At NYU, Israel is held up as the model for US counter-terrorism effort

At NYU, Israel is held up as the model for US counter-terrorism effort

Oct 15, 2010

Chase Madar

Is Israel a good counter-terrorism role model for the US? This question has been on my mind ever since the morning of September 12, 2001, when professors in two consecutive lecture classes told us first-year law students that we needn’t worry, that they had been talking to friends in Israel, friends who knew just what we were going through because they deal with terrorism all the time, and that we’d get through it just like they did, whether with tighter airport security or with other measures. We’d get through this just like the Israelis do every day. This was intended as a soothing reassurance, and taken as such by many students. 

I found it disturbing. Do we really need to start living like Israelis? In constant tension with neighboring countries, in a state of permanent national emergency, under constant threat of terrorist attack? Do we really want to be the defiant practitioner of many policies—assassination and preventive detention for instance—that most of our peer nations profess to abhor? (We americanos used to officially abhor them too in that sepia-toned decade before 9-11.) Beefed-up airport security has indeed come to pass, a farce and a headache. Overall, not my idea of the good life.

Last week I went back to NYU for a short conference, “Democracies and National Security: The American and Israeli Experiences,” sponsored by NYU’s Taub Center for Israel Studies and an Israeli outfit called the Israel Democracy Institute. 


The panel led off promisingly with Gabriella Blum, a former IDF lawyer now at Harvard Law, who told us that the similarity between the US and Israel is in fact a little too intuitive, and laid out the many differences. Brava.

Have we then turned to Israel for guidance a little too reflexively, a little thoughtlessly? If the similarity of our circumstances really is overdrawn, is Israel then the best source of counter-terrorist guidance for the US? I asked the panelists if we necessarily had more to learn from the Israeli experience than from the United Kingdom, Colombia or Italy, all liberal democracies which have also dealt with sustained threats from terrorists and/or armed militants over the past decades. None of these other countries is an exact parallel to our own situation, and none has met total success in balancing national security with civil liberties and other concerns. And the same, of course, could be said of Israel.

The response to my question was pretty much what I expected. Gabby Blum herself quickly answered that no, the European examples are not applicable to the US because their terrorism is “home-grown.” (Really, the IRA, home-grown? More than Hamas, which Israel used to bankroll? Not a very satisfying answer.) Yuval Shany, Hersh Lauterpacht Professor of International Law at the Hebrew University, assured me that Israel and the US were, alas, locked into their own little support group of two. This he said sighingly, as if the US and Israel were two star-crossed lovers in a cold and misunderstanding world.

The outlook of so many American national security intellectuals was typified by panelist Rick Pildes, a justly-esteemed professor at NYU Law. Pildes is a real asset to NYU Law: a frequently brilliant scholar on election law and constitutional law, always a cogent talking head, a popular lecturer and a co-director of the school’s Center for Law and Security.

Pildes seemed almost to salivate at the prospect of adopting a counter-terror legal system like Israel’s, “more sophisticated, less binary,” than the American approach. He spoke enviously of Israel’s “third way” that is neither a war paradigm, nor a criminal justice paradigm, and wondered aloud if the US might adopt judicially-ordered preventive detention, just like Israel has. No doubt about it, Israel does have a more complex, developed set of laws in its counter-terrorism toolkit—but is this really a virtue? Shany said that the Israeli legal system had “benefited” from a gradual and constant deterioration of the nation’s security, and so has developed more nuanced legal tools to prevent terror attacks. Ah wonderful, a silver lining for lawyers.

Of course we lawyers do have a built-in bias in favor of law itself: a solution to any problem that involves more law we tend to like, and the more complex and nuanced the law–the more we like it! (This goes triple for law professors.) Solutions that are non-legal—for instance political, diplomatic, social, military– tend not to cross our minds. Not our brief, can’t help you. So the counter-terrorist solutions boosted by Pildes and speaker Amos Guiora (another former IDF lawyer now teaching law at University of Utah) have all revolved around fancy new legal structures, like hybrid special courts and subtle continuums from criminal to terrorist, all giving more power to the judges and courts. Yes, more law!

Not surprisingly, the simple option of withdrawing our military from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq or cutting off our lavish military and diplomatic support to Israel was not even mentioned as a way to undercut anti-American terrorists, despite this course of action’s essential morality, prudence and Gordian efficiency. Equally unsurprising, neither was the possibility of Israel withdrawing behind its ‘67 borders, uprooting its illegal colonies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and/or giving full citizenship rights to all Palestinians. Too crude, too unsubtle? Too “unrealistic”? 

George Fletcher of Colombia Law, to his credit, did at least bring a glimmer of peripheral vision as he pondered the immense costs of Bagram and Guantánamo, both in treasure and soft power. But his contention that the boring old US Constitution is perfectly up to the task of regulating our many counter-terrorist policies was speedily pooh-poohed by Pildes. “To say that the Constitution is enough for this situation is to blank out reality!”

I’m not so sure. Since 9-11, of course, the US has performed many extra-Constitutional and extra-legal maneuvers in the name of emergency, from torture to indefinite detention at Gitmo and Bagram to the conquest of Iraq itself. To claim that any of these measures has contributed one iota to national security rather than undermined it is, it seems to me, to blank out reality. It is 2010, not 2003; this is no longer a minority opinion.

Throughout the conference, the overall strategic failure of Israel’s quest for national security went all but unmentioned, as did the overall failure of America’s spastic and self-defeating responses to 9-11. (Perhaps a support group is not the place to probe such wounds.) Shany did alight on the disturbing “spillover” of counter-terrorist practices into the policing of ordinary Israelis, where gag orders and incommunicado detention are mushrooming. Is this something we want to emulate in the United States? Have we already taken this path?

Nine years and one conference later, I remain unconvinced that Israel is a good counter-terrorist role model for the United States. What Israel does offer us seems to lie much more in the way of object lessons than sane, effective security policies. No matter. Since 9-11, our own permanent emergency has corroded civil liberties, spawned pullulating Islamophobia and produced illiberal detention policies and Presidentially ordered assassinations, of US citizens even. This is not unlike the Israeli way—and is it really working out for them? By now our heads should have cooled off enough to allow us to look around the world and see what works and what doesn’t in counter-terrorism, never ignoring the big strategic picture as this conference resolutely did. Then again I’m not sure whether the function of the conference was to stimulate real thinking about counter-terrorism or to cement even closer ties between the US and Israel. The two may well be mutually exclusive.

Madar is a lawyer in NY who writes for Le Monde diplo, the London Review of Books, and The American Conservative. Six months back we posted Madar’s report on the American Society for International Law’s annual conference and their panel on the Goldstone Report,  here.

The new threats to Israel’s Palestinian citizens

Oct 15, 2010

David Samel

Two related articles of note. First, from ynet, a new poll finds that 36% of Israeli Jews want to revoke voting rights for Palestinian citizens. Of course, this exclusion would represent a change only for the 1.4 million or so Palestinians who are citizens, and not the 4 million Palestinians under occupation who have no say in the regime that rules over them.

