Dorothy Online Newsletter



10 items below tonight, but the first two are brief.

Item 1 is a call to action.  Most of you won’t participate because in it because it is in the OPT and you are abroad.  But the call explains what it is about, and that is important.

Item 2 relates that settlers destroy Palestinian 100 olive trees in Yasuf—one of the 4 (perhaps 5) villages on whose land the colony of Ariel sits—not that anyone paid the villages for the theft of their lands, much less the destruction of all the thousands of olive trees that were where Ariel now is.

Item 3 is a letter requesting James Blake to not perform in Israel—a letter somewhat different from the usual ones, telling Blake about some of the history of Bil’in protests and the writer’s experience yesterday in the usual Friday protest there.

Item 4 relates that 4 musicians with the London Philharmonic Orchestra were suspended for having signed a petition calling on the Proms to not host the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.

Item 5 is another report on the law enacted by the Knesset against family unification.  However, this time the report is about a few individual cases that suffer from the law.  They are, unfortunately, all too representative.

Item 6 reports that the protests that Israel saw last summer culminated in nothing for many families for whom tents are the only housing they have.  I wonder why the government doesn’t offer to put these people in the new colonies that it is building in the OPT.  Or is it possible that at least some of the people would refuse to live in the OPT?  Gideon Levy likewise writes on the topic.  I have included a link to his article, which takes a bleak look at the non-effect that the supposed revolt had on anything.  Levy also notes one of the reasons that nothing has come out of the protests: they neglected certain of the basic reasons for the poverty, etc—as, for instance, the occupation.

Item 7 is an excellent column by Robert Fisk, “The ‘invented people’ stand little chance.”  Fisk uses Gringrich’s phrase, but this is not a response to him.  Fisk’s take on the situation reminds me of a rhyme that I knew many years ago: it had something to do with a drunk lying in the gutter and a pig by his side.  Someone walks by and says ‘you can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses, and the pig got up and walked away.’  Yep.  The company that this Israeli government chooses says a lot about the nature of the government itself.

Item 8 reports that a PLO delegation to the United States expressed outrage at the 2011 rise in settlement construction.  I’m not surprised.  Not that the PLO complaint will make any difference.

Item 9 is ‘Today in Palestine’ for January 13.

Item 10 is not about the Middle East.  It is about the United States and how it has gone from being the ‘land of the free’ that Americans believe that they live in to be much less free than most realize.  Jonathan Turley furnishes 10 reasons that show why.  I suspect that just as other eras have earned titles, so this one, when it ends with due criticism, will be known as the ‘war on terror’ epoch.  The 10 reasons are not in all aspects identical to Israel’ law, but a number are reminiscent of them.

That’s it for tonight.



1 From: bekah b <[email protected]>

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 14:15:11 -0700


Spanish and French below (en espanol y/et en francais)

Posters are attached to be used creatively.  For any action, small or large, please take a picture (even if it’s just a copy of the poster you’ve put up in your town) and send it to PSP, along with the location: [email protected].  Let’s demonstrate that the world does not accept Israeli Impunity!


When: January 28, 2012

What: International day of solidarity with Yousef Ikhlayl


On January 28, 2011, Yousef Ikhlayl was murdered by an Israeli settler from Bat Ayn settlement while working in his family’s fields in the Saffa valley. Yousef was a regular participant in Beit Ommar’s non-violent demonstrations against the settlements, as well as Palestine Solidarity Project’s community programs.

One year later, THERE HAVE BEEN NO ARRESTS IN YOUSEF’S CASE. For months, the Israeli Attorney General hasn’t even assigned the case to a lawyer, preventing any further action on the case.

As Palestinian negotiators sit with Israeli war criminals to discuss re-opening peace negotiations–negotiations that will leave Bat Ayn in place (according to previously leaked negotiating positions)–THE POPULAR COMMITTEE OF BEIT OMMAR AND PALESTINE SOLIDARITY PROJECT CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL ACTION IN SOLIDARITY WITH YOUSEF AND ALL VICTIMS OF ISRAELI OCCUPATION.

