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Articles Archives - February 2012
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012Top of page
Palestinians need high calibre leaders – urgently
Stuart Littlewood, Redress 2/2/2012
      Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in London recently.
     Did anyone know? Did Western media care?
     No. Not until reports appeared that Jewish community leaders cancelled a meeting with him after intervention by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Office and Israel’s embassy in London, and Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi condemned the move as "seeking to suppress and manipulate Jewish public opinion”.
     It was also typical of Netanyahu’s "persistent efforts" to prevent dialogue, she said, according to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency.
     Even then, Western media were not much interested.
     I put it to the Palestinian ambassador in London, Professor Manuel Hassassian, that such a blunder by Israel was a gift to any alert Public Relations/Public Affairs team. Why didn’t the Palestinian Authority seize it?
     Hassassian denied the Palestinians asked to meet with the Jewish community.
     It seems odd that Ashrawi, a shrewd, well respected politician and close colleague of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, could have got it wrong. Or indeed the normally reliable Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which reported that Hassassian himself, together with British diplomats, had pushed for Jewish leaders to meet with Abbas.
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Hamas on the move, seeks Palestinian ascendancy
Khalid Mashaal, Ma’an News Agency 2/1/2012
      GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Political winds from the Arab Spring are filling the sails of the Hamas, as it seeks a course out of international isolation to the forefront of the Palestinian national movement.
     Hamas' ties to Syria and Iran are changing.
     This week, the two top men in the 25-year-old organization dedicated to crushing Israel and establishing Palestine "from the (Jordan) river to the sea" headed off in distinctly different directions for high-level talks, and they began to look intriguingly like rivals.
     Hamas leader in exile Khalid Mashaal, long based in Syria, went to Jordan to see Western-backed King Abdullah, whose father made peace with Israel in 1994. Mashaal may move his headquarters there or to the Gulf emirate of Qatar, which brokered his first visit since Jordan expelled Hamas in 1999.
     From the Gaza Strip where he serves as Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh set off for talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Israel's sworn enemy.
     Iran is displeased with Hamas over its failure to support Tehran's main Arab ally Syria in its crisis. A diplomatic source says Iran has provided no funds to Hamas since August.
     Hamas operates behind a smokescreen of rhetoric. The workings of its collective leadership are notoriously hard to read. Spokesmen deny any internal power struggle or divisions.
     But analysts believe Mashaal has decided to end his close association with a Syria now in crisis, to pursue reconciliation with the pro-peace Fatah movement of President Mahmoud Abbas, and to soften his anti-peace stance.
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A Peaceful Blitzkreig and Israeli Counterattacks
Eric Walberg, CounterPunch 2/1/2012
      The BDS Movement
     The Third Annual BDS Conference opened 17 December at Hebron’s Children’s Happiness Centre, “to expand Palestinian civil society’s active implementation of BDS that is deeply rooted in the Palestinian struggle.” European BNC coordinator Michael Deas affirmed, “BDS is now the main framework for solidarity. We are very close to closing the European market to Israel.”
     A boycott bombshell in January was dropped by an 11th-grade American Jewish teenager, Jesse Lieberfeld, who won Dietrich College’s 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr Writing Award for his essay about his moral awakening when he realised his American Jewish culture was unavoidably identified with supporting Israel.
     “I once belonged to a wonderful religion,” says young Jesse. “I routinely heard about unexplained mass killings, attacks on medical bases, and other alarmingly violent actions for which I could see no possible reason. ‘Genocide’ almost seemed the more appropriate term… Whenever I brought up the subject, I was always given the answer that there were faults on both sides… I felt horrified at the realisation that I was by nature on the side of the oppressors. I was grouped with the racial supremacists.” Finally, at the synagogue, he asked, “I want to support Israel. But how can I when it lets its army commit so many killings?” and was told by the rabbi, “It is a terrible thing, isn’t it? But there’s nothing we can do. It’s just a fact of life.” “I thanked him and walked out shortly afterward. I never went back.” When American youth like Jesse are forced to give up being Jewish because of Israeli crimes, it cannot be long before Israel crumbles under the weight of its accumulated crimes.
     2011 witnessed the rise of Internet attacks on Israeli government sites by public-spirited BDSers determined to enforce a kind of “cyber boycott”.....
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New documentary presents shallow view of Arafat
Electronic Intifada: 1 Feb 2012 - Sarah Irving 1 February 2012 A new documentary on Yasser Arafat accesses big-name Palestinian figures but wastes an opportunity to provide an in-depth look at the late leader.more

Drones over Iraq: When is a Pullout not a Pullout?
Palestine Chronicle: 1 Feb 2012 - By Felicity Arbuthnot '... the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.' -- President Obama, State of the Union address, 24 January 2012 First the world was sold imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq with General Colin Powell, at the United Nations in February 2003, asserting: “My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” Now it seems the world is sold a withdrawal from Iraq which was not quite what it seemed as presented by the Panetta-Obama-fest in the Baghdad, Fort Bragg speeches of just six weeks ago. At Fort Bragg: “The war in Iraq will soon belong to history …” said the President. Well, not quite. In an interesting sleight of hand, the State Department, rather than the Pentagon, is operating a fleet of surveillance...more

Palestinians Need High Calibre Leaders – Urgently
Palestine Chronicle: 1 Feb 2012 - By Stuart Littlewood Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in London recently. Did anyone know? Did western media care? No. Not until reports appeared that Jewish community leaders cancelled a meeting with him after intervention by Israeli PM Netanyahu's office and Israel’s embassy in London, and Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi condemned the move as "seeking to suppress and manipulate Jewish public opinion”. It was also typical of Netanyahu’s "persistent efforts" to prevent dialogue, she said, according to Ma'an News. Even then, western media were much interested. I put it to the Palestinian ambassador in London, Prof Manuel Hassassian, that such a blunder by Israel was a gift to any alert PR/Public Affairs team. Why didn’t the Palestinian Authority seize it? Hassassian denied the Palestinians asked to meet with the Jewish community. It seems odd that Ashrawi, a shrewd, well respected politician and close colleague of prime minister Salam Fayyad, could have...more

BDS Update: Peaceful Blitzkreig and Israeli Counter Attacks
Dissident Voice: 1 Feb 2012 - The Third Annual BDS Conference opened 17 December at Hebron’s Children’s Happiness Centre, “to expand Palestinian civil society’s active implementation of BDS that is deeply rooted in the Palestinian struggle.” European BNC coordinator Michael Deas affirmed, “BDS is now the main framework for solidarity. We are very close to closing the European market to Israel.” A boycott bombshell in January was dropped by an 11th-grade American Jewish teenager, Jesse Lieberfeld, who won Dietrich College’s 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr Writing Award for his essay about his moral awakening when he realised his American Jewish culture was unavoidably identified with supporting Israel. I once belonged to a wonderful religion,” says young Jesse. “I routinely heard about unexplained mass killings, attacks on medical bases, and other alarmingly violent actions for which I could see no possible reason. ‘Genocide’ almost seemed the more appropriate term… Whenever I brought up the subject, I was...more

The BBC Censors its own Report on Tunisia’s Jews Saying “No” to Israel
Dissident Voice: 1 Feb 2012 -   There was a moment in a report from Tunisia by the BBC’s Wyre Davies when I could not stop myself laughing. I was listening to it on the Corporation’s generally excellent World Service radio. (In my view this particular BBC service is generally excellent because unlike all other BBC news and current affairs outlets, radio and tv, it often reflects some of the truth about what is happening in and over Palestine that became Israel). Davies was in Tunisia to find out how its remaining 2,000 Jews (down from 300,000 once upon a time) were responding to a call from an Israeli government minister for them to move to Israel. The case the minister made was, apparently, that their security and well being were no longer guaranteed in an Arab country with an Islamist government in place of what Davies called a “sectarian dictatorship”. In other words, Tunisia’s Jews...more


Thursday, February 2, 2012Top of page
America’s pastime game: Bashing Palestinians
Daoud Kuttab, Ma’an News Agency 2/2/2012
      Apologists for Israel’s continued occupation and control over Palestinian lives have long contended that Israel is more interested in peace than the Palestinians. One exaggerated argument, repeatedly put forward to justify military rule, is that Palestinians teach their children to hate Jews.
     Politicians in the US, especially during election campaigns, find that bashing Palestinians has no downside and, moreover, yields a vote (and donation) jackpot.
     Palestinian textbooks are scrutinized for any hostile reference to Israel — or praise of Palestinian nationalism — and every frame broadcast on Palestinian television stations is analyzed by experts to see if it contains any incitement to violence.
     Palestinian-Israeli committees spent hours researching these issues and concluded that there is no textbook glorification of violence or hate. European and bipartisan American committees reached similar conclusions.
     But anti-Palestinian attacks never stopped. All the efforts to respond scientifically and comprehensively to the unsubstantiated attacks failed to change the narrative that anti-Palestinian forces, especially in the United States, were keen on perpetuating.
     Self-declared professor and historian Newt Gingrich led the charge by negating Palestinian existence. Speaking on a Jewish online television station, Gingrich contradicted what the Israeli government did in 1993, when it recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. By cherry picking historical evidence to back his convoluted argument, Gingrich claimed that Palestinians are an “invented” people.
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Palestinian on 48th day of hunger strike chained to hospital bed
+972 Magazine 2/2/2012
      Khader Adnan is on the 48th day of his hunger strike, protesting his administrative detention. He is chained to a bed in a Bnei Brak hospital, and it’s unknown whether his family will be permitted to visit him
     Khader Adnan, aged 34 of ‘Araba near Jenin, is on the 48th day of his hunger strike, and is held chained to a bed in the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak. So reports Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I). Adnan is protesting his administrative detention.
     Adnan was detained on December 17, 2011, and went on a hunger strike the following day. He refuses to consume anything but water. Despite his deteriorating situation – PHR-I says a person is in severe danger after the 45th day of a hunger strike – a military judge declined yesterday to review Adnan’s detention order and postponed the hearing for the second time. Adnan arrived at the hearing in a wheelchair.
     PHR-I denounced the fact that Mayanei Hayeshua allows Adnan to be hospitalized in chains, noting that in doing so the hospital is in violation of medical ethics, as well as the instructions of the Israeli Health Ministry and Israeli physicians organizations. PHR-I asked that Adnan’s chains be removed, and its president, Dr. Ruhama Marton, said that “the chaining of a prisoner to bed is intended solely for the purpose of humiliating him and causing him physical and mental hardship. The security argument is invalid in this case… The chaining of a patient to a bed is contrary to international law. Administrative detainee Khader Adnan is trying to defend his rights and his human dignity in the only way left to him, which is a hunger strike.”
     In a conversation with Anat Litwin, the PHR-I official dealing with detainees and prisoners, she noted that the organization has also asked for permission for Adnan’s family to visit him....
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The Iran Crisis and Israeli Nukes
Barry Lando, CounterPunch 2/2/2012
      Only Half of the Story
     Yesterday upon the stair
     I met a man who wasn’t there
     He wasn’t there again today
     Oh, how I wish he’d go away
     – William Hughes Mearns, 1899
     One of the most uncommented on ironies today is that Israel is threatening military action to prevent Iran from continuing the same clandestine route to nuclear weapons that Israel took; just as Israeli planes destroyed nuclear reactors in Syria and Iraq to prevent those countries from following Israel’s lead.
     A parallel irony: President Obama champions an economic embargo to force Iran to back off its nuclear program. Yet, for more than half a century one American president after another declined to sound any alarums over Israel’s secret drive for nukes. Indeed, U.S. leaders refused to even officially acknowledge the foreboding intelligence about Israel’s intentions that American analysts were providing. That flimflam continues to this day.
     [Perhaps the most incisive chronicle of this official deception is “The Samson Option,” written in 1991 by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Most of the following is drawn from that book.]
     The charade began in the early 1950’s during the Eisenhower administration. Worried about Israel’s survival in the face of massive Arab opposition, and unable to get assurances from Eisenhower that the new Zionist state would be protected by America’s nuclear umbrella, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion set out clandestinely to provide Israel with its own nuclear weapons.
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Why is the BBC so afraid of the word "Palestine"?
Electronic Intifada: 2 Feb 2012 - Amena Saleem 2 February 2012 This week, the BBC issued its final ruling on a controversy which has been raging for nearly a year after the words “Free Palestine” were censored from a freestyle rap played on Radio 1Xtra.more

Anti-Semitism and Israel's Inherent Contradictions
Palestine Chronicle: 2 Feb 2012 - By Ramzy Baroud In a recent article, columnist Yaniv Halili described British author Ben White as 'anti-Semitic'. He also denounced Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi for writing a forward to White's latest book, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy. Those of us who can see through such distorted thinking know that White is a principled writer who has never displayed a shred of racism in his work. Zoabi is very well-known civil rights leader with a long-standing reputation of courage and poise. How could anti-racist endeavors themselves become the subject of accusation by Halili and others like him? It goes without saying there should be no room for any racist discourse - Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, or any other - in the Palestine solidarity movement, which aims at achieving long-denied justice and rights for the Palestinian people. A racist discourse is predicated on racial supremacy, which is exactly what Palestinians are...more

Canada's 'Honor Killings': Where Is the Sense of Honor?
Palestine Chronicle: 2 Feb 2012 - By Eric Walberg – Cairo Afghan immigrants Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Mahommad Yahya and their 21-year-old son Hamed were found guilty in a Canadian court Sunday of first degree murder in the 2009 'honor killing' deaths of four female family members, and sentenced to life imprisonment. These were not poor, uneducated people, but upstanding members of Canada's economic elite. The enterprising Mohammad escaped to Pakistan as 'free Afghanistan' descended into civil war in 1992, before emigrating to Australia and Dubai, where he made his fortune in Doha’s hot real estate scene, finally settling in Canada in 2007. Judge Robert Maranger called the crimes “heinous”: “The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor. It’s a sick notion of honour that has no place in a civilised society.” Mohammad Shafia replied: “We are not criminals. We...more

Anti-Semitism and Israel’s Inherent Contradictions
Dissident Voice: 2 Feb 2012 - In a recent article, columnist Yaniv Halili described British author Ben White as ‘anti-Semitic’. He also denounced Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi for writing a forward to White’s latest book, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy . Those of us who can see through such distorted thinking know that White is a principled writer who has never displayed a shred of racism in his work. Zoabi is very well-known civil rights leader with a long-standing reputation of courage and poise. How could anti-racist endeavors themselves become the subject of accusation by Halili and others like him? It goes without saying there should be no room for any racist discourse – Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, or any other – in the Palestine solidarity movement, which aims at achieving long-denied justice and rights for the Palestinian people. A racist discourse is predicated on racial supremacy, which is exactly what Palestinians are resisting in Israel...more

Dempsey Told Israelis U.S. Won’t Join Their War on Iran
Dissident Voice: 2 Feb 2012 - IPS — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Israeli leaders January 20 that the United States would not participate in a war against Iran begun by Israel without prior agreement from Washington, according to accounts from well-placed senior military officers . Dempsey’s warning, conveyed to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, represents the strongest move yet by President Barack Obama to deter an Israeli attack and ensure that the United States is not caught up in a regional conflagration with Iran. But the Israeli government remains defiant about maintaining its freedom of action to make war on Iran, and it is counting on the influence of right-wing extremist views in U.S. politics to bring pressure to bear on Obama to fall into line with a possible Israeli attack during the election campaign this fall. Obama still appears reluctant to break publicly and...more


Friday, February 3, 2012Top of page
Anti-Semitism and Israel’s inherent contradictions
Ramzy Baroud, Ma’an News Agency 2/3/2012
      In a recent article, columnist Yaniv Halili described British author Ben White as 'anti-Semitic'. He also denounced Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi for writing a forward to White's latest book, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy.
     Those of us who can see through such distorted thinking know that White is a principled writer who has never displayed a shred of racism in his work. Zoabi is very well-known civil rights leader with a long-standing reputation of courage and poise.
     How could anti-racist endeavors themselves become the subject of accusation by Halili and others like him?
     It goes without saying there should be no room for any racist discourse -- Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, or any other -- in the Palestine solidarity movement, which aims at achieving long-denied justice and rights for the Palestinian people.
     A racist discourse is predicated on racial supremacy, which is exactly what Palestinians are resisting in Israel and the occupied territories.
     But the "Jewish and democratic state" of Israel is riddled with so many contradictions, the kind that no straightforward narrative can possibly capture.
     Many scholars and rights groups have discussed the way in which irreconcilable values defined the very character of Israel from the onset.
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Who says Palestinian resistance is dead?
Nour Joudah, Electronic Intifada 2/3/2012
      For decades, Palestine was the focus of nearly every protest in the Arab world. It was the acceptable outlet of frustration for almost every regime in the region, the bone they would throw their frustrated masses. But it was also the vehicle for mobilization and a training ground for political organizing that became useful for activists later on.
     To be clear, none of this is to say that much of the emotion and solidarity was not genuine; most often, it was very much so. However, protests for Palestine or against Israel were also instances of populations of Arab countries projecting their own dissatisfaction in a politically “safe” way in light of the repressive nature of the regimes under which they lived.
     Recently, while trading stories with a Syrian friend about protests, she recalled that her first protest as a child had been one for Palestine — in fact most of the protests she had participated in or witnessed growing up as an Arab living in the West were about Palestine. I nodded and smiled, not at all surprised. The reality is that Palestine, for better or worse, was the issue that most Arabs — both living in the Arab world or in their respective diaspora communities — spent a majority of their lives protesting. Adding to the spark
     Today in the region, a new culture and spirit of protest is thriving — and it is not one cloaked in one issue projecting onto another. It’s direct, it’s forceful, and it’s brave. These uprisings have been as much, if not more, about people exerting ownership over their own lives and communities as it has been about toppling dictators. It is a myth, and quite frankly disrespectful, to the hundreds and thousands of dissenting leaders and youth who helped build the foundation to these uprisings to discuss them as if they were born out of thin air.
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NYT Hypes Israeli Attack on Iran
Ira Chernus, Common Dreams 1/30/2012
      It’s an impressive piece of art: the cover of this week’s New York Times Magazine. “ISRAEL VS. IRAN,” spelled out in charred black lettering, with flame and smoke still rising from “IRAN,” as if the great war were already over. Below those large lurid letters is the little subtitle: “When Will It Erupt?” -- not “if,” but “when,” as if it were inevitable. Though the article itself is titled “Will Israel Attack Iran?”, author Ronen Bergman, military analyst for Israel’s largest newspaper, leaves no doubt of his answer: “Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012.”
     Bergman does cite some compelling arguments against an Israeli strike from former heads of Mossad (Israel’s CIA). And he makes it clear that no attack can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons if it wants them. Everyone agrees on that. The argument is only about whether an attack would delay the Iranian program by a few years or just a few months.
     Nevertheless, his article stacks the deck in favor of supposedly persuasive reasons for Israel to act. It’s almost a hymn of praise to what one Jewish Israeli scholar has called Iranophobia, an irrational fear promoted by the Jewish state because "Israel needs an existential threat." Why? To sustain the myth that shapes its national identity: the myth of Israel’s insecurity.
     That myth comes out clearly in Bergman’s conclusion: Israel will attack Iran because of a “peculiar Israeli mixture of fear -- rooted in the sense that Israel is dependent on the tacit support of other nations to survive -- and tenacity, the fierce conviction, right or wrong, that only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves.
     Fear of what? Defend against whom? It doesn’t really matter. Israeli political life has always been built on the premise that Israel’s very existence is threatened by some new Hitler bent on destroying the Jewish people. How can Israel prove that Jews can defend themselves if there’s no anti-semitic “evildoer” to fight against?
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"We will rebuild": Hebron family resists unrelenting settler violence
Electronic Intifada: 2 Feb 2012 - Emily Lawrence Hebron 3 February 2012 Despite chronic attacks on their homes and property by settlers, while Israeli forces continue to confiscate more and more land to serve the nearby settlement, the Jaber family hold fast to both their heritage and their future.more

Who says Palestinian resistance is dead?
Electronic Intifada: 3 Feb 2012 - Nour Joudah 3 February 2012 The Arab uprisings are serving Palestinian youth in much the same way solidarity with Palestinian intifadas historically served activists in other Arab countries.more

Yeshayahu Leibowitz: Reluctant Prophet
Palestine Chronicle: 3 Feb 2012 - By Uri Avnery (On Monday, I was honored to receive the Leibowitz Prize for 'life's work', the prize established by the Yesh Gvul soldiers' peace organization. I was unable to prepare a speech, so I spoke off the cuff and have to reconstruct my remarks from memory .) First, I wish to thank Yesh Gvul for establishing this prize. Then I would like to thank the distinguished jury, who were so gracious as to award the prize to me and to Hagit Ofran, the granddaughter of Prof. Leibowitz, whose work in monitoring the settlements I have admired for years. And then I want to thank all of you for coming to this ceremony. Yet at this moment I think of the one who is not here, and whose absence is so unjust: my wife, Rachel. She was a full partner in all I did during the last 58 years, and should...more

Oil Ahoy: Malvinas in Britain's Imperialist Claws
Palestine Chronicle: 3 Feb 2012 - By Ismail Salami The simmering tensions over the Malvinas Islands or Falkland Islands (off the coast of Argentina in the South Atlantic) have become a matter of great concern as the UK decided to deploy destroyer HMS Dauntless to the islands. The British Royal Navy is planning to send the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless, a state-of-the-art warship, to the region on her maiden mission in a few months, a move interpreted by some experts as a provocation of war. Also known as the Daring class, HMS Dauntless is often regarded the most powerful air-defense warship in the world. This warship is equipped with the SAMPSON Multi Function Radar with the capability to detect hundreds of targets out to a distance of 400 km as well as outer atmosphere objects such as ballistic missiles. Argentine Vice-president Amado Boudou sees the escalating conflict as an excuse to “distract public opinion from...more

Israel Lobby on Campus in Illinois: A Challenge for BDS
Palestine Chronicle: 3 Feb 2012 - By David Green I only recently learned of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's trip to Israel this past summer (2011) for a 'week-long educational mission where he sealed two important agreements and received briefings from high-ranking Israeli officials, academic experts and business leaders on topics ranging from high-tech development (read Motorola), energy, water conservation and environmentalism (sic) to disaster preparedness, Iran, and U.S.-Israel relations.' This is reported on the website of Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. The reader is expected, of course, to find the high-minded and triumphant tone of this article to be unproblematic. The article states: “The Governor’s educational visit was part of a JUF initiative that, for the past two decades, has brought influential leaders to Israel.” Quinn signed a “formal agreement on academic cooperation between Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to establish a wide-ranging...more


Saturday, February 4, 2012Top of page
International Strategy for Palestinian Prisoners Needed
Joe Catron, Al Akhbar English 2/2/2012
      "Any movement that does not support its political internees is a sham movement.” – US political prisoner Ojore Lutalo
     Political prisoners, their families, and their concerns and causes enjoy massive support in Palestinian society. Palestinians who may have never joined a boycott campaign or acted to break the siege of Gaza routinely demonstrate for the rights of detainees and contribute to support their families. Among political factions, the liberation of all prisoners is a clear point of consensus. Competing parties demand and celebrate the return of each others’ imprisoned members as a matter of course.
     Political Prisoner Ameer Makhoul argues that the PLO’s official position on prisoners is, “a recipe for delaying and deferring the liberation of the prisoners indefinitely.”
     In addition, he says that, “marginalizing the issue within the overall Palestinian agenda” fails to reflect this overwhelming sentiment.
     Unfortunately, the same can be said of the global movement in solidarity with Palestinians and their struggle. Too often, it has treated a concern at the forefront of the Palestinian movement as an inconsequential afterthought, when it has mentioned it all.
     Huge mobilizations by detainees, like the October hunger strike that, at its peak, included 3,000 people (and galvanized Palestinian society in support), received only a minimal amount of responses from overseas. Also, the daily struggles of individual prisoners, like the current hunger strike of administrative detainee Khader Adnan, barely elicit any notice.
     Why does this matter? Aside from a basic principle of solidarity – backing the priorities of the people we support – these prisoners remind us, and the world, of “the Palestinians’ right, and duty, to resist occupation, colonization and displacement employing all means of struggle,” in Makhoul’s words.
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What would you do?
Elyte Baykun, Ma’an News Agency 2/4/2012
      Israel is blaming the Palestinians for putting "preconditions" on peace talks by insisting on a settlement freeze before returning to direct negotiations. They say that Palestinians have negotiated for the past twenty years without this condition, so why demand it now?
     But the PLO says that is precisely the point. They have been negotiating in good faith with the Israelis for the past 20 years without first insisting on a settlement freeze and look where it has gotten them.
     Despite that settlements have always been considered illegal under international law, and despite that Israel explicitly promised not to "take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations," when it signed the Oslo Declaration in 1993, Israeli settlement building not only continued over the next two decades - it dramatically increased.
     Since negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians began in 1991, Israeli settlement in the occupied territories has more than doubled, from 243,000 to almost 600,000 including the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.
     Now, the Palestinians are saying enough; until Israel implements a full settlement freeze, they will no longer participate in the charade of negotiations that does nothing but provide cover and buy time for Israel to create more facts on the ground.
     Is this such an unreasonable demand? Think about it; imagine you live in a house next door to the Smith family, with whom you have a long-standing dispute. One of the issues is that the Smiths are building an addition on their house that is encroaching on your backyard.
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Celebrity-cum-politician Yair Lapid poised to prolong Mideast conflict
Dahlia Scheindlin, +972 Magazine 2/3/2012
      Yair Lapid, the celebrity-cum-politician du jour, has generated a sort of nervous excitement within the center-left that Lapid will somehow be the key to returning a center-left coalition to power, as if that coalition is the magical key to conflict transformation.
     But Lapid doesn’t seem to offer anything by way of a breakthrough. Haaretz reported earlier this week that in a Facebook exchange, Lapid wrote that “Jerusalem belongs to the people of Israel and not to anyone else.” In an interview in the Jewish Chronicle, Lapid expressed attitudes of a grim, Sharon-esque variety, saying:
     "I think both big ideologies ruling the Israeli arena were proved wrong in the past decade or so. The Israeli right has realised that we cannot rule three-and-a-half million Palestinians for ever. The left has realised that this daydream of two nations living together… actually, it goes even deeper than that.
     "They’ve realised that this idea that all men have been created the same and that all they want is peace, love and to be able to support their families, is just bogus."
     I waited for him to say: “It’s bogus, because the truth is that all WOMEN and men have been created the same.” Instead, he recites the maddeningly repeated, shallow, and frankly racist Israeli mantra that:
     "Because people have different needs and wants, and for the Palestinians, their desire to have their own version of nationalism is stronger than peace and love and let’s all hold hands and be friends.
     "My thinking is that the conclusion of the collapse of these two ideologies, is that it is not for peace we should aspire, but for a solid agreement which would help us separate as efficiently as possible."
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antiquties down a dusty lane
In Gaza: 4 Feb 2012 - Two years ago I wrote about Gaza’s antiquities , many of which were destroyed in the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza. But until a few months ago, I hadn’t had the privilege of seeing one of them.  Unexpectedly one day, while interviewing the Ministry of Agriculture on their many projects, I was taken by Tel Umm Amer,  an archaeological site preserving fantastic mosaics and the monastery of St. Hilarion (which I wrote about here , thanks to Abeer Jamal’s information): Few outside of Gaza would consider its history much beyond the decades of Israeli occupation. But Gaza is a historical treasure house. Many of those treasures are now in Israeli museums, and those that remain are becoming difficult to preserve due to the Israeli siege. Gaza, set along the historical silk road and on the bridge between Africa and Asia, was host to civilisations, including the Pharaohs, Canaanites, Philistines, Crusaders, Mamluks, Romans...more

