Report from Israel: the occupation is the Stanley Milgram experiment, for American Jews

Oct 21, 2010

Philip Weiss 

At the beginning of the year I visited Israel and came back and wrote a post, Israel’s crisis. Last month I got back from my third trip to the country, and that sense is stronger. Israel is headed for the iceberg, as one Israeli friend put it. Its effort as a Jewish state to govern a population that is half-non-Jewish is unsustainable. Palestinians are everywhere oppressed in the occupied territories (and second-class citizens inside Israel). The awareness fills me with dread and a renewed commitment to the American conversation, and even feelings of blasted brotherhood with American Jews, who are the chief enablers of the oppression.

The most obvious thing about Israel and Palestine is that they are separate societies under one government’s control, and the worlds are starkly different. Israelis rush around in fancy cars, Mercedes SUVs and BMWs, and there are cranes all over West Jerusalem building towers, the Jews have plenty of opportunities (including to plop down implausible “art” on any street corner). Then cross into East Jerusalem and the people are humiliated and subject to incursion and arrest and the loss of houses and children. Resist those conditions, even protest them, and you can go to jail.

In Gaza the garbage burns in the streets a few miles from Israelis living suburban dreams. “There’s a stench in Gaza, and when I came into Israel it was so green, and I thought, yes who wouldn’t want to be living here instead?” a friend who works in the aid community in Gaza City told me.

That good Israeli quality of life is built on the backs of the Palestinians in several ways. Of course Israel carved its country out of Palestinian land. The Israeli use Palestinian land for cheap housing (the colonies), they get some cheap labor from the Palestinians. And they steal the Palestinians’ water. Traveling in that dry land, I thought about water all the time. (that narrow green streak slanting up from lower right is the mighty Jordan River, drained before it gets to the Allenby Bridge).  Israelis control the West Bank aquifers, under the land of the forever-projected Palestinian state, and suck as much of the water as they like, something like 80 percent of the water. Palestinian households are on rationed water and their farmers’ irrigation pipes are ripped out of the ground by settlers; and meantime you see black irrigation pipes snaking through the ostentatious gardens of Maale Adumim, the big settlement.

The whole scene really is that blatantly unfair. I read about this stuff in Seham’s digests all the time; but the shock for me was seeing it up close and realizing that Americans don’t get a fraction of the story. You are visiting a historic field of oppression, like the American south or South Africa, but the New York Times only occasionally talks about the occupation when it should be thundering forth about the conditions every day. On his visit to the States last spring, Ethan Bronner (who lives in an ethnically cleansed West Jerusalem neighborhood and whose son is in the Israeli army), told one questioner that he doesn’t harp on the occupation because you get used to anything. Well, I’ve met many people who have been there a lot longer than Bronner, and they have never gotten used to the conditions. Of course they are Palestinians.

More about those two societies. My last night in East Jerusalem I had to get cash to pay my room bill. Well, there is only one ATM in East Jerusalem and it is closed at night, but of course there are dozens of ATMs in West Jerusalem, open at all times. There must be hundreds in Tel Aviv. And this really is the largest apparent truth about Israel and Palestine: One is a flourishing European-style economy and the other is small, fragmented, choked. This truth mocks the Israeli insistence that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist before Israel negotiates with Hamas. As if the denial of Israel’s right to exist could really wipe Israel away. It exists. Denying its existence is like an angry ant walking by a bank and shaking his fist at the glass tower and saying, you have no right to exist (as James North once put it). Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader in Damascus, said words to this effect last May on Charlie Rose. Israel exists. Who can deny such a thing. Why should we have to recognize its existence, when we are being occupied, arrested, smashed and assassinated…

The conditions of Palestinian existence are often shocking. Every time I turned the corner I saw depredations on honorable people. Atta Jaber, his house destroyed five times by settlers who encircle him near Hebron; and who has come to his side? Only Rabbis for Human Rights and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. A disgrace. Or I met Jawad Siyam, in locked down Silwan on the night after a settlers’ security guard killed a man in the village; and the sense of fear and oppression and helplessness and political powerlessness that pervaded the village made my heart hurt; Siyam feels completely abandoned by politicians. And note that when I posted about Siyam, Angela posted a comment saying that

last year [I accompanied Siyam] to The Hill, to the J Street Conference and to the UN in New York. We gave 40 congressional briefings and 20 UN Security Council member states’ briefings. Did any evicted family gain re-entry? No. Has Silwan settler violence stopped? No. Has Bethlehem regained its water or farmland or had its closure ended? You gotta be joking. And did any of the congregation of the Upper West Side’s Beit Yeshurun Synagogue to whom we spoke – the first time they’d ever met or heard from Palestinians of East Jerusalem – did any of them DO anything after hearing of the trials and tribulations that contribute to Israeli insecurity?

When his village was locked down, believe me, Siyam was not calling B’nai Jeshurun and J Street. This is the crux of the tragedy. American Jews have been informed about these conditions again and again– by young Jews leaving birthright, by Jawad Siyam, by Breaking the Silence, by Elik Elhanan and Micha Kurz and Jeff Halper. And who is crying out, who is on the rooftops decrying these conditions? Only a few groups, Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No and American Jews for a Just Peace spring to mind (and yes Americans for Peace Now is doing good work against the settlements).

The general U.S. Jewish position is like the Stanley Milgram experiment, the famous Yale study in which paid research subjects were instructed by a researcher to apply higher and higher levels of shock to someone on the other side of a curtain every time he got an answer wrong on a test. And with increasing levels of shock that other subject– who wasn’t really a subject but a confederate of the researcher– howled louder and louder and passed out from pain. Still the students applied the shock. That is the American Jewish community. They hear the Palestinians screaming for 60 years but they have been told by an authority figure that the Palestinians deserve the shocks they are getting– because they are resisters, because they are terrorists, because they are animals, because they are violent, because their women cover themselves, because they live off the land, because they want their houses back, because they don’t have gay rights, because they read the Koran, because they want to return to their homes, because they elected Hamas… on and on the instructor justifies it with lies and bullshit, still the community cranks the dial and ignores the screams.

Israelis are more aware of it than American Jews. Their consciences are crying out. The Gideon Levys and Assaf Sharons and Jonathan Pollacks are denouncing the situation—and there are even artists in the Israel Museum talking about it. And of course the world too is developing awareness about the horror even as the American Jewish community is blinding itself.

My parents’ generation of ethnocentric American Jews loves Israel, and I need to come to terms with that in order to come out with my parents and their hidebound friends. In fact, I cannot go to Israel without admiring Zionism at some level. The ideology created a strong democracy for Jews, it gave shelter to the shattered culture of eastern Europe, it helped preserve a literary inheritance, it made a vibrant culture. I need to keep these achievements in mind if I’m going to speak to the Jewish community, which I aim to do, in blasted brotherhood. But that achievement was all for Jews, and at the expense of Palestinians. The great kibbutz movement that I was supposed to dance and sing about as a boy—no Palestinians need apply. Deir Yassin was a calculated effort to empty Jerusalem of Arabs. Zionism was all about nurturing Jews. And in that undying purified spirit they now have loyalty-oath fascists in the government and American Jews are knitting them scarves.

I have no doubt that the ruthlessly selfish political culture of Israel belongs to a different age. Young Americans, and young American Jews must make this clear. This militant racist society does not represent our values. And it doesn’t matter if it’s two states or twenty, unless Jews in power start to respect other peoples’ rights, we’re screwed. (Which is my secondary fear. That when the madness is exposed fully and plunges the United States into a worst mess or creates another explosion in the Middle East, Americans will wake up and blame the Jews.)

