Saturday, November 29, 2008

Why the Attacks in India Should Surprise Nobody

Why the Attacks in India Should Surprise Nobody

by Deena Guzder

Most Americans were shocked to learn that coordinated terrorist attacks struck the heart of Mumbai, India's commercial capital on Wednesday evening. After all, India is not Iraq or Afghanistan or even Pakistan. According to pundits such as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, India is a shining capitalist success story and the next global superpower. In the pro-globalization narrative, India's eager-beaver working class has benefited greatly from neoliberal economic policies. Intellectuals extol India as the world's largest democracy and an example for the rest of the developing world to follow. Today, India is a popular tourist destination for everyone from backpackers on spiritual voyages to white-collar executives on business meetings.

Left: Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. Opened in 1903, is a landmark luxury Mumbai hotel located near the famous Gateway of India. It has more than 500 rooms and is a frequent destination for foreign travelers and the city's elite.

Americans are largely shielded from the shocking reality of India. According to the World Bank's own estimates on poverty, almost half of all Indians live below the new international poverty line of $1.25 (PPP) per day.[1] The World Bank further estimates that 33% of the global poor now reside in India. [2] Moreover, India also has 828 million people, or 75.6% of the population living below $2 a day, compared to 72.2% for Sub-Saharan Africa.[3] A quarter of the nation's population earns less than the government-specified poverty threshold of $0.40/day. Someone should tell the starving masses who have remained largely marginalized and subjugated that India is a "success story" because that's not reflected in most Indian's lives. Income inequality in India, as measured by the Gini coefficient, is increasing at a disturbingly destabilizing rate.[4] In addition, India has a higher rate of malnutrition among children under the age of three than any other country in the world (46% in year 2007).[5],[6] India is possibly the world's largest democracy by some definitions; however, as Mahatma Gandhi, once asked, "What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?"

Pundits such as Friedman play golf with the global elite and then pontificate on perceived economic trends. In Friedman's book, The World is Flat, he suggests that "Indians should celebrate Y2K as its second independence day." Yet, by some estimates, the high-tech sector employs just 0.2 percent of India's one billion people. Americans are largely unaware of the violent, systemic poverty plaguing India because the country is reduced to a caricature where everyone fielding Americans' inquiries in call centers is prospering. Having lived in India for four years and visited the country every other year, I am painfully aware of the reality on the ground. India is a country where children are forcefully amputated by beggar-masters and sent to elicit money; where poor women sell their bodies to truck drivers and contract HIV at alarming rates; and, where American tourists nonchalantly spend enough money in one day to support a hungry family for months.

Left: Another suspected participant in the Mumbai attacks of the financial hub of India,

The recent attacks in India are morally repugnant, but the debate on how to curb terrorism needs to consider why people engage in such desperate acts in the first place. The perpetrators of yesterday's violence targeted two of Mumbai's most luxurious hotels: Taj Mahal and the Oberioi Trident. One night at either of these hotels costs, on average, Rupees 17,500 (US $ 355) in a country where the annual salary is Rupees 29,069 (US $590).[7] The death of over a hundred people on Wednesday should deeply upset the world, but it should also lead us to question the death of the 18 million people who die annually from the systemic violence of endemic poverty.[8] As Yale professor Thomas Pogge notes, the affects of poverty are felt exponentially more in certain parts of our "unflat" world: "If the developed Western countries had their proportional shares of [gratuitous] deaths, severe poverty would kill some 3,500 Britons and 16,500 Americans per week."[9]

Mahan Abedin, an insurgency analyst, told Al Jazeera after Wednesday nights attacks: "We have seen an increase in recent years in indigenous Indian Muslim organizations beginning to take a violent stance towards the Indian state and sections of the Indian society, particularly the commercial elite of places like Mumbai, in order to highlight, they would say, the sheer inequality of life in India."[10] Abedin continued, "there is a middle class of around 100 million who live very well but 800 million-plus people live in miserable conditions." Even people who commit heinous acts of violence occasionally make a valid point. The latest attacks should not evoke a knee-jerk effort to ratchet up the so-called Global War on Terror but, instead, make us question how to avoid such attacks in the future. By showing genuine concern for the plight of the millions of people who are at risk of death from poverty and by honoring the sanctity of the lives of the most destitute, we have the best chance of defeating the ideologies of hate.[11]








[8] Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights p. 99

[9] Pogge, Thomas W. World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms . Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2002 p. 98


[11] Jeffrey D. Sachs "Net Gains." New York Times. April 29, 2006

Deena Guzder works for TIME Asia magazine in Hong Kong and is a dual-degree graduate of Columbia University's School of Journalism and School of International and Public Affairs. Please feel free to email her at

Left: This image taken off from television and telecast on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008 shows two of the suspecs who were part of the attack in Mumbai, India.

There were 10 perpetrators in all. Nine were killed, while one has been captured alive. The arrested man, Ajmal Amin Kasab, was of Pakistani origin, although there is not specific informtion as to whether the suspect held a Pakistani passport. The identities of the other attackers had not yet been confirmed.

The ten men who struck Mumbai had set up advance “Control Rooms” in the luxury Taj and Trident Oberoi hotels which was also targeted and did prior reconnaisance executing plans worked “over months,” ten sites in all were targeted.

The unprecedented guerilla attack in the country’s financial capital was planned “over months” and the assailants were not carrying AK-47 rifles but more sophisticated weapons like the MP-6.

The group had identified the targets earlier. Enormous planning went into the incident. The attackers were dropped by a mother ship and traveled in rubber boats which they docked at Mumbai. Indian Navy ships accosted a ship registered in Vietnam thought to have brought the men to Mumbai, but released the vessel after it was searched.

Left: Activists of Hindu radical organisation, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), shout slogans as they burn an effigy depicting Islamic Jihad and shout slogans against Islamic terrorism during a protest in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, 28 November 2008.

The militants calling themselves, Deccan Mujahadin, were not attacking people at random. It was a well thought out plan showing precision. They sought out locales where westerners convened and planned to hold hostages until their demands to release Islamic prisoners were met. They had also, targeted certain key police officers even when the officials were wearing bullet vests and protective head gears even so, the Deccan Mujahadi cell shot them dead within minutes of their arrival.

The death toll has risen to 195, of which 18 were foreign nationals. The number of injured was at 239, while the number of fatalities could pass 200. Indian officials did not specify how many of the dead had been hostages. There are also conflicting reports over whether U.S. and British citizens had been singled out as hostages, as several news reports has claimed on Wednesday. Officials at Trident Hotels (one wing of the Oberoi) said that the hostages there included one Japanese, three Americans and a Singaporean citizen. They did not know the total number of hostages taken there.


