree Campaign at the Joint Advocacy Initiative of the East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine.
There is a law dating from the Ottoman empire in 1853, says Hilo, which states that any land left uncultivated for three years reverts to state ownership. "This law was introduced to boost tax revenues - because the Ottomans wanted food producers to produce," Hilo told Al Jazeera.
"But Israel applies the same law and blames the Ottomans in order to confiscate land within the occupied West Bank - except that the land becomes 'property' of the state of Israel, not the Ottoman empire.
"Our campaign is to help Palestinian farmers maintain ownership of their property - and once olive trees are planted, it is evidence that the land is being cultivated."
The joint YMCA-YWCA project is primarily an advocacy campaign, says Hilo. "We take the stories from the ground to the sponsors of the trees," he says.
"When a field is taken by Israel, it's no longer just the farmer who it is being taken from, but from all the international sponsors all over the world."
On Abu Latifa's land, Hilo's team of volunteers get to digging and planting.
"The Israelis had destroyed 100 trees. We came back with 300"
- Baha Hilo, Olive Tree campaign coordinator
"In another example, there is Ahmed Barguth from Al Walaja [another village on the outskirts of Bethlehem]. In June last year, the Israeli military put his family under house arrest, and then destroyed his farmland to build a road. We called up the sponsors of the trees, and a few months later, we went in with about 50 people. The Israelis had destroyed 100 trees. We came back with 300.
"We got all the olive trees and we all lined up in an assembly line and we each took a pickaxe and got to work. The army kept their distance that day and there was no confrontation. We had people from Norway, Japan, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands and Italy.
Among the group were "church members, retired doctors, youth workers, teachers, retired military men", aged between 18 and 84 years old. "Men and women, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, communist - you name it," said Hilo.
The 'blessed' tree
The tree is deemed holy, blessed by Allah, according to the Quran, and can live to be hundreds of years old. In Jerusalem's Garden of Gethsemane, it is claimed the olive trees are the very same plants that Jesus and his followers prayed under.
"We're not a militia, our weapons are our pickaxes and shovels, our hands and our olive trees."
"When you're driving on brand new roads, and you come across a 500-year-old olive tree on a brand new road junction - you have to ask yourself: 'Where did that tree come from? Has it grown there for hundreds of years, and this road just happen to come across it?' The answer is: 'No, of course not. This is a tree which has been taken from somewhere else - from someone else - and probably from someone whose family has been tending to these trees for generations,'" says Hilo.
When Al Jazeera contacted the Israeli government for comment, spokesperson Mark Regev denied knowledge of the use of the Ottoman law, and the Palestinian horticultural resistance campaign, saying: "I'm not aware of it."
In the 2009 paper Uprooting identities: The regulation of olive trees in the occupied West Bank published in the Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Prof Irus Braverman uncovered some strong opinions on the subject:
"Like children, their trees look so naive, as if they can’t harm anyone. But like [their] children, several years later they turn into a ticking bomb," Chief Inspector Kishik, of Israel’s Civil Administration, told her.
The Israeli quest to "make the desert bloom" is older than the state of Israel itself. Since the 1920s, members of the pre-Israel Zionist movement attempted to massively boost food production, to prove to the British administrators of its "Palestine mandate" that the country could provide homes to more Jewish immigrants.
Indeed, since 1901, the Jewish National Fund has planted more than 240 million trees, mostly pine, across Israel - notably in the occupied Golan Heights.
Covering up history
But the planting of European pine trees was also intended, after 1948, to cover the remains of decimated Arab villages, says Alice Gray, professor of environmental studies at Al-Quds Bard Honors College.
"While Israel is widely credited... with having 'miraculously' greened the desert, less widely acknowledged is the fact that they destroyed the lower Jordan river system, the Dead Sea and the Coastal Aquifer while they were doing it."
- Professor Alice Gray
"The JNF's planting campaign ensured that farmers would be unable to return to their land, as pines alter the chemistry of the soil - preventing the development of agricultural crops," says Prof Gray.
This rezoning of the land to state-owned plantation "de-legitimises" other forms of land use, such as grazing by Bedouin herds or low-tech faming by fellahin [peasants], she told Al Jazeera.
"While Israel is widely credited with being at the cutting edge of thrifty water use techniques, such as drip irrigation and wastewater treatment and reuse, and with having 'miraculously' greened the desert, less widely acknowledged is the fact that they destroyed the lower Jordan river system, the Dead Sea and the Coastal Aquifer while they were doing it," said Gray.
The latest development in this struggle of eco-warfare is the planting of a 12 km strip of eucalyptus trees, at a cost estimated at 7 million shekels ($2m), along the edge of the Gaza Strip. The planting has already begun, according to the Israeli military.
"We are planting trees that will grow and provide cover," Lieutenant Cololonel Ilan Dayan said. "A person firing an anti-tank missile needs a line of sight to the target. If he doesn't have one, he has a serious problem."