Haditha: Another Small Massacre – No One Guilty
Palestine Chronicle: 4 Feb 2012 - By Felicity Arbuthnot 'We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected round the world.' (President Barack Obama, State of the Union address, 24th January 2012.) On the 24th January, the day President Obama delivered his last State of the Union speech to Congress before the election, citing the: “selflessness and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces (their) focus on the mission at hand”, the “selfless” Staff Sgt., Frank Wuterich, leader of the massacre at Haditha, in Iraq, became the seventh soldier to walk free - from the mass murder of twenty four unarmed men, women and children, in three homes and a taxi. It was another chilling, ruthless, cold blooded, up to five hour rampage, revenge for the death a colleague, in a roadside bomb - which had nothing to do with the rural families that paid the price. The youngest...more

Sonoma County Daily Attacks Occupy Movement
Dissident Voice: 4 Feb 2012 - The Sonoma County daily’s Press Democrat February 1 editorial “Occupy Movement in Ashes” is wishful thinking. Our phoenix will rise during this month. You wait. You watch. You see. Occupy is still an infant, having been born in New York September 17 with Occupy Wall Street. It is not even five months old and already the local daily tries to editorialize it into ashes. Rumors of our death are premature. We have made mistakes, including in Oakland. We’re learning and experiencing what one activist calls “growing pains.” Provoked by police violence in Oakland, a few cornered occupiers among the 2000 present reacted. That has not happened here. The Sonoma County Occupy Town Hall Affinity Group,of which I am a member, opposes violence, as do the overwhelming majority of Occupy groups and individuals. I do, however, respect the right of self-defense by those cornered by the police. As Martin Luther King,...more

Sacrificing the Truth: The Media and Iran
Dissident Voice: 3 Feb 2012 - The isolationist Senator Hiram Johnson once remarked, “The first casualty when war comes is the truth.”  And so, as the West’s “covert war” (or campaign of terror ) against Iran continues, drawing military confrontation ever-closer in the process, we find the truth repeatedly sacrificed upon the alter of militarist propaganda. In fact, indifferent to the substantial evidence to the contrary, the corporate media continues to insist that a fictitious Iranian nuclear weapons program is a fact firmly established by both Israel and the Untied States. As the New York Times writes ( 1/26/12 ): The uranium enrichment program in Iran has become the most urgent point of contention between Iran and the West, which has long suspected the Iranians are working to build a nuclear weapon despite their repeated denials. CNN, meanwhile, reports ( 1/23/12 ): Iran says its nuclear program is not military, but the United States and many of its allies suspect Iran...more

Will Canada’s Social-Democratic Party be able to Prevent a Leadership Coup?
Dissident Voice: 3 Feb 2012 - On  March 24, Canada’s New Democratic Party will do more than elect a new leader; it will face a test of character. As it stands, the NDP is the only major national party not led by an avowed zionist. Stephen Harper leads a cabal of governing “Likudniks,” who value subservience to Israel above all else, and the interim leader of the “Labour-Zionist” Liberals Bob Rae, is on the board of the Jewish National Fund, an organization so criminal that it has been condemned in Israel as racist. The NDP, therefore, is the only apparently Canadian governing choice that voters have, but even this modest fig leaf will be blown away if the blatant Israel-firster Thomas Mulcair becomes party leader. On May 1, 2008, he told Canadian Jewish News :  “I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances.” [my emphasis] Does Mulcair mean to say...more


Sunday, February 5, 2012Top of page
Israel: End Restrictions on Palestinian Residency
Human Rights Watch 2/5/2012
      Military Control Over Population Registry Splits Families
     (Jerusalem) – Israeli policies on Palestinian residency have arbitrarily denied thousands of Palestinians the ability to live in, and travel to and from, the West Bank and Gaza, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Israel should immediately stop denying or cancelling the residency of Palestinians and close family members with deep ties to the West Bank and Gaza, and end blanket bans on processing their applications for residency.
     The 90-page report, “Forget about Him, He’s Not Here,” describes the arbitrary exclusion by the Israeli military of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians since 1967 and documents the impact that exclusion continues to have on individuals and families. The way Israel’s military has exercised its control over the Palestinian population registry – the list of Palestinians whom it considers to be lawful residents of the West Bank and Gaza territories – has separated families, caused people to lose jobs and educational opportunities, barred people from entering the Palestinian territories, and trapped others inside them, Human Rights Watch said. Egypt also has problematic policies on Palestinians trying to enter Gaza that are based on the Israeli-controlled population registry.
     “Israel has never put forth any concrete security rationale for blanket policies that have made life a nightmare for Palestinians whom it considers unlawful residents in their own homes,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The current policies leave families divided and people trapped on the wrong side of the border in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel should revise these policies and process requests for families to reunite, so that Palestinians can live with their families where they want.”
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Iran raid likely to drag in U.S., hurt global economy
William Maclean, Al Arabiya 2/5/2012
      U.S. newspaper The Washington Post reported last week that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believed Israel was likely to bomb Iran within months to stop it building a nuclear bomb.
     Reuters MUNICH - An Israeli raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities would deliver a painful shock to the global economy, revive flagging Islamist militancy and possibly drag the United States into a regional war whether it backed its ally’s attack or not.
     As if that prospect was not alarming enough, any doubts Tehran entertained about the wisdom of building a nuclear weapon would vanish the moment the strike occurred.
     These longstanding U.S. and European assumptions about the consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran are being re-examined with greater urgency in Western capitals after repeated warnings by Israel that the chance of a peaceful resolution may be closing.
     There is concern that Israel may attack in coming months to disrupt the transfer of parts of Iran’s nuclear development work to an underground site south of Tehran that may be invulnerable to conventional bombing.
     Western experts want Israel to think long and hard before embarking on a raid many suspect would spark a broader conflict.
     “Whoever attacks Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is really making the decision to go to war with Iran,” Richard Burt, a former chief U.S. negotiator at strategic arms reduction talks, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
     “We are talking about a range of great uncertainties, all of them basically negative, so this is one reason why consistently the joint chiefs of staff of the uniformed military in the U.S. do not like the idea of attacking Iran.”
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The ’new anti-Zionism’
Tariq Shadid, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/2/2012
      It is vital to clarify that anti-Zionism remains at the heart of the struggle for peace in the Middle East and inspires all meaningful activism.
     The essence of the Palestinian struggle is the battle against Zionism. It is a battle against its racism, against its murderous war crimes, against its insatiable territorial hunger, against its disdain for non-Jewish human rights, and against its devoted attempts to destroy Palestinian national identity. As voices of normalisation are on the rise, and social media is invaded by paid pro-Zionist bloggers, there is an increased need for anti-Zionists to draw attention to the crimes committed by Israel, and to speak up against the ongoing media silence and the activities of those misleadingly portraying themselves as peace doves. Let us first look briefly at the history of the anti-Zionist struggle, and then see where we stand today.
     Years before the creation of the state of Israel, there was already a full-blown battle going on against Zionism. On one side, the Palestinians were resisting against the usurpation of their land, having grown aware of the far- stretching implications of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which laid the foundation for the mass-immigration of European Jews into Palestine. In those same decades, there was also an ongoing struggle within the Jewish communities in Europe, where many were opposed to the tenets of Zionism either on a religious basis, or on the realisation that colonising an inhabited land would inevitably cause an injustice that would continue to reverberate for many years to come. A famous example of this in that period of time was the famous genius Albert Einstein, who in 1938 already expressed his opposition to the creation of a Jewish state. In a 1948 letter to the New York Times he wrote and a number of prominent Jews strongly denounced the horrendous Deir Yassin massacre.
     The ongoing struggle of the Palestinians against Zionism and the continuing expropriation of their land is well-known, but not everyone is aware that within Jewish ranks, true ideological opposition against Zionism still exists....
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Who says Palestinian resistance is dead?
Electronic Intifada: 3 Feb 2012 - Nour Joudah 3 February 2012 The Arab uprisings are serving Palestinian youth in much the same way solidarity with Palestinian intifadas historically served activists in other Arab countries.more

antiquties down a dusty lane
In Gaza: 4 Feb 2012 - Two years ago I wrote about Gaza’s antiquities , many of which were destroyed in the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza. But until a few months ago, I hadn’t had the privilege of seeing one of them.  Unexpectedly one day, while interviewing the Ministry of Agriculture on their many projects, I was taken by Tel Umm Amer,  an archaeological site preserving fantastic mosaics and the monastery of St. Hilarion (which I wrote about here , thanks to Abeer Jamal’s information): Few outside of Gaza would consider its history much beyond the decades of Israeli occupation. But Gaza is a historical treasure house. Many of those treasures are now in Israeli museums, and those that remain are becoming difficult to preserve due to the Israeli siege. Gaza, set along the historical silk road and on the bridge between Africa and Asia, was host to civilisations, including the Pharaohs, Canaanites, Philistines, Crusaders, Mamluks, Romans...more

We've Moved!
Palestine Monitor: 26 May 2011 - Visit our new website at www.palestinemonitor.org - In pictures / photostorymore

U.S. Leak on Israeli Attack Weakened a Warning to Netanyahu
Dissident Voice: 5 Feb 2012 - IPS – When Defence Secretary Leon Panetta told Washington Post columnist David Ignatius this week that he believes Israel was likely to attack Iran between April and June, it was ostensibly yet another expression of alarm at the Israeli government’s threats of military action. But even though the administration is undoubtedly concerned about that Israeli threat, the Panetta leak had a different objective. The White House was taking advantage of the current crisis atmosphere over that Israeli threat and even seeking to make it more urgent in order to put pressure on Iran to make diplomatic concessions to the United States and its allies on its nuclear programme in the coming months. The real aim of the leak brings into sharper focus a contradiction in the Barack Obama administration’s Iran policy between its effort to reduce the likelihood of being drawn into a war with Iran and its desire to...more

Sonoma County Daily Attacks Occupy Movement
Dissident Voice: 4 Feb 2012 - The Sonoma County daily’s Press Democrat February 1 editorial “Occupy Movement in Ashes” is wishful thinking. Our phoenix will rise during this month. You wait. You watch. You see. Occupy is still an infant, having been born in New York September 17 with Occupy Wall Street. It is not even five months old and already the local daily tries to editorialize it into ashes. Rumors of our death are premature. We have made mistakes, including in Oakland. We’re learning and experiencing what one activist calls “growing pains.” Provoked by police violence in Oakland, a few cornered occupiers among the 2000 present reacted. That has not happened here. The Sonoma County Occupy Town Hall Affinity Group,of which I am a member, opposes violence, as do the overwhelming majority of Occupy groups and individuals. I do, however, respect the right of self-defense by those cornered by the police. As Martin Luther King,...more


Monday, February 6, 2012Top of page
Illegal, underground: Palestine’s electricity ’threat’
Charlotte Alfred, Ma’an News Agency 2/6/2012
      MASAFER YATTA (Ma'an) -- There is an underground bunker in the South Hebron Hills, camouflaged by bracken and heavy sacks, where a tiny Palestinian village is sheltering a secret.
     Building quietly at night and securing backing from foreign governments, experts are working to share this secret with communities across the area.
     The illicit activity? Renewable energy.
     Hundreds of Palestinians living in these rolling hills, known locally as Masafer Yatta, cannot connect to a electricity grid. Now, a green power revolution is under threat by a spate of demolition warnings.
     Masafer Yatta lies almost entirely in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israel civil and security jurisdiction since the 1993 Oslo Accords.
     On Tuesday, Israeli forces delivered stop work orders -- the first step towards demolition -- to wind and solar power systems in four villages in Masafer Yatta.
     These threats follow several months of demolitions and official warnings targeting villagers’ efforts to power their communities.
     Since mid-June 2011, the army has demolished electricity pylons in two villages, threatened to knock down solar power systems in six others, and cut the electricity wires in another, citing a lack of legal permits.
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Disgraced ex-military interrogator threatens to reveal state secrets
Yossi Gurvitz, +972 Magazine 2/4/2012
      Israel’s most renowned torturer threatens to expose the dirty secrets of the Israeli security system, if he does not receive remuneration.
     Yediot Ahronot’s “7 Yamim”, a weekend supplement, published a long interview yesterday with “Captain George,” the nom de guerre of a disgraced army interrogator, who has become Israel’s most infamous torturer. George, who sued the government for kicking him out of the army, states clearly that his goal is blackmailing the government.
     “I kept my mouth shut and said nothing about this case [the interrogation and torture of Amal’s Mustafa Dirani – YZG], as well as many other cases in which they used the methods of coverup, obfuscation and lies,” says George to Yediot’s Ronen Bergman, “because I was waiting for someone to come up and say ‘stop, hold on, we can’t go on like this.’ If they’d come to me a few years back and told me ‘you’ve paid a heavy price, what do you want in order to close this affair quietly? What sort of compensation do you need in order to stay backstage?’ As far as I am concerned, even if they’d given me a job abroad, say in Alaska, and took care of me and my family, everything would be fine and I would shut up forever and this meeting with you would never have taken place. But none of this happened and I think we’ve been too good children.”
     In short, like many before him who carried out the security apparatus’ dirty jobs and were exposed, George thinks he was sold, thrown to the dogs, and this despite doing just what everyone else was doing or what they were ordered to do. Unlike others before him, who said they merely wanted to clear their name, George has a price tag: A job in Alaska. As he didn’t get it, he is going to break the apparatus’ omerta oath and testify in court. “If this goes to court, what I told you today is just the teaser,” he threatens, “Trust me – no one really wants me to climb up to the stand. If I have to stand there and speak of Dirani, you’ll find out I have plenty more to say about how the apparatus acts when it needs to hide all sorts of things […] and everyone is a liar, which is why the country is where it is today, no deterrence, nothing. And in the end? I’m the apparatus’ scapegoat.”
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Why Did Palestinian Refugees Come to Lebanon?
Franklin Lamb, CounterPunch 2/6/2012
      Beirut - During a workshop at the American University of Beirut last year on the subject of the right to work and to purchase a home for Palestinian refugees, a young business major from the Christian village of Bikerki posed a question that surprised some in the audience: “Why if Palestinian don’t like it in Lebanon do they not go home? Why did they even bother coming here in the first place?”
     “Caroline” was not being antagonistic. Many of the younger Lebanese population are taught in private and religious schools by the various sects using a curriculum including subjects that are heavily politicized and skewed, none more than modern Lebanese history.
     Talking with Caroline during a tea break, she explained that she feels very politically oriented, but admitted that she really doesn’t know much about Lebanese history and only vaguely why there are Palestinians in Lebanon. What she does know, she explained, came from her parents and family members and not from schools in her Christian hamlet which happens to be the seat of Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch, for whom she is a part time volunteer working with orphaned children.
     In most private and public schools in Lebanon, sensitive political subjects have long been culled from textbooks by polarized confessional watchdog committees seeking a proper education for their children. UNWRA schools are forbidden to teach Palestinian history in Lebanon or even their history in Palestine lest the US Congress cut UNWRA funding.
     This has prevented the development of a unified history curriculum. Most history lessons end in 1946, three years after Lebanon’s independence from French colonial rule. Many schools avoid teaching Lebanese history in order to prevent sectarian and political fervor.
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"Words flower from fragile bodies": the poignant poetry of Lisa Suheir Majaj
Electronic Intifada: 6 Feb 2012 - Patricia Sarrafian Ward 6 February 2012 Poet Lisa Suheir Majaj writes exquisitely of the profound personal and collective loss that defines Palestinian history in her book, Geographies of Light.more

Palestinians in Israel - Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 6 Feb 2012 - By Ludwig Watzal (Ben White, Palestinians in Israel. Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy, Pluto Press, London 2012, 128 pp., 13 Pounds.) With the signing of the Oslo Accords that led to the outbreak of the so-called peace process between Israel and the occupied Palestinian people, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) abandoned its initial political goals (to realize the right of return of Palestinian refugees and to liberate Palestine from Zionist colonization) for some privileges and turned itself into an obedient servant of the colonizers. Whereas the PLO under the leadership of Yasser Arafat tried to get back some territory from Israel to establish a Palestinian state, Palestinians living in Israel, although suffering under discrimination as second-class citizens, demand Israel to become finally “a state for all its citizens” instead of staying a “Jewish State”. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the non-Jewish inhabitants have been subject to a second-class...more

Yet another War for Israel
Palestine Chronicle: 6 Feb 2012 - By William A. Cook 'Men use thought only to justify their injustices, and speech only to conceal their thoughts.' -- Voltaire: Dialogue XIV, Le Chapon et la Poularde Voltaire's wit often illuminates truth. Consider this revealing 'thought' as expressed recently in Alert, the voice of AIPAC to its membership: “Some Americans believe if the Israelis strike Iran, the U.S. will pay the political costs anyway, so it would be better for the Americans to do the job and do it properly. Their clock is a bit different from the one the Israelis hear. Because of their vastly superior firepower, the Americans could strike Iran later, more devastatingly and more sustainably.” How just is it for AIPAC’s mouthpiece to declare that America should “devastate” Iran because it has “vastly more firepower” than Israel and could “do a better job” and “do it properly,” as though this were a clean-up “job” of...more

Lesson from Eisenhower for the IDF
Palestine Chronicle: 6 Feb 2012 - By Michael Nolan We assume that a stable, democratic republic enforces its own laws and abides by those of the international community. We assume, as well, that a soldier obeys orders, despite personal views, in a stable, democratic government. But Israel, billed by virtually all American leaders the nation’s staunchest ally, can’t or won’t abide by these defining principles. In one example, according to a recent piece in the Israeli publication, Ynet, “a soldier with the Kfir Brigade. refused orders pertaining to the razing of buildings in the illegal [by United Nations law ]West Bank outpost of Migron.” Ynet continued, "This was not the first time in which Kfir Brigade soldiers have been linked to cases involving refusing orders pertaining to settlements and outposts.” It’s not a new problem. In 2007, Time Magazine offered the opinion that, “[t]he evacuation of an entire settlement, some officers say privately, could lead to...more

False Palestinian Analogies
Palestine Chronicle: 6 Feb 2012 - By Sami Zaatari Politicians and supporters of Israel often use analogies to try and paint the Palestinians as the bad guys, the villains who are responsible for the conflict, and the party that is responsible for there being no chance of peace. We saw an example of this displayed at the Republican Primary debate held in Florida, where both Mitt Romney, and Newt Gringrich laid complete blame on the Israel-Palestine conflict right on the shoes of the Palestinians. The example used by Gringich was what if America was getting attacked by daily rocket fire? What would the reaction of most Americans be? According to Gringich, most Americans would view such an act as a declaration of war, and the whole moral of the story is that Israel is the here under constant rocket attack so therefore they are fully justified in what they are doing and that the Palestinians are...more


Tuesday, February 7, 2012Top of page
Hunger strike highlights forgotten tragedy of Palestinian prisoners
Aziz Abu Sarah, +972 Magazine 2/7/2012
      Khader Adnan’s hunger strike reached its 52nd day with little international attention. Some might think this is due to his association with the Islamic Jihad. However, the Israeli military has not presented any formal charges against him. Adnan is one Palestinian prisoner among thousands, about whom little is known.
     In Israel, many simply brush away the issue of Palestinian prisoners by declaring them all to be terrorists. However, they may be surprised to learn that Khader Adnan has not been charged in court, but rather is presently in administrative detention.
     There are some 300 Palestinians in Israeli jails under administrative arrest. This form of arrest can last for years without trial. The prisoners do not know what are they suspected of. While holding prisoners indefinitely contravenes the 4th Geneva Convention, you won’t find international leaders calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners, as they called to free Gilad Schalit from the hands of the Hamas government in Gaza.
     But even those who do end up in front of a judge find themselves in military courts where the judge, the prison guard and the prosecutor wear the same uniform. They quickly learn there is no hope for justice.
     The story of Khader Adnan, who launched his hunger strike in prison 52 days ago, is not unique. A hunger strike is one of the few tools that Palestinian prisoners can use against the injustice they face in Israel’s penal system. Last October, 2,000 Palestinians launched a hunger strike against prison conditions. Khader Adnan, however, has become the face of the Palestinian prisoners’ dignity. Posters of his likeness have become common, with statements like, “My dignity is more important than food,” or ” For every gram you lose from your weight, we gain a thousand grams in our dignity.” Khader Adnan has become a Palestinian symbol against administrative arrest and against the norm of humiliating Palestinian prisoners.
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Yet Another War for Israel?
William A. Cook, CounterPunch 2/7/2012
      Justifying Injustice
     “Men use thought only to justify their injustices, and speech only to conceal their thoughts.” - (Voltaire: Dialogue XIV, Le Chapon et la Poularde)
     Voltaire’s wit often illuminates truth. Consider this revealing “thought” as expressed recently in Alert, the voice of AIPAC to its membership: “Some Americans believe if the Israelis strike Iran, the U.S. will pay the political costs anyway, so it would be better for the Americans to do the job and do it properly. Their clock is a bit different from the one the Israelis hear. Because of their vastly superior firepower, the Americans could strike Iran later, more devastatingly and more sustainably.” How just is it for AIPAC’s mouthpiece to declare that America should “devastate” Iran because it has “vastly more firepower” than Israel and could “do a better job” and “do it properly,” as though this were a clean-up “job” of a waste dump and not an illegal invasion of a member country of the United Nations that has done nothing under international law to threaten the U.S. much less attack it, while the Israeli government and its IDF look on happily content that it is American boys and girls suffering the consequences of the unwarranted attacks and not Jewish boys and girls? Has it come to this, that unnamed Israeli spokespeople, voicing AIPAC’s policies, determine what nation the U.S. should invade without consultation with the representatives of the American people?
     Not that this sentiment has not been expressed before. Netanyahu told Piers Morgan the same thing in an interview last year, as I have quoted in previous articles, noting Israel’s Zionist government’s desire to use America’s military as their own claiming that what is good for Israel is good for America. That protestation completes the wit contained in Voltaire’s quote: because Israel is America’s only friend in the mid-east, and the only Democracy, and the only nation in that part of the world aligned with the west, it alone deserves America’s “unquestionable” and “unbreakable” support.
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AIPAC Obtained Missile Secrets
Grant Smith, Antiwar.com 2/6/2012
      Declassified State Department files newly relevant
     Author Norman F. Dacey made powerful enemies. He turned the cozy estate-planning industry upside-down after publishing How to Avoid Probate in 1965. The book sold 2 million copies as Dacey barnstormed [.pdf] the country advising Americans how to structure their estates to avoid the costs, delays, and publicity of probate by setting up trusts. Dacey engaged in fierce battles with various bar associations who tried to shut down publication of the book by claiming he was practicing law without a license. The tenacious Dacey returned fire, filing scores of libel and First Amendment lawsuits.
     Newly declassified U.S. State Department documents reveal a lesser-known but equally intense battle fought by Dacey. The chairman of the American Palestine Committee and close confidant of “Rabbi Outcast” Elmer Berger nearly succeeded in having American Israel Public Affairs (AIPAC) Director Morris Amitay prosecuted for trafficking classified national defense information in the mid-1970s.
     In 1975, the Ford administration attempted to sell improved Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Jordan and duly sent notification containing classified Department of Defense data to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee. AIPAC Director Morris Amitay reviewed the classified document after being informed of its existence “secretly by aides of Senator Clifford P. Case, Republican of New Jersey, and Representative Jonathan B. Bingham, Democrat of New York” according to the New York Times. Amitay and AIPAC quickly mounted a massive campaign in opposition to the missile sale, telling constituent public pressure groups that the weapons were capable of “providing cover for offensive operations against Israel.” After delays, Jordan considered acquiring a similar system from the Soviet Union.
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Stealing Palestine's resources is illegal, despite Israeli court ruling
Electronic Intifada: 7 Feb 2012 - Charlotte Silver Ramallah 7 February 2012 Israel’s illegal acts of resource pillaging in the occupied West Bank are “benefitting” the Palestinian population, according to the Israeli high court.more

2,600 Bedouins threatened with displacement as Israeli settlements expand
Electronic Intifada: 7 Feb 2012 - Sophie Crowe Jerusalem 7 February 2012 Twenty Bedouin communities in the Jerusalem area, in which 2,600 persons live, are facing displacement to make way for Israeli settlement expansionmore

