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Monday, March 1, 2010Top of page
Growth that Palestine can believe in
Sam Bahour, The Guardian 3/1/2010
      A rise in GDP may look good on paper, but it obscures the public’s daily hardship and the need for real political changes.
     A serious misconception is being propagated by the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. Media, international organisations, foreign governments and Palestinians-at-large are being coaxed into believing that the flurry of economic activity in the West Bank is economic development towards statehood. The facts on the ground rip this argument to pieces, just as Israel continues to micromanage the economic pieces of the intended future state of Palestine towards systemic stagnation.
     I can already hear the voices – "but be positive", "we must start from somewhere", "we are acting unilaterally toward statehood", "but we had 7% GDP growth last year," etc. Being positive is one thing, but being delusional and acquiescing the military occupation that controls every serious aspect of our lives, especially the economic ones, is unacceptable.
     I don’t question the well-meaning intentions (with the exception of the occupier) of all the economic players involved in promoting this misconception that West Bankers are on a rapid train of economic growth.
     The Palestinian leadership has very little – or any – political capital left, so focusing on economic activities – something I attest is very different than economic development toward statehood – is expected. Add to this the fact that some key Palestinian players, namely prime minister Salam Fayyad, have already started campaigning for the possible presidential elections, and one can easily see the self-serving need to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony every day or two.
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No light ahead
Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/25/2010
      Israel’s rightwing government is not pursuing peace but rather sabotaging it.
     This Palestinian child throws a stone at Israeli soldiers in Hebron in what might become the third Intifada after Israel revealed plans to destroy two mosques on alleged Jewish heritage sites
     While the Palestinian Authority (PA) seems prone to agree to "indirect talks" with Israel without the latter undertaking any meaningful freeze of Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank, the Israeli government is making only provocations, rendering the resumption -- let alone success -- of peace talks more unlikely, especially in the near future.
     Israel lately undertook several measures that Palestinian officials insist reveal Israel’s determination to perpetuate its military occupation of Palestinian land and eliminate the possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian state. One of these measures is a decision by Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week to add two ancient mosques, the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque in Bethlehem, to Israel’s so-called heritage list.
     The two sites are located in the Palestinian heartland, which implies that Israel intends to annex the two shrines, a prospect vehemently rejected by Palestinians.
     Prior to the Israeli decision, Western officials involved in efforts to revive the peace process indicated that the resumption of talks between Israel and the PA would occur in a few weeks. Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East peace process, was quoted as saying that "substantial progress" had been made in US efforts to get the two sides to restart stalled talks.
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Is Hamas accusing British journalist detained in Gaza of looking for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit?
Marian Houk, UN-Truth 2/15/2010
      Freelance British Journalist Paul Martin — apparently a documentary filmmaker — was detained yesterday at a courthouse in Gaza City by Hamas authorities on “suspicion of breaking local/’Palestinian’ laws”, and Gaza’s Attorney General has now ordered him held for 15 days. Martin is reportedly now in Gaza City’s central prison. As the AP reports, this is “an unprecedented step against a foreign reporter since the Islamic militants seized control of Gaza in 2007?.
     The AP report noted that “Hamas has prided itself in ending the lawlessness of vigilante gunmen, and has largely stayed clear of foreign journalists since seizing the territory in 2007. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Mr. Martin’s arrest signaled a change in policy. The Interior Ministry statement said foreigners are welcome in Gaza, but that ‘anyone who tries to violate the security of Gaza will be held accountable’.”
     Ma’an News Agency reported this morning that the spokesman of what they editorially refer to as the “de facto Ministry of Interior” in Gaza, Ihab Al-Ghussein, “told Ma’an that an arrest warrant for Martin was issued following the confession of a defendant charged with collaborating with Israel. The defendant ‘has confessed against the British journalist and said he [Martin] violated Palestinian law and the security in Gaza’, Al-Ghussein said”.
     However, as Ma’an noted, Martin was detained as he arrived to testify at the trial of the man whose accusations were then used as the basis for Martin’s arrest. Ma’an described the man as “a Palestinian fighter accused of collaborating with Israel, a journalist present at the courthouse in Gaza City told Ma’an”.
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Land Day to be marked with Global BDS Day of Action
Electronic Intifada: 1 Mar 2010 - The BDS National Committee (BNC) is calling on you to unite in your different capacities and struggles for a Global BDS Day of Action on 30 March 2010 in solidarity with the Palestinian people and for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The BNC calls on people of conscience and their organizations around the globe to mobilize in creative, concrete and visible BDS actions to make this day a historic step in the movement against Israel's apartheid, colonialism and occupation, for accountability of the oppressor and for the fulfillment of the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.

Boycott committee rejects French PM's smearing of movement
Electronic Intifada: 1 Mar 2010 - The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee is deeply disturbed by the inaccurate and inflammatory insinuations made by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon during his speech at the annual dinner of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, 3 February 2010. Fillon's remarks came in the context of expressing commitment to fighting anti-Semitism, implying that the boycott against Israeli products may somehow be anti-Semitic.

Building international solidarity during Israeli Apartheid Week
Electronic Intifada: 1 Mar 2010 - Six years since its launch at the University of Toronto, Israeli Apartheid Week is taking place in more than 40 cities in five continents, and is a key event in the yearly calendar of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, launched by more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations on 9 July 2005. Outside its North American and European centers, IAW is also taking place in South Africa, Palestine, Lebanon and Australia. Ilaria Giglioli comments for The Electronic Intifada.

Russell Tribunal aims to hold the international community to account
Electronic Intifada: 1 Mar 2010 - Today, the first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) will be held in Barcelona. The RTP is a peoples' tribunal focusing not on Israel's obligations under international humanitarian law such as the Fourth Geneva Convention, but on the obligations of the international community of signatory states which sustain and enable Israel's continuous violations of international law. Frank Barat comments for The Electronic Intifada.

out of sight
In Gaza: 28 Feb 2010 - Three days ago when I saw these children, their father bragged: “she gets near perfect grades; she got a prize in school today for her grades.  And he’s a whiz.” We were walking around the ruins of his home, to the east of central Gaza’s al-Musaddar village, touring the wreckage of his life. Israeli bulldozers had come in a week prior and destroyed his house and livelihood, and those of 2 other neighbouring families, tearing down 3 houses in total and 17 dunams of treed land. Without reason. It’s a lush area, next to a wadi (valley, though the water has long since stopped streaming through, cut off, most say,...

Protest Continues In Beit Sahour
Palestine Monitor: 1 Mar 2010 - Once again, a peaceful demonstration in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, ended with army brutality. Around 80 people marched on Sunday in Oush Grab, in protest of the re-opening of a former military base. Israeli Army fired sound grenades, tear-gas canisters and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. All photos were taken by FLV. “It starts like this: First they take away our land, ruling it as a closed zone for everyone. Then the settlers build outposts. At the end, there is a settlement standing.” Here is the opinion of many in Beit Sahour: The base reoccupation by the Israeli army is the first step towards the construction of a new settlement. The area of Oush Grab is located in the middle of Beit Sahour Municipality (Bethlehem). This strategic hill seved as Israeli military base until 2006 Photo by FLV The area of Oush Ghrab is located in the middle of...

A Culture of Resistance
Palestine Chronicle: 1 Mar 2010 - By Sally Bland My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story. Ramzy Baroud. London-New York: Pluto Press, 2010. Pp. 210. In this book, widely respected journalist Ramzy Baroud successfully combines the intimate tone of memoir with the broad dimensions of history. Even those with extensive knowledge of Palestine’s modern history will be fascinated by Baroud’s account of his father’s life as he interweaves the personal with the tumultuous events which swept the country in the 20th century, and right up to today. Through a cast of real characters, mainly members of the Baroud family, events are reenacted as vividly as in any novel - life in pre-48 Palestine, the 1948 exodus, the 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars and their aftermath, life in Gaza’s refugee camps, the first and second intifadas, the Oslo period, the Fateh-Hamas conflict and the deadly siege on Gaza (which hastened Mohammed Baroud’s death). Particularly interesting is how the author traces the spread of various trends and their impact on Gaza’s population, from the early days of the Islamist movement to Nasserism’s rise and fall, the role of the Palestinian communists, resistance organisations, and the Palestinian National Front. The author seems to have no particular political or ideological axe to grind, except for commitment to his people’s cause and consistent opposition to the Zionist occupation and those who aid and abet it. He tells Palestine’s story from the viewpoint of the average Palestinian, which is not to say that his account is simplistic. After all, average...

Russell Tribunal: Holding the International Community to Account
Palestine Chronicle: 1 Mar 2010 - By Frank Barat Today, the first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) will be held in Barcelona. The RTP is a peoples' tribunal focusing not on Israel's obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) such as the Fourth Geneva Convention, but on the obligations of the international community of signatory states which sustain and enable Israel's continuous violations of international law. Israel has violated more than 60 UN resolutions and countless legal and diplomatic calls to abide by international law in relation to the expansion of illegal settlements, denial of the right of return and the continuing occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights. Dozens of reports, investigations and inquiries have produced evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity, including massacres, collective punishment, home demolitions and extrajudicial killings on a cyclical scale over the past 62 years. In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion finding Israel's wall in the West Bank illegal and contrary to international law. The opinion was the key tenet of a 54-page document covering illegal settlements, the appropriation of natural resources and Israel's violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention over the past 40 years, and reminded that IHL signatory states had an obligation "not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction" and "to ensure compliance by Israel with...


Tuesday, March 2, 2010Top of page
Challenging History
Ramzy Baroud, CounterPunch 2/26/2010
      Why the Oppressed Must Tell Their Own Stories
     When American historian Howard Zinn passed away recently, he left behind a legacy that redefined our relationship to history altogether.
     Professor Zinn dared to challenge the way history was told and written. In fact he went as far as to defy the conventional construction of historical discourses through the pen of victor or of elites who earned the right of narration though their might, power and affluence.
     This kind of history might be considered accurate insofar as it reflects a self-seeking and self-righteous interpretation of the world by a very small number of people. But it is also highly inaccurate when taking into account the vast majority of peoples everywhere.
     The oppressor is the one who often articulates his relationship to the oppressed, the colonialist to the colonized, and the slave-master to the slave. The readings of such relationships are fairly predictable.
     Even valiant histories that most of us embrace and welcome, such as those celebrating the legacy of human rights, equality and freedom left behind by Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela still tend to be selective at times. Martin Luther King’s vision might have prevailed, but some tend to limit their admiration to his ‘I have a dream’ speech. The civil rights hero was an ardent anti-war champion as well, but that is often relegated as non-essential history. Malcolm X is often dismissed altogether, despite the fact that his self-assertive words have reached the hearts and minds of millions of black people throughout the United States, and many more millions around the world. His speech was in fact so radical that it could not be ‘sanitized’ or reinterpreted in any controllable way....
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What Israel Fears
Udi Aloni and Ofer Neiman, CounterPunch 3/2/2010
      The Binational Front for (Complete) Civic Equality
     It seems that for the first time in many years the Israeli peace camp is now reaping the fruits of its labor. Petrified by the success of the struggle which exposes Israel as an apartheid state, the state’s power players have begun a smearing counter-campaign, wasteful and vile, which sweeps Israel’s severe human rights violation under the carpet. The campaign includes for example, the Reut Institure’s report, which portrays BDS activists as a kind of Elders of Zion cabal, acting according to methods taken from the famous (forged) protocols.
     An unprecedented media attack against the “delegitimizers” has also begun. Minister Avigdor Lieberman claimed that the activity is “financed by enemy states”.
     All this is taking place against the backdrop of violent, illegal measures taken by the IDF to crush the popular, non-violent Palestinian struggle, including the use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians and mass detention of Palestinian activists, who are held without trial.
     The Palestinian reaction to all this is at most occasional stone-throwing according to the “Dromi” law (which has legitimized an Israeli farmer’s fatal shooting of trespassing intruders). This Palestinian response is very gentle, keeping in mind that a strong violent army is invading their land and robbing it.
     No, all this is definitely not some “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” conspiracy. Neither is it the antisemitic specters of an old European left. On the contrary, it is a joint effort of numerous human beings, in Israel and across the world, inspired by the legacy of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther-King, Primo Levi and Mahatma Gandhi.
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Gaza: A Dark Comedy
Curtis Doebbler, Ma’an News Agency 2/27/2010
      When Israel attacked Gaza just over a year ago, the Israeli government undoubtedly believed it could get away with murder with little damage to its reputation. The way that this would happen, however, was probably not envisioned.
     Neither the Israeli generals who ordered the attacks on civilians, civilian infrastructure and whatever else was in sight, nor their most unyielding defenders could have foreseen the dark comedy into which they had stepped. While they might have assumed they could act with immunity, they probably did not expect that this immunity would come as much from Palestinian actions as their own.
     The one-year history of how the tragedy in Gaza has been handled at the UN today seems to have devolved to a dark comedy. The Israeli government, their supporters, much of the wider international community, and even the Palestinian authorities themselves have all contributed to the surreal compliance with which the ongoing, man-made disaster in Gaza has been handled.
     The most recent leading actor in this dark comedy is the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, who responded to a demand by the UN General Assembly that he report on progress being made to investigate the war crimes in Gaza by providing a one-and-a-half-page note essentially saying he wasn’t sure that any progress was being made.
     He cited the commitments of the single state involved, as well as those of actors the UN does not yet recognize as states, as indicating that they would undertake proper investigations of the allegations made in the Goldstone report.
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Rights group: Israeli forces responsible for settlers' provocation at al-Aqsa
Electronic Intifada: 2 Mar 2010 - In the early morning of Sunday, 28 February 2010, Israeli forces closed all roads leading to the al-Aqsa Mosque and established barriers at the entrances of the old city of Jerusalem, denying Palestinian civilians access to it. A few hours later, at least 200 Israeli police and security officers entered the yard of the al-Aqsa Mosque and besieged dozens of Palestinian worshippers.

Palestinians excluded from bulk of occupied West Bank
Electronic Intifada: 2 Mar 2010 - IDNA, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Israel's illegal occupation and continued expropriation of Palestinian land in the West Bank has left 2.5 million Palestinians living there with effectively less than 40 percent of the territory. Muhammad al-Bedan, 55, a vegetable farmer with 14 children, struggles to support his family on just over $600 dollars a month.

NY Times' Jerusalem property makes it protagonist in Palestine conflict
Electronic Intifada: 2 Mar 2010 - The New York Times ' Jerusalem bureau chief lives on property Israel seized from Palestinian refugees forced to leave their homes during the Nakba in 1948. EI's Ali Abunimah reveals for the first time details of The Times' acquisition and use of this property and the story of the Palestinian family whose home it was. What are the implications for its reporting of a case that places the "newspaper of record" at the heart of the Palestine conflict?

Frustration, Suffocation and Crisis
In Gaza: 2 Mar 2010 - Nidal Abu Leila, 10, lost his ability to speak, think and walk, a result of trauma from the sustained Israeli bombing of Gaza last year. The Gaza Community Health Centre found that 91.4 per cent of children in Gaza displayed symptoms of moderate to very severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Dominion GAZA—The Gaza Strip was already spiraling under years of siege long before the F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tanks, warships, unmanned aerial vehicles and armed soldiers waged a 23-day war on the Strip in winter 2008-2009. The agricultural sector, which used to provide 50 per cent of Gaza’s food needs , had been steadily failing as a result of the...

Russell Tribunal Opens With The Right to Self Determination
Palestine Monitor: 2 Mar 2010 - Yesterday, the first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) was held in Barcelona, Spain. Its mandate is to examine the complicity of the European Union and its member states with the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories, as well as in Israel's violations of Palestinians' human rights. What is the Russell Tribunal? It is a public awareness tribunal, an independent initiative, set up by international civil society which intends to investigate the violations of international law perpetrated against the Palestinian people. It examines the extent to which international organisations and states can be held responsible for failures to implement international law. Its rulings are non-binding, but it is based on international law and composed of experts and jurists. Opening Session Photo: Imagen en accion First Session:1-3 march 2010 The first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine aims to scrutinise whether the EU has fulfilled its obligations under...

First They Came for the Mosques, but I Was Not a Muslim
Palestine Chronicle: 2 Mar 2010 - By Dallas Darling When Israeli Defense Forces responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and arrests towards neo-nonviolent Palestinians who were trying to prevent Jewish extremists from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, it was mindful of Pastor Martin Niemoller’s poem: “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a communist.” Pastor Niemoller was a German minister who witnessed disappearances and atrocities during the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. By the time he tried to speak-out and criticize the Nazi’s, though, it was too late. He, along with millions of Communists, Socialists, Gypsies, Jews, Pacifists and other opponents of nazification, was sent to a concentration camp. The al-Aqsa Mosque is located at the south end of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The mosque commemorates Prophet Mohammed’s night journey to heaven on horseback. It also contains the minbar, or pulpit, that was commissioned by Saladin around 1190. At the time of the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, the city was divided, but Israel seized all of it in the 1967 Six-Day War.(1). Since then, the al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount have been a source of conflict. Recently, Palestinians also clashed with Israeli forces in the West Bank town of Hebron near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Their march against Israel’s plan to renovate two holy sites in the occupied territory was declared illegal. Israeli troops fired tear gas and stun grenades wounding several demonstrators. Although Jews and Palestinians revere the Hebron heritage site,...

The Assassins in Dubai
Palestine Chronicle: 2 Mar 2010 - By Ali Younes – Washington D.C. The assassination of Hamas commander, Mahmoud Al Mabhouh in Dubai on January 19th underscored the ruthlessness of Israeli politics in the region and how it intends to project its un-checked power onto the Arab states. At the beginning, Dubai was taken aback by this brazen assassination which took advantage of the open-door policy with which Dubai treats European and American citizens. Arab and Israeli press reported that the governments of Dubai and the UAE did not wish to have this issue blown out of control so as not to tarnish the image of this economic powerhouse emirate. President Hosni Mubarak was reported to have tried to “mediate” between UAE/Dubai and Israel to end this issue in exchange of a “quiet” Israeli apology to Dubai which does not appear to be an option for Israel at this point. It is worth noticing; however, that it is rather unusual for the Mossad to send a 27- member hit team to Dubai to assassinate Al Mabhouh who is relatively low-key figure within Hamas leadership. Moreover, Al Mabhouh who had no security detail to protect him had been arrested by Israel in the past and therefore his appearance was known to the Mossad. In addition, it was obvious to the Mossad that Dubai is ringed with cameras and surveillance systems that can photograph and record everything that takes place in the city. This suggests that the Israeli decision to assassinate Al Mabhouh in this very public way was...

Funding Israeli Militarism and Occupation
Palestine Chronicle: 2 Mar 2010 - By Stephen Lendman From birth, Israel was a regional menace until America became its benefactor in the late 1960s. Now it's a global one, powerful with a large standing army and the latest weapons and technology, nuclear armed and ready to use them. It's belligerent on the slightest pretext or none at all, and a threat to world peace and security because US administrations since Lyndon Johnson supported a nation of 5.6 millions in an area the size of New Jersey, partnering in its worst crimes and abuses. It's due largely to the Israeli Lobby's influence, or as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote in their book, "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," America's Middle East policy is driven "almost entirely (by) US domestic politics, and especially (because of) the (Lobby's) activities....This situation has no equal in American political history." In his book, "The Power of Israel in the United States," James Petras documented its enormous influence, explaining its roots throughout government, the business community, the dominant media, academia, the clergy, and powerful wealthy Jewish families. Broad support comes from thousands of dedicated activists, including doctors, lawyers, accountants, other professionals, philanthropists, and journalists given special prominence and benefits for their unwavering pro-Israeli reporting, suppressing decades of its militarism, belligerence, and illegal occupation while vilifying Israel's enemies. As a result, Israel receives enormous benefits, including billions in annual aid, the latest weapons and technology, unrestricted US market access, and free entry of its immigrants. Its imperial wars, illegal occupation, and...


Wednesday, March 3, 2010Top of page
Day Trip to the Ghetto of Hebron
Tali Shapiro, P U L S E 3/1/2010
      Illustrated
     Thursday was an international day of action to re-open Shuhada street in Hebron city, and mark the Cave of the Patriarch Massacre. A group of friends, from the Tel Aviv area, spontaneously decided we should go, so the five of us hopped in a car, hoping to join our friends from Jerusalem, who filled up a bus. We’ve all heard about Hebron, but nothing can prepare you for it, and nothing I can write, here, can truly depict what it means to be there.
     In order to understand the technicalities of what is known as the Occupied Territories, you have to know about their inner control and administration divisions, set at the Oslo Accords. The occupied territories are divided into areas A, B and C. Area C is officially under Israeli control and administration. It covers the majority of settlements and cuts through and around areas A and B (creating 227 A/B islands) and keeps miraculously growing. That said, it doesn’t stop the Israeli army (and deportation unite) to come into oficially-Palestinian-controlled area A and abducting Palestinians and Internationals. Area B is the epitome of long-term occupation; A land where Palestinian Authority has “civil control” and the Israeli army has “security control”.
     Hebron is in area B, but it gets even messier; In 1979, 40 settlers from the adjacent Kiryat Arba settlement (home to the ethnic cleansing advocate, Meir Kehana) took over a building known as Beit Hadassah, in the center of the city. Ever since then the population of Jews in Hebron reached the not-so-astonishing number of around 500, about 0.03% of the population. In 1994, after American born, Kiryat Arba settler , Kach party member, Baruch Goldstein, massacred between 29-52 (depends who you ask) people in the Mosque of the Cave of Patriarchs, Shuhada street, a main market street in Hebron was closed off to Palestinians. In 1997, then and now Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, redivided this area B city into areas H1 (=area A), which inhabited around 120,000 Palestinians and H2 (= area C), which inhabited around 40,000 Palestinians, half of which have fled after the redivision, for rather obvious reasons.
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MIDEAST: Picking Pebbles to Live Somehow
Eva Bartlett, Inter Press Service 3/2/2010
      GAZA CITY, Mar 2, 2010(IPS) - They come by the hundreds every day to sand dunes and rubble sites to sift for pebbles, stones and sand that can be used in making concrete blocks. They lean into trash bins across the Strip, and wade through piles of rubbish scavenging for plastics, metals, and any bits worth reselling.
     They venture dangerously close to the border fence to unlock metal and steel rods from their demolished home heaps. They are Gaza’s recyclers, and in a Strip where unemployment hovers at nearly 50 percent and poverty soars over 80 percent, environmental considerations are far from their minds. They do this work out of necessity.
     Yousef, 14, leads two of his younger brothers in their daily hunt for concrete materials off the highway between Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah.
     "We live in Khan Younis and it takes about 30 minutes to get to this site. But we stop anywhere along the road to look for gravel," he says, stooping to sort rocks. One of his brothers works in Gaza’s tunnels, another has no work. "I’ve got five sisters, too. There’re 12 of us altogether, and my dad has no work."
     Like many unemployed men in Gaza, Yousef’s father used to work in Israel, until Israeli authorities closed Gaza’s borders. Now, he infrequently works day labour for farmers when there is work, but the pay is low.
     Moatassan, Yousef’s three-year-old brother, piles pebbles onto the donkey cart, adding his bit to the family income. "Each cartful is worth about 30 shekels (eight dollars)," Yousef says. "We can usually do two carts a day."
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Mazuz and Arab Citizens of Israel (PDF)
Haneen Naamnih, Adalah 2/15/2010
      Numerous public figures have praised the outgoing Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz, asserting that during his term in office he strengthened the principle of the rule of law. Mazuz himself has described the period as a “golden era” in relations between the Israeli police and the state prosecution system. Retired Supreme Court Justice Mishael Cheshin praised Mazuz for demonstrating that no person was above the law in Israel. However, these words of acclaim, as well as the criticism of the Attorney General and his decisions, have by and large disregarded Mazuz’s stance toward Arab citizens of Israel.
     This month the Knesset passed a law that grants blanket clemency to all of those accused of staging illegal protests against the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005, against the backdrop of Mazuz’s continued support for this policy.2 During the course of “Operation Cast Lead” in December 2008 and January 2009, many Arab citizens of Israel demonstrated against the attack. However, while their protests did not entail a breach of the “public order,” in stark contrast to the violence employed by Jewish demonstrators protesting against the disengagement from Gaza, the state prosecution, with Mazuz’s backing, arrested and systematically indicted dozens of demonstrators, around half of whom were minors. Most of the accused were detained until the end of the proceedings against them.3
     One of Mazuz’s most egregious failures as Attorney General was his decision to close the investigation files against all police commanders and officers suspected of being implicated in the killing of thirteen young Arab men during the protest demonstrations in October 2000. In his decision, issued on 27 January 2008, Mazuz wrote, “Indeed, the result in which thirteen people were killed in these events is a harsh and disturbing one. However, there is one criminal law and it has stringent rules with regard to criminal responsibility and indictment.”4 However, Mazuz’s actions demonstrate that in Israel there is in fact not a single, uniform system of criminal law, but rather two tracks: one for Jewish citizens and another for Arab citizens. In protest against Mazuz’s decision, a mass march was held in February 2008 in the Arab town of Sakhnin....
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Picking pebbles to survive in Gaza
Electronic Intifada: 3 Mar 2010 - GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - They come by the hundreds every day to sand dunes and rubble sites to sift for pebbles, stones and sand that can be used in making concrete blocks. They lean into trash bins across the Gaza Strip, and wade through piles of rubbish scavenging for plastics, metals and any bits worth reselling.

Refusal to surrender: "My Father was a Freedom Fighter" reviewed
Electronic Intifada: 3 Mar 2010 - Palestinian-American author, journalist and editor of the Palestine Chronicle , Ramzy Baroud's latest book My Father was a Freedom Fighter is an antidote to the US, European and Israeli media's decontextualization and dehumanization of Palestinians. It's also an instant classic, one of the very best books to have examined the Palestinian tragedy. Robin Yassin-Kassab reviews for The Electronic Intifada.

"I can't live without this place"
Electronic Intifada: 3 Mar 2010 - "The Israeli police used a bullhorn and shouted 'death to Arabs!' toward me once," Abed Rabbeh remembers, his hands wrapped around a small ceramic cup of tea. "Another time, they tried to tell me that my grandfather was born in Dheisheh refugee camp and that I have no roots in this land." Nora Barrows-Friedman reports on one man's struggle to stay on his West Bank land.

the hardest jobs
In Gaza: 3 Mar 2010 - * gathering gravel and stones to be used for construction (IPS) - They come by the hundreds every day to sand dunes and rubble sites to sift for pebbles, stones and sand that can be used in making concrete blocks. They lean into trash bins across the Strip, and wade through piles of rubbish scavenging for plastics, metals, and any bits worth reselling. They venture dangerously close to the border fence to unlock metal and steel rods from their demolished home heaps. They are Gaza’s recyclers, and in a Strip where unemployment hovers at nearly 50 percent and poverty soars over 80 percent, environmental considerations are far from their minds....

Palestine is Full of Heroes
Palestine Chronicle: 3 Mar 2010 - By Tariq Shadid Although people in our modern times have been educated to believe that having the 'right' ideas, methods or ideologies is what causes revolutions, history teaches us that drastic changes usually happen when the majority of the people rally behind a certain leader, more than behind an ideology. While Palestinian society continues to be torn apart by factional strife, and people increasingly see each other as adversaries based on differences of opinion or conviction, what they really need is not a new philosophy, but simply a truly charismatic leader. We may idealize human intellect and enlightenment, but in practice, human social biology usually proves to be stronger than ideology. While most people today believe that their strength lies in the success of their perceived Utopian model of society, and that the ideas of a prominent persona are more important than his personal characteristics, their behavior is often indicative of the opposite. Being herd animals, changes usually happen when the majority of the human herd flocks behind a leader who is perceived as charismatic, strong, sympathetic and courageous. The Effect of Charisma In democratic societies, politicians seem to be very aware of this human behavioral phenomenon, especially during campaign time. A good example is the victory of Barack Obama in the American elections of 2008. We can all clearly see that the policies of the new administration, with its promises of 'change', barely show any significant differences – especially in foreign affairs – when compared to the much reviled...

Native Indian Genocide: Parallels in Palestine
Palestine Chronicle: 3 Mar 2010 - By Yuram Abdullah Weiler "One of the greatest crimes against humanity occurred right here in the United States of America. Support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is a start to right this great wrong," declared the American Indian Movement in a press release on 24 September 2009. Perhaps my natural sense of outrage and revulsion at the injustices and atrocities inflicted upon indigenous peoples by the U.S., Zionists and other colonizing powers is inherited from my mother. Before she died, she told me that ancestors on her father’s side of the family traced their roots back to the Iroquois nation. The United States of America, of course, voted against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only a country that denies the rights of its own Native Indians could object to the right of self-determination for other indigenous peoples. Likewise, only a country that had itself executed genocide on its own native peoples on a massive scale could be such an ardent supporter of the Zionist regime, which is currently engaged in a native Palestinian genocide. How massive was the Native Indian genocide committed by the Euroamerican colonizers? According to the late Professor Howard Zinn, of the 10 million Native Indians who lived north of present-day Mexico when Columbus arrived, less than a million remain. Other scholars put the indigenous population in 1492 as high as 18 million. Based on a nadir population of 250,000 around 1900, the American Indian holocaust perpetrated by...

Fighting Israeli Apartheid
Palestine Chronicle: 3 Mar 2010 - By Aijaz Zaka Syed - Dubai I am not sure about others but I really look forward to readers' reaction after sharing my ramblings with them every week. Each attempt to put across one’s point of view, for what it’s worth, is followed by a breathless wait for the verdict. While many do not understandably agree with my worldview, some of the responses are so interesting and thought-provoking that I desperately want to share them with the larger audience. For instance, check out some of these letters I got in response to my piece on the assassination of Hamas commander in Dubai, which has Mossad fingerprints all over it with the ever widening ring of suspicion now encircling all of the globe. A European reader based in Norway, upset over the Western governments’ policies in the Middle East and their reaction to the broad daylight killing, wrote back saying: “Rather than the West ‘bending over backwards to humor Israel’ (my words in the article last week) it is my contention that the West bends ‘forwards’ in order to facilitate Israel in ****ing them. Don’t they have any shame?” Another Scandinavian reader, based in the neighboring Sweden, commented: “I am disgusted by our complete disregard for the victims of terrorism when carried out by Western states and their allies. We have seen its proof once again in the Dubai killing. However, the truth will prevail in the end – of that I’m sure.” A British reader echoed these sentiments saying: “The...


Thursday, March 4, 2010Top of page
Mr President, don’t be surprised in Morocco
Nasser Lahham, Ma’an News Agency 3/3/2010
      The Arab press is reporting every day now about a rift between the Palestinian presidency and the Arab states in north Africa, particularly after reports emerged that Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi refused to meet Mahmoud Abbas when he visited Tripoli on Tuesday.
     The Jordanian daily Ad-Dustur published an article under the headline "Tunis ignores Abbas’ wish to visit," speaking of "a unified position of the north African Arab countries against the Palestinian presidency."
     The newspaper reported that Morocco has joined Tunisia and Libya in a boycott of Abbas. Other Arab newspapers said Syria is simply ignoring a request by Abbas to visit Damascus.
     The ostensible reason for the dispute is Libya"™s decision to invite Hamas to the Arab League summit in Tripoli later this month.
     Abbas, during his news conference in Sharm Ash-Sheikh, Egypt on Monday, denied any dispute with any other Arab country over Libya"™s invitation to Hamas.
     Despite the political wrangling of the Arab world (Syria and Qatar are closer to Hamas than they are to Libya), this is no ordinary Arab controversy. If Arab countries are turning their back on the Palestinian Authority on the eve of an Arab summit, all Palestinians both in the Diaspora and in Palestine deserve to know the truth. The PA foreign minister, Riyad Al-Maliki, should tell us, without beautifying the image of the situation.
     In any case, relying on what we do know about the Arab world in the year that has passed since last year"™s summit in Qatar, we can say the following about the current Arab scene....
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The Dubai assassination and the 'war on terror'
Patrick O’Connor, World Socialist Web Site 3/3/2010
      The reaction of governments around the world to the murder of Hamas member Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month underscores the extent to which basic precepts of international law have been torn up under the “war on terror”. As far as the US government and its allies are concerned, extra-judicial executions and so-called targeted killings now constitute a legitimate state activity and do not warrant comment, let alone condemnation.
     While the Israeli government has refused to confirm or deny any involvement, its intelligence agency, Mossad, is widely understood to be directly responsible for the Dubai operation. The Obama administration has maintained a strict silence over the affair, while the governments of Britain, Australia, France, Germany and Ireland have merely issued pro forma protests over the doctoring of their passports. None has condemned Mabhouh’s murder.
     The assassination was a cold-blooded operation, planned down to the last detail. According to Dubai police, 27 men and women were involved in the preparation which culminated in Mabhouh being injected with a muscle relaxant drug, succinylcholine, then suffocated with a pillow. The killers reportedly left behind medicine for high blood pressure in order to give the initial appearance of a natural death, hung a “do not disturb” card on their victim’s hotel room door and fled Dubai before the authorities were notified after Mabhouh’s wife was unable to telephone her husband.
     Israel has a long record of tracking down and murdering its enemies around the world, and in the last decade has waged a systematic assassination campaign against the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza.
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Dredging up the Israel/apartheid question
Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com 3/2/2010
      In addition to everything else they are, the scribblings on The Washington Post Op-Ed Page are often wildly out of touch. They often have the feel of having been written a decade ago, stuffed under a mattress somewhere, and then arbitrarily hauled out and dusted off for publication. With seemingly no trigger, Richard Cohen woke up today and decided to write about a long-standing though not particularly relevant (and largely semantic) controversy: whether the word "apartheid" is properly applied to Israel due to its control of the West Bank and Gaza, whose non-Jewish residents have no democratic rights in the country that rules over their land. Cohen, for whatever reasons, focuses on Jimmy Carter’s use of the word in his book from four years ago, and takes the standard, predictable position: the term is false, deliberately inflammatory, and often the by-product of anti-semitism, etc. etc. But in dredging up this debate, Cohen completely omits a very recent, highly significant event: the use of the term by Israel’s own hawkish Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, just four weeks ago:
     Israel’s defense minister warned Tuesday that if Israel does not achieve a peace deal with the Palestinians, it will be either a binational state or an undemocratic apartheid state. . . .
     "The simple truth is, if there is one state" including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, "it will have to be either binational or undemocratic. . . . if this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state."
     Writing about the Israel/apartheid controversy without mentioning Barak’s recent statement would be like writing a column about the Senate reconciliation process without mentioning health care, or writing about the U.S. military’s counter-insurgency doctrine without mentioning Afghanistan. But Cohen’s glaring omission is understandable: there has been an intense campaign to demonize those who analogize Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to demonize those who analogize Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to apartheid (as Carter did, in the same way as Barak).
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The sounds of piano in Gaza
Electronic Intifada: 4 Mar 2010 - GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - At 14, Nour plays the piano, and she knows the facts around her. That the average age for marriage is 18, likely to a man found by parents, her place would be within that home, and a woman has on average 6.5 children. She goes to a United Nations agency for Palestine refugees school in Gaza City, and loves journalism, inspired by her older sister, who works at a radio station.

