IDF soldiers convicted of using 11-year-old as human shield in Gaza

Oct 03, 2010


And more news from Today in Palestine:

Land and property theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Acting Hebron governor slams land confiscation
HEBRON (Ma’an) — The acting governor of Hebron denounced on Saturday the confiscation of 66 dunums of land in the Taffuh village in the district. Samir Abu Zneid said Israeli forces delivered confiscation warrants to the Banat Khalet Hatem area on plot number 24 in the village, which falls under the Dura Municipality’s jurisdiction, a statement read.
Israel’s homeless bedouin take on the state in the face of repeated demolitions / Jerrold Kessel & Peter Klochendler
…This is Al-Araqib in the Negev desert. Or what remains of it. Five times, Israeli police have demolished the village that has become a focal point of claims and counter-claims over land ownership between the state of Israel and the country’s bedouin communities. The battle over Al-Araqib is worsening Jewish-Arab relations, and threatens to evolve into a tectonic rift … Despite the repeated evictions, and the demolitions, most of the 35 families have returned to remake their home – around 400 people in all. “We have nowhere else to go,” says Salem. And so they rebuild only to face another demolition.

What’s behind the demolition of Al Arakib: Netanyahu and Aharonovich’s battle / Uriel Heilman
So you ask yourselves: if you send 1300 troops, regular policemen and Special Patrol Unit to demolish Al-Arakib for the first time; if so much is invested in thorough demolition of the homes … at the order of the “Green Patrol”; if you then destroy Al-Arakib four more times – during Ramadan as well, and at the height of the scorching summer heat, and for the fifth time – immediately after the Muslim feast day, ‘Id al-Fitr, because there’s no time to waste: Who is behind all this? What are the politics behind these actions? These are not the decisions of a junior clerk or the local police. There are larger forces being called in to action by someone, to crush and destroy.
Settler activists face eviction from East Jerusalem stronghold
This time it seems the bargaining chips – both judicial and political – have run out for the inhabitants of Beit Yonatan, a seven-story residence in the heart of Silwan that has been a flashpoint in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Ten Jewish families living in the structure are slated for evacuation, and that operation – put off until “after the holidays” – now seems almost unavoidable.
Future of vast Israeli enclave in West Bank far from settled
Ariel, established in 1978, is Israel’s fourth-largest settlement. It is also deep inside the West Bank, and there is no consensus about whether it should be part of Israel or absorbed into a Palestinian state … Palestinians complain that Ariel isolates about seven Palestinian villages, partially divides the northern West Bank and sits atop a coveted water supply.,0,4911782.story
Fact-checking Ethan Bronner on Israel’s settlements / Alex Kane
In today’s New York Times [2 Oct], Ethan Bronner states that “built up areas” of Israeli settlements — which have become the key issue surrounding the so-called “peace talks” — “make up only 2 percent to 3 percent of the West Bank.” That’s true, but out of context and misleading.  In July 2010, B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, published a comprehensive report on Israel’s settlement enterprise.  Here’s what the relevant section of the report, which is titled “By Hook and By Crook: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank” says about “built-up” areas and how much of the West Bank Israeli settlements actually control: -The percentage of “total builtup areas in settlements” in the West Bank is 0.99 percent. -But the total area controlled by the settlements in the West Bank is 42.8 percent.

