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BDS Success: Israeli Firm Sodastream Leaves Palestinian West Bank after Boycott

October 30th, 2014 No comments

By Juan Cole

AJ+ SodaStream Leaving West Bank After Boycotts

AJ+ :

“Facing an intensive boycott campaign, the controversial Israeli company that makes home soda machines is leaving the West Bank. Bye, Sodastream!”


Informed Comment wrote on this issue last January:

“The determination of the Likud Party to annex the Palestinian West Bank is damaging the interests of world Jewry. This harm is clearly visible in the controversy that has engulfed movie star Scarlett Johansson, who was a global ambassador for the Oxfam charity and who also agreed to become a spokesperson for the Israeli company Sodastream, which has a factory in the Occupied West Bank. She will star in a Superbowl commercial for the company.

Oxfam points out that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank is illegal, and it is opposed to trade with settler commercial enterprises based there. The Sodastream factory in set in a 40,000-strong Israeli squatter settlement designed to cut East Jerusalem off from the West Bank and make a Palestinian state impossible. Israel squatters divert most of the West Bank’s water and other resources to themselves, leaving Palestinians impoverished.

In the end, Ms. Johansson had to choose between the two, and she gave up her association with Oxfam.

The Israeli Occupation institutions in the Palestinian West Bank are increasingly being boycotted, especially in Europe (Oxfam is based in Britain). Although it is clearly illegal for an Occupying Power to move its population into occupied territory (Geneva Convention of 1949), far right wing Israeli governments have flooded this Palestinian territory with hundreds of thousands of illegal squatters, who have usurped Palestinian property, confined Palestinians to Bantustans, and imposed onerous checkpoints on them. The Jewish supremacist squatter settlements are Jewish-only and no Palestinian can live in them. The militant squatters are often heavily armed and are increasingly attacking Palestinians and their mosques and other institutions, as well as waging economic warfare on them by cutting down their olive trees.

The European Union has decided to use its economic clout to push back against the clear Israeli determination to annex the whole West Bank while keeping its indigenous Palestinian population stateless and without the rights of citizenship.

The European Union has insisted that Israeli institutions and companies based in the Palestinian West Bank be excluded from any Israeli participation in a program of the European Union. (The EU treats Israel like a member, offering it many perquisites, opportunities for technology interchange, and access to EU markets; Brussels is saying, however, that none of that largesse can go to Israelis in the Occupied Weat Bank.)

About a third of Israel’s trade is with Europe (the US and China are its biggest trading partners, and Turkey comes after the EU). The EU imports $300 million a year from the settlements, but is clearly moving toward cutting that trade off…”

Read the whole thing

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October 29, 1914: Admiral Souchon Forces Turkey into the Great War

October 29th, 2014 No comments

Since last summer I have been noting each of the dates marking the centennial of events that brought the Ottoman Empire into the Great War on the side of Germany and Austria a century ago. Divisions in the Ottoman Cabinet, despite the signing of a secret alliance in August, kept the Turks from fully committing to war. The Ottoman War Minister, Enver Pasha, was enthusiastic enough, but others were dragging their feet. Germany was increasingly exasperated with its putative ally’s excuses. On this day a century ago, without Cabinet approval, including that of Minister of Marine Djemal Pasha, the Commander of the Turkish Navy simply started the war on his own.

Souchon and his staff in Fezzes

You may recall a key fact from our earlier discussions of the Goeben and Breslau (now the Yavuz Sultan Selim and Medilli), the ranking officer of the Turkish fleet was now Admiral Wilhelm Souchon, who despite donning the fez and raising the Ottoman flag, was very much still a serving officer of the Imperial German Navy.

During October, each of the German-crewed vessels (still called Goeben and Breslau by their crews) had made brief sorties into the blacj sea for gunnery practice or other excuses; these were officially protested by some in the Cabinet, who feared they were aimed at provoking Russia (which of course they were). But the Russians, not wanting a new front with Turkey, refused the bait.

