South African human rights group responds to Zionist Federation criticism of Ahava boycott

South African human rights group responds to Zionist Federation criticism of Ahava boycott

Sep 14, 2010

Gilad Isaacs 

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.

Open Letter to the SA Zionist Federation
Why are you supporting occupation, settlement and oppression?
We are members of Open Shuhada Street (OSS) an organisation committed to peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians. We have called for a boycott of products made by Ahava[1] – Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd (Ahava) because these products are manufactured illegally in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) by a company owned by illegal settlements in the OPT. The profitability of settlements businesses like Ahava causes suffering for millions of ordinary Palestinian children, women and men. The call to boycott Ahava is a common sense, peaceful expression of the need to reverse the settlement enterprise which stands in the way of the creation of two states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace.
On 25 August 2010, in response to the call to boycott the settlement-made products of Ahava, the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) Cape launched a vicious personal attack on us. This was coordinated by SAZF head office. We respond in this open letter.

What are the facts?

It is undisputed that Ahava is manufactured in the West Bank, part of the occupied Palestinian territory, outside of the recognized borders of the State of Israel. A letter by Y. Ellis the CEO of Ahava[2], sent out by the SAZF, says: “Ahava’s manufacturing facility is located … within the area usually referred as the West Bank.” Ahava neither pays taxes to the Palestinian Authority, nor does it get its license to operate from the Palestinian Authority.
It is undisputed that Ahava is manufactured in an Israeli settlement. The Ahava CEO says: “Ahava’s manufacturing facility is located at Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem… within the area usually referred as the West Bank.” See this map[3] and this photo[4] of Mitzpe Shalem. Also see this map[5] and this photo <> [6] of Kibbutz Kalia.
Settlements own 44.69% of the stock in Ahava – Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd. Settlement Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem owns 37.31% and Settlement Kibbutz Kalia owns 7.38%. These figures are calculated, based on certificates from the Israeli Registrar of Companies. The calculations and certificates are available here.[7]
The presence of these settlements means land confiscations, house demolitions, discriminatory water use and harassment by settlers. These cause hardship to Palestinians. Some in surrounding communities were displaced from Nabi Musa where Kalia is now situated and Arab al-Ta’amira near Mitzpe Shalem.

What is the law?

The highest judicial authority in Israel, the Israeli Supreme Court – sitting as the High Court of Justice, recognizes the West Bank as Occupied Territory.

For example, in the September 2005 High Court of Justice decision in the Alfei Menashe case, then Chief Justice Barak held:

The Judea and Samaria areas are held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation. The long arm of the state in the area is the military commander. He is not the sovereign in the territory held in belligerent occupation… His power is granted him by public international law regarding belligerent occupation. The legal meaning of this view is twofold: first, Israeli law does not apply in these areas. They have not been “annexed” to Israel. Second, the legal regime which applies in these areas is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation (see HCJ 1661/05). In the center of this public international law stand the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907… These regulations are a reflection of customary international law. The law of belligerent occupation is also laid out in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949… The State of Israel has declared that it practices the humanitarian parts of this convention… We are aware that the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice determined that The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the Judea and Samaria area, and that its application is not conditional upon the willingness of the State of Israel to uphold its provisions.[8]
Numerous other judgments repeat these basic principles.[9] Those like Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein who assert that it “is incorrect legally, factually and even morally to speak of an occupation” are simply in denial.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention[10] (cited above by the Israeli court) states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

This is the simple basis for the illegality of all the settlement built beyond the Green Line, which is the border agreed in the 1949 armistice negotiations.

In general, according to the Convention, the Occupying Power has only two legitimate interests and duties within the Occupied Territory. These are, firstly, the legitimate security needs of the people living legally within the home territory of the Occupying Power (i.e. the Israelis, including Jews and Palestinians, living in Israel demarcated by the 1949 armistice line), and secondly, the needs of the people being occupied, known in the law as Protected Persons (i.e the occupied Palestinians).

Flowing from the fact that the Occupying Power has only these two legitimate interests, it is illegitimate and therefore illegal for the Occupying Power, or the civilian population of the Occupying Power, to use the Occupied Territory for profit-making activities. It is also illegal to use the natural resources of the Occupied Territory in this way, meaning, for example, that the water used in the Ahava factory is being used in violation of international law.

What are the consequences?

It is very clear that Ahava and Mitzpe Shalem are international law breakers. Why is this so important?
It is generally recognised that the West Bank (which together with the Gaza Strip is 22% of what was, before 1948, British Mandate Palestine) is to be, with the Gaza strip, a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Every settlement is an obstacle to this.
Some settlements might be included within Israel as part of a land-swap agreement. However this does not apply to Mitzpe Shalem or Kalia. As seen in the 2001 Taba map[11], both Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia are well within the proposed Palestinian state. They are therefore obstacles to negotiation, obstacles to Palestinian statehood, obstacles to Israeli security, and obstacles to peace.
Does the SAZF stand by its smear tactics?
The SAZF response to the call for a boycott of Ahava has been to smear, by name, the members of Open Shuhada Street interim committee: Ilan, Strauss, Zackie Achmat, Nathan Geffen, Doron Isaacs, and Daniel Mackintosh. (For some reason Nabeelah Martin was not mentioned.)
The smears, contained in a publicly-distributed SAZF e-mail,[12] are that we are “anti-Israel” and that we are part of a campaign “against Israel to delegitimize her by her enemies”. In fact, it is the support given by the SAZF, and other groups, to settlement activity, which may destroy the state of Israel. In partnership with the SAZF, shlichim (Jewish Agency emissaries) encourage, and provide financial incentives, for Jewish South Africans, most of whom would not want to support oppression, to relocate to illegal settlements such as Ariel. The SAZF is therefore aiding and abetting international law breaking. By encouraging policies that close the door on peace it is a friend to Israel’s real enemies.
Our campaign is targeted at those living or profiting outside the border of the state of Israel, on Palestinian land, in Occupied Territory. It is disturbing that the SAZF draws no distinction between Israel and illegal settlements outside its borders. Like the Israeli actors refusing to perform in settlements in the Occupied Territories,[13] we intend to distinguish very clearly between all those who support an end to occupation and oppression, and those who don’t.
More disturbing are the contents of David Abel’s letter,[14] published and spread by the SAZF, which casts aspersion on the personal finances of Zackie Achmat and Nathan Geffen. The distribution of this letter, as an attachment to an SAZF e-mail, constitutes publication for the purposes of the law.

