Sunday, August 1, 2010
Israel has crept into the EU without anyone noticing
Robert Fisk, The Independent 8/1/2010
The death of five Israeli servicemen in a helicopter crash in Romania this week raised scarcely a headline.
There was a Nato-Israeli exercise in progress. Well, that’s OK then. Now imagine the death of five Hamas fighters in a helicopter crash in Romania this week. We’d still be investigating this extraordinary phenomenon. Now mark you, I’m not comparing Israel and Hamas. Israel is the country that justifiably slaughtered more than 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza 19 months ago – more than 300 of them children – while the vicious, blood-sucking and terrorist Hamas killed 13 Israelis (three of them soldiers who actually shot each other by mistake).
But there is one parallel. Judge Richard Goldstone, the eminent Jewish South African judge, decided in his 575-page UN inquiry into the Gaza bloodbath that both sides had committed war crimes – he was, of course, quite rightly called "evil" by all kinds of justifiably outraged supporters of Israel in the US, his excellent report rejected by seven EU governments – and so a question presents itself. What is Nato doing when it plays war games with an army accused of war crimes?
Or, more to the point, what on earth is the EU doing when it cosies up to the Israelis? In a remarkable, detailed – if slightly over-infuriated – book to be published in November, the indefatigable David Cronin is going to present a microscopic analysis of "our" relations with Israel. I have just finished reading the manuscript. It leaves me breathless. As he says in his preface, "Israel has developed such strong political and economic ties to the EU over the past decade that it has become a member state of the union in all but name." Indeed, it was Javier Solana, the grubby top dog of the EU’s foreign policy (formerly Nato secretary general), who actually said last year that "Israel, allow me to say, is a member of the European Union without being a member of the institution".
Pardon me? Did we know this? Did we vote for this? Who allowed this to happen?.... more.. e-mail
Israel Classifies its Past as Top Secret: An Analysis
Lawrence Davidson, Dissident Voice 7/31/2010
Israel is a land built on myths. It is, of course, not unique in this. Indeed in this way Israel is very much like its patron, the United States. In order to build and maintain a mythical status a nation must create a picture of itself from its very inception and pass that picture down generation upon generation. For the U.S. it is the idea that the nation is a beacon of both democracy and capitalism unto the world and what it does in terms of foreign policy, and even when at war, is always done altruistically. For Israel, the myth is that the nation is democratic and the last bastion of safety for the world’s Jews. Everything it does, even when that amounts to imperial expansion, is done defensively.
In order to maintain these myths one must control history. The story line must be taught in the schools and supported by the nation’s multiple media sources. One must raise up a population that is so well inculcated with its mythic worldview that if something occurs which contradicts it, it can be readily dismissed as an exception to the rule. In the case of the United States, two hundred years of indoctrination and a long term status as a great power has allowed its myths to survive, in the minds of its own people, the horrors of Viet Nam, Iraq and now Afghanistan. Israel is a much younger nation with only three or so generations of indoctrination under its psychological belt, so to speak. And, while it may be a regional superpower, its reputation in the Middle East is built on fear. With the rest of the world that reputation is associated with equally unstable and temporary attitudes, like Holocaust guilt. In essence, apart from the convinced Zionists, Israel’s sustaining national myths are still fragile.
A number of years ago Israel applied its law that required the government archives to be opened for public review and research following a thirty year waiting period for political affairs and fifty years for military affairs. This brought many of the government documents referring to seminal years of 1947 and 1948 into the open. The result was a serious, evidence based, revision of the founding legends of Israel. In other words, the state lost momentary control of its own history.... more.. e-mail
Putting Iron Dome into perspective
Editorial, Jerusalem Post 7/21/2010
"Nor can it replace traditional battlefield offensives to take out terror bases across the lines."
Technology cannot hermetically seal our skies. The technological achievement that took the original Iron Dome concept from the drawing board to a deployable multi-tested anti-missile system is remarkable – the latest in the impressive collection of feathers in the caps of Israel’s innovative scientists and defense industries.
Within a few months, batteries of anti-missile missiles are to be positioned in vulnerable Gaza-vicinity communities to protect them against indiscriminate rocketry fired from the Hamas bastion. The various towns are already competing hard to make sure they will be adequately covered.
That said, nobody promises that the Iron Dome will offer absolute protection. Even what is touted may well be beyond the system’s practical capabilities.
Earlier in the week, it passed its final operational tests with flying colors, but real life is a whole other opera (as Israelis may remember from the disappointing performance, to put it mildly, of the Patriots in the First Gulf War).
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i candidly admits that the Iron Dome cannot intercept all Gazan rockets and that Israeli communities will remain menaced. Nevertheless he is confident that 80 percent of incoming projectiles can be foiled. But can they? Even the optimistic Vilna’i notes that Iron Dome cannot be deployed everywhere and would have to be installed according to “operational requirements.” more.. e-mail
All Quiet on the Eastern Front
Palestine Chronicle: 31 Jul 2010 - By Uri Avnery – Israel People endowed with sensitive political ears were startled this week by two words, which, so it seemed, escaped from the mouth of Binyamin Netanyahu by accident: “Eastern front”. Once upon a time these words were part of the everyday vocabulary of the occupation. In recent years they have been gathering dust in the political junkyard. The verbal couple “Eastern front” was born after the Six-day War. It served to buttress the strategic doctrine that the Jordan River is Israel’s “security border”. The theory: there is a possibility for three Arab armies – those of Iraq, Syria and Jordan – to gather east of the Jordan, cross the river and endanger the existence of Israel. We must stop them before they enter the country. Therefore, the Jordan Valley must serve as a permanent base for the Israeli army, our troops must stay there. This was a...more
Monday, August 2, 2010
The Closing of the Zionist Mind
Juan Cole, JuanCole.com 7/30/2010
"I got exactly the same treatment in the 1970s from Maronite Christians in Lebanon and in the 1990s from pro-Milosevic Serbs, and recognize the condition. It is Failing Nationalism Syndrome (FNS)."
It finally happened. The Jerusalem Post has declared archeology itself anti-Semitic.
To tell you the truth, I am frankly worried about some of my colleagues who are committed Zionists having difficulty in dealing with reality in the wake of the severe difficulties facing the Zionist project in historical Palestine.
Caroline Glick’s inaccurate and angry attack on me in the Jerusalem Post reminded me again of why I am anxious about the Closing of the Zionist Mind.
Glick is actually alleging that anyone who practices critical history of the ancient world or the Middle East in general is thereby an anti-Jewish bigot. Glick, from Chicago, was a captain in the Israeli army and a judge advocate-general during the first Intifada or Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which the Israeli army brutally crushed. She seems to be going off the deep end, having made herself notorious with the sick satirical video ‘We Con the World,’ which made fun of the civilian aid workers killed by Israeli commandos on May 31 of this year (and which appears to have had some backing from the Israeli government itself).
I don’t know if Captain Glick ever was not a zealot, but the bitterness and extremeness of her comments are now to the point of irrationality. more.. e-mail
Jewish groups angered by churches’ boycott call
Barney Zwartz, The Age 8/2/2010
AUSTRALIA’S leading church group has called on Australian churches and the public to boycott Israeli goods made in occupied Palestinian territories.
The National Council of Churches in Australia - which includes the Catholic, Anglican, Uniting and Orthodox churches among its members - passed the resolution last month.
Proposed by the Uniting Church and seconded by the Anglicans, the motion asks the council’s welfare agency, Act for Peace, to help member churches with the boycott and urges Christians involved in interfaith dialogue to include justice for Palestinians in their conversations.
Jewish groups were horrified at the resolution. Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot told the council in a letter the move was a ’’most unpleasant surprise’’.
’’We feel that we have been badly let down by people we have long thought of as our friends,’’ the letter said.
Mr Goot would not comment further yesterday as the two councils are meeting next week on the issue.
Sydney Jewish interfaith spokeswoman Josie Lacey said she was incredibly disappointed and it would ’’cause a ripple’’ in relationships with the churches.
’’I think this will give coverage to those who hate us,’’ she said. The resolution talks of the churches’ repentance for past silence and indifference to Palestinian suffering through the occupation, and promises to ’’advocate and act for an end to the occupation’’ more.. e-mail
Making Gaza A ‘European Ghetto’
Lamis Andoni, Political Theatrics 8/2/2010
While most Israeli leaders are resistant to fully lifting the blockade of Gaza, Avigdor Lieberman, the right-wing foreign minister, is advocating that Israel abandon the Strip to international monitoring and economic rehabilitation.
The proposal, recently leaked to the Israeli press, does not amount to freeing Gaza but rather to placing it under European sea and land inspections and a reconstruction plan.
If implemented, it will permanently sever the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, transforming the Strip into an internationally supervised ghetto – with the dual purpose of ensuring Israeli security and reigning in the Palestinian population.
The isolation of Gaza would further undermine the vision of a contiguous Palestinian state or any form of equitable coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis. It would also divide those families with members in the West Bank, creating a permanent schism in Palestinian society and deepening the sense of fragmentation.
Hamas would effectively be ruling a development project with no meaningful ties to the rest of the Palestinian people.
The Gaza burden
Lieberman’s proposal is interlinked with the calls by his right-wing Yisrael Beituna party for the eviction of Israel’s Arab minority and Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as it serves the same vision of an exclusively Jewish state and the elimination of the national rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people. -- See also: Source: AlJazeera more.. e-mail
Book review: Israel and apartheid S. Africa's "Unspoken Alliance"
Electronic Intifada: 2 Aug 2010 - In The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa , historian and Foreign Affairs editor Sasha Polakow-Suransky explores the rise and fall of the Cold War-era alliance between Israel and apartheid South Africa. Jimmy Johnson reviews for The Electronic Intifada.more
South Africa's lessons for Gaza
Electronic Intifada: 2 Aug 2010 - The Palestinian national movement has overlooked this question: does the Gaza Strip resemble the racist Bantustans of apartheid South Africa? During the apartheid era, South Africa's black population was kept in isolation and without political and civil rights. Is Gaza similar? The answer is yes and no. Haidar Eid analyzes.more
Israeli rabbi preaches slaughter of non-Jews
Electronic Intifada: 2 Aug 2010 - A rabbi from one of the most violent settlements in the West Bank was questioned on suspicion of incitement last week as Israeli police stepped up their investigation into a book in which he sanctions the killing of non-Jews, including children and babies. Jonathan Cook reports.more
Israel Takes Another Step Away from Democracy
Palestine Monitor: 2 Aug 2010 - According to the BNC(Boycott National Committee) Statement published on the 9th of July “after five years of BDS, the movement has proven, indisputably, to be the most effective and morally consistent form of solidarity with the people of Palestine in our struggle to end Israel's occupation, apartheid, and persistent denial of the UN-sanctioned right of return for the Palestinian refugees.” With academic and trade Unions (including UNISON), cultural figures including Dustin Hoffman and Elvis Costello and large supermarket chains including Marks and Spencers on board, the BDS campaign is gaining momentum. Furthermore it is beginning to have an economic impact: settlements have been reporting cuts in production as a result of the boycotts. Israel is showing signs of distress. The non-violent boycott campaign has now joined the ranks of all other forms of Palestinian resistance, being awarded the label of ‘ economic terrorism' by Israeli officials. As is the standard...more
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Palestinian Detainee Abuse during Operation Cast Lead
Stephen Lendman, Dissident Voice 8/2/2010
On July 6, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PACTI) and Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel released a report titled, “Exposed: The Treatment of Palestinian Detainees During Operation Cast Lead,” detailing their horrific treatment.
Transferred to Israel for interrogation, detainees related grim details of their ordeal – grave human rights violations, showing Israel’s “contempt for the rule of law.”
Their “fundamental due process rights were trampled on and the rule of law brutally disregarded during and after the fighting,” providing compelling evidence of collective punishment since Israel’s 2005 “disengagement,” followed by an embargo, a medieval siege, regular incursions, Cast Lead, and continued oppression of 1.5 million people — isolated, surrounded, attacked, brutalized, and slowly suffocated into submission, what hasn’t happened and won’t, but it doesn’t deter Israel from trying, or America from providing weapons and funding its lawlessness.
Seizure and Detention in Gaza
Under Article 92 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners relating to family notification about an individual’s seizure, the ICRC says it must be “as soon as (someone is) interned, or at the latest not more than one week after….arriv(ing) in a place of internment” or a temporary camp.
Israeli law also obligates authorities to comply with international law, its High Court recognizing notification as a basic detainee right, ruling that relatives must be informed within 24 hours.... more.. e-mail
You, as of now, are someone else!
Mahmoud Darwish, Palestine Think Tank 7/3/2010
Was it inevitable for us to fall from such heights, and see our blood on our hands… for us to realize that we are no angels… as we used to think? Was it also necessary for us to expose our genitals to everyone, to make sure our reality is no longer a virgin?
Such liars were we when we said: We are exceptional!
To believe yourself is much worse than lying to someone else! To be friendly with those who hate us, and ruthless to those who love us – this is the inferiority of the conceited, and the arrogance of the situation!
Oh past, do not change us… the further away we move from you! Oh future: do not ask us: who are you? And what do you want from me? We too have no clue. Oh present, bear with us a little, we are no more than dreary passers by!
Identity is our legacy and not our inheritance; our invention and not our memory.
Identity is the ruin of the mirror that we should break as soon as we like our image! He put on a mask, put on courage, and killed his mother… because she was the easiest prey… and because a female soldier stopped him and exposed her breasts asking: Does your mother have breasts like these?
If it wasn’t for modesty and darkness, I would have visited Gaza, without knowing the road to the new house of Abu Sufian, nor the name of the new prophet. If Mohammad hadn’t been the last of the prophets, each gang would have had its own prophet, and each companion a militia! We admired June in its 40th anniversary; if we can’t fine someone to defeat us again we defeat ourselves with our own hands, lest we forget! more.. e-mail
Culture: A Palestinian Strength to Be Built Upon
Nader Atta, This Week in Palestine 8/2/2010
During the spring of 2010, the Ramallah Cultural Palace was the venue for the graduation ceremony of over 220 children and youth who were trained by the Popular Arts Center on various forms of traditional Palestinian folklore dance, the dabkeh. With an overflow audience of over 900 persons in attendance, the dancers stomped and shook the building with their powerful energy and enthusiasm to the applause of their family and friends, thus making a statement that the continued transfer of this form of Palestinian culture from generation to generation is alive and well.
Culture is a very important means by which Palestinians have held on to their identity, values, norms, and traditions, not only in Occupied Palestinian territory but also in the diaspora. It is a glue that maintains the link between the Palestinian people, no matter where they reside, and their ancestral home. Thus, for the Palestinian people, protecting their culture and ensuring its continuity is as important as their struggle for independence.
Palestinian culture has been a symbol as well as a source of strength and pride during the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation. Over the past decade, it has become evident that Palestinians are no longer only battling for the land that they have tilled for centuries, they are also battling a campaign of cultural pillaging. From the dabkeh to the Palestinian thob (traditional embroidered woman’s dress) to the kaffiyeh (Palestinian headscarf) and even to such foods as falafel and hummus, a campaign is being waged to market these items as part of Israeli culture.
Moreover, unlike their parents and grandparents, today’s families are having a more difficult time in raising their children during this age of the Internet and satellite television. With access to information readily available as never before in this mostly conservative society, youth are testing the limits of values that are counter to Palestinian customs. The question becomes: How can outside customs be introduced without debilitating Palestinian cultural practices? more.. e-mail
UPDATED: Scores injured in explosions, Israeli attacks on Gaza
Electronic Intifada: 3 Aug 2010 - Tens of Palestinians were injured in a series of explosions on Monday, 2 August in the refugee camp of Deir el-Balah in the south of the occupied Gaza Strip at the home of senior Hamas official Alaa al-Danaf. It was unclear what caused the explosion which leveled his house and badly damaged at least 12 other homes nearby. This followed three consecutive days of Israeli strikes across the besieged territory.more
Probe into flotilla killings met with skepticism
Electronic Intifada: 3 Aug 2010 - UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - Despite initial misgivings, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon received the tacit approval of the Israeli government to establish an international panel to probe the widely-condemned killings of nine Turkish civilians onboard a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza last May.more
Boy Begs Soldiers Not To Take His Dad
Palestine Monitor: 3 Aug 2010 - TV cameras have captured the terrible moment of a five-year-old Palestinian boy seeing his father arrested by Israeli soldiers, nearby Hebron. In the video, the kid, Khaled Jabari, wails in torment and confusion as Israeli Army drag away his father, Fadel, for stealing water. http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/vi... Walking barefoot, the youngster becomes hysterical as he pleads with the troops not to take his father away. One of the soldiers picks up the lad and removes him from the scene before Fadel is driven away in a four-wheel-drive. Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, commented the video, circulated yesterday on SKY TV and Al Jazeera, saying that “ Palestinian children grow up under the Israeli occupation, surrounded by the Apartheid Wall, by oppression and destruction. Israel repudiates children's rights and welfare and treats them like adults, clearly violating UN Declaration of Child's Rights”. After watching the footage, Hashem Abu...more
Playing Soccer in Gaza
Palestine Chronicle: 3 Aug 2010 - By Andrew Ford You're watching your kid play soccer. It's a chilly weekend morning and you may be upset at the lost sleep involved in getting up and getting him there. The grass is green and the net, goal posts, striping are new and unscarred from previous play; their maintenance secured through a school district budget that generally passes grudging voter approval every two years. You see the mix of parents, some of them groggy, some of them slightly too excited by the impending competition. And it's all incredibly normal. What if the infrastructure for everything in the above scenario simply didn't exist? What if there wasn't a dew-covered green field behind the local elementary school that was open to all for community activities, funded by tax payers and maintained by salaried groundskeepers? What would it take for that scene to play out in in a refugee community in the...more
Revered Rabbi Preaches Slaughter of Gentile Babies
Palestine Chronicle: 3 Aug 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth A rabbi from one of the most violent settlements in the West Bank was questioned on suspicion of incitement last week as Israeli police stepped up their investigation into a book in which he sanctions the killing of non-Jews, including children and babies. Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira is one of the leading ideologues of the extreme wing of the religious settler movement. He is known to be a champion of the “price-tag” policy of reprisal attacks on Palestinians, including punishing them for attempts by officials to enforce Israeli law against the settlements. So far the policy has chiefly involved violent harassment of Palestinians, with settlers inflicting beatings, attacking homes, throwing stones, burning fields, killing livestock and poisoning wells. It is feared, however, that Shapira’s book The King’s Torah, published last year, is intended to offer ideological justifications for widening the scope of such attacks to include...more
Globalisation A Palestinian Context
Palestine Chronicle: 3 Aug 2010 - By Jamil Salman – Amman Despite the recent surge in studies criticising the effects of globalisation and, by extension, the World Trade Organisation, Palestinian officials have remained steadfast in their desire to expose the economy to the effects of globalisation. To some, membership at the WTO has become the next integral step in not only ending economic depression, but achieving Palestinian statehood. This is in part due to the major deficiencies regarding the shared Customs Union with Israel. As has been proven, a Customs Union will always remain economically infeasible despite the many proposed changes to the Paris Protocol. The political instability, security measures and the porous border control - which leads to much more smuggling than anyone would care to admit (it has been estimated that the Israeli-Palestinian Customs Union has created total sum losses that range from anywhere between 4.5-5.2 Million Dollars. Smuggling meanwhile, has amounted to leakages...more
A Powerful Testimony to Courage A Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 3 Aug 2010 - By George Polley Kenneth Ring, PhD and Ghassan Abdullah, editors: Letters from Palestine: Palestinians Speak Out about Their Lives, Their Country, and the Power of Nonviolence. Paperback, $26.95. Wheatmark, Tucson, Arizona, 2010. Website: www.wheatmark.com . For Palestinians, 1948 was a catastrophe. When Israel was born, between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their ancestral homes, farms, villages and towns and became permanent refugees. For them this murderous ethnic cleansing was their Holocaust. Sixty-two years later, it continues. For those who live in what was Palestine, the experience is one of contempt, persecution and eradication. The following quote from professor and peace activist David Shulman’s book Dark Hope is a description of what it is like on the ground. “What we are fighting in the South Hebron Hills is pure, rarefied, unadulterated, uncontainable human evil. Nothing but malice drives this campaign to uproot” people from their homes. … “They led peaceful,...more
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Don Duncan, CounterPunch 8/3/2010
Young Palestinians With Cameras
Every Friday, the slingshot-wielding boys, or shabab, of the West Bank village of Ni’lin protest at Israel’s separation wall, which has deprived the village of 750 acres of farmland. But among the shabab are other youngsters with a different weapon – video cameras.
For the past three years, Btselem, the Israeli human rights NGO, has provided cameras and training to young Palestinians as part of its camera distribution project, to collect video evidence of abuses and misconduct by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and Israeli settlers in the West Bank. There are 150 such cameras all over the West Bank and Gaza, and most of the footage captured – 1,500 hours so far – ends on the floor-to-ceiling archive shelves of the Jerusalem office of Yoav Gross, who directs the NGO’s video project.
Footage captured by Btselem’s volunteers has been key evidence in Israeli court rulings in favor of Palestinian plaintiffs. The presence of cameras, now on both Palestinian and Israeli sides, has deterred violence and abuse. But three years after launching the project, Btselem has seen another, unintended consequence. “People started to take this tool, the video camera, and use it as a way to express themselves, to tell stories,” said Gross. “We didn’t train them to do that. We trained them to document human rights violations. But pretty soon we got the sense that this can be a powerful tool for them to empower themselves.”
What has emerged is a generation of young Palestinian filmmakers, at ease with the camera and fluent in editing and the language of visual storytelling.... more.. e-mail
Petition to Mahmoud Abbas: We reject compromise on Palestinian Rights
Antoine Raffoul, Palestine Think Tank 8/4/2010
It was reported recently that the S Daniel Abraham Centre for Middle East Peace hosted the Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas for dinner in Washington DC, on June 9 2010. The head of this Centre is Robert Wexler, a former Florida Congressman and a staunch supporter of Israeli government policies. He was a leading defender of the 2008 Israeli invasion of Gaza and of the recent Israeli assault on the ’Free Gaza’ Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.
In attendance at this dinner were some of the most powerful Jewish leaders in the United States who work feverishly for the Zionist Agenda which promotes and preserves Israel as a Jewish State thus condoning the illegal occupation of Historic Palestine.
Guests at this dinner included the Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; the Executive Director and the President of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); the National Chairman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL); the CEO & Executive Vice President of UJA Federation (United Jewish Appeal); the President of the Israel Policy Forum; and other American Jewish community leaders and foreign policy scholars.
Mahmoud Abbas, whose mandate as President of the PA expired in July 2009, was invited to answer unscripted questions ’on the record’ put to him by his hosts and their guests to which he responded ’on the record’ on behalf of all Palestinians: those who elected him and those who did not. Those who were killed by the Israeli military machine and those who await that fate.
Whilst we support dialogue and debate between friend and foe, we reject compromise on Palestinian rights. Dialogue is a two-way street and not a dead end road at the end of which you are simply answering questions thrown at you as if in an interrogation zone. more.. e-mail
Israel to deport 400 children of migrant workers
Mya Guarnieri, Ma’an News Agency 8/4/2010
After a year-long battle over the fate of 1,200 children of undocumented migrant workers, the Israeli cabinet has finalized plans that will lead to the deportation of at least 400 minors along with their parents.
The government also approved criteria that would make approximately 800 of the children eligible for naturalization. Children must have studied in the state school system the past academic year and be registered for first grade or higher, they must have been in Israel for at least five consecutive years, they must have been born here or arrived before the age of 13, they must speak fluent Hebrew, and their parents must have arrived on a valid work visa.
Families who are eligible to stay in Israel have 21 days to file their paperwork. Critics say that this window is too narrow and is likely to lead to the deportation of hundreds of children who are eligible for naturalization but fall through the bureaucratic cracks.
