AIPAC Conference: The Film You Won’t See.

By Jerry Alatalo

Book4Alphabet The Real News covered an event recently where men and women discussed America’s relationship with Israel, and trying to answer a proposed question of whether it was good or bad for the American people. During one of the presentations the following documentary film, “Valentino’s Ghost”, became the focus and several short clips were shown to the audience. The film in its entirety was available for viewing on YouTube with a length of 1-hour 48-minutes, and it’s a guaranteed good bet the film won’t “premier” during the upcoming AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) conference.

The film has received praise and awards in European countries and other regions of the world, but film festivals in the United States have been cautious or fearful of retaliation from powerful Zionist organizations, therefore refusing to show “Valentino’s Ghost”. Even the Sundance Film Festival has buckled and declined including the documentary, suggesting to its producers that the film “is too political”.

The film will cause those who’ve received their news of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East affairs from the corporate media to reconsider all they’ve come to know and take for granted. Documentary films, in particular those made with high quality production standards like “Valentino’s Ghost”, are perceived by many as a powerful tool for communicating information about the world’s complex and difficult to understand issues and phenomenon.

Films of this quality and power have the potential to make a real and significant difference when it comes to widely distributed increase of understanding on issues like Israel and Palestine, terrorism, Islamophobia, and wars in the Middle East.

Every remaining presidential candidate will speak at the AIPAC conference but for Senator Bernie Sanders. The Sanders campaign told conference organizers he wished to speak via video conference to accommodate his busy Western states campaign schedule, but were given the response that AIPAC has recently ended its practice of addressee remote participation.

It’s appreciated that readers have time constraints, often trying to keep up on reading followed blog posts, so posting nearly 2-hour videos is something we try to refrain from. Making note of the film’s title “Valentino’s Ghost” and watching it later when time becomes available is a worthwhile option, especially for those concerned and frustrated about highly manipulated, extremely biased, historic media reporting on Israel, Palestine and the Middle East.

The men, women and children of the Middle East have experienced far too much sadness and pain for decades, and the basis or foundation for beginning to turn the tragic situations in the war-ravaged region around is the total truth – told without spin, slant or reservation. “Valentino’s Ghost” goes a long way toward establishing that long-awaited, much-needed, truthful foundation.

****

The full documentary had been posted on YouTube violating copyright and is no longer available there. To view, visit www.valentinosghost.com for details. Here is The Real News post which provides clips from the film plus an excellent and thoughtful discussion about Israel’s influence.

(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)

Advertisements

Israel-Palestine: From Edward Said (2003) To Ban Ki-Moon (2016).

By Jerry Alatalo

“Truth is the summit of being; justice is the application of it to affairs.”

– RALPH WALDO EMERSON (1803-1882) American poet, philosopher

PalestineAlphabet In perhaps his strongest condemnation to date, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon spoke out recently against Israel’s continued illegal settlement-building actions on the occupied territories, calling on the international community to work toward resumption of negotiations leading to an independent nation of Palestine – “…before it’s too late”.

The late Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York Dr. Edward Said (1935-2003), a well-known and highly respected humanist intellectual Palestinian activist until he passed away from leukemia in 2003, will be remembered as an academic with complete integrity. Mr. Said kept political issues out of the classroom, but will forever remain for Palestinians and people seeking peace, freedom and dignity around the world a bold, truth-speaking heroic leader.

For most men and women who’ve become knowledgeable about the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, successful, mutually agreed upon resolution of the decades-old, seemingly intractable differences between the two peoples is the ultimate key for bringing peace to the entire Middle East region.

A considerable percentage of men and women involved with issues of human rights, war and peace, international relations and equality among the world’s people believe a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict is key to creating the conditions for establishing peace on Earth.

Unfortunately, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – instead of publicly acknowledging and agreeing with the UN Secretary General’s urgent plea to stop settlement expansion, for determined international effort which results in a long-awaited and sought agreement where two states live side-by-side in peace – responded that Ban Ki-Moon’s statement would “encourage terrorism”.

