Israeli intel firm behind Pennsylvania’s ‘terror’ bulletins on peace, environment, LGBT groups

Sep 15, 2010

Ali Abunimah


ITRR1 jpg scaled 500

The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response website.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has just ordered his state’s Homeland Security director to cancel a $125,000 contract with an outfit called the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR). The Associated Press reports

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Information about an anti-BP candlelight vigil, a gay and lesbian festival and other peaceful gatherings became the subject of anti-terrorism bulletins being distributed by Pennsylvania’s homeland security office, an apologetic Gov. Ed Rendell admitted.

Rendell, who claimed he’d just learned about the practice, said Tuesday that the information was useless to law enforcement agencies and that distributing it was tantamount to trampling on constitutional rights. In recent weeks, several acts of vandalism at drilling sites spurred the inclusion of events likely to be attended by environmentalists and the bulletins began going to representatives of Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry.

A Philadelphia rally organized by a nonprofit group to support Rendell’s push for higher spending on public schools even made a bulletin, as did drilling protests at a couple of Rendell’s news conferences this month as he toured the state to boost support for a tax on the natural gas industry.

“I am deeply embarrassed and I apologize to any of the groups who had this information disseminated on their right to peacefully protest,” Rendell said at an evening Capitol news conference.

Rendell called the practice “ludicrous” and said the fact that the state was paying for such rudimentary information was “stunning.”

Still, Rendell said he was not firing his homeland security director, James Powers, but he ordered an end to the $125,000 contract with the Philadelphia-based organization, the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, that supplied the information.

ITRR2 jpg scaled 500What AP does not say is that ITRR is an Israeli “security” and “anti-terrorism” company — and like most of such companies has close ties to Israeli military and intelligence. According to ITRR’s website, the group describes itself as “the preeminent Israeli/American security firm providing training, intelligence and education to clients across the globe.”

The site boasts of its “Israeli-style training” that “All ITRR courses are approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense.” ITRR lists among its “partners” such groups as “The Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute” and it lists its offices in Philadelphia and Jerusalem. ITRR also shockingly is a “partner” of Philadelphia University.

This nefarious outfit which boasts of its “approval” by the the war criminals at the Israeli Ministry of Defense has been caught red-handed violating the constitutional rights of Americans. How many more states or municipalities have contracts with this human-rights-abusing front? This is an urgent matter that media and civil rights groups must investigate.


Going through ITRR’s website I found this item which states:

All of the information ITRR’s staff creates is sent to its monitoring center in Jerusalem, where it is analyzed and verified with other local sources.

“We never have just one member of the ground truth network in a country,” Perelman said. Right now, the institute has more than 15 people in the field. “We are constantly cross checking with ground truth sources and communications that we receive through other means.”

ITRR’s network is global but not all countries are currently monitored. “If a client feels the need for coverage in a particular area we will obtain the information and coverage,” Perelman said.

This appears to confirm that ITRR is gathering information on Americans and sending the data to Israel — almost certainly to Israeli intelligence. It would not be surprising if this firm were simply a front for Israeli intelligence and in effect being paid by US taxpayers to spy on them. In Pittsburgh, a city council member has demanded a probe into ITRR accusing the firm of “espionage.”

This post originally appeared on Ali Abunimah’s blog here.

Duss 1, Oren 0

Sep 15, 2010 

Adam Horowitz

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren has an op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times responding to the Time magazine article last week on whether Israelis care about peace with the Palestinians or not. He uses the occasion to pretty much just repeat every Israeli cliche on the peace process we’ve heard for the past several years:

Yes, many Israelis are skeptical about peace, and who wouldn’t be? We withdrew our troops from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in order to generate peace, and instead received thousands of missiles crashing into our homes. We negotiated with the Palestinians for 17 years and twice offered them an independent state, only to have those offers rejected. Over the last decade, we saw more than 1,000 Israelis — proportionally the equivalent of about 43,000 Americans — killed by suicide bombers, and tens of thousands maimed. We watched bereaved mothers on Israeli television urging our leaders to persist in their peace efforts, while Palestinian mothers praised their martyred children and wished to sacrifice others for jihad.

Matt Duss responds in the Think Progress Wonk Room:

I understand that it’s Oren’s job as ambassador to offer the Israeli point of view, but framing the issue as “Israeli mothers want peace/Palestinian mothers want death for their children” is pretty disgusting. Is there a deeply objectionable culture of martyrdom rooted in Palestinian society? Yes, there is. It’s amazing what decades of being treated like cattle can do to a people. Oren asks us to sympathize with the Israeli experience of living under terrorist threat, and I completely agree that we should, but so should we try to understand the Palestinian experience of having their daily lives prescribed by a brutal and byzantine system of military law designed specifically to divest them of their land and prevent them securing their national rights.

As for the idea that Israel withdraw from Gaza “in order to generate peace,” this claim has been so conclusively discredited that I’m actually stunned that Oren thinks he can get away with it. Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza explicitly in order to forestall peace. Or, as his senior adviser Dov Weisglass put it to Haaretz, “The significance of the [Gaza] disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process”:

“And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.” […]

“The disengagement is actually formaldehyde,” he said. “It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”

So, either Weisglass was lying then, and the Gaza withdrawal was actually a clever triple-bank shot attempt by Ariel Sharon, a lifelong opponent of the peace process, to move the peace process forward. Or Oren isn’t being straight now.

Due to Gaza closure, 40,000 students refused from UN schools

Sep 15, 2010


From Gisha:

UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) can’t meet enrollment demand because of ban on construction materials

  • UNRWA needs to build 100 schools, none built since 2007 closure

  • UNRWA schools have specialized curriculum on human rights and critical thinking, not available in government schools

Despite Israel’s promise to ease the closure of the Gaza Strip, the Gaza school year opened this week with a severe shortage of classrooms. While for the first time in three years Israel has allowed the import of school supplies for government schools in Gaza, the almost absolute ban on the import of construction materials has left students with lots of pens and notebooks but without classrooms.

UNWRA needs 100 new schools to meet the enrollment demands of the children of Gaza. But despite the “easing” of the closure, building materials for the construction of schools have not been approved to enter Gaza since 2007. Therefore, UNRWA has had to turn away 40,000 children eligible to enroll in its schools for the academic year that began yesterday. Students at UNRWA schools study a specialized curriculum in human rights and critical thinking, not available in government schools. Furthermore, according to UNWRA records, students in its schools score 20% higher than government school students on international aptitude tests.