Critics have also pointed out that the strict criteria might lead to the deportation of minors who meet all conditions except for one — such as a child who is repeating kindergarten and is not registered for first grade; the children of parents who worked for embassies; or families who left the country for a short period in the last five years. Also of concern are the now-adult children of migrant workers. A generation born and raised in Israel, this group is ineligible for naturalization simply because they are over the age of 18.
Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who has been a vociferous proponent of the deportation, will examine the borderline cases.
The struggle began last July, when Israel announced its intention to expel all 1,200 children of undocumented migrant workers..... more.. e-mail
Hamas "morality" campaign restricts civil liberties in Gaza
Electronic Intifada: 4 Aug 2010 - RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Gazans are caught between a rock and a hard place. While Israel continues to apply a crippling siege on the coastal territory, Gaza's Hamas government is cracking down on civil and political liberties in what appears to be a campaign to slowly Islamicize Gaza.more
Why is Obama moving to fund Israel's Iron Dome project?
Electronic Intifada: 4 Aug 2010 - On 16 July 2010, US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro laid out the Obama Administration's policy on strategic cooperation, noting that earlier this year, President Obama "asked Congress to authorize $205 million to support the production of an Israeli-developed short range rocket defense system called Iron Dome." If approved, these funds would be "above and beyond the $3 billion in Foreign Military Financing that the Administration requested for Israel" for 2011. Jimmy Johnson comments for The Electronic Intifada.more
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Abuse of Palestinian children in Israeli jails
Ma’an News Agency 8/5/2010
Testimonials and events documented by human rights organizations show the abuse of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons to be regular and widespread.
Physical abuse, sexual abuse, torture, threats and intimidation as well as the denial of basic basic human rights, such as access to education are the most common forms of abuse, documents show.
In 2009, a report from the UK-based children’s rights group Defence for Children International found, there were 305 Palestinian children being held in Israeli jails. The US-based NGO Save the Children further estimates, that over 6,700 children were arrested between October 2000 and April 2009. Both organizations confirm Israel routinely prosecutes Palestinian children as young as 12, describing the ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children as "widespread, systematic and institutionalised."
Forms of abuse
In 2009, DCI collected 100 sworn affidavits from Palestinian children and teenagers who said they were abused in Israeli military and police custody. Almost 70 percent complained of being beaten, four percent reported being sexually assaulted, and 12 percent said they were threatened with sexual assault.
According to the report, most of the incidents occurred during interrogation and were used against detainees to force a confession. -- See also: Video: Israel faces child-abuse claims more.. e-mail
Israel says ancient Muslim gravestones ’built illegally’
Soraya Bauwens-Nuseibeh, Ma’an News Agency 8/6/2010
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality said Thursday that tombstones razed by authorities a day earlier in a 12th-century Muslim cemetery were "built illegally with the aim to take over the plot."
At least 15 tombstones and structures were torn apart Wednesday in the Mamilla (Ma’man Allah) cemetery, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said. The latest demolitions follow the disinterment of over 1,500 graves in 2009 to make way for a controversial Museum of Tolerance. The foundation quickly denounced the move, describing it as a "heinous crime."
Mandated with renovating burial grounds, the foundation said its crew led by Fawaz Hassan and Mustafa Abu Zuhra tried to block the bulldozers with their bodies but were removed by police. Israeli authorities razed the tombstones in the northeastern part of the cemetery, despite the crew’s objection, and left an hour after.
A spokesman for Israel’s national police did not return multiple calls seeking comment, but the Jerusalem municipality said in a statement that it had "located illegal activity at the site," filed a complaint with police, and "turned to the Israel Land Administration, who owns the land, to restore [it] to its prior condition. The ILA cleared the vacant tombstones, which were built illegally with the aim to take over the plot."
Dating back 1,000 years, the Mamilla cemetery was an active burial ground until 1948, when West Jerusalem became part of the newly declared State of Israel. According to Muslim tradition, it is the burial site of the Prophet Mohammad’s companions, Salah Ad-Din’s warriors, Sufi saints, as well as judges, scholars, and Palestinian dignitaries. more.. e-mail
Israeli Sephardim claim religious, political racism
Palestine Note 7/28/2010
Washington – The 30% minority Sephardic population of Modi’in Illit, an Israeli settlement town in the West Bank, have accused the settlement’s political and religious leadership of blatant racism, giving favor instead to Ashkenazim, Ynet News reported Wednesday.
"We feel degraded and outcast,” said one Sephardi girl. The largest obstacle to the minority Jewish community has come from Ashkenazi-dominated religious schools that deny or delay admission for Sephardic students, residents say.
"I already gave up on getting my daughter into a seminary here," said one Sephardic father. "She underwent an intense investigation of her knowledge and her way of life, while her Ashkenazi friend was only asked who her relatives are and that was it."
While the town is comprised of nearly a third Sephardic Jews, only five seminaries for Sephardim exist, yet there are some 30 seminaries dominated by Ashkenazi rabbis. Sephardi residents also complain that the Ashkenazi schools are all better funded, while the Sephardi religious students study in trailers, waiting for permanent buildings for more than 10 years now.
Sephardic Jews trace their heritage back to the Iberian Peninsula, while Ashkenazim descend from central Europe. The term Mizrahi refers to Jews who trace their roots to the MENA region and the Caucasus; they have also accused Ashkenazi Jews of repeated discrimination against them.
Worried Sephardi residents of Modi’in Illit have appealed to Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush, but they have received no assistance, they say. -- See also: YNet: Discrimination claimed in Modiin Illit haredi schools more.. e-mail
"Gaza is a man-made crisis"
Electronic Intifada: 5 Aug 2010 - GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - The quality of life, the economy and food security for Palestinians living in Gaza have been severely impaired by Israel's strict four-year blockade, according to the UN. Israel says its closure regime is designed to protect Israeli citizens from attacks by militants in Gaza.more
Israel destroys Bedouin village, again
Electronic Intifada: 5 Aug 2010 - Bulldozers returned to the village of al-Araqib in the northern Negev on Wednesday, 4 August, and demolished approximately ten new structures residents and supporters had built a week after Israeli forces completely destroyed the village on 27 July.more
Book review: Palestine brought to life in "Behind the Wall"
Electronic Intifada: 5 Aug 2010 - Photographer Rich Wiles' Behind the Wall: Life, Love, and Struggle in Palestine is a story about the lives of people the author has encountered over the course of the last seven years living in Palestine. Marcy Newman reviews for The Electronic Intifada.more
International solidarity under attack
Electronic Intifada: 5 Aug 2010 - From small beginnings and with few resources, the international movement in solidarity with the Palestinians has grown into a force that Israel perceives as a major threat. The assault on the Gaza aid flotilla was a lethal escalation in what has become an increasingly bitter campaign against that movement. Mike Marqusee comments.more
Could Tourism Save The Jordan Valley?
Palestine Monitor: 5 Aug 2010 - Without major re-development work, the Jordan Valley will face “a catastrophe within the next decade”, according to economic expert Saeb Bamya of the AIX group. With 30% unemployment, just 4% of land cultivated, and settlements and military training zones absorbing more of the area, local Palestinians face an uncertain future. Radical solutions are needed. The Dead Sea AIX, an Israeli/Palestinian think tank have focussed on promoting tourism as a tool of re-development. The unique religious and ecological significance of the Jordan Valley, combined with marquee destinations like Jericho and the Dead Sea, have enormous appeal to a wide range of tourists. These are already used in cross-border tours between Jordan and Israel, which could be expanded to take in the West Bank. “Mutual interest is the key, ” says Bamya, “ co-operation can reflect the interests of all parties”. “We look at tourism as a substitute for agriculture” , says Nader...more
Smoke on a Bridge: Lebanon Awaits a Verdict
Palestine Chronicle: 5 Aug 2010 - By Ramzy Baroud – Beirut, Lebanon Jamal is a Lebanese driver in his late 50’s. He appeared unshaven and terribly exhausted as he drove his old passenger van from the airport in Beirut to the Bekaa Valley. Although it was not a particularly arduous trip, it was made more grueling by the way Jamal drove, negotiating the elevation, the hectic traffic and the many army vehicles speeding by. In Lebanon, a sense of urgency always seems to prevail, even when there are no urgent matters to tend to. Jamal’s driving style has probably changed little through the successive Israeli wars and bombardments of Lebanon in past years (the last being the 2006 war, which destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure and killed hundreds of civilians). Although no bombs were falling now, Jamal could feel something in the air. “They are cooking something big,” he said, “but what it is, no...more
Palestine Chronicle: 5 Aug 2010 - By George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C. Americans of all walks of life have lately been mesmerized by the drama launched by WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy group, which published on its website a major portion of 92,000 classified and embarrassing U.S. documents said to be in its possession, on the Afghan war, now in its ninth year, the longest American military intervention. The documents claimed that Pakistan, or actually its spy agency known as Inter-Services Intelligence, had been arming, training and funding the Taliban for years. Whatever these revelations would precipitate remains to be seen. But it is interesting to note that the focus of the American (and international) attention dwarfs another “amazing” but little noticed revelation last May when the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) partially declassified another secret document held behind closed doors for 32 years “in spite of the best efforts of researchers to dislodge it.” Notwithstanding the...more
A Country in Fragments: The Subjective Atlas of Palestine
Palestine Chronicle: 5 Aug 2010 - 'We have on this earth what makes life worth living: April's hesitation, the aroma of bread at dawn, a woman's Point of view about men, the works of Aeschylus, the Beginning of love, grass on a stone, mothers living on a Flute's sigh and the invaders’ fear of memories.' -- On This Earth, Mahmoud Darwish By Roger Sheety A light yet enlightening book on a heavy subject, The Subjective Atlas of Palestine is a beautiful, award-winning art book edited by Dutch designer Annelys de Vet and features both individual and collaborative contributions from over thirty different Palestinian artists, photographers and writers who were asked to “map their country as they see it.” If there is just one theme running through its compact 160 pages it would be the search for normalcy and unity under brutal and endless Israeli occupation, ethnic cleansing and land theft. “There is a lot of melancholy...more
Why the United States Will Not Strike Iran Now
Palestine Chronicle: 5 Aug 2010 - By Ali Younes The reasons that there will be no US war or military strike against Iran, in the near future, and under the current political environment, are that the US military command, under the guidance of its political leadership, is implementing a strategy of “deterrence” to prevent Iran from continuing its nuclear program. This strategy is based on the latest US military concept of “Joint Operations” which was released on 15 January 2009. The key question here, moreover, is what will be the purpose of a military strike against Iran? Will it end the Iranian nuclear program forever, or delay it by few years then eventually and perhaps go for regime change similar to the Iraqi scenario. Such options will not bring about, if not impossible, the desired change the US and Israel wants in Iran. The only option remains is “convincing” the Iranian leadership that its nuclear program...more
Lebanese Army Thwarts Israeli Landscaping Effort
Palestine Chronicle: 5 Aug 2010 - By Belen Fernandez In the latest Israeli inversion of cause and effect relationships, the clash near the Lebanese border village of Adaisseh yesterday between Israeli and Lebanese soldiers—which resulted in the deaths of one of the former nationality and three of the latter—was characterized by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as a “planned provocation”, by Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz as a “planned terror attack”, and by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as something for which the Lebanese government was “directly responsible”. It is not clear how anyone in Lebanon is responsible for the Israeli decision to have its army uproot a tree lying outside the confines of Israel’s border fence in order to obtain a more unobstructed view of the area, especially given Israeli possession of numerous unmanned aerial vehicles for which single trees do not constitute an obstacle. According to the Israeli Haaretz website, the tree uprooting was categorized...more
Friday, August 6, 2010
Emily Henochowicz speaks out: art student shot with tear gas canister interviewed on Democracy Now!
International Solidarity Movement 8/6/2010
Democracy Now! - Emily Henochowicz speaks out: art student who lost her eye after being shot by Israeli tear gas canister in West Bank protest discusses her life, her art, and why she plans to return.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Today, a Democracy Now! global broadcast exclusive interview with Emily Henochowicz, who—you may remember her name. She’s the twenty-one-year-old American art student who lost her eye in May after being shot in the face by an Israeli tear gas canister.
Emily is entering her senior year at Cooper Union’s prestigious art program here in New York City. This past spring, she chose to study abroad in Israel at a leading art school in Jerusalem. Emily holds Israeli citizenship. Her father was born in Israel, and her grandparents are Holocaust survivors. Soon after she arrived in Israel, Emily began spending time in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. And many of her drawings began to reflect the harsh realities of Palestinian life in the Occupied Territories.
AMY GOODMAN: On May 31st, news broke that Israeli commandoes had attacked a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in the Mediterranean and killed nine activists onboard. Emily decided to take part in a protest against the Israeli assault, and she joined demonstrators at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank. Israeli border police began firing tear gas canisters at the protesters. One of them hit Emily in the face and blasted her left eye out of her head. Several bones in her face were crushed. She was rushed to the hospital, but her eye could not be saved.
The Israeli Defense Ministry said, well, according to preliminary checks, the border police dealt lawfully with the protest and that the firing of tear gas was justified.... more.. e-mail
So please tell me again: What’s the war about?
William Blum, Axis of Logic 8/5/2010
When facts are inconvenient, when international law, human rights and history get in the way, when war crimes can’t easily be justified or explained away, when logic doesn’t help much, the current crop of American political leaders turns to what is now the old reliable: 9/11. We have to fight in Afghanistan because ... somehow ... it’s tied into what happened on September 11, 2001. Here’s Vice-President Joe Biden: "We know that it was from the space that joins Afghanistan and Pakistan that the attacks of 9/11 occurred." 1
Here’s Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC): "This is the place [Afghanistan] we were attacked from 9/11." 2
Rep. Mike Pence, the third-ranking House Republican, asserted that the revelations in the Wikileaks documents do not change his view of the Afghan conflict, nor does he expect a shift in public opinion. "Back home in Indiana, people still remember where the attacks on 9/11 came from." 3
Here’s President Obama a year ago: "But we must never forget this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans." 4
And here is the president, two days after the release of the Wikileaks documents, referring to Afghanistan and Pakistan as "the region from which the 9/11 attacks were waged and other attacks against the United States and our friends and allies have been planned". 5
Never mind that out of the tens of thousands of people the United States and its NATO front have killed in Afghanistan not one has been identified as having had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001. more.. e-mail
VIDEO - Support gathers for US boat to Gaza
Palestine Note 8/6/2010
New York - Some 400 people crowded onto a small boat for a cruise around southern Manhattan on Thursday evening to help raise funds for an initiative to send an American ship to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Activists on board the fundraising cruise in New York on Thursday evening. [Photo: Palestine Note]
The initiative, US to Gaza, is trying to raise $370,000 dollars to pay for a ship dubbed "The Audacity of Hope," after the book by President Barack Obama. The group plans to sent the ship toward Gaza in the fall.
One of the organizers, former US diplomat and Lt. Col. Ann Wright said the group is "trying to do the impossible, that in a period of like nine weeks we’re trying to raise 370,000 dollars so that in the name of the US people we can have a ship that’s going to challenge the blockade, the Israeli blockade, the American blockade, the EU blockade of Gaza."
Wright was on board one of the ships on the Gaza "Freedom Flotilla" which was attacked by the Israeli navy on May 31, leaving nine passengers dead. The attack on the flotilla sparked an international outcry against Israel’s policies toward Gaza. Write said the incident only further galvanized activists to act to end the blockade.
"I was a part of the flotilla the last time," Wright said at a news conference at a Marina on 23rd Street before Thursday’s cruise, "And let me tell you, what happened there—that flotilla actually changed policies in the world, but didn’t change them enough, and that’s why we’re so proud of you all, 450 people people are going to be here tonight, 400 will be able to get on the boat." more.. e-mail
Uribe's appointment to flotilla probe guarantees its failure
Electronic Intifada: 6 Aug 2010 - The appointment of outgoing President of Colombia Álvaro Uribe Vélez to a UN-commissioned inquiry into the massacre by Israel of human rights activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla makes a mockery of the investigation. José Antonio Gutiérrez and David Landy comment for The Electronic Intifada.more
Israel's siege on freedoms
Electronic Intifada: 6 Aug 2010 - Zionist sympathizers and their ilk have been providing us with the same "evidence" that Gaza is burgeoning: the markets are full of produce, fancy restaurants abound, there are pools and parks and malls ... all is well in the most isolated place on earth -- Gaza, the "prison camp" that is not. However, "prison camp" might be an understatement.more
Al-Quds University flouts own academic boycott
Electronic Intifada: 6 Aug 2010 - Al-Quds University is maintaining a joint Israeli-Palestinian master's degree program with Haifa, Hebrew and Tel Aviv universities, despite a decision taken by its own University Council in February 2009 to distance itself from Israeli academic institutions. Jillian Kestler-D'Amours reports for The Electronic Intifada.more
Israel Plans Mass Forced Removals of Bedouin
Palestine Chronicle: 6 Aug 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Al-Araqib Israeli security forces destroyed a Bedouin village this week for the second time in a matter of days, leaving 300 inhabitants homeless again after they and dozens of Jewish and Arab volunteers had begun rebuilding the 45 homes. Human rights groups warned that these appeared to be the opening shots in a long-threatened campaign by the Israeli government to begin mass forced removals of tens of thousands of Bedouin from their ancestral lands in the southern Negev. The High Follow-Up Committee, the main political body for Israel’s Arab minority, vowed this week to help rebuild the village for a second time and said it would call on the UN to investigate Israel’s treatment of the Bedouin. Al Araqib village, which is a few kilometres north of the Negev’s main city Beersheva, has become a symbol of the struggle by about 90,000 Bedouin to win recognition...more
Lebanon, Palestine: Provoking War
Palestine Chronicle: 6 Aug 2010 - By Stephen Lendman Perhaps suggesting a larger-scale planned offensive, recent violent Israeli outbreaks struck Gaza, the West Bank, and Israeli/Lebanon border, the first there since the summer 2006 war. Like Cast Lead, it was Israeli aggression - violent, lawless and unrelenting, a scorched-earth blitzkrieg, inflicting vast destruction, causing billions in damage, killing over 1,000 Lebanese, injuring thousands more, and displacing around a million others (about one-fourth of the country's four million population), including over 300,000 children fleeing north for their lives. In the end, Hezbollah handed Israel a humiliating defeat. Perhaps revenge is planned. On August 4, Ma'an News reported that Israeli and Lebanese troops clashed - exchanging fire, killing four Lebanese citizens, including three soldiers. One Israeli soldier was killed. Reports said violence erupted after Israeli soldiers crossed the border, then tried uprooting a tree to install a surveillance camera and equipment, a chain of events leaving five dead....more
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Negev village torn down for second time
Jonathan Cook in al-Araqib, Redress 8/7/2010
“Tearing down an entire village and leaving its inhabitants homeless without exhausting all other options for settling longstanding land claims is outrageous,” said Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director of Human Rights Watch.
Israeli security forces destroyed a Bedouin village this week for the second time in a matter of days, leaving 300 inhabitants homeless again after they and dozens of Jewish and Arab volunteers had begun rebuilding the 45 homes. Human rights groups warned that these appeared to be the opening shots in a long-threatened campaign by the Israeli government to begin mass forced removals of tens of thousands of Bedouin from their ancestral lands in the southern Negev. The High Follow-Up Committee, the main political body for Israel’s Arab minority, vowed this week to help rebuild the village for a second time and said it would call on the UN to investigate Israel’s treatment of the Bedouin.
Al-Araqib village, which is a few kilometres north of the Negev’s main city Beersheva, has become a symbol of the struggle by about 90,000 Bedouin to win recognition for dozens of communities the government claims are built on state land.
In a test case before the Israeli courts, an inhabitant of al-Araqib has been presenting documents and expert testimony to show his ancestors owned and lived on the village’s lands many decades before Israel’s establishment in 1948. The judge is expected to rule within months. more.. e-mail
Norman Finkelstein: It Wasn’t a War
Kate Perkins, Guernica, Israeli Occupation Archive 8/7/2010
Guernica: This Time We Went Too Far looks at Israel through the lens of international public opinion—specifically, a severely damaged public perception of, and support for, Israeli policy after its invasion of Gaza beginning in November of 2008. How substantial is that change in public perception, and to what extent does it give critics of Israel a new kind of traction with respect to influencing policy?
Norman Finkelstein: There’s no question that public opinion is changing, and if you’re a person of the left, your goal is presumably to try to mobilize public opinion to affect elite policy; and I think now there are unusual, unprecedented opportunities to do so. Whether anything will come of it, well, that’s the challenge. It’s not enough for public opinion to shift; it then requires marshalling that public opinion, harnessing it, for it to have a political impact.
There are many issues, as everyone knows, in the United States on which public opinion leans very much to the left of elite policy, but that’s because public opinion hasn’t been turned into a political force. Having said that, it’s nonetheless a significant part of the battle to get public opinion on your side, before you try to harness it, and that part of the battle, it seems to me, we’re closer to winning now. Public opinion in the United States has shifted significantly, not just outside but also within the Jewish community.
If you are, as I am quite frequently, speaking at college campuses in the United States, it’s quite clear that support among Jews for Israel has dried up.
Guernica: How do you interpret this shift in public opinion, and what in particular do you see as being its most revealing indicators?.... -- See also: Source more.. e-mail
Will the Israel-Lebanon border blow up?
MJ Rosenberg, Palestine Note 8/7/2010
The situation on Israel’s northern border seems to be on the verge of erupting again. The details don’t particularly matter, although it seems pretty clear that the Lebanese army instigated the latest violence. The good news is that this time the situation was contained and it appears possible, even likely, that the Middle East will be spared another summer war.
Israeli-Syrian relations are also simmering. But war is less likely to erupt because both Israelis and Syrians tend to prefer the current situation to the alternatives - although the Assad government desperately wants the Golan Heights back.
I tend to be unmoved by Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights. The Syrian people do not suffer because this small piece of the homeland no longer is theirs. Without the government-controlled Syrian media telling Syrians that they yearn for the Golan, they might have gotten over it decades ago.
More to the point, the Syrians are not the Palestinians. They did not see their land supplanted by another country. They did not lose every inch of Syria to Israel, as the Palestinians did, and no great historic injustice will be resolved if the Syrians get the Golan back.
The eradication of Palestine as an entity not only produced 60-plus years of Palestinian suffering, but is the reason Israel’s legitimacy is questioned in so many quarters.
A successful peace process - one that ends with full Palestinian sovereignty over the 22 percent of Palestine that was under Arab control prior to the 1967 war - would resolve an historic injustice and is the only way to ensure the security of both Israelis and Palestinians.... more.. e-mail
'Major George' Accused of Running Israel's Abu Ghraib
Palestine Chronicle: 7 Aug 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Jerusalem A police officer known as 'Major George' who is accused of torturing Arab prisoners in his previous role as chief interrogator in a secret military jail has been appointed to oversee relations with Jerusalem's Palestinian population, it has emerged. The decision has been greeted with stunned disbelief from human rights groups, who say unresolved allegations against Major George that he brutally abused Arab prisoners for many years should disqualify him from such a sensitive post. Relations between the Israeli police and the 250,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have been on a knife edge for many months, as extremist Jewish groups -- backed by the municipality -- have increased their settlement drive in traditional Palestinian neighbourhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan. The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (Acri), Israel’s largest legal rights group, revealed last week that it had made a formal complaint...more
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Eight Palestinian youths and the crime they didn’t commit
Amira Hass, Haaretz, International Solidarity Movement 8/8/2010
After two years, a case against Palestinian teenagers accused of throwing stones was overturned when the military prosecution backed out. The suspects pleaded innocent all along, saying they’d been in school.
Eight Palestinian teenagers were tried in the court of military judge Lt. Col. Menashe Vahnish on November 11, 2008. Referring to a soldier from the Kfir Brigade, Vahnish said, “at this stage, there is no reason to cast any doubt on the witness.” According to his police testimony, on October 30, 2008 the soldier, T.M., and some of his comrades apprehended stone-throwing Palestinian 16-year-olds on a road that runs between the al-Aroub refugee camp south of Bethlehem and an agricultural school across the way.
