East Jerusalem still on edge as 14-month-old baby asphyxiated by Israeli tear gas

Sep 24, 2010

Adam Horowitz

The news from East Jerusalem has only grown more grim. Ma’an News and others are reporting on the death of Muhammed Abu Sneneh, a 14-month-old boy who suffocated to death from Israeli tear gas used in the East Jerusalem neighborhood Al-Isawiya. Ma’an reports:

A Palestinian toddler was reported dead late Friday after Israeli forces fired tear gas amid clashes in a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Medics said 14-month-old Muhammed Abu Sneneh suffocated after the gas was fired at residents and their houses in Al-Isawiya.

Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said he had not received any reports of injuries and that police were using minimum force to respond to incidents in Al-Isawiya, Silwan and Ras Al-Amoud.

Clashes in the occupied city have been ongoing since Wednesday, when a settler security guard shot dead two Palestinians in Silwan.

This is an unfolding story and twitter seems to be the best way to get up-to-date news. Joseph Dana (@ibnezra) has been on the scene and sending tweets. Below is his twitter feed. It should update as he sends more news.

Bibi & Barney: Spring Pollard for 3-month freeze extension

Sep 24, 2010

Ira Glunts

Rep. Barney Frank is attempting to get House members to sign a letter to President Obama which requests the release of Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel. In exchange for Pollard, the US would get a three-month extension on the temporary and partial Israeli freeze on settlement construction on the West Bank. This deal is the brainchild of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu according to the Hebrew language version of Ha’aretz.

Frank is peddling Netanyahu’s deal as a US gesture of good intentions toward Israel. Gee, hasn’t the Obama administration made enough such gestures already?   Frank’s office released the following statement which

…notes the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel, as a strong indication of the goodwill of our nation towards Israel and the Israeli people…. This would be particularly helpful at a time when the Israeli nation faces difficult decisions in its long-standing effort to secure peace with its neighbors…

Frank, who is supported by JStreet, the “moderate” Jewish lobby, surely knows how humiliating the terms of his proposed agreement would be for our government.  A three-month extension on a freeze agreement which would only be selectively enforced is a ridiculously small price to pay for the return of a spy who many people believe did more damage to US security than any other.  It is widely believed that then Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir sold much of Pollard’s stolen information to the Soviet’s in the 80s.

The terms of the deal are so one-sided it is difficult to not dismiss it as anything but political grandstanding.  If Frank and Netanyahu were serious about this exchange they would have used a less public forum for communicating it to the White House.  But the Israelis and their supporters in the US can never get enough of seeing a powerful US politician make that “I love Israel” gesture.  Frank probably owes a favor to someone at AIPAC or he is planning a big Bar Mitzvah at the Wailing Wall for his nephew and wants to make sure that he and his family get the ultimate in VIP treatment.

Frank’s House letter is not the first time the Pollard clemency issue has arisen.   Israel has periodically attempted to negotiate for Pollard, who is considered to be a hero and legendary spy there.  President Clinton purportedly agreed to release him during the negotiations with Netanyahu which led to the Wye Agreement.  However, when CIA head George Tenet threatened to resign, Clinton nixed the deal.

For years, contrary to all evidence and logic, Israel claimed that Pollard participated in a “rogue” intelligence operation.   Finally, they admitted that Pollard was part of a Mossad spying operation in the US which was government-sanctioned.  Israel gives so many different fanciful explanations about so many different illegal operations it is difficult for even government officials to keep up with the most current versions.  Recently, Michael Oren, the Israeli Ambassador to the US, contradicted the new official government line by declaring that Pollard was not an official Israeli spy.  Oren went on to claim that Israel does not spy on the United States.  Right….

The chances that Netanyahu and Frank can spring Pollard anytime soon seem slim. There is a long history of denying clemency requests for Pollard and Obama is not one that is likely to ignore precedent.  Also, US defense establishment has traditionally been against granting clemency, and Obama is said to stand in awe of the military. 

You have to figure, however, that Netanyahu still believes that “America is something that can be moved easily” or he would never have proposed the Pollard-for-a-freeze-extension deal. 

Obama’s peace plan? ‘Annexation first, mini-statehood maybe later’

Sep 24, 2010

Adam Horowitz

Israel’s self-declared settlement building “moratorium” is set to expire this Sunday, and few expect that it will be extended. Even though the moratorium has meant little on the ground, this decision would still present a challenge to the Obama administration who hopes to keep its peace process moving forward despite the obvious fact that expanding Jewish colonies in the middle of the prospective Palestinian state isn’t really the best way to negotiate in good faith.

Mondoweiss contributor Josh Ruebner has a great piece in today’s USA Today that predicts one way the administration might attempt to square this circle:

To forestall a breakdown of this charade, into which Obama, Clinton, and Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell have already invested so much political capital, the Obama administration appears to be playing a dangerous game to massage these seemingly irreconcilable positions.

Although not yet an officially declared policy of the United States, its contours emerge from hints emanating from Clinton during the most recent round of negotiations. On her way to Egypt on Sept. 13, Clinton said, “We recognize that an agreement that could be forged between the Israelis and the Palestinians on actions that would be taken by both sides that would enable the negotiations to continue is in the best interests of both sides. This has to be understood as an effort by both the prime minister and the president to get over a hurdle posed by the expiration of the original moratorium in order to continue negotiations that hold out the promise of resolving all the core issues.”

And how would she propose the parties jump this hurdle? “I think there’s a lot of ways to get to the goal. Remember, the goal is to work toward agreement on core issues like borders and territories that would, if agreed upon, eliminate the debate about settlements, because some areas would be inside Israel and some areas would not be inside Israel. So I think that there are obligations on both sides to ensure that these negotiations continue.”

In other words, the difference can be bridged by arm twisting the Palestinians to agree up front on the land that Israel will annex, permitting unfettered colonization, in exchange for the privilege of continuing negotiations in the ever-dimming hope that some crumbs will eventually get tossed their way in the undetermined future. Call this policy “Annexation First, Mini-Statehood Maybe Later.

Thank you, we’ve reached our fundraising goal!

Sep 24, 2010

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz

Thank you everyone! We’ve reached our goal of raising $10,000. This was our quickest fundraising drive to date having hit our mark just nine days from when we posted the appeal.

In addition to all the financial support we’ve received, we also want to thank you for all the kind words of encouragement and affirmation you’ve send our way, including some wonderful endorsements in unexpected places. We appreciate all of it immensely.

Thank you again. We are humbled by your amazing generosity and promise to keep the site charging forward into the future.

Giuliani and Bolton take the stage in NY to call for war on Iran & anoint the neocon choice for Iran’s next leader

Sep 24, 2010


Yesterday Mahmoud Ahmadinejad restaged his “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” (or rather, New York) show again, this time using new insane conspiracy theories to dominate the headlines. I’ll do here as we all should — ignore his provocations — as the real issue to follow is the desperate game he’s playing to retain his power in Iran, as well as his populist internationalist savvy of speaking out on what are commonly held (if irrational) views shared by many outside the West. Behind the scenes in Iran he has suffered a number of humiliating knocks to his status, from the do-si-do involved in his attempt to stage the release of Sarah Shroud as an act of personal grace (his conservative opponents refused to allow him to put on a show along the line of his giving of gift-bags to the British sailors released in 2008, Shourd left Iran with no ceremony and kiss from Mahmoud), and he has been undermined in other ways as well. Coming to NY and making a stink is one of his tried and true gambits to consolidate support and quell his domestic conservative opposition.

