Settlers spray graffiti on mosque in Nablus, run over a man in Qalqiliya, attack a teenager in Hebron and

Settlers spray graffiti on mosque in Nablus, run over a man in Qalqiliya, attack a teenager in Hebron and

Sep 30, 2010



more news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Palestinians may continue talks if construction limited to settlement blocs
US envoy Mitchell meets Palestinian president Abbas in Ramallah as part of American, international effort to save peace talks; PLO Executive Committee to convene Thursday to discuss negotiations.,7340,L-3962220,00.htmlPalestinians expected to leave direct talks
After giving Netanyahu an extension of several days to stop the renewed building in the settlements, the Palestinian leadership is expected to decide to cut off contact on Saturday. aides defiant on settlement freeze ahead of Mitchell meet
President Barack Obama’s emissary, George Mitchell, is making a secretive last-minute attempt to rescue Mideast peace negotiations
Erekat calls on EU, US to enforce settlement halt
JERICHO (Ma’an) — Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat called on the US and EU officials to push Israel to extend its settlement construction moratorium during meetings on Wednesday.  Settlement activity in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem must be stopped,and the peace process given the chance it deserves, Erekat stressed in separate meetings with US consul general in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein and the EU representative to Palestine Christian Berger.
Obama in personal appeal to Netanyahu: Extend settlement freeze for two months
Netanyahu inclined to reject Obama’s offer, which includes string of security incentives, citing lack of political support.
EU’s Ashton: Settlement freeze can urge Palestinians to resume talks
Comments by EU foreign policy chief come following her announcement of a surprise visit to Israel, PA in another attempt to restart stalled negotiations.
Mitchell presses Israel to halt settlement construction
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Washington’s Mideast envoy on Wednesday was trying to wring an agreement out of Israel to bar new West Bank settlement construction and put foundering peace talks back on track.
Levin: White House pushing 60-day settlement freeze extension
Senior White House officials told a group of Jewish lawmakers Wednesday morning that the Obama administration is pushing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the now-lapsed settlement building moratorium for 60 days as one way to allow Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to continue, said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) in an exclusive interview with The Cable.
Barghouthi: Israeli higher court ruling racist
MP Mustafa Al-Barghouthi said that the Israeli higher court ruling allowing expulsion of tens of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah was a “serious, racist” decision.
The unorthodox Israeli settlement leader – who isn’t even a settler
Naftali Bennett, who lives in an affluent suburb of Tel Aviv, is a driving force behind Netanyahu’s decision not to extend the Israeli settlement freeze.
Freeze was meaningless, Philip Weiss
Great precise journalism by Matti Friedman of AP on how the settlement freeze was really just a slowdown, and hardly a slowdown, given the dropping of the freeze. “A few projects were delayed,” says Hagit Ofran of Peace Now. Let’s hope more mainstream news organizations pick up on this insult to American policy and intelligence.
* Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment:

UJ ultimatum to Israeli university
The South African University of Johannesburg (UJ) senate has warned to end its relationship with Israeli university Ben-Gurion (BGU) unless certain conditions are met.  In a statement released on Wednesday, the South African university’s highest academic body agreed that the Ben-Gurion University would have to work with Palestinian universities on research projects and stop its “direct and indirect support for the Israeli military and the occupation”.  “The conditions are that the memorandum of understanding governing the relationship between the two institutions be amended to include Palestinian universities chosen with the direct involvement of UJ,” the university said in a statement.  “Additionally, UJ will not engage in any activities with BGU that have direct or indirect military implications, this to be monitored by UJ’s senate academic freedom committee.  “Should these conditions not be met within six months, the memorandum of understanding will automatically lapse on April 1 2011,” UJ said.

Nilin journalist “determined to film”
Hamoudeh Amireh participates in the resistance against Israel’s settlements through his documentation of the grassroots struggle in the occupied West Bank village of Nilin. Jody McIntyre interviews for The Electronic Intifada. rally against buffer zone
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Marking the 10th anniversary of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Gaza’s Popular Committee organized a rally to voice dissent against Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank and no-go zone in Gaza.  Marching toward the border area, through an Israeli-declared “buffer zone” that reaches up to one kilometer in width according to UN surveys, demonstrators said several young men managed to install a Palestinian flag on a gate in the border fence.
Jordan unions urge boycott of cycling event with Israel (AFP)
AFP – Jordan’s trade unions called on Wednesday for a boycott of a cycling tour for environmental awareness, saying the event involving Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians was really a cover to normalise ties with the Jewish state.*
Nobel Peace Laureate Still Detained By Israel
Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire, is still imprisoned by Israel and awaiting deportation from the country.
Rosengarten, sole American on Jewish boat, says she was asked to prove that she was Jewish, Philip Weiss
We have received two accounts of the treatment of passengers and crew on the Jewish boat to Gaza. The first is from the American passenger on the boat, Lillian Rosengarten of New York, a former refugee from Nazi Germany. The second is from Nurit Peled-Elhanan, an Israeli married to Rami Elhanan, one of the passengers. Rosengarten…
#BDS: 6,000 Irish shoppers demand supermarket stops stocking Israeli goods
Today, Thursday 29th July 2010, at 1pm, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) delivered a petition to Dunnes Stores signed by 6,000 shoppers across Ireland. The petition demands that Dunnes Stores stop stocking Israeli products, until Israel respects Palestinian rights and international law. Present at the handing-in were Brendan Archbold, the trade union official at the centre of the 1980s Dunnes strike when workers refused to handle South African goods, Freda Hughes IPSC National Chairperson, Aengus O’Snodaigh of Sinn Fein along with supporters of the campaign and members of both the Palestinian and South African communities in Ireland.
#BDS: Israeli Occupation to Evergreen Divestment
When: Oct 7, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Where: The Evergreen State College – Seminar II, E 1105,
Join a discussion and talk on the history and aims of Israel’s occupation over Palestinian land and people, with a focus on the injustices produced by Israeli settlements, land theft and violations of international law.The Conflict Over Palestine and the Imperative of Justice – a talk by Steve Niva, TESC Faculty Middle East Studies.  Join a long history of Palestinian resistance to occupation and the recent turn to global civil society and non-violent strategies of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), which have appeared on the Evergreen campus during the past year.  Sponsored by TESC Divest.
#BDS: BDS Goes South
In a landmark event held in New Delhi on 22-23 September 2010, the conference “A Just Peace for Palestine” ended with a clear call for BDS as a strategy for realizing justice for Palestinians. The conference was co-organized by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the Committee for Solidarity with Palestine, the All India Peace and Solidarity Organization, and the recently established Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. The conference ended with a resolution that called upon “the Indian government to end its military ties with Israel and return to its earlier commitment to the cause of the Palestinian people.” The conference also affirmed that “the world must declare that Israel is an apartheid state. It must call for global boycott and sanctions on Israel as long as it continues its illegal occupation of Palestine and its apartheid policies.” The resolution appealed to “people in India to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as a show of solidarity with the Palestine people and their just struggle.” A plan of action was announced, in which several steps to show solidarity with Palestinians were outlined, particularly the launching of BDS campaigns and other measures by people’s action groups in the Asian region.
#BDS: SCORPIONS: “Wind of Change” for Justice or Apartheid?: An Open Letter from PACBI
Dear Scorpions,  Occupied Ramallah, 28 September 2010 — The Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has learned from various sources that you are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on October 4, 2010.  Your performance in Israel was only recently announced on your official tour website. Prior to this, when we contacted your agents and lawyers to inquire about your performance we received ambiguous responses. Your now scheduled performance violates the appeal of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement [1] which urges people of conscience throughout the world to isolate Israel until it ends its colonial and apartheid oppression against the Palestinian people, as was done against the apartheid regime in South Africa. We urge you, as a band known for its commitment to support the “wind of change” and the falling of the Berlin Wall, not to perform in apartheid Israel that is building a far more cruel and illegal [2] wall on occupied Palestinian land.
Nationwide Launch Of Film On Palestinian-Israeli Nonviolence Struggle
Oklahoma City, OK—EthnoGraphic Media (EGM) marked the United Nation’s International Day of Peace by kicking off a 12-day launch of its latest documentary, Little Town of Bethlehem.  The standing-room-only event at Boston College was hosted by the Faith, Peace and Justice Program in the Department of Sociology. The film director, Jim Hanon was interviewed on FOX Americas News HQ with Shannon Bream on Sunday September 26th.  Fox News anchor Shannon Bream introduced the film as a documentary that imagines peace in the Middle East.  Showing several clips from the film, Bream and Hanon discussed the need to reach people, especially college age people with the message of nonviolence.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (23-29 September 2010)

