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on Israeli apartheid Pt2

Ratner : Building settlements in occupied territories with US support is illegal and unacceptable  

Michael Ratner
 is President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York. He has taught at Yale Law School, lectured at Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild.


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. We're joined again by Michael Ratner. He's the president for the Center for Constitutional Rights. He's also a board member of The Real News Network. Thanks for joining us.


JAY: So you just got back from the West Bank, and in the first segment you were telling us about the beginnings of your tour. Now, you said in the first segment that what's going on in terms of the Israeli occupation is a violation of the Geneva Convention, it's a violation of international law. What, if anything, is been done about it at any level? And what about US policy?

RATNER: Well, Israel conquered this territory in '67. It's occupied territory by Israel. Part of that territory has already been annexed by Israel. That's East Jerusalem. They've claimed this whole city of Jerusalem as their capital. And you can't take property that's occupied territory. It eventually has to be given back to the occupants of the territory. So with East Jerusalem already a clear violation of international law and Geneva Conventions, as we go out into the West Bank, Israel is taking many, many settlements and cities, actually building, 50,000 people in a city or more sometimes. These are not what you imagine as little settlements with 30 people, you know, and so-called, you know, Orthodox Jews just coming out there without the government authority. This is a huge infrastructure project, roads everywhere built by the Israeli government, occupying or really taking over for Israel occupied territory—all completely illegal, and going on in East Jerusalem, going on in the Occupied Territories. And you ask me what is the international community, what is the United States doing? Well, it looks to me like—certainly up until President Obama—they facilitated it. They give either—they financed some of it indirectly. They didn't say no, Israel, you can't do this. They essentially gave it a wink, "For sure." And even now, sadly, under the current administration, Obama began with a relatively strong statement, "I don't want any more settlements," and then within a few more short weeks Obama backed off of that. We know that East Jerusalem settlements are continuing; we know that 3,000 housing units are continuing to be built in the West Bank, and many, many more. I mean, they're just—everywhere they're building. So, essentially, the United States has allowed Israel to continue to do this.

JAY: Now, Netanyahu announced some kind of six-month freeze.

RATNER: This is the so-called six-month freeze. Well, you know, in some way we have to look at a fact here. There's 500,000 Israelis or settlers now living in the occupied territories. I mean, we're not any longer talking about a situation that is very—it's going to be very open to shifting back, where those settlers all leave the occupied territories. So every day we speak, this is increasing. The Netanyahu proposal, or what he said he would do, is not to do with East Jerusalem at all. When I was there, that's going on apace. Demolitions are occurring all the time. We went on a demonstration in an area called Sheikh Jarrah, which is an East Jerusalem, where settlers have come in. And this is an amazing story. I sat down and talked to Nasser. He's living in a tent outside what was his house. And I said, "How'd you get here?" He said they came in one night. They were backed by the Israeli military or some kind of armed forces. And they said, "We're going to blow off your door unless you get out." So he had to leave with his family. There are now Israeli flags all over that house. I said to him, "How long have you had your house?" "My house was built for me by the United Nations in 1956 in this section." I said, "Well, what happened?" And he said, "Well, you know, I was a refugee from Haifa in 1948 after the war. The UN resettled me in this part of East Jerusalem. It's then conquered by Israel in 1967. Israel says, 'Well, you didn't have a title to this house; you don't have a right to this house.'" And he said, "I've been living here. The UN put me in this house." The Israelis go to the Ottoman law, back till before the First World War, and they said, "Well, the Ottoman land records don't show you as the owner." And, of course, the complex of laws there is a huge web. It's Ottoman, it's British mandate, it's Israeli, its Palestinian. And so the Israelis are able—you can litigate these cases in court. They go on for years, three or four years, and at the end, the Palestinians always lose the cases or almost always lose the cases. So it's, quote, "legal" in its own way that this guy's sitting out under a tent under his house, in a house that the UN built for him in 1956 or '7. So back to your question, Netanyahu's statement that he's stopping settlements does not include East Jerusalem, and it doesn't include what he said were 3,000 housing units, quote, that have already begun. And what that could mean is just a shovel in the earth. So it doesn't include that at all. So the settlements are still continuing apace.

