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Dr. Ilan Pappe. (Nir Kafri, Ha'aretz)

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Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages Which Were Destroyed, Depopulated and Occupied by Israel in 1948, by Emily Jacir, Refugee tent and embroidery thread, 138 Boy shot by Israelis becomes martyred hero for Palestinians
Toni O'Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 7/30/2008

     Ahmed Moussa planted bright new Palestinian flags around his village of Naalin earlier this week in a show of national pride - but he may as well have been preparing for his own funeral.
     Today his small body, hoisted on to the shoulders of the young men in his village as they marched to his parents’ house before the burial, was wrapped in the red, white, green and black flag. At the age of 10, Moussa had become a national martyr.
     The road outside his house was renamed The Hero Martyr and the walls of the town were sprayed with slogans and posters lionising his death.
     But apart from his enthusiastic support for Naalin’s protest against the West Bank barrier, Moussa’s interests were typical of most children his age.
     He loved playing football, watching cartoons and making slings to hurl stones. The morning before he was shot by an Israeli soldier, he was playing marbles in the street. more.. e-mail

VIDEO - Palestinians capture violence of Israeli occupation on video
Peter Beaumont, The Guardian 7/30/2008

     In a graphic and hard-hitting filmspeaks to Palestinians filming abuse from settlers and Israeli armed forces.
     An Israeli child from a far-right settler group in the West Bank city of Hebron hurls a stone up the stairs of a Palestinian family close to their settlement and shouts: "I will exterminate you." Another spits towards the same family.
     Another settler woman pushes her face up to a window and snarls: "Whore."
     They are shocking images. There is footage of beatings, their aftermath, and the indifference of Israel’s security forces to serious human rights abuses. There is footage too of those same security forces humiliating Palestinians - and most seriously - committing abuses themselves.
     They are contained in a growing archive of material assembled by the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem in a remarkable project called Shooting Back. -- See also: Video more.. e-mail

A prison is not a penal colony
Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 7/30/2008

     The Public Defender’s report on the situation of prisoners in 2007 reveals serious failures in Israel’s prisons. The editors of the report do note that the Israel Prison Service opened its doors without reservations to the inspector, related seriously to findings and criticism, and that at the time of the editing of the report, some of the distortions had been corrected. Nevertheless, the findings are cause for concern. Most disturbing of all is the violence by prison guards and their commanders toward prisoners and detainees, especially when it comes to minors.
     The report, which examined 11 prisons and jails, reveals inter alia that at the Ofek Prison, where all of the prisoners are minors, there are disproportionate and collective punishments including, for example, shackling all four limbs to a bed. Considered a means of restraining suicidal minors that requires a doctor’s authorization, this is used at Ofek as a means of punishment. This is an outrageous, inhumane method that exacerbates despair and suicidal tendencies among the prisoners. The Prison Service claims that the problems at Ofek, considered one of the most advanced facilities (the writers of the report confirm the classrooms, leisure time activities and physical facilities have improved), stem from poor management, and in a discussion in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee they promised that the management would be replaced in the near future. If this is the case, there is no reason to wait, and it must be ensured that the new management changes the approach. more.. e-mail

The Palestinian torturers
Ben White, The Guardian 7/30/2008

     Human rights abuses by Palestinian security forces should be exposed, even if they provide Israel with a public relations coup.
     Two reports released this week are throwing the spotlight on Palestinians who are detained without charge and tortured by the Hamas and Fatah forces. Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group, has detailed how more than 1,000 have been arrested in the last year, with "an estimated 20%-30% of the detainees" having suffered torture "including severe beatings and being tied up in painful positions".
     Human Rights Watch is today releasing a similarly-focused report which concludes that "the use of torture is dramatically up". Al-Haq accuses both Hamas’s Executive Force, and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA)’s Preventive Security Force of widespread maltreatment of detainees.
     A report like al-Haq’s must be welcomed for its attention to detail and courage in documenting unjustifiable abuses of power - all the more so since these kinds of findings can easily be manipulated or ignored for political reasons. more.. e-mail

Months after Qatar talks, fighting continues in northern Lebanon
Report, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 7/30/2008

     TRIPOLI, LEBANON (IRIN) - A few hours after evacuating their bullet-riddled three bedroom flat on the street which divides Sunnis from Shia Allawis in Tripoli’s poorest neighborhood, Khaled Mansour and his new wife were woken by the sound of their front room exploding.
     "The rocket came through the window at dawn," said the 23-year-old accountant with scraggly black beard and traditional white tunic, who had moved his veiled wife and mother into his uncle’s flat next door.
     "Last time it was bullets. This time it was an RPG [rocket propelled grenade]," said Mansour, a Sunni Muslim from Tripoli’s Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood, looking through broken glass at the adjacent Allawite-majority area of Jebel Mohsen.
     "I am trying not to carry a gun and go to the front line but we are being dragged into the fight. It’s as if someone is saying ’If you do not join the battle we will destroy your house.’ But I will not fight but ask God to take his revenge." more.. e-mail

Right to Enter: denied
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 7/30/2008

     Family Reunification is a problem facing thousands of Palestinians and their foreign spouses. It has an eerie relationship to United Nations Resolution 194, the Right of Return. Hundreds of names were released by the Israelis to allow Family Reunification this week, but nothing has changed as of yet. The Israeli policy of denying entry affects Palestinians and foreigners from all walks of life alike.
     Rasha Mukbil is the Campaign Coordinator of the Right to Enter Campaign.
     "The campaign of the Right to Enter the occupied Palestinian Territory is a grassroots campaign that is comprised of families and individuals affected by the Israeli policies that deny entry to foreign passport holders to the occupied Palestinian territory.
     "In the campaign we talk about three main issues or policies that effect foreign passport holders: those of Palestinian descent or those who have no Arab descent at all." more.. e-mail

Palestinian family denied even half a house
Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 7/28/2008

     It must be the smallest Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: just half a house. But Palestinian officials and Israeli human rights groups are concerned that it represents the first stage of a plan to eradicate the historical neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, cutting off one of the main routes by which Palestinians reach the Old City and its holy sites.
     The home of Mohammed and Fawziya Khurd has been split in two since 1999 when the Israeli courts evicted their grown-up son Raed from a wing of the property. The elderly couple have been trying to regain possession, but were stymied last week when an Israeli high court backed the petition of a group of settlers and ordered the immediate eviction of the Khurds. The decision paves the way for the takeover of 26 multi-story houses in the neighborhood, threatening to make 500 Palestinians homeless.
     The verdict has been denounced by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and in the past few days the Khurds have been visited by foreign diplomats, including from the United States. more.. e-mail

Arabs under siege as Israel tightens grip on Holy City
Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem, The Guardian, Palestine Monitor 7/27/2008

     Fawzia al-Kurd’s home is nothing special. She has lived within its walls for the past quarter of a century, in the heart of East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah district. The house is tidy. But at first glance, it would not appear to be worth $10m.
     That is the sum that the al-Kurd family claim they were offered by Israeli buyers as an incentive to move on, a figure confirmed by their lawyer. Fawzia refused to make a deal, whatever the price. It would have hurt her ’integrity’ to take it and leave, she said. So last week she received an eviction notice, based on an arcane legal claim to the site that her husband first called home in 1956.
     If she and her family are forced to leave as a result, ultra-Orthodox Israeli settlers from a company called Nahlat Shemoun - linked to a nearby Jewish shrine - will take over half of the house. Settlers have already occupied her illegally built extension. The Kurd house may soon be draped with Israeli flags - as is another a handful of metres distant - and Arab East Jerusalem will have shrunk perceptibly once more. more.. e-mail

How a Tiny Village Took on the Zionist Militants
Ramzy Baroud, MIFTAH 7/28/2008

     For some folks interested in genealogy, tracing one’s roots is a stimulating activity. It’s immensely interesting and meaningful to learn where one’s life started. DNA testing has made it possible to trace one’s roots back many generations and there are even free web sites that can help users trace their family history based on a few simple clues.
     Recent findings in my own personal history have been interesting indeed. The present task of tracing my family roots was inspired by a book project with Pluto Press, narrating the story of my father, as once a fighter from Gaza who died recently under tragic circumstances in the same refugee camp to which he was expelled, along with his family sixty years ago.
     Just weeks into my research, I found myself stumbling into the details of a massacre, one that is conveniently overshadowed by the dust of the battle, the rigidity of academic research and the lack of media access of those who have survived.
     And now, what started as a mere phase of my father’s torn childhood in Palestine has morphed into being the core of my book’s narrative. more.. e-mail

Respect for the Dead
Gideon Levy, MIFTAH 7/28/2008

     A sickbed, a respirator, an oxygen tank, a walker and a wheelchair rested this week on the road next to the checkpoint of the Sheikh Saad neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The equipment sat there for a long time, until the Border Police allowed it to cross. All this medical equipment was borrowed from Yad Sarah [a voluntary organization that provides medical equipment free or at low cost]. Now, after the patient, Omar Alan, had died in great torment, his son Raad wanted to return it.
     It is not easy to return a respirator and a bed to its owner. For about half an hour the newly orphaned son conducted negotiations with the Border Policemen at the checkpoint, so they would allow the equipment to be taken to the Yad Sarah branch in West Jerusalem. This time he succeeded, but the day before, the police had chased him away from the checkpoint in disgrace. "Don’t argue, and get out of here."
     Something similar happened to the corpse of Omar, a resident of Israel with a blue ID card, who died last week and whose family asked for permission to bury him. The family and Israeli peace activists made dozens of phone calls to the Civil Administration and made a prolonged plea to the police manning the checkpoint. Only after 12 hours, during which the dead man lay in his parents’ home with fans cooling his body, did they manage to take him through the checkpoint. more.. e-mail

Pictures From Summer Camp
Kathy Kelly, Palestine Chronicle 7/28/2008

     ’All lives are precious, especially children’s lives.’
     At 6:45 a.m. this morning, our friend, Joel Gulledge, called from At-Tuwani, a village in the West Bank where he and another Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) member were escorting Palestinian children to a local summer daycamp, protecting them from hostile Israeli settlers. A masked settler, carrying a slingshot, was threatening the children. While Jan Benvie, the other CPT team member, raced the children to safety, Joel paused to film what was happening. The masked settler caught up with Joel and attacked him. "He smashed my head again and again," said Joel, "with my video camera, and punched me in the face, repeatedly, with his other hand." Joel managed to remain standing. He didn’t fight back, but he screamed for help. The attacker broke Joel’s glasses, and Joel was bleeding from a gash over his eyes. When he called, he was waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
     Earlier this week, CPT’s website, reported that on Wednesday 23 July, "three Israeli settlers, one masked and wielding a stick, pursued fourteen Palestinian children who were on their way to a summer camp in At-Tuwani. The children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed waited thirty minutes for the Israeli military escort that should have accompanied them on the most direct road between the villages of Tuba and At-Tuwani. When the military failed to arrive, the children began walking along a long path through the hills to At-Tuwani. When the children neared the Israeli settlement outpost of Havat Ma’on, three settlers with two dogs came out from the outpost and began walking in the direction of the children." more.. e-mail

Through the Looking Glass: A View from the outside
Yasmin Abou-Amer, MIFTAH 7/28/2008

     "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There” is a work of children’s literature by Lewis Carrol. When Alice looked through the looking-glass, everything she sees is characterized by the reversal of everything normal. The book also uses frequent changes in time as a plot device and draws on the imagery of a game of chess, where most of the main characters are represented by a chess piece. The looking-glass world is divided into sections by brooks, with the crossing of each brook usually signifying a notable change in the scene and action of the story.
     The brooks represent the divisions between squares on the chessboard, and Alice’s crossing of them signifies advancing of her piece one square. The situation in Palestine is comparable to this; a designated area of land, divided into different areas and each move made in the game of politics will determine whether you win or lose.The people of Palestine are the unfortunate pawns in their world where everything is distorted and anything but normal.
     Talk to any Palestinian or Israeli about the 60 year long conflict that has defined Middle Eastern politics and you will almost certainly get an answer fuelled by anger, passion, bias and loyalty, regardless of which side they are on. The problem with this is that the conflict becomes not only a military and geographical one, but also one of highly-charged emotions on either side. The end result is that the true facts of the conflict blur into obscurity, amongst stories of “all Israelis being murderous and arrogant” and “Palestinians accepting terrorism as a legitimate way of life. more.. e-mail

An Interview with Ghazi Hamad - Complicating Matters
Bitterlemons, MIFTAH 7/28/2008

     bitterlemons: Will the Hizballah prisoner exchange have consequences for how Hamas deals with its own prisoner exchange with Israel?
     Hamad: I think it may give people encouragement that they can achieve better progress because they see that for two bodies, Israel paid a heavy price. Now, people here think that if we stand off, stay strong and remain patient we will get more from Israel. This may be the main message of the Hizballah-Israel prisoner exchange.
     On the other hand, Hizballah succeeded in keeping every detail secret and involved a mediator that was active daily on all fronts. I think Hamas needs to find a new mechanism to ensure there is a good exchange.
     bitterlemons: There has been some talk that Hamas is not very happy with Egypt’s mediation on this issue...
     Hamad: Hamas wants Egypt to be more active and to find a new mechanism in order to accelerate progress on a swap. Some people say Egypt should not simply take messages from one side to the other, but should generate its own ideas. more.. e-mail

Gaza Diary: Fatigued by stress
Omar, a humanitarian aid worker, in partnership with Oxfam, Al, Palestine Monitor 7/27/2008

     In spite of the truce between Hamas and Israel, very little seems to have changed.
     Thousands of people cannot work, thousands do not have permanent water or access to a durable electricity supply, and hundreds of doctors do not have the resources they need to do their jobs.
     Nothing seems to have changed for the 1.5 million people who are still caged in one of the most populated strips of land in the world.
     Some things on the ground, however, have changed but I am not certain that they are directly linked to the truce.
     For example, you are issued with a coupon entitling you to 10 litres of fuel once you register your car with the ministry of transport.
     You can only get another coupon every few weeks and 10 litres of fuel does not get you very far. So, I have decided not to use my car at all. It is on standby for my entire family, in the event of an emergency. more.. e-mail

The Nakba, Intel, and Kiryat Gat
Henry Norr, MIFTAH 7/28/2008

     In an extravagant ceremony that featured acrobats, drummers, a children’s choir, and speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (in person) and the two top executives of chipmaker Intel Corp. (on giant video screens), the company this month dedicated a new, state-of-the-art chip-manufacturing plant in the south-central Israeli town of Kiryat Gat.
     The hoopla is understandable, from the Intel and Israeli perspectives. The new facility, known as Fab 28, is the largest private-sector investment ever made in Israel: the company has sunk $3 billion into it, and the Israeli government kicked in another $525 million. Since the groundbreaking 28 months ago, it’s been the biggest construction project in Israel -- this side of the apartheid wall, that is.
     Together with another multi-billion-dollar facility Intel built a decade ago on an adjoining site, the work has transformed Kiryat Gat, a drab and previously obscure industrial town on the northern edge of the Negev desert, into one of the crown jewels of Israel’s booming high-tech economy. Once the plant reaches full production next year, it’s expected to produce $10 million worth of Intel’s most advanced microprocessors every day -- by itself enough to boost Israel’s gross domestic product by nearly two percent. more.. e-mail

Upside Down
Eyal Megged, MIFTAH 7/28/2008

     As of this moment, the state of affairs between us and the Arabs is discouraging from the Israeli standpoint and encouraging from the Arab point of view. Everything appears to have been reversed: if in the past Israel relied on its wiles and the Arabs fell for its ruses, now the relationship has been turned upside down, as so often happens in life.
     Again and again, we encounter this reversal of roles. Once, unable to deal with the superiority of Israel’s cunning, the Arabs were sustained by delusions or waited for miracles. Now the situation is topsy-turvy: the Arabs rely on cunning and the Israelis grasp at useless dreams.
     If in the past Israel was reputed to be a country that would do everything to avoid abandoning its wounded or captured soldiers and the Arabs were thought of as disdaining these values, here too things have been reversed. The one who strives to bring his warriors home alive is the enemy, not Israel. We are led astray and swallow lies.
     Instead of thinking of tomorrow, Israeli strategy chases after yesterday. Had we done the right thing at the right time, there would never have evolved a situation in which we embarked on a lost cause to "bring our sons home". Had we made a timely deal with a weak, confused and embattled Syrian president who was begging for rescue through international recognition--not only would the abduction have been avoided but the unnecessary and pathetic war that followed as well. more.. e-mail

’If I Forget Thee, Umm Touba...’
Uri Avnery, Palestine Chronicle 7/26/2008

     In one of the most beautiful songs in the Bible, the poet vows: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, / Let my right hand forget her cunning. / If I do not remember thee, / Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; / If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy!" (Psalms 137:5) A fact that should be remembered in any discussion about Jerusalem: there is no resemblance between the Jerusalem of the Bible and the "Jerusalem" of the current Israeli map. The object of the yearning of the exiles who wept by the rivers of Babylon was the real Jerusalem - more or less within the boundaries of the Old City, whose center is the Temple Mount. One square kilometer, that’s all.
     The redefined municipality of Jerusalem after the 1967 annexation comprises a vast area, some 126 square kilometers, from Bethlehem in the south to Ramallah in the north. This area has been clothed with the name of "Jerusalem" in order to bestow a religious-national-historic aura to what was nothing but an act of land-grabbing and settlement. more.. e-mail

Witness - Return to Gaza
Wafa Amr, ReliefWeb 7/27/2008

     GAZA STRIP, July 27 (Reuters) - The air smelt of falafel cooking oil -- used by drivers to power their cars -- and a hint of sewage. I was in Gaza for the first time since before the Israelis pulled out in 2005. The place where I lived intermittently for six years was -- utterly -- gone.
     Beaches that once swarmed with people, gypsies dancing in Egyptian costumes barely covering their bodies to the cheers of young men and women, alcohol in some restaurants, the silver teeming of fish in the crowded market -- gone.
     Demand for fish has slumped because as sewage is pumped into the sea, people are afraid to eat it.
     At Erez border crossing, I stood for 15 minutes shut in a compartment like an airlock facing a concrete wall with another thick steel door carved in it, iron bars on the sides, and security cameras watching from above.
     People said they had been trapped there for more than hour, watched by some soldier but unable to communicate with anyone. more.. e-mail

Nablus Bears the Brunt of Israeli Occupation
Mondli Makhanya, The Times July 27, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/27/2008

     On almost every wall in the Palestinian city of Nablus hang posters of men and women with superimposed pictures of machine guns in their hands.
     In military pose, some have on their heads those classic Jihadist bandanas, and Palestinian kaffiyehs around their shoulders.
     They range from very young teens to old men.
     These are, in the words of the locals, “martyrs” of the cause — fighters who lost their lives doing battle with Israeli forces.
     On one wall, commemorating the death of three generations of one family during an attack on Nablus by Israeli Defence Forces soldiers, are the chilling words: “We will never forget. We will never forgive.”
     You go to any Palestinian town and you will find these disturbing images glorifying men and women with guns. more.. e-mail

An Open Letter to Barack Obama
Kim Bullimore – The West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 7/26/2008

     Dear Barack, Today, the Israeli newspapers said that throughout the day you had separate meetings with a variety of Israeli ministers, including the Israeli Prime Minister, President, Defense Minister, Public Security Minister and Foreign Minister. You also made a visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial where you laid a wreath, as well as the Western Wall and visited Sderot in the south of Israel [1].
     Throughout the course of your stay, you only managed to allocate one single hour to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories and that hour was spent in the relatively reified atmosphere of the Muqata in Ramallah, with the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. At no stage, did you take the time visit besieged Gaza or visit the apartheid wall or the Palestinian villages it impacted on. Neither did you take the time to go to any of the military check points to see the daily human rights abuses Palestinians must endure or visit any Palestinians who have lost family members to acts of state terror carried out by Israel. more.. e-mail

The Path to One Democratic State in Palestine
Roger Tucker, http://www.countercurrents.org, Palestine Media Center 7/27/2008

     What are the real options remaining for resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? The time has long since passed when the Zionists could contemplate driving out all non-Jews, or the Palestinians could seriously contemplate sending the Jews back where they came from. The Israeli people are here to stay, and it has become crystal clear that the Palestinians are not going to go meekly into exile or accept being permanently consigned to powerless reservations existing at the pleasure of their Israeli masters.
     Despite the conventional and cynical nonsense about a two-state solution, that door closed years ago with the construction of the Israeli Matrix of Control over the West Bank and the permanent occupation, within what prior to 1967 were the Palestinian Territories, by 450,000 Israeli settlers. This much is obvious to all keen observers of the situation who are not blinded by ethnic or religious ideologies.
     All that remains is the reality of a land in which reside both Israelis and Palestinians, some of the latter living as second-class citizens within Israel proper and the rest separated by the apartheid wall and imprisoned in the West Bank, and in Gaza. This situation cannot continue indefinitely. Somehow or other, one single state must emerge. The only question is what kind of state. more.. e-mail

What the world doesn’t see
B. Michael, Ynet News, International Solidarity Movement 7/26/2008

     Army quick to condemn rare cases while hiding daily abuse of Palestinians - The whole world saw the obedient Israeli soldier (according to his own version at least) following the order he got without hesitation and shooting the foot of a handcuffed man.
     The whole world also saw our defense minister immediately express his shock and regret over the incident, while military commanders vowed to act quickly to eliminate this phenomenon. The world also saw the army spokesman rushing to condemn the incident, and the quick investigation that is already underway.
     And so, the whole world again saw how wonderful the only democracy in the Middle East is, and how quickly and decisively it addresses such unusual act, "which does not befit a fighter," (according to Ehud Barak’s reprimand.
     Oh, how wonderful and useful are those photogenic unusual incidents, which serve to hide the terrible routine. How convenient and effective it is to condemn the unusual, thus giving the norm a clean bill of health. How nice it is to praise oneself for condemning a rare act, thus clearing oneself of any wrongdoing when it comes to frequent acts; to festively renounce the resounding sins, thus cleansing the serial crimes. -- See also: Original article at YNet News more.. e-mail

Museum Offers Gray Gaza a View of its Dazzling Past
Ethan Bronner, MIFTAH 7/26/2008

     It may sound like the indulgence of a well-fed man fleeing the misery around him. But when Jawdat N. Khoudary opens the first museum of archaeology in Gaza this summer it will be a form of Palestinian patriotism, showing how this increasingly poor and isolated coastal strip ruled by the Islamists of Hamas was once a thriving multicultural crossroad.
     The exhibition is in a stunning hall made partly of stones from old houses, discarded wood ties of a former railroad and bronze lamps and marble columns uncovered by Gazan fishermen and construction workers.
     And while the display might be pretty standard stuff most anywhere else — arrowheads, Roman anchors, Bronze Age vases and Byzantine columns — life is now so gray in Gaza that the museum, with its glimpses of a rich outward-looking history, seems somehow dazzling.
     “The idea is to show our deep roots from many cultures in Gaza,” Mr. Khoudary said as he sat in the lush, antiquities-filled garden of his Gaza City home a few miles from the museum. “It’s important that people realize we had a good civilization in the past. Israel has legitimacy from its history. We do, too.” more.. e-mail

Palestinian family losing Jerusalem home after five decades
Middle East Online 7/26/2008

     Illegal Jewish settlers attempt to drive out Palestinians from their homes in Arab east Jerusalem.
     JERUSALEM - "I was married here, I had my five children here and I want to die here," says a defiant Fawzia al-Kurd, determined that illegal Jewish settlers will not drive her family from their home in Arab east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967.
     But sadly for the Al-Kurds, whose single-storey two-room house of golden stone that has been their home for the past 52 years, Israel’s High Court – who has no legal right to make a ruling on Palestinian territories - has ruled differently. They are to be expelled, and the house, a wing of which has already been taken over by illegal settlers will be lost forever.
     The house, in the Sheikh Jarrah district, has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance against the steady pressure of illegal Jewish settlers seeking to take yet more terrain in Arab east Jerusalem.
     It’s a hot July afternoon, and Fawzia is sitting outside under a large black tarpaulin stretched from the eves of the house. By her side, lying on mattresses in the shade are two young Swedish activists, ready to act as human shields if the Israeli forces show up with the eviction order. more.. e-mail

In Palestine, even camera lies
Akram Salhab, Palestine Monitor 7/26/2008

     As I lead a delegation of UK students around the West Bank, I thought about how the trip was to benefit the Palestinian people. When they spend money, they help the Palestinian economy, their solidarity helps boost morale and when they record incidents of abuse they help give legitimacy to Palestinian claims of oppression.
     The power that international qualifications of abuse give to Palestinians was shown by the release, earlier this week, of a video showing the shooting of a Palestinian youth. The video shows a soldier grabbing the young man and dragging him to his feet. He is blindfolded and handcuffed and looking unstable as he stands, the senior officer holding him instructs a nearby soldier to shoot him in the leg. The soldier raises his gun and shoots, at which point the photographer drops her camera in surprise and by the time the camera returns to him, the victim is on the ground in what appears to be quite a fair amount of pain. more.. e-mail

Poverty pushing people into Hamas militia
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 7/26/2008

     The Hamas de facto government is one of the only employers in Gaza with a growing payroll, after a record slump resulting from the Israeli blockade imposed when the Islamic faction took control a year ago.
     This emerges from a new UN report showing that more than an unprecedented 52 per cent of Gaza households have now plunged below the internationally-designated poverty line despite continued humanitarian assistance, while unemployment has reached 45 per cent for the first time.
     The report, from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), contrasts the more than half of households in Gaza living in poverty with the 19 per cent living in poverty in the West Bank, thanks to the lifting of the Israeli and international embargo on the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority last summer. Poverty means a family of six spending below £66 per week.
     It also points out that the record unemployment rate compares with 29 per cent in the occupied Palestinian territories as a whole – itself one of the highest jobless levels in the world. The closure of the crossings to commercial goods has shut down 95 per cent of Gaza’s private-sector industry. more.. e-mail

Weighing the Need for Dialogue with Hamas as a Peace Partner
As'ad Abdul Rahman Gulf News, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008

     In a recent report published in Maariv, Ofer Shilah, wonders whether the Israeli army intends to attack Gaza or not, confirming that neither Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, nor his Defence Minister Ehud Barak, believe that such an attack is beneficial. Had they believed in it, Shilah writes, they would have attacked a long time ago.
     Thus, as he believes it is futile to remove Hamas government by force, he also insists that it is imperative to talk to Hamas. While a majority of Israelis and none-Israelis think this way, many others think the opposite. Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is an example of those who oppose talking to Hamas. "Engaging Hamas" Satloff wrote, "also would knock the wind out of Abbas’ administration, essentially throwing the Palestinians to the wolves of Hamas. ... Unsatisfying as it may be, the right course for US policymakers is to persist in the strategy adopted after Hamas’ Gaza putsch last summer." In face of such viewpoints that openly encourage Palestinian schism, we do commend the Palestinian President’s last initiative (June 5, 2008) for a dialogue with Hamas.
     The question of engaging with Gaza/Hamas today is most urgent. Gaza is a human disaster caused by a harsh Israeli and international blockade, by a continued Israeli military aggression and by a national schism, both geographic and political. All this is apt to lead to radical reactions that may not be confined to the Gaza strip, but may ’radiate’ into Israel, the West Bank and the whole neighbourhood. Besides, it is of paramount importance for everybody’s interests to keep Hamas united because there will be one clear address to deal with, especially as Hamas has shown interest in being a partner, something that will eventually lead it to accepting international facts, not what Israel wants to impose. more.. e-mail

