How Israel’s war industry profits from violent US immigration “reform”April 10, 2014
Immigrant rights advocates in the US organized a national day of action on 5 April, the day they expected President Barack Obama’s record-breaking rate of deportations to reach a total of 2 million during his administration.
But scant attention has been paid to the list of global benefactors awaiting the profits from legislation escalating border militarization.
Israel, America’s closest ally, tops the lineup of patrons eager for rewards while advocates demanding a meaningful overhaul of US immigration and border enforcement continue their defiant battle in the streets. In this setting, rights supporters must know which global partners stand beside the US in repressing undocumented im/migrant communities.
But how does the situation in Palestine — thousands of miles away — affect US immigration reform and vice versa? What does one have to do with the other?
Quite a lot, actually.
“Border security on steroids”
Take the recent news that Israeli arms manufacturing giant Elbit Systems won a USDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) contract to provide surveillance technology along the southern divide with Mexico, initially in Arizona.
Specifically, Elbit will provide its sensor-based Peregrine surveillance system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Integrated Fixed Tower project, which consists of ground radar and camera technology mounted on towers strewn throughout the borderlands. Congress approved the plan earlier this year.
A Bloomberg trade analyst estimated that Elbit’s $145 million award “may eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite US immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest” (“Israel’s Elbit wins US border work after Boeing dumped,” 27 February 2014).
The little-discussed Corker-Hoeven amendment attached to the 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) is the key legislation referenced by the Bloomberg analyst. The Senate passed the bill last June; the House of Representatives has stalled on voting on the package in any form.
Promoted as “border security on steroids” by the bill’s co-author, Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker, the measure sets aside $46 billion for security “triggers” that must be in place in areas including Arizona before a pathway to citizenship can be opened for an estimated 11 million people living undocumented in the US today.
No wonder that DHS’s $145 million payment to Elbit could skyrocket by 700 percent. And that’s just one bid by one Israeli company. There could be many more to come.
Israel and the “homeland security” industry
Journalist Todd Miller, author of the book Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), interviewed numerous corporate leaders and scoured boundary-enforcement security fairs and expos across the Southwest.
Miller described to The Electronic Intifada his constant encounters with Israeli security peddlers in the borderlands.
During his research for the book, Miller wasn’t looking for Israel anywhere. Yet the state’s agents kept surfacing at every turn, he said.
Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.
The US has spent $100 billion on immigration enforcement in the decade since then.
In that time, Israel became the world’s sixth-largest defense exporter and a leading supplier and consumer in the budding border-security industrial complex (“Israel ranks as the world’s sixth largest arms exporter in 2012,” Haaretz, 25 June 2013).
Companies large and small such as Elta Systems, Elbit Systems and NICE Systems have provided technologies including radar, virtual fencing and CCTV surveillance for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, Arizona department, as Jimmy Johnson has reported (“A Palestine-Mexico Border,” North American Congress on Latin America, 29 June 2012).
The Golan Group (founded by former Israeli special forces officers) provided training sessions for the US Border Patrol, as Naomi Klein notes in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine.
Israel aids deadly “deterrence” strategy
Elta Systems got a boost in late 2012 when, Haaretz reported, the US Border Patrol hired the company to provide radar along the border “to protect the US-Mexico border against illegal migrant infiltration.” US Border Patrol’s deal offered the company “a potential market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The US partnership with Israel is reciprocal: where the US has the finances, Israel has the expertise.
On the company’s end, according to Raanan Horowitz, CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Peregrine system “will meet the demanding mission requirements of the Customs Border Protection (CPB) while enhancing its agents’ safety” (“Elbit Systems of America awarded contract for US Customs Border Protection integrated fixed towers project,” Elbit Systems, 8 March 2014).
But what does this situation look like in terms of human consequences? In CBP’s statedmission of “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US,” under the pretext of personal safety, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 19 persons in recent years, often under the alleged threat of rock-throwing (“Border Patrol’s use of deadly force criticized in new report,” Los Angeles Times, 27 February 2014).
In this deadly equation, the reform legislation’s amendment calls for a “military-style surge” of 700 more miles of “border fencing” and doubles the current number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000 (“Border security: Boost for Senate immigration bill,” Associated Press, 20 June 2013).
Two decades of border militarization
Increased deployment of military-style resources to strategic areas along the border has mushroomed since the early 1990s, as Joseph Nevins documents in his book Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary.
President Bill Clinton, expanding on past boundary security-enforcement trends under his predecessors Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, instituted a new “deterrence” strategy designed to “reroute” migrants away from urban areas and into “geographically harsher,” more “remote and hazardous border regions” where the treacherous terrain would potentially kill them (“656 Weeks on the Killing Fields of Arizona,” The Huffington Post, 12 November 2012).
In such a way, planners devised, the “mortal danger” of the “geography would be an ally to us.”
This aggressive shift came less than a decade after the last immigration overhaul. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act opened the door to citizenship for three million people of extra-legal status and increased border controls for those continuing to come, but without addressing the US-based economic and political policies driving migration.
Predictably, within a decade of the “deterrence” policy’s onset, “Arizona had become a killing field,” Tucson-based journalist Margaret Regan describes in her book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.
Israel continues to reap the benefits from US border militarization as the levels of death and suffering grow in line with an enriching investment climate.
Border death rate doubles
A June 2013 study by scholars and forensics specialists at the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the local county medical examiner’s office found that the rate of migrant deaths had nearly doubled in the previous two years (“A continued humanitarian crisis at the border: undocumented border crosser deaths recorded by the Pima County office of the medical examiner, 1990-2012” [PDF]).
As more and more bodies are recovered, government and media continue to report all-time lows in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Yet the simultaneous increase in border deaths remains enormously underreported.
But this is all good news to Senator Corker, who urged those concerned with border security not to worry because the bill is so tough that it’s “almost overkill.”
In fact, the package “is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient,” Arizona Republican Senator John McCain concurred. “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McCain boasted.
More drones
One provision in S. 744 would add 18 more unmanned aerial vehicles (also known asdrones or UAVs) to the already ballooning fleet operated by Customs and Border Protection.
Israeli-built “Hermes” drones were the first deployed along the southern border with Mexico as early as 2004. Currently, the fleet buzzing throughout the borderlands skies is wholly comprised of US-made Predator B drones, according to a CBP spokesperson.
Rivaling the US as the world’s leader in such technology, Israel can still view immigration reform as a hefty bounty for its “battle-proven” military technology that is “tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza.”
As proposed in the legislation, the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US would take at least 13 years. Even then, the measures would benefit only those who are able to afford the mounting fees associated with the process, according to an analysis by Coalición de Derechos Humanos.
Though it won overwhelming approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the bill has stalled for nine months in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Many House members are hostile to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Worse, House Republicans, like their Senate counterparts, have shown a penchant for fueling the fantasy of border security as a sound solution to US immigration issues.
A new military occupation
The US and Israel both continue to dispossess indigenous people of their lands, and even of their existence.
In the US, Native peoples are left out of the “immigration reform” discourse altogether. Even though some are US-born, they are “undocumented” in every sense of the term, since they were born at home and lack a birth certificate.
The ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people span from modern-day Sonora, Mexico into southern Arizona — bisected by the Mexico-US border wall. Some were born on one side of the divide but grew up or spend most of their time on the other side and are therefore considered suspect by Border Patrol.
Miller writes in Border Patrol Nation: “While it may seem that the days of killing or corralling Native Americans and annexing their territories are an ancient and forgotten chapter in US history, the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation show us that nothing can be further from the truth.” O’odham people regularly face abuse, harassment and even death at the hands of US Border Patrol.
Some of the country’s largest Border Patrol stations (and at least one US military outpost in a remote location, known as a “forward-operating base”) surround the Tohono O’odham Nation as the second-largest reservation in the US, and military-style checkpoints control all movement entering and leaving the nation. According to Miller, this presence of federal forces occupying permanent positions on Tohono O’odham lands is the largest in US history.
The extra layers of militarized infrastructure isolates the nation while still in Arizona, Miller observes, “as if the nation itself were a foreign country under a new, post-9/11 form of military occupation.”
Full article