The recent success of the P5+1 negotiations over Iran’s peaceful nuclear program provides the perfect template for resolving the similar decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict. The same nations which participated in the Iranian negotiations can easily reproduce that successful effort to arrive at a peaceful agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. Will Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and United States’ leaders rise to the historical occasion, siding with Ban Ki-Moon’s wise reasoning, and publicly advocate for P5+1 negotiations over Israel-Palestine?

Considering the massive amount of human suffering which people have experienced in the Middle East since 1948 and establishment of the state of Israel, and considering the current violent state of affairs in the region, the potential positive-result answer to that question should come very easily: “absolutely yes”. The innocent men, women and children of the Middle East, whose lives have been too often torn apart by wars due to their being born on lands under which exists massive natural deposits of oil and natural gas, deserve true peace.

Dr. Edward Said put forth tremendous effort while he lived to bring peace to Palestinians, Israelis and all people in the Middle East. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is calling for peace now in 2016, and he calls on the international community to make it happen.

The late Edward Said and Ban Ki-Moon, along with millions of men and women around the world – joined by a rapidly increasing number of others with every passing day – have called on all with good hearts to act now in the interest of peace. Who on Earth can argue against peace?

(Thank you to Palestine Diary at YouTube)

Edward Said delivering a lecture at the University of Washington in 2003, the year he passed away.

(Thank you to Nizar Abboud at YouTube)

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations in 2016.

Norman Finkelstein: “Good For Selma, Good For Palestine.”

by Jerry Alatalo

“I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.”

– MOHANDES (Mahatma) GANDHI (1869-1948) Hindu national leader

373Alphabet After listening to, first, Thom Hartmann talking to former 2nd in command at the Central Intelligence Agency Mike Morell on The Big Picture RT and, second, Paul Jay talking to Norman Finkelstein on The Real News Network’s (TRNN) Reality Asserts Itself, one thing stood out. Whereas Mr. Morell had a habit of looking down or to the side every 5-10 seconds when talking to Mr. Hartmann, Mr. Finkelstein for most his interview looked Paul Jay directly in the eye. Who knows if there’s even anything to gain from such an observation, but noticing the contrast in eye contact by the men in separate interviews was unavoidable.

Norman Finkelstein’s latest book “Method and Madness: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Assaults on Gaza” delves into the Israel-Palestine issue, a subject Mr. Finkelstein has researched for many years. At the end of the book he suggests that, for the Palestinian people, the best option is nonviolent civil disobedience based on the example in America where Martin Luther King led the march on Selma, Alabama for civil rights. Mr. Finkelstein notes in the interview, Part 2 of 3 on TRNN, that a Selma-like action is only his political judgment. But those who’ve studied Israel-Palestine realize he has enough knowledge for Palestinians and their supporters to seriously consider such a strategy.

Thank the Creator/God that international awareness of the urgent need to end apartheid conditions for Palestinians is growing a great deal faster than the movement to end apartheid in South Africa. Much of the difference comes thanks to the internet and masses of people around the world ending their association with any corporate, mainstream media organizations for getting their news about international events. That, combined with apartheid in Israel being much more destructive than the South Africa version, has resulted in a rapidly growing Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement around the world and more rapid condemnation by national governments of Israeli occupation, continuing confiscation of Palestinian lands for settlements construction, and Palestinians’ denial of basic human rights.