Vahnish also saw no reason to doubt the accounts given by two other soldiers from the Kfir Brigade company, L.G. and G.D., whose statements to the Etzion police formed the basis of indictments submitted by the army prosecutor against the Palestinians. Under the indictment, the eight teenagers hurled rocks “from a distance of about 20 meters at Israeli cars traveling on Route 60, with the intention of harming the vehicles or their passengers.”
Following their apprehension, the judge ordered that the teenagers, all of whom are students at the al-Aroub agricultural school, remain in custody until the end of their trial. Extending remands (i.e., keeping suspects in jail until the end of legal proceedings ) is almost always a default option favored by the Israeli military court in the West Bank, whose sole defendants are Palestinians. When detainees are suspected of minor offenses (such as stone throwing or demonstrating ), and especially when they are minors, the length of time they are held in custody often exceeds the maximum possible prison term. Therefore, defendants often feel pressured to reach a deal with the prosecution and plead guilty, even when they are not or when the evidence is weak. But this time, the pressure evidently did not work. -- See also: Source more.. e-mail
Keeping the Record Straight
Assaf Kfoury, ZNet 7/31/2010
About Noam Chomsky’s Trip to the Middle East in May 2010
Much has been said and written about Noam Chomsky’s May 2010 trip to the Middle East. Factual errors, omissions, and out-of-context quotations in media reports were frequent during the trip itself. They were repeated and amplified by others later, often tailored to fit preconceptions of what Chomsky says or believes.
I was involved in the organization of the trip from beginning to end, in consultation with the local hosts in Amman, Beirut, and Ramallah. The original plan was to start in Ramallah in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT) on May 16 and finish in Beirut on May 27. We flew in from the US to Amman in the late afternoon of May 15, then drove to the Allenby Bridge in the morning of May 16. As it happened, Noam Chomsky was denied entry into the OPT at the Allenby Bridge and, with him, the three others in his company: his daughter Avi, Irene Gendzier, and myself. Our half-day transit through Jordan into the OPT was thus extended into an impromptu three-day stay in Amman, and then two days were also added to the original Lebanon portion of the trip.
We organized the trip in response to two separate invitations, one from Birzeit University in the OPT and one from al-Leqaa Association in Beirut. Chomsky was scheduled to give a series of lectures in both places. Beyond the lectures, we planned to make side trips and meet people, all with a political dimension and in the company of the local hosts. For guidance and suggestions in the OPT, we mostly relied on the Mubadara (the Palestinian National Initiative) headed by Mustafa Barghouti, and in Lebanon, again on al-Leqaa Association. Relying on the Mubadara and al-Leqaa was a deliberate decision reflecting our political affinities. The late Edward Said was a founding member of the Mubadara in 2002. Writer and historian Fawwaz Traboulsi, a founding member of al-Leqaa, was an old friend and political comrade. more.. e-mail
An open letter from the International Federation for Human Rights
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2010
Below is an edited open letter from the International Federation for Human Rights to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday over the UN Panel of Inquiry set up to investigate Israel’s raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on 31 May, which killed nine Turkish civilians.
As the President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), I take note of your announcement of the creation of a Panel of Inquiry into Israel’s actions on 31 May 2010 in international waters against a six-ship humanitarian flotilla heading to Gaza and resulting in the killing of eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish-American. FIDH wishes to express to you its serious concerns with regards to the composition and mandate of this UN investigation.
In its presidential statement released on 1 June 2010, the UN Security Council called for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards" into the flotilla attack. According to your statement delivered on 2 August, the Panel should fulfill its mandate in accordance with the Security Council statement. However, we do not think that the Panel, as currently composed, is capable of meeting such standards. We are concerned that in failing to do so, while being the highest-level inquiry to date into these acts, it will not only shadow, but possibly hinder or discredit other efforts towards independent investigation, including the probe launched by the UN Human Rights Council. In failing to meet the standards of an effective investigation, this probe risks contributing to a culture of impunity.
As of now, the Panel’s mandate has not been clearly defined and seems to be limited to simply assessing national investigation reports. This would clearly not be sufficient to bring to light the circumstances of this tragedy and bring those responsible to account, in an independent and impartial manner.... more.. e-mail
Monday, August 9, 2010
Why I support the Olympia Co-op boycott
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Mondowiess, Israeli Occupation Archive 8/4/2010
The Olympia Food Co-op boycott of Israeli products (except for fair trade olive oil) has generated much controversy and emotion. I do pray for healing and understanding among those who support and those who oppose such a boycott in the community of Olympia, Washington and around the world. All of us must stand together and mourn the loss of life generated by this conflict. May their memories be a blessing.
The Food Co-op and many concerned citizens around the world have asked the question: How do we transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the use of nonviolence? What is meaningful action?
While negotiations, lobbying and dialogue occur, those who have been directly impacted by occupation, the Palestinians, have called upon the world to engage in meaningful nonviolent action to apply pressure upon Israel so that Israel cannot conduct the business of occupation as usual. Have we all not seen and read about life in Palestine under occupation? The Goldstone report, B’tselem, Gisha and many other organizations and individuals have documented the systematic violation of Palestinian human rights in the past several years. How do we both construct peace and engage in non-cooperation with policies that systematically violate human rights on a daily basis?
Boycott is a time honored method which was the catalyst that ended legal segregation in the United States. Boycott is the primary tool of those engaged in nonviolent resistance to systematic injustice. Boycott targets unjust policies. It is not about ‘the right to exist’; Everyone has the right to ‘exist’.... -- See also: Source more.. e-mail
Only we’re allowed
Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, Israeli Occupation Archive 8/5/2010
After Tuesday’s border clash, Israel will continue to ignore UNIFIL and the Lebanese army
Those bastards, the Lebanese, changed the rules. Scandalous. Word is, they have a brigade commander who’s determined to protect his country’s sovereignty. Scandalous.
The explanation here was that he’s “indoctrinating his troops” – only we’re allowed to do that, of course – and that this was “the spirit of the commander” and that he’s “close to Hezbollah.” The nerve.
And now that we’ve recited ad nauseum the explanations of Israel Defense Forces propaganda for what happened Tuesday at the northern border, the facts should also be looked at.
On Tuesday morning, Israel requested “coordination” with UNIFIL to carry out another “exposing” operation on the border fence. UNIFIL asked the IDF to postpone the operation, because its commander is abroad. The IDF didn’t care. UNIFIL won’t stop us.
At noon the tree-cutters set out. The Lebanese and UNIFIL soldiers shouted at them to stop. In Lebanon they say their soldiers also fired warning shots in the air. If they did, it didn’t stop the IDF.
The tree branches were cut and blood was shed on both sides of the border. Shed in vain.
True, Israel maintains that the area across the fence is its territory, and UNIFIL officially confirmed that yesterday. But a fence is a fence: In Gaza it’s enough to get near the fence for us to shoot to kill. In the West Bank the fence’s route bears no resemblance to the Green Line, and still Palestinians are forbidden from crossing it. -- See also: Source more.. e-mail
Isolating Iran is Part of the 'Great Energy Game'
Kourosh Ziabari interviews Antony Loewenstein, Dissident Voice 8/5/2010
Kourosh Ziabari: The Israeli aggression against the people of Palestine is going on incessantly. The White House hasn’t taken any serious step to signal its willingness to prevent Israel from expanding the illegal settlements in the West Bank. What will happen eventually? Will Israel go on with its expansionistic approach in the occupied lands?
Antony Loewenstein: Israeli expansion on Palestinian land has continued for decades and there is little indication that this will stop anytime soon. Successive U.S. Presidents have meekly complained about the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza but continued to fund the Zionist state. Washington claims to believe in a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians but the occupation has made this viably impossible. The alternatives are unpleasant for the Zionist mind to consider, not least a bi-national state or one-state equation, where soon Jews will be outnumbered by Arabs. But Israeli Jews should not fear this. Like the whites in South Africa under apartheid, they have to make a choice, either more years of oppressing another people and facing global isolation or a nation with equal status for all its citizens.
KZ: President Obama has recently threatened Iran with a possible nuclear strike. Can we trace the footsteps of the Zionist lobby in the provocative remarks by the U.S. president? Will the U.S. finally stage a nuclear war in the Middle East to protect its unalienable ally against an “Iranian threat”?
AL: The chance of Washington launching a nuclear strike against Iran is very slim, though the current concern is President Obama allowing Israel to use tactical nuclear weapons or simply a military adventure against the Islamic Republic in a misguided attempt to stop its supposed nuclear program. There is no doubt that many members of the U.S. Congress and the Zionist lobby are encouraging a military strike against Iran. But the real agenda is largely hidden.... more.. e-mail
Words without Borders "dialogue" violates Palestinian boycott call
Electronic Intifada: 10 Aug 2010 - An initiative recently launched by the prestigious online literature magazine Words without Borders entitled "Cross-Cultural-Dialogues in the Middle East," rings alarm bells in light of the Palestinian civil society call for boycott divestment and sanctions on Israel. Haidar Eid comments.more
Suspected torturer gets key police job in Jerusalem
Electronic Intifada: 9 Aug 2010 - A police officer known as "Major George" who is accused of torturing Arab prisoners in his previous role as chief interrogator in a secret military jail has been appointed to oversee relations with Jerusalem's Palestinian population, it has emerged. Jonathan Cook reports.more
New guide puts Palestine history, debates in activists' hands
Electronic Intifada: 9 Aug 2010 - The Veritas Handbook , published free online this month, seeks to provide a comprehensive, accessible guide to Palestine's history and key issues involved activism. Produced independently by activists and students, the book aims to meet a long neglected need.more
Israeli attacks on emergency workers still affecting Gaza’s safety
In Gaza: 9 Aug 2010 - Aug 9, 2010 (IPS) – Outside the battered Civil Defence station in northern Gaza’s Jabalia region, Mohammed Zidan, a seven-year veteran of fire-fighting and rescue services, stands on crutches in front of battered Civil Defence vehicles. Zidan, 31, lost his right leg during the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza. He is one of more than 30 Civil Defence workers who were injured during the Israeli attacks. Another 13 were killed, eight of them in the first series of F-16 bombings on Dec. 27, 2008. Mohammed al-Khooli and Baha Litlooli were with Zidan on Jan. 15 when Israeli soldiers shelled the building they were in. “We were on the 11th floor of the Magoosi building when the Israelis attacked us,” says Zidan. Khooli lost one leg and Litlooli both to the Israeli shelling. Ahmed Abu Foul, 27, has worked for ten years as a medic both with the Palestinian Red Crescent...more
Bil'in, A Village in Palestine
Palestine Monitor: 9 Aug 2010 - A large crowd, including many Israeli and international activists, met this Friday for the weekly protest again the Israeli occupation, the wall and Israeli settlements in the village of Bil'in. After Friday prayers the group marched and chanted through the village towards the wall where they were confronted by Israeli soldiers. After a brief stand off the crowd was forced to retreat through the use of tear gas and sound grenades. Israeli soldiers entered the village before the protestors reached the fence's gate which separates Bil'in from its agricultural lands. Nobody was seriously hurt but many people suffered from tear gas inhalation. All pictures by Rob Stothard / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / Rob Stothard - Photographer http://www.robstothard.co.ukmore
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Israel’s pillars of Samson: not quite Armageddon but...
Alan Sabrosky, Redress 8/11/2010
As the US edges toward an unprovoked and utterly needless war with Iran, some remarks by an eminent and experienced observer of that part of the world caught my attention. First, he noted that “Israel and the US realize that the next war will burn much of the Middle East and may well spell the end of Israel.”
Now, Israel certainly believes that about the Middle East, and in fact hopes it happens, because that just makes its position stronger. But neither Israel nor the US – at least at a government level – accept the second part of the proposition, just the opposite, that in fact it will be the saving of Israel – because (as I’ve noted elsewhere) if the regional chaos is great enough, Israel will take the opportunity to ethnically cleanse all Palestinians (and probably Israeli Arabs as well) from “Greater Israel” by shoving them over its borders, into Jordan and the Sinai (and some into the Lebanon as well). That will leave it intact and Jewish, its neighbours overwhelmed by a few million destitute Palestinians – a second and even worse Nakba – and everyone else in ruins or teetering on the edge. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and their merry thugs won’t shed a tear or lose a second’s sleep over any of it, much less over the many Americans who will die in yet another of America’s Jewish wars.
Second, he remarked that “Every week Israel becomes weaker vis-a-vis the ’resistance axis’ and at what point does Israel decide to bring down the house and start again if it can survive with enough military power (backed by the US) to remake the region.”
But I simply don’t see Israel getting weaker, just more beleaguered, which is not the same thing. We need to keep in mind that Israel defines its usable power (and therefore its security) not only in terms of what it has, but also what it can command from its “most favoured goyim”, or gentiles, in the US – and that, now, is virtually everything.... more.. e-mail
Olmert and the Jackals
Uri Avnery, CounterPunch 8/10/2010
When the Kettle Calls the Pot Black ...
I cannot say that I ever liked Ehud Olmert. But now I almost feel sorry for him.
It is not pleasant to see how they pounce on him, like jackals and hyenas fighting over a carcass.
And that also raises some questions.
Was Olmert the only fallible human being in this paradise? Not at all. The stories about the envelopes stuffed with cash, the cigars and the luxury suites in posh hotels fire the imagination, but the hedonism of Olmert is no different from that of Binjamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak. When Barak accuses Olmert it is like the kettle calling the pot black.
Netanyahu lived like a king in expensive hotels paid for by kind donors who, of course, ask for nothing in return, whose sole purpose in life is to allow him to revel in luxury. As for Barak - after decades of service as an army officer with a salary that did not reach the sky and some years as a cabinet minister with a similar income, he disappeared from public view for a short while and reappeared as a rich man. He bought a luxury apartment in one of the most expensive buildings in Tel Aviv, a structure that is a byword for ostentatious wealth. How does one get so rich in such a short time? Could it be by using connections acquired in the service of the state?
Olmert was a pioneer of this method. When still a very junior politician, just out of law school, he got rich through his connections with the heads of government departments which he made as a parliamentary aide. more.. e-mail
My experience with the ADL
Daoud Kuttab, Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2010
The aim of this op-ed is not to pile it on the Anti-Defamation League, but to show that this organization that is expected to fight hate, discrimination and defamation has little tolerance for the suffering of any group other than the Jewish population.
I was invited by the ADL sometime in 2002 to speak to a delegation of ADL chapter heads from all over the US who were making a visit to Israel. The group would not come to the Palestinian territories or even anywhere in East Jerusalem so I had to travel to see them at their hotel, the King David Hotel in West Jerusalem.
The meeting was scheduled for three in the afternoon, and the director, Abe Foxman asked if I could come ten minutes early. I did and he met with me separately saying that he had an important meeting and could not attend my talk but wanted to talk to me one on one. We talked in general terms and then I mentioned what had happened at a pro Israel rally in Washington, D.C., not long before, when the Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was booed as he told a packed crowd of thousands that "innocent Palestinians are suffering and dying as well. It is critical that we recognize and acknowledge that fact.’’
Foxman was apologetic to me and reassured me that this was not a universal boo, but that it was a tiny minority certainly not representative of the majority of those attending the rally. Foxman then left for his meeting, and I entered the conference room where the directors of all the ADL branches were waiting for my talk.
In such situations I usually check, and I was assured that I was the only Palestinian that this group would meet. I often joke about being the token Palestinian and try to speak honestly to the group, explaining to them that I feel the responsibility of representing the entire Palestinian political spectrum and not just my own rather "moderate" point of view. more.. e-mail
Hamas creates volunteer program for Gaza's idle youth
Electronic Intifada: 10 Aug 2010 - Israel's siege has had a disproportionate effect on Gaza's youth. Over half of the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million residents are under the age of 18, and thousands of young Gazans are unemployed. Hamas authorities in Gaza recently announced a voluntary employment program for Palestinian youth to get involved in their communities. Rami Almeghari reports from the occupied Gaza Strip.more
Gaza's emergency services battered
Electronic Intifada: 10 Aug 2010 - GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip - Outside the battered Civil Defense station in northern Gaza's Jabaliya region, Mohammed Zidan, a seven-year veteran of fire-fighting and rescue services, stands on crutches in front of battered Civil Defense vehicles.more
The "banality of evil" and Israel's destruction of al-Araqib
Electronic Intifada: 10 Aug 2010 - In the early hours of 10 August, Israeli forces destroyed -- for the third time -- the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the northern Negev desert. Israel had first destroyed the village on 27 July, and again each time the villagers have attempted to rebuild. Joseph Dana witnessed the latest destruction.more
Destruction, Destruction, Destruction
Palestine Monitor: 10 Aug 2010 - 2 Palestinians and 1 Israeli have been arrested during a protest which took place on Monday afternoon against the repeated demolitions of the village of Al Arakib in the Nakab-Negev. During the night Israeli authorities demolished the village of Al-Arakib for the third time in two weeks. Nicky Elliott witnessed the demolition. Lawyers and activists are currently negotiating the release of 3 men who were arrested for protesting against the states demolitions of a Palestinian village in the North of the Nakab (Negev). Mohammad Mahajna from Um Il Fahim and Mohammad Masarna are both students at Ben Gurion University; Eyal Nir is a teacher at the university located in Beer Sheba. The 200 strong demonstration took place at 5 o'clock on Monday evening at the Lahavim Junction near to Al Arakib's land. The demonstration organised by residents of the village and Dukium (the Negev Forum for Coexistence), and attended by...more
Israelis Bulldoze Village, Again
Palestine Monitor: 10 Aug 2010 - In the early morning light of 5 August, two bulldozers, about twenty military jeeps, two border police and three civil police cars came to the village of Al-Farisiya in the north eastern corner of the West Bank in the Jordan Valley. The Israeli Authorities convoy cleared out the villagers and then destroyed their 27 of their homes, leaving 91 homeless. / Most of the tent structures were quickly rebuilt after a previous IOF demolition two weeks ago. Such destruction of shelter in occupied territory is illegal under the 4th Geneva Convention's Article 53: “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property... is prohibited except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.” On 7 August, international activists organised by the Jordan Valley Solidarity group came to Al-Farisiya to help unearth and salvage building materials and personal items in the wreckage-strewn former village. / / / / Large tracts of scraped...more
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Peace process or real peace?
Daoud Kuttab, Ma’an News Agency 8/11/2010
Direct talks between Palestinian and Israeli leaders are the most obvious way to achieve peace in the Middle East conflict. But history has shown time and again that a high-profile peace process alone is no recipe for success.
The Arab League is set to meet later this month to advise the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership whether or not to engage in direct talks with Israel. Palestinian officials say that there is no use in holding direct talks that are nothing more than a photo opportunity intended to create the impression of a peace process while avoiding any substantive commitments.
For Palestinians, the first step in real peace talks must include some accord on the basic issues of borders and security. The Palestinians have presented to their Israeli counterparts (through the Americans) a written offer that includes giving up lands occupied by Israel in 1967 and now populated by Israeli settlers. These lands would be swapped for other lands equal in size and importance. Israel has yet to produce a single written document outlining its position on the territory that will become a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Israel insists that any serious progress will happen only if both sides can sit at the negotiating table face to face. According to this view, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition might be persuaded to accept the continuation of the partial settlement freeze, but only if the Israeli public sees President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu publicly engaged in negotiations. But the history of such negotiations tells a much different story.
All successful efforts in the Middle East conflict have not occurred in front of cameras and through publicly declared direct talks. The visit to Jerusalem of Egypt’s then-President Anwar Sadat, and the ensuing Egypt-Israel breakthrough at Camp David, took place only after successful behind-the-scenes understandings.... more.. e-mail
Is Israel singled out – and why?
Adam Keller, The Other Israel, Israeli Occupation Archive 8/1/2010
Googling for “Israel singled out” + “anti-Semitism” would immediately get you many thousands of results. All over the world, supporters of the policies enacted by the government of Israel are busily churning out article after article, repeating with minor variations the same message – Israel is being unfairly singled out, harshly criticized for the kind of acts which others are allowed to get away with, and the motive is anti-Semitism.
In a way, this is a second line of defense. There had been a time when this kind of people took the line that Israel can do no wrong. That it is an utterly wonderful place, little short of an utopia, a vibrant democracy and the only one in the Middle East, the home of tireless and dauntless pioneers who made the desert bloom. But this way of looking at things had become increasingly difficult to sustain. There has been too much unsavory TV footage of Israeli soldiers broadcast into every home around the globe, too many nasty revelations, quite a few of them by Israel’s own dissident citizens…
It is far easier to freely admit that Israel is not blameless, that some of its actions and policies do deserve criticism – but as a matter of fact, “everybody does it”. Many others all over the world also violate human rights and/or international law, others discriminate against ethnic or religious minorities, others launch military offensives which claim the lives of innocent civilians. Muslims, it is quite true, have been killed by other Muslims as well as by Israel. So, why pick on Israel, specifically? Why, if not out of anti-Semitism? “Anti-Israelism is the New anti-Semitism”, period.
True, as far as formal international diplomacy is concerned, it is easy to show that – if Israel is singled out at all – it is singled out for a rather lenient treatment. -- See also: Source more.. e-mail
Suspected torturer gets key police job in Jerusalem
Jonathan Cook, Palestine Note 8/8/2010
Doron Zahavi accused of running Israel’s Abu Ghraib
A police officer known as “Major George” who is accused of torturing Arab prisoners in his previous role as chief interrogator in a secret military jail has been appointed to oversee relations with Jerusalem’s Palestinian population, it has emerged.
The decision has been greeted with stunned disbelief from human rights groups, who say unresolved allegations against Major George that he brutally abused Arab prisoners for many years should disqualify him from such a sensitive post.
Relations between the Israeli police and the 250,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have been on a knife edge for many months, as extremist Jewish groups -- backed by the municipality -- have increased their settlement drive in traditional Palestinian neighbourhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.
The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (Acri), Israel’s largest legal rights group, revealed last week that it had made a formal complaint in February about Major George, whose real name is Doron Zahavi.
Acri said he had threatened to demolish the home of a Palestinian community activist in Silwan for leading protests against a settler takeover of Palestinian homes in the area. During what police described as a “getting to know each other session”, pressure was also put on Jawad Siyam to become an informant.