Unsurprisingly, yesterday a number of Green Movement groups, such as the good folks in Where Is My Vote NY and United 4 Iran, organized on a grassroots level to bring together a demonstration against Ahmadinejad. This video summarizes the decent demands of this movement: We will not remain silent, We are here, No sanctions, Free political prisoners, Free speech, New diplomacy, No war.

What those of us who support the the green opposition didn’t expect was that the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (PMOI, also known as MEK or MKO) would be showing up in NY as well. A sign of the utter disconnection of the PMOI from the legitimate opposition to the present regime is the secrecy and lack of coalition or coordination with other groups that characterizes their activities. So out of the clear blue sky an elaborate stage materialized in Dag Hammerskjold Plaza, and several hundreds of unfamiliar people gathered — wearing not green but purple? But we knew them from their ensign: the hoisted pictures of their adored leaders, Masoud and Maryam Rajavi.

The rally was clearly a further attempt to mainstream the North Korea-like face of the PMOI, although I can’t say it seemed a convincing spectacle. This event was a much smaller affair than their coming-out rally in France over summer. The speakers included a range of soft spoken types, such as Reverend Doctor David B Lowery, Dean of the Mercer School of Theology. It also included mainstay advocates of the PMOI such as Raymond Tanter, a long-standing Israel Lobby professional, formerly an “expert” at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and a cofounder of the neocon Iran Policy Committee.

But the surprise of the day was yet to come. Striding the steps of the elaborate staging, while appropriate music was cued, none other than Rudy Giuliani took the podium to extol the virtues of the PMOI, while also making the case for war on Iran. He included appropriate references to Israel as well, in idealizing an PMOI-led Iran that “does not threaten its neighbors with annihilation.” The audience, nearly all seemed to be PMOI drones sapped of individual will, waved and applauded in disturbing symmetry. After a peculiar nostalgic digression theorizing how Reagan would have dealt with Iran (and eliding the fact that Reagan did deal with Iran — it was called the Iran-Contra affair). He climaxed with a bit of saber rattling: “They must be confronted with America’s strength…” “It is not negotiable [for Iran] to have nuclear weapons! Giuliani’s speech came to close with a call for a removal of the PMOI from the State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. As he left the stage the MCs whipped up the crowd with an awkward chant: “Ahmadinejad no no, Rajavi yes yes!”

Giuliani was followed by British Tory MP David Amess, who wikipedia terms “a leading member” of the Conservative Friends of Israel. He followed the formula, if blandly. But his was a prime spot on the lineup, as he had the honor of introducing PMOI leader Maryam Rajavi to a soundtrack of bugles and a storm of confetti. But of course the leader was not actually there — she was only a video image on the screen, waving to her self-sacrificing compatriots from a video-stage in what appeared to be a French garden. Wearing her standard uniform, a matching light blue-green suit and scarf, she did her earnest best to mainstream the message of the organization, focusing on human rights and democracy as themes. But again the overproduction of the event gave a slip to the cult-of-personality centered around Rajavi, and the absolutely non-democratic heart of the PMOI. Her speech ended to another unnecessary flurry of streamers and confetti.

Then Raymond Tanter returned to the stage, to introduce MKO mainstay John Bolton, who also spoke on behalf of the group in their rally in France. His place on the speaking list — directly after Rajavi — seemed to confirm that the PMOI is moving more and more to take on the mantle of being the neoconservatives’ acceptable opposition. As always, the center of neocon concerns is Israel, and the PMOI, which once was anti-Zionist, are now playing lapdog to the Israel Lobby. Bolton as usual could hardly contain himself, gave a speech full of snide innuendo about the UN and Obama’s lilly-livered approach on Iran, and ended by threatening war on Iran (“the only long-term solution […] is to overthrow this regime in Tehran, and sooner rather than later”). He was followed by Susan Kone, a staunchly pro-Israeli GOP candidate for a NY congressional seat, who cited “anti-semitism cloaked as anti-Zionism” as one of the worldly ills that the PMOI would help to defeat.

The PMOI stage show at the UN seems to be part of a mounting campaign to give legitimacy to the group as the case for war is amplified — as with Iraq and Chalabi’s group’s role in providing a cover of a “leadership in exile”, the PMOI is maneuvering to be given the scepter and crown before the “liberation” of Tehran. As before, the strange thing is how poorly the PMOI discern the fascistic quality of their messaging. We’ll see what the next months bring, but it seems the neocons and the Israel Lobby have found their acceptable Iranian allies as they try to drive the US to an attack on Iran. 

Israeli troops also use live rounds against anti-Wall protesters In Nil’in

Sep 24, 2010


And more news from Today in Palestine:

* Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Settlers plan burst of quick, ‘light’ construction as freeze nears end
Outpost homes planned using cheap, environmentally friendly methods that enable building a house in two months or less for less than NIS 200,000.
Settlement construction to be resumed, “limited”
Washington leading efforts for creative compromise which would allow peace talks to continue despite renewed building in West Bank.,7340,L-3959225,00.html
Settlement freeze has barely slowed construction (AP)
AP – How much of a freeze has there actually been on West Bank Jewish settlement building by Israel?*
West Bank settlements freeze: ‘It’s a joke’
Anticipation mounts among developers that Israel will end its freeze this weekend.  Giant bulldozers churn up the ground, turning the air a dusty red. Further off, the clack of building machinery and tools punctuate the tranquillity of a warm West Bank morning.  After nine months of an official Israeli freeze on settlement new builds, developers sense their moment is coming again. If, as expected, Israel ignores international entreaties and ends its freeze on settlement building this weekend, the ominous soundtrack of metal on cement will again reverberate across the West Bank, clanging out the death knell of recently revived peace talks.
Bulldozers prepare as deadline on West Bank settlement freeze looms
Anticipation mounts among developers that Israel will end its freeze on settlement building this weekend.
Berlusconi will ask EU to pressure Israel on settlements
ROME: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday said he would ask other European governments to pressure Israel into extending a partial settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank.
Officials: Palestinians will consider compromise
JERUSALEM — Hopes of averting a breakdown in Middle East peace talks grew Thursday as senior Palestinian officials said their side would consider an expected U.S.-brokered compromise on Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank., At issue is the 10-month-old Israeli slowdown on settlement building — a near-halt to new projects aimed at coaxing the Palestinians into talks with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Settlements of Hebron; A Stumbling Block for Middle East Peace Talks
Hebron is the West Bank in miniature. While diplomats and leaders seek to find a path to Middle East peace, Jewish settlers in the heart of the West Bank’s second biggest city insist that they are going nowhere. Indeed, their thirst for settlement construction is far from sated.,1518,719203,00.html
Settlers outraged by Obama’s call to continue freeze
Settler leaders accuse U.S. President of ‘unacceptable intervention’ in Israel’s affairs; call Netanyahu to resume building in West Bank settlements.
* Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Man shot with live ammunition at Bil’in wall protest, Adam Horowitz
Ashraf Al-Khatib was shot in the leg with a 0.22” caliber live bullet at the weekly demonstration against the illegal apartheid wall. An international nonviolent activist was also hit in the shoulder with a low-flying tear gas canister. The hundreds of other participants were attacked with huge quantities of tear gas.   The weekly protest is against land theft by the illegal apartheid wall and the Israeli occupation in general. This week, the marchers also expressed solidarity with Palestinians in East Jerusalem (al-Quds) where a Silwan resident was shot dead by an Israeli settler security guard on Wednesday morning.
Troops Use Live Rounds Against Anti Wall Protesters In Nil’in
Nil’in – PNN – the central West Bank village of Nil’in organized on Friday its weekly anti wall protest on Friday midday.  Villagers along with international and Israeli supporters conducted the midday prayers at lands owned by villagers near the Israeli wall, later they marched up to the gate of the wall that separates villagers from their lands.  Troops stationed at the gate fired live rounds and tear gas at the protesters; five were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.  Later Israeli soldiers chased the demonstrators back to the village where clashes erupted between the invading troops and local youth, the clashes ended without any injuries on either side.
Bethlehem Villages Protest The Israeli Wall, Soldiers Use Tear Gas
Bethlehem – PNN – on Friday villagers from Al Ma’ssara and Al Walajeh, near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem.  In Al Ma’ssara, the protest started at midday, Israeli and international protesters joined the villagers and marched to farmer’s land were Israel is building the wall. Troops stopped the protest at the village entrance.  People set fire to settlements products that are being marketed by Rami Levie stores. After the Palestinian Authority made it illegal to buy or sell Israeli products in West Bank cities.  Rami Levie, an Israeli business man and member of Israel’s Jerusalem municipality, opened stories near West Bank settlements in areas that can be reached by Palestinians.
Israeli Arabs prepare for month to commemorate October 2000 riots
Police killed 13 Israeli Arabs in October of 2000, during riots that broke out during the second intifada.
More than 500 academics have endorsed the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, says USACBI
From the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (a member group of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation)… “Endorsements by US academics and scholars recently crossed 500, and there are now 150 cultural workers who have also endorsed USACBI! This is a major victory for the growing academic and cultural boycott of Israel, and for the movement for justice and equality in Israel, as defenders of the status quo in Israel have repeatedly observed that the legitimacy of the state of Israel in the global court of public opinion is threatened by the boycott movement. There is a growing shift in the tide of public opinion in the U.S. which has only swelled in the wake of Israel’s massacre of international activists and relief workers on humanitarian aid flotilla’s off the coast of Gaza in international waters on May 31…”
Bar-Ilan lecturer reportedly denied tenure due to views
Colleagues say remarks against occupation kept Ariella Azoulay, who teaches visual culture and contemporary philosophy, from promotion.
New pressure on UJ to sever Israel ties
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Unisa vice-chancellor Barney Pityana and author Breyten Breytenbach have added their voices to calls for the University of Johannesburg to sever academic ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