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Soldiers attack nonviolent protesters in Hebron
Israeli soldiers attacked on Saturday evening dozens of Palestinian, Israeli and International protesters who held a march in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, demanding freedom of movement to the residents of Hebron. The protest was held near the Al Shuhada Street, one of many streets that are off-limits to the Palestinians in the city. Israeli soldiers attacked reporters and attempted to move them away under the pretext that the area is a closed military zone. Troops also topped several homes and used them as military towers.
Artery of Life 5 arrives at Syrian shores
The Artery of Life 5 solidarity ship arrived on Saturday night shortly after midnight at a Syrian port carrying dozens of activists and humanitarian supplies. All solidarity ships heading to Gaza will gather at the Lathiqiyya Syrian port before sailing to Al Arish port in Egypt. The flotilla was welcomed by thousands of residents
Egypt to issue decision over entry of Gaza-bound Lifeline 5 convoy
LATAKIA, (PIC)– The spokesman for the British Viva Palestina’s fifth convoy to Gaza, dubbed “Lifeline 5”, said efforts are being made with the Egyptian government to allow the convoy to transit through the country.
Nobel women’s delegation touring West Bank
[with photos] From September 28 to October 5, Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams (USA) is leading a delegation of women to visit Palestinian Territories and Israel to bear witness to the struggles of women working on the ground in the region towards building a sustainable peace … Accompanied by Dr Barghouthi, on 1 October, Nobel Peace Laureate and the delegation, visited the old city of Hebron; they witnessed how Israeli law-enforcement authorities and security forces have made the entire Palestinian population suffer in the process of protecting illegal Israeli settlements established in the city. [This is the group Mairead Corrigan-Maguire went to Israel to join]
UK charity supports Nablus
A UK charity delivered a mobile optical machine to students in the Nablus district, and provided water tankers to farmers as part of ongoing projects to support eduction and development in the West Bank district.
Graphic Intifadah
Spectacular images from many years of Palestinian resistance – nonviolent and violent

Berlusconi’s funny bone
For next weekend, in Rome, a large demonstration in support for Israel is planned. It is promoted among others by the Jewish Settler in Residence in the Italian parliament, Fiamma Nirenstein. I bet you didn’t know that the Italian Parliament has a settler in residence! Well, since 1996, Nirenstein divides her residence between Rome and the settlement of Gilo in East Jerusalem. In Rome, she is a member of the “post” fascist “Freedom Party” of Silvio Berlusconi … On her blog she characterizes the coming pro-apartheid rally, whose title is “For Truth, For Israel” as a rally “against all intolerance and antisemitism“.

Violence / Provocations
Jerusalem border guard kills Palestinian
A Palestinian worker from Hebron was shot and killed by Israeli border guards on Sunday while he attempted to enter East Jerusalem near the village of Al-Isawiya. The deceased was identified as 38-year-old Izz Ad-Din Al-Kawazba from the town of Sa’ir in Hebron. Al-Kawzaba’s cousin Salah told Ma’an that border guards shot the victim at close range, refuting police accounts that the shooting was accidental.
Officer: Shooting death of Palestinian infiltrator accidental
Izz al-Din Qawezba, 38, killed during confrontation with Border Guard force while trying to cross into Israel illegally; officer tells investigators gun misfired, or trigger pulled accidentally. Cousin: He was killed in cold blood,7340,L-3963426,00.html
Hamas: The absence of int’l justice caused Jerusalem killing
GAZA, (PIC)– Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum stated that the absence of international justice and the American bias were the reasons that encouraged Israeli troops to kill a Palestinian young man on Sunday morning in occupied Jerusalem. In a statement to the Palestinian information center (PIC) on Sunday, spokesman Barhoum added Israel exploited the absence of international justice, and the Arab and Islamic silence to commit further crimes against the Palestinian people.
Remembering the youth who died for our freedom / Steve Amsel
The following was written ten years ago: Asel is gone. After a popular, peace-loving Israeli Arab teen is shot dead by police, his family and friends — both Jewish and Arab — wrestle with what his loss means for Israel … ARABEH, Israel — With his die-hard optimism and winning smile, 17-year-old Asel Asleh didn’t look like a tormented teenager. Both an Arab and an Israeli, Asel moved between the two conflicting worlds with the ease of a talented, outgoing kid who was everybody’s best friend.
Video: Peaceful thoughts
Aseel Asleh, a 17-year peace activist [Seeds of Peace] and Palestinian citizen of Israel, was killed by Israeli police on October 2nd, 2000, during what became known as “Black October.” On the ten year-anniversary of his killing, people from all over the world recorded themselves on their webcams reading his ‘Peaceful Thoughts’ in their own languages

Jerusalem woman placed under arrest
Four days after ongoing interrogation, Dina Qawwas, 41, the wife of the head of the Palestinian Prisons Society in Jerusalem, was released on a 15.000 NIS bail, and was placed under house arrest. Her husband, who was also detained and placed under interrogation, was also released on a similar bail. The court claims that she participated in protests in occupied East Jerusalem, and charged her with “disrupting the peace, and violating the law”.  She was kidnapped by the Israeli army on Tuesday morning;
Egyptian sources tell Haaretz Shalit swap talks have resumed
According to Palestinian website, Israel shows flexibility on the identity of the Palestinian prisoners it is willing to release in exchange for captive IDF soldiers.