Mumbai Sifts Through the Rubble

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Israeli Left? Left Europe For Palestine

An Illegitimacy Of Rape

Born In Sin
By Gideon Levy

The Israeli peace camp was born in sin and died because of a lie: It was born as the legitimate son of the sin of occupation, and died the illegitimate son of the lie that "there is no partner" with whom to negotiate on the other side. Between September 1967 and October 2000, it spent 33 years waging the brave and determined struggle of a minority against a majority, "traitors" against "patriots," "defilers of Israel" against "lovers of Israel," David against Goliath. Today, we must painfully admit that it was struggle that did not produce much.

The peace camp was born of a small ad - a statement bearing only a dozen mostly unknown signatures - addressed to the general public, and then began to die a pathetic death, which is lamented by no one. Since then, its body has laid in public squares that are void of protesters, in streets empty of struggle and in public discourse free of ideas. On occasion, it lets out a desperate and dying gasp from the direction of a group of determined but marginalized groups, near the separation fence in Na'alin or in Gush Shalom's advertisements in the Friday paper.

On occasion, it wraps itself in the guise of a mass demonstration, mostly at deceptive memorial rallies for Yitzhak Rabin - also featuring pop stars Aviv Geffen and Ninet - and in public opinion polls in which the majority claims to adopt its positions. But the interim balance sheet of history is clear and razor sharp: The occupation, the settlements, the police thugs and the brutality have been victorious over everything else. Never have so many people said we need to put a stop to things, and never have so few done anything about it.

The Israeli occupation enterprise has never been so prosperous, sweeping up in its whirlpool all of Israeli society and a vast army of settlers, secret agents, soldiers, prosecutors, journalists, politicians, judges, doctors, engineers, builders, architects, industrialists, artists, archaeologists and average apathetic citizens. Everyone, absolutely everyone, is implicated. They speak peace, but make war; oppose the settlements, but take part in their construction; say "two states," but vote Likud; close their eyes, hide their faces and wrap themselves in the most dangerous of blankets: blankets of apathy.

I am flipping through the yellowing pages of Haaretz from September 1967. The announcement concerning the establishment of the peace camp is hidden between an advertisement for a car that costs 10,849 liras and a guaranteed "original key chain" for anyone who purchases a pack of Diplomat razor blades, just next to the death announcement paid for by a neuro-psychiatric society mourning one of its members. A dozen members of the Matzpen movement, who were outcast, excommunicated and persecuted, placed the ad three months after the end of the Six-Day War. At the peak of the nationalist orgy and the religious celebrations that dominated us then, came the first call: "Leave the occupied territories immediately!"

Everything the advertisement predicted about messianic occupation, and the terror and oppression that would be born of it, and the fact that we would become a "nation of murderers and murdered," is a common truth shared by the masses, the mainstream, the warm and fuzzy consensus. Even Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon would concur. But surprisingly and catastrophically, here we are today, as the famous Chaim Nahman Bialik poem goes: The sun is shining, the acacia is blooming and the slaughterer is still slaughtering.

At the end of Camp David, when he told us "there's no partner," Ehud Barak propagated an even bigger lie: that we have a peace camp. How pleasant it is to delude ourselves that we have one, and how depressing it is to know that we don't. There is no left - just empty words. When the only demonstration in town is over student tuition, when the only discourse in city and village alike concerns the "Big Brother" TV show, and the loudest cries are over "corruption" and Olmert's frequent-flier miles instead of over the jailed Palestinian who is bleeding and beaten, who hasn't had a normal day in his life - then we know for sure that there is no peace camp in Israel in 2008.

Maybe there never was? Maybe a camp that is defeated with such intolerable ease just needs to be told there is no partner in order to simply disappear. The moment this camp witnesses terrorism - that means of struggle for all those who seek liberation - it shuts itself down at home, planning the next package tour and watching a reality show, in fear, silence, betrayal and sick apathy, while half an hour away, the cruel occupation lives on. It's much crueler today than it was back then, when a dozen Matzpen members printed that public appeal, a voice crying in the wilderness, the barren desert wilderness of the Israeli left and of Israeli society as a whole.

The term "left" and the expression "peace camp" need to be removed from the dictionary of Hebrew terms. We no longer have the right to make use of them. Any use whatsoever.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Are You Ready To Throw Out The Jews Yet?

A Response To A Supposition, Which Posited Whether We Are Ready To Throw Out The Jews

I don't know about you, but all this 'stuff' going around the net is getting kind of out of hand. I mean, when me and Jimbo put a few beers away man, things start getting pretty damn clear about them there you know. Shhh.

Acquiescing just about ready to faint at the sight of boogie wooed woogie retro man, freak out do that thing you disco duck you.

I'm still trying to sort all this out- I really need a few more hits that nail the choice: 'None of the Above.' That seems to be the cheesy way out; maybe so, but still, I think I heard someplace that Mickey Mouse gets like proposals for marriage and 100,000 votes every election cycle. (That must drive Donald Duck nuts).

I recently had the opportunity to weigh a few big ideas. After honing in on credible information online and reviewing notes I scribbled on my McDonalds' Big Mac container. I was prepped to tackle life, liberty, etc.

I am still trying to sort all this out. I really need a few more hits that nail the choice: 'None of the Above.' That seems to be the cheesy way out; maybe so, but still, I think I heard some place that Mickey Mouse gets like proposals for marriage and 100,000 votes every election cycle. (That must drive Donald Duck nuts).

I recently had the opportunity to weigh a few big ideas. After honing in on credulous information online and reviewing notes I scribbled on my McDonalds' Big Mac container. I was prepped to tackle life, liberty, etc.

Since the encounter, I somewhat expected the worst, but given that there was a smattering of every conceivable type of babe present (thin, Slim, pretty, sexy, smart, voluptuous, etc.,) it was surprising the reception that I received. To a person, all conceited and holier than thou like myself (including Jesus himself -- can I get an Amen?) to be accepted among these foxes was simply put, exhilarating. God bless America.

Nevertheless I cannot state with any piercing clarity exactly what the hell is going on in the first place. But I think me and Jimbo grasp most of what is right and should be wrong. But I had difficulty following the characters of the Wizard Of Oz down the Yellow Brick Road. But can we all just agree we should stay until the end of the credits? Whatever THAT would infer to a blind person.

Some of the questions included: "What would Jesus do?" "What would a sudden pull-out intimate in terms of spoiling it for a woman?" No wait, I am getting confused that was when we spoke about the pull out of the troops from Iraq; my bad.

One particular statement that would otherwise have possibly been an assumption surmising whatever was not necessarily so concluded it would not definitely mean that--OK?. That seems to be the main argument we are going to go into. I mean the general e-thrust of this know better no matter what discussion.

I've posted, posited and deposited some awesome cerebral teasers in my days. We have not seen the worst to come- I firmly believe that to believe is an act of futility. Such niceties are the staples of the offstandish so-called neophyte intellectuals. The aim here to break with convention in its true sense--that is convince others to convict people they do not agree with.