This is still a grass roots struggle. The political world is lost to fairness, corrupted by the traditional exercise by court Jews of gaining access to the powerful, the same thing Herzl did 110 years ago in the chambers of the Kaiser, the Sultan, and the Pope, waving bankers’ money. As a realist I wanted to accept the two-state solution and wash my hands of the situation. But Obama could never address the simple demands of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. And he stopped mentioning the occupation because Israel’s supporters don’t want him to, he can’t say, Enough stealing of land and persecution, take down the walls around Bethlehem and Jerusalem (and Gilo, the settlement in the background below). When he calls on the Arab nations to normalize relations with Israel, without addressing the injustices that make Arabs enraged, they simply laugh at him. I heard people scoffing at Obama’s call for normalization when I was in Jordan. Everywhere Arabs say that Obama has betrayed his promises of Cairo.

I agree that the Middle East is a tough neighborhood that is dominated by authoritarian governments and riven by ethnic tension. That doesn’t get Israel off the hook. It is oppressing half the population, on a racial basis, and American Jews are enabling the whole business. If we Jews have any desire to be a moral example to other people, as the tradition holds, we will accept our responsibility and power, throw ourselves into Palestinian solidarity work, listen to Palestinians describe their conditions, bear witness to those conditions, take on our elders, press boycott, shake Israelis from their lavish complacence, and help to build a society of fairness and equality that can lead the Middle East. The other way is just more darkness and screaming.

Tibi: American unwillingness to challenge inequality in Israel has gravely damaged its moral authority

Oct 21, 2010

Adam Horowitz 

Ahmed Tibi has a great op-ed in the International Herald Tribune today entitled The Other Citizens of Israel. Too bad it didn’t run the Times. It’s really worth reading the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

Is there no limit to what the American government will accept from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his hard-line foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman?

With Netanyahu’s backing, the Israeli cabinet voted in support of Lieberman’s loyalty oath for non-Jewish immigrants, which requires allegiance to a “Jewish and democratic state” of Israel. It was as if Mexican immigrants to the United States would have to swear allegiance to a United States that is white and Protestant, while immigrants from Europe would face no such oath.

In response to an international outcry, notwithstanding silence from American officials, Netanyahu has called for an amendment that would impose the oath on all immigrants, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.

But there is far more wrong with the loyalty oath than simply the original intent of applying it only to non-Jews. Swearing allegiance to an Israel that is Jewish and democratic is logically inconsistent and an attempt to relegate Palestinian citizens of Israel to inferior status.

Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise 20 percent of the population. The insistence of some Jewish leaders on the state being “Jewish” is a punch in the gut to Palestinians who for more than 60 years have struggled to achieve equal rights in Israel.

At a time when there are over 35 laws that discriminate against Palestinians, and with more working their way through the Knesset, it is long past time for Americans to ask their political leaders what their tax money is funding in Israel.

Tibi continues:

American mediators such as George Mitchell and Dennis Ross, rather than pushing the supremacist notion of a Jewish state, should be pressing Israel to provide equal rights and fair treatment to the Palestinian minority in its midst.

For instance, the Obama administration could insist the Israeli government allocate funds proportionately between Palestinian and Jewish citizens. Flagrant funding discrimination against Palestinians, particularly our students, sends the message that we are lesser citizens.

Eroding infrastructure in Palestinian communities is in urgent need of attention, but settlements get national resources while open sewage runs through some of our neighborhoods.

The international community could address our situation by calling on Israel to recognize us as a national minority. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress should invite Palestinian citizens of Israel to testify about the discrimination Palestinians face at the hands of this close American ally.

One reason American moral authority has fallen so far in this part of the world is that Arabs do not believe they are inferior to Jews. We are equals — or should be. And the unwillingness of the United States to push its Israeli ally to uphold the equality of all its citizens is not only a grave disappointment, but a strong reason to challenge the United States as the leader of the free world.

The United States will not be regarded as such a leader so long as it is content to back and encourage an Israeli leadership recklessly racing to enshrine the legal superiority of Jews over Palestinians.

To get a sense of what Tibi is referring to, check out this new report from Mada Al-Carmel: Arab Center for Applied Social Research, a think tank based in Haifa that “aims to enhance the human and national development of the Palestinians in Israel, advance the cause of democratic citizenship, and become a hub of knowledge and critical thinking about Palestinians in Israel, equal citizenship, and democracy.” They just issued their latest Political Monitoring Report on the situation of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Pmr10 Eng Final

Image and reality of Barack Obama’s Israel policy

Oct 21, 2010

Alex Kane 

PHOTO:  Agence France Presse

The photo shown above of an Israeli throwing a shoe at an image of Barack Obama perfectly captures the bizarre notion emanating from right-wing Zionist circles, both in the U.S. and in Israel, that President Obama is hostile to the State of Israel. In the U.S., neoconservative writers and commentators constantly push the meme that Obama is the most anti-Israel president the U.S. has ever seen.

Recently, journalists Edward Klein and Richard Chesnoff authored a five-part article titled “The Jewish Problem with Obama” that perfectly encapsulates the view that Obama is anti-Israel. The main point of the article, which mostly quotes right-leaning Zionists like Bret Stephens, Ed Koch and Marty Peretz, is that Obama has lost his once overwhelming support with Jewish voters because of his supposedly tough stance on Israel. The article cites his outreach to the Arab world, the short-lived spat over illegal settlements in East Jerusalem between Vice President Joe Biden and the Israeli government and the Obama administration’s endorsement of the “linkage” argument, which is the notion that the Israel/Palestine conflict contribues to anti-Americanism in the Middle East, bolsters terrorism and harms U.S. national security.

The journalists even go as far to suggest that Obama’s not just anti-Israel, but anti-Semitic:

The White House seemed strangely indifferent to the feelings of resentment that its treatment of Netanyahu aroused in the Jewish community. For shortly after Netanyahu returned to Israel, the president risked provoking even greater Jewish outrage by insinuating that American troops were dying in Iraq and Afghanistan because Israel refused to agree to peace with the Palestinians. The Israeli-Arab conflict “is costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasures,” the president said.

A perception began to spread throughout the Jewish community that the Obama administration was not only outwardly hostile to Israel, but perhaps, without even knowing it, hostile to Jews as well. This thesis was forcefully argued by Jonathan Kellerman, the best-selling suspense novelist and a professor clinical pediatric and psychology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine…

But like the Tea Party fantasy of Obama as a socialist who wants to redistribute wealth to America’s poor, the image of Obama as anti-Israel belies the reality of how Obama has been a staunch ally of Israel while it swallows up more Palestinian land and kills and injures Palestinians daily.

Rhetoric about settlements aside, the Obama administration has continued many of the Bush administration’s staunchly pro-Israel polices, like the adoption of a “West Bank first” approach of showering the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank with aid, international backing and training for security forces in an effort to isolate Hamas, which runs Gaza. This approach is fully backed by Israel, which has had a long-time policy of separating the West Bank from Gaza in an effort to preclude the possibility of a Palestinian state and keep the Palestinians isolated in Bantustan-like arrangements.

What’s more, the Obama administration has, in fact, bolstered U.S.-Israeli cooperation on a number of fronts. Matt Duss, a national security blogger at Think Progress’ Wonk Room, succintly laid out why the notion that Obama is anti-Israel is just plain wrong in a post yesterday:

…There’s simply no serious argument to be made that President Obama hasn’t been, by any objective measure, an extremely pro-Israel president. He has remained committed to ensuring Israel’s qualitative military edge, raising the amount of U.S. military aid to Israel, making it the single largest expense of the 2010 foreign aid budget. Obama also authorized $205 million to enable Israel to complete its Iron Dome short-range missile defense system.

Obama has significantly increased the level of strategic dialogue and the depth of intelligence coordination between our two countries, particularly in regard to Iran. According an Israeli official I spoke to in June, that coordination is now “even better than under President Bush.”

Obama has expanded trade between Israel and the U.S., and played an extremely important behind-the-scenes role in bringing about Israel’s acceptance into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Obama went before the United Nations General Assembly in September and challenged the international community to support Arab-Israeli peace, insisting before the world that “Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate,” declaring that “efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States.”