In Gaza: Israel Opens One Border Crossing, Keep The Other Closed
Israeli authorities ordered the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip to open, but kept Al-Mentar (Erez) crossing closed for the entry of goods. my Cairo hotel, I meet a family that is desperate to get to Gaza, Susan Johnson
Mondoweiss correspondent Susan Johnson of Doylestown, Pa., has been stuck in Cairo, trying to get into Gaza, where two organizations have requested her services. Her latest report.  Here I sit in my cheap little Cairo hotel…people coming and going, some more interesting than others….a mother in her sixties with two adult sons she constantly berates…barges into their rooms without knocking…I guess they should be happy they aren’t all in the same room with her.. Lots of backpackers stopping in for a shower and the sights in Cairo……A group of three stands out…two gals and a guy from Australia …divers….on a nine month jaunt around the world……. a 56 year old woman from Holland testing out a relationship with a man from Egypt…..she met him on the internet……..a very beautiful woman in her thirties…..five inch heels…tight jeans…leaves the hotel around 11PM, returns around 3AM…..she sleeps late into the afternoon.
* Violence/Aggression & Provocations:

Man Wounded After Being Rammed By Settler’s Vehicle
Palestinian medical sources reported on Wednesday at night that a Palestinian man from Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, was moderately wounded after being rammed by the a speeding settlers’ vehicle.

Father says son assaulted by Hebron settlers

HEBRON (Ma’an) — A group of at least four young men from the Kiryat Arba settlement attacked a young boy east of Hebron on Wednesday night. Jawdat Al-Ja’bari said that 4 settlers attacked his son Baha while he was on his way home. He said the teen was left with bruises on his hands, chest, and torso and was taken to hospital to check for internal bleeding.  Al-Ja’bari said he filed a complaint against the settlers with Israeli police, who did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Palestinian Worker Wounded By Explosive Dropped By Israeli Army
Medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that a Palestinian man was wounded by unexploded ordinance, apparently dropped by the Israeli army during the war on Gaza last year. Palestinian Wounded By Israeli Military Fire In Gaza
One Palestinian resident was wounded by Israeli military fire, on Wednesday morning, as he was working at one of the evacuated settlements in the Gaza Strip, local sources reported.
Israeli border police break into homes and demand to be served coffee in Silwan, Joseph Dana
On Tuesday evening, Israeli border police and special Yasma forces rampaged through the East Jerusalem city of Silwan. Their presence on the ground was due to unrest that has been engulfing the city since last week’s murder of a 35 year old Palestinian at the hands of a private settler security guard. Recently, I was on the ground and witnessed soldiers urinating and defecating on the roofs of private Palestinian homes, throwing bottles (water and beer) on to Palestinians pedestrians  on the street and breaking windows left and right.  From the ground I tweeted:  “Soldiers are trashing roof tops with urine and feces in Silwan. We are cleaning up and putting the waste in front of the settler house”  “The police have no shame at all. They have broken a window now and poked their heads into the house demanding coffee”  “They are also throwing bottles from roofs on to the main streets. The border police are doing this that is”  Below is the first in a series of videos that document these petty, routine and all to familiar crimes of occupation which the Israeli army commits on a daily basis.
Israeli Settlers Write Slogans Call For Mosque Demolition In Nablus
Israeli extremists settlers called, on thursday, for the demolition of a mosque in the West Bank village of Burin, near Nablus.

Israeli Settlers Write Slogans Call For Mosque Demolition In Nablus

Unrest continues after East Jerusalem killing
SILWAN, occupied East Jerusalem (IPS) – Tension, the twisted carcasses of gutted vehicles, buses with smashed windows, smoldering dumpsters, streets riddled with rubber-coated steel bullets and empty cartridge cases, tear gas and air thickened with black soot from burning tires marked the beginning of the fifth day Monday of continuous demonstrations in East Jerusalem.
Israeli Military Raids Houses In Jerusalem
The Israeli military launched large-scale raids of houses, Wendesday morning, in several neighbourhoods in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, south of al-Aqsa mosque.
* Detainees:

Detentions made in Al-Aqsa following settler visit
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police detained several men from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Thursday, following reports that settlers had entered the area and sparked anger.  Minister of Waqf and religious affairs in Gaza Taleb Abu Sha’ar sounded the alarm shortly before noon, saying Jewish worshipers had made the provocative move of entering the Haram Ash-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, where the mosque is located within the Old City of Jerusalem.

Ansar Al-Asra: Israel kidnaps about 500 Palestinian children every year
Ansar Al-Asra, a human rights organization, reported Thursday that Israel kidnaps about 500 Palestinian prisoners under age 18 every year and there are still 310 of them in its jails. 70,000 Palestinians jailed since intifada
The PSC issued Thursday on the tenth anniversary of the Aqsa intifada a comprehensive report which found that Israeli authorities have since the intifada arrested 70,000 Palestinians.
* War Criminals & their Palestinian and American enablers:

Silwan studies Israeli use of expired weapons
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Silwan residents will launch an investigation into the use of expired and oxidized tear-gas canisters by the Israeli military which locals say pose health risks.  A news conference was held at the Silwan protest tent in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, where a local committee said a preliminary investigation had been undertaken after residents reported an increase in symptoms of fatigue, high fever, vomiting, and shortness of breath in the wake of recent clashes in the neighborhood.

U.N. rights body backs critique of Gaza flotilla raid (Reuters)
Reuters – The United Nations Human Rights Council Wednesday endorsed a fiercely critical report on Israel’s raid on a Gaza aid flotilla in May but stopped short of pressing for an international criminal inquiry.* report: Israeli interception of the Gaza flotilla was illegal, Adam Horowitz
from the UN report into the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Notice that the report also makes clear that the entire Israeli blockade of Gaza is illegal as a form of collective punishment. The following appears on pages 14 and 15 of the UN report.
Palestinian Rights Groups Slam Gaza Vote at UN
Palestinian human rights groups have condemned a U.N. resolution backed by their own government that delays action on a report alleging war crimes during last year’s Gaza conflict.
PA decision at UN a “betrayal of Gaza victims’ rights”
As members of the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations, we strongly condemn the decision of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to support a UN Human Rights Council resolution that accords further time for ineffective domestic investigations, thus effectively failing to pursue accountability for crimes committed during the Israeli offensive code-named “Operation Cast Lead.”
Palestinian Authority Recommends Whitewashing Gaza War Crimes, Steve Lendman
Who do they serve anyway? It’s clear from the sham peace talks and a new development. The Mahmoud Abbas-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) wants Israel absolved of accountability for Cast Lead crimes of war and against humanity. No matter that conclusive evidence exposed them, the result of the IDF’s 23-day day rampage, killing over 1,400, injuring over 5,000, many severely, and practically leveling wide areas of Gaza, affecting mostly civilian and non-military related targets. Besides other investigations, two UN Human Rights Council (HRC) ones unequivocally condemned Israel’s lawlessness, each demanding accountability.
Once again, PA caves on Goldstone Report, Philip Weiss
Complete cave: The Palestinian Authority today acted in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to freeze the Goldstone Report, preventing it from going to the Security Council and International Criminal Court.    Raji Sourani of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights blasted the PA’s action as a “grave mistake.”
* More from Israel’s Arab Helpers:

Islamic Jihad: PA arrests West Bank leader
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority forces detained a member of Islamic Jihad on Thursday, the movement’s Gaza branch said.  Khader Adnan was detained from his workplace in the town of Qabatiya in the Jenin district, a statement from the party said.  “Adnan has suffered medical troubles since his release from Israeli prisons in recent years,” a movement said, calling for his immediate release.  According to the party, Adnan’s detention was politically motivated.