The number 36% is shockingly high, and indicates that Israel’s rightward shift in the government is a reasonably accurate reflection of its constituents’ sentiment. Will this growing trend translate into policy? Palestinians comprise about 20% of the Israeli electorate, and as long as the non-Jewish population remains at a safe level, with zero chance of Palestinians gaining a significant voice in how the country is run, there is nothing to gain by stripping them of the right to vote; on the other hand, any pretense of democracy would be obliterated. But with the whiff of loyalty oaths in the air, and even forcible “transfer” openly discussed as a possibility, who knows?

That 20% figure will inch upward in coming decades because of a higher birthrate, and at some point, something will have to be done to “save” Israel as a supposed Jewish and democratic state. The demographic time bomb is a lively topic of discussion, and no doubt many are preparing to lay the groundwork to defuse it, even if it means risking international condemnation, which Israel always manages to weather until the storm passes.

How troublesome is this descent into unabashed racism? It’s hard to evaluate. Any change that makes things more difficult for Palestinians, both citizens and non-, is surely a change for the worse. However, Israel’s international legitimacy has always depended on a veneer of respectability. Many articulate the position that Israel’s noble experiment, and the moral righteousness of its founding generation, have been corrupted by today’s leaders. There is a longing for the good old days when Israel truly was a moral beacon for the world, a noble revival of a people from the brink of annihilation.

This myth remains quite persistent, despite the abundance of evidence that from the start, the Jewish State was conceived and realized only through racist dismissal of the indigenous population. As Israel’s racism becomes more and more brazen and unapologetic, the immaculate conception myth recedes further into history, and the necessity of compelling its people to accept fundamental 21st century norms of racial/ethnic equality becomes clearer.

But bad news cannot be welcomed on the theory that it will provoke a pendulum swing. Which brings us to the second article, on Israel’s budding citizenship law, which requires non-Jewish applicants for citizenship to swear an oath of loyalty to the Jewish and democratic state, as if repetition by enough people could transform an oxymoron into reality. It turns out that the law, which has application to a very limited number of people, will have one prominent victim: journalist Jonathan Cook, who is married to a Palestinian citizen and has a pending application for citizenship himself.

Cook writes about his dilemma in facing this new law and eloquently dissects the law itself. As others have pointed out here, Cook warns that this is probably just the first step toward requiring Israel’s non-Jewish citizenry to swear the same oath upon penalty of loss of citizenship and voting rights, which brings us back to the new poll regarding disenfranchising Palestinians.

‘60 Minutes’ set to look into colonized E. Jerusalem

Oct 15, 2010

Philip Weiss

This coming Sunday, “60 Minutes” will go to Silwan, the neighborhood just outside the walls of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem that Jews are colonizing. The trailer suggests that she will put some emphasis on the biblical stories that rightwingers tell themselves to justify the landgrab. The Brook Kidron, etc. Though the trailer ends with that shocking video of the settler in his car upending two Palestinian boys in the road in Silwan as they threw rocks. I am told that Stahl turned to Ir Amim for her reporting, the group that wants to share Jerusalem, and that offers some hope that she will expose the occupation in all its gory.

The IDF kills 1 Palestinian civilian every 2 days, on average, with impunity

Oct 15, 2010

Philip Weiss

Every other day, the IDF kills a Palestinian civilian with impunity in the occupied territories. And the Israelis have treated these killings as “combat action,” reports B’Tselem in a report on Israeli military killings in the occupied territories, 2006-2009, not including the Gaza war.

From 2006 to 2009, the IDF killed 1,510 Palestinians, not including Palestinians killed in Operation Cast Lead. Of these 1,510 deaths, 617 were of persons who were not taking part in hostilities.

Regarding these 617 fatalities, BʹTselem demanded an MPIU [Military Police Investigation Unit] investigation into the deaths of 288 of them, who were killed in 148 incidents. Ninety‐five of these incidents occurred in the Gaza Strip, accounting for 230 of the deaths. The other 53 incidents took place in the West Bank and resulted in the killing of 58 Palestinians. One hundred and four of the fatalities were minors under age 18, 23 were persons 50 and above, and 52 were women. One hundred of the Palestinians whose deaths B’Tselem demanded to investigate were killed in 2006, 86 in 2007, 93 in 2008, and 9 in 2009.

Stephen Lendman‘s comment:

Most are witnessed by bystanders whose testimonies are crucial to achieve justice. Yet Israel won’t use them, clearly hiding the truth and obstructing justice.


Further, since September 2000, B’Tselem received no response from the Judge Advocate General’s Office for ” the vast majority” of cases warranting investigation, civilians killed in cold blood, responsible soldiers unpunished.

More from the B’Tselem release:

From the beginning of the first intifada, in December 1987, to the outbreak of the second intifada, in September 2000, the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) investigated almost every case in which Palestinians not taking part in hostilities were killed. At the beginning of the second intifada, the Judge Advocate General’s Office announced that it was defining the situation in the Occupied Territories an “armed conflict,” and that investigations would be opened only in exceptional cases, in which there was a suspicion that a criminal offense had been committed..

B’Tselem protests the sweeping classification of the situation in the Occupied Territories as an “armed conflict,” which effectively grants immunity to soldiers and officers, with the result that soldiers who kill Palestinians not taking part in hostilities are almost never held accountable for their misdeeds. By acting in this way, the army fails to meet its obligation to take all feasible measures to reduce injury to civilians, allows soldiers and officers to violate the law, encourages a trigger-happy attitude, and shows gross disregard for human life.

The plan

Oct 15, 2010

Philip Weiss

This is the new neoconservative echo-chamber. Marty Peretz at the New Republic has adopted Jeffrey Goldberg’s tactic (and Michael Oren’s too): to rattle the sword for Americans to hear and so give our permission to Israel to bomb Iran:

Iran now has three frontiers with Israel. The line with Gaza, patrolled by Hamas. The line with Syria proper. And the line with Lebanon which is not Lebanon at all. But Hezbollah land. These are all unstable fields of battle. Israel may be forced to deal directly with Iran itself.

Defiant Netanyahu: ‘We will continue to build’ (and subjugate)
Oct 15, 2010 12:11 pm | Seham

and other news from Today in Palestine


Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing 

Settlers attempt to kidnap toddler in al-Khalil, beat up boy in Jerusalem
A number of extremist Jewish settlers tried on Wednesday evening to kidnap a 3-year-old Palestinian toddler in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil, according to Palestinian security sources.

Settlers Attack Olive Pickers In Nablus
Israeli settlers attacked, on Friday morning, Palestinian olive pickers, and fired rounds of live ammunition at them, near the village of ‘Azmout, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Settlers fire at Palestinians in West Bank
Settlers, Palestinians blame each other for torching of fields, other violence during olive harvest,7340,L-3969876,00.html

Israel expels residents from Bethlehem village
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished storage units and tents in a village east of Bethlehem.  Forces threatened residents of the Kahlet Abu Hamad village east of Rashaydah with arrest in the event they opted to stay in the area.  Calls to Israel’s Civil Administration placed outside business hours were not immediately returned.