How Israel’s war industry profits from violent US immigration “reform”
April 10, 2014

Immigrant rights advocates in the US organized a national day of action on 5 April, the day they expected President Barack Obama’s record-breaking rate of deportations to reach a total of 2 million during his administration.

But scant attention has been paid to the list of global benefactors awaiting the profits from legislation escalating border militarization.

Israel, America’s closest ally, tops the lineup of patrons eager for rewards while advocates demanding a meaningful overhaul of US immigration and border enforcement continue their defiant battle in the streets. In this setting, rights supporters must know which global partners stand beside the US in repressing undocumented im/migrant communities.

But how does the situation in Palestine — thousands of miles away — affect US immigration reform and vice versa? What does one have to do with the other?

Quite a lot, actually.

“Border security on steroids”

Take the recent news that Israeli arms manufacturing giant Elbit Systems won a USDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) contract to provide surveillance technology along the southern divide with Mexico, initially in Arizona.

Specifically, Elbit will provide its sensor-based Peregrine surveillance system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Integrated Fixed Tower project, which consists of ground radar and camera technology mounted on towers strewn throughout the borderlands. Congress approved the plan earlier this year.

A Bloomberg trade analyst estimated that Elbit’s $145 million award “may eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite US immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest” (“Israel’s Elbit wins US border work after Boeing dumped,” 27 February 2014).

The little-discussed Corker-Hoeven amendment attached to the 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) is the key legislation referenced by the Bloomberg analyst. The Senate passed the bill last June; the House of Representatives has stalled on voting on the package in any form.

Promoted as “border security on steroids” by the bill’s co-author, Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker, the measure sets aside $46 billion for security “triggers” that must be in place in areas including Arizona before a pathway to citizenship can be opened for an estimated 11 million people living undocumented in the US today.

No wonder that DHS’s $145 million payment to Elbit could skyrocket by 700 percent. And that’s just one bid by one Israeli company. There could be many more to come.

Israel and the “homeland security” industry

Journalist Todd Miller, author of the book Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), interviewed numerous corporate leaders and scoured boundary-enforcement security fairs and expos across the Southwest.

Miller described to The Electronic Intifada his constant encounters with Israeli security peddlers in the borderlands.

During his research for the book, Miller wasn’t looking for Israel anywhere. Yet the state’s agents kept surfacing at every turn, he said.

Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The US has spent $100 billion on immigration enforcement in the decade since then.

In that time, Israel became the world’s sixth-largest defense exporter and a leading supplier and consumer in the budding border-security industrial complex (“Israel ranks as the world’s sixth largest arms exporter in 2012,” Haaretz, 25 June 2013).

Companies large and small such as Elta Systems, Elbit Systems and NICE Systems have provided technologies including radar, virtual fencing and CCTV surveillance for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, Arizona department, as Jimmy Johnson has reported (“A Palestine-Mexico Border,” North American Congress on Latin America, 29 June 2012).

The Golan Group (founded by former Israeli special forces officers) provided training sessions for the US Border Patrol, as Naomi Klein notes in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine.

Israel aids deadly “deterrence” strategy

Elta Systems got a boost in late 2012 when, Haaretz reported, the US Border Patrol hired the company to provide radar along the border “to protect the US-Mexico border against illegal migrant infiltration.” US Border Patrol’s deal offered the company “a potential market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The US partnership with Israel is reciprocal: where the US has the finances, Israel has the expertise.

On the company’s end, according to Raanan Horowitz, CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Peregrine system “will meet the demanding mission requirements of the Customs Border Protection (CPB) while enhancing its agents’ safety” (“Elbit Systems of America awarded contract for US Customs Border Protection integrated fixed towers project,” Elbit Systems, 8 March 2014).

But what does this situation look like in terms of human consequences? In CBP’s statedmission of “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US,” under the pretext of personal safety, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 19 persons in recent years, often under the alleged threat of rock-throwing (“Border Patrol’s use of deadly force criticized in new report,” Los Angeles Times, 27 February 2014).

In this deadly equation, the reform legislation’s amendment calls for a “military-style surge” of 700 more miles of “border fencing” and doubles the current number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000 (“Border security: Boost for Senate immigration bill,” Associated Press, 20 June 2013).

Two decades of border militarization

Increased deployment of military-style resources to strategic areas along the border has mushroomed since the early 1990s, as Joseph Nevins documents in his book Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary.

President Bill Clinton, expanding on past boundary security-enforcement trends under his predecessors Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, instituted a new “deterrence” strategy designed to “reroute” migrants away from urban areas and into “geographically harsher,” more “remote and hazardous border regions” where the treacherous terrain would potentially kill them (“656 Weeks on the Killing Fields of Arizona,” The Huffington Post, 12 November 2012).

In such a way, planners devised, the “mortal danger” of the “geography would be an ally to us.”

This aggressive shift came less than a decade after the last immigration overhaul. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act opened the door to citizenship for three million people of extra-legal status and increased border controls for those continuing to come, but without addressing the US-based economic and political policies driving migration.

