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Articles Archives - January 2012
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Israeli forces continue their campaign of widespread arrests in the occupied Palestinian territories - International Press Center photo

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012
In Palestine, to Exist Is to Resist
Melinda Tuhus, In These Times 1/24/2012
      Behind the headlines, Palestinians are using nonviolent direct action to protest the status quo.
     Few readers of mainstream media are aware of Palestinians' longstanding creative efforts to use non-violent direct action in their struggle for self-determination.
     WEST BANK, PALESTINE – On November 15, Mazin Qumsiyeh and other Palestinian activists boarded public bus number 148, an Israelis-only bus that normally takes Jews from the Israeli West Bank settlement of Ariel to Jerusalem. The bus took the group to the Hizma checkpoint, just outside the northern entrance of Jerusalem, where activists resisted authorities’ efforts to remove them. Eventually, as a camera broadcast the action online, eight people were pulled from the bus and arrested. They were charged with “illegal entry to Jerusalem” and “obstructing police business.”
     Qumsiyeh hopes this recent “freedom ride” – possible because a bus driver let them ride by mistake, he said – will spark the same kind of response that its namesake did across the United States in the early 1960s, when interstate bus trips helped end racial segregation in the South. Qumsiyeh, author of Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment, says other examples of nonviolent resistance include protests of the separation barrier (which many Palestinians call an “apartheid wall”) that has effectively turned 10 percent of Palestinian land into Israeli land since its construction began in 2002; school girls holding class in the street when they can’t get to their schools because of Israeli interference; and farmers braving Israeli intimidation to harvest olives. “For us to exist on this land is to resist,” says Qumsiyeh, who teaches at Bethlehem and Birzeit universities.
     Most readers of mainstream media in the United States think of the First Intifada (1987-92) as the stone-throwing uprising and the Second Intifada (2000-2004) as the attack of the suicide bombers....
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Would another Obama term be better for Israel/Palestine than Romney?
Noam Sheizaf, +972 Magazine 1/23/2012
      The answer: Not necessarily.
     In a side note to my post on Newt Gingrich yesterday, I wrote that as far as the Israeli-Palestinian issue is concerned, I don’t see a big difference between a second Obama term and a Romney presidency. This remark got more attention than my comments on Gingrich, which were at the center of the post, so I’d like to elaborate on them a bit.
     If I were an American citizen, I would probably vote for Barack Obama in 2012, mainly due to his positions on domestic issues. While far from being perfect – especially on personal freedoms – Obama is way better than Republican alternatives on abortion, healthcare, gay rights and more – at least as far as I can tell from afar. Plus, future nominations to the Supreme Court alone provide a good reason to prefer him. The sad reality of the two-party system is that the liberal base has very little bargaining power against an incumbent president.
     Still, I am not American, and this blog deals mainly with local politics. On that front, Barack Obama wasn’t able to produce better results than George W. Bush. In fact, if you deal only with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, he might have actually been worse. I say “might,” because Bush had to deal with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Barack Obama with Netanyahu, so it’s very hard to compare the two.
     President Obama made at least one critical mistake – the appointment of Dennis Ross as special envoy – and many tactical ones, ending up with the worst of all scenarios: he is perceived as anti-Israeli and pays the political price for it, while in fact his policies are more comfortable for the Israeli right than those of any other president before him....
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Israel, Iran and the US: Axis of instability
Ahmed Moor, Al Jazeera.com 1/24/2012
      Ratcheting up geopolitical tension isn't likely to contribute to peace or stability.
     Cairo, Egypt - In Iran, it doesn't take much to capture the interest of "terrorists". The pursuit of a career in material sciences, for instance, is enough to animate their small minds.
     Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was a 32-year-old Iranian father and a nuclear scientist. Earlier this month, an assassin attached a magnetic explosive device to his car in Tehran. The bomb was detonated and both Ahmadi-Roshan and his driver were killed in the explosion.
     In the civilised world, the lives of scientists and other civilians are formally protected from directed inter-state violence. Numerous international norms and conventions are designed to isolate civilians from the most brutal consequences of armed conflicts. In war, the act of deliberately targeting civilians or their infrastructure is a criminal one. In the absence of war, however, the act of targeting civilians is terrorism. And assassinating civilians in order to affect political subterfuge is an especially ugly kind of terrorism.
     Events unfolded predictably after Ahmadi-Roshan's murder. The Iranian government quickly blamed the US and Israelis for perpetrating the assassination (the British were tacked on for good measure). The US and the British responded with fast and vociferous denials, while the Israelis only offered mealy mouthed non-denials.
     Unsurprisingly, it has been reported that Israeli Mossad agents were responsible for killing the young scientist; the hit had all the agency's flamboyant and theatrical hallmarks. Equally unsurprising was the extent to which the US went to distance themselves from the ill-advised Israeli decision to terrorise civilians in Tehran. After all, the two countries have vastly different interests when it comes to igniting another war in the Gulf.
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"We won't be silenced," say students arrested over Peres boycott call
Electronic Intifada: 24 Jan 2012 - Yara Sa'di 24 January 2012 Three Palestinian students at the College of Engineering in Jerusalem have been put under house arrest for a week after calling for a boycott of a speech by Israeli President Shimon Peres.more