I would add to Duss’ list the administration’s offer of ”military hardware, support for a long-term Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley, help with enforcing a ban on the smuggling of weapons through a Palestinian state, a promise to veto Security Council resolutions critical of Israel during the talks and a pledge to forge a regional security agreement for the Middle East” in exchange for a measly two-month extension of the so-called “settlement freeze.”

Some prominent supporters of Israel in the United States do appreciate Obama’s pro-Israel stance. Phil Weiss reported earlier this month on a fund-raising letter being sent out by Mark and Nancy Gilbert, who are big-time players for the Democratic Party. The letter thanks Obama for his support for Israel and goes on to quote a speech given by Ambassador Michael Oren touting the “brilliant accomplishments and strong support of Israel demonstrated by the Obama Administration.”

Still, Obama’s so-called ”Jewish problem” has become conventional wisdom. Part of it stems from a distrust of Obama for having a Muslim middle name and for having past relationships with Jeremiah Wright and Rashid Khalidi. There’s also political incentives for right-wing Zionists to push the “Obama is anti-Israel” meme, as they’re hoping for a Republican sweep of Congress in November and a Republican capture of the White House in 2012. If that happens, what rhetorical resistance the Obama administration has put up would dissapear under a Republican administration and Israel would have total free-rein.

But even the mild criticism of Israel that Obama and his foreign policy team have engaged in has not contributed to any substantive shift in policy towards Israel.

The gap between the right’s image of Obama and the reality of his policy on Israel is vast, and the Zionist right and the Israel lobby have tailored their misleading image of Obama as anti-Israel to successfully beat back the Obama administration and forced it to tone down what little criticism there was.

The title of this article refers to Norman Finkelstein’s book, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

This article originally appeared on Alex Kane’s blog.  Follow him on Twitter here.

Let them eat cake

Oct 21, 2010

Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel 

Ali Abunimah’s Pizza analogy for Israel’s facts-on-the-ground negotiating style has taken the world by storm. I have it on good authority that the clip has been watched and enjoyed on the most extreme Israeli settlements. One settler was even heard to say “that guy’s really cool for a Palestinian, but he makes me hungry.” I think it’s time however, to take things to another level: dessert. Pizza’s fine for negotiating strategy and settlement policy, but for a more complete metaphor, describing the essence of Israel and everything it stands for, we need cake.

The guiding principle behind all of Israel’s actions is in fact having its cake and eating it too or, as the Hebrew expression goes, eating its cake and keeping it whole. Let’s take the idea of “Jewish and democratic” that is so vitally important that it takes precedence over all of the other topics on the negotiating table: borders, settlements, water, refugees, Jerusalem, etc. (without preconditions, of course). Jewish and democratic also permeates Israel’s Declaration of Independence, features in its Basic Laws, and is on the lips of every child from Dan to Eilat, from Ramat Aviv to Beit She’an. In the name of Jewish and democratic, the handful of non-Jews allowed to obtain Israeli citizenship without marrying a Jew (abroad because “intermarriage” is forbidden in Israel), may have to declare their loyalty to the unequal equality that renders them considerably less equal than members of the ruling democratic ethnicity. What could be more cake-consuming/preserving than that? Equality and supremacy with chocolate frosting. An “ethical code” for the commission of war crimes? Commando victims of aggression? One-sided cease fires and “preemptive” violations? Nuclear warheads for a nuclear-free region? It’s all cake.

There is another well-known saying about cake (or brioches, if you prefer). It is what those who have no bread are told to eat, by those who are both oblivious to and the cause of their suffering. The isolation of Gaza immediately comes to mind, or the unequal distribution of water in the West Bank, but in a broader sense, this attitude is also reflected in denial of the Nakba and the rights of refugees (while defining Israel as “the state of the Jewish people” and promoting unlimited Jewish immigration), in condescending statements like Abba Eban’s infamous “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” or the odious “Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?”

None of this should come as any surprise of course. Everyone knows that Israel invented cake. Yuli Edelstein’s Hasbara Ministry is working on the video as we speak.

Hebron Fund to celebrate West Bank settlements with faux flotilla on the Hudson river

Oct 21, 2010

Adam Horowitz

The Hebron Fund presents:

Remember last year’s Hebron Fund fundraiser at Citi Field was widely attacked by activists. It will be interesting to see how this one develops. Here is a press release sent out by Ronn Torossian:

From: Ronn Torossian [[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 7:10 AM

Ronn Torossian, (212) 999-5585, [email protected]


NEW YORK, October 20, 2010 – The Hebron Fund announced today they would host a fundraiser on Tuesday November 16th at 6 PM aboard a ship holding 1000 people. The event is entitled “The Hebron Aid Flotilla.” The boat will leave from Pier 59 at Chelsea Piers.

The Hebron Fund Annual dinner, which last year was held in Citi Field stadium amidst much controversy and protest, takes on special significance this year as many are celebrating the continued construction of Jewish settlements, after Israeli Prime Minister bowed to world pressure and stopped building temporarily.

“We are thrilled at the expansion of Jewish life in all areas of the so called West Bank and we decry the anti-Semitic attempts to curb that expansion. After the world absurdly condemned Israel for a boarding a terrorist flotilla, we decided to hold our fundraiser on a ship. Our flotilla will support peace and life!”

“The Jewish settlements are legal and donations to humanitarian and religious causes are tax deductible by law regardless of the ethnicity or the location of the recipients. Hebron is one of the holiest Jewish cities, where the Cave of the Patriarchs is located. Hebron was the first tract of land purchased in the Land of Israel by the first Jew of the world. Just as Jews can live freely in Harlem, Moscow and Paris, so too are they free to live and build anywhere they choose in the Land of Israel,” said Yossi Baumol, Executive Director of the Hebron Fund. We encourage Americans to provide tax deductible donations to aid the residents of Judea and Samaria. President Obama must know that discrimination against the expansion of Jewish life won’t be tolerated.”

Mr. Baumol also made a point of thanking the dozen or so anarchist protestors who campaign against the Hebron Fund dinners every year. “Their protest and opposition does so much to bring out our supporters in droves. They are worth their weight in gold!”

Special guests, including American and Israeli politicians will be present. The Master of Ceremonies will be esteemed criminal defense attorney Ben Brafman. The keynote speaker will be Ms. Caroline Glick, producer of the video clip “We Con the World” which spoofed the hypocrisy inherent in the public reaction to the Flotilla incident.

Israel finally confirms the obvious – The collective punishment of the Gaza siege is based on politics, not security

Oct 21, 2010


After one and a half years in which Israel at first denied their existence and then claimed that revealing them would harm “state security”, the State of Israel today released three documents that outline its policy for permitting transfer of goods into the Gaza Strip prior to the May 31 flotilla incident. The documents were released due to a Freedom of Information Act petition submitted by Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement in the Tel Aviv District Court, in which Gisha demanded transparency regarding the Gaza closure policy.  Israel still refuses to release the current documents governing the closure policy as amended after the flotilla incident.

“Policy of Deliberate Reduction”

The documents reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” for basic goods in the Gaza Strip. Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water. The state set a “lower warning line” to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of “deliberate reduction”. Moreover, the state set an “upper red line” above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand. The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of “basic goods” below the “lower warning line”, but it did not define what these “basic goods” were.

“Luxuries” denied for Gaza Strip residents

In violation of international law, which allows Israel to restrict the passage of goods only for concrete security reasons, the decision whether to permit or prohibit an item was also based on “the good’s public perception” and “whether it is viewed as a luxury”. In other words, items characterized as “luxury” items would be banned – even if they posed no security threat, and even if they were needed. Thus, items such as chocolate and paper were not on the “permitted” list. In addition, officials were to consider “sensitivity to the needs of the international community”.

