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Enter the Israel Project’s ‘Best Shots of Israel’ contest

Oct 01, 2010

Adam Horowitz


As a service to The Israel Project we thought we’d let you know about

 their new photo contest


TIP Photo Competition

Send Us Your Best Shots of Israel!



1st Prize: $150.00
2nd Prize: $100.00
3rd Prize: $50.00

We are particularly looking for colorful photos that show the full variety of daily

 life in Israel. If you live there or if you are just visiting, give us your best shots and

we’ll display them on our site with full credit!

Email your best photo to:

Please submit your photos as .jpg and write “PHOTO CONTEST” in the subject line.

Just a warning though. The fine print says “No submission may depict harmful

or illegal activity or substances, or offensive subject matter as determined in the sole

 discretion of TIP.” So that might narrow your options some. Good luck!

Sanchez’s first mistake

Oct 01, 2010

Philip Weiss


I must point out that Rick Sanchez, who:

was unceremoniously fired by CNN today for talking some trash about Jon Stewart

 and the Jewish ownership of networks, was one of the few network anchors to give any

attention to the Palestinian side of the story. He was plainly alarmed by the Israeli assault

 on Gaza in 08-09. He interviewed Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu. And below, he interviewed

Mustafa Barghouti, and showed that Israel broke the cease-fire ahead of the Gaza onslaught. 

As for his recent comments about Jews not being an oppressed minority and Jews owning the

television networks– it seems to me that these are legitimate subjects for discussion. Maybe his

 tone was inappropriate, maybe he should have gotten out the kid gloves. But they are legitimate

 subjects; and the manner of Sanchez’s dispatching is only likely to feed uninformed debate about

the nature of the American establishment. Let’s talk about it.

Of course I hope that in his next incarnation Sanchez looks more deeply into the Israeli oppression

of Palestinians. Somehow I sense that’s not in the cards…

Jewish boat’s captain says IDF used ‘considerable, unprovoked and dangerous violence’

Oct 01, 2010

Philip Weiss


Glyn Secker, the British captain of the Jewish boat to Gaza, reports on its interception

earlier this week, and his deportation. Key excerpts:

There then developed a sight which will remain with me for the rest of my life – with the

frigate in the background, two gunboats, two landing craft and four high powered ribs spread

 out in a semi-circle speeding towards us at perhaps 35 knots, with their bow waves and wakes

flashing in the sunshine. It was surreal, it was like an action movie, and entranced by the sight

 I had to remind myself this was actually happening – this overwhelming force for a 9.7 metre

40 yr. old boat, the majority of its Jewish occupants over 60 years old, with no weapons and a publicized

 policy of passive resistance.

The next we knew there were two ribs very close alongside with the commander on a megaphone

again warning us of the dangers if they boarded us. I reiterated our legal rights,  and for what it

was worth I accelerated, just to make a point that outpacing them was fantasy.

Then as planned Itamar addressed the commandos in Hebrew and English, calling on them not to

obey the orders to take actions which are illegal under international law. The ribs closed in, and

the boarding commenced.

All the crew and passengers (apart from myself as I was steering) held hands.They boarded us

simultaneously from both sides.

At that moment we cut the engines and sat over the access points to the cut offs to prevent

them restarting the engines. The wheel is on the starboard side of the boat. I was surrounded

 by three commandos, I held on to the wheel as hard as I could. It reminded me of being on

violent picket lines with the police trying to break through. One grabbed my left arm, another

my right arm. The third stood by with a Tazer gun. After a struggle they managed to prize my

hands from the wheel and threw me down on the floor. I managed to crawl behind them and remove

 the engine starter keys but one of them saw me and prized the keys from my hands.

On the opposite side of the cockpit Yonatan Shapira and his brother Itamar had been identified by

the IDF commander in charge. He sought to separate them from the others. Yonatan clasped Rami

in a hug to prevent himself being removed. The senior officer then moved one sideYonatan’s lifejacket

 covering his left breast, placed a Tazer gun in contact with his clothing and fired it directly into his heart.

 Yonatan let out a dreadful scream and the force of the Tazer caused him to lose control of his muscles.

He was pulled off Rami and across the cockpit to the middle. He was then hit twice more by the Tazer gun,

screaming out again.  Both he and Itamar were forcefully pulled off our boat  onto the IDF rib on port side.

They were driven at very high speed over the waters, which had now become moderately rough

(the wind had increased to a F4) and it would have been very uncomfortable especially for Yonatan still

 recovering from the Tazer shocks…

[The boat was then towed in to Ashdod, at high speed] As a gesture of defiance I decided to cook lunch!

Not easy in the circumstance but I managed to produce omlett (with garlic) sandwiches which Reuvan,

Lillian and I think Eli and I shared. Whilst in the galley I took the opportunity of chucking out of the

window the carving knife, the bread knife, a chisel and two hammers from the tool box, remembering

that similar items had been photographed as evidence of weapons on previous boats.

I’d like to point out that in the USA it is illegal for the police or the army to fire Tazers directly into the

heart as there have been a number of cases of heart failure and death as a result of such targeting.

The fact that Yonatan was released without charge makes it very clear that the use of the Tazer on

him was purely malicious.

Contrary to IDF reports, there was therefore, considerable resistance, be it non-violent, to the IDF’s

illegal hijacking of our boat, and there was considerable, unprovoked and very dangerous violence

perpetrated by the IDF.

On arriving at Ashdod we were greeted by perhaps 100 people in uniforms of one sort or another within

 an a secure area created by ships containers. We were obliged to pass through a tent where we were

subjected to detailed body searches and luggage searches. I was the last out as I insisted on making an

inventory of the boat valuables, though I was unable to get any officer to countersign it it, it was taken

 by a female officer from I believe their foreign office, but this was not clear. Before I was allowed back

on the boat to do the inventory it was searched, including the use of a dog. None of us of course had any

illegal drugs, but I have to admit of a nervous moment when someone asked me if any previous owner

 might have stashed anything away – this hadn’t occurred to me. Whilst waiting I was approached by a

Major who stated that he was in charge of  Gaza boarder security and he offered to transport our aid to Gaza.

He arranged for us to go onto the boat, I extracted the aid from the lockers and he placed it where he could find it later.

The boat was in a state of chaos, having been ransacked by those searching it. I don’t suppose they intend clearing out

the fridge and other food, so god knows what it will be like after a few weeks in what is still a hot time of year.

 Combined with the split bellows on the loo pump whoever goes on the boat next will need a good face mask and a

strong stomach.

I was taken to the Immigration and Boarder Authority where I experienced a truly Kafkaesque moment.

We were presented with a form to sign which stated that I was due to be deported being suspected of residing

 in Israel illegally. When I pointed out that the only reason I was in Israel at all was that the IDF had kidnapped

me and forcefully brought me into Israel on the orders of the government, the reply was that it did not matter

who had brought me in, but that now I was there I was there without permission and so due for deportation.

They were not amused by my laughter.

‘Commentary’: legitimacy issues, Palestinian resistance and U.S. opportunities are rotting Israel’s purpose

Oct 01, 2010

Philip Weiss


Here is an interesting/twisted piece that reaffirms my belief that Israel is not about the actual safety of

Jews– guess what, we’re back in Berlin and we’re doing fine all over the U.S.– it is a symbol for a certain kind

of Jewish identity, and increasingly a militant and isolated one.

Daniel Gordis in Commentary says that the “existential threat” posed by Iran is not actually to destroy Israel,

 but to destroy the soul of the Jewish people, by returning them to their eternal European condition in the

 Warsaw Ghetto– helpless at the hands of the goyim.

Gordis argues that what Israel did was to transform the Jewish condition in history from the powerless

victims of the last 1000 years to the masters of their own destiny. No one can f– with us! This was a joyous

project for Jews, he says, and it gave Israel resolution, in essence, to beat up Arabs who got in the way.

That is, until recently, when Gordis concedes that even Israelis are wearying of the military bargain.

[T]he cafés are filled with people socializing and leading what looks like the good European life.

Yet beneath this veneer, Israel is bone-weary. On its campuses, increasing numbers of faculty

members espouse the notion that Zionism is colonialism. Draft evasion is at an all-time high.

The international delegitimization of Israel haunts day-to-day life.

