Obama’s gonna have to leave politics before he denounces the occupation

Oct 22, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Today Jimmy Carter and the Elders joined the weekly protest in occupied East Jerusalem of Israel’s evictions of Palestinians so as to make way for Jews. 

(Thanks to Ofer Neiman)

Viva Palestina’s ‘Lifeline 5′ convoy reaches Gaza

Oct 22, 2010

Eva Smagacz

Viva Palestina 2010 (Photo: Reuters)

Viva Palestina Lifeline 5 convoy reached Gaza today, with 140 vehicles, 300 activists and over three million pounds worth of aid. Each consecutive convoy is larger than the last one, increasing the number of activists involved (from 30 countries) and publicity it generates about the “Cage“, as Jimmy Carter described the place recently. 

The Democratic-Likud Party

Oct 22, 2010

Alex Kane today publishes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “list of millionaires,” a group of people Netanyahu identified as potential donors to him ahead of the 2007 primary elections in Israel.

What’s important about the list of donors that Netanyahu identified is what it says about the Israel lobby and the Democratic Party in the United States. It goes a long way in explaining why hard-right Zionist views can be found among Democratic politicians.

There is little to no difference between how Democrats and Republicans in the United States act towards Israel; criticizing Israel is a “third rail” in American politics, and some of the donors included on this list show why.

It makes sense why this is the case with the Republican Party, as the ideology of neoconservatism and military interventionism is a core part of the party, and matches up nicely with Likud’s way of looking at the world and, in particular, the Palestinians. But with the slightly more rational and liberal Democratic Party, which captured the House and Senate in 2006 in part because of growing opposition to the Iraq War, it makes less sense.

That is, until you look at some of the donors who Netanyahu reasonably thought may give him money and notice that at least a couple are heavy contributors to the Democratic Party.

Among the potential donors listed are Haim Saban and Mortimer Zuckerman.

Saban is a wealthy ”entertainment mogul” whose “greatest concern is to protect Israel” and who is “one of the largest individual donors to the Democratic Party,” according to a May 2010 profile of him in the New Yorker. The profile notes that “in 2002, he contributed seven million dollars toward the cost of a new building for the Democratic National Committee—one of the largest known donations ever made to an American political party.” But his political views match up with the Israeli right-wing, a decidedly illiberal set of viewpoints.

From Marwan Bishara’s Imperium blog on Al Jazeera, here’s Saban in his own words, taken from a 2006 interview with Ha’aretz:

On his worries for Israel:

 “… Israel does not worry me. Israel’s neighbours worry me … History proved that Sharon was right and I was wrong. In matters relating to security, that moved me to the right. Very far to the right.”

On Iran:

“The Iranians are serious. They mean business. Ahmadinejad is not a madman.

“When I see Ahmadinejad, I see Hitler. They speak the same language. His motivation is also clear: the return of the Mahdi is a supreme goal. And for a religious person of deep self-persuasion, that supreme goal is worth the liquidation of five-and-a-half million Jews. We cannot allow ourselves that.

“Nuclear weapons in the hands of a religious leadership that is convinced that the annihilation of Israel will bring about the emergence of a new Muslim caliphate? Israel cannot allow that. This is no game. It’s truly an existential danger.”

On the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran:

“Is there a higher price than two nuclear bombs on Israel? So they will fire missiles, all right then. Iran is not Lebanon, where you pinpoint specific targets: this bridge here, that building, half of that courtyard over there. In Iran you go in and wipe out their infrastructure completely. Plunge them into darkness. Cut off their water.”

“Would I prefer a defence minister who is capable of looking at a map and saying, ‘Half a division here, two divisions there, send the commandos from the north and let the navy hit from the south’? Yes, I would prefer that. Because to negotiate with management on behalf of the unions is a skill, but it’s a different skill from planning a war. In our situation, for all time, at least in our lifetime, we need a defence minister who has a thorough understanding of these subjects.”

Zuckerman is a media mogul who owns the New York Daily News and is the editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report, and is a major contributor to the Democratic Party, according to the Center for Reponsive Politics’ Open Secrets website. He is a former head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and espouses hawkish views when it comes to the Palestinians. For instance, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Zuckerman calls Jerusalem ”its capital” and refers to the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem as a “Jewish suburb.”

The Democratic Party is beholden to people like Zuckerman and Saban, who were listed as potential donors to a right-wing Israeli political party whose official platform states that Likud “rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”

No wonder Likudnik views get play within the supposedly liberal party in American politics. 

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

Ethnocracy: The true ‘core of the conflict’

Oct 22, 2010

Yaniv Reich 

Ari Shavit recently offered seven reasons to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in a Haaretz article entitled “The core of the conflict“. There are in fact seven reasons why his thinking forms the primary basis for conflict rather than offer any solution.

Here I address his hyper-nationalistic detritus one point at a time.

An (Exclusivist) National Home

The first argument he makes is that “the supreme goal of Zionism is that in the Land of Israel the people of Israel will have a national home recognized by the law of nations,” and goes on to say that not subscribing to this view entails racism.  For Jews to have a national home recognized in international law, however, has precisely nothing to do with Jews creating a state (conceived through law yet founded through extraordinary violence and extra-judicial, i.e. non-legal, territorial acquisition) that ensures Jewish domination over minority groups. 

To wed Jewishness to state structures is only one possible form of creating a national home, and is of a form that does so by creating ethnocratic rule under which non-Jews suffer systematic de jure and de facto discrimination.  Legal systems that have ethnically differentiated rules on marriage, land administration, citizenship, budget allocations—that is racism.  Racism is not opposition to the ethnocracy, as Shavit appears to misunderstand.

Should Jews be able to have a state where they feel at home?  Absolutely.  So should Palestinians.  But the effort to create a Jewish home at the expense of the Palestinian home has established and fueled the conflict for over eighty years.  Shavit fails to characterize what a Palestinian national home means and requires from an accurate historical perspective, and so he is helping to ensure one side of the conflict never feels at home again.

Recognition and Rejectionism

When Jews (or hypocritical US politicians) argue that Jews recognized Palestinians’ right to exist but not the reverse, they are engaged either willfully or inadvertently in an easily disproved lie.  First, there is the historical fact of Jewish rejectionism, which has served to prevent, with other factors, the emergence of a Palestinian national home (see, for example, Avi Shlaim’s Iron Wall for details).  One of the earliest and most important rejections, for example, was of the 1937 Peel Commission Plan, about which the Twentieth Zionist Congress in Zurich stated: “The partition plan proposed by the Peel Commission is not to be accepted,” while also expressing the goal of securing more Palestinian land than the Commission offered. 

A year later, Ben-Gurion expounded on this partition idea, which was still being floated on the international stage: “[I am] satisfied with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we build up a strong force following the establishment of the state—we will abolish the partition of the country and we will expand to the whole Land of Israel.”  Although the Zionist leadership was somewhat divided on this issue (and Ben-Gurion later expressed regret that six million Jews died because the Peel Commission plan was not accepted), those Zionist hardliners who favored rejection of Jewish statehood in the 1930s in favor of (later) extra-judicial territorial land grabs won the debate and thereby dictated subsequent Israeli and Palestinian history.

Another important moment of Jewish rejectionism was the UN Partition Plan (1947), which is of course precisely the type of “law of nations” that Shavit seems to crave (while disregarding it when it suits him, as when he advocated for war crimes in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008/9).  The day after the UN Partition resolution was passed, Menachem Begin (a hardliner and leader of the Irgun, the critically important, pre-state terrorist militia, as well as a future Prime Minister of Israel) said: “The Partition of Palestine is illegal.  It will never be recognized. . . . Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital.  Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. 