"Words flower from fragile bodies": the poignant poetry of Lisa Suheir Majaj
Electronic Intifada: 6 Feb 2012 - Patricia Sarrafian Ward 6 February 2012 Poet Lisa Suheir Majaj writes exquisitely of the profound personal and collective loss that defines Palestinian history in her book, Geographies of Light.more

antiquties down a dusty lane
In Gaza: 4 Feb 2012 - Two years ago I wrote about Gaza’s antiquities , many of which were destroyed in the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza. But until a few months ago, I hadn’t had the privilege of seeing one of them.  Unexpectedly one day, while interviewing the Ministry of Agriculture on their many projects, I was taken by Tel Umm Amer,  an archaeological site preserving fantastic mosaics and the monastery of St. Hilarion (which I wrote about here , thanks to Abeer Jamal’s information): Few outside of Gaza would consider its history much beyond the decades of Israeli occupation. But Gaza is a historical treasure house. Many of those treasures are now in Israeli museums, and those that remain are becoming difficult to preserve due to the Israeli siege. Gaza, set along the historical silk road and on the bridge between Africa and Asia, was host to civilisations, including the Pharaohs, Canaanites, Philistines, Crusaders, Mamluks, Romans...more

Targeting Syria: 'Frighteningly Frank' Plans
Palestine Chronicle: 7 Feb 2012 - By Felicity Arbuthnot 'The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.' George Orwell - Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950 . For anyone in two minds about what is really going on in Syria, and whether President Assad, hailed a decade ago as “A Modern Day Attaturk”, has become the latest megalomaniacal despot, to whose people a US-led posse of nations, must deliver “freedom”, with weapons of mass, home, people, nation and livelihood destruction, here is a salutary tale from modern history. Have the more recent charge against Syria been based on US-UK government papers, only discovered in 2003 – and since air brushed (or erroneously omitted) from even BBC timelines, on that country? (1) In late 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion, Matthew Jones, a Reader in International History, at London’s Royal Holloway College, discovered “frighteningly frank” documents: 1957 plans between then...more

Media Distortions: Ignoring Truth about Syria
Palestine Chronicle: 7 Feb 2012 - By Richard Lightbown The British media was full of sound bites last weekend from politicians expressing outrage against Russia and China for blocking a UN Security Council resolution based on an Arab League proposal for the Syrian crisis. This is the same Arab League that called for the no-fly zone in Libya which precipitated events leading to a death toll five times higher than the current total in Syria. It is supported by the same United States administration which has ordered drone assassinations in Yemen and Pakistan, along with widespread human rights abuses around the world. Along with the same United Kingdom government whose shadowy spooks in MI6 helped to provoke the Libyan uprising, and train Palestinian security forces in the black arts of torture. It is the same French government which armed and trained Libyan rebels; acts which, in the opinion of the chair of the Security Council's Sanctions...more

Palestinians in Israel - Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 6 Feb 2012 - By Ludwig Watzal (Ben White, Palestinians in Israel. Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy, Pluto Press, London 2012, 128 pp., 13 Pounds.) With the signing of the Oslo Accords that led to the outbreak of the so-called peace process between Israel and the occupied Palestinian people, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) abandoned its initial political goals (to realize the right of return of Palestinian refugees and to liberate Palestine from Zionist colonization) for some privileges and turned itself into an obedient servant of the colonizers. Whereas the PLO under the leadership of Yasser Arafat tried to get back some territory from Israel to establish a Palestinian state, Palestinians living in Israel, although suffering under discrimination as second-class citizens, demand Israel to become finally “a state for all its citizens” instead of staying a “Jewish State”. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the non-Jewish inhabitants have been subject to a second-class...more

US Thwarted at the UN: Imperial Ambitions Persevere
Dissident Voice: 7 Feb 2012 - To Washington’s great chagrin, the attempt to impose “regime change” in Syria under the auspices of a United Nations Security Council resolution fell apart Saturday, thwarted by the double veto of Russia and China. Speaking Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the Russian and Chinese veto a “travesty,” while labeling the Security Council “neutered.”  American Ambassador Susan Rice, meanwhile, stated that she was “disgusted” by the veto. On NBC Nightly News (2/4/12), Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell called the Security Council vote “just a terrible day for the United Nations and diplomacy.”  (“Diplomacy” in Washington speak, we see, entails strictly toeing the U.S. line.) Not content with merely condemning the Security Council, the U.S. also began to plot an alternative means for intervention. Secretary of State Clinton reassured that the U.S. would work with the Arab League to continue applying “immense pressure” on Syria, while adding pointblank that,...more

How About an International Award for Hypocrisy?
Dissident Voice: 7 Feb 2012 - Arising out the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish chemist who invented dynamite, the Nobel Prize  is universally recognized as the most prestigious award 1 in the fields of peace-making, economics, chemistry, physics, medicine and literature. How about an international award – without the gold medal, the diploma and the money – for hypocrisy? Such an award could be called the Lebon Prize (reversing Nobel). If there was such an award, the statements of European and American leaders in the immediate aftermath of Russia and China’s veto of the Security Council resolution to end the killing in Syria suggest two most obvious nominees for it. One is William Hague, Britain’s Foreign Secretary. In the House of Commons he pronounced Bashar al-Assad’s regime to be “doomed” because there is “no way it can recover its credibility.” That may very well be the case in the long term, but in my view...more


Wednesday, February 8, 2012Top of page
The goal is democratization
Ghassan Khatib, Bitterlemons 2/6/2012
      The Arab revolutions and the peace process: A Palestinian View
     The relationship between the ongoing uprisings and revolutions in the Arab world and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process is a convoluted mix of cause and effect. While Israelis tend to argue that recent developments in the Arab world justify the stagnation in the peace process (because the Arab revolutions "prove" constant instability in the neighborhood, Arab fickleness or fearsome radicalization), Arabs and Palestinians make the case that one of the factors contributing to regional foment and revolutions is frustration with the decades-long Israeli occupation and failure of the peace process.
     Frankly, Israel's response to the developments in the Arab world is difficult to understand. The most obvious trend in these events is the effort to replace non-democratic regimes with regimes backed by the public. One of the most immediate outcomes has been and will be free and democratic elections. In Tunisia and in Egypt, elections have accompanied a transformation towards democratization and transparent leadership. Israel, which likes to portray itself as the "only democracy in the region", should be celebrating the new applications for membership in this club.
     Likewise, Israel's fear of rising Islamists is hard to swallow, when every sign is that democracy in Israel is leading it towards right-wing religious extremism. It might be useful here to remind ourselves that the parties that took over in most of Europe after World War II were defined by a right-wing Christian ethos, and most of the parties that rose to power after the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe were also religious. All of us need to support these Arab revolutions in the difficult process of building a framework for democracy and institutions that allow for the smooth and regular transfer of power.
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François Abu Salem and Theater in Palestine
Editorial, Jerusalem Quarterly File 2/8/2012
      Winter 2011
     The performing arts began to develop in the Middle East in the early twentieth century, when Syrian and Lebanese pioneers made their mark, mostly in Egypt. Theatrical troupes like that of Abu Khalil al-Qabbani, actors such as George Abyad, Mary Muneeb, and Najeeb al-Rihani, and dancer Badia Massabny, among others, were the rising theater celebrities of the time. Although some of the plays from Egypt and Lebanon were performed in Palestine as early as the 1920s, theater as a Palestinian practice took longer to emerge. Still, theatrical shows of one form or another were part of everyday Palestinian culture, whether with puppeteers or Sandouq al-Ajab (musical stereoscopic box viewer, or wonder box). Characters such as Awaz and the clown, Karagoz, featured prominently in the genre of political satire. As Wasif Jawhariyyeh informs us, theatrical sketches with Awaz and the clown were a fixed feature in the spacious Jerusalem coffeehouse owned by Ali Izhiman in the late Ottoman period. Al-Hakawati, or the storyteller, was another theatrical figure who used to give dramatic recitations of folkloric Arab tales such as that of Abu Zayd al-Hilali.
     During the British Mandate period theatrical productions became quite common in schools and continued to be staged for the next several decades. The Ramallah Festival held at al-Tira UNRWA college was an important national event in the short-lived Jordanian period in eastern Palestine. But professional theater was not born until the early 1970s, and the name François Abu Salem was closely associated with it.
     On Saturday, 1 October 2011, the life of François came to an abrupt end as a result of his fall from a building near his home in Ramallah. Many believe he committed suicide. He was 60 years old. He was among the founders of a number of theatrical groups, including the very first experimental group in Palestine, Balalin (balloons), which staged its daring play al-Atmeh – “The Darkness” – in 1972....
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Syria through a glass, darkly
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times 2/9/2012
      The current Syrian drama is far from the usual, clear-cut "good guys vs bad guys" Hollywood shtick. The suspension of the Arab League observers mission; the double veto by Russia and China at the UN Security Council; the increasing violence especially in Homs and some Damascus suburbs: It is all leading to widespread fears in the developing world of a Western-backed armed insurrection trying to replicate the chaos in Libya - a "liberated" country now run by heavily weaponized militias. Syria slipping into civil war would open the door to an even more horrific regional conflagration.
     Here's an attempt to see through the fog.
     1. Why has the Bashar al-Assad regime not fallen?
     Because the majority of the Syrian population still supports it (55%, according to a mid-December poll funded by the Qatar Foundation. See "Arabs want Syria's President Assad to go - opinion poll" [1], and note how the headline distorts the result.
     Assad can count on the army (no defections from the top ranks); the business elite and the middle class in the top cities, Damascus and Aleppo; secular, well-educated Sunnis; and all the minorities - from Christians to Kurds and Druze. Even Syrians in favor of regime change - yet not hardcore Islamists - refuse Western sanctions and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-style humanitarian bombing.
     2. Is Assad "isolated"?
     As much as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may wish it, and the White House stresses "Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now" and "must step aside" - no....
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Putting the spotlight on London university's links to Israel's war machine
Electronic Intifada: 8 Feb 2012 - Hilary Aked London 8 February 2012 Students at the London School of Economics protest the university’s ties to the Technion — Israel’s Institute of Technology — which has inextricable links to Israel’s weapons industry.more

Is 17-year-old girl Cast Lead's latest victim?
Electronic Intifada: 7 Feb 2012 - Rami Almeghari Gaza Strip 7 February 2012 Seventeen-year-old Haneen Abu Jalala died last month at an Israeli hospital from what her family says were complications from white phosphorous fired at their home three years ago.more

Israel Vying for War: Attacking Iran Will Not Repeat History
Palestine Chronicle: 8 Feb 2012 - By Ramzy Baroud On April 10, 2002, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons, 'Saddam Hussein's regime is…developing weapons of mass destruction, and we cannot leave him doing so unchecked.' A year later, Blair, enthusiastically joined a US-led coalition that launched an illegal war against Iraq. Their hunt for weapons of mass destruction was futile because no such weapons actually existed. The Iraq Survey Group, a 1,400 strong member organization set up by the CIA and the Pentagon, made every attempt to prove otherwise, but only came back empty-handed. In its final Duelfer Report, released in September 2004, the group “found no evidence of concerted efforts to restart the [nuclear] program.” One would think that the years between 1991 – the first war on Iraq - and 2003 would have been enough to convince US-led western allies that economically besieged, politically isolated and war torn Iraq...more

Shadows and Reality
Dissident Voice: 8 Feb 2012 - The unemployment report came out recently, and Punxatawny Phil saw a service sector job — that means six more years of growth. Or something like that. It’s all very complicated. Actually what’s complicated is the trickery involved. The unemployment rate that we have delivered to us from the usual outlets/suspects is not the same creature it was prior to 1994. Back then, people who flat gave up looking for work were still counted in the numbers. Now they are invisible. The carefully titrated rate also doesn’t include the underemployed—individuals who perhaps want to work full-time but aren’t provided with that option. As individuals fall off the rolls they fall into a void. Our single digit unemployment rate is actually around 22% if measured in the pre-1994 reality-based math. If you aren’t already aware of the site, shadowstats.com  does a marvelous job exhibiting the gritty truth. I think if you try to...more

The Framing of Kevin Cooper on San Quentin’s Death Row
Dissident Voice: 8 Feb 2012 - In this interview, author J. Patrick O’Connor discusses his newly released book Scapegoat: The Chino Hills Murders and The Framing of Kevin Cooper , explaining why he is convinced of Kevin Cooper’s innocence. O’Connor asserts that the police and prosecution orchestrated an obvious frame-up that continues to be upheld by federal appeals courts, albeit with the blatantly unfair rulings by US District Court Judge Marilyn Huff blocking critical forensics tests that had been ordered by the US Ninth Circuit Court in 2004. This week, O’Connor launches a California book tour , beginning in the San Francisco Bay Area. On Monday, O’Connor sat down for a video interview with Prison Radio, where he discusses aspects of this story not addressed in this text interview. Marking the book release, Prison Radio has recorded a special message from Kevin Cooper himself. To learn more about Cooper’s case and what you can do to help, visit...more


Thursday, February 9, 2012Top of page
Storm over Hebron
Uri Avnery, Arabic Media Internet Network (AMIN) 2/10/2012
      THERE SEEMS to be no limit to the troubles caused by the town of Hebron.
     This time, the reason is as innocent as can be: the organized visits of schoolchildren to the Cave of Machpelah, where our patriarchs are supposed to be buried.
     By rights, Hebron should be a symbol of brotherhood and conciliation. It is the town associated with the legendary figure of Abraham, the common ancestor of both Hebrews and Arabs. Indeed, the name itself connotes friendship: the Hebrew name Hebron stems from the same root as “haver”, friend, comrade, while the town’s Arab name - al-Halil - means “friend”. Both names refer to Abraham being the friend of God.
     Abraham’s firstborn, Ishmael, was the son of the concubine Hagar, who was driven out into the desert to die there, when the legitimate son, Isaac, was born to Sarah. Ishmael, the patriarch of the Arabs, and Isaac, the patriarch of the Jews, were enemies, but when their father died, they came together to bury him: “Then Abraham gave up the ghost and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years (175), and was gathered to his people. And his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him in the cave of Machpelah…” (Genesis, 25)
     IN RECENT times, Hebron has acquired a very different reputation.
     For centuries, a small Jewish community lived there in peace, in perfect harmony with the Muslim inhabitants. But in 1929, something awful happened. A group of Jewish fanatics staged an incident in Jerusalem, when they tried to change the delicate status quo at the Western Wall....
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Mahmoud Abbas’ latest title
Daoud Kuttab, Ma’an News Agency 2/9/2012
      Unlike his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, the current Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is not known for hoarding power or being authoritarian. Abbas will most likely end his revolutionary/professional career in retirement and not in a direct struggle with his enemies.
     But in spite of his power-sharing style of management, Abbas finds himself this week with more titles than most countries have in ministries. He is the chairman of the PLO’s executive committee, the president of the Palestinian Authority, the commander of the Palestinian armed forces and security services, the prime minister of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the head of the Fatah movement.
     When Abbas was last prime minister, the US and Israel were keen on curtailing Arafat’s powers so they transferred many of the presidential powers to the prime minister. But this tactic backfired when the Hamas-supported Reform and Change parliamentary block in the Palestinian Legislative Council won 70 per cent of the seats and was able to name Palestine’s first Islamist prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh.
     Much has happened since then, including armed confrontations in Gaza that led to Haniyeh becoming the de facto president as well as prime minister of Gaza. Abbas then fired Haniyeh-appointed Salam Fayyad as interim prime minister.
     News out of the Qatari capital, Doha, is that Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal proposed Abbas as an interim prime minister. The suggestion and Abbas’ acceptance (apparently this was offered before and rejected) breaks up months of deadlock over who will be Palestine’s prime minister until the presidential and parliamentary elections planned for May this year.
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Unequal neighbors: Off the grid in Area C
Charlotte Alfred, Ma’an News Agency 2/9/2012
      MASAFER YATTA (Ma'an) -- Pylons tower over South Hebron Hills village Um al-Kher, hoisting electricity cables that bisect the agricultural community.
     But like hundreds of their Palestinian neighbors, this tiny hamlet has no access to the power grid.
     The cables running above the heads of the 150 Um al-Kher residents supply a chicken farm set up a decade ago by the adjacent Karmel settlement, wedging the village on both sides.
     "They give electricity to the chickens but not to us," says Aziz Muhammad Hadhalin, 26, an engineer and community activist.
     "The settlement has always had electricity, water, and new buildings, but here it is forbidden."
     South Hebron Hills, known locally as Masafer Yatta, lies almost entirely in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israel civil and security control since the 1993 Oslo Accords.
     Palestinians must apply to Israel to build on their land, and permits are granted to just 1 percent of this area that has an Israeli-approved plan, most of which is already built up.
     During one month in 2011, Israeli forces tore down two attempts to connect to the PA electricity grid in Masafer Yatta.
     Under the night sky, the unequal tapestry of the West Bank is laid bare.
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Interview: Ex-prisoner reflects on friendship with Khader Adnan and his hunger strike for justice
Electronic Intifada: 9 Feb 2012 - Bekah Wolf 9 February 2012 Popular resistance leader Mousa Abu Maria shared an Israeli prison cell with Khader Adnan, now completing his 55th day of hunger strike. Abu Maria recalls Adnan’s leadership in organizing and educating prisoners in this interview for The Electronic Intifada.more

Debut novel unflinchingly portrays Palestinian divisions
Electronic Intifada: 9 Feb 2012 - Maureen Clare Murphy 9 February 2012 In Selma Dabbagh’s debut novel Out of It , 27-year-old twin misfits Iman and Rashid Mujahed try to find belonging in a contemporary Gaza groaning under Israeli siege and air strikes, and street battles between competing political factions.more

Palestinian Prisoner Enters 53rd Day of Hunger Strike
Palestine Chronicle: 9 Feb 2012 - By The Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations As Palestinian organisations dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), we express our deepest concern about the critical health condition of Khader Adnan. Khader is now entering his 53rd day of hunger strike in protest at his continuing administrative detention and ill-treatment at the hands of the Israeli Prison Authorities (IPS). Khader was arrested on 17 December 2011 and has since been refusing food and medical treatment until he is granted release. On 8 January 2012, Israeli authorities issued a four-month administrative detention order, which was confirmed on 7 February 2012 by an Israeli military judge despite his worsening health condition. Throughout his detention, Khader was subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment, including physical abuse, prolonged periods of interrogation, isolation and unsanitary conditions of detention. Khader has reportedly lost more than 20 kilograms and...more

Russia's White Revolution
Palestine Chronicle: 9 Feb 2012 - By Eric Walberg – Cairo Russia's electoral scene has been transformed in the past two months, without a doubt inspired by the political winds from the Middle East and the earlier colour revolutions in Russia’s “near abroad”. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s casual return to the presidential scene was greeted as an effrontery by an electorate who want to move on from Russia’s political strongman tradition, and to inject the electoral process with ballot-box accountability. Putin’s legendary role in rescuing Russia from the economic abyss in the 1990s, staring down the oligarchs, reasserting state control over Russian resource wealth, and repositioning Russia as an independent player in Eurasia (not to mention in America’s backyard) -- these signal accomplishments assure him a place in history books. He and Dmitri Medvedev are considered the most popular leaders in the past century according to a recent VTsIOM opinion poll (Leonid Brezhnev comes next, followed...more

The 'Water Occupation' of Palestine
Palestine Chronicle: 9 Feb 2012 - By Stuart Littlewood There are few crimes more despicable then stealing your neighbor's water, and polluting what's left, then watching him and his children suffer thirst, disease and ruin. Most of us would want nothing to do with the perpetrators of such evil. British Water describes itself as the voice of the water industry. It talks about best practice and corporate responsibility, and lobbies governments and regulators on behalf of its members. No doubt it does a good job. It also has international ambitions including in the Middle East. So presumably it knows what's going on water-wise in the Holy Land. British Water should know, for example, that the 400-miles long structure known worldwide as Israel's Apartheid Wall bites deep into the Palestinian West Bank dividing and isolating communities and stealing their lands and water. If the Wall was simply for security, as Israel claims, it would have been built...more

Words Matter: A New Language for Peace
Palestine Chronicle: 9 Feb 2012 - By John V. Whitbeck The words which people use, often unconsciously, can have a critical impact upon the thoughts and attitudes of those who speak and write, as well as those who listen and read. Dangerously misleading terminology remains a major obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. It is normal practice for parties to a dispute to use terminology which favours them. In this regard, Israel has been spectacularly successful in imposing its terminology not simply on Israeli consciousness and American usage but even on many Arab parties and commentators. It has done so not simply in obvious ways like use of the terms "terrorism", "security", "Eretz Israel" or "Judea and Samaria" but also in more subtle ways which have had and continue to have a profound negative impact on perceptions of legal realities and other matters of substance. The current initiative by Palestine to upgrade its status at the United Nations...more

Modern Love: In Search for My Palestinian Family
Palestine Chronicle: 9 Feb 2012 - By Liza Foreman It was during the First Intifada, in the spring of 1988, that I took a bus from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to find my real dad. Soldiers squatted on abandoned shop fronts with metal cages pulled around their faces, riffles to hand. They stared suspiciously as a waif-like English girl, all of seventeen, and her friend alighted from the bus to wander the barren streets, and disappear into the dust. “Please do not go,” my mother had pleaded from England. But there was no stopping me. The locals, mistaking us for Israelis lost in this Arab enclave, stood on their balconies and hissed. We continued until we found a deserted gift shop where a man dressed us in traditional costume as we sipped mint tea. “Where can I find Farad Mattan?” I asked. “He lives above the Seven Seas restaurant,” he said. My father, a Christian Arab from...more

JustSalvos Censors Palestine Story
Palestine Chronicle: 8 Feb 2012 - By Matt Buckley I recently witnessed a Christian social justice group, which I greatly respect, be successfully pressured into suppressing the issue of Palestine from their work. The episode raises broader questions about censorship and the concepts of 'bias' and 'balance'. JustSalvos is an Australian organisation within The Salvation Army that seeks to raise awareness, and campaign on, social justice issues. Its website includes information on such issues as poverty, refugees and asylum-seekers, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, and the plight of Australia’s indigenous people. Visitors to the website can purchase Fair Trade products, and can also purchase products for disadvantaged people in developing countries, such as education tools, micro-financing kits, livestock, seeds, toys, and health supplies(1). JustSalvos also has a blog, and Facebook and YouTube pages. I have been a member of JustSalvos’ Facebook page for some time now, and wrote an article for their blog. One of JustSalvos’ awareness-raising methods...more


Friday, February 10, 2012Top of page
Where is the ‘inevitable’ Bedouin Intifada Israel guaranteed?
Mya Guarnieri, +972 Magazine 2/9/2012
      In 2004, Israeli officials were up in arms about an impending Bedouin Intifada. But the Bedouin didn’t rebel and now, despite plans to expel tens of thousands of them from their homes in the West Bank and the Negev, things remain relatively quiet. Why?
     As Israel steps up its expansionist policies both inside and outside the Green Line, the Bedouin community has come under particularly intense pressure.
     Inside Israel, the state seeks to Judaize the Negev (Naqab) desert. This “development” includes last year’s Prawer plan, which recommends that Israel relocate between 30,000 and 40,000 Bedouin citizens, ripping them from their villages and sticking them in impoverished townships, to clear the area for Jewish-only settlements.
     After the Israeli cabinet passed the Prawer plan in September 2011, Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel likened it to “a declaration of war.”
     Al Arakib could be considered an opening battle. The state first demolished the unrecognized village in July 2010—destroying homes and tearing olive trees from the ground to make way for a forest to be planted by the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF). After the Bedouin residents of Al Arakib rebuilt their village, Israeli forces returned and destroyed it again. Since then, Al Arakib has been demolished and rebuilt over 30 times.
     Israel’s policies are just as inhumane on the other side of the Green Line, where the so-called “Civil Administration” seeks to remove 27,000 Bedouin from Area C in order to expand illegal Israeli settlements. The Civil Administration’s plans will be carried out over the next three to six years.
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Britain helps Israeli water thieves
Stuart Littlewood, Redress 2/10/2012
      There are few crimes more despicable then stealing your neighbour’s water.and polluting what’s left, then watching him and his children suffer thirst, disease and ruin.
     Most of us would want nothing to do with the perpetrators of such evil.
     British Water describes itself as the voice of the water industry. It talks about best practice and corporate responsibility, and lobbies governments and regulators on behalf of its members. No doubt it does a good job.
     It also has international ambitions, including in the Middle East. So, presumably it knows what's going on water-wise in the Holy Land. Apartheid Wall and water theft
     British Water should know, for example, that the 400-miles long structure known worldwide as Israel's Apartheid Wall bites deep into the Palestinian West Bank, dividing and isolating communities and stealing their lands and water.
     If the wall was simply for security, as Israel claims, it would have been built along the internationally-recognized 1949 Armistice “Green Line”, although not even this is an official border. The wall’s purpose is plainly to annex plum Palestinian land and water resources for illegal Israeli settlements, and to that end it closely follows the line of the Western Aquifer.
     In 2004 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague ruled that the construction of the wall is “contrary to international law” and Israel must dismantle it and make reparation for damage caused....
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Decoding Obama’s Iran policy
Brian M Downing, Asia Times 2/11/2012
      BOOK REVIEW: A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran by Trita Parsi
     Trita Parsi's first book, Treacherous Alliance (2008), displayed a masterful understanding of the open and hidden dealings between Iran, the United States and Israel over the past 35 years. This impressive follow-up, a study of events since President Barack Obama came to office in 2009, is welcome and exceptionally well-timed.
     The new administration began with hopes of reaching out to Iran, but despite a promising beginning, no diplomatic breakthrough came. Parsi attributes this to inflexibility in Tehran, Washington, Jerusalem and Riyadh. Politicians and bureau consistently misinterpret signals from the other side, are loathe to show flexibility for fear of appearing weak, and ignore earnest efforts by intermediary countries. The conflict has become embedded in the thinking and institutions of all concerned countries.
     Tehran was skeptical from the start of the Obama administration. Iran had helped the US to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001 and set up a new government the following year, but the George W Bush administration remained hostile. Following the US defeat in Iraq of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iran made a bold overture to open a wide-ranging dialogue with the US. But it was rejected; the US did not speak to evil.
     Iran, then, saw little likelihood that Obama would be able to break free of political restraints. His selection of Dennis Ross and Rahm Emanuel as key advisers did nothing to shake Tehran from its skepticism, as Tehran deemed them both pro-Israel partisans.
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Ethnic Cleansing in a Zionist Fairyland
Palestine Chronicle: 10 Feb 2012 - By Vacy Vlazna 'De-Arabizing the history of Palestine is another crucial element of the ethnic cleansing. 1500 years of Arab and Muslim rule and culture in Palestine are trivialized, evidence of its existence is being destroyed and all this is done to make the absurd connection between the ancient Hebrew civilization and today's Israel. The most glaring example of this today is in Silwan, (Wadi Hilwe) a town adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem with some 50,000 residents. Israel is expelling families from Silwan and destroying their homes because it claims that king David built a city there some 3000 years ago. Thousands of families will be made homeless so that Israel can build a park to commemorate a king that may or may not have lived 3000 years ago. Not a shred of historical evidence exists that can prove King David ever lived yet Palestinian men, women, children...more