Ban on Reconstructing Gaza

Although government officials have claimed that they will permit the rehabilitation of Gaza, the documents reveal that Israel treated rehabilitation and development of the Gaza Strip as a negative factor in determining whether to allow an item to enter; goods “of a rehabilitative character” required special permission. Thus, international organizations and Western governments did not receive permits to transfer building materials into Gaza for schools and homes.

Secret List of Goods

The procedures determine that the list of permitted goods “will not be released to those not specified!” (emphasis in original), ignoring the fact that without transparency, merchants in Gaza could not know what they were permitted to purchase. The list itemized permitted goods only. Items not on the list – cumin, for example – would require a special procedure for approval, irrespective of any security consideration, at the end of which it would be decided whether to let it in or not.

According to Gisha Director Sari Bashi: “Instead of considering security concerns, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of civilians living in Gaza, on the other, Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place”.

To view the documents revealed today by the state (in Hebrew), click here (excerpted English translations will be available tonight).

To view the FOIA petition submitted by Gisha (in Hebrew), click here.

For translated excerpts of the state’s response initially refusing to reveal the documents, click here.

For an information sheet on the changes in the closure policy since the June 2010 cabinet decision, see: Unraveling the Closure of Gaza.

Univ. of Michigan students protest IDF speakers

Oct 21, 2010

Adam Horowitz 

This video was just posted from a silent protest yesterday during a presentation from two IDF soldiers at the University of Michigan. They certainly know how to clear out a room. The students are wearing the names of Palestinians killed by the IDF:

Toddler dies after not being allowed to exit Gaza

Oct 21, 2010


And more news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers/Land, property & resource theft and destruction/Ethnic cleansingy

Jewish settlers ‘building 600 new homes’ (AFP)
AFP – Jewish settlers have started building at least 600 homes since the end of a building ban on September 26, a pace four times faster than before the freeze began last year, Peace Now said on Thursday.* Military Bulldoze Lands in Hebron
Israeli bulldozers began, on Thursday morning, clearing large areas of Palestinian land in the region of al-Bok’a, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Israeli Military Bulldoze Lands in Hebron

IDF to complete new Bilin barrier in coming weeks
The IDF plans to complete the construction of a new security barrier near the West Bank Palestinian town of Bilin in the coming weeks. Bilin has been the scene of weekly anti-fence demonstrations in recent years.  The new barrier will comprise a tall concrete wall, and security cameras will be placed near the haredi settlement of Kiryat Sefer.  About 650 dunams of agricultural land will be given back to Bilin. Nonetheless, according to attorneys representing the village, roughly 1,300 dunams of private farmland will remain on the Israeli side. It was decided a concrete wall would be constructed in place of a fence, since this replacement barrier will skirt a new neighborhood in Kiryat Sefer, known as Matityahu East. If left as a simple fence, the Israeli residents might be at risk.
Settlers Escalate Attacks Against Olive Orchards, 2500 Trees Torched In One Week
On Wednesday afternoon, a number of Palestinian villagers were attacked by a group of extremist Jewish settlers of Bracha illegal settlement, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and cut a number of trees.
Settlers Steal Olives From Palestinian Farmers In Northern West Bank Village
Salfit – PNN – A group of Israeli settlers stole olives owned by Palestinian farmers from Kufer Haress near the northern West Bank town of Salfit on Thursday.  Local sources report that the settlers from the nearby Aril settlement arrived early in the morning and started to harvest olive trees owned by two local farmers. Meanwhile another group of settlers started to steal olives from trees behind the Israeli wall. Kufer Haress municipality said that they were trying to arrange permissions from the Israeli army for local farmers to get to their lands.
In New York, a ‘Hebron Aid Flotilla’ to raise money for Israeli settlements
The Hebron Fund, a US tax-exempt charity that supports Israeli settlers, is rallying Zionists of all stripes to join a ‘Hebron Aid Flotilla’ on the Hudson River next month.
Center: Israel launches tax crackdown in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces and officers began carrying out a detention campaign and tax crackdown in the flashpoint neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, the Wad Hilwa Information Center said. Center direct Jawad Siyam said wide-scale raids on stores in Silwan were being carried out, while armoured vehicles patrolled the streets, adding that police, border guards and tax officers were searching cars and “breaking into many stores.”
Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Ayed Morrar, the moral giant of Budrus, James North
All 1500 residents are heroes in the documentary film Budrus, named for their West Bank Palestinian village, as are the international and Israeli solidarity activists who joined their nonviolent protests against the military occupation back in 2003-04. But one person stands out: Ayed Morrar, a thoughtful, quiet man who leads with calm courage and by example.  Ayed, in his early 40s, has been in the Palestinian freedom struggle his entire life; he spent 6 years in Israeli prisons and another 3 on the run. He and his 4 brothers have not been able to all get together for years; at least one of them is always jailed or in hiding. His courageous and outspoken teenage daughter Iltezam, a future doctor, is also a convincing presence in the film.

EU Condemns the Persecution of Bil’in’s Abdallah Abu Rahmah for the Second Time, Jpseph Dana
EU Representatives and Consul Generals in Jerusalem made a statement condemning the sentencing of Abdallah Abu Rahmah to one year in prison by the Israeli military court.
Egypt ready to receive Gaza aid convoy
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Egypt has declared a state of alert at the El-Arish port and airport in preparation for the arrival of a Gaza-bound aid convoy, Ma’an has learned.  The convoy is expected to arrive at 1 a.m. Thursday, Egyptian security sources said.  After a wait in Syria lasting 16 days, the fifth Viva Palestina convoy of 150 vehicles and 370 people set sail on the final leg of its journey on Wednesday, the Viva Palestina group announced a day earlier.
Qatar and Syria intervene with Egypt to facilitate Lifeline 5 mission
The PIC was informed that Qatar and Syria intervened with the Egyptian authorities to facilitate the travel of the fifth aid convoy “Lifeline for Gaza” to the Egyptian city of Al-Arish.
Convoy Of Hope Arrives In Tunisia
After departing from London on October 10, the Convoy Of Hope heading to Gaza to deliver urgently needed humanitarian supplies has reached on Wednesday Kasserrine in Tunisia after departing from Algeria.
Turkey denies offering assistance to Gaza flotilla organizers
Records of the meeting between the heads of the flotilla two weeks prior to embarkation and other similar documents were found on laptop computers confiscated by the Israel Defense Forces.
Dutch company raided over involvement in occupation
Last week, the Dutch National Crime Squad raided and searched the headquarters of Riwal in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, following criminal complaints lodged by the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq.
Settlement-produced paper seized in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Printing paper produced in a settlement were seized from Hebron on Thursday.  Sources said the paper was produced in the illegal Atarot settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, and was held in a warehouse in Ar-Ram in Jerusalem, before being transferred to Hebron to be sold. The sources added that the owner would be prosecuted.
Israeli’s Peaceful Position Takes Courage, Mel Frykberg
EAST JERUSALEM – A former captain in the Israeli Air Force, previously an ardent Zionist who lost many members of his family in the Holocaust, has been labeled a psychopath and denounced by many Israelis for the moral stand he has taken against the Israeli occupation.
Boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel promoted at Montreal conference
Palestine solidarity organizations from communities and movements across Quebec and elsewhere in Canada will be meeting in Montreal for a historic conference this weekend, Friday October 22 to Sunday October 24.  Carrying Forward the Moment Against Isreali Apartheid will map the future of the growing anti-Israeli apartheid movement by bringing together activists from across the country, as well as from the U.K., France, the U.S., and, most significantly, South Africa and Palestine. The intention is to assess and advance the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of the Israeli State until there is full justice, equality, and dignity for all Palestinians.
Why the ADL is so Scared of Jewish Voice for Peace, Alex Kane
The Anti-Defamation League has taken to defaming what they call the “top ten anti-Israel groups in America.”  Among them is Jewish Voice for Peace, a left-wing group that is the premier Jewish voice advocating for Palestinian justice and an end to the Israeli occupation. Why have they taken to smearing Jewish Voice for Peace as a group that “uses its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism”?  In a word, fear.  The ADL is afraid of what groups like Jewish Voice for Peace represent: principled Jewish voices of consciense that take a simple stand for human rights and justice.
Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement
PHR-Israel: Delayed Exit of a Toddler from Gaza Results in Death
Saturday, a child the same age as my daughter was killed in Gaza. She was not killed by a missile, or a suicide bomber, or any of the other dramatic ways children die in the Middle East. She was killed by an Israeli  policy, that the people of Gaza are to be imprisoned as punishment for who the adults voted for. While many children have been killed by this policy, this case sounds particularly horrific. Her family and Physicians for Human Rights tried valiantly to get her admitted into Israel for treatment, to no avail. I can imagine no worse nightmare for a parent, to watch your child dying knowing there is medical care a few miles away that you are not allowed to seek out. The next time someone tells you things aren’t so bad in Gaza any more, or that Israel is not responsible for what goes on there, remember this story. There can be no justification for allowing a sick child to die when you have the means to prevent it.
Facing death on Gaza’s border
Three Palestinians have been shot and injured by Israeli troops in recent days while collecting rubble near the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel. Many young Palestinians scour the area to gather the bricks and stones from demolished homes to sell to help them scratch out a living. A UN report says that at least 25 Palestinians have been killed and scores of others injured by Israeli gunfire along the border since last year. Doctors say about one-third of the victims are under the age of 18. Human rights groups in Gaza and Israel have threatened to launch a legal challenge over what they describe as Israeli violations of the buffer zone. Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba reports from Beit Hanoum in Gaza. [October 21, 2010]

