Land and property theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansin

After Birthright: Hebron – 500 settlers, 2,000 soldiers, and the tensest place I’ve ever been / Rachel Marcuse

…My discomfort increases as I begin to more fully understand the situation, a situation which is almost literally on top of me. I look up at a net hanging above the souk. It’s full of garbage and other debris. The Jewish settlers, who number about 500, have built homes above both sides of the market street. I am told that the net is to protect the Palestinians below from the garbage, urine, eggs and bleach routinely thrown at them by the settlers. I can see evidence of the refuse in the net right above me. One of the shopkeepers shows me egg stains on the scarves he is selling. Hebron feels tense; in fact, it’s the most tense place I have ever been.

A common struggle for East Jerusalem / Daniel Pelz

17 Sept – Tension is growing in the Arab quarters of East Jerusalem. The city administration plans to allow the further demolition of Palestinian houses. The human rights organization “Rabbis for Human Rights,” which vehemently champions the defence of Palestinian rights, has been demonstrating against the demolition. Daniel Pelz reports.

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Bil’in holds weekly protest as Abdallah Abu Rahmah faces two-year-sentence

Here’s an update from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee on the case of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leader in the Bil’in protests against the Wall: The sentencing phase in the trial of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, began Wednesday at the Ofer Military Court. Abu Rahmah was convicted of organizing illegal marches and of incitement last month, but cleared of the violence charges he was indicted for – stone-throwing and a vindictive arms-possession charge for collecting used tear-gas projectiles and displaying them.

Israeli army shuts down anti-wall rallies

Villagers, Israelis, and international activists in Bil’in demanded the release of political prisoners from Israeli jails. Demonstrators wore masks of local non-violent resistance leader Abdullah Abu Rahmah, who is being held at Ofer military prison charged with incitement. Others wore masks of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, organizers said … Organizers said troops then crossed the separation fence, and fired rubber-coated steel bullets, hitting a young Palestinian in his back, while an Israeli protester, Tali Shapiro, was hit in the leg by a tear canister. At a simultaneous protest in Ni’lin village, in the Ramallah district, local popular committee leaders reported that Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition at protesters, injuring two, while others fainted from tear-gas inhalation … In Al Ma’sara, near Bethlehem, soldiers stopped protesters as they headed towards the construction site of the separation wall on village land after midday prayers.

Israeli soldiers attack anti wall protesters near Ramallah; two injured

Ramallah – PNN – Israeli soldiers used  tear gas and sound bombs on Friday midday to suppress two anti wall protests in Bil’in and Nil’in villages near the central West Bank city of Ramallah… Leading the protest [in Bil’in] was a group of men who wore masks resembling Nilsson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Abdullah Abu Rahama the local activist who was arrested by the military eight months ago. Abu Rahma was sentenced for two years in jail this week by an Israeli military court.

Audio: ‘They persecuted Ameer to keep us silent’

The trial of Palestinian citizen of Israel and civil society leader Ameer Makhoul resumes today in Haifa. Charged with espionage and other trumped-up security allegations, Makhoul denies the charges and maintains that “evidence” gathered by the state was obtained through coercion. Last month The Electronic Intifada contributor Hyun Lee interviewed Makhoul’s wife, activist Janan Abdu, and Gabrielle Rubin, media coordinator with Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel about Makhoul’s case.

Video: My Name Is Rachel Corrie

Email Courtney, and have her perform My Name Is Rachel Corrie in your town or on your campus

Human rights volunteers from New Zealand and Australia needed in Palestine

The International Women¹s Peace Service (IWPS) is a team of international female human-rights volunteers in Palestine who provide accompaniment to Palestinian civilians (including farmers during the annual olive harvest), document and non-violently intervene in human-rights abuses and support acts of non-violent resistance to end the Israeli military occupation and construction of the barrier throughout the West Bank. IWPS is currently inviting applications from women based in Australia and New Zealand who would like to join our team of long-term volunteers. We are also inviting applications from women who would like to work with IWPS on a short term basis.