Students being turned away from UNRWA schools is only one consequence of the classroom shortage in the Gaza Strip. To deal with the shortage of classroom space, students in most of Gaza’s schools study in two shifts, in classrooms with up to 50 students, and sometimes oversized metal containers are used as classrooms, with three children seated at desks designed for two.

Construction of a standard school requires an estimated 220 truckloads of building materials, or 22,000 truckloads for 100 schools. The only crossing Israel allows to open, Kerem Shalom, can accommodate just 250 truckloads per day, mostly for food and basic humanitarian supplies. Despite promises, Israel has yet to approve a single truckload of construction materials for UNRWA’s schools and has agreed to “negotiate” coordinating materials for just 8 out of the 100 needed schools. Since the “easing” of the closure, Israel has allowed just 240 truckloads of construction materials monthly for all uses, compared with more than 5,000 trucks monthly before the closure (4% of pre-closure levels).

According to UNRWA’s Gaza Director John Ging: “The right to education is a basic right of children everywhere. For the children of Gaza, realization of that right depends on the continued construction of schools, because all of the temporary measures and substitutes have already been exhausted”.

For updated information about the Gaza Strip’s crossings, see:

For “Safe Passage”, a new computer game that allows the player to interactively experience the travel restrictions between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, see

For an information sheet on the changes in the closure policy since the June 2010 cabinet decision, see: Unraveling the Closure of Gaza.

Israel issues 16 demolition notices for Palestinian barns & greenhouses in the Jordan Valley

Sep 15, 2010


And other news from Today in Palestine:

* Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Report: New East Jerusalem housing plans
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israeli city planners will in the coming weeks discuss a scheme to build over a thousand housing units beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem, an Israeli newspaper reported Tuesday.  On October 7, the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee will discuss plans for 1,362 new homes in Givat Hamatos, between the Talpiot and Gilo, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported. Although Givat Hamatos is not covered by the partial settlement freeze, which excludes occupied East Jerusalem, the timing of the debate could have significant diplomatic consequences, the report noted.
Residents: Israel to demolish barns, greenhouses
TUBAS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces handed notifications to residents in the Al-Maleh area of the Jordan Valley that 16 barns and greenhouses are slated for demolition, locals said.  One of these houses is owned by the municipality and is used by the public. The head of the village council, Aref Daraghma, appealed to the Palestinian Authority to stop the plan.
Settlers remove furniture from East Jerusalem home
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers have removed furniture from a Palestinian family’s home in Jerusalem, witnesses said Tuesday.  Mazen Al-Qirsh, a member of the family whose house was taken over by settlers a month earlier in East Jerusalem’s Old City, said the settlers removed furniture in preparation of moving in.
Settlers build near Palestinian villages on eve of peace talks
A human rights foundation said Israeli settlers kicked off a series of new settlement activities the night of the outset of peace talks between Abbas and Netanyahu.  [Hamas website, may not be accessible to all]
IOF troops bulldoze lands in southern Gaza
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) escorted huge bulldozers into southeast of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday to bulldoze Palestinian cultivated land.  [Hamas website, may not be accessible to all]
Israeli troops hand out 16 demolition notices in northern Jordan Valley
Israeli forces handed out Tuesday demolition notices against 16 tin houses owned by Palestinian shepherds in the Jordan Valley, Save the Valley coordinator Fathi Khaddirat said. [Hamas website, may not be accessible to all]
UNGA president concerned over Mamilla desecration
NEW YORK (Ma’an) — The president of the UN General Assembly expressed “profound concern” Monday at what he described as desecration of the ancient Muslim Mamilla cemetery in West Jerusalem, the UN news agency reported.  Ali Treki, in a note released by his representative, said he was “alarmed by the intent of erecting secular projects on the site of this holy sanctuary, which is the burial place of venerated religious figures for more than 14 centuries.”
Netanyahu to Abbas: Don’t let end of settlement freeze foil peace talks
Prime Minister considering trip to U.S. on Saturday for summit organized by Bill Clinton at which Abbas will also be present; Netanyahu would meet with Obama after summit.
Chief justice: State ignoring demolition orders
Supreme Court president orders state to explain why buildings built on Palestinian land were not razed.,7340,L-3954742,00.html
Five largest Israeli settlements: who lives there, and why
The end goal of the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks is two separate, sovereign states. Palestinians say that the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, deemed illegal by the United Nations, influence the outcome of such talks. With more than 300,000 Israelis now living in such settlements, Israel expects to keep at least some of them under a final peace deal – possibly as part of a land swap.  An estimated three-quarters of Israeli settlers live on a relatively small percentage of the West Bank, most of them in communities adjacent to Israel proper. Some of them are ideologically driven and some are attracted by the low cost of living; many are motivated by a combination of the two.  Here are the five most populous settlements in the West Bank.
* Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Night raids resume in Ni`lin; one Palestinian anti-wall activist arrested
At 3 a.m. this morning the Israeli army entered the West Bank village of Ni`lin and arrested a Palestinian man, Barakat Nafi. This is the first house raid since before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan; there used to be one or two such raids every week.  Soldiers came on foot and in jeeps from the nearby gate in the illegal apartheid wall and violently entered the home of the 35-year-old. He was arrested in front of his wife, who afterwards, clearly very shaken, reported hearing him cry out, saying “don’t beat me!” According to his neighbour, Nafi has always had a stoic resolve – so such signs of distress were particularly surprising. No reason was given by the soldiers for the arrest.
Gaza deaths protest comes under heavy live fire from Israeli snipers
Click here to view the embedded video.  Over 100 rounds of live ammunition were fired at peaceful protesters in a Tuesday demonstration in the Gaza strip. The protest at the Erez border area near Beit Hanoun yesterday included Palestinian activists from the Local Initiative group, local residents and 4 members of the International Solidarity Movement who marched into the site of the recent fatal Israeli incursion. The demonstrators had a view of the area where only a few days earlier, a Grandfather Ibrahim Abu Sayed and his 17 year-old grandson were killed by Israeli tank shelling.
Activists: Israel opens fire at no-go zone rally
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces opened fire Tuesday at a march held to protest Israel’s imposed no-go zone along the Gaza border near the Erez crossing in the north, international peace activists said, with no injuries reported  Demonstrators carried Palestinian flags toward the electric fence demarcating the buffer zone, and attempted to fill in a trench dug by Israeli bulldozers.
UK unions vote to divest from occupation, Published yesterday
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Many of Britain’s unions have thrown their weight behind a campaign of disinvestment and boycott from companies which are profiting from Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories., Trade unions voted unanimously at an annual conference for a motion put forward by the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, seconded by the GMB, and supported by UNSION, the Public and Commercial Services Union, and the Fire Brigades’ Union., The motion called for the General Council to work closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to actively encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest from, and boycott the goods of, companies who profit from illegal settlements, the occupation and construction of the separation wall.
CEO of Israeli Cosmetic Firm Ahava Rattled by Growing Boycott;  False Claims Put Out by Company Are Refuted by ‘Stolen Beauty’ Campaign
WASHINGTON – September 14 – In a recent, quietly circulated letter from the desk of Yaacov Ellis, CEO of Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories—a company at the center of a growing international boycott campaign—and directed at the company’s retail partners, Ellis deploys specious information about his own company’s business practices, contradictory claims about Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, and unfounded innuendo about boycott campaign supporters. This letter comes after a year of pressure, lead in the United States by the women’s peace group CODEPINK and their “Stolen Beauty” Ahava Boycott campaign, and total refusal by the CEO to respond to press queries about his company’s illegal business practices.
South African human rights group responds to Zionist Federation criticism of Ahava boycott
This is an open letter sent to the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) from Open Shuhada Street (OSS). OSS recently launched a boycott campaign against Ahava products and received a pernicious response from both Ahava and the SAZF; this is their reply.
U.S. Boat to Gaza Activists Hit Fashion Week with Style
Activists organizing to send a U.S. boat to break the Israeli blockade and siege of Gaza took their case to the streets Sept. 14. Dressed in t-shirts featuring the ubiquitous “We Will Not Be Silent” slogan in various languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, plus a new design featuring the U.S. Boat to Gaza logo, they tried to hold a “fashion shoot” in front of Lincoln Center, site of New York’s Fashion Week. The plaza was filled with tourists and people with cameras taking pictures of the fashionistas coming and going from the event in Damrosch Park behind the arts center.
Chris Hedges lends support to
Chris Hedges speaking at the Tabernacle Church fundraiser for in Philadelphia on September 10, 2010. “You may have the bulldozers, the planes and helicopters that smash houses to rubble…the commandos who descend on ships and kill civilians on the high seas, as well as in Gaza.
Academic research collaboration emboldens Israeli apartheid
Israel aggressively courts research partnerships with American universities by hosting academic delegations. These academic delegations are political-educational junkets, which subliminally promote a Zionist ideology along with coordinating potential partnerships with Israeli universities. Diane Shammas comments for The Electronic Intifada.
Youth Against Normalization: Boycott Israel & Its Supporters
* The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism

