Swiss journalist. After having extensively written about diplomacy in South-East Asia and the Indian Ocean, she was witness to operation « Protective shield », launched by the Tsahal against the Palestinians. Ever since, she has devoted her work to raising global awareness of the conditions endured by the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation.
Against the current backdrop of Israeli talk of pre-emptive strikes against Iran’s alleged military nuclear facilities, Voltaire Network is republishing this exclusive 2005 interview of Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. Twenty-five years ago, this former Israeli nuclear technician exposed the existence of his country’s nuclear arsenal, tearing down the wall of Israel’s secrecy and hypocrisy. To this day, Israel - in unison with the United States - refuses to confirm the existence of its nuclear arsenal.
In his book, "The Wandering Who?", Gilad Atzmon goes where no one else dares to tread. He challenges what he considers to be the myths and the tribal mindset underpinning the founding of the Zionist state and its racially-driven policies. Repudiating the concept of ’chosen-ness’ that separates the Jews from the others, he has abandoned his to ’become an ordinary human being.’ His book has been acclaimed by eminent Jewish intellectuals. He responds to Silvia Cattori’s questions.
Under pressure from Israel and the United States, the embattled Greek government has prohibited the Freedom Flotilla from sailing to Gaza from its ports. But for its organizers, the fight has just begun and Israel will be kept under pressure by civil society who will continue to denounce the illegality of the blockade, and endeavor to reach Gaza. Dimitri Plionis, one of the Greek spokesmen for the Flotilla, responds here to the questions of Silvia Cattori.
Gilad Atzmon is an outstandingly charming man. He is often described by music critics as one of the finest contemporary jazz saxophonists. But Atzmon is more than just a musician: for those who follow events in the Middle East, he is considered to be one of the most credible voices amongst Israeli opponents. In the last decade he has relentlessly exposed and denounced barbarian Israeli policies. Just before his departure on a European Spring Tour, “The Tide Has Changed “, with his band the Orient House Ensemble, he spoke to Silvia Cattori.
The extraordinary brutality of the army that abusively describes itself as “the most ethical army in the world” has ended up in exposing to everyone the true face of Israel. It must be noted that such brutality would never have been possible without the complicity of Western political circles and media. Hazem Jamjoum, 28, a Palestinian scholar who passed through Geneva on the same day as Israel’s deadly storming of the Freedom Flotilla, replies to the questions of Silvia Cattori.
While the Israeli Government is projecting an "economic peace" with the Palestinians and the French Government is calling for the recognition of a fictitious Palestinian State - deprived of land and sovereignty - Silvia Cattori has interviewed one of the leading intellectuals of the Palestinian resistance: Khalid Amayreh. According to him, the Western countries are in deep denial over the colonial reality of Palestine, which they only perceive through the prism of their Palestinian collaborators.
85-year old Hedy Epstein is back in the limelight. Last week in Cairo, she embarked on a hunger strike to protest the ongoing blockade of Gaza. A Jewish Holocaust survivor whose parents perished in Auschwitz in 1942, she emigrated to the US in 1948 and first visited Palestine in 2003. Revolted by the Israeli Government’s oppression of the Palestinians, she has devoted her life to drawing public attention to this reality. Back from a visit to Palestine in January 2008, she was interviewed by Silvia Cattori.
On 29 July 2009, we had the privilege of meeting with Sami al-Haj, an Al Jazeera journalist and cameraman who was imprisoned in Guantánamo for more than 6 years and who was passing through Geneva. On that occasion he told us about the foundation of the London-based humanitarian organization « Guantánamo Justice Center" which he chairs, as he will formally announce at the press conference taking place in that capital on 30 July 2009. This NGO will be steered by the former British prisoner, Moazzam Begg, in his capacity as Secretary-General and will have branches in Geneva and Paris.
Standing straight and tall, an impressive and deeply introspective man, Sami El Haj walks with a limp and the help of a walking stick. Neither laughter nor smiles light up the refined face of this man, old before his time. A deep sadness pervades him. He was 32 years old when, in December 2001, his life, like that of tens of thousands of other Muslims, became a horrific nightmare.