Predictably, within a decade of the “deterrence” policy’s onset, “Arizona had become a killing field,” Tucson-based journalist Margaret Regan describes in her book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.

Israel continues to reap the benefits from US border militarization as the levels of death and suffering grow in line with an enriching investment climate.

Border death rate doubles

A June 2013 study by scholars and forensics specialists at the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the local county medical examiner’s office found that the rate of migrant deaths had nearly doubled in the previous two years (“A continued humanitarian crisis at the border: undocumented border crosser deaths recorded by the Pima County office of the medical examiner, 1990-2012” [PDF]).

As more and more bodies are recovered, government and media continue to report all-time lows in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Yet the simultaneous increase in border deaths remains enormously underreported.

But this is all good news to Senator Corker, who urged those concerned with border security not to worry because the bill is so tough that it’s “almost overkill.”

In fact, the package “is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient,” Arizona Republican Senator John McCain concurred. “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McCain boasted.

More drones

One provision in S. 744 would add 18 more unmanned aerial vehicles (also known asdrones or UAVs) to the already ballooning fleet operated by Customs and Border Protection.

Israeli-built “Hermes” drones were the first deployed along the southern border with Mexico as early as 2004. Currently, the fleet buzzing throughout the borderlands skies is wholly comprised of US-made Predator B drones, according to a CBP spokesperson.

Rivaling the US as the world’s leader in such technology, Israel can still view immigration reform as a hefty bounty for its “battle-proven” military technology that is “tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza.”

As proposed in the legislation, the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US would take at least 13 years. Even then, the measures would benefit only those who are able to afford the mounting fees associated with the process, according to an analysis by Coalición de Derechos Humanos.

Though it won overwhelming approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the bill has stalled for nine months in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Many House members are hostile to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Worse, House Republicans, like their Senate counterparts, have shown a penchant for fueling the fantasy of border security as a sound solution to US immigration issues.

A new military occupation

The US and Israel both continue to dispossess indigenous people of their lands, and even of their existence.

In the US, Native peoples are left out of the “immigration reform” discourse altogether. Even though some are US-born, they are “undocumented” in every sense of the term, since they were born at home and lack a birth certificate.

The ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people span from modern-day Sonora, Mexico into southern Arizona — bisected by the Mexico-US border wall. Some were born on one side of the divide but grew up or spend most of their time on the other side and are therefore considered suspect by Border Patrol.

Miller writes in Border Patrol Nation: “While it may seem that the days of killing or corralling Native Americans and annexing their territories are an ancient and forgotten chapter in US history, the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation show us that nothing can be further from the truth.” O’odham people regularly face abuse, harassment and even death at the hands of US Border Patrol.

Some of the country’s largest Border Patrol stations (and at least one US military outpost in a remote location, known as a “forward-operating base”) surround the Tohono O’odham Nation as the second-largest reservation in the US, and military-style checkpoints control all movement entering and leaving the nation. According to Miller, this presence of federal forces occupying permanent positions on Tohono O’odham lands is the largest in US history.

The extra layers of militarized infrastructure isolates the nation while still in Arizona, Miller observes, “as if the nation itself were a foreign country under a new, post-9/11 form of military occupation.”

Full article

Contractor for Israel’s apartheid wall wins US border contract
March 6, 2014

One of the two lead contractors for Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, Elbit Systems, has won a $145 million contract from the US Department of Homeland Security(DHS) to provide similar systems on the Mexico-US border.

This is the second time Elbit, which tests its technology on Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, has won a major US border surveillance contract.

Elbit was a Boeing subcontractor when that firm won a 2006 DHS contract for SBInet as part of the George W. Bush administration’s Strategic Border Initiative.

SBInet was to provide surveillance and communications technology to increase the US presence on the Mexico-US border. Elbit was subcontracted by Boeing through Kollsman, one of Elbit’s US-based subsidiaries, to provide the project’s camera and radar systems.

Work on the contract halted in 2008 and DHS officially canceled SBInet in January, 2011.

Dividing indigenous land

The new DHS contract calls for “Integrated Fixed Tower systems” that will “assist [Border Patrol] agents in detecting, tracking, identifying and classifying items of interest” along the border. This contract largely reprises Elbit’s role in the Boeing contract. Initial installations will be in Arizona.

Both the US and Israeli projects affirm settler-state partitions of indigenous land: Palestinian land in the Israeli case and Tohono O’odham land in Arizona.

The Tohono O’odham Nation is just one of several indigenous nations facing further partition because of US and Mexican border policies.

And both projects intend to stop the movement of persons under the guise of “security.”

Tested on Palestinians

Elbit tests its technology in Palestine so deployment in an analogous circumstance for the US is unsurprising.

The Elbit Systems of America 2012 promotional video above, for instance, boasts of “Proven Technology, Proven Security” and “10+ years securing the world’s most challenging borders.” Israel began building its apartheid wall in the early 2000s and the structure was declared to be illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

The video also says Elbit’s technology has been “operationally tested on the US Southwest Border.”

The video shows maps of Arizona and images of human walking through landscape, on military-style displays.

Drones

The Arizona border was also the site of a 2004 contract where Elbit provided Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — commonly known as drones — to the Border Patrol in the first significant deployment of UAVs for US border surveillance.

In addition to the US settler state furthering the partition of indigenous land, the DHS contract also affirms anti-Latin@ racism in the relations between the US and Mexico, and is just one example where Elbit and other Israeli firms play roles in “securing” wealthier European borders against migrants from poorer Black and Brown nations.

Elbit, NICE Systems and Aeronautics Defense Systems all provide technology, used first against Palestinians, for border surveillance and control systems throughout Fortress Europe.