Foreign Ministry official: Malaysia considering petitioning Hague over Gaza blockade
Israel is aware of the reports and preparing itself for possible row at the International Court of Justice.
Gaza maternity ward closed over ‘dispute with PA’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A hospital in the northern Gaza Strip warned Wednesday that it was forced to shut down its maternity ward over an insurance dispute with the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, a statement read.  The Al-Awda Hospital in the Jabaliya area north of Gaza City said the move placed approximately 7,000 pregnant women with insurance at risk. The hospital said the women all currently receive treatment at the hospital on a yearly basis.
Gaza journalists call for IFJ visit
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Journalists in Gaza on Wednesday called for the head of the International Federation of Journalists to make an urgent visit to the Strip.  An IFJ delegation is currently visiting the West Bank at the invitation of its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. Journalists in Gaza issued a statement after holding a meeting, and said they had not received any invitation to participate in meetings with the IFJ.  The journalists said they were not informed of a conference via video-link between journalists in Gaza and the delegation in Ramallah, and accused the PJS of arranging meetings in a “secretive and selective way.” Gaza security forces prevented the meeting, the journalists added.
Hamas bans journalists from debate meeting with int’l organization
GAZA, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) — Hamas security personnel on Wednesday prevented journalists in Gaza from holding a video- conference debate with a delegation from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a journalist said.  Yousef Al-Ostaz of the Palestinian journalists syndicate said that the deposed Hamas government sent policemen in plainclothes to the hall that was supposed to host the meeting and ordered them to cancel the video link’s booking.
Report: Due To The Israeli Siege on Gaza, 40,000 Students Refused From UNRWA Schools
Gisha – PNN – Despite Israel’s promise to ease the closure of the Gaza Strip, the Gaza school year opened this week with a severe shortage of classrooms. The Legal Center For Freedom of Movement Gisha ,  an Israeli not-for-profit organization, reported on Wednesday.
Divided We Educate, Mel Frykberg
QALANDIA CHECKPOINT, Occupied East Jerusalem, Sep 14, 2010 (IPS) – A thin Palestinian boy, no older than ten, darts between the piles of garbage and the congested lines of traffic which converge at the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
* Violence/Aggression & Provocations

Israeli soldiers open fire on handcuffed Palestinian
Israeli media sources have confirmed that an Israeli soldier shot and killed a handcuffed Palestinian youth on Tuesday morning (14.09.2010) in the city of Tel Aviv.  Israel’s Channel Two television station confirmed that police forces detained four Palestinian youths in Tel Aviv during the early hours of Tuesday morning under suspicion of involvement in stealing an Israeli vehicle. One of the youths was killed and another managed to escape while the remaining two were detained by the authorities of the Israeli occupation. According to the television station, “during the arrest, the sound of gun fire was heard then one of the handcuffed detainees fell after being shot in the upper part of his body. He died shortly afterwards.”  According to Channel Two, the Israeli police officer who opened fired on the youth has claimed that the bullet “was shot accidentally from his weapon” and hit the 18 year old Palestinian youth in his back killing him on impact.
Five Palestinians Wounded As Army Shells Gaza
Palestinian medical sources reported that Five Palestinians were wounded on Tuesday evening, two seriously, after the Israeli army fired artillery shells into an area near Gaza city.
Israeli shelling in Gaza wounds two Palestinians: medics (AFP)
AFP – Three Palestinians were wounded by Israeli tank fire in a clash along the volatile Gaza border on Tuesday, Palestinian sources said.*

Israel army fires on central Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Two Palestinians were injured Tuesday after Israeli forces fired on a group of Palestinians in the central Gaza Strip, medical and security officials said.  One Palestinian was seriously hurt following the incident near Juhor Ad-Dik, east of Al-Bureij refugee camp, medics told Ma’an.  Israel’s military said a group of militants fired an anti-tank missile at soldiers operating near the border fence in northern Gaza. “No injuries were caused,” the army said in a statement.