Perhaps most important, today’s Israeli parents are the first generation to send their children

to war unable to console themselves with the notion that theirs will be the last generation of

 children that will have to fight. Few Israelis believe that anymore. Palestinian recalcitrance is

much more deeply rooted than many Israelis had hoped….

One can sustain a commitment to this sort of existence only with the certainty that it makes an enormous difference. Until now, it has, and Israelis have known that. But after Iran has a nuclear capability that rests in the hands of evil men who believe that the Jewish state is a disease in its midst and that Judaism itself is a foul doctrine—in what way will the existential Jewish condition be all that different from what it was in Central Europe in the early 1930s?

To be sure, Israel boasts a flourishing Jewish culture, a renewed Hebrew language, and an impressive array of Jewish accomplishments that could not have happened without the state. But all that, impressive as it is, is insufficient. For the first commitment of Zionism has been to provide safety to Jews. So far, it has more or less succeeded. But the minute that Iran possesses its long-sought nuclear weapon, Zion becomes not a haven for the Jews but a potential deathtrap. … And if that happens, Israel will have lost its purpose.

Without purpose, Israelis will not remain in Israel. The allures of Boston and Silicon Valley, where intellectual and financial opportunity await without the burdens of war and the shadow of extinction, will be too difficult to resist. Those who now stay in Israel do so, in large measure, because they sense they are part of a historic transformation of the Jewish condition. Absent that awareness, however, the most mobile of Israel’s citizens—who also happen to be those whom the state most desperately needs—will be the ones who abandon it.

In this way, Iran could end the Jewish state without ever pressing the button.

There are at least two spiritual/intellectual contradictions in this piece that show how hollow Gordis’s Zionist prescription is. 

First of all, he notes that Israel has established a European lifestyle, 500 miles east of Istanbul. So the whole enterprise is about overcoming European history, on a Middle East canvas. Isn’t that absurd? How fair to the Palestinians is that? Their rights don’t even feature in American-born Gordis’s conception of history. But is there any doubt that an indigenous population would resent this imposed burden of others’ history and continue to resist?

Second, and more important, Zionist Gordis sees the great historical transformation of Jews as taking place in Israel, with guns. But I regard the great historical transformation as taking place in the U.S. principally. And Gordis knows I’m right, when he says that if Israel gets too unpleasant, Israelis can freely move to the U.S. So if Israel is the protector of the Jews, then how is it that the most powerful nation in the world is a haven for Jews to make productive, safe lives? And if they are able to make their lives there, then why should the U.S. then go to war for Israel, as Gordis suggests, for the historical symbol that Israel represents to ethnocentric Jews? Is that really worth blood and treasure? 


Videos from Silwan

Oct 01, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The video above depicts a woman in Silwan testifying that late at night an Israeli border policeman, who was stationed on her roof, broke the glass window in the video and instructed her to make him coffee. He seems to have thought she was alone in the house, although her husband was there.

Joseph Dana posted the video as well and added:

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”

Here’s another video that was shot by Israeli activist Sara Benninga:

The video features Israeli police chief Avi Cohen (bald, sitting on the car) and his police force waiting for “a suspect” to return home so they can arrest him. In the meanwhile, a woman comes to visit a sick sister who is inside the house, but she is refused entry by the police, who keep an ominous silence.

Here is a rough transcript:

Sara Benninga:
– 0:40 Her sister is sick, inside, and she wants to come in

– 1:00 [Palestinian man asks Avi Cohen in Hebrew fs the woman can come in. No response.]

– Benninga: Can you speak ? “yes”? “no”?

– 1:05 she’s an elderly woman. Let her in.

-[to Avi Cohen] it seems like you have got the upper hand, it is not likely that she is a threat to any of you. She is an elderly woman.

– 1:25 This is what an arrest looks like in Silwan, East Jerusalem. Silent, the (border) police do not talk or respond and prevent an elderly woman from visiting her sick sister.

– 1:45 This is the face of the Israeli police, the Jerusalem police. Avi Cohen, head of the minorities department is here.

– 2:00 Why won’t you let her in?

-[to Avi Cohen] You are the strong part here. She’s an elderly woman. Are you threatened?

– 2:30 The face of the rule of law 2010

– 2:55 Policeman: Excuse me, you are disturbing me.

– Benninga: No one intends to disturb you

-3:15 You know what is the worst thing about it? That the world can see how you behave, and that is a bigger threat than an elderly woman visiting a sick sister and being denied entry.

-3:33 [to the border policeman at the gate]
-Are you proud of what you’re doing??
-Where’s your name tag?
[policeman reveals tag]

And here’s a third video of Benninga with children in Silwan, a small hopeful sign that the few Israeli activists who are standing in solidarity with the people of Silwan, Bil’in, Nabi Saleh and other villages resisting Israel’s ongoing colonization might be showing the way forward to a more peaceful future in Israel/Palestine

Where is the ‘center’ of American Zionism?

Oct 01, 2010

Ali Gharib


Many of the liberal pro-Israel lobby J Street’s detractors from the American Jewish right complain that the group is outside the ‘mainstream of American Jewish opinion’ because it makes mild criticisms of Israeli policy and takes a dovish approach to Israel’s neighbors. If the logic of Jennifer Rubin, the prolific and pugnacious writer at Commentary, is to be believed, then those critics might be right — but not the way they envision it. It may just be that, according to Rubin’s disdain for the dominance of liberalism among American Jewry, J Street is ‘outside the American Jewish mainstream’ not because it is liberal, but because it is Zionist. 

We need to consider several posts from Rubin to string together this train of thought. It goes as follows:

Rubin, quoting a blog post from Rachel Abrams (wife of Elliott), has repeatedly called the liberalism of American Jews a “sick addiction.” In one such post, she laments that 58 percent of Jews still approve of the job Barack Obama is doing and proclaims: “There’s no denying it: a majority of American Jews are willfully indifferent to the fate of the Jewish State.”There are two points here: 1) Rubin, despite her consternation, takes as a given that American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal, and 2) that liberalism entails a “willful indiffer(ence)” to Israel.
On the latter point, she reinforces this notion in a later post about J Street where, in a passing comment, she declares that “liberal Zionism” (which she puts in skeptical quotes) is an “oxymoron.”
So, by Rubin’s logic, if liberals can’t be Zionists, and Jews are overwhelmingly liberals, then, indeed, a “majority of American Jews” are not Zionists. It’s no surprise, then, that J Street is outside of the ‘American Jewish mainstream’ — they are, after all, a progressive Zionist group. 
It’s also no wonder that the — according to Rubin — minority of American Jews who are not “willfully indifferent to the fate of the Jewish State” would, like Rubin herself, turn to far-right-wing Christian Zionists like Pastor John Hagee and his Christians United for Israel for unconditional support of Israeli policies. Hagee and his ilk are not exactly in the ‘Jewish American mainstream’ either, reinforcing the notion that the center of American Zionism might now be outside that realm as well.

Israeli forces use tear gas and sound bombs to attack protests in Bil’in and Nabi Saleh

Oct 01, 2010


And other news from Today in Palestine:

* Land/Property/Resource Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Israeli annexation of Jordan Valley bleeding Palestinians dry
Although the valley has a third of the West Bank’s water resources, Palestinians have not been allowed drill wells since 1967, writes Michael Jansen.  THE JORDAN Valley is a patchwork of different shades of brown and beige desert relieved by snatches of palm-frond green. Cropped fields are eating up the flat land while Israeli settlements and military zones are consuming the rolling hills, shrinking Palestinian space.  A thick band of dead land stretches north to south for 120km behind barbed wire, security roads, and mine fields along the Jordan river border with the Kingdom of Jordan.