Siege / Restriction of movement / Humanitarian / Human rights
Israel opens 2 Gaza crossings
Israeli authorities announced the partial opening of two crossings between Israel and Gaza on Sunday for the limited transfer of goods and fuels, a Palestinian crossings official said.
Palestinian children betrayed by aid agencies / Eleanor Kilroy
A September 2010 report has found that Palestinian children’s rights to life and liberty are being sacrificed, as major donor agencies fail to challenge the Israeli state’s violations of international laws for fear of offending influential political lobbies.
Qatar lauded in US for helping Gaza kids
The American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) on Friday paid tribute to Qatar for its generous donation in aid of Gaza’s child refugees. Qatar’s grant of $1m will fund ANERA’s Milk for Preschoolers programme, which provides fortified milk and energised biscuits every day to about 20,000 Gazan refugees aged 3, 4, and 5.
Through conflict and poverty, students in the Occupied Palestinian Territory struggle to learn (UNICEF)
WEST BANK — Ask principal Hanan Awwad what it is like to head the Khan al-Ahmar elementary school and she will reply that she feels “fear and exhaustion” – but also great pride. The Ms. Awwad is afraid that her five-room school building could be demolished at any moment. Khan al-Ahmar – an ecologically-friendly school constructed two years ago by the non-governmental Italian Cooperation – was built in an area of the Occupied Palestinian Territory where building permits are rarely granted to Palestinians. Now it has been ordered demolished unless international pressure and court appeals can prevent its destruction. Some 75 children, all of them from nearby Bedouin encampments, carry out daily lessons here.

War crimes
IDF soldiers convicted of using 11-year-old as human shield in Gaza
Two soldiers forced Palestinian child to open bags, feared to have been booby trapped, during Operation Cast Lead … The conviction is the first such conviction for what is termed in the Israel Defense Forces ‘neighbor procedure’ — the use of human shields during searches and pursuits, which has been outlawed.
Gaza mom says convicted troops traumatized her son
The mother of a boy who was ordered by soldiers to open bags thought to contain explosives told Ynet Sunday that her son was traumatized by the incident, and has since demanded that the door to their apartment be kept locked at all times … Abed al-Hadi, a 50-year old resident of the building in Tel al-Hawa, is the owner of the bag Majd refused to open. “No trial can compensate for those moments. Besides, they shot my bag, which contained a passport, money, and a little gold we were afraid to leave in the apartment. The money disappeared and so did the gold.,7340,L-3963327,00.html
Turkey set to release anti-Israeli film imagining revenge for Gaza flotilla
Valley of the Wolves – Palestine is a spinoff from the controversial but highly popular TV drama series Valley of the Wolves, which sparked a diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel this year … This time, the hero Polat Alemdar and his team are given the task of hunting down the raid’s military commander and planner, a fictional character called Mose Ben Eliezer, according to the film’s website.

Israel’s Arab helpers
Israeli army chief visits Bethlehem
The Israeli military’s chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi met Palestinian Authority security officials in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday. Ashkenazi arrived in Bethlehem with a delegation of senior Israeli officers on a visit coordinated by PA security, Bethlehem Governor Abdel Fattah Hamiyel said.
Our man in Palestine / Nathan Thrall
… Referred to by Hamas as “the Dayton forces,” the Palestinian security services are formally under the authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and chairman of Hamas’s rival, Fatah; but they are, in practice, controlled by Salam Fayyad, the unelected prime minister, a diminutive, mild-mannered technocrat … In 2009, Palestinian and Israeli forces took part in 1,297 coordinated activities, many of them against militant Palestinian groups, a 72 percent increase over the previous year. Together they have largely disbanded the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a principal Fatah militia; attacked Islamic Jihad cells; and all but eliminated Hamas’s social institutions, financial arrangements, and military activities in the West Bank.