Syria and Those Disgusting BRICS
Dissident Voice: 9 Feb 2012 - A Greek choir of the “disgusted” and the “outraged” predictably greeted BRICS members Russia and China double veto to the United Nations Security Council resolution imposing regime change in Syria. The resolution was backed by that haven of democracy, the GCC League, the organization controlled by the six monarchies/emirates of the Gulf Cooperation Council formerly known as the Arab League. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the double veto a “travesty”. Then Clinton duly incited “friends of democratic Syria” to keep working for regime change, which was the object of the resolution. The copyright for this idea is held by the liberator of Libya, neo-Napoleonic French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said Paris was already working to create a NATOGCC “Friends of the Syrian People Group” in charge of implementing the Arab League’s regime change plan. Right on cue, Paris puppet Burhan Ghalyun, the head of the Syrian National...more


Saturday, February 11, 2012Top of page
Old Israel and the new Middle East
Maged Kayali, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) 2/10/2012
      Two opposing phenomena are interacting in the Middle East; the first is Israel, moving back to the past with its policies, laws and ideology, looking ever more like a "typical" Middle East country: closed, exclusive, violent, and culturally and religiously rigid. The second phenomenon is the effort made by some Arab countries to break away from the stereotypical image assigned to them for decades. They are shedding their unhappy past to move into a positive future, embracing modernity and democracy. That is the aim of the popular revolutions, despite the complexities and difficulties being faced.
     Israel has always been promoted as an oasis of modernity, democracy and secularism in the "desert" of the old, authoritarian and religious Middle East. Now it is on the brink of changes which may affect its nature and beliefs about itself and its image in the world. The influence of rabbis and religious and far-right political parties is increasing; the state and society are both moving more towards a more religious outlook (58% of the Jewish population in Israel consider themselves to be religious), to the extent that many Israeli intellectuals and analysts call Israel the State of "Haredim" (religious extremists) and warn about establishing an "Iran here". The rabbis' control over Israel is similar to that of the ayatollahs' over Iran.
     About that, Eitan Haber warns, "A few years ago, I wrote in Yedioth Ahranoth something along the lines of, 'the Arabs have become Jews - the Jews have become Arabs'." In the same newspaper, economist Professor Dan Ben-David said, "If Israel becomes a third world country, that will be the end of the whole project."
     What is interesting is that religious extremism in Israel is synonymous with "National" Jewish extremism, considering Judaism to be a nationality, which means that these two extremes complement one another.
     The explanation is that there are common roots between the two extremist views for Israelis, as both were founded on religious myths of the "promised land", "God's chosen people" and "Greater Israel". What also draws these two currents to each is that they both revolve around the Jewish self, which reveals racism against the "Other", the gentiles, particularly the Palestinians who are the indigenous people of the land on which the state of Israel was founded.
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Deep set targets
Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/9/2012
      While handshakes remain fresh on the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation track, economic conditions could soon derail the Palestinian Authority entirely.
     Although he is more than 65 years old and was busy as a manager of an economic firm, the Israeli army recalled Shay Avital, a retired general who left the army more than a decade ago. This unusual move in Israeli military tradition is seen as vital as army leaders believe Avital would guarantee the success of a new army leadership unit, known as Depth Corp, in charge of special military operations deep in the Arab world.
     Fast-paced developments in the Arab world in the wake of revolutions for democratic change will result in numerous threats for Israel, which requires it to prepare plans to face these threats. This includes preparing for operations in the heart of the Arab world. Military leaders believe that despite Avital's advanced age he is the best qualified to head Depth Corp because of his unique expertise.
     During his service in the army, Avital led many elite units in the army specialising in unique operations in the heart of the Arab world, most prominently the Sayeret Matkal unit that specialised in assassination and kidnapping operations. The formation of Depth Corp is part of restructuring the Israeli army to ensure Israel's freedom of manoeuvre when necessary.
     The main assumption for Israeli strategists is that the Arab Spring will bring with it immense challenges to Israel's security, which in time could evolve into existential threats. Israeli military leaders fear that the countries where revolutions for democratic change have taken place could become bases for military operations against Israeli targets. Hence, decision-makers in Israel believe they need to be prepared to carry out operations deep inside states that are far away from Palestine's borders, such as Yemen and Iraq.
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Ethiopian Israelis face increasing discrimination
Elena Viola, Alternative Information Center 2/9/2012
      Racism is on the rise in Israel and it is sometimes directed towards Ethiopian Jews, citizens of the state who face discrimination and rejection on the basis of their skin color.
     1500 Israelis of Ethiopian origin demonstrated recently against Israeli racism and discrimination outside the parliament in Jerusalem. The protest took place after some landlords in Kiryat Malachi, which is home to a large Ethiopian Israeli population, refused to rent to Ethiopian Jews.
     “Israelis don’t want to have Ethiopians around,” says Shoko, an Israeli woman who provides counselling to Ethiopian youths in Haifa. “Their excuse to not rent flats to Ethiopians is that they are noisy...and they eat injera, which is a ‘stinky’ bread, and its strong smell spreads all over the neighbouring area. In reality, Israelis don’t like Ethiopians because they are black...”
     Chava Weiss, fundraiser for the Israeli Association of the Ethiopian Jewish (IAEJ), states that, “this is a case of pure unfortunate discrimination and stereotyping,..”
     There are approximately 130,000 Ethiopian Jews living in Israel. Citizens of the state, they entered the country during two covert Israeli military operations – in 1984 and 1991 – aimed to bring Ethiopians to Israel to bolster the Jewish majority
     “But even if the largest part of Ethiopians living here is Jewish, some rabbis and ordinary Israeli residents discriminate them because their Jewish roots are not alike the ones of the Eastern European Jews,” Muju, a young Ethiopian man who lives in Jerusalem, explains. Ethiopians observe some different holy festivities and don’t observe the Talmud. Muju adds that, “some Jewish people even claim that we Ethiopians made up our Jewry just to enter Israel.”
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Sunday, February 12, 2012Top of page
Arrested development: Strangling Palestine’s green power
By Charlotte Alfred, Ma’an News Agency 2/12/2012
      MASAFER YATTA (Ma'an) -- Development organizations and green energy pioneers face a political quagmire when working in Palestinian communities under full Israeli control.
     In recent months, the army issued demolition warnings against six solar and wind power systems in the South Hebron Hills, which were funded by European governments and development groups.
     "What can you do if there are impediments to development, such as an undefined de-development policy?" says Tsafrir Cohen, Middle East coordinator of Medico International, which supported two of the systems.
     Known locally as Masafer Yatta, the communities lie almost entirely in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israel civil and security control since the 1993 Oslo Accords.
     Around 150,000 Palestinians living on this land must apply to Israel to build on their land, including connecting to water, road and electricity networks. The UN humanitarian affairs office says that permits are only possible on the one percent of Area C that has an Israeli-approved zoning plan, most of which is already built-up.
     Development groups thus face a dilemma.
     Cohen says if Medico International abandons development work in Area C, moving to Palestinian Authority-controlled areas where permits are not a problem, they would do little more than "painting the walls of Bantustans."
     "We cannot just facilitate a nice jail cell, and a system where people don’t have rights."
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Leading ’lambs’ to slaughter
Ramzy Baroud, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/9/2012
      Israel's lust for war and the West's tolerance of this shows neither has learned anything from history.
     On 10 April 2002, then British prime minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons, "Saddam Hussein's regime is... developing weapons of mass destruction, and we cannot leave him doing so unchecked."
     A year later, Blair, enthusiastically joined a US-led coalition that launched an illegal war against Iraq. Their hunt for weapons of mass destruction was futile because no such weapons actually existed. The Iraq Survey Group, a 1,400 strong member organisation set up by the CIA and the Pentagon, made every attempt to prove otherwise, but only came back empty-handed. In its final Duelfer Report, released in September 2004, the group "found no evidence of concerted efforts to restart the [nuclear] programme."
     One would think that the years between 1991 -- the first war on Iraq -- and 2003 would have been enough to convince US- led Western allies that economically besieged, politically isolated and war torn Iraq had no capacity for producing such weapons. Still, Iraq was attacked with a ferocity that left hundreds of thousands dead and a destroyed country. The outcome of the misadventure may be history to some, but it is a devastating reality for millions of Iraqis.
     Considering all of this, shouldn't we at least expect a slight change of course?
     "Drums of war beat louder as Iran and Israel step up rhetoric" declared a story headline in the British Independent newspaper on 4 February, while ABC news stated that "Fear of Israel war with Iran grows amid heightened nuke concerns".
     Of course, there is great deal of journalistic trickery in how the story is being reported. Iran did promise retaliation if attacked, but the possible war is being initiated and engineered by Israel.
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Iran War: What Is AIPAC Planning?
M J Rosenberg, Huffington Post 2/9/2012
      These are strange times for those of us who follow the debate about a possible war with Iran. It is clear that the Israeli government and its neoconservative camp followers here in the United States are increasing pressure on President Obama to either attack Iran or let Israel do it (in which case, we would be forced to join in). But the idea of another Middle East war is so outlandish that it seems inconceivable it could actually occur.
     Still the conventional wisdom holds that it can, and the main reason is that this is an election year and no one will say no to Binyamin Netanyahu in an election year.
     War enthusiasm will rise to a fever pitch by March, when AIPAC holds its annual policy conference. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will, if past example holds, bring the crowd of 10,000 to its feet by depicting Iran as the new Nazi Germany and by coming very close to stating that only war can stop these new Nazis. Other speakers will say the same. The few who mention the idea of diplomacy will be met by stony silence.
     From the convention center, 10,000 delegates will be dispatched to Capitol Hill with two or three “asks” for Members of Congress. One will, no doubt, be that “containment” of a nuclearized Iran be ruled off the table (leaving war as the only remaining option should Iran get the bomb). Another will likely be that the U.S. stop all dealings with the Palestinian Authority should Hamas and Fatah permanently reconcile. A third could apply either to Iran or Palestine and will, no doubt, demand fealty to whatever Netanyahu’s policy of the moment happens to be. I’ve sat in those meetings where the AIPAC “asks” are developed and it was always clear that the substance didn’t matter all that much.
     The goal of the "asks" is ensuring that Congress follow the script. Invariably at least one of these AIPAC goals will be put into legislative language and quickly pass both chambers of Congress.
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On Delegitimization and Anti Semitism
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Feb 2012 - By Lillian Rosengarten 'What times are these When a conversation Is almost a crime Because it includes So much explicit.' -- Paul Celan, 'A leaf, treeless' Fanatics closed to discussion, believe in their moral superiority without having to justify their behavior and too often portray themselves as victims. Dissent in any form against Israel’s crimes against Palestinians is squelched in a morally repulsive manner. Jews and human rights activists are labeled anti-Semites. This serves to focus away from a brutal occupation in the name of preserving the Jewish state. Israel hides behind its own label as “victim” in an effort to obscure the truth of its political mission to conquer and destroy. Those who pay attention recognize the buzzword “anti-Semite” and how this label has become associated with inflammatory hatred and destruction. Bizarrely the hatred is directed towards the much-reviled Palestinian population. We are told they are a threat and...more

Storm over Hebron
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Feb 2012 - By Uri Avnery There seems to be no limit to the troubles caused by the town of Hebron. This time, the reason is as innocent as can be: the organized visits of schoolchildren to the Cave of Machpelah, where our patriarchs are supposed to be buried. By rights, Hebron should be a symbol of brotherhood and conciliation. It is the town associated with the legendary figure of Abraham, the common ancestor of both Hebrews and Arabs. Indeed, the name itself connotes friendship: the Hebrew name Hebron stems from the same root as “haver”, friend, comrade, while the town’s Arab name – al-Khalil – means “friend”. Both names refer to Abraham being the friend of God. Abraham’s firstborn, Ishmael, was the son of the concubine Hagar, who was driven out into the desert to die there, when the legitimate son, Isaac, was born to Sarah. Ishmael, the patriarch of the Arabs,...more

Crimes against Detained Palestinian Children
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Feb 2012 - By the Center for Political and Development Studies - Gaza Amir Ofek, the press attaché for the Embassy of Israel in London, published an article in response to The Guardian special report entitled 'The Palestinian children – alone and bewildered – in Israel's Al Jalame jail'. His response included many allegations and false information which should be clarified. He said, "When a minor involved in terrorist activity is arrested, the law is clear: no torture or humiliation is permitted, nor is solitary confinement in order to induce a confession – which challenges the veracity of the accounts in your article". He also ignored all forms of torture to which Israel subjects Palestinian children. He claimed that children have been accused of committing atrocities, including killing the Fogel family while they slept. He also claimed that Palestinian factions send children to commit suicide bombings. The public should know the truth of...more


Monday, February 13, 2012Top of page
Myth debunked – Palestinian textbooks don’t teach hatred
Daoud Kuttab, Huffington Post, Israeli Occupation Archive 2/11/2012
      Apologists for Israel’s continued occupation and control over Palestinian lives have long contended Israel is more interested in peace than the Palestinians. One exaggerated argument, repeatedly put forward to justify military rule, is that Palestinians teach their children to hate Jews.
     Politicians in the U.S., especially during election campaigns, find that bashing Palestinians has no downside and yields a vote (and donation) jackpot.
     Palestinian textbooks are scrutinized for any hostile reference to Israel — or praise for Palestinian nationalism — and every frame broadcast on Palestinian television stations is analyzed by experts to see if it contains any incitement to violence.
     Palestinian-Israeli committees spent hours researching these issues and concluded that there is no textbook glorification of violence or hate. European and bipartisan American committees reached similar conclusions. But the anti-Palestinian attacks never stopped. All the efforts to respond scientifically and comprehensively to the unsubstantiated barrage of attacks failed to change the narrative that anti-Palestinian forces, especially in the United States, were keen on perpetuating.
     Self-declared professor and historian Newt Gingrich led the charge by negating Palestinian existence. Speaking on a Jewish online television station, Gingrich contradicted what the Israeli government did in 1993 when it recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. By cherry-picking historical evidence to back his convoluted argument, Gingrich claimed that Palestinians are an ‘invented’ people. -- See also: Source: Huffington Post
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Dialogue is the way
Ghassan Khatib, Bitterlemons 2/13/2012
      The Doha declaration and Israel's response
     The agreement that was announced in Doha last week between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, generated healthy debate and discussion among Palestinians, but especially within Hamas. Once again, the Palestinian argument that engaging Hamas in dialogue is always useful has been proven true.
     In the agreement, Hamas accepts that Abbas serve as prime minister in a national unity government. Although this government will include no other Fateh members and none from Hamas, it will be approved and supported by both factions. Hamas had previously agreed that Abbas, with his well-known political positions advocating negotiations and the two-state solution, would be mandated to conduct negotiations with Israel, provided that any agreement resulting from those talks would go before the public in a referendum. Now Hamas has said that this same individual can head a cabinet that it supports. Given the clear and long-standing commitment of Abbas to the cause of peace, negotiations and the two-state solution, the Hamas movement's support for his role at the head of government shows again that dialogue with Hamas contributes to its moderation.
     It is critical that this agreement is spurring debate between different tendencies within Hamas, where the relatively moderate elements are being strengthened and the relatively hard-line elements are being side-lined. Hamas is a genuine, significant Palestinian political movement that won the last free and democratic Palestinian elections. It cannot be ignored as a means of "handling" its unacceptable politics or practices. All experience has shown that when Palestinians from other factions engage Hamas, healthy debate and moderation result. The alternative of isolating Hamas always plays into the hands of the movement's most hard-line elements.
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Mount Hermon’s pure snow can’t hide Israel’s dark past
Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Israeli Occupation Archive 2/13/2012
      The entire Golan Heights is occupied exactly as the West Bank is.
     These are wonderful days at Jabal al-Shaykh. It’s high season, ideal conditions and the visibility is excellent. Thousands of Israelis spent their weekend there, and the weather forecast for the next few days is promising. It’s just the name, Jabal al-Shaykh, that sounds so unfamiliar. Where did you say it was?
     We managed to delete Mount Hermon’s original, Syrian name as if it had never existed. Precious few Israelis have ever heard the name, or are aware of the 200 towns and villages that were obliterated in the Golan Heights. Most Israelis, we might assume, aren’t aware that they were ever there, since Israeli collective consciousness also erased the existence of their 120,000 residents – refugees that no one knows or cares about.
     Their houses were almost all razed, in order to evade superfluous questions on the merry way to Mount Hermon. The only things left intact were the remains of army barracks, so that Israelis could believe that the Golan Heights were always about war and conflicts, not simple daily life.
     On the way to Mount Hermon, the Golan Heights are Israeli, as are the inhabitants – despite the fact that most of them define themselves as Syrians. Israelis in the Golan aren’t referred to as settlers. They reside in a city, in kibbutzim and moshavim – never in a settlement. On the other hand, the 20,000 Syrians still living there today are referred to as “Druze” – according to their religion, and pita bread, rather than their own definition as Syrians. -- See also: Source: Ha'aretz
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Gazans shocked at home demolitions ordered "by our own brothers"
Electronic Intifada: 13 Feb 2012 - Rami Almeghari Gaza City 13 February 2012 Gaza City residents in the coastal Hamami neighborhood are outraged after the Gaza government bulldozed their houses to make way for a major infrastructure project.more

Educators can't stay silent about Israeli apartheid
Electronic Intifada: 13 Feb 2012 - J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Robin D.G. Kelley, Bill V. Mullen, Nikhil Pal Singh and Neferti Tadiar 13 February 2012 US academics recently returned from a fact-finding delegation describe the daily ritual of subordination, humiliation and suspicion endured by Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.more

911 Humans here
In Gaza: 13 Feb 2012 - this is 2 years old and the reality now is all the worse. Gaza is now on the brink of total power blackout–not the half-day or whole-day every single day power outages Palestinians in Gaza are sadly accustomed to, but TOTAL power outage. Aside from the obvious basics—water and sanitation–which are halted or severely disrupted by power outages, think of the cold winter nights without power, the daily efforts to get to work or study without fuel for taxis…A simple example: Emad tells me he waited over an hour for a taxi from Gaza southbound, a trip that would normally after 10 minutes get underway. His home is like most of the Strip, without central heating or any heating to speak of, concrete-walled, devoid-of-hot water, cold-air-projecting blocks of homes. We could applaud the Palestinians of Gaza for energy-conservation, but it isn’t because they are more moral than any of us,...more

Transformational Politics: Be Part of the Evolution
Palestine Chronicle: 13 Feb 2012 - By Clive Hambidge 'Julian Assange' said Noam Chomsky 'should be congratulated for carrying out the responsibilities of a citizen in democratic societies, where the population should be aware of what their selected representatives are doing and planning.' Assange is perhaps to pay a heavy price for disclosure, as simultaneously, Bradley Manning, a soldier of conscience, is to pay the ultimate one. The effectiveness of these two men’s actions should be taken to heart, and into our collective activism “For those that have the privilege to know have the privilege to act (Einstein). Also we must understand that we are not just standing in quiet or rowdy resolution and solidarity with an Assange or Manning just because our conscience dictates but because we are connected at the very substance of our being and in an evolutionary reality. We have a constituent understanding of these two, and other men and women of...more

De Leeuw: Apartheid in South Africa, Palestine
Palestine Chronicle: 13 Feb 2012 - By Yousef M. Aljamal - Gaza The Center for Political Development Studies [CPDS], a Gaza based organization held a lecture on Sunday, February 12, 2012 on 'The South Africa-anti Apartheid Movement and Palestine', delivered by Lydia de Leeuw, an international officer working at the PCHR, specialized in criminology, who conducted her MA thesis on 'The involvement of business in a continuum of state-corporate crime’, in which she investigated ‘the share companies had in facilitating the South African government in committing the state-corporate crime of apartheid'. "Back then, the crime was still formulated and defined. People saw these policies, but it didn’t yet have a name. It was internationally recognized as a crime. Still it was hard to prosecute and create a political will to people to undertake steps to uphold the principles of the international law. SA had natural resources, so the white population, who have settled there few centuries...more

UN Bashes Israel for Biased Housing Policies
Palestine Chronicle: 13 Feb 2012 - By Bernhard Schell The United Nations has strongly criticised Israeli plans for relocating Bedouins in the desert and semi-desert region of Negev as well as decades of promotion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. Raquel Rolnik, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, finds that Israeli Arabs as well as Palestinians living under military occupation are also affected by ongoing threats against their right to housing. She made these remarks on February 13 just after concluding a two-week visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. "Throughout my visit, I was able to witness a land development model that excludes, discriminates against and displaces minorities in Israel which is being replicated in the occupied territory, affecting Palestinian communities," she stated. The recent privatization, deregulation and commercialization of public assets in Israel "have resulted in urban and housing policies that...more


Tuesday, February 14, 2012Top of page
Israeli Embassies Attacked
Farzana Versey, CounterPunch 2/14/2012
      Whose Vengeance and Unholy Wars are These?
     A bomb explodes in the car of an Israeli diplomat. Three people, including the defence attaché’s wife Tal Yehoshua, are grievously injured.
     30 minutes later, embassy officials are examining the remains of the vehicle in an area that has been cordoned off by the police.
     Within three hours, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the Hizbullah and Iran: “Iran, which stands behind these attacks, is the largest exporter of terror in the world. The Israeli government and its security forces will continue to work together with local security services against these terrorist actions.”
     He is pre-empting the inquiry, and the media is already talking about “Hizbullah in Delhi” and “Israel targeted in India”. We are calling ourselves a soft state when our own hardliners and security forces have been killing citizens inside the country.
     The question is not whether global terror is being fought on Indian soil but how much of it is being arranged here. If it is legitimate to ask about the role of local handlers, then why has there been no concern about the incident of a planned vengeance by Israelis?
     Cut to a report a few days ago when there was palpable revenge. The couple, Shneor Zalman and Yaffa Shenoi, arrived in India on a multiple-entry visa in March 2010. After the visa expired, they went back and returned within a month....
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The Awakening of Palestinian Hydropolitical Consciousness: The Artas- Jerusalem Water Conflict of 1925
Vincent Lemire, Jerusalem Quarterly File 2/14/2012
      Winter 2011
     The drought that afflicted Jerusalem in 1925 was a crucial moment in the history of the holy city and of British Mandate Palestine. The facts may be briefly summarized as follows: on 25 May 1925, after a particularly dry winter, the Mandate government decided to divert almost all the water resources of Artas village to Jerusalem. On 9 June, the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Arab Congress vigorously protested to the High Commissioner Herbert Samuel against what they explicitly called “Zionist spoliation.” The Artas case, first adjudicated before the Palestine Supreme Court, was sent back in 1926 to the Privy Council of London, Britain’s highest judicial body.1
     This development, though generally ignored by historians, nevertheless allows one to grasp in very concrete terms some of the constituent elements of an emerging Palestinian national consciousness, while also illustrating some of the sharp differences that split the Palestinian national movement in the mid-1920s.
     The emergence of a Palestinian national consciousness is one of the most crucial and controversial topics in the history of the Near East. The debate generally revolves around two complementary issues: one is the question of the actual moment when the Palestinian national awakening occurred, while the other is concerned with determining the constituent elements of this national consciousness.2 Nationalist Palestinian historians promote an early appearance of national consciousness resulting from a fundamentally internal formative process. In contrast, Zionist historians defend the notion of a later appearance of the Palestinian national phenomenon, arising from essentially external elements. The former conceive a national consciousness that is early and endogenous, whereas the latter see it as belated and exogenous. The stakes are understandably high if the controversy is viewed within the framework of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict....
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Syria, the new Libya
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times 2/14/2012
      A Kalashnikov in Iraq, until recently, sold for US$100. Now it's at least $1,000, and most probably $1,500 (those were the days when Sunnis joining the resistance in 2003 could buy a fake Kalashnikov made in Romenia for $20).
     Destination of choice of the $1,500 Kalashnikov in 2012: Syria. Network: al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers, also known as AQI. Recipients: infiltrated jihadis operating side-by-side with the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
     Also shuttling between Syria and Iraq is car bombing and suicide bombing, as in two recent bombings in the suburbs of Damascus and the suicide bombing last Friday in Aleppo.
     Who would have thought that what the House of Saud wants in Syria - an Islamist regime - is exactly what al-Qaeda wants in Syria?
     Ayman "The Surgeon" al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number one, in an eight-minute video titled "Onwards, Lions of Syria", has just called for the support of Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to topple Bashar al-Assad "pernicious, cancerous regime". They had been responding, in kind, even before The Surgeon came into the picture. Not only those, but especially transplanted Libyan "freedom fighters", formerly known as "rebels".
     Who would have thought that what NATOGCC (North Atlantic Treaty Organization-Gulf Cooperation Council) wants for Syria is exactly what al-Qaeda wants for Syria?
     So when the Assad regime, for all its ghastly military offensives that essentially victimize civilians caught in cross fire, says it's fighting "terrorists", it's not exactly bending the truth. Even that ubiquitous, proverbial entity, the unnamed "US official", is blaming AQI for the recent bombings....
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012Top of page
Educators can’t stay silent about Israeli apartheid
J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Robin D.G. Kelley, Bill V. Mullen, Nikhil, Electronic Intifada 2/13/2012
      Today the systematic dispossession of the Palestinian people continues unabated and largely unchallenged by the United States and the European Union. Barriers to Palestinian mobility, social and political development are visible everywhere.
     While Jewish-Israeli citizens pass freely, more than 500 police and military checkpoints regulate Palestinian movement between the occupied West Bank and Israel. Passing through these checkpoints on a recent fact-finding tour organized by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, we witnessed Palestinians endure a daily ritual of subordination, humiliation and suspicion.
     Abutting the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem, the massive Israeli separation wall annexes Palestinian land for the expanding settlement of Gilo. For Palestinian families who find themselves on the “wrong” side of the wall, what had once been a short walk to school now takes several hours.
     Since 1992, Jewish-Israeli settlement within the West Bank has increased by more than 50 percent; some 500,000 Jewish settlers now live among 2.5 million Palestinians. Walled, gated and connected by a sophisticated road network that bypasses the dilapidated infrastructure used by Palestinians, these illegal settlements maintain privileged access to the most fertile lands, water and energy resources.
     In Hebron, a few hundred Jewish settlers backed by the Israeli military control the eastern part of the city inhabited by some 35,000 Palestinians. There we saw how settlers have seized houses above the souq, the main market street, and pummeled Arab merchants with garbage, excrement and acid in order to strangle the commercial life of the city and render it prone to future settlement.
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Promises of exports fall short for Gaza’s manufacturers
Ma’an News Agency 2/15/2012
      The UN Relief and Works Agency says the number of refugees living in abject poverty in Gaza has tripled since the blockade began.
     GAZA CITY (IRIN) -- Mumin Najar drags open the massive door to the goods depot of his father’s furniture factory, the Modern Industrial Group, in Rafah in the Gaza Strip.
     “Everything you see here is waiting to be sold abroad,” he says.
     On the left side of the depot, writing desks are piled up several meters high. Further toward the back, hundreds of chairs have been waiting to be sold for more than a year now, and are covered in dust.
     Encouraged by Israeli announcements in 2010 of an ease in restrictions on exports, the factory owner, Mohamed Najar, produced furniture worth about $150,000 for orders from abroad. But he has little hope he will be allowed to export these items any time soon.
     “I am ready to export tomorrow,” he said, adding: “The Israelis made us prepare with positive announcements. But in the end, nothing has happened.”
     The government of Israel controls the territorial waters, airspace and land borders of the Gaza Strip, part of the occupied Palestinian territory. After militant group Hamas won parliamentary elections in Gaza in 2006, Israel imposed a tight blockade on the Strip, sealing its borders almost entirely and banning many imports and all exports. Mohamed Najar said many factories had closed down over the last four years as a result of the export ban.
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Obama’s Zig Zag Maneuvers with Israel and Iran
Gareth Porter, CounterPunch 2/15/2012
      What Options Are Really on the Table?
     Washington, DC
     President Barack Obama has finally begun in recent months to signal to Israel that the United States would not get involved in a war started by Binyamin Netanyahu without US approval. If it is pursued firmly and consistently through 2012, the approach stands a very good chance of averting war altogether. If Obama falters, however, the temptation for Netanyahu to launch an attack on Iran, indulging in what one close Israeli observer calls his “messianism” toward the issue of Iran.US officials then came up with a new strategy for pulling Israel back from the precipice of war by letting Netanyahu know that, if the US were denied a full role in coordinating military policy toward Iran, it would not come to Israel’s aid in such a war.
     Netanyahu, like every previous Israeli prime minister, understands that an Israeli strike against Iran depends not only on US tolerance, but direct involvement against Iran, at least after the initial attack. In May 2008, his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, had requested the approval of George W Bush for an air attack on Iran, only to be refused by Bush.
     Netanyahu apparently feels, however, that he can manipulate right-wing Israeli influence on American politics to make it impossible for Obama to stay out of an Israeli war on Iran. He has defied the Obama administration by refusing to assure Washington that he would consult them before making any decision on war with Iran.
     The Obama administration’s warning signal on the danger of an Israeli attack began flashing red after Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta came back empty-handed from a trip to Israel in September
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Israeli forces destroy "the only place for children in Silwan"
Electronic Intifada: 15 Feb 2012 - Josie Shields-Stromsness East Jerusalem 15 February 2012 Israeli bulldozers demolished the only community center and refuge for Palestinian children in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.more