IOF Fires at Peaceful Demonstration and Shells Agricultural lands, Killing 3 Farmers and 43 Goats
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed three farmers, one of whom was an elderly man with his child grandson as they worked in their land in the north-Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, and the third was a child. The IOF fired artillery shells at the farmers who were in their land less than 500 meters from the northern separation fence between Gaza and Israel. In a separate attack, in the morning of Tuesday 14 September 2010, the IOF opened fire on a peaceful demonstration against the “security buffer zone”. As Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has frequently asserted, the IOF enforcement of the “security buffer zone” inside the Gaza Strip has been carried out by means and methods that gravely violate international law. Al Mezan condemns these Israeli violations and calls on the international community to protect civilians and stop the IOF deadly enforcement of the “security buffer zone” in Gaza.
Israeli troops assault Palestinian workers at West Bank checkpoint
Israeli soldiers stationed at Al Hamra military checkpoint in the Jordan Valley detained a group of Palestinian workers on Tuesday morning and assaulted them, a Palestinian media source reported.

Student says extremists destroyed Koran in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Extremists desecrated a Koran in West Jerusalem on Monday, a Palestinian from Bethlehem said Tuesday.  Bethlehem University student Muhammad Munir claims a group of Israeli Jews tore pages out of the Muslim holy book on Jaffa street.  Munir said he saw the incident while walking from work to his home in Wadi Al-Joz.
Settlers announce rally at Nablus tomb
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Settler community leaders announced Wednesday that a rally would be held Thursday evening demanding “open access” to the Nablus area, and in particular Joseph’s Tomb.  Following violence precipitated by settler visits to the site – which saw Palestinian areas closed down or put under curfew – the area was closed off to settlers in early 2000.
Terror In The Village That Became A Minefield

For many villages in Area C, landmines have become a regular feature of daily life. Israeli military training zones occupy nearly 30% of the land, often based around civilian areas, leaving unexploded ordnance (UXO) that cause horrific injuries to local residents. We spent a few days with the victims to see how they live with the constant terror.  Rafat Al-Rushayida is 24, he has lived his whole life in the bedouin village east of Bethlehem that shares his name. Al-Rushayida has played host to a military training zone since 1967, which has now expanded into 50% of the village’s land. He and four young friends showed us what the soldiers left behind.

Israel’s compensation bill since start of second intifada: NIS 89 million and growing
Israel has compensated Palestinians and foreigners who suffered damages or injury from the IDF in 524 separate damage suits.

Israel accused of not probing Palestinian deaths (AP)
AP – An Israeli human rights group charged in a report released Tuesday that Israel’s military has failed to adequately investigate cases in which Palestinian civilians have been killed by soldiers.*
* Retaliation

Rocket, six mortars hit southern Israel (AFP)
AFP – A Qassam rocket and six mortar rounds hit southern Israel on Wednesday morning, the Israeli military said, with the rocket landing near the southern Israeli port city of Ashkelon.*
* Detainees

Israeli soldiers raid Palestinian house in Hebron; one man arrested
At 21.00 on 12 September 2010, the final day of the Islamic festival of `Eid al-Fitr, eight Israeli army jeeps and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) were observed leaving the Israeli-only apartheid roads in Hebron and crossing into the Palestinian Authority-controlled “H1” region. Five international activists followed the vehicles to their destination, a house in the Tel Rumeida area. Around twenty soldiers stayed close to the jeeps, while around ten others entered the targeted house. Other soldiers closed off the area, not letting cars pass. The internationals were already in the area close to the house so they were able to document what was happening, although they were physically prevented from approaching the raided home.
Society: Israel detained 14 in Bethlehem over Ramadan
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities detained 14 Palestinians in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society in the district said Tuesday.  Abdul Fattah Khalil said the detentions were carried out the Al-Arrub and Ad-Duheisha refugee camps in the district, as well as in Tuqu’, Battir and Al-Ubeidiya.  Lawyers with the society said they were granted access to the detainees, who are being held in the Russian Compound in Jerusalem and the Etzyion and Ashkalon detention centers.
* Israel’s Arab Helpers

Hamas: PA detained 60 affiliates
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas accused Palestinian Authority security forces Wednesday of detaining 60 party affiliates across the West Bank.  In a statement, the Islamist movement said the PA had escalated its campaign against Hamas leaders and supporters.  On Tuesday, Hamas reported that 65 of its West Bank affiliates were detained by PA forces, and the party has claimed that up to 750 supporters have been arrested since the movement claimed responsibility for two shooting attacks in the West Bank which killed four Israeli settlers and injured two others.
PA’s militias kidnap husband of MP Halaiqa in Al-Khalil
The Palestinian Authority’s security militias kidnapped Mohamed Zeitoun, the husband of lawmaker Samira Halaiqa, from Al-Shyukh town in Al-Khalil city after summoning him for interrogation. [Hamas website, may not be accessible to all]
ADC fondly remembers George W. Bush
In a 9-11 related press release, the ADC looks back with nostalgia at George W. Bush.  If they had any self-respect, instead of quoting what the stupid war criminal read after someone wrote it for him, they would be calling for sending him to the Hague to stand trial for his crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
* “Peace” Talks/Political Developments

Balancing peace in the Middle East
Israeli and Palestinian leaders have entered a second round of direct Middle East talks in the past two weeks, but in the end both sides could only agree to talk again on Wednesday. The negotiations in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh were attended by senior US officials including Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and George Mitchell, the US Middle East envoy. Clinton and Mitchell both expressed optimism over the direction of the talks, but did not say if any tangible progress had been made. Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin reports.
No concessions in Middle East talks
Negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh end without agreements on Israeli settlements but leaders agree to meet in Jerusalem.
Abbas to attend talks at Netanyahu’s home
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday to continue peace negotiations, Abbas’ spokesman said.  Nabil Abu Rudeineh was confirming a report first aired on Israel’s Channel 2 Tuesday.  Abu Rudeineh, speaking after the second round of direct negotiations in the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm Ash-Sheikh, said the talks there were “serious” and wide-ranging.  Abbas will stop in Amman, Jordan on his way to the West Bank, the spokesman said.  Netanyahu’s plane touched down at Ben Gurion International Airport Tuesday afternoon, officials said.  In Egypt, US special envoy George Mitchell said Tuesday that Israel must commit to extending its 10-month moratorium on illegal settlement construction the West Bank.
Israel considers prisoner release, ceding territories to PA
Despite difficulties in direct negotiations, western officials say Jerusalem considering goodwill gestures, including extending settlement freeze in areas outside settlement blocs. Netanyahu, Abbas to meet in Jerusalem Wednesday.,7340,L-3954372,00.html
U.S. envoy’s upcoming Syria trip raises speculation of possible peace developments
Reports say George Mitchell will brief Syria’s leadership on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and discuss ways in which Syria could contribute to the talks.