Under the cover of the « war against terror », the United States and the European Union have granted unlimited powers to secret services and police. Emergency measures which were introduced on a provisional basis in 2001, outside any judiciary control, have become permanent. Since September 2001, at least 80,000 people, mainly Muslim, would have been kidnapped, kept in secret prisons, and tortured by CIA and FBI agents. Hundreds of others have been put on the UN « black list ». That’s what happened to the businessman Youssef Nada, 77 years old, an Italian citizen of Egyptian origin, accused by U.S. President, G.W Bush of financing Al-Qaeda. Two judiciary investigations resulted in a non-suit, but Mr. Nada didn’t get his name deleted from the UN « black list » (*). His assets remain frozen; he is barred from travelling to or transiting in any country. He can’t go outside the tiny enclave of Campione - an Italian enclave inside Swiss territory - where Silvia Cattori went to meet (...)
When the announcement that Israel would attend the "Fiera del libro" of Turin, (*) came out, an immediate wave of protest arose in Italy; and many personalities supported the boycott call, made by the Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian Writers’ Associations. In France, strangely enough, the same invitation, to the "Salon du livre" of Paris, did not make much noise. Alone, the Israeli poet Aharon Shabtaï has refused to participate in these events, contrary to the 39 Israeli writers who accepted to be part of the Israeli delegation to these two exhibitions. Aharon Shabtaï explains here why these events –which he qualifies as "promotion of propaganda" for Israel-, must be boycotted, as well as any cultural event where this apartheid State is celebrated.
Omar Barghouti belongs to a new generation of Palestinians who never adhered to the solution of « Two States, Two peoples ». They are advocating, instead, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) of Israel as well as a «secular, democratic state» solution, where Palestinians and Israelis would share equal rights, after historic injustices are redressed and the refugees are allowed to return.
Greta Berlin, 66 years old, is a businesswoman from Los Angeles, CA. She is the mother of two Palestinian-American children and has been to the occupied territories twice in the past four years with the International Solidarity Movement. She is also a member of Women in Black Los Angeles. She is one of many other people, who have organized an unusual project, sailing a boat to Gaza. They intend to challenge Israel’s claim that they no longer occupy Gaza. Talking to her, she explains why she and the other courageous people are going.
For Hans Christof von Sponeck, the former assistant secretary-general of the UN, the United Nations, far from garding the respect for international law and the consolidation of peace, have themselves become a factor of injustice. Thus, the sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq caused a human disaster, whereas treaties such as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty are used to ensure the domination of certain powers and to threaten others. It is time to change the system completely.
The merger between the main French right-wing parties permitted to the Atlanticists to gain the upper hand over the Gaullists and to their champion, Nicolas Sarkozy, to become the UMP candidate. Getting in resistance, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan resigned from the only party of the right and announced his candidacy in the presidential election. He replies below to the questions of the Swiss weekly paper Horizons et débats.
Daniele Ganser, professor of contemporary history at Bale University (Switzerland) and chairman of the ASPO - Switzerland, published a landmark book about "NATO’s Secret Armies." According to him, during the last 50 years the United States have organized bombings in Western Europe that they have falsely attributed to the left and the extreme left with the purpose of discrediting them in the eyes of their voters. This strategy is still present today, inspiring fear for the Islam and justifying wars on oil.
In this interview recorded by Swiss journalist Silvia Cattori in November 2005 - more than six months before the war launched against Lebanon by Israeli army in summer 2006 – Youssef Aschkar was warning that the destabilization of Lebanon, Syria and Iran was under way, and that Lebanon was the country most threatened and most vulnerable to the Israeli menace. In the light of the recent developments in the region, the accuracy of his analysis appears impressive and almost prophetic.
A former criminal investigator of the GDR, who became a journalist after the reunification of Germany, Jürgen Cain Külbel is the author of a counter-investigation on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, which the Voltaire Network presented to the Arab public during a widely covered conference in Damascus, May 7, 2006. In this interview, he discusses the political role of the UN Commission and the unexploited leads pointing to Israeli responsibility.
The Palestinian Vice-Prime Minister, Mr Naser Shaer, was kidnapped on 19 August by Israeli soldiers. Few weeks ago, Voltairenetwork published an exclusive interview with this very respectful personality by the Palestinians. Mr Naser Shaer, 45 years old, became Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Education in the new Palestinian Government formed by Hamas on March 2006. Former rector of the Faculty of Law at the National University of Al Najah in Nablus, Mr Shaer is a moderate person. He does not belong to any political party, and is not a member of Hamas as widespread in the media. Tasneem, his eldest daughter, gives to Voltairenetwork, in a very simple and sober way, her account of the abduction of Mr Shaer and the bad and humiliating conditions of his (...)