Why we are boycotting the Batsheva Dance Company

The following is an open letter to the Batsheva Dance Company from two groups organizing a boycott of its upcoming shows in New York City: Dear Batsheva Dance Company, We are a group of New York-based human rights activists and artists calling for a boycott of your performances at the Joyce Theater in New York City due to your collaboration with the Israeli state and its Brand Israel campaign. Launched in 2005, Brand Israel is a government public relations initiative which uses cultural productions to distract from Israel’s daily human rights violations.

Israeli beauty products company Ahava complicit in the sins of occupation

Ahava is owned by entities deeply involved in Israel’s settlement project in the occupied West Bank. Activists are fighting to show it can’t hide its dirty side — Walk into any Ricky’s store, a beauty shop chain in New York, and you will find a shelf filled with Ahava products. For $28, you can buy mineral toning cleanser; for $22, Dead Sea liquid salt; and for $9, purifying mud soap. The products made by Ahava (which means “love” in Hebrew) seem innocent enough, perfectly enticing for anyone fond of beauty products. But looks can be deceiving.

No matzo, no peace

Matzo and bath salts are stirring up controversy over at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, where a fraction of its 12,000 owner-members is moving to boycott products that come from Israel. The boycott is being pushed by the Sacramento Boycott, Divestments, Sanctions Working Group. The group says the boycott would end when Israel stops its Gaza blockade, exits the West Bank, grants Arab Israelis the same rights as Jewish Israelis and lets Palestinian refugees return.


UN panel probing Israel’s raid on Gaza flotilla receives Turkey’s report

A four-member United Nations panel probing Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla has received Turkey’s investigative report, a UN envoy said on Friday.”The panel has said that it had received Turkey’s own investigative report together with its appendices,” said Robert Serry, UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East. Serry said the panel would begin examining the reports after Israel submitted its own.

Report: Gaza-bound Syrian aid ship sets sail

An aid boat destined for Gaza set sail Saturday from the Syrian port of Tartous, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported. State Minister for the Syrian Red Crescent Basahr Al-Shaar said the ship will bring 650 tons of humanitarian aid, including 40 tons of medical supplies, and will travel to Gaza via the Egyptian port of Al-Arish

New aid convoy departs for Gaza

London, England (CNN) — A survivor of the fatal Gaza flotilla incident in May headed out Saturday on a new convoy to bring medical supplies to the Palestinian territory. Kevin Ovenden departed London on Saturday morning with about a dozen vans and more than 30 international volunteers as part of the Viva Palestina Lifeline 5 convoy. Two other convoys were being organized at the same time from Casablanca, Morocco, and Doha, Qatar, his group said. The three convoys will aim to meet in Syria before traveling together to Gaza, organizers said.

The Siege (Gaza and West Bank) / Restriction of movement / Humanitarian / Human rights

Watch: Gaza fish farms make up for blockade

Steps away from the Mediterranean, Gaza markets are suffering from a fish shortage … Some entrepreneurs have started local fish farms to make up for the fish inaccessible by sea. Ibrahim Qannan shows what the farms look like, and the challenges they face. Filmed for a series of short features broadcast during the holy month of Ramadan, Lina Ibrahim’s story aired as part of the program Hay Baladna (This is Our Country), which highlights the challenges and successes of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem and cities now in Israel. The programs are broadcast on the only Palestinian satellite channel in Israel, and can be viewed in homes across the Middle East.

Gaza voices: Business under the eased blockade (BBC)

“There is no real change yet,” says Marwan Kishawi. “But they say that this week the Israelis will allow the first new cars into Gaza in over three years.” Until now the only way to get a new car was to order one to be smuggled in the tunnels from Egypt. But this week, Mr Kishawi says two trucks of spare parts were allowed into Gaza for the first time in years. But he has not seen the parts yet. He says there is a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork to get the parts into Gaza. Mr Kishawi says he has not sold a new car since 2006. “It will be exciting if it happens,” he says, his smile suggesting he’ll believe it when he sees it.