The weekly demonstration in Beit Ommar on January 28th will be honoring Yousef and other Beit Ommar Martyrs. STAND WITH BEIT OMMAR AND THE POPULAR RESISTANCE!


Organize your own event in solidarity with Yousef, and email us at [email protected]. We’ll keep track of events world-wide.





Cuando: Enero 28, 2012

Que: Día Internacional en Solidaridad con Yousef Ikhlayl


El 28 de Enero de 2011, Yousef Ikhlayl fue asesinado por un Colono Israelí del asentamiento de Bat Ayn mientras trabajaba en los campos de su familia en el Valle de Saffa, Yousef era un participaba regularmente en las manifestaciones

No violentas de Beit Ommar en contra de los asentamientos así como en los

proyectos comunitarios en solidaridad con Palestina.


YOUSEF. Por meses el Fiscal general Israelí no ha asignado el caso a ningún

abogado, previniendo cualquier acción respecto a este.

Mientras los negociadores Palestinos se sientan con los criminales de guerra

Israelíes a discutir la reapertura de las negociaciones de paz; negociaciones

que dejaran a un lado a Bat Ayn (de acuerdo a información filtrada de las





La Manifestación en Beit Ommar el 28 de Enero, recordará a Yousef y a otros




Organiza tu propio evento en solidaridad con Yousef, y escríbenos a:

[email protected]

vamos a estar al tanto de los eventos a nivel mundial





Quand: 28 janvier 2012

Quoi: Journée de solidarité internationale avec Yousef Ikhlayl


Le 28 janvier 2011, Yousef Ikhlayl était tué par un colon israélien du colonie de Bat Ayn, pendant qu’il travaille dans les champs de sa famille dans la vallée de Saffa. Yousef était participant régulière dans les manifestations non-violents de Beit Ommar contre les colonies, et aussi les programmes de communauté menées par le projet de al solidarité palestinienne (PSP).

Un ans plus tard, AUCUN ARRÊTES dans l’affaire de Yousef n’ont était fait. Pendant des mois, le ministre de la justice israélien n’a même pas assigne l’affaire a un avocat, et donc l’affaire ne peut pas continuer.

Pendant que les négociateurs palestiniens s’assoient avec des criminels de guerre israéliens en discutant la re-ouverture des négociations pour la paix–négociations qui laissera Bat Ayn dans sa place, selon les positions de négociations filtrées–LA COMITÉ POPULAIRE DE BEIT OMMAR ET LE PROJET DE SOLIDARITÉ PALESTINIENNE APPELLENT POUR ACTION INTERNATIONAL EN SOLIDARITÉ AVEC YOUSEF ET TOUS LES VICTIMES DE L’OCCUPATION ISRAÉLIEN.

Le manifestation en Beit Ommar le 28 janvier honora Yousef et les autres martyrs de Beit Ommar. JOINDRE AVEC BEIT OMMAR ET LA RÉSISTANCE POPULAIRE!


Organiser un événement en solidarité avec Yousef, et écrivez-nous à [email protected]. Nous suivons le fil des événements partout dans le monde.



In the asymmetry of relations between the growing state of Israel and the shrinking non-state of Palestine, doing nothing is a deeply partisan act.


Attachment(s) from Natalie Cohen

1 of 1 Photo(s)


Yousef Poster 1.jpg


2 From: Leehee Rothschild


Israeli citizen writing to James Blake

Friday, January 13, 2011


James, it’s late Friday night, and I’m writing this in order to tell you just a bit about my day today. Like every Friday I made my way to the West Bank, to participate in the weekly protests against the wall and the occupation. This Friday I went to the village of Bil’in. Today we’ve had a special demonstration, marking a year to the death of Jawhar Abu Rahma, a 37 year old school teacher, killed by the tear-gas that the Israeli soldiers are throwing in abundance at peaceful protestors. Less than a year beforehand, Bassem, Jawhar’s brother was also killed by the Israeli soldiers, as he was shouting and begging them not to shot, since it’s a non-violent demonstration, and while he was trying to tend to an injured girl, they shot a tear-gas canister directly into his chest. The Israeli army commemorated Jawahar’s death, as well, today. They commemorating it by shooting at us, non-violent protestors, from three different directions at once, making 300 people suffocate from tear-gas, injuring 4 with rubber bullets.

