Dear Friends,

Of the 5 items tonight, the first 2 offer positive news, the 3rd is brief but not positive, the 4th and 5th may be true, but although I have no way of corroborating them (I searched British and American media as well as Israeli but found nothing more than the two), number 4 is not so surprising as it seems at first glance, and 5 puts a new slant on things. 

Item 1 relates that Holland, upon learning that Israeli mayors of West Bank colonies would be among the mayors attending the event, has cancelled an Israeli mayors tour.  Good news.  Things are changing—not as rapidly as we’d like, but changing nevertheless.

Item 2 reports that the Jewish ship to Gaza is ready to set sail, but gives no dates.  It would not surprise me if Israel would opt to sink the boat before it sails, not of course admitting to having committed the crime.  But Israeli military and leaders must realize that they will have a tough time explaining to the world how and why they killed 9 or 10 Jewish activists.  Not only Israel’s leaders but also much of the population care very much about Israel’s image.  I don’t think that they want to sully it any further.  Well, time will tell.

Item 3 is a brief report of the IOF incursion into Bi’lin at mid day in search for someone and shooting in the process tons of tear gas into the village.  Nice army.  If you have never experienced tear gas, you won’t understand how it can make your heart skip several beats and why it is so dangerous for infants and elderly.  Nasty stuff.

I came across item 4 when searching Israeli and international media to see if I could find more about the Jewish ship.  No luck on that score, but the search did turn up the news that Netanyahu is trying to make a trade—the 3 month moratorium on colony building that Obama wants in exchange for Jonathan Pollard’s release.  Sounds very logical, that is to say, if Netanyahu could get Pollard then he could argue with his right-wing government that the 3 months was a small price to pay for the release.  That ploy might allow Netanyahu to keep his government intact.  Maybe.  Will the Americans agree?  That’s another story.  Till now they have resisted all former attempts to release the spy.

Item 5 relates that even right-wing colonists see the writing on the wall and realize that they will have to vacate the West Bank.  Hmmm. I wonder.

I wanted to mention in closing that if you would like to receive Shadi Fadda’s ‘Today in Palestine’ regularly, you can subscribe at 

All the best,



1. [Forwarded by Omar Barghouti and Ronnie Barkan ]

September 19, 2010

Subject: [bfw] Fwd: Unprecedented Dutch sanctions against Israeli colonial settlements (Haaretz)

Haaretz  19.09.10

Netherlands cancels Israeli mayors tour

Dutch Foreign Ministry cancels tour because participant list includes settlement representatives.

By Jonathan Lis

The Netherlands on Sunday cancelled a tour of the country by a forum of Israeli mayors because their group included representatives of West Bank settlements.

The professional delegation, funded by the Joint Distribution Committee, a Jewish-American charity, was supposed to fly to the Netherlands next month to study public policy and local governance.

But when the Dutch Foreign Ministry found out that regional council heads from the Judea and Samaria regions – including from the West bank settlements Efrat and Kiryat Arba – were due to participate, they decided to cancel the tour.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded in a statement: “This is undoubtedly useless and harmless politics, and we hope that this is not the final word on the topic.”

Aryeh Eldad, a Knesset member from the hard-right National Union party, condemned the decision, saying:

“The Dutch surrender to the Arabs reflects their surrender to the Muslim minority that is growing steadily in Holland, which in itself is an echo to Netanyahu’s surrender to Obama regarding the building freeze.”

Eldad added: “If Netanyahu has in effect defined the borders of the state and placed a extended chokehold on hundreds of thousands of Jews – no one can come to the Netherlands with complaints over its surrender to its large minority – as long as Israel continues to surrender and act as if it is still in the Diaspora.”

Local Council Chairman Shlomo Buchbut spoke with the Dutch ambassador and wrote to the Dutch foreign minister, saying that he regarded the decision “with great severity”.

“The Local Councils are led by mayors from all over the political spectrum for Israel’s citizens. These kinds of actions only hurt the cause of advancing peace. We need to support Israel’s citizens just as they are, and not to ignite political debates,” Buchbut said.

“In the past, we have conducted similar trips to Denmark, France and China. We cooperate with the European Union, Arabs, Jews and Europeans to talk about common professional interests and we advance local councils in general,” Buchbut added.

He concluded: “The decision by the Netherlands puts the [Israeli-Arab] conflict before anything else. I hope that the Dutch will change their minds.”