Zahavi, however, first earnt notoriety in Unit 504, a special wing of military intelligence, that oversaw the interrogation of foreign Arab nationals held in the secret prison, known as Facility 1391. Israel claims to have closed the jail following its exposure in 2003. more.. e-mail
Poisoning of Gaza water puts population at risk
Electronic Intifada: 11 Aug 2010 - Beyond tarnishing Gaza's once pristine shores, the noxious consequences of the deterioration of the wastewater treatment operation in Gaza resulting from the closure hold much more grave implications: the Gaza Strip is, quite literally, being poisoned.more
Interview with "Salt of This Sea" star before nationwide premiere in NYC
Electronic Intifada: 11 Aug 2010 - Salt of This Sea (2008), Annemarie Jacir's groundbreaking feature film, premieres in the US this week after two years on the road and winning over 20 awards in countless international film festivals. Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed the film's star, Suheir Hammad, for The Electronic Intifada.more
Palestine's students call on PLO envoy to boycott South African Zionists
Electronic Intifada: 11 Aug 2010 - We address you from occupied Palestine urging you to cancel your participation in an event hosted by the South African Union of Jewish Students entitled "Towards Peace in the Middle East -- The Status of Current Democracy" at the University of the Witwatersrand on Thursday, 12 August 2010.more
Release Mordechai Vanunu
Palestine Monitor: 12 Aug 2010 - Many hundreds of people from around the World have signed an International Petition (http://humanrights.change.org/peti... , calling on President Obama, Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Cameron, and other world leaders, to ‘do all they can' to gain the release from Israel of Mordechai Vanunu (the Israeli nuclear whistleblower). Vanunu was released from Ramle Israeli Prison, on Sunday 8th August, 2010, after serving almost 3 months in solitary confinement under cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions. This further sentence was imposed on Vanunu for speaking to foreign media. Although now out of prison he is still not allowed to leave Israel. The draconian restrictions remain on him, and he is unable to speak to foreigners, foreign media, or move freely within Israel without Government permission. Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, who together with Gerry Grehan, Chair of the Peace People, launched the International Appeal for Vanunu's release, said today: “It is unacceptable that Vanunu continues...more
Activists Charged With Blockading Israeli-Owned Beauty Shop Acquitted In Court
Palestine Monitor: 11 Aug 2010 - Four activists charged with aggravated trespass for blockading the Israeli-owned cosmetics shop, Ahava, in Covent Garden, London, in 2009, were today acquitted of all charges against them. The four –Bruce Levy, Tom Ellis, Jo Crouch and Tahir Alam Hussein, all from London – had locked themselves to concrete-filled oil drums inside the shop, closing it down for a day each time in September and December 2009. They appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court, London, this week, and were acquitted this afternoon when the primary witness for the prosecution, Ahava's store manager, refused to attend court to testify, despite courts summons and threats of an arrest warrant. Activists have held fortnightly demonstrations outside the Covent Garden store throughout 2010, in protest at its complicity in the occupation of Palestinian territory. The Ahava factory, which uses mud from the Dead Sea to make beauty products, is based in the illegal Israeli settlement...more
Israel Lacking Allies and Friends
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Aug 2010 - By George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C. Oftentimes, Israelis and their supporters bury their heads in the sand, ignoring all that goes around them. Take the case, for one example, of a university professor who joyously lauded in a commentary in a leading American newspaper, The New York Times (which in turn was remiss in not checking) an "opinion poll" that claimed that 71 percent of Arab respondents have "no interest" in the Palestinian-Israeli "peace process." Probably sharing his enthusiasm, the paper headlined the column, "The Palestinians, Alone." It turned out that the shady poll that was cited by Efraim Karsh, who teaches at King's College, London and is author of "Palestine Betrayed," was nothing more than a tally of readers responding to another reader's query on the website of an Arabic television network. Moreover, one would have thought that Karsh should have known better. His puerile analysis failed to...more
Meet the Methodist Friends of Israel
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Aug 2010 - By Stuart Littlewood – London A few weeks ago the Methodist Church's annual conference did a very courageous and praiseworthy thing. It voted to boycott products from Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestine, regarded as illegal under international law, and to encourage Methodists across Britain to do the same. "The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches," said the press release. Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships, remarked: “This decision has not been taken lightly, but after months of research, careful consideration and finally, today’s debate at the Conference. The goal of the boycott is to put an end to the existing injustice. It reflects the challenge that settlements present to a lasting peace in the region." Predictably the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which calls itself...more
Groundhog Day: The Neocon Version
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Aug 2010 - By Ron Forthofer The 1993 movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, strikes a chord when I consider the latest neocons' effort to push the U.S. into attacking Iran or supporting an Israeli attack. Similar to Bill Murray who lived the same day over and over, we are being forced to essentially relive late 2002 and early 2003. Then the neocons and the White House made false claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the threat Iraq supposedly posed. The situation is similar now except Iran has replaced Iraq as the target. Evidently the neocons' contempt for the U.S. public knows no bounds. They seem to think that we have already forgotten the role they played in building support for the attack on Iraq. Remember that this illegal attack and occupation have turned into what recently deceased General William Odom had said would be the "greatest strategic...more
Bourj el-Barajneh: Searching for Meaning in a Refugee Camp
Palestine Chronicle: 12 Aug 2010 - By Ramzy Baroud – Beirut, Lebanon Two young girls stood, as if frozen, starting below them at an ever vibrant Beirut. Their balcony, like the rest of their house and most of their refugee camp was of an indistinct color. It was dirty, as were their clothes. They, on the other hand, looked beautiful and bright, although their future didn’t. Here in Bourj el-Barajneh, one of a dozen Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, time seems to have stood still for years. Generation after generation, children grow up in the same desperate reality, punished for crimes they did not commit, injured by a history not of their making. They stand on dirty balconies, cracked beyond repair, watching Beirut and the world go by. The city is abuzz with life, politics, rumors, anticipation and intrigue. It remains perpetually divided between many worlds and contradictions, in a way that seems almost impossible to...more
The Occupation is Corrupt - Olmert and the Jackals
Palestine Chronicle: 11 Aug 2010 - By Uri Avnery I cannot say that I ever liked Ehud Olmert. But now I almost feel sorry for him. It is not pleasant to see how they pounce on him, like jackals and hyenas fighting over a carcass. And that also raises some questions. Was Olmert the only fallible human being in this paradise? Not at all. The stories about the envelopes stuffed with cash, the cigars and the luxury suites in posh hotels fire the imagination, but the hedonism of Olmert is no different from that of Binjamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak. When Barak accuses Olmert it is like the kettle calling the pot black. Netanyahu lived like a king in expensive hotels paid for by kind donors who, of course, ask for nothing in return, whose sole purpose in life is to allow him to revel in luxury. As for Barak - after decades of service as...more
FARC to Join Global Jihad
Palestine Chronicle: 11 Aug 2010 - By Belen Fernandez The four-member United Nations panel appointed to investigate the May 31 Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara which killed 9 people is scheduled to have its first meeting today. An August 3 AFP article noting the “surprising U-turn from the Israelis” in deciding to support the flotilla probe—a rare instance of Israeli cooperation with the U.N.—fails to note that the U-turn is perhaps not so surprising given the appointment as panel Vice Chairman of outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, whose expertise in the realm of security will thus not be lost with the end of his presidential term. Israel and Colombia have been plagued with similar security challenges for decades, such as how to portray victims as aggressors in order to acquire land—although Colombian territorial entitlement admittedly lacks biblical endorsement. Past Israeli training of Colombian death squads may have contributed to current Colombian creativity in retroactively justifying...more
Friday, August 13, 2010
Going organic: The siege on Gaza
Jon Elmer, AlJazeera, Axis of Logic 8/11/2010
"Hamas’ agriculture minister, Muhammad al-Agha, has issued a ten-year plan designed to side-step the blockade by increasing local food production and agricultural self-sufficiency in Gaza."
In February 2006, following Hamas’ electoral victory, a top advisor to Ehud Olmert, the then Israeli prime minister, Dov Weisglass, described the essence of Israel’s Gaza policy.
"It’s like a meeting with a dietitian," Weisglass said. "We need to make the Palestinians lose weight, but not to starve to death."
Although any Gazan will quickly point out that the blockade on the movement of goods - and people - into and out of Gaza long predates the election of Hamas, as the years have passed the exact date of the siege has often been, for reasons of political expedience, recast to coincide with the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.
Israel characterises the blockade as "economic warfare" targeting Hamas and its constituents.
’No humanitarian crisis’
According to government documents that have surfaced in response to a lawsuit before Israel’s high court, "the limitation on the transfer of goods is a central pillar in the means at the disposal of the state of Israel in the armed conflict between it and Hamas". more.. e-mail
An Open Letter To Chick Corea: Don’t Turn Your Back On Gaza
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel, Desert Peace 8/10/2010
Mr. Corea, we call upon your free soul that has been adding magnificent art for decades into this disenchanted world of ours, to join those courageous people of conscience like Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, the Pixies, Carlos Santana and Devendra Banhart in boycotting Israel until it complies with international law, and until justice and accountability are reached just as the global BDS movement made way for the collapse of apartheid in South Africa.
Dear Mr. Corea,
We are a group of students from Gaza, and our only fault is being Palestinians. For that, Mr. Corea, we are imprisoned with our families and loved ones in what major Human Rights Organizations call the largest open air prison in modern history. The state you are planning to entertain, committed a process of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous people in 1948. And now it is engaged in, what the Israeli academic Ilan Pappe calls, “slow motion genocide” against the 1.5 million population of Gaza.
We are writing to you from under the hermetic siege imposed on us. We are punished just because we belong to this land and hold its identity. Israel committed, what Prof. Richard Goldstone called “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” knowing very well that it would be immune from accountability. You must be aware that all aspects of our life are affected by the siege, which in itself is a gross violation of international humanitarian law.
We love music. But, we are deprived from it. The sound of Israeli-US made F16s, F15s, F35s, Surveillance planes, White Phosphorous bombs, naval gunboats and Merkava tanks do not allow us to listen to music any more. In Gaza, we are forbidden from experiencing the meaning of humanity, from being in love and expressing it in art, dance, music, and all its magnificent other forms that we long to live and experience. more.. e-mail
Searching in a refugee camp
Ramzy Baroud, Ma’an News Agency 8/13/2010
Two young girls stood, as if frozen, staring below them at an ever vibrant Beirut. Their balcony, like the rest of their house and most of their refugee camp was of an indistinct color. It was dirty, as were their clothes.
They, on the other hand, looked beautiful and bright, although their future didn’t.
In Bourj Al-Barajneh, one of a dozen Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, time seems to have stood still for years. Generation after generation, children grow up in the same desperate reality, punished for crimes they did not commit, injured by a history not of their making. They stand on dirty balconies, cracked beyond repair, watching Beirut and the world go by.
The city is abuzz with life, politics, rumors, anticipation and intrigue. It remains perpetually divided between many worlds and contradictions, in a way that seems almost impossible to reconcile or bridge.
Bourj Al-Barajneh has grown into a ‘municipality’ since its original inception as a ‘temporary’ accommodation for the Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their homes and land in Palestine between 1947 and 1948. The Palestinian physical share of the camp has largely remained the same, although the numbers have significantly grown.
Influxes into the area of Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and more recently Iraqis, have seen low-income or persecuted groups move in and around the vicinity of the camp. Little was put in place to accommodate the natural growth, or to regulate the latter population influxes. more.. e-mail
Palestine Monitor: 13 Aug 2010 - On the first Friday of Ramadan, mass prayer to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem from the West Bank went smoothly - at least for men over the age of 50, and women over the age of 45. Whilst a large number of young Palestinians were prevented from entering the Old City. ST McNeil reporting from Qalandiya checkpoint. Israel had eased restrictions for the religious holiday, according to Haaretz. As the Quartet push the Palestinian Authority and Israel's government towards peace talks, the move could be seen as an attempt at ground-floor diplomacy. At the Qalandiya checkpoint, the crowd was split into male and female lines entering at separate entrances. Red Crescent Ambulances provided scant shade for squatting adults and children - all in various states of hunger and thirst, some experiencing caffeine and nicotine withdrawal. Today is the third day of Ramadan, the global Muslim religious holiday, where all of...more
Explaining Murder: Israeli Hasbara in Full Swing
Palestine Chronicle: 13 Aug 2010 - By Richard Lightbown The hasbara industry is in full swing at the moment as Benjamin Netanyahu’s government pulls out all the stops to create a smokescreen to cover its crimes. Leading from the front Mr Netanyahu sat in front of the Turkel Commission for four hours on Monday, although anyone hoping to hear anything of interest would have been disappointed. Mr Netanyahu only spoke in front of the public for ninety minutes of that time during which he regaled the committee with complaints about Hamas, Sderot and Gilad Shalit. He told the committee that Israel had a right to search for weapons on board the flotilla. (Israel has since announced that it found no weapons for Hamas. Did nine people really have to die so that Israel could confirm the certification the flotilla already had?) He further told them that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a result...more
From Goldstone to Uribe
Palestine Chronicle: 13 Aug 2010 - By Stephen Lendman Despite a credible start, the fix is in. Expect justice again to be denied. After the Gaza War (Operation Cast Lead), the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) appointed Justice Richard Goldstone to lead an independent four-person fact-finding Commission to investigate human rights and humanitarian law violations committed on both sides, Israel doing everything possible to obstruct him in vain. The Commission conducted 188 interviews, got over 300 reports, submissions and other documents, comprising more than 10,000 pages, 30 videos, and 1,200 photographs, much of it gathered first-hand. Secondary sources added corroboration, in total providing clear evidence of Israel crimes. On September 15, 2009, the Commission concluded that: "There is evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity." "While the Israeli Government has...more
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Ramadan Kareem from Obama and Netanyahu
Jeff Halper, Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2010
At 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the day before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began, workers sent by the Israeli authorities, protected by dozens of police, destroyed the tombstones in the last portion of the Mamilla cemetery, a historic Muslim burial ground with graves going back to the seventh Century, hitherto left untouched.
The government of Israel has always been fully cognizant of the sanctity and historic significance of the site. Already in 1948, when control of the cemetery reverted to Israel, the Israeli Religious Affairs Ministry recognized Mamilla "to be one of the most prominent Muslim cemeteries, where seventy thousand Muslim warriors of [Saladin’s] armies are interred along with many Muslim scholars. Israel will always know to protect and respect this site."
For all that, and despite (proper) Israeli outrage when Jewish cemeteries are desecrated anywhere in the world, the dismantlement of the Mamilla cemetery has been systematic.
In the 1960s "Independence Park" was built over a portion of it; subsequently an urban road was built through it, major electrical cables were laid over graves and a parking lot constructed over yet another piece.
Now some 1,500 Muslim graves have been cleared in several nighttime operations to make way for…..a $100 million Museum of Tolerance and Human Dignity, a project of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. (Ironically, Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center’s Director, appeared on Fox News to express his opposition to the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, because the site of the 9/11 attack "is a cemetery.") more.. e-mail
Montagnini on silent expulsion in Jordan Valley
Barbara Malini, Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2010
An interview with Luisa Morgantini, former Vice President of the European Parliament, upon her return from a tour of the Jordan Valley and the West Bank in which she led an Italian peace delegation.You visited to the Jordan Valley twice in one week, just days after the Israeli army once again demolished homes of Bedouin communities in the north. What did you see?
Montagnini: If Area C, 60 percent of the occupied West Bank, is a synonym for expulsion and annexation for Israeli colonization, in the Jordan Valley all this is greatly intensified. A silent displacement is being carried out by Israel, through demolitions, evictions, land confiscation, and denied access to water resources: these policies have promoted the establishment of over 30 illegal settlements.
Even before the  Oslo Agreements, Israel had already been aiming to create a seam-zone between the West Bank and Jordan in line with the Allon Plan, through the annexation of this 2,400 square kilometers of fertile land extending from the Green Line to the Dead Sea. An area cleansed of its inhabitants today is more easily annexed tomorrow.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has always stated that Israel will never give up the Jordan Valley; and a similar refrain characterized Olmert’s election campaign in 2006. This exact intent to maintain control of the area, beyond being theorized in the Allon plan, was also practiced by Israel during the First Intifada, when Palestinian residents in Nablus under curfew were blocked from reaching their properties and harvesting their fields located in the Jordan Valley. Now this area is a closed zone. more.. e-mail
Excerpt: Midnight on the Mavi Marmara
Mike Marqusee, Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2010
Mike Marqusee is an American Jew living in London, UK where he writes. He was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-flagged cargo ship taking part in a flotilla mission to the Gaza Strip, and loaded with tons of aid and medical supplies for the people of Gaza.
At 3am on 31 May 2010, Israeli commandos boarded the ship in international waters. Crew members resisted the take-over and in the struggle 9 were shot dead.
Below is an excerpt from Marqusee’s recently published book Midnight on the Mavi Marmara, which compiles accounts, analysis and reflections on the event from passengers on board.
International solidarity under attack
From small beginnings and with few resources, the international movement in solidarity with the Palestinians has grown into a force that Israel perceives as a major threat. The assault on the Gaza aid flotilla was a lethal escalation in what has become an increasingly bitter campaign against that movement, whose constituents now range from dockworkers in South Africa refusing to offload Israeli goods to students at Berkeley demanding divestment.
The brutality of the flotilla attack was a measure of the extent to which the Israeli polity has grown to fear and loathe this global grassroots movement. In a way, the violence was a perverse tribute to a band of voluntary campaigners who are massively outstripped by Israel in money, institutional resources and access to the media, but who nonetheless have put more pressure on Israel than the world’s most powerful governments.... more.. e-mail
East Jerusalem: Settlers Take Over Another House
Palestine Monitor: 14 Aug 2010 - On the 29th of July another house in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City was taken over by settlers. Whilst the court makes its final decision, 8 of the 9 Palestinian families who were resident in the building for some 70 years were forced to find temporary accommodation elsewhere.Nicky Elliott visited the families. All but one of the nine Qresh families living in the large building in the Sa'adiye neighborhood near Herod's gate had been attending a wedding when over 30 young settlers arrived to seize the house. At the time of arrival, the settler group was accompanied by police who prevented the families from re-entering their home. Mickey Rosenfield, the Israeli National Police spokesman, told Ma'an News that the settlers had presented “ documents claiming that they owned the property”. On the 30th of July however there was a court order stating that the settlers must leave the...more
Sunday, August 15, 2010
'Arabs, get out'
Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Israeli Occupation Archive 8/15/2010
The fact that [Israeli Arabs] have yet to choose to boycott the state and its institutions and to stop participating in the game of democracy, which is corrupt to begin with, as far as they are concerned – a game from which they are almost completely excluded – is nothing short of amazing.
Alright, let’s say they succeed. Let’s say that the racist nationalist members of Knesset achieve their aspirations to kick the Arab member out of the Knesset. Let’s assume that the aspirations of the sweet-lipped extremist Otniel Schneller, the “democrat” Ofir Akunis, and the nationalist Avigdor Lieberman come to pass and the Knesset is free of Arabs.
What would happen next? Behind this incitement campaign, like every other, there is no motivation other than arousing the darkest and most basest instincts: ‘Arabs, get out’ – not to mention ‘Death to the Arabs.’ So the Arabs are out, what then?
Even in the second round of the verbal lynching of Knesset member Hanin Zuabi this past weekend, including all the lies ( she “fought with Israeli soldiers,” joined the “terrorists,” “objected to removing evacuating wounded soldiers”) put forward by politicians and television show hosts, calls arose to eject her from the Knesset, naturally.
It’s already completely kosher – the calls to eject Hanin, and you, Ahmed Tibi, Mohammed Barakeh, Jamal Zahalka, and their friends are no longer only right-wing fantasy. The legitimization of the calls, in the wake of the crushing silence of most other politicians, demonstrates how deeply the aspiration behind it has put down roots.
They may be ignoramuses when it comes to democratic ideals – but those calling for the ejection of Arab MKs must at least say what will happen once Israeli Arabs are deprived of representation in the Knesset. Will Arab citizens vote for Yisrael Beitenu? Doubtful. Will they vote for Akunis in the primaries? Unlikely. -- See also: Source: Ha'aretz more.. e-mail
George Bisharat and Nimer Sultany, Miami Herald 8/15/2010
Adalah, the Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel, counts more than 35 Israeli laws explicitly privileging Jews over non-Jews.
Should Israel be encouraged to enact legislation guaranteeing equal rights for all of its citizens as part of any peace agreement with the Palestinians?
Israel’s systematic discrimination against Arabs was highlighted recently when Donna Shalala, University of Miami president and former Health and Human Services secretary, was detained for three hours, grilled and subjected to an extended luggage search upon her departure from Israel.
Shalala, of Lebanese Arab descent and a long-time supporter of Israel, had visited the country with other university leaders at the invitation of the American Jewish Congress, but had stayed beyond the planned itinerary for several days. It seems evident that, despite her stature, she was a victim of profiling.
But the indignities that Shalala suffered pale in comparison to those faced by the 1.3 million Palestinian citizens of Israel on a daily basis, and not just at the airport.
Adalah, the Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel, counts more than 35 Israeli laws explicitly privileging Jews over non-Jews. Other Israeli laws appear neutral, but are applied in discriminatory fashion. For example, laws facilitating government land seizures make no reference to Palestinians, but nonetheless have been used almost exclusively to expropriate their properties for Jewish settlements.
Consider what it would be like if.... more.. e-mail
All is not quiet on the Lebanese front
Lawrence Davidson, Redress 8/15/2010
”When it comes to Middle East foreign policy, men like [US congressmen] Howard Berman and Ron Klein and many others too, still stand in as agents of a foreign power. And they do so in an obvious knee-jerk fashion. I am afraid it will stay this way until Israeli behaviour becomes a voting issue in the US for more than just Zionist Americans.”
On Tuesday 3 August 2010 violence erupted along Lebanon’s southern frontier. Almost simultaneously verbal violence against Lebanon erupted from the US House of Representatives. Soon thereafter Lebanon lost, at least temporarily, 100 million dollars in US military aid. What is this all about?On the Lebanese frontier
The Lebanese border, or so-called “Blue Line”, has been a Middle East flashpoint for decades. It has been the site of repeated wars, cross-border skirmishes and often futile United Nations peacekeeping efforts to keep things below a boiling temperature. Israel says that south Lebanon has harboured Palestinian fighters in the past, and now Hezbollah fighters, all of whom endanger its security. At least publicly, Israel never asks why there is such long lasting hostility toward it. And, if its leaders do so in private, it never impacts on policy. Instead, Israel has consistently waged war on its neighbours to stop the vengeful incursions of those whose land Israel has – what? Gotten from God? Conquered from the Canaanites? Confiscated after chasing out Arab forces who identified them as European interlopers? Stolen.
The incident of 3 August was triggered by Israel’s attempt to cut down a tree along the Lebanese frontier. The Israeli armed forces claim the tree was on the Israeli side of the frontier fence. Please note that the Israeli protest about this to the United Nations and the Lebanese government actually used the word "border"..... more.. e-mail
Monday, August 16, 2010
Gaza’s Poisoned Water
Stephen Lendman, Dissident Voice 8/14/2010
This article follows an August 6 one discussing Palestinians Denied Access to Water. It explained how Israel exploits Palestinian water resources, using most of it, forcing them to find ways to get by. Water, of course, is essential to life, rights to it natural and usufructuary. Belonging to everyone as part of the commons, it must be used, not owned or abused, an essential truth Israel corrupts.
On August 5, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) published the latest in its “Narratives Under Siege” series, titled “There’s Something in the Water: The Poisoning of Life in the Gaza Strip.”
“THIS BEACH IS POLLUTED” signs dot Gaza City beaches, posing serious health hazards because of daily raw sewage dumped into the Mediterranean Sea through 16 discharge sites along the coast. Yet thousands fill them despite the dangers, including children, taking advantage of one of their few sources of respite — available, convenient, and free, but not safe.
For Gazans, the sea is part of their lives — to fish, gather with family, swim, and for children, play in the sun on hot days, a joy this writer recalls growing up on America’s Atlantic coast. Summers were always the best time. The memories remain.
“Without the sea there is no Gaza,” explains Abdel Haleem Abu Samra, Public Relations Officer of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ Khan Younis Branch. Being unsafe is especially unsettling — its state in some form since 1991, but especially under siege, prohibiting equipment, construction materials, and spare parts to build new wastewater treatment facilities and repair existing ones.
In addition, conditions are exacerbated by an acute fuel and electricity shortage, vital to run waste treatment cycles properly.... -- See also: Palestinians Denied Access to Water and PCHR: There's Something in the Water.... more.. e-mail
Uribe Appointment Undermines U.N. Flotilla Investigation
Carmen Andrea Rivera and Nico Udu-gama, Mondoweiss, Upside Down World 8/12/2010
It was announced yesterday, August 2nd, that outgoing Colombian president Álvaro Uribe Vélez will be the Vice Chairman of the U.N.’s four-member international committee tasked with investigating the Israeli commando attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. On May 31st, Israeli forces attacked the MV Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship manned by international activists delivering aid supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip. The ensuing confrontation left nine activists dead and dozens wounded and sparked international criticism of Israel.
Prior international investigations and condemnation have done little to change Israel’s colonial policies in occupied Palestinian territories. Appointing Uribe to this latest investigation preemptively undermines its credibility.
