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Tag Archives: government
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called Zionism a “crime against humanity” likening it with anti-Semitism, fascism, and Islamophobia while speaking at a UN forum on Wednesday. Erdogan was speaking Wednesday before a Vienna forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, a UN framework for West-Islam dialogue.
UN Watch urged UN chief Ban Ki-moon who was present on the stage yet stayed silent, according to UN Watch, to speak out and condemn the speech. It also called on Erdogan to apologize.
“We remind secretary-general Ban Ki-moon that his predecessor Kofi Annan recognized that the UN’s 1975 Zionism-is-racism resolution was an expression of anti-Semitism, and he welcomed its repeal,” UN Watch stated.
In its condemnation of Erdogan’s remarks which it called “Ahmedinejad-style pronouncements,” UN Watch stated that the remarks “will only strengthen the belief that his government is hewing to a confrontational stance, and fundamentally unwilling to end its four-year-old feud with Israel.”
Israel sent messages to Ankara over the last two weeks that it is interested in creating a more positive dynamic in its badly strained relationship with Turkey so the two countries can work together to further common interests, government officials said on Monday.
The messages were sent prior to John Kerrys maiden trip abroad as US secretary of state, a trip that will take him to nine countries including Turkey. Kerry is scheduled to arrive in Turkey on Friday.
It is widely expected that Kerry will raise the issue of ties with Israel during his talks with Turkish leaders in Ankara.
The US has long been pressing both Ankara and Jerusalem to take steps to improve relations that went into a nosedive following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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Labor will introduce a private members bill aimed at legalising gay marriage, in a move designed to pressure Prime Minister Tony Abbott into deciding on whether Government MPs will be allowed a conscience vote.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek took the bill to Caucus this morning for approval from her colleagues.
The draft legislation is practically the same as the private members bill the then government MP, Stephen Jones, proposed to the last Parliament, which was overwhelmingly defeated in 2012.
“I will seek to bring the bill forward in early 2014,” Ms Plibersek said in a statement.
“Marriage equality’s time has well and truly come. The proposal for this bill follows the High Court’s confirmation that ‘marriage’ in the Australian Constitution includes a marriage between persons of the same sex.”
Ms Plibersek wants a Liberal MP to co-sponsor the bill but the ABC understands Ms Plibersek will accept a seconder from the Opposition if no-one in the Government can be found.
The move will spark a fresh round of debate within the Coalition about gay marriage, with more Government MPs publicly declaring their support for marriage equality but bound by the partys position.
Mr Abbott opposes any change to the Marriage Act but has left open the prospect of allowing his MPs a free vote pending a partyroom debate, which is now more likely as a result of the bill.
Debate on gay marriage has led to heated tensions between some conservatives and some moderates within the Government.
A national gay-rights group on Monday launched a $1 million campaign designed to increase support for same-sex marriage in Texas and eight other Southern states.
Freedom to Marry, based in New York, said the South is home to most of about 50 federal lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans, including three in Texas. A San Antonio judge is expected to issue a ruling in the coming days on one of lawsuits, filed by same-sex couples from Austin and Plano who argue that the Texas ban is unconstitutional.
The Texas co-chairs for the effort, called Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, are Mark McKinnon, who was chief media adviser to former President George W. Bush, and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.
As a conservative, I dont believe you or I or the government can tell people who they can love or marry. Freedom means freedom for everyone, not just for some, McKinnon said in a statement released by Freedom to Marry. The political reality is that the marriage wedge has lost its edge. This train has left the station and we all need to get on board.
The Southern campaign is part of a wider strategy to build momentum toward a U.S. Supreme Court decision that would overturn bans on gay marriage by increasing public support for same-sex marriage and add to the 17 states that allow the practice, the organization said.
Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, which opposes same-sex marriage, predicted that Texans will reject politically motivated efforts to redefine marriage and weaken religious liberty and free speech.
The idea that there is enough public support in the state of Texas to redefine marriage and change our Texas Constitution through the legislative process is a fantasy, and they know it, Saenz said. The only changes weve seen made recently were by unelected federal judges and by a federal government that is overreaching and abusing its power. That is not the will of the people.