2. Alternative information center

Mon, September 20th

Jewish Activists Organise Boat, Ready for Voyage to Gaza 

19 September 2010

Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), in cooperation with members of the German Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, have organized a boat for Gaza. The group announced last week (15 September) that passengers are already on board and the ship is ready to sail.

Kate Katzenstein-Leiterer, a leader of the German partner, said detailed information about the voyage would be released the day the boat casts off but she did not say when this was, according to the Israeli news daily Haaretz.

The ship was originally intended to set sail in July but was delayed by an £18,000 funding shortfall. Katzen-Leiterer said loans and donations had been received to fund the trip, reported the Jewish Chronicle.

The campaign is sponsored by the federation of 11 European and North American Jewish peace groups, including European Jews for a Just Peace, American Jews for a Just Peace and Jewish Voice for Peace.

“The boat now has a full inventory of safety equipment, including global systems of communication, and thus has the capacity to trigger pre-prepared safety bulletins from London at a moment’s notice, for both the crew’s safety and the success of the mission,” JfJfP announced on their website.

JfJfP states three specific reasons for the campaign:

A. To protest against and challenge the continuing blockade of Gaza, on the basis that it constitutes an illegal, collective punishment of the whole population and a grossly immoral act.

B. To protest against Israel’s continuing occupation and settlement of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the Israeli government’s clear intention of annexing much of that land.

C. To assert that Israel’s policies are not supported by all Jews, that there are thousands of us who wish to state ‘not in our name’.

“For four years Israel’s blockade has confined the people of Gaza to subsistence living. This externally enforced poverty has created a public and mental health catastrophe,” the group writes. “After Israel’s bombardment of Gaza eighteen months ago, there followed even tighter, ever changing and more arbitrary controls, including a total bar on the import of building materials to reconstruct shattered houses, sewage and water systems.”

JFJFP member Glyn Secker, a sailor and London native, has said he will captain the ship. He said it would show “not all Jews support Israel and say emphatically: not in our name”.

He added, “The way Israel is treating the Palestinians is extremely immoral.”

Updates may be found here.

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3. From Iyad Burnat [email protected]

Sept 20, 2010-

Bil’in – an Israeli army force invaded on Monday midday the village of Bil’in in central West Bank and clashed with local youth.

Israeli troops stormed a number of homes and tried to arrest local youth, during the search campaign, soldiers fired tear gas at local youth who responded by hurling stones at the soldiers.

At least a dozen civilians suffered effects of tear gas inhalation and were treated locally, witnesses reported.

The village of Bil’in organizes a weekly anti wall protest for the past five years; after long fight in the Israeli courts, the army was ordered to remove the wall built on villagers lands; tell the day the military refuse to implement the court order and attack the weekly nonviolent actions organized by the villagers along with their international and Israeli supporters.

Last year the military fire killed, Bassem Abu Rahma, a local activist in Bil’in during the weekly actions. The army stepped up its campaign to target local activists who organize the weekly protest and arrest six of them during raids like today’s one. 


4.  The Guardian,

September 20, 2010

Israel is seeking the release of an American jailed for life for spying for the Jewish state in return for concessions in the renewed peace process with the Palestinians, including the extension of a partial freeze on the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories.

Chris McGreal in Washington and Rachel Shabi in Jerusalem

According to Israel’s army radio, the prime minister’s office has approached Washington with a deal to continue the moratorium for another three months in return for the release of Jonathan Pollard, a former navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying in 1987. Binyamin Netanyahu, has long pressed for Pollard to be freed, but winning his release would help him sell concessions to rightwing members of his cabinet and the settlers.

Army radio said that Netanyahu had asked an unnamed intermediary to sound out the Obama administration on the proposal, but it is not known what response was received. Other Israeli media reported that the prime minister dispatched the intermediary to approach the Americans “discreetly, and unofficially”.

Netanyahu’s office initially said: “We know of no query to the Americans on this matter”, but later was more equivocal. Israeli officials dismissed the prospect of a deal for Pollard’s release over such a short time frame but, given that Netanyahu has attempted to attach the convicted spy’s freedom to earlier peace talks, it is likely that the issue is being broached.