It’s difficult to catalogue and summarize the various political scandals that have plagued Uribe’s 8-year presidency. Three days before the announcement of Uribe’s appointment to the U.N. committee, the Colombian press reported the outgoing president’s verbal attack against Colombian Supreme Court Magistrate Yesid Ramirez, after Ramirez asked the nation’s prosecutor general to open an investigation into allegations that the president’s son, Tomás Uribe, bribed congressmen to ensure his father’s re-election in 2006. The recent scandal is only the latest in one of many of Uribe’s public displays of contempt for the Colombian judiciary, the most famous of which was his outrage at the Court’s nixing of a referendum that would have allowed Uribe to run for a third presidential term.
More significant than political tumult or charges of corruption is Uribe’s contempt for international law, demonstrated by his government’s illegal use of the International Red Cross emblem in a hostage rescue mission in July 2008.... more.. e-mail
The US Arms Bonanza in the Middle East
Jonathan Cook, CounterPunch 8/11/2010
Israel and Saudi Arabia to Buy Advanced War Planes
Two of the United States’ closest allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are on the brink of signing large arms deals with the US in a move designed to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, according to defence analysts.
America has agreed to sell Saudi Arabia 84 of the latest model of the F-15 jet and dozens of Black Hawk helicopters. The deal also includes refurbishing many of the kingdom’s older F-15s, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Israel is believed to have opposed the $30 billion deal. However, in a concession to Israel, the new F-15s, made by the Boeing Company, will not be equipped with the latest weapons and avionics systems available to the US military.
The last such major arms sale by the US to Saudi Arabia was in 1992, when the kingdom received 72 F-15s. On that occasion, Israel tried to block the $9bn deal by lobbying the US Congress, straining relations with the White House of George H W Bush.
Meanwhile, the US is preparing to provide Israel’s air force with the F-35, the latest jet fighter made by Lockheed Martin, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported last week.
The F-35’s stealth technology, which allows it to evade radar detection and anti-aircraft missiles, comes with a hefty price tag of up to $150 million a plane -- a cost that Israel had been balking at.
But, according to the reports, the US has offered Israeli firms defence contracts worth $4bn to supply parts for the F-35 -- a deal some Israeli analysts believe is designed to buy Israel’s silence over the Saudi deal and ensure it gets through the US Congress. more.. e-mail
Palestinian roots of Western civilization: an interview with Basem Ra'ad
Electronic Intifada: 16 Aug 2010 - Basem Ra'ad is a professor at Al-Quds University in occupied East Jerusalem. For the past two decades, he has been researching the ancient past of Palestine, much of which concerns the Western and Israeli appropriation of ancient languages and cultures, from the Canaanite alphabet to the Canaanite pantheon of gods and goddesses. Jonathan Scott spoke with Ra'ad for The Electronic Intifada.more
Gaza's record-breaking children
Electronic Intifada: 16 Aug 2010 - Gaza's kids truly are record-breakers. They survived Israel's 2008-2009 winter invasion and every day they put up with a state of war during a so-called ceasefire. Smeared in blood, they've crawled through the rubble of shelled buildings, taking care of younger siblings, and tending to languishing parents, often emerging from under the remains of their own beds. Vittorio Arrigoni writes from the Gaza Strip.more
A Statement to the Palestinian People
Palestine Monitor: 16 Aug 2010 - To our Palestinian People: We have followed with great concern the increasing external pressure, especially from the U.S. and Israel, on the PLO leadership to shift from indirect negotiations (which have not resulted in any progress) to direct negotiations without clear and binding terms of reference regarding a complete halt of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory - including in Jerusalem. The terms of reference should be based on international law and UN resolutions and to include a predetermined timetable to reach a final status agreement. The agreement will necessarily include ending the Israeli occupation of all territories occupied in 1967 and enabling the Palestinians to exercise the Right of Return, right to self-determination, and the right to an independent and sovereign state in the territory occupied in 1967 - with Jerusalem as its capital. We, the signatories of this statement, proceed through our belief that a just...more
Christian Zionism: The Root of All Evil?
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Aug 2010 - By Tammy Obeidallah It is common knowledge that many so-called Christians throw unconditional, unyielding support behind the Jewish state. Known as Christian Zionists, or more recently “Israel-firsters”—indicating their degree of loyalty over and above the interests of their own country—it is estimated they are over 50 million strong in the United States alone. By stripping biblical passages out of their proper context and ignoring historical perspective, Christian Zionist leaders have convinced the masses that Jesus Christ will return when all Jews are gathered in Palestine, even if it means the systemic destruction of the Palestinian people. Questions remain how such a blatantly un-biblical doctrine hijacked an entire segment of the Christian community; moreover, how the doctrine came to be so widely accepted not only in churches but in the halls of political power. It has been argued that Christian Zionism originated as a spin-off of secular Zionism; that Christians were...more
The Significance of the Afghan War Diary
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Aug 2010 - By Deepak Tripathi The Afghanistan War Diary, released by Wikileaks, has exposed as never before a culture of lies, deceit, violence and manipulation of information in the current United States-led war in that country. The volume, more than 90,000 secret records of actions taken by the American military from January 2004 to December 2009, and the depth of the culture they depict, are staggering. Their significance is immense. Their release is of interest to me not least because in my book, Overcoming the Bush Legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan, published in March 2010, I have systematically identified and analyzed the Bush administration’s naïve calculations, strategic and operational blunders, disregard for history and other cultures, even downright prejudices that have brought so much harm to so many. The Afghan War Diary makes a major contribution to that debate. In historical terms, the significance of these documents is comparable to that of...more
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Aug 2010 - (An open letter to a dear friend in the US) By Samah Sabawi I am not an American but I can tell you in a way I know how you feel and I understand those sensitivities you speak of. I am a Palestinian Muslim Woman from Gaza. I know too well the sting of the pain of losing pieces of one’s homeland, watching buildings blow up; landmarks demolished farmlands scorched and people uprooted. My heart is filled with pain over loved ones lost over the years to senseless human violence. But if there is anything I’ve learned in my life it is that wars and terror can take everything you have but only you can actually surrender your principles and your values. Even though Israel holds my people under siege, even though our loved ones are killed with Israeli fire, even though Israel has committed these acts in the name...more
The Next Terror Capital
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Aug 2010 - By Belen Fernandez Shortly after the termination of the July War four years ago, I visited the south Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil—largely destroyed by Israel—and was invited into the home of a family that had only recently returned to south Lebanon after residing in the United States for a number of years. The family’s 13-year-old daughter Maryam summarized their wartime experience, which had involved spending approximately 10 days in a basement with dozens of relatives and neighbors and attempting to reconcile themselves to the idea of impending liquidation by Israeli surgical precision. The group eventually escaped north in a caravan of vehicles, only the last of which was liquidated; Maryam nonetheless expressed her sincere hope that the U.S. media had not portrayed the full reality of the war, as she was concerned it would have been unnecessarily painful for the American public. There is abundant evidence that Lebanese teenagers...more
Netanyahu Running with Nowhere to Hide
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Aug 2010 - By James Gundun, Washington D.C. Last week the US government and media lauded Israel’s decision to cooperate with a UN investigation into the Freedom Flotilla raid. Although Israeli opinion was more critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision, the general consensus realized he had no choice. Stonewall here and Israel would have absolutely nothing to stand on going into the pivotal month of September, when Israel’s settlement “freeze” in the West Bank expires and the UN will debate Palestinian statehood. "We thank both governments (Israeli and Turkish) for the constructive and cooperative spirit they have shown and the Secretary General for his leadership and determination," said Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN. Seven days later and no one is praising Ban Ki-moon anymore. Only hours after Netanyahu testified to the UN that Turkish decision-making was ultimately to blame, the UN Secretary-General “quashed what he called a rumor” that Israeli...more
Imbalance of Power, the Middle East Problem
Palestine Chronicle: 16 Aug 2010 - By Hasan Afif El-Hasan Let us be realistic, the hypothetical creation of a just social contract by the international community that would liberate the Palestinians from their subjection and inequality has failed. Lack of progress in reaching a just solution to the Palestinian/Syrian/Lebanese conflicts with Israel is due to the imbalance of military power in favor of Israel vs. the Arab states combined. As long as the imbalance exists, the Israeli wars will continue to reign uncontrolled and there will be little hope that justice will prevail. Balance of power is essential strategy of world politics. The efficacy of a balanced power in the Middle East can mitigate the international tyranny and the systemic hegemony of Israel. Balance of power means fewer wars and more incentive to resolve issues peacefully. The equally effect of nuclear deterrence between the US and the Soviet Union explains four decades of Cold War relative...more
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Formalizing Israel’s Land Grab
Chris Hedges, Truthdig 8/16/2010
Time is running out for Israel. And the Israeli government knows it. The Jewish Diaspora, especially the young, has a waning emotional and ideological investment in Israel. The demographic boom means that Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories will soon outnumber Jews. And Israel’s increasing status as a pariah nation means that informal and eventually formal state sanctions against the country are probably inevitable.
Desperate Israeli politicians, watching opposition to their apartheid state mount, have proposed a perverted form of what they term “the one-state solution.” It is the latest tool to thwart a Palestinian state and allow Israel to retain its huge settlement complexes and land seizures in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The idea of a single state was backed by Moshe Arens, a former defense minister and foreign minister from the Likud Party, in a column he wrote last month in the newspaper Haaretz asking “Is There Another Option?” Arens has been joined by several other Israeli politicians including Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.
The Israeli vision, however, does not include a state with equal rights for Jewish and Palestinians citizens. The call for a single state appears to include pushing Gaza into the unwilling arms of Egypt and incorporating the West Bank and East Jerusalem into Israel. Palestinians within Israeli-controlled territory, however, will remain burdened with crippling travel, work and security restrictions already in place. Palestinians in the occupied territories, for example, cannot reclaim lost property or acquire Israeli citizenship, yet watch as Jews born outside of Israel and with no prior tie to the country become Israeli citizens and receive government-subsidized housing. Palestinians in the West Bank live in a series of roughly eight squalid, ringed ghettos and are governed by military courts. Jews living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, like all full Israeli citizens, are subject to Israeli civilian law and constitutional protection. Palestinians cannot serve in the armed forces or the security services, while Jewish settlers are issued automatic weapons and protected by the Israel Defense Force. more.. e-mail
Bureaucracy vs. Occupation: Hamas Government Bulldozes Gazans’ Homes
Mohammed Omer, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 8/1/2010
In a strange interpretation of eminent domain—the government’s right to take private property for public use—on the morning of May 16 the Gaza Strip’s Hamas-led government, citing a lack of building permits and the need to requisition the land for public use—in this case, to build the Dawaa and Humanitarian Science College—dispatched bulldozers to the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza. The machines typically associated with Israeli occupation forces immediately began flattening the targeted homes, the residents of which insist they were given little or no notice, and that their claims to their homes are valid.
Many of the homes in the targeted district belonged to Gazans who had lost their houses during Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 attack on Gaza dubbed Operation Cast Lead. Following the murderous 22-day attack, the Hamas government announced it would allow the reconstruction of more than 1,000 housing units, many to be rebuilt with cement smuggled through tunnels between Rafah and Egypt. Prior to the assault, however, in November 2008, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had designated the land for the construction of a new university and sports field dedicated to science and humanitarian efforts. Unfortunately, the post-attack decree failed to cancel the earlier one. So the homeowners rebuilt. And on May 16, the bulldozers arrived.From Homeowner to Homeless
One of the victims is 41-year-old Issa Al Sududi. "I had no prior warning," he said, staring at the remnants of his home in shock. When he tried to stop the demolition, police officers beat him, until a policeman who recognized Issa stopped the assault. Issa’s wife, overwhelmed, collapsed while resisting the police. She was transferred to the hospital with an injured left arm and leg.
Samir Zaquot, 46, lives in the Al Barahma residential area. Prior to 2005 it was impossible for Palestinians to live here because of its proximity to the Jewish-only colony at Rafiah Yam.... more.. e-mail
No Room for Arab Students at Israeli Universities
Jonathan Cook, Dissident Voice 8/17/2010
New Rules Favour Former Soldiers
Measures designed to benefit Jewish school-leavers applying for places in Israeli higher education at the cost of their Arab counterparts have been criticised by lawyers and human rights groups.
The new initiatives are viewed as part of an ongoing drive by right-wing politicians in Israel to demand “loyalty” from the country’s large minority population of Arab citizens.
Critics have termed the measures, including a programme to provide financial aid exclusively to students who have served in the Israeli army, a form of “covert discrimination”.
While most Jews are conscripted into the military, Israel’s Arab citizens are generally barred from serving.
The issue came to a head last week over reports that Tel Aviv University had reserved a large number of dormitory places for discharged soldiers, leaving Arab students facing a severe shortage of university accommodation in the coming academic year.
In addition, only former soldiers will be eligible in future for large subsidies on tuition fees under an amended law passed last month.
Arab students already face many obstacles to pursuing higher education, according to the Dirasat policy research centre in Nazareth. These include psychometric exams — a combined aptitude and personality test that has been criticised as culturally biased — and minimum age restrictions for courses, typically at age 21, when soldiers finish their three-year service. more.. e-mail
Arabs face increased discrimination at Tel Aviv University
Electronic Intifada: 17 Aug 2010 - Measures designed to benefit Jewish school-leavers applying for places in Israeli higher education at the cost of their Palestinian Arab counterparts have been criticized by lawyers and human rights groups.more
Economic and political pressures at Ramadan
Electronic Intifada: 17 Aug 2010 - HIRBET DEIR, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Ramadan, with its extra expense (families and friends hosted every evening for the festive iftar meal that breaks the daily fast) and shorter working hours, is a time when most Palestinians especially struggle to make ends meet.more
Is Canada passing information on its citizens to Israel?
Electronic Intifada: 17 Aug 2010 - As a national intelligence organization shrouded in secrecy, it is hard to know if the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) has been mandated to target Palestine solidarity activists. In the current political climate, however, it's not surprising that CSIS officials view anyone defending Palestinian rights as a threat. Yves Engler analyzes for The Electronic Intifada.more
No Room for Arab Students at Israeli Universities
Palestine Chronicle: 17 Aug 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth Measures designed to benefit Jewish school-leavers applying for places in Israeli higher education at the cost of their Arab counterparts have been criticised by lawyers and human rights groups. The new initiatives are viewed as part of an ongoing drive by right-wing politicians in Israel to demand “loyalty” from the country’s large minority population of Arab citizens. Critics have termed the measures, including a programme to provide financial aid exclusively to students who have served in the Israeli army, a form of “covert discrimination”. While most Jews are conscripted into the military, Israel’s Arab citizens are generally barred from serving. The issue came to a head last week over reports that Tel Aviv University had reserved a large number of dormitory places for discharged soldiers, leaving Arab students facing a severe shortage of university accommodation in the coming academic year. In addition, only former soldiers...more
Mr. Erdogan: Please Say No to Uribe
Palestine Chronicle: 17 Aug 2010 - (An Open Letter from Gaza to Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey: Urge UN Secretary General to remove Alvaro Uribe from the Panel of Inquiry into the attack on the Humanitarian Flotilla to Gaza.) Tuesday, 17th August, 2010 Besieged Gaza, Palestine Dear Mr. Prime Minister, We are writing to you from under a brutal, hermetic siege now entering its fourth year to express our outrage against the nomination of the notorious former president of Columbia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez to the Panel of Inquiry into the May 31, 2010 Israeli brutal attack on the humanitarian flotilla to Gaza. Mr. Prime Minister, it is an insult to the memory of those killed in the Israeli massacre against peace activists aboard the Mavi Marmara to have their blood "redeemed" by a man who has a record of violations against human rights and international law. Uribe Vélez was an accomplice in corruption...more
Hamas: A Beginner's Guide - Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 17 Aug 2010 - By Dr. Ludwig Watzal - Bonn Khaled Hroub, Hamas. A Beginner's Guide, Pluto, 2 nd Edition, London-Ann Arbor 2010 (2006), 196 p. Israel, the United States and the European Union call Hamas a "terrorist organisation". Yet Hamas swept to victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections and stunned the world. It is now a democratically elected political party. All the election observers agreed that the elections were free, fair, and democratic. The Palestinian people showed their ability to establish a democratic state next to Israel. But Israel, the United States and the EU did not like this idea of a democratic Palestinian state besides Israel and the outcome of a democratic election. According to their opinion, the Palestinian people voted democratically, but for the wrong party. What is wrong with the Hamas movement? And why is it demonised by Israel, the US and the European Union? The reviewed book asks all...more
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Gaza's record-breaking children
Vittorio Arrigoni, Electronic Intifada, International Solidarity Movement 8/18/2010
Gaza’s kids truly are record-breakers. They survived Israel’s 2008-09 winter invasion and every day they put up with a state of war during a so-called ceasefire. Smeared in blood, they’ve crawled through the rubble of shelled buildings, taking care of younger siblings, and tending to languishing parents, often emerging from under the remains of their own beds.
More than half of Gaza’s population are children. Though none of them has ever voted for Hamas, they’re the designated targets of Israel’s military operations and more generally, of the siege imposed upon Gaza. They’re resilient children, standing up against a multitude of ailments and obstacles. According to a recent report of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, 52 percent of Gaza’s children are anemic and suffer from serious nutritional problems due to the insufficiency of phosphorous, calcium and zinc in their food. The rate of respiratory illnesses they suffer is also cause for concern.
Gaza’s children suffer from psychological disorders, the consequence of enduring Israel’s attacks and siege. Their memories of dismembered bodies and burning buildings are indelible traumas that make them anxious and depressed, insomniac or incontinent. They live in overcrowded spaces without recreational areas. In the same streets where they now play, they remember having seen live flesh burning or rotting bodies. Missiles, destruction and death are evoked in their drawings whenever you hand them a blank piece of paper.
If the right to play is a luxury here, the right to an education is denied. Besides toys and medicine, Israel has also blocked the entry of elementary school textbooks. Unlike the majority of Israeli children, Gaza’s children suffer from hunger and poverty. I see them every day pushing ploughs in the fields, or rummaging through the garbage bins, looking for recyclable material.... -- See also: Source: Electronic Intifada more.. e-mail
Don’t deny our rights: An open letter to Mahmoud Abbas
Ma’an News Agency 8/18/2010
We are Palestinians of diverse perspectives and affiliations -- scholars, intellectuals, artists, activists, trade unionists, human rights advocates and civil society leaders, inside historic Palestine and in exile -- who are united in our commitment to the fulfillment of the fundamental rights of all Palestinians, particularly our inalienable right to self-determination. This universally sanctioned right encompasses, at a minimum, freedom from occupation and colonization in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Jerusalem; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
During a 9 June meeting with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, you reportedly said: "I would never deny [the] Jewish right to the land of Israel," a statement that you have yet to retract. We regard this announcement, which adopts a central tenet of Zionism, as a grave betrayal of the collective rights of the Palestinian people. It is tantamount to a surrender of the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to live in equality in their own homeland, in which they have steadfastly remained despite the apartheid regime imposed on them for decades. It also concedes the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
No Palestinian institution or leader has ever accepted an exclusive Jewish claim to Palestine, which is irreconcilable with the internationally recognized rights of the Palestinian people. Our rights inhere in us as a people; they are not yours to do with as you please.
We, as Palestinians urgently need a legally and democratically elected leadership that is responsible, capable and committed to the fulfillment of our national rights and aspirations to live in freedom, dignity and just peace in our ancestral homeland.... more.. e-mail
Israeli Commandos Stop Peace Activists—But at What Cost?
Rachelle Marshall, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 8/1/2010
Faced with state terrorism we cannot be calm and silent...Killing innocent people and treating civilians as if they were terrorists are nothing but a degradation of humanity.—Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, June 1, 2010.
Veterans of the Israel Defense Forces will someday be able to boast to their grandchildren of their famous victory in the Mediterranean Sea, when they successfully defended their country from a group of unarmed peace activists and humanitarian aid workers traveling aboard a group of slow-moving cargo boats. The aid flotilla that sailed from Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus was carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian supplies intended for Gaza, one of the poorest places on earth. Since the raid took place in international waters, it was by definition an act of criminal piracy.
At 4 a.m. on May 31, while the boats were still well out to sea, Israeli commandos dropped onto the boats from helicopters, firing sound grenades, plastic bullets and, by many reports, live ammunition. When passengers on the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara tried to resist, the attackers killed nine of them. All but one of the dead were Turkish members of Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), a charitable organization founded in 1992 to aid Bosnians and now active in 120 countries, including Haiti.
Dozens of those aboard were badly beaten by the Israelis, among them a cameraman who was clubbed in the eye with a rifle butt. Videos showed two of the soldiers repeatedly stomping on a man who was down, and then shooting him.The ship was turned into "a lake of blood," one woman reported. Dr. Mahmut Koskun said the commandos did not allow him to help the wounded aboard, and let at least one of the victims bleed to death.
All of the passengers were handcuffed and forced to lie face down on the deck for several hours. When the boats arrived in Ashdod, Israeli authorities seized their cargoes and arrested those aboard, including 15 journalists.... more.. e-mail
Turkey must oppose Uribe appointment to flotilla probe
Electronic Intifada: 18 Aug 2010 - Mr. Prime Minister, it is an insult to the memory of those killed in the Israeli massacre against peace activists aboard the Mavi Marmara to have their blood "redeemed" by a man who has a record of violations against human rights and international law.more
Chick Corea: don't turn your back on Gaza!
Electronic Intifada: 18 Aug 2010 - We are a group of students from Gaza, and our only fault is being Palestinians. For that, Mr. Corea, we are imprisoned with our families and loved ones in what major human rights organizations call the largest open air prison in modern history. The state you are planning to entertain committed a process of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous people in 1948.more
Israel keeps evidence of ethnic cleansing locked away
Electronic Intifada: 18 Aug 2010 - History may be written by the victors, as Winston Churchill is said to have observed, but the opening up of archives can threaten a nation every bit as much as the unearthing of mass graves. That danger explains a decision quietly taken last month by Benjamin Netanyahu to extend by an additional 20 years the country's 50-year rule for the release of sensitive documents. Jonathan Cook reports.more
Israel's multi-front war on Lebanese resistance
Electronic Intifada: 18 Aug 2010 - Border clashes between Lebanon and Israel earlier this month, and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah's presentation of evidence that Israel may have assassinated Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005. are much more than a routine tug-of-war between two long-time foes. Hicham Safieddine analyzes for The Electronic Intifada.more
UK, Irish artists saluted for principled boycott stance
Electronic Intifada: 18 Aug 2010 - The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) salutes the British dance group Faithless for declining to play in Israel this summer. The cancellation of the group's Israeli gig is the latest in a string of cancellations of performances in Israel by artists and musicians of conscience.more
Students, boycott Israel's propagandist youth festival!