Gaza police forces and their bereaved families rebuild one year on
Electronic Intifada: 4 Mar 2010 - Rami Abu al-Sheikh's parents and siblings still remember how caring and tender their son was before he was killed during Israel's invasion of Gaza last winter. Rami was 27 years old and was one of hundreds of Gaza police personnel killed by Israeli air strikes during the 23-day assault. He was killed at the main Gaza Strip police station located on Salah al-din Street, the territory's main road. Rami Almeghari reports for The Electronic Intifada.

Moment of truth: time to boycott Israel's entire range of injustice
Electronic Intifada: 4 Mar 2010 - Words always matter, and names always have a life of their own. But perhaps Palestine and Israel form a context in which words become positions more dramatically than in many others. The authors of the "Moment of Truth" Kairos document, which is the Christian Palestinians' statement to the world about the occupation of Palestine and a call for support in opposing it, have repeatedly been asked about the use of the word "boycott." What exactly does this mean? How far exactly does it go? And what exactly does it call for? Rifat Kassis comments for The Electronic Intifada.

Sink The Boats
Palestine Monitor: 4 Mar 2010 - It is well known that fisherman in Gaza are among the worst affected by the Israeli blockade. Il Manifesto correspondant Michele Giorgio met with a former Israeli Navy officer, now working with Breaking The Silence, who gave a first hand account of how they were trained to police fishermen. It's an unusual atmosphere to discuss the drama that Palestinian fishermen live each day in the waters off the coast of Gaza. We are in a coffee shop in Tel Aviv, at the corner between Mazarik Street and Rabin Public square, and Brazilian rhythms match the festive spirit of the people who crowd the area. Nevertheless the captain of Israeli Navy, Ido M., 29 years (who asked us not to reveal his identity because he is still a reservist) chose it on purpose. “With this confusion nobody will lend attention to our conversation, for me it will be simpler not to...

A Campaign of Intimidation Against NGOs Supporting Palestinians
Palestine Monitor: 4 Mar 2010 - Alternatives is a Montreal-based NGO that has been campaigning for human rights, international development, peace, and justice for 15 years, in over 30 countries. They are under threat from the current Canadian government, which is targeting any organization that dares to speak up for Palestinian human rights. Alternatives unequivocally defends the rights of Palestinians, and has actively invested in Palestine. For example, Alternatives gave emergency aid to the Palestine Medical Relief Society for medicines, supplies, and to set up medical clinics. They organized several pan-Canadian tours with PMRS president and Palestinian MP, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi. Alternatives has also supported the UN campaign “Education for All,” they helped establish the Teachers Creativity Centre, and they continue to support the TCC's programs in Palestine for civic education, democratisation of school environments, and coordination of the 2010 World Education Forum. They also founded two vocational training centers for women in Gaza, and ran...

Strawberry Fields Forever: A Struggle For Farming
Palestine Monitor: 4 Mar 2010 - Trying to make a living as a farmer in Gaza these days is taking a toll on the family ties so integral to the Palestinian culture. Traditionally, occupations are passed from father to son for generations, and their tie to the land is particularly strong. Before Israel imposed a suffocating blockade on the 14-kilometer-long Gaza Strip in 2007 (as punishment for electing Hamas as its governing party), farmers could make a good living growing carnations and strawberries for export and vegetables for the local market. But now, sons are watching their fathers struggle just to make ends meet, and are either forced to get second jobs or are looking for different futures for themselves and their families – at the same time that their fathers need them on the farm more than ever, because they can no longer afford to hire additional help. Ahmad Shafi shows off Gaza's strawberries, once...

Opposing Israel Lobby is Not Same as Supporting Palestinian Rights
Palestine Chronicle: 4 Mar 2010 - By David Green Of the several Jewish-oriented pro-Palestinian websites and blogs to achieve some notoriety over the past several years, that of journalist Philip Weiss seems to have found a secure niche and a loyal following. I commend Weiss for providing a news service that covers the suffering and heroism of the Palestinians, and a forum for many serious voices and views. Nevertheless, I find profoundly disturbing the conventional and often condescending perspectives that seem to dominate this blog: The Lobby, according to Mearsheimer/Walt and Jeffrey Blankfort; the “dual loyalty” of prominent Jewish-American supporters of Israel, according to Weiss; and one-state and boycott, divestment, sanctions as strategy and tactics for the Palestinian rights movement. This analysis marginalizes leftist principles and, more important, pragmatic political action. I’m not referring to leftist doctrine, but rather a cogent leftist analysis that is dismissed by those who profess to a doctrinaire “realism.” A political...more

J Street - Two Years after its Formation
Palestine Chronicle: 4 Mar 2010 - By Dan Lieberman - Washington D.C. Two years ago, J Street, a newly registered pro-Israel lobby, hit the American Streets with optimism, vitality and promise. Its thrust: To replace or diminish the punch of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC). J Street intends to subdue AIPAC’s charge and steer United States Middle East policy to bring peace to the Middle East - a worthy objective reinforced with strong rhetoric – two state solution, achieve regional comprehensive peace, broaden debate on issues, diplomatic solutions favored over military solutions, an immediate and total freeze of settlement construction, Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem to be under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods to be under Palestinian sovereignty. Nevertheless, long time critics of Israel’s policies suspect J Street could have unintended consequences; will not achieve objectives and might sidetrack activists from properly engaging Israel. J Street’s challengers accuse it of couching objectives in dubious language...more

Mossad Comes to America: Death Squads by Invitation
Palestine Chronicle: 4 Mar 2010 - By James Petras The principle propaganda mouthpiece of the Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO), the Daily Alert (DA), has come out in full support for Israel’s practice of extra-judicial, extra-territorial assassination. In the face of world-wide governmental condemnation (except from the White House and US Congress), the PMAJO slavishly backs any brutal murder committed by the Israeli secret police anywhere in the world and at anytime. The recent assassination of Hamas leader, Mahmoud Mabhouh, in Dubai is a case in point. The PMAJO has defended all of Mossad’s criminal actions leading up to the murder, including extensive identity theft and the stealing or falsification of passports and official documents from several European countries, presumably allied to the Zionist state. Among the Mossad agents who entered Dubai to kill Mabhouh, twelve agents used stolen or forged British passports, three Australian, three French, one German and six Irish. These agents...more


Friday, March 5, 2010Top of page
The Navi and the Palestinians
Bouthaina Shaaban, CounterPunch 3/5/2010
      Avatar’s Parable of Our Times
     Despite the technological effects with which the director of Aavatar crams his movie, the reason behind its popularity is not only these technological effects but the themes which touch every human conscience. This is in addition to the symbolism of the movie concerning the conflict between peoples and their invaders - from Iraq to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Palestine. The source of all these conflicts is, as usual, the greed which is usually masked by other pretexts and justifications.
     Through Avatar I lived the story of the Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan and Lebanese peoples and the wars waged against them; where the West treats these peoples as if they were the children of the “Navi” tribe with their blue clothes in their planet Pandora.
     Settlers landed on planet Pandora driven by the greed for its wealth. Their calculations were focused on the material gains which they can only get through possessing the land and its natural resources. To be able to do that they had either to kill or expel the Navi who are tied to their land, nature, holy tree and their customs which show equal respect to human life and nature, in bleak contrast to the attitude of the invading settlers who mock sanctities and human respect for nature. They only see the things which give them large amounts of money.
     This contrast between the values of two cultures is at the essence of the creation of Israel. For seventy years, it has killed the Palestinians on a daily basis, Judaized their holy places, settled their land, confiscated their water, uprooted their trees, mocked their beliefs, their commitment to their land and their way of life. Those who created this settlement armed it to the teeth with hatred, and provided it with weapons of mass destruction.
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A Wrench in the Israeli Gears
Alison Weir, CounterPunch 3/5/2010
      My "Relationship" With Tom Campbell
     It’s interesting to find myself a small factor in the California race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. But before I get to that, it’s necessary to take a look at the campaigns themselves, and the system in which they’re running.
     An outside observer might be forgiven for being confused about which nation these candidates are seeking to serve. Rather than competing over who is the most loyal Californian and patriotic American, these would-be Senators seem often to be competing over who is the most supportive of a foreign regime.
     Odder still, the regime being fervently endorsed has a record of taking actions that are deeply contrary to principles most Americans hold dear, and on top of that, has a track record of undertaking activities that are extremely damaging to the US, including:
     Spying on our government and industry and stealing American technology;
     Passing on American secrets to others, including to nations perceived as our most dangerous political and economic competitors;
     Killing American servicemen and citizens; even while receiving more US tax money than any other nation on earth; and
     Ignoring demands and pleas by virtually every U.S. president over the past few decades to end diverse illegal actions that have caused incalculable tragedy, destabilized the region and world, demonstrated ruthless cruelty against entire victim populations, and created escalating enmity toward the United States, whose lobby-promulgated assistance (at least $7 million per day) enables its actions.
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Mordechai Vanunu’s Nobel Stand
Rannie Amiri, CounterPunch 3/5/2010
      Rise Above the Prize
     “He [Vanunu] has written letters to us this year and last year also, where he stated explicitly that he did not want to be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. The reason he gave was that Simon Peres had received the Nobel Peace Prize, and Peres he alleged was the father of the Israeli atomic bomb and he did not want to be associated with Peres in any way.” – Geir Lundestad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute and Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, 24 February 2010.
     For the first time in the history of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a preemptive request to withdraw a nomination—by the nominee—was made.
     It was revealed last week that in a letter to the Committee, Mordechai Vanunu had asked for his candidacy to be rescinded. It was unusual enough for Geir Lundestad to acknowledge that a nomination had even been received, let alone publicly disclose Vanunu’s request. But for Vanunu—a man who should have been awarded the Peace Prize long ago—it was in full keeping with the dignity, integrity and uncompromising nature of one to whom the world owes a great debt.
     Mordechai Vanunu – more than just a whistleblower
     Vanunu worked as a technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev Desert from 1976-1985. In a 1986 interview with The Sunday Times, he courageously exposed, for the first time, his country’s clandestine nuclear activity. A week prior to the interview’s publication, he was lured by a Mossad agent from London to Rome, where he was apprehended and whisked off to Israel. In secret proceedings, Vanunu stood trial for treason, was swiftly convicted, and sentenced to 18 years behind bars. He spent more than 11 of them in solitary confinement.
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Pushing the boundaries of identity: an interview with Jennifer Jajeh
Electronic Intifada: 5 Mar 2010 - Jennifer Jajeh's critically acclaimed one-woman show, I Heart Hamas and Other Things I am Afraid to Tell You , pulls no punches. From a Ramallah Convention in San Francisco in the 1980s, to casting lines in contemporary Los Angeles, to the front lines of the Israeli occupation and back, Jajeh navigates the complicated and often conflicted terrain of Palestinian identity. The Electronic Intifada contributor Uda Olabarria Walker interviews Jajeh about her work.

Palestinian women become breadwinners under occupation
Electronic Intifada: 5 Mar 2010 - RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, with its ubiquitous closures, checkpoints, military raids and arrests, has decimated the Palestinian economy in the West Bank and Gaza. The World Bank warned over a year ago that unless Israel eased its restrictions on movement and access in the West Bank the Palestinian economy would further deteriorate.

for the children
In Gaza: 5 Mar 2010 - Arab Abu Ghazel, northern Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip: we are roughly 1 km from the norther border, in an area which was doused by bombs during Israel’s winter 2008-2009 massacre of Gaza.  the area, with the norther border near, the sea a few kilometres away, and the eastern border within earshot, is regularly inundated with the Israeli army shelling and shooting that others hear less frequently, padded by city walls or cafe music. the children living here are among Gaza’s poorest, largely from bedouin families whose herding-based incomes have been been decimated by the absence of growth, fodder, for their flocks, by the bombings, by the siege. the children are traumatized multiple times over, by Israel’s war games, by their poverty, by their geographical isolation. GIVE and Local Initiative, two Gaza-based organizations, are visiting these 50 or so children, throwing a party today, alleviating their stress and boredom, if temporarily....

Palestine's Economic Pieces
Palestine Chronicle: 5 Mar 2010 - By Sam Bahour - Ramallah A serious misconception is being propagated by the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. Media, international organizations, foreign governments and Palestinians- at-large are being coaxed into believing that the flurry of economic activity in the West Bank is economic development towards statehood. The facts on the ground rip this argument to pieces, just as Israel continues to micromanage the economic pieces of the intended future state of Palestine toward systemic stagnation. I can already hear the voices – “but be positive; we must start from somewhere; we are acting unilaterally toward statehood; but we had 7% GDP growth last year, etc, etc.” Being positive is one thing, but being delusional and acquiescing in a military occupation that controls every serious aspect of our lives, especially the economic ones, is unacceptable. The Economic Players I don’t question the well-meaning intentions (with the exception of the occupier) of all...more

Targeting Israeli Apartheid
Palestine Chronicle: 5 Mar 2010 - By Stephen Lendman Reports like the Cape Town, South Africa-based Human Sciences Research Council's (HSRC) May 2009 one titled, "Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid" highlight what many others understand, including former UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, John Dugard, stating in January 2007: "Israel is clearly in military occupation of the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories). At the same time, elements of the occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law." Article 7(1)(j) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid a crime, stating: "For the purpose of this Statute, (a) 'crime against humanity' means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: The crime of apartheid" includes murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, arbitrary arrest, illegal imprisonment, denial of the right to life and liberty, cruel,...more


Saturday, March 6, 2010Top of page
The harlot’s grave
Uri Avnery, Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2010
      Some weeks ago, Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in Rome, was released after serving 28 years in prison.
     The motives for his act have never been clarified. But a Palestinian leader once told me his version: God appeared to Agca in a dream and told him: "Go to the Holy City and kill that damn Pole. But the Turk misunderstood, so instead of going to Jerusalem and killing Menachem Begin, he went to Rome…”
     Which just goes to show that holy cities are a pain in the neck.
     The late Yeshayahu Leibowitz, an observant Jew and a resolute opponent of the religious establishment, used to praise a deed of the Wahhabis, the radical sect that arose more than 200 years ago to cleanse Islam of impurity. The first thing they did upon conquering Mecca was to destroy the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad. The sanctification of graves was, to their mind, a pagan abomination. Leibowitz lauded this act and poured his wrath on religious Jews who sanctify “holy” sites.
     ....During the first years of the state, an official of the Ministry of Religions (as it was then called), a certain Shmuel Zanwill Kahana, toured the country and discovered holy sites right and left. He found graves of Muslim sheikhs and announced that they were, actually, the tombs of our forefathers. They were declared holy places and taken over by his ministry.
     That aggrandized the ministry and its budget, attracted tourists and “proved” that Jews had deep roots in the country. Secular Israelis smiled in derision, and some religious Jews, like Leibowitz, were furious.
     But after the Six-day War and the beginning of the occupation, the worship of holy places assumed a much more sinister character. It became an instrument of the settlers.
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Israel must change to change its image
Abdaljawad OA Hamayel, Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2010
      Israel has come out with several different schemes to sharpen its image on the world stage of late. Trying to develop a stronger and more comprehensive media strategy is one of the ways the country seeks to attract support in the West and internationally.
     Palestinians and their international supporters, however, have thus far been able to sustain a somewhat ‘conspiratorial attack’ on Israel. This attack has severely undermined the Israeli image of a liberal democratic haven amidst a sea of dictatorial states.
     The Israeli image, however, has been less damaged because of Palestinian efforts to expose its machinations, and much more based simply on the inherent political injustice, inequality and discrimination that an occupational regime such as Israel exercises.
     Israel is a country that boasts of its freedoms and democracy, while maintaining an occupation that contradicts those same pillars. The reality on the ground, images of dead children that circulated after the war on Gaza, were worth more than any essay written about the conflict.
     The new youth culture in the West of ‘seeing before believing’ and of seeking alternative sources for information has added to the degradation of the Israeli image, out of the control of its spindoctors who have until now controlled the discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. More than ever, westerners are traveling to the Palestinian territories and Israel to witness the circumstances in which Palestinians live. The rise of the internet and the challenges it poses to mainstream media is another piece of the puzzle.
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Canada’s aid politics fuel Palestinian division
Jesse Rosenfeld, Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2010
      In a uniquely Canadian way - politely, subtly - the Conservative government has made a clear statement in support of Israel’s divide-and-conquer rule over the Palestinian Territories.
     By slashing funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and instead pumping money into the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) judicial sector - specifically toward training police, prosecutors and judges - Canada is playing politics with aid.
     Canada is continuing its support for the UNRWA emergency fund this year, but is cutting funding for the UNRWA general program, which focuses on development and education. On the surface, it appears as though the Conservatives have simply redirected aid from an international organization that supports Palestinian refugees to a Palestinian-run body. However, scratch the surface and you find a brutal, Machiavellian reality.
     UNRWA is the main aid and relief agency for Gaza’s 1.5 million locked-in residents, most of whom are refugees stemming from Israel’s creation in 1948. The organization is charged with providing services for the refugees until a just solution to their forcible exile is found. Canada’s decision to cut core funding to the agency effectively scraps Canada’s historic support for UN Resolution 194, which supports the right of return for all Palestinian refugees of 1948. The larger ramifications of the move, then, make the Conservative cuts one of the government’s most succinct reversals of Canadian foreign policy in the region.
     This is not simply an example of Stephen Harper’s diplomatic posturing for Israel. In an article subsequently reprinted in the Jerusalem Post, Treasury Board President Vic Toews told the Winnipeg Jewish Report that there was no cut in funding - just a reallocation to the PA judicial system, to bring aid in line with ’Canadian values.’
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Sunday, March 7, 2010Top of page
'This Time We Went Too Far'
Norman Finkelstein, CounterPunch 3/7/2010
      Truth and Consequences in the Gaza Invasion
     March 06, 2010 "CounterPunch" March 03, 2010 - Public outrage at the Gaza invasion did not come out of the blue but rather marked the nadir of a curve plotting a steady decline in support for Israel. As polling data of Americans and Europeans, both Gentiles and Jews, suggest, the public has become increasingly critical of Israeli policy over the past decade. The horrific images of death and destruction broadcast around the world during and after the invasion accelerated this development. “The increased and brutal frequency of war in this volatile region has shifted international opinion,” the British Financial Times editorialized one year later, “reminding Israel it is not above the law. Israel can no longer dictate the terms of debate.”
     One poll registering the fallout from the Gaza attack in the United States found that American voters calling themselves supporters of Israel plummeted from 69 per cent before the attack to 49 per cent in June 2009, while voters believing that the U.S. should support Israel dropped from 69 per cent to 44 per cent. Consumed by hate, emboldened by self-righteousness, and confident that it could control or intimidate public opinion, Israel carried on in Gaza as if it could get away with mass murder in broad daylight. But while official Western support for Israel held firm, the carnage set off an unprecedented wave of popular outrage throughout the world. Whether it was because the assault came on the heels of the devastation Israel wrought in Lebanon, or because of Israel’s relentless persecution of the people of Gaza, or because of the sheer cowardice of the assault, the Gaza invasion appeared to mark a turning point in public opinion reminiscent of the international reaction to the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in apartheid South Africa.
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Europe’s Alliance with Israel
David Cronin, P U L S E 3/4/2010
      One of the pitfalls of specialising in European politics, as I have for the past 15 years, is that certain assumptions become hardwired in your brain. For a long time, my critical faculties shut down when I heard senior EU representatives speak of the Middle East. I happily accepted the official narrative that they were striving for a just resolution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and that it would be foolish to park the so-called peace process in a “blood-soaked lay-by”, in the words of former EU commissioner Chris Patten.
     Israel’s attacks on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza just over a year ago illustrated how naive and gullible I had been. In the first instance, Tony Blair blocked the EU from formally calling for a ceasefire because he wanted Israel to be given whatever space it perceived necessary to fight Hezbollah (Israel’s slaughter of Lebanese civilians in that 33-day war elicited no more than statements of “regret” from London).
     It is true that the Union did urge a halt to the violence that Israel inflicted on Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants in late 2008 and early 2009. Yet by describing that attack as “disproportionate”, key EU representatives implicitly approved the Israeli version of events – that everything had been provoked by the missiles Hamas was firing on the southern Israeli towns of Ashkelon and Sderot. “Gaza was a crisis waiting to happen,” Marc Otte, the Union’s Middle East envoy, told me. “Do you think the Palestinians could continue to launch rockets on Israel without Israel reacting?"
     Otte has resorted to a wilfully selective reading of recent history. Far from merely reacting to what Hamas had done, Israel had created the conditions that prompted Hamas to dust down its crude DIY weapons (no match, it must be said, for the cutting-edge killing machines in the Israeli arsenal).....
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Mossad: Might or myth?
As`ad AbuKhalil, P U L S E 3/6/2010
      The assassination of Mahmoud Mabhouh, a Hamas commander, in Dubai is a watershed moment in the long history of the Mossad.
     Israeli officials who ordered the assassination did something that Zionists have always done – underestimate their Arab opponents.
     In his first impressions of Arabs, David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister, compared them to children.
     Ahad Ha’Am, an essayist considered to be the father of cultural Zionism, described the merciless beatings that Arabs were subjected to for no reason by Zionist settlers – the pioneers of the movement – in the late 19th century.
     Other Zionists have compared the Arabs of Palestine to animals. All this prejudice would in the 1960s and 1970s benefit the rise of sophisticated Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements which would plan operations keeping in mind that the Israelis would likely underestimate their chances of success.
     Hezbollah, established in the early 1980s, used that understanding when it established a resistance movement that would beat Israel at its own game – on the battlefield and in the war of intelligence.
     More recently, Israeli officials assumed that the UAE’s rulers would not pose a challenge to their activities in the emirates, especially after the welcoming of Israeli tennis player Andy Ram to the Dubai Championships with great fanfare in February 2009. But little did they know that an effective and stubborn man serves as Dubai’s chief of police.
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random violence
In Gaza: 7 Mar 2010 - * the destruction begins as far as 700 metres from the border It was senseless, random, gratuitous violence against the farmers and their hopes.  Bulldozer treads dug through bean and onion crops, in zigs and zags, seemingly without direction.  Swaths of land were eaten by the military bulldozers’ blades, also seemingly randomly:  the wheat crop which might mature to waist high if not bulldozed was left to grow, but the calf-high beans and onions were mowed, not fully but insultingly so. The 100 or so olive trees that had escaped the winter 2008-2009 Israeli massacre of Gaza and prior and later military invasions this time went with the 4 towering military bulldozers and 3 tanks. Tracks spat out earth in unwieldy clumps, not to be worked again this year, difficult to calm and smooth next year, in an area (near, but still outside of the Israeli-imposed 300 metre no-go zone,...

Weekly Protest Video Round-Up
Palestine Monitor: 6 Mar 2010 - Palestinian, Israeli and international activists joined demonstrations in villages up and down the West Bank yesterday, marking the Global Week Against racism. A Palestinian boy was seriously wounded during An Nebi Saleh protest. Here is what happened. Bi'lin Once again, creativity distinguished Bi'lin protest. Activists dressed as figures representing Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela joined anti-Wall protesters in Bil'in, marching to commemorate their nonviolent struggle against occupation, oppression and colonialism. “ The struggles of Gandhi against oppression and occupation in India , Martin Luther King, Jr. against racism in the USA and Mandela against the apartheid in South Africa are all similar to Bili'n's ongoing struggle against occupation here” , a statement from the Popular Committee said. International and Israeli activists, delegations from the Freedom Theater in Jenin and the Palestinian People's Struggle Front also joined the rally. Protesters marched towards the separation barrier, chanting slogans and singing...

Will the Afghan Surge Succeed?
Palestine Chronicle: 7 Mar 2010 - By M. Shahid Alam More than eight years after dismantling the Taliban, the United States is still mired in Afghanistan. Indeed, last October it launched a much-hyped ‘surge’ to prevent a second Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, not imminent yet, but eminently possible. The first dismantling of the Taliban was a cakewalk. In 2001, the United States quickly and decisively defeated the Taliban, killed, captured or scattered their fighters, and handed over the running of Afghanistan to their rivals, mostly Uzbeks and Tajiks from the Northern Alliance. Unaware of Pashtoon history, American commentators were pleased at the smashing victory of their military, convinced that they had consigned the Taliban to history’s graveyard. Instead, the Taliban came back from the dead. Within months of their near-total destruction, they had regained morale, regrouped, organized, trained, and returned to fight what they saw as a foreign occupation of their country. Slowly, tenaciously they continued...more

The Harlot's Grave
Palestine Chronicle: 7 Mar 2010 - By Uri Avnery Some weeks ago, Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in Rome, was released after serving 28 years in prison. The motives for his act have never been clarified. But a Palestinian leader once told me his version: God appeared to Agca in a dream and told him: Go to the Holy City and kill that damn Pole. But the Turk misunderstood, so instead of going to Jerusalem and killing Menachem Begin, he went to Rome…” Which just goes to show that holy cities are a pain in the neck. The late Yeshayahu Leibowitz, an observant Jew and a resolute opponent of the religious establishment, used to praise a deed of the Wahhabis, the radical sect that arose more than 200 years ago to cleanse Islam of impurity. The first thing they did upon conquering Mecca was to destroy the tomb...more

Misadventures of the Most Favored Nations – Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 7 Mar 2010 - By Jim Miles Misadventures of the Most Favored Nations - Clashing Egos, Inflated Ambitions, and the Great Shambles of the World Trade System. Paul Blustein. Public Affairs (Perseus Books).New York, 2009. Since its arrival in public awareness - at least for the public that follows ideas related to international trade, not many in our star studded frivolous media world - I have been antagonistic to the WTO. Reading this work by Paul Blustein was a self appointed task to read the opposition’s own ideas and how they are formulated. His most current writing in Foreign Policy [1] carries some very good news for those who, like myself, think of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a supra-national level of corporate governance that is neither democratic nor open and transparent. Blustein says, “After eight painful years of standstill and failure, with each meeting just a shoveling of intractable problems forward to...more


Monday, March 8, 2010Top of page
Is Europe planning seal of approval for Israeli settlers?
Jonathan Cook, Dissident Voice 3/8/2010
      Israel Set to Join Club of Richest Nations
     An exclusive club of the world’s most developed countries is poised to admit Israel as a member even though, a confidential internal document indicates, doing so will amount to endorsing Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territories.
     Israel has been told that its accession to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is all but assured when the 30 member states meet in May.
     But a draft OECD report concedes that Israel has breached one of the organisation’s key requirements on providing accurate and transparent data on its economic activity.
     The information supplied by Israel, the report notes, includes not only the economic activity of its citizens inside its recognised borders but also Jewish settlers who live in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan in violation of international law.
     Israel’s accession to the OECD on such terms threatens to severely embarrass many of the organisation’s member states, especially those in the European Union that are publicly committed to avoiding collusion with the occupation.
     The OECD report proposes that these legal difficulties may be circumvented by asking Israel to produce new statistics within a year of its accession excluding the settler population – even though, an OECD official has admitted, Israel would have the power to veto such a demand after it becomes a member.
     “The OECD seems to be so determined to get Israel through its door that it is prepared to cover up the crimes of the occupation,” said Shir Hever, a Jerusalem-based economist.
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Covert intelligence war?
Omayma Abdel-Latif, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/4/2010
      National security comes into focus in Lebanon as the US embassy in Beirut seeks information no foreign entity should have.
     A high-ranking Lebanese officer explained to As-Safir the significance of the American request: "It meant that the US could have the capacity to eavesdrop on cell phone calls, hamper calls, jam phone signals at a given location and locate any cellular phone."
     On 4 January 2010, US Ambassador to Lebanon Michele J Sison met with Lebanese Minister of Telecommunications Charbel Nahas. Their discussion focussed on Lebanon’s telecom sector, particularly the potential for the privatisation of telecommunications in Lebanon. Sison said that both the US government and the US private sector offered their support to Lebanon in addressing these important priorities. She also expressed the US government’s "desire to assist the government of Lebanon to achieve its many objectives and guarantee the security of [its] people".
     This week, Sison’s efforts to win a piece of Lebanon’s telecommunications cake must have been dealt a death blow following what has now been dubbed a "scandal". On 26 February, the daily As-Safir newspaper reported that the American embassy in Beirut submitted a letter to the office of the forensic investigation chief in the Internal Security Forces (ISF) headquarters on 1 April 2009 wherein the embassy reportedly requested that the ISF supply information on cellular network stations and their geographical locations, in addition to technical details pertaining to communication systems. As-Safir said that one of the two stations refused to supply the requested information unless requested by then telecommunications minister Gebran Bassil to do so. Bassil refused the request on national security grounds.
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Israeli Socialism and anti-Zionism
Moshe Machover, Israeli Occupation Archive 3/7/2010
      Israeli Socialism and anti-Zionism: Historical Tasks and Balance Sheet - A talk delivered by Moshe Machover on 28 February 2010 at the conference The Left in Palestine/The Palestinian Left, School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
     This talk is dedicated to the memory of my late friend and comrade, the Arab Marxist Jabra Nicola (1912–74).
     The terms “Right” and “Left” as used in Israel are misleading: they do not denote a socio-economic position (as they do elsewhere, especially in Europe). They denote attitude to Israeli policy towards Palestinians, towards war and peace.
     I will avoid this confusing usage. I will talk not about “left” but about socialism.
     My theme is the correlation – if you like, the dialectical relation – between the struggle for socialism and the struggle against Zionism.
     My main theses are two sides of one medal:
     1. In Israel the struggle for socialism must be part of a regional struggle; and it necessarily implies a struggle to overthrow Zionism.
     2. Conversely, a defensive struggle against the worst effects of Zionism can be waged on its own as a series of one-issue campaigns, by single-issue groupings; but Zionism cannot and will not be overthrown in this way. It can only be overthrown as part of a socialist transformation of the entire region, the Arab East. And it requires an organization set up according to this strategy....
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Amir, ten years old, abducted by Israeli soldiers from his bed
Electronic Intifada: 8 Mar 2010 - Amir smiled when I asked him to tell me his favorite color. Sitting in his family's living room last Thursday afternoon in the Old City of Hebron, the ten-year-old softly replied, "green." Hours after our interview Israeli soldiers would break into the house and snatch Amir from his bed. The Electronic Intifada contributor Nora Barrows-Friedman writes from the occupied West Bank.