Israeli fire injures 2 workers in northern Gaza
GAZA (Ma’an) — Israeli forces fired live ammunition injuring two Gaza residents near the Strip’s northern border on Thursday morning, medics reported.  Medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmieh said the injured men were collecting rubble near Beit Lahiya, and were taken to Kamal Adwan hospital for treatment.
Israel Shooting and Electric-Shocking Palestinian Children, Stephen Lendman
Defence for Children International (DCI) Palestine Section (DCI/Palestine) “is a national section of the international non-government child rights organisation and movement (dedicated) to promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children,” according to international law principles.
Center Reports on Israeli Abuse of Children
The Palestinian, Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights published, on Thursday, new reports about Israeli abuse and random detention of Palestinian children and their parents in the town of Silwan next to the old city of Jerusalem.

Center Reports on Israeli Abuse of Children

IDF presents: ‘Soldier-free’ checkpoint control
New electronic ID system that uses handprints ‘will make passage more pleasant,’ IDF source says.,7340,L-3972725,00.html
IOA blocks travel of Palestinian MP
MP Dr. Samir Al-Qadi has said that he was barred from traveling to Turkey to attend a medical conference by the Israeli occupation authority (IOA).
Racism & Discrimination

Leading rabbi encourages IDF soldiers to use Palestinian human shields
‘Your life is more important than that of the enemy’, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira tells students, adding that a soldier should never put himself in danger even for the sake of a civilian.

Knesset Won’t Approve Extension of Loyalty Oath to All New Citizens
The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, lacks support for a bill that would require Jews as well as non-Jews to pledge alligence to Israel as a “Jewish and Democratic” state.  Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman has threatened to leave the cabinet if the bill is not passed.  Of the 120 Knesset members, only 56 would support the bill if it is applied to both Jews and non-Jews. Much pressure will fall on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to increase those numbers, after he decided on Monday to change the bill so that the Oath of Alligence would apply to all new citizens, and not only non-Jews.
Lebanon PM: Israel’s loyalty oath akin to South Africa apartheid
Hariri also says law will make ongoing peace talks with Palestinians unbearable, and urges EU to intervene.
Violence (See siege/humanitarian section)

Israeli Army Detained A University Student One Month Before His Graduation Day
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Detainees in Nablus condemned on Thursday the Israeli army raid on the house of Palestinian Nawwaf al-Ammer, and detention of his son, Ibrahim Ammer, 22 years old, after a destructive search of the house.

Israeli troops kidnap 3 Najah university students in Nablus
The international Tadamun foundation said the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped at dawn Thursday three students from Al-Najah national university after raids on their homes in Nablus.
Israeli Military Abducts Two, Distrupts Many Near Hebron
The Israeli army, on Thursday morning, abducted two Palestinian citizens after invading their houses and ransacking their contents in the town of Beit Ummar north of Hebron. The citizens were identified as Malek Awad, 21, and Rami Awad, 28.

Israeli Military Abducts Two, Distrupts Many Near Hebron

IOA extends custody of Palestinian detainee for seventh consecutive time
The Israeli intelligence renewed the administrative detention, without trial or charge, for the seventh time running of Bakr Sa’eed Bilal on Wednesday one hour before his scheduled release.
Voices from the Occupation
Karam D. (13) was arrested by Israeli soldiers and accused of throwing stones at a settler car, something he denies. A military court orders house detention and no school.
5 detained in Silwan overnight
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli special forces detained five Palestinians from the flashpoint Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem overnight on Wednesday.  The detentions followed a wave of arrests at dawn on Wednesday, when nine Palestinians were detained from their homes in the Ein El-Lozeh and Ber Yacoub areas of Silwan. Those arrested included Sahib Ar-Rajabi, 13, Islam Odeh, 16, Murad Al-Banna, 22, Shaqa Al-Abasi, 20, Muhammad Abbasi, 18, Mahdi Abbasi, 23, and Ziyad Odeh, 15. An Israeli court extended their detention until Friday.  An Israeli police spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Ministry of detainees: Israel uses Arab prisoners as political hostages
The Palestinian ministry of prisoners’ affairs said that Israel uses Arab detainees in its jails as political hostages at the pretext that their countries do not want them.
Israel’s Arab Helpers

Hamas: PA detained 8 supporters
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas accused Palestinian Authority security forces of arresting eight party members in the West Bank overnight Wednesday.  In a statement, Hamas said the PA was continuing its arrest campaign against Hamas affiliates, adding that the latest detentions occurred in Ramallah, Hebron and Tulkarem.  The Islamist movement said PA forces arrested over a thousand supporters in the West Bank in September.

Human Rights Watch:  Reports of Torture in Palestinian Detention
The Palestinian Authority should promptly investigate the alleged torture of two detainees over the past month in a Jericho prison and ensure that officials responsible for the abuse are prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said today. These two cases are among more than 100 allegations of torture registered so far this year with the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), the official Palestinian human rights ombudsman, against security services in the West Bank.  Members of the Preventive Security agency, which reports to the minister of interior, arrested Ahmad Salhab, a 42-year-old mechanic from Hebron, on September 19, 2010, and detained him until October 16, first in Hebron and then in Jericho. On October 16, Preventive Security officials transferred him to a hospital in Hebron suffering from injury to previously torn spinal discs and severe mental distress, which he told Human Rights Watch resulted from torture in custody. The second man, M.B., who asked that his name not be used, was arrested September 16 and held first in the Preventive Security detention facility in Hebron and then in Jericho, where, he said, he was tortured for 10 days. Both were accused of having ties to Hamas. The human rights commission said that Salhab’s and M.B.’s are the first cases of alleged torture in the Jericho prison.
Political Developments

Mashaal: Hamas willing to accept peace deal with Israel
Hamas Politburo Chief tells Newsweek his organization will abide peace agreement with Israel if it has Palestinian consensus; urges US to hear Hamas directly.,7340,L-3972646,00.html