Danny Dayan, head of the Yesha Council of Jewish settlers, condemned any proposal to swap Pollard for an extension of the settlement freeze: “The very idea is an ugly form of blackmail. Should we also agree to give up the Golan Heights in exchange for Gilad Shalit [an Israeli soldier held by Hamas in Gaza]?”

However, any deal is likely to meet stiff resistance from US intelligence which has previously scuppered plans to free Pollard. Netanyahu has said Israel does not plan to extend the moratorium on settlement building, and officials are not commenting on how the issue might be resolved, saying only that Israel “does not want people leaving the table”.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, told a French news agency that peace talks would be over if Israel abandoned the settlement freeze. “The negotiations will continue as long as the settlement remains frozen,” he said. “I am not prepared to negotiate an agreement for a single day more.”

Pollard’s supporters in Israel and the US have tried to portray his actions as motivated by loyalty to the Jewish state. However, that position has been undermined because he was paid for the information and the FBI has claimed he also sold secrets to apartheid South Africa and attempted to pass them to Pakistan.

Pollard began passing US secrets to Aviem Sella, an Israeli military officer, in 1984 in return for cash and jewellery. He was caught the following year having passed tens of thousands of pages of documents. The full extent of the damage done by Pollard to US intelligence interests has not been made public but he is known to have given Israel comprehensive details of the US’s global electronic surveillance network. Pollard was jailed for life under a plea agreement and his wife sentenced to five years in prison.

For more than a decade after Pollard was jailed, Israel denied that he was on its payroll, saying he was part of a rogue operation, even though it granted him citizenship in 1995.

Israeli leaders have persistently pressed for Pollard’s release. At peace talks in 1998, Netanyahu told President Bill Clinton that “if we signed an agreement with Arafat, I expected a pardon for Pollard”. Clinton later said he was minded to free Pollard but US intelligence, including George Tenet, director of the CIA, was strongly against it. However, another former CIA director, James Woolsey, has endorsed Pollard’s release. 

American intelligence was also angered by Israel’s lack of co-operation in recovering the material passed on by Pollard and by its promotion of Sella to head an air force base – they saw this as a deliberate snub. Sella was eventually removed from that position after the US Congress threatened to cut funds to Israel.


5.  Haaretz,

September 20, 2010

Special Place in Hell / Breaking Israel to fix it – rightists rethink holding the West Bank

So profound is the fear that Netanyahu may commit to a sea change on the West Bank, and succeed in mobilizing the support of a consensus of Israeli and U.S. Jews, it has now spread to some of the most vocal and – until now – most unflagging of the prime minister’s past admirers.

By Bradley Burston

Tags: Israel news West Bank settlement

Every revolution tends to believe that it is forever. Nowhere is this more evident than Israel, for six decades cradle and crucible to concurrent revolutions.

But the fate of every revolutionary movement is to age, to fall prey to fissures and compound fractures, and to be astounded to find that one day, it has become history.

Now it is the turn of the settlers. Though the trappings of their past success remain, their revolution is broken. The settlement movement – along with the dovish revolution whose banner was land for peace – was shattered in the chaos of the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

In just six days in 2005, the single most indispensible figure in rooting settlements into the territories, Ariel Sharon, quashed a quarter century of Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip – at the approval of two-thirds of the Israeli electorate.

The settlement revolution has never truly recovered. Even as it insists that West Bank settlements can never be undone, the movement is both haunted and crippled by its own private Naqba, the loss of the dream of a Greater Israel in the Likud government’s disengagement.

Of late, figures of significance on the right of both the Israeli and American Jewish communities have begun to rethink the future of the settlers’ core redoubt: the West Bank.

As Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed this month, influential Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer astounded many colleagues on the right by observing that “No serious player believes it can hang on forever to the West Bank.

“This has created a unique phenomenon in Israel – a broad-based national consensus for giving nearly all the West Bank in return for peace,” Krauthammer continued. “The moment is doubly unique because the only man who can deliver such a deal is Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – and he is prepared to do it.”

The comments coincided with a number of indications of a beginning of change on the right and within the settlement movement itself.

Among the more intriguing is a group of young Israelis – some of whom grew up in West Bank settlements – who have moved back into Israel to resettle the abandoned kibbutz of Retamim in the central Negev.

The group includes the son of Pinchas Wallerstein, a former longtime leader of the Yesha Council, the effective government of the settlement movement.

At the same time, some residents of settlements outside the blocs which U.S. officials foresee could be appended to Israel in the context of a withdrawal, have been putting out feelers to Israeli government agencies about possible compensation for voluntarily moving back to Israel in the future.