But Chuck Smith, executive director of the lobbying and advocacy group Equality Texas, said recent polling has shown growing acceptance for same-sex marriage in the Lone Star State.
More Texans have come to recognize that the world doesnt end when gay and lesbian people are allowed to marry, and that they want to get married for many of same reasons straight people do that is they have fallen in love and want to publicly commit to sharing their lives with them, Smith said.
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Feb 23 2014 / 1:39 am
By Julie Webb-Pullman
In a desperate attempt to stem the tsunami of international public support for boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israel for its illegal activities in Palestine, an Israeli Rent-a-Crowd from a local evangelical church turned up to try to counter a picket by Kiwi anti-Zionist protestors of a performance by Israeli government-funded dance company Batsheva at the St James Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday night.
The NZ performance was under the auspices of the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, and partially sponsored by the Israeli Embassy in Wellington.
Despite numerous kiwi appeals to organizers to cancel the troupes invitation, and to the government to refuse them visas, both the festival organizers and the NZ government turned a deaf ear.
Not so the audience, who were left in no doubt as to the implications of their attendance at the event.
Waving placards and banners, the anti-Zionist protestors pointed out that The Batsheva Dance Company is part of the Israeli propaganda effort to deflect criticism of its policies towards Palestinians and other Arab countries. As the troupe is largely funded by the Israeli Ministry of Culture & Sport, the City of Tel Aviv and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who praise the troupe as ambassadors of Israeli culture, the NZ protestors said that supporting the performance is tantamount to supporting the oppressive and illegal practices of the Zionist regime.
To cheers from the crowd, some 15 people decided to forgo their tickets, saying they had no idea it was an Israeli-government sponsored event, and would never have bought them if they had been aware.
Shouts of Shame accompanied those who continued through the doors.
Meanwhile, in what is the clearest evidence yet that Israels propaganda campaign is an abject failure, the Rent-a-Crowd in the front line demonstrated not only their ignorance of the issues at stake, but also their general ignorance.
THE situation is not just about talks vs operation. The plot is far more complex than it appears. At the moment, an operation seems to be the better option; but there are many constraints. And as opposed to the state, it is the Pakistani Taliban, both good and bad, that appear to be benefiting more from the current situation.
The political and security establishments have different perceptions of and responses to the quagmire of terrorism. While the security establishment takes a broader view, and factors in regional and strategic concerns, the political leadership has focused primarily on internal security. Nonetheless nothing should stop the two from evolving a common approach, though the governments view of national security is still developing.
But the current dynamics of the Taliban insurgency demand a quick and vigilant response. As the situation is changing daily, the government has to come up with a flexible approach.
It appears that the security establishment is in a hurry to strike hard against the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) before 2015 so that no one can use the banned group as a strategic tool against Pakistan including the Afghan Taliban and Afghan security institutions.
As time passes, the feeling of uncertainty and unease is growing vis–vis the Afghan Taliban behaviour after Nato troops withdraw from Afghanistan. The major reason is that the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network have not used their influence with the TTP leadership and other militants on both sides of the border to get them to stop launching attacks inside Pakistan. It is feared that after 2015, the Afghan Taliban will continue to use the TTP as a tactical tool against Pakistan to maintain what they view as a strategic balance.
It is likely that some Pakistanis believe that if the TTP is dismantled or weakened enough before 2015, the Afghan Taliban would not be able to use them as a bargaining lever and will continue to look towards Pakistan for political support.
However, a full-scale operation in North Waziristan cannot guarantee the TTPs elimination. There are two reasons. First, the TTP and its local and international affiliates have expanded their networks in other parts of the country and the number of terrorists sleeper cells is increasing. Second, the North Waziristan militants can relocate to Afghanistan and join Mullah Fazlullahs forces thus becoming more problematic for Pakistan. It would be a nightmare for the establishment if these militants become strategic assets in the hands of Afghan security agencies.
In this context, a prolonged US presence in Afghanistan could become a stabilising factor in border security and Pak-Afghan ties. The US has its own reasons for maintaining its presence in the region. Apart from the Al Qaeda presence, it is concerned about Pakistans nukes. Besides, its presence in Afghanistan will keep up pressure on Iran, China, Russia and the Central Asian states.