Do not let the babe be a distraction, Alexa says most of the people who visit are male, so just deal mothers! Yo whopper-junior just remember that "there is no bad PR ... only wrong spin."

I am not yet opening my can of worms here although, I have been registered. Don't let that fool you though, it doesn't mean squat in the big picture. (Just ask Jimbo.)

I do know one thing- and this I believe strongly; that whatever the truth may be, smoking a big fat Mafia spiffy spliff makes it so much clearer. Moreover, I always end up asking these three nagging questions: "Have you been down the rabbit hole?" "If so did you take the red or blue pill?" "Why or why not?" If you can't answer these simple and direct questions unfortunately, I have to say: "screw you." These are exciting times and those are the most telling question yet.
OK Jimbo, I understand where you are coming from. But what if both the blue and red pills are tainted by sketchy stealthy undercover agents? Huh, what then buddy? What, what, what you want some of this? My commitment to the count of each letter in between every other word is infallible. "Whacha" got, "whacha" working with? Anything?

But besides all that, to me at most I think the real pressing question is not really who rather, it is what with a factor of where taking when into consideration of a matter of coarse and harsh reality. But I guess we all have our individual priorities. Carry on but make sure you use a toothpick.

So you want to play devil's advocate, huh bucking bucko? If one of them had done as much blow as Ronald Reagan recently, would you have thought there was sincerity or some duplicity involved? Never mind about the dead thing, who cares. Or would you just think it was a case of grandstanding? Truly?

Grandstanding, of course. If they had been doing crack then just maybe, but cocaine in these times of recession, no way, clear sign of a fraud. Well let's say, if this scenario took place like a few years ago, I would think differently.

Well, at least when the buds are blazing we try to reach "hearts and minds." However, in this holy place it's "STFU" and agree. Because, HEY, what is better than a preconceived notion just press and click post.

I do not exist in life to simply be a slave to schism by giving them my undivided attention.

No current idea can rule my world based on rudimentary exercises meant to insult.

So, let me understand this straight. You are not going to think right? Well then no McDonald's for you, best head on down to Burger King. For some reason though, I don't think you care since it's not kosher falafel with hummus -- that makes sense to you?

So the fact that some can divulge a deluge of ideas faster than the blink of an eye does not concern me a bit. And heck, it doesn't get them any credit on the specifics or parse the varying variables because one need not like this or that about anything specious?

Unbelievable that me and Jimbo would rather let some unimportant and biased conjecture move us, compared to unhinging the Matrix, issues that keep the world spinning and doing our part in preventing the train from leaving the station without the "One."

BTW, Jimbo and I realized we're not running on full tanks. I guess we do not support the troops either according to you. It seems that randomness judges the valid criteria you depend on to determine credibility. We're not backing the mission to Mars, so to you that means little in comparison to the remote possibility of visiting Venus.

I guess I better clarify my position. When I state that the only real questions I need to ask are those about whether the questions have already BEEN asked and be sure to underscore that irrelevant answers. which beg more questions are THE most important sources of understanding. It's the only endeavor in my view worth pursuing, since no one else is really seeing the simple facts. So I am not about to question those omissions. But I know for a FACT they've been in heavy rotation since 9/11 or maybe since the Masada? (their words, not mine). I don't always post ALL that I am thinking into a post. I like to get a good 'dialogue' going, then expand on it. I prefer the interactive part the most. Now, back to the show. It's Mickey Mouse time, it's Mickey Mouse time...

Throw out the Jews?

Well, first it was a dream forged by capital and the political power it sued. Then a configuration of 55% was proclaimed by fiat, which mutated into 78% by ruse, war and terrorism. The equation continues to be engrossed with nuclear weapons protruded outward and a police state marshaled inward--mired in a tower of victimization. And you ask whether we're ready to throw out the Jews?

My answer is as long as there are heroic figures such as Mordechai Vanunu J. C. who are associated with Jewry, I must continue to love Jews. You see, my true love has always been and remains justice.

September 2008: Mordechai Vanunu's 23rd year in Prison as a conscientious objector and whistle blower of Israeli Nuclear Weapons.

Here is the appeal decision. Today we went to the district court, to hear the decision of the 3 judge panel on the 6 months prison sentence for speaking to the foreign Media. The panel decided a sentence of 3 months in prison, instead of 6 months. They again found Mordechai Vanunu guilty of speaking to the foreign media.

The sentence can be appealed to the supreme court of Israel. If the supreme court appeal is allowed Mr. Vanunu can remain free until the hearing.

When will the Nobel Committee finally, award Mordechai Vanunu his long overdue Peace Prize?

Another Jewish Coincidence

Left: Bartolomé de las Casas (1474- 1566)

Man has been oppressing other "man" ever since, this is an incontrovertible reality of the human condition. I am yet to submit to the philosophies that claim all Jews are inherently evil. I cannot, I must not. Once a niche of inhumanity is etched out for one group others must necessarily follow. This is not a straw man argument, it is rooted in the history of human relations.

It is also a historical fact that slavery existed across mankind throughout various cultures in a plethora of modes and dynamics. We also know that fifteenth century Spain was mired in the inquisition. Wherein Jews were forced to forsake Judaism and adopt Christianity or face the "extreme prejudice" of the police power of the Crown under the auspices of the Vatican.

Enters Bartolomé de las Casas, the Christian clergyman who promulgated the introduction of Africans into the Americas as slaves. I have always wondered about this transcendent religious and political figure in my studies of revolutions. Here we have a man who seem so caring, so enlightened and a champion of justice for the indigenous people of the Caribbean. De las Casas after all, freed his Taino and Carib slaves and gave up his lucrative business in Hispaniola (The first Spanish colony in the Americas) to spearhead the freedom of the native people.

Las Casas won the ear of the Crown and Cardinal Ximenes in particular and was made Protector General of the Aboriginal people of the Indies. After years of political agitation, he was able to persuade the emperor Charles V to end (or virtually to end) the encomienda system in 1542. The encomienda system availed to colonists the power and right to require labor from the native inhabitants, in exchange for (what parasitically, passed for) protection and Christian instruction. Through this legal edifice the entire colony flourished under slavery.

It is perplexing however, to rectify these acts of apparent selflessness with his struggle to sue the Crown of Spain to introduce Africans into the colonies to be submitted to the very processes he had forsaken in the case of the Indigenous people of Hispaniola. It is interesting to note that the indigenous population was dying of diseases introduced by colonists and the maltreatment they suffered under the yoke of the slave system. Could it be that a contrivanve for championing their plight may lay in a calculated need for new stocks of free labor?

Left: Slave ships, which ultimately filled the coffers of the merchant class; a system that acted as a filler of African coffins.

It was always conclusive from the historical record that Jewish "interests" had significant commercial input into the success of the slave trade and its attenuated industries. Nevertheless, I was not informed about Las Casas' Jewish heritage.