Source

183 Palestinian children arrested by army, facing military courts in January aloneMarch 4, 2014
A new report indicates that as of the end of January, 183 Palestinian children were arrested and detained by Israeli occupation soldiers and occupation police, and imprisoned and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. Of the 183 children, 20 are between the ages of 14 and 15 years old.Defence for Children International - Palestine section (DCI-PS) added in its detention bulletin that 75 percent of Palestinian children detained during 2013 “endured physical violence during arrest and interrogation.”DCI-PS documents specific case studies of Palestinian children being detained, arrested and violently abused by Israeli forces. In their bulletin, the rights group highlights the case of 16-year-old Salah S. from Qalqilya in the occupied West Bank:
In January, Israeli soldiers detained Salah S, 16, from Azzun, Qalqilya around 4:30 pm while he was with friends near a road used by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Israeli soldiers held him overnight and transferred him to multiple locations over a 12-hour period, while subjecting him to physical violence and ill-treatment.Salah was previously arrested in January 2013, then 15 years old, and spent 10 months at Megiddo prison inside Israel.On January 1, Israeli forces arrested 16 residents from at-Tabaqa village, west of Hebron, in the West Bank, including nine Palestinian children, some as young as 13, on suspicion of stone throwing.DCI-Palestine research shows that children arrive to Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded, bound and sleep deprived. Unlike their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian children have no right to be accompanied by a parent during an interrogation. In 96 percent of cases documented by DCI-Palestine in 2013, children were questioned alone and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination.
Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years [old], are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. The most common charge is for throwing stones. Currently, 41.5 percent of Palestinian child prisoners are detained inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Source

183 Palestinian children arrested by army, facing military courts in January alone
March 4, 2014

A new report indicates that as of the end of January, 183 Palestinian children were arrested and detained by Israeli occupation soldiers and occupation police, and imprisoned and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. Of the 183 children, 20 are between the ages of 14 and 15 years old.

Defence for Children International - Palestine section (DCI-PS) added in its detention bulletin that 75 percent of Palestinian children detained during 2013 “endured physical violence during arrest and interrogation.”

DCI-PS documents specific case studies of Palestinian children being detained, arrested and violently abused by Israeli forces. In their bulletin, the rights group highlights the case of 16-year-old Salah S. from Qalqilya in the occupied West Bank:

In January, Israeli soldiers detained Salah S, 16, from Azzun, Qalqilya around 4:30 pm while he was with friends near a road used by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Israeli soldiers held him overnight and transferred him to multiple locations over a 12-hour period, while subjecting him to physical violence and ill-treatment.

Salah was previously arrested in January 2013, then 15 years old, and spent 10 months at Megiddo prison inside Israel.

On January 1, Israeli forces arrested 16 residents from at-Tabaqa village, west of Hebron, in the West Bank, including nine Palestinian children, some as young as 13, on suspicion of stone throwing.

DCI-Palestine research shows that children arrive to Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded, bound and sleep deprived. Unlike their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian children have no right to be accompanied by a parent during an interrogation. In 96 percent of cases documented by DCI-Palestine in 2013, children were questioned alone and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination.
Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years [old], are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. 
The most common charge is for throwing stones. Currently, 41.5 percent of Palestinian child prisoners are detained inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Source

Thousands of African migrants strike in IsraelJanuary 20, 2014
Tens of thousands of African migrants suspended a general strike Jan. 13 that had been in effect since January 5 in the Zionist state of Israel. The strike is scheduled to resume on Jan. 15 in the aftermath of the death of Ariel Sharon.
A list of demands put forward by the African community — most of whom come from Eritrea and South Sudan — calls for the nullification of the recently enacted Anti-Infiltrator Law, a halt to arresting people under that law, the release of those currently jailed and a review of asylum requests for Eritreans and Sudanese. The strike impacted the hotel, restaurant, café and cleaning services sectors of the Israeli economy.
Some 60,000 migrants from Eritrea and South Sudan have entered Israel since 2006. Over the last two years, a new detention facility has been constructed to hold migrants on the border with the Egyptian Sinai.
The migrants are forced to flee ongoing conflicts in Central and East Africa and the subsequent economic devastation they have created. These conflicts are a direct result of Western imperialist interference in the internal affairs of post-colonial African states.
The Workers’ Hotline organization has received numerous complaints from African migrant workers of terminations and other threats from employers. “A group of workers came to our offices, and we also got phone calls from workers in Eilat who were told not to come back, and that their strike was seen as quitting without notice,” said Noah Kaufman, who works as a coordinator for refugees and asylum seekers at the agency. (Haaretz, Jan. 13)
Kaufman went on to say, “There were two accounts of workers given ultimatums — either agree to change their employment conditions for the worse, or quit without getting severance pay or notice.”
The agency says it is developing a legal strategy for addressing the ultimatums and firings.
A staff attorney for the Hotline, Michael Tadjer, stated: “Employers cannot exploit the asylum seekers’ suffering to worsen their terms of employment. They are using this as a means to threaten their workers. In essence, they’re saying, ‘We can fire you, so either you quit or we take away your seniority, worsen your conditions,’ or lots of other things. Employers are using this for exploitation.” (Haaretz, Jan. 13)
Tadjer went on to note: “The legal question is how much the strike was protected. Although they are unorganized workers, there is an umbrella organization that declared this strike, and there have been precedents in Europe in which sectors of the population went on strike in protest against the government, when policy directly harmed individuals. This strike is a political strike, and it might be that it is supported by law, but it hasn’t come up for legal review. We think that firing workers after a week-long strike against a law that harms the most basic thing — their freedom and ability to work — is an act committed in bad faith.”
Full article

Thousands of African migrants strike in Israel
January 20, 2014

Tens of thousands of African migrants suspended a general strike Jan. 13 that had been in effect since January 5 in the Zionist state of Israel. The strike is scheduled to resume on Jan. 15 in the aftermath of the death of Ariel Sharon.

A list of demands put forward by the African community — most of whom come from Eritrea and South Sudan — calls for the nullification of the recently enacted Anti-Infiltrator Law, a halt to arresting people under that law, the release of those currently jailed and a review of asylum requests for Eritreans and Sudanese. The strike impacted the hotel, restaurant, café and cleaning services sectors of the Israeli economy.

Some 60,000 migrants from Eritrea and South Sudan have entered Israel since 2006. Over the last two years, a new detention facility has been constructed to hold migrants on the border with the Egyptian Sinai.

The migrants are forced to flee ongoing conflicts in Central and East Africa and the subsequent economic devastation they have created. These conflicts are a direct result of Western imperialist interference in the internal affairs of post-colonial African states.

The Workers’ Hotline organization has received numerous complaints from African migrant workers of terminations and other threats from employers. “A group of workers came to our offices, and we also got phone calls from workers in Eilat who were told not to come back, and that their strike was seen as quitting without notice,” said Noah Kaufman, who works as a coordinator for refugees and asylum seekers at the agency. (Haaretz, Jan. 13)

Kaufman went on to say, “There were two accounts of workers given ultimatums — either agree to change their employment conditions for the worse, or quit without getting severance pay or notice.”

The agency says it is developing a legal strategy for addressing the ultimatums and firings.