"Palestinian cinema is a cause": an interview with Hany Abu-Assad
Electronic Intifada: 8 Mar 2010 - Nazareth-born filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad is best known internationally for his 2005 film Paradise Now about two young, attractive Palestinian men from Nablus in the occupied West Bank who are drawn into a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv. It was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category. The Electronic Intifada contributor Sabah Haider spoke with Hany Abu Assad about how his films are received, Palestinian cinema and the challenges of filmmaking.

random violence
In Gaza: 7 Mar 2010 - * the destruction begins as far as 700 metres from the border It was senseless, random, gratuitous violence against the farmers and their hopes.  Bulldozer treads dug through bean and onion crops, in zigs and zags, seemingly without direction.  Swaths of land were eaten by the military bulldozers’ blades, also seemingly randomly:  the wheat crop which might mature to waist high if not bulldozed was left to grow, but the calf-high beans and onions were mowed, not fully but insultingly so. The 100 or so olive trees that had escaped the winter 2008-2009 Israeli massacre of Gaza and prior and later military invasions this time went with the 4 towering military bulldozers and 3 tanks. Tracks spat out earth in unwieldy clumps, not to be worked again this year, difficult to calm and smooth next year, in an area (near, but still outside of the Israeli-imposed 300 metre no-go zone,...

Palestinian Revolutionaries on International Women's Day
Palestine Chronicle: 8 Mar 2010 - By Sukant Chandan (Sukant Chandan interviews Palestinian revolutionary Leila Khaled and Palestinian Gaza resident and revolutionary Shireen Said for International Women’s Day 2010) The Palestinian people's oppression continues primarily due to the financial, diplomatic and military support that the Zionist state receives from the USA, and secondly the acquiescence of pro-Western states in the region. After the fall of the Zionists state’s long lost brother – the Apartheid state of South Africa – the Palestinian struggle remains perhaps the leading and most potent anti-imperialist struggle in the world. Unsurprisingly therefore Palestinian women are a central example of what role women can play in the struggle to free themselves, their families, communities and their nation against imperialism and Zionism. Leila Khaled brought the Palestinian struggle to the world’s attention by means of two dramatic plane hijackings in 1969 and 1970 in which no-one but one of her own comrades was killed,...more

Kairos and Lent in the 'Holy Land'
Palestine Chronicle: 8 Mar 2010 - By Timothy Seidel Experiencing the Lenten season in Palestine is unique. It carries with it incredible feelings of closeness and concreteness as one visits sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem—the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected. Yet, those feelings of closeness are easily swallowed up by a sense of separation and forsakenness as one considers the current situation. In the recently released “Kairos Document,” Palestinian Christians take this situation as their starting point in challenging theological interpretations of those “who use the Bible to threaten our existence as Christian and Muslim Palestinians,” trying to “attach a biblical and theological legitimacy to the infringement of our rights.” Though Easter and its celebration of resurrection and new life defines Christianity, in a place like Palestine the season of Lent always seems more appropriate. Lent is a time of...more

Will Israel Spark New Wave of Suicide Bombing?
Palestine Chronicle: 8 Mar 2010 - By Stuart Littlewood – London 'The suicide bomber wrote that he began to live the day he came to know he was to die. Where did he get this passion to kill?' -- Mahesh Bhatt Here in the civilised West we hate suicide bombers with a passion. We’re taught that the proper way to blow fellow humans to smithereens is to do it from 40,000 feet. Or failing that, send Apache helicopter gun-ships at street level firing their laser-guided missiles and 30mm cannon. Or failing that, turn loose our main battle tanks to shred and vaporize the “enemy”, reduce their homes to rubble with DU shells and spread birth defects for generations to come. Nowadays we don’t even have to leave home to do it. We can train our really brainy chaps to steer armed drones to the target from the comfort of an armchair. B-52s, F-16s, Apaches, drones and...more


Tuesday, March 9, 2010Top of page
Israeli Defense Ministry goes on trial for Corrie death
Mya Guarnieri, Ma’an News Agency 3/9/2010
      "When we look at the number of cases, and we look at the fact that only six percent yield indictments, it is safe to assume that a soldier in the field today will know that he can get away with pretty much anything," Yesh Din’s research director Lior Yavne remarked.
     Jerusalem - Ma’an - On Wednesday, the Israeli Defense Ministry will go on trial as a court hears a case filed by the parents of an American woman run down by an Israeli military bulldozer in Gaza, in March 2003.
     A civil suit seeks to hold Israeli forces responsible for the death of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old activist who was crushed to death as she protested a Palestinian home from demolition in the Gaza Strip.
     "We claim that her assassination was intentional," or, at the very least, that the army is guilty of "huge negligence," Hussein Abu Hussein, the attorney who filed the petition on behalf of Corrie’s parents, commented.
     Abu Hussein cites the state’s acknowledgment of the fact that Corrie and other members of the International Solidarity Movement—a Palestinian-led peace organization that advocates non-violent means of resistance to the Israeli occupation—were demonstrating in the area for several hours before Corrie was struck by the bulldozer. He also points out that Corrie was wearing a fluorescent orange vest to increase her visibility.
     At the time of her death, the Israeli military response was that the driver of the machine did not see Corrie.
     "If you see people, you should stop and think of all the needed steps not to harm [them]. Instead of stopping the D9, which weighs 64 tons, they continued. And due to that, [Corrie] was killed," Abu Hussein said.
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Hopeful or hopeless?
Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/4/2010
      Under American pressure, Abbas has agreed to indirect talks with Israel, with some Arab support and without preconditions.
     "So that American efforts to revive the peace process succeed." This is how top Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat portrayed the decision of the Palestinian Authority to resume indirect talks with Israel despite the latter’s unchecked construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land.
     During two consecutive days of Arab foreign ministers meetings, on Tuesday and Wednesday, a qualified green light was given to President Mahmoud Abbas signalling some collective Arab support for his decision.
     The strongest support Abbas received came -- predictably -- from the camp of Arab moderate states: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Morocco. Syria, however, declined to lend its support to Abbas. Walid Al-Muallim, Syrian foreign minister, publicly stated that his country is distancing itself from the Palestinian decision to resume talks, even if indirect, with no clear agenda and no specified target.
     "We have no other choice. The Americans are not doing what we had expected them to do. They are not pressuring (Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu and he is putting his hands on more and more Palestinian land every day," said a Cairo-based Palestinian diplomat. According to this diplomat, Abbas was faced with scepticism from some in the foreign ministers meetings, "But he told them that he has nothing else to do and that he is being pressured from the Americans. He even asked them if they can come up with a better exit, but they had nothing to offer except the old story of going to the UN Security Council to put pressure on Israel."
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Iran in Its Intricacy
Roger Cohen, New York Times 3/4/2010
      A year has passed since President Obama’s groundbreaking Nowruz offer to Iran of engagement based on mutual respect. Iran is now a different country, its divided regime weaker and confronted by the Green movement, the strongest expression of people power in the Middle East and a beacon for the region.
     Obama’s outreach has achieved this: the unsettling of Iran’s revolutionary power structure. That alone was worth the gambit. But the 31-year gridlock in Iranian-American relations endures. Sarah Palin, no less, is now urging Obama to “declare war on Iran” to save his presidency. She’s not alone. Daniel Pipes, the conservative commentator, called a recent National Review column: “How to save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran.”...
     But the war option remains unthinkable, a potential disaster for the United States and Israel. It’s therefore worth outlining, before the drumbeat intensifies in the run-up to the mid-term U.S. elections, [some] truths about Iran....
     Attacking Iran has known consequences. Saddam Hussein did so in 1980 — and thereby cemented Ayatollah Khomeini’s theocratic revolution by uniting diverse factions (socialist, liberal and others) in national defense.
     Because the United States and Europe armed Iraq in that war, and Saddam then gassed the Iranians, resentment runs deep: I’ve often been shown war wounds in Tehran on arms and legs as a single word is uttered, “America.” The generation of young officers in that war, like Ahmadinejad, now runs Iran and constitutes the New Right. (Blowback is not limited to Afghanistan.) But most Iranians are under 35 and drawn to the United States.
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Interview with Gaza rights defender: "Siege began in 1967"
Electronic Intifada: 9 Mar 2010 - BRUSSELS (IPS) - For the first time since September 2006, Mahmoud Abu Rahma, a leading figure in the Palestinian human rights group Al Mezan, has been granted permission to travel outside Gaza. More than 30 applications to leave the Strip had previously been turned down by the Israeli authorities and it was not until German diplomats made representations on his behalf that he was finally allowed to visit Europe.

"Palestinian cinema is a cause": an interview with Hany Abu-Assad
Electronic Intifada: 8 Mar 2010 - Nazareth-born filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad is best known internationally for his 2005 film Paradise Now about two young, attractive Palestinian men from Nablus in the occupied West Bank who are drawn into a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv. It was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category. The Electronic Intifada contributor Sabah Haider spoke with Hany Abu Assad about how his films are received, Palestinian cinema and the challenges of filmmaking.

random violence
In Gaza: 7 Mar 2010 - * the destruction begins as far as 700 metres from the border It was senseless, random, gratuitous violence against the farmers and their hopes.  Bulldozer treads dug through bean and onion crops, in zigs and zags, seemingly without direction.  Swaths of land were eaten by the military bulldozers’ blades, also seemingly randomly:  the wheat crop which might mature to waist high if not bulldozed was left to grow, but the calf-high beans and onions were mowed, not fully but insultingly so. The 100 or so olive trees that had escaped the winter 2008-2009 Israeli massacre of Gaza and prior and later military invasions this time went with the 4 towering military bulldozers and 3 tanks. Tracks spat out earth in unwieldy clumps, not to be worked again this year, difficult to calm and smooth next year, in an area (near, but still outside of the Israeli-imposed 300 metre no-go zone,...

Refusal to Surrender: 'My Father was a Freedom Fighter' Reviewed
Palestine Chronicle: 9 Mar 2010 - By Robin Yassin-Kassab (An edited version of this review appeared at the Electronic Intifada.) 'From afar,' writes Ramzy Baroud (founder of the indispensable Palestine Chronicle), 'Gaza's reality, like that of all of Palestine, is often presented without cohesion, without proper context; accounts of real life in Gaza are marred with tired assumptions and misrepresentations that deprive the depicted humans of their names, identities and very dignity.' Baroud’s “My Father was a Freedom Fighter” is an antidote to the media’s decontextualisation and dehumanisation of Palestinians. It’s also an instant classic, one of the very best books to have examined the Palestinian tragedy. As the title suggests, Baroud relates the life of his father, Mohammed Baroud. Each step in the story is located in a larger familial, social, economic and political context, one distinguished by eyewitness accounts and made concrete by an almost encyclopedic wealth of detail. But neither the book’s detail...more


Wednesday, March 10, 2010Top of page
The Crackdown on Israeli Dissidents
Conn Hallinan, CounterPunch 3/9/2010
      Totalitarian Democracy?
     A heavy-handed crack down on Israeli dissidents is drawing sharp criticism by human rights organizations and at least a mild judicial slap on the wrist for the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The authorities are targeting such groups as B’Tselem, New Israel Fund (NIF), the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), as well as foreign activists in the occupied West Bank.
     “There is an attempt to silence and crack down on dissent,” B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli told the Tobias Buck of the Financial Times. “Since [the Gaza war], the political climate in Israel has become extremely polarized. And this polarization has reached a level where anyone who is critical is presented as a traitor.”
     The Netanyanu government has endorsed a bill that, if passed, will apply onerous registration conditions on NGOs and subject violators to up to a year in prison.
     “These are classic McCarthy techniques, portraying our organizations as enemies of the state and suggesting we are aiding Hamas and terror groups,” ACRI head Hagai Elad told the Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook.
     On Jan. 15, police broke up a peaceful ARCI demonstration in East Jerusalem, arresting 16 people. The rally was protesting the eviction of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and their replacement with settlers. Demonstrators were held for 36 hours until a judge from the Jerusalem Magistrates Court released them without charge. The judge also refused a police request to ban the demonstrators from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
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Possibilities of war: Iran
Azmi Bishara, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/4/2010
      Despite how alarming the prospect of a nuclear Iran might be to Washington, enhancing sanctions or authorising pre-emptive strikes could lead to an all-out war the US might lose.
     The Obama administration’s reappointment of the Bush administration’s secretary of defence, Robert Gates, reflects the growing involvement of the US military establishment in decision-making processes on matters of war and peace, and hence in US foreign policy in general. The primary catalyst in this development has been the dismal results of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan leading to attempts to reform the military establishment’s modus operandi, which isn’t directly affected by elections, a couple of years before the end of Bush’s tenure. The new programming was scripted to a considerable extent in the Baker- Hamilton Report, submitted to Bush in December 2006. The most important recommendations of this report were, first, its call for a dialogue with countries neighbouring Iraq, including Syria and Iran, in order to persuade them to help promote stability in order to extricate the US from the Iraqi quagmire it created after having invaded that country and demolished its existing governing infrastructures, and second its call to renew efforts towards a political solution to the Palestinian cause, which is to say to revive the so-called "peace process".
     Against this backdrop, the appointment of Gates as secretary of defence, instead of Rumsfeld, was a manifestation of the military establishment’s rejection of the latter and of the neoconservatives’ adventurism. Gates is now the military establishment’s man in the White House and his influence has increased under Obama. He epitomises that conjunction between the refusal to allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons and the desire to avert an all-out war with Iran. This is the current position of the establishment in the West, regardless of the Tony Blair-like histrionics that only a handful of Arab officials buy.
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Resistance and discord
Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/4/2010
      When everyone knows that Israel’s occupation cannot be ended when Palestinians are disunited, why does division continue?
     The anger was very clear on the old man’s face as he marched in a demonstration in Gaza to protest against the Israeli government’s decision to annex several historic and religious Palestinian sites in the West Bank. But Haj Ammar, 82, was directing his anger at Fatah and Hamas whom he holds responsible for Israel’s continued antagonism and hostilities against the Palestinians. "If there was national unity, we wouldn’t be here," Haj Ammar complained to Al-Ahram Weekly. "It is time to close ranks and end divisions. What are they waiting for before they come together against the occupation?"
     Most Palestinians agree with the old man, blaming internal divisions for the wretched lives they are leading in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. But there are no indicators that the time has come to end discord. Both sides remain obstinate in their positions. Even as people took to the streets en masse in Palestinian cities to protest against Israeli measures, a war of words erupted once more between Fatah and Hamas. It was triggered by the call of Parliament Speaker Aziz Al-Dweik to hold an emergency parliamentary session to discuss national reconciliation and Israel’s violation of Islamic holy sites.
     In reaction, the leader of the Fatah bloc in parliament, Azzam Al-Ahmed, accused Al-Dweik of conspiring against the Palestinian Authority (PA), insisting that Al-Dweik had lost his mandate as parliament speaker. The outburst crushed any hopes stirred by a recent visit by Nabil Shaath, member of Fatah’s Central Committee, to Gaza and his meetings with deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders.
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Rachel Corrie's family takes Israel to court
Electronic Intifada: 10 Mar 2010 - Seven years after Rachel Corrie, a US peace activist, was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, her family was to put the Israeli government in the dock today. A judge in the northern Israeli city of Haifa was due to be presented with evidence that 23-year-old Corrie was killed unlawfully as she stood in the path of the bulldozer, trying to prevent it from demolishing Palestinian homes in Rafah. Jonathan Cook reports.

Truth in labeling: EU court challenges "Made in Israel"
Electronic Intifada: 10 Mar 2010 - On 25 February, the European Court of Justice ruled that imports manufactured in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank shouldn't benefit from a trade agreement between Israel and the European Union. The ruling follows protests of Israel's export of products from the illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) to the EU and Switzerland labeled as "Made in Israel." Products labeled as such benefit from favorable import taxes under the EU-Israel Association Agreement of 2000. Phon van den Biesen and Adri Nieuwhof comment for The Electronic Intifada.

Interview: "Anything you want, we can bring to the Gaza Strip"
Electronic Intifada: 10 Mar 2010 - The siege on Gaza is tightening as the Egyptian government continues construction of an underground steel wall at the Rafah border with Gaza to block the tunnel trade. The Electronic Intifada contributor Jody McIntyre spoke with Abu Hanin, a Palestinian laborer from Gaza who works in one of the tunnels at the border with Egypt.

fish qanoon, fi oud
In Gaza: 10 Mar 2010 - I’m sitting talking with a Palestinian friend about Israeli violations of international law, international human rights law, norms and standards… and he sums it up: “ fish qanoon… fi oud “,  “there’s no (respect for) law… there’s oud .” qanoon has two meanings: law… and a classical stringed instument played table-top. so he jokes: there’s no law, just oud (the lute-like instrument). a typical a tongue in cheek sample of Palestinian humour, and of dealing with the brutal reality. earlier, i’m sitting with an ngo-worker and he is victorious on their find: paper, standard blank office paper. sure, there’s paper from the tunnels, but a siege-abiding ngoer, as much as he/she doesn’t want to, must play by the zionist rules: no using tunnel products.  he’s spent half a day just trying to find ‘legal’ paper. but the story gets more ridiculous.  i learn of the process of reciving ‘legal’ goods...

Sheikh Jarrah Mass Rally
Palestine Monitor: 10 Mar 2010 - Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian activists joined the rally last Saturday in Est Jerusalem to protest the eviction of Arab families from Sheikh Jarrah, where Jewish settlers continue to occupy Palestinian homes. The photos were taken by Brady Ng, FLV, Julian. Photo: FLV Photo: FLV View from the stage Photo: Brady Ng Part of the 5000-strong crowd Photo: Brady Ng Photo: Julian Photo: Julian Photo: Julian Nasser al-Ghawi: his family was evicted from their home in August 2009 Photo: Julian Israeli border police in riot gear posted outside the event Photo: Brady Ng Photo: Julian Photo: Julian Jewish orthodox settlers showed up during the rally Photo FLV Photo FLV During the demonstration, protesters carrying Israeli flags with the word "peace" on them were critised. Despite the huge presence of Israeli border police in riot gear, the rally remained peaceful.

Cash Before Conscience: Conclusions From The Russell Tribunal
Palestine Monitor: 10 Mar 2010 - The beginning of March saw the opening of the first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Barcelona. The question referred to by the Organising Committee in the first session of the RTP was whether the nature of relations between EU member states and Israel are unlawful within the framework of international law and, if so, what practical implications and means can be used to remedy them? "We are outraged by how the Palestinians suffer such destruction, and that the countries which should uphold international law don't respect, for Palestine, the inalienable rights contained in international texts. We act on behalf of the individual's right to pressure the international instances to implement measures to enforce peace but also the penalties for not applying the law and violate the requirements of the UN. We can not leave unpunished those who violate those rights." Stephane Hessel, Ambassador of France and co-editor...

In Nabi Saleh, Women Stand Up
Palestine Monitor: 10 Mar 2010 - Last year, six housewives from the village launched “Budhur”. The women group is active on social, political and women's issues. Budhur, meaning “before blooming”, is an initiative that claims to be innovative. Written and photographed by Valentine Van Vyve. Being a woman in Nebi Saleh might be different from being a woman in any other Palestinian village. Creating Budhur can be considered as a civic act: “ Because we, women, are a part of the society, we want to play a role in our own community”, told Nareman Tamimi, the president of Budhur. “ Through our actions, we are a strength for the community too and we should be considered as such”, she added. Budhur does not have a regular agenda nor a fixed place to meet. From six core persons, they grew to one hundred, since every woman in the village has attended, now and then, the activities. “...

Rachel Corrie Family Finally Puts Israel in Dock
Palestine Chronicle: 10 Mar 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth Seven years after Rachel Corrie, a US peace activist, was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, her family was to put the Israeli government in the dock today. A judge in the northern Israeli city of Haifa was due to be presented with evidence that 23-year-old Corrie was killed unlawfully as she stood in the path of the bulldozer, trying to prevent it from demolishing Palestinian homes in Rafah. Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy, who arrived in Israel on Saturday, said they hoped their civil action would shed new light on their daughter’s killing and finally lead to Israel’s being held responsible for her death. They are also seeking damages that could amount to millions of dollars if the court finds in their favour. An internal army investigation was closed shortly after Corrie’s death, exonerating both the bulldozer driver and the commanders who...more

Is PA Guilty of Undermining BDS Campaign?
Palestine Chronicle: 10 Mar 2010 - By Samah Sabawi In 2008 Netanyahu announced during his election campaign that he plans to 'weave an economic peace alongside the political process which will give a stake in peace for the moderate elements in the Palestinian society'. (1) Since its election, the Netanyahu government has made “economic peace” central to its policies in the West Bank. This is not a coincidence. At a time when Palestinian civil society and grass roots solidarity groups are calling for an economic war on Israel, the Apartheid State has waged economic peace in order to undermine its efforts by seeking normalization with Palestinian and Arab businesses as well as Palestinian and Arab leaders. In order to understand what Israel is offering and the kind of trapping that has been laid out for Arab and Palestinian investors, we must first take a look at Israel’s history of economic manipulation. Contrary to all the hype...more

Which One is the Real Joe Biden
Palestine Chronicle: 10 Mar 2010 - By Ali Younes During his current visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the Israelis of how the US and Israel are “inseparable” and that “there is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security.” Biden’s comments in Israel confirmed what has been a long standing Arab grievance against the US that it is in fact “partial” third party, when brokering negotiations which favor Israel against the Palestinians. This is, moreover, when the US is currently setting the stage for “proximity talks” between Israel and the Palestinians. The proximity talks mean that US envoy George Mitchell will act as an impartial third party, will be completely in charge of the talks, and will carry messages and draft the agreements between the two parties until an agreement is reached. Biden’s statement seems to have angered leaders in the Arab...more


Thursday, March 11, 2010Top of page
The Obama Administration Asked for the East Jerusalem Fiasco
Yossi Sarid, CounterPunch 3/11/2010
      Don’t believe Benjamin Netanyahu for one moment when he says he "never knew." The Jerusalem planning committee is only too aware of what the bosses want, and the government has decided to step up construction in greater Jerusalem. Dispossession and taking possession, kicking out and moving in - that’s what it’s all about.
     Over the years, a streamlined and generously lubricated machine has evolved, one that makes it possible to take solace in the building of Jerusalem (in the phrase used to console mourners) and to take pride - but also to take cover - behind a facade of disingenuousness and disowning. Yesterday, it was convenient to disown.
     No pretext is more dismal than "bad timing." Ehud Barak immediately put out a press release about the "harmful timing of the publication." As if there were a proper time for provocations. If the announcement of the 1,600 planned housing units had come before Joe Biden’s trip, they would have said it was aimed at sabotaging the visit, and if it happened after he left, they would have said Biden himself was in on the secret.
     But with Barak, that willing slave-minister of Netanyahu’s, everything’s cool, but if only they had kept that call for bids confidential, if only they built apartments in some dark secluded hideaway, like the Western Wall tunnel.
     Don’t believe for a moment that they never knew: The chaos works like clockwork......
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Border Control / Biden and the bulldozer
Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz, International Solidarity Movement 3/10/2010
      March 9, 2010
     U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who arrived in Israel yesterday, didn’t look for camels among the cars on the road from Ben-Gurion International Airport to Jerusalem. In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing held two years ago for the United States Ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham, Biden heard that the Israelis even know how to ride bulldozers.
     Then a senator from Delaware, who chaired the committee, Biden asked for a detailed report on the affair of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was run over and killed by the treads of an Israeli bulldozer.
     If Biden schedules a meeting with Corrie’s parents here, the Israeli Information and Diaspora Ministry will have to work overtime. The parents, who arrived in advance of the scheduled deliberations on their suit against the state of Israel, will tell him that his hosts are continuing to deny any responsibility for their daughter’s death.
     Rachel was a 23-year-old student run over by a 64-ton bulldozer in March, 2003, when she and others from the International Solidarity Movement tried to use their bodies to stop the demolition of a house in Rafah.
     At the Senate hearing, Cunningham spoke about the Israel authorities’ refusal to open a thorough investigation into the affair and not rest content with an internal report.
     Cunningham detailed numerous written and oral requests to top people in the Israeli government by senior people in the American administration and his predecessor at the embassy. In reply to Biden’s question, Cunningham undertook to stand by the Corrie family in the demand for a credible investigation of the tragic event.... -- See also: Source
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Revolutionary roses
Al-Ahram Weekly 3/11/2010
      Sukant Chandan interviews Leila Khaled and Shireen Said for International Women’s Day 2010.
     The Palestinian people’s oppression continues primarily due to the financial, diplomatic and military support that Israel receives from the US, and secondly the acquiescence of pro-Western states in the region. After the fall of the Zionists state’s long lost brother — the apartheid state of South Africa — the Palestinian struggle remains perhaps the leading and most potent anti-imperialist struggle in the world. Unsurprisingly therefore Palestinian women are a central example of what role women can play in the struggle to free themselves, their families, communities and their nation from imperialism and Zionism.
     Leila Khaled brought the Palestinian struggle to the world’s attention by means of two dramatic plane hijackings in 1969 and 1970 in which only one of her own comrades was killed, the American-Nicaraguan Patrick Arguello. Khaled retells her account of this hijacking in her autobiography My People Shall Live (1973) in which she writes: “Patrick Arguello, age 27, father of three children, a Nicaraguan citizen of the world, born in San Francisco, was pronounced dead. What had prompted someone half-way across the world from Palestine to undertake this dangerous mission? Patrick was a revolutionary Communist. His gallant action was a gesture of international solidarity. A flame of life was extinguished; it lit the world for a moment; it blazed a trail on the road back to Palestine. Arguello lives, so do my people, so does the revolution!”
     Khaled remains one of the most inspirational and influential leftist anti-imperialist women in the post-WWII period. She remains active today in the leadership of the Palestinian revolution, as she is one of the central committee members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as well as a representative of the Palestinian National Council.
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Second annual Ann Arbor Palestine film fest opens with "Pomegranates and Myrrh"
Electronic Intifada: 11 Mar 2010 - The second annual Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival opened on 10 March 2010 at the Michigan Theater with hundreds of attendees for Najwa Najjar's Pomegranates and Myrrh . The film festival showcases films about Palestine and by Palestinian directors. Educating through the screen arts, the film festival amplifies the voice of the Palestinian people as a nation and diaspora by bringing films to the fore that would not otherwise be seen.

PLO paper reveals leadership bereft of strategy, legitimacy
Electronic Intifada: 11 Mar 2010 - As US-brokered "indirect" peace talks are set to resume, a paper authored by PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reveals a Palestinian leadership ready to re-enter negotiations with Israel having already conceded fundamental Palestinian rights and demands. EI's Ali Abunimah analyzes a document he says provides insight into the thought processes of a leadership bereft of strategy and legitimacy.

Homes and livelihoods gone in an instant
Electronic Intifada: 11 Mar 2010 - Radia Abu Sbaih, 47, lives with her sister and one niece on family land roughly 700 meters from the "green line" boundary between Israel and Gaza. Until 18 February 2010, they had nearly 600 olive, fruit, date and nut trees, an agricultural cistern, a water well, various vegetables and a house. Theirs was one of three homes demolished by Israeli military bulldozers that day in al-Mossadar, eastern Gaza. Eva Bartlett reports for The Electronic Intifada.

Homes and livelihoods gone in an instant
In Gaza: 11 Mar 2010 - Israeli bulldozers destroyed three homes and 17 dunams of agricultural land in eastern Khan Younis on 18 February. Electronic Intifada Radia Abu Sbaih, 47, lives with her sister and one niece on family land roughly 700 meters from the “green line” boundary between Israel and Gaza. Until 18 February 2010, they had nearly 600 olive, fruit, date and nut trees, an agricultural cistern, a water well, various vegetables and a house. Theirs was one of three homes demolished by Israeli military bulldozers that day in al-Mossadar, eastern Gaza. Around 8am that morning, approximately five Israeli military bulldozers and upwards of 10 Israeli tanks, accompanied by more than 50 foot soldiers, invaded the farming region, according to locals. “We were in our home when we heard the Israeli tanks and bulldozers approaching. We ran off immediately,” says Sbaih. She walks over felled trees, past the bulldozed cistern, and to the ruins...

Rachel Corrie Family Finally Puts Israel in Dock
Palestine Monitor: 11 Mar 2010 - Seven years after Rachel Corrie, a US peace activist, was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, her family was to put the Israeli government in the dock today. A judge in the northern Israeli city of Haifa was due to be presented with evidence that 23-year-old Corrie was killed unlawfully as she stood in the path of the bulldozer, trying to prevent it from demolishing Palestinian homes in Rafah. Corrie's parents, Craig and Cindy, who arrived in Israel on Saturday, said they hoped their civil action would shed new light on their daughter's killing and finally lead to Israel's being held responsible for her death. They are also seeking damages that could amount to millions of dollars if the court finds in their favour. An internal army investigation was closed shortly after Corrie's death, exonerating both the bulldozer driver and the commanders who oversaw the operation. Three Britons...

Alternative Reading of the Al-Mabhouh Murder
Palestine Chronicle: 10 Mar 2010 - By Ramzy Baroud The killing of Palestinian activist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on January 19, 2010 was clearly a well-planned, violent and sadistic act, committed by Israeli assassins in the supposed safety of a sovereign country. Yes, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was a Palestinian activist. We have no reason to believe otherwise. He spent years of his life in Israeli prison – and one year in an Egyptian jail – for his political activism. This, however, gives no credibility to Israel’s accusation that al-Mabhouh was a killer of Israelis. This assertion becomes even more problematic when considering that al-Mabhouh’s assassination was, according to British media, ordered by accused Israeli war criminals and rightwing politicians. According to the Sunday Times, Meir Dagan, the current director of Mossad briefed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the assassination plan during a meeting in early January. "The people of Israel trust you. Good luck," Netanyahu reportedly said at...more


Friday, March 12, 2010Top of page
Brutalizing Palestinian children
Stephen Lendman, Palestine Note 3/11/2010
      As an isolated incident, it would be appalling and criminal. As a regular occurrence, it’s state-sponsored terrorism against defenseless children, subjected to barbarism by Israeli soldiers committing crimes against humanity to crush their will for wanting to live free on their own land - what Westerners take for granted; what Palestinians since 1948 haven’t had, and since 1967, under military occupation denying their very humanity. Nora Barrows-Friedman does heroic reporting for Pacifica Radio’s KPFA Flashpoints Radio and as an activist/teacher/journalist in Occupied Palestine during regular visits. On March 8 on the Electronic Intifada, she wrote about Amir al-Mohteseb, a 10-year old Hebron child, arrested, detained, and savagely beaten after his 12-year old brother Hasan endured similar treatment a week earlier. On March 7 at 2AM, "Israeli soldiers (broke) into (his) house, snatch(ed) Amir from his bed, threatened his parents with death by gunfire if they" interfered, took him down the stairwell, and brutally beat him causing internal abdomen bleeding, requiring overnight hospitalization. "In complete shock and distress, Amir would not open his mouth to speak for another day and a half." Before the incident, he told Barrows-Friedman he was playing in the street on his way with Hasan to see their aunt when: "Two....soldiers stopped us and handcuffed us, (took) us to two separate jeeps, (took) me to the settlement and put me in a corner, (put) a dog next to me," refused to let him use the bathroom, threatened to hold him forever, wouldn’t let him call his mother, blindfolded him, and held him until his father managed to get him late at night. more.. e-mail

Expecting a third Intifada
Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/11/2010
      The next Intifada could see the Palestinian people in struggle not only against Israel but also against the Palestinian Authority.
     Observers in occupied Palestine are increasingly of the opinion that a fresh Intifada or uprising is in the offing as the Israeli authorities keep provoking Palestinians, including stepping up efforts to gain Jewish prayer rights at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine.
     The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has warned that provocative Israeli actions at Haram Al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) could trigger a religious war between Jews and Muslims. The organisation called on the world community to stop Israeli aggression before it was too late.
     The warning came after Israeli security forces attacked Muslim worshipers during Friday’s congregational prayers on 5 March. Israeli paramilitary police fired tear gas and stun grenades, injuring as many 50 Palestinians, many of them elderly. Some of the injured were transferred to the two main hospitals in East Jerusalem, but many had to be treated on site as Israeli troops impeded emergency medical efforts.
     The Israeli police said it “intervened” in reaction to stone throwing towards the nearby Al-Buraq Wall, which Jews call the “Western Wall plaza”. Palestinians have been protesting a series of Israeli provocations, including efforts by Jewish religious groups to gain a foothold at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Last week, Israeli troops escorted a number of Jewish fanatics into the Haram Al-Sharif esplanade where they started holding religious rituals. Muslim worshipers in the area hurled stones towards them, prompting soldiers to attack the Muslims.
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America to the rescue, (not) again
Sam Bahour, Ma’an News Agency 3/12/2010
      We are told that US President Barack Obama has taken a leap of political faith in trying to bridge a final peace settlement between Palestinians and Israelis. America’s weapon of choice is "proximity talks," with the threat that if either side fails to meet American expectations, the US will squarely and publicly lay blame. If this was a sitcom it would be the opportune time to crack up laughing; regretfully this is not the case.
     Real people - whole generations - of Palestinians are on the verge of being locked into another decade of protracted and violent military occupation. Many Israeli lives and hopes are at stake as well.
     It has been reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, that President Obama submitted a letter of commitment to the Palestinian side to get these indirect "proximity talks" off the ground. The letter notes, "Our core remains a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian State with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967."
     This is not the first time a US administration has used its creativity in crafting new terminology to deal with the conflict instead of relying on the time-tested body of international law that provides the keys to real progress. In the past, in place of "independent state" the US has attached such adjectives to the word "state" as "contiguous," "viable," "economically viable," "territorial continuity," and the like. In his use of words, President Obama has just picked up where the failures of past administrations left off.
     International law clearly defines what an independent state is and any attempt to redefine it is an act of bad faith.
     Israeli failed state
     The timing of the US move toward new talks is rather conspicuous as well. Israel is proving itself to be a ‘failed state;’ a ‘rogue state’ which has become a liability to its allies. How are its leaders greeting this latest move?
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Harvard students condemn center's defense of fellow's racist statements
Electronic Intifada: 12 Mar 2010 - We students at Harvard University are disturbed by the racist and inhumane comments of Martin Kramer, Visiting Scholar at the National Security Studies Program at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. We have become even more alarmed that rather than taking a dissociating or even strictly neutral stance against such extremist and hateful statements, the Weatherhead Center issued a defensive response.