Of course event x (African slavery in the "New World") in the context of history [y] and allowing Jewish input to be defined as a mere coincidental point of intersecting history [f] do not necessarily inhere that f(x) = y. Besides there were other actors who contributed to this set of banal acts against humanity.

There is ample research published on the power of "cryptic Jewry." There must have been many such Jews in the fifteenth century as livelihood and life itself were dependent upon it. Las Casas is an intriguing Jewish figure who was immersed in a defining moment of human history.

There have always been great men of dubious allegiances who have worked their magic toward the destruction of life and liberty. These men usually become fixed and independent points of reference in our historical lexicon. As more catastrophic events are linked to men of Jewish descent however, an amalgamation of Jewish tort morphs into categorization. The crimes of Jewry become pronounced and are repeatedly highlighted since what may be isolated incidents can be coalesced and described as a seeming diabolical agenda especially, since these archetypes of malfeasance continue unabated.

Wherefore, exemplified in Zionism, a scourge and a constant reminder of the ills caused by some Jews in history -- which work to detract from those Jews who live and die for justice -- lends aid to this view of vile Jewry. It could then be that the Zionists are correct when they assert that Jews and Israel in particular are held to higher standards of morality--since so many Jewish figures have been identified in the throes of historical disasters. Indeed, with great power comes great responsibility.

Bartolomé de las Casas a friend of the downtrodden and relentless fighter for justice or the son of Jewish merchants who sought new sources of wealth for his ilk?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Al-Qu'aida No.2 Invokes Malcolm X's House Negro Quip About Obama

Left: Al-Zawahiri likened Obama to a "house slave," contrasting him with 1960s African American revolutionary leader Malcolm X.

TRANSCRIPT: English Translation of Zawahiri Message per al-Sahab, the "al-Qu'aida" video production company.

In the Name of Allah, and all Praise is due to Allah, and Prayers and Peace on the Messenger of Allah and on his family, Companions and allies.

Muslim brothers everywhere: Peace be upon you and the Mercy of Allah and His blessings. As for what comes after:

Barack Obama has won the presidency of the United States of America, and on this occasion, I would like to send several messages.

First, a message of congratulations to the Muslim Ummah on the American people's admission of defeat in Iraq. Although the evidence of America's defeat in Iraq appeared years ago, Bush and his administration continued to be stubborn and deny the brilliant midday sun. If Bush has achieved anything, it is in his transfer of America's disaster and predicament to his successor. But the American people, by electing Obama, declared its anxiety and apprehension about the future towards which the policy of the likes of Bush is leading it, and so it decided to support someone calling for withdrawal from Iraq.

The second of these messages is to the new president of the United States. I tell him: you have reached the position of president, and a heavy legacy of failure and crimes awaits you. A failure in Iraq to which you have admitted, and a failure in Afghanistan to which the commanders of your army have admitted. The other thing to which I want to bring your attention is that what you've announced about how you're going to reach an understanding with Iran and pull your troops out of Iraq to send them to Afghanistan is a policy which was destined for failure before it was born. It appears that you don't know anything about the Muslim Ummah and its history, and the fate of the traitors who cooperated with the invaders against it, and don't know anything about the history of Afghanistan and its free and defiant Muslim people. And if you still want to be stubborn about America's failure in Afghanistan, then remember the fate of Bush and Pervez Musharraf, and the fate of the Soviets and British before them. And be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them.

As for the crimes of America which await you, it appears that you continue to be captive to the same criminal American mentality towards the world and towards the Muslims. The Muslim Ummah received with extreme bitterness your hypocritical statements to and stances towards Israel, which confirmed to the Ummah that you have chosen a stance of hostility to Islam and Muslims.

You represent the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz, or Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him). You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America. And so you promised to back Israel, and you threatened to strike the tribal regions in Pakistan, and to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, in order for the crimes of the American Crusade in it to continue. And last Monday, your aircraft killed 40 Afghan Muslims at a wedding party in Kandahar. As for Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him), he was born to a black pastor killed by white bigots, but Allah favored him with guidance to Islam, and so he prided himself on his fraternity with the Muslims, and he condemned the crimes of the Crusader West against the weak and oppressed, and he declared his support for peoples resisting American occupation, and he spoke about the worldwide revolution against the Western power structure.

That's why it wasn't strange that Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him) was killed, while you have climbed the rungs of the presidency to take over the leadership of the greatest criminal force in the history of mankind and the leadership of the most violent Crusade ever against the Muslims.

And in you and in Colin Powell, Rice and your likes, the words of Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him) concerning "House Negroes" are confirmed.

You also must appreciate, as you take over the presidency of America during its Crusade against Islam and Muslims, that you are neither facing individuals nor organizations, but are facing a Jihadi awakening and renaissance which is shaking the pillars of the entire Islamic world; and this is the fact which you and your government and country refuse to recognize and pretend not to see.

As for the third message, it is to the Muslim Ummah. I tell it: America, the criminal, trespassing Crusader, continues to be the same as ever, so we must continue to harm it, in order for it to come to its senses, because its criminal, expansionist Crusader project in your lands has only been neutralized by the sacrifices of your sons, the Mujahideen. This, then, is the path, so stick to it.

As for the fourth message, it is to the lions of Islam, the Mujahideen. I tell them: may Allah reward you in the best way for your historic heroics, which have ruined America's plans and rendered its projects ineffective. So be firm and resolute. Your enemy's stagger has begun, so don't stop hitting him.

And I say to my brothers the Mujahideen in Iraq in general and the Islamic State of Iraq in particular, and to its Amir, the towering mountain Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi: your enemy has admitted defeat, and the forthcoming stage is expected to be dominated by conspiracies and betrayals in order to cover the American withdrawal, so you must persevere, for victory is in an hour of perseverance.

And I tell my brothers, the lions of Islam in Somalia: rejoice in victory and conquest. America is gathering its wounds in Iraq, and Ethiopia is looking for a way out, and for this reason, the stage of conspiracies and machinations has begun. So hold tightly to the truth for which you have given your lives, and don't put down your weapons before the Mujahid state of Islam and Tawheed has been set up in Somalia.

And I tell all Mujahideen everywhere: the Hubal of the age has begun to falter and recede, and Allah has granted you success and honored you by making you the most important cause of that, so be resolute on the path of Jihad until you meet your Lord while He is pleased with you.

And my fifth message is to all the world's weak and oppressed. I tell them: America has put on a new face, but its heart full of hate, mind drowning in greed, and spirit which spreads evil, murder, repression and despotism continue to be the same as always. And the Mujahideen of Islam, by the grace of Allah, continue to be the spearhead of the resistance against it to restrain it from injustice, aggression and arrogance.

As for my final message, it is to the American people. I tell it: you incurred defeat and losses from the foolish actions of Bush and his gang, and at the same time, Shaykh Usama bin Ladin (may Allah preserve him) sent you a message to withdraw from the lands of the Muslims and refrain from stealing their treasures and interfering in their affairs. So choose for yourself whatever you like, and bear the consequences of your choice, and as you judge, you will be judged.