This is how the state of Israel deals with non-violent resistance to its apartheid regime. It deals with it with tear-gas and rubber coated bullets, with skunk water and live ammunition, with night raids and arrests.

I’m not asking you to come and stand in the front line with us. I’m not asking you to come and face the Israeli soldiers, risking your freedom and risking your life, like so many Palestinian, Israeli and international activists do week after week. All I’m asking you to do, all we’re asking you to do, is to take a day off.

Cancel your show in Israel. Don’t be a pawn in the hands of the Israeli propaganda. Don’t help sustain a regime of apartheid and occupation. Side with the Palestinian popular struggle, side with resistance to oppression, boycott Israel, and side with freedom!


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Settlers Destroy 100 Olive Trees Near SalfitDate : 14/1/2012   Time : 09:32 

SALFIT, January 14, 2012 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers from Tappuah settlement in the northern West Bank cut off and destroyed on Friday around 100 fully-grown olive trees northwest of Yasouf, a town east of Salfit, according to local sources.
Residents say the settlers, in collusion with Israeli soldiers and government, want to prevent Palestinians from using their land as a measure to take it over and expand area settlements.

Palestine News & Information Agency – WAFA. All Rights Reserved ©2011



4 The Guardian

Friday 13 January 2012

Violinist suspended for Israel Proms protest takes claim to tribunalCall for Proms organisers to cancel concert by Israel Philharmonic Orchestra led to suspension of four musicians

Alex Needham

Sarah Streatfeild played violin with the LPO for 25 years but was suspended without pay after the protest against a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

One of four musicians suspended by the London Philharmonic Orchestra is taking a claim for discrimination on the grounds of belief to an employment tribunal.

Sarah Streatfeild, who has played violin with the LPO for 25 years, was suspended for six months without pay last September after she signed a joint letter to the Independent calling on the Proms to cancel a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

The letter said: “The IPO has a deep involvement with the Israeli state – not least its self-proclaimed ‘partnership’ with the Israeli Defence Forces. This is the same state and army that impedes in every way it can the development of Palestinian culture, including the prevention of Palestinian musicians from travelling abroad to perform.”

Sue Sutherley, a cellist, and the violinists Tom Eisner and Nancy Elan were also suspended for signing it.

Tim Walker, the LPO’s chief executive, and Martin Hohmann, its chairman, said at the time that the musicians had identified themselves as members of the LPO.

“The orchestra would never restrict the right of its players to express themselves freely, however such expression has to be independent of the LPO itself,” they said.

“The company has no wish to end the careers of four talented musicians but … for the LPO, music and politics do not mix.”

In her claim, Streatfeild says her humanist beliefs compelled her to make a stand but thought the letter was intended for the BBC management and not a public forum. She added the letters “LPO” for identification purposes only.

She is seeking a formal apology for the damage caused to her reputation, and an order that she has been discriminated on grounds of her beliefs as well as compensation for the injury to her feelings, loss of earnings and reputation.

The Proms concert by the Israel Philharmonic went ahead two days after the letter was published, but was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters so noisily that the BBC took its live broadcast off the air.

Avi Shoshani, the Israel Philharmonic secretary general, said this month that the orchestra might never come back to the UK. He told the Times: “Why should I put my musicians in such an unpleasant situation? We want to make people happy – that’s what music is all about – and if people behave in such an uncivilised way why should we be part of it?”

Two days after the protests, the violinist received an email from the LPO which said she was being suspended with immediate and indefinite effect. Her suspension was later set at six months.