Jewish National Fund chairman Efi Stenzler added: "We believe that the same JNF trees that have protected Golan Heights residents from the Syrians will now protect the residents of the south."
Major General Tal Russo, recently appointed commander of Israel's Southern Command, said the project reminded him of his upbringing on a kibbutz. "For me this is the completion of a cycle," he said. "I was born into the strategic security forestation in the Hula Valley, which was then used to defend from Syrian shelling. This was the first project placed on my desk as I came into this position. The project ... expresses the brave connection to the communities surrounding Gaza, and allows us to upgrade our mission of defending the southern communities with environmental benefits.
"Despite Hamas' recent efforts to challenge us, we stand strong. We are training, preparing and equipping ourselves to defend the residents of southern Israel. We will not accept the threat to [our] communities and will continue operating to preserve the peace in the south."
The risks of introducing non-native species
But planting the non-native eucalyptus, which agriculturalists note "has a reputation for developing extensive root structures", may pose other risks, such as lowering the water table in an already arid zone.
One other problem with planting eucalyptus trees close to communities they are intended to protect is the reported increased danger from fire. It is not necessarily that the trees themselves are explosive, per se. But, on a hot day, the vapour of the trees' oily sap forms a highly flammable cloud. In addition, the leaf and branch litter in eucalyptus forests is drier than other trees' litter due to the nature of the trees' canopy preventing sunlight aiding decomposition.
Following the Sydney bushfires of January 1994, Reuters reported: "The explosive nature of the eucalyptus and the abundance of fuel produces a very intense fire that 'crowns' - leaps from tree top to tree top ... The fierce blazes have been stoked by the highly volatile oils of the eucalyptus tree, which vaporise under intense radiative heat as the fire approaches and explode, with flames sometimes towering as high as 230 feet [70m]." [Michael Perry, "Sydney Bushfires Fuelled By Exploding Eucalyptus," Reuters World Service, January 10, 1994]
This is no problem for the trees, it turns out. Eucalyptus trees are noted for their ability to withstand fire. Indeed, a strong fire every five years or so is understood to aid the development of a eucalyptus forest.
The same, however, cannot be said for those who have their homes near to such forests. When fire tore through the Berkeley-Oakland Hills eucalyptus groves in 1991, 24 people were killed as 3,000 homes were destroyed.
"The explosive nature of the eucalyptus and the abundance of fuel produces a very intense fire."
Reuters report on the 1994 Sydney bushfires
Back in Palestine, the guerilla gardeners aren't the only grassroots green group poised to blossom in the occupied territories' parched valleys. In addition to her classroom teaching, Professor Alice Gray also runs Bustan Qaraaqa, a permaculture-oriented agriculture project which teaches Palestinian and international volunteers innovative water management and farming techniques.
"I hope that there is a general increase in the consciousness of the connection between politics and the environment - and a realisation that we are not passive actors in all of this, that everyone has the power to take control to some extent over their relationship with the environment and start trying to interact with it constructively. Of course, we think that permaculture provides a tool-set for doing this," says Prof Gray.
"It is also about not accepting the power-structures prescribed by the oppressors and trying to creatively circumvent them somehow - which works right up until the point that they bring the bulldozers and the big guns. This is why it is not really enough to 'go home and garden' - we also need the political and legal activism that will try to contain the most destructive elements of the occupation.
"All we are doing here is trying to ensure that there is a country left that is worth arguing over when all is said and done ... Whenever the hell that is."
You can follow James Brownsell on Twitter: @JamesBrownsell
Two boats carrying 24 peace activists and journalists have set sail towards the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip in the latest attempt to break the Israeli siege on the Palestinian enclave.
For months the activists have been preparing for the flotilla while maintaining a total media blackout in a bid not to draw attention from their host nation, Turkey.
Al Jazeera's David Poort spoke to Canadian linguistics professor David Heap, who is a member of the steering committee on board the Tahrir, or Canadian boat to Gaza.
What is the scale of this new attempt to break the siege on Gaza?
Here on the Tahrir we have 12 people, both activists and journalists. The activists are from Canada, Australia, Germany and the USA.
The journalists are from a number of different countries, representing Al Jazeera, Press TV, Democracy Now and other - mostly online - publications.
There is a second boat, the Irish boat Saoirse, with a slightly smaller group of passengers. We have left the port of Fethiye in southwest Turkey and are now in international waters. The Irish ship joined us from the same area.
Is this the same group of people who were behind the flotilla that was blocked by Greece this summer?
Roughly, yes. The Tahrir was part of the Freedom Flotilla in June-July that tried to leave from Athens. Much of our delegation consists of the same people. Some of the people could not come, but it is the same organisation.
Why did you choose Turkey for the launch of this new attempt?
The Turkish government has been creating more distance from Israel diplomatically and we know there is support from Turkish society for what we are doing. And our judgment was that the Turkish state would not interfere with us, if we didn't make too much of a public issue of our plan to depart from there.