All of it.  And forever.”  Ben-Gurion also made himself unambiguous by arguing that “to partition, according to the Oxford dictionary, means to divide a thing into two parts. Palestine is divided into three parts, and only in a small part are the Jews allowed to live. We are against that.“  Yet as a “moderate” compared to the other hardliners in his coalition, he did express mixed (racist) feelings: “In my heart, there was joy mixed with sadness: joy that the nations at last acknowledged that we are a nation with a state, and sadness that we lost half of the country, Judea and Samaria, and, in addition, that we have 400,000 [Palestinian] Arabs.”

Very concerned about allowing so many Palestinians to remain in their national home, he continued in this vein: “In the area allocated to the Jewish State there are not more than 520,000 Jews and about 350,000 non-Jews, mostly Arabs. Together with the Jews of Jerusalem, the total population of the Jewish State at the time of its establishment, will be about one million, including almost 40% non-Jews.  Such a composition does not provide a stable basis for a Jewish State. This [demographic] fact must be viewed in all its clarity and acuteness.  With such a composition, there cannot even be absolute certainty that control will remain in the hands of the Jewish majority. . . . There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60 percent.” 

This Zionist preoccupation with allowing Palestinians to remain in their homes–with the constant canard of “demographic threat” posed by Palestinian human beings–was later reflected in the 1947/48 expulsion of Palestinians not only from land within the Israel defined by the partition plan, but also from areas the Zionist leadership considered critical to the state and therefore annexed during Israel’s War of Independence, such as Jerusalem and parts of the Galilee and Negev. 

“The war will give us the land,” Ben-Gurion explained on Feb. 7th, 1948 before any Palestinian or Arab rejection of anything occurred, “the concept of ‘ours’ and ‘not ours’ are only concepts for peacetime, and during war they lose all their meaning.”  The next day, he characterized the foreseen ethnic cleansing in greater detail to the Mapai Council:

“From your entry into Jerusalem, through Lifta, Romema [East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood]. . . there are no [Palestinian] Arabs.  One hundred percent Jews.  Since Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, it has not been Jewish as it is now.  In many [Palestinian] Arab neighborhoods in the west one sees not a single [Palestinian] Arab.  I do not assume that this will change. . . . What had happened in Jerusalem. . . . is likely to happen in many parts of the country. . .  in the six, eight, or ten months of the campaign there will certainly be great changes in the composition of the population in the country.”

And indeed there were: 416 Palestinian villages expunged of their 800,000 native inhabitants (87% of the Palestinian population).  This ethnic cleansing was subsequently codified in laws that prevented the return of Palestinian refugees to the land stolen from them, such as the Absentee Property Law (1950), which stipulated that land be considered abandoned and subject to Israel’s ownership if the Palestinian owners had been absent for even one day beginning in November 1947, when Jewish militia activity was rapidly increasing and refugees fled under the growing threat of violence.

As for Shavit’s claim that Palestinians still haven’t recognized Israel’s right to exist?  Fabrication.  On December 13th, 1988, for example, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat made a historic concession to Israel: full recognition of Israel’s right to exist and an offer of peace based on UN Resolution 242 and the pre-June 1967 borders, i.e. the 1949 armistice lines or Green Line.  This was formal recognition of Israel’s right to exist on 78% of historical Palestine; the Palestinians in return accepted a state based on 22% of their national home.

Then, in 1993, prior to signing the Oslo Accords, Arafat sent two official documents to then Israeli PM Rabin, which again recognized Israel’s right to exist and renouncing violence.  In return the Palestinians did not receive recognition of national rights to self-determination, but instead recognition by Israel only of the PLO only as the “legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” a far lesser concession than a right to exist.

Finally, there is the historic Arab peace initiative of 2002, which Israel has categorically refused to discuss to this day, that has offered Israel not only the right to exist in peace but full normalization with the entire Arab world.  Israel’s response has been entirely absent for nearly a decade.

These are the historical facts of the matter, easily verified by anyone with a modicum of intellectual honesty and curiosity, either internet connection or library access, and motivation beyond Shavit’s narrow, self-serving jingoism.

A Settler’s Reverse Racism

In Shavit’s fantasy, Israel has recognized Palestinian rights while abrogating Jews right in the so-called Land of Israel.  He does not specify what he means by this bizarre assertion, but this unambiguously coded settler talk.  Among the Yesha faithful and their government supporters, impeding the construction of Jewish-only neighborhoods on stolen Palestinian land is tantamount to racism and a denial of historical Jewish rights to the land as decided during biblical times. 

This is farce on a level unfit for publishing by any respectable outlet, and it is shocking that a former board member from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel can write such nonsense with a straight face.  And what Palestinian rights has Israel recognized?  I count one and one alone: recognition of the now thoroughly collaborationist PLO as the “true representative” of the Palestinian people sans pretext of democracy.

Jewishness, Ethnocracy, and the Right of Return

The demand for the right to return will be put to an end, Shavit argues.  Indeed!  At least Shavit says something honest!  The problem with this argument, however, is that it is racist to the core, a fundamental tenet of Israel’s ethnocracy that is unique in the world (where else are refugee rights so categorically dismissed while US congresspeople applaud?) as well as extraordinarily dangerous.  The desire to have Israel recognized in its Jewishness over and against the history of Palestinian suffering in their homeland is a ploy to deny Palestinian national claims as much as it is to affirm Jewish ones.

As for Ben-Gurion more than half a century before, like for generations of so-called liberal Israelis, for Moldovan FM Evet Lieberman, for Polish-born Israeli President Szymon Perski (alias Shimon Peres), for the pseudo-intellectuals like Shavit that give all of this abject racism conceptual cover, the Palestinians must be considered as a threat to Jewishness, stripped of rights granted every other group of refugees on earth, expelled from their land and homes and citizenship, and made to accustom themselves to the permanence of colonial servitude.   Ben-Gurion, as usual, was extremely clear about this: “If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. 

That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs.  We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault?  They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country.  Why should they accept that?”

As long as Israel acts to make the wholesale theft complete by abrogating the basic rights of refugees to their national home, there will be no peace.  It is in this sense that the so-called two-state solution fails to provide a resolution to the core issue of the conflict, which is the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homes in 1947/8, 1967, and gradually yet continually, every single day since 1967 as Israel transfers ever-growing number of its citizens onto Palestinian land.

Arab Countries Have Already Recognized Israel

Shavit’s fifth point is about Arab recognition of Israel and, more than anything, reeks of that awkward, unpleasant combination of Israeli arrogance and insecurity.  Has it ever occurred to Shavit the contradiction of claiming that Arab countries don’t consider Israel legitimate without simultaneously discussing the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, the dozens of additional peace overtures made by to Israel, most notably the numerous Syrian approaches about the Golan Heights stolen from them through war (contra the approval by international law that Shavit claims to desire) and the Arab peace initiative of 2002?

The essential fact is that Israel could have had this legitimacy that it says it yearns for at dozens of points in the last couple decades, but instead chose a path of continued colonization of the West Bank and the Golan, which was made possible only through violence, the threat of violence, and the unconditional support of the most hypocritical country on earth—the US.

Whose Complex Exactly?