New pressure on UJ to sever Israel ties

Adalah-NY to Batsheva Dance Company: “Don’t Dance Around Apartheid!”
“About 40 protesters gathered this evening to call upon New Yorkers to boycott the Israeli dance troupe Batsheva Dance Company during their performances at the Joyce Theater in Manhattan. Backed by the music of the radical marching band, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, demonstrators handed out programs to dancegoers and pedestrians explaining the reasons for the boycott. At least one dance patron heeded the call, giving his ticket to a protest organizer saying he was no longer comfortable seeing the performance.”
Israel’s settlement industry under boycott pressure
Palestinian activists in the occupied West Bank have called for the boycott of the popular Rami Levy Israeli supermarket chain which has several stores inside Israel’s illegal settlements. Activists say they will call on fellow Palestinians to “avoid supporting the occupation and settlements’ economy by boycotting Israeli goods and settlement stores.”
Youth Against Normalization: for the boycott of Israel
“The repression against BDS activists in France is reaching a new scale with the prosecution of a French MP, Alima Boumediene-Thiery (member of the French Senate) who has participated in a BDS action in the Paris region one year ago and who is a supporter of the BDS campaign. Her trial is due to take place in Pontoise (North of Paris) on Thursday October 14. She is accused (like all the other French BDS activists prosecuted) of “incitation to racial hatred” and “discrimination against the Israeli nation”.
Abdel Nasser Amer’s “Intelligent dreams”
Abdel Nasser Amer is an artist who lives and works in the city of Khan Younis in the occupied Gaza Strip. During Israel’s 2008-09 winter invasion of Gaza, Amer’s studio and some of his art were destroyed. Amer won a competition for a six-month residency with the Swiss Visual Artists Association in Neuchatel, Switzerland where he is working on his latest project, Rehaan (intelligent dreams). The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof interviews Amer to discuss his life and work.
Sheikh Jarrah Sukkot, David Shulman
It may sound unlikely, but we’re in ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan Street in Sheikh Jarrah and, together with Salah and other Palestinian friends from the neighborhood, we’re building a succah. The Succot holiday, my favorite, starts tonight. Religious Jews build little booths covered with palm fronds and eat and sleep in them for seven nights, a memory of the forty years of wandering in the desert and a reminder of the precariousness of all that exists, all that we value and love. You’re supposed to be able to see the stars through the fronds that provide a make-shift roof; honored guests, beginning with the Patriarchs and ending on day seven with King David, are invited to visit each day.
* The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism

Jerusalem remains on lockdown following clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Checkpoints were erected at the entrances to several Jerusalem neighborhoods on Friday, with soldiers preventing residents from leaving the areas in several cases, witnesses said.  Hundreds of police and border officers were deployed around the Old City, with 3,000 in total across East Jerusalem, officials estimated.  Israeli Police Commander in Chief Dudi Cohen reportedly decided to maintain the state of alert declared Friday morning in the city, extending it through the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
Shopping mall filled with goods masks Gaza’s crippled economy
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: The shelves are packed with imported food, but the ersatz prosperity of the newly opened “Gaza Mall” hides the lingering malaise haunting the impoverished territory.
Official says PA responsible for cars in Gaza
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority Transport Ministry assistant undersecretary said Thursday the PA hoped to deliver more cars into Gaza, following the import of cars on Monday for the first time since 2007.  Akram Awawda said 20,000 cars were needed in the enclave.  Under Israel’s blockade, Gaza’s residents are forced to rely on primitive means of transport, Awawda said, while smugglers bringing cars in from Egypt via tunnels are the only ones to benefit from the siege policy.  The ministry official said smugglers were responsible for projectiles launched towards the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel, but the rockets have not prevented the delivery of cars.
Violence/Aggression & Provocations (also see Activism section at the top)
Israeli navy kills Gaza fisherman
Military spokesperson says troops opened fire on the Palestinian man’s boat because it was “heading towards Israel”.
Israeli police, Palestinians clash in Jerusalem (AFP)
AFP – Stone-throwing youths clashed with Israeli police in an Arab area of east Jerusalem on Thursday, an AFP journalist said, a day after violence was sparked when a Jewish settlement guard shot dead a Palestinian.*
Report: Jerusalem settler opens fire; no injuries
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli settler in East Jerusalem fired his gun in the air during an altercation with a Palestinian resident of the Silwan neighborhood on Thursday, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.  There were no reports of injury or damage, although both unidentified men were reportedly taken for questioning.  Israeli police have maintained a state of alert throughout the city following clashes sparked by a deadly incident 24 hours earlier in which a settlement guard shot dead two Palestinians in the flashpoint district.
Jerusalem Syndrome: A report from Silwan, Daniel Argo
This post originally appeared on the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity website. You never know what kind of a day you’ve woken up to in this city. Will it be a lazy and serene day, the first day of a vacation that I’ve waited so long for, or a day where the entire city turns into a Kafkaesque story. But perhaps it’s not the city – but the people who live here. So here’s the story: it’s about murder; the police; detainees; missing people; hate; lies and loads of stupidity and folly. In short a typical day in East Jerusalem.
Media center says Jerusalem reporters in danger
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms condemned on Thursday Israel’s arrest of four journalists, and settler violence that injured another four a day earlier in occupied East Jerusalem.  In a statement, the Palestinian press freedom group demanded “the immediate intervention of the international community and human rights organizations to protect Palestinian journalists and to halt all attacks against them.”
Palestinian journalists denounce Jerusalem violence
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Two leading Palestinian press advocacy groups spoke out Thursday against what they called Israel’s escalation in arrests and violence against journalists in occupied East Jerusalem.  Israeli forces assaulted four journalists and arrested four others amid protests following a deadly shooting attack Wednesday in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem in which a settler guard opened fire on a Palestinian car.
Israel ‘stonewalling’ over West Bank boy’s sex assault claim
JERUSALEM — A complaint by a 14-year-old Palestinian boy that he was beaten by Israeli soldiers then physically and sexually assaulted by an interrogator is being blocked by Israel, rights groups charged on Thursday. The accusation is laid out in a letter sent to the military, the police and the attorney general by Defence For Children International (DCI) and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI).  The boy, known as ‘A’, filed a complaint in August in which he alleged ill-treatment by the Israeli soldiers who arrested him, and physical and sexual assault during his interrogation at Etzion police station in the southern West Bank.
* Detainees