Interview: Education and resistance at the Ann Arbor Palestine film fest
Electronic Intifada: 12 Mar 2010 - The second annual Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival opened on Wednesday, 10 March with the feature film Pomegranates and Myrrh . Such festivals are a growing phenomenon with new ones popping up throughout the United States. The Electronic Intifada contributor Jimmy Johnson spoke with festival organizers Hena Ashraf, Ryah Aqel, Lauren Thams and Pomegranates and Myrhh director Najwa Najjar.

Flouting its own laws, EU accommodates "Made in Israel"
Electronic Intifada: 12 Mar 2010 - In 2008 Britain expressed concern about how goods originating from Israeli settlements in the West Bank may be benefiting illegally from European Union trade preferences that theoretically only apply to businesses within Israel's internationally-recognized borders. However, EU officials have not only failed to defend international law, they have accommodated Israel's abuse of it. David Cronin analyzes for The Electronic Intifada.

Sending a laptop to Gaza
Electronic Intifada: 12 Mar 2010 - I sat outdoors at a cafe on the Mediterranean Sea in al-Arish, a dusty seaside town in Egypt's northern Sinai. I drank a tea and smoked a water pipe; it gave me something to do while I waited for Ismail -- that's not his real name -- an Egyptian Bedouin tunnel smuggler who was going to deliver a package for me into Gaza. Ahmed Moor writes from al-Arish.

Homes and livelihoods gone in an instant
In Gaza: 11 Mar 2010 - Israeli bulldozers destroyed three homes and 17 dunams of agricultural land in eastern Khan Younis on 18 February. Electronic Intifada Radia Abu Sbaih, 47, lives with her sister and one niece on family land roughly 700 meters from the “green line” boundary between Israel and Gaza. Until 18 February 2010, they had nearly 600 olive, fruit, date and nut trees, an agricultural cistern, a water well, various vegetables and a house. Theirs was one of three homes demolished by Israeli military bulldozers that day in al-Mossadar, eastern Gaza. Around 8am that morning, approximately five Israeli military bulldozers and upwards of 10 Israeli tanks, accompanied by more than 50 foot soldiers, invaded the farming region, according to locals. “We were in our home when we heard the Israeli tanks and bulldozers approaching. We ran off immediately,” says Sbaih. She walks over felled trees, past the bulldozed cistern, and to the ruins...

Rachel Corrie Family Finally Puts Israel in Dock
Palestine Monitor: 11 Mar 2010 - Seven years after Rachel Corrie, a US peace activist, was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, her family was to put the Israeli government in the dock today. A judge in the northern Israeli city of Haifa was due to be presented with evidence that 23-year-old Corrie was killed unlawfully as she stood in the path of the bulldozer, trying to prevent it from demolishing Palestinian homes in Rafah. Corrie's parents, Craig and Cindy, who arrived in Israel on Saturday, said they hoped their civil action would shed new light on their daughter's killing and finally lead to Israel's being held responsible for her death. They are also seeking damages that could amount to millions of dollars if the court finds in their favour. An internal army investigation was closed shortly after Corrie's death, exonerating both the bulldozer driver and the commanders who oversaw the operation. Three Britons...

The Decline of Israel: Interview with Jonathan Cook
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Mar 2010 - By New Left Project In a wide-ranging interview with the New Left Project, Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook describes the increasingly repressive nature of Israeli society and the prospects for a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict NLP: What did you make of Ehud Barak’s recent comparison of Israel to South Africa? JC: We should be extremely wary of ascribing a leftwing agenda to senior Israeli politicians who make use of the word “apartheid” in the Israeli-Palestinian context. Barak was not claiming that Israel is an apartheid state when he addressed the high-powered delegates at the Herzliya conference last month; he was warning the Netanyahu government that its approach to the two-state solution was endangering Israel’s legitimacy in the eyes of the world that would eventually lead to it being called an apartheid state. He was politicking. His goal was to intimidate Netanyahu into signing up to his, and the Israeli centre’s,...more

America To The Rescue, (Not) Again
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Mar 2010 - By Sam Bahour We are told that President Obama has taken a leap of political faith in trying to bridge a final peace settlement between Palestinians and Israelis. The United States' new weapon is "proximity talks": if either side fails to meet American expectations, the US will squarely and publicly lay blame. If this was a sitcom it would be the opportune time to crack up laughing; regretfully this is not the case. Real people - whole generations - of Palestinians are on the verge of being locked into another decade of protracted and violent military occupation. Many Israelis’ lives and hopes are at stake as well. It has been reported in Ha'aretz that President Obama submitted a letter of commitment to the Palestinian side to get these indirect “proximity talks” off the ground. The letter notes, "Our core remains a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian State with contiguous territory...more

Three Kings – Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Mar 2010 - By Jim Miles Three Kings - The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II. Lloyd C. Gardner. New Press, N.Y., 2009. This concisely written and well documented work covers the “Truman Doctrine…the essential rubric under which the United States projected its power globally after World War II…the ideological foundation for the “imperial presidency.” Lloyd Gardner focuses his analysis on the Middle East, although the imperial trends expanded globally through the Americas and on into Asia as the old empires faded and the U.S. took their place. More specifically it is a study of “U.S. maneuvers to replace the British in the region of signal importance, the Middle East.” The signal importance of the region contains two factors: oil, the regional resource that enticed the British into the area in the first place; and ‘international communism’ and the rhetorically inflated fears of a grand international...more


Saturday, March 13, 2010Top of page
The decline of Israel and the prospects for peace
New Left Project 3/12/2010
      An interview with Jonathan Cook
     In a wide-ranging interview with the New Left Project, Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook describes the increasingly repressive nature of Israeli society and the prospects for a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
     [New Left Project ] What did you make of Ehud Barak’s recent comparison of Israel to South Africa?
     [Jonathan Cook] We should be extremely wary of ascribing a left-wing agenda to senior Israeli politicians who make use of the word “apartheid” in the Israeli-Palestinian context. Barak was not claiming that Israel is an apartheid state when he addressed the high-powered delegates at the Herzliya conference last month; he was warning the Netanyahu government that its approach to the two-state solution was endangering Israel’s legitimacy in the eyes of the world, which would eventually lead to it being called an apartheid state. He was politicking. His goal was to intimidate Netanyahu into signing up to his – and the Israeli centre’s – long-standing agenda of “unilateral separation”: statehood imposed on the Palestinians as a series of bantustans (be sure, the irony is entirely lost on Barak and others). Barak knows that Netanyahu currently has no intention of creating any kind of Palestinian state, even a bogus one, despite his commitments to the US.
     The last senior Israeli politician to talk of “apartheid” was Ehud Olmert, and it is worth remembering why he used the term. It was back in November 2003, when he was deputy prime minister and desperately trying to scare his boss, Ariel Sharon, into reversing his long-standing support for the settlements and adopt instead the disengagement plan for Gaza. Olmert’s thinking was that by severing Gaza from the Greater Israel project – by pretending the occupation had ended there – Israel could buy a few more years before it faced a Palestinian majority and the danger of being compared to apartheid South Africa. It worked and Sharon became the improbable “man of peace” for which he is today remembered. (Strangely, Olmert, like Barak, defined apartheid in purely mathematical terms: Israeli rule over the Palestinians would only qualify as apartheid at the moment Jews became a numerical minority.)
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Israel’s Lobby Imposes Crippling Sanctions on America — Again
Grant Smith, Antiwar.com 3/12/2010
      The Israel lobby’s campaign against US and international corporations doing business with Iran is gearing up this week.  The tip of the spear is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee sponsored expansion of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996.  If signed into law by president Obama, the legislation would institute onerous new monitoring to ensure exports never enter Iran, along with mandatory divestment from and penalties for any corporations discovered doing business in Iran. A new type of "office of special plans" at the Treasury Department that AIPAC and its think tank lobbied to create by executive order in 2004 is also on the warpath.  Stuart Levey, the head of the office of "Terrorism and Financial Intelligence" is traveling to Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman "pointing out that they face dramatic risks by doing business with Iran."   Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon finished a long set of meetings urging the US National Security Council to impose harsh sanctions on Iran.
     The New York Times started the week with a list of corporations doing business in Iran and their US government procurement revenues.  Most companies on this list long ago appeared on hit lists compiled by AIPAC for quiet divestment campaigns in state legislatures across the country.  The New York Times ominously highlights in red any company that may be a "possible violator of the Iran Sanctions Act." National Public Radio’s Scott Simon, after reading it, was apoplectic.  He fretted aloud on the air whether US companies and subsidiaries on the target list were "betraying their country’s national security interests." 
     What should Americans make of this drive to label all companies doing business with Iran unpatriotic smugglers? First, they should consider the source of the multi-tiered Iran sanctions drive. Then, they should start getting angry.
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Where is the spirit of Passover?
Mya Guarnieri, Ma’an News Agency 3/13/2010
      Pesach is right around the corner. And while Israel will go through the motions of the holiday, it won’t reach the spirit of Passover. Why?
     Israel has lost its moral compass.
     I’m not talking about Gaza, the occupation, or 1948, although the expulsion of the Palestinians is where Israel’s steps first foundered. With Pesach in mind, I’m talking about how Israel is treating the strangers in its land.
     The Oz Unit, an arm of the immigration police, is on the streets now cracking down on illegal residents and those that employ them. The campaign, part of Israel’s ongoing attempt to rid the country of non-Jewish foreigners, has been given the revolting name "Clean and Tid,y, evoking images not of law enforcement but of ethnic cleansing.
     Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Oded Feller, an attorney with the Association of Civil Rights in Israel remarked, “The state authorities are of course entitled to enforce the law; what we oppose is the disgraceful language that accompanies these sorts of operations. Human beings are not dirt.”
     The Jerusalem Post continued, "Feller said names like ’Clean and Tidy’ incite hatred of foreigners, and added that it is shameful the government chooses such titles for its operations."
     During Pesach, a holiday that commemorates the ancient Hebrews’ flight from oppressive conditions in Africa, we read the Exodus portion of the Torah, which includes the reminder: “You shall not oppress the stranger, for you know the soul of the stranger, having been strangers in the land of Egypt."
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relations
In Gaza: 12 Mar 2010 - “My grandmother was Jewish,” a voice drifts out from behind the meagre selection of second-hand clothes. The souk al fres , a massive market in Gaza’s old district, Sahaa , carrying just about all one needs used to thrive with second-hand clothes and goods brought through open borders via Israel.  It was a thrift-shop-junkies dream. Today, after 1000 days of siege (complete siege, from June 2007, but in reality the siege goes back to Hamas’ election, back to post-Oslo ‘peace years’ when the closures began, denying Palestinians in Gaza of freedom, of work, of medical treatment outside, of imports and exports, and now of all but less than 40 items ) ( painstakingly aquired ), the used-clothes market is bare-bones. Wa’el is sitting in a room devoid of nearly all but some scarves and many empty hangers. “My grandfather was from Jaffa .  He fell in love with a Jewish woman.  This was in the...

Israeli Soldiers Order Tulkarem Farmers to Strip
Palestine Monitor: 13 Mar 2010 - Tulkarem – Ma'an – Israeli soldiers demanded 20 farmers strip naked for a security check as they returned from their fields west of the separation wall on Friday afternoon, the men reported. Isolated from their West Bank lands by the separation barrier, the farmers from Deir Al-Ghusun must obtain permits to pass agricultural gate 609, west of Attil village in the northern sector of the Tulkarem governorate. It was at the gate that they were ordered to strip, and scuffles broke out when the men refused. "We were about twenty farmers from Deir Al-Ghusun. When we arrived at the electronic gate known as gate 609 ... there were six Israeli soldiers who insisted that we undress completely including underwear, at gunpoint," Abdul-Latif Zeidan, one of the farmers said. When the men refused the orders a fight broke out, Zeidan said, at which point he phoned the Palestinian liaison department in Israel's...

Jerusalem burns
Palestine Monitor: 13 Mar 2010 - Jerusalem burns. Thermometers peaked yesterday around 31 degrees. But Jerusalem is burning not only from the hot Saharan wind, known as the Khamasin, coming in from the desert, but by the rage of its Arab residents over the injustices they face once more. Written by Malika Malini. Once again, Muslim worshipers aged over 50 were not permitted to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the old city of Jerusalem. Palestinian men were obliged to pray on stairs in the large square located in front the Damascus gate, the main access to the Muslim quarter. The whole area was severely restricted to Palestinians. Following the imposition of these restrictions, enforced by Israeli authorities, clashes and confrontations were reported between Israeli border police and Palestinians near the entrance of the Mosque. This attempt to prevent worshippers entering the Temple Mount (Haram al Sharif) area follows a general closure imposed on the West Bank,...

America To The Rescue, (Not) Again
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Mar 2010 - By Sam Bahour We are told that President Obama has taken a leap of political faith in trying to bridge a final peace settlement between Palestinians and Israelis. The United States' new weapon is "proximity talks": if either side fails to meet American expectations, the US will squarely and publicly lay blame. If this was a sitcom it would be the opportune time to crack up laughing; regretfully this is not the case. Real people - whole generations - of Palestinians are on the verge of being locked into another decade of protracted and violent military occupation. Many Israelis’ lives and hopes are at stake as well. It has been reported in Ha'aretz that President Obama submitted a letter of commitment to the Palestinian side to get these indirect “proximity talks” off the ground. The letter notes, "Our core remains a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian State with contiguous territory...more


Sunday, March 14, 2010Top of page
Re-reading Al-Mabhouh’s murder
Ramzy Baroud, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/11/2010
      How can the weak response of the West to Israel’s latest illegal assassination be justified? And how can those justifications be written by Israel, the accused?
     The killing of Palestinian activist Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh on 19 January 2010 was clearly a well-planned, violent and sadistic act, committed by Israeli assassins in the supposed safety of a foreign and sovereign country.
     Yes, Al-Mabhouh was a Palestinian activist. We have no reason to believe otherwise. He spent years of his life in Israeli prison (and one year in an Egyptian jail) for his political activism. This, however, gives no credibility to Israel’s accusation that Al-Mabhouh was a killer of Israelis. This assertion becomes even more problematic when considering that Al-Mabhouh’s assassination was, according to the British media, ordered by accused Israeli war criminals and rightwing politicians.
     According to The Sunday Times, Meir Dagan, the current director of Mossad, briefed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the assassination plan during a meeting in early January. “The people of Israel trust you. Good luck,” Netanyahu reportedly said at the end of this meeting.
     It is disgraceful enough that the assassins used fraudulent European passports as well as credit cards linked to an American bank to carry out their plans. But more upsetting is the fact that this cruel and calculated action has inspired little more than expressions of “outrage”. Have we become this resigned to Israeli impunity? What about the sanctity of life, the sovereignty of nations, and respect for international law? Are these immediately disposable when the victim is Palestinian and the location of the crime an Arab country?
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U.S. Placates Israel and Opens New War Front While Ignoring Palestinians
Rachelle Marshall, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 3/1/2010
      THE ISRAELIS were not happy last June when President Obama in his Cairo speech referred to “the tensions fueled by colonialism” and promised a new beginning to relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world. The president’s popularity in Israel plummeted further when, a few months later, he called for a complete halt to Israeli settlement construction.
     The heretofore close relationship between the U.S. and Israel seemed destined to chill permanently when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu adamantly rejected Obama’s demand and the Israelis began construction of 3,000 new apartments in the West Bank and 1,500 apartments for Jews only in Arab East Jerusalem. More than 800 Palestinian homes were scheduled to be destroyed.
     Although he criticized Israel’s expansion into territory the Palestinians regard as a future capital, Obama assured the Israelis that “The U.S. will maintain your QME” (qualitative military edge), and the flow of American military technology and financial aid to Israel has continued uninterrupted. Relations warmed considerably last November when Netanyahu made a show of luring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table by imposing a partial 10-month freeze on settlement construction and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed his move as “unprecedented.”
     Clinton moved further to accommodate Israel when she said on Nov. 25 that a peace agreement should be based on the borders that existed on June 4, 1967 but include agreed-upon changes that “reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel’s security needs.” “Subsequent developments” include the large settlement blocs located on the West Bank’s major water aquifers and most valuable agricultural land, which presumably would be annexed to Israel.
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Hamas: 4 years since electoral victory
Ahmad Yousef, Ma’an News Agency 3/13/2010
      The following is a speech delivered by Ahmad Yousef on Saturday in Gaza.
     It is with great pleasure that I deliver this speech before you in this year and month in particular. January 2010 marks the 4th anniversary of Hamas in the government following its democratic victory in the 2006 Parliamentary election and the formation of its government in March of the same year. This year is also special because it also marks the fourth year of Hamas’ successful transition to a political party, despite the trials and tribulations faced and imposed by certain members of the international community that attempted to see Hamas toppled and to thwart Palestinian democracy.
     .....Despite the pressures imposed externally, Hamas, for the sake of Palestinian national interest, opened the door to forming the National Unity Government based on the Mecca Agreement. The purpose of the Mecca Agreement was to halt external interference and give the Palestinians the chance to build their own democratic political system based on participation, transparency and freedoms enshrined in the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
     In the National Unity Government, a common Political Program was presented that was accepted by both Hamas and Fatah. In that program, President Abbas was given the mandate to negotiate with Israel; the conclusion of those negotiations were to be discussed and approved by the Palestinian people; and, final, the right of the people to resist the occupation, enshrined in international law, so long as Israel continues to occupy our lands in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, was upheld.
     Unfortunately, the national unity government didn’t last more than three months and, during that time, the amount of targeting of Hamas members increased. The chaos on the ground led to what is referred to as the Military Take Over of June 2007. Many mistakes by Palestinian political parties were committed during that time; mistakes that should not and will not prevent Palestinian reunification and reconciliation.
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PA's betrayal of human rights defenders the unkindest cut
Electronic Intifada: 14 Mar 2010 - They hail from opposite parts of the globe, but they have much in common: Jewish; experts on and passionate defenders of international law; and pummeling bags for Israel and the Palestinian Authority. And the future of the law of war lies at the heart of the campaigns against them. Nadia Hijab comments how the undermining of Richard Goldstone and Richard Falk.

A Matter of Timing
Palestine Chronicle: 14 Mar 2010 - By Uri Avnery - Israel Some weeks the news is dominated by a single word. This week's word was 'timing'. It’s all a matter of timing. The Government of Israel has insulted the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, one of the greatest “friends” of Israel (meaning: somebody totally subservient to AIPAC) and spat in the face of President Barack Obama. So what? It’s all a matter of timing. If the government had announced the building of 1600 new housing units in East Jerusalem a day earlier, it would have been OK. If it had announced it three days later, it would have been wonderful. But doing it exactly when Joe Biden was about to have dinner with Bibi and Sarah’le – that was really bad timing. The matter itself is not important. Another thousand housing units in East Jerusalem, or 10 thousand, or 100 thousand – what...more

On Hamas's Achievements, Trials and Tribulations
Palestine Chronicle: 14 Mar 2010 - By Dr. Ahmed Yousef – Gaza January 2010 marks the 4th anniversary of Hamas in the government following its democratic victory in the 2006 Parliamentary election and the formation of its government in March of the same year. This year is also special because it also marks the fourth year of Hamas’ successful transition to a political party, despite the trials and tribulations faced and imposed by certain members of the international community that attempted to see Hamas toppled and to thwart Palestinian democracy. Hamas was ambitious in achieving its Platform of Change and Reform; a platform that called for an end to government corruption and transparency and participation of all political parties in governance. As may be recalled, many of the candidates that ran and won on the Change and Reform platform, at both the local and national level, were Palestinians of all walks of life that held diverse...more


Monday, March 15, 2010Top of page
Israel Crackdown Puts Liberal Jews on the Spot
Chris Hedges, TruthDig 3/15/2010
      The Israeli government, its brutal war crimes in Gaza exposed in detail in the U.N. report by Justice Richard Goldstone, has implemented a series of draconian measures to silence and discredit dissidents, leading intellectuals and human rights organizations inside and outside Israel that are accused—often falsely—of assisting Goldstone’s U.N. investigators. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to shut down Israel’s premier human rights organizations, including B’Tselem, the New Israel Fund (NIF) and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. It is busy expelling or excluding peace activists and foreign nationals from the Palestinian territories. The campaign, if left unchecked, will be as catastrophic for Palestinians as it will be for Israel.
     The Goldstone report, which is over 500 pages, investigated Israel’s 22-day air and ground assault on Gaza that took place from Dec. 27, 2008, to Jan. 18, 2009. The United Nations and the European Parliament have endorsed the report. The report found that Israel used disproportionate military force against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip while failing to take adequate precautions to protect the civilian population against the military assault. The Israeli attack killed 1,434 people, including 960 civilians, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. More than 6,000 homes were destroyed or damaged, leaving behind some $3 billion in destruction in one of the poorest areas on Earth. No Israelis were killed by Hamas rockets fired into Israel during the assault. The report did not limit itself to the 22-day attack; rather, it went on to indict the occupation itself. It examines the beginning of the occupation and condemns Israel for the border closures, the blockade and for the wall or security barrier in the West Bank. It has two references to the right of return, investigates Israeli torture and criticizes the willful destruction of the Palestinian economy.
     “The impact of the Goldstone report is tremendous,” the Middle East scholar Norman Finkelstein said when I reached him in New York.....
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Olive Oil And Tears
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, Desert Peace 3/15/2010
      "If the olive tree knew the suffering of its owner, its oil would turn into tears" -- Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish
     The olive young leaves and flower sprouts are denser than ever before. It promises a great season not only of bountiful agricultural harvest but of bountiful harvest on the activism front. It is true that, as the Palestinian poet stated, if the olive tree knew the suffering of its owner, its oil would turn into tears. The Israeli apartheid forces have been uprooting olive trees in Beit Jala the last few days. They have also intensified their repression and attempts at intimidation of activists (with help from Palestinian collaborators). But it is also true that the apartheid system is facing grassroots activists everywhere despite all these tactics. Today we joined the demonstration in Beit Jala as we did not have a competing event at Ush Ghrab. The lack of an event here in Beit Sahour happened because the popular committee decided collectively (over 15 people) to put the actions before the local forces to decide on how (and if?) to support the popular resistance. Yet, we did go to Ush Ghrab in the morning and an Ashkenazi white man wearing a blue shirt entered as we were meeting and drinking coffee, fiddled with his backpack, for a few minutes, then left. Later, as we were leaving, we notice the Israeli army on the hill and the same man with the blue shirt “briefing” them.
     Soldiers uprooting olive trees were confronted in Beit Jala and later landowners with help of other locals and internationals went back and replanted these trees and rebuilt a bulldozed children’s playground in Beit Jala....
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Anti-Semitism: Zionism’s indispensable alibi
Maidhc Ó Cathail, Redress 3/15/2010
      Maidhc Ó Cathail considers the symbiotic relationship between Zionism and anti-Semitism – real or imagined – and how Israel and other Zionists have at times faked instances of “anti-Semitism” in order to promote their cause.
     Although Zionism typically represents itself as the solution to anti-Semitism, the truth is less flattering. In fact, hostility toward Jews is indispensable to the cause of Jewish nationalism. If anti-Semitism didn’t exist, Zionists would have to invent it. And in many cases that is precisely what they have done.
     Contrary to the widespread perception that Zionism opposes anti-Semitism, its adherents have occasionally revealed a more ambivalent attitude to Jew-hatred. In 1895, Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, prophetically wrote in his Diaries: “Anti-Semites will become our surest friends, anti-Semitic countries our allies.” Even the suffering inflicted on European Jewry by the Nazi holocaust doesn’t seem to have unduly tempered such cynicism. In 1995, Jay Lefkowitz, an American government official, told the New York Times Magazine: “Deep down, I believe that a little anti-Semitism is a good thing for the Jews— reminds them who they are.”
     If Zionist extremists can’t provoke the desired level of anti-Semitism to advance their goals, they are even prepared to fake it. A 1952 article in Davar, the official organ of Mapai, the party of the then Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, suggested sending a team of saboteurs “to help redeem Jews” from the countries where they are “absorbed in sinful self-satisfaction”.
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European Union found guilty at first session of Russell Tribunal
Electronic Intifada: 15 Mar 2010 - The first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) was heard in Barcelona, Spain earlier this month. The RTP is a peoples' legal initiative designed to systematically try key actors responsible for the perpetuation of human rights violations in Palestine. In the frame this time was the European Union (EU). Two days and 21 expert witness testimonies later, the RTP found individual states and the EU as a whole guilty of persistent violations and misconduct with regards to international and internal EU law. Ewa Jasiewicz and Frank Barat comment for The Electronic Intifada.

Review: Finkelstein's transformation to victim hero in "American Radical"
Electronic Intifada: 15 Mar 2010 - With unfettered access to Norman Finkelstein during the most dramatic stage of his career, American Radical: the trials of Norman Finkelstein directors David Ridgen and Nicolas Rossier provide a compelling look at one of the most roundly vilified academics in recent American history. Max Blumenthal reviews the new documentary for The Electronic Intifada.

Boycott or censorship?
Electronic Intifada: 15 Mar 2010 - Critics of the movement for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel -- including Israeli concert producer Shuki Weiss -- have claimed that calling on artists to cancel performances in Israel is a form of censorship. Is the cultural boycott a form of censorship or McCarthyism? Sami Hermez comments for The Electronic Intifada.

Clashes Spread Through East Jerusalem
Palestine Monitor: 15 Mar 2010 - A heavy police presence faced off with activists and residents around the disputed capital on Friday. The decision to bar access into Jerusalem for all Palestinians, even those with blue IDs, led to angry protests around Damascus Gate, the Al-Aqsa Compound and Sheikh Jarrah. The movement restrictions have now been extended until Thursday, for a record five days. All photos by Lazar Simeonov. IDs being scrutinised by the Damascus Gate. A young boy is arrested by plainclothes officers outside the Al-Aqsa Compound. One of several casualties. Forced to pray on the street under police supervision. International and Israeli activists join Palestinian protestors in Sheikh Jarrah. Read and watch more from Sheikh Jarrah here http://www.israeli-occupation.org/2...

Israeli Settlement Expansions Continue
Palestine Chronicle: 15 Mar 2010 - By Stephen Lendman Currently, around 500,000 Jews reside illegally in over 120 West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements as well as dozens of outposts. Their numbers grow daily despite occasional pledges to curtail or slow them, the latest last November when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a 10 month freeze, calling it a move to "help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians." Never mind Israel's history of past peace process futility because all previous efforts were more pretense than real, or as some Palestinians say - How can they negotiate in good faith without a willing partner? They've never had one and don't in Netanyahu, an extremist hard-right zealot. The same holds for a settlement freeze, just rhetoric with no substance, especially given Israel's plan to make all Jerusalem a Jewish city, according to Netanyahu. During...more


Tuesday, March 16, 2010Top of page
Israel demands peace from Palestinians as its own racism spreads
Zvi Barel, Haaretz, Israeli Occupation Archive 3/14/2010
      The Strategic Affairs Ministry never ceases to bring us peace of mind. How nice to know that someone in Israel is monitoring Palestinian incitement, ensuring they “create an environment of peace” and striving “to push them toward a culture of peace”. After all, what do we care about construction in Jerusalem, Efrat or Ramat Shlomo, or about checkpoints, arrests, home demolitions, the army’s “neighbor policy,” bone breaking, land appropriation or the blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza?
     All of these are minor issues compared with naming a square near Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian woman who took part in a bloody terror attack three decades ago, calling for confronting the occupation or referring to suicide bombers as martyrs. These are the real threats to peace. After all, according to the road map, the Palestinians are responsible for ending incitement. After we have meticulously fulfilled everything the road map required of us and completely frozen settlement construction, it’s now their turn.
     Yossi Kuperwasser, the deputy director of the Strategic Affairs Ministry and a generally bright man who once headed the Military Intelligence research department, explains that there are several categories of incitement. These include encouraging others to commit terrorist acts, demonizing Israel and creating an atmosphere of hostility toward it. The fact that the occupation persists in the Palestinian territories, and that any nation under occupation will do virtually anything to rid itself of this arrangement, is apparently missing from his consciousness.
     In his view, when Palestinians get up in the morning they begin cursing Israel and plotting its erasure from the map and school textbooks through the noble acts of their martyrs.... -- See also: Source
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Taboo Inhibits Frank Iran/Israel Talk
Ray McGovern, Consortiumnews.com 3/11/2010
      Participants at an otherwise informative discussion on “Iran at a Crossroads” at the Senate on Wednesday seemed at pains to barricade the doors against the proverbial elephant being admitted into the room — in this case, Israel.
     This, despite the fact that the agenda virtually dictated that the elephant be allowed in. The cavernous hearing room also could have accommodated it — however awkward and untidy the atmosphere might have become.
     Otherwise, as was entirely predictable, the discussion would be lacking a crucial element. Which it turned out to be.
     The tongue-tied impediment displayed by some of the presenters can be chalked up mostly to the all-too-familiar timidity on Capitol Hill to countenance candid discussion of any issue on which Israel can be revealed to be a fly in the ointment.
     Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, obtained use of the hearing room for the organizers of the discussion, the thoroughly professional National Iranian American Council headed by Professor Trita Parsi. This is to Levin’s credit, in my view.
     At the same time, Sen. Levin holds the all-time-high record for PAC contributions from groups affiliated with the self-described “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby” — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
     In any case, a truly distinguished panel launched the discussion on “The U.S. and Iran: Back to Confrontation?” which Professor Parsi moderated. The panelists began by setting a fact- and reality-based context, which in turn raised hopes of a no-holds-barred discussion. Their observations included, or implied, the following....
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Three Kings - The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II
Jim Miles, Axis of Logic 3/13/2010
      Book Review: Three Kings - The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II, Lloyd C. Gardner. New Press, N.Y., 2009.
     This concisely written and well documented work covers the “Truman Doctrine…the essential rubric under which the United States projected its power globally after World War II…the ideological foundation for the “imperial presidency.” Lloyd Gardner focuses his analysis on the Middle East, although the imperial trends expanded globally through the Americas and on into Asia as the old empires faded and the U.S. took their place. More specifically it is a study of “U.S. maneuvers to replace the British in the region of signal importance, the Middle East.” The signal importance of the region contains two factors: oil, the regional resource that enticed the British into the area in the first place; and ‘international communism’ and the rhetorically inflated fears of a grand international conspiracy to attack and dominate the world.
     Palestine
     When I first started my readings on current events as related to 9/11, the attack on Afghanistan and then on Iraq, it soon became clear that Palestine was symbolically at the heart of the problems in the Middle East. Beyond that, it is also at the heart of other problems involving human rights, international law, the U.S. government, and corporate power among others. The Second World War ended with the violent remainders of various empires imploding on themselves, most significantly the British Empire collapsed in India and the Middle East. Right from the outset, the Palestinian situation was identified as a “major stumbling block” to U.S. imperial ambitions as “Of all the political problems which call for solution in this area the Palestine question is probably the most important and urgent at the present time.”
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Documentary: "Nahr al-Bared: Checkpoints and more"
Electronic Intifada: 16 Mar 2010 - Nahr al-Bared refugee camp has still not recovered from the devastating war in 2007 during which it was destroyed. The Lebanese army has been keeping a tight grip on the camp and the 20,000 displaced Palestinians who have returned so far. This 30-minute film documents various consequences of the siege on Nahr al-Bared. Merchants and artisans explain their specific problems and a UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) project manager, a project coordinator of the Palestinian-Arab Women League, the president of Nahr al-Bared's Merchants' Committee and a researcher provide their views and thoughts on the issue.