Hamas says ready to meet Fatah anywhere
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Hamas leader Ismael Radwan expressed confusion Wednesday after Fatah changed the location for a reconciliation meeting despite a previous agreement from from both sides.  Radwan told Ma’an radio that the main issue was not the place but unity and reconciliation. “We’re interested in the security issue, but it is indeed strange that Fatah wants to change the meeting place.”  He said the last-minute change was likely another attempt at obstructing a deal, but that Hamas was nevertheless willing to meet wherever Fatah preferred.
Hamas official: Israel held up Shalit deal by refusing to free 15 top prisoners
Head of Hamas’ military wing has no interest in securing any exchange unless those senior militants are released, official tells Al-Hayyat.
Fatah delegation to visit Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Fatah officials will visit the Gaza Strip on Sunday after canceling a meeting with rival Hamas, Ma’an has learned.  The Fatah delegation will be headed by Ramallah-based presidential advisor Abdullah Al-Ifranji, party officials said. The delegation will seek to improve the atmosphere ahead of reconciliation meetings aimed to end years of internal Palestinian rivalry. Hamas leader Ismael Radwan expressed concern Wednesday after Fatah changed the location for a meeting despite an agreement from both sides to meet in Damascus, Syria.
Palestinian negotiator: Israel tries to murder Mideast peace process
RAMALLAH, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) — A senior Palestinian official Wednesday accused Israel of trying “to murder” the peace process and making it impossible to resume by continuing settlement activities.  Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian negotiator and a member of Fatah’s central committee, said after a meeting in Ramallah with Arab and foreign diplomats that “we want peace, but Israel blocks us to resume it by carrying out its practices on the ground.”
Netanyahu: No return to 1967 borders, OJ to remain under Israeli sovereignty
Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated his rejection of Palestinian demands for a lasting peaceful settlement mainly a Palestinian state on 1967 land with Jerusalem as its capital.
Netanyahu: Settlements no threat to peace
TEL AVIV (Ma’an) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that construction in existing West Bank settlements “does not contradict the aspiration for peace and an agreement.”  Addressing the Knesset at a session to mark the 15th anniversary of the assassination of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Netanyahu said the partial settlement freeze was a temporary “gesture.”
Clinton: Palestinian state based on ’67 borders still possible
U.S. Secretary of State addresses future of peace negotiations; says U.S. position on West Bank settlements ‘has not changed’.
PA: Obama midterm fall could give Netanyahu raise
With Democrats expected to experience strong losses, PLO official, Abed Rabbo, says “PM is not negotiating with us, he is negotiating with US.”
Clinton urges Arabs to give more money to Palestinians (AFP)
AFP – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday urged Arab countries to offer greater financial support to the Palestinian Authority.*
War Criminals

NGOs lobby international court over Gaza probe (AP)
AP – Rights groups lobbied the International Criminal Court on Wednesday for and against a Palestinian bid to be recognized as a state by the tribunal.*

US activist’s family sue Israel
A civil lawsuit brought by the parents of a US peace activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli forces bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in March 2003 has begun being heard in the Israeli city of Haifa. The two drivers of the bulldozer that crushed Rachel Corrie to death will testify in court on Thursday, while the military commander in charge of the unit on the day will give evidence at a future date. Rachel Corrie’s family filed the private lawsuit against the state of Israel five years ago after an Israeli military investigation into the incident concluded that the soldiers operating the bulldozers could not see Rachel and closed the case.

IDF soldier involved in Rachel Corrie’s death testifies in public for first time
Soldier, who has not been tried nor identified, delivers testimony anonymously over 2003 death of American pro-Palestinian activist.
Other News

S.Africa draws on past to boost Palestinian reconciliation (AFP)
AFP – South Africa has launched a new initiative aimed at encouraging Palestinian reconciliation by sharing its experience in overcoming Apartheid, officials said on Wednesday.*

Rivlin to Carter: Public views you as Hamas supporter
Harsh message to former president: Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin blasts Jimmy Carter in Jerusalem, says meetings with Hamas leaders create impression of support for terrorists; Carter says main objective is to bring peace to region.,7340,L-3973020,00.html
Senior Labor minister: We’ll quit coalition if Mideast talks don’t resume by year’s end
Despite Braverman’s warning, party leader Barak has yet to deliver ultimatum to Netanyahu; Labor holds 13 of the 71 seats and its defection could bring down the government.
Poll: 49% of Palestinians would recognize Jewish state
Survey finds willingness to recognize Israel as Jewish as part of peace deal establishing Palestinian state.,7340,L-3972781,00.html
Poll: 41% of Palestinians support resuming the Intifada
Only 30% support continuing talks, as opposed to 78% of Israelis, according to joint Hebrew U.-Palestinian Center for Policy survey.
Gaza security release Hizb Ut-Tahrir affiliates
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hizb Ut-Tahrir said Tuesday that Gaza government security forces released a number of party affiliates after they were detained for distributing a pamphlet, the movement said. A statement issued by the Islamist movement said the pamphlet people reading “Hamas jumped over Sharia [Islamic law] and laws by barring a Hizb Ut-Tahrir symposium,” entitled Islamic Political Action: Bases and Restrictions.
Brothers arrested over string of recent ‘honor killings’ in Lod
Police suspect the two were hired hit men in a string of so-called ‘honor killings,’ offering their services to locals who wanted to attack their family members.

DAM: “We Can’t Go To Syria, But Our Music Can”, Palestine Monitor
Day two of the Taybeh Oktoberfest, the internationally renowned beer festival. Its late and the amber nector is loosening tongues. MC Tamer Nafar addresses the audience in English. “Scream if you do not speak Arabic,” he calls. A few people shout, and he raises his voice. “Come on, come on! Yala, yala! Scream if you do not speak Arabic!” He wins over a few meek foreigners, and their voices blend with those of the mainly Palestinian audience, who are eager to join the call-and-response game. DAM is requesting audience interaction, specifically asking their foreign audience to learn Arabic syllables during the next song. Their call is a demand for understanding.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

MJ Rosenberg: The Lobby: Targeting Democrats for Nov. 2 Defeat
The fury of the “pro-Israel” lobby lately has truly been something to behold. It has abandoned bipartisanship by setting up front organizations like the so-called Emergency Committee for Israel, which is running ads across the country calling on voters to defeat Democratic members of the House and Senate for signing a letter urging President Obama to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  With all the problems average Americans are facing, the lobby is so out-of-touch that it thinks that hard-hit Pennsylvanian voters (the ads runs most often in the Keystone State) will actually cast their votes based on the lobby’s litmus test of who is and who isn’t hawkish enough on Israel.