ATFP Organizes Meetings With Zionist Groups: Hussein Ibish, Washington Concierge To The PNA
The ANTI-PALESTINE Task Force operating under the misnomer American Task Force on Palestine describes itself as an “independent voice for Palestinian-Americans and their supporters…”, but as was clearly demonstrated during Mahmoud Abbas’ recent visit to the US, when he couldn’t find any Palestinian community leader willing to meet with him, the overwhelming majority of Palestinian-Americans refuse to associate with the Palestinian National Authority or the ATFP which operates as the Washington public relations firm for the Israeli-sponsored, Western-funded, and American-supervised PNA.  During that visit Abbas did meet with representatives of 50 Zionist organizations.”Peace” Talks/Political Developments

Egyptian FM ‘not optimistic’ over talks
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit said he did not expect peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to continue, “despite international efforts.”  In a televised interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV, Abu Al-Gheit said Wednesday that he believed Israel’s refusal to extend a moratorium on settlement construction had stymied the peace process.  A final decision on the talks will be made after Arab foreign ministers meet in Lybia in the coming days, Abu Al-Gheit said, adding that he believed ministers would hold the “decisive meeting to discuss the negotiations which stopped before they even began.”

‘Bibi understood and really appreciated how much we put together [in] this package … but felt it just wasn’t enough,’
“Dennis said, ‘Bibi understood and really appreciated how much we put together [in] this package … but felt it just wasn’t enough,'” the lawmaker said, adding that the U.S. and Israel “are still talking.”  Ross told the lawmakers that the United States and the Palestinians understood the “political necessity” for Netanyahu to honor his pledge not to extend a 10 month partial West Bank settlement freeze that expired last weekend, the lawmaker said. “Just as the United States and Israel understand the political necessity for [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas of honoring his pledge to secure a meaningful or significant settlement construction halt,” he continued. By not taking quick action after the settlement freeze expired with no deal, Abbas “demonstrated Palestinian understanding” of Netanyahu’s political position, the lawmaker said Ross conveyed….  The White House briefers “also talked about the conversations the U.S. is having with the Palestinians and the Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia to try to find a way to allow a compromise to be reached on the subject of settlement expansion in order to allow negotiations to continue,” the lawmaker said….  Not specific to the message conveyed in the briefing, one Washington Middle East expert emphasized “that the main point is that the U.S. is waiting for an answer from Bibi, and it is not looking good right now.”* Other News:

Palestinians mark anniversary of second Intifada
It is ten years since the start of the second Intifada in the occupied Palestinian territories. The uprising claimed 5,500 Palestinian lives as well as more than 1,000 Isrealis. Al Jazeera talks to Ahmad Abed Rabbo, the young Palestinian who was part of President Yasser Arafat’s presidential guard at the time of the fighting. This is his story.

Dubai police chief says Mossad behind death threats
Commander that led investigation into the killing of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh claims Israeli agents warned him he would be targeted.
Syrian-occupied Golan Heights not to be under negotiation: FM
DAMASCUS, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) — Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Tuesday the Syrian-occupied Golan Heights are not to be under negotiation, the Syrian official SANA news agency reported.  Al-Moallem made the comments during his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in New York on the sidelines of the 65th UN General Assembly’s meetings as they discussed Middle East issues, basically Mideast peace process and situation in Lebanon and Iraq.’s electronic warfare capabilities
JERUSALEM, Sept. 29 (UPI) — Israel’s electronic warfare capabilities have been given a rare public airing.  The Israeli air force’s Sky Crows squadrons, which on Sept. 6, 2007, deployed 10 F-15I fighter jets to attack Syria’s purported nuclear reactor, built along the Euphrates River and modeled after the North Korean reactor in Yongbyon and financed with Iranian assistance, have spoken to the media, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.
“Operation Orchard” was never publicly confirmed by Israel
Israel’s reportedly used electronic warfare to neutralize Syria’s air defense systems.  Pinhas Buhris, who served as director general of the Defense Ministry at the time, in discussing Israel in developing state-of-the-art electronic warfare capabilities, said at the time: “You need this kind of capability. You’re not being responsible if you’re not dealing with it. And, if you can build this kind of capability, the sky’s the limit.”  Israel’s Sky Crows Squadron commander Lt. Col. Oren observed: “The current theater of operations for aircraft is challenged and threatened by advanced surface-to-air missile systems in enemy territory. Our objective is to activate our systems and to disrupt and neutralize the enemy’s systems.”
* Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Pollard – “Common Sense and Impudence” Richard Sale
I was the reporter who broke the story of how the Israeli government was selling the pilfered Pollard material to the Eastern Bloc in return for increased emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union…

Avigdor Lieberman’s UN Speech Shows the True Face of Israel
Yisrael Beiteinu’s strong third-place showing in Israel’s February 2009 elections for the Knesset was met with dread and disgust from many different quarters.  Avigdor Lieberman, the founder and leader of the far-right party and the current Foreign Minister, ran a campaign filled with fascist overtones as he called for “loyalty oaths” to be signed by Palestinian citizens of Israel.’s vision is a reality
For the second time in as many weeks, Benjamin Netanyahu has been forced to issue a statement distancing himself from comments made by his hardline foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
In NYT, Robt Wright dares to suggest that Palestinians should have a right to, unh, vote, Philip Weiss
Robert Wright of the New York Times is a great journalistic ally in the road ahead. Because he knows the story, because he understands that the current situation is oppressive, because he’s in the mainstream, and because he couldn’t really care less about Zionism. Today he has a pretty good piece about demanding a one-state solution as a means to a two-state solution. Though it is circumlocutory, its essence is that Palestinians should have a right to– sit down– vote. And he suggests very indirectly that BDS is the path. Good work. Onward. Remember, Wright is working in a den of Jewish nationalism, the MSM, so someone must bake him a cake with a hacksaw blade inside it, so that we might look forward to his continuing liberation from the militaristic and often-racist rationalizations of the status quo.
Makovsky: Obama will give it up for Israel for a two-month freeze extension, Ira Glunts
According to a startling report in the Jerusalem Post, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy told Israeli Army Radio that President Obama is asking (read begging) Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept a two-month temporary settlement freeze.  In exchange, Washington will promise never to bother Israel about freezing the settlements again and pledge to veto all UN peace initiatives for one year.  Among other concessions, Makovsky claims the deal includes American support for a long-term (read permanent) Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley.
Sailing into the storm, Philip Weiss
One of the most disturbing things about visiting Israel and Palestine is seeing the bifurcated reality. Political freedom and prosperity in Israel, despair and 60 years of no-rights right across the Green Line. Time Magazine brilliantly captured this separation in its cover story on Israelis making too much money to care about peace. Everything’s in the bubble, the Palestinian situation is being contained, and this explains why, historically, people resort to violence. As Patrick Henry wrote (in a quote Annie dug up), “Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament…. If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending… we must fight!”
The Jewish boat and the ‘peace process’, Pamela Olson
As yet another boat—a Jewish one this time—is forcefully boarded by the Israeli navy while attempting to run the blockade of Gaza, a natural question for many Americans is: Why are boats still trying to run the blockade when Abbas and Netanyahu are in the middle of a peace process?  Let’s leave aside for the moment that the blockade, which imprisons 1.5 million people, destroys their economy, and denies them desperately-needed medical and educational resources, is an illegal form of collective punishment.  Let’s talk instead about the peace process. It’s fore-ordained to fail by virtually all knowledgeable experts. Why?