Sixteen Palestinians held after Jerusalem clashes (AFP)
AFP – Sixteen Palestinians have been detained in connection with clashes in east Jerusalem, police said on Friday.*
Palestinian Detainees To Go On Hunger Strike
Approximately 7500 Palestinian political prisons held by Israel will start, on Saturday September 25, a hunger strike demanding Israel to halt its violations and attacks against them, and to improve their living conditions.
War Criminals
Expert: UN could ‘bury’ Goldstone report
Chicago – Ma’an – A year after Israel’s assault on Gaza, bureaucratic wrangling is threatening to bury a UN report that accuses Israel and Palestinian militias of committing war crimes, a UN expert on the issue said on Wednesday.  Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, made the remarks ahead of a Friday vote at the UN General Assembly, which is expected to give Israeli and Palestinian authorities five more months to investigate war crimes charges outlined in the Goldstone report.
Turkey lauds UN report on Gaza flotilla
UN Human Rights Council report: Israel flotilla raid broke international law; UN appointed experts say that the military raid on the flotilla was ‘brutal and disproportionate’.
Israel accused of war crimes by UN expert panel
A United Nations panel of human rights experts has accused Israel of war crimes through wilful killing, unnecessary brutality and torture in its ”clearly unlawful” assault on a ship attempting to break the blockade of Gaza in May.
Turkish president demands apology for flotilla at UN
Gul calls ‘Marmara’ raid an “unacceptable act in international law,”; calls on Israel to put an end to the “humanitarian tragedy in Gaza.”
Israel’s Arab Helpers
Egypt Detonates Two Tunnels In Rafah
The Egyptian Authorities detonated, Thursday evening, two siege-busting tunnels east of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Egypt Detonates Two Tunnels In Rafah

Jordan’s king warns of war by year’s end
In Daily Show interview, Abdullah says if issue of settlement construction freeze is not solved, violent conflict could break out by end of 2010. He also criticizes Iranian involvement, saying Palestinian issue ‘hijacked by non-Arab elements’.,7340,L-3959234,00.html
Hamas lawmaker to file suit against PA security
TULKAREM (Ma’an) — A Hamas lawmaker said Thursday that he had started proceedings to file a lawsuit against Palestinian Authority security forces to the West Bank’s attorney general.  Abdel Rahman Zaidan said more than 100 PA security officers raided his home in Deir Al-Ghusun north of the West Bank city of Tulkarem on Tuesday, violating his parliamentary immunity.  The elected official said forces insulted him and abused his family, and seized his personal documents and laptop before arresting him. He was taken to national security headquarters, he said, adding that the forces had no warrants to search his home or detain him.
Egypt releases Hamas top official: security (AFP)
AFP – Egyptian authorities on Friday released a top official of the Palestinian Hamas group who had been held for almost two weeks, an Egyptian security official told AFP.*
From a Dahlan to Fahlanists
So Mahmud Abbas (a Dahlanist) reassures Dahlanist Americans.
Muslim Golani fighter in sukkah with Ashkenazi
Zaid Horani, who was enlisted into IDF combat unit two years ago, chosen to represent his brigade in army’s annual Sukkot event.,7340,L-3959339,00.html
* “Peace” Talks/Political Developments

U.S. congressmen to Obama: Free Pollard to facilitate Mideast peace
Jonathan Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst, was sentenced to life in U.S. prison in 1987 on charges of spying for Israel.
Netanyahu Instructs His Envoy To Remain In the U.S.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, instructed his envoy to peace talks, Yitzhak Molcho, to remain in the United States in an attempt to find a solution to the issue of settlement freeze in the occupied territories.
Abbas in New York; “No Settlement Freeze Means No Talks”  [wink, wink]
Speaking to dozens of Palestinians at the Egyptian embassy in New York, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated that the Palestinian Authority will withdraw from peace talks should Israel refrain from halting its settlement activities.
Israel should start ‘rolling back’ occupation now: Fayyad (AFP)
AFP – Israel should loosen restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza immediately as a sign of good faith that new peace talks can produce a deal within a year, the Palestinian prime minister said Thursday.*
Fatah leader to meet Hamas chief, official says
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas leader Ayman Taha said Thursday that exiled Hamas chief Khaled Mash’al would meet Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad in Damascus to continue efforts to achieve national unity.  Taha said a delegation of Fatah leaders would arrive in Syria on Thursday a day ahead of the meeting, and he expressed hope that the meeting would bring conciliation closer.
Al-Ahmad: Hamas must ratify Egyptian paper
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad and Hamas conciliation leader Mousa Marzouq on Thursday arranged a meeting between a Fatah delegation and Hamas leaders in Damascus.  Al-Ahmad said he would be joined by Sakher Bsesu and Samir Ar-Refa’e, who would try to convince Hamas leaders to ratify the unity paper proposed by Egypt and to begin the process of national reconciliation.
Haniyeh praises Syrian role in Palestine issue
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Receiving a Syrian delegation in Gaza City, Hamas government Prime Minster Ismail Haniyeh said the “good faith of Damascus” had done much to maintain the integrity of the Palestinian national project.  Made up of Syrian parliamentary leaders and members of the state teachers union, the delegation sat with Haniyeh on Thursday. The Hamas leader called the meeting “a historical gathering of Syrians and Palestinians on this liberated patch of earth.”
Norway: Israel misconstrued Fayyad meeting
BETHELHEM (Ma’an) — A Norwegian representative said Wednesday that the country’s foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Store, regretted Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s “distortion of facts” regarding a tense meeting in New York days earlier. Israeli news reports quoted Ayalon as saying that a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, a group of donors to Palestine that meets every six months to coordinate efforts, “ended abruptly” after a disagreement over the two-state solution.
Rightist MKs slam Obama remarks at UN
President’s call for extension of settlement freeze ‘inappropriate interference,’ rightist Knesset members say.,7340,L-3959014,00.html
* Other News