JAY: So for Americans who are concerned about this, what do they make of what Obama said, no more settlements? And what should the US be doing?

RATNER: It does seem to me that no matter what people's views are about Israel and about the existence of the state of Israel and about Zionism, that the idea that there's one person living beyond what's called the Green Line, which is to say the Occupied Territories, should not be allowed to happen, should never have been allowed to happen. And Israeli—unless when it becomes a country, yes, then Israelis can move there like any other immigrant can move to a country. Certainly that country's laws, you know, provide for it. That should, of course, be permitted. But at this point the idea that Israel is using occupied territory to build settlements, there should be an absolute line drawn in the sand that says this can't happen. I've always been amazed by it, because in my view people are going to have all kinds of different feelings, and I have certain feelings about Israel and Zionism and what happened in '48 and etc., but no matter what one's feelings are, no matter where you are on the spectrum, right, left, center, it seems to me that a bottom line has to be you can't be building settlements, cities, in occupied territories that you've conquered during the war. It's just a no-go. And the fact that the US continues to fund Israel to some $3 billion-plus a year while it's doing this open and notorious act of building settlements and apartheid settlements is just unacceptable, and it should be. And Obama made a start and then just fell backwards. And he fell backwards who knows why. He fell backwards because there was too much opposition within the community in the United States, the Jewish community in particular. Who knows why?

JAY: Thanks for joining us. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network. 

March 23, 2010

To rob a country, own a bank Pt5



William K. Black, author of THE BEST WAY TO ROB A BANK IS TO OWN ONE, teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri — Kansas City (UMKC). He was the Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention from 2005-2007. He has taught previously at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and at Santa Clara University, where he was also the distinguished scholar in residence for insurance law and a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Black was litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, deputy director of the FSLIC, SVP and general counsel of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and senior deputy chief counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision. He was deputy director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement. Black developed the concept of "control fraud" — frauds in which the CEO or head of state uses the entity as a "weapon." Control frauds cause greater financial losses than all other forms of property crime combined. He recently helped the World Bank develop anti-corruption initiatives and served as an expert for OFHEO in its enforcement action against Fannie Mae's former senior management.


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington, and joining us again from Amherst, Massachusetts, from the PERI institute, is Bill Black. William K. Black is a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and author of the book The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One. Thanks for joining us again, Bill.

BLACK: Thank you.

JAY: So just to sum all this up, let me ask you this. In the very beginning you called this system parasitic; you said if you want to understand the relationship of Wall Street to Main Street, they are like leeches. Have we gotten to the point where the financial system is so parasitic and the political system, at least at levels of the leadership of the two main political parties, are so entwined in this parasitism that we really need something else? And what would that something else be? In other words, what would ordinary people watching this, what should it be spent thinking about?

BLACK: Well, they should be thinking this is crony capitalism. And so a solution can't just look at finance; it has to look at the involvement of finance and government. And this is about to get much worse because of the Supreme Court decision that now says that corporations are going to be able to do unlimited political contributions because they're really people.

JAY: Unlimited advertising.

BLACK: Limiting political contributions and advertising are going to be authorized under this same logic [sic]. And that is going to mean that—for example, the House Finance Committee now has 71 members, because both political parties, whenever they have a freshmen elected from a tough district, try to get them put on the Finance Committee, because they know that if they get there it's a gold mine, guaranteed, of political contributions that will increase their chances of reelection. Well, that's sick. So here's a couple of modest proposals. If corporations are really just like people, then we should have a three-strikes law for corporations: three strikes and you're out of business, in terms of felonies or violations of law. By the way, we're not going to have many major corporations around more than about 15 years if we adopt that standard. How about this one? Minorities in Florida can't vote ever again if they have a felony conviction. Their civil rights in a political sense are removed. So [if] you violate the laws of corporation, you can no longer make any ads, you can no longer make any political contributions. Think they'll go for that?

JAY: That would end a lot of television channels' revenue streams pretty quickly.