A staff attorney for the Hotline, Michael Tadjer, stated: “Employers cannot exploit the asylum seekers’ suffering to worsen their terms of employment. They are using this as a means to threaten their workers. In essence, they’re saying, ‘We can fire you, so either you quit or we take away your seniority, worsen your conditions,’ or lots of other things. Employers are using this for exploitation.” (Haaretz, Jan. 13)

Tadjer went on to note: “The legal question is how much the strike was protected. Although they are unorganized workers, there is an umbrella organization that declared this strike, and there have been precedents in Europe in which sectors of the population went on strike in protest against the government, when policy directly harmed individuals. This strike is a political strike, and it might be that it is supported by law, but it hasn’t come up for legal review. We think that firing workers after a week-long strike against a law that harms the most basic thing — their freedom and ability to work — is an act committed in bad faith.”

Full article

freeusapress
fala7idreams:

Detained: Testimonies from Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel
Text and photos by: Samar Hazboun
“Over the past 11 years, according to Defence for Children International, some 7,500 children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention facilities. Muhammad Daoud Dirbas, at the age of six, was the youngest child to have been detained by Israeli soldiers. Such practices are considered illegal under international law, as are other policies that children are subjected to, such as solitary confinement.
I started working on “Detained” about one year ago, because of the lack of visual documentation on the subject. I contacted some human rights organizations, which put me in contact with a few children. Unfortunately, those children refused to be interviewed; having been contacted several times by journalists, they were afraid of repercussions. I then decided to contact people I knew from Palestinian cities like Nablus and Hebron where child detention is most prevalent. Through these friends, I was able to find and contact additional children. Sadly, it was quite easy to find them since it is such a common phenomenon.
In most cases, I found children who suffer from various traumas. Some were not able to talk about what had happened in prison; others burst into tears, and it was sometimes hard for me to hold my own tears back as I was conducting the interviews. Many children agreed to talk to me “off the record”; I thus know their stories but was not able to officially interview them or take their pictures. In some cases, I was able to talk to the parents once the child left the room, and thus obtained more detailed information about how the children were dealing with what had happened to them.
In many cases, the children suffer from insomnia, involuntary urination, nightmares, depression, and fear of going out and facing people. “It is a very humiliating experience for my son. I pray everyday that he forgets about what had happened to him. We avoid talking about it at home because I want him to forget and this is why we prefer not to have journalists in the house,” one mother told me.
All the children I interviewed decided not to take further legal action, out of fear of the repercussions of doing so, and the lack of belief that they will be guaranteed protection.
The following photographs and texts present the stories of the children as they and their families told them to me. It was not possible to independently corroborate all of the facts told by the children and their families. These are their stories, in their words.
Dates, names and places have been changed in order to protect the children’s identities…” (continue reading)

fala7idreams:

Detained: Testimonies from Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel

Text and photos by: Samar Hazboun

“Over the past 11 years, according to Defence for Children International, some 7,500 children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention facilities. Muhammad Daoud Dirbas, at the age of six, was the youngest child to have been detained by Israeli soldiers. Such practices are considered illegal under international law, as are other policies that children are subjected to, such as solitary confinement.

I started working on “Detained” about one year ago, because of the lack of visual documentation on the subject. I contacted some human rights organizations, which put me in contact with a few children. Unfortunately, those children refused to be interviewed; having been contacted several times by journalists, they were afraid of repercussions. I then decided to contact people I knew from Palestinian cities like Nablus and Hebron where child detention is most prevalent. Through these friends, I was able to find and contact additional children. Sadly, it was quite easy to find them since it is such a common phenomenon.

In most cases, I found children who suffer from various traumas. Some were not able to talk about what had happened in prison; others burst into tears, and it was sometimes hard for me to hold my own tears back as I was conducting the interviews. Many children agreed to talk to me “off the record”; I thus know their stories but was not able to officially interview them or take their pictures. In some cases, I was able to talk to the parents once the child left the room, and thus obtained more detailed information about how the children were dealing with what had happened to them.

In many cases, the children suffer from insomnia, involuntary urination, nightmares, depression, and fear of going out and facing people. “It is a very humiliating experience for my son. I pray everyday that he forgets about what had happened to him. We avoid talking about it at home because I want him to forget and this is why we prefer not to have journalists in the house,” one mother told me.

All the children I interviewed decided not to take further legal action, out of fear of the repercussions of doing so, and the lack of belief that they will be guaranteed protection.

The following photographs and texts present the stories of the children as they and their families told them to me. It was not possible to independently corroborate all of the facts told by the children and their families. These are their stories, in their words.

Dates, names and places have been changed in order to protect the children’s identities…” (continue reading)

African asylum seekers strike to demand rights, hold unprecedented rally in Tel Aviv
January 6, 2014

Over 20,000 asylum seekers, mostly from Eritrea, assembled in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square Sunday morning to demand recognition as refugees. Across Israel, asylum seekers went on a three-day strike, and more protests were planned.

In recent weeks, the government stepped up the arrest and imprisonment of African asylum seekers who entered the state without permits. Several months ago, Israel’s High Court of Justice struck down a law authorizing the state to lock up for three years any person who entered the country illegally, and in some cases, indefinitely. But last month the Knesset passed a new law, authorizing the state to hold asylum seekers in “closed” prisons for a year. A new “open” holding facility named “Holot” began operating in the desert, where asylum seekers can be held indefinitely until their eventual deportation.

The government has stepped up enforcement measures against Israeli businesses that employ asylum seekers in recent weeks and months and municipalities have been shutting down shops and restaurants owned by Africans, adding to a feeling of despair in the asylum seeker community.

The general strike is the latest step in the African protest campaign against the recent measures. Dozens of asylum seekers walked out of the Holot facility (most of them were returned by force), large marches took place in Tel Aviv and Eritrean dissidents broke into an event in the North hosted by the Eritrean ambassador to Israel. Some 50 people were injured and arrested in the fight that broke out between the regime supporters and the protesters.

Most asylum seekers who do work are employed in hotels and restaurants, mostly as various types of cleaners.

Click here for +972 Magazine’s full coverage of asylum seekers in Israel

Protesters in Tel Aviv held signs reading: “We are not criminals; we are refugees,” and “Freedom”. Speakers told stories about the plight of the community. “We are living in fear,” one speaker said, “the government waged war on us.” At least a couple members of Knesset showed up and expressed their support for the asylum seekers.

Speaking at the rally, chair of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said, “this is an existing moment: tens of thousands of innocent people are not willing to go to prison, standing together and shouting: ‘we are not criminals.”

“There are certain steps (taken by the state) about which we cannot stay silent,” she continued. “It’s time for real answers – and the government can give them.”

There are some 53,000 African Asylum seekers in Israel. The government refuses to review their individual requests for refugee status and instead refers to them as “infiltrators.” The term, which was used to describe Palestinians refugees that tried to enter the country in the 1950s, is also commonly used in the Hebrew media.