Israel's actions on the ground proving difficult to spin
Electronic Intifada: 16 Mar 2010 - JERSUSALEM (IPS) - Israeli riot police and soldiers have, since Friday, sealed off the al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine, restricting entry to women and Palestinian men over 50. Outside the walled Old City, where the al-Aqsa mosque is situated, and in several West Bank villages, clashes were reported.

psst… voices calling loud
In Gaza: 16 Mar 2010 - Today, the latest in growing demonstrations in the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” , demonstrators again protested this lethal Israeli ban (shoot to kill threat) which renders roughly 30% of Gaza’s best agricultural land off-limits and under which in August 2009 the UN’s OCHA reported 33 Palestinian civilians (among them 11 children) had been killed and another 61 civilians (among them 13 children) injured.  From January 18 2009 to September 15 2009 alone, ISM reported 7 civilians (among them 4 children) killed and 28 (among them 8 children and 2 women) injured by Israeli soldiers in the border regions. Bearing in mind that the Israeli assaults on farmers and civilians in the border regions have continued , and that these assaults occur far beyond the 300 metres that Israeli authorities say make up the “buffer zone” [the actual off-limits area veering up to 2 km in some areas ], those protesting weekly have serious, valid...

EU Found Guilty at First Session of Russell Tribunal
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Mar 2010 - By Ewa Jasiewicz and Frank Barat The first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) was heard in Barcelona, Spain earlier this month. The RTP is a peoples' legal initiative designed to systematically try key actors responsible for the perpetuation of human rights violations in Palestine. In the frame this time was the European Union (EU). Two days and 21 expert witness testimonies later, the RTP found individual states and the EU as a whole guilty of persistent violations and misconduct with regards to international and internal EU law. These included: assistance in perpetrating the crime of apartheid -- deepened in definition as applicable to the violation of the inalienable right of return for refugees and the collective punishment and ghettoization of Gaza; aiding the procurement of war crimes and crimes against humanity particularly with regards to Gaza; and violating the Palestinian right to self-determination, aiding illegal colonization, the...more

Murdoch's Kind of Arabs: Sleeping with the Enemy
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Mar 2010 - By Jeremy Salt – Ankara Rupert Murdoch, perhaps the greatest defender of free speech and the free flow of communications in recorded human history, or so you would think to read his speeches, and the praise heaped on him by his flatterers, pleaded at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Media Summit last week for an end to media censorship in the Middle East so that the entire region could benefit from the 'powerful wind' of creative energy that was blowing through it. He warned his Arab media hosts not to bury inconvenient stories because 'in the long run this is very counterproductive'. For someone who has spent his life burying inconvenient truths this is certainly amusing. Recently Murdoch and his son James have launched full-scale attacks on the BBC because its news web sites have made it 'incredibly difficult' for corporations such as theirs to charge for the news on their...more

With a Veil on Their Heads and a Blindfold over Our Eyes
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Mar 2010 - By Agustín Velloso – Madrid The national press in Spain continues to include articles of and letters to the editor relating to the veil. It would seem that this garment has become a problem for Western society, where its use is really not noticed, even though, curiously, this does not seem the case where its use is widespread. The truth is that this insignificant garment, as well as covering the heads of Muslim women, is useful for covering up the situation of Spanish women. The nouveau riche has little money and less memory, but lots of degrees in modernity and distinction to tell others, with such exquisite tact and force if necessary, what they should do. Veils were -and in some cases still are- part of the Spanish women attire for ages. Without the necessity of right-wing crusades or left-wing peace operations, veils have become shorter and less present, just...more


Wednesday, March 17, 2010Top of page
The Failure of the American and Israeli Peace Organizations
Jerome Slater, Israeli Occupation Archive 3/12/2010
      The prospects for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have never been worse, primarily because of the rightward shift of the Israeli government and public opinion and, secondarily, because of the end of hopes that the United States would help “save Israel from itself.” And yes, I assign little or no responsibility to the Palestinians: they are the victims not the perpetrators; the Palestinian political leadership in the West Bank has never been more impressive and more anxious for a two-state peace settlement; and contrary to the standard but ill-informed view, there are strong indications that in the context of a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and an end to the economic siege and all other forms of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, Hamas in Gaza would agree to a long-term “truce” that in all likelihood would become a permanent two-state settlement.
     Is there any hope at all? The best chance for peace, of course, would be a sea-change within the Israeli public. However, Israeli peace groups have not succeeded in convincing mainstream opinion that their country’s policies are both a moral and a long-term security disaster. For this reason, many on the Israeli left have long hoped for—sometimes surreptitiously, and sometimes quite openly—serious American pressures on Israel to agree to a just and viable peace settlement.
     However, the Obama administration’s abandonment of its mild initial efforts to persuade Israel to change its policies has now dashed those hopes and in the absence of a major shift in public and congressional attitudes, there is no chance of change in the traditional US policies of near-unconditional support of Israel. Consequently, the primary function of the leading U.S. peace groups—Americans for Peace Now (APN) and, more recently, J Street.—must be to persuade American opinion that those traditional policies are detrimental both to the best interests of Israel and U.S. national interests. -- See also: Source
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The time is not right for a new intifada
Nasser Lahham, Ma’an News Agency 3/16/2010
      Bethlehem - Ma’an - It has become obvious that Israeli assaults against the Palestinian people, their holy places, and freedoms have become intolerable. It is also clear that no tranquilizers can prevent a new intifada against settlers in the West Bank and the occupied capital of Palestine, East Jerusalem. Those who fail to understand the might of logic will understand the logic of might.
     Nevertheless, before taking an official decision to launch a new intifada, Palestinian civil society and popular leaders should deeply consider internal and external factors in order to avoid improvisation and chaos. An important factor to be taken into account is the atmosphere at an international, Islamic, Arab, Palestinian, and Israeli level.
     Internationally, all countries in the world agree that the establishment of a Palestinian state on the territories occupied in 1967 has become a necessity. Thus, they support the Palestinian Authority financially, logistically, and politically in establishing a state, and under these conditions it is more a US interest than a Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic one. In this regard, it should be pointed out that the only obstacle impeding this achievement is the right-wing Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
     At an Islamic level, there are two aspect to be considered: Iranian nuclear armament, and the alternative peace plan suggested by Shimon Peres, who proposed normalization with 58 Muslim countries. The two aspects may be implemented simultaneously.
     At an Arab level, the coming Arab League summit should not be counted on to end Hamas-Fatah rivalry or to wage war against Israel. Yet, an Arab vision should be declared, even if it is simply boasting, and this vision should publicly call for toppling Netanyahu’s government and divestment from Israel. If the Arabs succeed in making this declaration, we will be grateful and thankful.
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The Break on Palestine
David Bromwich, The Huffington Post, International Solidarity Movement 3/17/2010
      To wipe the spit off his face, Biden had to say it was only rain.” The Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar was tapping a vein of bitter Jewish wit when he wrote those words about the humiliation of the vice president on his recent state-visit to Israel. Trust a weakling, the saying goes: if you spit in his face he’ll just pretend it was rain. Last week, an American leader finally chose not to pretend.
     Before Biden issued his rebuke to a prime minister who forgot the second rule of diplomacy — when you undermine a friend, have the decency to wait till he waves goodbye — he had offered the traditional performance of an American dignitary in Israel. Thus in response to the unctuous platitudes of Shimon Peres, Biden had actually said: “It’s good to be home.” A crazy thing for an American to say outside America. But in the context of our relations to Israel over the past thirty years, such a remark is almost par-for-the course. It shows how reckless American mainstream opinion had grown in its indulgence of all things relating to Israel. It had reached the point where a reflex avowal of false nostalgia was taken as the simplicity of good manners. An American politician in Israel is routinely expected to show more piety for Tel Aviv than for Plymouth Rock.
     The sentiment of “home” dished up by the vice president and the graceless insult with which it was met by the Israeli prime minister also reflect a political background. The United States had recently assisted Israel in its attempt to suppress the facts and discredit the findings of the Goldstone Report. The effort had several steps, all of them brutal. First there was the character assassination of Judge Goldstone. A South African Jew, a renowned authority on international law, who had presided over the trial of Slobodan Milosevic and whose probity had never been called into question in Israel, Goldstone was reviled in terms of abuse that would normally be leveled against a gutter anti-Semite..... -- See also: Source
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Why violence against Palestinian women is widespread
Electronic Intifada: 17 Mar 2010 - GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - Nahla (not her real name), aged 30, from Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, said she was physically and mentally abused for more than ten years by her husband before being granted a divorce three months ago. Fear and cultural factors prevented her from seeking help from women's organizations.

Israeli raids targeting children
Electronic Intifada: 17 Mar 2010 - Silwan, Occupied East Jerusalem (IPS) - Three thousand heavily armed Israeli security service forces locked down large parts of the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday, as battalions of police fired rounds of tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian protesters in the occupied eastern part of the city. Nearly 40 Palestinians were wounded and treated at nearby hospitals, as 25 were arrested during intense clashes.

Barenboim-Said Foundation does not promote normalization
Electronic Intifada: 17 Mar 2010 - On 28 January 2010 the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a statement to the Qatari government calling for a boycott of Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO) and condemning the Qatari Ministry of Culture for hosting the orchestra in Doha. The statement goes so far as to accuse Daniel Barenboim of being an ardent Zionist. Mariam Said comments for The Electronic Intifada.

Film review: Choreographed struggle in "Pomegranates and Myrrh"
Electronic Intifada: 17 Mar 2010 - Pomegranates and Myrrh is a solid exploration of the walls -- internal and external -- built up under conditions of extraordinary stress. It's also about struggle and liberation, both on the personal and political levels. Director Najwa Najjar is a growing talent with her third feature being her strongest to date. Jimmy Johnson reviews for The Electronic Intifada.

Dr. Barghouthi Pledges Support To Beleaguered Jerusalemites
Palestine Monitor: 17 Mar 2010 - “I do not have any permission issued by the Israeli authorities to enter Jerusalem, and I do not recognise the fact that Israel has the power to issue permits to Palestinians to enter their city. We are here on the day in which Israel is establishing facts on the ground, to show that we will never give up Jerusalem.” Dr Barghouthi delivered this message during a press conference held yesterday in front Damascus gate. His speech emphasised the importance of solidarity with Palestinians in the Holy City, who have been affected by the closures and restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities. Photo by FLV “ Nothing, not the Israeli Army, nor Israeli power can stop us, the Palestinians from reaching our capital Jerusalem. We came here in solidarity with the Jerusalemites. We are with them and will never leave them. The road to peace starts from Jerusalem, and ends in Jerusalem.”...

Jerusalem: A City Under Siege
Palestine Monitor: 17 Mar 2010 - For five days and in the context of the opening of the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish quarter, the Old City has been turned into a city under siege. Israeli authorities have maintained a heavy military and police presence. Since Friday, a closure was imposed on the West Bank, banning the entry of West Bank permit holders into occupied East Jerusalem. Men under 50 years of age have also been prohibited from entering Al Aqsa Mosque compound. Demonstrations were reported throughout the city, while clashes were especially concentrated in the Old City, Eisawiya, Shu'fat Camp, Wadi Al Joz, Qalandiya checkpoint. Palestine Monitor highlights the current situation. All photographs were taken by Julian. Tourists visiting the Old City are permitted to enter Dasmascus Gate Men are forced to pray on the street outside Haram el Sharif compound Heavy police presence in front of Damascus gate Confrontations in Shu'fat camp See also:...

Rachel Corrie's Memory, Israel's Image
Palestine Chronicle: 17 Mar 2010 - By Neve Gordon Seven years ago, Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by a Caterpillar D9R Israeli bulldozer while nonviolently protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes in Rafah, Gaza Strip, along with other members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Now her parents, sister and brother are suing the State of Israel and the defense minister, claiming wrongful death. The suit's objective, according to Rachel's mother, Cindy, "is to illustrate the need for accountability for thousands of lives lost, or indelibly injured, by [Israel's] occupation.... We hope the trial will bring attention to the assault on nonviolent human rights activists (Palestinian, Israeli and international) and we hope it will underscore the fact that so many Palestinian families, harmed as deeply as ours or more, cannot access Israeli courts." The State's attorneys have decided to use any and all ammunition to undermine Corrie's suit. They claim that there is no evidence...more

Selling Cell Phones with Soccer Balls and Criminal Walls
Palestine Chronicle: 17 Mar 2010 - By William A. Cook "Kurt Zehmisch of the 134th Saxons recorded in his diary: 'The English brought a soccer ball from the trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvellously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.'" -- (the London Times, January 1, 1915) No one can doubt that the news story of the American designed McCann Erickson Cellcom ad shown on Israeli TV for the past week has roused interest around the world. It should. What upstanding Englishman or American could not be impressed by the good natured, manicured Israeli soldiers as they responded to the soccer ball thudding off their Humvee’s bonnet by tearing off their uniforms and helmets at the slight chance of engaging the unseen Palestinians on the other...more

Despite Lobby Pressure, Obama Still Can
Palestine Chronicle: 17 Mar 2010 - By George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C. The pro-Israel lobby and its supporters elsewhere in the U.S. are unashamedly turning their guns on Barack Obama in the wake of the U.S.-Israeli clash over the construction of 1600 new housing units for Jews in occupied Arab East Jerusalem on the eve of “proximity talks” between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. The showdown between the U.S. and Israel began when Vice President Joe Biden Jr., described in a leading Israeli paper as Israel’s “only friend in the White House,” was in the midst of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to kick-start the moribund peace negotiations with the Palestinians. But the embarrassing Israeli announcement about the new housing plan, which was bound to infuriate the Palestinians, shocked the visiting American and reverberated harshly in Washington. Biden’s immediate condemnation of the Israeli action was quickly followed by a 45-minute...more


Thursday, March 18, 2010Top of page
Zionism’s invented state
Sam Bahour, Ma’an News Agency 3/18/2010
      Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism, by M. Shahid Alam, Palgrave Macmillan, 272 pp., £55.00
     Israeli Exceptionalism arrived in the mail shortly after I completed sending a thank-you note to two other authors and friends, Kathleen and Bill Christison.
     The Christisons had just released their newest title, Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation and I felt that they deserved a huge thank-you for encapsulating their eyewitness report of Israeli military dispossession and occupation in the warped ideological framework of Zionism.
     I felt such a framing depicted a high sense of rarely found political maturity on behalf of American analysts. Israeli Exceptionalism was a natural next read for it peeled the onion of Zionism to reveal how deeply flawed this ideology was and is and how it has become a destabilizing factor which puts people of the region — and arguably beyond — in serious jeopardy.
     Israeli Exceptionalism is not only a must read, it is a must-think-about book. To add intellectual spice, every chapter starts with a few quotes of prominent individuals related to the topic at hand. Reading these quotes alone speak volumes of the human tragedy, in thought and lives, that Zionism evoked.
     Alam, the author, is a non-Arab professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston, and he does a fascinating job of creating a repository of references on Zionism by way of narrative and footnotes. Although I think of myself as well-read on the topic, I attest that I learned much from Israeli Exceptionalism, not only in terms of identifying new references, but also in terms of analysis and context.
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Rachel Corrie’s Memory, Israel’s Image
Neve Gordon, CounterPunch 3/18/2010
      Time for Accountability
     Seven years ago, Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by a Caterpillar D9R Israeli bulldozer while nonviolently protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes in Rafah, Gaza Strip, along with other members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Now her parents, sister and brother are suing the State of Israel and the defense minister, claiming wrongful death.
     The suit’s objective, according to Rachel’s mother, Cindy, "is to illustrate the need for accountability for thousands of lives lost, or indelibly injured, by [Israel’s] occupation.... We hope the trial will bring attention to the assault on nonviolent human rights activists (Palestinian, Israeli and international) and we hope it will underscore the fact that so many Palestinian families, harmed as deeply as ours or more, cannot access Israeli courts."
     The State’s attorneys have decided to use any and all ammunition to undermine Corrie’s suit. They claim that there is no evidence that Rachel’s parents and siblings are indeed her rightful inheritors; they argue that she "helped attack Israeli soldiers," "took part in belligerent activities" and accompanied armed men who attacked Israeli soldiers. In defense of the soldiers, the lawyers even write that the state "denies the deceased’s pain and suffering, the loss of pleasures and the loss of longevity."
     The Israeli state attorneys demonstrate yet again that when winning is everything, shame becomes superfluous.
     As Corrie’s civil suit is being heard in a Haifa court, Simone Bitton’s movie Rachel is being shown at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. Rendering, as it were, the trial public, Bitton’s subtle and nuanced movie also presents two narratives, one offered by the state of Israel and the other by the ISM activists and the Palestinian eyewitnesses who were with Rachel on that tragic day.
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Spy Takes US/Israeli Secrets to Grave
Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com 3/15/2010
      Extensive evidence now exists that Begin’s preference for Reagan led the Israelis to join in a covert operation with Republicans to contact Iranian leaders behind Carter’s back, interfering with the President’s efforts to free the 52 American hostages before the November 1980 elections.
     Last week’s death of Israeli spymaster David Kimche – and the omissions in his obituaries about his most sensitive operations, especially those regarding the United States – are a reminder of how much crucial history is being lost as key figures from this era take their secrets to the grave.
     The failure to debrief as many of these people as possible can be blamed significantly on U.S. mainstream journalists who in years past took the lead in collecting, vetting and presenting serious evidence of historical wrongdoing, such as the Pentagon Papers secrets about the Vietnam War and complex political scandals like Watergate.
     But in recent years, newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post have ignored many national security crimes or even have gone on the offensive against journalists who tried to examine them, such as the ugly assault on investigative reporter Gary Webb over his work on the now-CIA-admitted cocaine trafficking by Ronald Reagan’s Nicaraguan contra rebels.
     The problem has been compounded by the timidity of Democratic leaders to conduct thorough investigations of Republican wrongdoing, such as in 1993 when Bill Clinton became President and in 2009 under Barack Obama. In both cases, new Democratic administrations thought that looking forward, not backward, would achieve some measure of bipartisanship. Not likely.
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The UK's misguided advice to Lebanon
Electronic Intifada: 18 Mar 2010 - One would think that the British government -- considering its history in the Middle East of colonizing and partitioning the land and overthrowing governments, and its current support of undemocratic and dictatorial regimes while occupying two nations in the greater region -- would be wary of sending its representatives to offer advice to Arab nations on how best to achieve their right to self-determination. Matthew Cassel comments.

Palestinian anger fills the streets
Electronic Intifada: 18 Mar 2010 - QALANDIA, occupied West Bank (IPS) - On Tuesday tens of hundreds of Palestinians of all political persuasions took to the streets, alleys and sidewalks as widespread rioting and protests spread across occupied East Jerusalem, the rest of the West Bank, Gaza and into Israel proper.

Storm over Israeli settlements as unreal as the peace process
Electronic Intifada: 18 Mar 2010 - Since Israel announced yet another new settlement in occupied East Jerusalem during the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden last week, Israel has been subjected to a storm of criticism from friend and foe alike. Biden was in Jerusalem to show US support for Israel and to launch "proximity talks" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority of Ramallah. Instead the Israeli announcement caused him and the US administration deep embarrassment, prompting several officials to term it an "insult" and an "affront" and to stir talk of the worst crisis in US-Israeli relations in decades. Hasan Abu Nimah comments.

DFLP's Saleh Zeidan: Obama's speech should become action
Electronic Intifada: 18 Mar 2010 - Saleh Zeidan, Gaza-based leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), spoke to The Electronic Intifada correspondent Rami Almeghari about chances for peace in the region following the latest failures and setbacks in United States peace initiatives. This is part of an occasional series of interviews with various political figures and factions in Palestine.

Don't Buy Into Occupation!
Palestine Monitor: 18 Mar 2010 - Tell H&M not to buy into occupation – Jerusalem is not for sale! Don't buy into occupation is now launching a second wave of protests against the H&M establishment in Israel. On the 16th of March H&M will open its second store in Israel, this time in Malcha Mall in Jerusalem. This establishment is outrageous, given the Israeli claims for Jerusalem as the “united capital of Israel” and the violent policies of ethnic cleansing of the city that the Israeli state is currently involved in. It ties H&M to a clear political position – support for the Israeli defiance of international law. Jerusalem is being gradually cleansed of its Palestinian population. In the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Palestinian families are evicted to be replaced by Jewish settlers. Palestinian owned houses are demolished while thousands are built for Jewish citizens. A “Museum of Tolerance” is scheduled to be built on an...

Israeli Military Investigator Admits Failures in the Military Investigation of Rachel Corrie's Killing
Palestine Monitor: 18 Mar 2010 - On Wednesday March 17, 2010 the Haifa District Court saw a fourth day of testimony in the civil lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie's family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza. On Wednesday March 17, 2010 the Haifa District Court saw a fourth day of testimony in the civil lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie's family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza. Rachel Corrie, an American human rights defender from Olympia, Washington, was crushed to death on March 16, 2003 by a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer. She had been nonviolently demonstrating against Palestinian home demolitions with fellow members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct action methods and principles. An Israeli military police investigator, who was part of the team that investigated Rachel's killing, testified today. In...

"New realities, new ideas, new things”
Palestine Monitor: 18 Mar 2010 - Omar al-Qattan is a Palestinian film director and producer based in London. He has made several documentaries, including Dreams and Silence (1991), a portrait of a female Palestinian refugee in Jordan, and Going Home (1995), which follows the return to Palestine of a British ex-army major who witnessed the last days of the Mandate. His production credits include Forbidden Marriages in the Holy Land (1995) and the critically acclaimed Tale of the Three Jewels (1995), both of which were directed by Michel Khleifi. Dreams & Silence (1991) Courtesy: A.M. Qattan Foundation Omar al-Qattan is a Palestinian film director and producer based in London. He has made several documentaries, including Dreams and Silence (1991), a portrait of a female Palestinian refugee in Jordan, and Going Home (1995), which follows the return to Palestine of a British ex-army major who witnessed the last days of the Mandate. His production credits include Forbidden...

Activism is Change, Not academic Squabbles and Bickering
Palestine Chronicle: 18 Mar 2010 - By Ramzy Baroud An activist is a person who feels strongly about a cause and who is also willing to dedicate time and energy towards advancing and realizing this cause. This might be my own limited interpretation of what activism means. I was born and raised in a Gaza refugee camp where the daily struggles of the community included challenging military occupation while attempting to survive under the harshest of circumstances. Activism then involved civil disobedience, general strikes, confronting armed Israeli soldiers with stones and slingshots. But it also involved much more than that. Activists in my refugee camp, whether they're identified as Islamist, secularist, socialist or any other name, ensured the community remained unified in the face of adversity. They did not always succeed, but efforts were abound. Activists provided sustainable community support to families with sons and daughters that were killed in clashes or incarcerated in Israeli prisons....more

Zionism's Invented State: Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 18 Mar 2010 - By Sam Bahour Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism. by M. Shahid Alam. Palgrave Macmillan, 272 pp., £55.00 Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism arrived in the mail shortly after I completed sending a thank you note to two other authors and friends, Kathleen and Bill Christison. The Christison’s had just released their newest title, Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation (Pluto Press) and I felt that they deserved a huge thank you for encapsulating their eyewitness report of Israeli military dispossession and occupation in the warped ideological framework of Zionism. I felt such a framing depicted a high sense of rarely found political maturity on behalf of American analysts. Israeli Exceptionalism was a natural next read for it peeled the onion of Zionism to reveal how deeply flawed this ideology was and is and how it has become a destabilizing factor which puts people...more

'Sarah's Garden': A Tribute to Sarah Meyer
Palestine Chronicle: 18 Mar 2010 - By Felicity Arbuthnot – London "Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right." -- Martin Luther King, Jr. I never met Sarah Meyer, who died on March 4th, aged seventy three, but like so many across the globe, struggling to make sense of and draw attention to the crimes of enormity, committed in the name of a tragi-farcical "war on terror", discovering her exhaustive, meticulous research, especially on Iraq and Afghanistan was finding Wordsworth's "light to guide; a rod .." No fact omitted, no stone unturned, in minute detail, her talent was for uncovering truth and...more


Friday, March 19, 2010Top of page
Ayalon the moderate
Alaa Tartir, Ma’an News Agency 3/19/2010
      Under unusual security arrangements and a high level of anxiety at the London School of Economics, the Brahimi panel took place on 8 March 2010 to discuss the Goldstone report and the peace process in the Middle East. Organized by LSE Global Governance and chaired by Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, this panel brought together former head of the Shin Bet and member of the Knesset Admiral Ami Ayalon, two members of the Goldstone fact-finding mission; Professor Christine Chinkin and Colonel Desmond Travers; and Karma Nabulsi, director of the Civitas project at Oxford University and a former PLO representative.
     Prof. Chinkin gave a brief presentation on the mandate and methodology of the Goldstone report and Colonel Travers followed with a detailed explanation of the legality and effectiveness of the use of certain weapons in the Gaza war. As Admiral Ami Ayalon took the podium, he announced "war is horrible. There is no ideal war."
     With such a ’promising’ introductory statement, I assumed that the admiral or the ’moderate’ leader would argue for a better world based on justice and peace. However, and perhaps not surprisingly, his arguments were a frightening prescription for the future of the peace process, declaring that international law cannot bring peace, that meetings and diplomacy should come later, and that there is no need to look for justice. If such views can be dubbed ’moderate’ and by issued from an Israeli leader who claims to be a peace-keeper and who launched the People’s Voice Peace Initiative jointly with professor Sari Nusseibeh, then what hope for peace? Where does that leave the prospect of peace? Lots of questions can be raised here.
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To risk arrest and cover the protests?
Mya Guarnieri, Ma’an News Agency 3/19/2010
      On Monday morning, I received an email with the subject line "A Strange Night Raid in Bil’in." An enclosed link led to video footage that I would call more chilling than strange: Israeli soldiers stalk through the West Bank village, taping Hebrew documents to shuttered storefronts.
     The village is black, silent. The soldiers don’t speak; we hear the low rumble of the army jeeps, the hiss of tape being stripped away from the roll, the click of a camera as the soldiers records their work.
     The papers, it turns out, are orders declaring both Bil’in an Ni’lin closed military zones on Fridays, between the hours of 8 AM to 8 PM, until mid-August. For Bil’in, the area between the eastern edge of the village and the separation wall is covered in the zone, and in Ni’lin, the entire village will be declared closed Fridays.
     Palestinians and Israelis who enter the village during this time risk arrest; internationals risk deportation. As the weekly non-violent protest against the separation barrier begins shortly following Friday afternoon prayers, the message is clear—resistance, of any kind, is not welcome.
     As a citizen of Israel who has attended the demonstration on numerous occasions, I was offended by the army’s attempts to censure Palestinian, Israeli, and international voices of dissent. As a journalist, I felt that I was watching an extremely important clip. Yes, the army has been cracking down on protesters for some time now. But this seemed to be an even sharper turn, a veer towards an ever darker road.
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UnPACking AIPAC’s White House Slam, Israeli style
Marsha B. Cohen, Lobelog 3/15/2010
      The home page of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, better known as AIPAC’, offers no hint that anything is amiss between “America’s pro-Israel lobby” and the Obama administration. On the contrary. “Today’s Briefing” features Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke at Tel Aviv on Thursday, affirming that “The U.S. has no better friend than Israel” and and even provides a link to the full text of the Vice President’s speech. The highlighted plenary speaker at AIPAC’s upcoming Policy Conference (March 21-23) is none other that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
     However, the home page is not where the AIPAC’s heart is. A behind-the-scenes statement being circulated by AIPAC publicist Josh Block, places all blame for the disdain shown for US peace efforts in general, and the contemptuous affront to Biden during his Israel visit last week in particular, exclusively on the Obama administration:
     "The Obama Administration’s recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern. AIPAC calls on the Administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State.
     "Israel is America’s closest ally in the Middle East. The foundation of the U.S-Israel relationship is rooted in America’s fundamental strategic interest, shared democratic values, and a long-time commitment to peace in the region. Those strategic interests, which we share with Israel, extend to every facet of American life and our relationship with the Jewish State, which enjoys vast bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people.
     "The Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests."
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Protest the US' silencing of Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer
Electronic Intifada: 19 Mar 2010 - Effectively canceling a planned speaking tour, the US consulate in the Netherlands has put an extended hold on the visa application of award-winning Palestinian journalist and photographer Mohammed Omer, scheduled to speak on conditions in Palestine, on 5 April in Chicago.

Time to bury dead ideas about Palestine
Electronic Intifada: 19 Mar 2010 - There is a growing recognition that the Israeli settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is, in practical terms, irreversible. The two-state solution, which for decades has been characterized as the preferred solution of an amorphous "international consensus" has generally been understood to involve a return to the pre-1967 occupation boundaries (referred to as the green line) with minor territorial adjustments by the parties. By now, even optimists refer to this solution as "unlikely" and "virtually impossible," while realists recognize that the concept has outlived its usefulness as a political aspiration. Martha Reese comments for The Electronic Intifada.

Book review: Higher education under occupation
Electronic Intifada: 19 Mar 2010 - Gabi Baramki's Peaceful Resistance: Building a Palestinian University under Occupation (Pluto Press, 2009) is a memoir of Palestine's flagship university, Birzeit, by its former acting president. The memoir is an indispensable tool for teaching Westerners about the ways in which Palestinian education exists and flourishes under a constant state of siege and the barriers to academic freedom that Palestinians experience on a daily basis. Marcy Newman reviews for The Electronic Intifada.

UC Berkeley student senate votes in favor of divestment
Electronic Intifada: 19 Mar 2010 - Early yesterday morning, the University of California Berkeley Student Senate (ASUC) passed a bill to divest from companies that provide military support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Debate began the night before at 9:00pm and ended and six hours later when the vote was held at 3:00am.