UN atomic agency rejects Arab-led move targeting Israel
Measure urging Israel to join Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty rebuffed; outcome of close vote seen as a diplomatic victory for the U.S., Israel.
Egypt envoy to IAEA: Israel’s stand on nukes is a ‘chutzpah’
Israel criticized at IAEA conference for its refusal to sign non-proliferation treaty; continues efforts to prevent condemnation.
Turkish president seeks Israeli apology
Speaking at UN, Abdullah Gul says Turks waiting for compensation over deadly flotilla raid.,7340,L-3958921,00.html
PLO official says Carter to visit Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Former US president Jimmy Carter will visit the Gaza Strip in October in a bid to negotiate a national reconciliation agreement between the rival Hamas and Fatah movements, a PLO official said Thursday.  Carter told Fatah leader and member of the PLO-Israel negotiations team Nabil Sha’ath of the upcoming trip, Sha’ath said, in a meeting during which the former president addressed Israel’s 4-year siege of the coastal enclave.  According to the official, Carter would be joined by a delegation from The Elders, a group of global leaders brought together by former South African President Nelson Mandela.  A spokeswoman for the former president did not immediately return calls to confirm the trip.  An Elders delegation recently visited Israel and the West Bank but not Gaza.
Poll: 21% of Jews ‘more religious’
Survey conducted by Central Bureau of Statistics suggests 200,000 of adult Israeli Jews define themselves as newly religious; 42% consider themselves secular.,7340,L-3952847,00.html
Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
Al Jazeera English: Ali Anuminah: Obama’s UN speech ‘nothing new’
Barack Obama, the US president, has urged countries in the United Nations to get behind Middle East peace efforts in an address at the UN General Assembly. But Ali Hasan Abunimah, a Palestinian-American journalist and co-founder of Electronic Intifada, an independent web site about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, said Obama’s speech did not represent anything new. “That bodes very ill for the peace process that he’s so invested in,” Abunimah told Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi, speaking from the US state of Indiana. “Let’s judge him not by what he says, but what he does.”

Obama UN Speech on Mideast Talks “Filled With Empty Words” – Palestinian Attorney Diana Buttu
President Obama makes the Israel Palestine conflict the centerpiece of his address to the UN General Assembly. Urging the international community to support his plan for peace, the President called on Palestinians to move ahead with “genuine reconciliation” with Israel and said Israel should extend it’s “settlement moratorium” We speak attorney Diana Buttu, a former advisor to Palestinian negotiators.
When Obama spoke of “the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams” I thought of her (graphic), Ali Abunimah
In his speech to the UN General Assembly on 23 September, U.S. President Barack Obama had a throwaway line typical of folksy American campaign speeches to justify why “this time” the so-called “peace process” would be different:  “This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire”.  When he uttered those words, this was the image that came to my mind. It is of the body of a young girl from the al-Daya family dug out of the rubble after her family’s home was destroyed by an Israeli bombing on 6 January 2009.
What if Peace Talks “Succeed?”
Many commentators expect the direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians to fail. But there is a much worse scenario: What if they “succeed?” The United States appears determined to push for a framework agreement within a year and both Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), are aiming for that goal. Such an agreement, U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell explained in a September 2 press conference, would be more than a declaration of principles but less than a peace treaty. In it, the two sides would reach the “fundamental compromises” necessary for a peace accord. Like its predecessor, the Obama administration has already indicated that the accord would still have to be fleshed out and then implemented over the course of several years – which virtually ensures that it will be delayed if not derailed as happened to past peace accords.
Empty Promises: Obama takes his Middle East peace plan to the UN, Phyllis Bennis
“International law is not an empty promise” – except for Palestinians. President Obama’s General Assembly speech called on the international community to mobilize behind the U.S.-led “peace process.” He called on the Palestinians to “reconcile with a secure Israel” and waxed eloquent on the illegality of killing Israeli civilians. He called on the Palestinians’ friends to implement the Arab Peace Plan’s proposed normalization with Israel without ever mentioning the plan’s clear understanding that ending Israel’s 1967 occupation must come first. And he called on Israel to – talk nicely.
Why Mitchell Said ‘No’: Hamas is Not Ready to be ‘Engaged’, Ramzy Baroud
One key difference between Hamas and its rival, the Fatah movement in the West Bank, is that Hamas is accountable to a much more complex set of priorities and expectations. While Fatah is effortlessly co-opted, Hamas remains confined by ideological standards and the stringiest political space. Although, on one hand this represents Hamas’ greatest strength, on the other it shows just how truly arduous is its political undertaking.  The difference is relevant in light of the resumption of talks between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, followed by another round of talks in the Middle East. Both once more raised the question: can Israel and Fatah achieve peace without Hamas’ involvement?
Abbas and Bibi Need Help,  By George S. Hishmeh – Washington. D.C.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must have been very disappointed when she returned home last week virtually empty handed. She was not able to announce that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders with whom she had 11 sessions had agreed on a formula for maintaining the moratorium on building new Israeli colonies in the occupied West Bank. And all this despite the pleas of President Barack Obama and herself that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extend the 10-month ban, even for a short period, on additional construction in the occupied Palestinian territories where some 500,000 Israeli colonialists had moved since the 1967 Arab-Israel war. The ban expires on September 26.
Is the Mideast Peace Process a Charade?, Mamoon Alabbasi – London
A debate over the seriousness of the Middle East peace process was held in London, where six analysts argued for and against the motion that the current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were merely a charade.  Shlomo Ben-Ami, historian and former Israeli minister, expressed “serious doubts” on the validity of the negotiations, where both sides were in a “sate of indifference” and not ready to make any significant commitments.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ben-Ami argued, does not have the political power and right-wing backing to make peace, and all that he is willing to offer clashes with the concept of a “sovereign Palestinian state.”
Occupation reality check – Daoud Kuttab
Just when one thought that the direct peace talks might be able to produce a breakthrough, one got an awakening jolt.  Crossing the bridge over the Jordan River must be the world’s worst gift that keeps giving. This gift gives grief, anger, frustration and an overall realization of what the occupation is all about. September 18 is a case in point. Palestinians, and others, wishing to cross the nearly dried up river into the West Bank faced an unnecessary wait of over 10 hours. Women, men, senior citizens and infants were caught up in this 44-year-old ongoing drama.
Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Gideon Levy is the most hated man in Israel – and perhaps the most heroic. This “good Tel Aviv boy” – a sober, serious child of the Jewish state – has been shot at repeatedly by the Israeli Defence Force, been threatened with being “beaten to a pulp” on the country’s streets, and faced demands from government ministers that he be tightly monitored as “a security risk.” This is because he has done something very simple, and something that almost no other Israeli has done. Nearly every week for three decades, he has travelled to the Occupied Territories and described what he sees, plainly and without propaganda. “My modest mission,” he says, “is to prevent a situation in which many Israelis will be able to say, ‘We didn’t know.’” And for that, many people want him silenced.
The Daily Show is listening to King Abdullah. Is anyone else?
On the Daily Show tonight, Jon Stewart is hosting Jordan’s King Abdullah. Abdullah gets full points for hipness, but restoring his country’s influence is another matter.
* Lebanon