PA condemns land confiscation
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday condemned an Israeli military order to confiscate 1,000 acres of the Palestinian Al-Jalud village, south of Nablus. The order says that the commander of the Israeli army “believes that this is necessary for military needs, following the special security conditions which prevailed in the area and the need to take steps to prevent terrorist acts.”

Netanyahu approves tenders for 238 homes east of Green Line
Neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramot included in nation-wide building plan despite controversy over construction in East Jerusalem.

E. Jerusalem construction bid underway
New Housing Ministry tender includes 240 homes slated for construction in east Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly okays bid. PA says act will be ‘final nail in negotiation’s coffin’.,7340,L-3969774,00.html
Rightist plans to settle 10 new Jewish families in East Jerusalem neighborhood
Delivers eviction orders to families living in Sheikh Jarrah and to the south of the neighborhood.
Erekat: We won’t accept population exchange
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The head PLO negotiator said Wednesday he would never accept proposals to “swap” Palestinian citizens of Israel for settlers in the occupied territories.  Saeb Erekat told Ma’an radio that Israel’s recent drills involving mass imprisonment of Palestinians were “test balloons” to see the potential reaction to such an initiative.  Addressing Palestinians in Israel, Erekat said, “We will not harm you in any way, nor will we accept Israel’s racist proposals including recognizing it as a Jewish state or a land swap or population swap or whatever.”  He said the PLO would conduct negotiations solely according to international law.

Palestinians: Netanyahu harming chance for peace by approving East Jerusalem construction
Netanyahu approves tenders for 238 homes east of Green Line; neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramot included in nation-wide building plan despite controversy over construction in East Jerusalem.

Palestinians protest new Jerusalem housing plan
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel on Friday of choosing “settlements over peace” in a protest over publication of a plan to build 238 housing units in East Jerusalem.  Israel issued the building tenders on Thursday in a little-noticed move that may further complicate U.S.-backed efforts to rescue direct peace talks with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu: We will continue to build and to create
Washington – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the Independence Museum in Tel Aviv, hours after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed thousands of Hezbollah ralliers in southern Lebanon. Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that Israel’s very existence discredits its opponents, Haaretz reported Thursday.  “And since then, look at what a nation, what a state, what an army we have,” said Netanyahu. “We will continue to build and to create, and we will know how to protect ourselves as best we can.”  Prime Minister Netanyahu was asked if Israel had considered assassinating Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his Lebanon visit. In response to this query, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “We consider with reason what needs to be done to protect the state.”

Smothered by Settlements, MUSTAFA BARGHOUTHI
Negotiations between two unequal parties cannot succeed. Success in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations requires a reasonable balance of power, clear terms of reference and abstention of both sides from imposing unilateral facts on the ground. None of that existed in the talks that were re-initiated in September.  Much like previous rounds of talks, these negotiations were dominated on one side by an Israeli government that controls the land, roads, airspace, borders, water and electricity, as well as the trade and economy of the Palestinian side, while possessing a powerful military establishment (now the third military exporter in the world) and a robust gross domestic product, which has tripled in the last decade.

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Many Protesters Suffer From Tear Gas During The Weekly Non-violent Protest In Nil’in
Many suffered from the effects of tear gas inhalition during the weekly non-violent demonstration against the wall in the village of Nil’in, near the centrel West Bank.

Israeli Troops Attack Nil’in Anti Wall Protest; Number Of Injuries Reported
Nil’in – PNN – A number of civilians suffered effects of tear gas inhalation on Friday when Israeli troops attacked them during the weekly anti wall protest in the central West Bank village of Nil’in.  Villagers along with international and Israeli supporters marched after midday prayers towards the Israeli wall, which is being built on local farmers’ lands.  The protesters demanded to reach the villagers’ lands on the other side of the wall to harvest their olive trees. Palestinian farmers start harvesting their olive trees on the first week of October, with the season lasting until the end of the month. During this time, settler and military attacks often escalate against West Bank farmers.  As soon as protesters reached the gate of the wall, stationed troops fired tear gas and sound bombs at the protesters. Around a dozen locals and internationals were lightly wounded, suffering tear gas inhalation. They were treated at a local clinic.

Bethlehem Village Protest The Israeli Wall, Troops Injuries An International Supporter
Bethlehem – PNN – On Friday, villagers from Al Ma’ssara village near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem organized their weekly anti wall protest.  The protest started at midday, as Israeli and international protesters joined the villagers and marched to farmer’s land, where Israel’s wall is under construction. Troops stopped the protest at the village entrance.  During the face-off, troops fired tear gas and sound bombs at the protesters to force them back to the village. An international supporter was hit in the head with a sound bomb and transported to the local clinic for treatment. Others were treated for effects of tear gas inhalation.

Bil’in: Troops Use Tear Gas To Suppress Weekly Anti-Wall Protest
Bil’in – PNN – Israeli and international supporters joined the village of Bil’in on Friday for the weekly nonviolent action against the Israeli wall being built on farmers’ lands.  Image Today’s demonstration was comprised of about 100 local residents, Israeli activists and internationals. As the group moved peaceful y towards the site of the wall, they chanted demands to free Palestinian political prisoners, including Abdullah Abu Rahma and Adib Abu Rahman, who were arrested last year for their leadership of the popular resistance in Bil’in.

Protest tent set up again in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – A member of Fatah’s revolutionary council said Wednesday a protest tent was erected in Jerusalem.  The tent has been repeatedly taken down and replaced over a period of years protesting settlement activity and expulsions of Palestinians.  Demetri Deliani said the tent was set up yet again after Israeli forces tore it down this week.

Socialist youth call for settlement freeze
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The International Union of Socialist Youth insisted Friday that the continuation of illegal settlement expansion prohibited the 2-state solution as a choice for the future.  The IUSA in Austria passed a statement calling on the government of Israel to put an end to all settlement activities within the Palestinian territory and lift the blockade in the Gaza Strip.  It also deplored the idea that the displacement of population should replace the internationally recognized principle of “land for peace” as recently stated by the Israeli Foreign Minister in his speech at the UN.  The statement was passed after lobbying by Fatah youth delegates.

Bilin organizer’s wife talks about his trial, detention
Magda Abu Rahme, the wife of detained Bilin community organizer Abdullah Abu Rahme, speaks of her relief after his sentencing this week to one year in prison.  “This was a difficult period,” she told “We lived on the edge of our nerves. They dragged their feet and postponed this farce of a trial so much just to weaken the morale of Abdullah.”  Abu Rahme says that the family was expecting a heavier sentence. The prosecution asked for a jail term of two years. And still she fears that Abdullah’s sentencing could be relived if the military court accepts further arguments from the prosecution.  Abu Rahme was originally charged with incitement, organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations, breaking the law, throwing stones and possession of weapons.