12 rescued from Gaza tunnels

Medics reported that 12 injured workers were rescued Friday from two tunnels under Gaza’s border with Egypt. Civil defense crews evacuated six workers after they reported being suffocated by gas in an underground tunnel near the Salah Ad-Din gate south of Rafah. The six men were transferred to the Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah for treatment. A seventh man who remained trapped in the tunnel was rescued on Friday afternoon, and during the rescue two others were found in the underground terminal, bringing the total number of casualties from the incident to 10. Three trapped workers were also rescued from a second tunnel which had collapsed in the Al-Brazil neighborhood on Friday morning.

Gaza’s police force: Between Hamas and a hard place (TIME)

…Indeed, Gaza’s police force may be one of the more unusual ones patrolling the world’s streets. The force is administered by the tiny territory’s Interior Ministry, which in turn is run by the Hamas government … Most of their police cars are unusable, crushed or burnt carcasses after last year’s Israeli air and land assault. They try not to get too ambitious with their training, they say, because there is always the possibility of another attack from above. And yet, in a region known for its police states, Gaza’s police force is somewhat of an anomaly. In neighboring Egypt, for example, the police are so notoriously corrupt and inefficient that they are rarely called upon by civilians to resolve day-to-day crises. But Gaza’s citizenry frequently ask the police to mediate everyday disputes, particularly family feuds, which authorities say can often turn violent.,8599,2019151,00.html?xid=rss-world

West Bank and Gaza: Social Safety Net Reform Project

The Social Safety Net Reform Project has supported the Palestinian Authority in developing and managing one of the most advanced cash assistance programs in the region. It is also designed to be expanded during crises if needed. The project, after merging with another initiative backed by the European Union, has provided cash transfers to more than 63,000 poor families using an effective poverty-targeting mechanism and database.

Violence / Aggression & Provocations

JCSER: ‘Bound Palestinian shot to death by Israeli policeman’

The Documentation and Research Unit at the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER) reported Saturday that the Palestinian resident from Jerusalem who was shot by an Israeli soldiers in Tel Aviv on September 14 was bound before he was killed. The center said that Hazim Adel Abu Al Dab’at, 22, from Al Thoury neighborhood in East Jerusalem was shot to death after being forced to the ground while cuffed. The report contradicts the statement of the Israeli police.

Hamas member’s killing flies under Israeli public’s radar

Israeli forces burst into the home of a senior member of Hamas early Friday morning and killed him with three bullets to the chest, though few Israelis know anything about it … The killing took place just a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left the area following two days of peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. And it came just hours before Israelis celebrated Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish holidays. As a result, there was almost no news of the killing in Israeli media

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban: When they shout ‘We strongly condemn’

17 Sept – On August 29, 2010, Martin Indyk wrote an op-ed in The New York Times entitled “For once, hope in the Middle East”.  When I read it, I felt I should respond with an article that sheds light on the issues which Mr. Indyk has chosen to ignore.  One of the premises he based his analysis on was that violence has receded in the Middle East in the past two years compared with the 1990s.  Here, like most Western officials and journalists, Indyk ignores daily and persistent Israeli violence against Palestinians for the past sixty years which has risen to record levels in terms of the number and ferocity of Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians in the past two years, particularly in the city of Hebron.

Israel’s Arab helpers

Gaza govt: PA, Israel colluded in assassination

Palestinian Authority Security Forces detained slain Hamas leader Iyad Shelbaya seven times in the past two years, Gaza government spokesman Taher An-Nunu said Saturday. The repeated detentions, which followed an 11-month period in Israeli prison starting in 2003, An-Nunu said, was akin to collaboration with Israel on the part of PA security. On Friday morning in the northern West Bank governorate of Tulkarem, the 38-year-old Shelbaya was killed in his Nur Shams refugee camp home by three gunshot wounds to the neck and chest. An-Nunu accused the ruling West Bank party Fatah, of providing Israel with a “cover” for the killing, which Israeli military officials said Friday was under investigation.

