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Articles Archives - August 2010
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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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Thursday, August 12, 2010
Peace process or real peace?
Daoud Kuttab, Ma’an News Agency 8/11/2010
      Direct talks between Palestinian and Israeli leaders are the most obvious way to achieve peace in the Middle East conflict. But history has shown time and again that a high-profile peace process alone is no recipe for success.
     The Arab League is set to meet later this month to advise the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership whether or not to engage in direct talks with Israel. Palestinian officials say that there is no use in holding direct talks that are nothing more than a photo opportunity intended to create the impression of a peace process while avoiding any substantive commitments.
     For Palestinians, the first step in real peace talks must include some accord on the basic issues of borders and security. The Palestinians have presented to their Israeli counterparts (through the Americans) a written offer that includes giving up lands occupied by Israel in 1967 and now populated by Israeli settlers. These lands would be swapped for other lands equal in size and importance. Israel has yet to produce a single written document outlining its position on the territory that will become a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
     Israel insists that any serious progress will happen only if both sides can sit at the negotiating table face to face. According to this view, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition might be persuaded to accept the continuation of the partial settlement freeze, but only if the Israeli public sees President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu publicly engaged in negotiations. But the history of such negotiations tells a much different story.
     All successful efforts in the Middle East conflict have not occurred in front of cameras and through publicly declared direct talks. The visit to Jerusalem of Egypt’s then-President Anwar Sadat, and the ensuing Egypt-Israel breakthrough at Camp David, took place only after successful behind-the-scenes understandings....
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Is Israel singled out – and why?
Adam Keller, The Other Israel, Israeli Occupation Archive 8/1/2010
      Googling for “Israel singled out” + “anti-Semitism” would immediately get you many thousands of results. All over the world, supporters of the policies enacted by the government of Israel are busily churning out article after article, repeating with minor variations the same message – Israel is being unfairly singled out, harshly criticized for the kind of acts which others are allowed to get away with, and the motive is anti-Semitism.
     In a way, this is a second line of defense. There had been a time when this kind of people took the line that Israel can do no wrong. That it is an utterly wonderful place, little short of an utopia, a vibrant democracy and the only one in the Middle East, the home of tireless and dauntless pioneers who made the desert bloom. But this way of looking at things had become increasingly difficult to sustain. There has been too much unsavory TV footage of Israeli soldiers broadcast into every home around the globe, too many nasty revelations, quite a few of them by Israel’s own dissident citizens…
     It is far easier to freely admit that Israel is not blameless, that some of its actions and policies do deserve criticism – but as a matter of fact, “everybody does it”. Many others all over the world also violate human rights and/or international law, others discriminate against ethnic or religious minorities, others launch military offensives which claim the lives of innocent civilians. Muslims, it is quite true, have been killed by other Muslims as well as by Israel. So, why pick on Israel, specifically? Why, if not out of anti-Semitism? “Anti-Israelism is the New anti-Semitism”, period.
     True, as far as formal international diplomacy is concerned, it is easy to show that – if Israel is singled out at all – it is singled out for a rather lenient treatment. -- See also: Source
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Suspected torturer gets key police job in Jerusalem
Jonathan Cook, Palestine Note 8/8/2010
      Doron Zahavi accused of running Israel’s Abu Ghraib
     A police officer known as “Major George” who is accused of torturing Arab prisoners in his previous role as chief interrogator in a secret military jail has been appointed to oversee relations with Jerusalem’s Palestinian population, it has emerged.
     The decision has been greeted with stunned disbelief from human rights groups, who say unresolved allegations against Major George that he brutally abused Arab prisoners for many years should disqualify him from such a sensitive post.
     Relations between the Israeli police and the 250,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have been on a knife edge for many months, as extremist Jewish groups -- backed by the municipality -- have increased their settlement drive in traditional Palestinian neighbourhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.
     The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (Acri), Israel’s largest legal rights group, revealed last week that it had made a formal complaint in February about Major George, whose real name is Doron Zahavi.
     Acri said he had threatened to demolish the home of a Palestinian community activist in Silwan for leading protests against a settler takeover of Palestinian homes in the area. During what police described as a “getting to know each other session”, pressure was also put on Jawad Siyam to become an informant.
     Zahavi, however, first earnt notoriety in Unit 504, a special wing of military intelligence, that oversaw the interrogation of foreign Arab nationals held in the secret prison, known as Facility 1391. Israel claims to have closed the jail following its exposure in 2003.
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Poisoning of Gaza water puts population at risk
Electronic Intifada: 11 Aug 2010 - Beyond tarnishing Gaza's once pristine shores, the noxious consequences of the deterioration of the wastewater treatment operation in Gaza resulting from the closure hold much more grave implications: the Gaza Strip is, quite literally, being poisoned.more