‘Peace talks’ / Political developments
Hamas applauds PLO decision to stop talks
…Senior Hamas leader Salah Al-Bardawil told reporters Saturday that “Hamas hopes Fatah will take a decision to stop negotiations, maintain its decision, pay more attention to the internal Palestinian situation, contribute to easing the siege imposed on the Gaza strip rather than supporting it.”
Fatah MP: Party experts to join unity talks on security
Security experts from rival movements Fatah and Hamas have been invited to join talks to reach consensus on the last disputed point of the Egyptian unity document, Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad said Saturday. Speaking with Ma’an radio, the Fatah lawmaker said security specialists Majid Farj from his party and Imad Al-A’lami from Hamas will participate in talks over the remaining security-related issues. “After that, the proposal will be ratified without any problem and very soon,” Al-Ahmad said.
Arab Peace Initiative to hold urgent session
The Arab Peace Initiative will hold an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Friday in Sirtre, Libya over direct negotiations before meeting for an extraordinary Arab League summit, the deputy Arab League chief said. Ahmad Bin Hali told reporters Saturday that President Mahmoud Abbas will address the committee and updated officials on US efforts to save talks from collapse in light of Israel’s decision not to extend its settlement freeze in the West Bank.
Egypt backs Palestinian position on settlements
As US special envoy meets with Egyptian president, Cairo’s foreign minister says current conditions’ not favorable for peace talks to continue,7340,L-3963280,00.html
Diplomats: Mitchell misrepresented initial success of peace talks
Netanyahu refused to hold a serious discussion on any of the core issues apart from security, Abbas reportedly told diplomats.
Palestinians want to keep peace talks alive: US envoy
AMMAN (AFP) — The Palestinians want peace talks with Israel to continue, US envoy George Mitchell insisted on Sunday, as he visited Egypt and Jordan in a last-ditch effort to salvage fledgling direct negotiations.
UN chief: Broaden settlement building restrictions
Even after PLO decision to suspend talks, Ban Ki-moon speaks to parties, calls on them to create atmosphere conducive to talks; Tzipi Livni: Breakdown will have ‘serious consequences’,7340,L-3962791,00.html
Not on the same page
One can’t help but wonder: What would former Israeli Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon or Yitzhak Rabin have done if their foreign ministers had delivered jaw-dropping speeches to the U.N. General Assembly contradicting their policies on peacemaking with the Palestinians, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s did this week?,0,3874759.story
Will Lieberman be leaving government?
Minister close to PM says foreign minister’s conduct during peace talks signals departure from coalition,7340,L-3963064,00.html
Syria wants Turkey to mediate talks with Israel (AP)
DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria wants Turkey to mediate its indirect peace talks with Israel and any other efforts would be subordinate to the Turkish role.
Egypt, Iran to resume direct flights
Countries sign aviation agreement for first time since their diplomatic relations fell apart in 1979,7340,L-3963435,00.html
Israel to Lebanon: Ahmadinejad visit to Israel border will be a provocation
Iran President intends to hurl stones at Israeli soldiers from Lebanese border, London-based newspaper reports.

Jordan gave 51,000 passports to Palestinians in 2010
Jordan issued over 51,000 temporary passports to Palestinians in 2010, the head of Jordan’s Passport and Civil Affairs department told Ma’an on Sunday … The official said Jordan has been “giving facilitation” since 1948 to enable Palestinians traveling to Saudi Arabia for the Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj, in order to pass easily through the kingdom, adding that “Jordan treats the West Bank and the Gaza Strip residents equally depending on the historic national relationship between Jordan and Palestine.” The passports issued to Palestinians do not confer a Jordanian national security number so that West Bank and Gaza Strip residents are unable to vote in Jordanian elections.
AlJazeera English’s In Pictures: Remembering the right of return
Israel may be urging Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to continue faltering peace talks despite refusing to renew a freeze on illegal settlement building, but in the tinderbox Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon life is defined by an issue neither side has ever publicly expressed any willingness to compromise over: The right of Palestinian refugees to return home. Hugh Macleod.