PNA condemns killing of Hamas commander

Palestinian National Authority ( PNA) on Friday condemned the killing of a Hamas commander by the Israeli forces in the West Bank. “This is a dangerous escalation weakening the credibility of the negotiations which are already shaking,” Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in a statement.

Hamas: PA continues targeted detentions

Hamas officials in the West Bank said [accused?] Palestinian Authority security services officers of detaining 22 members and affiliates from across the West Bank. While Ma’an could not independently verify the detentions, rights organizations like the Palestinian Center for Human Rights cataloged hundreds of detentions since 30 August, when Hamas-affiliated militants killed four Israeli settlers driving in the West Bank. On Friday, Hamas officials said PA forces were targeting the family and friends of officials elected in 2006 to the Palestinian Legislative Council under the Hamas bloc.

Palestinian officials launch ‘smiles campaign’ in US Jewish media

…The Palestinians hope to utilize Abbas’ trip to carry out what they describe as a “smiles and appeasement campaign” among America’s Jewish community, in efforts to raise sympathy and support among U.S. Jews. Abbas’ senior advisers were also trying to secure an interview on the popular channel Fox News.


Gaza faction says projectiles launched on Israeli force

The An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades said fighters launched three projectiles from east of Rafah toward Israeli targets in the western Negev on Saturday morning. The militant unit, part of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, said the projectiles were launched toward Israeli forces operating in the area. A statement from the group said no injuries were identified … Almost a dozen other projectile launches reported by the Israeli military have not been claimed by Gaza factions. Israeli forces have launched three separate rounds of airstrikes targeting what officials said were weapons smuggling tunnels and Hamas training facilities.

Armed Gaza group says Israeli forces fired on fighters

The armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said fighters with their National Resistance Brigades evaded an Israeli military ambush in the Gaza Strip overnight. A statement from the group said operatives east of Wadi Al-Salqa in the central Gaza Strip were fired on by forces.

‘Peace talks’ / Political/Diplomatic news

Sha’ath: 30 September will be decisive

Negotiations team member Nabil Sha’ath said Friday night that the last day of September would be the turning point for fledgling peace talks. While officials have disputed the actual end of the settlement construction moratorium – some saying 26 September and other saying 30 – Sha’ath pegged the end of the month as the final date for negotiators to determine whether or not they would walk away from the process.

Report: Mitchell explores Obama/Sleiman meeting

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and US Mideast envoy George Mitchell discussed a possible meeting with US President Barack Obama when the Lebanese leader visits Washington on 21 September, a Lebanese newspaper reported Saturday. Beirut’s daily An-Nahar newspaper said the issue was discussed as Mitchell extended the latest round of Israel-Palestine peace talks with visits to Syria and Lebanon, where [he] met with UNIFIL forces operating in the area since the end of the 2006 Israeli war on the south of the country.

Israel complains to UN over Lebanon-Hezbollah ties

Israeli officials sent a letter of complaint to the UN Secretary General and Security Council over what was claimed as complicity between the Lebanese army and Hezbollah forces, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Saturday.

Iranian, Syrian presidents meet after Assad-US talks

(Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met in Damascus on Saturday, two days after Assad held talks with a U.S. envoy about the prospects of renewing peace negotiations with Israel. The meeting suggested that Iran wants to keep close tabs on Syria’s relations with the United States as Washington presses the secular ruling hierarchy in Damascus to distance itself from the Islamic Republic.

Other news

Yom Kippur fasting day begins; Israel grinds to a halt

Jerusalem (AP) – Israel came to a virtual standstill at sundown Friday as Jews began observing the start of the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, the 25 hours of fasting and contemplation known as Yom Kippur. Though most Israelis are not religious, Israel all but shuts down for the duration of the fast day. There are no TV or radio broadcasts, businesses are shuttered and the streets are so devoid of cars that thousands of children take advantage of the day to ride their bicycles down highways.

New Israel Fund issues the guidelines: Grantees must support Jewish self-determination

We reported on Richard Silverstein’s initial fears of Nwe Israel Fund’s new guidelines, that they would bar funding to those who opposed Israel as a Jewish state. Then it looked like compromise language was in the works. Finally, the guidelines are out, and they call instead for grantees to support Jewish self-determination within the state of Israel.