That implies that the Turks knew about this flotilla ...
I think that Turkey, like any other country, has ways of finding out what people are doing within their borders. But given that our application for departure didn't declare our destination as Gaza - our stated destination was a port in northern Cyprus, which is not a controversial departure - they do not have to take official notice of what we are doing.
So Turkey can pretend it didn't know about this flotilla?
Well, we didn't want to put Turkey in a spot. States do what states have to do. The Turkish government will take its own position with respect to Gaza, with respect to Israel and with respect to the occupation of Palestine. We know that it is evolving in an interesting direction, but if we declared our destination as Gaza; that forces them to take a position with respect to us trying to challenge the blockade by breaking it.
We've reached international waters. What is next?
We have some distance to cover between where we are now and Palestinian territorial waters of Gaza - our destination. Obviously we are going to avoid going through Israeli territorial waters. Our plan is to go directly from international waters into the territorial waters of Gaza - within a couple of days. We're not, at this point, going to state exactly when. We will choose our moment to what is favourable to what we are trying to do.
What would you say to sceptics who might say, "Another flotilla? I’m tired of it!"
I would say that the Palestinians of Gaza are more tired of the blockade than we are tired of trying to break it. As long as they are calling for people of conscience around the world to challenge the blockade - and they said as recently as last month that they expect us on their shores - then I don't think we should stop. We have to keep challenging the blockade everywhere we can.
This is one of the ways - not the only way - to challenge the blockade.
The blockade is not going to be lifted from lack of pressure. Every light that we shine of the injustice of the blockade makes it harder to maintain. What makes it easy to maintain is when people ignore it and don't do anything about it.
As with the prisoner exchange: it is not something that happens in a vacuum.
It happens in a context of civil society mobilising to put pressure on governments to do what they should be doing, which is ending an illegal and inhuman blockade.
Isn't it time to come up with a new way to address this?
Well, the sea is not the only part of the blockade. It is also on the landside of Israel and Egypt.
So it is a complex blockade and we are challenging one side of it. But we don't forget the other side. The fundamental human right here is about the movement of human beings. While we bring some aid with us to Gaza because they asked us for some specific items, and you don’t go empty handed to this kind of event, our real point is that it doesn't matter how much stuff gets in.
If you are in prison and you get wonderful meals and wonderful medical attention, you are still in a prison. The Palestinians of Gaza still don't have freedom of movement until they control at least one of their borders.
What Israel is doing is state terrorism. It is trying to reach a political goal through punishing a population, which is a textbook definition of terrorism.
If they have security goals, they are much better ways to achieve these. The blockade perpetuates the conflict and worsens the situation, for both sides.
Did the recent prisoner swap have anything to do with the timing of this new flotilla to Gaza?
We would be going now whether [Sergeant Gilad] Shalit would be released or not. Again, this is what state entities have to negotiate with each other.
They said they would never negotiate with Hamas, and in fact they did. This is proof that anybody can talk to anybody. When they say they will never lift the blockade, the fact is that someday they will.
David Heap is a linguistics professor at the University of Western Ontario and a member of the Canadian Boat to Gaza steering committee.
The Tahrir, or Canadian Boat to Gaza, and the MV Saoirse, the Irish boat to Gaza, left the port of Fethiye in southwest Turkey on Wednesday after Turkish authorities gave them permission to sail to the Greek island of Rhodes.
The Turkish coast guard briefly escorted the ships before the Tahrir and Saoirse took a turn towards Gaza.
Al Jazeera's Casey Kauffman, on board one of the ships, said that in total it would be a 50-hour journey, and they were currently one-fifth of the way there.
"Everyone on the boat wants to get to Gaza," he said, adding that while the activists are prepared for the possibility of an Israeli interception, the initiative will not be wasted.
"It will still bring attention to the situation in Gaza, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip."
The Israeli navy issued a statement saying it was prepared to contact the two vessels.
"The Israel navy has completed the necessary preparations in order to prevent them from reaching the Gaza Strip," the statement said.
Sailing under the flag of the Comoros Islands, the Tahrir is carrying six activists, a captain and five journalists.
The Saoirse - sailing under the US flag - has 12 Irish nationals on board, none of whom are journalists.
David Heap, a member of the steering committee on board the Tahrir, told Al Jazeera that the activists chose to leave from Fethiye because of the strained relations between Turkey and Israel.
"The Turkish government has been creating more distance from Israel diplomatically and we know there is support from Turkish society for what we are doing.
"Our judgment was that the Turkish state would not interfere with us if we didn’t make too much of a public issue of our plan to depart from there," Heap told Al Jazeera.
It will take at least a couple of days before the boats reach the Palestinian waters of the Gaza Strip, where they expect to be approached by the Israeli navy.Freedom Waves
"We have some distance to cover between where we are now and Palestinian territorial waters of Gaza.