Bil’in’s Che Guevara
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 7/26/2008

     Bil’in village has been struggling for its land, resources and liberty, and against the apartheid Wall for 4 years. When the struggle is that long, almost every resident of the village is involved in non-violent resistance. And amongst those, there is Ashraf, "Bil’in’s Che Guevara", who has dedicated his life to the village’s resistance. Since Sunday, when Bt’selem, the Israeli human rights group, released a video showing him being shot at close range by an Israeli soldier, the young man is no longer anonymous.
     Earlier this week, the Palestinian and Israeli press, as well as international newspapers, released the story of Ashraf, a young Palestinian man from Bil’in who appeared in a video shot by a young girl from Ni’lin village. On the screen, he was blindfolded and handcuffed, with a soldier aiming his weapon at Ashraf’s leg, from less than 2 meters away. The soldier targeted, and fired, a rubber coated steel bullet at his toes.
     We met Ashraf in his friend’s house in Bil’in, the town where he was born and raised, and to which he has dedicated his life. The huge house overlooks the hills and would offer a great view over a beautiful land planted with olives trees"¦ if there was not an Israeli settlement in the middle. more.. e-mail

Collision Course
Daoud Kuttab, MIFTAH 7/26/2008

     Without realising it, an American philanthropic organisation, planning to set up a $16.5 million children’s hospital in Palestine, is on a collision course with radical Jewish settlers at a time that American officials are constantly repeating calls for a contiguous and independent Palestinian state. One wonders how someone like Barack Obama, who is presently visiting the region, would respond to actions by Jewish settlers preventing the creation of a hospital.
     The story began on April 26, 2007 when the Israeli army unilaterally removed its military base from an area of land south of Bethlehem. Locally referred to as Ush Al Ghurab (which literally means the nest of the falcon, the area lies within the municipal boundaries of Beit Sahour, a Palestinian town built on the fields where Christians believe angels appeared to shepherds watching their flocks at night, heralding the coming of Jesus.
     Once the Israeli army dismantled their equipment, the city’s Palestinian Christian Mayor Hani Hayeq, and the city council announced that they are willing to contribute the land free of charge to any local or international organisation that is interested in using it for the public good. At nearly the same time, a US-based organisation was looking for land to build an orthopaedic hospital for the children of Palestine.... more.. e-mail

The Glass Menagerie
Yossi Sarid, MIFTAH 7/26/2008

     As long as the Israel Defense Forces continue to coin lies and half-truths, don’t sell me the story about the army that has rehabilitated itself, where a new spirit has arisen. When commanders and their subordinates continue to grow on the lie culture’s bed of rotting straw, they are bound to leave their boots in the sand, and if not their boots then shabby illusions. The Second Lebanon War was the stinking fruit of an all-embracing and disgraceful culture of whitewash (and so was the first), we were warned. Trust is more important than training, always.
     All this happened this week: A gang of soldiers attacked two Druze families that were trying to vacation on the beach at Atlit. The soldiers were violent, they were drunk, they were skinheads even if they had hair - and they were IDF soldiers. The army has given its version of the incident, which even the police have had a hard time accepting. And in Carmiel, Hazam Jubran of the town of Rama was attacked. Dozens of youths, before or after conscription, overturned his car on him, injuring him. "He was just minding his own business."
     And near the village of Na’alin a soldier shot at Ashraf Abu Rahma from one meter away. Ashraf was handcuffed and blindfolded. Two weeks have gone by since then. Had a teenage girl not been looking out her window and filming, the sickening story would not have come to light, and it’s a rare thing that a teenage girl happens to come along with a camera to a crime scene. more.. e-mail

Ready to Face the Facts About Israel
Paul Craig Roberts, Palestine Chronicle 7/26/2008

     Israel is demonstrating that veracity lies in Lenin’s doctrine that violence is the effective force in history and that the evangelical Christian Zionist churches agree.
     "On October 21 (1948) the Government of Israel took a decision that was to have a lasting and divisive effect on the rights and status of those Arabs who lived within its borders: the official establishment of military government in the areas where most of the inhabitants were Arabs."-Martin Gilbert, Israel: a History Rev. Are is a Presbyterian pastor who used to tell his Atlanta, Georgia, congregation: "I am a Zionist." Like most Americans, Rev. Are had been seduced by Israeli propaganda and helped to spread the propaganda among his congregation.
     Around 1990 Rev. Are had an awakening for which he credits the Christian Canon of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem and author Marc Ellis, co-editor of the book, Beyond Occupation.
     Realizing that his ignorance of the situation on the ground had made him complicit in great crimes, Rev. Are wrote a book hoping to save others from his mistake and perhaps in part to make amends, Israeli Peace Palestinian Justice, published in Canada in 1994. more.. e-mail

Road Map or Bulldozer Map?
Nasser Lahham, Middle East Online 7/25/2008

     BETHLEHEM, West Bank – Palestinian journalists and writers seem to have found it difficult to address the current trend of bulldozer attacks in Israel. The piece of construction equipment appears to have joined our national conflict as a new weapon in the hands of Palestinians working inside Israel.
     I see this astonishment, however, as something that Palestinian writers have picked up from the Israeli media. This is perhaps understandable, since the subject of bulldozer attacks has no precedent, and it is not an easy subject to approach. The response of Palestinian newspapers, then, has been to tackle the issue from a purely journalistic perspective, and most journalists are still dazzled at what is happening.
     Chief Editor of the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Hafidh Al-Barghouthi, however, seems to have been able to digest the phenomenon. In his paper he is calling the trend a "Bulldozers’ war." The crux of the bulldozer issue is complicated, and what the machine represents to Palestinians may explain why their use in attacks is so astonishing and yet comprehensible. more.. e-mail

Jewish Family Protects Palestinians from Lynching by Jews
Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008

     A Jewish family sitting at their home in Jerusalem last night fought off an enraged mob of Orthodox yeshiva students trying to lynch two Palestinian men - and nearly paid for it with their lives, Israeli daily newspaper the Yedioth Ahronoth has reported. Two ultra-Orthodox guys . . . yelled, ’Murder the Jews who protect Arabs!’" said the stunned owner of the home, who had joined relatives for the traditional Jewish mourning for his father-in law.
     The man, who requested anonymity, told Yedioth Ahronoth, "Suddenly . . . two Palestinians stormed into the house bleeding and bruised, followed by an angry mob.
     "Dozens of ultra-Orthodox from the nearby yeshiva entered the back yard and severely beat up the two Palestinians while we, still shocked, were trying to break it up."
     He said he and his son tried to smuggle the Palestinians to safety through a back alley.
     But the mob "caught [the Arabs] and beat them up terribly," he said. " . . . Then, two Orthodox men arrived, and one told us: ’You’re saving Arabs?’ They pulled out knives." more.. e-mail

This is Palestine
Frank Barat, Jerusalem, The Palestine Chronicle July 21, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/23/2008

     -5.30am, Beit Sahour (suburb of Bethlehem): Departure from accommodation.
     Need to take taxi to Gilo Checkpoint (to go to Jerusalem). A lot of taxis go past me. They are all full.
     -5.50: find taxi. Sharing with 8 other Palestinians.
     -6.00: Arrive at checkpoint. Vision of horror. Between 200 and 400 Palestinians (Men, women and children) are queueing outside the checkpoint. Loads of noise, screaming, shoving and pushing. Gilo checkpoint is one of the worse. Convoluted, long, it seems without end. You first have to walk up for about 200 yards through a long narrow and fenced corridor, then walk down for about 100 yards then up again for 50 yards. You then turn left, and walk for a few extra yards, get to big grey building and finally reach a desk where behind a glassed window seats an 18 years old kid.
     Looking at all those men, women and kids queueing, walking at around 5 yards/min only to get under this fence, stacked like cattle, I feel sick. Really sick. Powerless, ashamed, disgusted. -- See also: Palestine Chronicle more.. e-mail

Palestinian Al-Kurd Family Fights Settlers in Jerusalem
Jonathan Cook, Foreign Correspondent, The National July 23, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008

     JERUSALEM -- It must be the smallest Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories: just half a house. But Palestinian officials and Israeli human rights groups are concerned that it represents the first stage of a plan to eradicate the historical neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, cutting off one of the main routes by which Palestinians reach the Old City and its holy sites.
     The home of Mohammed and Fawziya al-Kurd has been split in two since 1999 when the Israeli courts evicted their grown-up son Raed from a wing of the property. The elderly couple have been trying to regain possession, but were stymied last week when an Israeli high court backed the petition of a group of settlers and ordered the immediate eviction of the Kurds. The decision paves the way for the takeover of 26 multi-storey houses in the neighbourhood, threatening to make 500 Palestinians homeless.
     The verdict has been denounced by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and in the past few days the Kurds have been visited by foreign diplomats, including from the United States. In a letter to consulates in Jerusalem, including those of the United States, Britain, France and Germany, Rafiq Husseini, Mr Abbas’s aide, warned that the takeover of the Kurds’ home was part of a wider drive to change the geography of Jerusalem by forcing out Palestinians and replacing them with Israeli settlers. Such a development would deal a death blow to already-strained peace negotiations, he wrote. -- See also: Haaretz: U.S. protests eviction of Arab family from East Jerusalem home more.. e-mail

The Ordeal of Mohammed Omer
Kenneth Ring, Middle East Online 7/25/2008

     We are used to hearing about the hazards, often fatal, of being a journalist these days.Everyone is familiar with accounts of courageous Russian journalists who have been assassinated and of course withstories of war correspondents who have been killed or gravely wounded in the course of reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan. But what about the dangers of just being a Palestinian journalist who is simply trying to return to his own hometown in Gaza after being abroad?
     Consider the case of a twenty-four-year-old reporter named Mohammed Omer.
     Some background first: For the past six years Mohammed has been covering and reporting on the situation in Gaza and has published his articles in various periodicals in Europe, for the Inter Press Service News Agency and The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. His articles have received much recognition and several awards, including, most recently, the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, which was presented to Mohammed in a special ceremony in London in June, 2008 – about which more in a moment. more.. e-mail

Testimony: Israeli police severely beat Palestinian student in Tel Aviv
Report, B'Tselem, Electronic Intifada 7/25/2008

     Tareq Ziad Abu Laban, 21, works for , and studies journalism at the Hebrew University. He is a resident of East Jerusalem. His testimony was given to Kareem Jubran at HaMoked’s offices on 6 July 2008.
     On Thursday, 19 June 2008, my friend Khalil Ahmad Khalil and I decided to go to Tel Aviv at night to visit Ahmad Barghouti, a friend of ours who works at a hotel there, and hang out on the beach together.
     We left Jerusalem around 11:00pm. When we got there, Ahmad was waiting for us outside the hotel. We went to a restaurant for supper and then walked around. About 1:45am, we were on our way back to the hotel to drop Ahmad off and then go back to Jerusalem. Just before we reached the hotel, I noticed a car behind us. I was driving. The driver of the other car blinked his lights, and I saw it was a police car, a GMC with a siren. I pulled over to the curb and stopped. The car stopped next to me, and one of the people in it asked, "Where are you from?" I told him I was from Jerusalem. He told me to turn off the engine. The car pulled up and stopped in front of me and three SWAT-team policemen got out. They were wearing dark-blue shirts and black pants. They came over to my car. One of them, who was short, light-skinned, with short, gelled hair, told me to give him the car registration and insurance and our ID cards. I gave him the documents. We remained in the car, waiting for them to finish checking. more.. e-mail

These Enemies Have Faces
Trita Parsi and Roi Ben-Yehuda, Middle East Online 7/25/2008

     TEL AVIV – The looming Iran-Israel confrontation has a seemingly deterministic quality to it. Listening to the politicians, one gets a sense that powers beyond our control are pulling us toward a 21st-century disaster. Yet a great deal of the force propelling us into confrontation is fuelled by ignorance and dehumanisation. Israel is demonised as "Little Satan," while Iranians are portrayed as irrational Muslim extremists.
     Indeed, mutual ignorance of our respective societies plays into the hands of the hard-line leaders who are calling for blood and destruction. They manipulate and distort; above all, they do everything to prevent us from recognising that the enemy has a face.
     Not that either of us is naive enough to believe that mere knowledge of one another will offer a miraculous solution. We do believe, however, that mutual understanding will go a long way toward allowing us to feel empathy and compassion for each other, and to sound off at those calling for bloodshed and war. more.. e-mail

Shalit saga continues
Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/24/2008

     With Hizbullah scoring a victory in its prisoner exchange deal with Israel, pressure is building on Hamas to do even better.
     The recent "spectacular" prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hizbullah, which plunged Israel into a state national confusion while feelings of triumph spread in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world, is already impacting on efforts to resolve the Shalit affair.
     Hamas, like all other Palestinian factions, welcomed wholeheartedly the prisoner swap, arguing that it proved that Israel would be willing to release prisoners "who have blood on their hands" in return for the release of Israeli prisoners, dead or living.
     quot;If they are willing release ’prisoners with blood on their hands’ for dead Israelis, then they should be even more willing to release similar prisoners in exchange for Shalit, who is alive and well," said Mushir Al-Masri, a Hamas lawmaker. more.. e-mail

Haifa Conference, the Jaffa Declaration
Yoav Bar, Party for Socialism and Liberation July 23, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008

     One-state solution would guarantee the rights of all citizens
     The writer is a member of the political bureau of Abnaa elBalad and was active in the initiating committee of the Haifa conference. This is an initial report from the conference, originally published July 18 by Campo Antiimperialista and republished here with minor edits.
     The "48 territories" refer to the large portion of historic Palestine that came under Israeli control in 1948 shortly after Israel’s creation; the "67 occupied territories" refer to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, occupied by Israel during the 1967 war.
     June 20 (Friday) and June 21 (Saturday)—after a year of dreaming and working for it to happen—the Haifa conference was such a great success that we hardly believed it was real. … But on Saturday night, as we made the five-minute drive from elMidan back home to Hallisa, a poor, mostly Arab, neighborhood in east Haifa, the racist and un-democratic state of Israel was clearly and vigorously there—the streets were filled with police and special "anti-riot" units, stopping people and beating them at random. We spent the next week collecting evidence and organizing a demonstration against police violence. -- See also: Party for Socialism and Liberation more.. e-mail

The Wall at the End of History
Phyllis Bennis, Middle East Online 7/24/2008

     Today, the Silk Road stops in Abu Dis. The road no longer goes through Jerusalem, and can no longer reach the sea. That grimy, garbage-strewn dead end marks the end of 2,202 years of history.
     Beginning around 100 BC, the fabled Silk Road brought goods and travelers from China and Central Asia, through the lands of Persia and Mesopotamia, and over to Palmyra in Syria. One branch of the road then turned south, crossing through Bethany, the biblical village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, as it headed west from Jerusalem to Yoppa (today’s Jaffa) and the Mediterranean Sea.
     Today the town of Bethany is known as Abu Dis. It is still on the outskirts of Jerusalem. And the ancient road is still there. Dusty and pothole-filled, it winds through the center of the Palestinian town, with auto-parts yards and small dingy shops selling vegetables and furniture lining both sides. The road then comes to an abrupt stop, blocked by the towering, graffiti-covered cement slabs of Israel’s separation wall.
     Today, the Silk Road stops in Abu Di The road no longer goes through Jerusalem, and can no longer reach the sea. That grimy, garbage-strewn dead end marks the end of 2,202 years of history. more.. e-mail

Really living here
Raja Shehadeh writing from Ramallah, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 7/24/2008

     For the past four decades I have been a passionate walker. For much of this time the hills northeast of Ramallah, my favorite wandering ground, were largely empty of settlements and I could walk freely, without constraint. However, this situation changed dramatically after Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo Accords in 1993 and 1995. Since then, settlement activity has reached unprecedented levels, spreading in many cases over lands that are privately owned by Palestinians. Overall, the population of West Bank settlements increased by at least 40 percent between the signing of the Oslo Accords and the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000.
     As the Israel-Palestine peace process flounders, aggressive behavior by Jewish settlers and their supporters in the Israeli army is making the countryside of the West Bank an increasingly dangerous place for Palestinians. Behind this development is the belief that there is no room in "Greater Israel" for the Palestinians. That it is either us or them. more.. e-mail

Opportunities for dialogue
Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/24/2008

     Ultimately, it could as well be Israeli intransigence that brings Fatah and Hamas together.
     Despite the sharpening pitch of statements made by Fatah and Hamas, Palestinian and Arab efforts to push the two sides towards dialogue are continuing. Mediators appear optimistic about their efforts given that the conflicting parties know they are in the midst of a major crisis and that maintaining their rift could seriously damage both of them and the Palestinian national cause. Thus a number of committees have recently become active in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with the goal of convincing the two sides to sit down and dialogue. One of these committees formed in Gaza calls itself the Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee and is composed of political leaders and independent national figures as well as the directors of numerous civil society organisations. It seeks to develop formulas that could serve as a basis for resolving differences between Fatah and Hamas.
     The diversity of the committee’s members and their intellectual orientations reflects the hard- won consensus by which the committee functions. It includes the mufti of Gaza, Sheikh Abdul-Karim Al-Kahlut, the head of the Orthodox Church in Gaza, Father Manuel Musallam, the heads of all human rights organisations, and the heads of universities and even some writers for the Palestinian press. Noteworthy is that one of the most prominent active figures in this committee is Ghazi Hamad, coordinator for relations with the Palestinian factions in the cabinet of dismissed premier Ismail Haniyeh. more.. e-mail

What Obama missed in the Middle East
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 7/24/2008

     When I and other Palestinian-Americans first knew Barack Obama in Chicago in the 1990s, he grasped the oppression faced by Palestinians under Israeli occupation. He understood that an honest broker cannot simultaneously be the main cheerleader, financier and arms supplier for one side in a conflict. He often attended Palestinian-American community events and heard about the Palestinian experience from perspectives stifled in mainstream discussion.
     In recent months, Obama has sought to allay persistent concerns from pro-Israel groups by recasting himself as a stalwart backer of Israel and tacking ever closer to positions espoused by the powerful, hard-line pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. He distanced himself from mainstream advisers because pro-Israel groups objected to their calls for even-handedness.
     Like his Republican rival, Senator John McCain, Obama gave staunch backing to Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon, which killed over 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the blockade and bombardment of the Gaza Strip, calling them "self defense." more.. e-mail

Obama, Israel and Palestine
Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian Information Center 7/23/2008

     Barack Obama has finally made his long-awaited pilgrimage to Israel, a rite of passage that no aspiring American politician, let alone a presidential candidate, can afford to miss or ignore.
     There (or rather here), Obama uttered all the politically-correct words that Israeli leaders and especially Israel-firsters back home would want to hear.
     He called the creation of Israel in Palestine in 1948 a “miracle,” utterly ignoring the near obliteration of Palestine and expulsion to the four corners of the world of the vast bulk of its indigenous Christian and Muslim inhabitants.
     The presidential hopeful told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that “I have come to communicate to you my fervent support for Israel.”
     In Sderot, in southern Israel, Obama was quoted as saying the following: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything in my power to stop that, and would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” more.. e-mail

Administrative Detentions: a report from the Israeli Association for Palestinian Prisoners
Israeli Association for Palestinian Prisoners, Palestine Think Tank 7/24/2008

     The Case of Dr. Ghassan Khaled, the law faculty of Al Najjah University, Nablus
     Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial, and without informing the detainees or their lawyers of the charges against them.Moreover, neither they nor their attorneys are allowed to see the evidence.*
     Administrative detention serves as a convenient tool of harassment by the Israeli regime to use against political activists and members of parliament, peace activists leading non-violent resistance to the occupation, students and other people who cannot be put to trial because of the lack of evidence against them.
     In recent years, 8% of the political prisoners in Israeli jails have been administrative detainees. At present there are about 730 administrative detainees in Israeli prisons. more.. e-mail

Rap music evokes feeling of national unity in Jenin
Ali Samoudi, Palestine News Network 7/23/2008

     Jenin - Jenin Refugee Camp revived its Palestinian identity last week not through political speeches or nonviolent demonstration, but through the power of rap music. DAM, a Palestinian rap group, performed at the Freedom Theatre in the camp last Monday, 14 July.
     "Jenin Refugee Camp is no different from any spot in the world," the Freedom Theatre General Director Juliano Mer Khamis said. "It is a place of culture, art and theater. But, it’s also a place of struggle -- a place enduring the occupation."
     According to Khamis, the DAM concert was a success, bringing a large and distinguished audience to the camp.
     "We have proved that the people of the camp are normal people that love theater and life," he said. "This concert was like any other in New York or Tel Aviv. The difference between us and them is the fact that we live under occupation. It is not a mental difference. The success of the show proves that the camp wants to be free and liberated." more.. e-mail

Jones Drafts ’Extremely Critical’ US Report of Israel’s Policies
Palestine Media Center, Palestine Monitor 7/23/2008

     The United States security coordinator for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, retired general James Jones, is preparing an extremely critical report of Israel’s policies in the territories and its attitude toward the Palestinian Authority’s security services, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Tuesday.
     A few copies of the report’s executive summary (or, according to some sources, a draft of it) have been given to senior Bush Administration officials, and it is reportedly arousing considerable discomfort.
     In recent weeks, the US administration has been debating whether to allow Jones to publish his full report, or whether to tell him to shelve it and make do with the summary, given the approaching end of President George Bush’s term, Haaretz said.
     Jones was appointed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice following the Annapolis peace conference last November. His assignment was to draft a strategic plan to facilitate stabilization of the security situation, as a necessary accompaniment to Israeli-Palestinian final-status negotiations. In this context, he assessed the PA security forces in the West Bank, whose reform is being overseen by another American general, Keith Dayton. Jones has visited the region several times and met with senior Israeli government officials and army officers. more.. e-mail

Seeing the Dome of the Rock
Electronic Intifada 7/22/2008

     Some might think that I am overreacting about the short trip out of Gaza to a place only two hours away. But I would say to them that for me and so many other Palestinians in Gaza, it is not just a short trip, but rather a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The trip was a window that opened suddenly to allow in the fresh air and joy of life, and one that I may never experience again.
     Life is never fair. For some people things are so easy and available, while for others, they are only a dream. I cannot find an answer if you ask me why I didn’t apply for permission to leave Gaza earlier. All I can say that the life in Gaza is suffocating to the extent that it drains all the feelings of being alive, all the feelings of tasting and experiencing any source of joy, so why try?
     After I reached the office in Jerusalem where I finally met with my colleagues whom I had never seen before, only known through the phone, they decided to take me on a quick tour around the city. I felt so overwhelmed with excitement and anxiety, I refused to take a break or to rest even though I am eight months pregnant. But I did not have the same feeling of tiredness as I used to have in Gaza. It is as if the air outside the borders of Gaza is a healthy fresh air that energizes me and provides me with an endless power. more.. e-mail

The Nakba, Intel, and Kiryat Gat
Electronic Intifada 7/23/2008

     In an extravagant ceremony that featured acrobats, drummers, a children’s choir, and speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (in person) and the two top executives of chipmaker Intel Corp. (on giant video screens), the company this month dedicated a new, state-of-the-art chip-manufacturing plant in the south-central Israeli town of Kiryat Gat.
     The hoopla is understandable, from the Intel and Israeli perspectives. The new facility, known as Fab 28, is the largest private-sector investment ever made in Israel: the company has sunk $3 billion into it, and the Israeli government kicked in another $525 million. Since the groundbreaking 28 months ago, it’s been the biggest construction project in Israel -- this side of the apartheid wall, that is.
     Together with another multi-billion-dollar facility Intel built a decade ago on an adjoining site, the work has transformed Kiryat Gat, a drab and previously obscure industrial town on the northern edge of the Negev desert, into one of the crown jewels of Israel’s booming high-tech economy. Once the plant reaches full production next year, it’s expected to produce $10 million worth of Intel’s most advanced microprocessors every day -- by itself enough to boost Israel’s gross domestic product by nearly two percent. more.. e-mail

Climbing up the Rabbit Hole to the Real World
Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 7/23/2008

     Even Lewis Carroll would have a difficult time picking through the politics of Palestine and Israel.In Alice’s world, everything is upside down – cats that disappear and reappear at their own will, talking rabbits, hookah-smoking caterpillars and rabbit holes that lead to a world of wonder. Still, at the end of Carroll’s famed "Alice in Wonderland", Alice realizes that logic and reason are not as mundane as she once thought and serve a purpose in real life.
     In Palestine, logic and reason go but so far and what politicians say and pledge is far removed from their realities. In our own Alice in Wonderland version of reality, peace is near and the world is on the side of establishing a Palestinian state. Unfortunately, neither logic nor reason follows this vision given the hard facts on the ground, which prove the opposite.
     Let’s examine the Wonderland version first. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is invited to the home of Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. This is the first time any Palestinian president has been invited to the Jerusalem home of an Israeli president. The closest Palestinians have ever gotten was when late President Yasser Arafat was invited to former Israeli President Ezer Weisman’s home in Caesaria. more.. e-mail

Top-ranking IDF Sadists
Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 7/23/2008

     We learn from the Israeli press that a criminal investigation has been launched against the soldier caught on tape firing towards a bound Palestinian. However, there is a detail the Israeli press in English is reluctant to share with us. The shooting soldier was not just an ordinary low-ranking infantry recruit, he was a First Sergeant. But it goes much further, the soldier who is caught on video holding the bound Palestinian detainee is no less than a regiment commander, an IDF Lieutenant Colonel.
     In case someone fails to understand, it is a high-ranking Israeli officer who is caught on video holding a handcuffed man as a still target for the merciless vengeance of another IDF soldier. An unavoidable question pops to air. What are these people made of? Do they share any recognised qualities with the rest of humanity? Clearly, cruelty is deeply rooted in Israeli society. It may take two to tango, but apparently it doesn’t take more than two Israeli soldiers to prove to us all what Israel and the Jewish national revival is all about. more.. e-mail

Israel, a Middle East superpower of wine and cheese
Daily Star 7/23/2008

     As of this moment, the state of affairs between Israel and the Arabs is discouraging from the Israeli standpoint and encouraging from the Arab point of view. Everything appears to have been reversed: If in the past Israel relied on its wiles and the Arabs fell for its ruses, now the relationship has been turned upside down, as so often happens in life.
     Again and again, we encounter this reversal of roles. Once, unable to deal with the superiority of Israel’s cunning, the Arabs were sustained by delusions or waited for miracles. Now the situation is topsy-turvy: The Arabs rely on cunning and the Israelis grasp at useless dreams.
     If in the past Israel was reputed to be a country that would do everything to avoid abandoning its wounded or captured soldiers and the Arabs were thought of as disdaining these values, here too things have been reversed. The one who strives to bring his warriors home alive is the enemy, not Israel. We are led astray and swallow lies. more.. e-mail

