A horrific story that seems like a page from resigned Attorney General Alberto Gonazales’ memos on torture
May be this couple can apply for his job, since they have the experience. Or even better, may be they can hire him as their lawyer. He can probably do it pro bono since he is an expert on ways to legalize and justify torture.

It is a shame what some humans are capable of doing to fellow humans, forgetting that God is All-Mighty, All Just.

Alleged slavery victim testifies of stunning abuse
Newsday (New York)
November 6, 2007

For almost six hours yesterday, the small Indonesian woman spoke about what she said were 5 1/2 years of semi-starvation and an incomprehensible gamut of abuse and cruelty in the home of a wealthy Muttontown couple.

The 51-year-old-woman, named Samirah, testified through a court interpreter at the federal trial of the couple, Varsha Sabhnani and her husband, Mahender. They are accused of enslaving Samirah and another Indonesian woman, Enung, 46, and also harboring them as illegal immigrants…

Samirah testified that she was beaten numerous times – with a rolling pin, a light brown umbrella, two short-handled bamboo brooms – plus was cut frequently with the point of an orange-bladed knife, scalded with boiling water, and pinched by Varsha Sabhnani’s long fingernails so hard that they drew blood…

Samirah also testified about the time she said she was forced to work while wearing a pair of glasses whose lenses had been covered with plastic wrapping tape so she could barely see, and about the time she said she was stripped naked and had the tape wrapped over her body, head and eyes.

When the tape was pulled off, it took parts of her body hair with it, Samirah said…

The source of the abuse and torture, which occurred almost daily, Samirah said, was Varsha Sabhnani’s belief that she did not meet her standards as a maid.

But Samirah said it was impossible to work to anyone’s standards given the fact that she usually worked from 4 a.m. to past midnight, was dressed in rags without underwear, and did not have enough food to live on without eating from the Sabhnanis’ garbage cans, or begging from two woman employees who worked in the office of the perfume business…

As another form of punishment, Samirah said, she was forced to eat dozens of hot chili peppers and tablespoons of hot chili powder.

The beatings and the forced eating of chili made her unable to control her bodily functions and she often vomited, urinated or defecated when being abused, she said.

One time, Samirah said that when she vomited, Varsha Sabhnani beat her and tried to force her to eat her own vomit. When she was was unable to do that, Sabhnani mixed the vomit with a liquid and salt and required her to drink that mixture, Samirah said…


The Judaization of East Jerusalem
Alice Rothchild, The Electronic Intifada, 27 November 2007

A view of the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, December 2006. (Magnus Johansson/MaanImages)

With the Golden Dome and the ancient walls of the Old City as backdrop, the cascade of Palestinian homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan is undergoing a dramatic transition.

At first it is hard to spot the Israeli flags draped over scattered homes on the hill, but it is soon easily apparent that right-wing Jewish settlers and politically motivated archaeologists are rushing to claim this fragment of the Holy City as the ancient City of David, complete with a visitors center and busloads of young Israeli recruits and tourists, and plaques thanking generous donors for their support.

Then there is the little-noticed news that the Israeli Parliament has given preliminary approval to a bill, in violation of international law and United Nations resolutions, which would seize East Jerusalem as a permanent part of Israel. It is thus not surprising that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s belated efforts to corral reluctant world diplomats to an increasingly downgraded meeting in Annapolis are rapidly becoming mission impossible.

Every serious peace proposal addressing the creation of a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict has included the establishment of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

At the same time, often despite pronouncements to the contrary, every Israeli government since 1967 has supported the growth of a vigorous ring of settlements around Jerusalem, designed to cut off East Jerusalem Palestinians from the West Bank, and has also encouraged the intrusion of Jewish settlers into the Arab quarters of the city itself.

Why is this important? For Palestinians, when Israel annexed East Jerusalem the state declared only 12 percent of the land zoned for Palestinian residential purposes, and that land was already developed, while 34 percent was zoned for future Jewish settlements. Thus, for the 240,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, there is a serious housing shortage and prices are high. This has been further complicated by construction of the eight-meter-high concrete separation wall which winds its way through the city, separating families from each other, educational institutions and employment.

The Jerusalem ID also gives Palestinians the right to work in Israel and utilize Israeli health insurance and other national benefits, as well as access to holy sites. East Jerusalem is thus a critical center for the Palestinian economy as well as political, educational and health care institutions.

Interestingly, millions of dollars of US money have been poured into the growing Jewish settlements in this area. Without any complaints from the Bush administration, real estate developers openly advertise homes in the West Bank — heavily subsidized by the Israeli government — to Jews in the United Kingdom and the United States.