BLACK: Yeah, that would be terrible, wouldn't it?

JAY: So at the level of the political parties, as people become more educated about these issues and the kind of candidates they might support in the primaries, what should they be looking for in terms of candidates that might actually be willing to take on this parasitism?

BLACK: This is the fundamental thing. We knew as soon as we saw [Lawrence] Summers and [Timothy] Geithner that the finance side of the administration would be a disaster, but we hoped that the political side would be preeminent and say, you know, (A) this is substantively wrong to continue to get into bed with finance, and (B) its terrible politics. The Democratic Party will be crushed if it does this. Well, the political side has failed to get involved. So, you know, this is one of those rare things where doing the right thing is really good politics. So support candidates that will actually do the right thing. And if the Obama administration continues this way, it's going to have a record disaster in the midterm elections. There is going to be a massive loss of Democratic seats. My phrase always is: what would it take if the greatest economic catastrophe in 80 years, if an epidemic of fraud by your top elites, if the corruption of your most senior professionals in accounting, law, appraisal, rating agencies, isn't enough to make you fundamentally reconsider and say we are headed along a disastrous path, what will it take? Because the next big one will be even worse.

JAY: Thanks again for joining us, Bill. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network. And if you want to help The Real News' financial situation, don't forget you can text 85944, just put the word "news", and you'll be sending us five bucks. Thanks again.


November 15, 2010

Helen Thomas on Her Resignation and Middle East

Thomas: Israel should get out of Occupied Territories; White House Correspondents Assoc. out of line




"Attack on Pearl Harbour was intentially provoked... the evidence suggests overwhelmingly"



PORTER: I think it's absolutely primarily Hezbollah and Hamas and the broader balance of power that exists between Israel and all of these adversaries. And what the Israelis cannot abide is precisely the loss of their clear-cut military supremacy, which is now what has been lost with this new balance of power, conventional balance of power, involving the rockets in Lebanon versus the Israeli military, obviously, ability to retaliate or to take the offensive. And this is in fact what it amounts to is a loss of the ability of the Israelis to easily contemplate an aggressive attack on any other neighbor in the region, and this is what the Israelis really are concerned about and what I think, you know, deserves to be much more widely known and understood at this point.


Gareth Porter: Balance of forces in Middle East has changed with Hezbollah able to "cover entire territory of Israel" with rockets

January 19, 2011

Dems And GOP Split Over Federal Reserve

Matt Stoller: Both parties have representatives
 at odds with leadership over role of the Fed.



Matt Stoller is an American writer. and served from 2009-2011 as Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida's eighth Congressional district. As Grayson's financial services legislative aide, Stoller focused on foreclosure fraud, the financial crisis, and the Federal Reserve

Matt Stoller, who was a senior policy adviser for Representative Grayson in Florida, and particularly on economic issues like the Fed, wrote the following: 

"Liberals should stop their love affair with conservative technocratic myths of monetary independence, and cease seeing this Federal Reserve as a legitimate actor. At the very least, we need to begin noticing that these people do in fact run the country, and should not."

STOLLER: Large corporations, yes, yes, Harley-Davidson, you know, etc., etc. Wayne /"haI.zIN/ is just a rich guy. What you see is that the Fed basically created a two-tiered credit system, where if you were a subprime borrower and you had a house and you were placed into a predatory loan, there was no way you could get credit, even if your problem was a liquidity problem. But if you were--you know, you could say, I'll pledge my house, and they'd say, ha, good luck with that. But if you were a hedge fund or if you were wealthy or if you were in the power class, then, you know, you could pledge anything. You could just say, you know, here's a piece of toilet paper and I think it's worth $1 million, and you could give that to the Fed and they would give you a $1 million loan with zero percent interest rate. And in fact, the Fed lent out about $1 trillion based on CCC collateral, which is a very, very poor quality of collateral. So they circumvented democracy to create a two-tiered credit system to give liquidity to the wealthy, when the only thing that mattered was actually liquidity. And this goes against all of the best tenets of central banking, and it did prevent a depression for the upper class.






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