US wars and terrorism: an initial review
Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 7/23/2008

     It is a sign of the times that Barack Obama made his first two presidential campaign stops abroad in recent days in two active theaters of war where 180,000 American troops have been engaged in fighting for nearly six years. It would be useful to ask the right questions about these wars, now that a new leadership will take office in Washington. A good place to start is to learn the right lessons from the conduct and consequences of these wars, so that any mistakes here are not repeated in future elsewhere.
     From Washington, where I am, Obama’s visits to Afghanistan and Iraq seem to be mostly electoral events, understandably so. From the start, the center of gravity of these two wars has always been firmly in the United States. The wars were launched after September 11, 2001, to stop terrorists from attacking Americans. The justification for war may have been reasonable; almost everything else about these wars has not been. more.. e-mail

Power and morality
Martin Jacques, The Guardian 7/23/2008

     Foreign policy is often dressed up in moral rhetoric, but ultimately might is stronger than right.
     You may remember that Robin Cook, newly appointed as Britain’s foreign secretary back in 1997, promised to introduce an "ethical foreign policy". Such talk disappeared long ago, brought to an abrupt end by the illegalities and immorality of the invasion of Iraq. I was reminded of Cook’s efforts by Gordon Brown’s address yesterday to the Israeli Knesset, where he uttered barely any criticisms of Israel and fulminated long and hard against Iran and its alleged nuclear policy. I have a serious problem with western hypocrisy over Iran and the bomb. We are against nuclear proliferation and yet no one breathes a word about the fact that Israel has many nuclear weapons, and has had them for a long time. So, why not Iran? One might add that Israel has always lived by the sword in the Middle East but the same cannot be said of Iran.
     I am against nuclear proliferation (though sceptical that the line can be held in the long term) but only if the policy is even-handed (there is also the small fact that it clearly privileges those that already possess them). This is clearly not the case in the Middle East. Israel is the agent and surrogate of the United States and as such is treated entirely differently from every other country in the region. How can anyone expect Iran to accept that it is right for Israel to have nuclear weapons while itself being disallowed. more.. e-mail

US elections: Obama’s political straitjacket
David Hearst, The Guardian 7/23/2008

     Barack Obama’s schedule and statements in the Middle East make clear his determination to court Israeli opinion.
     When a US presidential candidate arrives in town, there is only one question on every Israeli’s mind: how good a friend to Israel will this man be? Eager to answer this question, Barack Obama said: "Let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s." That much is of course beyond dispute - his aides said he had intended to say the United States.
     The bungled statement was an early sign of his nerves on a trip where every phrase he utters will be linguistically x-rayed for incipient signs of bias. Mr Obama had every right to be nervous.
     Just yards from the King David hotel where Mr Obama was due to stay, a Palestinian driver of a bulldozer went on the rampage injuring 16 Israeli civilians, one seriously, before being shot dead by a civilian and a policeman. It was the second time in three weeks that an attack had been launched by Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem with a blue identity card, which gives the holder virtually all the rights of an Israeli citizen except the right to vote. more.. e-mail

How to take on an arms manufacturer -- and win
Mark Steel, The Independent 7/23/2008

     A trial took place recently in Belfast that seems to explain how nothing makes any sense. It revolved around a factory owned by the arms company Raytheon, which was set up in Derry soon after the IRA ceasefire. John Hume, who’d just won the Nobel Peace Prize, was among those who announced the opening of the plant, welcoming it as a result of the "peace dividend".
     So now the men of violence had agreed to give up their weapons, the area could attract a peaceful company with a turnover of $17bn from making weapons, announced by a man with a prize for bringing peace.
     ...But then it became clear that they were being used by the Israelis in Lebanon, and one such system guided a missile into a block of flats in Qana, killing 28 people, mostly children. A few days later the local anti-war group, including the journalist and civil rights activist Eamonn McCann, decided to occupy the Raytheon building as a protest. A group of nine got into the plant, and as a gesture they threw a computer or two out of the window. more.. e-mail

Why in a stated Democracy are political and social groups, academics and thinkers, squelched?
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 7/22/2008

     Nablus -- The Israeli Association for Civil Rights is condemning illegal actions performed by Shin Bet, an internal Israeli security organization that uses abduction and torture of Palestinians in its investigations.
     The group, which is non-partisan and aims to protect civil and human rights, sent a letter to the Israeli Attorney General in the wake of increasing unlawful investigation of political activists, groups, and journalists. The investigations are illegal as a result of the ambiguous nature of the term "conspiracy" in Israeli law.
     The ACRI had previously demanded that Israelis desist from conducting illegal and oppressive interrogations. The investigations do no more than instill fear in those involved and deter them from exercising their political, legal, and democratic rights. Another letter, sent in early June, called for the Attorney General’s intervention based on work and investigations done by Physicians for Human Rights. more.. e-mail

Who Wants a Solution?
Ali Jarbawi, MIFTAH 7/21/2008

     Why is it that all Arab initiatives to bring about dialogue between Fateh and Hamas have failed to produce the intended result? Why is it that even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ own initiative failed to yield what was expected of it? Is it because behind all the sweet public announcements by Hamas and Fateh about their "readiness to talk" lies a fundamental lack of interest? Or is it because Arab intervention has not been as serious as it should be if it is to replicate the Arab-sponsored Doha mediation between the Lebanese political factions? Is it actually because of an Israeli-American veto on any rapprochement between Fateh and Hamas that would lead once again to the inclusion of the latter in the Palestinian Authority without it unequivocally accepting the conditions laid down by the Quartet?
     It would seem that a combination of these three explanations contributes to continued stagnation on the Palestinian scene. Beginning from the end, there is indeed an Israeli-American veto that plays a significant role in influencing the PA and many Arab capitals. It is rather obvious that Israel wants to impose a settlement on the Palestinians. For Israel the real issue is not the Gaza Strip, but East Jerusalem and the West Bank of which it wants to annex a good portion. In line with its policy of "divide and conquer", Israel’s interest is best served by a deepening of the internal Palestinian rift. It believes that Abbas (Abu Mazen) is weak, and his party, Fateh, is in a state of disarray. This means Israel can continue negotiating with Abu Mazen while creating facts on the ground through its settlement policy. Israel does not actually care if Hamas is content ruling Gaza; rather it might prefer it as long as a truce holds and rockets are not fired at Israeli towns. Israel might even be entertaining the idea that Hamas is more amenable than Abu Mazen and Fateh to accept a future "interim solution" with a "temporary Palestinian state". The US administration will go along with whatever Israel decides it wants. more.. e-mail

Duplicity without borders
Hossein Askari, Asia Times 7/23/2008

     British Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks to the Israeli parliament, talking of peace and vowing to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. United States President George W Bush promises to protect US allies in the Middle East from external aggression. French President Nicholas Sarkozy assures Israel of his country’s unflinching support and protection to live in peace.
     Western leaders pledge their opposition to nuclear proliferation and promise to protect all countries from attack; they declare a goal of peace and stability in the Middle East, and promise to work tirelessly for a more democratic Middle East that embraces the rule of law. This is what they say.
     These same leaders sell billions of dollars in sophisticated and deadly weaponry to their client states in the Middle East. They sell weapons of mass destruction to those whom they support to use against adversaries. They, and their regional allies, even threaten the use of tactical nuclear weapons against perceived enemies. They invade countries without legal basis. They trample the Geneva Convention. They support covert operations. They threaten regime change against those who don’t follow their line. They support all manner of tyrants to promote their short-term interests, robbing millions of their freedom. This is what they do. more.. e-mail

Boycott group: Israeli-British academic project politically motivated
Press release, PACBI, Electronic Intifada 7/22/2008

     The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel deplores the unabashed pro-Israel bias of UK officialdom displayed during Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit to occupied Jerusalem. Brown’s pro-forma criticism of Israeli colonizing activities notwithstanding, the visit became an occasion to underline the UK government’s prejudice in favor of Israeli policies of apartheid, dispossession and colonial expansionism. Instead of pressuring Israel to fulfill its obligations under international law, Brown bent over backwards to reward Israel in an arena in which it prides itself, that of academic and scientific research, despite ample evidence indicating the Israeli academy’s complicity in the state’s occupation and apartheid policies.
     Media reports have made it abundantly clear that the 20 July Israeli-British announcement of the establishment of the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership (BIRAX) is politically motivated. The project, described by The Independent (UK) as "a major new academic exchange program, which will help to undermine attempts to boycott Israeli universities," is meant specifically to undercut UK, Palestinian and international academics’ calls for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. It lends political and material support to the Israeli effort to maintain a veneer of respectability in the world academic community, a community increasingly unwilling to do business as usual with the Israeli academy. Not only have Israeli universities built organic partnerships with the state’s military-security establishment responsible for maintaining the occupation and other forms of Israeli oppression, they have also failed for decades, as have all Israeli academic unions and professional associations, to take a public stand against the most profound Israeli military violations of the Palestinian right to education. more.. e-mail

PSC: Ask Gordon Brown why he fails to condemn the occupation and ignores the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) on its 60th anniversary
Palestine Solidarity Campaign, International Solidarity Movement 7/22/2008

     Prime Minister Brown’s speech to the Knesset was a declaration of support for the Zionist project of dispossession and subjugation and a betrayal of the Palestinian people’s legitimate hopes for recognition of their human and national rights. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is dismayed that he failed to mention the ethnic cleansing wreaked on the Palestinians, when 13,000 Palestinians were killed and 750,000 Palestinians forced from their homes, it what is known as the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) to create the state of Israel.
     Mr. Brown spent two thirds of his address to the Knesset laying out his emotional, historical and political commitment to Israel referring to two thousand year old alleged rights while ignoring the ongoing crimes of the state of Israel; the illegal Wall; the land grabs; the killing and injuring; the 11 thousand political prisoners. While mentioning terrorist attacks against Israelis, he failed to mention the daily terror inflicted on Palestinians by the military and settlers - in recent weeks three incidents of brutality against Palestinian civilians would have been ignored by Israel, if they have not been captured on video and broadcast round the world. While praising the Israeli state for its commitment to the education of its citizens, he failed to condemn it for suppressing the Palestinian right to education. more.. e-mail

Revealing a Massacre, or Stating the Obvious
Ramzy Baroud, Middle East Online 7/22/2008

     For some folks interested in genealogy, tracing one’s roots is a stimulating activity. It’s immensely interesting and meaningful to learn where one’s life started. DNA testing has made it possible to trace one’s roots back many generations and there are even free web sites that can help users trace their family history based on a few simple clues.
     Recent findings in my own personal history have been interesting indeed. The present task of tracing my family roots was inspired by a book project with Pluto Press, narrating the story of my father, as once a fighter from Gaza who died recently under tragic circumstances in the same refugee camp to which he was expelled, along with his family sixty years ago.
     Just weeks into my research, I found myself stumbling into the details of a massacre, one that is conveniently overshadowed by the dust of the battle, the rigidity of academic research and the lack of media access of those who have survived. more.. e-mail

Huffington Post: Susan Sarandon’s double standards
Omid Memarian, Huffington Post, International Solidarity Movement 7/20/2008

     Susan Sarandon has expressed surprising unwillingness to denounce her support for the Israeli Billionaire, Lev Leviev, who is has been criticized by a variety of NGOs for his involvement in building settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
     In 2004, the ICJ declared both current Israeli settlements and the wall Israel is building inside the West Bank to facilitate future settlements inside the West Bank to be illegal under international law.
     UNICEF has recently rejected all offers of partnerships and financial support from him. Lev Leviev had previously sponsored UNICEF fundraising events in France, and his support of UNICEF is featured in several places on his company’s website.
     But it seems that Susan Sarandon, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, has decided not to follow UNICEF’s lead and cut all ties with Leviev. As recently as Nov. 13th, 2007, Sarandon appeared as a guest at Leviev’s New York jewelry store gala. more.. e-mail

How I’ve come to know Gilad Shalit
Simon Black, Palestine Think Tank 7/22/2008

     Media humanize Israeli soldier, but what of Palestinians?
     I know Gilad Shalit. Not personally, but I could tell you what he looks like, his age, where he went to school, his hometown, his father’s name, what his father looks like, and how he weeps for his son.
     I know that this is not the first time that the Shalit family has felt the emotional impact of armed conflict. I know that during the Arab-Israeli war, Gilad’s uncle, Yoel, was killed.
     I know that Gilad’s brother is named after Yoel. I know that his brother attends university in Haifa and is worried about him. I know that Gilad is being held by Palestinians after his army outpost was raided and Gilad was captured.
     I know that Gilad is the first Israeli soldier captured by Palestinians since 1994. I know Gilad’s friends describe him as a peaceful and quiet young man.
     .... What I do not know is the names and faces of the hundreds of Palestinian children held in Israeli jails. more.. e-mail

A Kidnapping in the Valley
Gideon Levy, MIFTAH 7/21/2008

     It was kidnapping, there is no other way to describe it. When you put two young shepherds into a jeep and imprison them for no reason on an IDF base for a night, while their families are out of their minds with fear, that’s kidnapping. When nobody in the IDF knows about the kidnapping, and the army even sends a jeep to help the parents look for their children, it’s also sadly grotesque. When the kidnappers tell the two brothers: "We know that your parents and the IDF are searching for you, but we won’t tell them you’re here," that’s already very serious.
     Each soldier makes the law in the territories. Two Bedouin shepherd children who were grazing their sheep in areas that belong to their parents and their neighbors - but where the IDF does not allow them to graze - were detained and carried off without any justification, without any legal proceeding, apparently without anyone knowing about the brutal deed. The soldiers who carried out the kidnapping saw no need to report the detention and imprisonment to their superiors.
     All night long, shepherd Salah Basharat searched for his children. Not until late morning did Saliman, 15, and Mashhur, 14, arrive home on foot. The family’s miserable encampment is imprisoned between the Jordan Valley settlements of Bekaot and Ro’i. This was not the first time soldiers had detained his sons, but usually they were released after an hour or two of being held at the checkpoint. more.. e-mail

Denied Entry: another step in the ethnic cleansing process of Jerusalem
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 7/21/2008

     PNN exclusive - Ziad Sad is one of millions of Palestinians living in the Diaspora now. He is a Jerusalem resident currently being denied entry to his own country and city. He is in the United States, San Francisco, California to be exact. He was separated from his wife and two children. From the occupied West Bank, PNN spoke Sad at 2:00 am, Pacific Standard Time.
     "Thank you very much for this interview. These problems started back in 2005 when I went to the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco, California, and there at the Consulate they confiscated my Israeli Travel Document and they asked me to leave the Consulate immediately.
     "I said, ’I am here to renew my set of documents, or get extensions’; but they said, ’No, we have orders from the Israeli Minister of Interior to confiscate this set of documents and not return them to you."
     ldquo;I got upset, and I decided to stay at the Consulate and not leave until they gave it [the official Travel Document] back to me. The people at the consulate said, 'No, we're not going to give it back to you, and if you don't leave right now you will be accused of terrorism. We'll call the FBI and you'll be thrown in jail.' I was scared, and decided to leave, and this [confiscation of my Travel Document] lost me my residency in Jerusalem. more.. e-mail

Taking you home: 'Palestinian Walks'
Lora Gordon, Electronic Intifada 7/21/2008

     The travel memoir fills our shelves with vicarious adventure. It leads us down the roads we will never travel and feeds us at tables where we will never sit. Who needs ordinary life? We want our chutes down Niagara; we want our treks up Everest. More than anything we want our journeys into ancient and exotic worlds.
     With such dreams in hand did 19th-century Western travelers visit the Levant (present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine and Jordan) in search of the biblical "Holy Land." Thus they came, saw and recorded their fantasy and their disappointment, and bound them together into a beautiful canon of half-truths and outright lies that first helped shape popular perception and finally were used to help justify the colonization of Palestine.
     Who could imagine "a land without a people" without William Thackeray’s vivid depiction of Palestine as "parched mountains, with a grey bleak olive tree trembling here and there; savage ravines and valleys paved with tombstones -- a landscape unspeakably ghastly and desolate ..." more.. e-mail

Welcome Home for One Month Only
Yasmin Abou-Amer, MIFTAH 7/21/2008

     On July 5, 1950, the Israeli Knesset enacted item 5710-1950, otherwise known as the Law of Return. This law was to change the demographics of Palestine forever, beginning with just a few simple words: “Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an Oleh [immigrant to Israel]” and “A Jew who has come to Israel and subsequent to his arrival has expressed his desire to settle in Israel may, while still in Israel, receive an Oleh’s certificate”.In essence, any Jew, from any part of the world, was afforded the right to simply show up and declare themselves citizens of Israel.In the eyes of the Jews, 2000 years of wandering were officially over.Unfortunately, for the Palestinians, the real struggle was just beginning.That very law, enacted some 58 years ago, still welcomes those making Aliyah (literally meaning ‘ascent’).The Law of Entry into Israel is the law that governs the entry of those not making Aliyah and it is this very law which is now being called into question, with Israel tightening its grip on issuing visas to tourists and for work purposes.
     Having only a week ago experienced the infamous Passport Control interrogation at Ben Gurion Airport, it intrigued me as to how exactly Israel decides who should and should not be allowed into their country. I arrived at Ben Gurion in the early hours of the morning, to be greeted by not one but two Israeli immigration officials. After welcoming me to Israel, they opened my British passport to discover my Palestinian surname. This immediately appeared to incriminate me in their eyes and I was asked to go into a room with another officer who questioned me for over one hour as to the purpose of my visit in Israel. When I explained that I wanted to stay until late September, he coolly explained to me that it was “illegal” for me to be granted more than a month in the country (although he could offer no sound reasoning) and proceeded to stamp my passport with a three-month stamp, then corrected it by hand to permit me one month only.... more.. e-mail

The Palestinian Bar Mitzvah
Bassam Aramin writing from occupied Jerusalem, Electronic Intifada 7/21/2008

     My son Arab is 14, just past the age that his Jewish Israeli peers are celebrating their Bar Mitzvahs. This ceremony in Jewish culture is a rite of passage that marks a boy’s entrance into the realities and responsibilities of adulthood. And last week, my son experienced something akin to the Palestinian Bar Mitzvah.
     It was a beautiful day on Friday the 12 July when Arab went with his friends to the beach in Tiberias. He spent all of his time in the days leading up to the trip trying to convince me that I should let him go. At first I refused -- he’s young to be traveling so far in a group without his parents. But then I remembered the regret I still feel about the death of my daughter Abir.
     Abir was ten when she was killed by Israeli occupation forces on 16 January 2007 in front of her school in Anata. That morning, when she asked her mother and me for permission to play with her friends after school, I’d refused. I told her, "Don’t even think of coming home late, come back right away so you can prepare for your next exam." And she answered me with the last words I ever heard from her, petulant and innocent. "Well, I’m going to be late." She was angry with me. She was late that day, but not because she met her friends. A bullet from an Israeli border patrolman found her instead, and she never came back. I regret having refused her request, not knowing that it would be her last -- that she would be late despite me and despite herself. more.. e-mail

An open letter to Ehud Barak
Bassam Aramin, Translated by Mimi Asnes, Palestine Think Tank 7/21/2008

     Honorable General Ehud Barak, you don’t know me personally. I am a seeker of peace, and I struggle with all my strength and ability for the realization of a just peace that will bring calm and prosperity to Palestinians and Israelis together. I have suffered personally from your criminal occupation and I have paid a heavy price. Firstly, I was imprisoned when I was 17 years old and wasted seven years of my life in your barbaric prisons. Secondly, have you perhaps read or heard about what happened to the young girl Abir Aramin? She was a ten-year-old that your soldiers killed with a rubber bullet from a distance of 15 feet on January 16th, 2007 in front of her eleven-year-old sister Areen. Despite this I, the father of Abir—may she rest in peace—believe in the right of the Israeli person, as in the right of all people, to exist and to live in peace and security. So why do you not believe in our right to enjoy these same things, sir?
     Where was the democratic nature of your state when your heroic soldiers killed my daughter before the eyes of her friends at the entrance to her school in Anata? Where were your democratic ideals when you closed the investigation file into Abir’s murder for lack of sufficient evidence, this despite the fact that the crime is clear and was committed in front of more than ten witnesses? Was Abir really a threat to your soliders, sir? more.. e-mail

Arab Mediation Efforts Undermined by Lack of Accountability
Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 7/21/2008

     The unprecedented success of recent Arab mediation vis-a-vis Lebanon raises the question of whether Arab mediation is a viable route to take in other conflicts and matters of Arab concern.
     The escalation in tensions that led to an outbreak of violent confrontations two months ago in Lebanon created widespread fear that another civil war might erupt. This brought Arab countries, first represented by the Arab League and later the leadership of Qatar, to exert pressure on the different Lebanese parties to sit down for reconciliation. This in turn led to agreement resulting in the creation of a new national unity government.
     One of the main lessons from that experience is that since the Lebanese tensions were partly a reflection of the conflicting interests of Arab countries supporting different Lebanese parties, a solution was possible only when these competing governments were willing to reconcile. The fact that Syria and Saudi Arabia were part of the collective Arab effort was a significant and decisive factor in ensuring its success. more.. e-mail

While Nablus is raided: Gordon Brown, another false prophet praises Israel
Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 7/21/2008

     As British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was having an audience with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, the Israeli occupation army was raping anew the Palestinian town of Nablus, rounding up and humiliating innocent people, violating homes and vandalizing businesses.
     On Sunday and early Monday, the so-called Israeli Defense Forces raided the northern city, for the fourth time in less than three weeks, as thousands of CIA-trained Palestinian security personnel were watching from their comfortable headquarters nearby.
     The invading forces arrested dozens of innocent people, including a lawmaker named Muna Mansur, the wife of an Islamic political leader who was murdered by a Jewish death squad while sitting in his office in downtown Nablus several years ago. more.. e-mail

American Jews on Jerusalem: We’ll Probably Never Go There, But Palestinians Can’t Share It!
Philip Weiss, Palestine Think Tank 7/20/2008

     The new alternative Jewish lobby is proving its worth. Yesterday J Street released a detailed survey of American Jewish political opinion. J Street interprets this data in a favorable way to its own efforts, saying that overwhelmingly Jews vote Democratic, oppose Bush’s actions in the Middle East, and want a two-state solution– by 3 to 1. But you know me, I’m skeptical about progressive claims about Jewish opinion with respect to the Middle East, and I find support here. What the study shows is that when you get to brass tacks about Israel, American Jews are hawkish.
     Yes, they have an unfavorable view of Joe Lieberman (by 48 to 37 favorable). Yes they will support Obama (but only 60-34 over McCain; bad news for Obama, who wants to get to 70 or 80). Yes they are for talking to Iran, not attacking it (Great!). Yes they are for an aggressive U.S. peacemaking role in the Middle East. Yes they call for sacrifices by Israel to achieve peace. Yes they disavow the neocons! Memo to Doug Feith: 13 percent of American Jews have a favorable view of neocons, 58 percent an unfavorable view, man you are in deep doo-doo. But under that is a hard core of hawkishness.
     Consider these data points. By 60-28 Jews are more-likely-than-less likely to support a candidate who says that Israel is America’s greatest ally and we must let the world know that and we must never publicly disagree with Israel. When you make the statement more hawkish–America must do everything it can to protect Israel’s security, even if that means attacking Iran if it pursues nuclear weapons, and cutting off aid to Palestinians if their text books don’t recognize Israel, there is still a 48 more-likely to 41 less-likely split. Jews are tough when it comes to Israel! If a candidate were to say, Israel has repeatedly extended her hand to her enemies and been rejected year after year, and we must work with Israel to eliminate her enemies, Jews will love you– 65/23. more.. e-mail

There are no losers if talks proliferate
Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 7/19/2008

     The fact, announced this week, that the third-ranking US State Department official will join the international talks with Iran in Geneva today is a smart move, not a humiliating defeat for the United States. Israel for its part was forced to swallow its pride and its words Wednesday when it exchanged Lebanese prisoners for the bodies of its two soldiers whom Hizbullah had abducted in 2006, sparking that summer’s war.
     Both the US and Israel are doing things they had said they would never do: the US sits and talks with Iran before Tehran has suspended uranium enrichment, and Israel does a diplomatic deal to retrieve its soldiers’ bodies after it had failed to achieve that goal by vicious and prolonged warfare. The fact that the US and Israel were both politically humbled on the same day has been widely interpreted as victories for Iran and Hizbullah. That is too simplistic a reading of the dynamics in the region.
     Hizbullah and Iran generate widespread support among Arab public opinion because they defy and resist the US and its allies. Iran and Hizbullah have emerged as the vanguards and bookends of a broad, loose coalition of forces - parties, militias, governments, grassroots movements and several hundred million ordinary men and women - that have stood up to US-Israeli military might and diplomatic swagger, and in places successfully faced them down. They have fought the US-Israeli-Arab conservative alliance to a draw, but they have not defeated their ideological foes. more.. e-mail

No closer
Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/17/2008

     As Fatah seeks to extend the presidency of Abbas by diktat, it is Abbas that is resisting by all means national reconciliation dialogue with Hamas.
     During their recent meeting in Damascus, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad failed to convince Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to them meeting together with Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas’s Damascus-based politburo. An informed source told Al-Ahram Weekly that Abbas justified his resolute refusal to meet Meshaal on account that Meshaal had sent a letter to Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa blaming Abbas’s call for dialogue for opening an Israeli military campaign against the Gaza Strip.
     Abbas told Al-Assad that he considered the letter a blatant accusation of conspiring with Israel in planning attacks on Gaza. Ahmed Youssef, top advisor to dismissed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, holds that Abbas’s reasons for refusing to meet Meshaal are untenable, adding that his reference to Meshaal’s "supposed" letter to Moussa is meant to "cover the presence of a US-Israeli veto over dialogue, for Abbas has no intention of angering Tel Aviv and Washington." more.. e-mail

Met with silence
Khaled Amayreh in Nablus, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/17/2008

     Recent Israeli army aggressions against Palestinian charities, beauty salons and shops show unequivocally that Israel is morally lost.
     If you still think there are red lines that Israel has not crossed with regard to its treatment of Palestinians, don’t be too sure. In recent days and weeks, the Israeli army has been vandalising, ransacking and confiscating Palestinian civilian institutions in the West Bank’s largest towns and cities, including Ramallah, the seat of the so-called Palestinian government.
     Frustrated eyewitnesses and tearful victims spoke of "unprecedented brutality" and "Gestapo-like behaviour" as Israeli occupation forces moved throughout the central and northern West Bank to destroy what was left of the Palestinian charity sector upon which thousands of impoverished Palestinian families depend for their livelihood.
     Israel had been targeting orphanages and boarding schools as well as soup kitchens and sewing workshops serving orphans in the Hebron region. The campaign of terror, with many hair- raising scenes of cruelty and moral callousness, has seriously raised the level of hostility and hatred for Israel. more.. e-mail

