Al-Hamdulilah– ‘Judaic Studies’ at Univ at Albany to host the great Amira Hass next month

Al-Hamdulilah– ‘Judaic Studies’ at Univ at Albany to host the great Amira Hass next month

Oct 16, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Memo to Obama: Settlers torch cars, torch olive trees, and release wild boar that breaks 57-year-old Palestinian farmer’s legs

Oct 16, 2010


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers / Land, property and resource theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel begins expanding settlements in Jenin
Israel began large-scale digging works on Saturday in preparation for the expansion of an illegal settlement in the northern West Bank district of Jenin. Residents of the Ya’bad village, on which the Shaqed settlement is built, said bulldozers entered on Saturday and began razing village land to make way for several new housing units.
Israeli settlers begin new settlement expansion outside Jenin
…The Jenin-area settlements are particularly controversial due to their proximity to Palestinian cities and towns deep inside the West Bank, areas which were supposed to be under complete Palestinian control since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 … Local witnesses report that construction has also begun in nearby settlements including Shaqed, Rehan, Hinnanit, Mevo Dotan. and Hermesh.
Settler press conference and clash in Sheikh Jarrah
Thursday illegal settlers of the Umm Haroun Compound of Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem gave a press conference about their plans for the upcoming year. The Settlers’ Organization stated that they plan to build two new blocks of settlements and a holy tourist park of biblical archeology on the Palestinian owned land of East Jerusalem. The organization’s website has a one-year-plan on how to remove the Palestinian people from Umm Haroun.
Settlers caught on camera torching cars
Three Israeli settlers were caught on security cameras setting fire to two Palestinian cars in the village of Qusra in the northern Nablus district overnight Saturday … The footage captured by Hamdan’s home security surveillance also show settlers writing “death to you” on his doorstep after the settlers drove up to his home in a Peugeot, fleeing the scene after the arson.
Settlers torch olive groves in northern West Bank
Firefighters were called to a Qalqiliya village on Friday after settlers torched Palestinian olive groves, a civil defense spokesman said. Mohammad Amer said residents of the illegal Gevat Gilad outpost prevented fire engines from reaching Far’ata village. He added that tens of thousands of shekels of damage was caused in part due to the delay.
Awarta man suffers broken legs after settler pig attack
Farmer Ismael Awad, 57, is recovering in Raffidya hospital, south of Nablus, after a wild boar attacked him in his olive fields yesterday, breaking both of his legs. The animals are believed to have been released from the nearby Itamar settlement. Such attacks are becoming increasingly common.
The burning report / Adam Keller
The testimony of A., a Palestinian farmer from the village of Far’ata telling of what happened to his olive grove yesterday morning, was written down by peace activist David Nir, who spends much of his time monitoring the situation in the Nablus Area. On the morning of Friday, October 15, A. And his family were harvesting olives on a plot near the built-up area of Far’ata. At 10.30 he was alerted to smoke rising from his other olive grove, which is near the “Gile’ad’s Farm” settler outpost.
Amnesty: Settlements threaten human rights
Illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank threaten Palestinian human rights, Amnesty International’s regional deputy director Philip Luther said Friday … AI said Israel’s “land grab and dissection” of occupied Palestinian territories had a “devastating impact” on the lives of Palestinians, noting that 40 percent of the West Bank had been classified by Israel as “state” land, which was often used for settlements. In East Jerusalem, 35 percent of the occupied land was confiscated for settlements, while more than 250,000 Palestinians are designated only 13 percent of the occupied area.
PA condemns Jerusalem plan
The Palestinian Authority on Friday condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approval of tenders for over 200 settlement homes in occupied East Jerusalem. President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman told the official PA news agency WAFA that the approval undermines the peace process’s credibility. Nabil Abu Rdeina called upon the international community to pressure Israel to halt settlement activities, warning that failure of the peace process would inflame an indefinite cycle of violence in the Middle East.
Israel settlement building surges as US pushes for a new freeze
Israeli settlement monitors estimate that construction has begun on 500 new units — nearly one-quarter of the number for all of 2008 — as settlers try to make up for lost time … The freeze is also having an unintended consequence: building in the West Bank is slowly shifting from large settlements near Israel’s border to smaller far-flung settlements that Israel is expected to evacuate if a peace deal is reached. n the rush to build both before and after the 10-month moratorium, settler construction has surged on medium- and small-sized projects overseen by ideologically driven builders. Those require less bureaucracy than large-scale building.