Has Europe not resolved its Jewish complex?  Or has Israel not resolved its Europe complex?  One wonders why, if Europe still feels so ambivalent about the Jews, ever increasing numbers of young Israelis are leaving their “national home” for Berlin, former of the capital of the Third Reich? 

One also wonders how Shavit views the fact that it is a punishable crime in Germany to deny the Holocaust, or that Germany in 2003 elevated the status of Judaism in Germany to the same legal position as the Roman Catholic and Evangelical Church. Or that Rabbi Yitzhak Ehrenberg of Berlin’s orthodox community claims that “Orthodox Jewish life is alive in Berlin again.”  Or why so many Israelis have moved to England, where they enjoy disproportionately high standards of living

Or why France’s highest court ruled in 2009 that France must accept moral responsibility for its role in the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews during WWII?  How in the world do these basic facts square with his insinuation that Europe has not yet accepted Jews “right to live”?  Shavit’s characterization is not only absurd at face value, but also at odds with all the evidence based on the revealed preferences of Jews all over Europe.

Excusing the Inexcusable

The worst argument of them all: “Explicit recognition that Israel is the Jewish people’s home will strengthen our willingness to take risks and leave the territories.”  Shavit has been spending far too much time with the Yesha Council.  For people who know something about the history of colonization of the West Bank and the mutually reinforcing relationship between ideological Zionist freaks, state authority, and military power, it is preposterous to suggest that somehow our own inner discomfort about being seen as the bad guys is associated with our inability to end the colonization project—nonsensical beyond words. 

Yet Shavit feels comfortable writing in public that recognizing Israel as the state of one of its ethnic groups is going to provide the moral cover to extend a fake construction freeze, i.e. to comply with Israel’s already existing obligations under the Road Map, not to mention the Fourth Geneva Convention (a.k.a. “the law of nations”) and minimal ethical norms of conduct.

Is it really, truly too difficult for Shavit to wrap his proto-fascist brain around the idea that the theft of so much Palestinian land at the barrel of a gun, that the failure to leave the territories, to end a brutal 43 year military occupation, to cease the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the West Bank and Jerusalem, and moreover to institutionalize permanently all of these atrocities through an ethnocratic regime is the single most important reason why explicit recognition of Israel as the state of its majority group is not forthcoming? 

That the only reason the ethnic group that now demands formal recognition as the dominant group is, in fact, the majority only because of all that theft, dispossession, ethnic cleansing, ongoing discrimination?  It is not a particularly esoteric or difficult-to-comprehend point, but what Shavit doesn’t get it: he puts the consequences forward as the causes of Israel’s intransigence.

This mindset is one of the principal driving forces of violence and conflict in Israel/Palestine.

In the Service of Ethnocracy

As a loyal servant to ethnic exclusivism, Shavit is forced into an anti-historical—indeed, anti-intellectual—set of arguments, which could easily be dismissed were it not for the fact that so many Jews assign a smidgen of credibility to them.  The worldview expressed in Shavit’s article, however, is the most succinct encapsulation of everything that is wrong with the Israeli mentality and therefore the Israeli side of the conflict.

It is a pathological worldview that is, at its core, a recipe for endless conflict.

Yaniv Reich is a half-American, half-Israeli writer, who has lived and worked in the US, Israel, and occupied Palestine, among many other places. In addition to his academic research related to international development issues, Reich maintains the Hybrid States blog, which provides critical commentary on Israel/Palestine, and an early version of this post appeared.

Israeli military injures 15 and burns 3 homes, crushing anti-wall protest in Nbi Saleh village

Oct 22, 2010


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers/Land, property & resource theft and destruction/Ethnic cleansing
Settlers attack family picking olives

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Dozens of settlers attacked a family who were picking olives in Yatta, in the West Bank district of Hebron, witnesses said.  Locals said settlers attacked Othman Abu Sabha and his family, damaged his car and stole their olives.  Meanwhile, settlers entered Kfir Qaddum village east of Qalqiliya, and wrote graffiti on the walls threatening revenge.  Palestinian farmers across the West Bank have reported frequent settler attacks since the olive harvest began in early October.
Farmers Again Prevented from Entering their Land

Today a family in the village of Salim, southeast of Nablus, was prevented from harvesting their olives for a second time this year. All of their trees are located behind a settlers´ road leading to the illegal settlement of Elon More: a settlement which has stolen much of the village’s land.  As the family and three internationals approached the settlers´ road, closed by a military ga te, about 10 soldiers stood waiting for them. These soldiers said it would not be possible for the family to go onto their land because the army did not have enough forces to stay in the field with them. Internationals suggested that the soldiers present remain to ensure their safety, but instead soldiers wasted 45 minutes asserting that this wasn’t possible.  During this time, another jeep with five soldiers arrived, but the army maintained that there were not enough forces available, due to a “special operation”. Several times it was stated by the army that the commander of the unit, who was not available, had decided that the farmers could not harvest today, but “maybe tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow”.
Israel ramps up settlement building

Surveys say hundreds of homes in West Bank have begun to be built since settlement freeze was lifted three weeks ago.
UN: Settlement construction rate undermining Mideast peace talks

Mideast envoy says alarmed by Associated Press report stating 544 new settlement homes were built since freeze expired late last month.
Elders censure Israel over discrimination in east Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — The Elders, a group of retired world figures, criticised Israeli policies in Arab east Jerusalem on Thursday, saying they undermined regional peace efforts and Israel’s standing as a democracy.  “If a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is to be found it has to be here in Jerusalem as well,” said delegation leader and former Irish president Mary Robinson.
Elders Visit Silwan, Hear Local Stories

Bethlehem – PNN – This morning a delegation from the peace advocacy group The Elders, including former US President Jimmy Carter, visited the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The delegation sat down with local leaders to discuss the effects of settler violence and the occupation.  Image About 55,000 people live in Silwan, with many in the al-Bustan district being threatened with eviction as Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat plans to clear the area to build a tourist complex. Fakhri Abu Diab, a local spokesman, told the Elders that Palestinians have lived in Silwan for a thousand years but have been threatened with expulsion, assault, and harassment from Jewish settlers. Abu Diab was followed by a series of testimonials from Silwan residents, including a child’s account of capture and torture in an Israeli military prison.
Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Fifteen injured, Three Homes Burned In Nabi Saleh Village

Ramallah – PNN – At least 15 civilians were injured on Friday and three homes were burned by the Israeli military when troops attacked the weekly anti-wall protest in the village of Nabi Saleh in the central West Bank.
One Injured, Two Arrested, During Wall Protest Near Bethlehem

Bethlehem – PNN – One international supporter was injured and two others were arrested by Israeli soldiers during the weekly anti-wall protest in Al Ma’ssara village near Bethlehem on Friday.  Israeli and international supporters joined the villagers and marched towards lands that Israel has planned to take over in order to construct its wall.  Israeli soldiers stopped the protesters near the local school and used tear gas and sound bombs to force them back. A French activist sustained head injuries from a tear gas bomb and soldiers arrested two other internationals. Today marks the fifth year of anti-wall weekly protests in Al Ma’ssara village. Local organizers told PNN that the injured French activist was taken to the village clinic for treatment and released after receiving four stitches
Dozens Suffer from Gas Inhalation at Ni’lin Weekly Wall Protest