And our final prayer is that all praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and may Allah send prayers and peace on our Master Muhammad and his family and Companions.

In the wake of the video controversy has arisen claiming that al-Zawahiri used a racist slur against Obama, calling him a "house Negro." While Al-Zawahiri referred to a parable Malcolm X made, which distinguished the house-Negro's attachment to her white masters from the field-Negro's vehement epugnance to these same masters. There existed a system of gradated privileges alloted to each group, which conferred their allegiance to the slave system.

Nevertheless, there was no such racist epithet from al-Zawahiri. In Zawahiri’s speech, he said: And in you (i.e., Obama) and in Colin Powell, Rice and your ilk, the words of Malcolm X concerning “House Negroes” are confirmed. Ralph Nader was also vilified for posing a similar remark subsequent to the elections even though, he didn't actually call Obama an Uncle Tom.

Ralph Nader Asks Whether Obama Will Be An Uncle Sam Or An Uncle Tom

In Arabic, al-Zawahiri used the term “Abeed al-Bayt,” which translates as “House Slave.” In the video itself and in the transcription, the words “house slaves” were in quotation marks suggesting a vernacular usage and emphasis. The lack of intent to racially malign Obama becomes the more evident in al-Zawahiri’s speech since al-Sahab Media immediately showed a few clips of Malcolm X explaining the “House Negroes” phenomenon. Therefore, the remark must be viewed in its proper context and not be extrapolated into some benign anti-racism agenda.

Malcolm X: The House Negro vs The Field Negro

"There were two kind of slaves. There were the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negro, lived in the house, with master. She dressed pretty good. He ate good, because she ate master's food, what he left. The house Negro lived in the attic or the basement, but still lived near her master, and he loved her master, more than the master loved himself. The house Negro would give her life to save the master's house quicker than the master would.

The house Negro, if the master said "we got a good house here" the house Negro says "yeah, we got a good house here." Whenever the master said we, the house Negro would say we. That's how you can tell a house Negro. If the master's house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say "What's the matter, boss, we sick?" We sick!

The house Negro identified himself with his master, more than the master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said "Let's run away, Let's escape, Let's separate;" the house Negro would look at you and say "Man, you crazy. What you mean separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than these? Where can I eat better food than this?" There was that house Negro.

In those days, he was called a house nigger. And that's what we call him today, because we still have some house niggers running around here. This modern house Negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He'll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master; and then brag about "I'm the only Negro out here. I'm the only one on my job. I'm the only one in this school." You're nothing but a house Megro!

And if someone were to come to you right now and say "let's separate," you respond in the same way that the house Negro said on the plantation. "What you mean separate? From America? This good white land? Where you gonna get a better job than you get here? I mean, this is what you say! "I di-I ain't left nothing in Africa." That's what you say. "Why, you left your mind in Africa."

On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. The field Negroes, those were the masses. There was always more negroes in the field as there were in the house. There, a Negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house, they ate high up on the hog. The Negro in the field didn't get nothing but what was left in the insides of the hog. They call them chit'lins nowadays. In those days, they called them what they were, guts! That's what you were, a gut-eater. And some of you are still gut-eaters.

The field Negro was beaten, from morning until night. He lived in a shack or in a hut. He wore cast-off clothes. He hated his master. I say, he hated his master. He was intelligent. That house Negro loved his master. But that field Negro, remember, they were in the majority, and they hated their master. When the house caught on fire, he didn't try to put it out, that field Negro prayed for a wind -- for a breeze. When the master got sick, the field Negro prayed that he died. If someone were tp come to the field Negro and say "Let's separate, let's run." He didn't say "Where we going?" She said "any place is better than here." We got field negros in America today.

I'm a field Negro. The masses are the field Negroes. When they see this man's house on fire, we don't hear these Negroes talking about "our Government is in trouble." They say "the Government is in trouble." Imagine a Negro, saying "our Government." I even heard one say "our astronauts." They won't even let him near the plant, and "our astronauts!" "Our neighbors!" That's a Negro that's out of his mind. That's a Negro that's out of his mind! Just because the slave master in that day, used Tom, to keep the field Negroes in check. The same old slavemaster today has Negroes who are nothing but modern Uncle Toms. 20th century Uncle Toms to keep you and me in check. Keep us under control. Keep us passive and peaceful. And nonviolent. That's Tom making you nonviolent.

It's like when you go to the dentist and the man is going to take your tooth. You're going to fight him when he starts pulling. So they squirt some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they're not doing anything to you. So you sit there and because you got all that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Hahaha.

There's nothing in our book, the Qur’ān, as you call it, Koran, that teaches us to suffer peacefully. Our religion teaches us to be intelligent. Be peaceful. Be courteous. Obey the law. Respect everyone. But if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery! That's a good religion. In fact, that's that old-time religion. That's the one that ma and pa used to talk about. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and a head for a head and a life for a life. That's a good religion. And doesn't anybody, no one resist that kind of religion being taught but a wolf who intends to make you his meal.

This is the way it is with the white man in America. He's a wolf and you're his sheep. Anytime a shepherd, a pastor, teaches you and me not to run from the white man, and at the same time teaches us don't fight the white man, he's a traitor, to you and me. Don't lay down our lives all by itself, no, preserve your lives. It's the best thing you got. And if you got to give it up, let it be "Even Steven."

Malcolm X - Field Negro vs House Negro

Although available at various venues, I did not include the al-Zawahiri video because Al Qu'aida does not need any more publicity. The MSM is already doing a thorough job in their promotion. However, I wanted to point out that Obama is being sheltered in an omnipotent racial cocoon. If anything comes along that could be remotely construed as racist or intones "race relations" the media pounds a message of racial neutrality into our heads ad nauseam. As if issues of class, gender and race suddenly disappeared at 11.00 PM, EST, November 4, 2008, with the forecasted election of Barack Hussein Obama. President-elect Obama has said as much himself. "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions," he said, according to the source.

And since the MSM announced Barack Obama's election commentators have continued to characterize his victory as a new era, The idea is that Obama is a symbol for the culmination of America’s racial progress. The Obama Messiah will change and cleanse America of its original sin of racism. I wonder if that change will include a change of sentiment toward folk in the urban areas and other heavily African American communities?

The African American illegitimacy rate remains at 70 percent. African Americans performed worse on the SAT in 2000 than in 1990. Fifty-five percent of all federal prisoners compose African American inmates, though they are only 13 percent of the population. Moreover, the majority of African Americans remain at the margins of the American success story.

America is not beyond race if it celebrates a man’s race. The best possible America would be one that would be completely indifferent to color. It would be a place where all races could be proud while conferring no privileges to one over another. Obama would not gain or lose support because of his complexion or be celebrated, defended or hated for it.