* Other News

Report: Turkey denies Israel’s request to question Gaza flotilla captain
Ankara says it has already interviewd captain of the Mavi Marmara as part of Turkish probe and submitted testimony to the UN.
Israeli media: 3 embassies threatened
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — An envelope containing a threatening letter and suspicious white powder was found Tuesday afternoon at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.  Similar envelopes were sent to the Swedish and Spanish embassies in the city, according to the report.
Israeli Arab woman suspected of trying to smuggle weapons from West Bank
Woman detained after guards performing a routine inspection of her vehicle at the Jordan Valley crossing discovered a makeshift pistol and ammunition in her possession.
Yishai: Ease weapons laws for settlers
In aftermath of West Bank attacks, interior minister says MKs must work to afford settlers firearms.,7340,L-3954049,00.html
At Ben-Gurion University, student protests can lead to disciplinary action
Student who organized demonstration for maintenance workers’ rights at the campus was brought in for disciplinary hearing, and on Wednesday, several students who protested against Israel’s Gaza flotilla raid will be summoned.
High Court approves private school for Haredi girls involved in segregation row
Ultra-Orthodox network that runs the Beit Yaakov girls school in Immanuel told last year t it must pay a fine of NIS 5,000 for every day they continued to violate court order requiring it to eliminate any vestige of ethnic discrimination.
Director: No Hamas involvement in Tel Aviv film
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The director and producer of a low-budget film depicting the “liberation” of Tel Aviv has no affiliation with Hamas, he insists, despite the Israeli media’s coverage of the viral hit as a “Hamas studios” production.  Gaza native Muhammad Al-Amrity says he and his friend Ayman Hijazi made the film. It was inspired by a dream he had of his family that originates in Tel Ar-Rabi, which became Tel Aviv. “I tried to go back to my city in the dream.”
Poll: Majority opposed to moratorium
Didi Remez has the results of an interesting poll from today’s Yediot Ahronoth on Israeli attitudes toward the peace process.
Pornographer sells Twitter ID to Israel
Israel’s foreign Ministry has acquired the @Israel username on Twitter, the social networking site, from the Spanish owner of adult porn sites.
Mubarak: photoshopped
Look what Al-Ahram newspaper did.  They photoshopped a picture of Obama and the other Middle East leaders in the White House to show Mubarak in the front of the group.
* Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Mideast Peace Talks: Getting Past the Settlements Issue, Tony Karon – Netanyahu may end his settlement construction moratorium in two weeks, but the U.S. warns Abbas to find a way to fudge the issue.*
Palestinians, Israelis show no sign of narrowing gaps
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt: The US gave no sign on Tuesday that Israel and the Palestinians had narrowed the gap on Jewish settlements, but said they tackled issues at the heart of their decades-old conflict.
A Circle Not Easily Squared, Jerrold Kessel and Peter Klochendler
JERUSALEM, Sep 14, 2010 (IPS) – Security first or borders first: security says Israel, borders retort the Palestinians. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are finally again getting under way. Israel though remains adamant that the only chance the talks have to make headway is for its security concerns to be satisfactorily addressed.
‘In Whose Name Do They Talk?’;  Gazans share their views on the talks, Laila El-Haddad
“The negotiations add up to a big zero. They don’t belong to us and neither does Abbas. Things are completely rotten. He doesn’t recognise the Gaza Strip – so what’s he negotiating over?
All That You Have Done: Colonialism, Ethnic Cleansing and the Web, Roger Sheety
Despite the current facade of yet another round of fake peace talks, the Israeli government and its professional apologists remain in a panic. Hardly a week passes by without complaint that Israel “is being isolated” or that it is facing a campaign of “delegitimization.” In February of this year the Reut Institute, an Israeli group-think tank, published a remarkably delusional, ahistorical piece of propaganda masquerading as a scholarly report and warning of an internationally concerted effort that seeks to “erode” Israel’s diplomatic status which “may develop into a comprehensive existential threat within a few years.” (*) In essence, any organization or individual that dares criticize Israeli policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in particular is a de facto member of this dreaded network of delegitmization. As with all Israeli hasbara (explanation), the Reut Institute blames primarily the Palestinian victims and secondarily those who report or publicize their plight.
From the Diary of a Binationalist, Udi Aloni
Israeli film director Udi Aloni divides his time between New York City, where he makes films, and the Jenin Refugee Camp, where he has recently moved in order to help his friend Juliano Mer-Khamis establish a school for film and multimedia production. He is currently writing a biweekly column called, Brooklyn – Jenin, about this experience for the popular Israeli news website Ynet. Mondoweiss is excited to be able to present English translations of these columns.

“FUCK YOU, GAZANS!”, Flora Nicoletta
This is the narrative of a 22-year old Palestinian who returned recently to Gaza. Among his misfortunes he was apprehended and arbitrarly detained by the PRO-ZIONIST JORDANIAN REGIME mukhabarat (General Intelligence) in Jordan.
Ridwan Adhami, Shadia Mansour and I had a sit down in New York to talk about “Hamdulillah’ and how we could represent the meaning of it. People are everything in what I do, the people that come to shows, the people that listen to my music, the people that support me. My people. My family. My friends. I’m feeling very blessed and grateful these days to be able to make my music and have your support. So we reached out to people we know around the world, who knew of the music and felt the same. Ramadan this year opened me to the new friends, new ideas, new plans, new blessings.
This is for you.  Shout out to Ridwan and the whole team. Shadia and the whole fam. And every face and person in my video.
Veto Power Is an Insult to the International Community: Kenneth O’Keefe
Kenneth O’Keefe is a world citizen. As an anti-war activist and social entrepreneur, he renounced his U.S. citizenship on March 1, 2001 and burned his American passport on January 7, 2004 in protest to the United States’ Imperialism and called for the immediate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. O’Keefe is a former U.S. Mariner who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequently revealed the use of depleted uranium by the United States as a crime against humanity.
* Lebanon