Second Israeli telecom ‘spy’ arrested in Lebanon
Lebanon has arrested a suspected accomplice of a telecom technician who stands charged with spying for Israel, a source close to the investigation said on Thursday.  “A Lebanese citizen named Tarek al-Rabaa was arrested four days ago and he is likely an accomplice of Charbel Azzi at the company Alfa,” one of Lebanon’s two mobile service providers, the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.  The source’s comments came after the high-profile arrest of Charbel Azzi, a technician at Alfa, last month, as part of a national crackdown on suspected Israeli espionage rings.
Hariri case ‘could cause civil war’
Politician warns of sectarian violence if UN-backed tribunal indicts members of Hezbollah movement.  A Lebanese politician has warned that a sectarian war could break out in Lebanon if a UN-backed tribunal investigating the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former prime minister, issues indictments against members of the Hezbollah movement. “If the indictments come out against Hezbollah in the trial of the Hariri assassination, there is war in Lebanon … and today the atmosphere is just waiting for a spark,” Suleiman Franjieh, the leader of the Marada movement, told Lebanese television channel LBC on Thursday.
Qassem says STL wants to quiz more Hizbullah members
BEIRUT: Hizbullah’s second in command Naim Qassem has revealed that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) asked to interview a second group of Hizbullah supporters as part of its probe into the 2005 killing of former Premier Rafik Hariri.
Hariri – Hezbollah Gap Widening; Lebanon in the Eye of the Storm
The gap between Hezbollah and PM Saad Hariri’s Future Movement continues to deepen at this very delicate stage in Lebanon. Formally announcing a deadlock could have to wait until the end of September, when the Saudi-Syrian-French effort to stop the country from sliding into the abyss, is expected to end. Until now, there are no indications that point to progress in this regard.
* Iraq

Thursday: 10 Iraqis Killed; 12 Iraqis, 1 Foreign Contractor Wounded
Iraq’s political deadlock was high on the agenda at the 7th Interior Ministers Meeting. The ministers of several neighboring countries acknowledged that Iraq’s politics are an internal matter, but they also stressed a “regional need” for Iraq to seat its new government. Meanwhile, 10 Iraqis were killed and 12 more were wounded in new violence. A foreign contractor was also wounded.
Iraqi Police Say Blast Kills 4 Children in Baghdad
BAGHDAD (AP) — A bomb attached to the car of a government worker exploded Thursday with his family and relatives inside, killing four children, officials said.
5 killed, 7 wounded in 2 IED blasts in Baghdad
Five people were killed and seven others wounded in blasts from two improvised explosive devices in Baghdad, according to a security source on Thursday.
Four Killed in Weapons Explosion
At least four people were killed and 67 others injured after a weapons storage facility explodes in Iraq.
Gunmen shoot dead civilian inside his house in Mosul
Two unidentified gunmen killed a civilian inside his house in western Mosul city on Thursday, according to a police source in Ninewa.
Fallujah raid highlights Iraq’s security concerns (AP)
AP – For a few hours last week, a part of Fallujah was a flashback to the depths of the Iraq war when insurgents ruled the city and its streets were shooting galleries.*
Al-Qaida in Iraq claims Baghdad bombings (AP)
AP – Al-Qaida’s front group in Iraq claimed responsibility Friday for two Baghdad bombings last week that killed at least 31 people at a government security agency and what it called an “evil” mobile phone provider.*
Temporary Marriages Stir Iraqi Sensitivities
As the lunchtime lull descends over Basra’s Al-Ashaar market, two women weave through dwindling crowds to a store owned by Adel, a grocer in his early forties.   After they enter, the door is locked and a sign appears, declaring the shop shut for the afternoon.  The women – a mother and her daughter, both widowed – were once regular customers of Adel’s. Now they see him only weekly, choosing a time when they are least likely to be spotted by other shoppers. Their dealings with Adel are no longer commercial. Though the manner of the visit is covert, its purpose is lawful.
Polygamy Promoted to Tackle Plight of Anbar’s Women
Campaign encouraging men to take more than one wife draws controversy in province awash with war widows.  Widowed by an American air-strike, Walaa Ahmed spent four years sharing a house with a hostile sister-in-law before she decided to remarry.
French scientists discover new Sumerian temple in southern Iraq
The Antiquities Department says French archaeologists have recently unearthed a new Sumerian temple in the southern Province of Dhiqar.  The department’s information officer, Abdulzahra al-Talaqani, said a team of French excavators did a short season of digging at al-Rafaai, the district where the Sumerian temple was found.  The French were expected to resume digging to provide a good picture of the new discovery, he said.  Details are sketchy but Talaqani said the department would provide by December “the engineering details that will elucidate (the temple’s) archaeological significance and its contents.”\2010-09-24\kurd.htm
Johnny Cash Died in Great Distress About Iraq Invasion
Country legend Johnny Cash died frustrated and disappointed about America’s invasion of Iraq. The singer/songwriter’s daughter Rosanne has revealed the conflict occupied her dying father’s thoughts during his final waking hours and caused him great distress. She insists he wanted to protest the war but didn’t have the strength. Rosanne Cash tells The Progressive, “We invaded Iraq in March (2003), and he died in September, and because his health was so fragile, he couldn’t take the controversy of making a public statement against the war.”   She reveals that doctors put her father into medically induced coma just before the invasion of Iraq – and when he woke, his first thoughts were about the conflict. Cash adds, “He went to sleep not knowing if we had invaded Iraq. It was the last thought on his mind.”
* Iran

Gulf States Order $123 Billion of U.S. Weaponry to Counter Iran, FT Says
The United Arab Emirates has signed contracts to buy military kit worth $35.6 billion, the FT said.
Obama urges diplomacy on Iran
US President Barack Obama has called for a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear issue, despite Washington’s disregard for Tehran’s diplomatic initiatives.
World powers seek talks with Iran
AlJazeera 23 Sep 2010 – US and other world powers announce diplomatic overture to come to “early negotiated solution” on nuclear issue.
Iran criticizes Russia over S-300 missile deal ban
Iranian defense minister says Russia is violating a 2007 contract; Russia says UN sanctions prevent it from delivering the sophisticated systems to Iran.
Iran To Produce Missile System Similar To Russia’s S-300
Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi has announced that Iran will produce an advanced anti-aircraft missile system, similar to S-300 in the near future after Russia scraps missile delivery plan to Iran, Mehr News Agency said.
What is new? Zionist racism
Do those racists know that Persian cuisine is one of the most delicious and sophisticated cuisine of the whole world?  “The New York Post reported that hotels guests complained of a foul odor in the hotel caused by the food cooked especially for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  The leader of the Islamic Republic does not eat the food prepared by the hotel chefs for guests, but instead brought his own personal chef from Iran to cook his meals for him.  Guests told the New York Post that his meals “stunk up the hotel,” prompting them to leave the hotel and seek lodging elsewhere.”
Letter to Rachel Maddow
Are you a journalist or are you Fox News?  Certainly you could have covered his statements at the UN without making sexist remarks, i.e., making fun of his stature by referring to him as “little man” and saying he must have needed to use a ladder to reach the podium.  Is it OK to use these types of physical characteristics to describe people?  Sure.  But, it’s shocking to see a journalist not affiliated with Fox news participate in such infantile behavior.  Rachel, would you have referred to Ariel Sharon as fat when he was slaughtering Palestinians in any of the various attacks he waged against them?  The mocking manner in which you said the word “Zionist” to mock Ahmadinejad also irked me.  As if you were implying that only a madman would ever blame anything on Zionism.
* U.S. and Other World News