Bethlehem – PNN – Dozens were injured in the weekly march against the wall in the central West Bank village of Ni’lin.  After Friday prayers, Ni’lin villagers listened to a speech from Sheikh Murad Amira, who commended them for campaigning for freedom and spreading their message to the world. Then they went directly and peacefully to the wall, shouting slogans against the wall and the occupation and demanding the release of prisoners.  As soon as the protestors reached the wall, soldiers began firing sound bombs and tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd. When the demonstrators began to flee, the soldiers pursued them back to the village, firing rubber and rubber-tipped bullets and causing a number of minor injuries.
Three Civilians Injured During Weekly Bil’in Anti Wall Protest

Ramallah – PNN – Two adults and one child were reported injured during the weekly anti-wall protest in the central West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday.  Israeli and international supporters joined villagers after the midday prayers at the local mosque and headed towards the Israeli wall that separates local farmers from their lands.  As soon as protester reached the gate of the wall Israeli soldiers stationed there showered them with tear gas and sound bombs.  Lamma Abu Rahma, 8 years old, along with Mohamed Al Khateb  and Ahmad Burnat, both 17 years old, were hit in the foot by a tear gas bombs. Many were also treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.  The village of Bil’in has been protesting the Israeli wall for the past six years. Earlier in the year the Israeli court ordered the military to move the wall back, giving the villagers half of their lands back. The Israeli military has still refused to adhere to the court order.
Israel Crushes A Palestinian Gandhi: Bil’in Organizer Sentenced to 18 months, Joseph Dana

Adeeb Abu Rahmah, a protest leader from Bil’in, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by the Military Court of Appeals, for his involvement in organizing demonstrations. The decision dramatically aggravates the one-year sentence originally imposed in the first instance.
‘Viva Palestina’ activists deliver tons of aid to Gaza Strip

Most of the activists arrived at the Egyptian port El-Arish on flights from Syria, while just 30 activists made the journey with the aid supplies by ship.
8th Week against the Apartheid Wall, November 9 – 16 2010

Eight years into the construction of the Apartheid Wall, over 60% has already been built to ghettoize communities, threatening over 260,000 people with displacement and stealing land and water resources.
Univ. of Michigan students protest IDF speakers, 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.
Ardent Zionist turns boycott advocate

Occupied East Jerusalem (IPS) – 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.
Why is the UN hosting events with the Simon Wiesenthal Center (for intolerance)?, Philip Weiss

This is disturbing. The United Nations University in New York held a session yesterday with the appealing title, Can Citizen Action Save the World? and where did it do so– at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s “New York Tolerance Center” on E. 42d Street.
Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

Gaza man dies after falling in tunnel

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A 20-year-old from southern Gaza died after falling in a tunnel near Salah El-Deen gate in Rafah.  The body of Ahmad Maher Abu Tu’eimah was taken to Abu Yousef An-Nijar hospital, Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Silmiyya said.  A network of tunnels under the border between Gaza and Egypt have provided a lifeline to residents of the coastal enclave since Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza four years ago.
Israel finally confirms the obvious – The collective punishment of the Gaza siege is based on politics, not security, Gisha

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.
Exclusive: ‘No’ to UNRWA school ‘near Hamas base’

The Defense Ministry has rejected a UN request to establish a number of new schools in the Gaza Strip, because, it says, they were supposed to be built on land provided by Hamas and next to a Hamas military installation.
Jordan strips Jerusalem residents of citizenship rights

The Jordanian government has warned against the dangerous rise in the number of Jerusalemites residing in Jordan who don’t renew their residency permits issued by the Israeli occupation. This prompted the government to change the Jerusalemites permanent residency yellow cards to temporary green cards, stripping them of their basic rights. The Jordanian opposition said the citizenship order is unconstitutional. Hasan al-Shubaki met a Jerusalemite family and reported on their ordeal.
Rolling blackouts resume in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — One of the generators in Gaza’s sole power plant will stop running Friday as it has run out of fuel, a Gaza Electricity Company spokesman said.  Jamal Ad-Dardasawi said efforts to open Kerem Shalom crossing for the entry of fuel had failed. Israeli authorities informed Gaza crossings official Raed Fattouh that both Kerem Shalom and the Karni crossing would be closed on Friday and Saturday, and reopen Sunday.
Seeing Is Believing

ANERA- PNN –  The dingy basement room was constructed in 1972 with miserable ventilation and light. Worn-out, outdated computers are stacked in a monotonous line alongside the moldy crumbling walls.  ImageThis was the room in Kufur Thulth Secondary Girls School, located southeast of Qalqilia, where hundreds of high school girls used to squeeze in together to learn about computers.  “Seeing is believing,” said the headmistress Ayda Mwafi as she tried to describe the miserable condition of the old computer lab.
Racism & Discrimination

Israeli Arab MK: Loyalty oath relegates Israel’s Palestinian citizens to inferior status

In a New York Times op-ed, Ahmed Tibi says the loyalty oath is a ‘punch in the gut to Palestinians who for more than 60 years have struggled to achieve equal rights in Israel.’
Interior Ministry’s Oz police unit accused of beating U.S. immigrants

Their lawyer: Police yelled at them, ‘Afro-Americans, kushim [darkies], we don’t need you here.’

PCHR Weekly Report: 2 killed, 3 wounded, 13 abducted by Israeli forces this week

According to its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for the week of 14– 20 October 2010, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights found that two members of the Palestinian resistance were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip; three civilians were wounded, and 13 abducted, including two Israeli peace demonstrators and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

PCHR Weekly Report: 2 killed, 3 wounded, 13 abducted by Israeli forces this week

Witnesses: Israeli patrol enters Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Israeli forces entered Gaza via the Karni and Sufa crossings Thursday morning, witnesses said.  Locals said soldiers patrolled the area east of Gaza City and opened fire before withdrawing.  Also, the An-Nasser Brigades claimed responsibility for attacking an Israeli force stationed near Al-Matbaq gate east of Rafah in southern Gaza.  An Israeli military spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.
More Clashes Reported In East Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers invaded on Thursday at night the Al Tour neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, and clashed with dozens of residents.

More Clashes Reported In East Jerusalem

Israeli Troops Arrest Five Palestinians; Settlers Attack Villagers

Hebron – PNN – An Israeli military force invaded the villages of Beit Awa and Beit Omer near the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Friday morning, arresting five civilians.  Local sources said that troops searched and ransacked a number of homes in both villages before arresting five men and taking them to an unknown location.  Also on Friday, a group of Israeli settlers stormed the village of Kufer Qaduom in the northern West Bank. Settlers vandalized farmers’ property and wrote slogans on residents’ homes, telling them to leave or be killed.
Security guard attacks Al Jazeera reporter in Jerusalem

A private security guard was arrested on Thursday evening after allegedly attacking an Al Jazeera reporter at Malha Mall in Jerusalem.  The suspect, a Jewish man in his 40s, worked as a security guard at the Malha branch of the post office.  The reporter said he was sitting in a coffee shop in the mall with his crew when the guard attacked without provocation.  The guard was not armed during the confrontation. He was taken for questioning and will be brought before the court on Friday morning.