Hizbullah’s arms include drones, long-range rockets – Israel
BEIRUT: Hizbullah has long-range drones and rockets capable of hitting targets more than 300 kilometers from Lebanon, Israel’s counter-terrorism chief has said. Brigadier General Nitzan Nuriel also refused to rule out a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Syria, should Damascus fail to halt its alleged military support of Hizbullah.
Sayyed Looking for Court to Sue Lebanese State
15/09/2010 Former head of Lebanon’s General Security Directorate Major General Jamil Sayyed is looking for a human rights court to sue the Lebanese State.  Sayyed, who is currently in Paris, said in an interview published Wednesday by Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar that he and a team of advisers were “rummaging around for a human rights court eligible to sue the Lebanese State.”  Al-Akhbar said the World Council for Human Rights of 2007 which finds that the “arrest of officers was in breach of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” was signed by Lebanon and demanded for the “restoration of political and Judicial rights and an immediate solution to the officers’ status.”  Sayyed stressed that he does not want to “open any battle,” stressing, on the other hand, that he cannot stand idle and not mention a response made by former PM Fouad Saniora back then in which he distorted facts and held the arrest to be justified according to witnesses. “This is what made me press charges against Saniora and State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza.”
Gemayel’s son places blame on Syria for father’s death
BEIRUT: Phalange Party MP Nadim Gemayel, son of late former president-elect Bashir Gemayel, held Syria responsible for a series of assassinations that started with his father and ended with figures of the March 14 coalition including former Premier Rafik Hariri.
Two steps back for Palestinians in Lebanon
“Everyone here works without a permit,” said Shatila refugee camp resident Mohammed Khalife. “Being legal and having a work permit is the strange thing, not the other way around.”
* Iraq

Nine Iraqi soldiers killed in roadside bomb (AFP)
AFP – Nine Iraqi soldiers were killed on Wednesday by a roadside bomb on the outskirts of the main northern city of Mosul, police said.*
US-Iraq raid, roadside bombing kill 18 (AFP)
AFP – Violence killed 18 people in Iraq on Wednesday, including nine in a firefight that broke out during a joint US-Iraq raid in search of a top Al-Qaeda leader in the former rebel base of Fallujah.*
Tuesday: 8 Iraqis Killed, 6 Wounded
Sarah Shourd, the American hiker arrested and accused of spying after illegally crossing from Iraq to Iran, was released on $500,000 bail. Meanwhile, at least eight Iraqis were killed and six were wounded in unusually light violence.
Seven Killed In Iraq attacks
Gunmen opened fire on the car of a government-backed Sunni militia leader, killing him and three members of his family in Latifiya town, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, a security source said.
Iraqi Deputy Minister escapes assassination
Iraqi Deputy Minister for social affairs escaped assassination attempt due to a bombing that targeted his convoy in Al Waziriya region, eastern Baghdad.  11 citizens were wounded in a special US-Iraqi forces operation on the house of former army officer Yassin Kassar, southwestern Falluja, a security source from Anbar Operations Command said.  Two suspects were arrested in this operation, the source added.  Anbar Provincial Council held an urgent session to investigate the operation, the source reported.
UN experts rap US over private security firms
UN experts have rapped the United States for its failure to prosecute private security personnel over violations in Iraq, citing a case against two US firms which was dismissed after they claimed immunity.
US watchdogs say Iraq has own money for security (AP)
AP – Congressional investigators estimate that Iraq has about $11.8 billion in surplus money available to use for its own security.*
Iraqis outraged at payout for US victims of Saddam
Americans win $400m compensation but locals struggle with crippling poverty.
SYRIA: Precarious existence of Iraqi Mandaean community
DAMASCUS Wednesday, September 15, 2010 (IRIN) – Among the estimated 1.2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria are several thousand Mandaeans, a small religious minority on the verge of extinction in Iraq, and lacking support in Syria.
* U.S. and Other World News

UN chief: Ahmadinejad to attend disarmament meeting
A U.S. official told Reuters in Washington that President Barack Obama would probably not attend the disarmament talks, since he will be participating in a UN summit meeting on Sudan and other meetings that same day.
U.S. diplomat fears condemnation of Israel
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog fears Arab ambassadors may condemn Israel at the next board of governors meeting, Asharq al-Awsat reported.
What does Israel get for not objecting to this deal? U.S. to sell up to $60 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia
U.S. defense official says Congress will soon be notified of arms sale to Saudi Arabia, including 84 F-15 fighter jets and 72 Black Hawk helicopters.
US-Saudi arms deal aimed at Iran
Analysts say US arms deal gives Saudis advantage over all regional states except Israel.
US Soldier Committed Suicide Rather Than Take Part in Torture, Greg Mitchell
Alyssa Peterson was one of the first female soldiers who died in Iraq.   Her death under these circumstances should have drawn wide attention.   It’s not exactly the Tillman case, but a cover-up, naturally, followed.
Ex-CIA Agents Confirm Torture at Polish Black Site, Spiegel
Former CIA agents have confirmed rumors that the agency tortured terror suspects at a detention center in Poland. One agent allegedly held a drill to a prisoner’s head while he was naked and hooded.,1518,717166,00.html
Dutch soldiers accused of war crime
Dutch soldiers stationed in the Afghan province of Uruzgan allegedly violated the laws of war when they carried out a raid on a hospital in the provincial capital Tarin Kowt in 2009.
Nato urged to allow partition of Afghanistan
Afghanistan should be allowed to partition along ethnic lines by pulling back Nato forces and acknowledging that the Taliban will not be defeated in their heartland, a senior former American national security adviser has warned.
Thousands of Afghans stage anti-US protest in Kabul
KABUL, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Police fired into the air to disperse thousands of angry anti-American protesters in Afghanistan’s capital on Wednesday, witnesses and police said, with at least two people suffering apparent gunshot wounds.  Protesters chanted “Death to America”, “Death to Christians”, and “Death to Karzai”, the latter referring to President Hamid Karzai.
Bombshell from London, Eric S. Margolis
The report, presided over by the former deputy director of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI-6, says the threat from al-Qaeda and Taliban has been “exaggerated” by the western powers.
Egyptian party boycotts elections
Egypt’s al-Ghad party announces it is going to boycott parliamentary elections amid divisions in the opposition camp.
* Islam in the West

French Senate overwhelmingly votes to ban face veils in public
The French Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill banning the burka-style Islamic veil in public, but the leaders of both parliamentary houses said they had asked a special council to first ensure the measure passes constitutional muster amid concerns its tramples on religious freedoms.
Is Muslim life actually “cheap”?, James North
New Republic editor-in-chief Martin Peretz’s anti-Muslim slanders have finally gotten him into trouble in the mainstream, after years during which the major opinion-makers pretended not to notice his chronic racism. Here again is the second half of his latest slur, the part he didn’t apologize for: “Frankly, Muslim life is cheap, especially for Muslims. . . This is a statement of fact, not value.”  The racism is obvious. But underneath it is a dangerous and inaccurate assumption – that the Muslim world today is exclusively or mainly violent.
A note of apology to readers
We made a news decision on Friday that offended many readers and we sincerely apologize for it.  Many saw Saturday’s front-page story and photo regarding the local observance of the end of Ramadan as offensive, particularly on the day, September 11, when our nation and the world were paying tribute to those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks nine years ago.  We have acknowledged that we erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page.
Is Fox News the dog from “Up,” and the lower Manhattan Islamic community center its squirrel? Jon weighs the evidence in last night’s episode.