From Budrus to Bilin: Arresting Heroes
One stark lesson from the collapse of the Oslo process ten years ago is that no top-down approach to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking will succeed without widespread support from the grassroots. Yet as talks predictably falter once again, the very civic leaders who are willing to risk their lives to promote a dignified, free, secure and rights-respecting future for both peoples are being jailed, harassed and silenced. In recent months, Palestinian nonviolence leaders in particular are facing a severe crackdown, just as their unarmed movements to end the occupation in cooperation with Israeli and international allies are picking up steam.

Criminal Complaint Lodged Against Dutch Company for Construction of Settlements and the Wall
Oct 14, 2010– Al-Haq has announced that it has lodged a criminal complaint against a Dutch private rental company, Riwal, for its involvement in the construction of the Annexation Wall, ‘the Wall,’ and illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank.

#BDS: BDS Victory: Veolia Sells Shares in Jerusalem Light Rail
Veolia has signed a principled agreement to sell its shares in the Jerusalem Light Rail to the Israeli transportation cooperative Egged, reportsTheMarker today (15 October). This sale marks a substantial victory for the Palestinian-led international campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.  According to the agreement, Veolia will receive NIS 45 million (approximately EURO 9 million) for its shares, which will be gradually transferred to Egged over a five year period from the first day of the light rail’s operation. This gradual transfer ensures compliance with conditions of the initial tender, which mandate that the light rail operator must have a minimum of five years experience in operations. Egged will also pay increasing percentages of the sale as the light rail becomes increasingly profitable.

#BDS: Another Firm Boycotts Israeli Settlements
In case you need an introduction to the whole boycott thing against Israel, I’ll repost my prompt before I get to the new news:  If Israel refused to respect Palestinian rights and national aspirations when the world was offerings carrots in the forms of international recognition, then a new tactic was to now be adopted: using sticks in the form of international isolation.

#BDS: Unions want ACTU to endorse protest plan against Israeli settlements
AUSTRALIAN unions are signing up to an international campaign to boycott Israeli goods.  But a fight is brewing over a proposal for the Australian Council of Trade Unions to endorse the movement.  The broad-based divestment and boycott campaign is targeting companies that profit from the Israeli settlements.  The Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, the Queensland branch of the Rail Tram and Bus Union and the Finance Sector Union have all passed a resolution supporting the international campaign of “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) against Israel.
Communications Electrical Plumbing Union national secretary Peter Tighe told The Australianthe electrical branch of his union had adopted the resolution and he would now take it to the broader CEPU, then the ACTU.

#BDS: Pro-Palestine initiative urges directors to return Israeli prizes
The Initiative of Boycott against Israel for Palestine, a Turkish civil society organization that aims to raise international awareness of a long-running blockade on Gaza and the plight of Palestinian refugees, has called on Turkish filmmakers Semih Kaplanoğlu and Reha Erdem to return the awards they won at this year’s Haifa International Film Festival.

There’s a great new website and billboard campaign by the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine
It launched in Chicago on Oct 4th with billboards on the city’s mass transit system that read “End U.S. Military Aid to Israel.” The campaign website, is full of well-documented information and talking points. I consider myself well-versed and I was taking lots of notes! Take a look…

Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

Israel blocks teen from visiting home
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police have decided to temporarily prevent a Palestinian teenager from returning to his home, apparently as punishment for his involvement in an altercation with Israeli settlers.  Ayman Nasser Al-Ghawi will not be permitted to return to the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah for 15 days, police determined Thursday, after he was detained in connection with a clash with settlers in occupied East Jerusalem.  The youngster was initially detained for interrogation after being attacked by a group of seven settlers in the flashpoint Jerusalem neighborhood. His nose was broken and he sustained bruises to the face.

Israeli Occupation Set Up Roadblocks In Jenin
The Israeli army erected, on Friday afternoon, a roadblock at the entrance of the town of ‘Aja, south of Jenin, and hindered the movement of palestinian citizens.

Soldiers Install Roadblocks In Hebron
The Israeli soldiers installed, on Friday morning, several roadblocks at the main entrances leading to the southern West Bank city of Hebron, searched Palestinian vehicles and inspected the ID cards of residents.

Finland urges Israel to ease Gaza blockade
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Finland’s foreign affairs minister on Thursday called for Israel to open its crossings with the Gaza Strip.  Alexander Stubb arrived in Gaza via the Erez crossing for a brief trip during which he visited homes destroyed in Israel’s 2008 assault.  The visit marks the fourth time an official EU delegation has visited the besieged enclave, following Norway, Sweden and Ireland.

Israel allows 20 new cars into Gaza
GAZA (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities will allow 20 cars to enter Gaza on Thursday via the southern Kerem Shalom crossing, a Palestinian liaison official said.  Raed Fattouh said approximately 220 to 230 truckloads of goods for the commercial, agricultural and transportation sectors would enter through the same crossing, as well as limited quantities of domestic gas and industrial diesel.

Gaza tunnels used to export goods
The network of tunnels in Gaza, long used to import life-saving goods, are being repurposed to export material to Egypt.

Without Water, There is No Life,  ZIAD ABBAS
Since I started working at Middle East Children’s Alliance, the MAIA Project to bring clean water to the children of Palestine has become closest to my heart. All of our projects are important for people in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, but the MAIA Project is connected to my history and my family. It takes me back to the days when I struggled with my family to bring clean water to our house so we could drink, cook and, sometimes, have a shower. My mother, sisters and I would carry gallons of water in heavy containers on our heads. Providing this essential for our family made my mother physically strong, her arms and shoulders shaped by her efforts, but her health suffered greatly. Much work and time is required to achieve the basic necessity of clean water. I still remember the weight of the water and the great responsibility on our necks and backs everyday.

Racism and Discrimination

Poll: 36% of Jews want to revoke Arabs’ voting rights
While few Israeli Jews say they are nationalistic, many favor anti-democratic values, survey finds.,7340,L-3969831,00.html

Kahane’s vision for loyalty oath was not so different than Barak’s
Late extremist rabbi proposed every non-Jew wishing to become a naturalized Israeli would have to pledge to ‘the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.’

Settler-style thugs operating inside Israel, Jesse Bacon
One after another, the parallels to fascism pile up in Israel, like the sticks (which is what the root of Fascism means) on a fire. Now a town in Israel has adopted perhaps the most visible feature of many a dictatorship: paramilitary police. The settlers have long functioned in this role in the Occupied Territories, but in the borderless Israeli occupation such methods do not stay contained. What’s more the mission of the militia sounds uncomfortably like the thousands of “sundown towns” of American racism, keep ethnically-defined “outsiders” out of a town with the threat of violence.


10 Palestinians injured in Silwan clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Ten Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets and dozens inhaled tear gas during clashes with Israeli forces after noon prayers Friday in the Al-Bustan area of Silwan in East Jerusalem.  Fatah official Hatem Abdul Qader and Sheikh Ikrima Sabri were among those who inhaled gas. He told Ma’an that forces threw the gas canisters at worshipers without cause.  Abdul Qader also claimed the gas affected muscles differently than the usual kind.