Palestinian hope withers, Hizb al-Tahrir flourishes
Omran Risheq, Daily Star 7/21/2008

     The failure of the Palestinian national movement and its shaken credibility in the public eye are giving strength to religious movements, which are expanding to fill a widening gap. But the movements that are gaining are not Hamas or Islamic Jihad, which gained their legitimacy more or less as other Palestinian movements did: by taking part in the liberation struggle while upholding the aspiration to establish an independent national state. Rather, there are now other Islamist parties and groups that deny the national project and are hostile toward democratic and social freedoms.
     Perhaps the most influential of these movements, and the one with the clearest political platform, is the Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (the Islamic Liberation Party), which was founded in Jerusalem in 1953 by the Islamic judge Taqieddine al-Nabhani. Hizb al-Tahrir made the idea of resurrecting the caliphate a permanent watchword of its political activity and a religious duty, in addition to being a panacea for the political, economic, and social problems of the world’s Muslims. According to its beliefs, the caliphate will not be founded through popular revolution, but rather through a military coup in a Muslim country. The caliph will then proceed to conquer the world, including liberating Palestine from the Jews. It is worth noting that this theory largely replicates the Marxist-Leninist vision of revolution as led by a vanguard adopting its ideas as a way to take power. more.. e-mail

Arab order options in Iraq
Sameh Rashed, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/17/2008

     The US and its Iraqi clients are to sign a long-term security agreement, rejected by the Iraqi people. The Arabs must take a position and act.
     As intense as the controversy over Iraqi-US negotiations on a security agreement has been and as diverse as the opinions have been on both sides, not a single Arab position on the issue has yet emerged. One cannot help but to wonder at the total Arab silence on a development that will affect the security and very future of an Arab country that serves as a gateway to the entire Arab region. Surely this seeming indifference conflicts with considerations of Arab national security and strategic regional interests. Even from the perspective of the interests and welfare of each individual Arab country one would think that Arab officials would show a little more concern for a possible contractual arrangement for perpetuating the US occupation of Iraq because such a precedent could be repeated in other Arab countries. more.. e-mail

The dogs of virtual war
Amira Nowaira, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/17/2008

     Dutch politician Geert Wilders’s film Fitna is an alarming new episode in the ’clash of civilisations,’ this time fomented in cyberspace.
     A new global war has broken out. But this war is not taking place in any geographical or political location we know of. Instead, the arena is cyberspace. Here, the tools of destruction are not the smart missiles or cluster bombs one might expect to find in modern warfare. In this battle the participants brandish videos and flaunt words in a "holy struggle" against their opponents, using multimedia munitions and the well-known strategies of warfare: cunning, deceit and unapologetic exaggeration.
     This is certainly the feeling I got the moment I entered the five letters of the Arabic word fitna into a Web browser to search for Dutch politician Geert Wilders’s short "documentary" film of the same name. This has not ceased to elicit conflicting responses since its release in March 2008, ranging from angry denunciation and vehement condemnation by Muslims and Muslim supporters, to unquestioning approbation by right-wing factions and sympathisers, as well as by those throughout the western world who are in the grip of holy terror of anything and everything Muslim. more.. e-mail

A warrior’s rest
Amira Howeidy, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/17/2008

     This week’s prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hizbullah marks a new chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
     The images transmitted from South Lebanon and northern Israel spoke volumes. Broadcast around the world at 9:30am yesterday from Lebanon, footage showed two plain black boxes -- coffins -- containing the corpses of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev captured by Hizbullah two years ago. Across the border, five healthy looking handcuffed Lebanese prisoners held by Israel completed the story that took two years and a war to end.
     The seven -- two dead, five alive -- were swapped in a high- profile exchange deal between Hizbullah and Israel. In the deal, Hizbullah was due to receive the remains of 190 Lebanese, Syrian, Libyan, Palestinian and Tunisian fighters who died resisting Israeli occupation over the past three decades. For its part, Israel also was to gain information on an Israeli soldier who went missing in Lebanon 22 years ago. more.. e-mail

Still illegal
Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/17/2008

     Four years on, Palestinians still demand that the World Court’s ruling on Israel’s apartheid wall be implemented, writes in the West Bank Click to view caption Palestinian demonstrators gather at the apartheid wall during a protest marking the fourth anniversary since the International Court of Justice called for partial demolition of the wall in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Hanin On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled as illegal the so- called "separation wall" -- the gigantic barrier Israel had been building in the West Bank.
     The wall has not yet been completed, mainly due to procedural and financial problems. But when completed, it would devour nearly 46 per cent of the West Bank, 10 per cent of which would be isolated on the "Israeli" side of the barrier. This almost certainly means annexation.
     This is added to East Jerusalem and surrounding Arab villages, which constitutes four per cent of the occupied West Bank. Israel has already cordoned East Jerusalem, with its estimated quarter of a million Palestinians, with an eight- metre high barrier, cutting them off from the rest of the West Bank. more.. e-mail

Unease Over West Bank Raids
Griff Witte, MIFTAH 7/19/2008

     When Faris Abu Hasan was deciding where to send his two young daughters to school, one factor stood out above all others: test scores.
     So Abu Hasan opted against the beleaguered local government school, and chose instead the Islamic Basic School for Girls, where the classes were small and the teachers offered individual attention in math, science, history and English.
     "I wanted them to go to the best school in Nablus. And this is the best school in Nablus," said Abu Hasan, a lawyer.
     But the school is associated with Hamas, the Islamist movement that Israel considers a terrorist organization. One night last week, the Israeli military raided the school -- confiscating computers, trashing desks and ripping student artwork from the walls. The school was ordered shut for three years.
     The operation was part of a much broader crackdown that Israel has recently initiated in the occupied West Bank against Hamas’s extensive social services network. While Hamas is probably best known for its military wing -- which champions attacks against the Jewish state -- it is the group’s sponsorship of schools, medical centers, orphanages and food banks that gives it much of its power and helped it sweep Palestinian elections in 2006. more.. e-mail

Israeli Attacks Backfire, Unite Hamas, Fatah
Mel Frykberg, MIFTAH 7/19/2008

     During the last few weeks Israeli troops have raided and closed down mosques, medical centers, charities, soup kitchens and shopping malls in Nablus, confiscating computers and buses, and causing extensive damage, as they target Hamas-linked institutions which they claim are "supporting terrorism," in a bid to stem the growing influence the Islamic organization has over the West Bank.
     Not only has this move failed to stem the enthusiasm and empathy many Palestinians have for Hamas, and the support it provides for disadvantaged Palestinians; but it also appears to be backfiring with the moderate and pro-Western Palestinian Authority (PA) and in the process, narrowing the gap, however minutely, between the PA and Hamas.
     In an act of solidarity, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad paid a visit to the shopping mall and encouraged shop owners and business managers in the center to reopen their shops despite threats from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) which stated it would shortly take over ownership. more.. e-mail

One-room houses in the stories of struggle and hunger
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 7/19/2008

     Nablus -- Poverty and destruction are ravaging the Old City of Nablus as Israel forces continue to the attacks and closures. More families are living in smaller spaces, with one room becoming common. Bringing food for a family is increasingly difficult.
     The Old City has a population of 30,000 and it has been referred to as a "disaster area." The ancient buildings are frequently destroyed, while the tanks or bulldozers that periodically plow through shake the underground Roman city to the point of further destruction.
     The Al Aqaba family is representative of hundreds of families in the Old City who are facing unemployment, overcrowding, and imprisoned family members.
     The room they live in does not exceed six meters square which is used during the day to receive guests and at night the children whose parents are imprisoned sleep there along with their grandmother. They are 11 year old Samah and her brother, 12 year old Jihad. Their parents were sentenced to 18 and 13 years in Israeli prison. more.. e-mail

A West Bank Town’s Fight to Survive
Neve Gordon, MIFTAH 7/19/2008

     "Jerusalem bulldozer ’terrorist’ kills 3 in rampage," read the headline of a CNN article describing the recent attack of a Palestinian construction worker that left three Israelis dead and scores wounded. A Google news search indicates that the brutal assault was mentioned in 3,525 news articles. USA Today, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, BBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera as well as all the other major media outlets covered the incident. Lesser-known media sources, such as the Khaleej Times in the United Arab Emirates, the Edmonton Sun in Canada and B92 in Serbia, also featured the event. Indeed, one could safely assume that almost all news outlets around the globe provided some type of coverage of the attack.
     Another Google news search, this one using the name Ni’lin, produces only seventy-five results. A few major outlets have carried the story about the brave resistance to Israeli seizures of land staged by the residents of this Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank, but CNN, the LA Times and USA Today have not. Sources like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times provided a short caption, no more. Considering that over the past two months the residents of Ni’lin have managed to make a mark on the history of popular opposition, the limited coverage of their campaign is not a mere oversight. more.. e-mail

Militants Cast Doubt on Gaza Ceasefire
Omar Karmi, MIFTAH 7/19/2008

     Amir al Sharif is keen to talk. For nearly two hours he does so almost non-stop, opining that Hamas was originally supported by Israel’s Shin Bet security service to challenge the PLO and Fatah. He said since then the Islamist movement had never missed an opportunity to weaken Fatah and complained that since Hamas had agreed to a ceasefire with the “Zionist enemy”, it was acting as “Israel’s policeman” in the Gaza Strip.
     A few years ago, almost the exact same rhetoric would have been heard from a Hamas leader in hiding. But the tables have turned in the Gaza Strip, and where Islamist militants once were on the run from both the direct rulers of Gaza – in the shape of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority – as well as the Israeli army, it is now Fatah militants.
     And with ordinary Gazans yet to feel any tangible change in their daily lives as a result of the Gaza ceasefire, opposition to an otherwise broadly supported ceasefire may grow.
     Mr Sharif, 34, is the leader of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a militant group affiliated to Fatah, in the Gaza Strip. In the wake of the Gaza ceasefire, the Brigades fired rockets across the border almost wrecking the hard-wrought Egyptian-mediated agreement. Mr Sharif is now wanted by Hamas. more.. e-mail

Different Planets
Uri Avnery, Middle East Online 7/19/2008

     I spent the whole day flipping between the Israeli channels and Aljazeera.
     It was an eerie experience: in a fraction of a second I could switch between two worlds, but all the channels reported on exactly the same occasion. In one section of the breaking news, the events happened at a distance of a few dozen meters from each other, but they could just as well have happened on two different planets.
     Never before have I experienced the tragic conflict in such a stunning immediacy as last Wednesday, the day of the prisoner swap between the State of Israel and the Hezbollah organization.
     The man who stood at the center of the event personifies the abyss that separates the two worlds, the Israeli and the Arab: Samir al-Kuntar.
     All Israeli media call him "Murderer Kuntar", as if that were his first name. For the Arab media, he is "Hero Samir al-Kuntar".
     29 years ago, before Hezbollah had become a significant factor, he landed with his comrades on the beach of Nahariya and carried out an attack that has imprinted itself on the Israeli national memory with its cruelty. In the course of it, a four year-old girl was murdered, and a mother accidentally suffocated her small child while trying to keep it from giving away their hiding place. Kuntar was then 16 years old - not a Palestinian, nor a Shiite, but a Lebanese Druze and a communist. The action was set in motion by a small Palestinian fraction. more.. e-mail

Shebaa Farms can Create Momentum for Peace
Cesar Chelala, MIFTAH 7/19/2008

     Shebaa Farms is a sliver of land located in the border area between Israel, Lebanon and Syria. It can play an important role, much larger than its size. An agreement on that area – located some 16 square miles on the western slopes of the Hermon Mountain range – can help create a much-needed momentum for peace in the region.
     After Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah justified its attacks against the country by claiming Israel’s withdrawal was incomplete, that the Shebaa Farms belonged to Lebanon. Neither Israel nor the United Nations shared this perspective at the time. But there is now renewed interest in that area. During a visit to Lebanon last June, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “The United States believes that the time has come to deal with the Shebaa Farms issue.” Ms. Rice also called on the United Nations to use its “good offices” to deal with this issue.
     The Shebaa Farms were captured during the 1967 Six Day War—concurrent with the capture of the Golan Heights from Syria, at a time when Lebanon was not an active participant of the war. Israel considered the area part of Syria, and extended Israeli law when it annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. This unilateral annexation was not recognised by the United Nations in its non-binding 497 resolution. That resolution, adopted unanimously, states that “the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.” more.. e-mail

Ruling Palestine Ii: The West Bank Model?
International Crisis Group, MIFTAH 7/19/2008

     In June 2007, as Hamas took control of Gaza and a new government was formed in the West Bank, observers ventured two scenarios. The West Bank might become a model, whose economic revival and improved relations with Israel and the wider world contrasted with Gaza’s sorry fate; or, given continued occupation and the structural dysfunctionality of the Palestinian Authority (PA), it would see little progress. Both were wrong. Under Salam Fayyad’s competent leadership, it has made gains, particularly in law and order.
     But a model it is not. The advances are insufficient to persuade Israel to loosen the closure regime or halt military incursions deemed critical to its security. Absence of a functioning parliament and Palestinian security services’ harsh tactics against Hamas sympathisers are inconsistent with accountable, transparent, legitimate governance. Israel and the PA should improve coordination; their international partners should prod them to do so, while giving significant financial aid. But ending the geographic division and restoring parliamentary democracy are critical for longer term stability. more.. e-mail

Photostory: A culture of survival amidst a ravaged geography
Umayyah Cable, Electronic Intifada 7/18/2008

     For most Americans, Palestine does not exist. Yet it is present enough to be seen as a faceless enemy. A dangerous and unwelcoming land, a breeding ground for fundamentalist Islam, teeming with angry anti-American Jihadists, Palestine is, in the American imagination, a ravaged landscape devoid of culture and joy. Growing up half-Palestinian in the United States, I have been fighting to disprove these assumptions my entire life. Whether trying to reassure my peers in childhood that my family is not composed of terrorists, or repeatedly having to explain the difference between Palestine and Pakistan, not a week has gone by in my life in which I have not had to clarify misconceptions about my heritage.
     In many ways this project is a labor of love with regards to my personal struggle with my identity, as well as an homage to my family and community. These photographs stray from the traditional tract of imagery produced in present day photojournalism, mainly because they are lacking in overt political expression. I did not photograph the intifada or children throwing stones. On the contrary, I chose a more domestic and intimate approach towards Palestinians living under occupation so that the humanity of this population can be seen without the controversial politics obstructing the viewer’s opinion. I chose people over politics in the hope that the messages of social justice and equality will ring truer than those of ideology or bigotry. more.. e-mail

Caught between sobbing and war chants
Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 7/18/2008

     Monitoring the current Israeli collective pornographic lament in the Hebrew press, I found, to my amazement, a critical editorial written by Dr Mordechai Keidar, an Israeli rightwing academic.
     "Our enemies," says Keidar, "see in front of them a frenetic, emotional, weeping, corrupted, hedonistic, possessive and liberal nation. People who grab and eat, people who lack historical roots, people who are short of ideology, naked of values, lack a sense of solidarity. People who are only concerned with the "˜here and now’, people who are happy to pay any price without taking into account the grave consequences of their reckless behaviour."
     It is slightly encouraging to find out that someone in Israel may realize how severely the Israeli reality is viewed. Keidar grasps how pitiable the current collective mourning festival appears to outsiders and Israel’s neighbours in particular. As much as one can empathise with the pain of the soldiers’ families, Regev and Goldwasser were IDF soldiers in uniform serving a very hostile army. When abducted they were in a military patrol on the disputed Lebanese border. For those who still didn’t get the picture, they were soldiers rather than merely "˜innocent civilians’. They were theoretically capable of defending themselves. The case of Gilad Shalit is not very different. Shalit, who is presented in the world media as an "˜innocent victim’ was nothing less then a post guard in an Israeli concentration camp, namely Gaza.... -- See also: Dr Mordechai Keidar more.. e-mail

Hour: It takes a village
Stefan Christoff, Hour, International Solidarity Movement 7/18/2008

     Palestinians take Israeli settlements to Quebec court
     7/17/2008 - Palestinians in Bil’in hold their ground
     Bil’in, a small Palestinian town in the West Bank, stands to make legal history in Canada. Palestinians from Bil’in have filed a lawsuit in Quebec Superior Court against two sister companies registered in Quebec, Green Park International and Green Mount International, currently constructing in Modi’in Illit, an exclusive Israeli settlement on lands within Bil’in’s municipal jurisdiction.
     "Bil’in village and human rights attorneys both share the same goal in this legal battle - to put pressure on companies or even investors internationally to halt their involvement in illegal Israeli settlement construction," explains Michael Sfard, an Israeli lawyer representing Bil’in. “Israeli settlement construction is the number one obstacle to lasting peace, as settlements are forcing Palestinian people from their lands, from their homes, from their towns.”. more.. e-mail

VP European Parliament: Tony Blair is not performing his duty
Luisa Morgantini, Palestine News Network 7/18/2008

     It is a very negative signal that the International Quartet Envoy Tony Blair’s planned trip to the Gaza was cancelled early this week on Tuesday following what was described as "specific security threats that made the visit impossible."
     Last June as a delegation of the European Parliament we visited the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
     Our visit in Gaza was perfectly coordinated by UNRWA, and we did not feel any sort of insecurity, but only despair and responsibility looking at the living conditions of the Palestinian population under an illegal siege (don’t worry we also went to see the danger and the damages of the rockets fired on Sderot).
     I really hope that the Israeli authorities’ pressures or other forces are not behind this decision by Tony Blair not to go to the Gaza Strip; using the threat of security in order to prevent him from witnessing the disaster of the blockade. more.. e-mail

Reflections on the Israel-Hezbollah Prisoner Swap Deal
Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 7/17/2008

     The latest prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hezbollah is a healthy indicator thatat least some Arabs are beginning to understand the depraved Zionist mentality, and act accordingly. Such mentality is based on arrogance, insolence, and religious and ethnic superiority.
     Israel, a country whose collective mindset views non-Jews as virtual animals or at least lesser human beings, had to face a new enemy, an enemy that will not be scared by overwhelming brutality, but one that will meet Israel’s state terror with toughness, resilience,valor and defiance.
     This is a new reality that Israelis, especially Israeli leaders, have yetto come to terms with, especially psychologically.
     This explains the deep frustration that is apparent in the tone of Israeli leaders reacting to the latest swap deal, especially the fact that Israel has been forced to releasethe Lebanese guerilla Samir Kuntar. more.. e-mail

Fundamentalism with nuances
Reviewed by Sreeram Chaulia, Asia Times 7/19/2008

     BOOK REVIEW - Hamas in Politics by Joeroen Gunning - Since the 2006 election victory of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the big debate has been whether a hawkish militant movement could evolve into an accommodative political actor. The answer could determine whether Israel and the United States will ever allow a full-fledged Palestinian state to emerge. As long as Tel Aviv and Washington fear Hamas taking over an independent Palestinian state and turning it into a jihadi paradise, a final settlement will be delayed.
     In a new book based on extensive field research, British political scientist Jeroen Gunning argues that although Hamas is self-consciously motivated by Islamism, its practices are "confined by necessity and opportunity" (p 55). His thesis is that Hamas is a changing product of a dynamic environment and should not be judged as an unmoving monolith.
     Hamas was launched in 1987 as the quietist Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood’s paramilitary wing. It was a move by the Brotherhood to remain politically relevant when radicalization was becoming the norm under the first Intifada. Hamas outgrew its creators and soon became the central Islamist player by virtue of sound grassroots organization and deft relationships with donors in the Gulf Arab states. Its heterogeneous and decentralized structure, with an internal leadership separated from an external leadership, helped expand following from wide sections of Palestinian society. more.. e-mail

Media manipulations: The child was called a murderer while the soldier was called a '˜boy’
Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 7/16/2008

     One of today’s main articles on the Guardian reads "˜Israel exchanges Lebanese murderer for bodies of two captured soldiers’.
     When anyone in the English reading world sees this title and what follows in the article, he or she would immediately think that one of the persons mentioned is a vicious murderer while the others are innocent persons. This is a good example of media manipulation and steering of the public views, aiming to charge the public to hate one side and to sympathize with the other.
     The story is about the swap of the oldest Lebanese prisoner in Israel, Samir Kuntar, in return of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who died inside the Lebanese territories while on a military mission.
     What were the two soldiers doing on another sovereign country’s land, and why did they sneak there? Of course describing them as soldiers, one would think they were working inside the borders of their own country when they died, defending their soil.... more.. e-mail

The Colour of Water '' Thirst in the Palestinian Territories
Alice Gray, Palestine Monitor 7/16/2008

     This article was first published in the magazine of the YMCA/YWCA Joint Advocacy Initiative, East Jerusalem.
     "œWho says water has no colour, flavour or smell? Water does have a colour that reveals itself in the unfolding of thirst........And water has the flavour of water, and a fragrance that is the scent of the afternoon breeze blown from a field with full ears of wheat waving in a luminous expanse strewn like the flickering spots of light left by the wings of a small sparrow fluttering low." - Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness, August, Beirut, 1982.
     "œWater is fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a healthy life in human dignity. It is a pre-requisite to the realization of all other human rights." - United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
     The water crisis has started early this year in the Palestinian Territories.
     In scores of towns and villages throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, people listen eagerly for the gurgle of water in pipelines, and turn on their taps with trepidation, watching anxiously for the first drops to appear, waiting to see if they turn into a stream, or splutter and gurgle to nothing after a few seconds. Others watch and wait for the arrival of water tankers, transporting the life-giving liquid to them from distant sources across an obstacle course of road blocks, checkpoints and military closures put in place by the Israeli Authorities, an inherent feature of their ongoing military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian Territories. more.. e-mail

A family under siege
Philip Rizk writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 7/16/2008

     At the end of my visit they started asking me to take pictures for their brothers, uncles, sons and fathers detained in Israeli prisons for over four months -- a picture of a newborn not yet seen by the imprisoned father, one father’s favorite girl and a picture of the detainees’ pictures hanging on the wall to let the prisoners know they are missed, they are celebrated.
     On 19 March Israel rounded up Assad Salach and his sons Fahmi and Salach and Assad’s brother Sa’id and his son Ghassan along with over 300 men age 16 and above along its northern border with the Gaza Strip. It is not the first time that Israel arrests the male members of the Salach family.
     These days when homemade Qassam rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip they are usually launched from within the cities, not these border areas. Thus, it makes little sense for these men to be arrested solely for security purposes. Rather, it seems to be a method of pushing the families inhabiting the border areas into the cities and deserting their only source of income, their land. Israel is successfully destroying the potential of the fruit basket of the densely populated Strip. The once luscious green land is now reduced to an arid no-man’s-land, easily monitored by Israel’s security towers and drones overlooking it all. But more importantly the economic crisis caused by this ongoing intentional de-development of Gaza’s economy is destroying the society’s makeup. more.. e-mail

No Mediterranean Union shortcut around Arab-Israeli conflict
Hasan Abu Nimah, Electronic Intifada 7/16/2008

     French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to establish a Union for the Mediterranean. The idea of cooperation between countries north and south of the Mediterranean is by no means new. Decades ago the European Community had envisaged closer ties of partnership with the Maghreb countries. Those countries had been a secure source of cheap labour for Western European industry in past times. Through trade, 19th and 20th century European colonial policies and cultural and economic interaction, Arab communities had grown in various European countries, mainly those on the Mediterranean northern rim. It became natural as a result for both sides to harvest the historic process in a manner that served mutual interests.
     Later in time, those foreign communities turned burdensome. The tendency of people from the poor south to migrate by any available means, sometimes illegal, to the prosperous north in pursuit of jobs and better living conditions, had eventually led to the formation of ghetto-like foreign quarters in some European capitals. With conditions for integration often difficult, the presence of those foreign communities had sharpened the contrast between different cultures rather than acting as the desired catalyst for cultural and social interaction. more.. e-mail

Whose Crimes? Against Whose Humanity?
Rami Khouri, Middle East Online 7/16/2008

     WASHINGTON, DC -- We stand before a decisive moment today, with the demand July 14, by a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a warrant to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on ten charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, for his policies in Darfur. This is a moment of historical reckoning for the leaders and people of the Arab world. How the Arab world responds to this challenge may well determine whether our region collectively shows its desire to affirm the rule of law as its guiding principle, or instead moves deeper into the realm of dysfunctional, brittle and violent statehood as its defining collective identity.
     It is a classic example of how the Arab world is politically tortured and ethically convoluted by its twin status as both victim and perpetrator of various crimes and atrocities. President Bashir is being accused and may be tried -- at one level. But at another level, many in the Middle East and elsewhere will ask if this is a new form of racism and colonialism that applies different standards of accountability for different countries. more.. e-mail

Détente or Hidden Agendas? A sign of 'The Times'
Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 7/15/2008

     Back in 2003 I wrote, “If ‘world peace’ is our main concern, we must achieve a balance of power, we must let the oppressed people of this world have access to the most advanced weaponry…. Balance of power is the only key to peace.” Nowadays, when Israel and its supportive lobbies are doing everything within their powers to drag us all into a third world war, I find it necessary to say it again. The only way to spare the Middle East and the entire world from another devastating cycle of bloodshed is to let the Iranians have their nuclear toy. But it goes even further, seemingly, the only way to save the Jewish state from its merciless parade of belligerent omnipotence is to let Iran join the nuclear club ASAP. The only thing that may cool down the Zionist militant genocidal enthusiasm is an overwhelming Iranian might of deterrence.
     But it isn’t only Iran. The only possible way to bring peace to the region is to equip Syria, the Hezbollah and the Hamas with the exact weaponry that would help make the Israelis think twice. As much as the Israelis love to punish their enemies they really hate to pay the ultimate price. Once the Israelis become aware of the clear possibility of their own destruction, they may rapidly develop some real inclination towards peace and reconciliation. more.. e-mail

Can we Count on Obama?
Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 7/16/2008

     When Barak Obama first appeared as a presidential candidate, it was as if a tiny breath of fresh air had swept across America, making its way over the Atlantic and into the lungs of Palestinians desperate for a change in the almighty Oval Office. Palestinians aren’t that naïve, however, to actually believe Obama could ever make any significant change to their plight, vis-à-vis Israel’s occupation over their lands. Still, his face was young and fresh, he had a Muslim – albeit estranged – father and he was black, thus establishing some common ground between them.
     The love affair was short lived however, tainted with episodes of betrayal. While Obama understandably sang to the tune of any presidential candidate who strives for half a chance, pledging his support to Israel and its security, Obama managed to distance himself slightly from the usual gushing associated with support for the Jewish state.
     For one, Obama was clear about his intentions to push the peace process forward, saying he undeniably supports the establishment of a Palestinian state and would actively work towards realizing this goal. The Palestinians seem to believe him as well, unlike their lack of faith in the current US President George W. Bush who "talks the talk" of a vision of a Palestinian state but certainly doesn’t "walk the walk." more.. e-mail