"Obviously we are going to avoid going through Israeli territorial waters.
"Our plan is to go directly from international waters into the territorial waters of Gaza - within a couple of days.
"We're not, at this point, going to state exactly when. We will choose our moment to what is favourable to what we are trying to do," Heap said.
The activists say the new attempt the break the siege on the Gaza Strip is part of a campaign they call "freedom waves", implying that more such efforts will follow.
Both ships were part of previous attempts to break the siege on the Gaza Strip that was stalled when the Greek government refused to let a flotilla leave from its shores in July this year.
The Tahrir, the larger ship of the two, was intercepted by the Greek coast guard with more than 30 pro-Palestinian activists onboard.
Two of them were detained for defying Greece's ban on setting sail to Gaza. The vessel was stopped about 10 minutes after it left port on the island of Crete.
The Irish boat allegedly suffered damage when it was sabotaged while waiting to join the flotilla from Turkish waters. The ship has since been repaired and kept in dry-dock in Turkey.
Robert Naiman, 30 Oct 2011 09:07
In the world of principle and international law, the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza - which until now blocks Gazans from traveling to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and blocks Gazans from exporting, farming, fishing, and otherwise earning their living - is a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bars the use of "collective punishment" against a civilian population living under occupation.
The International Committee of the Red Cross - a key guardian of the Fourth Geneva Convention - has stated this clearly. As Voice of America reported:
"The International Committee of the Red Cross says Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip breaks international law. The humanitarian agency said Monday that the blockade violates the Geneva Convention, which bans 'collective punishment' of a civilian population."
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 - on the Red Cross website- says: "No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited ... Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited."
"Protected persons" are defined in Article 4: "Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals."
But whether we like it or not, in the world of practical affairs, other things matter besides principle and law.
In practice, the issue of the Gaza blockade has been entangled with issue of the captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. As the Washington Post has noted, "The blockade was widely seen as a punitive measure driven in large part by the outrage that Shalit's abduction in 2006 generated in Israel."
Hamas officials have said that Israel pledged to lift the Gaza blockade as part of the prisoner exchange that freed Shalit. Egyptian officials have also indicated that lifting the blockade was part of the deal. But Israeli officials have said that Israel did not agree to lift the blockade.
Whether lifting the blockade was part of the deal or not, Shalit's release should cause the international community to urgently revisit the issue of the Gaza blockade.
First, there is never a bad time to revisit a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and the ongoing denial of the basic human rights of 1.6 million people.
Second, although the captivity of Shalit was not a legitimate justification for the blockade, it was a key justification nonetheless. That key justification has been removed.
Third, as press reports have indicated, in achieving the prisoner exchange deal that had long eluded them, both Israel and Hamas were responding to changed dynamics in the region as a result of the Arab Spring. Both Israel and Hamas compromised longstanding positions to achieve the deal; both Israel and Hamas responded to pressure from Egypt and others to compromise to achieve the deal.
This development naturally begs the question: Given these changed dynamics, what else could be achieved as a result of new pressure on the parties to compromise? Could a lifting of the blockade be achieved? Is there any good reason why the international community should not try to achieve this?
Lynn Pascoe, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, has just made exactly this argument to the Security Council:
A senior United Nations official has called on the Israeli government to lift the siege that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for five years. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe told a Security Council meeting on the Middle East and the Palestine Issue that the prisoner exchange agreement should lead to further steps towards ending the closure of Gaza, where a significant portion of the population are food insecure and dependent on humanitarian assistance.
"We reiterate our call on Israel for more far-reaching steps to ease its land closures and facilitate the entry of construction materials into Gaza, free movement of people in both directions and exports from Gaza, with due consideration for Israel's legitimate security concerns," he said.
To his everlasting credit, when Gilad Shalit was released from captivity, he used his megaphone to press for the release of prisoners, peace and reconciliation. "I will be very happy if all these prisoners are freed so that they can go back to their families, loved ones, territories - it will give me great happiness if this happens," Shalit told Egyptian TV. "I hope this deal will help with the conclusion of a peace deal with the Israelis and Palestinians and I hope that cooperation links between the two sides will be consolidated."
The international community should follow Gilad Shalit's noble lead. Lift the siege of Gaza now.
Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.
Turkey has been scoring high in economic development. This has already improved the self-confidence of the Turkish people and the government to speak more loudly in the international arena.
If John L. Casti was right in his “Mood Matters,” where he claimed that the rise and fall of civilizations is contingent on the attitudes a society holds toward the future, then we are certainly observing a rising star from within. The mood in Turkey is quite positive, and the country is already convinced it can reach targets that at one time no one gave any credence to. Five years ago, when the prime minister declared a $500 billion export target for 2023, even exporters were skeptical. Last week the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) estimated that this year will see a record $132 billion in exports. The target is still a hard one, but most of us believe that Turkey can do that.
