| Israel refuses sheduled visit by European Parliament Working Group to Gaza!

Israel refuses sheduled visit by European Parliament Working Group to Gaza ~ ALRAY – Palestinian Media Agency.

Gaza, ALRAY – The Chairperson of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council (DPLC), Emer Costello, said “she is both astounded and dismayed at the decision of the Israeli authorities to refuse an official visit of the Delegation to Gaza,”

The visit, which was scheduled to take place between 27th and 30th October 2013, had the full support of Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament.

“Despite interventions by the President Schulz and other distinguished parliamentarians, the Israeli authorities are preventing elected members of an official delegation from paying a humanitarian visit to this ravaged and impoverished little country,” Costello said in a statement.

The Israeli authorities claimed that refusal of access was because ‘(Israel) does not facilitate visits to the Gaza Strip which will strengthen Hamas‘.

Nevertheless, no meetings with Hamas or representatives of Hamas were planned on the programme. This decision is deplorable and without foundation, according to the statement.

“Our visit was due to take place under the auspices of UNRWA, and clearly focused on vital public services such as schools, health centres and food distribution centres,” Costello added.

She noted that “Today at the European Parliament, we voted on the budget line ‘financial assistance to Palestine, the peace process and UNRWA’, granting €300 million in funding to the region for 2014. This makes the decision to refuse access to elected Members of the European Parliament even more disgraceful and nonsensical.”

http://www.labour.ie contributed.

 

| Why are Israel’s worst racists welcome in European Parliament?

Why are Israel’s worst racists welcome in European Parliament? ~ David CroninThe Electronic Intifada.

Anyone who has examined Zionist propaganda critically will have noticed atrend of depicting Israel as a liberal paradise. Among the myths manufactured by this PR machine are that Tel Aviv is the world’s most gay-friendly city; that Israel is a global leader in protecting the environment; and that Palestinians have never had it so good.

The memo telling Israel’s diplomats and their allies to “accentuate the positive” has been mislaid in Brussels, judging by an event held earlier this month. During the event, a few members of the European Parliament(MEPs) teamed up with some of Israel’s most reactionary politicians.

David Rotem, a representative of the Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) party, was guest of “honor” at a conference in the Parliament’s headquarters. He was a curious choice for a discussion about those controversial EU guidelines on ending aid to firms and institutions active in the settlements Israel has built in the occupied West Bank in defiance of international law.

David Rotem has sponsored laws aimed at making Israeli apartheid more extreme.

 (Wikimedia Commons)

Far from being a slick spin-doctor, Rotem is overtly racist in his pronouncements. While two MEPs have landed themselves in hot water this year for applying the term “bongo bongo” to Africans, Rotem is able to make vile statements about Palestinians without fear of censure.

“Every Jewish community needs at least one Arab,” he has said. “Otherwise, who will repair my fridge when it breaks down on the Sabbath?”

Making apartheid more extreme

Perhaps the only commendable thing about Rotem is that he is more honest than many of his peers about the fact that Israel practices a form of apartheid. “Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, not a state of all its citizens,” he has said.

Since joining Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, in 2007, Rotem has sponsored a number of bills designed to make Israeli apartheid more extreme. Among them were a bill requiring that citizens of Israel take an oath of allegiance to a “Jewish and democratic state.”

He has also tried to exclude parties comprised of Palestinians living in present-day Israel from the Knesset and to ban public funding of organizations deemed not to respect Israeli “values” (the latter move was originally known as the “Nakba law” as it targeted those who regarded the involuntary displacement of 750,000 Palestinians during Israel’s founding as a catastrophe).

Rotem has been a staunch defender, too, of Israeli government efforts to uprootPalestinian Bedouins from their villages in the Negev (Naqab). And he has argued that communities in the Galilee and the Negev should be allowed to bar residents on grounds of race and religion.

Not marginal

It’s important to note that Rotem is not a marginal figure in Israeli politics. On the contrary, he chairs the Knesset’s committee on constitution, law and justice. He has used that position to hurl insults at political opponents. Two years ago, he told a member of that committee: “Get out of here, you are not even an animal.”

Himself living in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, Rotem has put forward a bill to copper-fasten the state’s “obligation” to invest in expanding settlements.

He was not the only settler invited to the European Parliament this month. Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council for Israeli settlers in the West Bank, also addressed its conference.

While all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, Mesika has also registered his contempt for Israeli government decisions limiting the settlements’ growth. In 2009, heripped up papers from Ehud Barak, then Israel’s defense minister, ordering a freeze on construction in some settlements.

Sign of desperation?

The European Friends of Israel (EFI), a cross-party alliance of MEPs, was involved in the recent conference. Its embrace of hardcore racists like Rotem jars with the cuddlier image that it has been trying to project of Israel so far this year.

The EFI kicked off 2013 by celebrating Israel as a caring and open-minded place, with events dedicated to Israel’s humanitarian aid program and the protests against Benjamin Netanyahu’s economic policies.