Palestinian group sells out to the lobby, MJ Rosenberg
This is hard to understand
until one realizes that this is just an example of politicians acting like politicians (i.e, with no regard for the people they claim to represent).  During their recent visits to the United States, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad made absolutely no headway with the Obama administration. Although the idea of negotiating with Netanyahu while he is building more settlements is ridiculous on its face, the administration allowed Israel to end the settlements freeze. It did say, however, that it was “disappointed” but, other than that, the White House had no criticism of Netanyahu. It’s back to the policy of previous administrations: no criticism of Israel in even or odd numbered years.  So Fayyad and Abbas have decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Under the tutelage of the American Task Force On Palestine, they have decided to join up with the Jewish far right in this country.  Specifically, the ATFP is hooking up with The Israel Project, a fringe organization well to the right of AIPAC. The love affair began months ago but culminated at a dinner in New York during the recent visit which Fayyad, ATFP, and The Israel Project treated as their “coming out” party.  So what’s wrong with Palestinians “reaching out” to Jews.

Strenger than Fiction / Political learnings for make benefit of understanding glorious nation of Israel
Israel after years of dedicated experimentation has developed the Glorious New Method of Government by Chaos.

Peace Process to Nowhere, FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY
The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reports that President Obama begged Prime Minister Netanyahu to extend his settlement freeze in order to save the so-called peace talks.  As a quid pro quo, Obama is reported to have promised Netanyahu that (1) Israel could resume settlement construction if the peace negotiations failed to produce results and (2) that the United States would give Israel written assurances of its commitment to Israel’s security (suggesting a formal peace treaty perhaps?).  Despite Obama’s desperation,  Netanyahu blew Obama off and allowed the so-called freeze to expire.   If, as is likely, this report is true, Israel has humiliated the United States once again — a fact that will no doubt be deemed irrelevant by Israel’s shills on both sides of the aisle in Congress, not to mention the mainstream media.

It’s Not What You Say, it’s How You Say it, Joharah Baker for MIFTAH
My mother used this line on me all the time when I was growing up. When I felt I had been done a grave injustice by my unfair parents – which was obviously every other day as a teenager – I would argue my point in rants and raves, flaying my arms and blaring in the highest decibel humanly possible. When the dust would finally settle, my mother would calmly advise me to choose my words carefully, lower my voice and get my point across – which she sometimes conceded was legitimate – in a way that would be well received on the other end. “It’s not necessarily what you are saying,” she would tell me. “It’s how you say it.”  I am reminded of that maxim frequently as I listen to Palestine’s leaders defend our cause. In my opinion, there is no cause more just than that of Palestine’s. International law is behind us, most of the world has rallied for the creation of a Palestinian state and many good minded, well-intentioned people have pledged their support and solidarity with us. Nonetheless, despite all of these positive factors, we are still stateless, misunderstood and accused of being intransigent, violent and uncooperative. In part, this is due to the unwavering support Israel gets from the United States, even when the former does not move in the exact direction the Americans would like them to. Given that the US is the only superpower left in the world, its word holds a mighty amount of weight and other countries follow suit if only for association.

* Lebanon:

Internal differences over STL funding could lead to Cabinet collapse, civil strife – analysts
BEIRUT: Irreconcilable differences between Lebanon’s two main political camps over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) have Lebanon teetering on the edge of political crisis and civil disobedience, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Wednesday.

Hezbollah to block Hariri probe financing: official (AFP)
AFP – Hezbollah will try to block further Lebanese financing of a UN-backed court probing the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, a party official said Wednesday amid a deepening political crisis over the issue.** Iraq:

Wednesday: 2 Iraqis Killed, 23 Wounded
At least two Iraqis were killed and 23 more were wounded in various attacks. A suspected Iranian suicide bomber was also killed. Meanwhile, Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders is criticizing Iraqi security forces for perpetrating unreported attacks on journalists. Also, the United States is proposing to sell Iraq $4.2 billion in weapons and aircraft.

Attacks on Baghdad Green Zone Surge
The heavily fortified Green Zone in Iraq’s capital has in recent weeks come under an intensifying barrage of rocket attacks. Plans $4.2bn Arms Sales to Iraq
The Pentagon issued a proposal on Monday to sell weapons worth $4.2bn to Iraq, including 18 F-16 fighter aircraft, Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, laser-guided bombs and reconnaissance equipment.
Al-Sadr Agrees to al-Maliki Second Term in Return for Guarantees
Sources in the National Iraqi Alliance [NIA] that is led by Ammar al-Hakim have confirmed that leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, following pressure from Iran, has agreed to State of Law [SLC] candidate Nuri al-Maliki remaining in office for a second term “in return for guarantees.”
Political impasse deters Iraqis from going home: U.N. (Reuters)
Reuters – The flow of displaced Iraqis returning to their homes after years of war has slowed considerably since a March election as politicians wrangle over a new government, U.N. officials said Wednesday.*
Lack of Iraq govt hampering intel gathering: US general (AFP)
AFP – Failure to form an Iraqi government nearly seven months after elections has hampered the efforts of security forces to gather intelligence on insurgents, a US general said on Wednesday.*
Al Qa’eda ‘abducting their sons from Iraq’
BAGHDAD // Dozens of children born to al Qa’eda fighters in Iraq have been abducted by their fathers, prompting fears they will be brought up abroad as the next generation of Islamist militants.  Iraqi women who were forced to marry foreign al Qa’eda volunteers have reported infant boys being snatched away by their husbands and never heard from again.  An Iraqi charity working to support the al Qa’eda wives, many of whom were effectively presented as gifts to the militants, said the abductions posed a grave and long-term danger to Iraq and other countries.
* U.S. and other world news:

Trooper boasted about killing Iraqi family, Wasilla soldier says
SEATTLE — Staff. Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, a central figure in the Afghanistan war crimes case against Western Washington-based soldiers, boasted about murdering a family while he served in Iraq, according to a sworn statement from a fellow soldier obtained by The Seattle Times.  When Gibbs first arrived in Afghanistan, he began talking to other soldiers about “getting away with some of these things,” according to Spc. Jeremy Morlock, a 22-year-old soldier from Wasilla who is now accused of helping Gibbs murder three civilians in Afghanistan.  Morlock told Army investigators that Gibbs told some platoon members he had developed a plan to kill Iraqis driving in a car, and looked for a chance to carry it out. The opportunity arrived one day while he was crossing a road carrying a Squad Automatic Weapon — a powerful machine gun, according to Morlock. Gibbs told the soldiers he “turned around and sprayed down the vehicle” that carried the family — then covered up the murders by telling his commanders that the car had failed to stop, according to Morlock’s statement.