Ethiopian bride’s fight for Jewish marriage

An Ethiopian woman fought for four years to be recognized as a Jew refusing rabbis’ demands to undergo conversion procedures and was even forced to postpone her wedding. Last week, the Great Rabbinical court in Jerusalem declared she will be able to bathe in a mikveh prior to her wedding and ruled there will be no record of her undergoing a procedure to return to Judaism.,7340,L-3948137,00.html

World Bank approves $40 million grant for PA

The World Bank approved a grant dedicated to support the Palestinian Authority’s government budget on Thursday, a report from the body said. Although the report criticized optimistic growth numbers it said were “largely thanks to external financial aid,” and noted “critical private sector investment remains hampered by restrictions on movement of people and goods,” the funds were dedicated to the government budget, and not the private sector.

Analysis / Opinion / Human interest

***Blowback: What Israel wants from the Palestinians, it takes / Ahmed Moor in the Los Angeles TImes

Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael B. Oren, argues in his Sept. 15 Times Op-Ed article that Israelis want peace, and I believe him. They’ve said so often enough. But the Israelis want lots of other things too. For instance, they want the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, they want the Palestinian aquifers situated beneath the West Bank, and they want to preserve their racial privilege in the Jewish state. They also want to shear the Gaza Strip from Palestine. Most of all, the Israelis want Palestinian quiescence in the face of Israeli wants. Those wants have made the two-state solution impossible to implement.

Responding to Michael Oren, in his own words / Shakeel Syed

The following is a response to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s September 15th editorial in the Los Angeles Times: Imagine that you are a parent who sends her children off to school in the morning worrying whether they will be arbitrarily stopped, stripped nearly naked, and in most cases returned back home from an Israeli checkpoint without any redress process. Imagine that, instead of going off to college, your children at age 18 are stripped of their dignity and honor and continue to remain colonized until they die … Picture all of that and you will begin to understand what it is to be a Palestinian. And you will know why all Palestinians have desperately striven for peace for more than sixty years.

Carter in new book: Obama turned back on settlement freeze (AP)

The former U.S. president also criticizes Bill Clinton, writing that Israeli settlement building in the West Bank was especially rapid under his administration. — In his new book, former United States president Jimmy Carter criticizes President Barack Obama over his policy on Israel’s settlement freeze, writing that the President has backed away from his initial commitment to a complete halt to building in West Bank settlements. The Associated Press purchased a copy of Carter’s book, White House Diary, on Friday, ahead of its release Monday.

American public opinion and the special relationship with Israel / John Mearsheimer

There is no question that the United States has a relationship with Israel that has no parallel in modern history. Washington gives Israel consistent, almost unconditional diplomatic backing and more foreign aid than any other country. In other words, Israel gets this aid even when it does things that the United States opposes, like building settlements. Furthermore, Israel is rarely criticized by American officials and certainly not by anyone who aspires to high office.

Canada collusion in suppressing Palestinians / Yves Engler

Current peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials are unlikely to end, let alone reverse, Palestinian dispossession. The power imbalance between the sides is simply too great. While Canada could be part of the solution, so far it has been part of the problem.

Brooklyn-Jenin: On the banality of good and evil / Udi Aloni
Mustafa and his family will accompany us throughout the next posts; so will the remarkable and inconceivable tale of how Mustafa became one of the prominent voices in the struggle for the Palestinian woman’s rights. But, unfortunately, like in any other truly, remarkable story in Palestine the occupation spoils it all, or almost all. 

Includes short film “I am Black as well” by Ayed Fadel, Maryam Abu Khaleid, Mustafa Staidi.

How do you wreck the mind of a child? One word – war / Jeffrey Kluger

As yet another round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks crank up, here’s something that the intractable parties on both sides might consider: Neither country is going to have much of a future if they persist in driving their kids crazy. It’s hardly a secret that children and war don’t mix, and there is nothing that should shame us more than seeing kids hurt or killed in the pointless battles the adults around them wage. But children who escape without a visible scratch are being scarred too, and a new, three-year study of 1,500 Arab and Israeli young people shows how bad the damage is.