There are compelling reasons for Afghans to support the presence of the US troops in their country. The capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces to assume responsibility post-2014 is still a major concern for Kabul, which is not sure whether peace can be achieved without mainstreaming the Afghan Taliban. The latter believe their political and moral position will strengthen after 2014 even without a reconciliation agreement. They want to keep their allies and assets intact both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the former, they may not disturb elections on a large scale; in Pakistan they will support peace talks to buy time. It is for the first time that the Afghan Taliban are experiencing time constraints.
Interestingly, experts do not give a proper place to Al Qaeda in their analyses. Al Qaeda is another beneficiary of the regional conflict. For Al Qaeda, this is a golden opportunity to manipulate the situation in its favour as it enjoys the same influence over the TTP and other regional militant groups as the Afghan Taliban.
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Israelis Use Wine to Protest Against SettlementIsraelis Use Wine to Protest Against SettlementThousa – Video
Israelis Use Wine to Protest Against SettlementIsraelis Use Wine to Protest Against SettlementThousa
Israelis are boycotting wine grown in West Bank settlements to protest against the slow pace of peace talks between their government and Palestinian neighbor…
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Is government necessary? If so, what functions should it perform?
The discussion at the James V. Brown Library centered around those questions Wednesday evening during the talk given by Mehrdad Madresehee, Lycoming College professor of economics, on the role of government in the economy.
The functions the federal government should perform varies between conservative and liberal views. Conservatives believe in a limited government role, but that it should still be involved in some ways, Madresehee said, such as establishing laws, providing public goods and stepping in with “spill-over” effects.
The overarching ideology is the perception and placement of failure: while conservatives view government skeptically, liberals see the market’s limitations to solve social and economic problems, he said.
Regarding the government providing public goods – which are goods that can be consumed by someone without diminishing the amount others can consume – taxes are necessary as it forces everyone to contribute to the common good. That addresses the “free-rider problem” of everyone benefiting from a public good that only a few may contribute to otherwise, Madresehee said.
Liberals tend to believe in the redistribution of income and wealth, and fighting poverty. Regarding income and wealth inequality, “the market is ruthless,” Madresehee said.
“Who gets what is not determined by the number of hours worked, but by supply and demand,” he said.
While 1 percent of the American population is very rich, the majority is left lacking, he said.
The nation’s income tax is rather progressive, he said, as those who make more pay more. In comparison, Pennsylvania’s income tax is flat, as the rich and poor pay in the same, he said.
Madresehee said this country is not over-taxed compared to other countries.
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It has always been a secret ambition of mine to have a bagatz ruling bearing my name. Bagatz is the Hebrew acronym for High Court of Justice, the Israeli equivalent of a constitutional court. It plays a very important role in Israeli public life. Having a groundbreaking Supreme Court decision named after you confers a kind of immortality. Long after you are gone, lawyers quote your case and refer to the judgment. Take Roe vs. Wade, for example. Whenever abortion is debated in the US, Roe vs. Wade (1973) comes up, though few remember who Jane Roe and Henry Wade actually were. Now there is Uri Avnery and Others vs. the Knesset and the State of Israel, which came up this week before the Israeli Supreme Court. It concerns the anti-boycott law enacted by the Knesset. A few hours after the law was passed, Gush Shalom and I personally submitted to the court our application to annul it. We had prepared our legal arguments well in advance. Thats why it bears my name. The applicants rather disrespectfully called Others are about a dozen human rights organizations, both Jewish and Arab, who joined us. After this ego-trip, lets get to the point. The court session was rather unusual. Instead of the three justices who normally deal with such applications, this time nine judges almost the full complement of the court were seated at the table. Almost a dozen lawyers argued for the two sides. Among them was our own Gabi Lasky, who opened the case for the applicants. The judges were no passive listeners fighting boredom, as they usually are. All nine judges intervened constantly, asking questions, interjecting provocative remarks. They were clearly very interested. The law does not outlaw boycotts as such. The original Captain Charles Boycott would not have been involved. Boycott was an agent of an absentee landlord in Ireland who evicted tenants unable to pay their rent during the Irish famine of 1880. Instead of resorting to violence against him, Irish leaders called on their people to ostracize him. He was boycotted no one spoke with him, worked for him, traded with him or even delivered his mail. Pro-British volunteers were brought in to work for him, protected by a thousand British soldiers. But soon boycotting became widespread and entered the English language. By now, of course, a boycott means a lot more than ostracizing an individual. It is a major instrument of protest, intended to hurt the object