Abel, besides misspelling his relative Nathan Geffen’s last name has his facts wrong about his grant from Atlantic Philanthropies. Geffen received R150,000 (not R210,000 as stated by Abel) not to “go on a sabbatical leave” but to write his book, Debunking Delusions. This is presented as a case of corruption in which Geffen took money in order to promote an agenda which can be “traced back to enemies of Israel lurking in the background”. The letter alleges: “With that kind of funding available, it is not too difficult to understand that some Jewish members of OSS could be seduced into promoting a cause extremely hostile to the best interests of their own people.” In fact this went specifically towards Geffen’s working income while he wrote a book about HIV/AIDS for which the SA Jewish Board of Deputies sent him a letter of congratulations.[15] Does the SAZF stand by this disgraceful smear?
Abel writes, as if exposing a scandal, that Atlantic Philanthropies gave Achmat “R1.2 million for research at Wits”. Throughout Achmat’s multiple terms as Chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) he never drew a salary. It was necessary for him to take on additional work at academic institutions and non-governmental organisations in order to earn a living. The grant referred to by Abel was over three years. It paid for work-related expenses and salaries for assistants and researchers. We have already seen that the SAZF will use a boy’s Bar Mitzvah to punish his grandfather. Does the SAZF also consider it decent and proper to cast aspersions on the legitimate and perfectly legal financial details of its political opponents?
The letter suggests that the Atlantic Philanthropies may be “a front for other operators”. (Until a court order[16] forced him to desist, Matthias Rath, the notorious vitamin salesman, made similar baseless allegations against TAC and Achmat and Geffen.) Since the SAZF saw fit to give this allegation a wide circulation through its e-mail database will you please tell the public: who are these “other operators”?
None of these tactics will in the least deter people working for peace between Israel and Palestine. But the thuggish and cowardly tactics of the SAZF must be brought to the attention of the South African Jewish community, and the wider public.
Why is the SAZF supporting the colonisation of the West Bank?
The call for a boycott of Ahava products is necessary to make the occupation unprofitable. These settlements remain because there is not enough incentive for them to be removed. There is no security benefit to the state of Israel whatsoever in having settlements like Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia protruding into the West Bank. On the contrary, the greatest security and existential threat to the state of Israel is the inability to define permanent borders recognised as legitimate by the world. The whole basis for organising the necessary defence of the citizens of the country will be enormously improved when this is done.
The SAZF is now calling for people to increase their purchases of Ahava. In other words, the SAZF is devoted to increasing the profitability of the occupation, to defending the use of Occupied Territory in violation of international law, and to entrenching and sustaining Israeli settlements which stand in the way of peace. This exposes the SAZF as an obstacle to peace.
Every Ahava product bought postpones the end of the occupation. Every Ahava product bought oppresses Palestinian women, men and children. Every Ahava product bought is a contribution to war and a payment against peace. The majority of the people of South Africa will never support this.
Notwithstanding the wishful thinking of the CEO of Ahava, the settlements cause enormous harm to the Palestinian population. The physical manifestations of the occupation – including exclusive roads, legal systems, water systems and electricity grids; and checkpoints, electronic fences and concrete walls – result in an extreme form of separation. Access to all rights and services, whether transport, water or land, is based on heavy discrimination against the Palestinian inhabitants.
The settlements endanger the soldiers sent to protect them. Moreover, the settlements cause resentment, not only against the settlers, but against every Israeli, making them all targets for terrorist attacks. Nothing can justify such brutal violence, nor acquit the perpetrators. But, the role the settlements play in fomenting the anger must be squarely faced. By supporting the settlements the SAZF shares responsibility for this anger and its consequences.
Many settlers were enticed into settlements by attractive housing subsidies and financial incentives. A minority are fanatics who terrorise the Palestinian population. The point however is not to demonise the settlers, some of who were born in the settlements; they need to be resettled in Israel with care.
Those outside of Israel who support the settlement project cannot be so easily forgiven.
Simultaneously, the SAZF speaks about peace and two-states, but supports settlement in the West Bank. Is the SAZF disingenuous when it speaks about two states? Or does the SAZF support only a Bantustan Palestininan state in whichever patches of land remain unsettled?
The position of Open Shuhada Street is clear. We campaign for security and peace for all people in Israel/Palestine, an end to the 43 year-occupation, the dismantling of the settlements, justice for Palestinian refugees, the creation of a Palestinian state, within all of the West Bank and Gaza, alongside the state of Israel, with Jerusalem as a shared city, on the basis that both states conform to principles of constitutional democracy, including freedom and full equality. The conclusion we draw from the SAZF call to massively buy Ahava products is that the organisation works actively to prevent this outcome.  


Doron Isaacs, Ilan Strauss, Nathan Geffen, Daniel Mackintosh, Zackie Achmat, Nabeelah Martin








[8] HCJ 7957/04 Mara’abe v. The Prime Minister of Israel (2005) (accessed at at para 14. Note that the Ahava CEO says the Ahava factory is “only 6km” beyond Green Line. Alfei Menasha was “only 4km” beyond the Green Line, but this did not prevent the Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, from finding it to be in violation of international law. As the map indicates, settlement Kibbutz Kalia, one of the shareholders, is at the deepest point within the West Bank.

[9] See for example Beit Sourik (2004) p. 832; The Gaza Coast Regional Council v. The Knesset (2005) para 3.








Is Muslim life actually “cheap”?

Sep 14, 2010

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.

First, the most murderous area on earth by far over the past two decades has been east-central Africa – Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – where at least 3 to 4 million of people have died. Most east-central Africans have Christian or traditional religious beliefs. There are a few Muslims in Rwanda; some of them are honored in the genocide memorial I visited in Kigali earlier this year for risking their lives in 1994 to protect the Tutsi victims.

Let’s turn to Indonesia, which with 238 million people is the world’s most populated predominately Muslim state. Indonesia has lived through ethnic/religious clashes, especially during and just after the fall of the dictator Suharto in 1998, but today it is basically peaceful, with an imperfect but functioning democracy.

How about Egypt, the nation with the most (79 million) people in the Arab world? Egypt is definitely a dictatorship, supported by both the United States and Israel, and the Mubarak regime does torture its own citizens. There are also clashes from time to time in upper Egyptian towns, with Muslim/Coptic Christian overtones. But Cairo is one of the world’s safest big cities, and you can walk in any neighborhood there at any time. The vast majority of Egyptians have convincingly repudiated the violent Islamic movements of the 1990s, which is why Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian physician who is Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, is hiding somewhere in the Afghani borderlands instead of organizing at home.

In fact, Egypt is somewhat representative of most other Arab nations – authoritarian, repressive regimes; a mass of people who vacillate from acquiescence to resentment; and (sometimes) small violent Islamic movements. (In fairness, some of the rulers (Mohammed VI of Morocco [32 million people], King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia [27 million]), do enjoy genuine popularity, although the Syrian and Tunisian presidents could not win free elections.)

But neither the United States nor Israel makes any noise about Egypt and these similar dictatorships; in fact, their military and security services even collaborate.

So where is “Muslim life” supposedly so “cheap”? Lebanon? There was a ferocious civil war there, but both Christians and Muslims fought in it, and the 1982 Israeli invasion contributed to the killing – at Shabra and Shatila, Israeli soldiers stood by while Christian militiamen slaughtered at least 800 Muslim civilians.

Algeria? Unquestionably, the country lived through terrible violence, particularly back in the 1990s. But the killing did not start until a peaceful Islamist movement won the 1991 elections, and the military overturned the results – with the tacit approval of the West.

Darfur? This is a favorite example of the Muslim haters, but the genuine experts agree that although the violence there has been horrible, the religious element is insignificant.

Which brings us to Iraq. There’s no doubt that Saddam Hussein presided over a murderous criminal dictatorship – but during the period of some of his greatest crimes, such as when he dropped poison gas on the Kurds in 1988, he enjoyed Western support, including that famous 1983 visit by Ronald Reagan’s special envoy, Donald Rumsfeld. The West made no effort back then to either boycott Iraq’s oil, or to stop selling him weapons, so it is at least partly complicit in his crimes.

A civil war would have broken out in Iraq at some stage even if the United States had never invaded. But you can argue that the American invasion has made the fighting longer, more complicated, and even more violent.

Let’s look now at large Muslim communities outside the Arab world. India, with its huge minority population of 138 million Muslims? Hindu fundamentalists, in Mumbai, Gujarat and elsewhere, regularly unleash pogroms against Indian Muslims.

Iran? Another repressive, authoritarian regime, increasingly unpopular. But a regime that kills and tortures to hang on to power, and only uses religion as a transparent, feeble justification.

Which brings us to Pakistan – a nation which, at first glance, does seem to be a nightmare of violent religious passions, of suicide bombings and sectarian killings among Muslims. So far, however, elections there have shown that the extreme Islamists are a minority. As elsewhere, on closer inspection some of the militant political movements seem motivated more by a lust for power than by any genuine spiritual quest.

Of course, Pakistan (or certain other places in the Muslim world) could in fact continue to slide into wider and wider violence. This would be awful, but not completely incomprehensible. We could re-visit the section of our libraries devoted to European History (1929-1945), and remind ourselves how widespread, prolonged unemployment and chronic economic stagnation can create and nourish murderous mass political movements that nearly destroyed the world.