Interview: rapper Sphinx on why Egypt uprising had a hip-hop soundtrack
Electronic Intifada: 24 Jan 2012 - Alexander Billet 24 January 2012 Hesham Alofoq (aka Sphinx) of the Egyptian hip-hop group Arabian Knightz speaks to The Electronic Intifada about the history of hip-hop in Egypt and the Middle East, the future of the Egyptian uprising, and the role that music plays in the revolt.more

Stop the Pro-Israel Lobby
Palestine Chronicle: 24 Jan 2012 - By Stuart Littlewood The Queen needs a new royal yacht. But the British government says it can't afford to buy her one. The £80 million for the project must come from private sources. "Leading British companies will... be asked to donate funds in exchange for naming rights to various decks and facilities on board," says The Guardian. Does this mean Her Majesty will be seen entertaining in the Goldman Sachs stateroom and sipping daiquiris on the Starbucks sun-deck? Will she shelter from squalls in the Murdoch salon and arrive and depart via the Revlon helipad? The last royal yacht, Britannia, was a highly successful tool for promoting Great Britain Limited. That being the case, such an important national asset ought to be government funded, not sponsored by tacky brand names. £80 million is chickenfeed in the great scheme of things. Why are we so hard up that there’s not enough...more

The Puzzling Matter of the Israeli Liberals
Palestine Chronicle: 24 Jan 2012 - By Ramzy Baroud Regardless of who may rule Israel, little change ever occurs in the country's foreign policy. Winning parties remain obsessed with demographics and retaining absolute military dominance. They also remain unfailingly focused on their quest to initiate racist laws against non-Jewish residents of the state, and continue to hone the art of speaking of peace, while actually maintaining a permanent state of war. Every few years the media become captivated by Israeli democracy. Commentators speak of right, left, center, and anything in between. Despite Israeli elections still being a year and a half away, media pundits are already discussing possible outcomes of the vote against the peace process, economic reforms, social equality, and so on. In a recent article, Israeli columnist Uri Avnery decried the fact that the main opposition to the right-wing parties — “the Likud, the Lieberman party and various ultra-nationalist, pro-settlement and religious factions” —...more

The Jirga Medal of Honor
Palestine Chronicle: 24 Jan 2012 - By Ralph Nader The U.S. war in Afghanistan is testing so much futuristic detect and destroy weaponry that it can be called the most advanced all-seeing invasion in military history. From blanket satellite surveillance to soldiers’ infra-red vision to the remotely guided photographing, killer drones to the latest fused ground-based imagery and electronic signal intercepts, the age of robotic land, sea, and air weaponry is at hand. U.S. and NATO soldiers and contractors greatly outnumber the Taliban, whose sandals and weapons are from the past century. Still, with the most sophisticated arsenals ever deployed, why are U.S. generals saying that less than 30,000 Taliban fighters, for almost a decade, have fought the U.S. led forces to a draw? Perhaps one answer can be drawn from a ceremony that could be happening in various places in that tormented country. That is, a Jirga of elders awarding a young fighter the Jirga...more

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