Some of the details of last summer’s Israeli 50-day assault on the people of Gaza – Operation Protective Edge – discussed in this segment with Mr. Finkelstein:

  • Hamas’ 4,000 “rockets” launched at Israel were no more than enhanced fireworks, resulted in (5) civilian casualties and $15 million in property damage, and Israel’s Iron Dome stopped at the most 400 of the 4,000 according to MIT physicist Theodore Postol’s analysis of Iron Dome
  •  Israel’s assertion that their missiles/bombs are 99% accurate and those missiles hitting civilian targets such as homes, apartment buildings, manufacturing facilities and United Nations shelters points to Israel’s need of accepting responsibility for the human deaths and injury, plus damage to property
  • Palestinian resistance in the form of violence was morally justified – an example of people (Norman Finkelstein) “summoning up the wherewithal to die in dignity”
  • With the international community closely observing events in Israel-Palestine, armed resistance should be replaced with mass nonviolent civil disobedience for change, in the view of Norman Finkelstein: “…good in Selma, good in Birmingham, good in Palestine”.
  • Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014 began on the night of the day Malaysian airliner MH17 crashed in Ukraine killing all 290 on board
  • After United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the United States administration of Barack Obama denounced Israeli air strikes on United Nations facilities/shelters during Operation Protective Edge – killing Palestinian civilians, ISIS’ brutal murder of reporters turned the international media spotlight away from Gaza, at which point then Israel increased the destructiveness of their attacks
  • Operation Protective Edge ended on August 26, 2014; Palestinians have since joined the International Criminal Court, very little reconstruction has occurred, Palestinians suffer horrendous living conditions, and the Israel government continues its illegal confiscation of occupied territory/land for settlements construction

First and foremost for the sake of the long-suffering Palestinian people – but also for Israelis, people in the Middle East, and humanity, for the millions of men and women around the Earth working for a fair, just resolution to the seemingly endless Israel-Palestine issue… Let the worldwide BDS movement/political anti-apartheid actions grow even more rapidly and powerfully, then relegate the entire decades-old, deeply saddening chain of events to the dustbin of history.

****

(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)

Israel’s Crimes ‘Infinitely Worse’ Than Apartheid South Africa.

by Jerry Alatalo

sun111Democracy Now presented a powerful segment on the current status of Palestinians’ search for justice as victims of Israeli war crimes weeks after gaining membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC). Amy Goodman talked to John Dugard, emeritus professor of International Law at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and Ambassador Nabil Abuznaid, head of the Palestinian Mission to the Netherlands.

Palestinian membership in the International Criminal Court is a major, historic development in the 60-year difficult relationship between Israel and Palestine, and has the real potential of further strengthening enforcement of international law on Earth. The positive consequences which humanity will experience include, most importantly, the beginning of the end for world leaders’ ability to commit major crimes against humanity with impunity – meaning without being held responsible and accountable for their actions. That is genuine, effective and vital deterrence.

Because of this tremendous development in the delivery of justice for people – the creation and promise of the ICC – mankind has taken a great step forward on Earth where in time all people – weak and powerful – become treated equally before the law. The most beneficial development for the human race moving forward is a growing awareness that the International Criminal Court, through unanimous membership by every nation – each lending focused support, nurture and strengthening – offers the best chance/opportunity for preventing war and increasing peace.

A partial transcript of the discussion:

Nabil Abuznaid:

“We accepted to live under international law. We are a peace-abiding nation, and we really tried politically to end the occupation. We tried by all means to end it, but unfortunate(ly) we were forced to seek justice through the International Criminal Court, which hopefully could stop the Israeli aggression against our people – against our lands, so we can live free and in dignity in our homeland”.

Israel, United States opposed to Palestine International Criminal Court membership…

“Well, they can oppose as much as they want. They can stop the money from going to the ICC, they can shut a building, but they can’t stop justice. I think justice in the end will prevail”.

John Dugard on Palestine ICC membership:

“In the first place, it does give credibility to Palestine’s statehood. Palestine is now a fully fledged member of the International Criminal Court, and even those states in the court system that do not recognize Palestine have to accept that it is a state, at least for the purpose of the International Criminal Court. The other important fact is that it does now provide an avenue for the pursuit of international criminal justice”.

Nabil Abuznaid: What do you want the ICC to investigate?