By colonial design

Ann Stoler, the Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research, endorses BDS: As someone who has worked for some thirty years as a teacher and student of colonial studies– on comparative colonial situations, colonial histories, and the violent and subtle forms of governance on which colonial regimes rely, it would be difficult not to describe the Israeli state as a colonial one.

Concept and contempt / Uri Avnery

…A war had broken out. The Egyptians and the Syrians had launched an attack on Israel. Yom Kippur, by far the holiest day of Judaism, 37 years ago today (according to the Hebrew calendar). SINCE THEN, on every Yom Kippur we remember that fateful day. Impossible not to. It was a watershed in our life and in the history of Israel, a formative event for the entire Semitic region. Today, as on every Yom Kippur since, the quiet, the silence in the streets, encourages us to think. As a witness, I have the urge to testify.

Novel gets to truth of Sabra and Shatila / Matthew Cassel

…UK author Mischa Hiller’s first novel Sabra Zoo is told through the eyes of a young man named Ivan. Sabra Zoo follows the adventures of this son of a Dutch mother and Palestinian father who serves as an officer in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Beirut during the most intense period of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.

Book review: To the End of the Land by David Grossman / Jacqueline Rose

For some time now, David Grossman has been describing his writing as a means of survival, as a way of no longer feeling a victim in the “disaster zone” of the seemingly eternal conflict that is Israel-Palestine … To the End of the Land tells the story of Ora, who leaves her home in Jerusalem to walk across Israel to Galilee, in order to avoid the “notifiers” who might arrive at any moment to inform her of the death of her son. It is the trip they had planned together to celebrate his discharge from military service … To the End of the Land is a chronicle that loops back through Ora’s memory and history to cover every war since the founding of Israel in 1948. Ora believes that Israel has no future: “It doesn’t really have a chance, this country. It just doesn’t.”

Israelis, Palestinians unite on sports field (AP)

JERUSALEM (AP)—In one of the Middle East’s key flashpoints, a group of Israelis and Palestinians are putting aside their differences and teaming up on the sports field to chase a common goal. The Judean Rebels is the first West Bank team in Israel’s amateur American football league. Most of the players are Jewish Israelis, many of them West Bank settlers, but five are Palestinian.

Khattib’s bumpy ride / Gil Brenner

[a minority of one? self-delusion personified] An initiative to integrate east Jerusalemites into National Service is stirring up the local Arab population and challenging city hall — Nusseibah Khattib, a Muslim Israeli-Arab from the village of Barta’a, hasn’t had a good night’s sleep for weeks. Small wonder.

Iraq / Other Mideast

Friday: 1 US soldier, 10 Iraqis killed, 20 Iraqis wounded

Excerpt: A leading Iraqiya Party member today announced a deal that could finally break the elections deadlock paralyzing the Iraqi government. Influential Shi’ite cleric Abdel Mahdi al-Karbalai seemed to be referring to the deal when he told parishioners there were “signs of a breakthrough” and “glimmers of hope.” Meanwhile, 10 Iraqis were killed and 20 more were wounded in the latest attacks. Also, an American soldier was killed in a non-combat incident in Iskandariya.

Inside Iraq: ‘New order, same abuse’?

AlJazeera English – An Amnesty International report says tens of thousands of Iraqi detainees held without trial in Iraq, remain at risk of torture.

Deal reached to have Abdulmahdi as PM, Allawi as president – Iraqiya

BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq: A leading member of al-Iraqiya said on Friday that her bloc has reached an “initial agreement” with the Iraqi National Alliance and the Kurdistan Alliance to have Adel Abdulmahdi as prime minister and Iyad Allawi as president while the Kurds will get the parliament chairmanship. “The agreement came as natural reaction for attempts to marginalize al-Iraqiya, the INA and the Kurdistan Alliance under the government of Nouri al-Maliki,” Aliya Nusseif told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

Invasion has left one-fifth of Iraqis illiterate: Iraqi official

…The waves of violence that swept the country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion played a major role in increasing the illiteracy rate in Iraq, said Walid Hassan, Ministry of Education spokesman. “The high level of illiteracy since the invasion is mainly because children drop out of schools in order to work and support their families after they lost everything in the war,” he said in the statement.