Race, sex, and class identity are real issues in American life, let us not deny this. And they were magnified at times during this election in an attempt to sway voters. In actuality, it is not Obama who enjoys this symbolism. Rather, it is the racial history of America that makes him into a liberating symbol. Therefore, Obama is merely used as a mechanism, a sort of scapegoat for hundreds of years of socio-economic policy.

It is also interesting that both Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri addressed the United States by drawing on radical American ideologies to make their point. Bin Laden invoked Global warming, Corporate greed, Taxes, and an Anti War message while, al-Zawahiri founds part of his message on a Black Nationalist ideology; which African Americans have turned away from since the 1990s. Malcolm X also rejected the thrust of racial politics in the latter part of his civil rights agitation. Malcolm left the Nation of Islam to join the Muslim Umma and sought to bridge the varying struggles for justice and equality regardless of race.

It would seem however that Bin Laden's analyses of American currents were on course because Americans rallied around those issues to elect Obama. In a similar vein al-Zawahiri correctly judged the force of racial politics in its American context even though, the racial dynamic has mutated into new forms. Indeed, there exists a new process of slavery. It is apparent that "Al Qu' aida" is an ardent student of American history and its civics--even while hiding deep within 'their caves.'

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Israel Boycotts UN Anti-Racism Conference

Left: Protesters demonstrating against Israel at the first Durban conference in South Africa in 2001. (AP)

Israel to boycott 'Durban II' anti-racism conference

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced Wednesday that Israel has made a final decision to boycott the United Nations "Durban II" conference on human rights this spring, fearing it would be used once again as a forum for anti-Israeli sentiment.

The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in Geneva in April, is a follow-up to a 2001 summit in Durban, South Africa on the same issues.

Left: Tzipora (Tzipi) Malka Livni, Israeli Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"The documents prepared for the conference indicate that it is turning once again into an anti-Israeli tribunal, singling out and delegitimizing the State of Israel," Livni told Jewish-American leaders at the UJC General Assembly in Jerusalem.

"The conference has nothing to do with fighting racism," she said. "In view of this situation, I decided that Israel will not participate and will not legitimize the Durban II conference."

The foreign minister also called on the international community "not to participate in a conference which seeks to legitimize hatred and extremism under the banner of a fight against racism."

Livni had said in February that Israel would boycott the meet, following assessment by the Foreign Ministry, and other Western governments, that it would be impossible to prevent the conference from turning into a festival of anti-Israeli attacks.

Full article from Haaretz

See also, Durban: Not again By Abraham H. Foxman (Anti Defamation League) Confer,

Left: Mr. Abraham (Abe) H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League

This time there is no excuse; this time no one can say let's just wait to see what happens. This time the world knows how the noble goals of a world gathering to fight the scourge of racism can be perverted and instead become a cauldron of hate focused on a single country and a single people.

I have often said anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish problem, it is a disease that strikes at the very essence of society. Nowhere in recent history was that virus of anti-Semitism more apparent than on the grounds and in the halls of the 2001 Durban Conference. Another world gathering that is allowed to dissolve into fits of hateful, racist anti-Semitism is simply not worth having.

Gives a whole new perspective on denial.

The United States, Britain, the Netherlands and France have said they may stay away if Israel's relations with Palestinians stands to eclipse all else.

Mumia: When The Dragons Return Home

When The Dragons Return Home

By Mumia Abu Jamal

Below: Mumia Abu Jamal in 03

Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, we have seen the naked rule of the dollar, unrestrained, wreak havoc around the world.

The reasons aren't as much ideological, as they are practical. It is the pursuit of profit (to quote Malcolm X) "by any means necessary."

In economic terms, we've seen the rise of the theories espoused by the late Milton Friedman, who advocated a "pure" form of capitalism, one unrestrained by regulation, and unbridled by the narrow interest of nationalisms.

Friedmanites roamed around the globe in the 1990's, supporting dictatorships throughout Latin America because they were good for business profits. They supported dictatorships in Asia for the same reason.

For profits trumped all other onsiderations.

The method they utilized was "structural adjustment", or the programs pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank that demanded countries cut social services, eliminate trade barriers, and open up their markets to foreign plunder, in order to get IMF loans.

Every country that did so, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, et al., went into a spiral of depression and social disaster. One Latin American country's currency became so worthless that they used their pesos to cover the walls -- because it was cheaper than wallpaper.

One of the IMF's long-term economists, Davison Budhoo, witnessed their policies and resigned, and wrote why he quit. In his resignation letter, he decried the IMF's practices of:

...[H]awking your medicine and your bag of tricks to governments and to people in Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa. To me resignation is a priceless liberation, for with it I have taken the first big step to that place where I may hope to wash my hands of what in my mind's eye is the blood of millions of poor and starving peoples...[p.251].

The architects of this economic theory based their profiteering on either exploiting or creating shocks, for under such conditions new rules could be made that further weakened social networks and strengthened foreign capital.

These crises can come from any source, natural, political or economic; the result is the same: destruction and disorientation, conditions which allow for better exploitation by national and foreign oligarchs. {Source: Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (N.Y.: Metropolitan Bks., 2007, p.261.}

But, capital, unleashed, is notoriously mobile. Restless, ravenous, always in search of profit, it has returned to its nest, and is ravishing anew.

The present economic crisis, born of unmitigated greed, while terrifying and disruptive in its impact, is also a tremendous opportunity for profit-taking as stocks fall, and corporations are able to be acquired for a song.

The late Black revolutionary, Malcolm X, is long remembered for his quip on the JFK (Pres. J.F.Kennedy) assassination: the chickens have come home to roost.

Today, the vultures have come home, to feed at the breast where once they nursed. Ravenous, they feed, ripping flesh from bone, until little is left.

This is capitalism unleashed. And it ain't pretty.

--(c) '08 maj
(column Written 11/12/08 Released 11/18/08)

=================================== The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

Audio of most of Mumia's essays are at:

CONTACT: E-mail - Web - AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES! Even after decades in prison on death row, as a political prisoner, Mumia Abu Jamal, would love to hear from you: Send him some LOVE and LIGHT at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335M
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Crystal G. Mangum Writes Memoirs

Left: Duke University lacrosse team logo?

Ms. Crystal Gail Mangum was hired as a stripper for $400 the night the incident happened in March 2006. After a long court case, the state attorney general’s office concluded that there was no credible evidence to prove an attack had occurred. Crystal Gail Mangum, has since co-authored a book about the case and her life titled “The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story.”

Do power relations sometimes compel women to do demeaning things? Does the gradation of society often instill and sue women to act against their interests, sometimes in ways akin to misogyny or racism? Yes of course this happens. Moreover, proving facts in a legal system that weighs credibility and integrity upon a set of criteria that may be objectively described as arbitrary i.e., involving considerations of class, race and gender based judgment wherein facts are certified. The legal system is a place where certitude becomes elusive if you can't afford justice -- through these social filters -- the theory of balance and the supposition of the impartiality of the blindfold cannot give one any sense of colloquial 'res juditaca' and lead to a realization that 'justice was served.' How far along are you along the totem pole, are you in a strategic position in the pecking order? The elements of the crime were not provable in the estimation of powerful actors and their government officials is all we can claim with certainty.