In historical terms, this all happened only recently, and there was scarcely a Muslim in Europe to be blamed for it.

From the Diary of a Binationalist

Sep 14, 2010 

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.

It has been more than three months since I accepted the invitation to deliver a master class to cinema students at the Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp. At the time, I could not imagine the Camp would become my second home

A sort of preface: without justice there is no peace. As my first post was about to be published, the murderous terror attack near Hebron took place. For a moment I thought I should postpone publishing the post to the following week, but then I realized that postponing meant collaborating. In the original version, a few days earlier, I wrote that as soon as the first terror attack took place the right wing would be more than happy to sink its teeth into the theater actors [boycotting the Ariel theatre], as if they themselves were the murderers. And indeed, those quick to rant immediately forgot about the occupation, and about the relationship between cause and effect, which preserves the cycle of violence. Therefore it is important and touching that the “refusenik actors” strive, within the limits of their capacity, but with a great deal of courage, to prevent the next murder, and the one after that, and the one after that.

Some things are difficult for Israelis to comprehend. One such example, is that those who support the Dromi Law, which enables someone to shoot and kill a Bedouin coming to steal a cow from a Jewish household, also legalizes, in a case of even clearer circumstances, the act of a Palestinian shooting and killing a Jew who has robbed his entire household. I belong to a group of Palestinians and Jews who oppose the killing of civilians – Arabs or Jews – even if they are land robbers. We conduct our battles by means of words and actions: cinema, music, writing, joint solidarity demonstrations on robbed lands, and also international boycott of goods.

So here is a diary from Jenin. A diary with faith, which tries to show that there is another way. While the right wing is celebrating its casualties, our diary mourns all victims of occupation and racism, regardless of ethnicity, religion, race and sex. A diary that seeks to explore another option.


Now we can talk about the matter at hand.

It has been more than three months since I agreed, at the request of my friend, Juliano Mer-Khamis, to come to the Jenin Refugee Camp and deliver a master class to cinema students at the Freedom Theatre. At the time, I was on my way to board the Gaza Flotilla, but at the last moment I changed direction, and arrived in Jenin. I could not imagine then that Juliano’s offer would change my life, and that the Camp would become my second home.

On the first day of the seminar in Jenin I showed my film “Forgiveness“. Just before the screening, one of the students made it clear to me, with a bitter smile, that for her it made no difference: as much as I would try to be a “pet Jew”, as an Israeli Jew I did not belong in the Camp. Out of respect for her sentiments, I ignored the insult and continued with the screening. Only toward the end of the film, witnessing the scared reactions of the girls in the class to a certain scene with actor Itay Tiran, I realized that I understood nothing. I think there is no better starting position than this to begin a wonderful friendship.

Our class consists of ten diverse students: boys and girls, all across the political scale from the communist left to traditional Islam. There are Palestinians from within Israel’s 1948 borders, from cities, from the Camp and from the diaspora. There is even one anarchist Jew, who has been trying to teach me Arabic, without much success.

At least here at the Freedom Theatre they have succeeded in momentarily neutralizing the merciless dissection of the Palestinian society into separate cantons which are not allowed to exist together, like organs without a body. And because of the siege, a student from Gaza will participate through Skype. God willing – inshallah.

Jenin Says “Ahlan Wasahlan”

We spent the entire week watching short films made by the students. One way or another, they all dealt with women’s position in the local society. I slowly understood from them that the struggle for the liberation of Palestine should be closely intertwined with the struggle for the liberation of women. The religious girl in the class defined this as “feminism with a hijab”.

Having had a thorough discussion, analyzing the films and commenting on the analysis, we reached the conclusion that what we all truly share is the passion for cinema. A personal, yet belligerent, cinema, loyal to society and at the same time rebelling against it. A cinema that would share the strong experience of being a young Palestinian struggling to break free from the chains of occupation imposed from the outside, while also struggling to break free from the chains of a society that assimilated the occupation which burns and disassembles it from within.

At the end of the seminar the same student who reproached me on the first day approached me with a similar defying tone, this time on behalf of the group, and asked me if I would be willing to stay with them for the next couple of years in order to help to position and stabilize the department for multimedia and cinema using my experience.

Later on Juliano told me that Jenin says to me ahlan wasahlan – welcomes me warmheartedly – which is a rarity, considering the fact that I am an Israeli Jew. And I, like an excited child who has just received a big present, started my affair with Jenin and with a youth group that is going to change the space between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Here in Jenin only very few have seen the sea – but I hope that many will join our Mediterranean odyssey.

The Other Side of the Green Line

During the next few months I will try, among other things, to reflect current events which you hear about on the daily news, through the gallery of personalities I slowly get to know here and through the eyes of the people of the Camp in Jenin – one of the most complex places created by a hundred years of conflict.

So what did we have this week? Truth be told, here in Jenin no one was really interested in the story of the Israeli actors who refused to perform in Ariel. For the binationalists the apartheid starts in Lod and in Jaffa. We support a total boycott of Israel until Israel ends the occupation, grants equal rights to Israeli Palestinians, and acknowledges the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. This is our joint non-violent struggle for justice and freedom. The other option is a violent non-joint struggle, a struggle in which a citizen of Israel – Palestinian or Jewish – has no moral right to participate, and which today in any case only serves the Israeli government and global jihad.

What is hard for Israelis to grasp is that it is not going to be an internal dialog between left-wing and right-wing Jews that will end the conflict and bring about a new era, but only a dialog between all based on the values of justice and absolute equality.

The Green Line, which the refusing actors are trying to mark by their actions, is a miraculous line, which is transparent and passable for Jews on both its sides, but opaque and impassable for Palestinians from the east. When a Palestinian in Jenin looks west, the Green Line is a clear line separating him from the sea. It is a cruel line which separates the 1948 Palestinians from the West Bank Palestinians culturally, materially and mentally, and prevents the Freedom Theatre of Jenin from performing for the Palestinian audience in Haifa and the Zubeidi family from returning to its home in Caesarea. It is the line that prevents families from uniting and the two sides from marrying and loving like free human beings.

On the other hand, when an Israeli from Tel Aviv looks east, there is no sign of the Green Line. He sees a wall that hides the Palestinian from his view, locking him in a pen, so that he could go perform in Ariel, Ofra or Shavei Shomron, but a green line is nowhere to be seen.

And so the Green Line, with its miraculous optical feature, turns the entire Israel into one racist colonialist unit. And so, until we can erase and destroy the Green Line and establish an equal state from the River to the Sea, the least that decent Israeli Jews can do is seal the Line from both its sides.

I believe that Israeli-Jewish support of the non-violent Palestinian struggle is the only way to form a bridge for building a joint future, where the Zubeidis will be able to return to Caesarea and sing “My God, My God, I pray that these things never end,” and Ariel will be able to stay put in order to watch “The Caucasian Chalk Circle.”

But until that day, the believers in the two-state solution must boycott any Israeli-Jewish activity, economic and cultural, beyond the Green Line. Who knows if they will proliferate in Israel. Maybe you will, in spite of my dream, succeed in establishing two states for the two peoples.

Does the True Zionist Alone Possess the Freedom to Speak?

Devious racism silently infiltrated even into one of the petitions supporting the actors, which was signed by thousands on the Internet. It says: “and here a brave group of actors, true Zionists, who seek the country’s good and securing our children’s future, has come and committed an act – they refuse to perform in Ariel”.

It is clear to me that these things were written out of good intentions (which pave the road to hell), in order to protect the actors from the nationalistic populism. But that petition implies that only a true Zionist has the freedom to speak, and that one may silence a Palestinian or a non-Zionist actor. It is also implied, that only our children’s future should be secured. But what about the future of all of the children? The future of the children of the victims of occupation? Why does the arrogant ingratiating spirit of the national left always eventually succeed in darkening any justice doing?