In his latest book, “How the Jihad Came to Europe”, German journalist Jürgen Elsässer unravels the Jihadist thread. Muslim fighters recruited by the CIA to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan were used successively in Yugoslavia and Chechnya, still supported by the CIA, but perhaps sometimes out of its control. Basing himself on diverse sources, mainly Yugoslavian, Dutch, and German, he reconstructed the development of Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants at the side of NATO in Bosnia-Herzegovinia.
Doctor Naser Dine Muhammad Ahmad Shaer is the Vice- Prime Minister and Minister of Education and higher learning in the Palestinian government formed by Hamas. Born in 1961, originally from Nablus, father of six children, this professor of law and legislation, rector of the Faculty of Law at the National University of Al Najah, hunted by Israel, finds himself obliged to live in clandestinity. He talks here about a subject the “West” refuses to admit: that Hamas is well integrated into the social fabric and that, confronted with Israeli oppression — as with the Lebanese and Hezbollah —Hamas is “like a fish in water” in Palestine.
Khaled lives precariously in a refugee camp in Gaza. His poignant reports have been translated into many languages. Today, his voice, usually cheerful, was filled with revolt and a great lassitude.
Silvia Cattori: The Israeli bombings have already killed over 500 people and have wounded thousands in a few weeks in Gaza and Lebanon. Don’t the Israeli authorities have any human consideration?
Khaled: Now the soldiers are in the process of bombing us from all sides, from the sky, from their (...)
While the world witnesses the destruction of Lebanon by Israel, the occupation of Palestine goes on its way . While the cameras are turned towards Beirut, all elements are brought into play to suffocate the Palestinians and to force them to flee their shelters. Sylvia Cattori went to the field and described the terror to which the Nablus inhabitants are subjected.
While a debate is underway in France on the benefits of colonisation and responsibility of Arabs in the digression of their societies, the former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella recalls several historical truths: the illegitimacy of one people dominating over another - that took place formerly in Algeria and today in Palestine; the global reality, and not an Arab one, of colonisation and the struggle for national liberty; Western interference by overthrowing nationalist governments and revolutionaries in countries in the south of the world; and maintaining the aftermath of colonisation. He emphasizes that today, it’s the Christian Evangelical fundamentalists who export violence.
In an interview granted to Silvia Cattori during the international conference Axis for Peace 2005, former Lebanese Prime Minister Salim el Hoss expresses his concern about the US-Israeli plan for the “reconfiguration of the Great Middle East”, that is the Yugoslavia-like transformation of the region. Salim el Hoss suggests that the weakness of Arab regimes turns them into easy preys for the United States, a democratic country inside, but a country that imposes its despotism on the rest of the world.
Although it was very publicized by Israeli media, the settlers’ pullout from Gaza does not guarantee a return to the peace process but, on the contrary, announces an intensification of repression. The departure of the Israeli population from Gaza opens the way for the army of Tel Aviv to act with complete freedom. On orders from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and with the consent of President Abu Mazen, the candidates of the Hamas movement for the legislative elections are either kidnapped or killed. The Palestinians are no longer submitted to the Israeli controls in check points, but they are now under the fire of the heavy artillery of the Israeli Army (Tsahal) that fires against urban areas. Silvia Cattori offers the testimony of a Gaza dweller.
Writer and journalist Israel Shamir is one of the most committed Israeli personalities against the Jewish definition of the State of Israel and the system of apartheid it has created. His detractors present this former spokesperson of MAPAM (the Socialist Party of Israel) and former translator of president Herzog, as a “Self-hating Jew” whereas his supporters believe he is “one of the greatest Israeli intellectuals.” Israel Shamir answers Silvia Cattori’s questions about the defamation campaign against him and the ways of fighting racism in the state of Israel.
Olivia Zemor is a co-founder of CAPJO (Coordination des Appels pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient -Coordination Group Calling for a Just Peace in the Middle East), a movement which is currently known as CAPJO-Euro-Palestine. After the presentation of a list of candidates to the recent European elections, Olivia Zemor tells about the actions carried out in France to demand the respect of Human Rights in Palestine. Zemor responds to questions made by Silvia Cattori in a moment in which 60 French associations organize a protest campaign to mark the first anniversary of the condemnation of the Isareli wall by the International Court of Justice, The Hague, and against the visit of General Sharon in Paris.
The Yugoslav Caldron
The Strategy of Tension
From colonisation to interference
Interview with Count Hans-Christof von Sponeck
No to the apartheid 2 states solution
The 2007 French Presidential election
An Interview with Greta Berlin
The Palestinian Vice-Prime Minister kidnapped by Israel
An Interview with Aharon Shabtaï