Israel orders removal of East Jerusalem protest tent (AFP)
Jerusalem city council is threatening to expel a Palestinian and raze his home if he does not remove a protest tent from a strife-torn district on the city’s eastern side, locals said on Friday. Residents in Silwan told AFP that city officials had delivered a “demolition order” late on Thursday, ordering the removal of a tent set up to protest against municipal plans to level 22 homes to make way for a new tourism park.
Druze: Natural pool drying up due to Mekorot pumping
Golan residents call on government to limit pumping of water for irrigation from ‘Ram Pool; say 20 tons of fish died — Thousands of Druze from the northern Golan Heights marched to Berekhat Ram (Ram Pool) on Friday in protest against the increased water pumping at the crater lake, which is located near the villages Majdal Shams and Mas’ade.,7340,L-3969926,00.html
’60 Minutes’ set to look into colonized E. Jerusalem / Philip Weiss
[Tomorrow, Sunday], [CBS TV’s] “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 … 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.
Activism / Solidarity
Detained protest leader’s daughters join Bil’in rally
The daughters of imprisoned protest leader Abdallah Abu Rahmah joined the weekly anti-wall rally in Bil’in on Friday to demand the release of their father. Abu Rahmah’s daughters Luma, 7, and Laian, 5, marched to the separation wall carrying photographs of their father. An Israeli military court on Monday sentenced Abu Rahmah to 12 months in prison and ordered him to pay a 5,000 shekel fine for organizing and participating in anti-wall protests.
Weekly demonstration report
FRIDAY October 15, 2010 — Yesterday the village of An Nabi Saleh was transformed into a war zone, with Palestinian villagers and about fifteen International Peace activists trapped within the village behind a checkpoint for five-and-a-half hours. Soldiers shot at these non-violent activists with live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas cannons, and sound bombs. One Palestinian man was shot twice in the leg, and several children needed medical treatment from exposure to teargas inside their homes …[Also: report on Al-Ma`asara]
Undercover special forces attack the unarmed demonstration in Nabi Saleh
(with video) Undercover soldiers from the Army’s special forces unit, Duvdevan, attacked the demonstration [today] in Nabi Saleh as it was coming to an end. Four were arrested and four were injured.
Activist: Forces ban students, farmers from olive harvest
A human rights activist said Israeli forces banned farmers and students from access to a field for the olive harvest on Saturday in the illegal Hebron settlement of Tel Rumeida. Issa Amr said dozens of students joined farmers to assist in the olive harvest but were stopped by Israeli forces who denied them access to the field “at gun point.” The troops then declared the area a closed military zone, he added.
International aid convoy to Gaza due to sail this Sunday
LONDON — October 15 — A ship loaded with vehicles and aid for Gaza is due to leave Syria for Egypt this Sunday, carrying members of Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK. The ship will pass the exact place in international waters where Israel boarded the Mavi Marmara in May and killed nine Turkish humanitarians on board as they attempted to sail to Gaza to deliver aid. Those on board the ship, including 40 survivors of the Mavi Marmara attack, will throw a wreath into the sea to commemorate those killed by Israeli troops.
Danish game show winner donates 1  million krone to hospitalized Palestinian children
Denmark’s former foreign minister, whose game-show winnings will be donated to the Peres Center for Peace, stressed yesterday that the contribution was not made in honor of President Shimon Peres … The money will be used to cover the expenses of Palestinian children hospitalized in Israeli facilities. The two game-show winners are former Danish foreign minister Lykketoft and television journalist Martin Krasnik, who also participate on an international affairs television program together.
German firm helps Israel cement occupation with light rail / Adri Nieuwhof
Last month, the German company TÜV NORD Group announced that it will test the technical safety of the first line of the controversial Jerusalem light rail project that critics say is being built in violation of Palestinian rights. The light rail project will connect West Jerusalem with several illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and is expected to enter into operation next spring.
Siege / Restriction of movement / Human rights / Humanitarian
Water crisis in Palestine is worsening / Nora Barrows-Friedman
…For Palestinians under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and in Palestinian-Bedouin communities inside Israel itself, water has historically been a precious commodity especially in the summer months – which can stretch, like this year’s, for over five months – because of the ongoing resource theft of groundwater tables by the Israeli state and the economic blockade the government continues against the people in Gaza.
Oxfam: Israeli policies damaging to the Palestinian olive oil industry
The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza are seriously harming Palestinian olive oil production which contributes up to US$100 million annually for some of the most underprivileged Palestinian families, the international NGO Oxfam said in a report on Friday. The report, entitled, “The Road to Olive Farming: Challenges to developing the economy of olive oil in the West Bank,” blames Israel for restricting access to land and olive tree farms.
Tunnel workers hospitalized after inhaling solvent
Six tunnel workers were hospitalized on Saturday after inhaling paint thinner as they transferred goods inside a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah, a medical spokesman said.
Arab agricultural experts tour Gaza Strip
A delegation of Arab agriculture experts toured the Gaza Strip on Saturday to check up on projects funded by a $10 million grant delivered during its visit shortly after Operation Cast Lead last winter … The delegation met with Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh and agriculture minister Ramadan Al-Agha, and spoke with fishermen and farmers affected both by Israel’s siege and its devastating assault last year, which brought the sector to near collapse.
Gaza restrictions an obstacle to peace: Elders (AFP)
A delegation of the Elders group of retired world figures on Saturday visited the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and called Israeli restrictions on the Palestinian enclave both illegal and an obstacle to peace. “Mary Robinson, Ela Bhatt and Lakhdar Brahimi say the isolation of Gaza is not only illegal collective punishment, but also an impediment to peace,” a statement from the group said after they spent the day in the enclave.
The IDF kills 1 Palestinian civilian every two days, on average, with impunity / 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.
Chas Freeman on Muslim death toll and its emotional/political consequences
Chas Freeman gave a speech at Tufts yesterday. Paul Woodward picked it up. “Consider, for example, the two sides of the Israel-Palestine struggle. So far in this century – since September 29, 2000, when Ariel Sharon marched into the Al Aqsa mosque and ignited the Intifada of that name, about 850 Israeli Jews have died at the hands of Palestinians, 125 or so of them children. That’s equivalent to 45,000 dead Americans, including about 6,800 children. It’s a level of mayhem we Americans cannot begin to understand. But, over the same period, Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed 6,600 or so Palestinians, at least 1,315 of whom were children. In American terms, that’s equivalent to 460,000 U.S. dead, including 95,000 children. Meanwhile, the American equivalent of almost 500,000 Israelis and 2.9 million Palestinians have been injured. To put it mildly, the human experiences these figures enumerate are not conducive to peace or goodwill among men and women in the Holy Land or anywhere with emotional ties to them.