By late October, the German Ambassador in Constantinople, Wangenheim, passed on instructions to “Turkish” Admiral Souchon to take decisive action. It’s not entirely clear if Enver knew what Souchon was about to do. He may have assumed it was another attempt to provoke the Russians to come out. It wasn’t. Souchon had decided to shell the Russian coast.

Yavuz, Medilli,  and other elements of the Turkish fleet steamed out of the Bosphorus on October 27. The next day, at sea, Souchon informed the other captains of their orders. The next day, October 29, Yavuz/Goeben, accompanied by the Mine Cruiser Nilofer and the destroyers (sometimes classed as torpedo boats) Tasoz and Samsun, would shell the major Russian naval base at Sevastopol in the Crimea. Medilli/Breslau, accompanied by the Mine Cruiser Berk would lay mines in the Kerch Strait (between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov) and then proceed to attack Novorossisk. The Turkish light cruiser Hamidiye would attack the port of Feodosia (Theodosia), and the destroyers/torpedo boats Muavenet-i-Milliye and Gairet-i-Wataniye would attack Odessa.

Muavenet. Gairet  was similar

The plan assumed surprise, but something went wrong. Muavenet and Gairet reached Odessa well before dawn, apparently around 3 am. It was still dark, but they saw a line of old tramp steamers exiting the harbor.They were showing lights, and the Turkish commander decided to use the opportunity to enter the harbor, though the Yavuz and others were still hours away from their targets.


They spotted the old Russian gunboat Donets and several other ships in the harbor and after shelling her Gayret torpedoed her and she sank. In an engagement of only 15 minutes or so they also attacked the gunboat Kubanets, which fled, They attacked a minesweeper which burned and reportedly sank, shelled several merchant vessels in the harbor, and shelled shore instantiations.

The Odessa attack, coming hours before other ships reached their targets, alerted the Russians, and around 4 am warnings were sent out to other locations. By the time Goeben/Yavuz reached the big naval base at Sevastopol, around 6:30 AM, the Russian shore batteries were on alert. He shelled the base for amount 20 minutes, firing 47 rounds (and hitting a naval hospital) but the Russian batteries were quite accurate and Yavuz/Goeben took three hits. None caused casualties but she chose to withdraw under cover of a smokescreen laid by her escorts.

Hamidie from the deck of Yavuz/Goeben

Meanwhile, at Feodosia, Hamidie had arrived to find little resistance, and gave the local population an opportunity to evacuate, before shelling the port facilities.

At Novorossisk, also after a warning, Berk began the shelling, being joined in late morning by Medilli/Breslau after she laid her mines in the Kerch Strait.

Said to Show Bombardment of Novorossisk by Medilli/Breslau

As Yavuz/Goeben was heading back to Constantinople she encountered an old Russian minelayer, the Prut, accompanied by three torpedo boats. They tried to defend her, but were driven away and one badly damaged by Yavuz’ guns. The crew of the Prut, which was filled with a cargo of mines, opted to scuttle her rather than risk being blown to bits if their cargo was hit.

The German and Turkish crews lost no men, and suffered only minor damage, mostly the three hits on Yavuz/Goeben. Russian casualties are unknown but mostly occurred at Odessa.

But Souchon had done something more. Without official authorization from the Cabinet, he had started the war with Russia.

Russia declared war on Turkey November 2, joined by Serbia the same day and Montenegro on November 3. Serbia and Montenegro had other problems on their hands but were doing their Pan-Slavic duty.  Britain and France followed suit on November 5, and we’ll be hearing more about them, especially Britain, than we will about Montenegro in coming weeks.. The Ottoman Empire was in the war.

Commemorative German postcard (painting?):

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" Syrian rebel forces join battle to protect Kobane" (grand title in Qatar’s Al Jazeera!)