Gazan Fisherman Struggle to Stay Afloat
Palestine Chronicle: 19 Mar 2010 - By Rada Daniell and Bianca Zammit - Gaza Gazan 45 kilometers long, beautiful Mediterranean coast is fished by 3,500 professional fisherman. Many more people earn their daily bread doing jobs related to this trade, such as producing and repairing nets, transporting fish and selling it at the markets, running restaurateurs etc. We met Mr Mahfouz Kabariti the President of Palestine Sailing Federation and Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime Sports and a group of fishermen at the end of January for a long evening chat to find out more about what it means to be a fisherman in Gaza. A few days ago Mr Kabariti took us to the the Mina (Port) of Gaza to meet another group of fishermen who we chatted with while they were preparing for their next fishing trip. The majority of them wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of being targeted by Israelis for...more

President Obama's Personal Crisis
Palestine Chronicle: 19 Mar 2010 - By James Gundun - Washington D.C. The display shouldn’t be so shocking. President Barack Obama was a professor before a politician, and that scholarly charm and cool helped get him elected. As if explaining a basic science problem - what goes up must come down, and vice versa - Obama calmly dismissed the suggestion that US-Israeli relations have reached a crisis. "We and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away, but friends are going to disagree sometimes. There is a disagreement in terms of how we can move this peace process forward." Say what they wish, but Israel and America are in a crisis. A crisis isn’t world ending, it’s a time of trial when an important decision must be made. The present qualifies, but let’s issue Obama a temporary pass since he has larger problems at hand. Suppose US-Israeli relations aren’t in a...more


Saturday, March 20, 2010Top of page
Notes on Israel’s Triumph to Disaster
Bashir Abu-manneh, ZNet 3/18/2010
      Who will stop Israel in its relentless expropriation of Palestine and from triumphing to disaster? Isaac Deutscher, from whom I borrow my title, believed that the occupation of 1967 would have catastrophic consequences for Israel. It wouldn’t end well, he feared.[1] Israel’s expansion and colonial contempt would only produce more enemies, and its triumph would become its condition of defeat. Looking at Israel’s daily aggressions in the West Bank and Gaza (and inside Israel itself, for that matter), Deutscher’s warning can no longer be ignored today. If Israel has banked on its victory and has convinced itself that its position today is irreversible, then there’s no guaranteeing that the Arabs it holds in so much contempt will always remain defeated and disorganized. No state can predict the future or preempt all human capacities and possibilities. The only thing that Israel can be sure of is that the more it brutalizes and kills and oppresses and strangulates Palestinians, the more Palestinians and other Arabs will be convinced that its future is bleak. Deutscher’s warning should be on every Israeli and peace-loving minds today. What Israel does every day will simply not pass.
     The left is not in the business of advocating catastrophes. Deutscher’s intention was the complete opposite in fact: he was trying to stop an impending disaster from happening. Like Walter Benjamin, he wanted ‘to activate the emergency brake’ on the human race’s moving train rather than watch it plunge into the abyss.[2] So Deutscher’s warning should really be a question: who will stop Israel from triumphing to disaster? Who can end the insult, injury, and humiliations that Israel daily inflicts on Palestinians and Arabs through its occupation and bring freedom and justice closer? There are many false messiahs these days, and only one redemptive force. Let’s begin with the false ones.
     The US won’t stop Israel, clearly. Not when Israel continues to play such a significant role in guaranteeing its regional interests (by crushing radicals and nationalists). And not when Israel continues to be the US’s most reliable and stable ally in this volatile region (the Israeli public actually wants closer US/Israel ties, unlike Turkey’s or Saudi’s or Egypt’s or Jordan’s publics).....
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Why Israel Always Prevails
Jeffrey Blankfort, CounterPunch 3/20/2010
      A Crisis in U.S. / Israeli Relations? Sure. But ...
     If the State Department had issued travel advisory warnings to US government officials about to travel to Israel, Vice President Joe Biden would have no doubt ignored them. A better friend to Israel could not have been found in the 36 years that Biden represented Delaware in the US Senate and there was speculation that his popularity among Jewish voters and major Jewish donors was the primary reason he was added to the Democratic ticket. According to all reports, Biden’s trip was to mend fences with the Israeli officials and with the Israeli Jewish public which had become disenchanted with the Obama administration where the president’s popularity is measured in the low single digits.
     Indeed, even a day after having been blind-sided by the announcement that Israel would build 1600 new and exclusively Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, Biden was still trying. In a prepared speech, he once again bragged, this time to a Tel Aviv university audience, that he was a Zionist and that, “Throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as Vice President of the United States,” a statement that should raise questions about dual loyalties and which, curiously, was omitted from all reports on his speech in the US press.
     In addition, Biden repeated what he said on his arrival in Jerusalem, that, “There is no space -- this is what they [the world] must know, every time progress is made, it’s made when the rest of the world knows there is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to security, none. No space. That’s the only time when progress has been made.” Biden did not offer any examples of such progress and would have had a hard time doing so.
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Activism is change
Ramzy Baroud, Ma’an News Agency 3/20/2010
      An activist is a person who feels strongly about a cause and who is also willing to dedicate time and energy towards advancing and realizing this cause. This might, however, be my own limited interpretation of what activism means.
     I was born and raised in a Gaza refugee camp where the daily struggles of the community included challenging the military occupation while attempting to survive under the harshest of circumstances. Activism then involved civil disobedience, general strikes, confronting armed Israeli soldiers with stones and slingshots. But it also involved much more than that.
     Activists in my refugee camp, whether they’re identified as Islamist, secularist, socialist or any other name, ensured the community remained unified in the face of adversity. They did not always succeed, but efforts were abound. Activists provided sustainable community support to families with sons and daughters that were killed in clashes or incarcerated in Israeli prisons. They rebuilt people’s homes after they were demolished by Israeli dynamites or bulldozers. Some activists even offered free haircuts to those who couldn’t afford them.
     Activism, as I understood it, was largely a unifying, pro-active force that kept the struggle and resistance alive. It was the ingredient that allowed the Palestinian people to maintain their relevance to the conflict, despite the brutality of their enemy and the self-serving nature of their elites.
     The elitism in Palestinian society led to a breakdown in unity, culminating in the bloody consequences of the Fatah-Hamas clash. Still, despite all the attempts to undermine it, Gaza remains standing. This cannot be attributed to any factional decision or political diktat, but only to the spirit of its people, a spirit predicated on internal cohesion and a clearly defined purpose.
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art for art’s sake
In Gaza: 20 Mar 2010 - “Mirror” –Salem Awad “The colors of sunset are wonderful but the sun is the most wonderful. When the black clouds with their golden warm colors play on the sound of a bird that dialogues with the leaves of trees that were eaten by the wind and dance with a beautiful golden dress coloured by the sunset appearing in the far horizon behind the clouds I try to touch the sun before it closes its eyes to mix my brush with its colour and my white painting is the mirror.” ‘Random’ is a word a friend uses to describe Gaza. For all the truths we know and see in Gaza, after years of full-closure siege, after the 23 day Israeli massacre of Gaza and the Israeli invasions and military aggressions before and after the massacre…there are certain norms one expects to see, and does: destroyed homes, businesses, factories, cars; devastated families...

Protests Engulf The West Bank And East Jerusalem: Intifada Close?
Palestine Monitor: 20 Mar 2010 - A week of violent clashes reached a crescendo yesterday with one of the largest popular uprisings since the second Intifada. Around Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus a wave of protests snowballed into a unified condemnation of the latest threats to Palestinian liberty and dignity. Photo by FLV From Shu'fat Since Israeli authorities blocked checkpoints connecting Jerusalem with the West Bank, coinciding with the announcement of 1,600 new illegal settlement constructions and plans to renovate Hurva synagogue, chaos has disfigured the holy city. In the Old City, Eisawiya, Shu'fat Camp, Wadi Al Joz and Qalandiya young Palestinians have been and still are loudly defying the latest attempts to eradicate them from their capital. Despite a record number of soldiers, policemen and secret operatives working around the clock to crush protests, the streets remain crowded with young men and women whose determination to resist humiliation and racism outweighs their fear of...

One Dead, One Critical In Iraq Burin
Palestine Monitor: 20 Mar 2010 - One youth was killed and another critically injured today by Israeli fire during a demonstration in Iraq Burin, south of Nablus. Mohammed Qadus, 16 was fatally shot in the heart, Asaud Qadus, 20, is receiving emergency treatment after being shot in the head. In both cases medical staff reported the injuries were caused by live ammunition. The youths had been among a crowd of 60-70 protesting against the loss of their land to the Bracha settlement, which overlooks the village. The illegal settlement has annexed around 100,000 square metres of farmland. Photo by FLV Jeeps and an ambulance enter the village after the shootings. Medics scramble to clear rocks from their path. Action commenced around 12.30. Clashes began soon after, with young Palestinians throwing rocks at soldiers positioned on the hill, as well as setting fire to tires in the road. Soldiers initially responded with tear gas and rubber bullets....

Bilin Laughs Off Military Threats
Palestine Monitor: 20 Mar 2010 - Bi'lin, home of the popular resistance movement, has endured many challenges to the weekly demonstrations for which it is famed. During more than five years of protest against the apartheid wall, injury, imprisonment and death have become regular hazards for the residents and activists who support the campaign. Photo by Hamde Abu Rahmah The army stayed in the background Yet their struggles have not been without reward. Last month, more than two years a supreme court decision ordering the army to re-route the wall, work finally began which will see around a third of the village's stolen land returned. Mohammed Khatib of the popular committee described it as a “small step”. This week the army tried a new tack, posting flyers all over the village declaring Bi'lin a closed military zone between 8am and 8pm on Friday, stating any unauthorised entrants could be arrested. The move represented an effort to...


Sunday, March 21, 2010Top of page
Taking Sides
John Mearsheimer, London Review of Books 3/17/2010
      In the wake of Vice President Joe Biden’s ill-fated trip to Israel last week, many people would agree with the Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s remark that ‘Israel’s ties with the United States are in their worst crisis since 1975… a crisis of historic proportions.’ Like all crises, this one will eventually go away. However, this bitter fight has disturbing implications for Israelis and their American supporters.
     First, the events of the past week make it clear in ways that we have not seen in the past that Israel is a strategic liability for the United States, not the strategic asset that the Israel lobby has long claimed it was. Specifically, the Obama administration has unambiguously declared that Israel’s expansionist policies in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, are doing serious damage to US interests in the region. Indeed, Biden reportedly told the Israeli prime minister, Binyahim Netanyahu, in private:
     This is starting to get dangerous for us. What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace.
     If that message begins to resonate with the American public, unconditional support for the Jewish state is likely to evaporate.
     Right after Biden’s remarks were reported by the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Mark Perry, a Middle East expert with excellent contacts in the US military, described a briefing that senior officers working directly for General David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, gave on 16 January to Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The central message Petraeus sent to Mullen, according to Perry, was that ‘Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardising US standing in the region… and could cost American lives.’....
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An open letter to Ban Ki-moon - One Democratic State Group
Ma’an News Agency 3/21/2010
      The following is an open letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon penned by the One Democratic State Group, a civil society group in Gaza, upon the UN chief’s visit to Gaza on Sunday.
     Your Excellency:
     You are already well aware of the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza consequent on Israel’s devastating military attacks and its siege. As recently as 27 December 2009, you called the blockade of Gaza "unacceptable." While this statement is certainly valid, it constitutes a gross understatement of the actual situation which amounts to slow genocide. Such understatement suggests that you are trimming your language to accommodate US pro-Israeli policy. We live an ongoing, illegal, crippling Israeli siege that has shattered all spheres of life, prompting the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Richard Falk, to describe it as "a prelude to genocide." Your own UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, headed by the highly respected South African judge, Richard Goldstone, found Israel guilty of "war crimes and possible crimes against humanity," as did major international human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The Goldstone report concludes that Israel’s war on Gaza was "designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability."
     Mr Ban,
     The 1948 Genocide Convention clearly says that one instance of genocide is "the deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a people in whole or in part.’’.....
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art for art’s sake
In Gaza: 20 Mar 2010 - “Mirror” –Salem Awad “The colors of sunset are wonderful but the sun is the most wonderful. When the black clouds with their golden warm colors play on the sound of a bird that dialogues with the leaves of trees that were eaten by the wind and dance with a beautiful golden dress coloured by the sunset appearing in the far horizon behind the clouds I try to touch the sun before it closes its eyes to mix my brush with its colour and my white painting is the mirror.” ‘Random’ is a word a friend uses to describe Gaza. For all the truths we know and see in Gaza, after years of full-closure siege, after the 23 day Israeli massacre of Gaza and the Israeli invasions and military aggressions before and after the massacre…there are certain norms one expects to see, and does: destroyed homes, businesses, factories, cars; devastated families...

Checkpoints
Palestine Monitor: 17 Dec 2010 - “The right to freedom of movement provides that people are entitled to move freely within the borders of the state, to leave any country and to return to their country.” Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. December 10th, 1948 Movement Restrictions: The Facts By September 2008 there were 699 closure obstacles in the West Bank– approximately 130 of these have been added after the Annapolis Conference began in November 2007. 630 of the obstacles have been identified: trenches (3%), partial checkpoints (3%), earth walls (7%), road-blocks (11%), road barriers (12%), checkpoints (12%), road gates (16%) and earth mounds (36%). 74 % of the main routes in the West Bank are controlled by checkpoints or blocked entirely. In the period from April to September 2008 the weekly average of flying (or random) checkpoints was 89. Due to...

Two More Teenagers Killed 'In Cold Blood' At Awarta Checkpoint
Palestine Monitor: 21 Mar 2010 - Mohammed and Salah Quriq, both 19, were gunned down this morning at the Awarta checkpoint by Israeli soldiers. Military spokesmen claim the men were attempting to stab a soldier, a claim denied by local sources. A third man, injured at the scene, was taken by Israeli medics. Following the deaths of two youths at Iraq Burin, today's violence brings the death toll to four in the past 24 hours. Army reports claim the Mohammed and Salah were shot in response to threatening behaviour with a pitchfork and axe. "Two men tried to stab a soldier during a routine patrol near the Awarta security crossing near Nablus. The force opened fire and confirmed their death", a spokeman told us. No warning shots were fired and the men died at the scene. Hassan Awad, head of the Awarta council, contradicted this version of events. Speaking through an interpreter he told us "the...

Palestinians Must Not Stay On The Sidelines
Palestine Monitor: 21 Mar 2010 - Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the PLO, sees a weakening of the Palestinian Authority over the hobbled peace process and is skeptical that the U.S. will keep the pressure on Israel. Read the interview by Edmund Sanders, first published on LA Times. Mustafa Barghouti while being arrested by plainclothes Israeli policemen in traditionally Arab East Jerusalem as he tried to reach the Al Aqsa mosque area of the Old City for Friday prayers. It was the second time Barghouti had been arrested in East Jerusalem for not having a permit to campaign for the Palestinian Parliament. Photo: Lazar Simeonov Almost overshadowed in the recent days of diplomatic tussle between the U.S. and Israel is the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders have been watching with concern — and perhaps a little amusement. It's not often Palestinians get to see the U.S. and Israel clash so publicly. On Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud...

The Doomsday Weapon
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Mar 2010 - By Uri Avnery It is already a commonplace to say that people who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat their mistakes. Some 1942 years ago, the Jews in the province called Palaestina launched a revolt against the Roman Empire. In retrospect, this looks like an act of madness. Palestine was a small and insignificant part of the world-wide empire which had just won a crushing victory against the rival power - the Parthian Empire (Persia) - and put down a major rebellion in Britain. What chances could the Jewish revolt have? God knows what was going on in the mind of the "Zealots". They eliminated the moderate leaders, who warned against provoking the empire, and gained sway over the Jewish population of the country. They relied on God. Perhaps they also relied on the Jews in Rome and believed that their influence over the Senate would restrain the...more

This Palestinian Life – Film Review
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Mar 2010 - By Ben White In the interests of transparency, I should declare that Philip Rizk and I are personal friends. Having already seen his documentary, This Palestinian Life, before being asked to review it, I was happy to accept the offer, knowing that I would only want to commend this excellent short film to readers. The strength of This Palestinian Life is hinted at in the title; what Rizk explicitly sets out to do is share the personal, everyday stories that do not feature in media coverage of Palestine/Israel. As Rizk comments in the film, the Palestinians he talks to do not represent ‘the severest cases’, in terms of experiences of Israeli occupation, but are the kind of stories ‘most rarely told’. These are glimpses of lives lived in defiance of Israeli apartheid rule, examples of sumoud, of steadfastness. The concluding sequence of shots feature the Palestinians we have met during...more

'Settlement Freeze' - Take It to the UN
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Mar 2010 - By Jim Miles The political events and comments surrounding Joe Biden’s recent visit to Israel stand only to highlight the hypocrisy and arrogant ignorance of the United States command. There are two factors here: first is the avoidance - in spite of superficial appearances - of the UN security council; and secondly - again in spite of superficial appearances - that the U.S. military command is concerned about the welfare of their troops in the Middle East because of the Israeli situation. As most followers of the news are aware, the Israelis announced plans to construct another 1600 settlement units in the Jerusalem area. They did this in the face of Biden who at the time was meeting with Netanyahu concerning the rebooting of the “peace process.” The main purpose of the “peace process” - at least for the Israelis - is to be able to establish communities - “facts”...more


Monday, March 22, 2010Top of page
Israel, Obama and the Doomsday Weapon
Uri Avnery, CounterPunch 3/22/2010
      The Root Cause
     It is already a commonplace to say that people who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat their mistakes.
     Some 1942 years ago, the Jews in the province called Palaestina launched a revolt against the Roman Empire. In retrospect, this looks like an act of madness. Palestine was a small and insignificant part of the world-wide empire which had just won a crushing victory against the rival power – the Parthian Empire (Persia) – and put down a major rebellion in Britain. What chances could the Jewish revolt have?
     God knows what was going on in the mind of the “Zealots”. They eliminated the moderate leaders, who warned against provoking the empire, and gained sway over the Jewish population of the country. They relied on God. Perhaps they also relied on the Jews in Rome and believed that their influence over the Senate would restrain the Emperor, Nero. Perhaps they had heard that Nero was weak and about to fall.
     We know how it ended: after three years, the rebels were crushed, Jerusalem fell and the temple was burned down. The last of the Zealots committed suicide in Masada.
     The Zionists did indeed try to learn from history. They acted in a rational way, did not provoke the great powers, endeavored in every situation to attain what was possible. They accepted compromises, and every compromise served them as a basis for the next surge forward. They cleverly utilized the radical stance of their adversaries and gained the sympathy of the whole world.
     But since the beginning of the occupation, their mind has become clouded. The cult of Masada has become dominant. Divine promises once again start to play a role in public discourse. Large parts of the public are following the new zealots.
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Entry Denied…
Marcy Newman, Palestine Think Tank 3/19/2010
      Yesterday (18 March 2010) after I finished teaching at 2 PM I headed for Palestine to spend the weekend and my birthday with friends in Palestine. I arrived on the occupied side of the bridge at 4:55 PM. I used to live in Palestine, most recently last year when I taught at An Najah National University in Nablus, but I had not been back since July when I left.
     I arrived at the bridge, went through the routinized luggage and security screenings and headed for the passport window. The woman in the occupying army at the window asked me questions when it was my turn. She asked me what I was planning to do in "Israel," a word and question that makes my blood boil given that I was clearly trying to enter Palestine. Although I have spent extended periods of time living in Palestine since the summer of 2005, this is the first time I did not say that I was doing research as my reason for entering. This question normally got all sorts of questions, too, but at least it did not implicate my friends, something I had been unwilling to do before now. When I first went to Palestine in 2005 I used names of colonists, because I would much rather to have them questioned, but since 2006 when I adopted a policy of anti-normalization I refuse to speak to or normalize with a single colonist other than the occupying soldiers I am forced to deal with at the border and at checkpoints. I had arranged beforehand with my friend to say that I would be staying with him since he lives in Jerusalem and I wanted to make sure that I did not get one of those new stamps that said I can only enter the West Bank (my real plan was to stay in Doha, but I did not want to give additional names of friends). I was also asked how long I would be staying, and even though I had only planned to come for the weekend, I said I was not sure because I wanted to avoid getting one of the increasingly frequent stamps that is only for one week. I was worried that it would have implications for longer visits in the future. In the past I have always been given the three-month visa at the bridge (I’ve never entered the airport in occupied Lydd). But there have been occasions in the past when I wanted to come just for a wedding, just for the weekend when I was still given a three-month visa.
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More on AIPAC message - New talking points memo, text of senate sign-on letter
Lara Friedman, Palestine Note 3/20/2010
      CLARIFICATION: Nothing in this post reflects secret, leaked, or internal AIPAC documents. The Senate letter was circulating widely by email among Senate staff as of late Friday afternoon. All the other documents referenced here are available for anyone to see on the AIPAC website (and links to them, on the AIPAC website, are provided).
     As noted in today’s Round-Up, AIPAC will be on the Hill next week lobbying members of Congress to pass "crippling" Iran sanctions and to sign on to letters to the Administration regarding US-Israel relations and the peace process.
     The Senate version of that letter, being circulated by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), can now be read here; the Dear Colleague circulating with it can be read here. As expected, it is a carefully crafted, moderate-sounding letter -- an updated version of last year’s Bayh-Risch letter. In brief, the letter (addressed to Secretary Clinton):
     * implies that the problem with the recent announcement of new Jerusalem settlement plans was a problem of timing, not substance, and that the construction itself is not a serious issue since it will take place sometime in the future ("We write to urge you to do everything possible to ensure that the recent tensions between the U.S. and Israel over the untimely announcement of future housing construction in East Jerusalem do not derail Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations or harm U.S.-Israel relations.")
     * asserts that the failure to re-start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is entirely due to Palestinian intransigence and in no way due to Israeli actions ("Despite your best efforts, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have been frozen over the past year. Indeed, in a reversal of 16 years of policy, Palestinian leaders are refusing to enter into direct negotiations with Israel...."
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art for art’s sake
In Gaza: 20 Mar 2010 - “Mirror” –Salem Awad “The colors of sunset are wonderful but the sun is the most wonderful. When the black clouds with their golden warm colors play on the sound of a bird that dialogues with the leaves of trees that were eaten by the wind and dance with a beautiful golden dress coloured by the sunset appearing in the far horizon behind the clouds I try to touch the sun before it closes its eyes to mix my brush with its colour and my white painting is the mirror.” ‘Random’ is a word a friend uses to describe Gaza. For all the truths we know and see in Gaza, after years of full-closure siege, after the 23 day Israeli massacre of Gaza and the Israeli invasions and military aggressions before and after the massacre…there are certain norms one expects to see, and does: destroyed homes, businesses, factories, cars; devastated families...

Checkpoints
Palestine Monitor: 17 Dec 2010 - “The right to freedom of movement provides that people are entitled to move freely within the borders of the state, to leave any country and to return to their country.” Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. December 10th, 1948 Movement Restrictions: The Facts By September 2008 there were 699 closure obstacles in the West Bank– approximately 130 of these have been added after the Annapolis Conference began in November 2007. 630 of the obstacles have been identified: trenches (3%), partial checkpoints (3%), earth walls (7%), road-blocks (11%), road barriers (12%), checkpoints (12%), road gates (16%) and earth mounds (36%). 74 % of the main routes in the West Bank are controlled by checkpoints or blocked entirely. In the period from April to September 2008 the weekly average of flying (or random) checkpoints was 89. Due to...


Tuesday, March 23, 2010Top of page
Israel is stealing Palestinian and Arab water
Sawsan Ramahi, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) 3/22/2010
      World Water Day is upon us. Initiated by the United Nations in 1992 during its Conference on Environment and Development, 22 March 1993 was chosen as the first international day for water aiming to draw attention to the importance of fresh water and its availability. The commemoration of the day has since focused every year on a different aspect of the difficulties faced by people in obtaining fresh water.
     There is no doubt that UN interest in this matter is of great importance, although the world body needs to do more than merely have an annual day on the issue. What is required is for the UN to put an end to the monopoly of water by any state which has water sources within its borders and to put an end to the diversion and theft of water from occupied lands.
     When an occupying power exploits the resources of the occupied land at the expense of the original inhabitants, it builds itself on the ruins of what it has destroyed, and such theft of resources is obvious, even when the occupier tries to hide its actions behind noble principles. This malfeasance is made worse by claiming that the land in question is a gift from God and politically-motivated myths such as it is "a land without a people for a people without land". When such wrongdoing is compounded even further by acts of genocide against the indigenous people, killing thousands and dispossessing hundreds of thousands in acts of ethnic cleansing, the situation is very serious indeed. Following on from the efforts to destroy the necessities of life for those under occupation, the occupier has sought to control the main necessity, the water resources. The de facto annexation and control of water in the occupied Palestinian territories has always been, alongside the colonisation of land, one of Israel’s priorities.
     This long-standing aim of the Jewish state has been confirmed by confidential documents published by the British Foreign Office, in which David Ben-Gurion, writing in 1941, said, "We have to remember that for the Jewish state’s ability to survive it must have within its borders, the waters of the [rivers] Jordan and Litani." - Briefing Paper (PDF) -- See also: Briefing Paper (PDF)
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Israelis are behaving like spoiled rich brats
Udi Aloni, International Solidarity Movement 3/22/2010
      Haaretz, 21 March - The terrifying specter of non-violent resistance to the occupation and the apartheid regime is hovering over the State of Israel, and all the state’s dignitaries have been recruited to battle it.
     This non-violent resistance operates both in areas under Israel’s reign of control, in the form of a popular struggle on both sides of the green line, and across the globe, through the Israeli and international affirmative response to the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions on Israel, until it ends the occupation and grants full equality to people from both nations living under its rule.
     As an act of solidarity with the subjugated Palestinian people, a group of Jewish Israelis has decided to join those Palestinians who have chosen the non-violent struggle for civic and national justice. This act has given politically conscientious Jewish Israelis a golden opportunity to join a campaign against their own government without forsaking their own people. Indeed, this act leads the way towards a broader joint struggle with the oppressed people, through a rebuilding of our fundamental human values, enabling us to do away with the friend/foe dichotomy, which lies at the root of Israeli racism and anxiety.
     One should hope that this non-violent resistance, led by a popular Palestinian leadership, will evolve into a binational Palestinian-Jewish front for an equitable and egalitarian political solution.
     Right-wing groups and government organs have joined forces with all their might at the face of this new adversary who has risen up to challenge the decades-long racist theft of land from one ethnic group and its transfer into the hands of another. This is not surprising. -- See also: Source
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India For Selective Assassination Of Its Own Citizens?
Trevor Selvam, CounterCurrents 1/31/2010
      Recent statements from Indian leaders and police officers gives away the new strategy on the war on Naxalism. To make the movement "headless" by carrying out selective assassination of its leaders with the help of Israeli operatives.
     Plucky savvyness combined with unnecessary bravado has recently marked the attempts at media interface by some Maoist leaders. There are benefits to reap and a price to pay, as a result. On the one hand, it has been a long time coming for the Maoists to come out of their jungle bases and give press conferences, or invite selected correspondents to visit their bases under armed escort. They correctly understood that their political program (and not their military campaign only) needed to be promoted and publicized......
     ....Selective assassination, use of UAVs, missile attacks on selected homes and sniper fire has been a hallmark of the Israeli Mossad and Defence forces, not only in Gaza and the West Bank, but also in different parts of the world including South America, Iran and Europe. For the past several years it is now well-known that India has entered into very close collaboration with the IDF and over 32 non-disclosure arms and security agreements have been signed with them. The Mossad has titillated gun-and ammo freaks and underhanded counter-insurgency nutjobs with their secretive killing techniques. Assassination and murder that goes undocumented, un-prosecuted and never brought to light, when the Mossad is involved. The CIA fumbles, trips and gets blown up. Not the Mossad. That is why India has chosen them to deploy dirty tricks on India’s citizens. Perhaps, Mr. Chidambaram would like to take out the Maoists leaders one by one and he has realized that it will not happen by sending in 100,000 troops and anti-mine trucks or IAF helicopters. So the next tactic is to walk away from the roads and get special forces trained to go into the jungles and “live there like guerillas” and seek the Maoists in their hideouts. Therefore high power sniper rifles, night vision sights have become necessary. The "headless" statement should be studied carefully. I am wondering if it is actually code word for carrying out assassinations.... Related: Arundhati Roy: Walking With The Comrades -- See also: Arundhati Roy: Walking With The Comrades
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EU boosts ties with Israel, ignores settlements and occupation
Electronic Intifada: 23 Mar 2010 - BRUSSELS (IPS) - Diplomats representing the European Union (EU) have drawn up a new plan for strengthening their relations with Israel despite the expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Spain, the current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, is eager that work proceeds on formally upgrading the Union's political and commercial ties with Israel over the next few months.

The US' choreographed "outrage" at Israel
Electronic Intifada: 23 Mar 2010 - The speeches at AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby group, on Monday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Netanyahu's subsequent meeting with US President Barack Obama are widely seen as drawing to a close what Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren called the "most severe crisis in US-Israel relations" in decades. However, this "crisis" has been widely misconstrued by both supporters and critics of Israel. Stephen Maher comments for The Electronic Intifada.

In Australia, a day of solidarity with Palestine
Electronic Intifada: 23 Mar 2010 - In an important show of solidarity, 500 individuals participated in pro-Palestine activities on Friday 19 March in Melbourne, Australia, protesting against both the brutality of Israel's actions in recent weeks and the ongoing support of the Australian government for Israeli apartheid. Omar Hassan writes from Australia.

Soundtrack to the struggle: Rafeef Ziadah's "Hadeel" reviewed
Electronic Intifada: 23 Mar 2010 - Like stones thrown from the palms of Palestinian youth, Rafeef Ziadah's lyrics are relentless in the way they shower audiences with the multiple layers of resistance and diaspora. Ziadah's debut album, Hadeel , unleashes a tapestry of fierce poetry infused with an eclectic selection of beautiful sounds. Ahmed Habib reviews for The Electronic Intifada.

grasping beauty
In Gaza: 23 Mar 2010 - It’s one of those beautiful, sunny days, with a fresh sea breeze and people strolling on the beach…one of those days in which you can almost forget the manifold tragedies that unfold daily in Gaza under siege. Under siege for four years, really, but fully under siege since mid 2007, over 1000 days. One thousand days of compromises on basic human rights and necessities for the human beings living here. Compromises which deny the ill –the seriously ill –medical care, deny students proper study materials or access to study abroad, deny access to work outside a jobless Strip, deny dreams and hopes, breath and life. But on a day like this –far from the border regions where IOF soldiers fire on unarmed Palestinians, where workers scrounge for recyclables, where farmers look at land beyond their reach (but within Gaza) thanks to the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” –one can temporarily forget all...

Palestinian MP's Visa Too Late For Visit
Palestine Monitor: 23 Mar 2010 - "It is clear I cannot make it," Mustafa Barghouti said from Ramallah on Friday after having learned that Canada would issue him a visa when it was already impossible for him to arrive in time to speak at two of three scheduled public events. The physician, independent MP and former presidential candidate for the Palestinian Authority, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was scheduled to speak on Palestinian politics and peace in the Middle East while in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. His appearance at the University of Toronto Saturday had been sold out and Barghouti was scheduled to meet with senior members of the three opposition parties Monday. " The Harper government's obstruction of Dr. Barghouti's visa is part of a broader strategy to muzzle or obstruct any voice critical of the policies of the Israeli government ," said his host organization, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the...

Pictures From A Tragic Weekend
Palestine Monitor: 22 Mar 2010 - A tragic weekend in the villages around Nablus claimed the lives of four young men. Two died following a demonstration in Iraq Burin, apparently with live ammunition, a claim denied by the military. On Sunday two more were killed in the Awarta checkpoint. Below are pictures of the demonstration and its consequences. All Pictures by FLV. Youths gather before the demonstration. Overlooking them is the Bracha settlement, which has deprived them of 100,000 square metres of farmland. Soldiers adopt an aggressive policy from the outset A soldier takes aim at a youth Soldiers move into the village, arresting three demonstrators Mohammed, moments before his death Medics arrive at the scene Mohammed's body is carried away Around 1,500 attended the funeral Asaud's grieving mother at the funeral A relative of one of the youths killed at Awarta The Awarta settlement At the family home of one of the victims Read a...

Who is Killing Whom in Israel/Palestine?
Palestine Chronicle: 23 Mar 2010 - By Sonja Karkar One man dead in Israel and the whole world knows. He actually was not Israeli, but an unfortunate immigrant worker from Thailand. We have been told who killed him too: not by name, but by some shadowy nom de guerre, used by jihadist groups some claim to be loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq and elsewhere. The unknown group in Gaza, Ansar al-Sunna, claimed responsibility for the rocket fired into Israel that caused the man’s death by shrapnel. The Hamas government has had its own problems with such groups, which have challenged its rule in Gaza. But, that is neither here nor there for Israel. Israel has already said that its response will be strong. And sure enough, Israeli bombers have pounded the southern-most part of Gaza, so far killing and wounding some fourteen Palestinian civilians including children, three of them critically. The proportionality of the response...more

Water Day Doesn't Quench Growing Thirst of Gazans
Palestine Chronicle: 23 Mar 2010 - By Dr. Mona El-Farra - Gaza Toni Morrison wrote, "All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was." I feel it is the same for Palestinian refugees, who have struggled for decades for their right to return home. I thought of this connection between water and refugees during a recent meeting about the Middle East Children's Alliance's (MECA) Maia Project with Mr. Aidan O'Leary, Deputy Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza. UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. We are working with UNRWA to install locally-made water purification and desalination units in their schools. Mr. Oeley expressed his total appreciation for the Maia Project and stressed that providing clean drinking water to children is among the highest priorities and needs for Gaza schools. Mr. John Ging, UNRWA's...more

She's Em Bed with the Israelis: Kershner and the NY Times
Palestine Chronicle: 23 Mar 2010 - By Ira Glunts The New York Times has always been known for its pro-Israel coverage. However, their present team of Isabele Kershner and Ethan Bronner have raised the degree of biased reporting to a new level of distortion. The other day, Isabele Kershner presented a "scoop" that surely made her controversial boss proud. Her superior, Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan “AbuBenTzali*” Bronner, has been criticized for his lack of objectivity, but his colleague Kershner showed that she too can compose pro-Israel news stories. Kershner reports in "Israel Seeks To Mend Rift With The U.S." (March 17) that the octogenarian Israeli President, Shimon Peres, whom she incorrectly implies has a moderating effect on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, floated a bridging proposal which was meant to mend the current rift between feuding American and Israeli officials. Peres sought to introduce a distinction between building colonies on open land in and around occupied East...more


Wednesday, March 24, 2010Top of page
Obama still has no stomach to take on Israel
Johnathan Cook, Ma’an News Agency 3/24/2010
      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the United States armed with a mandate from the Israeli parliament. A large majority of legislators from all of Israel’s main parties had supported a petition urging him to stand firm on the building of Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem - the very issue that got him into hot water days earlier with the White House.
     Given the Israeli consensus on Jerusalem, there was no way Netanyahu could have avoided rubbing that wound again in his speech on Monday to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobby group.
     He told the thousands of delegates: "The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital."
     Citing his own policy as inseparable from all previous Israeli governments, he added: "Everyone knows that these neighborhoods will be part of Israel in any peace settlement. Therefore, building them in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution."
     Netanyahu’s speech appeared consistent with the new approach agreed by both sides to end this particular debacle. According to the US media, a policy of "Don’t ask and don’t tell" has been adopted to avoid making East Jerusalem an insurmountable obstacle to negotiations.
     It will be telling how the US administration responds to the latest approval by Israeli planning authorities of a housing project at the Shepherd’s Hotel in East Jerusalem - this time in the even more controversial area of Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian community slowly being taken over by Jewish settlers backed by the Israeli courts.
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Congress, Israel and U.S. National Security
Ralph Nader, CounterPunch 3/24/2010
      The Last Lever?
     On July 10, 1996, at a Joint Session of the United States Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a standing ovation for these words: “With America’s help, Israel has grown to be a powerful, modern state. …But I believe there can be no greater tribute to America’s long-standing economic aid to Israel than for us to be able to say: we are going to achieve economic independence. We are going to do it. In the next four years, we will begin the long-term process of gradually reducing the level of your generous economic assistance to Israel.”
     Since 1996, the American taxpayers are still sending Israel $3 billion a year and providing assorted loan guarantees, waivers, rich technology transfers and other indirect assistance. Before George W. Bush left office a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel stipulated an assistance package of $30 billion over the next ten years to be transferred in a lump sum at the beginning of every fiscal year. Israel’s wars and colonies still receive U.S. taxpayer monies.
     What happened to Mr. Netanyahu’s solemn pledge to the Congress? The short answer is that Congress never called in the pledge.
     In the intervening years, Israel has become an economic, technological and military juggernaut. Its GDP is larger than Egypt’s even though Israel’s population is less than one tenth that of the Arab world’s most populous nation. The second largest number of listings on America’s NASDAQ Exchange after U.S. companies are from Israel, exceeding listings of Japan, Korea, China and India combined. Its venture capital investments exceed those in the U.S., Europe and China on a per capita basis.
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No, Mr Shalom, facts do matter
Bassim Khoury, Ma’an News Agency 3/23/2010
      The following is a public response to comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom broadcast on Israeli TV on Monday, by former Palestinian Minister of Economy Bassim Khoury’s decision to resign from his post in October 2009.
     Even though I know quite well that for people like you, facts are merely "a matter of opinion" and thus you do not want to be "confused" by them, non-the-less I feel compelled to respond to your latest fabrications aired on Israeli TV on Monday 22 March 2010 because for me, "facts do matter."
     We Palestinians have been at the receiving end of Israel’s atrocities for decades. Your perceived invincibility led you to believe that repeating lies several times transform them to truths. I do not believe that you even managed to convince yourself. Deep down you must realize that the current status quo of occupation and colonization is not sustainable and that Israel must recognize and respect the "Green Line" as a "Red Line."
     After finishing the JEC meeting which you and me co-chaired on 2 September 2009, your statements to the press were full of falsehoods and claims of "discussions" that never took place. You elected to transform this technical meeting into a "media circus" in order to boost your political prospects. Unfortunately, as a minister I was barred from responding to your spins. Thus, I am ecstatic that now as a private citizen I face no such limitations. You should have listened to our meeting’s tapes before making claims that are easily proven wrong. I am sure your side still has a copy, but in case you need one, I can check if we can provide you with it.
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US intent on dragging Israel to negotiating table
Electronic Intifada: 24 Mar 2010 - Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the United States this week armed with a mandate from the Israeli parliament. A large majority of legislators from all of Israel's main parties had supported a petition urging him to stand firm on the building of Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem -- the very issue that got him into hot water days earlier with the White House. Jonathan Cook analyzes.