A particularly egregious player in this dangerous political game is Irving Moskowitz, a US physician, bingo and gambling magnate, who secretly purchases Palestinian homes in and around East Jerusalem using front organizations that appear to be Arab, and then rapidly flips the property to extremist Jewish settlers, often arranging new construction and infusions of militant settlers at particularly sensitive political moments.

His foundation is also an avid supporter of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, a group of militant Jews who believe that Jews should be in sole control of the Old City and should rebuild the Old Temple on the site of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Moskowitz earmarks millions of dollars for militant settler religious schools most analogous to the extremist madrassas and recruitment centers often condemned in the Islamic world. These messianic, ideologically driven young Jewish students, like their counterparts in Hebron and other Jewish settlements driven by religious entitlement, are a clear impediment to any movement towards peace in this region.

It is a sad irony that the US government spends millions of dollars tracking down wealthy Arab financiers who support extremist Islamic groups. At the same time, financiers like Moskowitz, using a combination of subterfuge, bribery, and US and Israeli governmental collusion, openly and provocatively change the face of East Jerusalem.

At the end of the day, it is the facts on the ground that speak most clearly. One can only wonder what Israeli Prime Minister Olmert is thinking when he talks about a viable Palestinian state while actively making such a dream unreachable.

Perhaps a more honest name for the current madness is not the realization of the Road Map, but rather the steady creation of Road Blocks that are rapidly crushing the hopes for a viable two-state solution.

Hindsight is 20/20 – how israel duped US into fighting their wars
By now, it should be glaringly obvious to everyone that US foreign policy in the Middle East is directed by – and for the benefit of – israel.

But, just in case – here’s a blast from the past, for those whose miniscule minds need further convincing . . .

Title: Netanyahu: U.S. should attack Iran with TV
Published: Sep 12, 2002 [!!!]
Author: By P. Mitchell Prothero

A former Israeli prime minister Thursday called upon the United States to effect regime change in both Iraq and Iran, prescribing a military invasion to topple the government in Baghdad and the transmission of ribald television programming via satellite into Persia, where he said the influx of pop culture would prove “subversive” to the conservative Islamic regime.

Citing the hundreds of thousands of satellite television dishes in Iran, Benjamin Netanyahu told the House Government Reform Committee that the United States could incite a revolution against the conservative Iranian clergy through the use of such Fox Broadcasting staples as “Melrose Place” and “Beverly Hills 90210” — both of which feature beautiful young people in varying states of undress, living, glamorous, materialistic lives and engaging in promiscuous sex.

“This is pretty subversive stuff,” Netanyahu told the committee. “The kids of Iran would want the nice clothes they see on those shows. They would want the swimming pools and fancy lifestyles.”

Hey – what’s good for US is good for them, right?

But the more pressing issue to Netanyahu is Iran’s neighbor, Iraq, which he said was dangerously close to developing weapons of mass destruction — and would not be susceptible to subversion.

‘We must kill those whose minds we can’t control.’

“We understand a nuclear armed Saddam places Israel at risk,” he said. “But a nuclear armed Saddam also puts the entire world at risk.”

Sound familiar? It should.

“After Saddam gets a nuclear weapon, it is only a matter of time before the terror networks get nuclear weapons,’ Netanyahu warned. “And they will use them if they get them.”
Netanyahu said that the 1981 attack by Israel on an Iraqi nuclear facility was justified and implied that it’s success hinged on just the kind of unilateralism that President George W. Bush’s Thursday speech to the United Nations appears to abjure.

“Did Israel launch this pre-emptive strike with the coordination of the international community?” Netanyahu asked. “Did we condition such a strike on the approval of the United Nations? Of course not.”

What a stupid question!

Burton’s statements reflected more respect for the administration’s coalition building efforts than Netanyahu’s, but he did note that in the face of failing to develop such support for an invasion, he too supported a unilateral attack.
“This morning the president made a strong case for taking action. Now we need to see how the world responds,” Burton noted. “I hope that our friends and allies around the world will join us. I hope that we can assemble a strong coalition that will stand up to this dangerous regime. However, if we can’t, my view is that we have to do what’s in our own best interest. If we determine that Saddam Hussein is a serious national security threat, then we have to act — alone if necessary.”

Netanyahu’s rhetoric, at least the military invasion portion of his testimony, found a warm reception from committee Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind., who said that finishing the war on terror with the occupation of Afghanistan without attacking Iraq would leave the job half done.

After all, they do pay us to (send others to) fight their wars.