Raed Salah deportation case disintegrates in UK court, but verdict still to follow
Electronic Intifada: 15 Feb 2012 - Asa Winstanley London 15 February 2012 The judge heading the panel assessing whether Palestinian civil rights leader Sheikh Raed Salah can be deported from the UK has cast serious doubt on the British government’s case. A final verdict is expected in the next two weeks.more

Reality of Hamas-Fatah Unity
Palestine Chronicle: 15 Feb 2012 - By Ramzy Baroud While top officials representing rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, signed yet another unity agreement on February 6 in Doha, Qatar, Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan crossed the 50-day mark of his hunger strike. His health was rapidly deteriorating. Since his arrest on December 17, “Khader was subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment, including physical abuse, prolonged periods of interrogation, isolation and unsanitary conditions of detention,” according to a joint statement by the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations (PCHRO), an umbrella group that represents all major Palestinian human rights groups. After a medical examination on January 29, doctors representing Physicians for Human Rights — Israel concluded that Adnan’s life was at risk. By then, he had lost over 20 kilograms. Israel’s system of administration detention can hold detainees ad infinitum, without trial or due process per orders of a military court. After a recent review of his...more

Story of Graffiti Revolution – Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 15 Feb 2012 - By Eric Walberg – Cairo (Ard ard - Surface-to-surface: The story of a graffiti revolution. Sheif Abdel-Megid. Egyptian Association for Books 2011. ISBN 978-977-207-102-9) Graffiti -- the art of the masses, by the masses, for the masses -- has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and arguably to Pharaonic Egypt. Sherif Abdel-Megid, a writer who works for Egyptian television, boasts that Egypt's revolution and the explosion of popular art that followed it finds its roots in the decay of the Sixth dynasty in Egypt's Old Kingdom, following the reign of Pepi II (2278-2184 BC), credited with having the longest reign of any monarch in history at 94 years (Mubarak, eat your heart out). His own decline paralleled the disintegration of the kingdom and it is thanks to Pharaonic graffiti that we know about it. In modern times, graffiti continues to explode during...more

BDS: Power of the People at Work
Palestine Chronicle: 15 Feb 2012 - By Ramzy Baroud The issue is not about hummus, chocolate bars or Dead Sea vacations. It is about civil society taking full responsibility for its own action (or lack of). The issue is not exactly about Israeli products either, but rather about how even a seemingly innocent decision like buying Israeli dates may enable the continued subjugation of the Palestinian people. Because the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) highlights this, the reaction it often generates is charged and vehement. Many also react to the BDS because it actually works. Israeli supporters have every right to be concerned that their carefully customized discourse on Israel’s infallibility (juxtaposed with Palestinian depravity) - which has been promoted for decades in various media and political outlets in the US and Western countries - is now simply falling apart. The recent University of Pennsylvania BDS conference, organized by student group, PennBDS, was the...more

Scoundrel Time: The Situation in Syria
Palestine Chronicle: 15 Feb 2012 - By Jeremy Salt - Ankara Even though we are used to double standards, the moral posturing over Syria in recent weeks has been quite a spectacle. At the UN Security Council, Susan Rice bellows her disgust at the use of the veto by Russia and China, when the US has used the veto more than 60 times, mostly to protect Israel. Horror at the violence is sounded by the delegates of the same powers that have dismantled Libya and ended the lives of an estimated two million Iraqis through warfare and sanctions since 1991. When Saudi Arabia and Qatar call for political reform in Syria and an end to the violence, hypocrisy is displaced by farce. Their gulf ally, King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa of Bahrain, told Der Spiegel that Bashar al Assad should listen to his people. There is no opposition in Bahrain, according to His Majesty: 'we...more

Cold, Cold Heart
Palestine Chronicle: 15 Feb 2012 - By Kathy Kelly – Dubai It's Valentine's Day, and opening the little cartoon on the Google page brings up a sentimental animation with Tony Bennett singing "why can't I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart." Here in Dubai, where I’m awaiting a visa to visit Afghanistan, the weather is already warm and humid. But my bags are packed with sweaters because Kabul is still reeling from the coldest winter on record. Two weeks ago, eight children under age five froze to death there in one of the sprawling refugee camps inhabited by so many who have fled from the battles in other provinces. Since January 15, at least 23 children under 5 have frozen to death in the camps. And just over a week ago, eight young shepherds, all but one under 14 years of age, lit a fire for warmth on the snowy Afghan mountainside...more


Thursday, February 16, 2012Top of page
The BDS movement: Power of the people at work
Ramzy Baroud, Ma’an News Agency 2/17/2012
      The issue is not about hummus, chocolate bars or Dead Sea vacations. It is about civil society taking full responsibility for its own actions (or lack of). The issue is not exactly about Israeli products either, but rather about how even a seemingly innocent decision like buying Israeli dates may enable the continued subjugation of the Palestinian people.
     Because the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement highlights this, the reaction it often generates is charged and vehement.
     Many also react to the BDS because it actually works. Israeli supporters have every right to be concerned that their carefully customized discourse on Israel’s infallibility (juxtaposed with Palestinian depravity) - which has been promoted for decades in various media and political outlets in the US and Western countries - is now simply falling apart.
     The recent University of Pennsylvania BDS conference, organized by student group, PennBDS, was the latest example to illustrate both the effectiveness of the global movement and also the real worry felt by supporters of Israel in the United States. Knowing fully that facing BDS allegations head on would most likely be unsuccessful, they organized around misinformation, name-calling and intimidation. However, the tired strategy is no longer bearing fruit.
     Israel’s Zionist supporters made every attempt to galvanize the Jewish community in Philadelphia into targeting the conference that called for Israel to be held accountable for its military occupation, racial discrimination and flagrant violations of international law.
     One of those angered by the conference is Ruben Gur, a professor of psychiatry at the university. In an article published in the Daily Pennsylvanian, he likened the conference organizers to ‘Nazis’.
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Nablus village at the center of settler violence
Charlie Hoyle, Ma’an News Agency 2/17/2012
      ASIRA AL-QIBLIYA (Ma'an) -- A drive along the northern section of route 60 paints a telling picture of the physical geography of settlements and settler violence in the West Bank.
     Winding through picturesque Nablus countryside, the main north-south highway acts as a boundary between Israeli settlements on one side and Palestinian villages on the other.
     Overlooked by these illegal hilltop residences, local Palestinians are all too familiar with the disadvantages of the neighborly proximity, especially given that the Nablus district experienced the majority of settler violence in 2011.
     "Generally speaking, no week passes without an attack," the mayor of Nablus village Asira al-Qibliya says.
     Located just off route 60, this village of around 3,000 residents is left to fend for itself in a political power vacuum so common in the West Bank.
     "The Palestinian Authority can’t do anything for us as they need security clearance," Mayor Ahmed Abdel Hadi says. Such clearance, if approved, could take over 5 hours, he adds.
     Asira al-Qibliya lies in Area B, designated in the Oslo Accords as being under Israeli security control and PA administrative rule. The nearest settlement to Asira al-Qibliya is Yitzhar, which, like most others, is located in Area C, under full Israeli administrative and security control.
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No Arab Spring for Egypt’s Bedouin
Harrison Akins, Al Jazeera.com 2/15/2012
      Bedouin tribesman are increasingly marginalised by Egypt's central government and the growing tourism industry in Sinai.
     In early February, two American women in their 60s, admiring the rugged beauty of South Sinai around St Catherine's Monastery - probably squinting under the bright Egyptian sun - were suddenly set upon by armed Bedouin tribesmen in a pick-up truck. The women were robbed of their money and valuables and then, along with their Egyptian tour guide, taken hostage. This kidnapping came in the wake of the abduction of 25 Chinese workers in North Sinai last month by the Bedouin.
     The news spread like wildfire. Commentators immediately pointed to a possible al-Qaeda link. There were already reports in the media of the nefarious doings of groups like the Boko Haram in Nigeria and the TTP of Pakistan and their links with al-Qaeda.
     What is happening with the Sinai Bedouin?
     The Bedouin responsible for these recent kidnappings provide us a clue to the motivation of their actions. In both incidents, they were seeking to put pressure on the government to release their fellow tribesmen detained by the Egyptian authorities, and released their hostages in a matter of hours.
     It is a little-known but sad story that the Sinai Bedouin have been suffering decades of neglect and prejudice by the central government. Under President Mubarak's government, the Bedouin tribes with their nomadic traditions were subject to hostile policies, harassment and economic exclusion; threatened on one side by the growing infringement and exclusion from the tourism industry, and, on the other side, by the security mindset with which the central government views the Bedouin - turning Sinai into a security state....
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Standing in solidarity with Khader Adnan
Electronic Intifada: 15 Feb 2012 - Nehad Khader Washington, DC 16 February 2012 Protests in solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan made his plight impossible to ignore.more

Republican Primaries: Fooling Some of the People
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Feb 2012 - By Eric Walberg – Cairo Salafist (excuse me, 'deeply Catholic') Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum appears back in the race for chief elephant after trouncing Mitt Romney in Minnesota and Colorado. But beware: Minnesotans are an unpredictable lot, with the only black Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison, their own Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, and of course 9/11 Truther and wrestler-governor Jesse Ventura (1999-2003). But Santorum also won in Colorado (Romney won in 2008) and Missouri, riding a wave of distrust of Mitt’s conservative credentials and showing Romney’s one-percenter Achilles heel. Romney’s win in Maine last week was Pyrrhic, as there were no delegates, and he just edged out maverick Ron Paul. Romney and Santorum have each won four states, while Newt Gingrich has won only a measly South Carolina. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator and favourite of evangelicals despite his papism, has hammered the former Massachusetts governor as being too moderate to satisfy...more


Friday, February 17, 2012Top of page
The West Bank’s Bobby Sands
Donald MacIntyre, The Independent 2/17/2012
      Khader Adnan's two-month hunger strike has made him a hero among Palestinians outraged by Israel's policy of arbitrary detention.
     It was only after talking with lucidity and animation for an hour about her husband's 61-day hunger strike that Randa Jihad Adnan's eyes, visible though the opening of her nekab, filled with tears. Until then, this articulate 31-year-old graduate in sharia law from Al Najar University in Nablus, the pregnant mother of two young daughters aged four and one and half, had described with almost disconcerting poise the two months following the arrest of her husband, Khader Adnan, on 17 December.
     He was seized at 3.30am by some of the scores of Israeli military and security personnel who surrounded the family home in a West Bank village south of Jenin, and is now being held in the Israeli Rebecca Ziv hospital in Safed. Yesterday she was allowed to visit him with the children and her father-in-law.
     There they found him, weak and extremely thin, his beard unkempt and his fingernails long. He was shackled by two legs and one arm to his bed, and was connected to a heart monitor. Though mentally alert, he could speak only with difficulty. "I was shocked," she said yesterday. "I couldn't speak for about three minutes, and it was the same for my daughters."
     Mrs Adnan is convinced that the Israeli authorities only allowed the visit because they wanted the family to put pressure on her husband to end his hunger strike. He had started this on 18 December in protest at his arrest, his treatment and the subsequent detention order served on him.
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The Syrian Impasse
Immanuel Wallerstein, Agence Global 2/15/2012
      The bottom line is that, however loud the rhetoric and however ugly the civil war, no one really, really wants Assad to go. So, in all probability, he will stay.
     Bachar al-Assad has risen to the heights of being one of the least popular men in the world. He is denounced as a tyrant, indeed a very bloody tyrant, by almost everyone. Even those governments that refuse to denounce him seem to be counseling him to curb his repressive ways and to make some sort of political concessions to his internal opponents.
     So, how is it that he ignores all this advice and proceeds to continue to use maximum force to continue political control of Syria? Why is there no outside intervention to force his removal from office? To answer these questions, let us start with assessing his strengths. First, he has a reasonably strong army, and up to now, with a few exceptions, the army and other structures of force in the country have stayed loyal to the regime. Secondly, he still seems to command the support of at least half of the population in what is increasingly being described as a civil war.
     The key government posts and the officer corps are in the hands of the Alawi, a branch of Shi'a Islam. The Alawi are a minority of the population and certainly fear what would happen to them if the opposition forces, largely Sunni, were to come to power. In addition, the other significant minority forces -- the Christians, the Druze, and the Kurds -- seem to be equally wary of a Sunni government. Finally, the large merchant bourgeoisie have yet to turn against Assad and the Baath regime.
     But is this really enough? If this were all, I doubt that Assad could really hold out much longer. The regime is being squeezed economically. The opposition Free Syrian Army is being fed arms by Iraqi Sunnis and probably Qatar. And the chorus of denunciations in the world press and by politicians of all stripes grows louder by the day.
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Pressures on Hamas and the Exit from Syria
Yasir Alza'atra, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) 2/15/2012
      Before clashes broke out in Syria, the head of the Hamas Movement's Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal, contacted the Syrian leadership and offered clear and frank advice regarding the need for political reform. He warned the regime that the wave of demand for reform sweeping the region would not stop at the Syrian borders, and that the Syrian people wished for freedom just like other Arab people. The leadership did not listen to the advice, and insisted that "this system of resistance and opposition" is different than any other, and that the Syrian people would not rebel against the regime. However, the heroic Syrian people surprised not only the regime, but the entire world with their patriotism, persistence and sacrifices for freedom.
     To realize the magnitude of challenge the Syrian people faced, one must realise the kind of regime and forms of security and sectarianism that exists in Syria which the Syrian people know well; they have many memories relating to it in the form of massacres and suffering. And so their revolution was an expression of that heroism which comes in the face of a bloody security regime, based on almost complete support by the Alawite minority, as well as a similar support, though to a different degree, from other minorities living with some concerns and fears about the future. There is also a limited sector of the Sunni majority who feel that their earnings would be at risk in the event that the regime should fall. A short time after the outbreak of the Revolution, the Syrian regime officially demanded that Hamas determine its position regarding what was going on. To this, Hamas responded clearly stating that its alliance with the regime was against the Zionist Occupation, and not against the Syrian people. The Movement then issued a neutral statement which the regime considered a betrayal.
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Gaza families recount terror of latest air strikes
Electronic Intifada: 17 Feb 2012 - Rami Almeghari Gaza City 17 February 2012 Israeli airstrikes early Thursday morning injured six persons, including rescue workers. Meanwhile, area residents say this is not the first time they have been subjected to Israeli strikes.more

The Seacret Debate: Conflict over the Conflict
Palestine Chronicle: 17 Feb 2012 - By Matt Buckley Rundle Mall is an open-air shopping mall in the heart of the Australian city of Adelaide. It has shops, cafes, a tavern and sculptures. On any given day in Rundle Mall one can find tourists, shoppers, street performers, families, and young people. The presence of an Israeli cosmetics shop in Adelaide’s shopping district Rundle Mall has caused clashes between Palestinian rights activists and Christian Zionists. The atmosphere of Rundle Mall on Fridays in the early evening is no longer only of Adelaide’s night-life just awakening, but also of tension and anger. Seacret is an Israeli company that sells cosmetics made from minerals extracted from the Dead Sea. Its products are labelled, “Made In Israel”. The Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) is an Adelaide-based activist group formed in 2003, which campaigns against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. AFOPA accuses Seacret of stealing Palestinian resources to make...more

'Jewish State' Committing Suicide
Palestine Chronicle: 17 Feb 2012 - By Uri Avnery After the founding of Israel, God appeared to David Ben-Gurion and told him: 'you have created a state for my chosen people in my holy land. This merits a great reward. Tell me what you wish, and I will grant it.' Ben-Gurion answered: “Almighty God, I wish that every person in Israel shall be wise, honest and a member of the Labor Party.” “Dear me,” said God, “That is too much even for the Almighty. But I decree that every Israeli shall be two of the three.” Since then, if a wise Israeli is a member of the Labor party, he is not honest. If an honest Israeli is a member of the Labor party, he is not wise. If he is wise and honest, he is not a member of the Labor Party. The joke was popular in the 1950s. After 1967, another much less funny...more


Saturday, February 18, 2012Top of page
Saving Khader Adnan’s life is saving our own soul
Richard Falk, Al Jazeera.com 2/17/2012
      The Palestinian prisoner's case is a microcosm of the unbearable cruelty of prolonged occupation.
     The world watches as tragedy unfolds beneath its gaze. Khader Adnan is entering his 61st day as a hunger striker in an Israeli prison, being held under an administrative detention order without trial, charges, or any indication of the evidence against him.
     From the outset of his brutal arrest in the middle of the night - in the presence of his wife and young daughters - he has been subject to the sort of inhumane and degrading treatment that is totally unlawful and morally inexcusable. Its only justification is to intimidate, if not terrify, Palestinians who have lived for 45 years under the yoke of an oppressive occupation. This occupation continuously whittles away at Palestinians' rights under international humanitarian law - especially their right to self-determination, which is encroached upon every time a new housing unit is added to the colonising settlements that dot the hilltops surrounding Jerusalem and the West Bank. Hundreds of Palestinians join hunger strike
     The case of Khader Adnan is a revealing microcosm of the unbearable cruelty of prolonged occupation. It draws a contrast in the West between the dignity of an Israeli prisoner and the steadfast refusal to heed the abuse of thousands of Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails through court sentence or administrative order.
     Mr Adnan's father poignantly highlighted this contrast a few days ago by referring to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas in captivity for several years and recently released in good health: "Where are the mother and father of Gilad Shalit? Do they not feel for me in this humanitarian case? Where are they?"....
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Open letter to EU’s Ashton after statement on Khader Adnan
Ali Abunimah, Ma’an News Agency 2/18/2012
      Dear Ms. Ashton,
     Forty-eight hours after my colleague David Cronin first requested it, your spokespersons found the time to issue a statement on the plight of Khader Adnan, who could die at any moment, shackled to his bed, now in his 62nd day of hunger strike against his arbitrary detention by Israel.
     Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Carter Center, and numerous civil society groups all over the world have called for Israel to immediately release or charge Mr. Adnan, as well as the more than 300 other “administrative detainees” including 21 elected members of the Palestinian legislative council currently being held by Israel.
     But you didn’t do that. Instead, you washed your hands of Khader Adnan, and to the extent that Khader Adnan has become a symbol of Palestinians’ desperate determination to stand up for their rights against overwhelming Israeli oppression, you washed your hands of all Palestinians too.
     As Adnan wrote weeks ago:
     “The Israeli occupation has gone to extremes against our people, especially prisoners. I have been humiliated, beaten, and harassed by interrogators for no reason, and thus I swore to God I would fight the policy of administrative detention to which I and hundreds of my fellow prisoners fell prey.”
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We’ve seen the threats against Iran before
Phyllis Bennis, Al Jazeera.com 2/18/2012
      Although political brinkmanship with Iran is nothing new, escalating tensions do not bode well for the region.
     Amsterdam, The Netherlands - Here we go again with the Iran hysteria. It is tempting to think this time will be just like previous periods of sabre rattling against Iran. But there are significant new dangers. The Arab Spring, Israel's position, changes in the regional and global balance of forces, and national election campaigns, all point to this round of anti-Iranian hysteria posing potentially graver risks than five or six years ago.
     We have seen all this before. The US ratchets up its rhetoric, Israel threatens a military attack, escalating sanctions bite harder on the Iranian people, Iran refuses to back down on uranium enrichment. But at the same time, top US military and intelligence officials actually admit Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, is not building a nuclear weapon, and has not decided whether to even begin a building process.
     There is certainly a big dose of déjà vu. In 2004 Israel's prime minister denounced the international community for not doing enough to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon. In 2005 the Israeli military was reported to "be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran". In 2006 the House Armed Services Committee issued a report drafted by one congressional staffer (an aide to hard-line pro-war John Bolton, then US ambassador to the UN), claiming that Iran was enriching uranium to weapons-grade 90 per cent. That same year a different Israeli prime minister publicly threatened a military strike against Iran. In 2008, George W Bush visited Israel to reassure them that "all options" remained on the table.
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fish hiya: no life
In Gaza: 18 Feb 2012 - If these were “normal” circumstances, we could deal with it. I remember not long ago when we would complain because the power was out for 12 hours a day. Now I long for those days. These aren’t normal times, these are worse than even “shitty” times. This is no life. Every day, every hour, I think: what time is the power coming, how long has it been off now? When will the water come? The drinking water truck has stopped coming around. The people who purify the water can’t do so without electricity, and they can’t deliver the water without gas. We’re not asking for a lot: water and electricity. Who hears our voices? Does anyone? This was the main message in our conversation, but of course other complaints escaped as well: how incredibly boring and disorienting it is to have almost entire days, every day, without power. No computers,...more

Obsession with Israel: Variegated Trojan Horse
Palestine Chronicle: 18 Feb 2012 - By Jamil Toubbeh 'Obsession with Israel' is akin to wearing the Stars and Stripes on one's lapel; while both may be symbols of commitments to causes, the causes, by virtue of their uniqueness, are rarely complementary and if by chance they are, their individual objectives and outcomes are usually skewed to one or the other cause(s). The reason: in a democracy national interests and sovereignty are unique and supreme. This concept is best articulated in George Washington’s enduring statement in his historic Farewell Address, delivered more than 150 years before the establishment of the self-proclaimed Jewish State, aka Israeli. Washington said: “[A] passionate attachment of one Nation for another provides a variety of evils...facilitating the illusion of an imaginary interest, in cases where no common interests exists; and infusing into one the enemies of the other, betrays the former to participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter". The...more

War 'Option': You Will Comply or Else
Palestine Chronicle: 18 Feb 2012 - By Ron Forthofer Madeleine Albright, former U.S. ambassador to the UN and former Secretary of State in the Clinton administration, once asked General Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" Albright's statement nicely captures the U.S. approach to dealing with troublesome leaders. By troublesome, I mean those who have the temerity to oppose U.S. positions and who, at the same time, are far too weak to pose a real military threat to the U.S. Examples of nations that had such troublesome leaders include Panama, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The leaders of Syria and Iran are also currently in the crosshairs. Note the contrast between Albright's words and those of President Eisenhower in his "Cross of Iron" speech in 1953. Eisenhower addressed the idea of regime change when he said:...more