Israeli Army Bulldozers Pave the Way For Settlement Construction Near Bethlehem
Israeli bulldozers began, friday morning, bulldozing lands adjacent to the settlement of Tekoa’, south east of the city of Bethlehem. bulldoze land, expanding Nablus settlement
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Settlers began bulldozing Palestinian farmland to build a new settlement in the northern West Bank on Friday, a Palestinian Authority official said.  Ghassan Doughlas, who holds the settlements file in the area, said a number of bulldozers were working in the area west of Urif village south of Nablus, which borders the illegal Yitzhar settlement.  Days earlier, Doughlas said, settlers expanded the settlement from the north, carrying out digging work north of Yitzar on Madama village land.
Report: Four illegal outposts to be built in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — The infrastructure for four illegal outposts is being constructed around the West Bank city of Hebron, a settlement affairs expert said Thursday.  In an interview with Ma’an Radio, Abed Al-Hadi Hantash said the outposts would be integrated to form a new settlement, which would be linked with Kiryat Arba, the largest settlement in the district.
PA: Settlers lobbying to demolish mosque
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers have distributed fliers calling for the demolition of a mosque in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said Thursday.  Ghassan Doughlas, who holds the settlements portfolio in the area, said large banners have been posted opposing a mosque in the Burin village, which is near the illegal Yitzhar settlement.  “Several taxi drivers came across some 50-centimeter-long banners calling for demolition,” Doughlas said considering the call a provocation as mosques are places of worship.
Arab League may call for UN Security Council session on settlement freeze expiration
At its meeting on Wednesday in Cairo, the Arab League will consider a proposal to initiate an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the expiration of Israel’s freeze on West Bank settlement construction.
* Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Many Treated For Effects Of Tear Gas Inhalation During The Bil’in Weekly Protest
Ramallah – PNN – dozens were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation on Friday when Israeli troops attacked the weekly anti-wall protest in the central West Bank village of Bil’in.  International and Israeli supporters joined the villagers after the midday prayers at the local mosque and marched towards the wall built on local farmlands. People demanded the halt of construction in West Bank settlements and asked Palestinian leaders to unite.  As soon people reached the gate of the wall separating villagers from their lands troops stationed there showered them with tear gas, dozens of civilians were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.  Two years ago the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the Israeli military to remove the part of the wall built on Bil’in land and the army still refuses to comply.

Israeli Soldiers Use Tear Gas Against Protesters In Nabi Saleh Village
Ramallah – PNN – Israeli soldiers used sound and tear gas bombs on Friday midday to suppress an anti wall protest in the village of Nabi Saleh near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.  Villagers along with international and Israeli supporters marched after the midday prayers towards local farmers’ lands were Israeli is planning to build the wall.  As soon as the people reached their lands soldiers stationed there used tear gas and sound bombs to stop their march. A number of people were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.  The head of the village council and member of the local popular committee against the wall, Bashier AL Tamimmi, said villages will continue to organize weekly actions against the wall and settlement. in Israel strike on intifada anniversary
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Follow-up Committee in Israel announced a comprehensive strike on Friday that included all Palestinian towns and cities marking the 10th anniversary of the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada.  On 1 October 2000, 13 Palestinians in Israel were killed while rallying in solidarity with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the incident sparked a wave of popular protests that became known as the Second Intifada.  Across Israel, Palestinians participated in ceremonies and demonstrations mourning the slain or celebrating the will to resist oppression and occupation.  Israeli police told the media on Friday morning that preparations had been made to quell clashes if they erupted.
Israel-bound submarines banned from testing in Norway’s waters
Following Oslo’s decision, the German shipbuilder HDW will have to carry out its deep-water testing of Israeli vessels at another site.
Irish Nobel laureate to appeal deportation from Israel
Mairead Corrigan-Maguire returned to Israel, despite ban for participating in Gaza aid flotilla.
Court: Nobel laureate won’t enter Israel
Mairead Maguire, who was detained at Ben Gurion Airport for taking part in Gaza-bound sail in late May, rejects court’s suggestion that she return to Ireland and submit formal entry request. ‘I swore during visit to concentration camps not to keep quiet in the face of suffering children,’ she says.,7340,L-3962504,00.html
Days of action planned after FBI raids on activists
Activists are planning new actions after rallies took place in dozens of cities across the United States to protest raids by the FBI on homes of anti-war and Palestine and Colombia solidarity activists in Minnesota and Chicago last week. The FBI also subpoenaed at least 14 activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan to testify at a grand jury.
Viva Palestina convoy heads to Gaza as ‘drop in the ocean’
The Viva Palestina 5 aid convoy, en route to Gaza, was given a warm welcome and wide media coverage when it entered Turkey on Monday. The Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), which organized an aid flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli navy as it sailed to Gaza, resulting in the deaths of eight Turkish and one Turkish-American volunteers, was also there to greet the convoy. The assault took place in international waters. A UN body is currently conducting an investigation into the Israeli assault. Another international investigation, also led by the UN Human Rights Council, was recently completed and found Israel guilty of an unacceptable level of brutality.
Tunisian party calls for anti-normalization watchdog
The Tunisian Democratic Union party has called for the formation of an anti-normalization watchdog to thwart all forms and attempt to normalize ties with the Zionist entity.
Broadway Group Performs in Bethlehem
Bethlehem – PNN – The New York Tap Ensemble, a Broadway Performance Group, performed for an audience of local Palestinian students at Bethlehem University on Friday. The Groups performance was set up by the U.S. Department of State Cultural Affairs Officer, Cynthia Harvey, and was meant to bring two divided cultures together and experience a new side of art.  Tap is a form of dance and performance rarely seen or performed in the Middle East. It is a new forum, that the Cultural Affairs office, is trying use to open the minds of young people all over the Middle East.
#BDS: Jewish actor visits West Bank camp in quest for peace
In a small, bare room in a refugee camp in the southern West Bank, a Palestinian Muslim man and a British Jewish woman face each other on plastic chairs and grope towards a mutual understanding across decades of mistrust, injustice, hostility and violence. The man is Said Ali Banat Hajarah: 82, partially deaf, failing eyesight, a former farmer nostalgic about his fields and livestock, bitter at the loss of his family home more than six decades ago, still grieving the deaths of his father and a son at the hands of Israeli soldiers, convinced that the gun must be part of the toolbox of resistance alongside the pen and the voice.
#BDS: Full List of Irish Artists Who Endorsed the Boycott of Israel
#BDS: More varsities check Israel links
Major South African universities began looking into their own ties with Israeli universities within hours of the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) decision on Wednesday night to terminate its links with Ben-Gurion University unless it fulfils, within six months, two conditions UJ has specified.  After the Mail & Guardian’s report last week that Unisa vice-chancellor Barney Pityana had signed a petition calling on UJ to sever all ties with Ben-Gurion, three more varsity heads added their names: Saleem Badat (Rhodes), Derrick Swartz (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) and Dan Ncayiyana (former vice-chancellor of what is now the Durban University of Technology).
#BDS: Platini threatens to annul Israel’s membership of UEFA
The president of the European Union of Football Associations (UAFA), Michel Platini, has threatened to annul Israel’s membership to the union because of the restrictions it imposes on Palestinian football players.  In a meeting with Jibril al-Rajoub, head of the Palestinian football union, Platini confirmed that Israel’s non-adherence to international sporting regulations will lead to the cancellation of its UEFA membership. He added; “We accepted them in Europe and furnished them the conditions for membership and they must respect the letter of the laws and international regulations otherwise there is no justification for them to remain in Europe. He continued; “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour.”
#BDS: AOL and Google Gobbling Israeli Startups
The past few months have been fruitful for Israeli startups. Several U.S. and European tech giants have made high-profile acquisitions. Foreign VCs are making massive capital injections. Now local publications such as Calcalist and The Marker are filled with rumors of upcoming purchases.  5Min Media, an Israeli-American video startup, is the most recent acquisition. AOL bought the company for an estimated $65 million, with chairman Tim Armstrong praising 5Min for helping to complete “our end-to-end video offering from content creation through syndication and distribution.”  In other words, AOL is going to raid the hell out of 5Min’s video library of 200,000-odd shorts and make use of both their (considerable) API development and existing syndication partners. 5Min comes to AOL with a robust library of content. The firm inked previous content-sharing agreements with CBS, Hearst and Scripps to convert existing programming into bite-size “how-to” videos. Additional video content comes from other media providers, which is then augmented with crowd sourced footage.
Lessons from the UC Berkeley Divestment Effort, Hillel on Campus
[Editor’s note: The Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s video report (above) on Israel-defense training for students made me think that now would be a good time to re-publish Lessons from the UC Berkeley Divestment Effort. My colleague Sydney Levy and I wrote it this summer in response to the UC Berkeley divestment struggle and Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor’s rather strange response to the effort.  In watching the JTA video in which the national head of Hillel is trying to make a subtle point but revealingly ends up comparing Muslims to vampires, I’d add that it has never been so clear to me how older Jews have failed this younger generation. Students are smart enough to handle an open conversation about complexity and Israel. But many in the older generation in power don’t want that to happen. The fundamental irony, of course, is that when it comes to both delegitimizing and existentially threatening Israel, no critic can hold a candle to Israel itself and its ever-expanding settlement project (and human rights abuses etc…) There is no faster way for Israel to continue down the path of self-destruction than to continue the status quo, unhindered. In that very important sense, the BDS movement may be Israel’s last chance. Especially now that we know that Congress and the Obama administration is no more willing to hold Netanyahu accountable than previous administrations.]
* The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism

Hunger and poverty worsen in Gaza
GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) – According to the World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization, the food insecure in Gaza are an alarming 61 percent, with another 16 percent vulnerable to food insecurity.