Left: Ms Mangum demands her private self back from the specter of public scandal.

"I am still claiming that a sexual assault happened," Ms. Mangum said. But she declined to go into detail. When proded about the men who allegedly raped her, she retorted that it was moot to contemplate on an impossible "justice."

"I have no comments about the details of the case," she said, adding later, "There's no point in going into that, because the trial will never happen. So what's the point? I just don't see the point."

Crystal Mangum said she wrote the book for closure and to help others. Mangum, 30, who graduated from N.C. Central University, said she hopes to get a PhD from the University of Georgia and open a group home for troubled girls. She appeared today in a neat gray suit and stylishly-cut hair, far different from her compormising image in photos taken at the team party.

"I don't mind, I guess, being sort of a sacrifice to help others as long as I can share my experience in a positive way," she said.

She wiped away tears at times, saying, "A lot of things went wrong in my case."

Left: Crystal Mangum at police station

She said she wanted to be known for more than the lacrosse case. "This is very difficult for me, but this is something I have to do," she said.

"God has given me the grace and the courage to stand up. I'm a real person. I have feelings. I'm not just an ex-dancer. I'm not just someone who tried to frame someone who is innocent of sexual assault. My only intentions were for justice, and I wanted justice for myself."

The memoir, "The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story," is being promoted by its co-author, Vincent "Ed" Clark, a former columnist for The Chapel Hill News and a self-employed publicist. Clark said the self-published book will be available through his Web site on a print-by-demand basis. A digital version of the book is also available for ten dollars less than the hard copy.

Clark said Mangum had tried to "push back against the tide of public opinion by herself" and had given interviews to television networks that never aired. "She has tried on a number of occasions to talk about her life and the sad night her life ended ... because she's a new person today," Clark said.

Left: Crystal Mangum, the alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse rape case, addresses the media during a press conference on the release of her book "The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story." The woman who North Carolina prosecutors determined falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her at a team party maintains in her new memoir that she was attacked. (AP / Davis)

In excerpts released, Mangum says: "Even as I try to move on with my life, I still find it necessary to take one more stand and fight.

"I want to assert, without equivocation, that I was assaulted. Make of that what you will. You will decide what that means to you because the state of North Carolina saw fit not to look at all that happened the night I became infamous."

In the book, Mangum also says that her story "has never changed" and that some of those who participated in discrediting her were motivated by the politics of race.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Israel Bemoans British Settler Import Label

Israeli Ire Over Distinctive British Labels On West Bank Products

Relations between Israel and Britain remain strained over Downing Street's intention to label products manufactured in West Bank settlements, prior to the arrival of British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Miliband, to the Middle East.

Miliband, who will visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Lebanon next week, is expected to talk to Israeli officials over the settlements in the West Bank and his country's proposed plan to label products produced there. "This initiative is a serious and substantial problem in relations between the two countries, and is generating a sense of crisis," a senior diplomat in Jerusalem said.

Over the past few weeks Prime Minister Designate Tzipi Livni has spoken to Miliband and tried to persuade him to cancel the plan, by equating it to the initiative by U.K. academics to ban their Israeli counterparts. The British Secretary of State responded that the policy did not amount to an embargo on products made in the West Bank, but was merely an attempt to enforce previous trade agreements between the two countries.

Tzipi Livni, fears that the British government's restrictions on West Bank settlement imports may be the first salvo in a British-led international campaign to restrict the importation of Israeli goods.

The issue has been personally pursued by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has proposed a round-table involving UK government officials, NGOs, and retailers to discuss the problem.

The dispute arises from complaints by the UK Revenues and Customs service that Israeli companies label products, especially fruit and vegetables grown on West Bank settlements, as originating within the Green Line.

In a circular distributed by the British Foreign Office to all 27 EU members, Britain complains there has been an acceleration in settlement construction since Annapolis [the 2007 peace summit] and adds that it is "keen to look at how UK and European Community policies can avoid inadvertently supporting or encouraging settlement activity." Tzipi Livni has spoken to Foreign Secretary David Miliband but refused to change the Israeli labeling policy.

Minister Miliband plans to speak to Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus over his country's ties to Iran, and urge him to continue peace talks with Israel in return for improved relations with the U.S. and U.K. Israeli diplomats, meanwhile, stressed that the only official mediators in talks with the Syrians are the U.S. and Turkey. Miliband has not been authorized to speak on Jerusalem's behalf, they added.

Left: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband will visit Israel, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territories and Syria this coming week as part of a Middle East tour to improve international relations and work toward establishing peace in the region.

The British are interested in increasing their involvement in Middle East talks, out of the expectation that once U.S. president-elect Barack Obama is sworn into office they will be able to push forward a regional peace effort together with the White House.

Furthermore, British ambassador Tom Phillips was summoned by the Israeli foreign ministry to discuss fears by former Israel Defense Forces' officers fears of being arrested in the U.K. and to stand trial for war crimes. Israeli officials are disappointed that the British government has not changed legislation that will prevent U.K. courts from trying Israeli officials. Former IDF generals including Minister of Transportation and former IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz have chosen not to travel to the U.K. in trepidation of arrest by local authorities.

A few days ago Israeli ambassador to the U.K. Ron Prosor held a meeting with Miliband, during which the Israeli official rejected the Secretary of State's argument that the plan to label products made in West Bank settlements was simply part of the U.K.'s attempts to enforce trade agreements. Prosor told Miliband that its initiative to label the products was part of an attempt by Downing Street to influence Israeli policy toward the settlements, and that any other explanation was an excuse.

Following the trail of money we find that the root of this "diplomatic" row between Britain and Israel is buried deep in Israel's circumvention of an EU free trade pact whereby, millions of pounds in custom tariffs and excise taxes are bypassed according to BBC NEWS.

The British Government believes that Israeli settlements on occupied territory are illegal. So does every other government in the world, except for Israel.

For that reason goods produced on settlements in the West Bank are not supposed to benefit from a free trade agreement between the EU and Israel. They are supposed to be subject to import duty.

But the BBC has discovered that HM Revenue and Customs is strongly concerned that the system is being abused and that these goods may be coming into Britain for free.

Left: Ahava's factory is in the West Bank settlement, Mitzpe Shalem, near the Dead Sea

Ahava is one of the better known brands to come from the occupied West Bank. The company is doing well. Its range of products using minerals extracted from the Dead Sea and processed nearby are on sale in Britain and across Europe.

Ahava CEO Yaacov Ellis said exports are doing so well that the company plans to open a second store in Britain along with others elsewhere in Europe.

He added that one big help over the last few years has been the free trade agreement between the European Union and Israel signed in 2000.