“One of the unfinished pieces of business we have is Iraq,” Burton said. “In my opinion, this is a problem we can’t continue to ignore. Saddam Hussein is a menace. He has chemical weapons. He has biological weapons. He’s working hard to acquire nuclear weapons. He’s used chemical weapons in the past. We should have no doubt that he’ll use them again. And if he succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, we could have a catastrophe on our hands.”

Why settle for the risk of catastrophe, when you can invade and guarantee catastrophe?

But Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich was not as supportive of Netanyahu’s calls for war. In a terse exchange that occurred before the former prime minister laid out his “Iran Strategy,” Kucinich asked him for additional suggestions for places to invade.

“While you’re here, Mr. Prime Minister, are there any other countries besides Iraq that you would suggest that we invade?”

Enough said. israel isn’t the 51st state of America.

It’s the other way around

The Joke in Annapolis
How to Get Out?

The Annapolis conference is a joke. Though not in the least funny.

Like quite a lot of political initiatives, this one too, according to all the indications, started more or less by accident. George Bush was due to make a speech. He was looking for a theme that would give it some substance. Something that would divert attention away from his fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan. Something simple, optimistic, easy to swallow.

Somehow, the idea of a “meeting” of leaders to promote the Israeli-Palestinian “process” came up. An international meeting is always nice – it looks good on television, it provides plenty of photo-opportunities, it radiates optimism. We meet, ergo we exist.

So Bush voiced the idea: a “meeting” for the promotion of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Without any preceding strategic planning, any careful preparations, anything much at all.

That’s why Bush did not go into any details: no clear aim, no agenda, no location, no date, no list of invitees. Just an ethereal meeting. This fact by itself testifies to the lack of seriousness of the entire enterprise.

This may shock people who have never seen close up how politics are actually conducted. It is hard to accept the intolerable lightness with which decisions are often made, the irresponsibility of leaders and the arbitrary way important processes are set in motion.

* * *

FROM THE MOMENT this idea was launched, it could not be called back. The President has spoken, the initiative starts on its way. As the saying goes: One fool throws a stone into the water, a dozen wise men cannot retrieve it.

Once the “meeting” had been announced, it became an important enterprise. The experts of all parties started to work frantically on the undefined event, each trying to steer it in the direction which would benefit them the most.

Bush and Condoleezza Rice want an impressive event, to prove that the United States is vigorously promoting peace and democracy, and that they can succeed where the great Henry Kissinger failed. Jimmy Carter failed to turn the Israeli-Egyptian peace into an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Bill Clinton failed at Camp David. If Bush succeeds where all his illustrious predecessors have failed, won’t that show who is the greatest of them all?

Ehud Olmert urgently needs a resounding political achievement in order to blur the memory of his dismal failure in the Second Lebanon War and to extricate himself from the dozen or so criminal investigations for corruption that are pursuing him. His ambition knows no bounds: he wants to be photographed shaking the hand of the King of Saudi Arabia. A feat no Israeli prime minister before him has achieved.

Mahmoud Abbas wants to show Hamas and the rebellious factions in his own Fatah movement that he can succeed where the great Yasser Arafat failed – to be accepted among the world’s leaders as an equal partner.

This could, therefore, become a great, almost historic conference, if

* * *

IF ALL these hopes were something more than pipedreams. None of them has any substance. For one simple reason: no one of the three partners has any capital at his disposal.

Bush is bankrupt. In order to succeed at Annapolis, he would have to exert intense pressure on Israel, to compel it to take the necessary steps: agree to the establishment of a real Palestinian state, give up East Jerusalem, restore the Green Line border (with some small swaps of territory), find an agreed-upon compromise formula for the refugee issue.

But Bush is quite unable to exert the slightest pressure on Israel, even if he wanted to. In the US, the election season has already begun, and the two big parties are bulwarks standing in the way of any pressure on Israel. The Jewish and Evangelistic lobbies, together with the neo-cons, will not allow one critical word about Israel to be uttered unpunished.

Olmert is in an even weaker position. His coalition still survives only because there is no alternative in the present Knesset. It includes elements that in any other country would be called fascist (For historical reasons, Israelis don’t like to use this term). He is prevented by his partners from making any compromise, however tiny – even if he wanted to reach an agreement.

This week, the Knesset adopted a bill that requires a two-thirds majority for any change of the borders of Greater Jerusalem. This means that Olmert cannot even give up one of the outlying Palestinian villages that were annexed to Jerusalem in 1967. He is also prevented from even approaching the ‘core issues” of the conflict.