Sutherley is now back at the LPO, while Eisner has played with an orchestra in Denmark. However, Streatfeild is not thought to have worked since September. After the musicians were suspended from the LPO, a group of artists, filmmakers and writers including Sam West, Mike Leigh and Mark Wallinger wrote to the Telegraph to protest against the decision, saying “A healthy civil society is founded on the ability of all to express non-violent and non-prejudiced opinions, freely and openly, without fear of financial or professional retribution.”

A Facebook group, End suspension of the LPO4, was set up in September, while in December Norman Lebrecht, the pro-Israel writer and broadcaster, called on the LPO to “temper justice with compassion” and reinstate the musicians before Christmas. Lebrecht had originally blogged about the letter, describing the names of the musicians protesting as a “list of shame”.

Shazia Khan of Bindman’s Solicitors, for Streatfeild, said: “Making a stand about the invitation to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was a question of conscience for my client. Mrs Streatfeild is devastated that her career and livelihood was stopped by the LPO and in such an abrupt and public manner immediately after she expressed her beliefs. Notwithstanding this she is disappointed she has had to issue legal proceedings and invites the LPO to engage with her in an attempt to resolve the dispute outside the court arena.”

The LPO said it had no further comment.



5 Haaretz

Friday, January 13, 2012

Law leaves thousands of divided families in limbo

High Court of Justice upheld the law banning Palestinians from permanently living in Israel with their Israeli spouses; couples to be dependent on good graces of Interior Ministry clerks to renew residency permits.

By Jack Khoury

Tags: Palestinians West Bank

This week’s key ruling by the High Court of Justice has dashed the hopes of tens of thousands of Arab Israelis seeking residency permits for Palestinian spouses and children.

On Wednesday, the High Court of Justice upheld the law banning Palestinians from permanently living in Israel with their Israeli spouses.

As a result, husbands and wives are dependent on the good graces of Interior Ministry clerks to renew residency permits.

One such couple is Falastin and Samir Ajaji, who have been married for 31 years. She is an Israeli citizen, from the village of Kaukab al-Hija in the Lower Galilee. He is from Sida, a village in the Tul Karm area of the West Bank.

The Ajajis have two sons and two daughters, ages 10, 8, 6 and 2. Until three months ago, Samir received a permit to enter Israel for one week every three months. Recently, the situation improved and he was allowed to visit his family for one week every month.

Falastin said that in addition to seeing their father a week each month, the children, who are registered in her ID card, visit their father in the West Bank on school vacations.

Falastin said they have been submitting forms for family unification for 13 years. “The answer we get is that we should be patient, and I wonder how long I’m supposed to be patient,” she said. “I feel sorry for the children.”

Falastin said she had considered moving with the children to her husband’s village, but this would mean losing all her rights and the children would have practically no status. “I heard about the High Court petition and we hung our hopes on it. Now I don’t know what will happen and how it will end,” she said.

Dr. Ahmed al-Asbah, from East Jerusalem, holds an Israeli ID card. About four years ago he married a woman from Bethlehem. Eighteen months ago, the couple moved to Ashkelon, where Asbah is doing his residency at Barzilai Medical Center. The couple have two daughters, ages 1 and 2. The girls are registered in the father’s ID card, but their mother has to renew her residency permit annually.

“When we applied for family unification and we got this permit, I thought it was an achievement, but now we feel we’ve been had …. The conditions are even less than that of a foreign worker,” Al-Asbah said. “What crime did I commit that my family and I have to suffer?” he added.

A young man from the Western Galilee, who asked to be identified only as P., is in a similar situation. He has been married to a Bethlehemite for three years; the couple have an 18-month-old daughter.

“I’ve been on the phone for two days with my friends who are married to young women from Ramallah and Bethlehem. We feel lost,” P. said after the High Court ruling. “My wife has no standing that can grant her benefits. She can’t even drive in Israel.”

The Israeli human rights group Hamoked brings up another aspect of the High Court ruling – the children’s status. Chldren of permanent residents of East Jerusalem do not automatically receive the status of their parents. If they were born or ever registered as West Bank residents, the law restricts their ability to obtain status in Israel. They remain in Israel only by dint of military permits that must be renewed, and have no social benefits.