Source

Withdrawal of Prawer Plan bill “major achievement” for PalestiniansDecember 13, 2013
The Israeli government today announced that it had withdrawn a bill that proposed the expropriation of land and the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of Bedouins from 35unrecognized villages in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of present-day Israel.
Known as the Prawer Plan, the Israeli government scheme was met with mass protests throughout historic Palestine, including several “Days of Rage.”
As Linah Alsaafin and Budour Youssef Hassan commented for The Electronic Intifada in September:
These protests have succeeded in drawing local and international attention to the threats posed by the Prawer proposal, and mobilized youth to take to the streets, including many who were not politicized. They also managed for the first time in a while to unite efforts across the fragmented sections of Palestinian society for one cause, as Palestinians in the 1948 territories, the West Bank and Gaza Strip all organized protests on the days of rage.
These protests, which faced state violence and intimidation, are being credited for making it impossible for the bill to move forward to become law, at least for the time being (Haaretz reported today that it “is not clear whether the bill has been shelved or just temporarily postponed”).
As news emerged that the bill was about to be withdrawn, some Israeli officials, such as foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, stated that in its current form, the plan had been, if anything, too generous to Bedouins.
Haaretz also reported that contrary to the Israeli government’s claims, the Prawer Plan had never been approved by the Bedouin community.
“The withdrawal of the Prawer Plan bill is a major achievement in the history of the Palestinian community in Israel,” Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, stated today.
“It shows that popular action, legal advocacy and international pressure can succeed in defending the rights of 70,000 Arab Bedouin residents of the unrecognized villages in the Naqab to live with freedom and dignity on their own lands and in their villages.”
The group added:
The government was forced to reveal the Plan’s details after intensive media attention and public activism against the Prawer Plan in recent weeks. On 30 November 2013, thousands demonstrated against the Prawer Plan in Hura and Haifa, where they were met by police who used excessive force and made dozens of arrests. Adalah and other volunteer lawyers defended the detained protesters in court and filed official complaints to the Police Investigation Unit (“Mahash”) against the police’s violent conduct.
While today’s announcement marks a major victory, the rights of Bedouins in the Naqab are still under threat.
Adalah added that “the cancellation of the bill is a platform to continue the dedicated work in the struggle to prevent the Israeli government from implementing the Prawer Plan. The government’s plans for the Naqab will lead to the demolition, evacuation and confiscation of Bedouin homes and lands, among which is the village of Atir-Umm al-Hieran, which will be destroyed in order to build a Jewish settlement and a forest over its lands.”
Source

Withdrawal of Prawer Plan bill “major achievement” for Palestinians
December 13, 2013

The Israeli government today announced that it had withdrawn a bill that proposed the expropriation of land and the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of Bedouins from 35unrecognized villages in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of present-day Israel.

Known as the Prawer Plan, the Israeli government scheme was met with mass protests throughout historic Palestine, including several “Days of Rage.”

As Linah Alsaafin and Budour Youssef Hassan commented for The Electronic Intifada in September:

These protests have succeeded in drawing local and international attention to the threats posed by the Prawer proposal, and mobilized youth to take to the streets, including many who were not politicized. They also managed for the first time in a while to unite efforts across the fragmented sections of Palestinian society for one cause, as Palestinians in the 1948 territories, the West Bank and Gaza Strip all organized protests on the days of rage.

These protests, which faced state violence and intimidation, are being credited for making it impossible for the bill to move forward to become law, at least for the time being (Haaretz reported today that it “is not clear whether the bill has been shelved or just temporarily postponed”).

As news emerged that the bill was about to be withdrawn, some Israeli officials, such as foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, stated that in its current form, the plan had been, if anything, too generous to Bedouins.

Haaretz also reported that contrary to the Israeli government’s claims, the Prawer Plan had never been approved by the Bedouin community.

“The withdrawal of the Prawer Plan bill is a major achievement in the history of the Palestinian community in Israel,” Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, stated today.

“It shows that popular action, legal advocacy and international pressure can succeed in defending the rights of 70,000 Arab Bedouin residents of the unrecognized villages in the Naqab to live with freedom and dignity on their own lands and in their villages.”

The group added:

The government was forced to reveal the Plan’s details after intensive media attention and public activism against the Prawer Plan in recent weeks. On 30 November 2013, thousands demonstrated against the Prawer Plan in Hura and Haifa, where they were met by police who used excessive force and made dozens of arrests. Adalah and other volunteer lawyers defended the detained protesters in court and filed official complaints to the Police Investigation Unit (“Mahash”) against the police’s violent conduct.

While today’s announcement marks a major victory, the rights of Bedouins in the Naqab are still under threat.

Adalah added that “the cancellation of the bill is a platform to continue the dedicated work in the struggle to prevent the Israeli government from implementing the Prawer Plan. The government’s plans for the Naqab will lead to the demolition, evacuation and confiscation of Bedouin homes and lands, among which is the village of Atir-Umm al-Hieran, which will be destroyed in order to build a Jewish settlement and a forest over its lands.”

Source

Israel approves detention without charges for African immigrantsDecember 11, 2012
Israel’s parliament has approved a law which allows undocumented immigrants from Africa to be detained for up to a year without trial in the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing the numbers of African migrants in the country.
The new bill passed by 30 votes in favor to 15 against during a late-night vote in the 120-member Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and was announced Tuesday. A previous law, which was overturned by the Supreme Court in September, had set a maximum detention period of three years.
Supporters of the bill in the government see the migrants as illegal job-seekers, but critics say many of the migrants are asylum-seekers fleeing hardship and persecution in their homelands.
Members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party praised the new legislation. Interior Minister Gideon Saar said it would “allow us to keep illegals away from our cities.”
Miri Regev, another Likud Knesset member, said Israel should “send them all back to their countries.” 
"This law is needed in order to deter potential infiltrators. The present reality is a human ticking time bomb," Regev, who also heads the Knesset’s Interior Committee, told parliament.
Full article

Israel approves detention without charges for African immigrants
December 11, 2012

Israel’s parliament has approved a law which allows undocumented immigrants from Africa to be detained for up to a year without trial in the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing the numbers of African migrants in the country.

The new bill passed by 30 votes in favor to 15 against during a late-night vote in the 120-member Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and was announced Tuesday. A previous law, which was overturned by the Supreme Court in September, had set a maximum detention period of three years.

Supporters of the bill in the government see the migrants as illegal job-seekers, but critics say many of the migrants are asylum-seekers fleeing hardship and persecution in their homelands.