“Well, I think Palestinians, for more than 60 years they did not have one day of justice. And what is the daily ongoing under the occupation, it is clearly violations of international law. In moving people from their land, in stopping people from their freedom and movement, in attacks on Gaza and killing thousands of people. I’m sure Israel violated every international law in the book in its long occupation of Palestine”.

John Dugard: What Israel crimes are Palestinians seeking to prosecute?

“I think there are three major crimes that the court will be required to investigate. First of all, there is the question of settlements. There are today over 700,000 illegal Israeli settlers in Palestinian territory, and that is an international crime in terms of the Rome Statute and general international law. So, that’s the first crime. The second crime, and probably most important, concerns the recent Gaza conflict – “Operation Protective Edge” – where Israel was responsible for killing 2,200 people, and failing to distinguish between civilians and combatants. So, that clearly is at least a war crime, probably a crime against humanity as well. And there’s also the failure of Israel to treat political prisoners as prisoners of war, which I know is an issue important to the Palestinian Authority”.

Samantha Power: In the past, speaking to Congress:

“There are no shortcuts to statehood, and we’ve made that clear. Efforts, uh, that attempt to circumvent (to outwit; to get the better of by cunning; to get or go around) the peace process – the hard slog of the peace process – are only going to be counter-productive to the peace process itself, and to the ultimate objective of securing, uh, statehood, the objective that the Palestinian Authority, of course, has. So, uh, we have contested, uh, every effort even prior, uh, to the restart of negotiations spearheaded by Secretary Kerry, every time the Palestinians have sought to make a move on a United Nations agency, a treaty etc., we have opposed it”.

 John Dugard: Your response…

“Well, I think the strategy of Israel, and also the United States, is simply to allow talks to go on forever and ever, while Israel annexes more land and takes over Palestinian territory. The purpose of the International Criminal Court as I see it is to circumvent the strategy on the part of Israel and the United States, and to make Israel and the United States see and face the issues very clearly – namely that Israel has committed very, very serious international crimes. And, I might add that I’m a South African who lived through apartheid. I have no hesitation in saying that Israel’s crimes are infinitely worse than those committed by the apartheid regime of South Africa”. (emphasis added)

:For seven years I visited the Palestinian territory twice a year, also conducted a fact-finding mission after the “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza in 2008-9. So, I am familiar with the situation, and I’m familiar with the apartheid situation – I was a human rights lawyer in apartheid South Africa. And I, like virtually every South African who visits the occupied territory has a terrible sense of déjà vu – we’ve seen it all before. Except that it is infinitely worse“. (emphasis added)

“And what has happened in the West Bank is that the creation of a settlement enterprise has resulted in a situation that closely resembles that of apartheid, in which the settlers are the equivalent to white South Africans. They enjoy superior rights over Palestinians and they oppress Palestinians. So, one does have a system of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territory. And I might mention that apartheid is also a crime within the competence of the International Criminal Court”.  

“I think in one respect Israel’s crimes are much worse than South Africa, and that is in respect of its military action against Gaza, where it has not hesitated to kill civilians indiscriminately”.

Nabil Abuznaid: Israeli strikes on United Nations buildings after GPS coördinates supplied…

“Well, I think this is not just the Palestinians saying it. This is Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and the investigation saying that Israelis killed, deliberately, innocent Palestinian civilians who are taking shelter in some of the United Nations buildings, and this is a violation of international law”.

“But, one comment I would like to say as a Palestinian. Regardless to the suffering of the Palestinian people, to our people through all the century, now what happened in Syria. Even in the Netherland we got 15,000 arrive here on boats, hundreds were drowned in the waters. We are not seeking revenge, only we want justice for our people, who did not see one single day of justice. Hopefully that justice will prevail soon”.

John Dugard: United States, Israel are not members of International Criminal Court. Why not?

“Well, the United States has given a number of reasons for failing to become a full member of the International Criminal Court. And, one must remember that neither China nor the Russian Federation are members of the International Criminal Court. There are general reasons given by the United States. In the case of Israel, Israel does not become a party because it has something to hide. It clearly does not wish to see its own military leaders and its political leaders targeted”.