Samah Abu-Ramuz, 24, is one such case. She was born in Israel; her mother was a permanent resident of Israel and her father a former resident of Hebron. The center of her life is in Jerusalem, but because she is listed in the Palestinian population rolls, she is in a category called “area resident,” which deems her a security risk and denies her residency based on the Citizenship Law.

Such “area residents” above 14 whose Israeli parent submits a residency request for them receive only a military permit that must be renewed annually. Their situation may best be described by Abu-Ramuz: “I live in a constant state of uncertainty.”


6 Haaretz

Friday, January 13, 2012

Israel’s tent protest left homeless to deal with their own problems

Tents have been taken down, mass demonstrations stopped, activists ceased squatting empty buildings and the faces identified with the protest are no longer in the headlines.

By Ilan Lior and Eli Ashkenazi

Tags: Israel protest Israel strike Israel housing protest

[on subject of the tent protests effects see Gideon Levy Israel had a promising summer of protests, but then came the fall

Prices are rising, the cottage-cheese discounts are over, the rich are recovering from the blow, the defense budget has grown, the settlements thrive and Daphni Leef is once again looking for an apartment. ]

Six months after Daphni Leef set up the first tent on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, the social protest has all but disappeared. The tents have been taken down, the mass demonstrations dwindled then stopped, the activists ceased squatting empty buildings and the faces identified with the protest are no longer in the limelight or headlines.

The protest leaders split up to form two separate movements. Some of them are planning a political career. Students Union Chairman Itzik Shmuli moved to Lod, perhaps as a stepping stone to entering politics. Some activists are busy behind the scenes. One group is operating Beit Ha’am – the community center – on Rothschild Boulevard, hosting lectures and debates. Another group formed the “social guard” to monitor and report on the Knesset’s activities.

  The camp in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood earlier this week.

Photo by: Alon Ron

Some, however, were left behind. Homeless people’s tents still stand in Jerusalem, Rehovot, Jaffa, Holon, Bat Yam and Tel Aviv’s Hatikva Quarter. Dozens – some say hundreds – of men, women and children live permanently in these tents. “It’s not a protest, we have nowhere to go,” one of them says.

On Wednesday heavy showers fell in the Dan region, flooding the homeless people’s encampments. Orit Dayan, 37, a divorced mother of two, returns every day from her work cleaning rich people’s houses to the tent in Hatikva park. She says she cannot save enough money to rent a small apartment in south Tel Aviv.

The despair in Holon’s Jesse Cohen neighborhood is much deeper. The few who remain here consist of sick people, discharged prisoners, drug addicts and homeless people who had lived on benches and in public shelters until the social protest.

“I sleep in a tent with two sons,” says Avi Mordechai, 54, who suffered a stroke a year ago. The boys, aged 11 and 9, return from school every day to the tent.

“We eat tuna, a piece of bread, sometimes fruit. We can’t shower here, only once a week. We go to the toilet in the area across the road,” he says. “People here wish they were dead.”

These people feel they have been forgotten. No public officials come to see them any more.

“What is the government doing by not looking after our children? Raising a second generation of offenders,” says Mordechai. “I’m not asking for a three-room house, just a one-room mobile home.

Not far from there, in a park adjacent to Bat Yam’s municipality, the encampment looks deserted. “Everyone’s at work,” says Shakir Danilov. “They are regular people who can’t make ends meet.”

Danilov, 42, immigrated from Ukraine 18 years ago. In 2005 his health deteriorated and his wife and two children returned to his parents in Ukraine. In recent months he has been living in an improvised hut he built from pieces of wood he found in the street. In a tent inside the hut, which he shares with a few hedgehogs, he put a bed, a heater, a television, an iron, clothes and work tools.

“I’ll never make enough to buy a home. When there’s no roof over your head the family falls apart,” he says.