The government’s 2023 targets, disclosed in the run-up to the recent general elections, had another entry: being among the 10 largest economies of the world. Turkey is already the 16th or 17th largest economy, according to different listings. But rising from the 15th to the 10th in those lists is not as easy as rising from the 25th to the 20th. The gap between larger countries is larger. Turkey has countries such as the Netherlands, South Korea, Mexico, Australia and Spain to outdo and only then will the race become serious with Russia, India, Canada, Italy, Brazil and the United Kingdom running for seats in the top 10 economies of the 21st century. This is not easy at all, but it seems that the mood in Turkey is convinced that it will be…
In fact, the Americans seem to have been convinced that this will be the situation in a few years. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at an event organized by the American-Turkish Council (ATC) this week and she stated that she believes Turkey will take its place among the top 10 economies of the world “thanks to the Turkish miracle.” She went further and suggested that the Turkish-American security alliance should improve into a powerful and dynamic welfare alliance.
There is no such thing in the dictionary of international politics or of capitalist economy. But the secretary of state knows what she is speaking about. She explains the “welfare alliance” as utilization of Turkey’s economic surge as leverage for political and cultural change in the Middle East. The Americans are aware that what makes the Turkish prime minister the “new man in town” is not the harsh criticism Recep Tayyip Erdoğan uses against Israel -- Arabs have many harsher critiques of Israeli policies. Nor is it the religious rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood used by Turkish politicians that makes Turks a role player in the region. It is thanks to the economic surge that is being experienced in Turkey despite the undeclared bankruptcies in its immediate neighborhood that the Arabs are looking toward Turkey as a future destination. Turkish soap operas, which have a sweeping effect on Arab pop culture, add to this perception of Turkish wealth. I am sure Clinton is looking at projections of credible institutions rather than the Turkish soap operas, but in the end, she reaches the same result: the Turkish miracle.
Can the Turkish miracle play a role in reshaping the Middle East in lines sympathetic to American policy? Will Arab youngsters looking at the success stories of Turkish businessmen decide to abandon their anti-American, anti-Western, anti-colonialist and anti-Orientalist sentiments?
This can happen only if Turkey, as the new tourism destination of young Arabs, also turns into a destination for Arab intellectuals, academics, inventors, innovators and investors. This can happen only if Turkey starts attracting not only the revolutionary Arab youth in the Middle East but also the Western-educated Arabs from Europe and the US to come and settle down in Turkey.
And this can happen only if Turkey fully abandons its already outmoded nation-state reflexes by means of citizenship rights and opens its doors to the highly skilled migrants willing to come and join the “Turkish miracle.” The Arabs will naturally not want their lifestyles, political structures and economic policies to be reshaped by a country which does not accept the active participation of the Arabs in its own developmental processes. Turkey can be a player in the Arab Middle East only if it lets qualified Arab minds join its workforce, its intellectual circles and its diplomatic-bureaucratic crew.
How do you rebuild 5,000 homes, businesses and government buildings when the only way supplies come into the prison called Gaza is through tunnels? Will the steel I-beams for roofs bend 90 degrees to go through the tunnels from Egypt? Will the tons of cement, lumber, roofing materials, nails, dry wall and paint be hauled by hand, load after load, 70 feet underground, through a tunnel 500 to 900 feet long and then pulled up a 70 foot hole and put into waiting truck in Gaza?
The gates to Gaza slammed shut again on Thursday, February 5, the day our three person group departed Gaza, having been allowed in for only 48 hours. The Egyptian government closed the border crossing into Gaza continuing the sixteen month international blockade and siege. The crossing had been briefly open to allow medical and humanitarian supplies into Gaza following the devastating 22 day attack by the Israeli military. The attacks killed 1,330 Palestinians and injured over 5,500. The Israeli government said the attacks were to punish Hamas and other groups for firing unguided rockets into Israeli, rockets that over the past two years have killed about 25 Israelis. Most international observers have called the Israeli response to the rocket attacks disproportionate and collective punishment, elements of war crimes.
Today, seventeen days after the gates swung closed on Gaza, they remain firmly locked. Ceasefire talks in Cairo between the Israeli government and Hamas are stalled. Opening the border with Egypt is a contentious point in the ceasefire negotiations.
For the people of Gaza, rebuilding their homes, businesses, factories is on hold. Over 5,000 homes and apartment buildings were destroyed and hundreds of government buildings, including the Parliament building, were smashed. Building supplies, cement, wood, nails, glass will have to be brought in from outside Gaza. Two cement factories in northern Gaza were completely destroyed by Israeli bombs. Prime Minister Olmert's spokesperson Mark Regev said reconstruction supplies like steel and cement can be used by Hamas to build more bunkers and rockets.
Dissension in the Palestinian ranks between Fatah and Hamas continues, even after the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wants aid (perhaps as high as $2 billion) for rebuilding Gaza to be sent directly to each homeowner in Gaza, allowing donors to avoid the elected Hamas government. The U.S., Israeli and other countries have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization, and do not want international aid in Gaza administered by Hamas, even though the people of Gaza elected the Hamas government. On March 2, an international donor conference will be held in Egypt to discuss the costs of rebuilding Gaza.