Other news
Norway grants award to Rafah journalist
…In a statement, the Norwegian committee described recipient Mohammed Omer, from Rafah, as “a voice for the voiceless, for the population of Gaza that has too often been forgotten by the world community.”  Omer runs the website Rafah Today, and has contributed to The Nation, New Statesman, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and Inter Press Service, among others … Returning from an award ceremony in 2008, in which he collected the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, Omer was taken aside by Israeli security at the Allenby crossing from Jordan, brutally beaten and seriously bruised, with complicated rib fractures and neck injuries, the committee said.
AlJazeera English video: Ancient Gaza tunnels discovered
Archaeologists digging at a site on Gaza’s border with Egypt have discovered ancient tunnels in the same area as today’s smuggling tunnels. They are believed to be a part of a hidden city that is estimated to be over two thousand years old. However, the excavation work is complicated by the blockade of Gaza as there is the constant risk of being caught in the way of an Israeli rocket strike on a modern tunnel.
Israeli court sentences Jenin men for murder
An Israeli court on Sunday sentenced three men from the West Bank city of Jenin to life imprisonment for the murder of an Israeli taxi driver, Israeli press reported … The report said Ouda and Khaledi claimed the murder was revenge for a family member who had been killed by Israeli authorities in 2007.
Report: Missing Jordanian killed by Israeli forces
Jordanian authorities informed the family of missing man that their relative was killed during a mission against Israel, while the man’s mother insists he remains in captivity there, the London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi said Saturday … Zaboun’s mother refuted the news, telling the paper that she had received several letters from the International Red Cross in 1999, in addition to private letters, which said her son was detained in Israel’s Ashkelon prison, while more recent reports said he had been moved to the Negev prison in southern Israel.
US authorities arrest Israeli journalist on drug charges
Washington D.C. police arrest Orly Azoulay, U.S. reporter for the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, along with husband, senior CBS reporter Howard Arenstein.
Utah residents fear ‘Israeli art students’ prying into NSA data center
(includes ABC4 TV video) A local ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City, Utah has caused a stir online with a report suggesting that self-proclaimed Israeli art students, peddling their artwork from door to door, have been asking disturbing questions about plans to build an NSA data center in the area …The basis for the suspicions goes back to 2002, when a lengthy article at Salon described how Drug Enforcement Agency field offices were reporting that “young Israelis claiming to be art students and offering artwork for sale had been attempting to penetrate DEA offices for over a year. The Israelis had also attempted to penetrate the offices of other law enforcement and Department of Defense agencies.”
Israel set to start deporting foreign workers
For most Israelis, the phrase “after the holidays” refers to a return to routine. For many foreign workers, however, it means living in fear of being caught by authorities and expelled from the country. Starting this week, families with children who don’t meet residency criteria are now in danger of being deported. “I’m very worried about what will happen on Sunday, but I can’t just stay at home,” says Erica, mother of a girl born in Israel who is just shy of 5, the minimum age for receiving residency.

Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
A Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in prison / Gideon Levy
If the court indeed deports Mairead Corrigan-Maguire we’ll know that our court system is also tainted to the teeth … The Irish Corrigan-Maguire is the victim of state terror. A former secretary at the Guinness Brewery in Belfast, she had three nephews, all children at the time, who were killed during a British targeted assassination in Northern Ireland … The frightful family tragedy turned her into a peace activist, and she began to hoist the flag of non-violent resistance. For this she won the Nobel Peace Prize for 1976 … In recent years, Corrigan-Maguire has tried to hoist this flag in Israel, which knows a lot about state terror, assassinations and killing passersby, yet is now brutally closing its gates in her face.
Robert Wright, like others, coming to understand the one-state reality / 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.
Netanyahu humiliates Obama again / MJ Rosenberg
The Obama administration must understand that the Israeli prime minister is essentially a right-wing Republican … The word from Israel is that Netanyahu is counting on a huge GOP landslide to save him from Obama. And then in 2012, there will be a Republican president who is more likely than Obama to let him bomb Iran.
Do settlers care about us? / Yair Lapid
Op-ed from a Zionist: Yair Lapid says 4% of Israelis cannot make decisions on behalf of entire nation — if the settlers have a problem with these Israelis, they have a real problem. Because these Israelis, who are Zionistic, Jewish, and hold national feelings are starting to feel that this is happening at their expense. They are not angry at the settlers, yet gradually they are being overcome by the feeling that the entire settlement enterprise is costing them too much.,7340,L-3962715,00.html
Book review: The way it really was / Amos Harel
Hufshat Kayitz (Summer Vacation) by Yossi Berger (in Hebrew) — Don’t get caught up in the rhetoric describing the Second Lebanon War as a success. Yossi Berger, a lieutenant colonel in the reserves, can tell you the truth about the war … He describes how orders and missions changed daily, and how the reservists found themselves ending up in the villages of Markaba, Taibeh and Qantara without anyone knowing their goals. He writes about the tank company commander who refused an order to travel because all the tanks that had preceded him into the area had been hit by anti-tank missiles…
To take up arms or not? A film joins the debate
[yes, it’s by Ethan Bronner and is problematic in places, but probably worth reading anyway just for the story of Budrus] “Budrus,” however, is not just the story of its surprising principals playing out gritty real-time confrontations. It raises some of the most difficult and contested questions surrounding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, notably the ability of each side to understand the other and the role of popular, nonviolent struggle in bringing it to an end.
Palestinian Oktoberfest lures thousands of revellers to West Bank
…Around 10,000 people were expected to attend the weekend’s Oktoberfest, which would make it the biggest since the event began in the Christian-dominated village. It is a mark of the festival’s success that the small area around the municipality building was crammed with food stalls doing a lively trade to Palestinian families (both Muslim and Christian), diplomats, aid workers and tourists.

Saturday: 2 Iraqis killed, 4 wounded
Excerpt: Violence was very light ahead of Independence Day observations. At least two Iraqis were killed and four more were wounded in new attacks. Residents of Anbar Province reported an increasing greater military presence since yesterday’s announcement that a Shi’ite super-coalition is supporting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a second turn as the premier. The surge risks antagonizing Sunnis, who may feel shut out of the political process.
Sunday: 12 Iraqis killed, 14 wounded
Excerpt: at least 12 Iraqis were killed and 14 more were wounded in the latest violence … In Fallujah, a policeman was killed and another was wounded when gunmen attacked their checkpoint. Gunmen also killed an Awakening Council (Sahwa) member when he stopped at a different checkpoint. A bomb planted on a Sahwa member’s car killed him and wounded two companions. A bomb killed a man, wounded his father, and damaged a number of stores in the Khan Dhary area of Abu Ghraib…
Iraq postpones nationwide census: minister
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq again postponed its first census in more than two decades because of political wrangling over disputed areas in the country’s north, a deputy minister said on Sunday. The October 24 census has now been delayed until December 5, the latest in a string of deferrals that have consistently put back a count originally due in 2007.
Iraq crackdown on bombers brings silenced killings
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Militants in Iraq are resorting increasingly to guns with silencers to attack security forces and government officials, as successes against insurgents have made it harder for them to carry out trademark bombings.
Iraq’s military flexes to deter any Sunni backlash
(TIME) Mindful that the likely return to power of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the head of yet another Shi’ite-dominated government could potentially trigger a Sunni backlash, the Iraqi military is putting on a show of force in Anbar province – an erstwhile hotbed of insurgency. But that plan risks inflaming hostility in a community that already feels politically marginalized.
Key Sunni: Iraq facing ‘last chance’ for democracy
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — An Iraqi governor and leading Sunni politician said Sunday that the nation’s “last chance for democracy” could be derailed if the Shiite prime minister keeps his job despite losing to a Sunni-backed coalition in elections seven months ago.
IRAQ: Areas contaminated by cluster bomblets cleared near Mosul
…MAG cleared two areas contaminated by cluster submunitions in Kherava after students at the local school told a Community Liaison team about the presence of bomblets in their village. In one of the areas, submunitions were blocking important land used for farming and grazing.
Iraq – are the Americans conspiring? / Tariq Almohayed
There is a belief amongst many of the Iraqi elite, as well as other Arab politicians, intellectuals and journalists, that the U.S. is conspiring with the Iranians on the issue of Iraq, and that there is a plot to divide the region. The allegation is that America is concluding a deal with its Iranian counterparts, to persuade Tehran to cooperate with America and the West on the subject of its nuclear program [in exchange for allowing the Iranians to politically intervene in Iraq].