A woman is injured and two youth are arrested in renewed clashes in Silwan
Clashes between local Palestinian youth and IOF soldiers erupted again on Thursday evening in the Silwan suburb to the south of the Aqsa Mosque in the holy city.

3 Palestinians injured in clashes in Silwan
Three Palestinians were injured including a 35-year-old woman in clashes between young men and Israeli forces Thursday in the Silwan area south of Jerusalem., Jawad Seyam, head of Wadi Helwa Information Center, said that “Israeli soldiers violently and harshly beat Abdallah Gheith, 17, and Mohammad Maher Abed Al-Wahed, 19, before arresting them.

Shooting in “buffer zone,” air strikes across Gaza
Israeli snipers shot a Palestinian boy collecting scrap building material in the northern Gaza Strip yesterday. The shooting follows several air strikes across the Gaza Strip, injuring a total of eight Palestinians, according to medical sources.


Fayyad sends letter to imprisoned child
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Prime Minister Salam Fayyad sent a letter to an imprisoned child Thursday.  The letter, to Sayel Abu Queider of Hebron, who was detained in September, came as part of a new letter-writing initiative launched by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs to improve communication with prisoners.

Detainees in Nafha prison Attacked by Israeli Military
Detainees in Nafha prison reported to the ‘Wa’ed’ society for detainees and ex-detainees that Israeli military invaded, on Friday afternoon, the Nafha prison and attacked detainees.

Israel’s Arab Helpers

Hamas: PA arrested 1,000 party members last month
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas said Thursday that Palestinian Authority security forces arrested 1,008 party members in September.  “It’s clear that the arrest campaign being waged by the Palestinian Authority did not exclude anyone and did take into consideration the circumstances and titles of the people being arrested, whether they were former detainees from Israeli jails, university professors, teachers, or members of city councils and other categories.”

National campaign wants immediate halt of torture in Abbas’s jails in W. Bank
The National campaign for the defense of kidnapped Palestinian citizens in the PA jails in the West Bank has expressed anxiety over the continued torturing of kidnapped Palestinian activists.

Hamas leaders banned from entering Egypt
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Egyptian authorities will prevent a number of Hamas leaders from traveling through the country en route to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj.  Hamas officials told Ma’an that among the leaders prohibited from accessing Egypt are lawmaker Salah Al-Bardawil and spokesmen Sami Abu Zuhri and Fawzi Barhoum.

Political Developments

Dismay, disillusionment prevail in Palestinian camp
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Oct 15 (Reuters) – The stalemate in direct peace talks with Israel risks undermining the moderate Palestinian leadership and should force world powers to reassess their Middle East strategy, senior Palestinian officials say.  The U.S.-brokered negotiations kicked off in Washington last month, but stalled less than 4 weeks later after Israel refused to extend a freeze on settlement building in the occupied West Bank, prompting the Palestinians to refuse to carry on talking.

Abbas: We’ll never sign deal demanding recognition of Israel as Jewish state
‘PA recognized Israel’s existence in 1993, and now Israel needs to recognize the Palestinian state in line with the 1967 borders,’ Abbas tells left-wing Mk’s in Ramallah.

Abbas: No choice but 2 states
President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that the Ramallah-based government had yet to rule out the 2-state solution to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination., “We fully support the 2-state solution, a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders living side by side with Israel in peace, security and stability,” Abbas said after meeting with Finland’s President Tarja Halonen.

Fatah: Netanyahu is politically bankrupt
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conditions for negotiations demonstrate his government’s “political bankruptcy,” a Fatah spokesman said Thursday.  Ahmad Assaf said Israeli violations against Palestinians and their land, and the racist laws passed by the Israeli government, would not weaken the resolve of Palestinians to achieve peace.  Further, Fatah’s determination to establish an independent Palestinian state would not change, Assaf added.

War Crimes

Turks accuse Israel of war crimes at ICC
Complaint filed with International Criminal Court accuses Israel of war crimes including torture, inhuman treatment during IDF raid on Gaza-bound flotilla last May. ICC’s jurisdiction unclear.,7340,L-3969639,00.html

Families of Gaza flotilla victims accuse Israel of war crimes in The Hague
Delegation representing 300 activists files complaint over Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla which left 9 activists dead.

Army chief to testify again before Israel flotilla probe (AFP)
AFP – Israel’s armed forces chief Gabi Ashkenazi was on Thursday asked to testify for a second time before an Israeli committee probing the navy’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, a spokesman said.*

Israel Raid on Gaza Flotilla: US Failure to Condemn Despite UN Findings
If Iran had attacked a humanitarian flotilla in international waters and killed 9 people, there would be certain retaliation from Washington. Until our government stands up to the powerful Israel lobby in the United States, the Palestinian people, and our own humanity, will continue to be held hostage.

Other News

J’lem unfazed by US stuttering over ‘Jewish state’
Sources close to PM note that Obama told UN: ‘Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people’.  State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley’s difficulty on Tuesday answering with a simple yes or no as to whether the US recognizes Israel as a Jewish state is no cause for concern, since Israel knows full well where Washington stands on the issue, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said Thursday.

ADL lists top 10 anti-Israel groups in U.S.
Jewish Voice for Peace included on list, drafted based on groups’ ability to organize events, attract supporters, form relationships with like-minded groups.

Ex-President Carter to start Mideast peace tour (Reuters)
Reuters – Former President Jimmy Carter will start a tour of the Middle East on Saturday to build support for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.*

Accepting ADL award, Murdoch decries ‘ongoing war against Jews’
Media magnate accuses Leftists of spurring anti-Semitism under the guise of legitimate criticism of Israel.

‘Rabbis committed to Torah, not democracy’
Elon Moreh’s Elyakim Levanon says rabbis don’t have privilege of keeping opinions to themselves, even if opinions are contradictory to values of democracy.,7340,L-3969307,00.html

Margalit Har-Shefi to be exonerated?
Right, left-wing politicians in uproar over request to reverse conviction of Yigal Amir’s accomplice.,7340,L-3969827,00.html


Intellectual Healing At The Freedom Theatre, Palestine Monitor
At Jenin’s Freedom Theatre, the guiding principle is to use art as resistance. As Nabil Al-Raee, director and acting instructor says, “theatre can open the minds of people, it can make them free from the occupation mindset.” This is the message the theatre wants to send to Jenin, Palestine and the world.

Watching ‘Budrus’ in Gaza, Jared Malsin
I just got back from a screening in Gaza of Budrus, Julia Bacha’s film about grassroots resistance against the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of the same name. Some 100 people, Palestinians and a few foreigners, came to the screening in the courtyard of the French Cultural Center.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest“The Elders” in the Middle East, As’ad Abukhalil

I received an announcement that a group who call themselves “Elders” are going on a fact finding mission to the Middle East.  The group includes the lousy Jimmy Carter (whose proudest achievement (Camp David) is one of the worst US foreign policy legacies in our region), and the most lousy AlAkhdar Al-Ibrahimi.  The lousy work of Ibrahimi (who spent his last working years as a mere tool of the Bush administration) can still be felt in Iraq and Afghanistan.  If you read about Iraq under US occupation, you realize how much Ibrahimi assisted the American occupation of the country.
Michael Oren’s Rhetorical Erasure of 1948 Palestinians, Alex Kane
Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren’s column in today’s New York Times is part of what the Zionist project has attempted to do for the last 60-plus years: erase the Palestinian narrative out of existence and deny that the Nakba ever occured.