Meet the Lebanese Press: Free at last!
Hicham Safieddine, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 7/16/2008

     The petty politics of forming a national "unity" government in Lebanon will be overshadowed this week by a development with local and regional implications. All Lebanese political prisoners still held in Israeli jails will return home. Five in total, including Samir Kuntar, the dean of Arab detainees, who has spent close to three decades of his life in captivity. (See details of the deal as ratified by the Israeli cabinet and published in As-Safir below.)
     With the return of prisoners, another chapter of Hizballah’s struggle against Israel has closed. This raises a set of questions not only about the future rules of engagement between the organization and Israeli forces, but Hizballah’s internal political agenda and its regional policies vis-a-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict.This latter point is particularly important in light of regional tensions between the US and its Arab and Israeli allies and Hizballah’s long-standing relationship with Iran and Syria. Ibrahim al-Amine of Al-Akhbar explores what this agenda might look like.
     Meanwhile, painstaking haggling between the different Lebanese factions has given birth to a 30-member government with 11 seats for the opposition, three for the president, and 16 for the loyalist camp. Concern about making gains ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections prompted the two leading groups in each camp, the Hariri-led Mustaqbal movement and Hizballah, to make concessions to their Christian allies. more.. e-mail

The Israel-Hizballah prisoner deal
Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 7/16/2008

     The Israeli cabinet’s decision to strike a prisoner-exchange deal with the Hizballah movement in Lebanon -- on the eve of the anniversary of the war between the two sides of 12 July-14 August 2006 -- will not be remembered as one of Israel’s most glorious moments. Even its chief architect, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has referred to the deal in terms of "sadness" and "humiliation" while it has been staunchly opposed by the heads of Israel’s internal-security agency (Shin Bet) and foreign-intelligence agency (Mossad), as well as by a number of Israeli politicians across the political spectrum. Indeed, the exchange of captives itself (or in the case of two Israeli soldiers whose seizure precipitated the 2006 war, their remains), which is planned to occur by 16-17 July 2008 at latest, can be described as a replay of what Israel’s own investigative commission into that war regarded as a historic defeat.
     True, Israel has made similar deals in the past -- some involving the release of much larger numbers of prisoners than the five Lebanese to be freed this time. But the very nature of the current exchange, as well as its strategic implications, renders it a zero-sum game in which Israel loses and Hizballah again emerges triumphant. In implementing it, Israel will effectively fulfill Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s "truthful promise" to secure the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel (the original aim of the operation Hizballah carried out on 12 July 2006 when it abducted two Israeli soldiers on the Israel-Lebanon border) and reconfirm his oft-repeated slogan: "just as I always used to promise you victory, now I promise you victory once again." The overall impact will be to give these popular catchphrases the appearance of strategic foresights. more.. e-mail

The General of Onions and Garlic
Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Palestine Monitor 7/16/2008

     Here is the "next thing" in the war against terror: the war against hairdressers. After Hamas took over half the Palestinian people, in no small measure because of Israel’s policies, after we tried to fight Hamas with weapons and siege, destruction and killing, mass arrests and deportations, the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service have invented something new: a war on shopping malls, bakeries, schools and orphanages. First in Hebron, now in Nablus. The IDF is closing beauty salons, clothing stores and clinics, and even one dairy farm, all on the pretext that they are connected to Hamas, or the rent they pay is given to a terror organization.
     These bizarre pictures of a closure order issued by the general of command, stuck on the window of a cosmetics store or a physiotherapy center, of a confiscation order stuck to a pita oven, show that the Israeli occupation has gone crazy. A few months ago I visited the charity institutions and commercial centers the IDF has begun closing in Hebron; I saw infuriatingly absurd scenes. A modern school, intended for 1,200 students, standing closed on orders of the GOC, and a library for young people about to shut. more.. e-mail

'I do not struggle alone'
Dina Awad and Hazem Jamjoum writing from Ramallah, occupied West, Electronic Intifada 7/15/2008

     Ibrahim Bornat, 25, from the village of Bil’in in the occupied West Bank, was shot three times in the left thigh with dum-dum bullets by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on 13 June 2008. Like he does every week, Ibrahim was protesting against the construction of the separation wall in his village, which will effectively result in the annexation of 58 percent of the lands by Israel. One of the bullets Ibrahim was shot with that day hit the major artery in his leg, expanding and causing major nerve damage. He lost so much of his rare AB+ blood type that an urgent alert was sent out on the radio, the Internet and at local mosques for blood donations. As Ibrahim currently lies in pain at Ramallah Hospital, he does not know if he will ever be able to walk again.
     "It felt like they were trying to shoot my leg off," says Ibrahim about the 13 June incident. The Israeli army frequently uses live ammunition at Bil’in, injuring many peace activists, sometimes quite seriously. Ibrahim, by his own admission, had been fired at and hit 77 times prior to this instance, which brings his total number of injuries to 80. Most noticeable on his body is a large gash in the center of his forehead, which comes courtesy of an Israeli soldier firing a tear gas canister at his head from close range. Ibrahim’s skull was fractured from the impact and he suffers serious memory problems. more.. e-mail

Tel Aviv conference organizes around the right of return
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada 7/14/2008

     Late last month a conference on the Implementation of the Palestinian right of return was organized by the Israeli human rights organization Zochrot (Hebrew for "The Remembering"). Zochrot is an anti-Zionist, pro-justice group that works diligently to raise awareness within Israeli Jewish society about the Palestinian Nakba or forced displacement that began in 1948 and continues to this day. Zochrot defines the Nakba as "ground zero of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," from which all discussions on justice, equality and security for both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians should be centered.
     Ironically, the conference was held at the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) House, the only conference center in Tel Aviv that Zochrot claimed would agree to host the program. Apparently, capitalism trumped ideology as ZOA is a private organization that doesn’t receive money -- or directives -- from the Tel Aviv municipality, which was "concerned" about the context of the conference and therefore made it hard for Zochrot to find a venue. The lecture halls were filled with attendees ranging across different generations of Israeli society --from anti-Zionist elderly survivors of the Nazi Holocaust to young Tel Aviv hipster activists in Che Guevara t-shirts. more.. e-mail

Too much Damage Already Done
Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 7/14/2008

     There is consensus among Arab politicians and analysts that the past seven-and-a-half years of US President George W. Bush have been the worst period of US policy for the Middle East in history. The Palestinian-Israeli process deteriorated into violent confrontations; the occupation of Iraq was disastrous on both immediate and strategic levels while the general trend of radicalization combined with stagnation in economic and social development can be attributed at least partially to the US administration’s approach to the Middle East in addition to poor governance by America’s allies in power in most Arab countries.
     However, there appear to be differing expectations for the remaining period of Bush’s tenure, especially since the administration has been showing greater interest in Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy. That and a few additional new developments are causing some politicians and observers to suggest that there are opportunities to be seized in the remaining months. Apparently Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are among them. more.. e-mail

Assad: Syria Ready for Peace
Alain Gresh, Middle East Online 7/14/2008

     Alain Gresh discusses with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad his concerns for a “Mediterranean Union”: that it is contingent on an Arab-Israeli settlement, and unless such a settlement is reached, extremism and terrorism will grow.
     Just before his visit to Paris for the Mediterranean Union summit, Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, said that economic relations between the countries of the Mediterranean could not be developed while there were ongoing regional conflicts -- especially the Arab-Israeli conflict.
     We talked for two hours. He thinks that if there is no political dialogue and peace between Arabs and Israelis, the region will move towards conservatism and extremism. Terrorism, he said, is a state of mind and has no borders: Syria now has home-grown al-Qaida terrorism, not related to the organisation but to a state of mind. If peace is not achieved, all the reforms the Arabs need (economic development, education, culture) will fail to come about and the whole region will be destabilised. more.. e-mail

Robert Fisk: ’Europe has a duty to educate the US about Middle East’
Robert Fisk, The Independent 7/15/2008

     Walid Moallem leans forward in the armchair of the Paris Intercontinental Opera. "It’s all on the record," he snaps. It usually is. The Syrians can be up- front when you least expect it. Syria’s Foreign Minister is one of their top negotiators, a man who knows Israel’s diplomats almost as well as they know themselves, who understands all the traps of the Middle East.
     Tell me who murdered Rafiq Hariri, I ask him. And Mr Moallem grins bleakly and reaches into his jacket pocket. His beefy hand emerges clutching a wad of pale green Syrian hundred-pound notes. "Tell me the answer and you can take all my money," he says.
     He may see evil among Syria’s enemies but he will speak no evil, certainly not of the French. "We are building trust with the French," he says. Syria is ready to co-operate on the prevention of illegal immigration, against "what you in the West call ’terrorism’" and opening a developed economic partnership. And Mr Moallem can be a bit preachy into the bargain.
     "You in the West have a moral duty in Europe to educate the United States more about the Middle East. If they don’t listen to you, they will not listen to us. They will continue with their mistakes." I don’t think they’re going to listen, I mutter. But Mr Moallem is in full flow. more.. e-mail

The President’s State
Samah Sabawi, MIFTAH 7/14/2008

     (Based almost entirely on the story The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson)
     Once upon a time, in a land called Occupied, there lived people who yearned to have a State of their own. Two powerful scoundrels wanted to control these people and divert their quest for statehood - so they came up with a plan.
     We heard about your desire to have a State of your own and we can help,” they told the people of Occupied. “We have created an extraordinary process that will lead to the establishment of a State so amazing and so large, but it is one that only peaceful and smart people can see. In fact our State is invisible to anyone who is too stupid, radical, extremist or incompetent to appreciate its quality.
     Many in Occupied heard the scoundrel’s strange story and after decades of being stateless, they were eager to believe it is true. The scoundrels asked the people of Occupied first to appoint a prime minister and a President for how else can a State be created. more.. e-mail

Crossing the Line interviews Dr. Sami al-Arian’s daughter
Podcast, Crossing the Line, Electronic Intifada 7/13/2008

     This week on Crossing The Line: Supporters of Dr. Sami al-Arian, a Palestinian political prisoner being held in the US, are outraged at a new indictment after al-Arian refused to appear before a grand jury probing an Islamic charity in northern Virginia. Host Naji Ali gets an update from Dr. al-Arian’s daughter, Laila, regarding this latest indictment.
     Also this week, after enduring four months in captivity in Iraq at the hands of a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigades, a Canadian human rights worker attempting to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories is detained for four days, refused access to a lawyer, physically assaulted and denied entry by the Israeli authorities. Ali speaks with nonviolent activist Harmeet Sooden about his ordeal.
     Lastly, Crossing the Line presents an audio documentary feature on the architecture of the occupation then and now, produced by David Parker of CKDU 88.1 FM in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. more.. e-mail

’Worse than Apartheid’
Gideon Levy, MIFTAH 7/14/2008

     I thought they would feel right at home in the alleys of Balata refugee camp, the Casbah and the Hawara checkpoint. But they said there is no comparison: for them the Israeli occupation regime is worse than anything they knew under apartheid. This week, 21 human rights activists from South Africa visited Israel. Among them were members of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress; at least one of them took part in the armed struggle and at least two were jailed. There were two South African Supreme Court judges, a former deputy minister, members of Parliament, attorneys, writers and journalists. Blacks and whites, about half of them Jews who today are in conflict with attitudes of the conservative Jewish community in their country. Some of them have been here before; for others it was their first visit.
     For five days they paid an unconventional visit to Israel - without Sderot, the IDF and the Foreign Ministry (but with Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and a meeting with Supreme Court President Justice Dorit Beinisch. They spent most of their time in the occupied areas, where hardly any official guests go - places that are also shunned by most Israelis. more.. e-mail

Occupier’s neglect allows neighborhood to be used as dump
Report, B'Tselem, Electronic Intifada 7/14/2008

     The Jerusalem Municipality’s gross, prolonged neglect of East Jerusalem has led to the Dahiyeh al-Salam neighborhood becoming a pirate garbage dump. The Municipality has not yet kept its promise to renovate the refuse site.
     Dahiyeh al-Salam is one of East Jerusalem’s most neglected areas. The streets in the neighborhood, which lies in the northern part of East Jerusalem, are in complete disrepair and are strewn with piles of refuse, and the Municipality provides almost no services to its residents. This has enabled criminals to turn the neighborhood into a pirate garbage dump.
     For years, in 2007 in particular, dozens of privately-owned garbage trucks have come from West Jerusalem and dumped large amounts of construction, medical, and industrial debris in areas adjacent to residents’ homes. The unsupervised and disorderly dumping is done for free, while fees of dozens of shekels a ton are charged at the regulated dumping sites located relatively far from the city.
     According to residents of the neighborhood, the garbage dump is run by criminals, who react violently when residents oppose the dumping. The dump is a sanitation hazard: strong odors, dust, flies, and smoke from frequent fires. Also, children playing in the junk are exposed to dangerous refuse and some have complained of shortness of breath. more.. e-mail

Access restrictions and sewage contamination from settlement cause problems for farmers in Az Zawiya
International Womens’ Peace Service 7/14/2008

     Az-Zawiya is a town of approximately 5000 inhabitants, located 5 kilometers west of Salfit and 24 kilometers south of Qalqiliya. 24,000 dunams of land belonged to Az-Zawiya before 1948, but 3,000 were lost to the military practice area, 3,000 to the Israeli-only Highway 5, and 1,025 to the settlement of Elqana, which was established in 1977.
     Today 12000 dunams of the villages’ land are behind the Apartheid wall. The access to this land is restricted. Palestinian farmers are required to obtain permits before they attempt to get into their land through the so called "agricultural gate" in the Wall. The criteria for obtaining the permit is very restrictive, so much that only 800 villagers so far have been granted one.
     The gate in the Wall is only opened at 7.30am, 10.30am and 4.30pm. It is located about half an hours walk from the village, in the valley between the Israeli-only Highway 5 and the settler road to Elqana which is currently under construction. more.. e-mail

Jenin Camp: Then and Now
Editor Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 7/14/2008

     Photos
     Walking through the streets of Jenin Camp, one would hardly know that it has been a refugee camp for almost sixty years. To the outsider, it looks like a typical Palestinian village. But it doesn’t take too much digging to uncover the truth that the aesthetic appeal hides.
     In 1953, these refugees were forced from their homes in villages near Haifa and settled on a plot of land about one square kilometer near the West Bank city of Jenin (several of these villages can be seen from rooftops of the camp). The first refugees had only tents to live in but as the years passed they gradually built more permanent structures as they saw their return becoming less and less likely. The camp is now "home" to nearly 13, 000 people.
     The Occupation has devastated the Palestinian economy and the refugees have experienced this more than any other group. Poverty levels among Jenin refugees are three times higher than refugees from other West Bank districts. Refugees do not own their own land or their houses; therefore, they have paid to have the houses built, but they have no deed for the land or the structure. Furthermore, in the past the only income for some families was low paying work in Israel, but now even that is not an option. more.. e-mail

Another channel attempts to infiltrate the Arab world
PNN editorial, Fadi Abu Sa'ada, Palestine News Network 7/14/2008

     Euro News has just begun to join many channels who have done the same before: add another channel in Arabic to the existing English. They have created the Euro News Arabic service.
     The political climate in the region and specifically the European role in the Middle East is what led to the launching of this channel, however it should have learned from the mistakes of others. The Europeans are trying to enter the Arab world through the media. It does not work.
     Al Hurra channel, the official US Arabic channel, did not fool any one of us. We know how the shells fall since the blast began. The Arab world does not accept what it is fed; it questions. The US channel was launched to convince the Arab world of its foreign policy, particularly in Iraq and Palestine. This project fell flat and empty. No one was taken in. more.. e-mail

The futility of holding elections under a foreign military occupation
Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank, Palestinian Information Center 7/12/2008

     It is often said that a wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can from a mountain top. It is also said that a wise man learns from the mistakes of other people, an imbecile learns from his own mistakes, but a fool learns neither from the mistakes of others nor from his own mistakes.
     Unfortunately,  these adages  apply squarely and accurately  to the American-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah. Its foolishness just transcends reality as it keeps repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over again.
     Like  an irredeemable  drunkard who drinks so much that he begins to think that  he is the greatest person on earth, the PA seems thoroughly convinced that it is a "œstate," or at least a state in the making, that it has "œauthority,"  even "œsovereignty," when in fact it has neither. more.. e-mail

Photostory: Breaking the Silence’s tour disrupted
Anne Paq writing from Hebron, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 7/14/2008

     On 27 June, I took part in one of the regular tours of the West Bank city of Hebron and its settlements organized by the organization Breaking the Silence. Breaking the Silence is a group of Israeli army soldiers and veterans who work to expose the injustice of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Once more, the tour was disrupted because of the settlers.
     Before the start of the tour, organizer Yehuda Shaul -- one of the founders of Breaking the Silence and a former Israeli soldier who served 14 months in Hebron -- warned the group that it was uncertain if the tour would proceed as planned. During the previous tour of Hebron, on 17 June, Israeli settlers attacked the tour group and threw boiling liquid at them, injuring a Spanish photographer. Nevertheless, Yehuda asked that we not answer answer to the settlers’ provocations no matter what happened.
     At the first stop in Kiryat Arba settlement next to Hebron, a group of settlers, including children, were already waiting for the bus to arrive. As soon as we exited the bus, they quickly surrounded us and started to shout and prevented Yehuda from moving and talking about the settlement. Israeli police intervened but let the settlers continue their disruption. more.. e-mail

Fourth Inning of the Iran-US Game
Rami G. Khouri, Middle East Online 7/14/2008

     WASHINGTON - If the tensions in the Middle East between the American-Israeli-led side and the Iranian-Syrian-led side were a baseball game, this would be the fourth inning of a regulation nine-inning game. The players are warmed up, and have had a good look at each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and are now prepared to get to the nitty-gritty core of the contest.
     The contest underway comprises arenas and means that transcend the simplistic but prevalent portrayal in Washington of Iran as a “problem” that must be resolved. Things are much more complex, and some of the subtle nuances are emerging for the first time.
     In the past four weeks I have been in Washington, I have heard people speak more of Iran than of the local Nationals baseball team, because the Nationals are not playing well and the Iranians are. News coverage and discussions of the Iran-US and Israel-Iran dynamics both shot up this week, due primarily to Iran’s testing of medium- and long-range missiles. more.. e-mail

Iran, Israel and Nuclear Elephants
Nadia Hijab, Middle East Online 7/14/2008

     Whatever else it is, Iran’s nuclear quest is not short on drama. Israel and Iran have just flexed their military muscles in highly publicized exercises and tests. The P5+1 - the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China, all permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany - just brandished another acre of carrots and rainforest of sticks at Iran.
     In the US Congress, resolutions to impose a naval blockade against Iran, among other measures, have been cosponsored by nearly half the House and a third of the Senate, in complete disregard of the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate that says Iran no longer has an active nuclear weapons program.
     These histrionics have cloaked the elephant in the room -- indeed, whole herds of the ivory-tusked beasts are hidden from view, each carrying its own weight again in loads of hypocrisy. Take just three of the elephants: Israel’s huge nuclear arsenal and the more modest stores of India and Pakistan. more.. e-mail

Why Not?
Uri Avnery, MIFTAH 7/14/2008

     IF YOU want to understand the policy of a country, look at the map - as Napoleon recommended.
     Anyone who wants to guess whether Israel and/or the United States are going to attack Iran should look at the map of the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.
     Through this narrow waterway, only 34 km wide, pass the ships that carry between a fifth and a third of the world’s oil, including that from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
     MOST OF the commentators who talk about the inevitable American and Israeli attack on Iran do not take account of this map.
     There is talk about a "sterile", a "surgical" air strike. The mighty air fleet of the United States will take off from the aircraft carriers already stationed in the Persian Gulf and the American air bases dispersed throughout the region and bomb all the nuclear sites of Iran - and on this happy occasion also bomb government institutions, army installations, industrial centers and anything else they might fancy. They will use bombs that can penetrate deep into the ground. more.. e-mail

Is it the same for all of us?
Ibrahim Turner, Palestine Think Tank 7/14/2008

     When I see Gaza being bombed or the settlers beating up old Palestinian women on their own land, I feel outraged.
     When I see Israelis lamenting about the homemade rockets hitting their houses and a child loses a leg, I feel outraged, but do I harbour a suspicion that ‘they had it coming?’ Often on camera there are Palestinians who shout ‘Why? What have we done to deserve this?’ And conversely there are again on camera Israelis shouting, ‘They are animals and should be exterminated!’
     Now I do not wish to belittle the Palestinian suffering, after all the fourth (or is it the third?) most powerful army in the world against defenceless, for the most part, Palestinians seems like a no win situation for the Palestinians.
     You can find credible articles all over the Internet about the connivance and deceit of the Israelis in negotiating for peace, building more settlements on Palestinian land while the talks go on. But all these details, if you will pardon my use of that word for horrific deaths and injuries, are mostly irrelevant. more.. e-mail

‘Do you have love in your culture?’
Dahr Jamail, Middle East Online 7/10/2008

     Muhammad Omer and I jointly received the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in London on 16 June. Omer is a 24-year-old Palestinian with whom I feel honoured to have shared this award, as I told the audience at the prize-giving ceremony. His work from his Gaza homeland has been a beacon of humanitarian reportage; it is a model of peace, and an attempt at reconciliation with Israel.
     But Omer’s journey to London to receive the award was almost impossible. When I heard about the prize, I booked my flight from San Francisco and boarded my plane. By contrast, Omer struggled even to get an exit visa: His home has been crushed by an Israeli bulldozer, and most of his seven siblings have been killed or maimed by the Israeli army of occupation. The veteran journalist John Pilger, who presented our awards, described Omer’s journey: “Getting Muhammad to London to receive his prize was a major diplomatic operation. Israel has a perfidious control over Gaza’s borders, and he was only allowed out with a Dutch embassy escort.
     Then, after the ceremony, there were our even more different return journeys. My biggest problem was an hour’s delay for the flight back to my home country, the United States, which last year gave Israel $2.38bn in military aid, and will give that amount in the coming fiscal year, along with an extra $150m. (By July 2006 direct US aid to Israel had reached $108bn according to conservative estimates. more.. e-mail

Do no harm: A torture victim remembers
Naji Ali writing from San Francisco, US, Live from Palestine, Electronic Intifada 7/10/2008

     I wasn’t really surprised by the watchdog group Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s (PHR-I) latest intervention to Israel’s health ministry, in which they accused Israeli doctors of complicity in the torture of Palestinian detainees in Israeli interrogation centers. Indeed, it sounded all too familiar to what I experienced during 550 days of incarceration in a South African prison from 1990 through 1992.
     PHR-I reached its conclusion based on the testimony of two Palestinian prisoners who were tortured during interrogation and developed trauma-related symptoms including hearing loss, panic attacks and incontinence. The doctors who treat Palestinian detainees conduct medical checkups on the prisoners during and after interrogation but they fail to report the findings and symptoms, which make them an actor in the torturing of detainees, PHR-I said.
     The report about those tortured Palestinian detainees leads me to recall my own experience. I returned to South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela after he served 27 years in apartheid prison. I chose to go back to the birthplace of my activist father, the land that I grew up in for the first eight years of my life, and the place where my older brother was shot and killed right in front of me when I was just five years old. more.. e-mail

Artistic censorship in Chicago
Richard Silverstein, The Guardian 7/10/2008

     The cancellation of an exhibit deemed too critical of Israel sacrifices artistic integrity for conservative politics.
     Chicago’s Jewish leaders are testy about criticism of Israel. Jewish directors of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs apparently pressured its director to cancel a talk by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer last year. Now some of the same figures may have deemed an art exhibit at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies too hot to handle. As a result, the exhibit, Imaginary Coordinates, which featured works investigating Israeli and Palestinian concepts of homeland has been shut down two and a half months early because of complaints that it was anti-Israel.
     What precisely was so threatening? In one video installation, an Israeli artist appeared nude on a Tel Aviv beach spinning a barbed-wire hula-hoop as it lacerated her skin, symbolising fortified barriers which cause pain to those they encircle.
     In another video, an Israeli woman drove through Jerusalem asking for directions to Ramallah. Each person provides different directions and describes Ramallah as far away, when it is actually quite close, illustrating how psychic distance affects the maps in our minds. more.. e-mail

No section of the wall nullified by Israeli court dismantled
Report, B'Tselem, Electronic Intifada 7/9/2008

     The separation barrier has not been moved in any of the sections that were built and later nullified by the Israeli high court. The human rights organization B’Tselem published this finding today, 9 July 2008, marking the fourth anniversary of the advisory opinion given by the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, which held that building the barrier in the West Bank breached international law.
     The high court nullified three sections, on grounds that the harm to Palestinians was disproportionate, and ordered the state to move the fence. The state has not yet moved the barrier in any of these sections. The sections that were nullified are as follows: the barrier around the settlement Alfe Menashe, which the High Court nullified almost three years ago, on 15 September 2005; the section running on the land of the villages of ’Azzun and Nebi Alias, nullified over two years ago, on 15 June 2006; and the section by Bil’in, nullified 10 months ago, on 6 September 2007 (the residents of Bil’in only recently received the army’s proposed changed route).
     As of May 2008, 409 kilometers of the fence, 57 percent of the planned route, have been built, 66 kilometers (nine percent) are under construction, and construction on 248 kilometers (34 percent) has not yet begun. Upon completion of the barrier, 11.9 percent of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), will lie west of the barrier or be surrounded completely or partially by it. These areas are home to 498,000 Palestinians (222,500 in East Jerusalem) living in 92 towns and villages. more.. e-mail

Rumors of Peace Amid Rumors of War
Claude Salhani, MIFTAH 7/9/2008

     There has been much talk lately behind the long hallways of power in the U.S. capital of an impending move toward peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. To become a reality the many pieces that make up the Middle East’s complicated geopolitical jigsaw puzzle have to come together at the right time to fit in correctly.
     The trouble in previous failed attempts at solving the Middle East imbroglio may be blamed – at least partially – on the fact that to date each piece of the puzzle was tackled as though it were a separate conflict sharing no relation to the original dispute.
     Indeed, while some of the clashes unfolding in the Middle East today may have become "autonomous" from their original disputes — the question of Palestine, for instance – a quick study of their origins will reveal how most, if not all current disputes in the Middle East today are closely intertwined.
     Is there one piece of the jigsaw puzzle that stands out as crucial?
     Most analysts, diplomats and politicians would be quick to reply that the crux of the problem impeding peace in the Middle East today continues to be the dispute between Palestinians and Israelis over land and water rights - a conflict that has been eating away at the region for the last 60 years. more.. e-mail

Sarkozy sells a mirage
Hassan Nafaa, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/10/2008