Interview with "Salt of This Sea" star before nationwide premiere in NYC
Electronic Intifada: 11 Aug 2010 - Salt of This Sea (2008), Annemarie Jacir's groundbreaking feature film, premieres in the US this week after two years on the road and winning over 20 awards in countless international film festivals. Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed the film's star, Suheir Hammad, for The Electronic Intifada.more

Palestine's students call on PLO envoy to boycott South African Zionists
Electronic Intifada: 11 Aug 2010 - We address you from occupied Palestine urging you to cancel your participation in an event hosted by the South African Union of Jewish Students entitled "Towards Peace in the Middle East -- The Status of Current Democracy" at the University of the Witwatersrand on Thursday, 12 August 2010.more

Release Mordechai Vanunu
Palestine Monitor: 12 Aug 2010 - Many hundreds of people from around the World have signed an International Petition (http://humanrights.change.org/peti... , calling on President Obama, Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Cameron, and other world leaders, to ‘do all they can' to gain the release from Israel of Mordechai Vanunu (the Israeli nuclear whistleblower). Vanunu was released from Ramle Israeli Prison, on Sunday 8th August, 2010, after serving almost 3 months in solitary confinement under cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions. This further sentence was imposed on Vanunu for speaking to foreign media. Although now out of prison he is still not allowed to leave Israel. The draconian restrictions remain on him, and he is unable to speak to foreigners, foreign media, or move freely within Israel without Government permission. Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, who together with Gerry Grehan, Chair of the Peace People, launched the International Appeal for Vanunu's release, said today: “It is unacceptable that Vanunu continues...more

Activists Charged With Blockading Israeli-Owned Beauty Shop Acquitted In Court
Palestine Monitor: 11 Aug 2010 - Four activists charged with aggravated trespass for blockading the Israeli-owned cosmetics shop, Ahava, in Covent Garden, London, in 2009, were today acquitted of all charges against them. The four –Bruce Levy, Tom Ellis, Jo Crouch and Tahir Alam Hussein, all from London – had locked themselves to concrete-filled oil drums inside the shop, closing it down for a day each time in September and December 2009. They appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court, London, this week, and were acquitted this afternoon when the primary witness for the prosecution, Ahava's store manager, refused to attend court to testify, despite courts summons and threats of an arrest warrant. Activists have held fortnightly demonstrations outside the Covent Garden store throughout 2010, in protest at its complicity in the occupation of Palestinian territory. The Ahava factory, which uses mud from the Dead Sea to make beauty products, is based in the illegal Israeli settlement...more

Israel Lacking Allies and Friends
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Aug 2010 - By George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C. Oftentimes, Israelis and their supporters bury their heads in the sand, ignoring all that goes around them. Take the case, for one example, of a university professor who joyously lauded in a commentary in a leading American newspaper, The New York Times (which in turn was remiss in not checking) an "opinion poll" that claimed that 71 percent of Arab respondents have "no interest" in the Palestinian-Israeli "peace process." Probably sharing his enthusiasm, the paper headlined the column, "The Palestinians, Alone." It turned out that the shady poll that was cited by Efraim Karsh, who teaches at King's College, London and is author of "Palestine Betrayed," was nothing more than a tally of readers responding to another reader's query on the website of an Arabic television network. Moreover, one would have thought that Karsh should have known better. His puerile analysis failed to...more