Night clashes erupt in Jerusalem Shu’fat camp, dozens wounded
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Dozens of Palestinians sustained breathing difficulties after inhaling tear gas during clashes that erupted Friday night between Palestinian youths and Israeli occupation forces in the vicinity of a military checkpoint near the Shu’fat refugee camp in central Jerusalem. Locals reported that violent clashes broke out when the youths hurled stones and empty bottles at the IOF soldiers stationed at a provocative checkpoint located at the camp’s entrance.
Palestinian detainees organize hunger strike
Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails are organizing a prison-wide hunger strike to protest poor conditions, the head of a detainees committee said Friday. In a letter sent from his cell, Yehya Sinwar said the strike would be called the Al-Furqan battle … Fifty detainees from various prisons would participate in the strike in the first week, and a further 100 would join in the second week, Sinwar said.
Hamas confirms Shalit swap talks have resumed
Hamas previously denied reports German mediator visited Gaza Strip two weeks ago in bid to resume talks; Hamas official Abu Marzuq says Hamas still holding on to prior demands.
Top Shalit activist: Say yes to Hamas
As reports surface about a recent visit by German Mediator Gerhard Konrad to Gaza, the top Shalit campaign activist says Israel should accept Hamas’ demands to secure Gilad Shalit’s release. “To my regret, here in Israel we are constantly preoccupied with thinking how Hamas will respond to a deal where 1,000 people are released for our Gilad,” Shalit campaign manager Shimshon Libman. “Our strength as a nation is to say yes to Hamas; our one person is as important as your 1,000 people.,7340,L-3970093,00.html
Israel’s Arab helpers
Hamas accuse Egypt of planning hajj travel ban
GAZA CITY (AFP) – Hamas on Friday accused Cairo of planning to bar a number of the Palestinian Islamist movement’s leaders from crossing into Egypt on their way to the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. “A senior Egyptian official informed a Hamas official in Gaza about a list of Hamas leaders who are to be banned from travelling, including Salah Bardawil, Sami Abu Zuhri and myself, without explaining why,” said Fawzi Barhum, a spokesman for Gaza’s Hamas rulers … But Egyptian security sources denied any such ban was in place, telling AFP that Hamas leaders had yet to request permits to travel via Egypt, despite an official request for a list of names.;_ylc=X3oDMTEwNnJjbmxvBF9TAzIwMjM4Mjc1MjQEZW1haWxJZAMxMjg3MTYzODM5
AOHR accuses PA security of torturing families of slain resistance fighters
LONDON, (PIC)– The Arab organization for human rights (AOHR) in Britain accused the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatuses of harassing and torturing families of slain resistance fighters Nashat Al-Karmi and Mamoun Al-Natsha and demanded their immediate release … AOHR noted that about 400 members of Natsha family were arrested by the PA security apparatuses. The same thing happened to the family of Nashat Al-Karmi whose members were arrested, tortured and humiliated.
Hamas: PA referred 40 affiliates to military courts
Hamas accused the Palestinian Authority of referring 40 party supporters from the northern Nablus district to military courts, which have in turn delayed hearings until next month, a statement issued Saturday read. The Islamist movement further said the use of torture against party affiliates in Jericho prison had intensified and that the PA continued to bar detainees in Hebron from family visits.
Hamas calls for dismissal of US security coordinator
Hamas on Friday called for the dismissal of recently appointed US security coordinator for the West Bank Michael Moeller, and said security coordination with Israel was a crime … In a statement, Hamas reiterated its demand to reform security forces according to “ethics which prohibit security coordination and integration with the enemy.” Security should protect Palestinian land, its residents and resistance, Hamas said.
War crimes
Israeli navy examines ways to avoid repeating Gaza flotilla mistakes
While the Turkel committee continues its investigation of the Gaza flotilla affair, Israel’s navy has already drawn operational conclusions from the altercation at sea last May and is mulling how to avoid the same pitfalls. One change being considered by the navy is to purchase equipment that will help it board vessels while minimizing harm to soldiers.
‘Israel must apologize for Gaza flotilla or remain isolated in Mideast’
Turkish PM Erdogan slams U.S. for supporting ‘state terrorism of Israel against Turkey,’ says Turkey, Iran and Pakistan have a common future.
Political developments
US ‘disappointed’ by approval of new settlement construction
Philip Crowley: Israel approving tenders for construction in East Jerusalem is contrary to efforts to resume peace talks.
France to Israel: Reconsider Jerusalem construction
Paris joins Washington in expression of ‘deep disappointment’ over decision to issue bids for 240 housing units in neighborhoods located beyond Green Line,7340,L-3970117,00.html
Arab states: World must put an end to ‘Israeli arrogance’
57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference condemns Israel for renewing settlement construction in East Jerusalem, says it’s a ‘provocative step intended to sabotage peace process.’ [these are not all ‘Arab’ states]
Fatah official: Palestinians have options
Palestinian leaders still have options despite the crisis in negotiations, Fatah Central Committee member Mohammed Shtayyeh said Friday … Palestinian leaders would explore all avenues, he said, including approaching the UN Security Council and the International Courts of Justice to recognize a Palestinian state. Shtayyeh said another option was to increase the financial cost to Israel of occupying Palestinian land. Israel was obstructing peace talks because continuing the occupation served Israeli economic interests, he said. “We import 86 percent of our imports from Israel, and we export to it 64 percent. The Palestinian territories are the landfill for Israeli goods. The total domestic product of settlements reaches $4-5 billion annually in addition to water resources,” he said. Meanwhile, it cost Israel nothing to occupy Palestinian land, he added.
Radwan: the security issue will dominate Damascus meeting
GAZA, (PIC) — Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan stated that the next meeting between his Movement and Fatah faction in Syria will focus on the security file which is considered the most important outstanding issue between the two parties.
Zahhar: Hamas wants ties with Arab world
Hamas is interested in developing special relations with neighboring Arab countries, particularly Egypt, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar said Saturday … Tensions between Hamas and Egypt have remained high since Cairo announced it would be constructing a subterranean wall to thwart smuggling through the Gaza-Egypt border’s tunnel complex.
Other news
UNRWA director meets with donors over latest strike
UNRWA’s West Bank director met Friday with representatives of donor countries in East Jerusalem to discuss the latest employee strike action over pay … West Bank UNRWA employees announced the strike on Thursday and have been taking similar action over pay since May.
New Columbia U. Palestine Center gets a shingle and bupkus / 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.
Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
Time to stick it again to the Arabs / Gideon Levy
Underneath everything is hatred – hatred and contempt for Arabs. The ideology of the right has been dead for some time, nothing of its former glory remains; primeval emotions are now its true driving force. This is what is behind the right wing’s nationalist laws and its so-called “peace.” Lurking beneath all the unpretty words are not just political considerations, but a lack of any systematic ideas – only dark and dangerous instincts. [See also last article in this list]
‘NYT’/Bronner push the legality of settlements / Norman Finkelstein
In today’s New York Times, Ethan Bronner writes that the United States AND JAPAN consider the settlements legal. I checked with the Japanese Embassy, which proceeded to check with the Japanese government. It got back to me a few minutes later [on Friday afternoon]: Of course it’s a lie: the Japanese government considers the settlements illegal. Poor Bronner, sitting in his Jerusalem office, calling up every consulate in the phone book starting with the A’s trying to find just one other country that considers the settlements as legal. He gets to the J’s, calls Japan, and you know how polite the Japanese are…
Deconstructing Israeli media distortions / Ira Chernus
It’s a rather ordinary, run-of-the-mill piece of Israeli government propaganda – an op-ed in The New York Times, October 14, by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Precisely because it is so typical, it’s a fine specimen to deconstruct, to see how Israeli propaganda works … Oren leaves no doubt where all the blame for the continuing conflict lies: “The core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the refusal to recognize Jews as a people, indigenous to the region and endowed with the right to self-government.”
The State of Bla-Bla-Bla / Uri Avnery
…one may well ask: what is the source of this obsession, this demand from near and far, strangers and non-strangers, to declare that Israel is the “Nation-State of the Jewish People”? … What do we have here? What is the reason for this gaping lack of self-confidence? This obsessive need for confirmation and for the respect of the entire world? A collective mental disturbance? A matter for political psychologists, or perhaps for political psychiatrists? I CANNOT abstain from comparing this pathetic need to our mood when I was young.