October 29th, 2014 No comments

Al Jazeera 

“… 50 Arab fighters from the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) arrived in the embattled town on Wednesday in a move aimed at halting ISIL’s advance across northern Syria….  the FSA fighters were only equipped with light arms and machineguns…”

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"The US has been at war since 2001 — nearly this entire century so far …"

October 29th, 2014 No comments

“… The problem that Obama has, which has crippled his foreign policy, is that his principles have not been defined with enough rigor to provide definitive guidance in a crisis. When the crisis comes, that’s when the debate starts. What exactly is the national interest, and how does it apply in this or that case? Even if he accomplishes that, he still lacks a figure with the subtlety, deviousness and frankly ruthlessness to put it into place. I would argue that the same problem haunted the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations, although their challenges were less daunting and therefore their weakness less visible.
There is a sphere in which history sweeps a president along. The most he can do is adjust to what must be, and in the end, this is the most important sphere. In another sphere — the sphere of principles — he can shape events or at least clarify decisions. But the most important level, the level on which even the sweep of history is managed, is the tactical. This is where deals are made and pressure is placed, and where the president can perhaps shift the direction of history.
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has not had a president who operated consistently and well in the deeper levels of history. This situation is understandable, since the principles of the Cold War were so powerful and then suddenly gone. Still, principles without definition and execution without precision cannot long endure.”

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Ignatius romancing ISIS wants US boots back in Iraq & Syria: NOW!!

October 29th, 2014 No comments

“… When the jihadists stand and fight, as they have done in the northern Syrian town of Kobane, they get pounded. U.S. officials estimate the jihadists have lost 400 fighters in that battle. U.S. airstrikes have also hammered their infrastructure in Iraq and Syria, including oil wells and supply depots.
There is some solid military planning in the U.S. strategy but it also includes some wishful thinking. The most dubious assumption is that Iraqi and Syrian recruits can win this fight against the extremists without U.S. advisers alongside them in battle.”

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Centenary of the Ottoman Empire’s Entry into World War I

October 29th, 2014 No comments

100 years ago, the Ottoman Empire bombarded two Russian ports, entering the war on the side of Germany and Austria. Below is rare footage of Ottoman forces operating during the war.

The Ottomans lost, and victorious France and Britain carved up the Middle East into countries like Syria and Iraq, which have now fallen apart.

Critical Past: “Ottoman forces operating in World War I. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk seen with officials”

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Concentrated Solar Plant in Tunisian Sahara aims to sell Clean Electricity to Europe

October 29th, 2014 No comments


“The TuNur project aims to generate clean energy from a giant solar plant in the Tunisian Sahara from where it will be connected to the European electricity grid via a dedicated undersea cable. TuNur say their initiative will produce roughly twice as much energy as any current nuclear power plant and can even produce energy when the sun is down. Matthew Stock reports.

Reuters Plus: “Saharan solar power opens energy corridor to Europe”

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Iran Pressures Media over coverage of Acid Attacks on Women

October 29th, 2014 No comments

By Golnaz Esfandiari via RFE/RL

Iranian officials are moving to muzzle media coverage of a string of recent acid attacks targeting young women in the central city of Isfahan.

The attacks have sparked outrage and fear among many Iranians who last week took to the streets of Isfahan and Tehran to protest and call for government action.

Seven or eight women in Isfahan have had liquid acid thrown on them by men on motorcycles, according to Iran’s police chief, Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam. The attacks have left some of the victims badly burned, disfigured, and blind.

In recent days, several Iranian officials have warned the media over their coverage of the crimes, accusing them of fomenting public discord and promoting the “views of the enemy.”

Hard-liners are irked over reports linking the attacks to religious zealots who enforce Islamic norms in the country, including the Islamic hijab that became obligatory for women following the 1979 revolution.

They have also said that the attacks should not be linked to draft legislation that would offer protections for vigilantes, and have criticized the media for suggesting that women were targeted for not being sufficiently veiled.

The heads of Iran’s powerful judiciary, Ayatollah Sadedgh Amoli Larijani, said on October 26 that some media had committed an “injustice” against authorities by connecting the acid attacks to the enforcement of Islamic norms.

“Why should you pollute the atmosphere while a bill about the promotion of [Islamic] virtues and prevention of vice is [being discussed] in the parliament?” he asked.

“If Westerners provoke such an atmosphere, it’s because of their nature: They are anti-revolutionaries,” Larijani added. “But I’m sorry for some media that connected the attacks to the promotion of [Islamic] virtues.”