"I think it is very important, not just for us, for anyone who deals with the export between the countries. Now of course we are like a European country."

Left: Map showing the location of the Ahava factory in the West Bank.

'Potential for abuse'

Under the terms of that free trade agreement, products from the territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 Israeli-Arab war are not supposed to benefit from duty free import. This applies to the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, a strip on the border with Lebanon and until Israeli withdrew its settlers in 2005, also included the Gaza Strip.
Mr Ellis says that although the Ahava factory is indeed in the West Bank, the company can still benefit as it has other operations located inside Israel.

"Well, the core of the company is located here and near Tel Aviv area. The company has a few sites in Israel, so we are using there [Mizpe Shalem] for manufacturing, but it does not affect our sales."
But the European Commission, guardians of EU law, said in a statement to the BBC that the law is clear. "The rules of origin of a product refer to the place where the product or most of it was manufactured."

Under EU law, it is up to member states to police the free trade agreement, to decide what goods should benefit from duty free import and what should not. However, British officials are apparently concerned about what they call "the potential for abuse" of the system.

HM Revenue and Customs are investigating and British officials say there is a further problem with produce from the West Bank: not just paperwork for customs, but labelling for consumers.

'Informed choice'

At a number of settlements, polythene tunnels house row upon row of the fragrant herbs available cheaply in shops and markets around Israel. Some of them are also exported to the United Kingdom and around the world where the supermarkets chop them up, package them and label them as "West Bank" produce.

Left: Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under International Law

Although the herbs do indeed come from the West Bank, the geographical label does not tell consumers whether they are buying from a Palestinian farmer or from an Israeli settler who is on the land against international law. Moreover, these same settlers routinely, attack and sabotage harvesting by Palestinians in order to stymie any competition emanating from their farms and express their hatred for Palestinians.

Waitrose is one of the British supermarkets selling herbs which they label as coming simply from "the West Bank." In a statement the company confirmed that the imported herbs came from West Bank farms which it described as "Israeli-managed." Some supermarkets have described the illegally occupied territories as merely "disputed territories."

"While it is not a legal requirement for us to label where our herbs come from at all, we still choose to do this," the statement said.

"All our herbs from the West Bank are labeled as 'West Bank', in line with the geographical region and EU legislative advice."

Left: Masked Israeli settlers wearing Jewish prayer shawls in the West Bank. These settlers beat Palestinian farmers with sticks and sprayed them with pepper gas.

Waitrose may be technically, meeting its legal requirement, but Mike Bailey from Oxfam says that it is not good enough. There is an element of ruse and in extension confusion of the consumer involved in refusing to properly label products from Israeli settlements.

"The settlements on the West Bank are illegal under international humanitarian law and that creates a lot of problems for the Palestinians that live there. Consumers that are buying produce that are grown in illegal settlements need to have that information so that they can make an informed choice."

The Foreign Office seems inclined to agree. British officials have now tabled a proposal at the European Council (EC), the EU forum for member states, calling for discussion on possible means to tighten the policing of the rules on import duty and alter the labeling, so that consumers can make an informed choice between Palestinian goods and settlement goods. The problem that the British government is now trying to grapple with is what can be done beyond ritual condemnations to arrive at a point where illicit Israeli goods may be curtailed.

It is a fact that settlement products and produce have found their way all over the world and continue to do so, simply labeled as produce of Israel. These settlements are illegal under international law. The Geneva Convention states that the transfer of a civilian population into occupied territory is a war crime; to be complicit in this crime is also a crime.

Israel has been under mounting pressure from EU member states to stop this illegal practice since 2003. This brought about what is known as the “Technical Agreement” between the EU and Israel Customs Co-operation Committee. The agreement entered into force in February 2005 and was engineered by Ehud Olmert, Trade Minister of Israel at the time. In order to differentiate between settlement goods and Israeli goods, Israeli exporters undertook to indicate the names of the cities, villages or industrial zones where production had taken place. This practice would set apart settlement produce (Occupied Territories) from Israeli produce. The former would pay customs duties and the latter would be exempt under the EC-Israel Preferential Trade Agreement. However, Israel has given importers of its goods in the West information that is based on Israeli maps, which do include the occupied territories.

With the customs and duties issue put to rest, the Olmert agreement conveniently allowed Israel to continue exporting settlement produce into the EU and elsewhere. It is no longer a question of whether the export of settlement produce is legal or not. Israel simply finds it convenient to contravene the laws and betray its obligations under agreement.

Pressure from consumers and media reports have further reinforced the trend to change the labeling. In November 2007, a group of UK activists went inside Tomer, a settlement in the Jordan Valley, and took photos of produce labeled “Made in Israel” bound for UK supermarkets. An ITN report covered the story and interviewed representatives of Sainsbury and Tesco, who admitted ‘mistakenly’ mislabeling settlement produce in the past and vouched to label settlement produce as “West Bank” in the future. All retailers have since been sent information on inspecting goods from Israel to check their origin.

The West Bank has become synonymous with Palestine in the public lexicon. Labeling produce that comes from the Occupied Territories as produce of the “West Bank” misleads the consumer. Consumers buying these products believe that they are supporting the Palestinian economy while in fact they are supporting the economy of these illegal settlements. The vast majority, and very probably, all produce that comes from the West Bank, comes from the settlements. Very little, if any, produce that comes from Palestinian farms makes it to supermarkets in the West.

This unlawful practice denies consumers informed choices between Palestinian goods, of which there are almost none, and illegal settlement goods. For consumers to make ethical and informed choices, settlement goods must be clearly indicated as settlement produce and thereby set apart from Palestinian goods.

Despite efforts by the UN, the EU Quartet and NGOs to signal strong opposition to continued settlement and outpost expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, there has been a marked acceleration in construction, and no serious attempts by the Israeli authorities to dismantle them. Settlements, outposts, and the infrastructure that serves them, illegal in international law, devastate the Palestinian economy and the daily lives of ordinary Palestinians. While world bodies can be commended for raising the issue of settlements and outposts, there has been a marked failure to hold the Israeli authorities to their obligations under moral force and international law. This highlights the urgent need to go beyond rhetoric and adopt concrete measures to ensure that Israeli authorities comply with their obligations under international law. Moreover, the US political cocoon that serves to shelter Israel and protect it from countless crimes and resolutions of world bodies only encourages more illegal activity--there must be a cessation to this chronic and fatal international cronyism.

Left: Each dollar, every euro, a pound or a franc, etc. used to buy Israeli goods eventually becomes bombs and bullets to be fired at the hearts and minds of children, men and women in Palestine. To buy their goods is to support their tyranny, oppression and unbridled aggression.

Download a list of settlement products (from Gush Shalom): PDF, Word document

Brands & Labels That Support Israeli Crimes You Should BOYCOTT.

Petition: Suspend EU-Israel Association Agreement.