A sad joke: Pakistan threatens to stop protecting NATO supply lines
Pakistan has told NATO leaders it will stop protecting U.S. and NATO supply lines to Afghanistan if foreign aircraft stage further cross-border attacks against fleeing militants, security officials said Tuesday. threatens Pakistan: Obama: ‘We need to make clear to people that the cancer is in Pakistan’
If, God forbid, the SUV had blown up in Times Square, – Obama would be forced to do things that Pakistan would not like. “No one will be able to stop the response and consequences,” the security adviser said. “This is not a threat, just a statement of political fact.”
Clinton warns Pakistan to make the rich pay up
The United States will set tougher conditions on its aid to foreign governments, including an expectation that rich foreigners won’t skip out on their taxes while Americans bankroll things their nations need, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday.
U.S. looks at ways to control militant websites
A House subcommittee hears testimony on sites promoting terrorist groups and extremist ideology. One expert suggests studying the sites for information, closing them or providing countering ideology.  Militant websites are becoming more accessible and appealing to Americans, experts told members of Congress on Wednesday, adding that the sites must be monitored and some should be shut down.,0,374942.story
FBI targets US Palestine activists
Searches, subpoenas, but no charges for anti-war activists ‘providing support to terrorists’ in Colombia and Palestine.
Activist berates White House, Clinton for honoring ‘war criminal’ Kissinger
It’s been more than forty years since Henry Kissinger was giving advice to Richard Nixon on the illegal bombing of Cambodia, but the 87 year old former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State remains a controversial figure.
Afghan Peace Impossible Unless Foreign Forces Leave: Hamid Gull: Gen. Hamid Gull described the government of Afghanistan and its members as puppets and added that the establishment of the High Council of Peace meant to start peace deals with the Taliban will have no positive results.
Robert Gates: ‘We’re Not Ever Leaving’ Afghanistan
In a shocking indication of a split between the White House and the Pentagon over the war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes that the U.S. military will never leave the war-torn country.  During a dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Afghan President Hamid Karzai in May, Gates reminded the group that he still feels guilty for his role in the first President Bush’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, according to Bob Woodward’s new book, “Obama’s Wars.”
US slaps Iran with more sanctions
The new sanctions affect eight Iranian officials, who according to the US, took part in rampant human rights abuses.
Prominent Iranian blogger jailed for more than 19 years
Amnesty International has expressed concern over the sentencing of an Iranian-Canadian blogger to more than 19 years in prison for his online comments.  Amnesty International has today expressed concern over the sentencing of an Iranian-Canadian blogger to more than 19 years in prison for his online comments.  According to the Iranian website Mashreghnews, Hossein Derakhshan was convicted by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of “cooperating with hostile states“, “propaganda against the system”, “propaganda in favour of counter-revolutionary groups, “insults to the holy sanctities”, and “the set-up and management of vulgar and obscene websites”.
Turkish prime minister hints at another attempt to remove headscarf ban
ISTANBUL: Turkey’s prime minister said on Wednesday a law that prohibits women wearing the Muslim headscarf at universities was against freedom of belief, in his strongest hint yet the AK Party might try again to lift the ban.
Bahrain blames outside parties for Shiite unrest
MANAMA: Shiite activists arrested for anti-regime activities were trained and financed abroad, Bahrain’s foreign minister charged in an interview published Wednesday, while insisting he was not blaming Iran. “They received training – and – money from abroad,” Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa told the Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.
Bahrain: Rescind Travel Ban on Rights Defenders
(New York) – Bahrain should immediately rescind a travel ban against prominent human rights defenders whom authorities recently prevented from leaving the country, Human Rights Watch said today.
Rights activists share Alternative Nobel (AP)
AP – Activists from Nepal, Nigeria, Brazil and Israel were named the winners Thursday of this year’s Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “alternative Nobel,” for work that includes fighting to save the Amazon rain forest and bringing health care to Palestinians cut off from services.*
Critics say Indian laws on cow rights deliberately targets nation’s Muslims
NEW DELHI: Life for 42-year-old Ashok Malik, a hardline Hindu activist who lives on the outskirts of New Delhi, is dedicated to one cause: stopping the slaughter of cows. Malik’s cow-protection team of 30 men is trained to chase trucks transporting cows and raid slaughter houses with the police to nab those selling beef in the Indian capital.
World Cup jamming in Jordan
Fresh allegations have emerged over who jammed the signal of Al Jazeera Sport during the South Africa World Cup, and why. Viewers in the Middle East had their picture ruined during matches. Now the British newspaper The Guardian is claiming the jamming signal came from the town of as-Salt, near Amman in Jordan. Richard Martin reports.
Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America’s Military Strategy in the Muslim World
Greatly expanded U.S. military Special Ops teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins create a threat to our security.
Bart Peeters, “As’ad AbuKhalil: ‘The Shift from a Unipolar US World to a Multipolar World Is Overstated'”
Q: And on to the $64,000 question. Do you see an attack on Iran happening anytime soon whether launched by the US or Israel? AbuKhalil: No. It is very unlikely. Neither Israel nor the US has the will to do it. The more they talk about it, the more it shows that they are now resorting to the alternative of propaganda and sanctions, banking on a Green Revolution, which is not going to materialize. The Saudis and Saudi-owned papers write about it all the time because they would love this scenario. But they have been writing about it for 40 years, and they are forever claiming the war on Iran is coming next month.
What Is Distinctive About Arab-American Writing Today? Ten Leading Arab-American Writers Speak to the Huffington Post (PHOTOS)
A few months after 9/11 I was invited to a conference at Tufts University on “Arab-American Writing Post 9/11.” I submitted an abstract for a paper entitled “A Rabid American Writing Today.” The organizers corrected the title thinking “Rabid” was a typo! To write and try to publish (let alone work, and live) in the U.S. while Arab or Muslim after 9/11, means choosing one of two paths. The first entails self-orientalization and on it one proceeds to perform one’s circumscribed role as the entertaining, but always safe and grateful Arab in the grand political and cultural circus. There are always openings and many Arab-Americans are more than willing to play the role (you know the names). There might be an improvised moment here or there and some indignation, but the narrative is, more or less, fixed for the Uncle Toms. The other path is that of standing outside the coliseum and distracting and disturbing the citizens-spectators on their way in or out. Screaming at times, if necessary, to point to other directions. Whispering, at others, into their ears stories about barbarians both in Rome itself and abroad. It’s not easy being a barbarian in Rome. The Romans rarely listen, but the barbarian has to keep it real.
Colbert warns of Muslim vampire ‘sleeper-in-coffin cells’
“Certainly we can live side-by-side,” Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert said Tuesday night. “But can we be dead side-by-side?”  Folks planning to “March to Keep Fear Alive” with Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert on the day before Halloween — Devil’s Night — may be “terrified that they don’t know what to be scared of.”  “Live Muslims” are an “oldie but goodie” to fear, Colbert joked, before discussing how one small town in upstate New York is more worked up about the “dead ones.”
New American Film On The Arab Stereotype
USA – PNN – To redress the dangerous representational bias of Arabs and Arab Americans in the media, American filmmaker Mika Johnson, and collaborating artists, have launched an educational online initiative that includes two preview trailers for a film that reverses the Arab stereotype within a larger examination of America at a moment of spiritual reckoning.  ImageFar from being terrorists, the Arabs in “AMERIKA: a notebook in three parts,” an in-development feature length film, are heroes, twice coming to the rescue of the film’s main character Kat, a young Japanese woman traveling across the country in search of her long-lost father.

Makovsky: Obama will give it up for Israel for a two-month freeze extension

Sep 30, 2010

Ira Glunts


According to a startling report in the Jerusalem Post, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy told Israeli Army Radio that President Obama is asking (read begging) Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept a two-month temporary settlement freeze.  In exchange, Washington will promise never to bother Israel about freezing the settlements again and pledge to veto all UN peace initiatives for one year.  Among other concessions, Makovsky claims the deal includes American support for a long-term (read permanent) Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley.

This deal seems ludicrously biased in favor of Israel, which calls the veracity of the report into question.  However, it is noteworthy that David Makovsky is a close associate of Dennis (Israel’s Lawyer) Ross, who is now the President’s closest White House adviser on Middle East policy.

It is widely believed that Ross angered Obama, who hates leaks, early in his Presidency by telling the press that he (Ross) would be appointed “Middle East Czar.”  As a result, Obama exiled Ross to a minor role at the State Department.  Since then, Ross’ status has been elevated to top adviser, which some see as indicative of Obama’s increasing concern with the powerful pro-Israel lobby and his new solicitousness toward the Israelis.