A day earlier, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi was quoted as saying that numerous media outlets had received warnings and that legal action could be taken against them.

‘Badly Veiled’

Lawmaker Hasan Kamran said Iran’s Press Supervisory Board will look into the coverage of acid attacks by media that he says linked the attacks to hijabs worn loosely by women and those who promote Islamic norms.

Kamran, who is a member of the board, said associating the acid attacks with the issue of “badly veiled” women is against Iran’s national interests.

“These media outlets are sick. They make headlines out of false reports to make our enemies happy,” Kamran was quoted as saying by the hard-line Tasnim news agency.

The attacks have nothing to do with improper veiling, Kamran said, adding that one of the victims is from a “very respectable” family of war veterans.

Iranian opposition websites have reported that Arya Jafari, a photographer who covered an October 24 protest in Isfahan against the acid attacks, was arrested.

Jafari’s photographs of the large gathering were published by the semiofficial news agency ISNA, as well as by Western news agencies. They were also widely shared on social media.

Two days after the protest, authorities arrested women’s rights activist Mahdieh Golrou, who took part in an October 24 demonstration in Tehran. Activists said that at least two other female participants in the Tehran gathering in front of the parliament had received threatening phone calls over their actions.

Scrapping the bill that provides protections for religious zealots was among the demands of protesters both in Tehran and Isfahan.

Some Iranians officials have described the acid attacks as “suspicious” and suggested that foreign intelligence services could be behind them.

Authorities have said that the perpetrators of the attacks should be severely punished.

Mirrored from RFE/ RL

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

AJ+ “In Iran, Women Actually Have To Protest Acid Attacks”

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Making Palestinian Arabs invisible

October 29th, 2014 No comments

The Irony of Erasing Arabic
Making Hebrew Israel’s Only Language Ignores History

By Liora R. Halperin, Forward, October 06, 2014

In late August, a group of Knesset members from the right flank of the Likud party, Yisrael Beiteinu and the Jewish Home party proposed a bill that would make Hebrew the only official language of Israel, annulling a requirement in existence since the British Mandate period that all official documents be published in Arabic as well as in Hebrew. Similar bills to eliminate or demote the official status of Arabic were proposed in 2011 and 2008. Critics have pointed out that this bill is part of a broader effort to affirm the “Jewish” character of the state (as opposed to its democratic character) by enshrining Jewishness into Israel’s basic laws. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, for one, has spoken out against it.

A historical perspective is worth adding to the discussion, one that highlights a contradictory Zionist view of language that has existed since the British ruled Palestine: As Zionists advocated forcefully for the very principle of national language rights, they fantasized about a society in which there would be no national competitors to Hebrew. Israel still is navigating between these two positions.

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Sinai Terror Attack Leads to New Egyptian Crackdown, New Powers for Army

October 29th, 2014 No comments

Last weekend’s terror attack in Sinai, leaving some 30 Egyptian soldiers dead, is being met bu a forceful and in some ways draconian response by the government, limited neither to the perpetrators nor to Sinai. The new measures include  a three-month State of Emergency, expanding the military’s powers by declaring state facilities such as power plants, bridges etc. as military infrastructure, banning Hamas, ending Egypt’s mediation efforts eith Hamas, closing the Rafah crossing into Gaza and evacuating inhabitants from parts of North Sinai, etc.

The terror threat in Sinai is a real one; radical jihadist groups have been active since the 2011 Revolution. charging “foreign” elements are supporting the Jihadis, and some analysts believe the Sinai Jihadis may now be identifying with ISIS. This theme is also part of the Egyptian media campaign.

Many are wondering, however, if the very real terror threat is being used to justify a tightening of control on domestic dissent.

The newest crackdown, however, comes in a context of major state crackdowns on student protests at universities, which began the new academic year on October 11 and have witnessed demonstrations by student supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted president Muhammad Morsi. These have been widespread and sternly dealt with by police, but today for the first time the Army rather than the police was used, storming the campus of Mansura University in the Delta. And the Prime Minister has announced that “student saboteurs” will be dealt with by Military Courts, not the civilian justice system.

And state propaganda glorifying the military is intensifying.

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