As Iraq winds down, US army confronts a broken force

WASHINGTON — When Lt. Col. Dave Wilson took command of a battalion of the 4th Brigade of the 1st Armored Division, the unit had just returned to Texas from 14 months traveling some of Iraq’s most dangerous roads as part of a logistics mission. What he found, he said, was a unit far more damaged than the single death it had suffered in its two deployments to Iraq.

Hizbullah halts armed family feud in southern suburbs

BEIRUT: An armed clash erupted in Beirut’s southern suburbs as a result of a family dispute, a well-informed security source told The Daily Star on Friday. Twelve shots were fired in the town of Ghobeiry in the scuffle that pitted members of the Mikdad family against those from the Karaki family. The source said that members from Hizbullah resolved the dispute and ordered the armed men to evacuate the area before the arrival of the Lebanese Army. There were no casualties.

Egyptian paper defends doctored photo

A state-run newspaper on Friday defended a decision to publish a doctored photograph putting Egypt’s president front and center at Mideast peace talks in Washington, saying it was meant to illustrate Hosni Mubarak’s key role.,7340,L-3955758,00.html

Pakistan / Afghanistan

[US] public opinion and the war on Afghanistan / Glenn Greenwald

Opponents of the Iraq War frequently criticized the Bush administration for continuing and then escalating that war even in the face of large majorities which opposed it, culminating in the furor that erupted when Dick Cheney, asked about war opposition, contemptuously dismissed public opinion as irrelevant with his infamously candid: “So?”.  Yesterday,a new NYT/CBS poll revealed that 54% of Americans believe that the U.S. “should not be involved in Afghanistan now,” while only 38% believe “the U.S. is doing the right thing by fighting the war in Afghanistan now.”

US drone strikes kill 15 in N. Waziristan / Juan Cole

15 Sept – The Associated Press does an important story about an intensive drone strike campaign by the US military since September 2 in southern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s North Waziristan that has left 60 persons dead, among them innocent civilians. On Tuesday alone, US drone attacks targeting suspected militants killed some 15 persons in the village of Dargah Mandi village on the outskirts of Miranshah, N. Waziristan’s main city.

Afghan vote a foregone conclusion

As Afghans elect a new parliament on September 18, the result can already by spelled out since the party-less system ensures the return of 249 individuals unbound by allegiance to any group, without a clear vision for the country’s future, and whose only leverage is to block the government. Electoral fraud will be rife – and the crowning absurdity is the voting system. – Aunohita Mojumdar

Afghans brave attacks to vote

Afghans have cast their ballots in crucial parliamentary elections, held amid attacks across the country by Taliban fighters who sought to derail the vote. At least 10 people were killed in the violence unleashed by the Taliban on Saturday, prompting many Afghans to stay away from the polls. The Taliban claimed to have launched more than 100 separate attacks on the day, firing rockets in several cities and targeting a convoy carrying the governor of Kandahar, the Taliban heartland in the south of the country. The governor was not injured  in the attack. Despite the spate of attacks, Afghan security officials said overall security during the polling day had been better than expected.

Early figures show Afghans cast 3.6 million votes

KABUL, Sept 18 (Reuters) – Preliminary figures showed 3.6 million votes were cast in Afghanistan’s parliamentary poll on Saturday, election officials said, after polls closed on a day clouded by security and fraud concerns. The figure represented around 40 percent of the maximum possible votes at all polling stations that were open. However 1,561 polling centres out of a planned 6,835 could not be opened because of security fears.

