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The Art of Surf art exhibition is currently running at the One Recovery Pop Up Gallery in Santa Monica, California. The exhibition features artwork from many iconic surf artists and includes Eddie Aikau's rescue surfboard - the board that Eddie was last s
President Obama meets Tuesday with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin near Moscow.
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) — The United States is “absolutely not” giving Israel a green light to attack Iran, U.S. President Barack Obama told CNN Tuesday.
“We have said directly to the Israelis that it is important to try and resolve this in an international setting in a way that does not create major conflict in the Middle East,” Obama said, referring to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Obama has been in Moscow for a summit aimed at trying to reset the U.S.-Russian relationship.
On Sunday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden appeared to leave the door open for Israel to attack Iran if it saw fit.
“Israel can determine for itself — it’s a sovereign nation — what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else,” Biden said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Obama said Tuesday that Biden had simply been stating a fact, not sending a signal.
“I think Vice President Biden stated a categorical fact, which is we can’t dictate to other countries what their security interests are. What is also true is that it is the policy of the United States to resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear capabilities in a peaceful way through diplomatic channels,” he said.
The State Department took a similar line on Monday.
Israeli Soldiers Testify: We Used Gazans as Human Shields!
Once again, the Israeli army admits of committing war crimes in Gaza.
A Golani brigade soldier confessed that the Israeli occupation forces used Palestinians as human shields during Gaza war last January despite a 2005 High Court ruling outlawing the practice. The soldier said his unit employed a variation of the practice, the so-called “neighbor procedure,” when it checked homes for Palestinian resistance fighters.
The soldier’s testimony appears in a collection of accounts being published this week by Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects Israeli soldiers’ testimony on human rights abuses by the military.
In a print and video testimony published on Wednesday by the activist group, the 30 soldiers say they were commanded to shoot first and then worry about civilian causalities adding that the Israeli army’s imperative was to minimize its own casualties to ensure Israeli public support for the Gaza operation. A Palestinian rights group has stated that 1,417 Palestinians were killed, 926 of them civilians, during the Israeli war on Gaza. But Israel has put the death toll at 1,166 and estimated 295 dead were civilians. Ten occupation soldiers and three settlers were also killed.
The soldier, a staff sergeant, said that in his unit and others, Palestinians were often sent into houses to determine if there was anyone inside. “The practice was not to call it ‘the neighbor procedure.’ Instead it was called ‘Johnny,’” the soldier said, using Israeli military slang for Palestinian civilians. The Israeli occupation employed this practice extensively during the second intifada, before it was outlawed by the High Court of Justice in 2005.
In an incident his commanders told him about, three “armed militants” were in a house. Attack helicopters were brought in. “They … again sent the [Palestinian] neighbor in. At first he said that nothing had happened [to the armed men],” the soldier said. “Again they brought in attack helicopters and fired. They again sent in the neighbor. He said there were two dead and one still alive. They then brought in a bulldozer and began to knock the house down on him until [the neighbor] entered.” The soldier said he had been told that the only militant remaining alive was captured and turned over to the Shin Bet security service.
The Golani soldier also testified that his commanders reported incidents in which Palestinians were given sledgehammers to break through walls to let the army enter through the side of houses. The army feared that the doors were booby-trapped.
The soldier said he had heard of other instances in which Palestinian civilians were used as human shields. One time, for example, a Palestinian was put at the front of an Israeli military force with a gun pointed at him from behind.
The Israeli military Spokesman’s Office, for its part, said that “the IDF regrets the fact that a human rights organization would again present to the country and the world a report containing anonymous, generalized testimony without checking the details or their reliability, and without giving the IDF, as a matter of minimal fairness, the opportunity to check the matters and respond to them before publication.”
For his part, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded to the report saying that “if anyone has any criticism, information of reservations over the IDF’s operations, they must direct them to me as the State of Israel’s defense minister and to the Israeli government, which was the one to order to IDF to restore calm in the southern communities.” Minister Barak added, “Criticism directed at the IDF by one organization or another is inappropriate and is directed at the wrong place. The IDF is one of the most ethical armies in the world and acts in accordance with the highest moral code.”
Barak asserted after the war that Israel had the “most moral army” in the world.
SHOOT FIRST, WORRY LATER!
Moreover, a number of Israeli occupation soldiers who took part in Israel’s recent Gaza aggression were quoted by Breaking the Silence group as saying that they were urged by commanders to shoot first and worry later about sorting out civilians from combatants. Accordingly, they say, the force went into Gaza with guns blazing.
The 112-page report by Breaking the Silence includes testimonies of 30 soldiers “who served in all sectors of the operation”.
“Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy,” is a typical description by one unidentified soldier of his understanding of instructions repeated at pre-invasion briefings and during the 22-day war, from Dec. 27 to Jan. 18.
“If you’re not sure, kill. Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad,” says another. “The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places. In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.”
“We did not get instructions to shoot at anything that moved,” said one soldier. “But we were generally instructed: if you feel threatened, shoot. They kept repeating to us that this is war and in war opening fire is not restricted.”
UMBRELLA OF FIRE
The report repeats charges denied by Israel that white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately into Gaza streets. It cites “massive destruction was unrelated to any direct threat to Israeli forces” and “permissive” rules of engagement.
One soldier said that his unit had received an order to “ignite” an area. “The way to do that was to actually fire phosphorus shells from above,” he said. “What the phosphorus does is to let out an umbrella of fire over the target and naturally that ignites the whole house.” The results of a white phosphorus bombardment were “upsetting” another soldier said, “because in training you learn that white phosphorus is not used, and you’re taught that it’s not humane”.
The report also mentions armored bulldozers razing whole areas including gardens, and olive and orange groves. “We didn’t see a single house that was intact … that was not hit. The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads, was in total ruin. The D-9 (bulldozer) had gone over everything,” the report quotes a soldier as saying.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s hard-line foreign minister on Monday welcomed Vice President Joe Biden’s statement that Israel can make its own decision about whether to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, calling it “logical.”
President Barack Obama’s foreign policy inclinations are a threat to Israel’s survival. That’s the no-holds-barred assessment by one of Israel’s leading American publicists, Norman Podhoretz, the prominent neo-conservative long associated with the American Jewish Committee’s influential magazine, Commentary. Podhoretz made the inflammatory charge against the U.S. president in an article in the May 2009 issue of Commentary in an article entitled “How Obama’s America Might Threaten Israel,” one of a series of polemics addressing the subject: “Israel at Risk.”
This is no surprise to AFP readers. On Dec. 1, 2008, AFP surprised many by suggesting that Barack Obama might “pull a JFK” and begin putting pressure on Israel. Six months later, AFP’s prediction appears on the mark. The difference between JFK and Obama, though, is that JFK’s pressure was applied privately, through diplomatic channels. Obama’s pressure has been both public and forthright.
The most recent frenzy from Israel and its American supporters in response to initiatives from the Obama administration came when the president forcefully demanded that Israel cease building settlements in the occupied West Bank. The president further inflamed the Zionist state and its American lobby by reiterating that demand in his widely heralded address to the Muslim world, delivered in Cairo.
In fact, the confrontation between the United States and Israel has been simmering for some time, beginning with the Obama administration’s open call for Israel to submit to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Now President Barack Obama has waded into that thicket, giving the world an implicit pledge that he will somehow make real progress toward a peace settlement. And he’s already made a down payment to fulfilling that pledge, provoking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to work toward “two free peoples living side by side,” marking a real change in the narrative structure of the situation.
We no longer have to deal with two competing narratives, one about Israel holding on to the Occupied Territories and the other about Israel ending the occupation; the story of the two-state solution has triumphed. So there is no longer an overarching super-narrative about two stories fighting for political dominance in Israel and in the American Jewish community.
Orthodox Jews from the Naturei Karta group chant slogans as they march through the streets of Jerusalem’s Mea Sharim Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, calling for an end to Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip, Wednesday Jan. 7, 2009. Dozens of members of Neturei Karta, a group that opposes Zionism and the Israeli state, and supports close ties with Arabs, particularly Palestinians, demonstrated against the operations. READ THE SECOND SIGN: ISRAEL HAS NO RIGHT TO RULE OVER ANY PART OF PALESTINE!
The mainstream US media has been careful to balance images of Gazan suffering with those of Israelis, leading to accusations it is not reflecting the unequal death toll [EP
(AP) ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Sarah Palin says she’s not a quitter, she’s a fighter, but adds that, politically speaking, “if I die, I die. So be it.”
The Alaska governor spoke in taped interviews on ABC, NBC and CNN broadcast Tuesday morning.
She told CNN that “all options are on the table” for her future.
But told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she recognizes she might not have political staying power after her surprise resignation Friday, which came just as she had been expected to elevate her national profile ahead of a possible 2012 GOP presidential run.
“I said before … ‘You know, politically speaking, if I die, I die. So be it,'” she said.
Speaking in fishing waders from the town of Dillingham, Palin said her administration has been paralyzed by fending off frivolous lawsuits.
“I’m not going to take the comfortable path. I’m going to take the right path for the state,” she said of her resignation, which she characterized as a matter of progressing in an unconventional way.