Israel’s guardian sews up the Senate, Jeff Blankfort and Phil Weiss
A few months back Chuck Schumer went to AIPAC and said that he had the name Schumer because Shomer means Guardian, and God had made him the guardian of Israel. He also finished, with a shout: “Ladies and gentlemen, Am Yisrael Chai. In Israel and America the Jewish nation lives now and forever.” Soon after that he said that Gaza ought to be strangled. Charm has never been his strong suit.
Bibi’s poodle, Philip Weiss
Barack Obama, at Cairo University, June 4, 2009. Speech was titled “A New Beginning:”
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s.  The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.  (Applause.)  This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace.  It is time for these settlements to stop.  (Applause.)
AP tonight, Karin Laub reporting:
Israeli settlers have begun building new homes at an extraordinary pace since the government lifted its moratorium on West Bank housing starts — almost 550 in three weeks, more than four times faster than the last two years.  And many homes are going up in areas that under practically any peace scenario would become part of a Palestinian state, a trend that could doom U.S.-brokered peace talks
Hamas and ‘Israel’s Destruction’, Alex Kane
The following article was originally published in the July 2010 issue of Extra! magazine, the monthly publication put out by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.  It’s still quite relevant.
Pining for President Carter, Alex Kane
Say what you will about former President Jimmy Carter, be it that his presidency was a failure, or that he was once the head of the U.S. war machine.  Those sentiments about Carter may be true, but his advocacy for Palestinians in recent years has been unflinching, even in the face of vicious smears, like Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League calling Carter an “anti-Semite” after the publication of Carter’s book titled Palestine:  Peace Not Apartheid.
3 Jews showed this video last night at NYU, challenging Zionism, Philip Weiss
The three Jews were Micha Kurz, Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana. When Saba Quraishi, a member of the audience, said that she didn’t understand why her well-educated Jewish friends were so quiet when she sent them links about the Gaza slaughter or the Mavi Marmara– “what is this magic brainwashing?” –Max Blumenthal said the “sclerotic Jewish establishment” is facing “impending collapse,” Abe Foxman and David Harris and Malcolm Hoenlein are “embalmed characters” who do not speak for young Jews. And Joseph Dana said that American Jewish identity is constructed on two faraway poles that have nothing to do with American life, Israel and the Holocaust.
The United States Fights and Pays for Israel’s Wars, Kourosh Ziabari
Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely-published Irish author and journalist. He has been living in Japan since 1999. Ó Cathail’s articles and commentaries have appeared in a number of media outlets and newspapers.  Maidhc joined me in an exclusive interview and responded to my questions about the 9/11 attacks, the influence of the Israeli lobby over the U.S. administration, the prospect of Israeli – Palestinian conflict, the prolonged controversy over Iran’s nuclear program and the freedom of press in the United States.
The dam is breaking?, Eva Smagacz
As John Mearsheimer said recently, although the internet exposed the reality of Occupation in Palestinian Territories to many more Americans, this knowledge does not translate into political power. And I believe him.
Anecdote on how Israeli paranoia is cultivated, Yaniv Reich
Without exaggeration, one of the single most important factors in the Israel/Palestinian conflict is the way that Jews fear Arabs and Persians in general, and Palestinians in particular. This fear is reflected in a constant distrust of such penetrating depth that it is routine to hear that we can’t actually believe, say, the comprehensive Arab Peace Initiative (2002) because the Arabs will just turn around and “stab us in the back.”  A similar argument is used to suggest we can’t possibly give the Palestinians an independent state because even if they say they want peace, they really just intend to build up their military and eventually attack us.  Rampant fear and total paranoia are the name of the game in Israeli psychology.
Report from Israel: the occupation is the Stanley Milgram experiment, for American Jews, Philip Weiss
At the beginning of the year I visited Israel and came back and wrote a post, Israel’s crisis. Last month I got back from my third trip to the country, and that sense is stronger. Israel is headed for the iceberg, as one Israeli friend put it. Its effort as a Jewish state to govern a population that is half-non-Jewish is unsustainable. Palestinians are everywhere oppressed in the occupied territories (and second-class citizens inside Israel). The awareness fills me with dread and a renewed commitment to the American conversation, and even feelings of blasted brotherhood with American Jews, who are the chief enablers of the oppression.
Jewistan: Finally Recognizing Israel as the Jewish State, Francis Boyle
Israel’s Likudnik Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached into his bag of Zionist tricks and pulled out a brand-new demand that had never surfaced before in the history of the Middle East Peace Process going all the way back to their beginning with the negotiation of the original Camp David Accords conducted under the personal auspices of U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1978: The Palestinians must recognize Israel as “the Jewish State.” Not surprisingly, the Zionist controlled and funded Obama administration publicly endorsed this latest roadblock to peace that was maliciously constructed by Israel.
To Italy as Italians, or Israel as Jews?, Bianca Ambrosio
Jews living in the Diaspora face a controversial dilemma when it comes to national sentiment: Is it better to prioritize the state in which we live or to focus on belonging to the State of Israel?
The Occupation Has Rotted Israeli Morals, Michael Khaled for MIFTAH    
I pass through the Qalandia checkpoint a lot. The infamous crossing cuts off the main rout from where I work in Ramallah to where I live in Jerusalem. Israelis say its purpose is to keep “terrorists” out, but years after the last so-called terrorist crossed from the West Bank, Israel still keeps Jerusalem completely isolated from West Bank Palestinians who cannot cross unless they receive a rarely-granted permit. Going into Ramallah is simple; there is usually no inspection on the way in, only the occasional traffic jam since the road is not designed to handle the tens of thousands of cars that pass through.  The time it takes varies by the traffic and whether they’ve opened one or two of the motor inspection gates (I’ve never seen them open the third, even on the Eid holiday). I’m used to the routine: fight your way to the front of a crowd of idling cars, turn off the headlights as you approach the three Israeli army guards, pull up after they wave you over, get out to open the trunk and hand over your ID to the usually-teenage-looking officer.
Invisible Israel?, LAWRENCE DAVIDSON
Michael Oren is the Israeli ambassador to the United States. This means he stands in a line of foreign diplomats who are often quite out of the ordinary. For one thing they may well be ex-Americans. Oren (nee Bornstein) was born in upstate New York and grew up in West Orange, New Jersey. He switched countries in 1979. For another, Israeli ambassadors do not hesitate to engage in public debates aimed at swaying American public opinion. Actually, this is very un-diplomatic behavior and you don’t see the ambassadors from China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Mexico, Paraguay or Liechtenstein, ad finem, doing that sort of thing. Yet Oren has done this several times by sending op-eds to the New York Times. On October 13 he did so again with one entitled, “An End to Israel’s Invisibility.”

Berri: Inter-Lebanese cooperation key to unity
BEIRUT: The Syrian-Saudi rapprochement remains a guarantee for stability in Lebanon but necessitates inter-Lebanese cooperation to preserve unity, Speaker Nabih Berri said in Damascus following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad Wednesday.

The Rageh Omaar Report – Lebanon: What lies beneath
October marks 20 years since the guns of the Lebanese civil war fell silent. Why is the fate of thousands who disappeared during the Lebanese civil war still unsolved?


Wednesday: 5 Iraqis Killed; 14 Iraqis, 1 Turk Wounded
At least five Iraqis were killed and 14 more were wounded in new attacks. Turkish man was wounded as well. The prime minister continued to seek foreign support for his return to the premiership for a second term in a row, while his rival is mounting an internal campaign.

Iraqi border guard and family members shot dead (AFP)
AFP – An Iraqi border guard and four members of his family were killed at their house in the restive northern city of Mosul on Sunday evening, police said.*
Iraqi refugees: Mobilizing for Lana and the rights of abused women
I received last week a news documentary made by an Australian television network from Dr. Isam Khafaji. Khafaji is an old Iraqi friend who fought against Saddam Hussein’s regime because of its appalling human-rights record, and keeps the fight on for the continuing miseries affecting Iraq. The documentary focuses on the Iraqi women who have found refuge in Syria.
Kurds threaten to boycott Iraq census (AFP)
AFP – Iraq’s Kurds might boycott the country’s already delayed national census if the central government drops a question on ethnic identity, a senior regional official said on Wednesday.*
Event Shows How New Media Can Shape Iraqi Democracy
Joint IWPR-IREX conference highlights the important role information technology could play in the country’s development.
Q&A: What the U.S. Undid for Women in Iraq ( – LONDON, Oct 20 (IPS) – The U.S.-led invasion and then occupation of Iraq brought a sharp setback to the rights of women in that country, UNFPA head Thoraya Obaid tells IPS in an interview.*
The Zero and US, Arshad M. Khan
Babylonians — oh yes! it’s the Iraqis again — developed a zero about 300 B.C. It was represented by two slanted wedges on their clay tablets and served as a place holder in the sexagesimal (base 60 unlike our current base 10) system they used. By the way, there is something to be said for base 60 because it is divisible by 2, 3, 4 and 5, so one can get halves, thirds, etc. without going to a second or more decimal places. Our base 10 system forces us into two decimal places for a quarter and an infinite number for a third, wasting computer time and leading to inaccuracies because of approximations that have to be fudged for such mundane computations as calculating interest in savings accounts.
U.S./ Other Mideast/World News

US announces $60 billion arms sale for Saudi Arabia
WASHINGTON: The United States announced its largest arms sale ever Wednesday: hundreds of advanced warplanes and helicopters for Mideast ally Saudi Arabia in a deal worth up to $60 billion. The plan allows for the sale to Riyadh of 84 F-15 fighter jets, 70 Apache attack helicopters, 72 tactical Black Hawk helicopters and several Little Birds, lightweight helicopters.