The municipalities blame the government for the homeless people’s condition. The Tel Aviv municipality offered grants of thousands of shekels to the homeless in Hatikva Quarter if they promise to leave the tents and rent an apartment. Some 50 families and individuals took the grant. Some of them returned recently and erect tents again. They had run out of money.

In Kiryat Shmona the municipality decided on Sunday to evacuate the last remaining encampment of many that were there in the summer. The excuse was the activists’ hooking the encampment up to the city’s water, sewerage and power systems. Some homeless people also live in the encampment.


7 The Independent

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The ‘invented people’ stand little chance

Robert Fisk

Thank goodness we don’t have to hear Newt Gingrich for a while.

His statement that the Palestinians were an “invented people” marked about the lowest point in the Republican-Christian Right-Likudist/Israel relationship. So deep has this pact now become that you can deny the existence of an entire people if you want to become US president. It’s time, surely, to take a look at this extraordinary movement, to remind ourselves – since US “statesmen” cannot – just what its implications really are.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly in New York on 23 September, few noticed a quite remarkable reference in his speech. In refusing Newt’s “invented” people’s request for statehood, he made an extremely unpleasant remark about “the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam”. But far more disturbing was this: “In 1984, when I was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubovich. He said to me … you’ll be serving in a house of many lies … remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.”

Did Obama and Clinton or anyone else pick up on this reverent memoir, indeed the only quotation from any of Netanyahu’s meetings which he chose to mention at the UN? For this is the rabbi who viewed himself as a messiah and whose followers stood behind Netanyahu in his successful 1996 election campaign. Only Sefi Rachlevsky in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz appeared to spot the significance of Netanyahu’s remark.

“The Lubavitcher Rebbe [sic] was famous for his vehement opposition to even the tiniest withdrawal from any territory ever held by the Israel Defence Forces, even in the framework of full peace,” Rachlevsky wrote. “The most prominent emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe – the great rabbi, as Netanyahu termed him at the United Nations – included Baruch Goldstein, perpetrator of the 1994 Hebron massacre, and Yitzhak Ginsburg, the rabbi of Yitzhar, he of the radical book Baruch the Man (which celebrates the massacre).” The rabbi, Rachlevsky continued, believed that in the land of the messiah, there is no room for Arabs. Newt was right on track, it seems. “Thus racism entered Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations – not ‘merely’ against Islam, but also against Arabs.”

And so the ghost of Goldstein slid into the UN, the doctor who put on his IDF uniform to enter the mosque of Abraham and slay 29 praying Arabs before being almost torn to pieces. His grave, in the neighbouring settlement of Kiryat Arba, is today treated by his admirers as a shrine. But, for the Prime Minister of Israel, the “crocodile” was militant Islam. Of course, Netanyahu can lavish praise on whatever oddball he wants – his predecessors, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin, officially received a Lebanese militiaman called Etienne Saqr whose civil war “Guardians of the Cedars” routinely mutilated Palestinian prisoners before putting them to death, and whose motto was “it is the duty of each Lebanese to kill one Palestinian” – but something very dark was getting loose here. The Israel of socialist kibbutzim and phoenix-like power, of honour and renewal that the world believed in after the Second World War, had vanished.

What came in its place? The Arab Awakening has allowed us to avoid this all-consuming question. That Israel has “veered to the right” (as if it might soon “veer” back to the left) has long been a sop phrase for American journalists – though it’s not long ago that one of them was instructed to refrain from referring to a Netanyahu cabinet as “right wing” on the grounds that this upset his paper’s Jewish readers. The presence of Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister – Nicolas Sarkozy has many times beseeched Netanyahu to get rid of him – is proof of that; it would be difficult to find a better Israeli “match” for the crackpot president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But something far more worrying is taking place.

In the United States, where Netanyahu received so many standing ovations from a Congress that apparently thought it was the Knesset – far more ovations than he would ever have received in the real Knesset in Jerusalem – Israel is increasingly relying on the support of Christian fundamentalists.