Teresa Lewis, Mentally Disabled Woman, Executed In Virginia Amid Outcry
JARRATT, Va. — The first woman to be executed in the U.S. in five years has been put to death in Virginia for arranging the killings of her husband and a stepson over a $250,000 insurance payment. Forty-one-year-old Teresa Lewis died by injection at 9:13 p.m. Thursday. She became the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century. Supporters and relatives of the victims watchedd her execution at Greensville Correctional Center.
U.S. covert paramilitary presence in Afghanistan much larger than thought
On an Afghan ridge 7,800 feet above sea level, about four miles from Pakistan, stands a mud-brick fortress nicknamed the Alamo. It is officially dubbed Firebase Lilley, and it is a nerve center in the covert war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Afghanistan security ‘deteriorating:’ Feds
Afghanistan’s security situation is “deteriorating,” with a rise in insurgent violence and intimidation of civilians, according to a new report on the war by the Harper government.
CIA Killed U.S. Citizens in Pakistan
CIA drones killed “many Westerners, including some U.S. passport holders” in Pakistan’s tribal area during the George W. Bush administration, the new book by Bob Woodward says.
Pakistani scientist sentenced in US
Aafia Siddiqui, branded “Lady Qaeda” by the media, gets 86 years in jail for trying to kill US officers in Afghanistan.
US Businessman: Blackwater Paid Me to Buy Steroids and Weapons on Black Market for its Shooters, Jeremy Scahill
A Texas businessman who has worked extensively in Iraq claims that Blackwater paid him to purchase steroids and other drugs for its operatives in Baghdad, as well as more than 100 AK47s and massive amounts of ammunition on Baghdad’s black market. Howard Lowry, who worked in Iraq from 2003-2009, also claims that he personally attended Blackwater parties where company personnel had large amounts of cocaine and blocks of hashish and would run around naked. At some of these parties, Lowry alleges, Blackwater operatives would randomly fire automatic weapons from their balconies into buildings full of Iraqi civilians.  Lowry described the events as a “frat party gone wild” where “drug use was rampant.” Lowry says he was told by Blackwater personnel that some of the men using the steroids he purchased were on the security detail of L. Paul Bremer, the original head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Lowry also claims that Blackwater’s owner Erik Prince tried to enlist his help to win contracts for Blackwater with the Iraqi government using an off-shore security company, Greystone, which Prince owns. The purpose, Lowry says, was to conceal Greystone’s relationship to Blackwater.
David Miliband gave green light for interrogations in ‘torture nations’
David Miliband faced fresh questions over torture yesterday after it emerged that he gave the green light for interrogations of terrorist suspects in countries where there was a risk of abuse.
Clegg likely to cause surprise with veiled attack on Gulf war
In a gesture likely to startle as much as gratify a wide coalition of world leaders, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, will take the podium at the United Nations today and acknowledge, albeit obliquely and without identifying the country by name, that the invasion of Iraq was misconceived.
Muslims Say They Face More Work Discrimination
At a time of growing tensions involving Muslims in the United States, a record number of Muslim workers are complaining of employment discrimination, from co-workers calling them “terrorist” or “Osama” to employers barring them from wearing head scarves or taking prayer breaks.
Feds’ Guide To Snitching on Your Terrorist Neighbor
Here’s a handy pamphlet prepared by federal law enforcement to help you navigate the uncertainties of an age of homegrown terrorism, helpfully illustrated with pictures of New Mexico-born extremist preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and New York food-cart guy/sleeper agent Najibullah Zazi.
Dilip Hiro, The Waning of America
This has been the week of American decline at TomDispatch.  On Sunday, Michael Klare considered that decline in the context of the rise of China as an energy superpower.  I gave a muted cheer-and-a-half for it on Tuesday.  Today, Dilip Hiro, who has been following the subject for this site, lays out what our power outage means in geopolitical terms.  The last time Hiro (author most recently of After Empire: The Birth of a Multi-Polar World) appeared at TomDispatch, he noticed a striking stylistic sign of American decline in action, what might be called the Obama flip-flop.  In one case after another, from Central America to China, Israel to Afghanistan, the Obama administration would pressure a foreign leader to bend to Washington’s will, threaten dire consequences, and then, when he refused to back off, move into a placatory mode.  Strangely — a sign of domestic power outages as well — it hasn’t been hard to spot a similar style in action at home.,_the_waning_of_america/#more
Arabic National Geographic launched
The National Geographic Society regards the launch of an Arabic-language version of its magazine and its existing TV channel as “vanguards” for further growth in the Middle East.  The society says it could explore further business opportunities in the region after the launch of National Geographic Al Arabiya. The magazine, which was officially launched at an event in Abu Dhabi last night and hits the news-stands on October 1, is published under licence by the Abu Dhabi Media Company, which also owns and publishes The National.
A Blurred Line in Bahrain, RANNIE AMIRI
The situation in Bahrain has deteriorated to such an extent that it can no longer be called a political crisis; it is now a human rights crisis. And the silence of those in the Middle East and West, particularly the United States, has been shameful.  The Persian Gulf state is currently in the throes of unrest. The ruling al-Khalifa family, led by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, is imposing increasingly draconian security measures in an effort to silence the outcry of the island’s Shia Muslim majority over sweeping arrests of opposition figures in the run-up to October parliamentary elections.

Man shot with live ammunition at Bil’in wall protest

Sep 24, 2010 

Adam Horowitz

A scene from today’s protest in Bil’in. (Photo: Hamde Abu Rahmah )

The following was just sent out by organizers in Bil’in:

Ashraf Al-Khatib was shot in the leg with a 0.22” caliber live bullet at the weekly demonstration against the illegal apartheid wall. An international nonviolent activist was also hit in the shoulder with a low-flying tear gas canister. The hundreds of other participants were attacked with huge quantities of tear gas.
The weekly protest is against land theft by the illegal apartheid wall and the Israeli occupation in general. This week, the marchers also expressed solidarity with Palestinians in East Jerusalem (al-Quds) where a Silwan resident was shot dead by an Israeli settler security guard on Wednesday morning.
Two hundred Palestinians accompanied by around thirty international and Israeli activists assembled at the village’s Mosque after noon and marched towards the apartheid wall, chanting “no, no, to the wall” and “Free! Free! Palestine.” Around forty Israeli soldiers ran out of the gate to the settlement as they saw the march approaching, blockading the road.
Protesters marched up to the soldiers and confronted them, demanding to be allowed to walk on the village’s land, which even the Israeli High Court conceded was Palestinian in 2007. The soldiers did not allow anyone through, using their shields to aggressively push back the peaceful demonstrators. One Palestinian activist tried to fasten a poster to a soldier’s shield saying “Free Adeeb Abu Rahma,” referring to one of Bil`in’s four political prisoners held by Israel for organizing the weekly protests. The commander was seen indicating to his soldiers that he wants them to target Ashraf Al-Khatib.
The group demonstrated with the soldiers for thirty minutes until a youth threw a stone and the soldiers responded by firing huge quantities of tear gas at the peaceful crowd, many of whom proceeded to suffer breathing difficulties. One international activist was hit in the shoulder with a low-flying tear gas canister. A group of youths began throwing stones towards the soldiers, and three photographers stood next to the soldiers were hit.