Electronic Intifada: 18 Aug 2010 - Once again, the Brand-Israel machine is in high gear, this time organizing a million-dollar international youth extravaganza in Eilat in September 2010 called "Funjoya." This unabashed propaganda exercise is sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Tourism and the Israeli Student Union, among other official and semi-official bodies.more
Expansion Of Settlements Continues
Palestine Monitor: 18 Aug 2010 - Despite an annouced settlement freeze, despite an imminent Quartet announcement, despite international pressure since the Gaza Flotilla, Israel declared it will build more in the West Bank. Twenty-three mobile school units will be placed in 12 settler communities, including Ofra, Elon Moreh, Itamar, Emmanuel, and Talmon, according to the Hebrew-language Ma'ariv newspaper. President Benyamin Netanyahu was behind the plan to build the housing for students of the Ariel University near Nablus. Netanyahu called an “urgent meeting” to discuss the settler's deprived education system. Attended by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Minister of Education Gideon Star and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, the meeting members sought to “prevent a political and diplomatic crisis of lack of classrooms in the West Bank.” The Palestinian National Initiative and Negotiation Affairs Department (NAD) condemned the proposal, and the Israeli Justice Department won't authorize it. "Educational need does not cancel the need to...more
Silwan: When David Becomes Goliath
Palestine Monitor: 18 Aug 2010 - Fakhri Abu Diab abruptly interrupts the interview as an alarming swell of whistling rises up from the streets. He stands up and walks out of the “Al Bustan Center” tent, a makeshift wooden structure draped in black canvas and covered with blown up photos depicting moments of the neighborhood's popular struggle in the occupied East Jerusalem area of Silwan, the supposed site of the City of King David, the David who faced off Goliath. Small children yell and the whistling amplifies as three, then four, Israeli military jeeps screech to a halt in front of the tent. A half-dozen soldiers in black ski masks and riot helmets jump out into the street, shouting to each other and pointing their M-16s as if in combat. “You see this situation?” Abu Diab asks rhetorically, “This is our life. This is the problem. It's like this everyday here now.” His eyes move from...more
No Room for Arab Students at Israeli Universities
Palestine Chronicle: 17 Aug 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth Measures designed to benefit Jewish school-leavers applying for places in Israeli higher education at the cost of their Arab counterparts have been criticised by lawyers and human rights groups. The new initiatives are viewed as part of an ongoing drive by right-wing politicians in Israel to demand “loyalty” from the country’s large minority population of Arab citizens. Critics have termed the measures, including a programme to provide financial aid exclusively to students who have served in the Israeli army, a form of “covert discrimination”. While most Jews are conscripted into the military, Israel’s Arab citizens are generally barred from serving. The issue came to a head last week over reports that Tel Aviv University had reserved a large number of dormitory places for discharged soldiers, leaving Arab students facing a severe shortage of university accommodation in the coming academic year. In addition, only former soldiers...more
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Engagement should start at home
Abdaljawad Hamayel, Ma’an News Agency 8/19/2010
‘Islam’ in the West has become perhaps the most controversial topic, arousing suspicion, prejudice and racism. The proposed Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan has provoked an intense debate in the U.S. specifically as the highly contested midterm election draws closer.
When Samuel P. Huntington wrote his thesis of the ‘clash of civilizations’ over a decade ago it was brushed off by many intellectual circles as simplistic, holistic and polemic. Today, nine years after the fall of the towers, two wars, and thousands killed a true understanding of Islam has not emerged among political circles or the wider publics in the West.
Islam as word has come to signify ‘the enemy’ for many in the West and Muslims as the manifestation of the threat and as the personification of the binary opposite of what it means to be ‘Western’. The genuine threat felt by many Americans of building a community center that seeks tolerance, interfaith dialogue and a liberal attitude in redefining Islam showcases exactly that. Not to mention the rise of the European right, the banning of minarets in Switzerland and a successive set of policies and controversies that have been conducive in igniting what can only be termed as ‘cultural wars’.
This is not to say that in a globalizing world, cultural misunderstandings and grievances are not bound to happen, but the current trend in the Western world is alarming, specifically when an Islamic center that seeks to build bridges is admonished, and attacked belligerently by some in the far right and is rejected astonishingly by 68% of Americans, as a recent CNN poll suggests. The political machine that has blown the story out of proportion is playing on this populist sentiment and is parallel to Al-Qaeda’s manipulation of anti-colonial, anti-American sentiment in pushing its own political agenda. more.. e-mail
Israeli Loyalty Oaths
Neve Gordon, CounterPunch 8/19/2010
And the State, Is It Loyal?
Several weeks ago, hundreds of students demonstrated in front of Ben-Gurion University’s administration building. About a third of the protestors were expressing their opposition to the government’s decision to attack the relief flotilla, while the remaining two thirds came to support the government. At one point the pro-government protesters began chanting: ‘No citizenship without loyalty!’
While loyalty is no doubt an important form of relationship both in the private and public spheres, unpacking its precise meaning in the Israeli context reveals a disturbing process whereby the democratic understanding of politics is being inverted.
As Israeli citizens, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman want us to prove our loyalty to the flag by supporting a policy of oppression and humiliation. We must champion the separation barrier in Bi’lin and in other places throughout the West Bank. We have to defend the brutal destruction of unrecognized Bedouin villages, and the ongoing land grab both inside Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We must support the checkpoints and the silent transfer in East Jerusalem. We are also expected to bow our heads and remain silent every time government ministers, Knesset members and public officials make racist statements against Arab citizens. We must support the neo-liberal policies that continuously oppress Israel’s poor, and we are obliged to give our blessing to the imprisonment of Gaza Strip’s 1.5 million residents. more.. e-mail
Top Israeli Generals and Intel Officials Oppose Striking Iran
Gareth Porter, CounterPunch 8/13/2010
What Jeffrey Goldberg Didn't Report
Pro-Israeli journalist Jeffrey Goldberg's article in "The Atlantic" magazine was evidently aimed at showing why the Barack Obama administration should worry that it risks an attack by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Iran in the coming months unless it takes a much more menacing line toward Iran's nuclear programme.
But the article provides new evidence that senior figures in the Israeli intelligence and military leadership oppose such a strike against Iran and believe that Netanyahu's apocalyptic rhetoric about an Iranian nuclear threat as an "existential threat" is unnecessary and self-defeating.
Although not reported by Goldberg, Israeli military and intelligence figures began to express their opposition to such rhetoric on Iran in the early 1990s, and Netanyahu acted to end such talk when he became prime minister in 1996.
The Goldberg article also reveals extreme Israeli sensitivity to any move by Obama to publicly demand that Israel desist from such a strike, reflecting the reality that the Israeli government could not go ahead with any strike without being assured of U.S. direct involvement in the war with Iran.
Goldberg argues that a likely scenario some months in the future is that Israeli officials will call their U.S. counterparts to inform them that Israeli planes are already on their way to bomb Iranian nuclear sites.
The Israelis would explain that they had "no choice", he writes, because "a nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat since Hitler to the physical survival of the Jewish people." more.. e-mail
West Bank boycott campaign impacting settlement economy
Electronic Intifada: 19 Aug 2010 - Grassroots Palestinian boycott campaigns across the occupied West Bank to take Israeli settlement products off the shelves of local stores have made an impact on the Israeli settlement economy, to the unease of the Israeli government, noted the Israeli daily Haaretz this week.more
Fighting expulsion and Western hypocrisy in Jerusalem
Electronic Intifada: 19 Aug 2010 - Earlier this summer, Israel arrested Muhammad Abu Tir, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and Hamas. Israel also ordered two other PLC members, Muhammad Totah and Ahmad Attoun and the Palestinian Authority's former minister of Jerusalem affairs Khaled Abu Arafeh to leave their home town of Jerusalem. Rahela Mizrahi writes for The Electronic Intifada.more
Al-Araqib residents fear fourth demolition
Electronic Intifada: 19 Aug 2010 - JERUSALEM (IPS) - On the eve of the start of Ramadan last week, Israeli police demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev desert. It was the third time within two weeks that the village had been razed. Unfazed, the Bedouin villagers immediately began rebuilding.more
India employing Israeli oppression tactics in Kashmir
Electronic Intifada: 19 Aug 2010 - The 2010 summer in the disputed area of Jammu and Kashmir, administered by India, has been marked by popular protests by Kashmiris and crackdowns by India's military. The stream of violence has left more than fifty dead, mostly young protestors. The situation in Kashmir has some parallels with Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, even borrowing the term intifada to describe the uprising. But the connection is more than analogy. Jimmy Johnson analyzes for The Electronic Intifada.more
Justifying Pogroms and Infanticide
Palestine Monitor: 19 Aug 2010 - With thick beards, wide-brimmed hats, black suits and long curls, almost 300 rabbis and settlers filled the Conference for the Independence of Torah last night in Jerusalem's Ramada Renaissance Hotel. From wrinkled elders to pimply adolescents, they all came to proclaim rabbinical autonomy from the law. Rabbis should be able to argue within their religious teachings without legal consequence - even if they call for blood. “There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults,” wrote Rabbi Yitzhar Shapira in The King's Torah. Photo from 2008 rally, by Rita Castelnuovo. The rabbis congregated after an investigation focused on the publication and promotion of a book called Torat haMelekh or The King's Torah , allegedly inciting violent settler attacks in the West Bank. “It's just disgusting,”...more
Trapped at Ground Zero
Palestine Chronicle: 19 Aug 2010 - By Ramzy Baroud The controversy over the right of Muslim Americans to build community center and mosque a short distance from the site of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is both strange and outright inappropriate. It should never be necessary for law-abiding Americans to justify exercising their right to freely practice their own religion. This right is in accordance to the First Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights that has constituted the foundation of American freedom for over 200 years. But in the age of Guantanamo-like gulags filled with bearded Muslim men, such principles are disregarded. The very ideals that have been celebrated in the United States for generations are being trampled upon, violated and abused. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can reference American ideals and speak of democracy while justifying the peculiar elections in Afghanistan, or the bewildering sectarian "democracy" underway in Iraq. However, when...more
Hamas Must Re-brand
Palestine Chronicle: 19 Aug 2010 - By Stuart Littlewood – London In the five years since I became interested in the conflict in Palestine, only two things of positive note have happened in the Occupied Territories. The Palestinians held full and fair elections in 2006 to establish themselves as a democracy… and much good it did them. And in Gaza these amazing people have resolutely survived a vicious land and sea blockade imposed by Israel and aided and abetted by the western powers as soon as those elections put Hamas into government. They have resisted almost daily air strikes and armed intrusions for four years and courageously withstood the cowardly Israeli blitzkrieg of 20 months ago. And during all that time they have endured unending barbarity and betrayal, which would have brought a lesser nation to its knees. They have come through. I often wonder if the British could have clung on through the London blitz,...more
And the State, is It Loyal?
Palestine Chronicle: 19 Aug 2010 - By Neve Gordon Several weeks ago, hundreds of students demonstrated in front of Ben-Gurion University's administration building. About a third of the protestors were expressing their opposition to the government’s decision to attack the relief flotilla, while the remaining two thirds came to support the government. At one point the pro-government protesters began chanting: ‘No citizenship without loyalty!’ While loyalty is no doubt an important form of relationship both in the private and public spheres, unpacking its precise meaning in the Israeli context reveals a disturbing process whereby the democratic understanding of politics is being inverted. As Israeli citizens, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman want us to prove our loyalty to the flag by supporting a policy of oppression and humiliation. We must champion the separation barrier in Bi’lin and in other places throughout the West Bank. We have to defend the brutal destruction of unrecognized...more
Playing the Never Again Card, Again
Palestine Chronicle: 19 Aug 2010 - By Jeff Gates The phony intelligence used to induce our March 2003 invasion of Iraq has been dusted off. This time it's being deployed to take us into Iran. Same scam. Same storyline. Same fraud—even featuring some of the same players. Except that this time around their deception lacks the broader context required to gain traction for their phony content. That key difference makes today’s perpetrators far more transparent—for those willing to look. Those foisting on us this latest fraud also face another challenge: Americans now realize it was Israel and its advocates who fixed that false intelligence around a Zionist agenda. That realization adds combustibility to the facts now fueling Israel’s fast-fading legitimacy. Each week brings new insights that undermine generally accepted truths about 911 and our response to that mass murder on U.S. soil. As the costs continue to rise in both blood and treasure, the credibility of...more
The Secrets in Israel's Archives
Palestine Chronicle: 19 Aug 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth History may be written by the victors, as Winston Churchill is said to have observed, but the opening up of archives can threaten a nation every bit as much as the unearthing of mass graves. That danger explains a decision quietly taken last month by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to extend by an additional 20 years the country’s 50-year rule for the release of sensitive documents. The new 70-year disclosure rule is the government’s response to Israeli journalists who have been seeking through Israel’s courts to gain access to documents that should already be declassified, especially those concerning the 1948 war, which established Israel, and the 1956 Suez crisis. The state’s chief archivist says many of the documents “are not fit for public viewing” and raise doubts about Israel’s “adherence to international law”, while the government warns that greater transparency will “damage foreign...more
Isn't Tolerance an American Virtue?
Palestine Chronicle: 19 Aug 2010 - By George S. Hishmeh - Washington, D.C. Observing the shameful and venomous debate raging in the US over plans for a Muslim civic centre and a mosque in downtown Manhattan two blocks from Ground Zero, I could not help but recall the time when my father took me to visit Syria and Jordan while I was a student at the American University of Beirut. One of the most striking revelations for me, as a Christian, was seeing the tomb where the head of John the Baptist was said to lie inside the famous Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Many years later, after I moved to the US, I took my family on an extensive tour of Spain. My youngest child, Leila, was fatigued by the number of churches, mosques, synagogues and other historic buildings we visited. I could only convince her to make one more sightseeing and educational stop when I...more
Friday, August 20, 2010
Peace talks in the shadow of demolitions
The Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Ma’an News Agency 8/20/2010
While President Barack Obama pressures Palestinians to re-engage in direct peace talks, and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu loftily counsels President Mahmoud Abbas not to miss the opportunity, recent demolitions within the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel continue unabated and unaddressed.
According to the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, July and August have marked the highest number of demolitions this year. As of the end of July, OCHA reported that Israeli forces destroyed over 230 structures effectively displacing and/or affecting over 1,100 Palestinians, including 400 children since the beginning of 2010. Over 50 percent of that destruction took place in July.
OCHA further commented in its latest report that the Israeli Civil Administration would be stepping up demolitions in the West Bank as per orders by the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
In the Jordan Valley, Israeli forces have demolished the village of Al-Farisiya twice within the span of 10 days; first on 19 July and again on 5 August.
The demolitions resulted in the destruction of 116 structures and the displacement of 129 people, 63 of whom were children. In the second round of demolitions, 10 structures not previously harmed were demolished along with 27 structures and materials provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Israel has flagrantly disavowed its peace rhetoric by issuing additional demolition orders to be meted out on 15-16 August. -- See also: UN OCHA Report (PDF) more.. e-mail
Gazans Stitching Together a Living, Somehow
Mel Frykberg, Antiwar.com 8/21/2010
GAZA CITY – Just off Omar Al-Mukhtar Street, Gaza City’s main thoroughfare, in a narrow, sandy alley way is a little second-hand clothing shop. In the dimly lit store, with only intermittent electricity for some hours a day at best, sits a single battered and aging sewing machine.
This is where Khaled Nassan, a father of four children, tries in vain to eke out a living repairing and selling second-hand clothing. Nassan charges the equivalent of 25 cents on average to repair an item. Gazans can’t afford to pay the dollar it used to cost. Nassan is lucky if he takes home 20 dollars a day.
"There is almost no business. I’m surviving on about 500 dollars a month, and I have several children at university. My family is dependent on aid from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Without them we would not survive," Nassan tells IPS.
Prior to Israel’s systematic strangulation of the coastal territory (which began during the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada or uprising in 2000 but peaked with its hermetic sealing in 2007 when Hamas took over) Nassan had a clothing factory which employed 250 Gazans who in turn supported nearly 3,000 dependents.
"I used to travel to Israel regularly for business to meet my Israeli business partners and visit stores where my clothing was sold. I would also purchase material there to bring back to Gaza but now I can’t import any material," says Nassan.
"Previously my profits ranged around 20,000 dollars monthly. I used to give my kids five dollars daily pocket money; now they are lucky if they get 50 cents...." more.. e-mail
The Israel Lobby Swims The Atlantic
Grant Smith, Antiwar.com 8/18/2010
Jeffrey Goldberg’s current cover story in The Atlantic, “The Point of No Return,” achieved massive distribution across a broad spectrum of old and new media in the United States. Some observers – including Glenn Greenwald in “How Propagandists Function” – noted how well the methodology and message of Goldberg’s piece serves the Israeli government’s efforts to push U.S. military action against Iran. Gareth Porter views it as part of an overarching strategy to keep the U.S. from restoring productive relations with Iran. A huge trove of newly declassified documents subpoenaed during a Senate investigation reveals how Israel’s lobby pitched, promoted, and paid to have content placed in America’s top news magazines with overseas funding. The Atlantic (and others) received hefty rewards for trumpeting Israel’s most vital – but damaging – PR initiatives across America.
Unlike today, back in the 1960s Israel and its lobby were battling mightily to draw American attention away from the entire subject of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. A secret executive report [.pdf] subpoenaed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigation into the American Zionist Council, or AZC (AIPAC’s parent organization), reveals the lobby’s careful tracking of and satisfaction with most mainstream U.S. media coverage about the Dimona nuclear weapons facility:
“The nuclear reactor story inspired comment from many sources: editorial writers, columnists, science writers and cartoonists. Most of the press seemed finally to accept the thesis that the reactor was being built for peaceful purposes and not for bombs. Some columnists felt that the U.S. should have awaited more information before ‘ventilating its suspicions’. Drew Pearson’s syndicated column justified Israel’s secrecy; William Laurence in the New York Times stressed Israel’s peaceful intent, in contrast to Arthur Krock who wanted the reactor placed under international safeguards. Arab protagonists in this country – including those in the State Department who raised all the fuss initially – used the occasion to try to cast doubt on Israel’s friendship toward the U.S.” -- See also: Declassified Senate Investigation Files Reveal Clandestine Israeli PR Campaign in America more.. e-mail
Israel refuses to lift ban on family unification
Electronic Intifada: 20 Aug 2010 - Jerusalem-born Firas al-Maraghi has been holding a hunger strike outside the Israeli embassy in Berlin, Germany, since 26 July, protesting a decision by the Israeli government to prevent his newborn daughter from being registered as a Jerusalem resident.more
Youth re-imagine life through short films
Electronic Intifada: 20 Aug 2010 - Palestinian youth premiered nine short films at public screenings in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip last week. Forty youths worked in small groups during two parallel three-week workshops conducted in the al-Aroub and Jabaliya refugee camps during the month of July. Palestinian and international trainers facilitated the workshops through the participatory media program Voices Beyond Walls, in partnership with local youth community organizations.more
Palestinians face movement restrictions during Ramadan
Electronic Intifada: 20 Aug 2010 - AZZUN ATMA, occupied northern West Bank (IPS) - For seven years Majda Abdul Qader Sheikh, 38, has not been allowed to visit the home of her parents, just a few hundred meters from her house. "I tried to get a special visitor's permit for a quick visit during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan but I was refused," says Sheikh, mother of seven children. "I have had no problems with the Israeli authorities, nor am I considered a security threat," she added.more
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Curtis Doebbler, Ma’an News Agency 8/21/2010
The agreement of the Ramallah-based Fatah leadership to resume direct talks with Israel on US terms is a capitulation to the illusions of wealth and security that are being offered.
The US has enhanced its financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority in recent months. It has offered to pay salaries, to turn a blind eye on PA abuses against Palestinian prisoners, and even reportedly to finance an American studies center at An-Najah National University in Nablus.
None of these enticements have come without implicit expectations from the US. The most immediately thing the US expects—sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly—is that the Palestinians will start direct negotiations with Israel; the US has now gotten its way.
The Fatah leadership in Ramallah has obliged. After first arresting or driving its critics out of Palestine and trying to silence them, it has now agreed to resume direct negotiations with Israel. Moreover, it has agreed to do so on the terms prescribed by the US and Israel in Washington, in the shadow of the US capitol building. This building is home to the US Congress which pumps billions of dollars into Israel each year; money that is used to acquire weapons to kill Palestinians.
The weapons that killed more than a thousand civilians in Gaza last year and more recently unarmed activists on a boat trying to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance to Gaza are paid for with American money.
The settlements that Israel continues to support and build are paid for by American money and with contributions from America’s European allies.
The attacks that Israeli soldiers carry out daily in Gaza and the West Bank are paid for with American money. more.. e-mail
Declassified Senate Investigation Files Reveal Clandestine Israeli PR Campaign in America
Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy 8/18/2010
Declassified files from a Senate investigation into Israeli-funded covert public relations and lobbying activity in the United States were released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on July 23rd, 2010. The subpoenaed documents reveal Israel's clandestine programs for "cultivation of editors," the "stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines" as well as U.S. reporting about sensitive subjects such as the Dimona nuclear weapons facility.
Documents are now available for download from http://IRmep.org/ila/azc include:
Dimona (excerpt): "The nuclear reactor story inspired comment from many sources; editorial writers, columnists, science writers and cartoonists. Most of the press seemed finally to accept the thesis that the reactor was being built for peaceful purposes and not for bombs." http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf
Content placement and promotion (excerpt): "The Atlantic Monthly in its October issue carried the outstanding Martha Gellhorn piece on the Arab refugees, which made quite an impact around the country. We arranged for the distribution of 10,000 reprints to public opinion molders in all categories… Interested friends are making arrangements with the Atlantic for another reprint of the Gellhorn article to be sent to all 53,000 persons whose names appear in Who's Who in America…Our Committee is now planning articles for the women's magazines for the trade and business publications."
Pressure campaigns (excerpt): "It can be said that the press of the nation…has by and large shown sympathy and understanding of Israel's position. There are, of course, exceptions, notably the Scripps-Howard chain where we still need to achieve a 'break-through,' the Pulliam chain (where some progress has been made) and some locally-owned papers." -- See also: The AZC's internal "Information and Public Relations Department" reports more.. e-mail
Behind a Shabak squeeze
Mya Guarnieri, Ma’an News Agency 8/20/2010
Alarms sounded through Israel’s leftist camps when Jewish-Israeli activist Yonatan Shapira was summoned for an interview with the country's General Security Services, known by the Hebrew acronym Shabak.
Shapira's questioning followed the summoning of a middle-aged Arabic teacher, a religious leader, and a high school drop-out—none of whom were involved in political activities, and all seem unlikely candidates for security interviews.
Though it was the detention of a Jewish activist which raised eyebrows, it was the last in a long trail of signs that Israel's security apparatus was clamping down, and some say marching the country away from the democratic process.
The string of summonses, targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Israeli left in general, was preceded by a landmark case: the May detention and arrest of Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and director of Ittijah—a platform for local Arab NGOs and an organization dedicated to empowering Palestinians in the country.
Mahkoul and respected political activist and businessman Omar Said were detained at the same time and accused of spying for the Lebanese political party and militant group Hezbollah. The two were indicted for espionage, amongst other crimes—charges both deny.
Palestinians in Israel decried the arrests as political persecution, and the Israeli left tuned in, realizing a trend of silencing dissent following the interrogation of Shapira.
Analyzing a trend
Abeer Baker, an attorney with Adalah, an organization dedicated to defending and promoting the human rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, noted the Shabak squeeze on persons identified as 'dissenters' was not uncommon. more.. e-mail
Palestinian factions have mixed feelings over talks
Palestine Monitor: 21 Aug 2010 - Mustafa Barghouthi, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, described Clinton's statement that there would be no "pre-conditions" to talks as effectively acquiescing to Israel's demands, a move he described as "shameful." Clinton said she believed all issues could be resolved within one year, seemingly offering some reassurance to Abbas, however Barghouthi noted that even this was not given as a deadline. Predicting that the talks would be a "bigger failure" than Camp David, Barghouthi told Ma'an that negotiations would provide a cover for Israeli violations on the ground. The independent lawmaker said Palestinians need an "immediate alternative strategy" to build their own "facts on the ground" by unilaterally declaring a state on all occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem. An earlier statement by the official said "going to direct talks with Israel without halting settlement and setting references will lead to a larger and more dangerous failure than the Camp...more
U.S. support for Israel is decreasing, new poll shows
Palestine Monitor: 21 Aug 2010 - American support for Israel is waning, a poll presented to senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem last week revealed. The survey was carried out by pollster and strategist Stanley Greenberg and sponsored by the American Jewish organization the Israel Project, which organizes and executes pro-Israel public relations campaigns with a focus on North America. Greenberg, along with Israel Project heads, presented the poll's findings to senior Israeli officials, including President Shimon Peres, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, as well as officials from the Prime Minister's office. One of the questions that the poll presented was "Does the U.S. need to support Israel?" In August of 2009, 63% of Americans polled said that the U.S. does need to support Israel. In June of this year, 58% of respondents shared the same view; by July only 51% of respondents said the U.S. needed to support Israel. Another question posed by the pole was "...more
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Israeli army’s female recruits denounce treatment of Palestinians
Harriet Sherwood, The Observer, Israeli Occupation Archive 8/22/2010
It was a single word scrawled on a wall at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that unlocked something deep inside Inbar Michelzon, two years after she had completed compulsory military service in the Israeli Defence Force.