Update:  Ha’aretz is reporting that Bibi is inclined to reject the two-month extension deal!  If this is true, it would show that the Israelis have total contempt for the Obama administration.

Hamas crackdown further limits Gaza’s distractions from the siege

Sep 30, 2010

Hani Almadhoun 

I have been watching with disappointment the news coming from Gaza regarding the government’s crackdown on popular attractions where many Gazans plan their staycations. According to a number of Gaza investors, making a large investment in Gaza requires you to be an affiliate of Hamas or partner with one who is. Otherwise, your investment is doomed. One technique used by the local government to discourage non-Hamas businesses is to impose outrageous tax rates (upward of 20%) on those places. If legal and municipal intimidation do not work, then there are always the masked gunmen. Founders of the Crazy Water Park in Gaza learned that the hard way when their new beach resort was set on fire during the night.

If you are stuck in besieged Gaza and looking to find a cozy place to visit, you might be out of luck. Using a number of justifications and excuses the Hamas controlled Gaza government has shut down a number of trendy restaurants. Over the past few months alone a number of Gaza attractions were forced to close their doors. These closures limited the choices of the few Gazans who could actually afford to provide themselves with a brief distraction from the stress of brutal reality.

As you read about popular Gaza places, keep on mind the word “resort” is loosely defined here. Some places labeled resort are nothing more than a couple of shacks and a kitchen. As seen in the to Palpress:

  1. September 2nd, 2010 Gaza Sama coffee shop was closed for three days because of gender mixing and women smoking hookah, an act Hamas banned earlier this past summer.

  2. September 5th, 2010 The Gaza government decided to close down the Crazy Water Resort (the first water park in Gaza) for 21 days. Their violation was having dug their own water well. The same resort was also ordered to close on August 20th of this year for three days because they had the audacity to organize a concert.

  3. September 5th, 2010 Gaza’s only horse club was ordered to close for 21 days for failing to complete some paperwork.

  4. September 7th, 2010 Stopped cultural nights at Alsmak Restaurant (a popular seafood restaurant) the event was banned and the organizers were told to sign papers that they will not hold such events in the future. This was done despite the fact that the organizers have obtained all necessary permits from the Hamas offices.

  5. September 12th, 2010 Hamas security forces banned another cultural night organized by the alumni of a local community college.

  6. September 19th, 2010 Closed the Beach House Cafe and Restaurant for three days because of violation of parties and gender mixing gathering.

Now a few Fatah news outlets are circulating theories to explain Hamas’ recent clamping down on Gaza’s restaurants. One theory holds that the closings are aimed to boost sales and attendance of Hamas backed attractions. The news site reported three Gaza attractions that have visible Hamas links:

  1. Asda’a North. A tourist attraction North of Gaza the brain child of the Hamas minister of interior minister. This spot will feature a zoo, gardens and two Olympic size pools.

  2. The Gaza Mall. The new mall, rumored to be a three million dollar project, opened a few weeks ago with ribbon cutting ceremonies attended by a number of Hamas figures.

  3. Bisan Beach Resort. This resort is run by a front group of Hamas. With a restaurant, a cafe, and fish farms this resort is visited daily by 1,000 patrons. Bisan Beach Resort is rumored to have cost a million and a quarter dollars.

Hamas denies these reports and argues that these places are open for the amusement of all the people of Gaza. While most of these projects have a positive impact on the local economy where they create jobs and provide an outlet for the besieged people of Gaza, I am a bit uneasy about the secret connections and those profiting from deprived people who are caught between a rock and a hard place.

The majority of the people of Gaza know little about these places, as very few of them can afford to visit these types of restaurants. Regulars of these places pay as much as five dollars for a Mocha and four dollars for a cold drink. Real estate investors and NGO employees keep these posh places in business.

Last year, when I was stuck in Gaza, I took my old man to Almathaf a popular beachside Gaza resort. It is a fine place to take someone out on a date. My dad had just retired from his teaching position at the UNRWA. He protested to me that he finds it wasteful to go to those places and order a chicken sandwich and pay more for it than what residents of lower Manhattan pay for a similar sandwich. I kind of agree with my dad’s attitude but, I also know that with very limited movement and increasingly urbanized Gaza, there are very few places people can escape to. The recent actions of government in Gaza are not helping.

Hani Almadhoun is originally from Beit Lahia in the Northern Gaza Strip, where he completed his secondary and part of his university studies. Hani moved to the United States in 2000 and continued his studies. Hani holds an MPA from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business and currently lives in Washington D.C. where he works for a non-profit that helps promote Palestinian culture and the development of even greater Human rights within Palestine. When Hani is not working nor worrying about his loved ones back in Gaza, he blogs and when given a free opportunity, does standup comedy in D.C. area clubs.

The Jewish boat and the ‘peace process’

Sep 30, 2010

Pamela Olson


As yet another boat—a Jewish one this time—is forcefully boarded by the Israeli navy while attempting to run the blockade of Gaza, a natural question for many Americans is: Why are boats still trying to run the blockade when Abbas and Netanyahu are in the middle of a peace process?

Let’s leave aside for the moment that the blockade, which imprisons 1.5 million people, destroys their economy, and denies them desperately-needed medical and educational resources, is an illegal form of collective punishment.

Let’s talk instead about the peace process. It’s fore-ordained to fail by virtually all knowledgeable experts. Why?

To begin with, Israel’s insistence on continuing to expand illegal settlements on Palestinian land while talks are ongoing is a stunning display of bad faith. It’s akin to saying, “Let’s negotiate for this pizza. Meanwhile, I’ll be eating it.” The ten-month ‘moratorium’ on settlement construction was a loophole-filled farce, and now even that has ended.

A similar show of bad faith helped torpedo the Oslo “peace process years” of the 1990s, during which the settler population doubled to 400,000. Reza Aslan and others have noted that “the peace process, far from being the proper venue to deal with the settlements issue, has provided cover for Israel’s continuing settlement expansion.” Fury at this constant encroachment of their land, as well as the settlers’ unchecked violence, boiled over into the first suicide bombing in 1994 and the Second Intifada in 2000.

Second, the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza are not represented in these talks because their government (which came to majority power through democratic elections, then total power through a violent response to an attempted coup sponsored by the US government) is not recognized and their people are kept in a state of siege. Thus Abbas has no clear mandate to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people.

Even if these issues could be resolved, the fact remains that the US is not an honest broker. It bases its red lines on what the US Congress and the governing coalition of Israel can handle politically, not on what is fair or legal according to international law.

When the Israeli army was accused of executing an American citizen at point blank range and willfully killing unarmed Turkish activists, the US government said nothing. If they can’t stand up against Israel for American and Turkish rights, how can we expect them to stand up for Palestinian rights?

But all of this masks a more important point. In a process where one side displays flagrant bad faith, the “mediator” favors that side, and the other side isn’t fully represented—what will happen if these talks actually “succeed”?

If past and current trends are any indication, the most likely scenario is “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.” Afterwards, “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.”

This would all take place under the guise of a “peace” that doesn’t exist while the world focuses elsewhere and leaves the Palestinians at Israel’s mercy. One can only imagine the level of expansion and abuse that will be inflicted on the Palestinians once the world is fooled into thinking the conflict is over.

Opposition to the current “peace process” is widespread among Palestinians, not because they oppose peace but because most of them, from the secular left to the religious right, understand these dynamics. But any protests are brutally suppressed by Palestinian Authority (PA) police, which are equipped and trained by Lt. General Keith Dayton in a program sponsored by the US government.

The Dheisheh Refugee Camp near Bethlehem was recently subjected to a raid by PA forces who came into the camp shooting, trying to intimidate the residents into silence. People started throwing stones at them, thinking they were Israeli soldiers.