Sources: 6 detained at dawn from Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) – Israeli forces detained six residents of the West Bank district of Hebron at dawn on Friday, Palestinian security sources said.  The sources said Israeli soldiers detained Tareq Ahmad, 35, and confiscated 6 laptops and 21 cell phones from his home.  Meanwhile, Mahmoud Sawarneh, 18, and his 16-year-old brother Ahmad were detained from Beit Ummar, north of Hebron.  Saed Masalmeh, Yosef Masalmeh and Abdul Khader Masalmeh were detained from Beit Awwa in southern Hebron.  An Israeli military spokesman said two Palestinians were detained in Beit Awwa, but was not aware of any other detentions overnight.
Palestinian captives at Atzion live on bread and water for the past 10 days

Director of the PPS in the district of al-Khalil called on all human rights organisations to intervene to put a limit to the suffering of Palestinian captives at the Atzion detention centre
Israel’s Arab Helpers

Report: PA uncovers Hamas arms cache in Ramallah

PA security forces find rockets and automatic weapons in warehouse, which may have been meant for use on PA officials as well as targets in Israel.
PA officers secretly visit Rabin Center

Palestinian security officials from West Bank ask to keep museum tour discreet, receive headsets with Arabic translation and show interest in slain prime minister’s military legacy.,7340,L-3973312,00.html
MADA Asks PA to Release Detained Journalist

Bethlehem- PNN – The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) called on the Palestinian Authority to take immediate action to release 26-year-old Al Quds TV correspondent Mamdouh Hamamreh.  Hamamreh, from the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, has been held in the PA’s Bethlehem civilian prison since September 19, 2010.   The story of Hamamreh began on September 1, when a group of Palestinian intelligence services officers came to his home and took him to the intelligence headquarters in Bethlehem. After three days of questioning about his work at Al Quds TV, he was released and asked to return on September 18. He could not make that date and instead went in on September 19, whereupon the PA arrested him immediately.
War Criminals

Probe: IDF brass may have ignored risk of Gaza war civilian deaths

Former Givati commander probed for ordering air strike on civilians despite warnings.
‘IDF investigation an Israeli stunt’

Salah al-Samouni, who lost family members to IDF bombing in Gaza’s Zaitun neighborhood says current military probe into air raid meant only to ‘ease military’s conscience,’ not punish perpetrators.,7340,L-3973440,00.html
British passengers of Gaza flotilla seek to testify in Israeli probe

33 flotilla passengers from the U.K. ask to testify in person after Turkel panel requests only basic information.
Bulldozer driver insists he did not see Rachel Corrie

The family of Rachel Corrie had a long and painful wait for the opportunity to come face to face in court with the driver of the Israeli Army bulldozer that crushed her to death in southern Gaza more than seven years ago. But yesterday they were denied the chance – listening instead to the driver’s voice from behind a screen during four hours of testimony as he gave his own version of what happened on that fateful March afternoon.
Political Developments

Sha’ath: Talks on hold until US election

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A member of the PLO’s negotiating team said Thursday that the Obama administration had all but given up its efforts to restart peace talks at least until US midterm elections next month.  Fatah leader Nabil Sha’ath said the US position threw the Palestinian Authority into crisis through its handling of the talks, which ended in September when Israel opted to renew building settlements in the occupied territories.
Islamic Jihad joining Hamas ceasefire with Israel?

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Islamic Jihad is taking strides to restrain its members in the Gaza Strip from unauthorized attacks, suggesting that the group has quietly joined Hamas in enforcing a nearly 2-year ceasefire with Israel.  This became clear when, on Sunday morning, an Israeli drone killed two men widely believed to be current or former members of the Palestinian movement in northern Gaza; mysteriously, the group did not claim them as their own.  The Israeli military said the two were preparing to fire rockets into Israel.
Syria to officially invite Fatah to Damascus

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Syria will officially invite Fatah to continue Palestinian reconciliation talks in Damascus as a dispute between the two has been resolved, sources told Ma’an.  A meeting was scheduled to be held in the Syrian capital on Wednesday, but Fatah delayed the meeting over a perceived snub at the recent Arab League summit in Sirtre, Libya.  Fatah officials had been offended when Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad urged President Mahmoud Abbas to stop preventing attacks on Israel from the West Bank at the summit. Fatah leader Nabil Sha’ath said it would be difficult to send a delegation to Damascus “after the Syrians humiliated us in their speech.”
Taha: Fatah visit to Gaza postponed indefinitely

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A scheduled visit by Fatah to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip has been postponed, a Hamas leader said Thursday.  Ayman Taha said the visit, scheduled for Sunday, was delayed indefinitely “as not to create the impression that such a meeting would substitute for the Damascus talks.”  Taha added that “contacts are ongoing between the two movements to set a place other than Damascus.”
Peace with Palestinians would help U.S. on Iran: Peres (Reuters)

Reuters – Israel needs good ties with the United States to survive and must be more understanding of U.S. demands over securing peace with the Palestinians, Israeli President Shimon Peres said in remarks aired on Friday.*
Netanyahu: Palestinians could only be ready for peace if they recognize Israel as a Jewish state

PM tells Jewish leaders that peace requires security and that Israel’s security needs are growing more and more.
Israel Considers Unilateral Moves

Israeli officials are considering declaring unilateral steps if the Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas implements its vows to walk out of the negotiations and seek international recognition of a Palestinian State

Israel Considers Unilateral Moves

Clinton: We promise not to ‘turn our backs’ on Palestinians or Israelis, Josh Rogin

In a rousing 30-minute speech Wednesday night, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton implored attendees at the annual gala for the American Task Force on Palestine not to give up on the struggling Middle East peace process, despite past, current, and future obstacles. Hosted by ATFP President Ziad Asali, the event was packed with officials, experts, and influence makers involved with the region. The four honorees of the night were Retired Col. Peter Mansoor, renowned poet Naomi Shihab Nye, playwright Betty Shamieh, and Booz Allen Hamilton’s Ghassan Salameh. Other notables figures in attendance included Prince Turki bin Faisal al Saud and Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the Park 51 Muslim Community Center. Palestinian-American comedienne Maysoon Zayid was also a hit.
Other News

Hamas ‘very eager’ to discuss Shalit with Israel: Carter (AFP)

AFP – Gaza’s Hamas rulers are “very eager” to resume talks with Israel over a prisoner exchange which could see captured soldier Gilad Shalit being freed, former US president Jimmy Carter said on Thursday.*
Report: Shalit mediator met with senior jailed Hamas official

Source says that all Hamas leaders, in prison, in Gaza, and out of the country, have equal influence on group’s decisions.
Peres: Israel could not exist without the US 

President Shimon Peres on Thursday said that Israel could not exist without the assistance of the United States, and that it should assist in America’s security and to help enable the formation of a coalition against Iran by solving the conflict with the Palestinians, Israel Radio reported.  In Peres’s remarks at the JPPP conference in Jerusalem, the President said that he does not believe that there are problems with the US. He continued to say that he believes that the American people have a central connection with Israel, according to the report.
Netanyahu’s ‘list of millionaires’

List of potential donors prepared by then-opposition leader in 2007 provides peek into his fundraising industry in US. Officials include extreme rightists, people who got in trouble with law.,7340,L-3973366,00.html
Netanyahu may be eyeing Livni and Kadima as coalition partners

Officials believe Netanyahu seeks to include largest opposition party in coalition ahead of a possible resumption of settlement freeze.
2 IDF soldiers arrested for allegedly trading stolen weapons

State, military police join forces to probe 6 suspects in illegal trading of M-16 rifles, hand grenades and ammunition to criminals.
‘World Jews must play role in future Mideast peace talks’

U.S. Jewish leaders mark a radical departure from the Jewish Diaspora’s traditional custom of deferring all such decisions to Israeli government.
‘Israel violent regardless of Rabin murder’