Letter from an Israeli (Birmingham) Jail, Dallas Darling
If Martin Luther King would have been a Palestinian, I sometimes wonder how Israeli authorities would have treated him. This came to mind again when it was reported that an Israeli military court sentenced Palestinian nonviolence activist Abdullah Abu Rahmeh to one year in prison. Evidently, the military tribunal found him guilty of “incitement” and for organizing illegal protests. It also fined him $1,400, a stiff penalty for someone who lost over half of his farmland to land seized by Israeli settlement programs.

Postcard From Palestine, Christopher Hayes
HEBRON.  The first thing you notice when you drive into Hebron is the lack of cars. Since 1997 this second-largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, the only one with an Israeli settlement in its midst, has been formally divided. Within the Israeli section, which takes up much of the historic downtown, Palestinians are not allowed to drive, so they walk or use donkey carts. When people are ill or injured, they are carried to the hospital. It is not surprising, therefore, that many of the 30,000 Palestinians who once lived here have moved out. According to a 2007 report from Israeli human rights organizations, more than 1,000 Palestinian housing units in the area have been left vacant, and more than 75 percent of the businesses in the central district have closed. A handful of shops remain open; a cluster or two of children play in the street. But that’s it. The streets are buried under the heaviness of an ominous quiet. Periodically, buses rumble past bringing settlers to and from the adjoining settlement, Kiryat Arba, and Israel proper. In the absence of routine urban noise, their engines sound like gunshots.

Victims of our Visions: Asa Winstanley on the Kibbutzim, Max Ajl
The idea of the kibbutzim was beguiling to many socialist Jews looking at different ways of living in the world: agricultural communes, the seeds of the new society germinating in the interstices of the old, and all that saccharine stuff. The anarchist publisher AK Press recently put out a book by James Horrox entitled, A Living Revolution: Anarchism in the Kibbutz Movement. It was very positively reviewed by Keith Kahn-Harris in the Forward (not a shock). Curious to see what exactly Horrox had to say, I had been thinking of reading it. Asa Winstanley has convinced me that it may not be worth it. In a review essay originally published in the New Left Project, Winstanley dissects the Utopian visions of the founders of the kibbutzim by sharply reminding us that they were nearly uniformly racist institutions, unprincipled and opportunistic in their purportedly socialist commitments, and far too frequently built on illegitimately bought or stolen land.

Jewish, “democratic”, and racist as a matter of habit, Yaniv Reich
The big story at the moment is the forthcoming law that would require all non-Jews, who want to become Israeli citizens, to make a loyalty oath to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state. Although revealing in the insecurity of identity and purpose that motivates it, it really is just one more law (among at least 30) that forces the ideology and privilege of Jews, as an ethnic group, over (and very frequently against) the status of other ethnic groups in Israel.  This bill is a problem and I encourage readers to click through some of the following commentaries for important criticism (e.g. here, here, here, and here).
My Oath to Israel’s “Jewish Democracy”, Jonathan Cook
In all likelihood, I will be one of the very first non-Jews expected to swear loyalty to Israel as an ideology rather than as a state.  Until now, naturalising residents, like the country’s soldiers, pledged an oath to Israel and its laws. That is the situation in most countries. But soon, if the Israeli parliament passes a bill being advanced by the government, aspiring citizens will instead be required to uphold the Zionist majority’s presumption that Israel is a “Jewish and democratic state”.

My Oath to Israel’s “Jewish Democracy”

The ATFP Is “Proud And Honored” Hillary Is The Keynote Speaker At This Year’s Gala
Despicable Arabs lacking any self-respect are always “proud and honored” when an American politician agrees to attend one of their events.  Clinton is a pro-Israel, anti-Arab, politician that has adopted all of AIPAC’s views.  That won’t be a problem for the folks at the ATFP.  They have also befriended AIPAC lately, and adopted many of its views themselves.  Hillary is a cheap and fraudulent politician whose knowledge of the Middle East doesn’t extend beyond the traditional, pro-Zionist narrative, and standard American talking points.   She is likely to reiterate the “strong US desire for peace.”   She will also engage in some blathering about a “two-state solution.”

A Handful of Washington Arabs (WA WA’s): Our Community’s Collective “Wa Wa”
The ATFP clique in Washington has still not responded to the revelation (see below) that one of its own board members has a lucrative and ongoing business relationship with the Israeli army.  The ATFP also appears to be very fond of Yasser Abd Rabbo whose smug face is currently featured on the front page of their website.  Arab-American “activists” are required to be impressed with pro-Israel, pro-American “leaders” in the Arab world.   What is clear is that the ATFP does not represent any grassroots Palestinians in the US unless you want to count the one (does he even live in the US?) doing business with the Israeli army, the PNA does not represent the Palestinian people, the ADC does not represent Arab-Americans,  Jim Zogby and the AAI do not represent the Arab community, and all the Kings, Queens, Ambassadors, and oil-Sheiks representing pro-American tyrannies invited to attend the events, banquets, and galas organized in Washington by these individuals and groups do not represent anyone in the Arab world.

Israeli Policies are Manifestly Evil: Philip Giraldi
Philip Giraldi joined me in an exclusive interview to discuss the latest developments of the Middle East, the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the possibility of a peaceful compromise between Iran and the United States and the impact of Israeli lobby on the long-term policies of the White House.

Slate and Orientalist trash
Slate, like many other liberal-minded publications and websites in the US,  suspend its liberalism when it comes to Muslims and Arabs.  Look at this trash (the person she sites is a well-known pro-Hariri right-winger, by the way, who supported the candidate who received a whopping 1% of the Shi`ite vote in the last election):  “”In Arabic poetry and in the Quran, camels are one of the greatest gifts, because they are a means of survival,” Lokman Slim told me. “So it is an honor to sacrifice them for a guest.” Or, he added, you could cynically interpret their slaughter as representing the bodies of Rafik and Saad Hariri—one assassinated physically, the latter politically.  As I got into a taxi, I saw the camels’ bright red blood running into the gutter and heard the click of a camera shutter as people took photos to commemorate the moment.”  Of course, the reporter knows neither Arabic or Persian but she talks to right-wingers and taxi driver.  Long live Western journalism.


Hezbollah’s gift for Ahmadinejad: An Israeli rifle (AP)
AP – The leader of Hezbollah gave Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a unique gift to cap off his two-day trip to Lebanon — an Israeli assault rifle captured during the militant group’s 2006 war with the Jewish state.*

Southern Lebanese give hero’s welcome to ‘Nejad’
BINT JBEIL: They have been waiting for over three hours in the broiling sun. Tens of thousands heave and sway, shouting and sweating in equal measure as music pumped through giant speaker stacks struggles to maintain feverish levels of anticipation.