Israeli army forced to investigate weekend's killings
Electronic Intifada: 24 Mar 2010 - RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Many Israelis like to believe, and the cliche is repeated regularly in Israel, that their army is the "most moral army in the world." However, following the Gaza war which left 1,400 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, some Israelis have begun to question this. Furthermore, the fatal shooting of four Palestinian teenagers in the course of 24 hours over the weekend has forced the Israeli military to investigate the incident amidst contradictory statements issued by the soldiers involved.

PACBI: West-Eastern Divan Orchestra violates boycott
Electronic Intifada: 24 Mar 2010 - A recent article criticizing the Palestinian Campaign For the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel's (PACBI) position on the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO) is based on false premises, misunderstanding and/or misrepresentation of the PACBI boycott criteria, and a misconception of the recent history of civil resistance in Palestine. Since the article insinuates that PACBI's position on WEDO is inconsistent with its own principles, the record needs to be set straight.

The Jerusalem 'Compromise'
Palestine Chronicle: 24 Mar 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the United States this week armed with a mandate from the Israeli parliament. A large majority of legislators from all of Israel’s main parties had supported a petition urging him to stand firm on the building of Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem -- the very issue that got him into hot water days earlier with the White House. Given the Israeli consensus on Jerusalem, there was no way Mr Netanyahu could have avoided rubbing that wound again in his speech on Monday to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobby group. He told the thousands of delegates: “The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.” Citing his own policy as inseparable from all previous...more

Who is the British Dog?
Palestine Chronicle: 24 Mar 2010 - By Gilad Atzmon – London Israeli officials and politicians sharply criticized the intention of the UK government to expel an ‘unnamed’ Israeli ‘diplomat’ in response to its passports being used in the Dubai assassination of Hamas Freedom Fighter Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. MK Aryeh Eldad (Israel National Union) doesn’t show much respect to the Brits whom he compares to dogs: "I think [the] British are behaving hypocritically and I don't want to offend dogs on this issue, since some dogs are utterly loyal," Eldad told Sky News. MK Michael Ben-Ari took it one step further. "The British may be dogs, but they are not loyal to us, but rather to an anti-Semitic system..” Both Israeli Parliament members Eldad and Ben-Ari seem to agree that Britons are dogs, yet they are somehow annoyed by their dogs’ disloyalty to the Jewish state. One may wonder why do the Israelis expect their ‘British dogs’ to...more

Israel and Aid
Palestine Chronicle: 24 Mar 2010 - By Ralph Nader On July 10, 1996, at a Joint Session of the United States Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a standing ovation for these words: “With America’s help, Israel has grown to be a powerful, modern state. …But I believe there can be no greater tribute to America’s long-standing economic aid to Israel than for us to be able to say: we are going to achieve economic independence. We are going to do it. In the next four years, we will begin the long-term process of gradually reducing the level of your generous economic assistance to Israel.” Since 1996, the American taxpayers are still sending Israel $3 billion a year and providing assorted loan guarantees, waivers, rich technology transfers and other indirect assistance. Before George W. Bush left office a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel stipulated an assistance package of $30 billion over the...more


Thursday, March 25, 2010Top of page
Washington’s worst ally
Ayman El-Amir, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/18/2010
      Build, build, build: as Israel annexes Palestinian property to build yet more illegal settlements it seems no one has the will to stop them.
     Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has taken a handful of dust from East Jerusalem and thrown it in the face of Barack Obama, his administration, the American people and the Arabs. The Israeli government’s declared decision to build 1,600 new housing units in and around East Jerusalem, and to confiscate Palestinian property for the purpose, was designed to test the limits of Washington’s tolerance of its expansionist policy. It has been gradually expropriating what is left of Palestinian territory to forestall the creation of a future Palestinian state. When Washington reacted angrily, the Netanyahu government, in time-honoured fashion, set another test. It regreted the timing of the announcement, which coincided with the visit of US Vice-President Joseph Biden, but not the substance.
     When Washington insisted it was the substance that mattered Netanyahu reiterated his regret that it was bad timing, not bad policy. He wanted to reassure his ultra-rightwing coalition partners that the settlement policy was still alive and well and would be resumed as soon as the row with the Obama administration blew over. Mendacious Israel will weather this storm, as it has others, by resorting to Congress, its most compliant ally, controlled as it is by the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) lobby. AIPAC itself sent out a signal to Congress. It said the present crisis in US-Israeli relations was a matter of concern. What it meant was that the crisis should somehow be resolved in favour of Israel, or that the Obama administration must be taught a lesson for daring to disagree with Israeli policy.
     Upon his arrival in Israel, Biden deflated Israeli whining over threats to its security by reaffirming in advance the Obama administration’s “absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security”. He also lambasted Iran for its quest for nuclear power, a popular political theme in Washington these days....
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Israel’s 'No Renting to Arabs' Policy
Jonathan Cook, CounterPunch 3/23/2010
      Jewish Couple Loses Court Battle to Help Bedouin Friends
     Nevatim.
     The Zakai and Tarabin families should be a picture of happy coexistence across the ethnic divide, a model for others to emulate in Israel.
     But Natalie and Weisman Zakai say the past three years -- since the Jewish couple offered to rent their home to Bedouin friends, Ahmed and Khalas Tarabin -- have been a living hell.
     “I have always loved Israel,” said Mrs Zakai, 43. “But to see the depth of the racism of our neighbours has made me question why we live in this country.”
     Three of the couple’s six dogs have been mysteriously poisoned; Mrs Zakai’s car has been sprayed with the words ”Arab lover” and the windows smashed; her three children in school are regularly taunted and bullied by other pupils; and a collection of vintage cars in the family’s yard has been set on fire in what police say was an arson attack.
     To add to these indignities, the Zakais have spent three years and thousands of dollars battling through the courts against the elected officials of their community of Nevatim, in Israel’s southern Negev desert, who have said they are determined to keep the Tarabins from moving in.
     Last week the Zakais’ legal struggle looked like it had run out of steam. The supreme court told the two families the Tarabins should submit to a vetting committee of local officials to assess their suitability – a requirement that has never been made before by the Negev community in the case of a family seeking to rent a home.
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Netanyahu’s Ring and the Legitimacy of Zionism
Ahmed Amr, Palestine Chronicle, Axis of Logic 3/24/2010
      You can’t make this stuff up. It was a Monday, the first day of spring in 2010, a time usually reserved for a little fresh air. Alas, the Prime Minister of Israel was dispensing noxious fumes in a speech to AIPAC, the pro-Israeli lobbying conglomerate that is considered the single most effective arm-twisting organization in Washington. Did I forget to mention the Prime Minister’s name? It’s Benjamin Netanyahu. The significance of that factoid will become apparent as we move along.
     Here’s part of what Netanyahu had to say to the AIPAC faithful and the drooling congressmen and senators who came to pay homage to the prince of Israel.
     “The attempt by many to describe the Jews as foreign colonialists in their own homeland is one of the great lies of modern times. In my office, I have on display a signet ring that was loaned to me by Israel’s Department of Antiquities. The ring was found next to the Western wall, but it dates back some 2,800 years ago, two hundred years after King David turned Jerusalem into our capital city. The ring is a seal of a Jewish official, and inscribed on it in Hebrew is his name: Netanyahu. His name was Netanyahu Ben-Yoash. My first name, Benjamin, dates back 1,000 years earlier to Benjamin, the son of Jacob. One of Benjamin’s brothers was named Shimon, which also happens to be the first name of my good friend, Shimon Peres, the President of Israel. Nearly 4,000 years ago, Benjamin, Shimon and their ten brothers roamed the hills of Judea. Ladies and Gentlemen, the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied. The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied. The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.”
     There you have it folks. If your name is Benjamin Netanyahu, what more justification do you need to expropriate land from the native Palestinians?....
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Rights groups dispute Israel's story in Hebron killing
Electronic Intifada: 25 Mar 2010 - RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - In early February, 41-year-old Fayez Ahmed Faraj, a father of nine from the city of Hebron, 30 miles south of Jerusalem, in the southern West Bank, was shot dead in his home town by Israeli soldiers after he allegedly tried to stab one of them. After a preliminary investigation the Israeli military authorities stated that the soldiers had acted in self-defense and had used the necessary force.

Israel's inclusion in economic organization a threat to democracy
Electronic Intifada: 25 Mar 2010 - Membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes 30 of the world's most developed countries, does not provide money or any special economic benefits. Yet it is easy to see why the Israeli government attributes great importance to Israel becoming one of its members. Shir Hever analyzes for The Electronic Intifada.

Thirsty for justice
Electronic Intifada: 25 Mar 2010 - Toni Morrison once wrote "All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was." I feel it is the same for Palestinian refugees, who have struggled for decades for their right to return home. I thought of this connection between water and refugees during a recent meeting about the Middle East Children's Alliance's Maia Project with Aidan O'Leary, Deputy Director of the UN agency for Palestine refugees Operations in Gaza. Dr. Mona El-Farra writes from the Gaza Strip.

Israel's latest provocation at al-Aqsa
Electronic Intifada: 25 Mar 2010 - The Israeli government has indicated that it will press ahead with a plan to enlarge the Jewish prayer plaza at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, despite warnings that the move risks triggering a third intifada. Israeli officials rejected this week a Jerusalem court's proposal to shelve the plan after the judge accepted that the plaza's expansion would violate the "status quo" arrangement covering the Old City's holy places. Jonathan Cook reports from Jerusalem.

grasping beauty
In Gaza: 23 Mar 2010 - It’s one of those beautiful, sunny days, with a fresh sea breeze and people strolling on the beach…one of those days in which you can almost forget the manifold tragedies that unfold daily in Gaza under siege. Under siege for four years, really, but fully under siege since mid 2007, over 1000 days. One thousand days of compromises on basic human rights and necessities for the human beings living here. Compromises which deny the ill –the seriously ill –medical care, deny students proper study materials or access to study abroad, deny access to work outside a jobless Strip, deny dreams and hopes, breath and life. But on a day like this –far from the border regions where IOF soldiers fire on unarmed Palestinians, where workers scrounge for recyclables, where farmers look at land beyond their reach (but within Gaza) thanks to the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” –one can temporarily forget all...

Checkpoints
Palestine Monitor: 17 Dec 2010 - “The right to freedom of movement provides that people are entitled to move freely within the borders of the state, to leave any country and to return to their country.” Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. December 10th, 1948 Movement Restrictions: The Facts By September 2008 there were 699 closure obstacles in the West Bank– approximately 130 of these have been added after the Annapolis Conference began in November 2007. 630 of the obstacles have been identified: trenches (3%), partial checkpoints (3%), earth walls (7%), road-blocks (11%), road barriers (12%), checkpoints (12%), road gates (16%) and earth mounds (36%). 74 % of the main routes in the West Bank are controlled by checkpoints or blocked entirely. In the period from April to September 2008 the weekly average of flying (or random) checkpoints was 89. Due to...

Israel's Provocation at al-Aqsa: Rabbi Plans 'Miracle'
Palestine Chronicle: 25 Mar 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Jerusalem The Israeli government has indicated that it will press ahead with a plan to enlarge the Jewish prayer plaza at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, despite warnings that the move risks triggering a third intifada. Israeli officials rejected this week a Jerusalem court’s proposal to shelve the plan after the judge accepted that the plaza’s expansion would violate the “status quo” arrangement covering the Old City’s holy places. Islamic authorities agreed to the arrangement after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. The site eyed by Israeli officials is located at the Mughrabi Gate, an entrance to the mosque compound known as the Haram al Sharif, the most sensitive site in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Inside are Al Aqsa Mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock. Earlier encroachments by Israel on Islamic authority at the site have triggered clashes between...more

My Children, Ralph Nader and the South China Sea
Palestine Chronicle: 25 Mar 2010 - By Ramzy Baroud I basked in the warm Borneo sun, following a long run somewhere at the edge of a rainforest. The beach was only partly clean, but the water was most inviting. My children ran excitedly, collecting what I assumed to be shells and whatever other treasures the South China Sea had decided to divulge that afternoon. Their movement, from afar, signaled frenzy and perhaps even a slight panic. I hesitated at first, then ran to investigate. At the ages of six and four, my girls Zarefah and Iman were already the most kindhearted kids. They were actually going through complete and unmitigated panic, as they had just noticed the starfish which had been cast off by the waves and which were now dotting the shoreline as far as the eye could see. The children became determined to place every single one of them back in the water before...more

The Jerusalem 'Compromise'
Palestine Chronicle: 24 Mar 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the United States this week armed with a mandate from the Israeli parliament. A large majority of legislators from all of Israel’s main parties had supported a petition urging him to stand firm on the building of Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem -- the very issue that got him into hot water days earlier with the White House. Given the Israeli consensus on Jerusalem, there was no way Mr Netanyahu could have avoided rubbing that wound again in his speech on Monday to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobby group. He told the thousands of delegates: “The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.” Citing his own policy as inseparable from all previous...more


Friday, March 26, 2010Top of page
Ramallah and Gaza are waiting
Amira Hass, Ha'aretz, Israeli Occupation Archive 3/26/2010
      Satisfaction – that’s what Israeli faces radiate, at least as observed by people who just came out of Ramallah or Gaza and watch Jerusalem’s busy Ben-Yehuda Street, the Ramat Aviv Mall or Ben-Gurion International Airport.
     To the Israelis, nothing exists beyond the moment. It’s just like the smugness exhibited by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his private playing field, the AIPAC conference. Have our diplomats been expelled? Is the American administration angry? We’ll bow our heads for a moment, the storm will pass, and we’ll be accepted into the honorable club of the OECD. The main thing is that Israel’s obstinate policy of separation has succeeded and that two adversarial Palestinian entities has been created.
     One is building its Islamic principality in an isolated enclave, bouncing around promises that the second step toward the liberation of Jerusalem and Haifa has already been taken. The other proudly hosts representatives of donor nations in its small and crowded enclaves, and tries to persuade everybody that this is the way to build a state that includes Area C, no-man’s land, Latrun, Gaza, Al-Aqsa and the approximately 70 square kilometers that Israel has annexed and calls Jerusalem.
     But we Israelis know that everything is equally imaginary. We are the wizards of the status quo. We establish it as we like, moving an acre here and a military base there, until the world says it agrees. When God wants, Ramallah will also be called a holy city and Gaza will be crowned an Egyptian district capital.
     That is not the way the future looks in the two separate entities. Their mutually contradictory rhetoric is based on a similar assumption: Both Gaza and Ramallah believe that change will eventually come from the outside, and that is the popular expectation as well. -- See also: Source
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Provocation at Al-Aqsa
Jonathan Cook, CounterPunch 3/26/2010
      Rabbi Plans "Miracle" at the Western Wall
     The Israeli government has indicated that it will press ahead with a plan to enlarge the Jewish prayer plaza at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, despite warnings that the move risks triggering a third intifada.
     Israeli officials rejected this week a Jerusalem court’s proposal to shelve the plan after the judge accepted that the plaza’s expansion would violate the “status quo” arrangement covering the Old City’s holy places. Islamic authorities agreed to the arrangement after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.
     The site eyed by Israeli officials is located at the Mughrabi Gate, an entrance to the mosque compound known as the Haram al Sharif, the most sensitive site in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Inside are Al Aqsa Mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.
     Earlier encroachments by Israel on Islamic authority at the site have triggered clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians. A heavily armed visit to the compound by Ariel Sharon in 2000, shortly before he became prime minister, to declare Israeli rights there sparked the second intifada.
     In recent weeks, analysts have grown increasingly concerned that a third intifada is imminent as Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has advanced settlement building in East Jerusalem and declared several places deep in the occupied West Bank as Jewish heritage sites.
     Another assault on Muslim control so close to Al Aqsa Mosque risked “pouring fuel on the fire”, said Hanna Sweid, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament who filed the original planning objections to the Israeli scheme.
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'My Fellow Americans, Tonight I’m Going to Talk Frankly About a Pesky Little Nation Israel...'
Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch 3/19/2010
      Don’t get excited. It’ll never happen. Is there really a crisis in US-Israeli relations? Yes and No. Yes, because the world’s premier power doesn’t care to have its vice president publicly humiliated by a midget of a nation whose entire population is smaller than that of Los Angeles county. No, because the elected politicians nominally running the government of the world’s premier power live in mortal fear of the Israel lobby in the United States. This time, as always, No will carry the day. (You can find a detailed narrative by Jeffrey Blankfort on this site today, from which much of this Diary is drawn.)
     Consider Biden’s reaction the day after Interior Minister Eli Yishai, probably with Netanyahu’s foreknowledge, announced the scheduled building of 1600 apartments – Jews only – in East Jerusalem, right at the moment Biden was trying to breathe life into the “peace process”
     So here’s the vice president of the United States of America,standing with all the injured dignity of a man who has just had a bucket of sewage dumped over his head and who amid his discomfiture, actually did use the word “condemn” and “Israel” in the same paragraph. The next day Biden heads for Tel Aviv university and confides to the audience that he is a Zionist and that, “throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as Vice President of the United States.” Get that: “the center of my work.” This mission statement is not quoted in the U.S. press.
     Then Biden repeats the nonsense he spouted when he arrived in Jerusalem: that “there is no space -- this is what they [the world] must know, every time progress is made, it’s made when the rest of the world knows there is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to security, none. No space. That’s the only time when progress has been made.”
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Restaurant attacked for barring armed Israeli soldier
Electronic Intifada: 26 Mar 2010 - An Arab-owned restaurant in the Israeli city of Haifa has been caught in a whirlwind of legal action and threats of violence after staff refused to serve a soldier in uniform, an incident that is rapidly tarnishing the city's reputation as a model of good Jewish-Arabs relations. Jonathan Cook reports.

Lebanese army encircling Baddawi refugee camp
Electronic Intifada: 26 Mar 2010 - The relationship between the Lebanese government and the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon is changing. The process of redefining the old relationship began explosively with the battle and subsequent demolition of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, near the northern city of Tripoli, in 2007. Now the Lebanese army is erecting a barrier around the nearby Baddawi refugee camp because of "security concerns." Ahmed Moor and Deen Sharp report for The Electronic Intifada.

Visions of Palestine's present and future in "Invictus" and "Avatar"
Electronic Intifada: 26 Mar 2010 - The recent Hollywood films Invictus and Avatar inspire reflection on the past, present and future hopes of the Palestinian nation. The response to these movies among audiences around the world underscores the amount of sympathy around the world for moral struggles that ensue after the creation of an unjust reality, a sympathy Palestinians have been slow at garnering. Abdaljawad O.A. Hamayel comments for The Electronic Intifada.

Israeli soldiers target Gaza’s poorest, including children
In Gaza: 26 Mar 2010 - Said Abdel Aziz Hamdan, 15, went for his first time to Gaza’s northern border area to try gathering scrap metal for re-sale. Although an area lined with Israeli military towers and notorious for Israeli soldier shooting, shelling and abductions of Palestinian workers and farmers, Hamdan did not feel he would be in danger. “People go there everyday to gather bits of metal and concrete. The Israelis see us and know we are just working, it’s normal,” he said from his hospital bed in Jabaliya’s Kamal Adwan hospital. Hamdan set out from home shortly after 10 am Friday, going with his younger brother Suleiman, 13, to earn whatever shekels they could. From a family of 7 brothers and 5 sisters and whose father is unemployed, Said Hamdan had no other options for employment. “My friends go every Friday, so I decided to join them today, to try this work.” The bullet...

Israeli Military Critically Wounds Gazan Fisherman
Palestine Monitor: 26 Mar 2010 - Hazem Gora'ani was critically wounded at 9AM on Thursday morning when the Israeli navy fired at his fishing boat. He was brought to Shifa'a hospital in Gaza City with serious head wounds where he underwent emergency surgery. His condition is currently too unstable to risk removing the pieces of shrapnel lodged in his brain. Gora'ani, age 26, was fishing from a small boat well inside the Israeli imposed fishing boundary of three nautical miles from shore when a navy speed boat approached. The soldiers attempted to arrest Gora'ani and his brother. They panicked and tried to sail towards the coast. In response the Israeli soldiers opened a barrage of fire, which critically injured Hazem and punctured a number of holes in his boat. Israel claims to have reduced the permitted fishing zone to 3 nautical miles offshore, but in fact is attacking Palestinian fishermen and other civilians inside of the...

Another Day Of Repression In Nebi Saleh
Palestine Monitor: 26 Mar 2010 - Around 70 Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators marched on Friday in Nebi Saleh, nearby Ramallah. Israeli soldiers besieged residents inside their homes, and used a massive number of tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets to disperse the crowd. According to local sources one Palestinian protester was injured in the foot and dozens were treated for gas inhalation. Palestine Monitor reported from the field. All photos were taken by FLV.

How Neutral is US Neutrality in the Middle East?
Palestine Chronicle: 26 Mar 2010 - By Ershad Abubacker The recent dueling positions of long time friends and all time allies Israel and America over the construction of 1,600 new apartments in east Jerusalem has obviously hit the headlines worldwide. This has lead to a few high dramatic enactments including the Vice President Joe Biden being reported to be ‘embarrassed;’ Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calling the Israeli land policy ‘provocative’ and termed it as not in Israel's long-term interests and undermined U.S. credibility as a neutral mediator. At this juncture it is really worthwhile to examine the claims of America as the neutral broker in the long standing Israeli Palestine conflict. Israel recently announced new housing plans for east Jerusalem, the part of the city Palestinians want for a future capital, drawing unusually sharp criticism from the Obama administration. The drama reached its high-end when President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu...more

Apartheid on Two Continents
Palestine Chronicle: 26 Mar 2010 - By Mats Svensson We all have a common history that crosses borders in terms of both country and time. Together with black and white in South Africa we acted forcefully, taking a stand against apartheid and defining the evil and the good. We became part of a historic decision. A decision that was made by an earlier generation and led to that many today can feel pride over our common history. Today we can unfortunately read analytical reports showing that the evil remains in other parts of the world. Today we should therefore again react forcefully when this appears, when it becomes visible. Tor Sellström has in his work documented what Sweden did to fight apartheid in southern Africa. South African researchers have now found signs of apartheid in Palestine. But how do we use this knowledge? How does the world react? Most surfaces are covered with post-its; yellow, green...more


Saturday, March 27, 2010Top of page
Israeli intelligence, our constant companion
Jeff Stein, Washington Post 3/25/2010
      Judging by once sensitive FBI documents making the rounds in recent days, the Israelis have been at this task in Washington for a very long time.
     Another big week for Israeli spies – new and old.
     In the latest chapter of the Dubai assassination drama, Britain gave the boot Tuesday to an Israeli diplomat, asserting that Israel was involved in the forgery of U.K. passports used in the January killing of a senior Hamas operative.
     Meanwhile, declassified FBI documents from a 25-year-old Israeli spy scandal here surfaced on the Internet.
     Lest one think the Israelis might lay low for awhile, a defiant Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered a fiery speech in Washington Tuesday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the same powerful group implicated in that long-ago spy scandal.
     Odd, for a business that’s supposed to stay out of the news. Then again, that’s been the fate of spy services in recent years. A lot of what they do, from espionage and bribery to counterterrorism and hacking into computers, has ended up on the front page.
     So it was in London Tuesday, when Her Majesty’s Government concluded “there are compelling reasons to believe that Israel was responsible for the misuse of the British passports," in the words of Foreign Secretary David Miliband.
     As a consequence, Britain ordered the expulsion of an unidentified Israeli diplomat after concluding that the high-quality fakes used in the Dubai hit were almost certainly “made by a state intelligence service.”
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A prayer for Rachel Corrie
Aijaz Zaka Syed, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/25/2010
      The supreme sacrifice of one US student who gave her life to save Palestinian homes and families will not be in vain.
     And I thought people like Rachel Corrie only existed in books and movies -- people who can stare death in the face and put their own lives on the line to save someone else’s. Rachel Corrie just did that.
     The 23-year-old student activist travelled thousands of miles from her Ivy League University in the United States to form a human shield protecting Palestinian families. This happened in March 2003 when all of us were obsessing over Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
     Full of idealism and dreams about creating a better and just world, Rachel Corrie was too young to die. At a time when most of her friends and fellow students were having a good time experimenting with drugs, booze and sex, Rachel joined the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a peace movement against the Israeli occupation, and travelled all the way to the occupied Palestinian territories.
     She wanted to help and make a difference for long tormented Palestinians. She was so passionate about her cause that she spent many months learning Arabic and educating herself and her family and friends about the Middle East and the appalling humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories. Rachel first went to the West Bank for training with the ISM. Then she volunteered to go to Gaza, to Rafah in particular, as she felt it was forsaken and needed her attention.
     There were many international activists like her on the ground trying to help Palestinians by providing aid, teaching their children and, more importantly, protecting them from the murderous Israeli forces. Rachel enthusiastically joined these valiant efforts.....
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On the road to Canossa
Uri Avnery, Ma’an News Agency 3/27/2010
      In January 1077, King Henry IV walked to Canossa. He crossed the snow-covered Alps barefoot, wearing a penitent monk’s hair shirt, and reached the North-Italian fortress in which the Vicar of God had found refuge.
     Pope Gregory VII had excommunicated him after a conflict over the right to invest bishops throughout the German Reich. The excommunication endangered the position of the king, and he decided to do everything possible to get it lifted.
     The king waited for three days outside the gates of Canossa, fasting and wearing the hair shirt, until the pope agreed to open the gate. After the king knelt before the pope, the ban was lifted and the conflict came to an end – at least for the time being.
     This week, the Netanyahu went to Canossa in the United States, in order to prevent Pope Obama I from putting a ban on him.
     Contrary to the German king, Bibi I did not walk barefoot in the snow, did not exchange his expensive suit for a hair shirt and did not forgo his sumptuous meals. But he, too, was compelled to wait for several days at the gates of the White House, before the pope deigned to receive him.
     The German king knew that he had to pay the full price for the pardon. He knelt. The Israeli king thought that he could get off cheap. As is his wont, he tried all kinds of subterfuges. He did not kneel, but barely bowed. The pope was not satisfied.
     This time, the walk to Canossa did not succeed. On the contrary, it made the situation worse. The deadly sword of American excommunication continues to hang above Netanyahu’s head.
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Israeli invasion into southeastern Gaza kills 4, injures 8, destroys a home and ravages farmland
In Gaza: 27 Mar 2010 - On 26 March, fighting erupted between Palestinian resistance and invading Israeli soldiers when IOF jeeps, tanks, and bulldozers invaded, supported by F-16s, Apache helicopters and unmanned drones from above. Two Israeli soldiers were reported killed and 2 more injured. Medics with the Red Crescent report that three Palestinian resistance fighters were killed, along with 1 civilian, Haitam Arafat, 22 years old, shot on his land. Eight more Palestinians were injured, according to Muawiyya Hassaniin, director of emergency services in Gaza. The injured include Osama Abu Dagga, a child of 6 years, shot in the head while in his home 2 km from the border. He is in critical condition. While the invasion was underway, locals reported several F-16 Israeli warplanes, Apache helicopters, drones, roughly 20 tanks and 6 bulldozers. During the Israeli invasion, Palestinian ambulances were unable to reach the injured, delayed and unable to attain coordination from Israeli authorities...

Concert to Support Palestinian Medical Relief Society
Palestine Monitor: 27 Mar 2010 - André Mergenthaler Naser Halayqa Govinda Schlegel Behnam Hassani Anne Galowich Päivi Kaufmann Hany Heshmat Trierer Guitarrenquartett Organisé par – Organisiert von : Naser Halayqa Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient (CPJPO) Centre Culturel de Rencontre Abbaye de Neumünster (CCRN) Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS - Ramallah, Palestine) Tickets : +352/ 47 08 95-1 (Billetterie), www.luxembourgticket.lu +352/ 26 20 52-1 (CCRN) Naser Halayqa (oud, chant) Né en Palestine, il a entamé ses études de musique et son apprentissage du oud à Bethléem puis au Conservatoire National de Musique et de Danse de Rabat au Maroc. Installé en Allemagne, il étudie la guitare classique au Conservatoire de Musique de la Ville de Luxembourg et la composition auprès du professeur Alexander Mullenbach. En participant à diverses manifestations culturelles, lectures, conférences, il tente de faire connaître le folklore palestinien et différents artistes du MoyenOrient. C'est à travers ses compositions personnelles et ses textes qu'il souhaite...