Do not defend our actors with nationalistic words. Imbued with faith, and without compromise, we will stand against any manifestation of racism. For the headhunters have spanned their nets, and the mob at the town square is eagerly waiting for the actors and actresses who are led to the pillory.

This time, for a change, let us not ingratiate ourselves with the mob and with the greedy theater directors. Let us not fear. Let us establish a glorious theater, stand together few against many, Jews and Arabs, refuse any kind of discrimination and indulge in the battle for full equality. What a magnificent theater that might be!

And maybe the miracle will occur and the mob will applaud, and the directors of the theaters will remember that they too were once human beings. And then, even if we fail, as my favorite actor once told me: “I know it would be a glorious failure.” And so, at the end of the day, Jenin too will know that the cross-nationality revolution started by Juliano’s mother, Arna Mer-Khamis, at a tiny little theater in the Refugee Camp of Jenin, has finally reached Tel Aviv.

On the subject of ‘partners for peace’

Sep 14, 2010

Adam Horowitz

Didi Remez has the results of an interesting poll from today’s Yediot Ahronoth on Israeli attitudes toward the peace process. Here are the findings:

Q: Should Netanyahu extend the settlement construction freeze after September 26, or should construction be resumed?

Extend construction freeze: 39%

Resume construction: 51%

No response/don’t know: 10%

Q: Would you support a compromise in which construction in the territories is partially suspended—in other words, for there to be construction only in the settlement blocs?

I would support such a compromise: 42%

I am opposed because the construction freeze should be comprehensive: 20%

I am opposed because the construction freeze should be ended: 32%

No response/don’t know: 6%

Q: Do you believe that Netanyahu is serious in his intentions to reach an agreement, or do you believe that he has entered negotiations because of American pressure?

Because of American pressure: 56%

His intentions are sincere: 36%

No response/don’t know: 8%

Q: Do you believe that the Palestinians are serious in their intentions to reach an agreement, or do you believe that they have entered negotiations because of American pressure?

Because of American pressure: 70%

Their intentions are sincere: 23%

No response/don’t know: 7%

Q: Do you believe that a resumption of construction will derail the negotiations with the Palestinians?

Believe construction will derail negotiations: 68%

Do not believe construction will derail negotiations:24%

No response/don’t know: 8%

Q: Do you believe that there is a chance that the negotiations Netanyahu is holding with the Palestinians will lead to a peace agreement?

I believe they will lead to a peace agreement: 25%

I do not believe they will lead to a peace agreement: 71%

No response/don’t know: 4%

Q: There is a plan stipulating that in the framework of a peace agreement in which the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Israel will concede most of the territories in Judea and Samaria but the settlement blocs will remain in Israeli hands, in exchange for which Israel will return to the Palestinians territory of comparable size from within the State of Israel. Do you support such a plan or are you opposed?

Support: 45%

Am opposed: 48%

No response/don’t know: 7%

The article relates these findings back to the allegedly controversial Time magazine cover article that questioned Israelis’ commitment to the peace process.

A week ago Time magazine ran a cover story about why Israelis don’t want peace. Many people criticized the article’s point of departure.

When one reads the findings of this poll, one is forced to contemplate the possibility that that thesis is not so ludicrous.

Jerusalem planning committee’s contribution to the peace process: 1,362 new housing units in the West Bank
Sep 14, 2010


* And other news from Today in Palestine:

* Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Israel demolishes entire village for fifth time, immediately after holiday, Jesse Bacon
The Bedouin unrecognized village of Al Arakib was demolished this morning for the 5th time,immediately after Eid Al-Fitr (one of the most important Muslim holidays marking the end of Ramadan). The village is located 7 kilometers north of the city of Be’er Sheva, in the Israeli Negev Desert. Dozens of policemen came to the village before dawn to secure the bulldozers which started to destroy the tents and the all other structures in the village.
Settlers Occupy Palestinian Farmlands Near Nablus
A group of armed fundamentalist Israeli settlers occupied on Monday morning Palestinian farmlands close to Doma village in the Nablus District and started bulldozing the lands and uprooting the trees.
Shalom: Settlement building to resume in 2 weeks
Ahead of direct Israel-PA talks in Egypt, minister slams suggestion to only partially lift construction moratorium in West Bank, says ‘we have a right to build there.’ MK Elkin: Netanyahu must tell world we were chosen to build, defend Land of Israel.,7340,L-3953700,00.html
Settlement freeze ‘ends’ for Modiin Illit
Construction company whose damages claim over suspended project was rejected resumes planned building outside Green Line despite lack of conclusive government decision on settlement activity. ‘This was a business decision,’ says CEO.,7340,L-3954061,00.html
Settlers receive 22% more budget grants than other Israelis, probe shows
Interior Ministry allocated NIS 265 million in balancing grants to West Bank settlements in 2009, just over 10 percent of all the grants it distributed that year.
Likud MKs threaten to withdraw support for budget if settlement freeze extended
As PM Benjamin Netanyahu prepares for another round of direct peace talks, elements within the Likud party are working to ensure the settlement freeze ends as scheduled.
Thousands of new settler homes planned as Netanyahu mulls construction curbs
An Israeli settlement watchdog said Monday that construction could begin on thousands of new homes this month if Israel does not renew a moratorium seen as key to US-backed peace talks due to restart Tuesday.
Clinton: Israel must extend settlement freeze for peace talks to succeed
Speaking upon her departure to Sharm el-Sheikh summit, U.S. secretary of state says a breakdown in negotiations would hurt chances for continued Israel security, Palestinian statehood.
Settlements row to dominate U.S.-led Mideast talks (Reuters)
Reuters – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads a second round of Israeli- Palestinian peace talks Tuesday, looking to prevent the new negotiations from collapsing days after their launch.*
Daoud Kuttab: AP’s Robert Burns Playing Politics by Replacing “Settlement Freeze” With “Curb on Housing Construction”
Burns’ piece unilaterally changes the terminology and phraseology connected to one of the major obstacles of the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts. By changing this terminology, Burns has clearly taken a biased stand.
Why the Israeli ‘consensus’ on settlements is not so simple
Israelis often refer to a ‘consensus’ that several major settlement blocs should be incorporated into Israel as part of a two-state solution. But some Israelis can’t even find them on a map.

East Jerusalem housing plans cast new shadow over Israel-Palestinian peace talks
As Israeli and Palestinian leaders wrap up Egypt summit already marred by row over West Bank settlements, Jerusalem council announces plan to debate building 1,362 housing units beyond Green Line.
* Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Israel tries to lock up Abu Rahmah for two years for disturbing the “peace”, Jesse Bacon
The trial of Bil’in protest organizer, Abdallah Abu Rahmah will renew this Wednesday, after his conviction of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations was harshly criticized by the EU, the Spanish Parliament and human rights organizations.  Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s trial will resume on Wednesday, as it will enter the sentencing phase, in which the prosecution will argue its case for a harsh sentencing, and is expected to ask for a sentence exceeding two years imprisonment. The defense will argue Abu Rahmah had already been devoid of his freedom for too long, and should be released immediately.
Demonstrations against the illegal wall on the first day of Eid ul-Fitr
The weekend of 10-11th September saw the start of Eid ul-Fitr, which ends the fasting observed during the holy month of Ramadan in the Muslim religion. Three villages around Ramallah – Bil’in, Ni’lin and An Nabi Saleh – held protests on Friday 10th September despite it being the first day of Eid.
Think Before You Ink!
Hewlett Packards sells the Basel System technology to the Israeli military, so BDS activists targeted stores in California, asking back ti school shoppers not to buy HP products.  Here is a video documenting a recent action against Hewlett Packard in Emeryville.
Theodore Bikel: Legitimizing an Obstacle to Peace
If the refusal of the artists to perform in the territories beyond the Green Line is tantamount to ‘delegitimization’, it follows that any agreement to perform there would amount to legitimizing the single most glaring obstacle to peace.
Rachel Corrie Trial In Haifa