Nikki Tillekens, “71% of Aid to the Palestinians Ends Up in the Israeli Economy”
Aid has become a larger and larger share of Palestinian GNI between 1994 and 2008. In this period of 15 years, aid increased from 14% of the GNI in 1994 to 49% of GNI in 2008. . . . On average 71% of aid given to the Palestinians ends up in the Israeli economy, meaning that, of the more than 12 billion dollars of foreign aid given to the Palestinians between 2000 and 2008, 8.7 billion dollars ended up in the Israeli economy. It also means that a larger share of the aid that is actually meant for the Palestinians ends up in the Israeli economy than in the Palestinian economy. before birthday, my son sees Gaza’s horror
The Electronic Intifada reporter Rami Almeghari was in the hospital with his son, whose lips were being stitched up, when the victims of an Israeli air strike were rushed into the admissions room.
Hamas crackdown further limits Gaza’s distractions from the siege, 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.
* Violence/Aggression & Provocations

Army Fires At Farmers, homes, In Rafah
Palestinian farmers stated Thursday evening that Israeli soldiers stationed near the border in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, fired rounds of live ammunition at them, their lands and homes. No injuries were reported.

Locals: Soldiers enter Iraq Burin village
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Two Israeli military jeeps entered Iraq Burin village in the northern West Bank on Thursday morning, locals reported.  Soldiers closed off a road and entered a resident’s home, before heading to the roof, witnesses said. Forces reportedly looked around, and then left when approached by villagers. police take over a house in Silwan waiting for “suspect”
YouTube – Sara Benninga “A police force, under the command of Avi “the brave” Cohen (bald, on car, middle) is waiting for `a suspect` to return home so they can arrest him. in the mean while, a women comes to visit a sick sister who is inside the house, but she is refused entry by the police, who keep an ominous silence. Life under occupation in `liberated` East Jerusalem”

* Detainees

Sources: Israeli forces detain Hebron judge
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained a magistrates’ court judge in Hebron overnight on Wednesday, security sources said.  Sources said forces ransacked Jamal Abdul Majeed Shadeed’s home before taking him to an unknown destination.  An Israeli military spokeswoman said no arrests were made in the West Bank overnight on Wednesday as it was a Jewish holiday.

Israeli Police Detains 12 Palestinians In Jerusalem
Israeli policemen detained on Thursday 12 Palestinians near the Al Aqsa Mosque and took them to unknown destinations. of MP Totah deteriorates inside sit-in tent
The International campaign for the release of kidnapped Palestinian lawmakers has warned that health of MP Mohammed Totah was deteriorating more and more while in the sit-in tent..
This is Zionism
As-Safir interviews this kid who was terrorized by Israel and arrested.
* Israel’s Arab Helpers

Hamas says PA detained 8 supporters
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas leaders accused Palestinian Authority security forces on Friday of detaining eight party supporters across the West Bank  The Islamist movement said the PA was continuing its arrest campaign against Hamas affiliates, adding that recent detentions were made in the Ramallah and Hebron districts.

West Bank to get 10 new police stations
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority Ministry of the Interior approved on Thursday the construction of ten police stations for West Bank towns and cities, out of 55 new structures approved for financing at the 2008 donors conference.  Representing Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), German donors backing the latest project, official Alexander Fritsch said the approved designs were selected based on priorities in West Bank services and security to residents. shuts down 580th tunnel
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — Egyptian security forces seized eight smuggling tunnels in the Salah Ad-Din area of Rafah on Friday, police sources said.  The state intelligence department received information regarding the operation of the tunnels, an official said, describing them as 1.5 meters wide and running six meters underground.
ATFP Defends Relationship With Zionist Groups And Denies Its The Voice Of The PNA In Washington
Earlier Today the American Task Force on Palestine issued, through a tweet on Hussein Ibish’s blog, an “important” policy statement.  In it the ATFP attempts to defend its relationship with Zionist groups in the US.  The policy statement also states the “ATFP was not founded to represent any group other than itself, has faithfully stuck to its founding mission, and does not adhere to the policies or agenda of any other entity, including the United States government, any other government, or any other institution or organization.”
yet… Israel Project criticizes PA
“Peace” Talks/Political Developments
White House offers Israel a carrot for peace talks
In its scramble to salvage Middle East peace talks, the Obama administration has dangled incentives before the Israeli government that touch on some of the most sensitive issues of final status talks between the two sides, administration sources said.
Jerusalem Post: Obama Promises Israel The World In Exchange For 60 Day Freeze
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that President Obama is making Prime Minister Netanyahu an offer it is hard to imagine him refusing.
In return for agreeing to a 60-day extension of the just lapsed settlements freeze, the Obama administration will not ask for an extension beyond that point.  According to David Makovsky, an official at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (the AIPAC-founded think-tank), Obama’s offer was incorporated “in a draft letter negotiated with Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak and chief Israeli peace negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, and ultimately sent from President Obama’s desk to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.”
PM rejects U.S. guarantees in exchange for renewing freeze
U.S. reportedly incensed over PM’s rejection of a draft letter that would have extended moratorium on West Bank settlement construction.
‘Mitchell denies that U.S. offered to support an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley’
Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath: Mitchell told Abbas that Obama did not offer U.S. support for an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley in exchange for a two month settlement freeze.
Erekat: Israel holds key to resuming talks
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The chief PLO negotiator says Israel can restart peace negotiations by freezing settlements.  Saeb Erekat said Thursday that the PLO had repeatedly demanded that Israel stop housing construction in the occupied Palestinian territories, including so-called natural growth, to give the peace process “the opportunity it deserves.”
PFLP calls for immediate withdrawal from talks
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Thursday called on the PLO to withdraw from talks in the absence of a total end to settlement building.  The leftist faction rejected a two-month extension to the partial freeze on settlement building, which US President Barack Obama was reported to have suggested in a bid to save collapsing peace talks.
Hamas: West continues to make contact
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas leader Ismail Radwan told a political discussion panel that western leaders continue to make efforts at contacting the party, often through representatives of other Arab nations with which Hamas enjoys good relations.  Talks sponsored by the west have come to a “big zero,” Radwan said, and President Mahmoud Abbas now “waits for the Arabs to decide on peace.”
* Other News

Senior UN officials visit Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Hebron Mayor Khalid Al-Useili met with senior UN officials Thursday to discuss the situation in the West Bank city.  Al-Useili was joined by local councilors to brief UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Robert Serry and UN Development Programme special representative Jen Anders Toyberg-Frandzen.