****

End of segment

(Thank you to Democracy Now at YouTube)

—-

As of January 2015, 123 nations / United Nations observer states have signed and ratified the Rome Statute and are full members of the International Criminal Court.

China is one of 42 nations / United Nations observer states which have neither signed nor ratified the Rome Statute: if any of these states sign the treaty, they immediately ratify or accede and join the International Criminal Court.

The Russian Federation is one of 31 nations / United Nations observer states who have signed the Rome Statute but not yet ratified: these states are one step – ratification – from International Criminal Court membership.

Israel is one of three nations (the other two being the United States and Sudan) which have signed the Rome Statute, but since advised the United Nations Secretary General their intention of not joining the International Criminal Court.

Here is just a partial list (17) of the 73 nations / United Nations observer states which have not joined the International Criminal Court. The list includes some of the most powerful nations on Earth, nations with the largest populations, and nations currently involved in conflicts widely reported by the international press/media. While going over the list of (17) nations, imagine how different conditions on Earth would be were all nations in the world full members of the International Criminal Court.

China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, Yemen. 

**********

ABOUT THE COALITION FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT  www.coalitionfortheicc.org

Mission

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court is the largest partnership in the world advancing the cause of international justice. Including more than 2,500 civil society organizations from 150 countries, the Coalition is leading the global fight to end genocide,war crimes, and crimes against humanity through a commitment to the core values of human rights and justice. The Coalition led the global civil society effort to create the International Criminal Court and is now engaged in ensuring the effectiveness, independence, and accessibility of international justice, while also responding to more urgent local and regional developments. The Coalition works with all aspects of the Court, as well as with the broader network of governments, the United Nations, and other institutions involved in the international justice system. Through this committed global partnership, the Coalition’s guiding mission is to make justice universally accessible for victims of the gravest crimes in an effort to secure lasting peace.

Member Organizations & Steering Committee

Our global network consists of leading human rights and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations, international law and justice institutions, and local and grassroots organizations from every region of the world. Coalition member organizations represent a wide range of focus areas, from women and children’s rights to peace and reconciliation issues. The Steering Committee is comprised of a core group of member organizations which provide policy and program coherence for the Coalition’s efforts and activities: Adaleh Center for Human Rights Studies, Amnesty International, Andean Commission of Jurists, Asociación pro Derechos Humanos-Peru (APRODEH-Peru), The Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre-Nigeria (CIRDDOC-Nigeria), Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), FORUM ASIA, Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), Human Rights Watch, HURINET-Uganda, Justice Without Frontiers (JWF), No Peace Without Justice, Parliamentarians for Global Action, REDRESS, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, and the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP).

Advisory Board

The Coalition’s Advisory Board serves as a global leadership group in support of the cause of international justice and provides strategic guidance on key issues. Chaired by former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Laureate the Honorable Kofi Annan, the Board includes His Excellency Bruno Stagno Ugarte (Vice Chair), His Royal Highness Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al- Hussein, the Honorable Louise Arbour, the Honorable Lloyd Axworthy, Dr. Jonathan Fanton, the Honorable Justice Richard J. Goldstone, Ms. Hina Jilani, Mr. Juan E. Méndez, Ms. Pam Omidyar, Mr. William R. Pace (Convenor of the Coalition), Dr. Sigrid Rausing, Ms. Darian Swig, the Honorable Patricia Wald, and His Excellency Christian Wenaweser.

Offices

The Coalition is headquartered in New York and The Hague and has regional offices in Argentina, Belgium, Benin, Jordan, Morocco, Peru, and the Philippines.

Support

The Coalition is supported by partners from around the world. Major funding has been provided by the European Union, the Ford Foundation, Humanity United, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and the Sigrid Rausing Trust, as well as by the governments of Austria, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, and a number of individual donors.

sun111