Seven and half years after their daughter was crushed by an armored bulldozer, Cindy and Craig Corrie stood in front of a courthouse in Haifa, Israel. Far from home, they were surrounded by Israelis carrying signs of support in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. The Corries came for the truth of 16 March, 2003.  “I’ve looked forward to today,” Craig said. “For seven and a half years our family has waited for the ‘complete, credible and transparent investigation’ promised by President Sharon to President Bush.”
Hillel prepares from another year of BDS on campus, Adam Horowitz
As Daniel Sieradski pointed out on twitter, that is a rather awkward analogy between vampires and Palestinians towards the end of the video.
The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism
Industrial Fuel – Needs Vs. Supply –Aug 15 –Sep 11
Goods – Needs Vs. Supply – Aug 15 – Sep 11
IOF erected new checkpoint in Nablus
Nablus, September 14, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli occupation forces erected today morning a checkpoint on the western entrance to the city of Nablus going to the direction of Qalqilya and detained dozens of vehicles. Witnesses said that Israeli forces erected this morning a checkpoint at the crossroads of “Surrah” village west of Nablus, and stopped vehicles outside the city of Nablus going to Qalqilya.  Witnesses added that the Israeli soldiers detained vehicles coming from Nablus and checked the identity cards of the owners.  Israeli occupation forces opened the road between Nablus and Qalqilya, less than a month ago after a closure that lasted more than eight years.
Report: 35 foreign kids kept in prison
Hotline for Migrant Workers says minors kept in Saharonim Prison under tough conditions despite attorney general’s decision to prohibit imprisonment of children.,7340,L-3953573,00.html
“They don’t want our boys educated”
Located just north of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, the entrance to the Palestinian village of Beit Ommar is also the site of an Israeli military post. A large yellow gate is opened and closed at the will of the Israeli army, which can cut off the inhabitants of the town from the rest of the West Bank at any time. Jody McIntyre interviews Beit Ommar resident Amal al-Montallab for The Electronic Intifada.
Nativity deportees appeal to Abbas ahead of talks
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Nativity Church deportees, exiled by Israel to Gaza and Europe following the siege of the Bethlehem church in 2001, appealed to President Mahmoud Abbas and his Egyptian counterpart on Monday to bring their case up during direct talks.
* Violence/Aggression & Provocations

Jerusalem man killed over allegedly fleeing from Israeli police
Israeli police shot and killed a young man from Jerusalem early Tuesday morning in Tel Aviv for allegedly not stopping when police instructed him to do so.  [Hamas website, not accessible to all]
Gaza subjected to air strikes, water crisis
Three Palestinian farmers were killed by Israeli tank shelling late at night 12 September in the northernmost occupied Gaza Strip, along the no-go “buffer zone” enforced by the Israeli military.
Settlers Break Into The Yards Of The Al Aqsa Mosque
Local sources reported that nearly 130 settlers broke into the yards of the Al Aqsa mosque on Monday morning while the Israeli police kept the Palestinians away.
Hamas minister condemns Al-Aqsa ‘raid’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Gaza-based Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs Taleb Abu Sha’ar condemned on Sunday what he described as raids by tourist groups of settlers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque area.  The minister said the event was nothing new, especially saying they entered “allegedly as tourists.” He expressed concern about Israel’s willingness to accompany the visitors, as it amounts to tacit approval for the project of “Judaizing” the area.
Israeli Troops Kill Palestinians With Impunity
The report, Void of Responsibility: Israel Military Policy not to investigate Killings of Palestinians by Soldiers, issued on Tuesday by B’Tselem, deals with events in the years 2006 to 2009 in which soldiers killed Palestinian civilians who were not taking part in hostilities (not including Operation Cast Lead).  Soldiers who killed Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are almost never held accountable, even if the circumstances raise a grave suspicion that they acted criminally. This is the conclusion arising from B’Tselem’s report, which analyzes the policy of the Judge Advocate General’s Office over the past four years. The main reason for this dismal situation is that the army refrains, as a rule, from conducting a Military Police investigation in cases in which soldiers kill Palestinian civilians. In addition, the research shows that the Judge Advocate Generals’ Office routinely procrastinates in making decisions on files for many months, even years.
Death of Gaza civilians ‘a mistake’: Israeli general (AFP)
AFP – The Israeli army’s killing of three Palestinian civilians at the weekend, among them an elderly Gazan and his grandson, was a mistake, a senior commander admitted on Tuesday.*
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
* Detainees

Source: 4 detained from Tulkarem overnight
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians from the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem overnight Monday, a security source told Ma’an.  The source identified those detained as Issa Odeh, 18, Yousef Fayyad, 25, and Ayman Abu Safaqa, 23. Ma’an’s correspondent reported that Anwar Naji, 20, was detained by Israeli forces in a private car outside the camp overnight and was released Tuesday. Earlier, an Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed one detention in Tulkarem overnight.
IOF breaks into Hebron, arrests 1
Hebron, September 14, (Pal Telegraph) IOF troops backed by undercover special force broke into Nour Shams refugee camp in Tulkarm in the West Bank, and arrested a young man then took him to an unknown destination.  Local sources said that Israeli specialundercover units was traveling by car and they were pretending to be Poultry dealers, then broke into the alleys of the camp and surprised a group of young men surrounding them then arrested them.  Sources added that Israeli soldiers arrested Anwar Hassan Naji (20 years), who was the target of this military operation, and chained him and put him in a car then left the area within minutes.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian from refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli special forces detained a Palestinian at the entrance of the Nur Shams refugee camp east of Tulkarem overnight on Monday.  Ma’an’s correspondent said Anwar Naji, 20, was detained by Israeli forces in a private car and was taken to an unknown location.  An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the overnight detention.
Source: Israel shuts down prison, transfers detainees
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israel’s Prison Service will shut down the Shitah prison in northern Israel and transfer 60 Palestinian detainees to the Megido-Salem prison in the same region, a source said Tuesday.  The source told Ma’an that the prison agency did not provide a reason for the jail’s closure but the Detainees’ Society will follow up with those detainees who have been transferred.
* Israel’s Arab Helpers

Hamas affiliates tortured while held by PA militia
Prisoners released from Palestinian Authority security militia jails in Al-Khalil say a number of detainees were tortured while being held.  [Hamas website, not accessible to all]
Hamas says 65 affiliates detained by PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas on Tuesday accused Palestinian Authority security forces of detaining 65 party affiliates in the West Bank.  The Islamist movement said in a statement that among those arrested were 40 supporters previously released from Israeli custody.  Hamas says up to 750 affiliates in the West Bank have been detained by PA forces, and several others have been summoned by the intelligence services since the movement claimed responsibility for two separate shooting attacks in the West Bank, in which four Israeli settlers were killed and two others were injured.
* “Peace” Talks/Political Developments