Members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party praised the new legislation. Interior Minister Gideon Saar said it would “allow us to keep illegals away from our cities.”

Miri Regev, another Likud Knesset member, said Israel should “send them all back to their countries.” 

"This law is needed in order to deter potential infiltrators. The present reality is a human ticking time bomb," Regev, who also heads the Knesset’s Interior Committee, told parliament.

Full article

Palestinians destroy separation barrier in two West Bank villages - During the early hours of Friday morning, Palestinians in two Palestinian villages took part in a “direct action” to destroy parts of the separation barrier. In Bir Nabala, located on the other side of Route 443, Palestinians used hammers to break open a hole in the wall, while Palestinians in Rafat (near the Ofer Military Prison) cut through 20 meters of the security fence bordering their village.

The army did not arrive during the action, and no mainstream media outlet was invited.

Source

This week marked the start of the annual Palestinian olive harvest, an ancient tradition on which 80,000 families still rely for their livelihoods. Yet these families face growing economic hardship due to Israeli land confiscations, access restrictions, settler attacks, and not least the widespread uprooting, destruction and theft of the trees themselves. 
The infographic “Uprooted” focuses on the staggering fact that Israeli authorities have uprooted over 800,000 Palestinian olive trees since 1967, the equivalent to razing all of the 24,000 trees in New York’s central park 33 times. - Visualizing Palestine

This week marked the start of the annual Palestinian olive harvest, an ancient tradition on which 80,000 families still rely for their livelihoods. Yet these families face growing economic hardship due to Israeli land confiscations, access restrictions, settler attacks, and not least the widespread uprooting, destruction and theft of the trees themselves.

The infographic “Uprooted” focuses on the staggering fact that Israeli authorities have uprooted over 800,000 Palestinian olive trees since 1967, the equivalent to razing all of the 24,000 trees in New York’s central park 33 times. - Visualizing Palestine

Young Iranians combat Netanyahu with ‘jeans protest’
October 6, 2013

One of the crowning glories of Benjamin Netanyahu’s “media blitz” last week, following his speech at the United Nations General Assembly was an interview with the BBC’s Persian service. In an attempt to characterize the interview as historic, the prime minister’s bureau pointed out that this was the first time Netanyahu had given an interview to a Persian-speaking media outlet, addressing the Iranian people directly.

The prime minister’s bureau marketed the interview aggressively. In addition to text messaging journalists direct quotes from the interview and sending out detailed press releases, Netanyahu’s spokespeople circulated video clips from the interview to the Israeli television channels, posted parts of the interview on YouTube, tweeted on it and shared it on Facebook.

To be honest, I was surprised by this initiative. Netanyahu has been giving fiery speeches about the Iranian nuclear threat for 18 years and only now has he found it appropriate to address the Iranian people or try to speak to Iran over the ayatollahs’ heads. But it’s better late than never.

The interview with Netanyahu wasn’t really in Persian. Most of it was simultaneously translated in subtitles. In fact, Netanyahu said about two words in the Iranian’s language: “harf-e pootch,” which can loosely be translated as “nonsense,” and “Sadeh-lowh” - “sucker.”

According to one of the announcements made by the prime minister’s bureau, some 12 million Iranians watch BBC Persian every week. Netanyahu’s words were received loud and clear on the other end, although instead of eliciting positive reactions they spurred antagonism and fury, especially among Iran’s liberal youth who voted for Iranian President Hassan Rohani en masse in the last election.

The young Iranians were not angry over Netanyahu’s strange choice of Persian expressions, rather a single, ridiculous sentence that he uttered in English: “If the people of Iran were free they could wear jeans and listen to Western music.”

Over the past 24 hours, dozens of young Iranians responded to Netanyahu with a “jeans protest” - tweeting pictures of themselves in jeans. Some of them mocked Israel’s intelligence agencies, saying they were so busy with the surveillance of the Iranian nuclear program that they neglected to update Netanyahu on fashion trends in Tehran.

“2day I’m wearing jeans, I can send my photo 4 Netanyahu if his spies in Iran didn’t see people who wear jeans and listen to Western songs by their Iphone!” Sadegh Ghorbani, a young journalist from Tehran, posted on Twitter.

Mohamad Nezamabadi, a student at Tehran University, was even more cynical. “Not only we wear jeans, but also listen to the foreign language musics! I bet he thinks that we ride horses instead of cars!” he tweeted.

It is not clear who advises Netanyahu on Iran’s internal politics, the attitudes of its young or the daily life in Tehran or Isfahan. 

In conclusion, if Netanyahu is interested in contemporary fashion in Teheran, he can enter an album titled “Tehran Street Style" on the image-sharing website Imgur. 

Source

Residents of a Palestinian village have planted flowers in hundreds of Israeli, spent tear gas canisters, to honor those killed during their weekly protests against the separation barrier.
The village of Bil’in, 12 kilometers west of Palestinian de-facto capital Ramallah, has recently become a symbol of peaceful resistance to the Israeli settlement program. Residents have created an oasis in the middle of the desert landscapes of the West Bank, and sown flower seeds in tear gas canisters, which they collected following clashes with Israeli police. 
“We can make life out of these gas canisters which can kill people. We plant flowers inside these things,” said Khadi Abu Rahma, a Palestinian journalist and one of the garden’s creators.

Residents of a Palestinian village have planted flowers in hundreds of Israeli, spent tear gas canisters, to honor those killed during their weekly protests against the separation barrier.

The village of Bil’in, 12 kilometers west of Palestinian de-facto capital Ramallah, has recently become a symbol of peaceful resistance to the Israeli settlement program. Residents have created an oasis in the middle of the desert landscapes of the West Bank, and sown flower seeds in tear gas canisters, which they collected following clashes with Israeli police. 

“We can make life out of these gas canisters which can kill people. We plant flowers inside these things,” said Khadi Abu Rahma, a Palestinian journalist and one of the garden’s creators.