Ashraf Al-Khatib, a Bil`in resident aged 31, was shot with 0.22” caliber live bullet which hit him in the lower leg. No warning shots were heard beforehand. Unable to stand, he was hurriedly carried by Palestinian and international demonstrators towards the village as he bled heavily from his calf. When Al-Khatib first fell, all of the soldiers ran forwards in an attempt to arrest him, but the demonstrators were able to successfully load him into a car before the soldiers caught them. As the car drove away the soldiers retreated, and the demonstrators walked back to the village, the demonstration lasting around one hour in total.
Upon Al-Khatib’s arrival at hospital, it was found the 0.22” caliber round had smashed the bone in his leg.

Many people are worried what will happen when current peace talks fail, but will it be worse if they ’succeed’?

Sep 24, 2010

Adam Horowitz

Here’s the introducation to a very interesting piece by Nadia Hijab published by Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network:

Many commentators expect the direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians to fail. But there is a much worse scenario: What if they “succeed?” The United States appears determined to push for a framework agreement within a year and both Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), are aiming for that goal. Such an agreement, U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell explained in a September 2 press conference, would be more than a declaration of principles but less than a peace treaty. In it, the two sides would reach the “fundamental compromises” necessary for a peace accord. Like its predecessor, the Obama administration has already indicated that the accord would still have to be fleshed out and then implemented over the course of several years – which virtually ensures that it will be delayed if not derailed as happened to past peace accords.

If the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and PA were unable to secure a sovereign state and rights through U.S.-brokered negotiations with Israel between 1993 and 2000, when they were in a much stronger position, they are highly unlikely to do so today with such a badly skewed Israeli-Palestinian power dynamic. Instead, next year is likely to see a grand ceremony where Palestinian leaders will sign away the right of return and other Palestinian rights in an agreement that would change little on the ground. The plan of the PA’s appointed prime minister, Salam Fayyad, to declare a Palestinian state in 2011 could unwittingly contribute to this outcome by providing the appearance of an “end of conflict” while the reality remains unchanged. If the rest of the world sees that the government of “Palestine” is satisfied with international recognition and a U.N. seat, they will be happy to move on to other problems leaving the Palestinians at Israel’s mercy.

Such a scenario could sound a death-knell for Palestinian human rights. The Palestinian people have shown a remarkable capacity to regenerate resistance and evolve new strategies after suffering harsh setbacks over the past century. But there may be no recovery this time around. A “peace agreement” would end the applicability of international law to the resolution of the conflict; permanently fragment the Palestinian people; and demobilize Arab and international solidarity.

What can Palestinians do to forestall abrogation of their fundamental rights and to ensure just peace? In a contribution to the debate around this question, this brief examines five areas that are key to Palestinians determined to persevere until rights are realized: Unifying the Palestinian body politic; espousing common goals; applying international law; using appropriate tactics; and strengthening the Arab and international movement of solidarity. It concludes with some suggestions for strategies in each area.

Read the entire piece here.

Letter to Rachel Maddow

Sep 24, 2010


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It’s a shame that Ahmadinejad didn’t utilize his moment in the media spotlight to actually say something that might have resonated with Americans instead of discussing 9/11 truther theories.  He could have made his case for why he feels that Iran needs nuclear weapons to protect itself from Israel, a country which has been threatening Iran since before Ahmadinejad was elected, a country in violation of so many UN Resolutions which has waged war on all of its neighbors and has been holding the native Palestinian population hostage in a criminal and barbaric occupation.  Reasonable people wouldn’t be able to argue with those facts.  But, I did think it was an inappropriate forum for Ahmadinejad to discuss 9/11 especially in light of the post 9/11 backlash against Muslims in the U.S.  
That being said, I was shocked by your attack on him last evening.  Are you a journalist or are you Fox News?  Certainly you could have covered his statements at the UN without making sexist remarks, i.e., making fun of his stature by referring to him as “little man” and saying he must have needed to use a ladder to reach the podium.  Is it OK to use these types of physical characteristics to describe people?  Sure.  But, it’s shocking to see a journalist not affiliated with Fox news participate in such infantile behavior.  Rachel, would you have referred to Ariel Sharon as fat when he was slaughtering Palestinians in any of the various attacks he waged against them?  The mocking manner in which you said the word “Zionist” to mock Ahmadinejad also irked me.  As if you were implying that only a madman would ever blame anything on Zionism.
Rachel have you ever done a show on Palestine?  Have you ever covered the occupation, the siege on Gaza, the attack on the humanitarian flotilla, the daily crimes of settlers against Palestinians, the continued theft of Palestinian land, thewar on Gaza?  Ever?  I guess actual crimes against Palestinians don’t work you up as much as mere words by A hmadinejad. Why not?

Tutu and Breytenbach join call for for the Univ of Johannesburg to sever ties with Israeli institution

Sep 24, 2010

Adam Horowitz

The Mail and Guardian report:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Unisa vice-chancellor Barney Pityana and author Breyten Breytenbach have added their voices to calls for the University of Johannesburg to sever academic ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The cooperation between the two universities dates from the 1980s, when the local partner was called Rand Afrikaans University. The agreement now under fire involves scientific interaction and was signed in August last year, renewing a controversial apartheid-era collaboration, its critics say. .

Tutu, Pityana and Breytenbach are recent signatories to an online petition launched after the May senate meeting. It calls for “the suspension of UJ’s agreement with Ben-Gurion” and this week had notched up nearly 200 signatories.

Law professor John Dugard, theologian Allan Boesak, ANC stalwart Kader Asmal, struggle veteran and language-rights expert Neville Alexander, poet Antjie Krog, former Freedom of Expression Institute director Jane Duncan and Wits University sociologist Ran Greenstein are among other recent additions to the petition.

The decision on the relationship will be made next Wednesday, September 29th, by the University of Johannesburg’s Senate. The text of the petition reads:

As members of the academic community of South Africa, a country with a history of brute racism on the one hand and both academic acquiescence and resistance to it on the other, we write to you with deep concern regarding the relationship between the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The relationship agreement, presented as ‘merely the continuation’ of a ‘purely scientific co-operation’ is currently being reviewed owing to concerns raised by UJ students, academics and staff.

For reasons explained below and detailed in the attached Fact Sheet, we wish to add our voices to those calling for the suspension of UJ’s agreement with BGU.

As academics we acknowledge that all of our scholarly work takes place within larger social contexts – particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of ‘purely scholarly’ or ‘scientific work’.

The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has had disastrous effects on access to education for Palestinians. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation. BGU is no exception, by maintaining links to both the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and the arms industry BGU structurally supports and facilitates the Israeli occupation. An example of BGU’s complicity is its agreement with the IDF to provide full university qualification to army pilots within a special BGU programme. Furthermore, BGU is also complicit in the general discrimination at Israeli universities against Palestinians and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

It is clear to us that any connection with an institution so heavily vested in the Israeli occupation would amount to collaboration with an occupation that denigrates the values and principles that form the basis of any vibrant democracy. These are not only the values that underpin our post-apartheid South Africa, but are also values that we believe UJ has come to respect and uphold in the democratic era.

We thus support the decision taken by UJ to reconsider the agreement between itself and BGU. Furthermore, we call for the relationship to be suspended until such a time that, at minimum, the state of Israel adheres to international law and BGU, (as did some South African universities during the struggle against South African apartheid) openly declares itself against the occupation and withdraws all privileges for the soldiers who enforce it.


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