Ahmadinejad speaks in rebuilt Lebanese town near Israel
Iran’s president travels to within miles of archrival Israel and delivers a pointed if typical speech to tens of thousands of supporters, most of them backers of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah militia.  Iran’s controversial president on Thursday traveled to within a few miles of his nation’s archrival Israel and delivered a pointed if typical speech to tens of thousands of supporters, most of them backers of Lebanon’s Shiite Muslim Hezbollah militia.,0,7878076.story

Ahmadinejad tells Israelis their country is doomed
BEIRUT: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday Israel was doomed to perish as he addressed thousands of supporters of Hizbullah at a rally in Bint Jbeil, just four kilometers from the Israeli border.   Ahmadinejad’s tour in south Lebanon drew sharp criticism from the US and Israel as tensions ran high on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Speech:  Ahmadinejad in Bint Jbeil and Qana: Lebanese Are United, Steadfast, Victorious

Iran leader in Lebanon’s Hezbollah stronghold
In a rare and controversial visit to south Lebanon where he received a hero’s welcome, Iran’s president praised the people’s resistance to Israel. Speaking just a few hundred meters from Israel’s border, Ahmedinejad told Hezbollah, the Lebanese group that fought two wars with Israel, that “the people of Iran will support you forever.” But some Lebanese officials considered Ahmedinejad’s visit a sign that Iran is interfering in the country’s affairs to pursue its own agenda. Zeina Khodr reports from south Lebanon. [October 15, 2010]

In Ahmadinejad’s Lebanon Visit, the Ruins of Bush’s Mideast Doctrine, Tony Karon
As Israeli bombs killed hundreds of Lebanese in the summer of 2006, then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the people of Lebanon that they were simply experiencing “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.” That new Middle East was on view during the two-day visit to Lebanon this week by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — and it looks nothing like the vision pursued by the Bush Administration’s military-driven strategy of dividing the region into “moderate” and “radical” camps locked in a fight to the finish.,8599,2025713,00.html#ixzz12RE6Xwz2

Ahmadinajad in Lebanon, As;ad Abukhalil
So Robert Worth said:  “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran arrived here on Wednesday morning and was given an ecstatic welcome by supporters of Hezbollah, the militant Shiite movement his country backs.”  What is inaccurate is the suggestion that only supporters of Hizbullah welcomed him to Lebanon.  In fact, the Amal Movement has also been enthusiastically welcoming him to Lebanon too: I am now watching him live on TV give a speech in Qana.  And the affair in Qana has been officiated by the Amal Movement.  (By the way, people don’t know that Iran also financially supports the Amal Movement).   But the popular support and enthusiasm for Ahmadinajad among Shi`ites is genuine and sincere and it has–to a degree–surprised me a bit particularly because the man has no charisma or oratorical skills.   Of course, every article on the visit has to mention the slaughter of the sheep.  If they were slaughtered in honor of a Zionist leader, they would have not been mentioned, or would have mentioned with admiration and glee.  Spare me Orientalist cliches and focuses.

A Small Shove Back,   By RANNIE AMIRI
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first state visit to Lebanon elicited a schizophrenic reaction among Lebanese.  An ecstatic reception awaited him along Beirut’s airport highway Wednesday as his motorcade drove toward Baabda presidential palace to meet President Michel Suleiman.  With great fanfare, Iranian flags, balloons sporting its green, white and red colors, thrown flower petals, and greetings shouted in Farsi by mostly Shia Lebanese welcomed him to the city—a remarkable sight in an Arab capital. It likely left allies of Lebanon’s ruling, Western-backed March 14 Coalition in Amman, Cairo and Riyadh bewildered.


Baghdad roadside bomb kills 4, wounds senior politician
Iraqi officials say a roadside bomb has hit a senior politician’s convoy, killing four people and wounding six others, including the politician. Police and hospital officials say Thursday’s blast struck the car of Abdel-Karim al-Mohammadawi, a prominent member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance, while he was traveling through southeast Baghdad.

Thursday: 8 Iraqis Killed, 24 Wounded
The U.S. military has released an Iraqi casualty tally that likely lead to more acrimonious debate over the true extent of deaths the country has suffered. Meanwhile, at least eight Iraqis were killed and 24 more were wounded in today’s violence.
Lies, damned lies, and US statistics: 77,000 Iraqis killed over 5 years
A new US military tally puts the death toll of Iraqi civilians and security forces in the bloodiest years of the war thousands below Iraqi government figures.

Syria offers Maliki a life jacket
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s visit to Damascus repairs ties strained by his accusation that Syria harbored Ba’athists responsible for last year’s massive bombings in Baghdad. Maliki has likely reasoned that Syrian support lends him the legitimacy he needs among Sunnis and Kurds to stay in power and end the country’s seven-month post-election stalemate. – Sami Moubayed (Oct 15, ’10)

U.S. Other Mideast/World News

WikiLeaks says funding has been blocked after government blacklisting
Founder Julian Assange hits out at decision by Moneybookers, which collects the whistleblowing website’s donations.

“War on terror” psychologist gets giant no-bid contract
The Army earlier this year steered a $31 million contract to a psychologist whose work formed the psychological underpinnings of the Bush administration’s torture program.

Justice Department clears FBI in imam shooting
No federal crimes were broken when four FBI agents killed a Detroit mosque leader during a raid last year, according to a U.S. Justice Department report released Wednesday.

Keeping Christians in Mideast ‘Islamic duty’: Muslim leader (AFP)
AFP – Christian presence in the Middle East is a “necessity” and keeping Christians there is “an Islamic duty”, the secretary of the Lebanese national committee for Muslim-Christian dialogue said Thursday.*

Denmark Denies Apologising For Mohammad Cartoons
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark’s foreign minister denied Thursday that she had apologised on a Middle East trip for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, initially published by a Danish newspaper in 2005, that angered many Muslims.

French Woman on Trial For “Burqa Assault”
PARIS (Reuters) – A French woman accused of ripping off the full face veil of an Emirati tourist and biting and scratching her when she put it back on faced prosecution demands for a two-month suspended prison sentence on Thursday.

Magda Abu-Fadil: Egyptian Clampdown on Press Freedom Gaining Pace
“The ‘free speech’ spring in Egypt is nearing its end,” headlined a report in Lebanese daily An-Nahar in describing the sacking of noted controversial media figures critical of the regime ahead of legislative elections in November.

AN ATOL EXCLUSIVE : Pakistan frees Taliban commander
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s commander in Afghanistan who was arrested in Pakistan in February, has been set free. Asia Times Online has learned that Baradar has been reunited with his Taliban “family”, and that he has been earmarked to play a key role in backchannel talks through the Pakistani army with Washington. – Syed Saleem Shahzad (Oct 15, ’10)

New Columbia U. Palestine Center gets a shingle and bupkus

Oct 15, 2010

Philip Weiss

Good reporting at the Forward, by Joy Resmovits, on Columbia U. opening a new Center for Palestine Studies. No funding for it, though note the appearance of filmmaker James Schamus, who is Jewish, near the end of the story. I wonder why the Forward did not call Columbia alum Robert Kraft, who gives a ton of money to Jewish causes and to dialogue causes, and ask why he isn’t ponying.