The US has no credibility dealing with chemical weaponsSeptember 9, 2013
The Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilian areas on August 21 constitutes a breach of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, one of the world’s most important disarmament treaties, which banned the use of chemical weapons.
In 1993, the international community came together to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), a binding international treaty that would also prohibit the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, and transfer or use of chemical weapons. Syria is one of only eight of the world’s 193 countries not party to the convention.
However, US policy regarding chemical weapons has been so inconsistent and politicized that the United States is in no position to take leadership in any military response to any use of such weaponry by Syria.
The controversy over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles is not new. Both the Bush administration and Congress, in the 2003 Syria Accountability Act, raised the issue of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, specifically Syria’s refusal to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. The failure of Syria to end its chemical weapons program was deemed sufficient grounds by a large bipartisan majority of Congress to impose strict sanctions on that country. Syria rejected such calls for unilateral disarmament on the grounds that it was not the only country in the region that had failed to sign the CWC—nor was it the first country in the region to develop chemical weapons, nor did it have the largest chemical weapons arsenal in the region.
Indeed, neither of the world’s two largest recipients of US military aid - Israel and Egypt - is a party to the convention either. Never has Congress or any administration of either party called on Israel or Egypt to disarm their chemical weapons arsenals, much less threatened sanctions for their failure to do so. US policy, therefore, appears to be that while it is legitimate for its allies Israel and Egypt to refuse to ratify this important arms control convention, Syria needed to be singled out for punishment for its refusal.
The first country in the Middle East to obtain and use chemical weapons was Egypt, which used phosgene and mustard gas in the mid-1960s during its intervention in Yemen’s civil war. There is no indication Egypt has ever destroyed any of its chemical agents or weapons. The US-backed Mubarak regime continued its chemical weapons research and development program until its ouster in a popular uprising two years ago, and the program is believed to have continued subsequently.
Israel is widely believed to have produced and stockpiled an extensive range of chemical weapons and is engaged in ongoing research and development of additional chemical weaponry. (Israel is also believed to maintain a sophisticated biological weapons program, which is widely thought to include anthrax and more advanced weaponized agents and other toxins, as well as a sizable nuclear weapons arsenal with sophisticated delivery systems.) For more than 45 years, the Syrians have witnessed successive US administrations provide massive amounts of armaments to a neighboring country with a vastly superior military capability which has invaded, occupied, and colonized Syria’s Golan province in the southwest. In 2007, the United States successfully pressured Israel to reject peace overtures from the Syrian government in which the Syrians offered to recognize Israel and agree to strict security guarantees in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from occupied Syrian territory.
The US position that Syria must unilaterally give up its chemical weapons and missiles while allowing a powerful and hostile neighbor to maintain and expand its sizable arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is simply unreasonable. No country, whether autocratic or democratic, could be expected to accept such conditions.
This is part of a longstanding pattern of hostility by the United States toward international efforts to eliminate chemical weapons through universal disarmament agreements.
One of the most effective instruments for international arms control in recent years has been the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which enforces the Chemical Weapons Convention by inspecting laboratories, factories and arsenals and oversees the destruction of chemical weapons. The organization’s most successful director general, first elected in 1997, was the Brazilian diplomat José Bustani, praised by the Guardian newspaper as a “workaholic” who has “done more in the past five years to promote world peace than anyone.” Under his strong leadership, the number of signatories of the treaty grew from 87 to 145 nations, the fastest growth rate of any international organization in recent decades, and - during this same period - his inspectors oversaw the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the world’s chemical weapons facilities. Bustani was re-elected unanimously in May 2000 for a five-year term and was complimented by Secretary of State Colin Powell for his “very impressive” work.
Full article

The US has no credibility dealing with chemical weapons
September 9, 2013

The Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilian areas on August 21 constitutes a breach of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, one of the world’s most important disarmament treaties, which banned the use of chemical weapons.

In 1993, the international community came together to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), a binding international treaty that would also prohibit the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, and transfer or use of chemical weapons. Syria is one of only eight of the world’s 193 countries not party to the convention.

However, US policy regarding chemical weapons has been so inconsistent and politicized that the United States is in no position to take leadership in any military response to any use of such weaponry by Syria.

The controversy over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles is not new. Both the Bush administration and Congress, in the 2003 Syria Accountability Act, raised the issue of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, specifically Syria’s refusal to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. The failure of Syria to end its chemical weapons program was deemed sufficient grounds by a large bipartisan majority of Congress to impose strict sanctions on that country. Syria rejected such calls for unilateral disarmament on the grounds that it was not the only country in the region that had failed to sign the CWC—nor was it the first country in the region to develop chemical weapons, nor did it have the largest chemical weapons arsenal in the region.

Indeed, neither of the world’s two largest recipients of US military aid - Israel and Egypt - is a party to the convention either. Never has Congress or any administration of either party called on Israel or Egypt to disarm their chemical weapons arsenals, much less threatened sanctions for their failure to do so. US policy, therefore, appears to be that while it is legitimate for its allies Israel and Egypt to refuse to ratify this important arms control convention, Syria needed to be singled out for punishment for its refusal.

The first country in the Middle East to obtain and use chemical weapons was Egypt, which used phosgene and mustard gas in the mid-1960s during its intervention in Yemen’s civil war. There is no indication Egypt has ever destroyed any of its chemical agents or weapons. The US-backed Mubarak regime continued its chemical weapons research and development program until its ouster in a popular uprising two years ago, and the program is believed to have continued subsequently.

Israel is widely believed to have produced and stockpiled an extensive range of chemical weapons and is engaged in ongoing research and development of additional chemical weaponry. (Israel is also believed to maintain a sophisticated biological weapons program, which is widely thought to include anthrax and more advanced weaponized agents and other toxins, as well as a sizable nuclear weapons arsenal with sophisticated delivery systems.) For more than 45 years, the Syrians have witnessed successive US administrations provide massive amounts of armaments to a neighboring country with a vastly superior military capability which has invaded, occupied, and colonized Syria’s Golan province in the southwest. In 2007, the United States successfully pressured Israel to reject peace overtures from the Syrian government in which the Syrians offered to recognize Israel and agree to strict security guarantees in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from occupied Syrian territory.

The US position that Syria must unilaterally give up its chemical weapons and missiles while allowing a powerful and hostile neighbor to maintain and expand its sizable arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is simply unreasonable. No country, whether autocratic or democratic, could be expected to accept such conditions.

This is part of a longstanding pattern of hostility by the United States toward international efforts to eliminate chemical weapons through universal disarmament agreements.

One of the most effective instruments for international arms control in recent years has been the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which enforces the Chemical Weapons Convention by inspecting laboratories, factories and arsenals and oversees the destruction of chemical weapons. The organization’s most successful director general, first elected in 1997, was the Brazilian diplomat José Bustani, praised by the Guardian newspaper as a “workaholic” who has “done more in the past five years to promote world peace than anyone.” Under his strong leadership, the number of signatories of the treaty grew from 87 to 145 nations, the fastest growth rate of any international organization in recent decades, and - during this same period - his inspectors oversaw the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the world’s chemical weapons facilities. Bustani was re-elected unanimously in May 2000 for a five-year term and was complimented by Secretary of State Colin Powell for his “very impressive” work.

Full article