Another shift in thinking is increasing sentiment for the possibility of a unilateral West Bank withdrawal outside the context of negotiations with the Palestinians. For many Israelis, this dovetails with fast-evaporating hopes for an eventual peace agreement with a deeply divided Palestinian body politic.

Israeli analyst Guy Bechor, who has often argued for hardline stances vis a vis the Palestinians,  wrote last week that Israel should now deliver an ultimatum to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: “This is your and your administration’s last chance. If we fail to secure a quick agreement, where Israel’s demands are recognized, we shall unilaterally evacuate most of Judea and Samaria, annex the settlement blocs and Jerusalem’s Old City, and abandon you and your regime to Hamas’ and Jordan’s mercy.

Bechor has also proposed that Israel renounce its annexation of most of Arab East Jerusalem and cede control over it. “An immense burden – on the political, defense, economic, and public relations fronts – will be lifted from our shoulders when the status of Palestinians in east Jerusalem will be the same as that of Palestinians across the West Bank,” he wrote earlier this year.

“This will happen eventually in any case, according to the world, so why not do it now?”

Most daunting to the settlers and their supporters is the fear that Benjamin Netanyahu may opt to follow in the paths of hawkish Likud founders Sharon and Menachem Begin, and launch a landmark withdrawal. It was Begin, settlers note, who pledged as he took power as prime minister, that he would someday retire to a settlement in then-occupied Sinai – only to return the entire peninsula and demolish the settlements there under the 1979 Camp David peace treaty.

Israel Harel, a founder and former leader of the Yesha Council and one of the most prominent voices of the movement, warned last week of the “huge ideological about-face” he said that Netanyahu had undergone.

Noting that Netanyahu had begun speaking of “two states for two peoples” and calling Judea and Samaria “the West bank,” Harel wrote in Haaretz that many of the prime minister’s critics “cannot grasp the fact that Netanyahu, via his statements, has embarked on a road from which there is no turning back.”

The ultimate fear is that if Netanyahu takes a position in line with Washington’s vision of concessions, the Likud and the cabinet – for all its drumbeat of eternal commitment to the settlers – will go along.

Settler leaders have also suggested that the movement’s will to resist such a change is much diminished since the Gaza disengagement. Senior Yesha official Shaul Goldstein

remarked at the outset of the settlement freeze that most settlers were too “moderate” to take off from jobs to attend protests, even though he said the freeze “means that life might stop.”

Since the Gaza pullout, the Yesha Council has also lost much of its influence with young firebrand activists, many of whom now dismiss the council as mashtapim [collaborators] and bourgeois.

There are also fears that radical actions by young “hilltop youth,” the movement’s volatile shock troops, could further alienate the Israeli mainstream, adding consensus support to a West Bank withdrawal.

The lack of movement toward a formalized peace accord is also spurring general Israeli interest in a pullout, based on the sense that if no action is taken soon to separate Israel from the more than 2.5 million Palestinians of the West Bank, the Jewish state will effectively become an Arab country.

Through it all, Netanyahu remains the linchpin to any move to alter the status of the West Bank. If Netanyahu were to play the Iran card, citing U.S. pressure for concessions in return for security assurances, even rabbis staunchly opposed to withdrawal would have to rethink their stances, Harel maintains.

“Any rabbi would agree that when it comes to saving the nation from the Iranian bomb, national pikuah nefesh (saving a life) takes precedence over Judea and Samaria.”

On Monday, speculation grew that Netanyahu was mulling a major step, when Israel Channel Two television reported that he backed legislation for a referendum on a future West Bank agreement. Apart from a possible signal of the prime minister’s intentions, a referendum could blunt and overcome rightist opposition to a withdrawal.

So profound is the fear that Netanyahu may commit to a sea change on the West Bank, and succeed in mobilizing the support of a consensus of Israeli and U.S. Jews, it has now spread to some of the most vocal and – until now – most unflagging of the prime minister’s past admirers.

“Netanyahu’s preference for appeasement is both ironic and destructive.” The Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick writes. While Krauthammer’s “arrogant and false portrayal of reality is debilitating,” she continues, “it is Netanyahu who is charged with leading and defending Israel.”

“And Netanyahu is the man who is now leading us on a path to degradation and defeat.”

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