U.S. and other world news
On paper, NY Islamic center looks modern, secular
…The renderings, some of which were posted on the project’s website this week, are preliminary, but they project the development team’s desire to build something cosmopolitan and fun on a site now known only for controversy. “I don’t think that once this thing gets built, anyone will be picketing,” said Sharif El-Gamal, the project’s developer.
CIA backed by drones in Pakistan
The CIA is using an arsenal of armed drones and other equipment provided by the U.S. military to secretly escalate its operations in Pakistan by striking targets beyond the reach of American forces based in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said.
Britain follows US, issues Europe travel alert
Britain on Sunday backed a US State Department travel alert warning of possible attacks in Europe, saying it was “consistent” with its own assessment of the threat.,7340,L-3963334,00.html


Meeting Alan Dershowitz

Oct 03, 2010

Antony Loewenstein 

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is currently in Sydney for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas and last night debated, in front of 2000 people at the Sydney Opera House, lawyer Geoffrey Robertson on The Sins of the Father; Should the Pope be Held to Account? over the massive number of child sex abuse cases. Robertson called for legal action while Dershowitz urged understanding of a “changed” Vatican.

Dershowitz has received relatively friendly media interviews in Australia (here and here) and his obsession with Israel is simply seen as an extension of a lifetime commitment to human rights. “The problem with Israel is that it’s too democratic”, he said last week on local radio.

After last night’s event I attended an after-party where Dershowitz made an appearance. I wanted to speak to him about his views on the Middle East. Our exchange lasted around five minutes, alongside his wife, and I began, after introducing myself as a journalist, by asking him if he would ever back boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. He said he would only do so after every other human rights abuse was condemned around the world “and Israel is the 177th on the list.” He wanted to know why there was such a focus on Israel at the expense of China, Africa and the Arab world.

But what if Israeli behaviour won’t change without serious external pressure, I countered. BDS would never be the solution, Dershowitz argued, because Israel “is a democracy”. He acknowledged that the Netanyahu government, with a far-right coalition, wasn’t the best placed to convince the world of the Jewish state’s seriousness towards peace “but I’ve known Netanyahu for many years and he recently asked me to be Israeli ambassador to the UN but I refused.”

“Tzipi Livni [Israel’s opposition leader] asked me to have dinner with her in Boston this Monday but I’ll still be in Australia.” He seemed to believe that peace was possible if she entered the coalition with Netanyahu.

I then asked if he feared BDS would continue to grow in international power. He thought it would. And then, after mentioning the current moves by the University of Johannesburg to end its relationship with the Israeli university, Ben-Gurion, unless certain conditions are met, he unloaded: “Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the most evil men in the world. He never condemns China, rarely Zimbabwe or any other county, it’s only Israel. I was once in the same room as him and he said Israeli actions were ‘unChristian.’”

Tutu recently eloquently explained why Israeli behaviour in Palestine required a strong global response.

This was the Dershowitz I had expected, ferocious, irrational and utterly unwilling to allow anyone to condemn Israeli actions (something Jimmy Carter knows all about, saying in 2008 that there’s a “special place in hell for somebody like that.”)

It was a short but revealing encounter with a man who must wonder how the world has increasingly lost patience with Israeli excuses for violence and colonisation. Even during his presentation about the Pope, he regularly mentioned Israel and its supposedly democratic ways. And, in 2010, the groups in the world most in love with Israel are Christian fundamentalists, far-right politicians in Europe and Orthodox Jews. That’s quite a motley collection of friends.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based independent freelance journalist, author, documentarian, photographer and blogger. His website is

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