“One of the most important things in the negotiations themselves,” said a Dheisheh resident named Shihab, “is to destroy the unity of the general population—the PA and Israel can’t have a united opposition. So if you destroy the unity within the refugee camps—when they are divided—the people will accept these agreements. That’s what they are trying to do now.”

Shihab went on, “This is the state of internal Palestinian politics today. They are the politics under Dayton. Dayton came and drew up the new strategies for the PA. The American and European interests have supported what’s happening in the PA. The situation before Dayton was completely different, and now there’s a climate of fear and intimidation. People are afraid to speak out against the actions of the PA… Everyone in our community understands that their version of security is the security of the occupation, not the security of the Palestinians.”

Corruption in the PA remains astronomical, and many of the PA’s acts of arrest and torture have been aimed at political rivals. Since Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who supports Dayton’s mission, took office, “West Bank residents have consistently reported feeling less safe than Gazans, whose lives under Hamas rule are in many respects worse. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has dictated Friday sermons to be read by imams. Palestinian journalists, according to Amnesty International, were detained and threatened during the Gaza war for reporting on government suppression.”

Whatever Dayton’s forces are working toward, it’s not Palestinian rights, security, or freedom.

This is why we continue to send boats to run the siege of Gaza. This is why we push for Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel until it obeys international law.

Because Israel and America have all the power in the world to gang up against the Palestinians—even to turn their own security services against them. And the Palestinians have virtually no one—except people of conscience all over the world—to speak for them.

Pamela Olson was a journalist and blogger based in Ramallah for two and a half years and a Defense analyst in Washington, DC in 2006-7. She is now writing a book about her experiences called Fast Times in Palestine.

Israel’s government by chaos

Sep 30, 2010

Matthew Taylor


Check out Carlo Strenger’s hilarious ditty today in Haaretz on Israel’s “glorious government by chaos”:

It is my great honor to explain [Israel’s contradictory foreign policy positions] in the tradition of my master teacher, and one of the greatest specialists in explaining the complex dynamics of special countries and revolutionary policies: Borat Sagdiyeff….

In Israel there are, among others, the following positions:

a) There should be two states west of the Jordan: one the homeland of the Jews and one Palestinian.

b) There should be one state west of the Jordan, and it’s up for grabs whether only Jews should have political rights, or whether Palestinians should have equal rights.

c) There should be two states west of the Jordan, and in the Jewish state there should be only Jews, and all Arabs should live in Palestine. Glorious Foreign Minister Yvet [Avigdor Lieberman] (may he soon be uncontested president and leader of Israel) has formulated this idea, and wants everybody in Israel to take an oath of loyalty to his great concept.

d) There shouldn’t be a democracy at all, and Orthodox rabbis should determine the laws of the kingdom of Judea

It would be grossly unfair if one of these positions was to prevail, and all other ones would have to give in. So Israel has developed a new method, in which all views are equally represented.

a) Glorious Prime Minister Bibi negotiates with the Palestinians on the principle that there should be two states west of the Jordan River.

b) At the same time, Israel builds settlements as if there should be only one state west of the Jordan River and the government allows disowning Palestinian property.

c) Glorious Foreign Minister Yvet announces at the UN that there will be no final status agreement with the Palestinians in the foreseeable future, and that there will be no more Arabs in Israel, which will be an ethnocracy.

d) In large areas of Israel, children are only taught Jewish subjects, and these areas are de facto run by Rabbinic law. In addition Jews in Israel can only get married by an Orthodox rabbi.

This is a truly wonderful system, in which most groups genuinely feel that they are running the country. I suggest that Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy, which is showing enormous creativity lately in explaining Israel, should offer courses for aspiring politicians from around the world on Israel’s glorious new method of governing.

P.S. – Looks like Bradley Burston’s come around to supporting the boycott of settlement/colony Ariel. When will he support full fledged BDS? Here’s where he was on Berkeley’s divestment bill. Wonder what he’d say about the Berkeley divestment if it comes up again.

Slater: As a Zionist, I came to believe in tough love for Israel, and then–

Sep 30, 2010

 Jerome Slater


The other day Jerome Slater participated with Adam Horowitz, Steve Walt, and MJ Rosenberg in a discussion at the Palestine Center hereabout blogging. Slater, a longtime professor of history and in the last year a blogger, subsequently published his opening speech, Why I Blog. It includes this description of his personal progress on the issue.

So why do I blog on this particular issue? Over the course of my life, I’ve gone through three phases on Israel. Coming of age in New York City in the 1940s, immediately after the Holocaust, and with anti-Semitism still alive in America, I thought of myself as a fervent Zionist. I guess in a sense I still am something of a Zionist, although a lot less fervent, since I regarded the case for the creation of a Jewish state, if nothing else than as a refuge for persecuted Jews, as a compelling one—though not necessarily in Palestine, a land already populated by the Palestinian Arabs. 

How to resolve that moral dilemma is a complex matter that is beyond the scope of these brief comments.  However, in light of the history of the Jewish people, perhaps the most basic rationale of Zionism is still not to be dismissed, however much it has been betrayed by Israel.

From 1957-60 I served as the anti-submarine warfare officer on a U.S. destroyer. Some years later Egypt bought four submarines from the Soviet Union. Since I was still in my first phase as a fervent Zionist, I wrote to the Israeli Embassy and offered to serve as an anti-submarine warfare officer on an Israeli destroyer, in the event a new war broke out with Egypt before the Israelis could train their own people.

However, at about this same time my views began to change, as a result of three factors. 

First, I began serious study of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as opposed to its mythology.  How anyone can continue to believe in this mythology, after at least twenty years of its decisive refutation, principally by Israeli historians and journalists, is beyond me.  Well, not really beyond me—among most Israelis and American Jews, sad to say, there is an invincible need not to know.

Second, it became apparent that soon after the 1967 War, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and then his successor Anwar Sadat, were seeking to end the conflict, but were being stonewalled by Israel. I felt like writing to Golda Meir and saying that if Israel blundered into an unnecessary war with Egypt—which, of course, it soon did—she should consider my offer as cancelled.

Third, in 1977 Foreign Affairs published George Ball’s famous article, “How to Save Israel In Spite of Herself.” It had a profound influence on me. These three factors impelled me into my Tough Love phase, hoping that truth-telling would eventually convince the Israelis, and the American Jewish community, that Israel was on the road to both a moral and security disaster, and needed to come to terms with the historical truth as the first step, actually the sine qua non, of saving itself.

But in the last few years—and this is hard to admit, let alone to say out loud—I no longer believe that Tough Love can work. I do not love Israel—as opposed, of course, to the many wonderful and courageous Israelis who still resist what their country has become.  Moreover, I no longer think Israel can be saved from itself—and certainly not if the American Jewish community, with its enormous influence on U.S. policies, continues to believe in the long-discredited mythologies.

In short, Israel is no longer on the road to a moral and security disaster, it is already there, and I see no realistic prospect that it can reverse course. It is hard to see how a two-state solution can be reached, and the one-state “solution” is no solution at all, but a fantasy which if somehow actually materialized, could well be even worse than the present situation.

So why bother to continue to write about it? Part of the reason is illustrated by this story. One day the governor was touring the state mental institution and he came across a man who was completely naked, except that he had on an elegant top hat and beautiful black dress shoes. “Why do you run around naked,” the governor asked? “What’s the difference,” the man responded, “no one ever comes to see me.” Then why the top hat and dress shoes, asked the governor?” “Somebody might,” was the response.

In that spirit, I now write in the forlorn hope that truth and justice might yet prevail, despite my deep pessimism. But equally or perhaps more so, I also now write in the spirit of “Not in my Name.” If you are a completely secular Jew, like me, it is hard to see what the point is of being Jewish if not to uphold the best values of western civilization.