     The French president’s project for Mediterranean cooperation has much to do with positioning France next to the US and little to do with Arab interests, writes The heads of state of the European Union and of southern Mediterranean countries are scheduled to meet in Paris on 13 and 14 July. Their summit is expected to conclude with the proclamation of the establishment of a new international grouping called the "Union for the Mediterranean". It is perhaps premature to predict whether the new entity will be able to produce a qualitative shift in a historically shaky relationship between the two banks of the Mediterranean and thereby succeed where the "Barcelona process", set into motion in 1995, has failed so far. However, it is possible to note some opportunities for the new project and some obstacles that may mar its path. In order to identify these we must bear in mind some important facts as follows.
     Sarkozy’s original project, which was to be called the Mediterranean Union, was to create a more powerful institutional framework than the so-called Barcelona process. Its membership was to be restricted to countries bordering the Mediterranean. The project was a product of Sarkozy’s European policy that aims, firstly, to halt the expansion of the EU in order to preserve its Christian identity, which translates into keeping Turkey out of it, and, secondly, to position France so it can play a leading role in a European Union that is more powerful and effective politically and militarily and less bureaucratically cumbersome at the social and economic levels. Sarkozy believes that France’s leadership of a new formula -- partnership between Mediterranean countries -- will help it achieve these two aims. more.. e-mail

A Country with 60 Years of Peace and a Nation with 60 Years of Struggle
MIFTAH, MIFTAH 7/10/2008

     On July 2, Mr. Masahiko Koumura, Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs hosted the third ministerial-level meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity”. The meeting was attended by representatives of Palestine, Israel, and Jordan: Dr. Samir Abdullah, Minister of Planning of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Gideon Ezra, Minister of Environment Protection of Israel, and Mr. Saladin Al-Bashir, Foreign Minister of Jordan. Minister Koumura declared his aim was to promote Japan’s support for co-existence and co-prosperity between Israel and Palestine by stabilizing the Palestinian economy. The meeting was focused on establishing the site of the planned Agro-Industrial Park in the West Bank and facilitating the transportation of goods.
     (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan) According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the four parties reconfirmed their commitment towards the project as they recognized the urgent necessity for the propulsion of the peace process. Access to water and borders for exporting goods can be accomplished only through cooperation of the stockholding countries and this urges those countries’ commitment towards peace. This concept is expected to improve employment opportunities and to bring hope for the people in the regions of Palestine, Jordan and Israel. The action plan is slated to begin as soon as the beginning of 2009. The meeting ended with confirming the next technical-level meeting in autumn, 2008 which will discuss the technical issues in detail. more.. e-mail

Kawther Salam - A Sincere Offer of Peace to Israelis
Kawther Salam, Palestine Think Tank 7/10/2008

     From Kawther Salam’s Blog: The following speech was delivered on Sunday, 6 July 2008, in the auditorium of the Faculty of Dental Medicine of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, in Madrid, Spain. I was invited to give this speech by the organizers of the conference “Mundo de Mujeres / Womens World 08“, in the parallel conference “Mediterranean Voices II”, discussing gender and peace in the Mediterranean region.
     The conference and the various parallel conferences dedicated to special issues was visited by around 5.000 women from the different countries around the Mediterranean; it was sponsored by various ministries of the Spanish Government, by the City of Madrid, indirectly by various EU institutions and many well-institutions of the economic and social life of Spain. Thank you again the the organizers and to the sponsors for the invitation. It was a honor and a needed opportunity to speak about the Palestinian issue. I hope that my speech will contribute towards an improvement for my people. I have given it the title “A Sincere Offer of Peace to Israel”.
     The following speech was delivered on Sunday, 6 July 2008, in the auditorium of the Faculty of Dental Medicine of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, in Madrid, Spain. I was invited to give this speech by the organizers of the conference “Mundo de Mujeres / Womens World 08“, in the parallel conference “Mediterranean Voices II”, discussing gender and peace in the Mediterranean region. more.. e-mail

Palestine: Hizb Al-Tahrir Flourishes Where Hope Withers
Omran Risheq, MIFTAH 7/10/2008

     The failure of the Palestinian national movement and its shaken credibility in the public eye are giving strength to religious movements, which are expanding to fill a widening gap. But the movements that are gaining are not Hamas or Islamic Jihad, which gained their legitimacy more or less as other Palestinian movements did: by taking part in the liberation struggle while upholding the aspiration to establish an independent national state. Rather, there are now other Islamist parties and groups that deny the national project and are hostile toward democratic and social freedoms.
     Perhaps the most influential of these movements, and the one with the clearest political platform, is the Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (the Islamic Liberation Party), which was founded in Jerusalem in 1953 by the Islamic judge Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani. Hizb al-Tahrir made the idea of resurrecting the caliphate a permanent watchword of its political activity and a religious duty, in addition to being a panacea for the political, economic, and social problems of the world’s Muslims. According to its beliefs, the caliphate will not be founded through popular revolution, but rather through a military coup in a Muslim country. The caliph will then proceed to conquer the world, including liberating Palestine from the Jews. It is worth noting that this theory largely replicates the Marxist-Leninist vision of revolution as led by a vanguard adopting its ideas as a way to take power. more.. e-mail

Chasing a mirage?
Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/10/2008

     A Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo Tuesday for talks with Egyptian officials to resume truce negotiations frozen by the movement last week as well as discuss a prisoner swap deal involving Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit held captive since 2006.
     Hamas hopes to exchange Shalit for a number of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. There are over 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
     The Hamas delegation, which includes leaders from both the Gaza Strip and the Diaspora, will also ask the Egyptian leadership to step up efforts to bring about Palestinian national reconciliation between Fatah -- which Egypt leans towards in support -- and Hamas.
     Rafah is also high on the agenda with some Hamas leaders privately criticising Egyptian reluctance to reopen the border crossing, saying that keeping it closed is causing unwarranted distress for desperate Gazans. Hamas leaders also take issue with Egypt’s refusal to release Hamas members held by authorities in Egypt -- some for years. Egyptian officials acknowledge that tension has marred contacts with Hamas. more.. e-mail

'Happy Birthday' to the Israeli violations of international law
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 7/9/2008

     On Wednesday the 9th of July 2008, it has been 4 years that the International Court of Justice of La Haye, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has given its ruling concerning the Israeli apartheid Wall in the West Bank and East-Jerusalem.
     Clear and accurate, the advisory opinion determined that "The construction of the Wall being built by Israel in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem is contrary to international law." As a consequence, the ICJ ruled that Israel must halt the construction of the Wall, dismantle forthwith the structure, return the land to Palestinians whose property has been seized and pay compensation for all the damage caused to them. Although this is an advisory -nonbinding- legal opinion, an overwhelming majority of UN member states voted for General Assembly Resolution which called on Israel to comply with the ICJ opinion.
     Still, four years after the International Court opinion, Israel has not complied with the ICJ opinion yet and the apartheid Wall construction continues. It is Ni’lin turns now to fight and organize popular non-violent struggles to resist the confiscation of their land. But before Ni’lin’s people, the villagers from Bi’lin demonstrated, as well as the ones from Jayyous, Abud, At-tuwani, Beit Sira, Qybia and some many more all across the West Bank. Israel is continuously stealing land by establishing settlements and building new sections of the Wall while villagers are peacefully demonstrating -sometimes for years- to protest against what has been recognized illegal by The Hague. more.. e-mail

Israeli policies create difficulties for the right of children to education
Hiba Lama, Palestine News Network 7/9/2008

     PNN -- Despite numerous attempts by the Palestinian Authority to improve the educational system in Palestine, Israeli forces continue to impede the ability of teachers and students to attend schools.
     The right of children to education is protected under international law, as stipulated by the Geneva Conventions.
     During the last uprising, Israeli forces injured and detained countless students and teachers. This had a significant impact on the ability of schools to provide students with a continuous and regular education.
     Global Convention on the Rights of the Child: "A child’s right to education became the most important right under international law in September 1990 when Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child was enacted," Intesar Hamdan, the Palestinian Teacher Creativity Center program director, said. “Article 28 says that primary education is a basic right for all children.”.
     She added: “Through the items contained in the Geneva Conventions, we can discern that a child’s right to education includes the right to enroll in school and receive a quality education. Students should learn basic skills that enable them to become active members of society and the state.” There are thousands of students, with Palestinians having one of the higher literacy rates world-wide.” more.. e-mail

The Challenge of Development Under Occupation
Hassan Al-battal, MIFTAH 7/9/2008

     I gently pressured my colleague, Abd Al-Naser Al-Najjar, to continue the third part of his field investigation into the realities and problems of the Jordan Valley, and the ways to solve them. His excuse is that he’s busy as an editor in chief, a weekly columnist with additional editing duties during the summer time, and, soon, the director of the Media Center at Birzeit University.
     But I have my reasons, not only as a reader and a citizen but also as a journalist, because every good editor and heavyweight writer needs, from time to time, to go out into the field and write a solid investigative piece to set an example to his fellow reporters.
     In reality, the Palestinian-Israeli relationship is almost entirely defined by crossings, checkpoints and walls; they cast a shadow over any future political relationship. And so, a four-party international regional project (involving Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Japan) may add a new practical reality to the ones imposed by the crossings, checkpoints and walls, that is a "Peace Path" project, which plans to establish a joint industrial-agricultural zone to export Palestinian agricultural goods, both fresh and processed, through a special airport in the Jordanian part of the Jordan Valley, to the Gulf states and Japan, as well as to Palestine, Israel, and Jordan. more.. e-mail

Reintegrating Lebanon’s Shiites
Rabih Haddad, Daily Star 7/9/2008

     Lebanon’s Shiite population has been neglected in one way or another by governments, lawmakers and the rest of the population for at least the past 75 years. As a result, the community as a whole has lagged behind others in terms of economics, education, health, public services and career opportunities. There is little debate that until relatively recently, the remainder of Lebanese society had to some extent forgotten about the Shiites.
     Up until the onset of the Civil War in 1974-1975, many Lebanese did not even view Shiites as a separate entity, considering them part of a larger Muslim community alongside the Sunnis and, to some degree, the Druze. This led to under-representation in government and society, which in turn led to an under-educated, largely impoverished community which was eagerly looking for a leader. This leader came in the form of Imam Musa Sadr and the Amal Movement, which took it upon itself to improve the horrid conditions facing Lebanon’s Shiites. more.. e-mail

Curfew in Ni’lin
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 7/9/2008

     The morning of July 4, 2008 the Israeli army entered the small village of Ni’lin and imposed a curfew on the residents.The army said it was in response to the demonstrations against the wall.Since mid May the residents of Ni’lin have had weekly non-violent demonstrations against the building of the apartheid wall on Palestinian land.
     The Israeli army invaded the village of 5000 with great force and violence.Over the four day occupation the soldiers shot rubber-coated steel bullets at anyone who was in the street including media.Soldiers shot tear gas at homes and into homes of residents, even homes with small children.
     For four days residents were trapped in their homes not even allowed to go to their roofs much less look out of their window without fear of being shot at. Soldiers were walking the streets lobbing sound bombs and tear gas into the streets and at homes. more.. e-mail

Putting a name to Gaza’s injured
Eva Bartlett writing from Cairo, Egypt, Electronic Intifada 7/9/2008

     Bedridden but painfully conscious, nearly paralyzed with no feeling from the waist down, 16-year-old Abdul Rahman (nicknamed Abed) is one of the hundreds who were injured by intense Israeli shelling and firing on Gaza between 27 February - 3 March 2008, during an operation dubbed "Hot Winter" by Israel. According to a World Health Organization report, during this period the Israeli army killed at least 116 Palestinians, nearly half of them civilians and more than a quarter children, including a six-month-old and a 20-day-old baby, and injured 350. Later counts put the number killed as high as 150, with more than 55 killed in one day alone. Over half of the week’s fatalities and injuries occurred in and around Jabaliya, the refugee camp where Abed was born and has called home all of his life.
     At 11:00am on 2 March, Abed stood on the roof of his family’s home, observing as Israeli tanks overran the camp. No curfew had been announced, and he was unaware of the presence of soldiers on a neighboring rooftop. The youth was struck from behind by an Israeli sniper’s bullet that dug into his spine, destroying three of his vertebrae and leaving him paralyzed and bleeding on the roof where he lay for 15 minutes before his younger brother found him. The 13-year-old dragged Abed to the stairs and down into the family’s home, dodging further sniper fire as he went. The invasion outside continued, preventing ambulances from coming for Abed. Three hours after his injury, the teen finally reached a hospital in Gaza City where doctors, after seeing his injury, were surprised to see the youth was still alive. Unable to provide adequate emergency care in Gaza, they immediately loaded him into an emergency transfer ambulance bound for the Rafah border crossing to Egypt. more.. e-mail

The End of the Road for Hamas?
Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 7/9/2008

     Israel has never disguised its true intentions towards Hamas. For years, the Islamic movement has been a thorn in Israel’s side, one which it has longed to extricate but has so far failed to do completely. Throughout the past decade or so, Israel has at times exploited Hamas for its own interests, the latter often unwittingly falling into the trap of becoming the Israeli occupation’s pawn in this filthy game of chess.However, only now is it starting to look as if Israel might finally be getting its way.
     Over the past few days, Israeli authorities have cracked down hard on the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank, especially in Nablus. So far, Israeli occupation troops have stormed, raided and shut down dozens of shops, factories medical centers and charities in the city under the pretext of their affiliation with Hamas. Troops have also broken into the Nablus municipality headquarters, confiscated documents and computers and ransacked the premises. At least six mosques were also raided and five school buses expropriated. On July 7, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced his government had outlawed 36 Palestinian NGO’s he claims are linked to Hamas. While Israel has been carrying out this campaign against the movement for years, under this new legal umbrella, Israel can now move forward with its plans with full force. more.. e-mail

Satan’s Counsel
Uri Avnery, Middle East Online 7/8/2008

     It was just a passing conversation, but it has stuck in my memory.
     It was soon after the Six-Day War. I was coming out of the main hall of the Knesset, after making a speech calling for the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state.
     Another Knesset member came down the corridor - a nice person, a Labor Party man, a former bus driver. Uri, he said, catching me by the arm, what the hell are you doing? You could make a great career! You are saying many attractive things - against corruption, for the separation of religion and state, about social justice. You could have a great success at the next elections. But you are spoiling everything with your speeches about the Arabs. Why don’t you stop this nonsense?
     I told him that he was quite right, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t see any point in being in the Knesset if I could not speak the truth as I saw it.
     I was elected again to the next Knesset, but again as the head of a tiny faction, which was never going to grow into a strong parliamentary force. The man’s prophesy came true. more.. e-mail

Boycott committee launches comprehensive website
Announcement, Palestinian BDS National Committee, Electronic Intifada 7/9/2008

     On 9 July 2008, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) launched a major new online resource for the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. BDSmovement.net will bring together news, campaign materials and resources from Palestinian and global activists in a single site to support, coordinate, and provide information, updates and analysis about the international BDS movement.
     It has been three years since over 180 Palestinian organizations, movements, parties and unions came together on 9 July 2005 to launch the unified Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions , offering a new way forward to challenge Israel’s multiple forms of colonial and racist oppression of the indigenous people of Palestine. Since it was issued, the call has reverberated throughout the solidarity movement. BDS initiatives have been gradually and persistently spreading all over the world, and BDS has become a key tactic for solidarity with the Palestinian people. -- See also: BDSmovement.net more.. e-mail

Israel Opens Gaza Crossings Despite Palestinian Mortar Fire (10:00am Est)
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 7/9/2008

     Israel agreed to an Egyptian request and opened its border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday despite Palestinian mortar fire that violated a three-week-old truce.
     The request from Egypt was an attempt to prod forward the cease-fire, which was designed in part to ease Israel’s crushing blockade of the coastal strip. In so doing, Israel suggested it might stop automatically closing the crossings in response to every truce violation, like the mortar shell Palestinian militants fired Monday.
     Hours after the crossings opened at noon, militants fired another shell into Israel, causing no casualties or damage, the Israeli military said. No Palestinian group immediately claimed responsibility for the fire, and Israel kept the crossings open.
     In all, 13 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza since the truce began. In response, Israel has kept the crossings closed about half of the time since the truce took effect June 19.
     Under the first phase of the cease-fire, Gaza militants were to halt their assaults on southern Israel, and Israel was to gradually allow more supplies to enter impoverished Gaza, home to 1.4 million Palestinians. more.. e-mail

Palestinian village takes on Israeli military
Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 7/8/2008

     RAMALLAH (IPS) - Ambulances were again prevented Monday from entering the central West Bank village of Ni’ilin, near Ramallah, to evacuate the ill and the wounded. Supplies of medicines were running low, as confrontations continued with youths defying a four-day-old curfew imposed by the Israeli military.
     The Israeli army had surrounded the village and ordered residents to remain indoors and was also preventing the media from entering Ni’ilin, said Salah al-Khawaja, spokesman for the Ni’lin Committee for Resisting the Separation Barrier.
     Following intense media coverage and a meeting between the Ni’ilin Village Committee and the Israeli army, the curfew was lifted Tuesday morning. But the protestors have refused to give up the fight for their land or committed to ceasing demonstrations.
     The blockade followed fierce clashes last Friday which broke out between the army and several hundred Palestinian villagers, international activists and Israeli sympathizers, protesting the continued expropriation of village land. Four Israelis were amongst those arrested. more.. e-mail

Breaking into Gaza
Ramzi Kysia, Middle East Online 7/8/2008

     I want to tell you a secret and I want to ask you a question.
     Shhh! – Come closer. Listen carefully: I’m part of an international conspiracy to break into the world’s largest open-air prison this summer by sea. Will you help me?
     This August, the Free Gaza Movement will set sail from Cyprus to Gaza on a ship carrying needed medical supplies. We will not be asking Israel for permission. For over two years the state of Israel has severely restricted the Gaza Strip’s ability to import fuel, spare parts and other necessary materials. Israel maintains complete control over Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters, near complete control over travel into or out of Gaza, near complete control over Gaza’s imports and exports, and near complete control over Gaza’s own tax revenues. Little is allowed in. As a result, Gaza’s economy has completely collapsed.
     This has consequences, both vast and personal. more.. e-mail

The great divide: ’It’s like living at the end of the world’
Toni O'Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 7/9/2008

     Dirty, dilapidated and desperate, al-Ram is typical of the Palestinian towns cut off by the barrier on Jerusalem’s eastern outskirts.
     Sufian Odeh used to be able to see his cousin’s house across the street from his apartment window - until Israel built a wall of concrete down the middle of their neighborhood two years ago.
     Standing eight metres high and just 13 metres from his building, it overshadows Sufian’s second-floor apartment like the wall of a prison, darkening this once thriving Palestinian district.
     "When I look from the window and see the wall, I immediately close the blinds and smoke a cigarette. It’s like living at the end of the world," says Sufian, who asked to change his name to preserve his family’s privacy.
     His neighbours fled long ago, as the West Bank barrier crept down the main street of al-Ram, dividing families, separating children from schools and patients from clinics, and severing the road back to Jerusalem. Stranded outside Jerusalem by the barrier, al-Ram has become a virtual ghost town. more.. e-mail

Just Intellectuals? Oppression, Resistance, and the Public Role of Intellectuals
Omar Barghouti, Institute of Social Studies, Palestine Think Tank 7/8/2008

     Omar Barghouti, an independent Palestinian political and cultural analyst and commentator, is a long-time advocate of a unitary, secular democratic state in historic Palestine. He is a co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), established in 2004, which promotes an international institutional boycott of Israel, inspired by that imposed on apartheid South Africa. Here he argues that, in situations of colonial oppression, in particular, intellectuals cannot be neutral, "apolitical," or apathetic towards the struggle for freedom, equality and self-determination.
     "Your essay is great, but can you make it less "˜intellectual,’ less analytical, and more personal?" This was the reaction I received from an editor in New York after submitting an article on art and oppression she had solicited from me for publication in a collection of similar essays. Remarks like this - this was not the first time! - often betray a deep-seated perceived dichotomy, even among those committed to social justice, between intellectuals in the "global North" and their counterparts in the "global South," where the former are better equipped to think, analyze, reflect, create and theorize, while the latter are "naturally" - excuse the Aristotelian allusion - more predisposed to merely exist, experiencing corporal aspects of life and reacting to them. more.. e-mail

Shades of Checkpoint Charlie at Rafah Crossing
Haidar Eid writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 7/8/2008

     On Monday 30 June, Gaza was abuzz with the sudden announcement that Egypt would open Rafah Crossing -- the only gateway for 1.5 million Palestinians who have been imprisoned here for almost two years -- for three short days. Although I had good reasons to use the crossing to leave Gaza, I was unsure about pressing my luck to escape, if only for a short while. Past experience has made me graphically and painfully aware that thousands of my fellow Gazans would also try to capitalize on this very rare opportunity suddenly available to us.
     On the one hand, I had also already asked my university to add my name to the list of academics who intended to travel to Egypt to further their studies as I had accepted an invitation to a conference -- to be held at University of Brighton -- in London in September. Moreover, I wanted to be with my wife who is in South Africa, and whom I have not seen for almost two years as a result of the siege. On the other hand, the story of failed attempts to leave Gaza through Rafah Crossing is an agonizingly familiar one to every family in Gaza. more.. e-mail

Lost Identity
Maiko Sato, MIFTAH 7/8/2008

     Every time I come through the border to enter Israel, my stress levels reach their highest. Even though I have done nothing to harm anyone nor have I committed any crimes, because I am a returning Palestinian, I fear the possibility of being refused entry into my own country and hence I am plagued with a feeling of guilt. This guilty feeling is triggered by the experience I had at the border in 2004. I was issued an entrance visa valid for only one week even though I claimed that I needed a decent amount of time to visit my family. Of course, the Israelis don’t need to give me any means of justification for their actions. They just make you feel as if you have done something wrong.
     This time, I was only afraid of the duration of my stay - whether they would give me the customary three months entry visa in my capacity as a Japanese citizen. I had not expected at all that I would be denied entry. Shockingly enough, the border control officers said I needed a so called ’returning-visa’ to enter Israel given that I also hold a Jerusalem ID. more.. e-mail

Holy Land Lost
James Zogby, Middle East Online 7/8/2008

     The very words "The Holy Land" evoke powerful images. But the pictures that come to mind are rapidly disappearing from the landscape.
     The occupation of the West Bank, once a military and political reality that dominated the lives of Palestinians, has become concretized: with massive housing projects connected by ribbons of highways; a wall and barbed wire barrier wending its way from North to South, cutting through villages, encapsulating others; and hundreds of checkpoints - all overtaking and transforming the once open terrain.
     Raja Shehadeh has described all this in vivid detail in his most recent book, "Palestinian Walks: Forays Into a Vanishing Landscape." A hiker from a young age, Shehadeh tells his story in a novel way. Detailing six walks he has taken in and around his home in Ramallah during the last 30 years, he invites his readers to witness the transformations that have occurred, that increasingly circumscribed his movements, and marred his beloved land. more.. e-mail

Cartoon of the day: More than just a chic checkered scarf
MafazAl-Suwaidan, Toronto Star, cartoon by Carlos Latuf, Palestine Think Tank 7/8/2008

     Commentary: Carlos Latuff -- The scarf once seen covering the faces of stone-throwing boys, wrapping the bodies of bullet-pierced babies and shading the creased napes of olive farmersnow makes an appearance on the mannequins of Toronto and the outfits of the richand fabulous of New York.
     And an item of clothing resembling that scarf, called a kaffiyeh, forced Dunkin’ Donuts to pull an ad this week featuring celebrity chef Rachael Ray. Ray wore a black and white scarf in the ad, promoting Dunkin’ Donuts’ iced coffee. Critics said the scarf offered symbolic support for Muslim extremism, The Associated Press reports.
     The controversial kaffiyeh, also known as the hatta or the shemagh, is a cloth about 54 inches squared. Commonly seen on the heads of men in the Middle East, the kaffiyeh was historically used simply as protection from the scorching sun. more.. e-mail

Let Vanunu go
Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, The Guardian 7/8/2008

     Twenty-two years after Mordechai Vanunu told the truth about Israel’s nuclear weapons, ordinary people must rally to free him.
     In 1986, a young Israeli man called Mordechai Vanunu followed his conscience and told the world that Israel had a nuclear weapons programme. He was convicted of espionage and treason and sentenced to 18 years in prison. After serving this (12 years of which were in solitary confinement),
     Vanunu was released.
     In April 2004, about 80 people from around the world went to welcome him out of prison. Unbelievably, upon his release Vanunu was made subject to severe restrictions, which forbade him many basic civil liberties (including his right to leave Israel, to speak to foreigners and foreign media) and restricted his travel within Israel.
     Each year, around April 21, Vanunu receives a letter from the prime minister renewing these restrictions, and he starts, yet again, the process of appealing against them through the Israeli courts. Most recently, he has been charged with breaking the restrictions by. more.. e-mail

If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix it!
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Middle East Online 7/8/2008

     If history is any indication, the naval buildup, Israel’s bellicose and expansionist policies, the Iraq war, and Mr. Bush’s personal history of repeated failures, all implication are that America is headed for disaster.
     On July 7th, US navy announced that it would carry out exercises in the Persian Gulf. Commodore Peter Hudson claimed that these exercises were being carried out to protect “maritime infrastructure such as gas and oil installations”.As the expression goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.If in the 1980s the United States managed to fool the world into believing that it was protecting the crude oil passage with its naval build up in the Persian Gulf, 20 or so years later it can use the same argument and no one will be the wiser for it.After all, most people think that “relying on foreign oil” is a sin and any act, even ensuring the flow of ‘foreign oil’ justifies provocative US action.
     But before we send our boys to protect our interests in someone else’s back yard, lets examine what happened in the 80s that makes these brave men report for duty so readily, and confident in their success. more.. e-mail

Israeli army ransacks, shuts down Nablus organizations
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 7/8/2008

     PCHR strongly condemns Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) for closing several charities and humanitarian organizations in Nablus over the past two days. The Centre calls upon the international community to intervene to put an end to these measures.
     The Center’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 1:35 on Monday, 7 July, IOF raided the Benevolent Solidarity Association, the Islamic School for Girls, Benevolent Solidarity Club, Solidarity Mosque, and Solidarity Medical Center in Rafedia Quarter west of Nablus. IOF confiscated medical equipment and computers from the medical center. In addition, IOF issued an order closing the association for three years. The order was signed by the Israeli army commander in the West Bank.
     At approximately 1:00 on Tuesday, 8 July, IOF raided several organizations affiliated with Hamas. IOF closed seven organizations for two years. IOF claimed that these organizations were used to "finance terrorist organizations." The organizations that were closed are: Nablus Mall (owned by the Development, Investment, and Insurance Company), Nafha Association for Prisoners’ Affairs, Federation of Islamic Trade Unions, Scientific Medical Association, Yazour Benevolent Society, Basma Association and Graduates Cultural Forum. more.. e-mail

Farmers Living Under Occupation
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 7/7/2008