US supports Taliban talks; still opposing Hamas?? / Helena Cobban
So here are Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and SecDef Bob Gates now saying they support– and are giving active support to– the Afghan government’s initiative to negotiate with the Taliban. But the U.S. government continues to completely oppose any attempt by any parties, Palestinian or other, to reach out and deal with the Hamas government that, lest we forget, was democratically elected in Palestine in January 2006. How does that work again? And why?
Video (2008): Birthright Israel (Taglit) World’s biggest militaristic project for youth
The tide has changed / Ramzy Baroud
If one tried to fit music compositions into an equivalent literary style, Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble’s latest release would come across as a most engaging political essay: persuasive, argumentative, rational, original, imaginative and always unfailingly accessible. But unlike the rigid politicking of politicians and increasingly Machiavellian style of today’s political essayists – so brazen they no longer hide behind illusory moral façades – the band’s latest work is also unapologetically humanistic.
Twilight Zone: Cause for celebration / Gideon Levy
At a recent wedding in the Jenin refugee camp, Apache helicopters are replaced by twinkling stars, IDF tanks by trucks filled with plastic chairs and musical instruments. The massive Zubeidi family celebration shows clearly how times have changed
Friday: 5 Iraqis killed, 5 wounded
…at least five Iraqis were killed and five more were wounded in light prayer day violence. Also, Shi’ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani suffered a heart attack. Criticism of the latest Iraqi casualty estimate has come quickly. The new figure, released by the U.S. military yesterday, came under attack from Iraqi politicians who feel the tally is too low. One former parliamentarian even warns that civilians killed in U.S. operations could have been left out of the numbers, while another politician suggested the deaths were purposefully undercounted.
OPEC considers adding Iraq to quota system
…Abdalla El-Badri said the decision on when to bring Iraq’s output within Opec constraints would be up to the 12 member states and was unlikely to arise before 2013 or 2014. But he said Iraq’s current status, where it is exempt from Opec quotas while still being a full member of the club, would certainly change.
Iraqi police and army officers targeted in new wave of violence
A wave of targeted attacks on soldiers, police, traffic officers and senior officials is steadily picking off the custodians of Iraq’s streets at rates that are nearing the darkest days of the insurgency, according to security commanders.
Iraqi PM seeks neighbors’ support to stay in power (AP)
BAGHDAD — An adviser says Iraq’s Prime Minister will travel to Iran and Jordan to seek support for his bid to win a second term more than seven months after national elections.
Other Mideast
Hariri to Ahmadinejad: Lebanon won’t join axis
Lebanese daily says prime minister rejected Iranian leader’s offer to join regional axis due to ‘coexistence formula’; Hariri also quoted as saying, ‘Confronting Israel requires high-level economic capabilities’,7340,L-3969992,00.html
On the road with Ahmadinejad in Lebanon / Franklin Lamb
…A grateful nation extended to Makmoud Ahmadinejad what one Bishop claimed was the greatest outpouring of popular support on the streets, all along this country’s sectarian divide, that the Republic of Lebanon has ever witnessed including the May 10, 1997 visit of Pope John Paul II. An important reason for the outpouring of popular support was the quarter century of Iranian assistance to Lebanon for social projects, and for rebuilding much of Lebanon following the 1993, 1996 and 2006 Israeli aggressions.
AlJazeera video: Jordan’s bedouin ‘desert forces’
Throughout Jordan’s harshest deserts, bedouin security forces working for the government have been a key part to the country’s security for decades … Riding on camels in extreme weather conditions, the nomads have a rare capability and familiarity to manoeuvre through the rugged and rough terrain. Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Wadi Rum in southern Jordan, where she followed a group of the desert forces on patrol.
Iranian speaker calls for use of all diplomatic leverages to pressure Israel
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani asked the international community to use all diplomatic channels and potentials in an effort to force the Zionist regime to end its cruel behavior towards the oppressed Palestinian people.
Ex-Guantanamo Al-Qaeda suspect surrenders to Saudi authorities (AFP)
RIYADH: A former Guantanamo detainee who rejoined Al-Qaeda in Yemen after graduating from Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation program has turned himself in to Saudi authorities, the government said on Friday … In total, 11 of 117 Saudi Guantanamo returnees returned to militancy after completing the rehab program, according to a top Saudi counter-terror official. Several have been killed or captured.
Afghanistan / Pakistan
Court martial for US soldier
A US soldier who allegedly killed three Afghan civilians for fun will face a full court martial. Jeremy Morlock, one of the group of 12 accused soldiers, faces charges of premeditated murder, military authorities said Friday.
Afghanistan: Little relief for growing number of conflict IDPs (IRIN)
KABUL, 14 Oct – Over 100,000 people have been forced out of their homes by clashes in different parts of Afghanistan over the past 12 months but by no means all of them have received aid, according to aid agencies and affected people.  The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says civilians are trapped in a difficult environment: “One armed group may demand food and shelter in the evening and an opposing side demand justification for harbouring an enemy in the morning,” ICRC spokesman Bijan Frederic Farnoudi told IRIN.
