Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Calls Israeli Presence in Palestine Occupation, Stunning Lawmakers; Now, the Foreign Ministry is Weighing Lifting a Ban on the Word; Africa s World War One Fueled in Part by Western Countries and Corporations
8:00-8:01 Billboard 8:01-8:06 Headlines 8:06-8:07 One Minute Music Break 8:07-8:20: Israeli Army Radio is reporting the Foreign Ministry is today weighing distributing an internal regulation that will allow Israel's official spokespeople to use the word 'occupation' for the first time. The step follows unprecedented remarks by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Yesterday Sharon told lawmakers: "I think the idea that it is possible to continue keeping 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation - yes it is occupation, you might not like the word, but what is happening is occupation - is bad for Israel, and bad for the Palestinians, and bad for the Israeli economy. Controlling 3.5 million Palestinians cannot go on forever. You want to remain in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Bethlehem?" According to Israeli Army Radio, until now, the word 'occupation' was considered forbidden, because it was believed that Israel would be seen in a bad light. All of this comes as Sharon appears to be giving some support to Washington s so-called road map to peace . Yesterday, Israeli officials said President Bush will attend a three-way summit with Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan next week. On Sunday, Sharon convinced his cabinet to give conditional approval to the US peace plan. It was the first time in history the Israeli government has formally accepted the idea of a Palestinian state. But Sharon is still sending mixed signals. He also said yesterday the government will continue to expand Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. He told a Likkud lawmaker and settler he can stay in his home. He said: There is no restriction here. You can build for your children and grandchildren and, I hope, even for your great-grandchildren." Meanwhile, the expected meeting tomorrow between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas has been post-poned for a day. Palestinian sources told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz the delay was caused by scheduling conflicts. But the Guardian of London reports the cancellation is being interpreted as evidence that the Palestinian leader doesn t see any value in meeting Sharon, and that the Palestinians believe all of Sharon s latest moves are purely for propaganda purposes. <sum> Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun Magazine and the author of several books includeing Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation, Jews and Blacks: A Dialogue on Race, Religon and Culture in America which we co-wrote with Cornel West. He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC and was mentored by Abraham Joshua Heschel. Rabbi Lerner is the author of Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation. Link: http://www.tikkun.org <sum> Ziad Asali, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Asali was born in Jerusalem and studied at the American University of Beirut. He has practiced medicine in Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem and the United States. Asali is also the current Chairman of the American Committee on Jerusalem. Link: http://www.adc.org 8:20-8:21 One Minute Music Break 8:21-8:40 Sharon and the peace plan, cont d 8:40-8:41 One Minute Music Break 8:41-8:58: A front page article in today s New York Times begins: They call the machete a weapon of mass destruction here. Its ghastly wreckage can be found inside what passes for this town's only functioning hospital. On a thin foam mattress lies a wide-eyed old man who has survived an attempted decapitation. Nearby, a mother with black moons around her eyes nurses two wounded children back to health and mourns for another two, freshly killed. The article is about the town of Bunia, in the Ituri province of Congo. In the last couple of weeks, some 350 bodies have been found in the area. Most of them were civilian women and children. Many of the bodies were mutilated. The New York Times reports that townspeople became so terrified they tried to climb over barbed wire fences to get into the UN compound there. A tent city has sprung up in the compound, and now as many as 17,000 people have taken refuge there and at the airport and at the heart of the town. The Times also reports: By the standards and logic of war in Congo, the Bunia massacre was neither unexpected nor extraordinary. The only thing that distinguished this one was that it happened before the eyes of United Nations peacekeepers who had warned of its risks. The grim facts that led to the carnage here were no mystery to anyone, certainly not to the members of the Security Council who sent in the peacekeepers. Troops from Uganda were pulling out of Ituri under a multinational peace deal. Rival warlords were at one another's throats. Indeed, there was no peace to keep in Congo's northeast, certainly not by a paltry force of some 300 blue-helmeted Uruguayan soldiers who were deployed with orders to guard United Nations property and to escort aid workers. The Congo has received little attention, despite the fact that it is in the throes of one of the most devastating and brutal conflicts of all time. In the last five years of the war there, it is estimated that more than three million people have died. The conflict has been called Africa's First World War because it has involved the national armies of seven African countries. They are all interested in the gold, diamonds, oil, timber and other vast natural resources of the Congo. The name World War is apt, because it is not only African nations that are involved. Just yesterday, human rights groups and opposition politicians in Britain accused the British government of blatant hypocrisy yesterday for allowing arms sales worth millions of dollars to central African nations embroiled in the Congo war. British companies sold shotguns, pistols, helmets and body armour to Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Zimbabwe between 1999 and 2001. (Only last week, the British government claimed that careful checks were made on arms exports to central Africa to ensure they could not make their way to the Congo.) And then there are the Congo s vast natural resources, including diamonds, gold and oil. Today we re going to focus on the gold in the embattled Ituri region of the Congo. Specifically, Ituri is the gateway to the Kilo Moto gold field, the world's largest. A Candian company, Barrick Gold, claims it owns the exploration rights to the gold mine. Barric Gold has ties to former President George Bush, Sr. We invited Barrick to come on the program, but they declined. <sum> Greg Palast, BBC investigative reporter and author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy Contact: www.gregpalast.com <sum> Joan Kuyek, National Coordinator of MiningWatch Canada, which has called for an independent investigation of the Bulyanhulu mining massacre. Contact: www.miningwatch.ca 8:58-8:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Sharif Abdul Kouddous, Ana Nogueira, Elizabeth Press with help from Noah Reibel and Vilka Tzouras. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer. Thanks also to Uri Galed, Angela Alston, Emily Kunstler, Orlando Richards, Simba Rousseau, Rafael delaUz, Gabriel Weiss, Johnny Sender, Rich Kim, Karen Ranucci, Fatima Mojadiddy, Denis Moynihan and Jenny Filipazzo.