This support has now coalesced with the Republican Party against Obama – whose grovelling to Netanyahu has won him no new friends – so that over recent years, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is routinely used to attack the Democrats. Having once been sustained by the progressive left, Israel now draws its principal support from right-wing conservatism of a particularly unpleasant kind. Christian evangelicals believe that all Jews will die if they do not convert to Christianity on the coming of the Messiah. And right-wing racists in Europe – the most prominent of them being Dutch – are welcome in Israel, while the likes of Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein are not.

Not a word about this from the would-be Republican candidates and their followers these past few days. Governor Rick Perry has long accused Obama of “appeasement” in the Middle East, and former New York mayor Ed Koch has never withdrawn his claim that Obama “threw Israel under the bus”. Mitt Romney has said that he wants “to increase military and intelligence co-ordination with Israel” – as if the US hasn’t been handing out aircraft and billions of dollars to Israel for decades. What chance do an “invented people” have against this?


8          PLO General Delegation to US Expresses Outrage at 2011 Rise in Settlements Construction

Date : 12/1/2012


WSHINGTON, January 12, 2012 (WAFA) – The General Delegation of the PLO to the US is appalled at the 20% increase in Israeli settlement construction during 2011, Thursday said a statement by PLO General Delegation to United States.

On January 10, 2012, the independent Israeli group Peace Now released a report detailing Israeli settlement activity in 2011. The report shows a 20% increase in settlement construction from last year. More disturbing was the finding that approval of settlement plans in East Jerusalem was the highest in a decade.

These alarming findings demonstrate that the Palestinian objections to resuming talks without a settlement freeze were genuine and well founded; they were not red herrings as pro-Israel apologists in the US claimed.

Moreover, of all other Israeli violations, settlement construction is especially objectionable because it permanently alters the contiguity, viability, sovereignty, and demographic integrity of a future Palestinian state.

The fact that this Israeli government chose to accelerate construction of illegal settlements to unprecedented levels provides ample evidence that their peace rhetoric is nothing more than a thin veil to their true intentions with regards to establishing a viable, fully sovereign Palestinian state. It is political deception at its core.

Peace Now’s report coincides with the continued Israeli refusal to submit, in writing, counter proposal to the Palestinian ideas presented in the presence of Quartet and Jordanian mediators recently in Amman, Jordan.

the statment said that the General Delegation of the PLO to the US urged the US administration and the international community to pressure Israel to comply with international law and conventions, and to honor its obligations under signed-agreements, especially its obligation for the total cessation of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.


Palestine News & Information Agency – WAFA.

10.  Washington Post

Saturday, January 14, 2012

10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

By Jonathan Turley,

Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.

These countries also have constitutions that purport to guarantee freedoms and rights. But their governments have broad discretion in denying those rights and few real avenues for challenges by citizens — precisely the problem with the new laws in this country.

The list of powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11 puts us in rather troubling company.

Assassination of U.S. citizens

President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Last year, he approved the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi and another citizen under this claimed inherent authority. Last month, administration officials affirmed that power, stating that the president can order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists. (Nations such as Nigeria, Iran and Syria have been routinely criticized for extrajudicial killings of enemies of the state.)

Indefinite detention

Under the law signed last month, terrorism suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism. While the administration claims that this provision only codified existing law, experts widely contest this view, and the administration has opposed efforts to challenge such authority in federal courts. The government continues to claim the right to strip citizens of legal protections based on its sole discretion. (China recently codified a more limited detention law for its citizens, while countries such as Cambodia have been singled out by the United States for “prolonged detention.”)

Arbitrary justice

The president now decides whether a person will receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal, a system that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections. Bush claimed this authority in 2001, and Obama has continued the practice. (Egypt and China have been denounced for maintaining separate military justice systems for selected defendants, including civilians.)

Warrantless searches

The president may now order warrantless surveillance, including a new capability to force companies and organizations to turn over information on citizens’ finances, communications and associations. Bush acquired this sweeping power under the Patriot Act in 2001, and in 2011, Obama extended the power, including searches of everything from business documents to library records. The government can use “national security letters” to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens — and order them not to reveal the disclosure to the affected party. (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan operate under laws that allow the government to engage in widespread discretionary surveillance.)