‘Lack of facts’ disturbs Petraeus
US general says enhanced video of rescue bid prompted change in explanation for UK aid worker’s death in Afghanistan.
Charging of Australian soldiers for Afghan crimes provokes frenzied reaction
An unprecedented controversy has erupted in Australia over the charging of three special forces’ commandos on September 29 for the killing of five children in Afghanistan in early 2009.
Pakistan frees Taliban commander
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has freed the supreme commander of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, so that he can play a pivotal role in backchannel talks through the Pakistani army with Washington, Asia Times Online has learned.
Where is Pakistan’s ‘Halo’, Beyonce?
…this past summer, the worst natural disaster in recent history – with its destruction and human-suffering surpassing the destruction caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, 2005 Kashmir Earthquake and the recent Haiti Earthquake combined – occurred, in Pakistan, with massive post-monsoon floods displacing over 20 million citizens and destroying anything and everything in their way – from 17 million acres of cropland, upon which thousands if not millions are reliant for sustenance, to complete villages … Yet … the international response has been unabashedly silent, forced and, at best, slow.
U.S. and other world news
Iran welcomes Ashton offer for resumption of nuclear talks (AFP)
Jalili: ‘Any other option [than dialogue] is a mistake’ –BRUSSELS: Long-stalled talks between world powers and Iran over its controversial nuclear program look set to resume after Tehran on Friday welcomed an offer to get back to the negotiating table next month.
America’s Trail of Tears: Tracing the fall and rise of the Cherokee in Tennessee
[‘Transfer, anyone?] Already pushed inland by the arrival of colonial Europeans, the fate of the tribes who occupied the fertile soil of what is now the Deep South took a terrible turn in 1830. The Indian Removal Act, pushed through by then-president Andrew Jackson, started a decade-long process that saw the ejection of Native Americans from the lands east of the Mississippi (the modern states of Tennessee and Georgia especially), and their transfer to less coveted terrain further west (in particular modern Oklahoma).
Subpoenas rescinded for antiwar activists raided by FBI
Federal investigators have rescinded grand jury subpoenas issued to the 14 antiwar activists whose homes and offices the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided on September 24 in Minneapolis and Chicago. Whether or not the cancellation of the subpoenas signals that the government is dropping its case is not yet clear.
NY man charged for fake tip on terrorism threat (Reuters)
A New York man has been charged with lying to FBI agents about a fake terrorism plot in the United States, U.S. authorities said on Friday.
US to Iran: Help us against Al-Qaeda
Daniel Benjamin, the counterterrorism coordinator at the US State Department, charged that al-Qaeda’s headquarters in Pakistan’s Waziristan, close to the border with Afghanistan, is involved in plots to strike Europe. In an interview with the London-based Arab-language newspaper al-Hayat, he said that American officials are aware that al-Qaeda activists are passing through Iran. The senior US official urged officials in Tehran to detain them.,7340,L-3970082,00.html
Injustice in the age of Obama / Cindy Sheehan
Barack Obama, a former law professor, should have a healthy respect for civil liberties, but his actions suggest not — Since being the defendant in about six trials after I was arrested for protesting the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, it’s my experience that the police lie. Period. However the lies don’t stop at street law enforcement level … Having clarified that, I would now like to examine a case that should be enshrined in the travesty of the US Justice Hall of Shame. In February of this year, Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani mother of three, was convicted in US Federal (kangaroo) Court of seven counts, including two counts of “attempted murder of an American.”
What’s it all about? The war on terror / Paul Craig Roberts
…Most Americans believe that their government is the best on earth, that it is morally motivated to help others and to do good, that it rushes aid to countries where there is famine and natural catastrophes. Most believe that their presidents tell the truth, except about their sexual affairs. The persistence of these delusions is extraordinary in the face of daily headlines that report US government bullying of, and interference with, virtually every country on earth.
Islam in the West
Dutch court urged to acquit Wilders
Prosecutors want anti-immigration politician cleared of charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.
Rightist leader: German multiculturalism dead
German politician says country’s values only drawn from Judeo-Christian tradition, not Islam,7340,L-3970098,00.html
Charges against Islamic center are an affront to entire Muslim community
[Letter to the Boston Globe from leaders of a predominantly Pakistani mosque defending the Boston mosque repeatedly attacked by certain groups who have called the Pakistani mosque ‘moderate’. Why is the ISBCC the mosque attacked, and not the Turkish or Indian or African-American mosques in the Boston area? One reason: the ISBCC is seen as the ‘Arab’ mosque.] …We have noted the vendetta waged by this group against the ISBCC for some time, but had hoped that the good will being engendered with other large Christian and Jewish groups would help to diminish their vitriol. Clearly, as this has not been the case, we now openly declare our solidarity with the ISBCC and consider any attacks against it as a denigration of the entire Muslim community.