     Photos
     The children of this valley are put at constant risk by the live-fire exercises that the Israeli military conduct in the area. Their mother, pictured below, told us how soldiers would set off explosives of all sorts, from gas bombs to sound grenades, on the hills surrounding their farm. The ground is then left dangerous, as many explosives remain undetonated.
     The kindness and hospitality of this family, who live in the Tubas region, was something we had grown accustomed to during our stay in Palestine. As part of the Brighton Tubas Solidarity Group, our small delegation made a short and intensive visit around the Jordan Valley region of the West Bank. This article focuses on the lives of some of the farmers, Bedouin and otherwise, we met during this brief period.
     This farming family lives among a small collection of tents, also near the town of Tubas. Like other Bedouin, they are denied access to any of the local springs and are forced to travel far to buy water. Their greatest hardship, however, is without doubt the presence of an Israeli military base about one mile from their homes. In recent years, the military have built huge trenches across the plains that the Bedouin people farm, and have used the area for rifle and tank exercises. I spoke to a woman in the next farm along who was shot in the head while picking crops in the field. She had survived with fifteen stitches. more.. e-mail

Arabs find barriers insurmountable in Israel
Vita Bekker, The National, Palestine Think Tank 7/7/2008

     JERUSALEM // Asma Nasar is afraid to leave her home. Like many other Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs, the 21-year-old from the West Bank city of Hebron is living illegally in Israel with her husband and two young daughters.
     During the four years she has resided in the central Israeli city of Jaffa, she has not worked, remains in the family’s apartment for entire days and barely ventures out of her predominantly Arab neighbourhood.
     Her husband, Abed, 26, who works at a shawarma stand, said he was afraid his wife would get caught by police and be sent to Hebron. “I’m dying to take her on a trip to Jericho or Tiberias, but it’s not possible,” he said, smoking a cigarette in the family’s living room as his blue-eyed wife sat quietly nearby. “It’s like carrying a large pack of [illegal] drugs on you – it’s a risk.”
     Abed and Asma Nasar are only one of thousands of mixed Israeli-Palestinian couples facing an uncertain future as a result of Israel’s strict limitations on granting citizenship or permanent residency to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip who are married to Israelis.
     Those barriers are part of the Nationality and Entry into Israel law, which the Israeli parliament passed in 2003 as a one-year temporary measure amid the Israeli-Palestinian violence of the second Intifada. more.. e-mail

And then they came and turned our paradise into a desert
Reham Alhelsi, Palestine Think Tank 7/7/2008

     I love taking photos, it is a hobby of mine and my camera is my constant companion wherever I go. I love taking photos of the green meadows, the blue sea, the clear sky, etc…. but most of all I am fascinated by trees, especially the olive tree, standing strong and green as ever, its roots extending into the depths of the earth, clutching to it and refusing to leave. Recently a friend of mine asked why I take so many photos with trees and greenery. I automatically replied: it reminds me of Palestine. In that moment it occurred to me that the Palestine I know, the green Palestine of my childhood to an extent no longer exists. The last couple of times I was there I searched in vain for my favorite childhood spots; the green hilltops with their colorful carpet of red, yellow, and pink flowers, the olive fields and wheat and barley meadows that extended to the horizon, and where by sunrise and sunset the fields would change into a single sea of gold and green. I searched for the fig trees, which grew on sloppy hills, making it difficult but at the same time exciting for us to pick up their fruits. That was a dear spot to me. It was far away from any houses or street noise. We used to sit under the fig trees and watch the shepherds with their sheep and goats on the opposite hills. After enjoying a few ripe figs, we used to race to the other hills, feeling so free as if we owned the whole world. We used to look for egg nests in trees and snake nests in caves. We used to collect snails, as father used to tell us how as little boy he used to collect snails and sell them to restaurants in Jerusalem and so earn a few pennies. In spring we used to collect flowers and dry them, and mostly we loved collecting the red Poppies, which we call Hannoun. As children we were told that this flower is red because it absorbs the red blood of the martyrs who fall for Palestine, and as long as there are martyrs dying to free Palestine, Hannoun or red poppies will always grow and decorate the hills and meadows of Palestine. We used to spend our free time running in the nearby meadows. Depending on the time of year, these meadows would be either a sea of green, yellow or a beautiful mixture of spring colors. The crops would grow so high, that we literally swam in these meadows. We used to play hide and seek there, and in summer, just before the harvest began, we would sit there among the long stems and pick and eat the edible crops. During the harvest, you could smell the burning of the crops almost everywhere. People would gather around a fire in the evening and enjoy the roosted crops. more.. e-mail

Marx in Gaza: Occupation and Class
Philip Rizq, MIFTAH 7/7/2008

     At the border crossing into Gaza a middle aged woman sat next to me looking rather pale. She was accompanied by what looked like her mother, even frailer than her.
     Between her hands the sick woman grasped a pack of six tea glasses. It seemed a bit strange of an item to be bringing back into Gaza with so few permitted to make this rare excursion beyond Gaza’s borders. Later that day, after a large welcoming lunch and over tea in plastic throw away cups I found out that tea glasses like so many other things had run out in Gaza. A single glass had nearly reached the cost of the price of a whole set and for my hosting family this was simply not affordable.
     Much of my second day I spent at the beach. The one outlet for a majority of Gaza’s population is still very much a reality and on summer days like this one, hundreds of people flock to the beach to forget the daily routine.
     Every occupation has its winners and losers, those that profit and those that lose almost everything. Recently I have been reading Marx who considered the making and the writing of “history” to be based on class divisions. According to Marx, the world was not so much explainable by the acts of God on passively receiving humankind, as a world that was driven and lead by the acts of people. For Marx, these acts of history were determined and received their meaning by the division of classes. more.. e-mail

A constant Nakba for Palestine’s Bedouin (Part 1)
Ida Audeh writing from Beit Iksa, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 7/7/2008

     "We [Bedouin] are the [Native Americans] of Palestine," is how 60-year-old Mohammad Ahmad Abu Dahook introduced the author and a colleague to Beit Iksa. Located nine kilometers northwest of Jerusalem, the land of Beit Iksa’s 1,600 residents is among that targeted by Israel for the expanding of its illegal Ma’ale Adumim settlement. Abu Dahook is one of the approximately 50,000 Bedouin whose traditions and lifestyle have been nearly destroyed by Israeli colonization. Their communities are still being displaced by Israel’s illegal land annexation and the transfer of Israel’s civilian population to territory it occupies, in violation of international humanitarian law. Abu Dahook and others like him see no relief in sight as they are constantly dogged by Israeli threats of further displacement and neglect by the Palestinian Authority.
     "My people were forcibly expelled by the Israelis in 1951, three years after the Nakba," Abu Dahook explained, referring to the forced displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population from their homeland perpetrated by Zionist militias during the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948 -- the year of Abu Dahook’s birth. "The Israelis came to [my people’s] areas and killed people. They burned Bedouin tents and possessions and killed livestock. They used terrorist methods and instilled fear. People didn’t leave because of rumors; they left because they were forced out. Many were martyred." -- See also: A constant Nakba for Palestine's Bedouin (Part 2) more.. e-mail

A constant Nakba for Palestine’s Bedouin (Part 2)
Ida Audeh writing from Beit Iksa, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 7/7/2008

     Bedouin like Mohammed Abu Dahook found little respite from Israeli policies after the 1993 Oslo Accords were signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. According to Abu Dahook, "The hounding of the Bedouin in and around Hebron, Bethlehem, Jericho, Jerusalem and Ramallah picked up in 1997. The Israeli government wanted to expropriate more land for settlements prior to final status negotiations and to expand the city limits of Jerusalem to incorporate all surrounding settlements.  About 60 families [450 people] were relocated to a hilltop, which was unsuitable for grazing and adjacent to a Jerusalem municipality city dump and unfit for habitation; they subsequently took their case to the courts. Other Bedouin families living near Anata, near East Jerusalem, have been given eviction notices so that Israel can build bypass roads. They have refused to leave. Bedouin tribes throughout the West Bank have been similarly targeted for displacement: al-Rashaydeh tribe east of Bethlehem; the Froush Beit Dajan north of Nablus; the Abu Abed Hamdan al-Turkman tribe in the Jenin area; the Arab al-Azazma, al-Ajajra, and al-Masaid tribes near Jericho; and the al-Hanajreh and al-Azazmeh tribes east of Hebron."
     Abu Dahook explained that "In the 1990s, they started to give warnings stating that our homes would be demolished because we lacked building permits. As though a tent needs a permit! Sometimes they’d hand it to you, and sometimes they come by and if they don’t find anyone, they’ll post it [where you see it]." He added that "All of the tents here [in Beit Iksa] have gotten warnings from Israel in the 1990s. I myself received about four. In 1994 the Israelis came to me and gave me a warning. So I hired a lawyer, Shlomo Lecker, and the case went on for several years, and it reached the high court. The court issued an order overruling the expulsion and I was to go with them to Beit El so that the leaders there could resolve the problem. They never got back to me again." -- See also: "We [Bedouin] are the [Native Americans] of Palestine" (Part 1) more.. e-mail

A lull in Gaza? Not for the sick
Physicians for Human Rights - PHR, ReliefWeb 7/6/2008

     Physicians for Human Rights - Israel Gaza Update 06 Jul 2008
     In spite of the agreement between Israel and Hamas (in effect since 21.6.08), there has been no improvement in Israeli policy toward patients in Gaza, and it even appears to have worsened.
     Added to the impediments imposed by the GSS on people seeking to leave Gaza for medical treatment, patients are suffering increasing bureaucratic difficulties caused by the army, which prevent them from realizing their right to health.
     Decline in the number of patients leaving via Erez Crossing:
     In the past month and a half there has been a decline in the average number of patients leaving Gaza via the Erez crossing to receive treatment. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gazaand the Palestinian representatives at Erez crossing, the number of patients permitted to leave has decreased sharply, and only 15-20 patients now leave Gazaeach day.
     These data are consistent with the sharp increase in the number of patients contacting PHR-Israel because they aren’t able to leave for treatment. Over the past four months, at least 120 patients have contacted PHR-Israel each month because their applications to leave Gazahave not been granted by Israel. more.. e-mail

My new birthday
Areej Ja'fari writing from Deheisheh refugee camp, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 7/5/2008

     I am a third generation of the Palestinian Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland by Zionist forces. The Nakba is not just an occasion we commemorate on 15 May at the same time Israel celebrates its establishment -- but a constant memory. I now feel that I am a very lucky person. I never felt lucky before my new birthday: the day I visited my destroyed original village of Deir Rafat, where my grandfather and his family lived before they were forced out in 1948.
     From that day I started my new life. I was very scared at the beginning as I approached the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoints even though I had a permit to enter Jerusalem. These feelings of fear vanished the moment I reached some of the destroyed villages of my friends’ families and neighbors. Driving from the Dheisheh refugee camp, crossing the checkpoint and entering the land we were dispossessed of 1948, is like I am in a different country. The green trees, fresh air, no houses, and beautiful landscape that I have not seen in many countries I have visited around the world. more.. e-mail

’Why did they treat me like that?’
Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008

     He has already seen everything. At 24, he has already been documenting the horrors of his city, Rafah, for six years. He photographs and writes, seeking to be a voice for those who are voiceless, as he puts it. On his Web site Rafah Today (www.rafahtoday.org) - like that of USA Today or Israel Today, only from Rafah - he paints a picture for readers around the world of the horrors of his city, the most afflicted of all cities in the anguished Gaza Strip, in strong and shocking colors. You will see there demolished houses and crushed bodies, tanks shelling people’s homes and lost children. He also writes for various publications abroad, including The Washington Report, several papers in Europe and, primarily, in Scandinavia, as well as for the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency.
     He has already seen everything, including the demolition of his own family’s home and the death of his young brother who was killed by seven bullets that pierced his body. Now he has suffered a breakdown. It wasn’t the destruction or the killing, but the relatively slight humiliation he experienced last week on the Allenby Bridge, when returning from a speaking tour in several European capitals, including London, where he was awarded the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, that broke him both mentally and physically. more.. e-mail

A binational reality
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008

     How nice that this time, too, the terrorist was a "lone wolf," a drug addict or just a nut case. Just so long as Jerusalemite murderers are not acting on behalf of terrorist groups. "Wild weeds" can grow in any garden. We also once had a strange doctor who carried out a massacre in a mosque; his family erected a glorious tombstone in honor of the "saint." No one proposed razing the family’s home for the purpose of "deterrence" - and justifiably so. If we assume that this was the case of a deviant, demolishing the home of his family will deter the next deviant in the same way that the death penalty deters people who decide to blow themselves up in a bus, in the hope of having fun with 70 virgins in paradise. Deterrence is relevant when it is applied to trends in the mainstream, not in the sidelines of society.
     The murderer at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva and the terrorist with the bulldozer did not represent an organization. Worse still: They reflect the mood of thousands of residents in Israel’s capital. A terror organization can be tracked down, declared illegal and its leadership can be arrested. Discontent that originates at the grassroots needs no guidance, is not controlled by anyone’s decisions, and it is much more difficult to contain. This is the way it was in the first intifada, and to a certain extent also in the second intifada. The organizations did not create the wave. They rode it. more.. e-mail

The plebiscite absurdity
Zvi Bar'el, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008

     The Knesset members are panicking. The Golan Heights are about to slip out of Israel’s grip and return to their owner. Best hurry up and secure them with heavy legislative chains, lest peace between Israel and Syria sneak up and prove too tempting for the government.
     This sentiment concerns the plebiscite law the Knesset passed last week - albeit in its first reading only - which states that the public, and not the government or the Knesset, will determine whether to give back the Golan Heights or any other territory under Israeli sovereignty.
     ...After all, the Knesset members who voted for this bill agree the public is wiser than they are. Let the public decide and the MKs serve as its couriers. That way, we can safely legislate the next war.
     But it is not the MK’s status as an elected representative that is at stake, nor is it the government’s status as the entity responsible for making political decisions. At least not now. The bill, if passed into law, might jeopardize the very existence of negotiations with the Syrians, and without negotiations, there is no need to decide on withdrawal. more.. e-mail

Dividing Jerusalem
Uzi Benziman, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008

     On June 9, 1967, two days after Israel Defense Forces troops reached the Western Wall, Anwar al-Khatib, the Jordanian official responsible for administering the Jerusalem district, was whisked away to the Ambassador Hotel in the eastern part of the city for a meeting with IDF General (res.) Chaim Herzog, who only minutes earlier had been appointed the military governor of the West Bank.
     Khatib requested that the Israeli authorities permit some Arab families to relocate across the river to the east bank of the Jordan, where their relatives were waiting. Not only did the Israeli governor agree to the request, he adopted the idea wholesale and undertook a policy of encouraging every East Jerusalemite to take up residency in the Hashemite Kingdom.
     To that end, Israel unleashed a public relations campaign and arranged for organized trips, which were designed to spur the Arabs into abandoning the city. Herzog also made sure to compel Khatib to place his signature on a note affirming that the initiative was a Jordanian one. more.. e-mail

Palestinian water shortages rooted in American-Zionist cooperation during British Mandate
Jake Norris, Palestine News Network 7/6/2008

     When the British arrived in Palestine at the close of World War I, they declared that their arrival would usher in a new period of modernity and prosperity. Nowhere would this be more keenly felt than in the area of water and irrigation. Working together with Zionist settlers and American hydraulic engineers, Britain would introduce new technologies that could raise the living standards of all Palestinians.
     In 1922 Winston Churchill summed up British arrogance by stating that "anyone who has visited Palestine recently must have seen how parts of the desert have been converted into gardens’.the Arabs of Palestine would not in a thousand years have taken effective steps towards irrigation".
     Yet a regular and reliable supply of water is anything but a certainty for Palestinians today. With the mains system often cut off for days on end, the rooftop tanks that dominate the skyline are often empty. This constant uncertainty over life’s most basic necessity is partly due to the naturally declining water resources in the region. It is also, however, the product of Israeli policies which are themselves rooted in the British Mandate period.. more.. e-mail

International poll marks shift in US public opinion towards Palestine and Israeli occupation
Dr. Nabil Kukali, PNN, Palestine News Network 7/5/2008

     PNN - Dr. Nabil Kukali presents the latest public international poll on the position of world leaders in their dealings with the problem in Palestine vis-à-vis the Israeli occupation. He says that he sees a positive shift in the view of the American people, while all countries receive relatively low marks for efforts to solve the crisis. The United Nations Security Council is widely viewed as the only solution at this point.
     College Park, MD—A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of 18 countries finds that in 14 of them people mostly say their government should not take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just three countries favor taking the Palestinian side (Egypt, Iran, and Turkey). No country favors taking Israel’s side, including the United States, where 71 percent favor taking neither side.
     The poll of 18,792 respondents was conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a collaborative research project involving research centers from around the world and managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. more.. e-mail

Living forever by bombardment
Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008

     So what is the "great plan"? As things look now, this is the way Israel is planning its future: Every time some Middle Eastern country tries to obtain nuclear weapons, Israel will bomb it. Bomb - and bombard. Beyond the problematic assumption that we are allowed to do what others are not allowed, and what is secure in our hands is dangerous in the hands of others, this kind of conduct will lead to disaster. We tried twice, in Iraq and in Syria, and it worked; it is doubtful it was essential.
     Now it seems we are going to try a third time against Iran. It may even be successful, but nothing lasts forever. It will end in catastrophe. From bombardment to bombardment, that is not the way for Israel to establish itself in the Middle East in the long term. But no one discusses the long term beyond tomorrow.
     We could and should now discuss the chances, and especially the risks, of an attack on Iran. We usually hold such a discussion, if at all, under impossible conditions: either retrospectively, when it is too late, lacking information or after receiving disinformation. Those in on the secrets are also the ones to make the decision. But those in on secrets always lean in a belligerent direction; war is the only doctrine and craft they know. So it is very dangerous to depend solely on them. more.. e-mail

10-year-old subjected to torture by Israeli soldiers
Defence for Children International - Palestine, Palestine Think Tank 7/5/2008

     A 10-year-old boy was subjected to physical abuse amounting to torture for 2.5 hours by Israeli soldiers who stormed his family’s shop on 11 June, seeking information on the location of a handgun. The boy was repeatedly beaten, slapped and punched in the head and stomach, forced to hold a stress position for half and hour, and threatened. He was deeply shocked and lost two molar teeth as a result of the assault.
     On Wednesday 11 June 2008, at around 10:30am, 10-year-old Ezzat, his brother Makkawi (7) and sister Lara (8) were in their father’s shop selling animal feed and eggs in the village of Sanniriya, near the West Bank city of Qalqiliya. The children were suddenly startled to see two Israeli soldiers storm in to the shop.
     Interrogation and abuse in the shop: One soldier wearing a black T-shirt started shouting in a loud, menacing voice in Arabic, “your father sent us to you to collect his gun”. A terrified Ezzat responded, “My father does not own a gun”. The soldier responded by slapping Ezzat hard across the right cheek and his brother Makawi across his face. The soldier then ordered Makkawi and Lara to leave the shop. Once the younger children had left the soldier demanded once again that Ezzat hand over his father’s gun. Although Ezzat repeated that his father did not own a gun the soldier ordered him to search for it in the sacks containing the animal feed. Ezzat kept insisting that there was no gun in the shop so the soldier slapped him once again, this time across his left cheek. more.. e-mail

Palestinian Journalist Abused, Stripped
Nora Barrows-Friedman and Dennis Bernstein, Middle East Online 7/5/2008

     The US-supported occupation violence against Palestine continues unchecked. The failure of major Western politicians and the Big Press to cover the story has given Israel an absolute free hand to prosecute its program of ethnic cleansing.
     It is nearly impossible these days to get substantial, unbiased information out on punishing Israeli policies. The few reporters who have chosen to take on the story head-on oftentimes risk their life and their limbs to do their work.
     A week ago Thursday, the Israeli occupation violence hit close to home as award-winning reporter and Flashpoints correspondent Mohammed Omer was detained and tortured trying to return back to his home in Gaza through Jordan.
     Mohammed Omer was returning home from Europe with great pride, having been distinguished with the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. The prize is given every year with great fanfare to frontline reporters who take great risks to report their stories. more.. e-mail

A Short Walk in Palestine - or is it Eretz Yisrael?
Rajah Shehadeh, MIFTAH 7/5/2008

     We stopped to eat our picnic breakfast of Nabulsi goat’s cheese and tomatoes - which we had to eat whole because I could not risk being stopped on the road carrying a Swiss army knife My walk in the Ramallah hills with a radio journalist was going well. The weather was balmy, a bulbul was warbling away, grey-green olive trees dotted the terraced slopes. We came upon some natash plants - a highly politicised thistle used in Israeli military courts as evidence that a particular piece of land is uncultivated and is therefore "public land", and so can be confiscated for the "public": Jewish settlers.
     We began our walk at the top of the hill near the village of Masra’e Qibiliya, not far from Birzeit University. As the cool air swept my face, I attempted to explain the dramatic changes that have taken place in the Palestinian landscape over the past 60 years. To our right was the new Jewish outpost of Horesh and further north the sister settlements of Talmon B and C, dominating the hilltops of what I call Palestine and the settlers call Eretz Yisrael. Down in the valley was the centuries-old Palestinian village of Ain Qenya, with its ancient spring (or ain), above which stood the settlement of Dolev. All these settlements lie to the east of Israel’s annexation wall. more.. e-mail

The women he left behind
Lily Galili, Ha’aretz 7/5/2008

     On the door of the house in the village of Makhoul - also known as Peki’in West - there could easily have been hung a sign saying "Here live Mathal, Munib and Jamila Makhoul in happiness." Except that Munib is dead and buried in the yard of the house, and his daughter, Jamila, not yet 4, was born two years after his death, having been conceived from his preserved sperm. Nevertheless, they still live there: the dead man who in his lifetime wrote poetry and was involved in politics, and the women he left behind − the older one and the younger one. Occasionally they are visited by Hussein Abu Hussein, an attorney who lives in Umm al-Fahm. Munib’s close friend, Abu Hussein is now fighting on behalf of the widow and the child to gain their full rights from a state that refuses to recognize the complexity of their situation.
     We spent many hours this week in the house. Photos of Munib (an uncle of former MK Issam Makhoul), always dressed in traditional Arab garb and a kaffiyeh, hang here and there; a crucifix is affixed above the door of the guest room. All the clocks have stopped ticking, each one frozen at a different hour.
     This attractive woman, Mathal, took her fate into her own hands with a courage that sparks admiration in a conservative Arab society, and did so without actually violating any of its unwritten laws. Little Jamila has already learned to say cautiously: "I’ll decide." more.. e-mail

The US in the Mideast: ignorance abroad
Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 7/5/2008

     One of the frightening lessons one learns from spending time in Washington is that most of the men and women who make, or influence, American policy in the Middle East actually have little or no first-hand experience of the region. They know very little about its people or its political trends at the grassroots level, as the Iraq experience reconfirms so painfully.
     American policy-making throughout the Middle East remains defined largely by three principal forces: pro-Israeli interests and lobbies in the United States that pander almost totally to Israeli government positions; an almost genetic, if understandable, need to respond to the 9/11 terror attack against the US by politically and militarily striking against Middle Eastern targets; and a growing determination to confront and contain Iran and its assorted Sunni and Shiite Arab allies.
     A significant consequence of Washington’s deep pro-Israeli tilt has been to ignore public sentiments throughout the region, which in turn generates greater criticism of the US. It is not clear if American policymakers ignore Middle Eastern public opinion because of ignorance and diplomatic amateurism, or because of the structural dictates of pro-Israeli compliance. more.. e-mail

Shalit is not more important than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners
Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008

     One of the most repulsive expressions of Israeli racism is the firmly-held belief that a Jew is superior to and more important than a non-Jew.
     According to this unholy principle, which most Israeli Jews see as an unquestionable truism, a Jewish life is more important than a non-Jewish life, and a Jewish blood is far more important than a non-Jewish blood. 
     Unfortunately, it is upon this manifestly racist concept that the entire Israeli justice system is based.
     This scandalous perception of the Jew-gentile relationship encompasses all aspects of Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people. It also explains the institutionalized racism against the native Palestinians, especially in the occupied territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
     Take for example, the Shalit affair and how Israel managed to kill, maim, detain and torture thousands of innocent Palestinians in order to coerce Hamas to release the man who probably has become the world’s most famous prisoner. more.. e-mail

Not Much Benefit for Abbas
Yossi Alpher, MIFTAH 7/5/2008

     The latest display of successful political manipulation by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has given his government a temporary reprieve. He will remain prime minister for at least three months and perhaps beyond.
     And he is likely to continue to pursue the ambitious peacemaking and conflict-mitigation activity that he has displayed on virtually all fronts in recent weeks and months since it serves all his presumed aims: political survival, expanding the circle of peace and even neutralizing potential accomplices to an Iranian reprisal in the event Iran’s nuclear installations are attacked.
     Olmert’s government is weak and riven by dissent and rivalry. Not all his initiatives with Israel’s neighbors make sense at the strategic level. Yet he persists, seemingly convinced that in his dismal political situation and with his public approval ratings scraping the floor, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
     In what directions might he now embark? And how would they affect the fortunes of the most veteran and core peace process, that with the Ramallah-based PLO.
     Badly, for the most part. Beginning closest to home, all of the Olmert government’s dealings with the Hamas regime in Gaza have the negative effect of weakening President Mahmoud Abbas and his government. The Gaza ceasefire is seen by Palestinians as an achievement by Hamas and its arms and is contrasted to the apparent lack of real progress in the Abbas-Olmert negotiations over a peace framework... more.. e-mail

Wall slices off al-Khader’s famous vineyards
Adri Nieuwhof writing from al-Khader, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 7/4/2008

     Since early January the Palestinian village of al-Khader located near Bethlehem in the West Bank has protested against Israel’s construction of the Apartheid Wall and Jewish-only settlements built on village land every week. Al-Khader is known in the region for its vineyards which produce excellent-quality grapes. In the past they were sold all over the West Bank and Israel but farmers can no longer get their produce to the market. I traveled to al-Khader to witness the impact of the wall on the village at the invitation of Samer Jaber of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements.
     At his apartment in al-Khader, Samer shows me a map of the al-Khader area located on the western edge of Israel’s "Greater" Jerusalem. The wall will cage the villagers of Battir, Wadi Fukin, Husan, Nahallin, and will cut off residents of al-Khader and Beit Jala from their fertile lands. Roughly 40,000 Israeli settlers inhabit this region of the West Bank with some 20,000 Palestinians.Once the wall is completed, al-Khader residents will only be able to access their land through a pedestrians-only turnstile located south of the village.The farmers will require permission from from Israel to bring vehicles and large equipment to their land through a gate 20 kilometers from the village. Samer tells me that two houses next to the wall have received demolition orders, because the owners built their houses without Israeli permission. more.. e-mail

The narrative of a young woman: her eyes, life and hope under occupation
Manar Wahhab, Palestine News Network 7/4/2008