PM, Abbas to meet in Egypt amid Palestinian threats to quit peace talks
PA officials reiterate that the Palestinian delegation will walk out if Israel resumes settlement construction, even if only in the main settlement blocs.
Israel: “Talks To Be Held Away From The Media”
The office of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared Monday evening that the press conference that was supposed to be held with U.S secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, at the Egyptian resort of Sharm Al Sheikh, was cancelled as direct talks with the Palestinians will be held away from the media due to enormous difference between Israel’s position and the stances of the Palestinian leadership.
Abbas Not Authorized to Negotiate on Behalf of Palestinians’
13/09/2010 Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan said on the eve of a summit on Tuesday in Egypt that the latest round of US-backed peace talks were “humiliating and degrading.”  Radwan said his movement remained vehemently opposed to the talks being carried out by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. “He is not authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people and any agreements produced by these negotiations will not be binding on our people,” he told AFP, referring to Abbas.  Abbas was to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh on Tuesday.
Hamas says peace talks ‘humiliating and degrading’ (AFP)
AFP – The Islamist Hamas movement said on the eve of a summit on Tuesday in Egypt that the latest round of US-backed peace talks were “humiliating and degrading.”*
PFLP urges Abbas: Don’t go to Sharm summit
(Ma’an) — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Monday that talks scheduled for Tuesday are pointless and do not serve the interests or rights of Palestinians., The leftist movement said in a statement that the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership and PLO negotiations team ought to stop “chasing after illusions” and should cancel talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm Al-Sheikh.
Al-Qassam leader: We’re committed to resistance
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A senior commander of Hamas’ armed wing the Al-Qassam Brigades vowed Tuesday to “continue the path of resistance against the occupation until victory.”  “With the power of faith, weapons and missiles, tunnels and commandos we will achieve victory for Palestine and we’ll end the occupation in Gaza too,” Ahmed Al-Jabari said.  Denouncing the latest round of direct negotiations hosted by Egypt, Al-Jabari said in a statement published on the Al-Qassam website that Israel should “only be treated with weapons and battle.”
US recognizes ‘immediate obstacles’ to Mideast peace (AFP)AFP – The United States acknowledged Monday “immediate obstacles” were obstructing the latest peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, noting the coming weeks would be “decisive.”*
Secretary Clinton Traveling to Sharm el-Sheikh, Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Amman
On Tuesday, Secretary Clinton will participate in the continuation of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians in Sharm el-Sheikh. She will also have a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Mubarak. On Wednesday, she will join the parties for further discussions in Jerusalem and will participate in bilateral meetings with Israeli officials. On Thursday, Secretary Clinton will meet with Palestinian President Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad in Ramallah and will conclude her trip by meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman.
* Other News

Gaza economy grew 16 pct in 2010: IMF (AFP)
AFP – The easing of the Israeli blockade allowed the Gaza Strip’s economy to grow 16 percent in the first half of the year, an official at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday.*
‘Arab spy’ celebrates release: I was persecuted
Balad member Omar Said, who was suspected of severe security offences, returns to his Kfar Kana home following release from prison. ‘When it comes to Arabs the Shin Bet is quick to pull the trigger,’ he tells dozens of friends, relatives.,7340,L-3953640,00.html
Report: Quartet lobbying enriched Abbas’ family
LONDON (Ma’an) — Middle East Quartet envoy to Jerusalem Tony Blair’s lobbying in favor of a Palestinian telecommunications company enriched the family of President Mahmoud Abbas, a UK tabloid reported Sunday.  A special investigation published in The Daily Mail’s weekly edition on Blair’s financial gains from lobbying on behalf of Wataniya includes allegations that Abbas’ son made a fortune through the former British prime minister’s actions.
EU training for crime scene technicians
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — EU police trainers participated Sunday in the opening ceremony of a 6-week training program for crime scene technicians that took place in the headquarters of the judicial police in Al-Bireh., This training program has been tailored-made for 36 police officers in comprehensive crime scene investigation consisting of the processing of crime scenes, the collection of forensic evidence, the handling of forensic evidence and the use of chemicals., Palestinian Civil Police will receive a number of CSI vans carrying necessary equipment and last-generation technologies for criminal investigation, the EU police training commission said in a statement.
After rebuke, Mossad to hand material to Turkel
In rare move, commission probing Navy raid on Gaza-bound flotilla sends letter to secret service director, says ‘despite our continued requests, the material hasn’t been sent to us. We will consider taking disciplinary measures’.,7340,L-3953605,00.html
The new frontiers of Israeli diplomacy: Lieberman to address UN General Assembly (!)
You don’t need to be an expert to understand that this is not a very wise matching of speaker and venue. But the PR expert at the country’s helm apparently had no choice, because he will be at the main diplomatic show, which the Foreign Minister is boycotting.
Poll: One in three Spaniards is anti-Semitic
One in nine Spaniards, the survey found, supports the statement that “Israel should disappear because it was established on Arab land.” Another 77 percent disagree with the statement. The results of the study indicate that the major cause of the rise in anti-Semitic feelings is Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians in the territories.
Plea bargain readied in Anat Kamm espionage case
Ex-soldier Anat Kamm allegedly stole classified documents while serving in the IDF Central Command and passed them on to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau.
Shas minister shuts down online payments on Shabbat, holidays
Eli Yishai order comes after the National Insurance Institute website also does not accept payments on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
Nude pictures used for extortion in haredi concert conflict
Bnei Brak man with violent criminal record allegedly threatens to spread nude pictures of Rabbi Yitzhak’s lawyer if latter does not retract his opposition to haredi artists performing before mixed-gender audiences.,7340,L-3953681,00.html
Poll: Americans’ support for Israel up following restart of talks
Fifty-eight percent of U.S. citizens polled think America should back Israel – up 7 percent since July.
* Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Palestinian Authority Has Its Back to the Wall, Mel Frykberg
BANI NAIM, Occupied West Bank – The village of Bani Naim, near Hebron in the southern West Bank, was under curfew and sealed off by Israeli soldiers stationed in troop carriers and jeeps, as peace talks continued in Washington.  The only way IPS was able to enter was by taking a circuitous route over a dirt track through another village. Upon our entry, nervous Israeli soldiers pointed their guns and demanded identification.
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi: Netanyahu’s remarks serves as a death penalty for the so-called peace process
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative stated that Netanyahu’s insistence on the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and his refusal to halt settlement activity is an ultimate death sentence against the so-called peace process.  Barghouthi said that what is going on is in fact confirming the validity of what was warned, which was to not engage in negotiations without a halt of settlement expansion, including in the Jerusalem area.
The Most Moral Army in the World?: The New ‘Ethical Code’ of the Israeli Military and the War on Gaza, Muhammad Ali Khalidi
This article examines the content of and justification for a new “ethical code” designed for the Israeli army to take into account the “fight against terror.” It argues that the code contains two innovations: it includes acts aimed exclusively at military targets in its definition of “terrorism,” and it contains a principle of distinction that prioritizes the lives of citizen combatants over those of noncitizen noncombatants, contrary to centuries of theorizing about the morality of war as well as international humanitarian law.
Sixty-two years after the Nakba
Sixty-two years after the Nakba we continue to be preoccupied exclusively with its exterior façade of aggression and conspiracy on the one hand and the internal suffering and oppression on the other.
Notes on international law and the right of return, Ben Zakkai
My thanks to Ahmed Moor for his continuing efforts to advance the search for political solutions in Israel-Palestine, and I offer my apologies for my extended absence from the discussion. I hope to respond to his latest proposals in the near future, but first I’ll answer a question that Adam Horowitz raised in response to my  previous post discussing the Palestinian right of return. The question was, “what is the relation of international law to the right of return?” I’ll refer to some long answers and short answers to that question before providing my own medium-length response.
BBC Bias: The Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Anthony Lawson
Whatever happened on the Mavi Marmara on the morning of May 31st, 2010, the BBC’s Panorama team failed to give a balanced view of it in its so-called documentary, Death in the Med.  Even the title sounds more like that of a paperback mystery, rather than a serious analysis of Israel’s worst atrocity since Operation Cast Lead.  Documentaries should be truthful and informative and expand our understanding of situations and events; their content should be rigorously checked for errors in statements which are presented as facts and conjecture, and the personal opinions of their writers and presenters should be explicitly identified as such.  But  Death in the Med failed any test based on those parameters.
Update on the peace talks, Ilene Cohen
Considering the reality of the occupation, why should the Palestinians continue with the peace talks farce? Mark Landler and Isabel Kershner’s article from today’s New York Times, updates the rocky state of the nonnegotiations. The Palestinians are being pressed by the Americans to do Netanyahu a favor and close their eyes because it’s too difficult for him politically to continue a settlement freeze that was never a freeze in the first place. But think about it, if he can’t even pretend to freeze the settlements, why should anyone believe that he’ll be able to decolonize for real in exchange for an agreement with the Palestinians? And if Israel is unable/unwilling to decolonize (the future state of Palestine), what’s the point of this exercise from the Palestinian perspective? They’re in line for nothing but more humiliation.
Will Harvard drop honor for Peretz?, Ibn Tufayl
Marty Peretz is finally receiving some long overdue recognition: Harvard’s Committee on Social Studies in its forthcoming 50th anniversary celebrations will pay homage to the man. Participants in the 50th anniversary celebrations include: Michael Walzer, Stanley Hoffmann, Marty Peretz (who will speak over lunch), Amy Gutman and Harvard President Drew Faust. But questions are starting to be raised as to whether it should go forward.
Ramadan Reflections from a Christian, Tammy Obeidallah
As of this writing, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is coming to a close. The past month has been a time of unprecedented turbulence for Muslims around the world. While both natural and man-made disasters plague our brothers and sisters overseas, media-fed controversy strains Muslim/non-Muslim relations here in the United States.
The Occupation’s Many Faces, Joharah Baker for MIFTAH 
There is an overriding reality that cannot be dismissed here in Palestine. Israel controls just about every aspect of our lives. No matter how we try to turn it around, candy coat it or look at it from a “different perspective” this is the truth and the main reason why no partial agreement will ever hold.  One only has to travel in the occupied Palestinian territories to know this to be true. Over the Eid Al Fitr – the Muslim holiday following the month of Ramadan – the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem (itself only a recent reality) was jam packed to kingdom come. People spent literally two, three and four hours trying to make their way out of a one-kilometer area because the Israelis had decided to block all traffic going out of Ramallah towards Jerusalem. It did not matter that people had plans, needed to get back to their children and parents or in the worst case scenario, get to a hospital. At the iron gate opened in the separation wall at Qalandiya, a group of young Israeli soldiers stood with their weapons cocked and smirks across their faces as they watched desperate Palestinians trying to inch their way out of the mess. Rather than the [Israeli] authority responsible for the chaos trying to alleviate the situation, instead young Palestinian men exited their cars and tried to direct traffic.