Who Profits from War and Occupation?
Building supplies will have to be brought from outside Gaza. Israel controls 90 percent of the land borders to Gaza-the northern and eastern borders and 100 percent of the ocean on the west side of Gaza. Egypt controls the southern border with Gaza.
The Israelis who bombed Gaza will be the primary financial beneficiaries of the rebuilding of Gaza. They bombed it and now will sell construction materials to rebuild what they have bombed, exactly like the United States has done in Iraq. Egyptians too will benefit financially from the reconstruction-high priced small construction materials that will fit into the tunnels are no doubt have been transiting through the tunnels for the past 6 weeks. Israeli women had created a website detailing who profits from occupation.
No doubt a second website is under construction that will track which Israeli, Egyptian and American companies will benefit from the bombing of Gaza.
Prisoner Exchanges as a Part of the Ceasefire
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his security cabinet said this week that no border crossings will be open until the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit is returned to Israel. Schalit was captured by Hamas in 2006 in an Israeli cross border raid into Gaza. Hamas has demanded the release of up to 1,400 Palestinian soldiers in exchange for Shalit.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Hamas "had no objection" to Shalit's release if Israel would release 1,400 of 11,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, including Parliamentarians elected in Gaza in 2006. In the past, Israel has agreed to exchanges of large numbers of Palestinian prisoners for a few captured troops or their bodies. But Israeli and Palestinian officials had not agreed where the released prisoners would be sent after the swap. Israeli wants the prisoners expelled out of the country and Hamas wants them returned to their homes in Gaza or the West Bank.
"Open the Borders" International Delegation to Gaza
On March 5, I will be part of a 30-member international delegation that will travel to the Gaza border with Egypt in solidarity with the women of Gaza for International Women's Day. Israeli women will be at the Israeli border crossing into Gaza. Groups all over the world will join in with pressure on the Israeli, Egyptian and American governments to open the border to Gaza and let the people of Gaza rebuild their lives. For more information about the international delegation, click here.
In contrast, I am on a three week speaking tour in Japan sponsored partially by Leila, a peace, social and environmentally-conscious women's cosmetic company. Wishing to make a major contribution to women's peace initiatives, in 2000, Leila established the Women's Peace Fund to be used to invite women peace activists to the annual World Conference against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the yearly Japan Mothers' Congress, where 10,000 women meet from all over Japan. Leila donates one yen (one cent) for each cosmetic product sold to the fund (www.leila.co.jp).
In 2008, the fund also sponsored international women activists to attend the Worldwide Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution-Renunciation of War, which was undermined by the Bush administration's pressure (and continued by the Obama administration) for Japan's participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in violation of Japan's constitution. I was honored to be an international speaker at the 2008 conference on the importance of Article 9 to Japan and to the world.
The New Japan Women's Association (NJWA) or Shinfujin administers the funding provided by Leila and invites international guests to speak at these events. Over the past ten years, women from the Philippines, South Korea, Canada, China, Kazakhstan and the United States, as well as women representing international organizations have been invited to speak on issues of peace, anti-militarization of Asia and the Pacific and nuclear disarmament. From the United States, members of the 9-11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out, United for Peace and Justice, the Women's International League for Peace, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Veterans for Peace and Abolition 2000 have spoken in Japan under the auspices of the Women's Peace Fund.
NJWA has five goals: peace and democracy, women's rights, gender equality, better living conditions, and children's welfare. With 200,000 members and a readership of 300,000 of its newspaper, NJWA is the largest individual-membership based women's organization in Japan.
For 43 years, NJWA, since the association's founding in 1962, has committed itself to peace. In the late 1990s, of 60 million signatures collected in Japan in support of the Appeal to Abolish Nuclear Weapons from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, NJWA collected 10 million signatures in Japan. In 2000, the signatures were submitted to the United Nations. NJWA was granted the special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 2005, and has presented reports and statements or sent representatives to numerous UN conferences.
AHAVA Funding Israeli Mining of Resources in the Occupied Territories of Palestine
The social and corporate responsibility shown by the Japanese cosmetic company Leila in establishing and funding the Japanese Women's Peace Fund stands in sharp contrast to another cosmetics company called AHAVA.
AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories (www.ahava.co.il) is a privately held Israeli cosmetics company that manufactures products using minerals and mud from the Dead Sea. Labeled as 'Made in Israel,' Ahava's products--such as Grape & Avocado Body Wash, Dead Sea Mineral Mud, and Mineral Foot Cream--are widely available in high-end department stores and pharmacies throughout the United States and in Europe.
The Hebrew word "Ahava" means love, but there is nothing loving about what the company is doing in the Occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank. Ahava uses in its products mud from the Dead Sea, excavated in an occupied area, and thus it exploits occupied natural resources for profit, which is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. More information about AHAVA can be found on the website "Who Profits", a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace.