Sunday, March 28, 2010Top of page
Time for the Obama parameters
Graham Usher in Washington, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/25/2010
      The real crisis is not between Israel and the US but the absence of an American policy for ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.
     The apparent "crisis" in relations with the United States caused by Israel’s decision to build 1,600 new homes for Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem seems to be over.
     On 19 March Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Israeli bridging proposals were "useful and productive". By 21 March US Envoy George Mitchell was back in the region to urge so-called proximity talks: indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians which the Jerusalem settlement scuttled but which Mitchell now wants "under way in full course".
     And Binyamin Netanyahu accepted an invitation to meet Barack Obama in Washington on 23 March, drawing a line under their worst clash since both men were elected leaders of their countries.
     And -- as with his demand for a comprehensive settlement freeze last year -- it seems it was the American president who stood down rather than the Israeli prime minister.
     Whatever bridging proposals Netanyahu has in mind, rescinding the 1,600 units or announcing a general settlement freeze in East Jerusalem are not among them, despite both reportedly being American demands.
     On the contrary: "Our policy towards Jerusalem is the same policy of all Israeli governments in the past 42 years, and it has not changed. From our point of view, construction in Jerusalem is the same as construction in Tel Aviv," Netanyahu told his cabinet on 21 March.
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Samson and the Second Nakba
Gilad Atzmon, Dissident Voice 3/27/2010
      A Short Study of the Jewish Hercules
     As much as many of us enjoyed watching the humiliation of Israel and PM Netanyahu in Washington this week, I am reluctant to suggest that the emerging crisis between America and Israel may also be a red light warning for all of us. The current crisis may lead to some devastating consequences as far as Palestine, Iran and the Middle East are concerned.
     “Netanyahu and Obama are at a point of no return” claims Haaretz writer Akiva Eldar. “As far as President Barack Obama and his senior advisers are concerned, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame for nothing less than damaging the standing of the U.S. in the Middle East and the Muslim world.”
     It may be possible that the Americans have started to gather that there is no partner for peace in Israel. America clearly has had to shun its ‘kosher ally’. The American military and political elite already admitted this week that Israel is a strategic burden on the U.S. Seemingly, the only people who genuinely believe in the American Israel strategic bond are AIPAC and its list of obedient ‘Sabbath Congressmen Goyim’. But unfortunately, this is just one side of the story.
     A deeper reading of recent events would suggest that the latest American Israeli rift is actually led by Netanyahu’s political partners. Interestingly enough, as much as America reveals growing disapproval of Israeli policy, the anti American attitude, demonstrated by Netanyahu’s allies at home, is overwhelming. It doesn’t take a genius to grasp that some of Netanyahu’s cabinet members are doing everything in their power to fire up a storm between Israel and its ‘closest ally’.
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Preparations For Land Day 2010
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, Desert Peace 3/27/2010
      On Wednesday, the Popular Committee Against the Apartheid Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour hosted a gathering of over 100 town people and guests (including Nabil Shaath of Fatah Central Committee) to brief them on what is going on at Ush Ghrab with the military watch tower erected. The discussion revolved around the popular resistance. We explained the nature of our activities and it was made clear that even though the mayor would prefer that we limit our activities to just being in the park, that the committee has monthly schedule of events that we would like people to participate in. The next two popular resistance events here will be 1) a march from the Nativity square in Bethlehem to Rachel’s tomb area (Sunday at 11:30 AM), 2) land day events in Ush Ghrab throughout the site beginning at 10 AM to 2 PM on Tuesday (in Beit Sahour).
     Land day will be commemorated in hundreds of cities around the world on March 30th as a day to promote boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (act in your area please) as it has been since the first land day in 1976 when Palestinians inside the Green Line (Palestine of 1948) rose-up against the continued unfair land expropriation. My wife, who does not yet have a Palestinian ID card, was thus able to travel to Nazareth area and brought pictures and stories of the beauty of the stolen lands of the Galilee where my maternal grandmother comes from. The greenery and the richness of the soil reminded me of my grandmother’s stories about how idyllic rural village life in Palestine was before 1948 and the ethnic cleansing that followed. We also had a press conference with Omar Ala’Eddin who was abused by the Israeli soldiers. Amira Hass attended the conference and reported the story in Haaretz.
     Omar’s case was highlighted today in the weekly demonstration in Al-Masara also attended by Imam Tamimi (for this and previous events mentioned and other activities of the popular committees, see new short video...and our earlier video of Omar at the Hospital). Links: Omar and More and Israeli Troops Release A Community Organizer After Weeklong Detention And Torture -- See also: VIDEO - Omar and More and VIDEO - Israeli Troops Release A Community Organizer After Weeklong Detention And Torture
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AIPAC: Telling a Whopper
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Mar 2010 - By Stephanie Westbrook The theme of this year's annual policy conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was 'Israel: Tell the Story.' And it was quite a story that AIPAC wanted to tell. The conference aimed at imparting to the over 7000 attendees 'an intimate understanding of the many ways that Israel is making the world a better place,' with a focus on peacemaking and innovation. According to the AIPAC web site, conference goers will also 'meet Israelis who rush to the scene of natural disasters in far away lands because they believe that to save one life is to save the whole world.' No mention was made of the 1400 people killed during the Israeli assault on Gaza. Against a backdrop of creative blends of US and Israeli flags and icons, the three-day conference in Washington DC included plenary speeches by former Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi...more

'Cabbing' for Israel?
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Mar 2010 - By Stuart Littlewood – London There can be few sights more pathetic than ex-ministers and chums of Tony Blair offering to use their government contacts to help influence policy on behalf of business clients. "I'm like a cab for hire," said Stephen Byers when secretly filmed by a Channel 4 TV ‘Dispatches’ programme. Byers could be "hailed" for £3,000 to £5,000 per day. And so a new expression was born into the sleazy world of Westminster: “political cabbing”. The latest revelations come only a few months after another Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ report, by Peter Oborne, showed how large numbers of MPs were stooging (or "cabbing") for Israel. Mr Oborne reported that a majority of Conservative MPs and half the shadow cabinet are signed-up Friends of Israel, and £millions flow into the bank accounts of MPs and parties although only a fraction of these “contributions” are visibly accounted for. Sir Richard...more

Netanyahu and the Road to Canossa
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Mar 2010 - By Uri Avnery – Israel In January 1077, King Henry IV walked to Canossa. He crossed the snow-covered Alps barefoot, wearing a penitent monk’s hair shirt, and reached the North-Italian fortress in which the Vicar of God had found refuge. Pope Gregory VII had excommunicated him after a conflict over the right to invest bishops throughout the German Reich. The excommunication endangered the position of the king, and he decided to do everything possible to get it lifted. The king waited for three days outside the gates of Canossa, fasting and wearing the hair shirt, until the pope agreed to open the gate. After the king knelt before the pope, the ban was lifted and the conflict came to an end – at least for the time being. This week, the Netanyahu went to Canossa in the United States, in order to prevent Pope Obama I from putting a ban...more


Monday, March 29, 2010Top of page
My Children, Ralph Nader and the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud, CounterPunch 3/26/2010
      The Starfish Incident
     I basked in the warm Borneo sun, following a long run somewhere at the edge of a rainforest. The beach was only partly clean, but the water was most inviting. My children ran excitedly, collecting what I assumed to be shells and whatever other treasures the South China Sea had decided to divulge that afternoon. Their movement, from afar, signaled frenzy and perhaps even a slight panic. I hesitated at first, then ran to investigate.
     At the ages of six and four, my girls Zarefah and Iman were already the most kindhearted kids. They were actually going through complete and unmitigated panic, as they had just noticed the starfish which had been cast off by the waves and which were now dotting the shoreline as far as the eye could see. The children became determined to place every single one of them back in the water before they died.
     But most all of them were already dead.
     My kids didn’t know this. And I didn’t have the courage to break the dreadful news. I stood in silence, proud to the core, as the girls’ shaky voices urged everyone around them to help. Then I too was summoned. “Dad, what are you waiting for? Please help us before they all die.” I tried to absolve myself from what seemed to me a waste of time. But when I saw the tears in Zarefah’s eyes, and heard the fright in her voice, I joined in – as enthusiastically as the many other beachgoers-turned-environmentalists.
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The Mullen-Petraeus Report on the Middle East
Bouthaina Shaaba, CounterPunch 3/26/2010
      Bubbles, Mere Bubbles
     "The importance of the Petraeus-Mullen briefing lies in its implicit suggestion that an Arab and Muslim stand can be effective..."
     Amidst a cacophony of statements, commentary and analyses about the American-Israeli relationship, and the events since Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, Mark Perry wrote an article in Foreign Policy magazine on March 13, 2010 titled “The Petraeus briefing: Biden’s embarrassment is not the whole story”. Perry explained that on January 16, 2010, a team of central command officers and officials responsible for American national security in the Middle East made a presentation in the Pentagon to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, headed by Admiral Michael Mullen, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     The team had been sent by General David Petraeus to “underline his growing concerns at the lack of progress in resolving the issue”. The conclusion of the presentation was that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel. That is why Arabs have started to lose faith in the United States and its promises, and that Israeli intransigence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was paralyzing the position, role and status of the United States in the region. It added that “America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding, despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of American troops in the region”.
     Perry says that the briefing given to Mullen, at Petraeus’ request, fell like a bombshell on the White house. That is why the Obama administration sent Mullen to meet Gabi Ashkenazi.... Related: Petraeus denies saying Israel endangers lives of U.S. troops -- See also: Petraeus denies saying Israel endangers lives of U.S. troops
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Netanyahu’s outright deceit
Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/25/2010
      For Israel’s hawkish premier, the issue is not halting illegal settlement expansion, but increasing it less conspicuously.
     While claiming to have a genuine desire for the resumption of "peace talks" with the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel has been murdering Palestinian civilians in the streets of the West Bank in a clear overreaction to recent Palestinian protests against Israeli transgressions against Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.
     Eyewitnesses reported that trigger-happy Israeli troops shot had killed two young Palestinians who were trying to access their land near the northern West Bank town of Nablus. Initially, the Israeli army claimed the two tried to attack heavily armed soldiers with pitchforks, a claim rejected by the Ramallah- based Palestinian government that described the killings as "cold-blooded murder". An Israeli army spokesman later said the circumstances surrounding the two deaths were vague and that an investigation into "the incident" would be carried out.
     Ghassan Al-Khatib, head of the Palestinian Government Press Office, accused the Israeli occupation army of murdering Palestinians in order to provoke a new uprising -- or Intifada -- that would divert the world’s attention from the belligerent discourse adopted by the Netanyahu government. "We look at this as part of the Israeli escalation. It could have been treated in a completely different way. But the Israelis have been escalating, and this is something the prime minister [Netanyahu] has been warning."
     More ominous remarks came from Mahmoud Al-Alul, a senior Fatah leader based in Nablus. He told some 2,000 mourners that, "nobody can imagine that we can stand with our hands tied vis-à-vis what is happening." A day earlier, two more Palestinians were killed and others injured when Israeli troops opened fired on Palestinian youths protesting against Israeli provocations at Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest shrines. The Israeli army claimed it used rubber bullets, though they can also prove fatal.
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Israel's blood diamonds
Electronic Intifada: 29 Mar 2010 - Every year, consumers the world over unwittingly spend billions of dollars on diamonds crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund one of the world's most protracted and contentious conflicts. Most people are unaware that Israel is one of the world's leading producers of cut and polished diamonds. As diamonds are normally not hallmarked, consumers cannot distinguish an Israeli diamond from one crafted in India, Belgium, South Africa or elsewhere. The global diamond industry and aligned governments, including the EU, have hoodwinked consumers into believing the diamond trade has been cleansed of diamonds that fund human rights abuses, but the facts are startlingly different. Seán Clinton analyzes for The Electronic Intifada.

"We are defending our culture": an interview with Samir Joubran
Electronic Intifada: 29 Mar 2010 - Earlier this month the Palestinian group Le Trio Joubran gave a concert in Geneva to support the work of the Association Meyrin-Palestine, which is planning to build a cultural center in Gaza. Le Trio Joubran is comprised of three brothers, Samir, Wissam and Adnan Joubran, who play the oud , a pear-shaped instrument from the Middle East related to the lute. The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof spoke with Samir Joubran about the trio's music.

Stuck between a wall and an occupation
Electronic Intifada: 29 Mar 2010 - When Bilal Jadou's grandmother was sick last year, neither Israeli ambulances or Palestinian ambulances were able to cross the checkpoint to his house. Jadou's house is on the other side of the sprawling apartheid wall, separated from his community and the West Bank. Nora Barrows-Friedman interviews Jadou from Aida refugee camp, occupied West Bank.

Israel's Declaration Of War On INGOs
Palestine Monitor: 29 Mar 2010 - Israel is increasingly prohibiting international workers from crossing its borders. In 2009 it cancelled the B1 Visa, a work permit that allows holders to work legally in areas controlled by Israel, both in the Occupied Territories and in Israel, reducing the status of aid workers to that of normal tourists. Written by FLV. Since last summer, international aid workers have faced difficulties in obtaining a B1 visa. Until then, the process for securing a B1 visa had more or less been clear and efficient, according to Martha Myers, chairwoman of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), who represents about 90 organisations from all over the world. “ In general, INGOs (International No Profit Organisations) have registered with the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs. Upon INGO request, the Ministry of Social Affairs has issued a letter requesting a B1 visa for a particular staff member to the Israeli Ministry of...

Israel Unveils 'Green' Strategy to Defeat Enemies
Palestine Chronicle: 29 Mar 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth Under cover of a sudden interest in developing new green technologies, the Israeli government hopes to weaken the Gulf states by making their oil redundant and thereby defeating 'Islamic terror'. Uzi Landau, the national infrastructures minister, outlined a vision of a world without oil this week to Israel’s most loyal supporters in Washington as he searched for wealthy American-Jewish investors and White House support for the strategy. His message was that: “The West is addicted to oil, and so is bound by states that support terrorism … Whoever wants to fight radical Islam and terrorist organizations should know that by purchasing gasoline, he's giving terrorists increased motivation.” Analysts say the plan’s chief goals are to cripple the large oil-producing Gulf states, particularly Iran, which is seen as Israel’s main rival in the region, and resistance groups that oppose Israel’s long-term occupation of Palestinian land. “Israel...more

Happy Passover from Gaza
Palestine Chronicle: 29 Mar 2010 - By Sam Bahour In 2010, Jews in Israel and around the world will celebrate Passover beginning on March 30th. Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorating the ancient Hebrews' escape from enslavement in Egypt. (In Israel, March 30th is also Land Day: the day when Palestinians commemorate and protest the confiscation of their lands by the Israeli government; but that’s another story.) As I’m learning, the Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a traditional ceremonial meal. Its centerpiece is a special Seder plate containing six symbolic foods. Each has its own significance in the retelling of the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. The stack of three matzos, or unleavened bread, a kind of cracker made of plain white flour and water, has its own separate plate on the Seder table. For each of the six traditional items on the Seder plate (as per...more

Talk about US/Israel Crisis
Palestine Chronicle: 29 Mar 2010 - By Dr. Elias Akleh During the last two weeks people were faced with a propaganda campaign trying to convince them that there developed a crisis in the American Israeli relationships due to Israel’s announcement of approving the building of 1600 Jewish only housing units in occupied east Jerusalem Palestinian suburb of Shu’fat on the day of Joe Biden’s visit to Israel March 9th. Major media sources and many politicians declared this announcement as an Israeli slap on Biden’s face, especially after the Palestinian Authority, backed by Arab leaders, had just accepted American mediation in indirect talks (proximity talks as per Hillary’s description). The announcement, in reality, was an Israeli gift to Biden that also included a framed document announcing the planting of several trees in Jerusalem in memory of Biden’s mother; a loyal supporter of Israel. This was an excellent gift, rather than a slap, for the ardent self-proclaimed Zionist...more


Tuesday, March 30, 2010Top of page
Happy Passover from Gaza
Sam Bahour, ePalestine, Israeli Occupation Archive 3/28/2010
      In 2010, Jews in Israel and around the world will celebrate Passover beginning on March 30th. Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorating the ancient Hebrews’ escape from enslavement in Egypt. (In Israel, March 30th is also Land Day: the day when Palestinians commemorate and protest the confiscation of their lands by the Israeli government; but that’s another story.)
     As I’m learning, the Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a traditional ceremonial meal. Its centerpiece is a special Seder plate containing six symbolic foods. Each has its own significance in the retelling of the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. The stack of three matzos, or unleavened bread, a kind of cracker made of plain white flour and water, has its own separate plate on the Seder table.
     For each of the six traditional items on the Seder plate (as per Wikipedia and the Chabad website) –listed here by its Hebrew name–I note its traditional symbolic role and offer an additional, alternative interpretation. I hope my alternative can help Jews around the world, and especially in Israel, connect with a broader perspective on the meaning of Passover right here, right now, in the land that became the eventual endpoint of that ancient exodus.
     Maror and Chazeret – Bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Egypt. Slavery: severe curtailment of one’s freedom. Today, one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza are tasting the bitterness of unfreedom, hermetically sealed in their encircled enclave with no end in sight. Sixty percent are under the age of 16. The Jewish citizens of Israel have hardened their hearts to this reality and they have expected the rest of the world’s Jews to do likewise. For how long will you wait for Palestinians to vanish? -- See also: ePalestine
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A New Middle East War?
Conn Hallinan, CounterPunch 3/30/2010
      Israel Threatens Lebanon ... Again
     When Israeli Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled said recently that a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah was “just a matter of time” and that such a conflict would include Syria, most observers dismissed the comment as little more than posturing by a right-wing former general. But Peled’s threat has been backed by Israeli military maneuvers near the Lebanese border, violations of Lebanese airspace, and the deployment of an anti-missile system on Israel’s northern border.
     The Lebanese are certainly not treating it as Likud bombast.
     “We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out, and not only threats,” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the BBC. “We see what is happening on the ground and in our airspace…during the past two months—every day we have Israeli airplanes entering Lebanese airspace.” Hariri added that he considered the situation “really dangerous.”
     The increasing tension was behind the recent visit to Beirut by Senator Philippe Marini, French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s special envoy to Lebanon. After Marini met with Hariri, Christian Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, and Hezbollah leaders, the envoy said that he feared a Hezbollah-Israel rematch could easily become a regional war.
     Rhetoric all over the region is heating up.
     Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman first said that Israel would never return the Golan Heights to Syria, prompting Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem to comment that Israel “should not test Syria’s determination.”...
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Treason by Members of the United States Congress
Anthony Lawson, Dissident Voice 3/27/2010
      Includes video
     It must have been realised that the letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, signed by nearly 300 members of the U.S. Congress, affirming their commitment to Israel, would be widely publicised and fall into the hands of that illegal Apartheid State, so the writing and signing of that letter should be considered an act of treason.1
     The letter has totally undermined the power of the President of the United States by virtually telling Israel: “It does not matter what you do to the Palestinians, how many illegal structures you build on the territory you stole from them; how you behave towards the Lebanese, or what you have in mind for Iran, we, the signatories on this letter are with you, all the way.”
     I am not a citizen of the United States, I am a citizen of a world that is being ruined by Zionism and its practitioners’ thirst for power and greed for land that does not rightly belong to them. Having goaded the United States to attack Iraq, it is now attempting to draw it into a pre-emptive attack on Iran, while continuing to lie about the reason. The Iranian president did not threaten to “Wipe Israel off the map”. Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at University of Michigan who reads Persian, has explained that President Ahmadinejad actually stated (quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini): “The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).”
     What Israel and the perverse mainstream media has turned this into can be compared to a Farsi speaker saying: “Nothing lasts forever.” And having this turned into, by the likes of the BBC and CNN and the press: “I’m going to kill you. -- See also: Nearly 300 Congress members declare commitment to 'unbreakable' U.S.-Israel bond
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Israel greenwashing the "war on terror"
Electronic Intifada: 30 Mar 2010 - Under cover of a sudden interest in developing new green technologies, the Israeli government hopes to weaken the Gulf states by making their oil redundant and thereby defeating "Islamic terror." Uzi Landau, the national infrastructures minister, outlined a vision of a world without oil this week to Israel's most loyal supporters in Washington as he searched for wealthy American-Jewish investors and White House support for the strategy. Jonathan Cook analyzes.

Mayada's mime gives expression to Gaza youth
Electronic Intifada: 30 Mar 2010 - In the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, an ordinary family has raised a talented daughter. Her talent is not something widespread in Gaza or even elsewhere in the world. Mayada al-Hallaj, 25, currently studying sociology at university, has also been a mime artist and teacher for the last few years. The Electronic Intifada correspondent Rami Almeghari reports from the occupied Gaza Strip.

IOF assaults on Land Day demos: 4 youths shot at close range
In Gaza: 30 Mar 2010 - Four non-violent demonstrators were shot at close range with live ammunition by Israeli soldiers during six simultaneous protests throughout the Gaza Strip commemorating “Land Day”. Three of those injured come from Khoza’a, a village east of Khan Younis in Gaza’s south. The fourth, from Deir al Balah, was participating in a peaceful demonstration east of Meghazi, central Gaza. The Khoza’a demonstration neared the border shortly after 12 noon. Israeli jeeps stopped along the Green Line border, their number increasing quickly. Israeli soldiers exited their jeeps and assumed sniper positions on a raised dirt mound and along the border fence. Jemah Najjar, 22, was the first to fasten a Palestinian flag to the border fence in today’s demonstration. He was also the first injured in the Khoza’a region, roughly 10 minutes after he had placed the flag on the fence, he estimates. Israeli soldiers repeatedly opened fire on the very visibly...

2010 Land Day Against Apartheid and Settlement Expansion
Palestine Monitor: 30 Mar 2010 - “34 years have passed since Israeli military killed 6 Palestinians in 1976 during peaceful protests over the confiscation of 5500 acres of Palestinian land, a confiscation carried out to facilitate the “Judaization” of the Galilee region." "The Israeli actions that are carried out represent a process of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people of East Jerusalem. What we can still testify to today is land confiscation, settlement expansion, arbitrary policies and movement restrictions imposed on Palestinians,” said Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative on the eve of the 34th anniversary of Land Day. Palestinians will mark the anniversary of Land Day this year with a week-long series of peaceful demonstrations throughout the West Bank. Friday protests will take place after the noon prayers as usual in the villages of Bil'in, Ni'lin, Nabe Saleh, Al Masara, Iraq Bourin, Beit Ummar, and Sheikh Jarrah. Recently, the Israeli authorities...

Palestinian Land Day: The Non-Violent Struggle Continues
Palestine Monitor: 30 Mar 2010 - In the occasion of the Palestinian Land day several non-violent demonstrations will be held during the week: March 30, 2010: Land Day: Qarawet Bani Zeid Friday March 2, 2010: Bilin, Nilin, Ma'sara, Nebi Saleh, Sheikh Jarrah The non-violent struggle in West Bank: Since the construction of the separation and Apartheid Wall began on June 16th 2002, Palestinian villages across the West Bank have cooperated in non-violent resistance. The communities of Qalqiliya, Jayyous, Budrus, Bil'in, Ni'lin and Al Masara and Umm Salamonah have all non-violently resisted the Wall being built around them. Weekly non-vio-lent demonstrations against the Wall are held in several villages, which bring together Palestinians and Israelis, as well international activists. Weekly Non- Violent Demonstrations Week from 22.3.10 to 28.3.10 BI'LIN Palestinian, Israeli and international activists braved foul weather conditions to demonstrate in West Bank village of Bi'lin on Friday. Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National...

My Father was a Freedom Fighter Released in the U.S.
Palestine Chronicle: 30 Mar 2010 - Tuesday, March 30, 2010. For Immediate Release - Please Circulate Widely LONDON/NEW YORK – My Father was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story , the latest book by Palestinian-American author Ramzy Baroud, was released in the United States, on Tuesday, March 30, 2010, the author and the publisher of the book announced today. Released in January 2010 in the U.K. and in many countries around the world, the book has already garnered the praise of many authors and intellectuals. It was described by Aljazeera as “a book that finally placed Gaza back into the heart of the Palestinian struggle.” “I wanted to write a people’s history of Gaza,” said Baroud. “Elitist versions of history are very selective, and barely tell part of the story. I was born and raised in Gaza. My family paid, and still pays, a heavy price for the Palestinian tragedy since 1948. I just wanted to tell...more

Jerusalem: Words, Lies and No Action
Palestine Chronicle: 30 Mar 2010 - By Sonja Karkar 'There isn't one I haven't heard' or so goes one of the lines in a well-known American musical. Yet, this time the world is imbuing the words with new meaning when it comes to US/Israel relations. The hope is that at long last the US is going to discipline Israel. Alas, in the flurry of words, the music has not changed. America seems as much bedazzled by Israel as a parent who is blind to the antics of an over-indulged, demanding child. No amount of insults seems to shatter their illusion that the precious being is in fact a monster. In their attempts to convince the rest of us not so enamoured, they fail to see that they have allowed their symbiotic relationships to become abusive. Just as the parent can no longer control a child’s obnoxious behaviour, so too America finds itself hamstrung by Israel’s illegal...more

My Beautiful Palestine
Palestine Chronicle: 30 Mar 2010 - By Samah Sabawi This is to all of the Palestinian parents in exile and the long trail of olive trees they've planted around the globe. A few days ago, my father emailed me a photo of my mom and him standing proudly next to my newest sibling; a young olive tree they've planted in their garden in Queensland Australia. I was moved beyond belief looking at that photo and thinking of my beautiful Palestine. To many Palestinians my generation, raised in the Diaspora, Palestine is more than the landscape, old stones and holy places that so many have written about yet most of us on the outside have never seen. As hard as we try to imagine the magnificence of our ancestors' orange groves, or the enchantment of the scent of jasmine flowers as it lingers at night, we know that we are severed from that world. We know that...more


Wednesday, March 31, 2010Top of page
Israel prevents Christian pilgrims from visiting Bethlehem
Palestine Note 3/31/2010
      In a response to a totally nonviolent protest by Palestinian Christians and Muslims demanding their freedom of movement the Israeli army has effectively banned entry of Christian pilgrims and tourists from visiting the birth place of Christ.
     The protest on March 28th focused on the Israeli restrictions to Palestinians from Bethlehem from participating in the Palm Sunday events in the holy city of Jerusalem, a mere 8 miles away. For centuries Christians from around the world have reenacted the triumphant entry of Jesus to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives one week before his crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
     Protesters marched from the Nativity Church in Bethlehem towards the checkpoint near Rachel’s Tomb. In addition to Palestinians, the protest included members of international solidarity groups as well as a number of Israeli peace activists.
     Additionally, and in keeping with the biblical story of the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, the marchers waving palms and olive branches were led by a man riding a donkey.
     When the protesters arrived at the checkpoint they appear to have caught the Israelis totally off guard even though the march that was sponsored by the Palestinian NGO Holy Land Trust was publicized using local media for the past week. The private security company hired to man the checkpoint escaped leaving the protesters the ability to pass through the checkpoint without restrictions. No soldiers appeared to stop them, no one declared the area a military zone and so the protesters which included a senior member of the Fatah movement continued their march.... -- See also: Flickr: Freedom march from Bethlehem to Jerusalem 3/28/2010
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Culture of contempt
Stephen Lendman, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/25/2010
      Israel adopts ever more cynical positions vis-à-vis world opinion to continue settlement expansion.
     An estimated 500,000 Jews reside illegally in over 120 West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements and dozens of outposts. Their numbers grow daily despite occasional pledges to curtail or slow them, the latest last November when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared a 10-month freeze, calling it a move to "help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians".
     The freeze, of course, was rhetoric with no substance, especially so given Israel’s plan to make all Jerusalem a Jewish city, according to Netanyahu, an extremist hard-right zealot. During the Jerusalem Day ceremony (commemorating the city’s 1967 reunification) on 22 May, 2009, he declared: "United Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided."
     For East Jerusalem Palestinians this means removing them one settlement expansion and home demolition at a time.
     On 26 February Haaretz reported that Israel "plans to build another 600 homes in East Jerusalem" on occupied Palestinian land. On 10 March, Israel’s Interior Ministry approved 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo, "an ultra- Orthodox East Jerusalem neighborhood", during US Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit to restart peace talks. A day later Haaretz reported that planning officials had confirmed "some 50,000 new housing units in Jerusalem neighbourhoods beyond the Green Line are in various stages of planning and approval". Plans for 20,000 apartments "are in advanced stages of approval and implementation, while plans for the remainder have yet to be submitted to the planning committees".
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Gideon Levy Interview: A rare voice of courage
David Cronin, The Electronic Intifada, Israeli Occupation Archive 3/31/2010
      Gideon Levy is a rare voice of courage in an Israeli media generally supine towards the political establishment. Since 1988, he has written the “Twilight Zone” column for the Israeli daily Haaretz, documenting unflinchingly the myriad cruelties inflicted on the Palestinian people under occupation. In his new book Gaza, a collection of articles which has just been published in French, Levy utters phrases that, by his own admission, are considered “insane” by most of his compatriots. The Electronic Intifada contributor David Cronin spoke with Gideon Levy about his background and journalism.
     David Cronin: You were born in Tel Aviv in the 1950s. Were your parents survivors of the Holocaust?
     Gideon Levy: They were not Holocaust survivors, they just left Europe in 1939. My father was from Germany, my mother Czech. Both were really typical refugees because my father came on an illegal ship, which was stopped for half a year in Beirut by the British and only after half a year on the ocean could it make it to Palestine. My mother came on a project with Save the Children. She came without her parents directly to a kibbutz.
     My father always said he never found his place in Israel. He lived there for 60 years but his life was ruined. He had a PhD in law but never practiced it in Israel. He never really spoke proper Hebrew. I think he was really traumatized all his life.
     At the same time, he never wanted to go back [to Europe] even for a visit. He came from Sudetenland, which became Czechoslovakia. All the Germans were expelled.
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A rare voice of courage: journalist Gideon Levy interviewed
Electronic Intifada: 31 Mar 2010 - Gideon Levy is a rare voice of courage in an Israeli media generally supine towards the political establishment. Since 1988, he has written the "Twilight Zone" column for the Israeli daily Haaretz , documenting unflinchingly the myriad cruelties inflicted on the Palestinian people under occupation. In his new book Gaza , a collection of articles which has just been published in French, Levy utters phrases that, by his own admission, are considered "insane" by most of his compatriots. The Electronic Intifada contributor David Cronin spoke with Gideon Levy about his background and journalism.

Swedish fashion chain H&M under pressure
Electronic Intifada: 31 Mar 2010 - More than a year ago, several concerned Swedish organizations asked fashion chain H&M about its plans to extend its franchise to Israel. H&M's management denied the rumors but refused to provide written confirmation. In March, H&M unexpectedly opened a store in Tel Aviv and a second store in Jerusalem's Malha shopping mall. Adri Nieuwhof reports for The Electronic Intifada.

Interview: Palestine a rich landscape for a mystery
Electronic Intifada: 31 Mar 2010 - Kate Raphael is a Palestine solidarity activist who is currently publishing a mystery novel entitled Murder Under the Bridge one chapter at a time on its own blog. The Electronic Intifada contributor Hannah Mermelstein interviewed Raphael about how the novel came about and where she hopes it will go.

Health workers and advocates support call for U of Arizona to divest
Electronic Intifada: 31 Mar 2010 - A joint group of more than 50 Jewish, Christian, Muslim and agnostic medical and health advocates of the Tucson and surrounding region, following student initiative, are calling on the University of Arizona to divest from corporations benefiting from the global health and humanitarian crisis in Palestine caused by Israel's military occupation, supported by the United States.

AIPAC: Telling A Whopper
Palestine Monitor: 31 Mar 2010 - The theme of this year's annual policy conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was 'Israel: Tell the Story.' And it was quite a story that AIPAC wanted to tell. The conference aimed at imparting to the over 7000 attendees 'an intimate understanding of the many ways that Israel is making the world a better place,' with a focus on peacemaking and innovation. According to the AIPAC web site, conference goers will also 'meet Israelis who rush to the scene of natural disasters in far away lands because they believe that to save one life is to save the whole world.' No mention was made of the 1400 people killed during the Israeli assault on Gaza. Against a backdrop of creative blends of US and Israeli flags and icons, the three-day conference in Washington DC included plenary speeches by former Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and Secretary...

Netanyahu's Days May Be Numbered
Palestine Chronicle: 31 Mar 2010 - By George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C. Believe it or not, Benjamin Netanyahu may be coming back to Washington next weekend. The Israeli prime minister has apparently wiped the spit – – not rain – – off his head, which he earned after his stressful encounter with President Barack Obama last month on ending illegal Israeli settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land, especially in East Jerusalem where the Palestinians hope to establish their capital. But whether he will have his tail tucked between his legs remains to be seen. The Israeli prime minister will be one of 40 world leaders expected to participate in the April 12-13 nuclear security summit conference, sponsored by President Obama, “to enhance international cooperation to prevent nuclear terrorism.” What he may have to say here will be eagerly watched by all those who are eagerly awaiting any revelation about Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Whatever, the serious...more

Defacto State
Palestine Chronicle: 31 Mar 2010 - By Jim Miles Part of the dilemma in Palestine is that the more the “peace” process is delayed, moving nowhere, the more Israel gains in the way of confiscated and settled land. There are two basic solutions: either a one state solution (whether bi-national or otherwise); or a two state solution with Palestine existing on some remnant of land left over from Israeli settlement. A recent combination of events/ideas has left me wondering if the one state solution is perhaps the only remaining solution if not the de facto situation now. Christian Peacemakers I recently attended a local presentation of Christian Peacemakers (CPT) on their experiences in Hebron in Palestine. The main presenter Johann Funk is a Mennonite who has been to Hebron several times recently. The CPT ideal as presented on their website is a powerful statement of intent: “CPT embraces the vision of unarmed intervention waged by committed...more

Palestine's 'Turbulent Priest' Delivers Blistering Easter Message
Palestine Chronicle: 31 Mar 2010 - By Stuart Littlewood – London Fr Manuel Musallam recently retired at the age of 71 after serving as the parish priest of the Holy Family Church in Gaza for 14 years. For most of that time the Israelis would not allow him to visit his family and friends in the West Bank. So, in spite of failing health, he soldiered on through the devastating siege and the murderous blitzkrieg. I was privileged to meet a couple of years ago and I just love the way this man speaks out. He doesn't mince words. He tells it the way it is, with truth and style. Retirement hasn’t silenced him or dimmed his perceptions. This Easter he's concerned, as always, about the Occupation and how it robs those in the Holy Land of Easter's message of hope and joy. "We Christians of Palestine have been under Occupation for many long years. We’ve...more

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