Former chief rabbi, two of Israel leading sociologists believe Israelis would have become more materialistic, greedy and selfish than in November 1995 even without trauma of prime minister’s assassination. ‘The murder deepened the polarization and hatred between the people,’ Rabbi Lau says.,7340,L-3973330,00.html

Please see ‘Budrus’, Philip Weiss

Yesterday James North wrote a piece about Budrus and Ayed Morrar, the Palestinian organizer of nonviolent resistance who is at the heart of the film. At North’s urging, I went to see the film yesterday.  Every story we get about Palestinians must be smuggled into the United States; and now there is a story smuggled in, about the actual occupation, in the form of a feel-good documentary. By the end of Budrus you think that everything is OK, that the small village of Budrus got its land back, and the Palestinian activists and the Israeli activists are working together. The last image is of the activists walking down the hill together. A feel good moment, which does not represent the reality of the occupation.
Olives – A Palestinian family affair, Nour Odeh

Mommy wake up! It’s time to go pick olives! The sweet voice of my five-year-old Yasser this Friday morning didn’t feel so sweet. It was six in the morning on my first day off in a while and I was hoping to stay well-planted in dreamland until 9am.  But Yasser was too excited about his upcoming adventure, picking the olives we would eat for months to come, and being a very curious child, was curious to know how these treats end up at his table.   Olives and olive oil are a Palestinian must. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, these two healthy offerings are never absent from a Palestinian table.
Jerusalem center promotes Palestinian heritage

Situated just a few yards away from the Haram al-Sharif in the Souq al-Qattanin, the Cotton Market in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Centre for Jerusalem Studies is both an assertion of the city’s Palestinian identity, and an example of the threat that identity faces.
Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

The Other Citizens of Israel, AHMAD TIBI

TAIBEH, Israel — 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.
Time to abandon talks?

With Israel pushing a hardline stance while settlement expansion is ongoing, pressure is mounting on Ramallah to ditch US sponsored peace talks with Tel Aviv, writes Saleh Al-Naami.


It’s a normal day in Jerusalem. The famous Jerusalem sesame-seed round loaf of bread, all kinds of people, from all religions worship God in their own way.  There’s the traffic, the Old City shops, Jewish kids playing, Muslim kids playing, Christian kids playing, and… you can’t decipher who is who. If it were not for a few juxtaposed shots in between like soldiers, weapons, checkpoints, settlements, arrests, confrontation, house demolitions, and other pointers of a military occupation — one could falsely imagine that coexistence and normal life already exists in the holy city.
Now ‘Newsweek’ pressures Obama to include Hamas
Helena Cobban alerts us to this significant article by Babak Dehghanpisheh in this week’s Newsweek A Place for Mr. Meshaal, which reinforces what we all know, the need for Hamas at the table. The article includes some startling revelations that generally go unspoken in our mainstream media. Reflecting on the recent Newsweek interview with Meshaal, Dehghanpisheh asserts “Meshaal desperately wants a place at the table” and continues.
Image and Reality of Barack Obama’s Israel Policy, Alex Kane

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.
Liberal Zionism is Flawed, Miko Peled

Setting aside for a moment the argument of whether dividing historic Palestine into two states was ever a good idea, clearly forty years ago it was a viable solution. Today as liberal Zionist Jews and others call for this solution, it is a sad and pathetic sight.  In 1967, after the IDF completed the conquest of Palestine, great men like Dr. Nahum Goldman, Dr. Yishayahu Leibovitch, General Dr. Matti Peled and other prominent Jews called for the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. However, Jews in Israel, America and elsewhere around the world were basking in the messianic glow of the conquest of historic Israel, bewitched by the sounds of biblical names now made accessible. Names like Hebron and Bethlehem, Shilo and Bet El, all of which who were now within reach drove everyone, including secular liberal Jews to believe that there is a God and that he was really on their side.
Image and reality of Barack Obama’s Israel policy, Alex Kane

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.
Let them eat cake, 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.
Britain Hangs out ‘Welcome’ Sign to War Criminals, Stuart Littlewood – London

The UK is to become a safe haven for Israeli psychopaths while they continue their brutal military occupation, colonization and ethnic cleansing of the Holy Land, and carry on bombarding blockaded Gaza and executing or abducting anyone bringing humanitarian help.  That’s the British government’s latest contribution of Middle East peace.
The Violence Debate: Teaching the Oppressed How to Fight Oppression, Ramzy Baroud

An American activist once gave me a book she wrote detailing her experiences in Palestine. The largely visual volume documented her journey of the occupied West Bank, rife with barbered wires, checkpoints, soldiers and tanks. It also highlighted how Palestinians resisted the occupation peacefully, in contrast to the prevalent media depictions linking Palestinian resistance to violence.
Actuality–to use the language of Hegel–of the Zionist Idea

“Liberal Israelis fear that these measures may import the Arab-Israeli conflict, which had been largely confined to the territories occupied by Israel beyond the 1948 partition line, into Israel proper. Adding to the psychological barriers, the Lod authorities have erected physical ones. This year they have finished building a wall three metres high to separate Lod’s Jewish districts from its Arab ones. And where the Arab suburbs are cordoned off to prevent their spread, Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, encourages building for Jews to proceed with abandon.  His foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on the coalition’s far right, champions building quarters for soldiers’ families in the town. The equally chauvinistic interior minister, Eli Yishai, who heads an ultra-Orthodox party, Shas, grants building permits for religious Jews.
Palestine’s Burning Olive Groves, Rannie Amiri

Olives and olive oil. Nothing symbolizes Palestinian land, identity and culture as they do. They are the hallmarks of national pride and the veritable heart of Palestine’s agricultural economy.  Although the subjugation and daily humiliation of occupation takes various forms in East Jerusalem and the West Bank—demeaning checkpoint searches; arrest and interrogation of minors; preventing ambulances from expeditiously transporting the sick to hospitals; the eviction of families and demolition of homes—few situations evoke more outrage and deep sadness as do the torching of olive orchards by vigilante settlers.

Ahmedinejad in Lebanon: shifting regional power balance

“Khosh amadid” quickly became the new catchphrase for many Lebanese when thousands of signs reading “welcome” in Farsi went up in areas around the country. The occasion was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s two-day visit to the country last week. Matthew Cassel comments for the Electronic Intifada.
SPEAKING FREELY : Ahmadinejad spurs Lebanon’s Palestinians

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad received a hero’s welcome from Hezbollah during his recent visit to Lebanon. He also took time out to meet with Palestinian refugees, who have indirectly benefited from extensive Iranian aid. “He’s more Palestinian than many Palestinians,” was one observation. – Franklin Lamb
A three-handed game in the Middle East

A surge in diplomatic activity in the Middle East has focused on the cabinet crisis in Iraq, and on tensions in Lebanon over the 2005 murder of ex-prime minister Rafik al-Hariri. This flurry of statesmanship has revealed considerable coordination between Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. – Sami Moubayed

Thursday: 1 Iraqi Killed, 7 Wounded

At least one Iraqi was killed and seven more were wounded in light violence.
Maliki in Turkey on regional support tour (AFP)

AFP – Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki met Turkish leaders Thursday as part of a regional tour to drum up support for his bid to stay in power, the Anatolia news agency reported.*
Iraqi leaders not following US advice on gov’t (AP)

AP – American influence has so dwindled in Iraq over the last several months that Iraqi lawmakers and political leaders say they no longer follow Washington’s advice for forming a government.*
Iraq city with soaring child cancer gets new hospital (AFP)