The piece contains in the negative the shadow possibility (which I sense even at AIPAC with its blind generosity), that two Jewish American traditions, rachmones (or compassion) and wealth, might actually at last be turned like a spigot on the only critical-moral real-world object of Jewish attention, the Palestinians, whom we have done so much to dispossess, dishonor and disfigure. I believe naively and faithfully, that some day that will happen, because the Schamus’s are defeating the Foxman’s, slowly.

“We have absolutely no money,” Rashid Khalidi, the center’s co-director, told a packed audience at the launch event, attended, among others, by some notable supporters from the campus Jewish community. The center is now funded through Columbia’s Middle East Institute. In an interview, Khalidi, Columbia’s Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies and Literature, expounded on his hopes for the center. “We’d like to have post-docs, be able to bring students here from Palestinian universities and fund research,” he said. “I’d like to give Palestinian universities the sense that they’re not so isolated.”

But he added, “It would be nice to have money for programming and ultimately have money for an endowment, but that’s very difficult.”

An historian of the Middle East and leader of the project, Khalidi is co-directing the center with Columbia University anthropologist Brinkley Messick.

Unlike Israel Studies, which has expanded rapidly with support from wealthy Jewish donors, “Palestine studies” as an autonomous field of research has no ready-made set of foundations and donors to back it…

Schamus said he became involved in the center’s formation when a group of Columbia faculty felt the sting of the earlier campus polarization. “There was a real assault on fundamental academic freedoms a few years ago. That really galvanized a lot of faculty,” Schamus told the Forward after the event. He cited the highly publicized film “Columbia Unbecoming,” which advanced the anti-Semitism charges, later refused, against Professor Joseph Massad, and to the high-profile tenure case of anthropologist Nadia Abu El-Haj at Barnard.

Schamus said the center’s launch marked a new moment of civility for Middle East dialogue on Columbia’s campus. “The failure of those assaults has made everyone — no matter what their political opinions — much more sensitive to the value of open and courteous dialogue, and has given real impetus to the establishment of the center, the first ever of its kind in North America,” Schamus said.

Uncle Sam = Jim Crow

Oct 15, 2010

Philip Weiss

This website is necessary because there is a crisis in Israel and Palestine in which the U.S. is implicated, and American Jews as well. Writes a friend from occupied East Jerusalem:

Did whites in Jim Crow country call blacks “ANIMAL” to their faces? A soldier said that to me, in Arabic, today. To be humiliatedfor no good reason…

Spade, duck, fowl, apartheid, ghetto

Oct 15, 2010

Eva Smagacz

 Lets talk about spades.

Did you know that  saying “calling a spade a spade” may have originated as an early response to political correctness? When “black as an ace of spades” was a saying in use, it was describing a black person by his/her skin colour.  It was also stating the obvious. 

Now lets pinch this delightful comment  from 2006 from the commenter on Daniel Pipes blog: ” Look like a duck – walk like a duck – quack like a duck – call it fowl”

About 800,000 copies of latest The Economist will distribute in North America. Subscribers will read, among the other news and opinion, this description of Israel’s city of Lod or Lydda:

” NOT long ago, Lod, an Israeli city near the commercial hub of Tel Aviv, was a sleepy backwater. Its 20,000 Arabs among 45,000 Jews peppered their Arabic with Hebraisms, voted for Jewish parties, and described themselves as Israeli. The Arab population, drastically reduced in the 1948 war that marked Israel’s birth, has revived, exceeding its previous total.

But the calm has been disturbed. This month Israel’s leaders have taken their demand that the world—and the Palestinians—should recognise their state as specifically Jewish in exchange for a renewed freeze on building Jewish settlements in the West Bank, to Lod. Cabinet members have proposed “strengthening” the city’s population by bringing in more Jews (…)

Liberal Israelis fear that these measures may import the Arab-Israeli conflict, which had been largely confined to the territories occupied by Israel beyond the 1948 partition line, into Israel proper. Adding to the psychological barriers, the Lod authorities have erected physical ones. This year they have finished building a wall three metres high to separate Lod’s Jewish districts from its Arab ones. And where the Arab suburbs are cordoned off to prevent their spread, Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, encourages building for Jews to proceed with abandon.

By contrast, old Arab houses are under threat of demolition. Now and again, bulldozers demolish a couple, stressing Arab vulnerability. A study by a liberal Israeli group called Shatil (“Seedling”) estimates that 70% of Arab homes in Lod lack legal status. Many municipal services, such as street lighting and rubbish collection, stop at the boundaries of Arab suburbs. Sixteen kilometres (ten miles) from Tel Aviv, Israel’s richest city, sewage flows through some of Lod’s Arab streets.

Once mixed districts are separating. Ramat Eshkol, a housing estate built for Jewish immigrants in the ruins of Lod’s old Arab city, bulldozed after the 1948 war, is today a squalid slum, housing mostly Arabs. Piles of rubbish make it grimier than refugee camps in Gaza, the blockaded Palestinian territory 35km to the south. Gangs cruise the streets. The local community centre has been shut for the best part of a decade, says its last employee: the Jewish Agency, a welfare organisation, does not want it “overrun with Arabs”.

(…) Lod’s 120-strong police is Muslim-free.”

How many will call Duck a Duck and Spade a Spade? How many will call it Fowl and “an implement to manually move the earth from one geographic position to another?”

When you lose Yglesias…

Oct 15, 2010

Philip Weiss

Another striking paragraph below from Matt Yglesias, who’s clearly not buying the Fayyad magic, observing that he has “no democratic legitimacy.” Yglesias has come a long way since this (the idea of expelling Palestinians) and this (his tweeted desire to have an “I’m Jewish too!” sticker to wear in Israel). He has lately made the case against the hateful sentencing of nonviolent protest leader Abdallah Abu Rahme, pleading with the “Progressive Except Palestine” community to pay attention and stop calling for the (omnipresent) Palestinian Gandhi’s. (Thanks to Rahim for this.)

Inside the Bubble by Matthew Yglesias:

But the Ramallah bubble is truly a bubble. Fayyad’s achievements come either as gifts from Israel (in terms of reduced checkpoints and road closures) or from the U.S. and Europe in the form of money used to underwrite a massive growth in the state apparatus. He has no democratic legitimacy and has no way to deliver sustainable economic gains under the current circumstances of the occupation. Politically aware Palestinians understand what’s happening all too well: More than one described him as a tool of the occupation rather than a leader of the Palestinian people. Nonviolent resistance organizers observed that Fayyad’s strategy is predicated on engaging in essentially no resistance of any form. His economic-development strategy amounts to running a tight ship in terms of personal corruption, plus begging for scraps from Israel and America, which severely constrains his political options in a way that utterly destroys his credibility.

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