both morally and economically, much like an industrial strike. In Israel, a number of boycotts are going on all the time. The rabbis call on pious Jews to boycott shops, which sell non-kosher food or hotels, which serve hot meals on Sabbath. Consumers upset by the cost of food, boycotted cottage cheese an act that grew into the mass social protest in the summer of 2011. No one was indignant. Until it reached the settlements. In 1997 Gush Shalom, the movement to which I belong declared the first boycott of the settlements. We called upon Israelis to abstain from buying goods produced by settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories. This caused hardly a stir. When we called a press conference, not a single Israeli journalist attended something I have never experienced before or since. To facilitate the action, we published a list of the enterprises located in the settlements. Much to our surprise, tens of thousands of consumers asked for the list. Thats how the ball started rolling. We did not call for a boycott of Israel. Quite the contrary, our main aim was to emphasize the difference between Israel proper and the settlements. While the government did everything possible to erase the Green Line, we aimed at restoring it in the consciousness of the Israeli public. We also aimed at hurting the settlements economically. The government was working full-time to attract people to the settlements by offering private villas to young couples who could not afford an apartment in Israel proper, and lure local and foreign investors with huge subsidies and tax reductions. The boycott was intended to counteract these inducements. We were also attracted by the very nature of a boycott: It is democratic and non-violent. Anyone can implement it quietly in his or her private life. The government decided that the best way to minimize the damage was to ignore us. But when our initiative started to find followers abroad, they became alarmed. Especially when the EU decided to implement the provisions of its trade agreement with Israel. This confers large benefits on Israeli exports, but excludes the settlements, which are manifestly illegal under international law. The Knesset reacted furiously and devoted a whole day to the matter. (If I may be allowed another ego-trip: I decided to attend the session. As a former member, I was seated with Rachel in the gallery of honored guests. When a rightist speaker noticed us, he turned around and, in a flagrant breach of parliamentary etiquette, pointed at us and snarled: There is the Royal Couple of the Left!) Abroad, too, the boycott was initially aimed at the settlements. But, drawing on the experience of the anti-apartheid struggle, it soon turned into a general boycott of Israel. I do not support this. To my mind, it is counter-productive, since it pushes the general population into the arms of the settlers, under the tired old slogan: All the world is against us. The growing dimensions of the various boycotts could no longer be ignored. The Israeli Right decided to act and it did so in a very clever way. It exploited the call to boycott Israel in order to outlaw the call to boycott the settlements, which was the part that really upset it. That is the essence of the law enacted two years ago. The law does not punish individual boycotters. It punishes everyone who publicly calls for a boycott. And what punishment! No prison terms, which would have turned us into martyrs. The law says that any individual who feels that they have been hurt by the boycott call can sue the boycott-callers for unlimited damages, without having to prove any damage at all. So can hundreds of others. This way the initiators of a boycott can be condemned to pay millions of shekels. Not just any boycott. Only boycotts aimed against institutions or people connected with the State of Israel or here come the three fateful Hebrew words: A territory ruled by Israel. Clearly, the whole legal edifice was constructed for these three words. The law does not protect Israel. It protects the settlements. That is its sole purpose. The dozens of questions rained down on our lawyers concerned mainly this point. Would we be satisfied with striking out these three words? (Good question. Of course we would. But we could not say so, because our main argument was that the law restricts freedom of speech. That applies to the law as a whole.) Would we have opposed a law directed against the Arab Boycott maintained against Israel during its early years? (The circumstances were completely different.) Do we oppose the freedom of speech of rabbis who prohibit the leasing of apartments to Arab citizens? (That is not a boycott, but crass discrimination.) After hours of debate, the court adjourned. Judgment will be given at some undefined date. Probably there will be a majority and several minority decisions. Will the court dare to strike out a law of the Knesset? That would demand real courage. I would not be surprised if the majority decides to leave the law as it is, but strike out the words concerning the settlements. Otherwise, it will be another step toward turning Israel into a state of the settlers, by the settlers and for the settlers. There are examples for this in history. The eminent British historian Arnold Toynbee a favorite of mine once composed a list of countries which were taken over by the inhabitants of their border regions, who as a rule are hardier and more fanatical than the spoiled inhabitants of the center. For example, the Prussians, then the inhabitants of a remote border region, took over half of Germany, and then the rest. Savoy, a borderland, created modern Italy. Whatever the outcome, the decision in the case of Uri Avnery and Others vs. the State of Israel will be quoted for a long time. Some satisfaction, at least.
n Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and former member of Knesset.
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Violent clashes between police and protesters continued in Kiev on Thursday despite calls for a truce, leaving at least 22 dead and scores wounded. At least 45 people have been killed in the past two days, according to an AP tally, and protest leaders pegged the number of dead on Thursday alone at more than 70, though that claim couldnt be independently verified. A reporter for the Associated Press counted 22 bodies in the sprawling protest encampment in central Kiev on Thursday, andReuters reports that one of its photographers counted 21 bodies in civilian clothes.
As a life-long fan of music, especially rock, it pains me that Ive stopped listening to Pink Floyd. But the misguided geopolitical musings of Roger Waters on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and his stubborn insistence that all artists join him in a cultural boycott of Israel, dont leave me much choice.
Ive always vehemently disagreed with Waters boycott approach and his views on Israel, but didnt feel that should stop me from enjoying the works of a band thats meant so much to rock history.
But hes taken it to new extremes. His recent interview with Frank Barat of Counterpunch makes it clear that Roger Waters isnt just wrong on Israeli-Palestinian issues, hes trading in classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.
He tells Barat, falsely, that Israel practices ethnic cleansing as part of a racist apartheid regime, then draws unfounded parallels between Israel and both the Vichy French and Nazi governments during World War II. He further describes the systematic murder of the Jews from 1933-1946 as no different from this time . . . [where] its the Palestinian people being murdered.
Waters goes on to incorrectly claim that some rabbis in Israel believe that Arabs are subhuman and exist to serve the Jews. American Rabbi Shmuley Boteach corrects Waters rant the dirtiest of blood libels in a recent New York Observer article, noting that such a belief contradicts the core teachings of the Torah . . . that every human being is created equally in the image of God.
Waters also told Counterpunch that other artists dont publicly echo his positions on the Israel-Palestinian conflict because theyre afraid of the oh-so-powerful Jewish lobby in the United States, especially in the music industry. Naturally, he doesnt offer specific names or incidents to back up this tired claim, only the paranoid insistence that nameless friends are concerned for his life because of the stand he is taking.
The reason other artists dont join Roger Waters in his cultural boycott is simple: Hes dead wrong. Israel is the only democratic country in the Middle East and the only country that recognizes womens rights, gay rights and equal rights for all minorities including Arabs and Christians. While many people in Israel may disagree with the Israeli government, Israelis (including Arab citizens) have the full right to speak out against their government and change it by voting out their elected representatives.
(The many artists that have performed for the Israeli people people of all ethnicities and religions include Rihanna, Paul McCartney, Cyndi Lauper, McCoy Tyner, Elton John, the Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Seal and Akon.)
I dont expect Waters to change his views but Im appalled that no one calls him out on his rancid hate.
Recently, Scarlett Johansson spoke out against this boycott of Israel in connection with her appearance in a Super Bowl ad as spokesperson for SodaStream, an Israeli company that sells a seltzer-water machine and employs hundreds of Palestinians in a West Bank factory. As a result, Oxfam International obliged Johansson to resign as its global ambassador (after eight years in that position), since she refused to be bullied into breaking with SodaStream. (Oxfam objects to Israeli businesses operating in the West Bank, no matter how it economically benefits Palestinians.) Johansson politely said she was parting ways with Oxfam because of a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
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