Al-Manar Reporter: Lebanese and Israeli Armies on Alert at Dheira
13/09/2010 Al-Manar reporter said on Monday that the Lebanese and Israeli armies went on alert at the Dheira region.  The Dheira region is located in the western sector in the South.  Reports said that the Lebanese army went on alert when an Israeli bulldozer started digging a water duct into Lebanese territory from the Israeli side of the border.  A patrol from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon soon arrived at the scene and stopped the bulldozer’s activity.
Palestinian killed in Lebanon camp clashes
BEIRUT (Ma’an) — A Palestinian man was killed Monday amid clashes in the Lebanon refugee camp of Ein Al-Hilweh, Lebanese media reported.  Palestinian sources told the online news site NOW Lebanon that Mohammad Nazar was shot and killed after fighting broke out between Nazar and Haitham Ash-Sha’bi, a member of the Jund Ash-Sham factions, following a personal dispute.  Ash-Sha’abi was transferred to the governmental hospital in Sidon for treatment.  According to the news site, Nazar was affiliated with Islamic Palestinian factions in the refugee camp. Representatives from the factions held an urgent meeting over Nazar’s killing.
Egyptian Embassy lashes out at Sayyed’s collusion accusations
BEIRUT: A potential diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and Egypt loomed Monday, as the Egyptian Embassy in Lebanon issued a statement in response to charges made by Former Major General Jamil al-Sayyed against Egypt and its embassy in Beirut.
On digital martyrs,  Time stops for Hariri
During my last visit to Beirut, I asked a Lebanese friend why the digital billboard downtown marking the number of days since the February 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri had been switched off if Hariri was still dead. My friend suggested that stopping the clock gave the appearance that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, charged with prosecuting Hariri’s murderers, was actually accomplishing its task.
* Iraq

Monday: 20 Iraqis Killed, 66 Wounded
Fighting between suspected al-Qaeda elements and Iraqi security personnel continued in a small town just northeast of Baghdad. Including those casualties, at least 20 Iraqis were killed and 66 more were wounded in the latest violence. Almost all attacks were in Diyala province, while no violence was reported in Mosul. Although Diyala is one of the more violent provinces, it is unlikely that Mosul has seen no attacks since the end of Ramadan.
Amnesty International report: US may be complicit in Iraqi prison mistreatment and torture
A new Amnesty International report on Iraq estimates that 30,000 untried detainees are currently being held by Iraqi authorities, many of them transferred from US prisons.
Marine’s defense lawyer steps down in Iraq case (AP)
AP – A major Iraqi war crimes case that has dragged on for five years hit another snag Monday when a military judge excused one of the attorneys for a Marine sergeant whose squad was charged with killing 24 Iraqis.*
Report: Baghdad Embassy misspent millions on phantom meals, Josh Rogin
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad paid millions to a government contractor for meals and snacks that nobody ate, according to a new internal State Department report.  The State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that the embassy overpaid by over $2 million, including over $1 million in snacks alone. The funds went to contractor KBR, the former subsidiary of Halliburton that runs food service for the over 1,500 employees of the world’s largest embassy complex.
Business as Usual in Iraq,  MARJORIE COHN
Last week, President Obama ceremoniously announced that U.S. combat operations had ended in Iraq. As Democrats face an uphill battle in the upcoming midterm elections, Obama felt he had to make good on his campaign promise to move the fighting from Iraq to Afghanistan. But while he has escalated the killing in Afghanistan, it’s business as usual in Iraq.  The United States, with its huge embassy in Baghdad and five large bases throughout Iraq, will continue to pull the strings there. Last week, Vice President Biden delivered a power-sharing plan to the Iraqis, who have been unable to form a government in the six months since the March election resulted in a stalemate. “We think that’s better for the future of Iraq,” Biden declared. The New York Times speculated about whether “the Americans can close the deal.”  But the United States will continue to do a lot more than simply make suggestions about how Iraqis should share political power.
* U.S. and Other World News

Iran ‘releases female US hiker’
Iran has released an American woman held for more than a year on suspicion of spying, reports from Iran say.
US refuses to bail out jailed hiker
Government refuses to pay prison bail for US woman accused of spying, who Iran says it will release on health grounds.
U.S. urges Arab states to drop Israel nuclear treaty demand
U.S. envoy to IAEA says resolution calling on Israel to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty would send a negative signal to Middle East peace talks.
Group offers $100,000 for ‘information leading to the arrest and conviction of Karl Rove’
Amid the launch of a new campaign to encourage greater scrutiny the right-wing “American Crossroads” groups known to many as the “shadow RNC,” an activist organization declared that it would give $100,000 to any person who comes forward with “information leading to the arrest and conviction of Karl Rove.”
Egyptian activist released after 40-hour grilling, detention
CAIRO: An Egyptian activist snatched last week by suspected security agents was released after being quizzed for 32 hours about his political views, his employer the Cairo Institute for Human Rights said on Monday.  Amr Saleh, a researcher at the non-governmental organization, was “abducted” at dawn on Thursday by four men in civilian clothes, who according to witnesses said they were security agents, the group said.  He was released on Friday, 40 hours after being held in detention during which “he was interrogated for 32 hours about his political views,” a spokesman for the group, Ziad Abdel Tawab, told AFP.
Egypt sentences Bedouins to life imprisonment
ISMAILIA, Egypt, Sept 13 (Reuters) – An Egyptian court sentenced seven Bedouins for life imprisonment on Monday, in a case some tribesmen said would refuel long-running tension in the Sinai Peninsula.  Bedouins, among nomadic Arab tribes in the Sinai, often complain of neglect by the Cairo government and say tough living conditions have led some of their people to resort to smuggling and other activities considered criminal by the state.
Banning Slaughter, Kathy Kelly
In the early 1970’s, I spent two summers slinging pork loins in a Chicago meat-packing factory. Rose Packing Company paid a handful of college students $2.25 an hour to process pork. Donning combat boots, yellow rubber aprons, goggles, hairnets and floor length white smocks that didn’t stay white very long, we’d arrive on the factory floor. Surrounded by deafening machinery, we’d step over small pools of blood and waste, adjusting ourselves to the rancid odors, as we headed to our posts. I’d step onto a milk crate in front of a huge bin full of thawing pork loins. Then, swinging a big, steel T-hook, I’d stab a large pork loin, pull it out of the pile, and plop it on a conveyor belt carrying meat into the pickle juice machine. Sometimes a roar from a foreman would indicate a switch to processing Canadian pork butts, which involved swiftly shoving metal chips behind rectangular cuts of meat. On occasion, I’d be assigned to a machine that squirted meat waste into a plastic tubing, part of the process for making hot dogs. I soon became a vegetarian.
* Islam in the U.S.