Today that seems quaint, if not downright preposterous—but it wasn’t always so. There was a time when it was widely accepted—and not just by Jews–that the Jewish culture and tradition was one that was particularly committed to reason, truth, and justice. Consequently, when Israel was founded, and committed itself to be “A light unto the Nations,” it was widely believed that it might indeed fulfill this promise. 

No longer, needless to say. The appropriate response to what Israel has become is outrage. So maybe that’s the main reason why I continue to bang my head on the wall.

Finally, is this activism or journalism, or both? I don’t know, but as a lifelong academic, I prefer to think of it as scholarship in the best sense: the search for knowledge, reason, truth, and justice.

In my Cairo hotel, I meet a family that is desperate to get to Gaza

Sep 30, 2010

Susan Johnson


Mondoweiss correspondent Susan Johnson of Doylestown, Pa., has been stuck in Cairo, trying to get into Gaza, where two organizations have requested her services. Her latest report.

Here I sit in my cheap little Cairo hotel…people coming and going, some more interesting than others….a mother in her sixties with two adult sons she constantly berates…barges into their rooms without knocking…I guess they should be happy they aren’t all in the same room with her.. Lots of backpackers stopping in for a shower and the sights in Cairo……A group of three stands out…two gals and a guy from Australia …divers….on a nine month jaunt around the world……. a 56 year old woman from Holland testing out a relationship with a man from Egypt…..she met him on the internet……..a very beautiful woman in her thirties…..five inch heels…tight jeans…leaves the hotel around 11PM, returns around 3AM…..she sleeps late into the afternoon       

I have a confession to make. I brought with me four cartons of Marlboro and a bottle of Black Label requested for someone in Gaza. I know; Susan, Susan, Susan you should have offered them at the Rafa border crossing. But when I was there I thought I’d get in on my next try and need them for the friend in Gaza, so I hung on to them. When it was becoming clear I was going nowhere……I started giving them away to staff, guests, the police men out front…..they began hailing cabs for me..

The most memorable guests? One evening as I was passing out packs of cigarettes I noticed a new guest working on the computer……handsome, Middle Eastern looking… he was smoking so I went over and put two packs of Marlboro next to his ash tray. It took a bit of explaining before he’d believe they were free and take them.

We began chatting and I asked where he was from……..I was born in Sweden, I’m Palestinian, Gaza. …I tell him I was trying to go to Gaza. I proceeded to begin my Gaza story….my visit to Gaza last year….wanting to return….my time in Egypt… being turned away at the border…being turned down again….. going back and forth with the embassies… tired and disappointed I am….how stupid the embassies are….why not let me in?……..the entire saga.

He says:

..I know about the border…..I am trying to get my wife out of Gaza….this is the third time….my parents are with me….the first time we were here two months…only one month the second time… wife, we love each other …just want to be together…..we should be together…..we are trying again….she should be here on Saturday…..we are waiting…….and the tears that had welled up in my eyes about “my Gaza” began to trickle down my face…for his Gaza, his wife he can’t see. He tells me it’s been expensive back and forth with the Embassies…Sweden, Egypt. (I don’t ask about Israel’s involvement…the US)……My parents are here…..they would like talking with you…they are here in the hotel…. I tell him I’d like to meet his parents and how I hope his wife joins him on Saturday….they will be in my thoughts. How could they not stay in my thoughts? How?….Gaza, Palestine…others are going through so much more. than me…..

I feel ashamed… can I be so self consumed with my story….

The next day I’m taken to visit his parents in their room….I believe the father is about my age, the mother a bit younger…….They are as excited to meet me as I am to meet them……they are surprised I was in Gaza…..My trying to return is a surprise…. Magically coffee and cookies appear….Palestinian cookies, made in Sweden, brought to Egypt. … Palestinian hospitality is amazing….even here in my little hotel. They seem pleased that I know about the I/P situation…The father says it’s nice someone knows… people don’t know….My god, they are thanking me for knowing about the situation…..

No, no, no you do not need to thank me….there are Jewish groups in the US, Israel, other countries who disagree with what Israel is doing to the Palestinians….that’s good…..we don’t hate the Jews…Jews, we have no problem….The problem is Zionists, Israel…we have no problem with Jews….Zionists, always, even before….

I mention how hard many Jews work to stop what is happening to Palestinians….how I wish more people knew…I  do what I can…..others try…more are trying……I have a slide presentation… (Susan don’t mention that again….the pictures are too upsetting they know it’s horrible they don’t need your pictures) 

They ask about Gaza after the bombardment….I begin telling them what I saw..and heard….Their distress is visible….I steer away from details……They moved to Sweden….. .hoping for safety…returning to Gaza….now not allowed to return to Gaza….may not visit……have to stay so many klms from the border”…..Gaza is our home… we want to return….go home…..they will not allow us….It is our home always….we can not go there…  (I try not to let the tears run down my face). They are trying not to let their tears flow…. They talk of life in Sweden…..things aren’t so good now……people, some people, don’t like Palestinians, Muslims……it wasn’t like this before…..but where can we go….and the boy, our son, and his wife….they sigh, shake their heads….we all go to Sweden…..what else to do?

I begin to talking about “A Child’s View from Gaza” the art exhibit featuring drawings created by children in Gaza…Most are about “Operation Cast Lead”….many of the drawings are beautiful….the subject is so horrible….Children should not have to live through such…..

The father has been drawn somewhere else……he looks entirely different, sad, fearful…He says:

Children, children……I was a child…..when I was a child….a boy of six… they came…they came killing…and fire, fire was everywhere……everything was burning…. we ran to get away from the burning…even the ground was burning……I ran…a boy of only six……. my feet look….see?… I was burned here and here and here….he shows me the bottom of his foot…I was running, my parents were running….I was lost……I could not find them…a boy of six…..I couldn’t find my parents….for six weeks. I wonder, six weeks? Six weeks…..I am a little boy on my own… with his hand he shows me how tall he was….not six years old…..on the street…no bath….no clothes…..just what when I ran… …no one taking care of me…a little boy of six….

His eyes are filled with tears, he is in such pain remembering…..I dream…even today….a grown man…..I dream…. I ask how he found his parents……My father found a man with a very strong voice… father went with the man…..he called and called my name…they went from house to house…..then they found me. ….I realize I had not looked at his wife and son….oh god he is in such pain…

After a few moments he speaks again….they came again….I was older…. was big for my age….they shot men and boys….short pants…I wore short pants…..I looked younger not so big for my age…..they took men and boys…boys over 15……they took them….. shot them….I was lucky….I wore short pants because I was big for my age….lucky…

The son….just wants to be with his wife…it’s very, very hard…..we have tried… perhaps this time…we are hopeful…..have more cookies….more coffee….I must return to my room…thank you for talking with me….telling me…I am so very, very sorry……..It will be better…my son’s wife will come…we will go to Sweden…it will be better

We want to go home…to Gaza….Gaza is our home….my father’s home….my grandfather’s home….hundreds of years it is our home….and we can not go there….they took more land….recently…more land to keep them safe

I have noticed the wife bustling in the back ground…..Here please take these….she hands me a plate of cookies and three apples….from Sweden…Palestinian….my mother made them….she is diabetic…no sugar….the son holds up the artificial sweetener……my mother loves to bake….I mumble something about how I also love to bake. 

They walk me to the door….I thank them for the cookies, the apple and for visiting with me…..Thank you, thank you….you are a good woman…you understand….we will bring the son’s wife….she will want to meet you… 

They watch me walk down the hall….I fall on my bed…sobbing, sobbing for these wonderful people… can this be? WHY? These wonderful people from Gaza….their lives so full of heartache…..they want to go home….

My trip to Gaza…I have been so sad, so disappointed……….Those people have had horrific experiences through out their lives….so very much….Why? ………I realize how very insignificant I am..

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