Neocon says that Khalidi aims to establish Haram-al-Sharif at Columbia U

Oct 16, 2010

Philip Weiss 

This is repulsive. Martin Kramer, whose blog is appropriately titled the Sandbox, is upset by the new Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University and has posted a Columbia campus map showing the Noble Sanctuary (in Arabic, the Haram-al-Sharif, for Jews the Temple Mount), as part of the Columbia campus. He says that establishing the Haram at Columbia is the “ambition” of Rashid Khalidi and other proponents of the new center. Hard to say which is larger, the stupidity or the Islamophobia.


Brzezinski: Obama ‘pathetic’ in dealing with Israel (Right; why?)

Oct 16, 2010

Philip Weiss 

This is good. David Ignatius of Washington Post quotes Brzezinski and Skowcroft on the failure of the Obama administration. (h/t annie). Note implicit reference to Israel lobby.

The two men cited the Israel-Palestinian peace process as Obama’s most important unfinished business. Both have argued often that the president should have started by outlining the basic parameters for a Palestinian state, as they have emerged in negotiations over the past 40 years. 

Brzezinski contended that it was “pathetic” to see the United States making big concessions to Israel this month — ones that should be reserved for a final “grand bargain” — simply to add another 60 days to a temporary freeze on Israeli settlements. If the peace process should collapse, Scowcroft argued that it still would make sense for Obama to specify the terms of a U.S. peace plan.

What perplexed both men was the disconnect between Obama’s strategic vision and what he has been able to achieve. “He makes dramatic presidential speeches,” said Brzezinski, “but it’s never translated into a process in which good ideas become strategies.” One complication, both noted, was a process of “subcontracting,” in which major policy areas such as Middle East negotiations and Afghanistan-Pakistan have been handed over to special representatives.


Neocon threatens withdrawal of ‘Dem Donor$’ if Obama pressures Netanyahu

Oct 16, 2010

Philip Weiss 

This is important. Michael Goldfarb is a promising young neocon, I believe at the Weekly Standard. The picture at the top of his twitter feed shows him standing with Norman Podhoretz or Bibi Netanyahu. Actually I think it is Netanyahu. My eyes are going.

Yesterday on twitter, Goldfarb tweeted and linked to a Politico piece saying that Obama is about to put public pressure on Netanyahu over settlements for the first time in a long time. Goldfarb scoffed:

I’m sure endangered Dems are super grateful for WH threat to attack Israel two weeks out from an election…..

Matt Duss of Thinkprogress responded to Goldfarb: “Yeah, because that’s what the American people really are worried about right now. Israel.”

Goldfarb responded: “don’t worry — we plan on putting our $$ where our mouths are….”

Duss: “Whose money?”

Goldfarb: “pro-Israel $$$….and you care about israel, i care about israel–why you think other people don’t?”

Duss: “Of course, but we both know the US calling on Israel to honor its commitments is not really going to swing any races.”

Goldfarb: “Disagree! Lots of voters care about Israel — Jews and Christians. And Dem donor$….a lot of them care about Israel too.”

Duss: “Did John Mearsheimer steal Goldfarb’s twitter password?”

Goldfarb: “Accusing people who care about Israel of divided loyalties is not cool.”

Duss: “That’s called cognitive dissonance. It’s what happens when you’ve been caught making an argument you’ve called anti-Semitic.”

The exchange is significant of a few things. One is the alacrity with which neocons threaten financial blackmail when they don’t like an argument. For instance, the publication of Walt and Mearsheimer’s paper on the Israel lobby resulted in a lot of financial pressure on Harvard, where Walt works. Including from a rabbi there who I talked to for the Nation.

Just as important, notice that Goldfarb, who works inside the Republican fold by and large, claims to speak for Democratic Party donors. And well he can. The Israel lobby is not about party. Dennis Ross can work for Republican and Democratic administrations because he represents the Israel lobby. Alan Dershowitz is now supporting his former student in an Illinois congressional race even though he is a Republican, because of the Israel issue.

Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz both left the Democratic Party for the Republican Party over Israel in the ’70s. Michael Walzer supported Nixon during impeachment because he’d helped Israel. And some Israel lobby types flipped back to Clinton from Bush during the 90s because Bush had gone after Shamir on settlements. Party loyalty is less important than loyalty to Israel, as Goldfarb demonstrates. 

‘NYT’/Bronner push the legality of settlements

Oct 16, 2010

Norman Finkelstein 

In today’s New York Times, Ethan Bronner writes that the United States AND JAPAN consider the settlements legal.