     Bethlehem - I will begin with the story of leaving in 1948 with the words of my grandmother. "Before the British left in May 1948, they humiliated the Arabs."
     "We used to think that they sold petrol for only five dinars but when we opened the bottles we discovered that they sold us water!"
     She continued, “I want to tell you what had happened to me and my family when we lived in Al-Ramlah [a village the Israelis took in 1948]…my six children and I sat at home [one of her children is my father]. Two men knocked on the door. When we opened the door, they told us to leave the house because there would be clashes. We didn’t believe them. I was cooking for my children. Then we suddenly heard shelling and bombing. I took my children and went to the Catholic convent to hide. There we met a lot of people, both Christians and Muslims. The children were afraid and cried because of the sounds they heard. There was no food or water anymore. So we were obliged to bring what we had in our houses. The Israeli soldiers told the boys and men to visit a specific place if they wanted to get permission to be in the streets, but the Israelis were lying: when the men went to the place they all were taken to prison. The Israeli airplanes shelled most of the houses. The snipers killed many boys, men, women, and children, even dogs and cats in the street.&rdquo. more.. e-mail

The BBC ignores the beating of Palestinian journalist they interviewed only days before
David Halpin, Palestine Think Tank 7/4/2008

     LETTERS TO THE BBC BY DAVID HALPIN - To BBC News online
     Dear Olivia,
     My first message to you was on 06/28/2008 at 08:33 PM.
     I see no report of the assault on this journalist on the BBC web site. Assuming you are on holiday, I am copying this to senior colleagues. To this lay person, there would appear to be several reasons to report that which Mohammed Omer has and is suffering.
     1. The BBC were sufficiently interested to interview him on BBC World Service just before he left for France. I provided the contact number for that to happen.
     2. It is true is it not that an unprecedented number of journalists have been killed in Iraq - at least 250? 9 have been killed in Gaza. The alleged barbaric treatment of this young journalist should be reported; the louder the silence, the greater the state impunity.
     3. If this was Alan Johnston and not a Palestinian (albeit of great talent), the story would have been number one... more.. e-mail

Moment of truce
Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/3/2008

     In a reversal of roles with Fatah, Hamas is now policing armed resistance in Gaza, writes Mohamed Abu Ermana, spokesman for the military wing of Fatah in Gaza, was shocked when members of the internal security service of Ismail Haniyeh’s dismissed government asked him to report to the police. The day before he told reporters that Fatah didn’t recognise the Egyptian-brokered truce between Hamas and Israel and would continue to fire rockets at Israel. Now he was under arrest.
     It sounds odd that Hamas would detain anyone for involvement in attacks on Israel. But given the outrage expressed by the Palestinian public at rocket attacks carried out by some Palestinian factions directly after the truce went into effect, the Haniyeh government apparently felt justified to do so. According to a public poll conducted by the Gaza-based Mustaqbal Research Centre, 86 per cent of Palestinians support the truce agreement and more than 70 per cent are angry with the factions that violated the agreement. more.. e-mail

Peace talks are Olmert’s ticket to political survival
Gerald M. Steinberg, Daily Star 7/4/2008

     Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has again demonstrated his skill in manipulating Israel’s dysfunctional electoral system. After surviving the Winograd commission reports on the mistakes made in the 2006 Lebanon war, Olmert faced another wave of calls to resign following testimony related to corruption charges. But through an agreement with Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, a Knesset vote was cancelled that would have led to national elections in the fall and would probably have returned opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to power. Unless there are new political "earthquakes" (always a possibility in Israel), the current coalition is likely to continue until at least the spring of 2009.
     As a result, and as part of a survival strategy that includes shifting the focus of media attention, Olmert’s "peace offensive" remains very much on the table. The issues include the negotiations for a "shelf agreement" with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and talks with Syria. The prisoner exchange negotiations with Hizbullah and Hamas and the unwritten cease-fire agreement that entered into effect in Gaza on June 22 are also part of this offensive. more.. e-mail

Unite to negotiate a real truce
Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj, Electronic Intifada 7/4/2008

     After nearly one year of a suffocating siege imposed on Gaza by the Israeli military establishment, a truce agreement was reached between Hamas and Israel. This followed months of dedicated Egyptian good offices. Rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli settlements were to stop in return for gradually lifting the blockade. A ceasefire sustained for six months would then roll over to the West Bank. A hostage Israeli soldier would be released in a separate deal involving exchange of Palestinian prisoners. Future negotiations would set the terms for opening the borders between Egypt and Gaza.
     Hamas vowed to respect the agreement as did other Palestinian factions. In addition to Hamas, only Islamic Jihad is to be taken seriously. Fatah, the faction linked to President Abbas, has long and vehemently criticized rocket firing from Gaza.
     Five days into the long awaited ceasefire, Israel allowed the entry of tissues and sanitary napkins into Gaza as a form of "good will." Simultaneously, it carried out an early morning raid against a student hostel in Nablus, killing two Palestinians in their beds. more.. e-mail

Iqbal Tamimi - 'Will you remember my name?'
Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 7/4/2008

     When one Israeli person is killed or kidnapped, the media makes sure every single person hearing the news would know the name of that person, giving the incident a human dimension. But this has never been the case with Palestinians who have been killed, imprisoned or kidnapped by the Israeli authorities.
     Palestinians are considered as a demographically abundant population, it is alright not to know their names; they are ignored on a human level. Their names are never mentioned. When Palestinians are killed you only hear about numbers, their blood is diluted by the media manipulators who do not have the decency to respect human life on both sides.
     This is why I thought of mentioning the names of a few young Palestinian men who died inside Israeli prisons. When you read their names, remember that each one of them has a family and friends, and each of them has his own dreams and hopes, and his blood screams at you, "WILL YOU REMEMBER MY NAME?" And most of all, almost all of them were killed inside Israeli prisons during interrogations before being convicted or standing in a court to a fair trial. The majority are very young, this is another tactic of Israeli authorities to empty the country of its people as soon as possible. more.. e-mail

United by a Bulldozer - And I think to myself...
Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 7/4/2008

     According to Haaretz, the Shin Bet security service, the (IDF) Military Advocate General, the Defence Minister Barak and the Prime Minister Olmert himself are all backing the demolition of terrorists’ homes.
     Not much can be said; at last, Jews start to agree on something among themselves, not only do they agree, they even compete among themselves to be the most outspoken about it. They all want to lead the current Hebraic belligerence championship. Each of them tries to shape and reshape an authentic image of vengeance. One may have to admit: compassion is not an appreciated feature in the Jewish state.
     In fact, it is almost amusing to read Olmert’s statements:
     "This is an attack which came from within Israel into Israel," says the observant Israeli PM."It creates a string of scenarios we never thought we would have to deal with in the past."  He continues, and I do not know whether to laugh or to cry. Israel invests so much effort in racially based discrimination of its Palestinian citizens (whom they themselves tag as "˜Israeli Arabs’ rather than just fellow Israelis) yet, they somehow fail to predict that one day it all may spark out. I honestly find it hard to believe... more.. e-mail

Critics see vendetta in al-Arian’s legal limbo
Ali Gharib, Electronic Intifada 7/3/2008

     WASHINGTON (IPS) - Palestinian activist and former university professor Sami al-Arian was arraigned Monday in US federal court on two counts of criminal contempt for his refusal to testify in a grand jury investigation of a Northern Virginia Muslim think-tank.
     The indictment is the latest episode of a long, Kafka-esque process that has violated nearly every tenet of al-Arian’s plea agreement following the end of his first trial in 2005, and kept al-Arian in prison for over five years.
     "The government has made a complete mockery of the plea agreement," al-Arian’s attorney, Jonathon Turley, told IPS. "Dr. al-Arian has received zero benefit from his plea agreement."
     Supporters of al-Arian cited the charges as an attempt by an overzealous Justice Department prosecutor to keep al-Arian behind bars indefinitely despite an inability to secure a jury conviction. There is no maximum penalty for criminal contempt.
     "The whole case against him is a vindictive act by sore losers that lost the Florida case badly because there was no evidence," al-Arian’s daughter, Laila, told IPS. "So they’re manufacturing crimes to keep him in prison as long as possible. It’s almost as if the whole plea agreement was just a way to buy time." -- See also: US prosecutor won't let go of Palestinian professor more.. e-mail

Will Non Violent Resistance Work in Palestine?
Dr. Vijaya Rajiva, International Middle East Media Center News 7/3/2008

     Palestine, the last of the Liberation movements has a special place in the hearts and minds of the countries that were liberated in the 20th century.
     The newly liberated countries, India being one of them, voted against the partition of historic Palestine and in 1967, Arthur Lall the Indian representative at the UN called for Israel’s withdrawal from ALL occupied territory. Although India has normalized its relations with Israel since then, the sentiment of wanting to see Palestine liberated from the Occupation is still there.
     A comparison with the Indian freedom struggle is inevitable, although each struggle has its own unique characteristics. One of the themes in the Palestinian struggle which has been explored is the prospect of a non violent struggle against the Occupation (See Mustafa Barghouti’s "˜Strategies for Non Violence’ in Palestine Chronicle).It must be pointed out that the African National Congress’s armed struggle in South Africa made it possible for the international community’s Boycott and Divestment Movement to succeed, but only in conjunction with the armed struggle. more.. e-mail

Running against the clock
Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/3/2008

     Dina Ezzat reviews progress in and opinion regarding Egyptian mediation efforts on the Palestinian-Israeli front
     President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian Monarch King Abdullah met this week in Sharm El-Sheikh to synchronise diplomatic and intelligence efforts on the Palestinian-Israeli front. According to diplomatic sources, the prime objective of both Egypt and Jordan at this point is to sustain the fragile truce between Hamas and Israel. The second objective, the same sources add, is to move on to phase two of their mediation and secure the release, in return for the release of a few hundred Palestinian prisoners, of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit captured two years ago by an Islamist resistance movement loyal to Hamas. The third objective is to support Palestinian-Israeli negotiations that aim to lay down the outlines of a final status agreement -- even if not fully developed -- before US President George W Bush exits the White House later this year.
     Egyptian sources say that Egypt is keener to work on the first two objectives and doubts the ability of Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to deliver the third. However, they add that Egypt is still willing to provide support. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met earlier this week with President Mubarak in Sharm El-Sheikh on the sidelines of the African Union summit. During the meeting Abbas expressed hope that "something could come out" of current negotiations. "Despite our doubts we are not going to withdraw any support that is requested," one Egyptian source said. According to this source, Egypt, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Jordan, has demanded that the Arab League abandon earlier plans to hold an Arab foreign ministers meeting this summer to express Arab dismay at the outcome of the Annapolis process that last November promised a final status agreement before the end of 2008. more.. e-mail

Britain’s role revealed
Roger Owen, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/3/2008

     New research is shedding light on the depth of British involvement in the break-up of Palestine, writes In the vast -- and largely ideological -- literature produced by the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Britain’s responsibility for the events of 1948 is not often directly discussed, neither polemically nor from a more academic point of view. It was thus something of a novelty to attend a whole conference devoted to the subject of "Palestine, Britain and Empire" at King’s College, London, in mid-May. It was also a great pleasure to observe how much dispassionate, archive- based research is being conducted by young scholars whose commitment to old passions and the rehearsal of stale arguments is much less pressing than that of many of their older colleagues.
     Three new lines of argument seemed to me of particular interest. One was the role played by the international mandate for Palestine itself, a subject often dismissed as being of trivial significance compared with the more obvious importance of Palestine as a quasi colony. However, as a paper on "The powers and uses of the mandate system" amply demonstrated, the fact that the Balfour Declaration was written into the mandate document itself enormously reduced Britain’s power of manoeuvre, particularly in the mid- 1930s when it was becoming clear that Palestine contained two irreconcilable communities unable to agree on almost anything. more.. e-mail

If ’Never Again’ is to be a pledge
Joseph Agassi, Ha’aretz 7/4/2008

     Collective memories are usually celebratory, focusing on elements of the past that a society is most proud of. This is unfortunate. After all, societies stand to learn as much from their failures as from their successes. The memory of the Shoah is a major component of Israel’s character, but when it comes to the question of the Jewish response to the Holocaust, it is still a cause of some amnesia, particularly with regard to our failures at the time. Refusing to acknowledge those failures only compounds them.
     A strategic dispute that ran through the Zionist movement from its earliest decades had an impact on its response to the plight of European Jews. The "political" faction (whose most prominent leaders were Theodor Herzl and Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky) advocated trying to effect mass migration to Palestine by any means, whereas the "practical" faction (whose most prominent leaders were Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion) believed selective migration of young workers, preferably with agricultural skills, was both preferable and more realistic.
     ....This same dispute can help explain the terrible and shocking fact that during the war’s final phases, the Zionist movement in Palestine and the Jewish leadership abroad actively worked to foil the activities of the Emergency Committees to Save the Jews of Europe.... more.. e-mail

Tipping the balance
Hussein Ayoub, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/3/2008

     In sealing a prisoner swap with Israel, Hizbullah has vindicated its strategy, writes from Beirut The prisoner exchange deal between Hizbullah and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert differs from earlier exchanges between Israel and Palestinian or Arab parties, most significantly in terms of the "price" Israel has been compelled to pay. That this is so is due mainly to the July 2006 war and the unprecedented strategic failure of Israel’s assault.
     The Israelis are agreeing to exchange prisoners in return for corpses, among them Samir Kuntar, convicted of killing three Israelis, and they are doing so in a deal cut with a Lebanese party.
     Ask today about the Palestinian Liberation Front or Operation Gamal Abdel-Nasser which it planned and carried out 30 years ago in Neharaya during which a number of Palestinian and Lebanese fighters were either killed or captured and most people will look blank. Ask about Kuntar, however, and it will soon become clear that the man is far more famous than the operation in which he participated, or indeed the faction, led by Abul-Abbas, that planned it. more.. e-mail

When you shoot the messenger
Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 7/3/2008

     GAZA CITY (IPS) - The assault of IPS Gaza correspondent Mohammed Omer has left Israeli security personnel with a lot of explaining to do. And they are not doing a very good job of it.
     Omer was abused and assaulted by Israeli security personnel at the Allenby border crossing into Israel from Jordan as he tried to return to his home last week in the Gaza Strip.
     Omer was returning from Europe where he had addressed European parliamentarians on the situation on the ground in Gaza. In London he picked up a prize as joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (along with IPS correspondent Dahr Jamail).
     Omer, who also reports for The Washington Report , told IPS he was verbally abused, strip-searched at gunpoint and physically beaten. He was later hospitalized with broken ribs and related trauma.
     Israeli officials denied to IPS in Jerusalem that the award-winning journalist had been mistreated. They said the Gazan journalist had "lost his balance" after being searched on "suspicion of smuggling in illegal items." -- See also: Mohammed Omer, former Vermont Guardian correspondent, assaulted by Israeli security forces more.. e-mail

More foot-dragging
Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/3/2008

     The "Shalit affair" is being delayed for cynical ends, writes in Ramallah Gilad Shalit Hamas has accused Israel of "dragging its feet" and "showing little seriousness" about negotiating a prospective prisoner swap deal whereby Israel would free hundreds of Palestinian political and resistance prisoners in exchange for Hamas releasing an Israeli occupation army soldier captured by Palestinian fighters near Gaza two years ago.
     Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he would like to speed up the negotiations with Hamas on a swap deal. Olmert was quoted as saying that he instructed all those who are involved in the negotiations with Hamas "to do what is necessary" so that the talks can progress as quickly as possible.
     However, the Israeli government, especially the intelligence and security establishment, seems generally opposed to freeing hundreds of prominent Palestinian prisoners on the grounds that such a step would boost Hamas’s popularity, mostly at the expense of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) regime. more.. e-mail

I Shall Visit Israel
Paul Grenville, Palestine Think Tank 7/3/2008

     I shall visit Israel
     I shall visit Israel when the olive trees are in blossom
     I shall visit Israel when an Arab can marry a Jew
     I shall visit Israel when Torah Jews are no longer beaten up in the streets of Jerusalem for reminding their countrymen of the commandments of Moses
     I shall visit Israel when the speaking of Arabic in certain neighbourhoods no longer causes heads to turn
     I shall visit Israel when the learning of Arabic is mandatory in Israeli schools
     I shall visit Israel when Arab and Jewish children mingle freely in one system of state education
     I shall visit Israel when the 7 million refugees from the land of Palestine can choose between a country they can call their own, or compensation for what they lost... more.. e-mail

Israeli water consumption leads to worse crisis since 1948
Palestine News Network 7/2/2008

     Tel Aviv / PNN - Israeli water experts have declared the current situation to be "the most serious since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948." Water levels in Lake Tiberias are expected to fall below the "red line" next week. Most alarmingly, a further drop below the "black line" is predicted for this October. Once the level falls below the black line, it will no longer be possible to operate the pumps in Lake Tiberias.
     The current water crisis will have serious implications for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Since the Nakba of 1948, Israeli authorities have controlled the key water sources in the region. With Israeli forces occupying the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967, the Israeli grip on Palestinian water has further tightened.
     Today Israelis consume more than 80 percent of the ground water in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians are denied use of the Jordan River. On an annual per capita basis, Israelis consume over four times as much water as Palestinians. more.. e-mail

Khalid Amayreh - Behavior Unbecoming of a Palestinian
Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 7/2/2008

     Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, holds a number of key portfolios of immense significance and symbolism.
     He is the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), President of the Palestinian "˜national’ Authority (PA) and Chief of the Fatah organization.
     As such, he ought to strive to represent his tormented people in the best possible manner. He should also make every possible effort to eloquently and effectively communicate to the world at large the Palestinian people’s pains and grievances as well as their hopes for freedom and liberation from the manifestly criminal Israeli occupation.
     More to the point, Abbas should carefully shun any behavior that would harm his people’s dignity, image and national interests.
     Indeed, these are the most elementary tasks a leader, let alone a leader of a people languishing under a sinister foreign military occupation, is expected to perform. more.. e-mail

Crossing the Line focuses on a possible Israeli strike on Iran
Podcast, Crossing the Line, Electronic Intifada 7/2/2008

     This week on Crossing The Line: The Israeli Air Force recently conducted long-range exercises over the Mediterranean Sea, a move that US intelligence officials say might be a prelude to a strike on Iran. Is Israel being used as a proxy by the US to attack Iran? Or is Israel, which has struck sites it alleged to be nuclear in Iraq and Syria in the past, planning to strike Iran on its own? Bill Christison, a former CIA intelligence officer, will join host Naji Ali to discuss a possible Israeli strike on Iran.
     Also this week, the Israeli army assassinated two Palestinians in the West Bank while a tense cease-fire went into effect in the Gaza Strip on 19 June. With the ceasefire Israel has promised to ease restrictions on gas, and allow an increase of goods into Gaza. But how has the ceasefire improved life for Palestinians in Gaza? Are Gazans now receiving their basic necessities denied to them since the total closure began in June 2007? Palestinian journalist Rami Almeghari speaks with Ali on the new developments in Gaza. more.. e-mail

From triumph to torture
John Pilger, The Guardian 7/2/2008

     Israel’s treatment of an award-winning young Palestinian journalist is part of a terrible pattern.
     Two weeks ago, I presented a young Palestinian, Mohammed Omer, with the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Awarded in memory of the great US war correspondent, the prize goes to journalists who expose establishment propaganda, or "official drivel", as Gellhorn called it. Mohammed shares the prize of £5,000 with Dahr Jamail. At 24, he is the youngest winner. His citation reads: "Every day, he reports from a war zone, where he is also a prisoner. His homeland, Gaza, is surrounded, starved, attacked, forgotten. He is a profoundly humane witness to one of the great injustices of our time. He is the voice of the voiceless." The eldest of eight, Mohammed has seen most of his siblings killed or wounded or maimed.
     Getting Mohammed to London to receive his prize was a major diplomatic operation. Israel has perfidious control over Gaza’s borders, and only with a Dutch embassy escort was he allowed out. Last Thursday, on his return journey, he was met at the Allenby Bridge crossing (to Jordan) by a Dutch official, who waited outside the Israeli building, unaware Mohammed had been seized by Shin Bet, Israel’s infamous security organisation. Mohammed was told to turn off his mobile and remove the battery. He asked if he could call his embassy escort and was told forcefully he could not. A man stood over his luggage, picking through his documents. "Where’s the money?" he demanded. Mohammed produced some US dollars. "Where is the English pound you have?" more.. e-mail

Israel’s discriminatory water policies leave West Bank dry
Report, B'Tselem, Electronic Intifada 7/1/2008

     The chronic water shortage in the West Bank, resulting from an unfair distribution of water resources shared by the Palestinians and Israel, will be much graver this summer because of this year’s drought. In the northern West Bank, water consumption has fallen to one-third of the minimal amount needed.
     The 2008 drought, the most serious drought in the area in the past decade, aggravates the built-in, constant shortage of water in the West Bank. Rainfall this year in the northern West Bank was 64 percent of average, while in the southern sections of the West Bank, it was 55 percent. As a result, the water stored from rainfall has already been used.The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) estimates this year’s water shortage in the West Bank at 42 to 69 million cubic meters. The total water consumption in the West Bank is 79 mcm. The PWA has already requested Mekorot -- the Israel Water Company -- for an emergency supply of eight mcm.
     Severe shortage of water for personal needs According to the World Health Organization, the per capita minimal amount of water needed for household and urban needs is one hundred liters a day. Due to the chronic water shortage, water consumption in the northern West Bank has dropped to one-third this amount. In Tubas, per capita consumption is 30 liters; in Jenin, it is 38 liters. In Nablus and the Southern Hebron Hills, the figure is slightly higher than 50 liters a day. more.. e-mail

Joy in Affliction
Palestine Monitor 7/1/2008

     A Wedding in Qarawa
     The crowds gathered at the school of the small village with anticipation. A pause interrupted the commotion as the call for prayer came over the loudspeaker and everyone went to mosque. After the prayers, the explosion of chaos began without warning. The wedding had begun!
     For Palestinians, weddings take place in two ceremonies, one for the men and one for the women. The men of Qarawa Bani Zeid gathered on Friday night to celebrate the wedding of Majdi Arar. Over the past month, I had grown to love this village and its people. I had heard them all discuss the difficulties posed by a life under occupation. I had driven through checkpoints with them, visited neighboring villages that are surrounded by the Wall, and followed them on mobile clinics to places with no access to medical care. I had seen them hurt when they could not provide for their families because of the poor economy brought on by the Occupation. But on the night of the wedding, no one would have guessed the problems these men carried on their shoulders. Everyone gathered for the sole purpose of community and celebration. more.. e-mail

Not only Palestinians suffer
Rami Almeghari writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 7/1/2008

     "We gather here as Russian wives who are married to Gazan husbands, to preserve our culture, language and some of our lifestyle, particularly under these bad conditions in Gaza," said Jamila Assersawi, a Russian music teacher who has lived in Gaza for the past 15 years. Jamila and other Russian wives in Gaza gather at a health club in Gaza City twice a week, where they meet, chat and practice some exercises. They also let their children intermingle to preserve the Russian half of their culture.
     There are roughly 5,000 Russian women in Gaza. Many, like Jamila, have been living in Gaza for many years. For Jamila, having two children and running a married life has proven difficult with the situation in Gaza, where conditions are totally different from those of her own homeland or maybe any other country in the world. "Prior to the outbreak of the intifada, I used to feel more comfortable. But since 2000 and particularly the last year, things have become much worse. There is no gas, there is no fuel, there is nothing," she explained. more.. e-mail

The Nakba of Ni’lin
Palestine Monitor 7/1/2008

     Land-owners Losing Their Olive Trees to the Wall
     The ancient olive tree is considered holy, mentioned in the Torah, the Christian Scriptures, and the Qur’an. This tree has also become an emblem of the connection between Palestinians and the land. But this sacred tree, a symbol of peace and abundance, is disappearing from Ni’lin.
     The village of Ni’lin has been greatly affected by the construction of the Wall since its commencement on May 20th. Portions of the Wall near the village were built on the Green Line, but not in Ni’lin, which is bordered to the southwest by the settlements of Hashmon’im, Modi’in Illit, and Mattityahu. Israeli authorities claim that the Wall is being built as security for these three settlements. Not only will the Wall impede easy movement to schools and workplaces in neighboring areas, but it will also destroy approximately five thousand olive trees. "How does this olive tree threaten the security of Israel?" exclaimed land-owner Asad Amera, pointing to a small tree on his property. more.. e-mail

Illusions Built on Domestic Necessities
Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 7/1/2008

     In the last few weeks we have witnessed a series of developments that at face value might appear inconsistent with the general trends of deterioration that the Arab-Israel conflict in particular and the Middle East in general has been experiencing.
     There have been reports about indirect Syrian-Israeli negotiations mediated by Turkey and not objected to by the US. Egypt succeeded in brokering a truce between Israel and the Hamas leadership in Gaza that has been observed successfully, albeit only just. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strikes an optimistic note regarding the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.
     So is the trend reversing? Are negatives becoming positives and are we in the middle of a peace offensive, as some commentators have described it? Or are these just illusions and gimmicks motivated by the short-term political interests of certain leaders? more.. e-mail

US hawks belie Iran’s 'existential threat' to Israel
Gareth Porter, Electronic Intifada 7/1/2008

     WASHINGTON (IPS) - New arguments by analysts close to Israeli thinking in favor of US strikes against Iran cite evidence of Iranian military weakness in relation to the US and Israel and even raise doubts that Iran is rushing to obtain such weapons at all.
     The new arguments contradict Israel’s official argument that it faces an "existential threat" from an Islamic extremist Iranian regime determined to get nuclear weapons. They suggest that Israel, which already has as many as 200 nuclear weapons, views Iran from the position of the dominant power in the region rather than as the weaker state in the relationship.
     The existence of a sharp imbalance of power in favor of Israel and the US is the main premise of a recent analysis by Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) suggesting that a US attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is feasible. Chuck Freilich, a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center on Science and International Affairs, has also urged war against Iran on such a power imbalance. more.. e-mail

Full account of Muhammed Omer’s hair-raising encounter with the Shin Bet
Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 7/1/2008

     From his hospital bed at the European Hospital in Gaza  and with barely audible voice, award-winning Palestinian journalist Muhammed Omer has given a full account of  the  hair-raising encounter he had last week with  Shin Bet agents at the Allenby Bridge border-crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.
     Omer, a co-winner of the 2008 Martha Gelhorn Prize for Journalistic Excellence,  said  he was abused, assaulted, humiliated, ridiculed, kicked, and strip-searched at gunpoint by undisciplined Shin Bet officers until he had a nervous breakdown in which case he lost consciousness for at least 90 minutes.
     A  resident of Rafah at the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, Omer said he didn’t know for sure why the Shin Bet people treated him in such a barbaric matter apart from the characteristic sadism and savagery routinely meted out to Palestinians. -- See also: Israel denies it mistreated Gaza journalist at Jordan crossing more.. e-mail

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