AFP – Iraq’s first specialist cancer hospital for children could not have opened in a needier location — since 1993, Basra province has seen a sharp rise in the incidence of childhood cancer.*
Iraqi Journalists Duck and Dive

With declining international media interest in Iraq, local reporters juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet.  Freelance journalist Faisal Ali says the only way to survive in Iraq’s cutthroat media market these days is to duck and dive and keep your editors far apart.
U.S./ Other Mideast/World News

US bracing for major leak of secret Iraq war files (AP)

AP – The Obama administration is bracing for the imminent disclosure by the WikiLeaks website of a vast cache of secret U.S. Iraq war documents, which could throw a light on some of the darkest episodes of that conflict.*
Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing

Nearly four years after the federal government began a string of investigations and criminal prosecutions against Blackwater Worldwide personnel accused of murder and other violent crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cases are beginning to fall apart, burdened by a legal obstacle of the government’s own making.
Candidate who Shot Iraqis Brags about Gun Skills

A North Carolina Republican who killed two unarmed Iraqi prisoners in 2004 is holding a fundraiser at a gun range.
US to cut aid to Pakistani army units over abuse-NYT

WASHINGTON, Oct 22 (Reuters) – The United States intends to cut off aid to about a half-dozen Pakistani army units believed to have killed civilians and unarmed prisoners, The New York Times reported late on Thursday.  If confirmed, the decision would represent an extraordinary censure of the Pakistani military just as President Barack Obama’s administration seeks greater action from Islamabad in tackling Taliban safe havens.
Chavez meets Syrian President

The Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez met his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, yesterday on the Middle East leg of an international tour partly intended to counter what he calls US “imperialism”.
Chávez to buy S-300 missiles that Moscow refused to deliver to Iran

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said that the South American country will purchase S-300 missile systems that Russia refused to deliver to Iran due to the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council on the Islamic Republic
UAE opens east coast naval base to secure oil-export capability; Move would ensure flow in event Iran seals Strait of Hormuz

The United Arab Emirates has opened a naval base on its east coast as part of efforts to secure its ability to export oil in the event Iran closes the strategic Strait of Hormuz, local media said Thursday.  The move by the UAE comes at the same time as the United States approved its biggest arms deal ever, announcing Wednesday that it will sell up to $60 billion worth of warplanes, helicopters and other weapons to Saudi Arabia, partly to help it counter Iran.
Egypt’s Mubarak ‘will run again’

A senior Egyptian official says President Hosni Mubarak will stand for re-election next year despite rumours about his health.
Egypt’s New Religious Fervour Breeds Ghetto Mentality

CAIRO (Reuters) – A wave of religious fervour and a backlash by secular liberals has left some ordinary Egyptians feeling like strangers in their own country, and civil rights activists warn of a dangerous drift into sectarianism.
Bahrain’s Shia face tough election battle

With a parliamentary election due in Bahrain this Saturday, the BBC’s Bill Law looks at the struggle of the country’s Shia majority for more powers from the Sunni-led rulers.
Islam in the West

A Canadian line of Campbell’s soups has activists stewing over Islamic connection

Campbell Soup Co., the Camden, N.J., food giant, has been fighting a grass-roots boycott of its products after its Canadian subsidiary rolled out a line of soups certified as halal, meaning they’re prepared according to Islamic dietary laws.
What about Iran?

High School Cheerleader Kicked Off Squad for Refusal to Cheer for Her Rapist

Rah, rah, sis boom bah: Silsbee High School in Texas wants their cheerleaders smiling, energetic, and willing to cheer for their rapists by name. Go team!  H.S., a Silsbee student, reported being raped in 2008 by Rakheem Bolton, a fellow student and athletic star, with the help of two of his friends. In the end, Bolton recently ended up getting off without serving any jail time by pleading guilty to a lesser assault charge, spending two years on probation, doing community service, paying a fine, and attending anger management courses. Hardly seems like an adequate punishment, but it’s unfortunately not uncommon for attackers to bargain down their charges. What really gets the blood boiling is how the students’ high school treated the victim when the rape charge was levied.

Liberal rabbis Lippman and Bachman urge Brooklynites to buy products from Occupied West Bank!

Oct 22, 2010

Philip Weiss 

This is amazing. Next Tuesday evening, several groups will be picketing Ricky’s NY, a cosmetics store in Brooklyn Heights that sells Ahava products, which are made in the occupied West Bank from minerals that belong to Palestinians. Nancy Kricorian of Code Pink, one of the organizers (along with Brooklyn for Peace, Jews Say No, and Jewish Voice for Peace), writes:

We have a sound permit for Tuesday [from 5:30-6:30 p.m.], and some people will be wearing monster masks that go with signs saying “Occupation is an Ugly Business/Don’t buy Ahava products at Ricky’s NY.” The long-expected pushback started when we took the campaign to Brooklyn. Last month the counter-protesters included Hasids in black suits, some Hebron-settler-style young men wearing clown wigs, and Orthodox women who emerged from the store triumphantly clutching the Ahava products they had just purchased. Their chant was “Not One Inch.”

There’s another factor in the Brooklyn protest. Last summer in the Brooklyn Paper, two liberal Brooklyn rabbis, Rabbi Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope and Rabbi Ellen Lippman of Kolot Chayeinu took on Code Pink and urged Brooklynites to buy products made in the Occupied Territories! There were several rabbis signing the letter, but Bachman and Lippman stand out because they have such status in the progressive community.

Bachman hosted Rashid Khalidi at his synagogue, and Combatants for Peace (though I’m told the map in his Hebrew school shows no Green Line for the Occupied Territories– true, Rabbi?). Lippman is on the board of Rabbis for Human Rights (and despite her human rights concerns, she has warm n fuzzy feelings for Israel as “that grand experiment in Jewish self-determination”).

What’s amazing about their letter is the acceptance of the occupation, and the declaration of Area C as somehow Israel’s territory! The rabbis:

CODEPINK ignores the history and legal status of Mizpeh Shalom, where the Ahava products in question are manufactured. In fact, Mizpeh Shalom is an Israeli Kibbutz founded in 1970 in an uninhabited area alongside the Dead Sea, near the southern boundary of the West Bank. According to the Oslo II accords, signed in 1995 by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Mizpeh Shalom is part of “Area C”, a huge section of the West Bank over which Israel, again by joint agreement, was granted full control, except over Palestinian civilians.
As Rabbis, we pray and work for an end to the insecurity of Israelis and the sufferings of Palestinians. This will not come about through movements which are one-sided, and which would rather demonize and blacklist, rather than focus on effective, realistic political change.
Meanwhile, we encourage you to purchase Ahava products at Ricky’s, and to contact Dom Costello, Ricky’s CEO, [number deleted], and by leaving a comment at (click on “log in” and then “contact us”). Tell Ricky’s that you expect them to give Israeli products the same access as those of any other democratic, law abiding country.

Last summer, Brooklyn For Peace (BFP) renewed its call to boycott Ahava products and made clear the status of Mitzpe Shalem.  

The abuse that probably poses the greatest threat to the possibility for peace between Israelis and Palestinians has been the constantly expanding settlement of Palestinian lands by Israelis who, with the backing of their government, take control of an area and its resources. Contrary to the rabbis’ letter, Ahava products are, in fact, produced through unlawful appropriation of resources of the Occupied West Bank by a settlement located in the Occupied West Bank, under a partnership with organizations that profit from and fund the settlement of the West Bank. Specifically, Ahava’s manufacturing facility is located in Mitzpe Shalem, which is located in the West Bank.