Meet the Methodist Friends of Israel
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Aug 2010 - By Stuart Littlewood – London A few weeks ago the Methodist Church's annual conference did a very courageous and praiseworthy thing. It voted to boycott products from Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestine, regarded as illegal under international law, and to encourage Methodists across Britain to do the same. "The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches," said the press release. Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships, remarked: “This decision has not been taken lightly, but after months of research, careful consideration and finally, today’s debate at the Conference. The goal of the boycott is to put an end to the existing injustice. It reflects the challenge that settlements present to a lasting peace in the region." Predictably the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which calls itself...more

Groundhog Day: The Neocon Version
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Aug 2010 - By Ron Forthofer The 1993 movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, strikes a chord when I consider the latest neocons' effort to push the U.S. into attacking Iran or supporting an Israeli attack. Similar to Bill Murray who lived the same day over and over, we are being forced to essentially relive late 2002 and early 2003. Then the neocons and the White House made false claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the threat Iraq supposedly posed. The situation is similar now except Iran has replaced Iraq as the target. Evidently the neocons' contempt for the U.S. public knows no bounds. They seem to think that we have already forgotten the role they played in building support for the attack on Iraq. Remember that this illegal attack and occupation have turned into what recently deceased General William Odom had said would be the "greatest strategic...more

Bourj el-Barajneh: Searching for Meaning in a Refugee Camp
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Aug 2010 - By Ramzy Baroud – Beirut, Lebanon Two young girls stood, as if frozen, starting below them at an ever vibrant Beirut. Their balcony, like the rest of their house and most of their refugee camp was of an indistinct color. It was dirty, as were their clothes. They, on the other hand, looked beautiful and bright, although their future didn’t. Here in Bourj el-Barajneh, one of a dozen Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, time seems to have stood still for years. Generation after generation, children grow up in the same desperate reality, punished for crimes they did not commit, injured by a history not of their making. They stand on dirty balconies, cracked beyond repair, watching Beirut and the world go by. The city is abuzz with life, politics, rumors, anticipation and intrigue. It remains perpetually divided between many worlds and contradictions, in a way that seems almost impossible to...more

The Occupation is Corrupt - Olmert and the Jackals
Palestine Chronicle: 11 Aug 2010 - By Uri Avnery I cannot say that I ever liked Ehud Olmert. But now I almost feel sorry for him. It is not pleasant to see how they pounce on him, like jackals and hyenas fighting over a carcass. And that also raises some questions. Was Olmert the only fallible human being in this paradise? Not at all. The stories about the envelopes stuffed with cash, the cigars and the luxury suites in posh hotels fire the imagination, but the hedonism of Olmert is no different from that of Binjamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak. When Barak accuses Olmert it is like the kettle calling the pot black. Netanyahu lived like a king in expensive hotels paid for by kind donors who, of course, ask for nothing in return, whose sole purpose in life is to allow him to revel in luxury. As for Barak - after decades of service as...more

FARC to Join Global Jihad
Palestine Chronicle: 11 Aug 2010 - By Belen Fernandez The four-member United Nations panel appointed to investigate the May 31 Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara which killed 9 people is scheduled to have its first meeting today. An August 3 AFP article noting the “surprising U-turn from the Israelis” in deciding to support the flotilla probe—a rare instance of Israeli cooperation with the U.N.—fails to note that the U-turn is perhaps not so surprising given the appointment as panel Vice Chairman of outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, whose expertise in the realm of security will thus not be lost with the end of his presidential term. Israel and Colombia have been plagued with similar security challenges for decades, such as how to portray victims as aggressors in order to acquire land—although Colombian territorial entitlement admittedly lacks biblical endorsement. Past Israeli training of Colombian death squads may have contributed to current Colombian creativity in retroactively justifying...more

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