Sunday, February 19, 2012Top of page
Ethnic cleansing in a Zionist fairyland
Vacy Vlazna, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/16/2012
      Official Israeli archaeology is legitimating the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem in defiance of basic precepts of international law.
     "De-Arabising the history of Palestine is another crucial element of the ethnic cleansing. 1,500 years of Arab and Muslim rule and culture in Palestine are trivialised, evidence of its existence is being destroyed, and all this is done to make the absurd connection between the ancient Hebrew civilization and today's Israel. The most glaring example of this today is in Silwan, (Wadi Hilwe) a town adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem with some 50,000 residents. Israel is expelling families from Silwan and destroying their homes because it claims that king David built a city there some 3,000 years ago."
     "Thousands of families will be made homeless so that Israel can build a park to commemorate a king that may or may not have lived 3,000 years ago. Not a shred of historical evidence exists that can prove king David ever lived, yet Palestinian men, women, children and the elderly along with their schools and mosques, churches and ancient cemeteries and any evidence of their existence must be destroyed and then denied so that Zionist claims to exclusive rights to the land may be substantiated." -- Miko Peled, Israeli dissident.
     Indeed, Israeli archaeology has become a state apparatus for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the Zionist fairyland, aka the "City of David Archaeological Park" located in the Palestinian village of Silwan in East Jerusalem.
     East Jerusalem is the capital of the proposed Palestine state. It was illegally annexed by Israel in the 1967 War. Prohibiting the annexation of territories gained by military conquest is one of the major principles of international law. The international community does not recognise Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem, but nevertheless over 50,000 illegal premises have been built for 250,000 illegal Israeli colonists in the city.
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Yet another reconciliation bid
Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/16/2012
      Many but not all greet the Doha Declaration on Palestinian reconciliation, while time will tell whether it will ever be implemented in full.
     Reporters tried in vain to get Salah Al-Bardawil, member of the politburo and media spokesman for Hamas, to comment on the Doha Declaration signed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal. The deal mainly focussed on forming a technocrat government headed by Abbas.
     Al-Bardawil's refusal to answer calls from reporters was especially noteworthy because he has a mandate to express the group's position, and refraining from comment reflected a state of uncertainty and division within the group about the Doha Declaration. It also revealed distinct and obvious disputes among the leadership of the group abroad, in the West Bank, and the majority of Hamas leaders in Gaza on the one hand, and a handful of its leaders in Gaza on the other. This made it difficult for Al-Bardawil to explain these contradictions.
     Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister in Gaza, leading Hamas figures in the West Bank, abroad and in Gaza welcomed the declaration. But Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, a member of the group's politburo, and Ismail Al-Ashqar, chairman of the Security Committee in parliament, snubbed the Doha Declaration. Haniyeh stated that the leaders of the group support the declaration and went as far as thanking and praising Qatari mediation between Fatah and Hamas to reach the deal. He continued that his government was ready to implement the deal, adding that there is no reason for him to object to the agreement.
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Israel tests international patience on Jerusalem
Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/16/2012
      The results of the Likud leadership elections and continuing provocation at the Haram Al-Sharif signal growing extremism in Israel.
     Moshe Feiglin is not a typical Likudnik in the style of other past and present Likud leaders, such as Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu.
     Those who know him say he is an incarnation of Meir Kahana, the racist-minded American rabbi who in the early 1970s founded the Kach organisation calling for the expulsion of non-Jews from Israel-Palestine, as well as the application of draconian Talmudic laws to replace Israel's quasi-secular system.
     A few years ago, Feiglin decided to join the ranks of Likud, calculating that only by taking over a central and powerful party from within could he hope to transform Israel from a semi-secular state into a Jewish theocracy ruled by Halacha or the so-called Talmudic religious law.
     So far, he has achieved only limited success, with less than 25 per cent of Likud registered members voting for him in the recent party leadership elections, in which the overwhelming majority voted for incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
     However, the fact that Feiglin has been able to secure one fourth of Likud behind him does not bode well for either Israel's democracy or the future of Likud itself.
     Ideologically, Feiglin is at the extreme right of the Israeli political map, believing that Israel should annex the West Bank, reoccupy the Gaza Strip, deport all Palestinians and demolish Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem.
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Monday, February 20, 2012Top of page
Bassem Tamimi to Judge: I Do Not Recognize Your Rules
Popular Struggle Coordination Committee 2/20/2012
      Bassem Tamimi from Nabi Saleh testified yesterday as part of the defense's case in the ongoing trial against him. Tamimi, suspected of protest related charges, was arrested on March last year, and remains in detention since.
     After 11 months in an Israeli jail, Bassem Tamimi, a prominent Palestinian activist from Nabi Saleh, was given a chance to plead his case before the military court in regards to the allegations against him, denying them in full while owning up to his and his village's struggle against the Occupation and the theft of their lands. Tamimi, who was recognized by the European Union as a human rights defender last year, said, "International law gives us the right to peaceful protest, to demonstrate our refusal of the policies that hurt us, our daily life and the future of our children".
     Tamimi began his testimony by telling of his past experience in Israeli prisons and interrogation rooms. He recounted how he was tortured so badly by the Israeli Shin Bet in 1993 that he suffered a severe Intracranial hemorrhage which left him unconscious for a week and partially paralyzed.
     He then continued to explain the reason behind the Nabi Saleh protests, saying "I do not know and do not care if they are permitted by your law, as it was enacted by an authority I do not recognize". He narrated how the settlers from the nearby Halamish continuously took over lands belonging to his village since the 1970s abetted by the army and how, when villagers tried to prevent the latest attempts to seize their lands, the Israeli army exerted repression tactics against them. "Every time we try to help them work the land, before we reach it, they disperse us using rubber bullets, tear gas and using excessive force. This is what happens every Friday", he said. -- See also: Video: Archive footage and an interview with Tamimi shortly before his arrest
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Hamas’s Iran connection
Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/16/2012
      According to many Palestinians, Iran manipulates the Palestinian cause, raising suspicions about Ismail Haniyeh's recent visit to Tehran.
     The latest visit to Tehran by Hamas's prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, raised many eyebrows among Palestinians who viewed the timing as "problematic and unwise".
     Critics argue that having cordial meetings with the Iranian leadership at this time is bound to be interpreted by many Muslims as a brazen betrayal of the Syrian revolution, including the Syrian Muslim Brothers, the Alawite regime's arch foe and ultimate enemy.
     Iran, which officially claims it doesn't interfere in the Syrian situation, is one of the Bashar Al-Assad regime's ardent supporters. The same thing applies to the Lebanese militia Hizbullah, which is rumoured to be assisting the Syrian army in its bloody crackdown on the freedom movement.
     The ruling Alawite sect in Syria is an esoteric branch of Shiism. In recent years, Shia scholars tried to "rehabilitate" the Alawites, with some Shia clerics issuing edicts that the Alawites were bona fide Shia.
     The Alawites are anthropomorphists who believe that the Prophet Mohamed's cousin and son-in-law, Ali, was God incarnate.
     Syrian sources close to the anti-Assad movement have reported that Iranian fighters were spotted helping the regime's forces kill peaceful protesters. However, these reports have not been confirmed by independent or third party sources.
     Until fairly recently, Hamas resorted to reiterating terse statements affirming its "absolute neutrality" with regard to "the situation" in Syria.
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West Bank outposts spreading into Area B, in violation of Oslo Accords
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 2/18/2012
      Area B is defined as land under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control, according to Oslo Accords.
     Settlers from West Bank outposts have taken control of land in Area B and are thus in breach of the 1995 Oslo agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, says Dror Etkes, an anti-settlement activist. Area B was defined in the Oslo Accords as land under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control.
     According to Etkes, who has monitored the settlements for years, the takeover of land in Area B is a combination of unbridled thievery by settlers and impotence on the part of the Israeli authorities. He says the Israeli side has turned the West Bank into an area where the strongest dominates.
     Etkes says an aerial photo shows that Israel has violated the agreement signed in Washington in September 1995. One clause states: "All civil powers and responsibilities, including planning and zoning, in Areas A and B set out in Annex III, will be transferred to and assumed by the Council [the Palestinian government] during the first phase of redeployment."
     Etkes found that the outpost of Amona, overlooking the settlement of Ofra in the northern West Bank, has spread hundreds of dunams into Area B. Roads have been built around the eastern side of the outpost on privately owned Palestinian land.
     According to Etkes, vineyards have been planted on land owned by Palestinians, whose access to the land has been blocked. For security reasons, Palestinians from nearby villages are not allowed access to thousands more dunams, some of which are in Area B, he adds.
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East Jerusalem cinema reopens after 25 years
Electronic Intifada: 20 Feb 2012 - Jillian Kestler-D'Amours Jerusalem 20 February 2012 Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem can once again go to the movies, now that Al Quds Cinema has reopened its doors after being closed for 25 years.more

Iran Crisis: 10 Questions Hague Won't Answer
Palestine Chronicle: 20 Feb 2012 - By Stuart Littlewood In an interview with The Daily Telegraph Britain's Foreign Secretary, William Hague, claims that Iran is threatening to spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East which could be more dangerous than the original East-West Cold War. "It is a crisis coming down the tracks,” he says. “Because they are clearly continuing their nuclear weapons programme… If they obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons. “And so, the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented would have begun with all the de-stabilising effects in the Middle East. “We are very clear to all concerned that we are not advocating military action,” he assures us. “We support a twin-track strategy of sanctions and pressure and negotiations on the other hand. We are not favouring the idea of anybody attacking Iran at...more

Jordan Is Not Palestine, Neither Is Qatar
Palestine Chronicle: 20 Feb 2012 - By Sam Bahour Hamas, the Palestinian 'Islamic Resistance Movement,' is on the move. Hamas is leaving Syria, where it has been based until now, making a pit stop in Jordan to mend affairs with King Abdullah II, declaring non-violent resistance as the preferred mode of struggle against Israeli occupation, signing (yet another) reconciliation agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and lastly, planning to relocate its headquarters to the State of Qatar. All of this has happened in the span of a few weeks. In the information-scarce, investigative reporting-light Middle East, one takes note of every word said and action taken at each high-level meeting—many times, these gestures and nuggets of information are the only insights available to construct the puzzle of the current state of affairs. Following multiple victories in recent elections across the Arab world, Islamist movements are boasting that there political time has arrived. The “Arab Spring,” as...more

When Netanyahu Crossed the Line
Palestine Chronicle: 20 Feb 2012 - By Deepak Tripathi The bombing of an Israeli embassy car in Delhi threatens India's diplomatic maneuvers between Israel and Iran, and has put India's discreetly nurtured ties with Israel since 1992 through a severe test. Those who are attracted to Israel’s depiction of Iran as a terrorist threat to world peace would do well to read historian Mark Perry’s account, revealing that Israel is recruiting, and collaborating with, terrorist groups in a secret war with Iran. That low-level conflict is spreading. Israel’s latest reaction should be seen in the light of Perry’s revelations. The Israeli government’s hasty and aggressive posture following the Delhi bombing has caused offense in the Indian capital. Officials in Delhi have made plain that India will not be recruited into the anti-Iran alliance under Israeli–U.S. pressure. India will not allow “Washington, the Jewish lobby and much of Europe to push the country into a corner” over...more

Israel Better Forget about Attacking Iran
Palestine Chronicle: 20 Feb 2012 - By Gilad Atzmon Israeli Ynet admitted today that an Israeli air force attack on Iran is unrealistic. The Israeli paper quoted a New York Times article that described such an attack as 'highly complex operation'. It would require at least 100 planes. Israeli jets would have to refuel in the air en route, fight off Iran’s air defenses and attack multiple underground sites simultaneously. American military experts seem to agree amongst themselves that Israel doesn’t necessarily has the means to accomplish such an operation. The first problem Israel faces is how to get to Iran. ”Israel has American-built F-15I and F-16I fighter jets that can carry bombs to the targets, but their range — depending on altitude, speed and payload — falls far short of the minimum 2,000-mile round trip. That does not include an aircraft’s ‘loiter time’ over a target plus the potential of having to fight off attacks...more

Furnishing War With Iran at Any Cost
Dissident Voice: 20 Feb 2012 - It took all of one hour after simultaneous attacks targeted Israeli diplomats on Monday in New Delhi and Tbilisi, Georgia for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to conclude his investigation.  As Netanyahu thundered with typical bravado: “Iran is behind these attacks.  It is the biggest exporter of terror in the world.” And after a series of apparently premature explosions shook Bangkok on Tuesday—including the detonation of two grenades by an Iranian national—Israel once again laid blame firmly at the feet of Iran.  As Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated : “The attempted terrorist attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetuate terrorism.” Yet, as the Mossad connected DEBKAfile reported , Israel remains “in the dark about the source or sources of the attacks on Israeli diplomats abroad and the investigations have a long way to go.” Nonetheless, the series of attacks have been quickly (and quite...more

The Global Crises of Capitalism: Whose Crises, Who Profits?
Dissident Voice: 20 Feb 2012 - From the Financial Times to the far left, tons of ink has been spilt writing about some variant of the Crises of Global Capitalism. While writers differ in the causes, consequences and cures, according to their ideological lights, there is a common agreement that “the crises” threatens to end the capitalist system as we know it. There is no doubt that, between 2008-2009, the capitalist system in Europe and the United States suffered a severe shock that shook the foundations of its financial system and threatened to bankrupt its ‘leading sectors’. However, I will argue the ‘crises of capitalism’ was turned into a ‘crises of labor’. Finance capital, the principle detonator of the crash and crises, recovered, the capitalist class as a whole was strengthened, and most important of all, it utilized the political, social, ideological conditions created as a result of ‘the crises’ to further consolidate their dominance and...more


Tuesday, February 21, 2012Top of page
Israeli Leader Wrongly Blames UN and Arab States for Palestinian Refugees
Leila Hilal, The Atlantic 2/21/2012
      Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is putting out a series of misleading videos on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     At the end of 2011, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, posted the third video in his YouTube series about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These polished presentations are produced by an Israeli public relations firm in collaboration with StandWithUs, a U.S.-based group that counters criticism of Israeli policies regarding Palestinian. The series is promoted as "explanations of the historical facts" of the core issues of the conflict -- thus far covering the peace process, the West Bank, and most recently, refugees. (A fourth video on Jerusalem is said to be forthcoming.)
     Ayalon is a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and currently a Knesset member representing Yisrael Beitenieu, an ultra-nationalist party that advocates the transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel as part of a political settlement. An avid user of social media -- recognized by Foreign Policy in their who's who of 100 Tweeters in 2011 -- he maintains a personal website in Hebrew and English, including links to his widely viewed and frequently reposted Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts. The refugee video alone garnered 37,000 hits within the first two weeks of its release, and currently has over 140,000 views. Ayalon reportedly plans to promote the clips, available in eight languages, globally for use in regular school curricula. The deputy foreign minister has particularly strong appeal among some Christian evangelicals and conservative members of U.S. Congress, with whom he and his party have long cultivated ties and to whom much of his communications appears geared. In short, his effort to influence the narrative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can have consequences.
     Ayalon's refugee video -- which was dropped from Le Poste (the French equivalent of the Huffington Post) for violating guidelines against racist postings -- makes two main substantive assertions, claiming basis in facts and international law: first, that the Palestinian refugees are caught between Arab host governments who deny them basic rights and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)....
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The massacre of 1929 and the War of Narratives
Aaron, International Solidarity Movement 2/21/2012
      If you ask an Israeli settler in or around Al-Khalil (Hebron) what calls them to live on contested land, most will speak to a religious connection to the city and the Cave of the Machpelach (“patriarchs”), where Jews, Muslims, and Christians come to revere the biblical figures believed to be buried there. A series of signs posted nearby along Shuhada Street, the once-main road and market district now closed to Palestinians, tell a story of Hebronite Jewish habitation dating from biblical times, brought to a sharp and bloody end with a 1929 pogrom, which resulted in the deaths of 67 Jewish residents and the displacement of the survivors. Citing this narrative, many of today’s settlers justify their occupation of the old city as a rebirth and continuation of this community, a story echoed in publications distributed by the Gutnick Center (a Jewish cultural center) and soldier-escorted weekly tours through the Palestinian market. The problem with this narrative is that no one, not even the survivors’ descendants, agrees on it.
     On Monday, February 20th, the Jerusalem Post published an article presenting the conflict between the survivors’ descendants as a microcosm for Jewish public opinion, some of whom support the settlements and a growing number who oppose Hebron’s especially active settler community, one which Yair Keidan calls “a loaded bomb that can blow up peace altogether.” Both sides have signed petitions to the Israeli government, asking variously to maintain, evacuate, and/or halt settlement activity, and both groups claim a right to the legacy of their parent community.
     “You can’t bring back the dead,” said Ya’acov Castel, a survivor from 1929, “but there are people living here now who are carrying out the dream of the Jews who lived here for hundreds of years.” Yona Rochlin, whose family went back many generations in pre-1929 Hebron, argues the opposite—pointing out that the majority of settlers are US immigrants, who have settled in a foreign city unfamiliar with the customs, language, or neighborly habits of the people they claim as spiritual forebearers....
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I’ve lost a good, brave, honourable friend
Robert Fisk, The Independent 2/18/2012
      Tewfik Mishlawi was the first Palestinian to report for The Times.
     I was the paper's Middle East correspondent in the early 1980s and had come to admire this tall, humorous man with his giant eyes and deep voice, able to interpret civil war Lebanese politics like a seer. When I signed him up as my "stringer" in Beirut – a "stringer" is the reporter who covers for the full-time correspondent when he's away – The Times was attacked by readers who, in some cases, declared themselves friends of Israel, all of whom told us that a Palestinian would only be writing on behalf of "terrorists". The readers were told to get stuffed.
     Tewfik proved so honourable in his coverage, so unwilling to cast blame on anyone even under fire (I especially remember him filing from the awful siege of Zahle in 1981), that I had to call him up and say: "Tewfik, in God's name, tell us who the bad guys are – and say what you fucking well think!"
     He once came home, his English wife Phillipa remembers, with a notebook full of instructions. "They have all these words you can't use," he told her. "On The Times, we don't say 'terrorist' unless someone uses the word in quotes." Those were the days. It was a rule that I pushed through on the paper, thus deleting the generic, often racist use of this word. Murdoch's Times has long since rediscovered its usefulness.
     So when, last week, an old Lebanese friend told me over lunch that Tewfik had died, I realised that another of those figures who would never die – Tewfik suffered a stroke in 1998 but with inhuman determination taught himself to speak again – had indeed proved mortal....
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Vital health services under threat in Gaza power crisis
Electronic Intifada: 21 Feb 2012 - Gaza City 21 February 2012 An energy crisis is currently hitting the Gaza Strip’s public services hard and could lead to a severe humanitarian crisis if a sustainable solution is not found soon.more

Never mind Johnny Rotten, real punks boycott Israel
Electronic Intifada: 20 Feb 2012 - Alexander Billet Chicago 20 February 2012 Working with the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, Punks Against Apartheid follows a firm tradition of anti-racism within the punk movement.more

Baroud Talks to CPDS: Clear, Non-Factional Message Urgently Needed
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Feb 2012 - By Yousef M. Aljamal – Gaza, Palestine For the 7th week in row, the Center for Political and Development Studies, (CPDS) - a Gaza based think-tank - held a lecture via Skype with Palestinian and international activists, aiming at drawing attention to crucial issues related to Palestine. Palestinians have been misrepresented and defamed in the world as a result of PR campaigns unleashed by well-financed pro-Israeli groups, and CPDS, like other groups attempt to bring a more balanced view on the issue. Ramzy Baroud, a Palestinian-American journalist, the founder and editor of the Palestine Chronicle, a well-regarded Palestinian website in the US, and the author of three books including his last My Father Was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story talked to CPDS on Sunday, February 19, on 'How to Establish a Palestinian Narrative', with the presence of Palestinian activists, academics and politicians. "We have the truth on our side...more

Unmaking of Israel – Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Feb 2012 - Reviewed by Jim Miles (The Unmaking of Israel. Gershom Gorenberg. Harper Collins, New York. 2011) Many recent works are reflecting an internal crisis within Israel, part of which is the increased power of the ultra-Orthodox Jews within the educational, military, and political systems. Gershom Gorenberg’s “The Unmaking of Israel” presents clear and well argued points concerning this aspect of current Israeli life and politics, and, as reflected in other works by Jewish writers, “The ongoing occupation, the fostering of religious extremism, the undercutting of the law by the government itself all threaten Israel’s future.” Gorenberg’s thesis is narrowly focused on this aspect of Israeli life, and while there are some arguable points of historical interpretation, his general argument is well presented and well thought out. It is not a work about the Palestinians per se, but about the nature of the ongoing occupation and all the hazards that it brings...more

2013 Budget: 'Difficult Cuts' for Americans, Jackpot for Israel
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Feb 2012 - By Josh Ruebner Speaking before students at Northern Virginia Community College on February 13, President Obama unveiled his 2013 budget request, in which he proposed "some difficult cuts that, frankly, I wouldn’t normally make if they weren't absolutely necessary. But they are." These budget cuts are unavoidable, the President argued, because "the truth is we're going to have to make some tough choices in order to put this country back on a more sustainable fiscal path." In a sad commentary on the misplaced priorities of the Obama Administration, however, these "tough choices" will affect the delivery of basic services to U.S. citizens while the Israeli military hits the jackpot at taxpayer expense. As part of its budget request, the White House released a 205-page document detailing the cuts, consolidations, and savings the Obama Administration is proposing. These proposed cuts include $5 million to the USDA to analyze food-borne pathogens, potentially...more

Fikra: Israeli Forum for Arab Democrats
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Feb 2012 - By Maidhc Ó Cathail On February 10, subscribers to Fikra Forum's mailing list received a bilingual (English and Arabic) letter from director David Pollock informing them: "In reaction to last week's exclusive Fikra Forum report, Inside the Syrian Army by Ilhan Tanir, contributor Josef Olmert and I present analysis on how the U.S. and the international community should support the FSA [Free Syrian Army]." Five days later, Fikra Forum subscribers received another email with the subject title, “Leading Syrian Activist Calls for International Intervention.” In his introductory note, Pollock explained: “As the international community struggles to halt the Syrian regime’s brutal assault on its people, Fikra Forum would like to share our newest piece by Radwan Ziadeh, an official with the Syrian National Council and executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies. Ziadeh calls for intervention, urging the international community to form a coalition that legitimizes...more

Withered Hands – A Poem
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Feb 2012 - By Eugene Sigaloff 'Jewish life is going on here in Hebron, and there's Nothing you, or anybody, can do about it!' A settler's words, Pugnacious words, Stiff-necked words, Words behind a gun, Words holding all the cards, Mean words, Hostile words, Full of spite, Full of spittle, Streaming from a poisoned well. “Jewish life” is More than observant piety, More than roots and identity, More than kosher kitchens and circumcisions, More than selective humanitarianism; “Jewish life” is also Suffering crystallized as malice, and Malice warranted through the presumption of suffering, Past suffering become a blinding alibi, Righteousness become self-righteousness; “And the crooked shall be made straight”: The potter’s wheel of the human mind Turns its cup, The cup from which to sip Its very own self-serving narrative. Taunting the helpless, Mocking the persecuted, Justifying theft through folklore, Sucking an entire people dry and Accusing the victims of their wrongdoing, The...more

A Voice of Integrity in the Canadian Media Fired Again
Dissident Voice: 21 Feb 2012 - On Thursday, February 9th, 2011, Bell Media, owners of CTV and CFRA Radio in Ottawa, fired talk show host Michael Harris.   Harris is a journalist of the highest integrity, a Woodrow Wilson Scholar and award winning author of numerous books, four of which have sparked Canadian Royal Commissions.   He has been outspoken on Palestinian rights, environmental issues and the Harper government’s undemocratic behaviour just to name a few. The station also fired 15 others on the same day but they were not controversial, high-profile individuals of Mr. Harris’ calibre.  Bell Media, of course, denies that he was fired because of his views and cites corporate restructuring as the reason for all the dismissals.   An examination of the facts indicates otherwise.  Two extremely right-wing talk show hosts were retained while Harris was fired;  one, Lowell Green, is 75 years old and in poor health and the second, Nick Vandergragt, is a...more