‘Israel not expected to oppose $60b. US-Saudi arms deal’
US official says deal would not affect Israel’s qualitative military edge in Middle East, no objections from Jerusalem expected.
Did US occupation force soldier kill prisoner? U.S. soldier in custody after death of Afghan prisoner
A U.S. soldier has been taken into custody after an Afghan detainee was found dead in his cell in southern Afghanistan at the weekend, apparently from a gunshot wound, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.
US court re-instates gay troops ban
Appeals court orders temporary reinstatement of ban on gays serving openly in the military as per government’s request.
NAACP Report Ties Tea Party to Militia and Racist Group
Less than two weeks before the midterms elections, the NAACP has published a new report that exposes what it calls links between various Tea Party organizations and racist hate groups in the United States. The report, ‘Tea Party Nationalism,’ analyzes each of the six most active Tea Party organizations in the country and describes links between Tea Party factions and various white supremacist groups, anti-immigrant organizations and militias. We speak with Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president and CEO of the NAACP; and one of the authors of the report, Leonard Zeskind, the president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. [includes rush transcript]
Donald Trump Among Wealthy Donors To Karl Rove-Backed Group
More specifically, the reports to the Federal Election Commission, which covered from Sept. 1 to Oct. 15, included a $50,000 donation by none other than Donald J. Trump, the real estate developer, who previously had not had much of a reputation as a major financial backer of Republican politics.
NPR fires Juan Williams over anti-Muslim comments on Fox News
juan williams going postal NPR fires Juan Williams over anti Muslim comments on Fox NewsPublic radio NPR News has fired a longtime analyst with a history of appearing on Fox News Channel over comments he made about Muslims earlier this week.
Chavez vows to back Iran ‘under any circumstances,’ hopes to bolster trade ties
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez vowed Tuesday to back ally Tehran “under any circumstances” as his Iranian counterpart and host praised Caracas for fighting sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Amnesty International: Syria urged to release or charge Lebanese Shi’a cleric
Sheikh Hassan Mchaymech has been held incommunicado since July when he was arrested while on his way to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.  Amnesty International has urged the Syrian authorities to release or charge a Lebanese Shi’a cleric held incommunicado for more than three months after he was arrested while on his way to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Former Hizbullah member Sheikh Hassan Mchaymech was travelling by car to Saudi Arabia with his wife and mother, when he was arrested by Syrian Political Security on the Syrian side of the Jdeidet Yabous border crossing with Lebanon on 7 July.
UAE Judicial Official Condemns Domestic Violence
A senior Emirati judicial official stressed Wednesday that the UAE does not condone domestic abuse even though the country’s highest court ruled that a man can physically “discipline” his wife and young children provided he leaves no marks.
Human Rights Watch;  Tunisia: Union Voices Silenced
(Tunis) – The Tunisian authorities should end arbitrary restrictions on independent trade and student unions, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government has refused to recognize independent unions, limited their ability to assemble peacefully, and unfairly prosecuted members, effectively shrinking the space in which unions can operate outside of government control. The government has denied such interference, but the facts contradict its rebuttals, Human Rights Watch said.
Daoud Kuttab: Jordanian Candidate Uses Debate to Call for Curtailing King’s Powers
The hall where a lively debate had been taken place suddenly went silent. A courageous Jordanian journalist asked a candidate for Jordan’s parliamentary elections a question rarely asked.
Christian Massacre Tugs at Ismailis’ Hearts in Saudi Arabia, ROBERT F. WORTH
Ismailis, widely reviled as heretics by Sunni Muslims, identify with the oppressed Christians of ancient Najran in an ongoing struggle for recognition by the Saudi state.
Forced abortions for Chinese women
Mother tells Al Jazeera how her foetus was terminated at eight months after she violated the one-child policy.
Mexican student takes over police in drug war town
 A 20-year-old female college student is the new police chief of one of Mexico’s most dangerous drug war towns on the U.S. border, where policemen have quit and officials have been killed.  Marisol Valles, who studies criminology in Mexico’s violent city of Ciudad Juarez, took charge of the police force in the neighboring municipality of Praxedis G. Guerrero near El Paso, Texas, just days before hitmen shot and killed a local official.  The mother of an infant son heads a force of just 13 agents, nine of whom are women, and can count on just one working patrol car, three automatic rifles and a pistol to take on powerful drug cartels waging war over smuggling routes into Texas.

The dam is breaking?

Oct 21, 2010

Eva Smagacz 

As John Mearsheimer said recently, although the internet exposed the reality of Occupation in Palestinian Territories to many more Americans, this knowledge does not translate into political power. And I believe him.

But I woke up in an optimistic mood and then came accross this piece at the Huffington Post by Stephen Zunes, saying, “imagine if, during the 1980s, Barbara Boxer had taken positions on Central America comparable to her current positions in the Middle East.” And I want to believe that his piece is a harbinger of change:

American politicians are beginning to be openly challenged as to their position on Israel, and what’s more, how does it reflect on American values. 

Zunes writes about Barbara Boxer:

The senator has strongly defended Israeli attacks on civilian population centers in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Lebanon and has categorically rejected calls for linking the billions of dollars in U.S. aid to human rights considerations. The senator has attacked reputable human rights organizations and leading international jurists for daring to document war crimes committed by Israeli forces (in addition to those committed by militant Islamists.) The senator has openly challenged the International Court of Justice on the universality of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, co-sponsoring a Senate resolution attacking the World Court’s landmark 2004 decision. The senator has led the effort in the Senate to undermine President Obama’s efforts to halt the expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, insisting that Obama refrain from openly challenging Israel’s right-wing government to suspend its illegal colonization drive. The senator has attacked supporters of nuclear nonproliferation for calling on Israel to join virtually every other country in the world in signing the NPT. The senator has endorsed Israel’s illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem and expansion of settlements in violation of a series of UN Security Council resolutions, as well as Israel’s construction of a separation barrier deep inside the occupied West Bank to facilitate their annexation into Israel and virtually eliminate the possibility of the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. The senator defended Israel’s illegal attack in international waters of a humanitarian aid flotilla, even after a United Nations investigation revealed that five people on board, including a 19-year old U.S. citizen, were murdered execution-style. Indeed, this senator has consistently sided with Israel’s right wing government against those in both the United States and Israel working for peace and human rights.

How far have we  have come from 2006 when the very mention of Israel was “here comes the grenade” moment that public had to be prepared for. (For all those who swallowed Scott Ritter’s character assassination here is Craig Murray’s take on the “bog standard smear technique“)

Israel’s guardian sews up the Senate

Oct 21, 2010

Jeff Blankfort and Phil Weiss 

A few months back Chuck Schumer went to AIPAC and said that he had the name Schumer because Shomer means Guardian, and God had made him the guardian of Israel. He also finished, with a shout: “Ladies and gentlemen, Am Yisrael Chai. In Israel and America the Jewish nation lives now and forever.” Soon after that he said that Gaza ought to be strangled. Charm has never been his strong suit.

Well Schumer just gave two “monster checks,” worth $2 million, to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last month, the Hill reports. Thus insuring that with Bobby Byrd dead, the Senate will vote 100-0 on pro-Israel legislation and Schumer will be the Demos as well as Israel’s top man in the Senate.

Schumer’s donations are sure to raise eyebrows because he himself is up for re-election this year, albeit against weak opposition. He is also widely expected to run for Senate Democratic leader if Reid loses his race in Nevada.

The gifts cement Schumer’s position as the Senate Democrats’ biggest financial backer, and could make a difference if he makes a bid to lead Senate Democrats in the 112th Congress. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is seen as the other favorite to succeed Reid.


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