Two West Bank settlements (Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia) own 44.69% of the stock in Ahava—Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd, according to certificates from the Israeli Registrar of Companies. Another 37% of Ahava is held by Hamashbir Holdings, an investment fund that also invests in the export of agricultural products from West Bank settlements.

What is the applicable law? As the Israeli High Court of Justice acknowledged in a 2005 decision, the West Bank is “held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation.” Consequently, as the Court stated, the legal regime that applies there is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Thus, all of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Miztpe Shalem and Kalia, exist in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Under the Convention, the only legitimate interests and duties of the occupying power concern the security needs of the people in the home territory of that power and the needs of the people being occupied. Settlement and expropriation of resources by civilians from the home territory are not lawful activities, and serve no security purpose for Israel.

The consequences of the illegal settlement of the West Bank are not theoretical. Apart from the day-to-day hardships that the settlement infrastructure has created for Palestinians and the persistent violent harassment of Palestinians by settlers, the settlements are perhaps the single greatest obstacle to peace.

The letter from the Brooklyn rabbis seeks to muddy the status, and therefore the role, of Mitzpe Shalem in obstructing peace. The letter correctly states that Mitzpe Shalem is located in what the now-defunct Oslo Accords had designated as Area C, the area in which all the illegal settlements are located. While the Oslo Accords initially placed that area under Israeli military control as part of a phased transition to Palestinian control, the Accords never transferred sovereignty over Area C to the Israeli government, as the 2005 High Court decision demonstrates.

In any event, the transfer of Area C was blocked in 2000, by the Israeli government under the leadership of the current Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, and the Oslo process came to an end. To suggest that Mitzpe Shalem is not illegal because it may someday be part of some future agreement is, at best, wishful thinking. The West Bank remains Occupied territory; the settlements remain illegal; there can be no peace agreement as long as Israel continues its settlement project. Mitzpe Shalem remains an obstacle to peace, not part of the solution.

The rabbis criticize the boycott movement for not taking a position on “positive attempts to resolve the decades old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . . .” In fact, our Ahava boycott campaign is precisely a positive attempt to remove one of the greatest obstacles to peace–the illegal settlement of the West Bank–and to restore a commitment to international law and respect for human rights. There can be no positive move toward peace without a commitment to law and human rights. The rabbis’ misguided call to support Israel by buying these illegally produced products for the profit of illegal settlements is antithetical to any call for peace or justice. And there can be no peace without justice.

Now ‘Newsweek’ pressures Obama to include Hamas

Oct 22, 2010


Helena Cobban alerts us to this significant article by Babak Dehghanpisheh in this week’s Newsweek A Place for Mr. Meshaal, which reinforces what we all know, the need for Hamas at the table. The article includes some startling revelations that generally go unspoken in our mainstream media. Reflecting on the recent Newsweek interview with Meshaal, Dehghanpisheh asserts “Meshaal desperately wants a place at the table” and continues: (my bold)

“Even to suggest an opening to Hamas would blow every fuse in the Israeli political establishment,” says an administration official who asked not to be named discussing the politics of a U.S. ally. For that matter, Obama himself is facing enough domestic opposition without talking to terrorists.

“The blowback here would be extreme,” says Robert Malley, a former member of President Clinton’s Mideast peace team now at the International Crisis Group. Still, Meshaal sounds more moderate these days than he once did. Although he still calls for bigger concessions than Israel is likely to grant, they’re at least within the realm of rational discussion.

I reject the idea it is in anyone’s best interest to isolate Hamas, certainly not the Palestinians. By far the strengthening of Palestinians into one unified voice will do more to move the process along than any one feature at this juncture in my opinion.

Nevertheless, Abbas is under heavy pressure from U.S. and Israeli officials to keep Hamas isolated. The Fatah leader is disinclined to argue with Washington: America has contributed more than $74 million to the Palestinian Authority this year alone—more than all Arab countries combined. But keeping Hamas isolated gives Meshaal’s group every reason to play the spoiler. Fatah on its own could never stop the violence. “It’s quite clear that no agreement regarding this conflict can be implemented without the participation of the main Palestinian forces,” says Mouin Rabbani, a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.

I urge everyone to read the interview and Dehghanpisheh’s article.

Why is the UN hosting events with the Simon Wiesenthal Center (for intolerance)?

Oct 22, 2010

Philip Weiss 

This is disturbing. The United Nations University in New York held a session yesterday with the appealing title, Can Citizen Action Save the World? and where did it do so– at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s “New York Tolerance Center” on E. 42d Street.

But the Simon Wiesenthal Center has opposed the building of a mosque/Islamic center in downtown New York out of pure intolerance… and is building a museum in Jerusalem on a historic Muslim graveyard, desecrating graves hundreds of years old.

Should the U.N. be holding hands with the Wiesenthal Center? Heck no. Here the group Jews Against Islamophobia, which demonstrates every Wednesday outside the intolerant Wiesenthal Center, protests the collaboration yesterday. Organizers said they had talked to some of the UN folk as they entered the place, and educated them. Maybe things will change. (Below is Thomas Cox, wearing a keffiyeh, just outside the glass from the UN logo.

The power of a walkout

Oct 22, 2010 

Ahmed Moor

I had a few reactions to the University of Michigan walkout video. First, I was amazed at the numerical superiority of the protesters. I couldn’t help but feel that the Hillelniks or whoever organized the event failed to provide basic moral support to the hasbara fellows at the front of the classroom. It makes me wonder how many Zionists are the fair-weather types.

That emotion intermingled with a little pride as the video played on. We’ve undoubtedly come a long way – and for sure there’s a lot to do – but we deserve a few moral victories here and there if only for sustenance’s sake. We can bask in the significance of a mass walk-out during an attack by two IDF drones in a Michigan classroom without overstating the importance of the event.

And finally, I was a little embarrassed. I’m the kind of person who always cringes in socially awkward situations. I mean, sure these guys are part of the machinery (projectiles or cogs?) that massacres, deprives, stunts, ethnically cleanses, marauders, hacks, maims, mangles, thieves, imprisons, and pillages the Palestinians, but don’t they deserve a fair hearing – at least so I can avoid the acuteness of my social anxiety?

No, of course they don’t. But it made me wonder how much of the West indulged the omnivorous Israeli state out of a sense of politeness. I’m sure I read somewhere that making a scene is a WASPs worst nightmare ever (and other people’s too, I suspect). Would I ever be comfortable saying to Ehud Olmert, “You’d be hanged in a civilized state for the crimes you perpetrated against the civilians in Gaza,” in an academic setting? I might be, but a Ban Ki-moon (or Salam Fayyad) wouldn’t.

It was after that that I was overcome by a sense of empathy. During the walkout, one of the army tools issues a plaintive plea: “Can you stay so you can ask questions?” He spoke in an excruciatingly obsequious tone. He was begging.

And really, why not stay? Perhaps this human being has a point of view. And maybe that point of view is valid and reflective of a prism I’ve never conceived of. He has feelings, and I wondered if I might choke back anger, shame and disappointment at being treated so crudely. Imagine, your voice is negated and occluded by a mass collective refusing to listen. There was something familiar about this.

That’s when it occurred to me – the army stooge was a Palestinian, perhaps for the first time.  

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