UN seeks $2bn in Pakistan flood aid

The United Nations has made a fresh appeal to raise an additional $1.5bn in humanitarian aid to help Pakistan recover from crippling floods that have displaced millions of people. The appeal, the largest-ever disaster appeal in UN history, was announced on Friday by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.

Islam in America

Jewish groups denounce ‘Museum of Tolerance’ builder Simon Wiesenthal Center for support of Islamophobia

A coalition of four Jewish groups, backed by a wide array of peace and justice organizations, held a demonstration Sept. 16 outside the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in New York, denouncing the organization’s opposition to the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan.

Muslim summit planned over NYC Islamic center (AP)

NEW YORK — Some Muslims who were initially indifferent about a proposed Islamic center near the World Trade Center site are now rallying around the plan, partly in response to a sense that their faith is under assault. A summit of U.S. Muslim organizations is planned for Saturday and Sunday in New York City to address both the project and a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments and rhetoric that has accompanied the debate over the project.

The use of pliable and reliable assets to advance a narrative — The hate mongers among us, Part 3 / Jeff Gates

Many of America’s most prominent political leaders were induced to comment on “International Burn A Koran Day”—a high profile provocation proposed by a Christian-Zionist preacher with a small congregation in a small town in Florida. 

When U.S. General David Petraeus spoke out against the proposal, the issue immediately gained an international profile as did Pastor Terry Jones who quickly became an international celebrity. One need not dig deep to identify who may have advised General Petraeus to grant a global profile to a provocation consistent with Israeli goals for the region.

The Listening Post: The Quran burning that never happened

AlJazeera English – We look at the global media obsession over the Quran burning story

East Lansing police say they’ve ID’d Quran burner

Detroit – Police announced today they’ve identified the person responsible for the burning of a Quran outside an East Lansing mosque that sparked violence in India. The individual, who has not yet been named by police, voluntarily surrendered Wednesday after police announced a $10,000 reward for tips in the case.

School visit to mosque decried

Wellesley’s school superintendent apologized yesterday for allowing middle school pupils to participate in a prayer service during a field trip to a Roxbury mosque last spring. The apology to parents was made after a group that has been critical of Islamic Society of Boston Community Center – New England’s largest mosque and Muslim cultural center -released a 10-minute video featuring footage of Wellesley pupils bowing their heads during a prayer service. The group, Americans for Peace and Tolerance[!], received the footage from a mother of one of the pupils, its director, Dennis Hale, said yesterday. [See for the mosque’s official reply to this story, including:”By skillfully cutting and pasting clips out of context, the producers of this video have knowingly misrepresented the actual events … Far worse is the accusation that the spokesperson not only invited students to pray but that she also instructed them how to pray. There was absolutely no invitation or expectation that students would join in the prayer. In fact, they were instructed to be seated and to remain silent as they observed the prayer, so as not to disturb the worshipers.”]


Who are the remaining prisoners in Guantanamo? Part Two: Captured in Afghanistan (2001)

This second article tells the stories of 27 prisoners seized in Afghanistan, mostly in December 2001. A handful are reportedly significant figures in the Taliban, and most of the rest were either transferred to US custody after a massacre in a fort in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, or were seized after the Battle of Tora Bora, a showdown between al-Qaeda and US forces in the mountains near Jalalabad. Noticeably, only a few are accused of any serious involvement with al-Qaeda or terrorist activities (although these claims are themselves dubious), and three others have lost their habeas corpus petitions. It is also worth remarking that the majority of the men discussed in this chapter are Yemenis, and that many have presumably been cleared for release by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, but are waiting to see if the President will, at any point the future, lift the unprincipled moratorium on transfers to Yemen that he announced in January.

Australia: Former Guantanamo prisoner denied passport again

Former Australian Guantánamo Bay prisoner Mamdouh Habib was last month again denied his right to a passport by the Labor government on the grounds that he was “likely to engage in conduct that might prejudice the security of Australia or a foreign country”. The foreign minister has wide-ranging powers under Section 14 of the Australian Passports Act to deny or cancel passports on that basis. Since 2001, more than 40 Australians have had their passports cancelled under Section 14.

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