Arabs mark decade since October riots
Arab Monitoring Committee wants cases of 13 victims reopened, says frustration growing in sector.,7340,L-3962345,00.htmlDutch advertising watchdog criticizes Israel tourism information as ‘misleading’
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch advertising watchdog has criticized Israel for publishing “misleading” information on its tourism website that blurs the borders between Israel and occupied Arab territories.  The Advertising Code Committee says in a nonbinding ruling that material distributed by the Dutch branch of the Israeli National Tourism Board does not “clearly show where the border lies between what is internationally recognized as Israeli territory and ‘disputed’ areas.”  Pro-Palestinian activists complained that the maps gave the impression that parts of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem are in Israel, as well as the Golan Heights captured from Syria.
Newly-elected Labour leader speaks at Friends of Palestine fringe event
This Labour Party conference has hosted three fringe events on Palestine, which were all well attended: a joint Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and LFPME fringe, with journalist Michael White interviewing long standing Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufmann; a joint PSC, Unite the Union and LFPME event on Gaza, with special guest speaker MK Haneen Zoabi and speeches from Richard Burden MP and Andy Slaughter MP; and the joint LFPME and Friends of Al-Aqsa reception. At the latter event, the newly-elected Labour leader, Ed Miliband, shared the platform with seasoned campaigners for Palestine and former MP and Director of LFPME, Martin Linton. Mr. Miliband paid homage to the dedicated activists who have been working for the rights of the Palestinian people. He gave specific mentions for Richard Burden MP, Andy Slaughter MP and Martin Linton (former MP) who have been campaigning for the Palestinians for many years.
Fayyad signs $40 million World Bank agreement
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — World Bank representative Miram Sherman signed an agreement with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Thursday to deliver a $40 million grant to the PA.  Fayyad said the grant was aimed at enabling the PA to continue building state institutions and developing the infrastructure for a Palestinian state.
Union instructs employees not to return cars to PA
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The civil servants’ union has instructed employees not to hand in their cars as a dispute over the Palestinian Authority’s decision to reduce the number of government-issued vehicles continues.  Government spokesman Ghassan Al-Khatib announced in August that 6,200 government cars would be revoked from high-level civil servants as part of the cabinet decision to reduce government spending and become less reliant on foreign aid.
Report: Bodies of 18 Ottoman soldiers found near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) — The bodies of 18 Ottoman soldiers have been found in the northern West Bank, a Turkish news network reported Thursday.  The bodies were found in a cave near Aqaba village in the Nablus district, and initial investigations suggested the soldiers were killed by British soldiers in 1918, the Jerusalem-based Turkish news network TRT-Turk said.
If the perpetrator was Muslim, it would be headline news…  Lawsuit: Rabbi sexually abuses student; affair hushed by college
Teacher at religious college in Jerusalem files suit against rabbi for allegedly harassing former student. Teacher claims affair was silenced by college, which reached financial settlement with Takana forum in return for immunity.,7340,L-3961880,00.html
* Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Israel’s Jewish Character Is Subject for Debate, Ahmed Moor
Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama have spent a great deal of energy trying to forestall any discussion of Israel’s Jewish character and what that actually means. The Israelis want the feckless and illegitimate Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, to affirm Israel’s “right to exist as the Jewish state.” But that raises the question: Does Israel have a right to continue as a race-exclusive state?  Israel is the Jewish state for the Jewish people. It came to be through an act of ethnic cleansing — creating the world’s most protracted refugee crisis in the process. Today, the Jewish state is home to about 1.5 million non-Jews. To be a non-Jew in the Jewish state is to be a second-class citizen. The ideology that underpins the existence of the Jewish state — Zionism — is a racist doctrine.

Palestinians are loath to invest in a one-state solution
The idea of the one-state solution keeps popping up, particularly when the two-state solution is undergoing difficulties. Maybe this is because people in the Middle East are unable to imagine anything other than one- or two-state solutions. Ball is Now in Obama’s Court, George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C.
Although some may blame Benjamin Netanyahu and even Mahmoud Abbas for dropping the ball soon after their peace negotiations began three weeks ago, the more likely person who will be blamed should the talks collapse totally will be no other than Barack Obama on whom many had banked. The American president has been very reluctant to be forceful, much as this could have favorably tipped the balance in favor of a final settlement. On the other hand Obama’s public remarks, including his speech at the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly earlier this month, were noteworthy for his bluntness over Israeli suspension of colonization and ethnic cleansing that has been evident again this week in occupied East Jerusalem. Yet, as one columnist said on another subject, “when we really need (Obama) to take a strong stand, he’s halfhearted” – a view that is gaining ground among several Mideast observers.
Israel’s Stranglehold over US Foreign Policy, Maidhc Ó Cathail
If Israel’s stranglehold over U.S. foreign policy is to be broken, Americans will need to be informed about the harm that Washington’s unconditional support for the Jewish state is doing to American interests, say leading analysts of U.S.-Israeli relations.  According to John J. Mearsheimer, co-author of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, “The only plausible way to weaken the lobby’s influence on U.S. foreign policy is for prominent policymakers and opinion-makers to speak openly about the damage the special relationship is doing to the American national interest.”  “Plenty of people in the United States, especially inside the Beltway, know that Israel is an albatross around America’s neck,” says Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. “But they are afraid to stand up and say that for fear that the lobby will attack them and damage their careers.”
Israel Conscripts More ‘Ambassadors’, Belen Fernandez
While attempting to read an article on the Haaretz website this afternoon about the brutality of the IDF takeover of the Gaza-bound boat Irene, filled with Jewish activists, I was distracted by an advertisement at the top of the page.  The ad featured a cheerful non-Israeli woman with bangs and a flowered scarf around her neck, a picnic scene in the background, and a skewer of meat oscillating at her side. The accompanying speech balloon, which alternately appeared in Hebrew, Russian, and English, was a reference to the skewered meat: “Cooking methods in Israel are quite primitive…”. The balloon was then replaced by a black box of text with the following appeal: “Are you tired of seeing how we are portrayed in the world? “You can change the picture! Now in English, Russian and Hebrew.”
A New Low in Middle East Diplomacy, Stephen M. Walt
Yesterday the Jerusalem Post reported that the Obama administration has offered Israel a generous package of new benefits if it will just extend the settlement freeze for another two months. The source for the report was David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a key organization in the Israel lobby. Makovsky is also a co-author with Obama Middle East advisor Dennis Ross, so presumably he has accurate knowledge about this latest initiative. Assuming this report is true, it marks a new low in U.S. Middle East diplomacy. Just consider the message that Obama’s team is sending the Netanyahu government. Netanyahu has been giving Obama the finger ever since the Cairo speech in June 2009, but instead of being punished for it, he’s getting rewarded for being so difficult. So why should any rational person expect Bibi’s position to change if this is what happens when he digs in his heels?
And so the settlement expansion continues, Antony Loewenstein
Will they or won’t they? The international media was counting down the hours until Israel’s self-described “settlement freeze” ended this week.  Most Western journalists, based in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, looked for any signs from the government of Benjamin Netanyahu that would appease the perceived outrage of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas who claimed he would walk out of US-backed talks if colonies continued construction.  The elaborate dance came and went, building resumed and Palestinians were once again left standing at the altar with no concessions and less land without Zionist footprints.  In fact, if reporters had actually travelled around the West Bank during the last months they would have found extensive settler work. Dror Etkes writes in Haaretz that even according to official Israeli figures the number of housing units built in settlements barely reduced over the last 10 months.
Caught Between a Wall and a Shipwreck, Alex Kane
The Israel/Palestine conflict has become so all-consuming that even objects are central to the struggle. Two recent books illustrate this fact. René Backmann’s A Wall in Palestine looks at the planned 490-mile-long, 25-foot-high wall, complete with fencing, trenches, thermal imaging and sniper towers, that Israel is building in parts of the West Bank. The second work, Midnight on the Mavi Marmara, is a collection of essays examining the deadly Israeli attack on an international seaborne convoy. The “Freedom Flotilla” was attempting to break the crippling blockade of Gaza, which began in 2007 when Hamas took power after winning democratic elections and defeating a U.S.-backed effort to install Fatah, the party that lost the elections, into power.
What You Get for Not Rocketing Israel
Throughout its short life, Israel has engaged in many actions that the world democracies have deemed dubious and inconsistent with Israel’s claim to be “the only democracy in the Middle East.” One can mention the Israeli wall in the West Bank, Wars on Lebanon and Gaza, a choking and indiscriminate blockade on the citizens of Gaza, ethnic discrimination against Arabs and attack on and killing of a number of individuals on board a Turkish flotilla in international waters just over the past few years alone. Israel has consistently countered condemnations and repeated U.N. Security Council resolutions denouncing its actions with one argument: those actions are necessary because of the actions of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza has refused to accept the existence of Israel and repeatedly fired rockets into Israel.
Abbas Must Forge Palestinian Unity, James Gundun – Washington, D.C.
Mahmoud Abbas, acting president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), seems to have an infinite number of reasons to disengage from US-sponsored negotiations with Israel. Reduced to a singularity, Palestinians possess little trust in America to negotiate an equal two-state solution and none in Israel. But Abbas wisely chose to await a special Arab League meeting, scheduled for October 4th, before deciding the near-term fate of direct talks with his counterpart, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Although Abbas is talking a tougher game since Israel’s settlement “freeze” in the West Bank expired, he can’t move either way without covering fire.
The West Bank’s reluctant movie star
Away to the west of Budrus, a startlingly red sun was sinking towards the horizon behind Jaffa as the Israeli border police patrol arrived. They had driven at speed in their two jeeps along the military road beside the footprint-detecting sand track and the electronic fence that help to make up the separation barrier here. To the north, beyond a straggling, rocky olive grove and perched on top of a 160ft pylon, we could just make out the security camera, capable of taking a recognizable image of a human face from three miles. “What are you doing here,” asked the armed and uniformed men donning their helmets as they jumped from the jeeps, and used their keys to open the locks in the barrier to reach us. “You should be 150 metres back from the fence,” they said. “And you certainly shouldn’t be taking pictures. You are being held for questioning.”
Farewell to Arms: Jenny, Iraq and the Next War, Ramzy Baroud
Let’s call her Jenny. Jenny was alone, and clearly confused. Her face was dotted with acne, and her short, blond hair was stiff at the ends. As the Skyline train sped towards the next destination, she stood ‘at attention’ in her military fatigue and boots staring aimlessly into the vastness of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Jenny was not the only returnee from Iraq. The airport was bustling with men and women in uniform. There seemed to be little festivity awaiting them. The scene was marred with the same confusion and uncertainty that have accompanied this war from the start: unclear goals that kept on changing while its own advocates – in the media, the government and within right-wing think tanks – began slowly and shamelessly disowning it. They all changed their tune, and many of them redirected their venom at Iran. In the meanwhile, the soldiers continued to fight, kill and fall in droves. Following the recent reduction of troops in Iraq, thousands were expected to come home, while others headed to Afghanistan to battle on, carrying with them their inconceivably heavy gear and their continued bewilderment.
G-d’s Little Air Force, Gordon Duff
Mickey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have been fighting the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for a very long time. Weinstein’s group is working to restore normal constitutional rights and practices in a military organization that has been hijacked by Christian Zionists who call themselves “Evangelicals.” The idea is simple. To get into the Academy or to remain there, un-raped, unbeaten, you have to attend regular “bible study” groups and continually mumble prayers.