Wednesday, February 22, 2012Top of page
Tel Aviv is no haven for asylum seekers
Charlotte Silver, Al Jazeera.com 2/22/2012
      African refugees going to Israel take a harrowing journey to get there - only to be left to fend for themselves.
     Ramallah, West Bank - The notion of a "Jewish and democratic state", never a feasible reality, continues to unravel as its inherent racism is revealed in a new way. Any political discussion of refugees that are of the wrong ethnicity inevitably refers to African migration to Israel as an "existential threat". Labelling these refugees as "threats" allows the state to criminalise and imprison them. Meanwhile, the country continues to solicit immigrants from East Asia to fulfil the need for cheap labour, and Jewish immigrants to battle the internal demographic war.
     Brutal violence at the hands of their own governments has forced tens of thousands of people from the horn of Africa into Israel. In response the state has approved a significant rearrangement of its ministries' budgets, allowing it to pour significantly more money into efforts that punish these refugees for seeking asylum in Israel - a place which has long advertised itself as the only democracy in the Middle East.
     State officials estimate that around 2,000 asylum seekers enter the country every month. Most of the men end up in Levinsky Park in southern Tel Aviv. At any time during the day or night, one can find young black African men sitting on the park's benches, swings and concrete walls. In late January, a man who lived in the park died from exposure during the night.
     The majority of the men who live in Levinsky Park are from Eritrea and Darfur. They are luckier than most of their compatriots who remain in the perilous countries from which they have fled, but not so fortunate as those who manage to make it to the USA or Europe. For these refugees, Israel is considered a last-resort destination due to its rapidly worsening conditions for refugees and asylum seekers.
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Never mind Johnny Rotten, real punks boycott Israel
Alexander Billet, Electronic Intifada 2/20/2012
      Chicago
     “If Elvis-fucking-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he’s suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they’re treated.”
     These words weren’t spoken by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. They didn’t crawl from the bile of AIPAC, Newt Gingrich or some hardened, right-wing ideologue from the heart of the Israel’s illegal settlements. They came from the mouth of John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols.
     Most devotees of punk rock stopped taking Lydon seriously well before he started shilling for Country Life butter. To be sure, any and all credibility he once had from his work with the Pistols, or, for that matter, later on with Public Image Ltd (PiL), flew out the window years ago.
     It’s also true that the Pistols idiotically paraded around in swastikas during their early years. Still, even taken with that grain of salt, Lydon’s words are profoundly troubling. Like it or not, the former Rotten is considered a granddaddy of punk rock. It’s not far fetched to imagine someone reading his words and thinking his flagrant racism, his willful defense of an apartheid state, are somehow the punk norm. It’s for this reason that Punks Against Apartheid exists.
     In the summer of 2011, Punks Against Apartheid came together as an ad hoc formation of BDS activists and punk fans (a formation that, in the interest of full-disclosure, includes this writer). The goal was initially modest: draft a letter and petition urging Jello Biafra, formerly of The Dead Kennedys, to cancel his gig in Tel Aviv with his band The Guantanamo School of Medicine.
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Court gives Israel "licence to pillage" West Bank, say rights groups
Electronic Intifada: 22 Feb 2012 - Jillian Kestler-D'Amours Jerusalem 22 February 2012 JERUSALEM (IPS) - After a recent Israeli high court decision allowed Israeli companies to maintain quarrying and mining activities in the occupied West Bank, human rights activists say the decision has opened the door to Israel’s pillaging of other Palestinian resources.more

Stop the JNF campaign makes steady gains as Israel charity goes "on the retreat" in UK
Electronic Intifada: 22 Feb 2012 - Asa Winstanley London 22 February 2012 Because of the efforts by Palestine solidarity activists to expose the colonization project of the Jewish National Fund, 2012 could perhaps be the organization’s last year holding charity status in the UK.more

An Open Letter to President Abbas
Palestine Chronicle: 22 Feb 2012 - By John V. Whitbeck Dear President Abbas, There was visible and audible euphoria at the UN General Assembly in September when you announced Palestine's application for UN membership, at UNESCO's Paris headquarters in October when Palestine was admitted as a member state and at UNESCO again in December when the Palestinian flag was formally raised in your presence (and mine). Since then, nothing ... It is understood that you agreed with the Quartet to freeze Palestine's diplomatic initiatives until January 26 to permit a final effort to initiate meaningful negotiations with Israel. Predictably, that effort failed. However, January 26 has long passed. Still, nothing ... I shared your surprise that, with nine of the states on last year's UN Security Council having already extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine, you could not line up even the nine affirmative votes for Palestine's admission as a member state necessary to force the...more

False Prophets of Peace - Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 22 Feb 2012 - Reviewed by Ludwig Watzal (Tikva Honig-Parnass, False Prophets of Peace. Liberal Zionism and the Struggle for Palestine, Haymarket Books, Chicago, Ill. 2011, 262 pp.) This book explores the Israeli Zionist Left’s discourse regarding the, Jewish and democratic” State of Israel and all of its ramifications. Such undertaking was overdue because it exposes Zionist left-wing intellectuals as hypocrites. It was not the Israeli right that did the “dirty“ work of legitimatizing colonization, oppression, expulsion, discrimination and dispossession of the original owners of the land, the Palestinians, but left-wing “liberal” intellectuals, especially those of the Zionist Labor movement. They provided not only the political, legal and military establishment with ideological legitimacy but also with a “scientific” one. Through their intellectual twists and turns, they laid the foundations for governmental policies that “have made possible Zionist colonialism in the Apartheid settler state of Israel” (193), writes Tikva Honig-Parnass in her unique book. The...more

US-China's Dangerous Contest for Asia-Pacific
Palestine Chronicle: 22 Feb 2012 - By Ramzy Baroud On two occasions in my life I found myself living close to the South China Sea. The sea became my escape from life's pressing responsibilities. But there is no escaping the fact that the deceptively serene waters are now also grounds for a nascent but real new cold war. China takes the name of the sea very seriously. Its claim over the relatively massive water body – laden with oil, natural gas and other resources – is perhaps ‘ill-defined’, per the account of the BBC (Nov 3, 2011), but it is also very serious. Countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are uneasy but are caught in a bind. China’s growing regional influence – to some, perhaps ‘encroaching hegemony’ – is an uncontested fact of life. To challenge - or balance - the rising Chinese power, these countries face a most difficult choice: accepting China’s...more

Counter-Terrorism and Northern Border Drug Strategy Tied to Perimeter Security Deal
Dissident Voice: 22 Feb 2012 - In a move that went largely unnoticed, the U.S. government unveiled a new counter-narcotics strategy for the northern border which will work towards closer cooperation with Canada in the war on drugs. This includes both countries strengthening integrated cross-border intelligence sharing and law enforcement operations. Canada has also released a comprehensive counter-terrorism plan aimed at combating the threats of domestic and international violent extremism. The separate U.S.-Canada undertakings are both tied to the Beyond the Border deal and efforts to establish a North American security perimeter. In January, the Obama administration announced the National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy . A press release by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) described how the plan seeks, “to reduce the two-way flow of illicit drugs between the United States and Canada by increasing coordination among Federal, state, local, and tribal enforcement authorities, enhancing intelligence sharing between counterdrug agencies, and strengthening ongoing counterdrug...more


Thursday, February 23, 2012Top of page
Khader Adnan: A selfless Palestinian hero
Daoud Kuttab, Ma’an News Agency 2/23/2012
      It might have been a small gesture, but it spoke volumes. After Khader Adnan, the Palestinian administrative detainee on his 66th day of hunger strike agreed to end his protest, he refused to eat until all fellow hunger striking Palestinians were informed about his decision.
     Speaking on Voice of Palestine, Adnan Musa, Khader’s father, said his son would not eat until he was assured that his decision to end the hunger strike was transmitted to the hundreds of fellow Palestinian prisoners who were on a solidarity hunger strike with him.
     The elder Adnan said that all prisoners had broken their fast after evening prayer at about 5 p.m. and Khader only agreed to take some butter milk at around 7 p.m., after being reassured that his supporters had first ended their hunger strike.
     Khader Adnan is a hero by all counts. He single-handedly exposed the unjust Israeli practice of holding Palestinians in extended detention without charge or trial.
     The military objections committee that is charged with supervising these detentions is a sham.
     Israeli military judges are given secret evidence by fellow Israeli intelligence officers, which cannot be viewed or challenged for authenticity by the prisoners or their lawyers.
     At present, over 300 Palestinian prisoners are held without official charge or trial. According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, at one time over 1,700 Palestinians were held under such circumstances.
     The so-called objections committee can renew the six-month detention orders as many times as it wants.
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Radio station aims to empower Palestinian women
Electronic Intifada: 23 Feb 2012 - Jillian Kestler-D'Amours Ramallah 23 February 2012 Nisaa FM is an almost entirely female-run Palestinian radio station based in Ramallah and the only radio station in the Middle East devoted solely to women’s issues.more

Illusions of 'the Yemeni Model'
Palestine Chronicle: 23 Feb 2012 - By James Gundun - Washington, D.C. They couldn't believe their ears. After months of backroom negotiations and a week of intense lobbying reduced the United Nations to Moscow's 'consensus,' nyet still reverberated throughout the Security Council's chamber. Russia and China's veto of a potential resolution in Syria triggered immediate outrage and disgust, exploding throughout Western capitals, oppositional Arab states and global social media. Unable to contact her counterpart during the resolution’s internal debate, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ascended the UN’s stage to ask Moscow, "Are you on the side of the Syrian people? Are you on the side of the Arab League?" She would drop the rhetorical questions after Saturday’s double-veto with China, declaring, “The Syrian people have asked the Security Council to act. The Arab League has asked the Security Council to act.” Whose side, though, is the Obama administration on? Despite lacking the moral high ground...more

Israeli Military Courts as Enforcement Mechanism of Occupation
Palestine Chronicle: 23 Feb 2012 - By Charlotte Kates 'As for your judicial apparatus…: it is one of the instruments of the occupation whose function is to give the cover of legal legitimacy to the crimes of the occupation, in addition to consecrating its systems and allowing the imposition of these systems on our people through force. This judicial apparatus also supports the administration of this occupation - which is the worst form of state-organized terrorism - as if you were in a permanent state of self-defense. The legitimate resistance of our people is seen as if it were terrorism that must be combated and liquidated and judgment is placed upon those that practice or support it. And in the face of this contradiction between two logics, there would have to be a conviction.' – Ahmad Sa'adat , Palestinian leader and political prisoner, addressing Israeli military court. Khader Adnan's 66 days of hunger strike under administrative detention,...more

A Response to Norman Finkelstein
Dissident Voice: 23 Feb 2012 - Responding to bizarre statements always risks magnifying their exposure and importance. Hence I wouldn’t normally respond to Norman Finkelstein’s startling 32-minute video attack on the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, which was recently posted on YouTube to considerable fanfare by Zionist blogs. Some other good writers have taken him on, like Sean O’Neill , so I could leave it there. But having watched the whole video-taped interview as well as the 5-minute version that someone cobbled together of its “highlights”, I’m sufficiently irritated to respond. Partly I’m concerned to counter some fallacies he promotes that are floating around more widely, but I also feel obliged to challenge people who use the worst conceits of the academy—“it’s science!” “it’s law!”—to trash people’s work while abusing the real rigor and subtlety of academe. In fact, some of Finkelstein’s points are flat wrong, others partly wrong, some partly right and...more

Iran Holds Up Access to Parchin for Better IAEA Deal
Dissident Voice: 23 Feb 2012 - IPS — The failure of a mission by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to get Iranian permission to visit a military testing site mentioned in its latest report has been interpreted in media coverage as a stall to avoid the discovery of confirming evidence of past work on nuclear weapons. But the history of Iranian cooperation with the IAEA on carrying out inspections at the Parchin military testing centre, as well as a previous IAEA-Iran work programme agreement, suggests that Iran is keeping permission for such a visit as bargaining leverage to negotiate a better deal with the agency. The IAEA statement Wednesday emphasised the fact that the mission to Tehran had been denied permission to visit the site at Parchin. That prompted Associated Press correspondent in Vienna, George Jahn, to call Iran’s refusal to agree to an IAEA visit to Parchin “stonewalling” and evidence of “hard line resistance” to...more

Bradley Manning, Solitary Confinement and Occupy 4 Prisoners
Dissident Voice: 23 Feb 2012 - Today US Army Private Bradley Manning is to be formally charged with numerous crimes at Fort Meade, Maryland.   Manning, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by members of the Icelandic Parliament, is charged with releasing hundreds of thousands of documents exposing secrets of the US government to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. These documents exposed lies, corruption and crimes by the US and other countries.  The Bradley Manning defense team points out accurately that much of what was published by Wikileaks was either not actually secret or should not have been secret. The Manning prosecution is a tragic miscarriage of justice.  US officials are highly embarrassed by what Manning exposed and are shooting the messenger.  As Glen Greenwald, the terrific Salon writer, has observed, President Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers for espionage than all other presidents combined. One of the most outrageous parts of the treatment of Bradley Manning...more


Friday, February 24, 2012Top of page
When it is illegal to use your front door: Freedom of movement in Al Khalil
Andreas, International Solidarity Movement 2/23/2012
      Al-Khalil (Hebron) is a divided city. As a result of the Oslo agreements negotiated in the 1990s – the people of Al Khalil became familiar with two new terms – H1 and H2. H1 refers to 80% of the city, which is officially under control of the Palestinian Authority, while H2 makes up the remaining 20% and falls under full Israeli military control. In area H2 Palestinians are daily exposed to human rights violations to an extent that can hardly be overestated. Israel severely restricts Palestinian freedom of movement in H2 in the name of ”separation,” but in practice this is a policy of segregation.
     Passing through Checkpoint 56, one of eleven permantly staffed checkpoints betweeen H1 and H2, the consequences of this policy can be heard, seen, and smelled. Passing through the checkpoint, the scents, sounds and sights of the vibrant commercial city center give way to a deserted area where the only people to be seen are a few settlers strolling down emptied streets and Israeli soldiers posted on rooftoops and street corners.
     Punishing the victims
     According to the latest UN report on freedom of movement in the West Bank, there are 90 different closure obstacles in the H2-area, that all interfere with freedom of movement for the Palestinians living in or having errands in H2. Closure obstacles can be staffed checkpoints, roadblocks, electric fences with barbed wire, and more. Along with these closures, Israel has imposed a ban on all Palestinian vehicular traffic on Shuhada street, which was once the vibrant main street – connecting the North with West of Al-Khalil. In large sections of Shuhada Street, the Israeli army also enforces a ban on pedestrian traffic.
     The Oslo Agreement gave Israel the chance to normalize and justify military emergency conditions and zones, already in place since 1994. That year a known member of the settler community of Khalil, Baruch Goldstein, walked fully armed into the Ibrahami Mosque and killed 29 people – injuring a over 100.... -- See also: When it is illegal to use your front door: Freedom of movement in Al Khalil and Villagers: Israeli forces bulldoze olive trees on Hebron land
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What Really Happened in the 'Yom Kippur' War?
Israel Shamir, CounterPunch 2/22/2012
      A CounterPunch Exclusive: Collusion and Betrayal on the Suez Canal
     Here in Moscow I recently received a dark-blue folder dated 1975. It contains one of the most well-buried secrets of Middle Eastern and of US diplomacy.
     The secret file, written by the Soviet Ambassador in Cairo, Vladimir M. Vinogradov, apparently a draft for a memorandum addressed to the Soviet politbureau, describes the 1973 October War as a collusive enterprise between US, Egyptian and Israeli leaders, orchestrated by Henry Kissinger.
     If you are an Egyptian reader this revelation is likely to upset you. I, an Israeli who fought the Egyptians in the 1973 war, was equally upset and distressed, – yet still excited by the discovery. For an American it is likely to come as a shock. According to the Vinogradov memo (to be published by us in full in the Russian weekly Expert next Monday), Anwar al-Sadat, holder of the titles of President, Prime Minister, ASU Chairman, Chief Commander, Supreme Military Ruler, entered into conspiracy with the Israelis, betrayed his ally Syria, condemned the Syrian army to destruction and Damascus to bombardment, allowed General Sharon’s tanks to cross without hindrance to the western bank of the Suez Canal, and actually planned a defeat of the Egyptian troops in the October War.
     Egyptian soldiers and officers bravely and successfully fought the Israeli enemy – too successfully for Sadat’s liking as he began the war in order to allow for the US comeback to the Middle East.
     He was not the only conspirator: according to Vinogradov, the grandmotherly Golda Meir knowingly sacrificed two thousand of Israel’s best fighters – she possibly thought fewer would be killed — in order to give Sadat his moment of glory and to let the US secure its positions in the Middle East....
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Iran, the IAEA and the Parchin Site
Gareth Porter, CounterPunch 2/23/2012
      The failure of a mission by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to get Iranian permission to visit a military testing site mentioned in its latest report has been interpreted in media coverage as a stall to avoid the discovery of confirming evidence of past work on nuclear weapons.
     But the history of Iranian cooperation with the IAEA on carrying out inspections at the Parchin military testing centre, as well as a previous IAEA-Iran work programme agreement, suggests that Iran is keeping permission for such a visit as bargaining leverage to negotiate a better deal with the agency.
     The IAEA statement Wednesday emphasised the fact that the mission to Tehran had been denied permission to visit the site at Parchin. That prompted Associated Press correspondent in Vienna George Jahn to called Iran’s refusal to agree to an IAEA visit to Parchin “stonewalling” and evidence of “hard line resistance” to international pressure on its nuclear programme.
     International Herald Tribune blogger Harvey Morris wrote that Iran’s strategy was to “play for time”.
     But access to Parchin was discussed as part of broader negotiations on what the IAEA statement called a “document facilitating the clarification of unresolved issues” in regard to “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program. The negotiations were focused on what cooperation the IAEA is demanding and what the agency is ready to offer in return for that cooperation.
     Judging from past negotiations between Iran and the IAEA, Iran is ready to offer access to Parchin as well as other sites requested by the agency as part of an agreement under which the IAEA would stop accusing Iran of carrying out covert nuclear weapons experiments.
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Asking Israel why it tortured my friend
Electronic Intifada: 24 Feb 2012 - Joy Ellison Chicago 25 February 2012 When I heard that Israeli Sergeant Benjamin Anthony would be speaking at DePaul University in Chicago yesterday, I had one question for him: why did its army torture my friend?more

"UN must prosecute Israel for war crimes," says Bloody Sunday lawyer
Electronic Intifada: 24 Feb 2012 - Adri Nieuwhof Geneva 24 February 2012 Michael Mansfield, a juror for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, talks about the tribunal’s shadow report documenting Israel’s apartheid policies that tears apart Israel’s report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.more

Gaza's Race Car Students 'Inspirational'
Palestine Chronicle: 24 Feb 2012 - By Stuart Littlewood Imagine a handful of engineering students imprisoned in the tiny Gaza enclave taking on the cream of Europe's technical universities in a competition to build a race car and compete with it. They did it last year. And they’re planning to do it again this year – at least that’s what their students’ union tells me, and I’ve been trying to get confirmation. Formula Student (FS) is a challenge to university students around the world to design and build a single-seat racing car, which they must then put through its paces at the Silverstone Circuit in the UK in a series of static and dynamic tests. The aim is to inspire young people and boost skills in advanced engineering. In Europe the competition is run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineer (IMechE). America has a similar student competition run by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Students...more

'Most Gifted Foreign Correspondent in a Generation'
Palestine Chronicle: 24 Feb 2012 - By Ralph Nader Anthony Shadid, called the 'most gifted foreign correspondent in a generation' by his then Washington Post colleague, Rajiv Chandrasekaran (author of the widely heralded book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City"), didn't really need a byline. For anyone who knew of his peerless, unique reports from the Middle East would read them and just know they were a Shadid special. Alas, there will be no more Shadid reports and features from the streets, alleys, souks, homes, hospitals, workplaces and cultures of the Arab countries. For on an assignment from The New York Times in a dangerous, mountainous area of Syria last week, this humble, brilliant, nuanced, generous, honest, brave double-Pulitzer-Prize winner (with another one likely on the way) died from an apparent asthma attack together with severe allergic reactions and exhaustion. Mr. Shadid, only 43, with by a wife and two children, never wanted to be a...more

Belarus and Venezuela: Building the Multi-polar World
Dissident Voice: 24 Feb 2012 - All over planet millions of people die of hunger every year. It is not a secret. Our media agencies tell us such facts quite often. Speaking about global inequality is not taboo in Western liberal democracies. To state that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer is to repeat a cliché, a platitude of whose truth almost none are unaware. But the structural causes of poverty are rarely addressed in the Western press. Why, for example, if capitalism is the best of all possible socio-economic systems, do most of the people on the planet live in poverty? We are told that developing countries have dragged their populations out of poverty by opening up their markets to direct foreign investment. Rather than reining in the excesses of capitalism, then, intensifying its expansion is, many would argue, the solution to poverty. But if that is the case, why...more

Tunisia: Moderate Political Islam Eschews Violence
Dissident Voice: 24 Feb 2012 - The world of journalism and that of the broader reading public suffered a major loss last week with the death of Anthony Shadid in Syria. Shadid one of the most daring, and daringly honest, journalists in the world succumbed to an asthma attack at the age of 43 last Thursday while on assignment for the New York Times . Before he died he sent this story which appeared in the NYT 2-18-2012 two days after his death. It is important to discuss and evaluate the story as it reveals the complexity of modern political Islam and upends many current false and bigoted notions being spread in the US and Europe. The story revolves around the return to Tunis of Said Ferjani, a self educated Islamic politician, who lived in the U.K. for 22 years and is a member of the Ennanah Party — an Islamic political party that won the recent...more


Saturday, February 25, 2012Top of page
The Israeli Plot to Murder a Former US Senator
Council For The National Interest, CounterPunch 2/24/2012
      James Abourezk represented South Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971 to 1973 and in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 1979. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including Advise & Dissent: Memoirs of South Dakota and the U.S. Senate. CNI asked Mr. Abourezk about his experiences with the Israel Lobby while he served in Congress. In his response he told of an Israeli plot against him in whch the US press has displayed no interest. Below is his description of this and other incidents:
     Q: Despite such books as Paul Findley’s They Dare to Speak Out, Edward Tivnan’s The Lobby, and Mearsheimer and Walt’s The Israel Lobby, some people still tend to downplay the power of the Israel Lobby. Can you tell us about some of your experiences with it?
     A: I’m an eyewitness to what the Lobby does to Members of Congress, including to me during the time I spent in D.C. I was threatened, marginalized, attacked, lied about, among other matters in an effort to silence my criticism of Israel’s policies and of the Lobby. ??At one time Bob Cordier, from the Washington FBI office, called me to tell me that, during the investigation into Alex Odeh’s murder (Alex was one of my staff people) the FBI had uncovered a “plot” on my life. Not a threat, but a plot, but, he said it’s OK now, as the guy who intended to murder me had now gone back to Israel. Alex Odeh’s murder came not long after I had run four full page ads in the Washington Post asking for support against the Israel Lobby.
     My assumption was that, reading the ads had enraged the plotter, which led him to bomb the ADC office in Orange County, California. I also assume that the plotter was Robert Manning, a hit man who was later convicted of the murder of the secretary of a Jewish businessman in California.... -- See also: Council for the National Interest and Yes, It's the Lobby: "Political Fear" Drives US Support for Israel
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How Khader Adnan Exposed the Irrationality of Administrative Detention
Uri Avnery, CounterPunch 2/24/2012
      A Shining Victory for Non-Violence
     A PALESTINIAN village, somewhere in the West Bank.
     In the middle of the night, banging on the door and shouts in Arabic: “Israeli army. Open up!”
     Somebody – most often the mother – opens the door. The heavily armed soldiers rush in and drag the victim out of bed. They throw him to the floor in full view of his wife and children (or parents and siblings), blindfold and handcuff him behind his back, and drag him to a jeep. The victim may be 15 or 70 years old or any age in between.
     After several days of interrogation, with or without “moderate physical pressure” (as a High Court judge delicately put it), if no satisfactory confession is forthcoming, the prisoner is consigned to “administrative detention” which may last six months and can be renewed for year after year . The judicial overview is a farce. The prisoner is not informed of what he is accused and by whom, evidence is kept secret from both the prisoner and his or her lawyer.
     In the course of the occupation, tens of thousands of Palestinians have experienced this procedure. At present, some 300 are in administrative detention (among the ten thousand or so who were judged by military or civilian courts.)
     Now one of them has said: Enough!
     KHADER ADNAN MUHAMMAD MUSA has been arrested several times before....
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Yes, It’s the Lobby: 'Political Fear' Drives US Support for Israel
James Abourezk, If Americans Knew 12/3/2006
      December 2006: James Abourezk, formerly US senator from South Dakota, describes below what drives US Mideast policies. He is responding to Jeffrey Blankfort's rebuttal of Noam Chomsky's allegations.
     Dear Jeff:
     I just finished reading your critique of Noam Chomsky's positions in an e mail sent to me by Tony Saidy.
     I had never paid much attention to Chomsky's writings, as I had all along assumed that he was correct and proper in his position on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
     But now, upon learning that his first assumption is that Israel is simply doing what the imperial leaders in the U.S. wants them to do, I concur with you that this assumption is completely wrong.
     I can tell you from personal experience that, at least in the Congress, the support Israel has in that body is based completely on political fear—fear of defeat by anyone who does not do what Israel wants done. I can also tell you that very few members of Congress—at least when I served there—have any affection for Israel or for its Lobby. What they have is contempt, but it is silenced by fear of being found out exactly how they feel. I've heard too many cloakroom conversations in which members of the Senate will voice their bitter feelings about how they're pushed around by the Lobby to think otherwise. In private one hears the dislike of Israel and the tactics of the Lobby, but not one of them is willing to risk the Lobby's animosity by making their feelings public.
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Transformation of Palestinian landscape focus of Designing Civic Encounter project
Electronic Intifada: 24 Feb 2012 - Emily Lawrence Bethlehem 25 February 2012 A new multidisciplinary project examines how Israeli settlements, a burgeoning neoliberal economy and loss of traditional heritage is quickly transforming Palestine’s landscapes and public spaces.more