Hartford Says No To Muslim Prayer Before Meetings
HARTFORD, Conn. — Officials in Connecticut’s capital city say they won’t include Muslim prayers before council meetings after getting mostly negative feedback from the public.  The reversal has led the state branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to plan a prayer vigil Monday night at Hartford City Hall in protest.
New hearing ordered in holding-cell hijab suit
A federal appeals court granted a new hearing Monday to a Muslim woman who was ordered by sheriff’s deputies to remove her hijab in a courthouse holding cell.
Peretz issues 50 percent apology for latest anti-Muslim racism, James North
Editor-in-chief Martin Peretz, who has become the crazy uncle in The New Republic’s attic, says he is sorry for half of his most recent anti-Muslim tirade.  He has been under great pressure, from Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times and from an eloquent coalition of students at Brandeis, his alma mater.  Peretz says he is sorry for writing, “I wonder whether I need honor these people [Muslims] and pretend they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment, which I have in my gut sense that they will abuse.”  He admits he wrote the sentence, but he says now he does not believe it.  Let’s take him at his word, although you wonder because it doesn’t read like he accidentally dropped something or misplaced a modifier.  But maybe he just had a couple of extra glasses of wine before hitting the send button.
MJ Rosenberg: I Make Marty Peretz Apologize For Anti-Muslim Screed
After years of writing racist screeds, Martin Peretz of the New Republic finally had to apologize.  He is writing in response to the brilliant and, in my opinion, wonderful Nick Kristof who wrote a column excoriating Peretz yesterday. Kristof, to his credit, wrote in his New York Times blog that I (along with my friend, Emily Hauser) was the one who brought the Peretz piece to his attention.  This is for me the beauty of the internet and of my job with Media Matters Action Network. Thanks to the blogosphere and Media Matters Action (which moved me from working within the confines of the Jewish world to the rest of it!), I can make my own small difference in the battle against racial and religious prejudice like that which is consuming America right now.
Inside Story – Anti-Islam sentiment on the rise
Amnesty International asys anti-Islam sentiment is on the rise in the US. The human rights group has pointed to rising crimes committed against Muslims in the country including the stabbing of a cab driver in New York and attacks on mosque sites around the country. Is Islamphobia motivated by politics? Or is it just exaggerated and blown out of proportion by the world’s media?
Riz Khan – Islamophobia in the US
Tension and acrimony marked the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks in the US. Relations between Muslims and people of other faiths appear to have slipped to a new low with the controversies over Quran-burning and the proposed Islamic centre near ‘ground zero’ in New York City. Is the US becoming increasingly intolerant towards Islam?

Empire special – Islam and America
On the 9th anniversary of 9/11, the fault lines between the US and the Muslim world seem to have expanded. As America’s internal cultural wars begin to affect its foreign policy, what are the options for President Obama? Which is the real US: The one that fights for Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the one that considers US Muslims as the enemy within? And have Osama bin Laden’s hopes of driving a wedge between the US and the Muslim world become a reality?
Quit thanking Zionists for “tolerating” you already!
One good thing that has come out of the Park51 controversy is that it has showed us just how desperately certain Arab/Muslim-Americans will plead for approval. A politician could give unconditional support for Israel and the US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and still get House Arabs’ and House Muslims’ gratitude as long as s/he supports Park51.

Update on the peace talks

Sep 14, 2010

Ilene Cohen 

Considering the reality of the occupation, why should the Palestinians continue with the peace talks farce? Mark Landler and Isabel Kershner’s article from today’s New York Times, updates the rocky state of the nonnegotiations. The Palestinians are being pressed by the Americans to do Netanyahu a favor and close their eyes because it’s too difficult for him politically to continue a settlement freeze that was never a freeze in the first place. But think about it, if he can’t even pretend to freeze the settlements, why should anyone believe that he’ll be able to decolonize for real in exchange for an agreement with the Palestinians? And if Israel is unable/unwilling to decolonize (the future state of Palestine), what’s the point of this exercise from the Palestinian perspective? They’re in line for nothing but more humiliation.
When Hillary Clinton says that “she believe[s] the Israelis and Palestinians could work out a deal on Jewish settlements,” she is talking about a deal whereby via some rhetorical sleight of hand everyone winks and the settlement building (that was never really frozen) continues to continue so “talks” about nothing can continue “even without a full extension of Israel’s moratorium on settlement construction”: she is not talking about the decolonization of the settlements that would need to come as part of the terms of a final-status agreement. 
Americans and Israelis have been using the illusion of process to sucker the Palestinians since Oslo and nothing has changed in the current circumstances. It’s a terrible thing that the United States is blackmailing the Palestinians by threatening to cut their funding if they don’t play along, but sometimes there’s no choice but to say no. Well, they should say no.
And, fyi, Netanyahu is now asking the EU to upgrade Israel’s status as a reward for all of Israel’s “concessions” to the peace process. Now that’s chutzpah. The EU actually has some leverage, it would appear, but don’t expect it to use it.

Will Harvard drop honor for Peretz?

Sep 14, 2010

 Ibn Tufayl

Marty Peretz is finally receiving some long overdue recognition: Harvard’s Committee on Social Studies in its forthcoming 50th anniversary celebrations will pay homage to the man. Participants in the 50th anniversary celebrations include: Michael Walzer, Stanley Hoffmann, Marty Peretz (who will speak over lunch), Amy Gutman and Harvard President Drew Faust. But questions are starting to be raised as to whether it should go forward.

Following Nicholas Kristof’s column in the Times this past Sunday, Stephen Walt comments on Peretz’s repeated screeds against Muslims and asks:

Does Harvard University really want to have an undergraduate research fund named after someone who would espouse such hateful views? Would all those people who contributed money and who will presumably show up for the event have done so if Peretz made a similarly grotesque statement about blacks or Catholics?

Please note that this isn’t an issue of academic freedom or free speech, as nobody is questioning Peretz’s right to say whatever hateful things he wants. But at a moment in our nation’s history when religious tolerance is being openly challenged, one would hope that premier academic institutions would be setting a positive example. It will be a sad day for Harvard if it turns a blind eye to Peretz’ reprehensible attitudes and pockets the money. And in the absence of a heartfelt public apology by Peretz himself, you’d think all those admirers would be having second thoughts.

James Fallows has also waded in, insinuating that Peretz should step down from his role at the New Republic:

I can’t at the moment think of another mainstream publication whose editor-in-chief has expressed similar sentiments — whether about Muslims or blacks or Jews or women or any other class — and not had to apologize or step down. Or a national political figure: compare this with Trent Lott’s objectively milder statement about Strom Thurmond, which cost him his job in the Senate leadership. Peretz can of course say whatever he wants. It’s a free country, and he is entitled to the “privileges” of the First Amendment, much as I might think he is abusing them here.  

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