Help Mondoweiss continue to grow – give a tax deductible donation today

Sep 15, 2010

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz 

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Israeli snipers use live ammunition against demonstrators in Gaza

Sep 15, 2010

Vera Macht 

Over 100 rounds of live ammunition were fired at protesters in Tuesday’s demonstration at the Erez border area near Beit Hanoun yesterday as Palestinian protesters from the Local Initiative group, local residents and four members of the International Solidarity Movement marched into the site of the previous day’s fatal Israeli incursion. The demonstrators had a view of the area where only a few days before a grandfather Ibrahim Abu Sayed and his 17 year-old grandson were mutilated and killed by Israeli tank shelling.
The peaceful demonstration was joined by several young Palestinians, who were also protesting their right to their land, much of which is now lost or out of bounds by the Israeli imposed “buffer-zone.” This  buffer zone is 300 metres wide and stretches along the entire border fence on the frontier with Israel. According to the recent United Nations Report “Between the Fence and a Hard Place” the violence used to restrict Palestinians from accessing their land covers areas up to 1500m from the border fence, meaning that over 35% of Gaza’s most agricultural land is in a high risk area causing severe losses of food production and livelihoods.

On a previous demonstration, the activists had managed to partly remove a barbed wire fence, which had prevented them from entering their own farm land. This was met by an Israeli incursion days later, in which tanks and bulldozers unearthed a huge trench in front of the fence, about one kilometre long, three meters deep and two meters wide.
Having marched to the wire fence, 100 metres from the border wall, the demonstrators chanted and waved flags, planting one Palestinian flag beyond the wire fence. They had brought shovels and begun to refill the trench, when the Israel army suddenly opened fire around them. Under heavy shooting with life ammunition, the participants stood their ground, communicating through a megaphone, some crouching low for cover amidst the gunfire that came within 5 metres.
“We attend these demonstration because of the huge border area that takes Palestinian land”, eighteen year-old Hussam told us. “We don’t want it to be separated from our own land, it’s farmland and people are killed for trying to harvest it. Because of that we came to make them feel secure again.”
The shooting created an atmosphere of terror and fear among the demonstrators, having no safe place to hide around in the forcedly neglected area. Nevertheless they managed to hold up their message to the world: “Boycott Israel”. The ongoing attacks against civilians in the buffer zone, destroying livelihoods and wiping out land, have continued for too long despite the awareness of the criminally silent international community.
“We call upon the International community not to stay idle any more, but to take their responsibility to stop the ongoing crimes against humanity, and the violation of International law”, Saber Al Za’anin, the General Coordinator of the Local Initiative stated.
The security situation in the area has been deteriorating. The three innocent civilians were murdered about 700 meters away from the fence while doing their daily check on their land and animals which graze next to the remains of their former home. They were killed instantly, Ibrahim suffered severe shrapnel injuries to his face, chest and stomach and his grandson Hossam had the back of his head blown away.
The Abu Sayed family had been victims of the violent attacks in the bufferzone for decades, culminating in their death. The last decade had been the hardest as their house was destroyed in 2000 by Israeli bulldozers and their rebuilt house destroyed in the 3-week Israeli war on Gaza over the New Year of 2009 that killed a further 1400 Palestinians.
While all the inhabitants of Gaza are victims of Israel’s ‘collective punishment’, a crime against humanity according to article 33 of the Geneva Convention (of which Israel is a signatory), they are the latest to be subjected to its worst manifestation and murdered with complete impunity.
Today’s demonstration, met with the same violence, was a message to the world which shows the unbreakable public resistance.  “We will keep supporting the farmers here, who are suffering from ongoing attacks on their land, olive trees, thyme and lives, despite the terrorist power we are facing”, announced Saber Al Za’ain. 
“We are going to return back to our farms and hold on to our rights on this land.”

Translations by Mohamed El Zaeem.

Regrettable accident #1001: Another Palestinian shot in the back (this one was handcuffed)

Sep 15, 2010

Eva Smagacz


News just in from Quds Press News Agency and more details from MiddleEastMonitor:

Israeli media sources have confirmed that an Israeli soldier shot and killed a handcuffed Palestinian youth on Tuesday morning (14.09.2010) in the city of Tel Aviv.
Israel’s Channel Two television station confirmed that police forces detained four Palestinian youths in Tel Aviv during the early hours of Tuesday morning under suspicion of involvement in stealing an Israeli vehicle. One of the youths was killed and another managed to escape while the remaining two were detained by the authorities of the Israeli occupation. According to the television station, “during the arrest, the sound of gun fire was heard then one of the handcuffed detainees fell after being shot in the upper part of his body. He died shortly afterwards.”
According to Channel Two, the Israeli police officer who opened fired on the youth has claimed that the bullet “was shot accidentally from his weapon” and hit the 18 year old Palestinian youth in his back killing him on impact.

The pharaoh of Jerusalem

Sep 15, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Palestinian one-room school house inside the occupation In the last two days two guides have taken me through the geography of the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, and I’m staggered. I wonder why this monstrous structure is not better known, even to people like me, who study the conflict. I wonder how it is that American reporters are not describing the racist devouring of Jerusalem every day in our newspapers and showing it every night on our television news.

I wonder why our politicians, or our liberal Democratic ones anyway, are not holding angry press conferences in front of the repulsive separation wall as it lunges to separate a Palestinian village from virtually all its connections to the outside world, so as to privilege the lifestyle, and short commute, of Jews in the new development on the hilltop above them.

I wonder why Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who calls for boycotting the “pharaoh” of BP as a response to the destruction in the Gulf, cannot see the Pharaoh’s works right here and call for boycott. I wonder how it is that Ethan Bronner of the New York Times, who lives in West Jerusalem, could give lectures back home about covering the story and lament the (remote) possibility of Palestinians moving back into Arab houses in West Jerusalem when the only real movement and dispossession, eastward, is in front of his eyes; and millions of Palestinian ambitions are blighted by lack of freedom of movement and constant insults to their human rights. And believe me, if a fraction of what the Palestinians are experiencing were happening to Jews, it is all we would hear about.

But let me try to be a little more reportorial. 