Sunday, February 26, 2012Top of page
The myth of Israel’s liberal Supreme Court exposed
Jonathan Cook, Middle East Report Online 2/25/2012
      Little more than a decade ago, in a brief interlude of heady optimism about the prospects of regional peace, the Israeli Supreme Court issued two landmark rulings that, it was widely assumed, heralded the advent of a new, post-Zionist era for Israel. But with two more watershed judgments handed down over the winter of 2011-2012 the same court has decisively reversed the tide.
     Palestinians, both in the Occupied Territories and inside Israel, will pay the biggest and most immediate costs of the new decisions. In one, the Supreme Court has created a new concept of “prolonged occupation” to justify further Israel’s denial of basic protections to the Palestinian population living under belligerent military rule. In the other, it has upheld the right of the Israeli state to strip the Palestinian minority inside Israel of one of its fundamental rights of citizenship.
     Both of these new rulings threaten to unleash a torrent of more aggressive legislative and administrative measures against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line that separates the Occupied Territories from Israel proper, as the center of political gravity in Israel drifts steadily rightward.
     Activist Reputation
     The judicial mood of today is a far cry from the high spirits of the late 1990s, when the Supreme Court was led by Aharon Barak, feted by his counterparts in the United States as a paragon of enlightened liberalism. Barak is widely credited with entrenching in Israeli jurisprudence the philosophy of “judicial activism.” In practice, Barak’s activism meant that he reserved to the Supreme Court the right both to interpret the law creatively when it lacked clarity and to weigh critically and, if necessary, strike down measures passed by the Knesset when they conflicted with one of Israel’s 11 Basic Laws.
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VIDEO - South African activist offers perspective on BDS
Omar Rahman, +972 Magazine 2/26/2012
      An impassioned speech by South African activist at Israeli Apartheid Week in London quickly gains attention.
     The global symposium Israeli Apartheid Week kicked off a few days ago in cities and campuses around the world. Of particular note was an impassioned lecture given by a South African activist and PhD candidate called Mbuyiseni Ndlozi in London on Wednesday, on the connection between the struggle to end South African apartheid and what he described as an ‘evolved,’ and indeed worse, case in Israel.
     Ndlozi’s statement stands in stark contrast to the recent video interview with Normal Finkelstein, who says plainly that the Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid should not extend beyond the confines of international law. Ndlozi encourages activists to go further and appeal to people’s principles of freedom, justice and equality, what he said worked in South Africa.
     Ndlozi also highlights how the South African apartheid regime manipulated world opinion for decades in regards to the justification of separating Whites and Blacks and how this deception must be broken when it comes to Israel.
     "It cannot be true that on the face of the world today a people still exist who think they can survive with a system of separateness at the expense of others. It cannot be true that what we are continuing to do is to sit and talk all the time, that what we are continuing to do is sit and debate, is it apartheid or is it not, is it like South Africa or is it not. It is a violation of the fundamental right, the fundamental principles that we hold so dearly within our hearts. The principles of freedom, justice and equality." -- See also: YouTube: Mbuyiseni Ndlozi - Israeli Apartheid Week, London. 22.2.12
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What is really happening in Iran?
Pepe Escobar, Al Jazeera.com 2/26/2012
      Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei may control the nuclear programme, but he lacks a critical mass of Iranians.
     Hong Kong - The supreme war-or-peace question regarding the Iran psychodrama has got to be: What game is Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei really playing?
     Sharp wits among the lively Iranian global diaspora maintain that the Supreme Leader is the perfect US/Israel asset - as he incarnates Iran as "the enemy" (although in most cases in a much less strident way than Ahmadinejad).
     In parallel, the military dictatorship of the mullahtariat in Tehran also needs "the enemy" - as in "the Great Satan" and assorted Zionists - to justify its monopoly of power.
     The ultimate loser, voices of the diaspora sustain, is true Iranian democracy - as in the foundation for the country's ability to resist empire. Especially now, after the immensely dodgy 2009 presidential election and the repression of the Green movement. Even former supporters swear the Islamic Republic is now neither a "republic" - nor "Islamic".
     For their part, another current of informed Iranian - and Western - critics of empire swear that the belligerent Likud-majority government of Israel is in fact the perfect Iranian asset. After all, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and former Moldova bouncer turned Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's non-stop warmongering tends to rally Iranians of all persuasions - always proudly nationalistic - behind the flag.
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Debating Violence in the Occupy Movement
Dissident Voice: 26 Feb 2012 - The term “diversity of tactics” is used to distinguish direct tactics that include property damage and armed retaliation against the police from nonviolent direct action and extremist tactics such as planting bombs and armed insurrection. By now several thousands progressives and liberals have read the article “ The Cancer in Occupy,” by Chris Hedges from February 6. In the article, Hedges condemns the so-called “Black Bock Movement” and “Black Bloc anarchists” for a variety of sins that include breaking store and car windows, burning flags, and swearing and throwing tear gas canisters at the police. There is a major problem with the whole premise of the article. As Hedges’ critics are quick to point out, “black bloc” (lower case) refers to tactics – there is no such thing as a “Black Block Movement” or “Black Bloc anarchists.” However unless they are regular readers of anarchist and left libertarian websites and...more


Monday, February 27, 2012Top of page
Tales of the Israel Lobby
James Abourezk, former U.S. Senator, CounterPunch 2/27/2012
      Threats to You or Your Family?
     When I was Chairman of the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC), we had two bombing incidents. I had no idea who was responsible, but I had a guess. Someone unknown placed a bomb in the doorway of ADC’s Boston headquarters. The staff there called the Boston police, who came and were in the process of disarming the pipe bomb that they found there. If I recall correctly, the police had put the bomb in a metal barrel, and it exploded in the face of one of the police officers, seriously injuring him. We all felt terrible about the policeman being injured and we tried as best we could to console his family. The whole incident was covered by a Boston TV station, and I assume they still have the footage of the explosion on file.
     At around the same time, someone unknown firebombed the ADC headquarters in Washington, D.C. I was out of town at the time, but no one was hurt, and I was able to get back in time to accompany the arson expert with the D.C. police department, who showed us exactly where the bomb was thrown and how the fire had spread from that point.
     Because we were all gripped with fear of what might be next, I decided to tighten up the security on my home, if nothing more than to calm down my family. I had bought a Rottweiler dog sometime earlier both for protection of my family and of our home. I learned that Rottweilers would automatically attack anyone who came near our home, unless we had introduced the dog to person visiting. I had a security expert—someone who had once worked as a Secret Service agent in the White House—make recommendations to insure that we would be a difficult target for someone who would wish us harm. We followed his advice and made the house a bit more invulnerable. He also told us that it would be impossible to make any home 100 per cent safe, but we could make it so a potential bomber would be discouraged enough to give up trying.
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A vision of harmony in Palestine
Gilad Atzmon, Redress 2/28/2012
      I was asked to talk to you about the on-going dispute within our ranks between those who support the one-state to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and those who advocate two states for the two people.
     Interestingly enough, this is a topic I hardly comment on, and not because I am short of vision, opinion or ideas, but rather because I believe that the fate of the people in Palestine and Israel should be decided by the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves. I, for instance, fail to see what qualifies a New York City Jewish academic or activist to determine how people should live in Palestine or anywhere else. Furthermore, I have never seen a Palestinian trying to advise Western solidarity activists how to run their lives. I argue then, that our “interventionist” enthusiasm to preach to others on how they should live is actually slightly pretentious.
     But the subject is obviously deeper: in spite of the fact Israel is an organic sovereign state – it is already recognized as one state by the [other] nations, it has a single sewage system, one power grid, one pre-dial international code –many Western leaders insist that it should actually be divided into two. Don’t you think that it is pretty unusual for the “international community” to blindly follow the Zionist ideology and draw a racially-inspired line between the two people on the land? Zionism – a failed enterprise
     So, rather than enter an endless and futile debate here, I propose that we should begin from a point at which we all agree: I presume that we all accept that Israel is currently one state but is dominated politically and spiritually by an ethnocentric discriminatory political system.
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Gaza’s race car students 'inspirational'
Stuart Littlewood, Redress 2/25/2012
      "We didn’t give up. As Palestinians, we look for plan B all the time.”
     Imagine a handful of engineering students imprisoned in the tiny Gaza enclave taking on the cream of Europe's technical universities in a competition to build a race car and compete with it.
     They did it last year. And they’re planning to do it again this year – at least that’s what their students’ union tells me, and I’ve been trying to get confirmation. The challenge
     Formula Student (FS) is a challenge to university students around the world to design and build a single-seat racing car, which they must then put through its paces at the Silverstone Circuit in the UK in a series of static and dynamic tests.
     The aim is to inspire young people and boost skills in advanced engineering. In Europe the competition is run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). America has a similar student competition run by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
     Students have to pretend they’ve been engaged by a manufacturing firm to produce a prototype car for evaluation. In addition to technical skills, the exercise teaches management, marketing and people skills. The motor sport industry regards this as an ideal standard of achievement for students making the transition from college to workplace.
     Last year’s Class 1 winner was the University of Stuttgart. Stuttgart, of course, is home to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and the University is renowned for its advanced automotive engineering. Gottlieb Daimler himself was a student there, and Wilhelm Maybach received an honorary doctorate from the University at the age of 70 – names to conjure with.
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Syria's Uprising and the International Community
Palestine Chronicle: 27 Feb 2012 - By Hisham H. Ahmed As many people may already know, the English meaning of the Arabic word Assad is lion. In the jungle, the lion is viewed as the king, as he is expected to be a more brutal monster. Indeed, of all the Arab regimes that have been toppled since the start of the Arab Spring last year, Syria’s Assad regime is the most dangerous. While it is impossible to quantify oppression and repression, the Assad regime has certainly surpassed its Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan and Yemeni counterparts in its assault on the rights of its people and other Arabs over the years. Although the other deposed Arab heads of state were ruthless and tyrannical beyond imagination, Assad’s dictatorship is, in fact, of a distinct nature. In their failing efforts to delegitimize the revolutions in their countries, Bin Ali, Mubarak, Qaddafi and Saleh, all respectively tried to invoke their military...more

Manufactured Disgust and Imperial Cynicism
Dissident Voice: 27 Feb 2012 - Since failing to win United Nations Security Council backing for “regime change” in Syria, Washington and its lackeys in the corporate media have been unrelenting in voicing their great moral outrage at both the violence of the Assad regime and the seeming indifference to it all by the likes of Russia and China. Washington is no doubt long in forgetting those that thwart the will of the “international community.” After all, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, the “travesty” of the Russian and Chinese veto left the entire Security Council “neutered.” Given this, it was of little surprise to see Ms. Clinton mount her soapbox once more last week in Tunis at the meeting of the so-called “friends of Syria.” As Ms. Clinton moralized Friday: It’s quite distressing to see two permanent members of the Security Council using their veto when people are being murdered, women, children, brave young...more

Dignity Triumphs over Tyranny
Dissident Voice: 27 Feb 2012 - On February 21, Sheikh Khader Adnan broke his 66-day hunger strike following a promise by Israeli authorities not to renew his administrative detention and to release him on April 17. The 33-year-old Master’s student in economics who works as a baker in the village of Arrabe, near the City of Jenin in the West Bank, was held without charge in “administrative detention” since December 17. After raiding his home at 3.30am, Sheik Adnan was blindfolded and his hands were tied behind his back before he was thrown in the back of a military jeep. During the ride to the nearby “Jewish-only” settlement of Dutan, Israeli soldiers slapped his face, beat him on the head and kicked him. He was not stranger to Israel’s rotating door of administrative detention. He has been held at least eight times since 1999. Under Israel’s system of “Jewish democracy”, administrative detention allows the occupying power...more

Dershed By Harvard’s Giftzwerg
Dissident Voice: 27 Feb 2012 - Could there be a more contemptible slime thrower than Alan Dershowitz? He is supposed to be a renowned defense attorney, but he is best known for his offense in defaming anyone who questions Zionism and the apartheid and misery it has brought to Palestine and to other parts of the world, including the United States. Jimmy Carter, John Mearsheimer, Richard Goldstone, Desmond Tutu, Susan Abulhawa, and Norman Finkelstein have all been scourged by this infamous Dershbag. But ironically, to be dershed is no longer a “scarlet letter” but rather a badge of honor. His latest venom is directed towards Gilad Atzmon, a world class jazz musician, who has just written a spectacular book The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics (Zero Books, 2011). This short piece of non-fiction is a well-researched, systematic approach to understanding the psycho-social dynamics (in the words of Kathleen Christison) of how so many...more


Tuesday, February 28, 2012Top of page
Israel’s 'New West Bank'
Lia Tarachansky, The Real News 2/28/2012
      New plan reveals gov't relocating Bedouins in Negev Desert to create Jewish contiguity south of the West Bank.
     In recent years, the government has adopted the so-called Prawer Plan, reversing several earlier decisions to recognize unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert. The new plan, explained by Association for Civil Rights in Israel lawyer Rawia Abu Rabia, will relocate 40,000 Bedouins in southern Israel for the establishment of 10 Jewish villages in their place. The Real News' Lia Tarachansky speaks with Haia Noach, Executive Director of the Forum for Co-existance in the Negev, and Salim Abu Kian, from Umm el Hiran, one of two villages (along with A Tir) slated for evacuation.
     Transcript
     LIA TARACHANSKY, JOURNALIST, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK: The Negev Desert, Southern Israel. This vast, diverse landscape is at the forefront of the new fight for land in Israel. In recent years, millions were invested in bringing Jewish citizens to this part of the country, and moving non-Jewish citizens out. Over 200,000 Bedouins live here in seven municipalities and over thirty unrecognized villages. A new plan that involves multiple branches of government, semi-governmental bodies, and corporations is starting a campaign of demolition, displacement, and forced urbanization. Rawia Abu Rabia is a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. She explains the impact of this project.
     RAWIA ABU RABIA, LAWYER, ASSOCIATION FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN ISRAEL: 60% of the country’s territory is the Negev Desert. The Bedouins are asking for only five percent of the Negev’s territory. Most of the lands the Badouins have lived on since before the establishment of the state, before all the laws, they were there. Some are villages of the internally displaced who were moved there in the 50s, what this plan proposes is less than one percent for them, of the Negev’s territory. -- See also: Israeli Tree Campaign "Judaizes" Expropriated Land
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Israel ups demolitions in controversial Palestinian territory
Mya Guarnieri, +972 Magazine 2/28/2012
      Less than two months into 2012, the pace of Israeli demolitions and displacements of Palestinians is already outstripping the same period in 2011. Israel seems to be taking advantage of the American election cycle to push settlement expansion in the E1 territory, which even the former Bush Administration halted due to threat it poses to two-state solution.
     The Bedouin village of Jabal al Baba (sometimes called Ras al Baba) isn’t the kind of place that makes headlines. In fact, it’s the kind of place that doesn’t always make maps.
     Located in the E1 area between East Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim—a zone that Israel is developing to break up Palestinian contiguity in the West Bank, making a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital impossible—Jabal al Baba is a tiny collection of tin and scrap shacks, built between smooth, white boulders. On one side: the wall. On another: the wall. Ma’ale Adumim, with its neat rows of red rooftops, stands in the distance. A trash-strewn, dirt road is the only way in and out of the village, which is perched on a hill.
     Despite the fact that Jabal al Baba is hemmed in by the separation barrier, there are no weekly protests here like those in Bilin and Nabi Saleh. So, for the most part, the media doesn’t come. Because, you know, if it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t lead.
     Two weeks ago—while journalists were busy with Israel’s screeching about Iran and the mindless chatter of American presidential candidates—Israeli authorities delivered evacuation orders to nine families in Jabal al Baba. Villagers estimate that approximately 60 people will be affected. That’s just this time round. If the international community doesn’t step in and put the brakes on Israeli expansionism—the unchecked growth on occupied territory that goes hand-in-hand with displacing Palestinian and Bedouin—locals anticipate that, some day, the soldiers and Border Police will come for the whole village.
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The Mossad Has Long Given Marching Orders to AIPAC
Grant Smith, Antiwar.com 2/28/2012
      AIPAC’s Washington policy conference next month is drawing intense scrutiny and unprecedented resistance. AIPAC has worked quietly for years to tripwire the United States into war with Iran. Soon it will “ask” Congress and the president to define “nuclear weapons capability” as the threshold for war, essentially demanding an immediate attack. Because Iran presents no military threat to the United States, many Americans wonder exactly where such costly and potentially disastrous policies are formulated. Recently declassified FBI files reveal how Israeli government officials first orchestrated public relations and policies through the U.S. lobby. Counter-espionage investigations of proto-AIPAC’s first coordinating meetings with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the head of Mossad provide a timely and useful framework for understanding how AIPAC continues to localize and market Israeli government policies in America.
     Although AIPAC claims it rose “from a small pro-Israel public affairs boutique in the 1950s,” its true origin can be traced to Oct. 16, 1948. This is the date AIPAC’s founder Isaiah L. Kenen and four others established the Israel Office of Information under Israel’s U.N. mission. It was later moved under the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The IOI opened offices in New York City, Washington, and Los Angeles, which became testbeds for working out how Israeli government leaders would promote lobbying initiatives through public relations harnessing the power and financial support of American organizations and supporters. Although the FBI nervously noted IOI founder Kenen had become a member of the Communist Party in 1937 while working as a newspaperman at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, he was never the subject of a criminal investigation. Only because Kenen interacted with so many U.S. and foreign nationals who were targets of espionage, foreign counter-intelligence, and domestic security investigations (such as super-lobbyist Abraham Feinberg, Israeli diplomats, and assorted Mossad officers) did Kenen’s movements appear as cross-references in hundreds of pages of recently declassified FBI documents -- See also: IRMEP
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Transforming Finkelstein BDS attack into opportunity
Electronic Intifada: 28 Feb 2012 - David Letwin 28 February 2012 Norman Finkelstein’s attack on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is an opportunity — particularly for those of us who are Jewish — to affirm our unequivocal support for Palestinians’ fundamental rights.more

Rebuilt Gaza Music School hopes to reach more children
Electronic Intifada: 28 Feb 2012 - Rami Almeghari Gaza City 28 February 2012 Sarah, Abdelaziz and Anda have found a welcome distraction from Palestine’s troubles: music. They and 120 other girls and boys are enrolled in the Gaza Music School, a program of the A.M. Qattan Foundation launched in 2008.more

The Egyptian Revolution Should Not Be Subsidized
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Feb 2012 - By Ramzy Baroud The initial clarity of Egypt's revolutionary discourse has been replaced by perplexing discussions involving a range of issues from ‘Islamists vs liberals' to football violence. The latest such issue involves the rift between the US and the Egyptian government over the latter's crackdowns on organizations with questionable sources of funds. Following the ousting of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak last February, a brief period of euphoria ensued. Then shortly after, Egypt once more fell into disarray, if not complete chaos. This time round, pinpointing the culprits was no simple task. Some blamed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) — accused of championing the same corrupt and violent legacy of Mubarak's. Others spoke of counter-revolutionaries and remnants of the Mubarak era, or a conspiracy involving Islamic political forces — which secured clear majority in the country's parliamentary elections — Scaf, and outside parties. Scaf on the...more

Free Hanaa Shalabi, End Administrative Detention
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Feb 2012 - By Mahmoud El-Yousseph Hanaa Shalabi is on hunger strike. She is a Palestinian female political prisoner from the village of Burgin near Jenin. She was kidnapped from her home on February 16, 2012 by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the middle of the night. Hanna’s family was ordered outside the house, she was blindfolded and handcuffed. All cell phones and computers in the house were confiscated and a photograph of her brother hanging on the wall, who was killed by IOF in 2005, was torn up and stepped upon by one of the soldiers. Hanaa was also beaten and sexually harassed by the IOF. Her attorney stated, "she is demanding the end of administrative detention and that the soldiers who beat her up and undressed her to carry out a body search be put on trial." Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely...more

Gap between Humanitarian and Development Aid
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Feb 2012 - By Meagan Kay When emergency relief turns into a protracted crisis, what happens to the aid that falls between short-term humanitarian relief and development assistance over the medium-term? Who should deliver it? Who should oversee it? In the current aid architecture, it's not always clear who is responsible for ensuring funding and resources in complex humanitarian situations. The result is that funding gaps persist between where humanitarian relief ends and development assistance begins. It's also unclear who should deliver the protracted humanitarian aid. Often it's NGOs, and sometimes it's UN agencies. Or some combo. Also for the oversight or macro-management of complex humanitarian aid, again it's many NGOs, and the UN agencies as overseer – with backing from the bilateral donors. In short, the system is very messy – with numerous gaps, and overlaps and other inefficiencies. The result is a complex landscape – where we are unprepared to face...more

Are Palestinians Victims of Terror and Displaced Guilt?
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Feb 2012 - By Dallas Darling It was on this day, February 29, 1948, that 28 British soldiers were killed as a mine exploded under the Cairo-Haifa train. Lehi, also known as Stern Gang, a Zionist terrorist group, claimed responsibility. But the Cairo-Haifa attack was only one of several acts of terrorism that Israeli Zionists employed. And the Stern Gang was just one of several terrorist organizations working to establish a Jewish-Israeli state in Palestine. Israel, then, was born on a wave of Zionist terrorism. Some the West would like to see Palestinians and Palestinian statehood quietly go away, to suffer in silence and to die in darkness. But even now as electricity is slowly being cut from the Gaza Strip, not to mention a harsh economic blockade that for years has caused immense suffering, terror comes to mind. And even now as the West collaborates with Israel on how to sabotage a...more

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Over Boycott of Israeli Goods
Palestine Chronicle: 27 Feb 2012 - By The Center for Constitutional Rights - Olympia, WA and New York, NY Today, in a lawsuit brought against current and former members of the Olympia Food Co-op board of directors for their decision to boycott Israeli goods, a Washington State court dismissed the case, calling it a SLAPP – Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation – and said that it would award the defendants attorneys’ fees, costs, and sanctions. The judge also upheld the constitutionality of Washington’s anti-SLAPP law, which the plaintiffs had challenged. In a court hearing last Thursday, lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP argued that the court should grant the defendants’ Special Motion to Strike and dismiss the case because it targeted the constitutional rights of free speech and petition in connection with an issue of public concern. “We are pleased the Court found this case to be what it...more

10 Reasons Why the Israel Lobby AIPAC is So Dangerous
Dissident Voice: 28 Feb 2012 - The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is one of the most powerful lobby organizations in the country. AIPAC’s clout helps fuel a never-ending cycle of violence in the Middle East. Here are ten reasons why AIPAC is so dangerous. 1. AIPAC is lobbying Congress to promote a military confrontation with Iran.  AIPAC – like the Israeli government – is demanding that the U.S. attack Iran militarily to prevent Iran from having the technological capacity to produce nuclear weapons, even though U.S. officials say Iran isn’t trying to build a weapon (and even though Israel has hundreds of undeclared nuclear weapons). AIPAC has successfully lobbied the U.S. government to adopt crippling economic sanctions on Iran, including trying to cut off Iran’s oil exports, despite the fact that these sanctions raise the price of gas and threaten the U.S. economy. 2. AIPAC promotes Israeli policies that are in direct opposition to...more


Wednesday, February 29, 2012Top of page
Finkelstein, BDS and the destruction of Israel
Ali Abunimah, Al Jazeera.com 2/28/2012
      Norman Finkelstein's views on the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement may be somewhat shortsighted.
     Chicago, IL - In a recent and highly controversial interview, Norman Finkelstein, long a scourge of Israel, turned his guns on Palestinians and their supporters. He accused the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement of being a "cult", and claimed that its achievements were mostly exaggerated.
     But what exercised Finkelstein most was his conclusion that if implemented, the demands of the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for BDS, would amount to "the destruction of Israel".
     Finkelstein lay into the three "tiers" of the BDS call: that Israel end its occupation of Arab lands conquered in 1967; that it end all forms of discrimination and guarantee equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and that it respect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees, including the right of return. US activists urge boycott of Israeli companies
     "They don't want Israel," Finkelstein declared, "They think they're being very clever. They call it their three tiers... We want the end of the occupation, we want the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever, because they know the result of implementing all three is what? What's the result? You know and I know what's the result: there's no Israel."
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’Christ at the Checkpoint’: Hope in the midst of conflict
Ma’an News Agency 2/29/2012
      BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- "In the past there has only been one story about the situation here and who the people are," says media director of the 'Christ at the Checkpoint' conference Porter Speakman Jr.
     "It is a battle of narratives."
     The Bethlehem Bible College will be holding the second 'Christ at the Checkpoint' conference from March 5-9, in a series of events which hope to host hundreds of people from over 15 different nationalities.
     Activities will include lectures, interviews, workshops, group discussions and talks by high-profile speakers.
     There will also be field visits to the Israeli separation wall, refugee camps, Jerusalem, Hebron and other areas.
     "Hope is found in our story," conference director Munther Isaac told Ma'an. While the conference is largely aimed at the evangelical community abroad, and in Palestine, it is also a story about the Palestinian Christian community, he says.
     The conference aims to "expose the realities of the injustices" in Palestine, create a platform for "serious engagement with Christian Zionism," and "motivate participants to become advocates for the reconciliation work of the church in Palestine/Israel."
     Porter Speakman Jr. says it is an opportunity to show American evangelicals the "consequences of certain ideological beliefs," and to change the way Christians view the situation in Palestine, both ideologically and in terms of tourism.
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The not-so-hidden limits to freedom in the West
Ziad El-hady, Redress 2/28/2012
      There is a call for “freedom” in the Middle East, both from citizens within its troubled borders and from people in the West. Although this call is well intentioned, it is remarkably simplistic.
     There is no doubt that political freedom in the Middle East is miserably limited. But are people in the West really as free as they think they are? The philosophy of freedom
     In a civilized society freedom is constrained by the imperative to do no harm to others. For example, we do not value the freedom to discriminate, abuse or pollute.
     Freedom is generally understood and defined as the ability to choose according to one’s own free will, without coercion. The modern emphasis of freedom is almost always on choice.
     In the West, this is typically celebrated in people’s freedom to say, do, elect and pursue what they want. The surface appeal of this type of liberalism is strong, especially to the citizens of dictatorships in the Middle East.
     But there are a couple of crucial factors, manifested in the Western socio-economic and cultural systems, which are almost entirely neglected in this understanding of freedom.
     First, freedom is not only about choice; it is also about the options from which people can make their choice. Who decides and gives us these options? There doesn’t seem to be anything especially democratic, for example, about being given two options to choose from, especially when you had little or no say in what those two options are in the first place.
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Canada’s Defrocked Prince of Peace
Dissident Voice: 29 Feb 2012 - Lester Pearson enjoys iconic status in Canada as a former prime minister, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and particular acclaim as the father of peacekeeping. The Nobel Prize site notes “his diplomatic sensitivity, his political acumen, and his personal popularity.” 1 The myth of Pearson is so ingrained that most Canadians have bought into it. Noam Chomsky, however, considers Pearson a “major criminal, really extreme.” 2 Chomsky wrote the foreword to Yves Engler’s latest book: Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping — The Truth May Hurt . Engler presents Pearson’s words and record, but an image other than that of an altruistic world statesman emerges. He deconstructs the myth of Pearsonian peacekeeping. Engler holds, “There is, in fact, a strong case to be made that he should be posthumously charged with abetting war crimes.” Pearsonian leadership saw Canada tied to great western powers, particularly the United States. He was a fervent anti-Communist, calling the USSR...more

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