Secret evidence

The government now routinely uses secret evidence to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would make the government reveal classified information that would harm national security — a claim made in a variety of privacy lawsuits and largely accepted by federal judges without question. Even legal opinions, cited as the basis for the government’s actions under the Bush and Obama administrations, have been classified. This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence. In addition, some cases never make it to court at all. The federal courts routinely deny constitutional challenges to policies and programs under a narrow definition of standing to bring a case.

War crimes

The world clamored for prosecutions of those responsible for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration, but the Obama administration said in 2009 that it would not allow CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for such actions. This gutted not just treaty obligations but the Nuremberg principles of international law. When courts in countries such as Spain moved to investigate Bush officials for war crimes, the Obama administration reportedly urged foreign officials not to allow such cases to proceed, despite the fact that the United States has long claimed the same authority with regard to alleged war criminals in other countries. (Various nations have resisted investigations of officials accused of war crimes and torture. Some, such as Serbia and Chile, eventually relented to comply with international law; countries that have denied independent investigations include Iran, Syria and China.)

Secret court

The government has increased its use of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has expanded its secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations. In 2011, Obama renewed these powers, including allowing secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group. The administration has asserted the right to ignore congressional limits on such surveillance. (Pakistan places national security surveillance under the unchecked powers of the military or intelligence services.)

Immunity from judicial review

Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has successfully pushed for immunity for companies that assist in warrantless surveillance of citizens, blocking the ability of citizens to challenge the violation of privacy. (Similarly, China has maintained sweeping immunity claims both inside and outside the country and routinely blocks lawsuits against private companies.)

Continual monitoring of citizens

The Obama administration has successfully defended its claim that it can use GPS devices to monitor every move of targeted citizens without securing any court order or review. (Saudi Arabia has installed massive public surveillance systems, while Cuba is notorious for active monitoring of selected citizens.)

Extraordinary renditions

The government now has the ability to transfer both citizens and noncitizens to another country under a system known as extraordinary rendition, which has been denounced as using other countries, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, to torture suspects. The Obama administration says it is not continuing the abuses of this practice under Bush, but it insists on the unfettered right to order such transfers — including the possible transfer of U.S. citizens.

These new laws have come with an infusion of money into an expanded security system on the state and federal levels, including more public surveillance cameras, tens of thousands of security personnel and a massive expansion of a terrorist-chasing bureaucracy.

Some politicians shrug and say these increased powers are merely a response to the times we live in. Thus, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) could declare in an interview last spring without objection that “free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.” Of course, terrorism will never “surrender” and end this particular “war.”

Other politicians rationalize that, while such powers may exist, it really comes down to how they are used. This is a common response by liberals who cannot bring themselves to denounce Obama as they did Bush. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), for instance, has insisted that Congress is not making any decision on indefinite detention: “That is a decision which we leave where it belongs — in the executive branch.”

And in a signing statement with the defense authorization bill, Obama said he does not intend to use the latest power to indefinitely imprison citizens. Yet, he still accepted the power as a sort of regretful autocrat.

An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.

The framers lived under autocratic rule and understood this danger better than we do. James Madison famously warned that we needed a system that did not depend on the good intentions or motivations of our rulers: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

Benjamin Franklin was more direct. In 1787, a Mrs. Powel confronted Franklin after the signing of the Constitution and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” His response was a bit chilling: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Since 9/11, we have created the very government the framers feared: a government with sweeping and largely unchecked powers resting on the hope that they will be used wisely.

The indefinite-detention provision in the defense authorization bill seemed to many civil libertarians like a betrayal by Obama. While the president had promised to veto the law over that provision, Levin, a sponsor of the bill, disclosed on the Senate floor that it was in fact the White House that approved the removal of any exception for citizens from indefinite detention.

Dishonesty from politicians is nothing new for Americans. The real question is whether we are lying to ourselves when we call this country the land of the free.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

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