The United States and Japan take no stand on the settlements’ legality, according to spokesmen of their embassies in Israel, although they oppose them on policy grounds.

I checked with the Japanese Embassy, which proceeded to check with the Japanese government. It got back to me a few minutes later [on Friday afternoon]: Of course it’s a lie: the Japanese government considers the settlements illegal. Poor Bronner, sitting in his Jerusalem office, calling up every consulate in the phone book starting with the A’s trying to find just one other country that considers the settlements as legal. He gets to the J’s, calls Japan, and you know how polite the Japanese are. So, Bronner probably pleads, “Don’t you agree with the United States that the settlements are legal, although OF COURSE they are an obstacle to peace?”

And the Japanese are just too considerate to hurt Bronner’s feelings, so they say, “Well, yes, they are an obstacle to peace.” Bronner, thrilled that he’s finally found ONE other country that agrees (sort of) with the U.S. (even if the U.S. judge on the ICJ [International Court of Justice], Thomas Buergenthal, agreed with the other 14 judges on the court that the settlements are illegal) rushes into print that the U.S. AND JAPAN say the settlements are legal.

But it ain’t so Ethan. You’ll just have to go back to the phone book and start ringing up more embassies. Here’s a hint: you might have better luck with the N’s, as in…Nauru. By the way, Ethan, when you issue the correction, you might also mention that according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the settlements are not just illegal but a WAR CRIME. So every time your son protects a settlement, he’s an accessory to a war crime.

Annie’s awakenings

Oct 16, 2010


Weiss asked annie, who often posts here, how she came to the Israel/Palestine issue:

well, my i/p connection came about strickly because of my introduction to the internet. in 2003, i was heading off to thailand/india/europe w/ my son and wanted a cheap way to contact people back home and heard email addresses were free so i got one thru which we already had because my son was on the internet. then i took a little class at the neighborhood community center in ballard (seattle) which was attended by mostly people over 70 because everyone else in seattle was already on the internet.

so, in class i found the msn homepage and typed my name in the search to find my email account. imagine my surprise when my gallery appeared with photos of my art on it. i was in shock. i already had an internet presence. within a matter of days my friend told me i could read the nyt online (because i was a news junkie, but only seattle times and seattle post intelligencer or local papers wherever i was on the planet. i don’t get my news from tv). that first day upon learning i could read the nyt for free i discovered paul krugman. a little googling of his name landed me on atrios (blogger) who linked to billmon. my first day on the internet!

it was thru reading billmon and other linked blogs/commenters ravenously those next few years israel first came into my radar. it was thru those blogs i first was linked to mondoweiss. i blogged about the iraq war for years. it was cheney and the neocons and their attention towards all things israel that put israel on my map along w/billmon and some jewish/arab posters at that site. i didn’t even know who what where palestine was before any of that.

i knew nothing, that’s how quiet israel was in my world for most of my life. when i was a teen i heard about the kibbutzes and thought it would be so cool to go live on one. i had no idea there was another people there. when i finally got to israel/gaza/WB w/code pink (the trip i introduced myself to you in the basement of that hotel in gaza, you probably don’t remember) was actually the first time on that trip, if you can believe this, i ever actually grokked there were as many palestinians in is/palestine as there were jews. i thought they were a minority before that.

Kafka on Jewish insecurity

Oct 16, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Excerpt of a May 1920 letter from Franz Kafka, 36, to Milena Jesenska, 24, a Catholic writer married to a Jew, and likely Kafka’s lover:

You don’t seem to be afraid of Jews. And that is rather heroic considering the last two generations of Jews in our cities and—all joking very far aside!—when a pure, innocent girl says to her relatives, “Let me go,” and moves to one of these cities, it means more than Joan of Arc departing from her village.

Furthermore you may reproach Jews for their particular type of anxiety, nevertheless such a general accusation shows a more theoretical knowledge of human nature than a practical one, more theoretical because first the reproach does not—according to your earlier description—apply to your husband, second—according to my experience—it does not apply to most Jews, and third it only applies in isolated cases, but then very strongly, as it does to me.

The strangest thing of all is that the reproach is generally unfounded. Their insecure position, insecure within themselves, insecure among people, would above all explain why Jews believe they possess only whatever they hold in their hands or grip between their teeth, that furthermore only tangible possessions give them a right to live, and that finally they will never again acquire what they once have lost—which swims happily away from them, gone forever. Jews are threatened by dangers from the most improbable sides or, to be more precise, let’s leave the dangers aside and say: ‘They are threatened by threats.’ An example close to you.

It’s true I may have promised not to speak about it (at a time when I scarcely knew you) but now I mention it without hesitation, as it won’t tell you anything new, just show you the love of relatives, and I won’t mention names and details since I have forgotten them. My youngest sister is supposed to marry a Czech, a Christian; once he was talking with one of your relatives about his intention of marrying a Jew, and this person said: “Anything but that, just don’t go getting mixed up with Jews! Listen, our Milena, etc.”

Kafka wrote the letter in Merano, Italy, to Jesenska in Vienna. Published here. No copy of Jesenska’s letter, to which Kafka was responding, survives.

Jesenska’s father had sought to block her marriage to Ernst Pollak, even committing her to a sanatorium (per Philip Boehm here); but she had eloped from Prague to Vienna with Pollak. 

The trend of Jews moving to the big central European cities from the shtetls and then succeeding in business was very familiar to Kafka from his own father’s progress. And of course, Kafka feared/chronicled anti-Semitism. Two statements from his letters and diaries:

“From early on [Jews] have forced upon Germany things that she might have arrived at slowly and in her own way, but which she was opposed to because they stemmed from strangers. What a terribly barren preoccupation anti-Semitism is, everything that goes with it, and Germany owes that to her Jews.”