Is rolling out a red carpet to Rotem a sign of desperation? I’m not sure if it is. The EU’s new guidelines aren’t simply opposed by Israeli settlers.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is also demanding that the guidelines be withdrawn. You don’t need to have a doctorate in international relations to know that the EU is often servile towards America.

Kerry, of course, is more guarded and diplomatic in his choice of words than Rotem. But they are both striving to bolster a system that privileges one group of people and dehumanizes another.

Racism2

anti-racismA

| Germany ready to charge UK and US intelligence over alleged bugging operations!

Germany ready to charge UK and US intelligence over alleged bugging operations ~ TONY PATERSON IN BERLIN, Belfast Telegraph.

Germany is preparing to bring charges against US and British intelligence amid fresh allegations that the services spied far more extensively than thought on German phone and internet traffic and bugged European Union offices in America.

A report alleging a major and continuous US National Security Agency spying operation in Germany was published by Der Spiegel magazine yesterday, prompting outrage from Berlin MPs still reeling from reports about extensive British surveillance in their country.

The German Justice Minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenburger, demanded an immediate explanation and said the behaviour of the intelligence services was “reminiscent of the actions against enemies during the Cold War”. “It defies belief that our friends in the US see the Europeans as their enemies,” she said.

The leak, which Der Spiegel said came from fugitive ex-CIA analyst Edward Snowden, claimed that the NSA tapped into half a billion German phone calls, emails and SMS messages each month. Reports last week revealed extensive tapping of German phone and internet traffic by British intelligence under its so-called Tempora programme. The information was said to be shared with the NSA.

A spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor said the office was preparing to bring charges against “persons unknown” in relation to the reports.

There was also widespread and mounting anger at official European Unionlevel yesterday following disclosures that the NSA had spied on EU computer networks at its offices in New York and Washington and that it had also bugged the premises. Martin Schulz, head of the European Parliament, demanded “full clarification” from the US and said that if the disclosures proved true they would have a severe impact on US-EU ties.

It also emerged that the UK Government had invited German MPs and justice officials to attend a video conference at British Embassy in Berlin today during which the issue of spying would be addressed.

Der Spiegel said the NSA’s German phone and internet surveillance operation was the biggest in the EU. On  7 January 2013 it tapped into some 60 million German phone calls in a single day.

The magazine said that CanadaAustraliaBritain and New Zealand were exempt from NSA surveillance but Germany was regarded as a country open for “spy attacks”.

__________________________________________________________________

Propaganda Dummies1

NSA PRISM1

| Violating privacy: EU demands ‘full clarification’ over NSA spying!

EU demands ‘full clarification’ over NSA spying on European diplomats, warns of severe impact on relations ~ RT.

The president of the European parliament has demanded an explanation from US authorities over the latest revelation that EU diplomatic missions in Washington, New York and Brussels were under electronic surveillance from the NSA.

“I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of US authorities spying on EU offices,” said the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz. “If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations.”

“On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations,” he added.

Other EU diplomats also expressed shock concerning the latest batch of revelations in the NSA leak, reported by Der Spiegel magazine on Saturday.

“If these reports are true, it’s disgusting,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told Der Spiegel.

“The United States would be better off monitoring its secret services rather than its allies,” Asselborn continued. “We must get a guarantee from the very highest level now that this stops immediately.”

A spokesman for the Office of the US Director of National Intelligence had no comment on the Der Spiegel story.

Snowden, 30, a former CIA employee who blew the whistle on the massive US surveillance program that collected data both at home and abroad, is presently in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, while he is attempting to gain political asylum in Ecuador.

________________________________________________________________________

HypoMeterC 

NSA PRISM1

| EU + BDS Activism: Tell your MEP to reject new trade deal with Israel!

Tell your MEP to reject new trade deal with Israel ~ EUROPEAN COORDINATION OF COMMITTEES AND ASSOCIATIONS FOR PALESTINE

STOP THE NEW EU-ISRAEL TRADE PROTOCOL!

 

Last month, organisations and activists across Europe took action together to persuade the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament to block a new trade protocol with Israel. Thousands of people signed petitions and hundreds more wrote to their MEPs. The vote was very close and if just one more MEP had voted with us, the agreement would have been blocked.

The agreement still has to be approved by a full vote of the European Parliament that will take place on October 23. If passed, the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) would remove barriers to trade between Israel and member states in industrial products, especially pharmaceuticals. The vote is likely to be close.

Such an agreement would strengthen EU-Israel relations and would reward Israel for its continued violations of international law.

The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) is asking supporters of Palestinian rights that are citizens or resident in the EU to write to their MEP urging them to vote against the new agreement.

It takes just a few minutes to write to your MEP using our handy e-tool. Just start by choosing your country:

France
Spain
Italy
Netherlands
Poland
Germany
United Kingdom
Austria
Belgium (in French or Dutch)

Ireland 

If your country isn’t listed here, you can send a message in English to the MEPs in your country here.

Other actions to consider taking:

– Spreading this call for action through your networks and on social networking sites
– Asking associations, NGOs and unions that you are a member of to write to MEPs
– Publishing articles and opinion pieces