The word was “occupation”. “I really felt like someone was speaking the unspoken,” she recalled last week in a Tel Aviv cafe. “It was really shocking to me. There was graffiti saying, ‘end the occupation’. And I felt like, OK, now I can talk about what I saw.”
Michelzon became one of a handful of former Israeli servicewomen who have spoken out about their military experiences, a move that has brought accusations of betrayal and disloyalty. It is impossible to know how representative their testimonies are, but they provide an alternative picture of the “most moral army in the world”, as the IDF describes itself.
Concerns about Israeli army culture were raised last week following the publication on Facebook of photographs of a servicewoman posing alongside blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinians. The images were reminiscent of the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq. But the former soldier, Eden Abergil, said she didn’t understand what was wrong with the pictures, which were described by the IDF as “ugly and callous”.
Israel is unique in enlisting women at the age of 18 into two years of compulsory military service. The experience can be brutalising for the 10% who serve in the occupied territories, as Michelzon did.
“I left the army with a ticking bomb in my belly,” she said. “I felt I saw the backyard of Israel. I saw something that people don’t speak about. It’s almost like I know a dirty secret of a nation and I need to speak out.” -- See also: Source: The Observer more.. e-mail
Israel’s Hidden Hands in Lebanon: Who Killed Hariri?`
Esam Al-Amin, Intifada: Voice of Palestine, Axis of Logic 8/19/2010
On Valentine’s Day in 2005, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri left in his motorcade along the seaside highway, cruising towards his mansion. As the motorcade slowed down in front of the St. George Hotel in downtown Beirut, a huge explosion of a parked Mitsubishi pick-up truck detonated at 12:56 PM, killing him along with 22 others including his entourage, bodyguards and some passers-by.
Ever since that day the polarization in Lebanon has deepened between the pro-Western forces led by Hariri’s son Saad, his Sunni-led coalition with Druze and pro-American Christian allies, and the pro-Syrian block of the Shiite parties led by Hezbollah and their Christian allies of the Free Patriotic Front. Soon after, the pro-Western parties accused Syria of being behind the crime and immediately embarked on massive demonstrations and pursued the intervention of international powers in order to dislodge Syria from Lebanon after a twenty-nine year military presence.
Less than one month into George W. Bush’s second term, the U.S. president took advantage of the incident by applying immense pressure on the Syrian regime, which eventually culminated in a U.N. Security Council resolution on April 7, 2005 appointing an international tribunal to investigate Hariri’s assassination. From day one the tribunal, led by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, accused Syria of being behind the assassination. The enormous political and public pressures resulted in Syria’s withdrawal by the end of April.
The politicization of the UN investigation was in full swing when the tribunal issued several reports accusing the Syrian regime, based on non-credible witnesses. It took four years for the tribunal to admit that much of “the evidence” used against Syria was fabricated by false witnesses, some of them even tied to Israeli intelligence (Abdelbasit Bani Odeh) or the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies (Ahmad Mari‘e and Zuhair Siddiq). -- See also: Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah - August 03, 2010 - Full Speech with English Voiceover more.. e-mail
A case of decency deficit: Israel’s sickness goes beyond one soldier and her Facebook pictures
Lawrence Davidson, Redress 8/22/2010
It is true that in any given population there will always be a range of decency. Some might use the term morality instead of decency, but morality is loaded with too many disputed meanings. The term decency, hopefully, has a broader recognizable footprint. At the lowest end of any range of decency are those who are so egocentric or perverted that they not only act in ways that are harmful to others, but they do so as a form of enjoyment.
In extreme cases, such people usually end up in prison, or even asylums for the criminally insane. They have committed serial murders or some other form of horrible physical abuse. They have robbed their elderly neighbours for the fun of it or set fire to the local hospital or what have you.
Yet, it is a strange quirk of our way of doing things that such degenerates can actually find a place in society were there is an accepted scope for their particular attitudes and actions. That place would have to bring them into contact with people outside the community and toward whom their society is hostile, a place where the "rules of engagement", as the phrase goes, is much more flexible and fuzzy than back home. That place is the military in times of war. This is not to say that every soldier is suffering from a severe case of "decency deficit". However, if one has been in the military, particularly in a combat environment, one will most likely recognize the type. While everyone else is scared and counting the days until they can get out of an essentially inhuman environment, these people are enjoying themselves.
There has been a recent case of moderate decency deficiency involving a 20-year-old female Israeli soldier by the name of Eden Abargil. Ms Abargil had her picture taken as she "guarded" Palestinian prisoners who were bound and blindfolded.... more.. e-mail
hard days in Ramadan: no power, no water, soaring heats
In Gaza: 22 Aug 2010 - *photo by Emad Badwan DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip, Aug 22, 2010 (IPS) – “It’s been days without electricity and water. We can’t do anything, and it’s unbearably hot now.” Abu Fouad, 83, speaks of the power cuts plaguing all of the Gaza Strip. While Palestinians in Gaza have grown accustomed to power outages, a combined result of the destroyed power plant, bombed by Israeli in 2006, and the siege imposed by Israel and the international community, the blackouts have increased in frequency and duration. For years, Palestinians in Gaza have been subject to power outages, ranging from six hours to 14 hours a day. More recently, the blackouts last entire days. The main reason is a reported lack of fuel for the plant, fuel which since November 2009 the Palestinian Authority has been responsible for buying and transferring to Gaza. Making matters worse, Gaza is experiencing a wave of intolerable...more
Ramadan in Aida Camp: Sitting, Waiting, Existing
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Aug 2010 - By Rich Wiles From the barred windows of a four storey house string runs across the narrow main street of Aida Camp, well above head height, to the caged fence atop the walls of Aida Camp Basic Boys School. Small plastic Palestinian flags hang down limply from the string. The outside walls of the school are adorned with political graffiti, and its two white metal doors are scarred by bullet holes. Two towers dominate this stretch of the street. One is tall and thin, and green lights glow from its minaret. The second tower, at the end of the street, looks much sturdier and is without damage from gunfire, unlike Aida Camp’s mosque. No lights glow from this tower and it is impossible to tell if anyone is inside or not. The small windows in the bullet proof glass at the top of the tower are covered by thick caging...more
Ramadan Kareem from Netanyahu and Obama
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Aug 2010 - By Jeff Halper The day before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began, at 2:30 in the morning, workers sent by the Israeli authorities, protected by dozens of police, destroyed the tombstones in the last portion of the Mamilla cemetery, an historic Muslim burial ground with graves going back to the 7th Century, hitherto left untouched. The government of Israel has always been fully cognizant of the sanctity and historic significance of the site. Already in 1948, when control of the cemetery reverted to Israel, the Israeli Religious Affairs Ministry recognized Mamilla "to be one of the most prominent Muslim cemeteries, where seventy thousand Muslim warriors of [Saladin's] armies are interred along with many Muslim scholars. Israel will always know to protect and respect this site." For all that, and despite (proper) Israeli outrage when Jewish cemeteries are desecrated anywhere in the world, the dismantlement of the Mamilla cemetery has...more
Direct Negotiations and the Challenge Ahead
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Aug 2010 - By John V. Whitbeck The U.S. government has now announced that direct Israeli-Palestinian will resume after a September 2 launch ceremony at the White House. In making this announcement, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated that this new round of negotiations should be "without preconditions", as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has insisted they should be. However, she also stated that both Mr. Netanyahu and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have agreed that the negotiations should be subject to a one-year time limit, which was not Mr. Netanyahu's preference. Almost 17 years after the "Oslo" Declaration of Principles, with its five-year deadline for reaching a permanent status agreement, was euphorically signed on the White House lawn, why should anyone take this new "deadline" seriously or see any reason for hope in it? Throughout the long years of the perpetual "peace process", deadlines have been consistently and predictably missed. Such failures...more
Post-Zionism - When You Say No
Palestine Chronicle: 21 Aug 2010 - By Uri Avnery Before the victory of feminism, there was a popular Israeli song in which the boy asks the girl: 'When you say No, what do you mean?' This question has already been answered. Now I am more and more tempted to ask: 'When you say Zionism, what do you mean?' That is also my answer when asked whether I am a Zionist. When you say Zionist, what do you mean? Lately, associations for the defense of Zionism have been springing up like mushrooms after rain. Poisonous mushrooms. All kinds of American Jewish multi-millionaires – many of them Casino kings, brothel moguls, money launderers and tax evaders - are financing “patriotic” Israeli groups in Israel, to fight the holy war for “Zionism”. The assault takes place along all the fronts. Jewish organizations aim at cleansing the universities of post-Zionists. They threaten to induce other donors to withhold their donations,...more
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Israel, Big Money and Obama
Margaret Kimberley, CounterPunch 8/20/2010
“Barack Obama has established a strong record as a true friend of Israel, a stalwart defender of Israel’s security, and an effective advocate of strengthening the steadfast U.S.-Israel relationship, publicly stating that Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state should never be challenged.” – Lester Crown
Lester Crown is a Chicagoan with a net worth of four billion dollars. He owns a large stake in and is a former president and board chairman of defense contractor General Dynamics. He also has held large holdings in Hilton Hotels, Maytag (now Whirlpool), and the Chicago Bulls and New York Yankees.
Crown was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s candidacy first for the U.S. Senate, and then for president. He is one of the first and one of his most prodigious fundraisers. As the Obama presidential campaign website says, the candidate “… systematically built a sophisticated, and in many ways quite conventional, money machine.” The Crowns were an integral part of that machinery. One of Lester Crown’s children, James Crown, personally bundled $500,000 in campaign contributions for Obama and served as chairman of the Illinois fund raising effort. Lester Crown and his wife Renee hosted a fundraiser for Obama in 2007 at their home. The event invitation made it clear; their support for Obama was due to his support of Israel, its “right to exist“ and his willingness to strike militarily against Iran.
Every American president has wealthy individuals and families dedicated to getting them elected. The reliance of candidates for public office on the largesse of the rich may be common and expected, but it is nonetheless extremely dangerous. This corruption insures access for the rich, which guarantees that their interests are at the top of any president’s agenda, usually at the expense of what is good for everyone else. more.. e-mail
Police threaten freedom of expression
Palestinian National Initiative (PNI, Ma’an News Agency 8/26/2010
We have followed with great concern the increasing external pressure, especially from the US and Israel, on the Palestinian Authority leadership to shift from indirect negotiations which have not resulted in any progress to direct negotiations without clear and binding terms of reference regarding a complete halt of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory - including in Jerusalem.
A conference in Ramallah took place in order to announce the firm stand against engaging in any type of negotiation with Israel. A number of political parties such as the Palestinian National Initiative, Popular and Democratic Front, the People’s Party and independent figures, including businessmen Munib Al-Masri, Mamdouh Al-Aker, Hani Al-Masri and several others.
However, the conference was abruptly ended as it was stormed. The PNI stated that the actions that took place during the conference, such as turning off the electricity and the assault on participants ultimately threaten the freedom of expression, opinion and any attempt at promoting democracy.
The party demanded that the PA condemn the actions and bring those responsible to justice as it does not serve the public interest. Actions like these only increase the division between Palestinians at a time when we are in great need of national unity.
PNI Secretary-General Mustafa Barghouthi condemned the use of violence against the conference and its participants. The actions of certain people including the actions of some elements of security structures represent a threat to freedom of expression, human rights and democracy. more.. e-mail
The Power of Storytelling
Wajahat Ali, CounterPunch 8/20/2010
Creating a New Future for American Muslims
In 7th-century Arabia, the storyteller was valued more than the swordsman. The audience sat on the floor surrounding the gifted orator as he captivated the eager listeners with beautiful poetry narrating their history. In the 21st century, the art form may have evolved to include motion pictures, TV shows, theater productions, novels, and standup comedy, but they all serve the same function: storytelling.
Ideas and principles are most effectively communicated and transmitted when they are couched in a narrative. Stories, whether they concern the etiquette and biography of prophets or the trials and tribulations of America’s founding fathers, inform and influence a cultural citizenry of its values and identity.
Stories of the Prophet Muhammad most effectively communicate the Quran’s eloquent exhortation to tolerate and embrace diversity: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise [each other])” (49:13). The Prophet’s cordial diplomacy and communication with the Christian, Abyssinian King yielded one of the first alliances of the young Muslim community. Furthermore, the Prophet displayed unconditional love for his diverse companions, who comprised the gamut of Arab society including former slaves, orphans, widows, wealthy dignitaries, and non-Arabs.
Similarly, the story of a biracial man with an Arabic name and a Kenyan father elected to the highest office in the land reminds the world that indeed America can live up to its cherished principles of freedom and racial equality, and her citizens are capable of reflecting a magnanimous and egalitarian spirit bereft of prejudice. more.. e-mail
Why Americans should oppose Zionism
Electronic Intifada: 26 Aug 2010 - More and more people are starting to pay attention to Israel's crimes and indignities. In so doing, more and more people are questioning the origin and meaning of Zionism -- that is, the very idea of a legally ethnocentric Israel. Steven Salaita comments.more
Veolia whitewashes illegal light rail project
Electronic Intifada: 26 Aug 2010 - Last week the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the consortium holding the contract to the controversial Jerusalem light rail project surveyed city residents on whether they would feel comfortable sharing rail service with Palestinians. The bad publicity around the survey -- described as racist by even members of the Israeli government -- is an ironic turn of events. Adri Nieuwhof reports for The Electronic Intifada.more
PA forces raid meeting as dissent grows
Electronic Intifada: 25 Aug 2010 - Palestinian Authority forces today forcibly dispersed a meeting organized by Palestinian parties opposed to the Palestine Liberation Organization's scheduled direct talks with Israel. The meeting was held at the same time as a conference in Gaza City, where officials of various Palestinian parties also discussed their opposition to the PLO's plans for direct talks.more
Math program taps potential of young students in Gaza
Electronic Intifada: 25 Aug 2010 - AL-ZAHARA, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - In a bright and spacious classroom, with plants overflowing in the courtyard outside, six students lean forward at their desks looking at the 10-digit addition they are asked to make. One student stands before the numbers on the chalkboard and a red and yellow-beaded abacus. But her attention is on the abacus she visualizes in her mind.more
Church boycott calls ring louder
Electronic Intifada: 25 Aug 2010 - The world's churches have long been one of the battlegrounds of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. With the strengthening of the BDS movement, a number of churches across the globe have seen the boycott of Israeli and Israeli settlement goods hotting up, and recent weeks have witnessed some notable victories.more
Palestine’s students excel in new maths program
In Gaza: 24 Aug 2010 - AL ZAHARA, Central Gaza Strip, Aug 24, 2010 (IPS) – In a bright and spacious classroom, with plants overflowing in the courtyard outside, six students lean forward at their desks looking at the 10-digit addition they are asked to make. One student stands before the numbers on the chalkboard and a red and yellow-beaded abacus. But her attention is on the abacus she visualises in her mind. The Al Zahara private school in central Gaza is the first to incorporate a specialised programme for mental development based on math computations . “It originated in Malaysia in 1993,” says Majed al-Bari, director of the school and the first to bring the programme to Palestine. “The Universal Concept Mental Arithmetic System (UCMAS) was developed to use both sides of the brain,” says Bari. “The analytical left side and the creative right side.” Using a simple abacus, the UCMAS programme combines visual with textile,...more
The Stink of Control
Palestine Monitor: 26 Aug 2010 - Sewage thickens the waters of the once pristine Zomar river in northwestern West Bank. With no nearby treatment plants, sludge like this coats the lands, poisoning wells and aquifers, polluting fields and infecting children. “There is no real life there - it is just waste water,” said Iyad Aburdeieneh, Palestinian Deputy Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East. Called The Alexander in Israel, the rancid Zomar is not unique in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Twenty-five million cubic meters of untreated sewage - or five Zomar rivers - leak into the West Bank's environment every year, according to the World Bank. Wadi Nar in the Kidron Valley. Photo by Bethlehem University, Water and Soil Environmental Research Unit Israel has allowed the Palestinians to build only one waste water treatment facility in the West Bank - and let others deteriorate. “To even dig and line a septic tank, you need...more
Refusal to engage in direct negotiations without a clear settlement freeze
Palestine Monitor: 25 Aug 2010 - We have followed with great concern the increasing external pressure, especially from the U.S. and Israel, on the P.A. leadership to shift from indirect negotiations which have not resulted in any progress to direct negotiations without clear and binding terms of reference regarding a complete halt of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory - including in Jerusalem. A conference in Ramallah took place in order to announce the firm stand against engaging in any type of negotiation with Israel. A number of political parties such as the Palestinian National Initiative, Popular and Democratic Front, the People's Party and independent figures, including businessman Munib al-Masri, Dr. Mamdouh Al-Aker, Hani Al-Masri and several others. However, the conference was abruptly ended as it was stormed. The PNI stated that the actions that took place during the conference, such as turning off the electricity and the assault on participants ultimately threatens the...more
Palestine Chronicle: 26 Aug 2010 - By Ramzy Baroud The soldiers of the US 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division hollered as they made their way into Kuwait. 'We won,' they claimed. 'It’s over.' But what exactly did they win? And is the war really over? It seems we are once again walking into the same trap, the same nonsensical assumptions of wars won, missions accomplished, troops withdrawn, and jolly soldiers carrying cardboard signs of heart-warming messages like "Lindsay & Austin ... Dad’s coming home." While much of the media is focused on the logistics of the misleading withdrawal of the "last combat brigade" from Iraq on August 19 - some accentuating the fact that the withdrawal is happening two weeks ahead of the August 31 deadline - most of us are guilty of forgetting Iraq and its people. When the economy began to take center stage, we completely dropped the war off our list of grievances....more
Declassified Documents Expose Lobby Influence
Palestine Chronicle: 26 Aug 2010 - By Stephen Lendman James Petras' powerful 2006 book titled, 'The Power of Israel in the United States' explained the enormous pro-Israeli Jewish Lobby influence on US Middle East policies. Often harming American interests, they're pursued anyway because of its grassroots and high-level control over government, the business community, academia, the clergy and mass media since at least the 1960s. Intolerant of opposing views, they're suppressed for its own agenda, funded by PR propaganda domestically and overseas, America's top publications paid off to go along, now revealed by a secret document subpoenaed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (FRC) investigation into the American Zionist Council (AZC), AIPAC's parent lobbying arm. "Between 1962 - 1963, the FRC subpoenaed" AZC's internal documents, examining their activities as "registered agents of foreign principals," learning that over $5 million in tax exempt (and perhaps overseas funds) "had been laundered through the Jewish Agency's American Section into...more
Five Books: Stories to Shape Life
Palestine Chronicle: 25 Aug 2010 - By Susan Abulhawa (Born to refugees of the 1967 Six Day War, Susan Abulhawa is the author of the novel Mornings In Jenin, the profits of which partly go to the children's charity she founded, Playgrounds for Palestine. She chooses five books about Palestine by Palestinian writers.) My Father Was A Freedom Fighter, by Ramzy Baroud This is a wonderful book. It’s a history book, a work of literature and a memoir. Ramzy Baroud is a political commentator and historian, the editor of the Palestine Chronicle and of a book called Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts Of The Israeli Invasion, about the events of 2002. He grew up in the Gaza refugee camp and is very familiar with the psychology of the people in the camps – to this day they’re holding out hope and still dreaming of going home. He captures this delightfully and his descriptions of place and people...more
Middle East Sound of Music
Palestine Chronicle: 25 Aug 2010 - By Sherri Muzher I don't know where I'm going But, I sure know where I've been Hanging on the promises In songs of yesterday An' I've made up my mind I ain't wasting no more time But, here I go again Those lyrics belong to Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again On My Own," and might as well be the theme song for the Palestinian Authority ahead of Mideast peace talks While direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis are welcome, actions speak louder than words. The continuation of Israeli settlements speaks volumes. Physical separation and lack of contiguity has nullified the hopes of two states living side by side. One can only conclude that the talks merely present photo-op for another U.S president and more time to plant more facts on the ground for the Israeli government. Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard University and co-author of “The Israeli Lobby and U.S....more
Abbas' Position Isn't as Weak as It May Appear
Palestine Chronicle: 25 Aug 2010 - By George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C. Palestinians will begin heading home a year from now to reclaim property in their homeland, which they have not seen for 62 years since the state of Israel was established there. They will be welcomed at the border by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and thousands of cheering Israelis. Much to their joy, the Palestinians will discover that Lieberman has relinquished his house in a colony on the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. But they will have to wait and see whether their own homes, in Haifa or Nazareth for example, will still be standing, along with their traditional lemon, olive and fig trees and grape vines, which their parents have longed to see since the beginning of their tortuous exile in neighbouring Arab countries and elsewhere. More importantly, they will not...more
Friday, August 27, 2010
1948 and Israel’s deceptive bargaining position
Ben White, Israeli Occupation Archive 8/19/2010
Israel’s demand that Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state sounds reasonable — unless you understand 1948
The refrain from Israeli politicians and the country’s allies and apologists is familiar: There can be no peace deal until the Palestinians “recognize” Israel as “a Jewish state.” While this can sound reasonable to the casual listener in the West, this demand actually points to critical flaws in the “peace process” and the way in which the international community approaches the Palestine/Israel question.
This is because such a demand, and understanding why it is so unacceptable to Palestinians, means going back to 1948 – when hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages were destroyed, their inhabitants forbidden from returning by the new Jewish state — and throwing the spotlight on two groups of Palestinians that the so-called peace process has ignored or marginalized: the refugees of ‘48 (and their descendants) and the Palestinian minority that’s left inside Israel. The unpleasant reality is that Israel as “a Jewish state” means the permanent exile and dispossession of the former, and the colonial control of the latter.
In the West, even talking about Palestinian citizens inside Israel risks confusion, since for so long they have been referred to as “Israeli Arabs” or “Arab Israelis.” This is a formulation intended to obfuscate their Palestinian identity, a discursive erasure symbolic of far more brutal methods (some of which are described below). The lack of attention paid to the issues faced by Palestinians in Israel by Western politicians and pundits is unfortunate, since their historic and contemporary reality radically undermines the well-worn cliché that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East.” more.. e-mail
A poisoned process holds little hope
David Gardner, Financial Times, Israeli Occupation Archive 8/25/2010
As the caravans of Middle East peace negotiators rumble into Washington next week for the umpteenth time, the pervasive cynicism and sense of deja vu all over again is overwhelming – and with good reason.
The Middle East peace process long ago turned into a tortured charade of pure process while events on the ground – in particular the relentless and strategic Israeli colonisation of occupied Palestinian land – pull in the opposite direction to peace. “We have all been colluding in a gigantic confidence trick,” is how one Arab minister puts it, “and here we go again”.
While many factors had combined to hand veto powers to rejectionists on both sides, the heart of the question remains the continuing Israeli occupation. It is essential to remember that the biggest single increase of Jewish settlers on Arab land – a 50 per cent rise – took place in 1992-96 under the governments of peace-makers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres at the high-water mark of the Oslo peace accords. Many Israelis will point to the perfidy of the late Yassir Arafat, who wanted to talk peace but keep the option of armed resistance dangerously in play. But what killed Oslo was the occupation. The second intifada that erupted a decade ago was essentially the Oslo war.
A decade on, the Israeli settlement enterprise has turned the occupied West Bank into a discontiguous scattering of cantons, walled in by a security barrier built on yet more annexed Arab land and criss-crossed by segregated Israeli roads linking the settlements. Last month, B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, published a study showing Israel has now taken 42 per cent of the West Bank, with 300,000 settlers there and another 200,000 in East Jerusalem. The siege of Gaza has turned that sliver of land into a vast, open-air prison. more.. e-mail
Arab Ties with Israel Damage the Palestinian Cause: Prof Gilbert Achcar
Kourosh Ziabari, Dissident Voice 8/1/2010
Prof. Gilbert Achcar is a renowned Lebanese academician, writer, socialist and anti-war activist. He left Lebanon in 1983 and taught international relations and politics at the University of Paris VII for several years. Since 2007, Achcar has been Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. He is a frequent contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique and ZNet.