G-d’s Little Air Force

* Lebanon

Hezbollah: Egypt arming rival Lebanese militias
Sources close to Shiite group say Egypt, Jordan training Sunni militias as part of ‘subversive initiative against Lebanon for Israel’s benefit’.,7340,L-3962430,00.html

“STL Taking Wrong Direction, Hariri Can Prevent Hezbollah Accusation”
01/10/2010 Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem said Hezbollah won’t take the initiative to the civil strife, but will put an end to it in appropriate ways. “Hezbollah would defend itself and the defense could be political or through the media,” his eminence said.  In an interview on LBC television, Sheikh Qassem said that Hezbollah will wait for the tribunal’s indictment on the assassination of former premier Martyr Rafiq Hariri to react, adding that Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s upcoming speech in a few weeks will tackle the STL issue.  Sheikh Qassem noted that Hezbollah has not yet been informed of “the outcome of contacts conducted by the parties of the tripartite summit on the (Special Tribunal for Lebanon) indictment issue.”  “Any indictment that accuses Hezbollah is an unjust indictment because we have nothing to do with this case whatsoever, and we even reject mere accusations,” he added. bars members from Hariri court interview (AP)
AP – Hezbollah has denied a request from the international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister to interview some of its members, the group’s deputy leader said Thursday.*
American Study: Saudi Arabia Want to Close out STL
30/09/2010 Middle East Policy Survey, published by the US-based Middle East Policies, revealed a study saying that it is expected that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) would soon sentence indictments against parties which it believes they are involved in PM Rafiq Hariri’s assassination.  The study considered that the predictions were lately focusing on the claimed part that Hezbollah took in the assassination, referring that the Lebanese are afraid that if Hezbollah was accused, it would lead to violence and chaos all over Lebanon.  The Middle East Policy Survey study also mentioned that Syria’s President Bashar Assad wants Lebanon to condemn the STL and stop any financial contribution. The study also added that high ranked US officials said that apparently, Saudi Arabia aims at the same outcome. According to informed sources, The Middle East Policy Survey study added that Saudi Arabia wants to close out the STL, where Lebanon is no longer important enough to it.
Ain al-Hilweh residents skeptical about peace talks
SIDON: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon seem unmoved by the recent Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, with many believing the negotiations’ failure or success won’t affect their situation.  At Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh near the southern city of Sidon, residents widely differ in political views and affiliations, but most can agree that the Washington negotiations are nothing more than a “formality.”  “Talks are only formalities … only blood and the power of the gun will stop the occupation of Palestine … everything else is meaningless,” says resident Mostafa al-Mawaad.
Mossad and the Phalanges
“The Mossad is simply an instrument. Our job was to provide intelligence and to create contacts with the Christians in Lebanon. These contacts began as far back as the 1950s and 60s, as part of an all-encompassing policy conceived by David Ben-Gurion.”
New initiative hopes to codify human rights in Lebanon
BEIRUT: A number of activists launched an initiative aimed at reinforcing human rights in Lebanon on Thursday.
The Beirut Initiative was conceived of as an open framework for communication and discussion between Lebanon and the diaspora in order to create a national charter for the fundamental rights of Lebanese.
Lebanon’s dirty laundry
How dirty is your laundry? Maybe I should ask your maid and quite possibly she will air out information dirtier than your clothes. Yes, I am referring to the treatment these workers are subjected to that reminds me of history class in the United States when I used to read about slavery.
Hariri’s House of Cards, RANNIE AMIRI
A war of words has erupted between Lebanon’s Hezbollah-led March 8 Coalition and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s ruling March 14 Coalition, posing the greatest challenge to Hariri’s leadership yet and threatening the viability of his “national unity” government.  As indictments loom following the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) investigation into the February 2005 assassination of the late premier Rafiq al-Hariri, his now-prime minister son finds himself trapped between diametrically opposed forces. Those in his parliamentary bloc and own Future Movement back the STL—and importantly, its funding—while the March 8 opposition has called for it to either seriously consider claims of alleged Israeli involvement in Hariri’s killing or be shut down.
* Iraq

Thursday: 3 Iraqis Killed, 10 Wounded
At least three Iraqis were killed and 10 more were wounded in light violence. Despite the seemingly quiet news day, one story underscored the deterioration of news reporting in Iraq.

Iraq breaks record for longest time with no government
BAGHDAD – Iraq on Friday will surpass the previous record for the country that has gone the longest between holding a parliamentary election and forming a government, experts say.  The Netherlands had held that unfortunate honor after a series of failed attempts left the country without an elected government for 207 days in 1977, according to Christopher J. Anderson, director of the Institute for European Studies at Cornell University. Iraqi Shiite cleric backs al-Maliki (AP)
AP – Powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has agreed to support the bid by Iraq’s prime minister to retain power, aides said Friday, in a move that could speed an end to the seven-month political impasse and bring dealmaking that may give key concessions to al-Sadr’s anti-American bloc.*
* Iran

NYT links Iran worm to bible
File named ‘Myrtus’, moniker for Esther, has experts believing Israel planted virus in Iran’s computers.,7340,L-3962247,00.html

Obama pressed to weigh Iran strike
Senator Joe Lieberman, Congressman Howard Berman say US must put time limit on sanctions.,7340,L-3962291,00.htmlU.S. sanctions selectively under its Iran policy
The administration penalizes a Swiss subsidiary of Iran’s national oil company but avoids confronting Russian and Chinese firms, which may have added to diplomatic friction.  The Obama administration rolled out its first penalty Thursday under the new U.S. sanctions on Iran, but carefully avoided any challenge to Russian and Chinese companies that would have risked diplomatic fallout.,0,4887736.story
Ominous signs in Iran under siege
An Iraq war in slow motion, the impasse between Iran and the United States has all the ingredients of a major crisis. With Washington – still angry at the Iranian president’s audacity in New York – leading a concerted destabilization campaign, and oil majors adding bite to sanctions, the stage is set for more ominous developments. – Kaveh L Afrasiabi

‘Horrifying’ Swat Valley Executions: WARNING- Video Contains Graphic Images
An Internet video showing men in Pakistani military uniforms executing six young men in civilian clothes has heightened concerns about unlawful killings by Pakistani soldiers supported by the United States, American officials said.