In July 2005 a broad range of Palestinian Civil Society organizations issued a call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel as part of a non-violent campaign to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Individual consumers can show their opposition to Israel's occupation by participating in a boycott of Israeli goods and services.
In response to the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israeli institutions and corporations that give tacit or material support to the Israeli government's continued violations of international human rights law,
CODEPINK Women for Peace began a campaign called "Stolen Beauty" that targets Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories.
CODEPINK launched the "Stolen Beauty" campaign in the summer of 2009, after leading four delegations to Gaza, Israel and the Occupied Territories where they saw the terrible impact of occupation. The campaign has educated potential customers in AHAVE stores and has forced Kristin Davis, "Sex and the City" TV star and spokesperson for the humanitarian and relief organization OXFAM, to stop her work for OXFAM until she ends her contract as a spokesperson for AHAVA.
For women who use cosmetic products, these two corporations provide a sharp reminder that we as citizens have a choice between supporting corporations that make products for war and occupation, or products for peace.
As a community, we must convince companies that peace can be more profitable than war!!
Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She has co-led 4 trips to Gaza and the Occupied Territories in 2009. She is the co-author of the book "Dissent: Voices of Conscience."
Young Israeli Women Challenge former Israeli Foreign Minister on Gaza and Occupied Territories policies
This week, in the unlikely location of Hawaii, two young Israeli women who refused Israeli mandatory military service, Maya Wind and Netta Mishly, provided a dramatic counterpoint to one of Israel's war architects, former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Livni was invited to Hawaii by Governor Linda Lingle to keynote the International Women's Leadership Forum, an annual one-day conference organized to provide international role models for women of Hawaii. Governor Lingle, one of two Jewish U.S. state governors, made her first trip to Israel in May, 2004 for the 56th anniversary of Israel's independence, when she led a 27-member trade delegation. Travel and accommodation costs for Lingle and two other delegation members were paid by the Israeli government, while other delegation members paid for their own expenses. Livni was the Israeli government's Minister of Immigration Absorption during Lingle's visit.
5 years later, Livni, as Israel's former Foreign Minister, received an invitation to travel to Hawaii at the expense of the Leadership forum which is funded by several corporate groups in Hawaii, including the Sheraton Resort where the conference will be held. The Governor's office had a direct role in the invitation of conference speakers.
As Foreign Minister of Israel, Livni was deeply involved in the decision-making that led to the massive Israeli attacks on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza in 2008.
The 22-day Israeli military attack on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 killed 1,440 people, wounded more than 5,000, made 50,000 homeless and destroyed most government facilities in Gaza. The Israeli government's rationale for attacking Gaza was to stop the rocket attacks from Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza that had killed 30 Israeli citizens over the past six years. During the 22-day attack 13 Israelis were killed--3 civilians by rockets fired from Gaza and ten Israeli military, five of whom were killed by "friendly fire" from their own military.
In 2006, the 34-day attack on Lebanon killed over 1,000 Lebanese citizens and destroyed a large amount of the infrastructure of Beirut and other Lebanese cities and displaced more than one million. The Israeli attack on Lebanon followed a Hezbollah attack in northern Israel on two armored Israeli vehicles that resulted in three soldiers being killed, two wounded and two soldiers captured. Five more Israeli soldiers were killed during an attempt to rescue the captured soldiers.
Livni's participation in the Israeli government decisions to attack Gaza and Lebanon led to activists in Hawaii calling for Livni to be dis-invited from the conference.
To provide an alternate voice to Livni's, concerned local groups including Friends of Sabeel-Hawaii, Jewish Voice for Peace-Hawaii, CODEPINK: Women for Peace and World Can't Wait invited to Hawaii two Israeli women who refused to serve in the Israeli military because of their government's policies in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Gaza. The women preempted Livni's visit, arriving Sunday, September 20, and spoke the following morning at a press conference outside Lingle's office at the State Capital. They also met with indigenous Hawaiian youth who shared the painful history of the US occupation of Hawaii with them, engaging in a dialogue about occupation across borders. Carolyn Hadfield of World Can't Wait connected the dots when she told a reporter at the Hawaii Advertiser, "In Hawai'i, where there are issues of occupation, for Lingle to bring in an occupier and hold her up as a role model in Hawai'i is outrageous." The culmination of their visit was an evening event at the University of Hawaii that drew a diverse audience of students, faculty, and Honolulu residents.
I met these 19-year old Israeli women military resisters during a CODEPINK: Women for Peace fact-finding mission to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in June, 2009. 40 Americans and 5 persons from other countries, many of the Jewish faith, traveled to Israel in solidarity with Israeli peace activists and their attempt to break their government's siege of Gaza. Our delegation applied to the Israeli government to enter Gaza from Israel to bring playground equipment for children of Gaza. When we were denied entry, we spent three days protesting the three year blockade of Gaza at the Erez border crossing.