Prof. Achcar joined me in an interview to discuss the latest developments related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla and the prospect of Israel’s occupation of West Bank and Gaza.
Kourosh Ziabari: Dear Prof. Achcar, what’s your estimation of the prospect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
Gilbert Achcar: This is extremely difficult to answer because the situation of the Middle East is changing so quickly and frequently that any kind of prediction about the future is always very risky, so what I can say in reply to your question is that in the foreseeable future, there can’t be any serious and acceptable compromise leading to a peaceful coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians. The reason is that the Israeli society has been continuously shifting to the right so that more and more extreme branches of Zionism are governing Israel, and therefore it’s extremely difficult to imagine that governments like the present government of Israel would make all of the concessions that are required for a true peace with the Palestinians. There can’t be any beginning of peace actually without an end to the occupation of the territories that were occupied since 1967, the dismantlement of the separation wall which Israel has been building and the dismantlement of the settlements. These are basic conditions to which of course one should add the immediate lifting of the blockade of Gaza. So, there’s absolutely no indication at present that the Israeli government as it is, has any inclination to go in that direction. more.. e-mail
No reconstruction despite siege "easing"
Electronic Intifada: 27 Aug 2010 - Last week, nearly forty families who were displaced during Israel's winter 2008-09 attacks on the Gaza Strip took over an abadoned, partially-built building in the Jabaliya refugee camp. Rami Almeghari reports for The Electronic Intifada.more
An artist's pledge to boycott
Electronic Intifada: 27 Aug 2010 - I am proud to be among the many Irish and Ireland-based artists from across creative disciplines who have chosen to publicly support the growing campaign of boycott against apartheid Israel. Compared to the imprisoned Palestinian people themselves and to those taking part in flotillas and other perilous anti-apartheid activities in Palestine our contribution and risk may be justly considered small.more
Seeing the land as one: Raja Shehadeh interviewed
Electronic Intifada: 27 Aug 2010 - A Rift in Time takes readers back to the life of author Raja Shehadeh's great-uncle Najib Nassar, who edited the Haifa-based newspaper al-Karmil in the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Sarah Irving interviews Shehadeh for The Electronic Intifada.more
McCarthy in Israel
Palestine Chronicle: 27 Aug 2010 - By Neve Gordon On May 31, I joined some 50 students and faculty members who gathered outside Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to demonstrate against the Israeli military assault on the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid toward Gaza. In response, the next day a few hundred students marched toward the social-sciences building, Israeli flags in hand. Amid the nationalist songs and pro-government chants, there were also shouts demanding my resignation from the university faculty. One student even proceeded to create a Facebook group whose sole goal is to have me sacked. So far over 2,100 people (many of them nonstudents) have joined. In addition to death wishes and declarations that I should be exiled, the site includes a call on students to spy on me during class. "We believe," ends a message written to the group, "that if we conduct serious and profound work, we can, with the help of each...more
More Pointless Talks with Israel?
Palestine Chronicle: 27 Aug 2010 - By Stuart Littlewood – London The Palestinians' champion - their White Knight - is preparing to ride forth next week and do battle at the negotiating table with the racist regime's Black Knight and his minder, the Great Satan. The rules of chivalry don’t apply, so the outcome is not in doubt. However, the White Knight is not quite as white or brave as he seems. Eager to do his lord’s bidding, Mahmoud Abbas is a willing fall guy. On this occasion Obama has imperiously snapped his fingers and announced he wants direct talks started “well before” the Black Knight (aka Israeli prime minister Netanyahu) ends the partial freeze on illegal settlements in a month’s time. And, by the way, US mid-term elections are coming up in two months’ time and Obama has to look good. So Abbas jumped. And Abbas is at least 18 months past the pack-your-bags date...more
Palestine Betrayed Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 27 Aug 2010 - By Jim Miles Palestine Betrayed. Efraim Karsh. Yale University Press, London, 2010. Was Palestine betrayed? Of course it was, by the British, the United States, France, the League of Nations, the United Nations, the remnants of the Ottoman empire, all of the regional Arab countries, and by certain elites and powerful of Palestine itself. Efraim Karsh makes the latter two the main if not the sole responsible for the nakba - the disaster - that occurred in 1947-48 with the announced partition of Palestine followed by the declaration of the state of Israel. “Palestine Betrayed,” as portrayed by Karsh, is the story of the connivances of the Arab leaders in the region along with the elites of Palestine while the Jewish population continually offered peace and coexistence with their brethren and encouraged them to stay in their villages and towns to become partners in the new state enterprise. Karsh is...more
Sunday, August 29, 2010
The silenced minority speaks out
Georgina Reeves, Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2010
For a state that ignores international laws and conventions in murdering Palestinians and internationals, and shrugs off all condemnation with no apology or regret, it’s little surprise that it spends a great deal of energy persecuting voices of dissent within its own citizenry. Particularly when that voice of dissent is Palestinian.
Ameer Makhoul, Omar Said, Hanin Zoabi, Sheikh Raed Salah, Lubna Masarweh and Mohamad Zeidan are all Palestinians with Israeli citizenship; and they are all paying a high price for their political activism challenging and confronting a state that would rather expel them than accept them as equal citizens with equal rights.
On 22 April Ameer Makhoul, director of Ittijah, a Palestinian NGO based in Haifa, was prevented from leaving Israel. Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishay said "I have reached the conviction that the exit of Ameer Makhoul from the country poses a serious threat to the security of the state." Two weeks later Makhoul’s home was raided in the dead of night by Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet. Makhoul was arrested, and computers and papers were seized from his home and office.
At various stages of his detention Makhoul has been denied access to a lawyer, been repeatedly tortured to obtain a confession and, as is common with political persecution of Palestinians, neither he nor his legal team has been given access to any evidence the state claims to have. The charges are serious: assistance to the enemy in a time of war, conspiracy to assist an enemy, aggravated espionage, and contact with a foreign agent. Makhoul vigorously denies all charges.
Prior to Makhoul’s detention Dr Omar Said, a leading expert in traditional Arabic herbal medicine and an environmental activist, had already been arrested.... more.. e-mail
Popular resistance suppressed by Israel and the Palestinian authority
Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine Note 8/20/2010
Saturday started out by some work at the university with students (research in biology) then taking a group of visitors on a tour of the area of Bethlehem that shows the impact of the wall and settlements. We also went to one of the weekly demonstrations and on this third Friday of Ramadan both here and Bilin and other places showed several injuries and use of excessive power by the Israeli occupation/apartheid army. The demonstrations commemorated the assassination of famous Palestinian Cartoonist Naji Al Ali and of the leade of the PFLP Abu Ali Mustafa.
It also came in solidarity with the “conviction” by Israel’s apartheid courts of Abdullah AbuRahma on charges of organizing nonviolent demonstrations in Bilin. I posted 5 minute of the video I took of the event (link follows). Please watch this, especially the unprovoked abduction of Kobi, an Israeli peace activist and the unprovoked attack with gas canisters that injured people. They also detained Matan (not shown on video) who was released a short while later. Kobi was released also but will have to face trial.
After the demonstration I returned to finish the work at the university and then at 4:15 PM we (George Rishmawi and I) took over 100 Palestinian women from Nazereth and other places inside the Green Line (1948 Palestine) on a tour of the walls around Bethlehem including Al-Walaja and Beit Sahour. It was an uplifting trip as we talked about resistance and I note how, despite Israel’s attempts at fragmenting us, we connect and those ladies were an inspiration to have organized this trip (with help of Sabeel and the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement).
After the iftar (breaking the fast), we visited with two needy families (one in Beit Sahour and one in Dheisheh Refugee Camp). I will tell you in future emails some of the stories of these families. For now there are other news and actions to take. -- See also: VIDEO - Masara 27 August 2010 more.. e-mail
Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Israeli Occupation Archive 8/29/2010
The decision by our theater establishment to stage dramas in the new culture auditorium in the settlement of Ariel presents the performing public with a real test, the likes of which it has probably never seen.
We will know the answer in the coming weeks: Is there genuine theater in Israel, or is it just puppet theater? Are our theater artists really actors, playwrights and directors, or are they marionettes? Israeli theater presents “Moral Blindness” – a play with infinite acts.
The decision by our theater establishment to stage dramas in the new culture auditorium in the settlement of Ariel presents the performing public with a real test, the likes of which it has probably never seen. The challenge now facing our theater world has huge importance. The decision of the weeks ahead will refashion all our theater professionals. After years of theater that staged prudent commercial dramas alongside quite a few courageous political plays confronting deep moral questions, our actors now face the drama of their lives.
Actually, what is at stake is not a play, but rather life itself. Should they stage their productions at the Ariel facility, we will know that the actors standing there are mere recitation automatons, and their entire theatrical enterprise will be a living prison. Should Israel’s actors, directors and playwrights decide to take part in the most appalling drama of all, they will deserve at the end of their productions jeers of derision, the likes of which they have never heard.
The drama at Ariel will be the worst theatrical show ever performed here; nobody will need the verdict of theater critics to draw this conclusion. Seeing that a Cameri production of “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” may be staged as one of the premier plays at Ariel’s hall of shame, Bertolt Brecht, no doubt, will be rolling in his grave. -- See also: Source: Ha'aretz more.. e-mail
Bil'in: Conviction and Tears
Palestine Monitor: 28 Aug 2010 - The weekly protest march at the village of Bil'in ended in Israeli Occupation Forces storming the crowd, hitting three activists with tear gas grenades, and shooting a man in the knee with a rubber-coated bullet from less than thirty yards away. Ashraf Khatib was rushed from the field to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah, according to the Bil'in local popular committee. The march started at the local popular committee headquarters near the Bil'in mosque. Activists from all over the world joined Palestinians and residents in a 150-person protest of the construction of the separation barrier through the village. “ Wahda wahda wataniya! ” they chanted. The protest carried portraits of Mustafa and masks of Rahmah. Many donned masks of Abdullah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and leader of the popular struggle at Bil'in, who was convicted last Friday of “incitement” after an eight-month long trial. “Today we are all...more
August 23 2010: Happy 2nd Birthday Free Gaza!
Tales to Tell: 29 Aug 2010 - ,more
Monday, August 30, 2010
McCarthy in Israel
Neve Gordon, Dissident Voice 8/30/2010
On May 31, I joined some 50 students and faculty members who gathered outside Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to demonstrate against the Israeli military assault on the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid toward Gaza. In response, the next day a few hundred students marched toward the social-sciences building, Israeli flags in hand. Amid the nationalist songs and pro-government chants, there were also shouts demanding my resignation from the university faculty.
One student even proceeded to create a Facebook group whose sole goal is to have me sacked. So far over 2,100 people (many of them nonstudents) have joined. In addition to death wishes and declarations that I should be exiled, the site includes a call on students to spy on me during class. “We believe,” ends a message written to the group, “that if we conduct serious and profound work, we can, with the help of each and every one of you, gather enough material to influence … Neve Gordon’s status at the university, and maybe even bring about his dismissal.”
Such personal attacks are part of a much broader assault on Israeli higher education and its professors. Two recent incidents exemplify the protofascist logic that is being deployed to undermine the pillars of academic freedom in Israel, while also revealing that the assault on Israeli academe is being backed by neoconservative forces in the United States.
The first incident involves a report published by the Institute for Zionist Strategies, in Israel, which analyzed course syllabi in Israeli sociology departments and accused professors of a “post-Zionist” bias. The institute defines post-Zionism as “the pretense to undermine the foundations of the Zionist ethos and an affinity with the radical leftist stream.” In addition to the usual Israeli leftist suspects, intellectuals like Benedict Anderson and Eric Hobsbawm also figure in as post-Zionists in the report. more.. e-mail
Israel threatens war with Lebanon
Stephen Lendman, Palestine Note 8/30/2010
Palestine is belligerently occupied. Threats continue against Iran and Syria as well as Lebanon, specifically Hezbollah, elected partner in the nation's unity government, bogusly designated a US State Department Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), what Israel also calls it, repeating veiled and overt warnings, suggesting violence or an impending attack.
Why not, after so many earlier in 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996, and 2006. Also numerous incidents besides:
-- refusing to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 425 by occupying South Lebanon belligerently and illegally for 18 years until mostly, but not entirely, withdrawing in May 2000 - still holding Sheba Farms, the 14-square mile water-rich land near Syria's Golan, also illegally occupied since 1967; in addition, Ghajar, the Lebanese village bordering Golan;
-- during its occupation, using a proxy Christian South Lebanon Army as enforcer, UNIFIL Blue Helmets giving them and the IDF free reign instead of maintaining peace, how UN forces always operate, as paramilitaries against people they're supposed to protect; and
-- for over 40 years, repeatedly violating Lebanon's territory, often daily, including 12 Israeli jet overflights on August 19.
Hezbollah - Israel's Pretext for Incursions, Violence and War
Hezbollah was born out of Israel's 1982 Lebanon invasion, its horrific war slaughtering around 18,000 people, mostly civilians, including in the Sabra and Shatila camps, what journalist Robert Fisk called "one of the most shocking war crimes of the 20th century.".... more.. e-mail
Letters from Palestine – a very special book
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 8/14/2010
Very often, among activists for Palestine who are not Palestinians themselves, a sort of fraternity develops. Our love of Palestine is our primary common denominator, but how frequent it is (and how joyful and satisfying) when we find other affinities that create a strong bond after we’ve had such an important factor bring us together in the first place.
More often than not, the Palestinian issue is central, since most of our energies and social lives rotate around the words “Free Palestine” and many of our communications with others dwell in a range of arguments about the struggle. Yet, one thing is common between activists, we have long since abandoned abstractions such as “the Middle East Conflict” and delusions of seeing ourselves as some kind of messenger or even a sort of bridge. We come to the awareness that we are only as good at what we are doing when we are totally devoted to Palestine and listen to Palestinians more than to anyone else and when we try (hard as it is!) to let our own egos go, because they do not matter a whit in this struggle. It is also frequent that we focus our advocacy on specific places, Jenin, Gaza, Bethlehem, Bil’in, Hebron, Jerusalem, etc. and for many of us, we reach a point where we relate to the Palestinian issue as something that concerns us personally. The map of Palestine is far from the reductive one that severs the land into fragments, and the geography extends into the refugee camps dislocated in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq. All of these places are places we may not have seen, but often cherish. That’s because they are the homes of our friends and their loved ones. There is almost no place in Palestine that hasn’t been described to us, often in a tearful testimony of someone who grieves over never again seeing his or her home and land. There is practically no city or even village where we have not been invited to come as a welcome guest, part of the legendary Palestinian hospitality and kindness, but probably also a desire that we can spread the word about these places and keep them alive as part of Palestine once we know them with our hearts as well as from words.
That is why the goal of Kenneth Ring’s book, (written with Ghassan Abdullah) Letters From Palestine.... more.. e-mail
Diana Buttu: direct talks bound to fail
Electronic Intifada: 30 Aug 2010 - As US officials arrived in Jerusalem last week to meet with Palestinian Authority and Israeli government officials, The Electronic Intifada interviewed Ramallah-based lawyer and former PLO advisor Diana Buttu about this week's US-brokered direct talks between the two parties.more
"Solidarity tastes different inside prison"
Electronic Intifada: 30 Aug 2010 - "My human dignity, basic human rights and constitutional rights are suffering from basic violations. I still have no permit to meet my lawyers without being recorded." The Electronic Intifada publishes an edited excerpt from a 7 August 2010 letter written by Ameer Makhoul from Israeli prison.more
"Once winter's over, the sun will shine"
Electronic Intifada: 30 Aug 2010 - When Israel's construction of the wall began in their village May 2008, the people of Nilin embarked on a campaign of unarmed grassroots resistance against the theft of their land. They have followed a philosophy of direct action, cutting through the electronic fence and razor wire on an almost weekly basis. Jody McIntyre interviewed Mohammed Amireh, a leader of the Nilin Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements for The Electronic Intifada.more
Art as resistance: "Against the Wall" reviewed
Electronic Intifada: 30 Aug 2010 - London-based journalist and photographer William Parry's Against the Wall serves as both a political and aesthetic document, perhaps exemplifying the German philosopher Walter Benjamin's famous thesis that "[t]here is no document of culture that is not at the same time a document of barbarism."more
TEDx: Equating the Colonizer and Colonized
Palestine Chronicle: 30 Aug 2010 - By Palestinians Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) And University Teachers' Association in Palestine - Gaza It has come to our knowledge that TED, a non-profit organization carrying the slogan 'Ideas Worth Spreading' has started a program called the 'TEDxHolyLand.' This is supposed to be an experience which seeks to “bring together the people of Palestine and Israel who do not ordinarily meet to share a half day together hearing and discussing TED talks on a wide range of topics of common interest.” The Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic boycott of Israel and University Teachers' Association in Palestine consider this an act of normalization that violates the boycott guidelines issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). TED seems to be unaware of the fact that the reason why “the people of Palestine and Israel” cannot get together is because...more
Letter to Cordoba Center on Behalf of a Former 'Slave'
Palestine Chronicle: 30 Aug 2010 - By Mark Gonzales Prelude: I. The three century old remains of 20,000 African men, women, children former slaves were discovered after the clean up of the World Trade Center's collapse. II. Between twenty and thirty percent of all stolen Africans brought to America as slaves were Muslim. A Letter on behalf of Cordova Center by one such “slave” Bismillah Is an unspoken song on the tongues of the forgotten ever wonder where will you pray when your skin has abandoned you or what religion is your skeleton A note for Manhattan city residents & Mr. President: if cemeteries have zip codes, air mail this poem to my mother courtesy of a masjid wings holding my father’s tear. New York: have you forgotten cities are built not by steel but bones that breath is turquoise colored accessory of skeletons wearing mahogany skin as Friday prayer best Bedstuy bones have a Project...more
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Abbas is a man in exile, even among his own
Omar Karmi, The National 8/30/2010
Diana Buttu: “Failure could lead to another intifada, but not necessarily one against Israel. This one might well be directed against the Palestinian Authority.”
RAMALLAH // Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, faces a crisis of credibility among his own people as he heads into direct talks with Israel in Washington this week.
Perhaps nothing better illustrates this than a rather awkward security crackdown Thursday in Ramallah, when leftist factions convened a meeting to protest against Mr Abbas’s decision to accept the US invitation to the talks. Security officials justified the actions of dozens of plainclothes security officers, who disrupted the meeting and prevented a press conference from being held, as a legal measure against an “illegal rally”.
But privately, Palestinian Authority officials expressed their dismay at what looked to most like an effort by security services to stifle dissent.
And dissent there is.
All Palestinian political factions, bar one, have denounced the direct talks, some in harsher language than others.
Only Fatah, Mr Abbas’s own group, supports direct talks. Even among its members, though, there are plenty of disapproving voices.
Ordinary Palestinians, as well as the political factions, feel they have little influence on the Palestinian leadership’s decisions. The Palestinian polity is broken.... more.. e-mail
Hamas, the I.R.A. and Us
Ali Abunimah, New York Times 8/28/2010
GEORGE J. MITCHELL, the United States Middle East envoy, tried to counter low expectations for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations by harking back to his experience as a mediator in Northern Ireland.
At an Aug. 20 news conference with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, announcing the talks that will begin this week, Mr. Mitchell reminded journalists that during difficult negotiations in Northern Ireland, “We had about 700 days of failure and one day of success” — the day in 1998 that the Belfast Agreement instituting power-sharing between pro-British unionists and Irish nationalists was signed.
Mr. Mitchell’s comparison is misleading at best. Success in the Irish talks was the result not just of determination and time, but also a very different United States approach to diplomacy.
The conflict in Northern Ireland had been intractable for decades. Unionists backed by the British government saw any political compromise with Irish nationalists as a danger, one that would lead to a united Ireland in which a Catholic majority would dominate minority Protestant unionists. The British government also refused to deal with the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, despite its significant electoral mandate, because of its close ties to the Irish Republican Army, which had carried out violent acts in the United Kingdom.
A parallel can be seen with the American refusal to speak to the Palestinian party Hamas, which decisively won elections in the West Bank and Gaza in 2006. Asked what role Hamas would have in the renewed talks, Mr. Mitchell answered with one word: “None.” No serious analyst believes that peace can be made between Palestinians and Israelis without Hamas on board, any more than could have been the case in Northern Ireland without Sinn Fein and the I.R.A. more.. e-mail
’Bullied’ but not surrendering
Lamis Adoni, AlJazeera 8/29/2010
The resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) will allow Barack Obama to have his day presiding over the launch of another series of futile negotiations and, in providing an opportunity for Binyamin Netanyahu to assert his unwavering commitment to Israel’s colonial policies, will earn the Israeli prime minister further bragging rights.
But while the talks may serve immediate American and Israeli interests they will do nothing for the cause of peace.
In fact, the mere announcement that talks will resume has emboldened the Israeli prime minister to declare that settlement-building will continue and to demand Palestinian recognition of the Jewish character of the Israeli state as a precondition for any future agreement. So, at the same time that it has pressured the PA into dropping its preconditions for participating, the US has allowed Netanyahu to impose his on the whole process with impunity.
The Palestinians have already made clear that they will withdraw from talks should Israel not extend its freeze on settlement construction when it expires on September 26. But regardless of how long they last, the talks will have already started a process that will only perpetuate the Israeli occupation. This is simply the old new story of the ‘peace process’ – which, since it started in 1993, has consolidated Israeli control over the Palestinians while brutally crushing their resistance.
Responsibility for the decision to participate – despite overwhelming Palestinian opposition - must rest with the PA. But, it is important to recognise the growing American and Arab complicity in pushing the PA to surrender. more.. e-mail
What the wall has done
Electronic Intifada: 31 Aug 2010 - Israel began constructing the wall in June 2002 following its invasion of cities in the West Bank, which it dubbed "Operation Defensive Shield." The immense scale of the 2002 invasion -- characterized by the destruction of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, mass arrests, assassinations and massacres -- ensured that the construction of the wall would commence with as little resistance as possible. Jamal Juma' comments.more
The Real 'Crisis': Yale's Pro-Israeli Conference
Palestine Chronicle: 31 Aug 2010 - By Stephen Lendman On August 25, Yale University ended a three day global anti-Semitism 'crisis' conference promoting the notion that Israeli criticism is "anti-Semitic," no matter how justified. Boola boola, for shame, mighty Yale displaying the same type anti-Islamic hatred virulent throughout America, raging daily in headlines over the proposed New York City Islamic cultural center, falsely called a mosque, but does it matter? What matters is racism, hate-mongering, and persecuting Muslims for political advantage - on display at Yale for a three day propaganda hate fest. Imagine what's taught in its classrooms. The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) Calling itself "dedicated to the scholarly research of the origins and manifestations associated with antisemitism globally, as well as other forms of prejudice, including racisms, as it relates to policy," YIISA presented its "Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity conference, at a time the supposed "crisis" is...more
Defence of Apartheid Israel Unjustifiable
Palestine Chronicle: 31 Aug 2010 - By Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria I wonder whether pro-Israeli apologists ever sense the sheer hopelessness of their desperate attempts to shield the apartheid regime from legitimate and necessary criticism. Having had the misfortune of reading the misguided views of Benjamin Pogrund [Sunday Independent, August 29], I am convinced that his angry attempt to admonish South Africans vis-à-vis their negative stance against Israel, reflects poor judgment. By calling into question the actions of striking people within the public sector, he then demands that due to the unacceptable behavior accompanying the strikes, South Africa has no right to stand in judgment of poor little Israel. Apart from the total lack of logic in his futile attempt to exploit the legitimate grievances of strikers, Pogrund displayed his unashamed loyalty to a pariah state that has been stripped of all morality due to its aggressive policies of oppression, occupation, racism and unending wars of...more
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