US attack Kills 3 Pakistani Soldiers
Pakistani military officials said two NATO helicopters crossed over into Pakistan’s Kurram tribal region along the Afghan border before dawn and fired on paramilitary troops at the Mandata Kandaho border patrol post. When the soldiers fired back at the helicopters, the aircraft retaliated by firing two missiles, destroying the post and killing the three soldiers, the Pakistani military said.,0,1294697.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fmostviewed+%28L.A.+Times+-+Most+Viewed+Stories%29Pakistan Cuts NATO Supply Line In Apparent Retaliation For Killed Troops
A permanent stoppage of supply trucks would place massive strains on the relationship between the two countries and hurt the Afghan war effort. Even a short halt is a reminder of the leverage Pakistan has over the United States at a crucial time in the 9-year-old war.
Drone attacks will continue: Panetta
The ISI DG asked the CIA Director to provide secret information to the Pak-Army, adding that the Pak-Army would conduct an operation on the secret tip-off provided by the CIA, the channel reported. daily times monitor.
[Shameless] CIA promises to ‘respect’ Pakistan sovereignty
 Pakistan said Thursday that visiting CIA chief Leon Panetta had promised to respect its sovereignty and examine reports that NATO helicopters conducted deadly cross-border raids from Afghanistan.
Pakistani tribesmen protest against US drone strikes
“We are protesting against the drone attacks. Americans are killing innocent civilians but the government has completely failed to protect us,”Malik Jalal, a tribal elder and one of the strike organisers told AFP.
New Poll: Pakistanis Hate the Drones, Back Suicide Attacks on U.S. Troops
A plurality of respondents in the tribal areas say that the U.S. is primarily responsible for violence in the region. Nearly 90 percent want the U.S. to stop pursuing militants in their backyard and nearly 60 percent are fine with suicide bombings directed at the Americans.
* Afghanistan

7 Civilians Killed in NATO Airstrikes
Residents in the Central Logar province say a tank of the American forces was hit by a road-side mine blast in the province’s Baraki Barak district on Wednesday night, after which NATO forces started air-bombardments in the province killing three civilians.

US attack kills 4 Afghan civilians
An airstrike by NATO forces killed four Afghan civilians and wounded three others in Ghazni province, southwest of the capital Kabul, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Thursday.‘Afghan children’ killed in Nato raid
Wednesday’s incident comes days after Nato was accused of killing 13 civilians in Laghman province on Sunday.
* U.S. and other world news

Ecuador Declares State of Emergency as President Correa Escapes Attack from Rogue Armed Forces
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is denouncing what he calls an attempted coup against him by members of Ecuador’s armed forces. Protesting police and armed forces stormed Congress, blocked roads and took control of the airport. Correa was trapped inside a hospital for twelve hours before armed forces loyal to him stormed the building and rescued him.

U.S. Approval Gains Nearly Erased in Middle East/North Africa
Approval fell significantly between 2009 and 2010 in 6 of 10 countries.  WASHINGTON, D.C. — Approval of U.S. leadership is now similar or lower than what it was in 2008 in several of the Middle East and North African countries Gallup surveyed in 2010, erasing gains seen after the transition from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. Egypt, Syria, and Algeria are the exceptions, though in all cases approval remains relatively low. suicides spike: 4 Fort Hood soldiers take their lives in 3 days
“It is frustrating that so many Fort Hood soldiers have decided to take their own lives,” Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, Fort Hood’s senior commander, said.
Study: Wars could cost $4 trillion to $6 trillion
Joseph Stiglitz, who received the 2000 Nobel Prize for Economics, and Linda Bilmes, a public policy professor at Harvard University, said the number of veterans seeking post-combat medical care and the cost of treating those individuals is about 30 percent higher than they initially estimated.
At least 78 GOP candidates would force women to bear rapists’ babies
A partial list of Republican candidates running for US Congress in this year’s mid-term elections shows that at least 78 of them have professed to oppose abortion in all cases, including where rape or incest are involved.  The Republican National Coalition For Life, a political action committee formed by anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly, sends out questionnaires every election season to Republican candidates asking them to lay out their positions on abortion.
US to apologize for ‘atrocious’ STD experiments in Guatemala
Unlike Tuskegee experiments, doctors intentionally infected patients with gonorrhea, syphilis, encouraged them to spread the STDs and many were left untreated  Nearly forty years ago, the Associated Press reported, “For 40 years, the U.S. Public Health Service has conducted a study in which human guinea pigs, not given proper treatment, have died of syphilis and its side effects. The study was conducted to determine from autopsies what the disease does to the human body.”
People & Power – White Power USA
People & Power looks at America’s neo-Nazis. Is the US heading toward a future of greater diversity and racial tolerance, or of racially-motivated violence and separation?
You get the truth only from ‘former’ officials
Warning from the Obama administration’s submission to Israeli pressure, in an interview with OTV, Michael Scheuer, a “former” senior CIA officer, said: “Three hundred million Americans could wake up tomorrow to discover that a foreign leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, led them to war with Iran, which might lead to war with the rest of the Muslim world.” He added, “Israel has no value whatsoever when it comes to American interests. It does not produce or give us anything we need. The only thing we get from it is that it is leading us to a religious war it seeks with Islam.”
Syrian sweets becoming an international sensation
Syrian sweets are becoming so popular that they rival Turkish baklava and bring in $60 million in revenue from sales abroad.
Who wants to visit the Middle East? Twice as many people as in 2000
Amid greater political stability and increased efforts to attract visitors, Middle East tourism is outstripping the markets in Asia and Europe.
* Islam in the West

Kingsborough Community College honchos slapped for firing Muslim professor Hanaa Khalil
Honchos at Kingsborough Community College  have been ordered to take a workplace discrimination class after a chemistry professor charged she was fired for being a Muslim.  Hanaa Khalil, who filed a complaint with the city’s Human Rights commission, was also awarded $7,700 in back wages and $10,000 in damages.  “I am hoping that I will be the last one to go through this at this school,” she told the Daily News.

Disneyland in veil compromise
Disneyland, the renowned theme park in the Californian city of Anaheim, has allowed a Muslim employee to wear a specially designed headscarf in a compromise after initially prohibiting her religious veil. Noor Abdallah was told she could not wear the hijab at work because the Disney dress code does not allow for religious apparel of any kind before she sought the legal assistance of an attorney. Abdallah, although not fully satisfied, says the scarf approved by Disney is a “good first step” in letting her dress in compliance with her beliefs. slams UK cameras used to snoop on Muslims
Report criticizes UK police for installing surveillance cameras in Muslim neighborhoods British police apologized Thursday for a counterterrorism project that installed surveillance cameras in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, saying that although the cameras had never been switched on, the program had damaged trust and caused anger in the community.
‘Burqa ban’ key to Dutch coalition
Political deal to form minority government including anti-immigration party could result in ban on face-covering veil.
Rabah Ghezali: France’s Illegal Ban of the Burqa
It is nonsensical to suppose that an individual’s free and deliberate choice to veil their person violates their own human dignity.


Farewelling two-state-solution, ‘FP’ authors suggest permanent residency status in Israel for refugees

Oct 01, 2010

Philip Weiss


Yet another sign that the two-state solution idea is over; Mickey Bergman and Amjad Atallah at Foreign Policy propose two multi-ethnic states side by side, but with overlapping citizenships. Israel preserves its Jewish character, but Palestinian refugees gain residency rights in Israel as nationals of Palestine. The same option would go for the colonists in the Palestinian state. Interesting. So Palestinian life could flourish again in Jaffa and Haifa and Lydda? Some key excerpts of their argument:

[W]hat if, within a context of a peace agreement between the two states, and as part of a comprehensive peace with all the Arab states, Palestinian refugees wishing to exercise their right of return into Israel are granted Permanent Residency Status as a means of providing them with restitution and residency? This will be an implementation of their right of return; yet will not change at all the electoral demographics and future of the State of Israel as a Jewish State.