What I’m seeing is the result of 40 years of Jewish colonization of one of the jewels of world civilization. During the 43-year occupation, the Israelis have essentially constructed a system of spears radiating out from Jewish West Jerusalem into Palestinian East Jerusalem, and on into the West Bank. These new Jewish neighborhoods are designed to solidify Israeli control over greater Jerusalem in the event of any possible division of the place in a two-state solution, but more important, to make Jerusalem into a Jewish city by choking off the Palestinian life of this international city.

And yes, I imagine, there is a security component to the thinking too. They want to kill us, we have to keep them behind fences.

The choking-off is what I saw in my tours. As this colonization progresses, it takes more and more village land around the city and throws out more infrastructure to serve the colonists, special roads and high barbed wire fences and walls to protect the drivers and their communities. The infrastructure isolates more and more Palestinians from one another. You can tell Palestinian villages from the black water vessels dotting the rooftops—because their water is shut off for days at a time. So when Jeffrey Goldberg, pushing the Israeli side in the U.S., says that Gilo is just a neighborhood in Jerusalem, well it is actually a white stucco fortress/colony built on the outskirts of southern Jerusalem on Palestinian village land, and now requiring more of that land so as to expand, with plans to build a wall right through the neighboring village to protect the colonists from the farmers in the valley. And again, all of this on land that international law says is Palestine’s.

Homes are routinely demolished in that village facing Gilo, so as not to prevent the colony’s growth; and as you travel through Greater East Jerusalem you often see the rubble of Palestinian buildings, Palestinians who dared to try and develop their communities. The Israeli authorities come in and destroy the houses or businesses. Even as the Israelis expand a colony nearby. Rubble and palaces. In a word, systemic racism.

Maybe the most pitiable sight I saw yesterday, inside the West Bank but close to the north Jerusalem colonies of Ramot and Ramat Shlomo, is the hilltop tomb of the prophet Samuel, which is worshiped by Jews and Muslims. The tomb is both a mosque with a minaret and a Jewish place of worship. Well when we visited, busloads of Jewish schoolchildren were arriving and Israeli soldiers were in the tomb davening and Hasidic boys were descending, too. A moving sight. We must have seen 150 religious Israelis.

And meantime the Islamic portion of the tomb is dead. The door is chained, pigeons fly into the outer rooms, the Palestinian who runs a store there told us that the authorities had shut down the minaret. There are no Palestinian worshipers.

Alongside the tomb is a Palestinian village in the West Bank, but the occupation has now cut this village off from the rest of Palestinian life in the West Bank. The school serving the village—that is the photograph at the top of this post—is a one-room building. At this point in our travels, my wife walked away for a few minutes so that our Palestinian friend who lives under these conditions all the time would not see her feelings.

And this is a National Park. An Israeli National Park for the tomb of Samuel, inside Palestinian territory! Do you think the Israelis are ever going to part with this colony? Of course not. We are in the West Bank, the home of the Palestinian state, and these Jews will be here forever.

Now let me remind you that the Israeli settlement nearby, Ramat Shlomo, is the one that pissed off Joe Biden in the spring, when he blew up at Netanyahu over the latest construction orders. Biden got really angry. He said you’re endangering American lives. There was a showdown, and in the end what happened, Obama swallowed it.

Still, you can see why Biden was pissed off. This situation is monstrous and racist. If our politicians were not hogtied by the Israel lobby, they would be bringing reporters with them to the tomb of Samuel and saying, Is this right? This is happening with our tax dollars? They are making a National Park inside Palestinian territory and choking off all Palestinian access to the place! Are you crazy?

Our politicians would declare that the road to peace in Jerusalem doesn’t lead through Baghdad or Tehran– no the road is right here in Jerusalem, and it is blocked by Israeli bulldozers.

Now I mentioned a minute ago that my wife hid her feelings from our Palestinian friend, and I want to unpack this somewhat. The Palestinians live with this all the time. They have the boot stuffed down their throat at every turn. Even the educated professionals, their horizons are blocked off, their aspirations. Academics can’t travel, even into Jerusalem; and when I say, Oh they can’t sustain this, my friend responds, They have sustained it as long as I can remember. 

You cannot normalize this oppressive situation. The polticians talk about all the businesses thriving. Well the Palestinian people are always trying. The Palestinians are not defeatable, and they are always struggling for this and that. You see beautiful restaurants inside the occupation, lovely hotels, good book stories. But it is not a flourishing life. It is not the life that these people would make for themselves if they had any real freedom. If they were able to compete and cooperate as equals with the Israelis, you would see something entirely different.

So they live with this daily humiliation and they stuff their souls down inside their chest somewhere and one day they bring in friends from the United States and show them around, and a visitor is so overwhelmed by the oppression that she starts crying and has to walk away. Well you understand that it is a little rude to show your friend just how pitiable life here seems to us.

I don’t know how they live with this, my wife said later, and of course you ask that question. The other day we met a man who works in Sheikh Jarrah, right up from the house evictions that happened last winter, a funny Palestinian, my wife and he were joking around a lot, when I said to him, “Are they still living in the tent down there?” I meant the Palestinians who had been thrown out of their houses in Sheikh Jarrah and were living in a tent in the road.

The man’s smile disappeared. “I don’t know.“

“Well it’s just a block away.”

“I’ve never been there. It would make me sick. And then I would have to walk away and there would be nothing I could do about it. So I’ve never seen it.”

Imagine feeling so helpless, and feeling that powerless over your own fate and the life of your society that you avoid knowledge of the fierce conditions. Jews were like this during the advance of anti-Semitism in eastern European cities, they tried to ignore it.

And that’s why my wife walked away, she didn’t want to seem a complete tourist of someone else’s suffering.

My rage at this situation is directed at my own community, American Jews, who have allowed this to develop. I can think of only a few responses to Jerusalem that I can honor. Earlier this year Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights visited Jerusalem and came back and gave speeches about the colonization and said the two-state solution is finished. Jeff Halper came to the States more recently and described the endless process of house demolition. And Charney Bromberg came back and told a Columbia University audience that this situation reminds him of apartheid.

These are exceptional statements. Liberal Zionists generally can’t face this reality; and our politicians are mute and even the fairly-good piece that Isabel Kershner did on the colonization of East Jerusalem a couple of months back in the Times didn’t convey the monstrous reality. No, liberal Zionsts are are concerned with preserving Israel against the “demographic threat”– a possible Palestinian majority. When you see what Jewish control has meant for non-Jewish residents of Jerusalem,  that seems a particularly filthy euphemism.

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