One evening after the protests, six Israeli women who as high school students had refused to be inducted into the Israeli military and who were put in prison for their refusal, one of whom was touring resister Netta Mishly, spoke to our group. They represented Israeli high school seniors called the Shministim ("twelfth-graders") who went to prison for their refusal to join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) upon graduation because of their opposition to Israel's policies toward Palestine and occupation of its territories. About 100 Israeli 12th graders, they informed us, had signed the 2008 Shministim letter, a document that spelled out their reasons for refusing military service including "Israeli 'defense' methods at checkpoints, 'targeted' killing, roads for Jews only, sieges, land seizure policy which annexes occupied territories into Israel and trampling on Palestinian human rights ... It is impossible to harm and imprison in the name of freedom, and thus it is impossible to be moral and serve the occupation."
The sagas of these young women being willing to go to jail to challenge their government's policies toward the Palestinians was so compelling that CODEPINK: Women for Peace and Jewish Voices for Peace decided to bring two of them to the United States on a speaking tour where they will speak in one month at 31 locations, primarily on university campuses.
As a retired US Army Reserve Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq, I was deeply impressed with the courage of these women to make such decisions so early in their lives and their willingness to go to jail on these principles. When I heard they would be on a tour of the United States, I immediately connected with Hawaiian organizers in my home state about the possibility of them coming to Honolulu around the time of the women's conference.
Margaret Brown, of Friends of Sabeel-Hawaii, said the perspective of the two young women military resisters opened an important dialogue in Hawaii, a land of occupation. Brown said "These young women, more than any of the numerous speakers Sabeel has co-hosted, really seemed to speak to the Jews of various persuasions in the audience. I saw Jewish acquaintances in the audience who have never come to anything we have offered on Palestine/Israel, including talks by Jewish or Israeli speakers. There's something very non-threatening about being lectured to by a couple of brilliant and sincere 19 year olds who have risked so much."
Ann Wright, Retired U.S. Army Colonel
In March, 2009 the United States provided the government of Egypt with $32 million in March, 2009 for electronic surveillance and other security devices to prevent the movement of food, merchandise and weapons into Gaza. Now details are emerging about an underground steel wall that wil be 6-7 miles long and extend 55 feet straight down into the desert sand.
The steel wall will be made of super-strength steel put together in a jigsaw puzzle fashion. It will be bomb proof and can not be cut or melted. It will be "impenetrable," and reportedly will take 18 months to construct. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8405020.stm)
The steel wall is intended to cut the tunnels that go between Gaza and Egypt.
The tunnels are the lifelines for Gaza since the international community agreed to a blockade of Gaza to collectively punish the citizens of Gaza for their having elected in Parliamentary elections in 2006 sufficient Hamas Parliamentarians that Hamas became the government of Gaza. The United States and other western countries have placed Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations.
The underground steel wall is intended to strengthen international governmental efforts to imprison and starve the people of Gaza into submission so they will throw out the Hamas government.
Just as the steel walls of the US Army Corps of Engineers at the base of the levees of New Orleans were unable to contain Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' underground steel walls that will attempt to build an underground cage of Gaza will not be able to contain the survival spirit of the people of Gaza.
America's super technology will again be laughed at by the world, as young men dedicated to the survival of their people, will again outwit technology by digging deeper, and most likely penetrating the "impenetrable" in some novel, simple, low-tech way.
I have been to Gaza three times this year following the 22-day Israeli military attack on Gaza that killed 1,440, wounded 5,000, left 50,000 homeless and destroyed much of the infrastructure of Gaza. The disproportionate use of force and targeting of the civilian population by the Israeli military is considered by international law and human rights experts as as violations of the Geneva conventions.
When our governments participate in illegal actions, it is up to the citizens of the world to take action. On Dec. 31, 2009, 1,400 international citizens from 42 countries will march in Gaza with 50,000 Gazans in the Gaza Freedom March to end the siege of Gaza. They will take back to their countries the stories of spirit and survival of the pople of Gaza and will return home committed to force their governments to stop these inhuman actions against the people of Gaza.
Just as American smart bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq have not conquered the spirit of Afghans and Iraqis, America's underground walls in Gaza will never conquer the courage of those who are fighting for the survival of their families.
One more time, the American government and the Obama administration has been an active participant in the continued inhumane treatment of the people of Gaza and should be held accountable, along with Israel and Egypt for violations of human rights of the people of Gaza.
About the Author: Ann Wright is a retired US Army Reserve Colonel and a former U.S. diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in as a US diplomat in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She is the co-author of "Dissent: Voices of Conscience" www.voicesofconscience.com. Her March 19, 2003 letter of resignation can be read at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0303/032103wright.htm.
Comment: They plot and plan, and Allah too plans; but the best of planners is Allah. And suddenly Mubarak was out. Now we have a lot of scrap metal.