Mahmoud Abbas cannot move away from the conditions laid down by Yasser Arafat (the 3rd anniversary of whose death was commemorated this week). If he strays from the straight and narrow, he will fall. He has already lost the Gaza Strip, and can lose the West Bank, too. On the other side, if he threatens violence, he will lose

Oct. 29th: Zionist massacres in Palestine
Sabbah’s blog

October 29, 2007

Following post was published a year ago in the same occasion:

Oct. 29th massacres in Palestine history and Ben Gurion wonders: “How can an order be given to shoot children?”

Starting from the oldest:

1. On October 29, 1948, when Israeli brigades captured the village of Safsaf. The known details of the massacre come to us via several contemporary second-hand Zionist reports and via Arab oral history. Yosef Nachmani, a senior officer in the Haganah (and later the director of the Jewish National Fund in Eastern Galilee), recorded in his diary what he was told by Immanuel Friedman, a representative of the Minority Affairs ministry:

In Safsaf, after … the inhabitants had raised a white flag, the [soldiers] collected and separated the men and women, tied the hands of fifty-sixty fellahin [peasants] and shot and killed them and buried them in a pit. Also, they raped several women… (quoted in Zertal, 2005, p. 171; see also Morris, 2005, p. 500).

Moshe Erem reported on the massacre to a meeting of the Mapam Political Committee but his words were censored from the minutes. According to the notes taken by another person present, Erem spoke of:

Safsaf 52 men tied together with a rope. Pushed down a well and shot. 10 killed. Women pleaded for mercy. 3 cases of rape . . . . A girl of 14 raped. Another four killed (Morris, 2004, p. 500).

These accounts in broad detail are supported by Palestinian witnesses who told their stories to historians.

2. On October 29, 1948 (same day and year of above massacre), the Arab town al-Dawayima was conquered by Israeli terrorist groups known as Irgun and Lehi.

An unnamed Israeli soldier told this version: “The first wave of conquerors killed about 80 to 100 Arabs, women and children. The children they killed by breaking their heads with sticks. There was not a house without dead.”

Meron Benvenisti writes:

Atrocities and acts of brutality characterised this period: summary executions, rape, blowing up houses along with their occupants, looting and plundering, and leaving hundreds of villages to their own devices in the fields, without food or water. The most serious atrocities were committed in the village of Al-Dawayima on the western slopes of the Hebron Highlands. This large village, with a population of some 3,500 was taken on 29 October, 1948. The occupying forces indiscriminately killed between 80 and 100 males villagers, blew up houses together with their occupants, murdered women and children, and committed rape. According to eyewitness testimony, these acts were committed “not in the heat of battle and inflamed passions, but out of a system of expulsion and destruction. The fewer Arabs remained — the better.”

3. On October 29, 1956, during the Suez Crisis, Israeli Border Police started at 4 pm what they called a tour in Kafr Qasim town (also known as Kafr Qassem, Kufur Kassem and Kafar Kassem). They told the Mukhtars (Aldermen) of the town that the curfew from that day onwards was to start from 5 pm until 6 am next morning. They reached Kafr Qasem around 4:45 pm and informed the Mukhtar who protested that there are about 400 villagers working outside the town and there is no enough time to inform them of the curfew timings. An officer assured him that they will be taken care of.

The guards waited at the entrance to the town. 43 Kafr Qasem inhabitants were massacred in cold blood by the army as they returned from work. Their crime was violating a curfew they did not know about. On the northern entrance of the town 3 were killed and 2 were killed inside of the town. Amongst the dead were men, women, and children. Lutanat Danhan was touring the area in his jeep reporting the massacre, on his wireless he said “minus 15 Arabs” after a while his message on the radio to his H.Q. was “it is difficult to count.”

Interestingly enough, on Nov. 11, 1956, Prime Minister Ben Gurion told the cabinet about the Kfar Qasim massacre. He said:

“We have a wonderful army, but it appears that sometimes there are incidents and circumstances that make people lose their minds.”

On March 28, 2001, Ha’aretz published some excerpts from this cabinet meeting.

Ha’aretz March 28, 2001
Excerpts from the State Archives, Jerusalem.

The Kfar Kassem massacre took place on October 29, 1956, but it reverberates through Israeli political culture to this day. The following transcripts, from the state archives, depict David Ben-Gurion’s government as shocked, contrite – and worried about how the news of the event will reflect on Israel overseas. At one point, Ben-Gurion regrets that Israel “gave up the death penalty too soon.” At one point, he indicated that he was inclined to accept the idea of the two sergeants in the case being hanged in the village square of Kfar Kassem.(Please note that the initials G.M. that occasionally appear in this text refer to Guy Ma’ayan, a his