…If a permanent status agreement resulted in two nation states along the 1967 border with two intermingled populations and a Permanent Residency Status in both countries, a fair choice could then be offered to Palestinians in Israel. They could choose to maintain their citizenship in Israel and become full Israeli citizens with all the rights and obligations that entail to any Israeli citizen including military or national service. There is already precedence for this in the case of the Arab Druze community in Israel. If they choose to become Palestinian citizens, they could assume Permanent Residency status and they (and their offspring) would continue to live, work, and pray in Israel but would vote in Palestinian national elections.

Many states with common heritages and linked economies have reached bilateral or multilateral agreements allowing each state’s citizens the freedom to reside, own property and vote in local elections in one state while retaining citizenship and the corresponding right to vote in national elections in another state. The Scandinavian states of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway, through the formation of the Nordic Passport Union, allow citizens of any state to reside and work in another state while retaining their national citizenship.. 

In the case of both Jewish settlers and Palestinian refugees, the implementation of such a solution would need to be negotiated between the two states. In the case of Palestinians who are already citizens of Israel, their representatives will need to be brought into the discussion and have a determinative voice in any application of this principle as it directly impacts on their interests.

Moreover, in a regional context, the Permanent Residency Status offers a tool for treatment of Palestinian refugees in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Palestinian refugees, choosing to remain in their current locations can obtain Palestinian citizenship and also be offered permanent resident status in their host countries.

There are obvious challenges to such a model but also obvious benefits. The benefits include reinforcing international legal principles while remaining true to the concept of a two state solution. It provides two powerful constituencies (settlers and Palestinian refugees) options that take into account their concerns. It secures the interests of the often-ignored Palestinian minority in Israel and the Jewish majority at the same time. It overcomes deep-seated suspicions among the two communities of each other. It prevents forced population transfers. It strengthens both Israel and Palestine as multi-ethnic states even as they preserve their national identities. It reduces the complexities in negotiating any changes to the 1967 border. Finally, it builds in a necessary normalization component between the two states as they must interact with each other on a regular basis. 

The challenges include overcoming the bigotry inherent in both communities in the short term. It will require Palestinians to acknowledge the emotional (if not legal) ties of the Jewish settlers to Palestinian land and requires Israelis to acknowledge the humanitarian and legal consequences to the Palestinian civilian population in the wake of the creation of Israel as well as their ties to Israeli land. It will also require front-loading more robust international security guarantees as was done by the international community for Bosnia and Kosova. 

Granted, the Permanent Residency Status is a complex idea. Much in depth legal and practical analysis will be required in developing this tool. But an Israeli Palestinian peace must bring both states into the 21st century. French and German citizens today easily travel, work and live in both countries, enjoying equal rights, while remaining true to their mother country’s citizenship despite their far more violent and destructive history with each other. The idea of population transfers, colonization, and “pure” ethnic states belong to a disastrous by-gone era.


No wonder Americans are ignorant. . .

Oct 01, 2010

James North


Here’s today’s story in The New York Times on the negotiations for peace.  Buried in the 12th paragraph is the following sentence about Jonathan Pollard, who spied for Israel and is serving life in prison, and whose release Israel is using as a bargaining chip to freeze the growth of the settlements.

Mr. Pollard is a heroic figure in the settlements; winning his release would be a coup for Mr. Netanyahu and could allow him to justify extending the freeze.

This sentence begs for more reporting and explanation.  Pollard’s treachery in the 1980s apparently compromised — and may have caused the deaths of — American agents in the old Soviet Union.  Why do these “settlers” regard a man who betrayed the United States as a hero?  Let’s send someone out to interview them.

You have to continue nearly to the end of the story, to paragraph 20, to learn that the

. . . settlements are widely regarded as illegal.

What does “widely regarded” mean?  By Palestinians?  Arabs?  Other unnamed people we may not entirely trust?

Why not say the simple truth, “The settlements are illegal under international law, a fact accepted by the United States and every other nation on earth other than Israel?”

These two examples do not exhaust the errors and slants in what is purportedly a news article.  Is it any wonder that busy Americans, who don’t have the time to do extensive research, are confused?


Robert Wright, like others, coming to understand the one state reality

Oct 01, 2010

Ahmed Moor


Robert Wright recently joined the one-state debate with a measured and well-intentioned piece in the New York Times. Unfortunately, he mistakes the one-state solution for a tactical cudgel instead of understanding it for what it is – an end unto itself. Wright clings to the atavistic (I don’t mean that pejoratively – just that the idea that people ought to be partitioned in this age is regressive) two-state outcome. He thinks that the one-state can be employed as Palestinian threat against Israeli colonization. The idea is to bludgeon Israeli complacency to death with the threat of Palestinian enfranchisement.

Wright accurately depicts two opposing positions in the post or anti-two-state camp. Some of us believe that with enough determination, goodwill, resilience, and a principled demand for justice we can pull off a one-state solution. Others believe that Jewish Israelis will never withdraw the boot heel from sunburned Palestinian necks. It’s a fair view, but I have faith in our ability to undermine Zionism completely, even in the minds of Jewish Israelis.

There’s a third possibility, apparently. Wright suggests that by threatening the Israelis with the end of Jewish racehood we can wake up the unplugged tech-savvy Tel Aviv bubble to the urgency of our need. That may or may not be true – I don’t think it matters really.

There’s no doubt that Wright’s call for manipulating the Israelis through an equal rights movement is cynical. By evoking principled democracy, we can cow the Israelis – who fear democracy in Palestine/Israel – into submission. That’s fine, but I feel that there are a few errors in Wright’s analysis that undermine his main point.

The first and most obvious one is that a two-state outcome can never materialize in Palestine/Israel. The latest round of elegiac White Housing is a convenient place to mark the death of the two-state outcome. No amount of Israeli quaking is going to cure Zionism of its fixation on Palestinian land or water. The Israeli apartheid regime will also refuse to relinquish territory for ‘security’ reasons.

I also disagree with Wright that a significant portion of Israelis will ever be ready to do what it takes to de-settle the settlements. It’s not enough to engage in land swaps. The settler colonies were created to atomize contiguous Palestinian lands. The master plan was too well executed. So for a genuine two-state outcome to emerge hundreds of thousands of settler-colonists will have to be evacuated. The real question is whether the somnolent bubble is more afraid of civil war or Palestinian enfranchisement. I am convinced that the Israelis will not war with the Judeans and Samarians.

Wright is a very astute observer in several important ways, however. He understands the power inherent in a civil rights struggle, and he knows how to get there. He writes:

If Palestinians want to strike fear into the hearts of Israelis they should (a) give up on violence as a tool of persuasion; (b) give up on the current round of negotiations; and (c) start holding demonstrations in which they ask for only one thing: the right to vote.

The strategy he talks about is the right one. I’d rewrite the first sentence to read “if the Palestinians want their equal rights” in place of “strike fear into the hearts of Israelis” but I’m otherwise completely with him.

Later, Wright identifies one of the surmountable but sticky obstacles to a one-state solution: the Palestinian Authority. He says that “regional experts tell me that in general officials on the Palestinian side don’t welcome a one-state solution because that would deprive them of the power they have now, whereas they would remain prominent during the implementation of a two-state solution.”

We’ve known this for a long time. It’s just nice to see a mainstream source openly recognize that the craven, self-aggrandizing Palestinian officials are ready to sacrifice a people to personal ambition. If the New York Times is saying it, perhaps someone in the administration is thinking it. In the end I don’t know if the PA will be dismantled but Abbas et al are doing a fine job of making it obsolete. Their actions have likely quickened the wholesale adoption of the one-state struggle by Palestinians in Palestine/Israel. Perhaps credible leaders like Azmi Bishara will step in to fill the void.

In all, Wright’s article was a net positive. He is clearly struggling with the idea of a Jewish state, and may want to preserve it for whatever reason. But I think that people like Wright are on the right track and will eventually come to see that there isn’t an alternative to the one-state solution. Not that I’d want one.

Finally, and slightly off-topic, I’d like to respectfully disagree with Jerome Slater’s belief that the one-state solution is a bad idea.  I don’t think that the Zionists are necessarily any worse than any other racists in history, and many of them have made (turbulent and ongoing) transitions into humanity’s fold. 


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