“At times I’d like to stuff them all, simply as Jews (me included) into, say, the drawer of the laundry chest. Next I’d wait, open the drawer a little to see if they’ve suffocated, and if not, shut the drawer again and keep doing this to the end.”

Jesenska died in a Nazi concentration camp, as a member of the Czech resistance. Kafka’s three sisters also died in the Holocaust.

We live in dark times

Oct 16, 2010

Philip Weiss 

I ran into an old friend at a NY party the other night, wealthy, conservative, and we had a polite conversation about his interests: hedge funds, corporate boards, the internet and the endurance of print media.

Then another friend came along, and the conversation became more frank. The first guy suddenly said, “I’m buying a 30.06 rifle.”

“Why?” I said.

“It feels like all the rivets are popping off the system, I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

I said, “I think it’s because you’re in your mid-50s. People in their mid-50s think that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. It’s always true of people in their mid-50s.”

The third guy in the conversation agreed, but the first one shook his head. “OK but sometimes those people are right. Think what you’d have said in Germany in 1936. You’d have said, this doesn’t feel right, and you’d be right.”

The third guy then said, agreeing, “We live in dark times.”

The third guy’s comment got to me. I’ve always liked him. He’s rational, balanced, and connected; he has a keen understanding of power, he knows how to function in the establishment. I thought, what does he know, what does he think. And then the conversation segued into whether the U.S. was going to bomb Iran…

When I left, I thought about John Mearsheimer. Mearsheimer has a dark view of history. He can point to many large problems in history that got a lot worse before they got better, and the establishment drove the car off the cliff. His book on a leading English establishment military journalist of the 1930s says that the guy got German military strategy completely wrong and thereby damaged the English response to Hitler’s rise.

History is fragile, Mearsheimer writes in that book; and I guess that is why he is standing in the street today, banging pots about the Israel lobby and the Iraq war and the Iran war plans and America’s complicity in the occupation/apartheid. I always say everything’s going to work out in the end. Maybe I’m wrong.

Chas Freeman on Muslim death toll and its emotional/political consequences

Oct 16, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Chas Freeman gave a speech at Tufts yesterday. Paul Woodward picked it up.

Consider, for example, the two sides of the Israel-Palestine struggle. So far in this century – since September 29, 2000, when Ariel Sharon marched into the Al Aqsa mosque and ignited the Intifada of that name, about 850 Israeli Jews have died at the hands of Palestinians, 125 or so of them children. That’s equivalent to 45,000 dead Americans, including about 6,800 children. It’s a level of mayhem we Americans cannot begin to understand. But, over the same period, Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed 6,600 or so Palestinians, at least 1,315 of whom were children. In American terms, that’s equivalent to 460,000 U.S. dead, including 95,000 children.

Meanwhile, the American equivalent of almost 500,000 Israelis and 2.9 million Palestinians have been injured. To put it mildly, the human experiences these figures enumerate are not conducive to peace or goodwill among men and women in the Holy Land or anywhere with emotional ties to them.

We all know that events in the Holy Land have an impact far beyond it. American sympathy for Israel and kinship with Jewish settlers assure that Jewish deaths there arouse anti-Arab and anti-Muslim passions here, even as the toll on Palestinians is seldom, if ever, mentioned. But, among the world’s 340 million Arabs and 1.6 billion Muslims, all eyes are on the resistance of Palestinians to continuing ethnic cleansing and the American subsidies and political support for Israel that facilitates their suffering.

The chief planner of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, testified under oath that a primary purpose of that criminal assault on the United States was to focus “the American people . . . on the atrocities that America is committing by supporting Israel against the Palestinian people . . . .” The occupation and attempted pacification of other Muslim lands like Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the shocking hate speech about Islam that now pervades American politics lend credence to widening Muslim belief in a U.S. crusade against Islam and its believers.

No one knows how many Iraqis have died as a direct or indirect consequence of the U.S. invasion and the anarchy that followed it. Estimates range between a low of something over 100,000 to a high of well over 1 million. Translated to comparable proportions in the United States, that equates to somewhere between 1 and 13 million dead Americans. Over two-and-a-quarter million Iraqis fled to neighboring countries to escape this bloodbath. An equal number found shelter inside Iraq. Few Iraqis have been able to go back to Iraq or to return to their homes.

In our terms, that equals an apparently permanent flight to Canada and Mexico of 24 million Americans, with another 24 million driven into homelessness but, years later, still somewhere inside the country. I think you will agree that, had this kind of thing happened to Americans, religious scruples would not deter many of us from seeking revenge and reprisal against whoever had done it to us.

The numbers in Afghanistan aren’t quite as frightful but they make the same point. We’re accumulating a critical mass of enemies with personal as well as religious and nationalistic reasons to seek retribution against us. As our violence against foreign civilians has escalated, our enemies have multiplied. The logic of this progression is best understood anecdotally.

I am grateful to Bruce Fein (a noted constitutional scholar in Washington, DC) for calling attention to the colloquy of convicted Times Square car bomber Faisal Shahzad with United States District Judge Miriam Cederbaum. She challenged Shahzad’s self-description as a ‘Muslim soldier’ because his contemplated violence targeted civilians,

“Did you look around to see who they were?”

“Well, the people select the government,” Shahzad retorted. “We consider them all the same. The drones, when they hit …”

Cedarbaum interrupted: “Including the children?”

Shahzad countered: “Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It’s a war, and in war, they kill people. They’re killing all Muslims.”

Later, he added: “I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I’m avenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”

No amount of public diplomacy, no matter how cleverly conducted, can prevail over the bitterness of personal and collective experience.


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