Goosebumps video links American sacrifices in civil rights struggle to Palestinian protesters’ travails

Nov 07, 2010

Philip Weiss

One of my strongest impressions of my last trip to Palestine is what a great price people are paying for their sturdy resistance to occupation. This is also a theme of Budrus, the fine new documentary. Well now Sana Kassem (whose work we grabbed last week) sounds the same theme with another stirring video, this one marrying Barbara Dane’s civil-rights anthem, It Isn’t Nice (backed up by the Chambers brothers), to images of the struggle in Palestine. Notice especially the three last pictures in the sequence. And these lines:

They murdered folks in Alabama,

They shot Medgar in the back–

Did you say that isn’t proper?

Did you stand out on the track?

You were quiet just like mice,

Now you say that we’re not nice.

But if that’s freedom’s price, we don’t mind…

(Thanks to Norman Finkelstein)

Obama’s political woes elicit advice from Israel (sans the usual middlemen)

Nov 07, 2010

Philip Weiss

More craziness from Israel– pressure on Obama without the usual lobby middlemen. Aluf Benn, an editor at Haaretz, echoes David Broder’s column saying that a U.S. attack on Iran would resurrect the economy and reelect Obama (Broder link here), then goes further and advises Obama to carry out such an attack so as to win Israel’s compliance with international law re colonies in West Bank. Israel sure is a tough lay!

Broder is the voice of the American center, which supported Obama and still believes in his ability to get back on track. If the president listens to him, the conditions will be created for a historic deal with Israel: elimination of the Iranian threat in return for Palestinian independence and dismantlement of the settlements in the West Bank. In other words: You give me Itamar, I will give you Natanz.

Obama and Netanyahu are great campaigners when in the opposition, but their political trade names became blurred when they came into power. They will be tested in their ability to overcome character weaknesses, old baggage and past disputes, in order to create a blueprint that will reshape the Middle East. If they succeed, they will leave a legacy – and win the next elections.

Oh and this: Netanyahu was reported to be planning to tell Biden today, the U.S. must attack Iran. Says my tipster: Boorish but predictable. They don’t even have the decency to wait a couple of weeks after the election. (Thanks to Ofer Neiman for Benn pickup).

‘New Yorker’ connects Elvis Costello’s use of the word ‘nigger’ 30 years ago to his recent participation in boycott of Israel

Nov 07, 2010

Philip Weiss

From Abe Foxman’s lips to the New Yorker’s ear. Nick Paumgarten profiles Elvis Costello in the new New Yorker magazine, and links the entertainer’s use of the n-word in an episode 30 years ago to his participation this year in boycott of Israel, another “mess” that Costello made for himself.

Ali Gharib, who brought this to my attention, writes: “There is no mention of a positive reaction to Costello’s move (I sure saw the Facebook postings and got the blast e-mails); it is merely suggested as a racist ‘bookend’ to his career or the ‘arbitrary… singling out of Israel.'” Does the New Yorker understand the moral/political universe that Costello is operating in?

In the occupation, a Palestinian is killed every other day, and inside Israel, hundreds of Jewish towns have been created in the last 60 years, and not one new Palestinian town, and meanwhile the foreign minister talks about expelling Palestinians. This is why boycott has traction. The New Yorker: 

Control is hard to come by. His feat of self-sabotage occurred during the hostile and turbulent 1979 “Armed Funk” tour of the United States. In the bar of a Holiday Inn in Columbus, Ohio, the Attractions and their retinue ran into Stephen Stills’s band and crew, the the two gangs began an evening of heavy drinking and sharp talk.

As the provocations escalated, Costello, deriding the state of American music, called Ray Charles “a blind ignorant nigger” and James Brown “a jive-ass nigger”; his opponent in the bar debate, the white should singer Bonnie Bramlett, knocking him to the ground, touching off a mini-rumble, and then she reported the whole incident to the newspapers. The story crushed Costello’s commercial momentum; radio stations stopped playing the album, and the tour went sour.

He held a press conference in new York, to explain the context of the ironic drunken instigation — and to assert, fairly, that he wasn’t a racist. Ray Chales shrugged it off, saying, “Drunken talk isn’t meant to be printed in the paper.” But the damage was done, and Costello slunk back to England, having blown a shot at being the next Bowie.

Never again did he come so close to megastardom. To a certain extent, he chose that fate, bu confounding expectations, trying new things, and pursuing a stubborn kind of career. He says he never really wanted to play stadiums. Still, the chance passed him by. 

In 2003, when he was backstage with [his wife the singer Diana] Krall at a gala performance, Ray Charles walked by, but Costello couldn’t bring himself to say anything. “There are some times when you’re just got to be smaller,” Costello told me. “You know when people get sober, and they come and tell you all the terrible things they did?

You know, ‘I stole money from you once.’ ‘Well, actually I felt tine until you told me.'” He added, “You also can’t keep explaining.” 

He has applied this principle to the latest mess he has created for himself. In May, he announced that he was pulling out of a pair of planned summer performances in Israel. He issued a statement that was as hard to decipher as some of his songs, citing the risk of his appearance there being taken the wrong way. Needless to say, he came in for some criticism and abuse; to some, his singling out of Israel seemed, at best, arbitrary and, at worst, an unsavory bookend to Columbus.

“You must be aware that it was a very difficult decision to make,” he told me. “It’s quite the opposite of what people always assume about singers, that they are grandiose and they’re on a big platform and they’re asserting their own ego. I’m actually trying to be humble and say i don’t actually know the answer. I don’t have a solution with my songs.”

Gharib again: “So far as I know, Costello’s ‘latest mess’ hasn’t caused radio stations to turn against or ban him, or even take his stuff out of rotation (at least I never saw any stories on it).

It makes you wonder if today’s young musician might one day have her boycott of Israel remembered as an opening “bookend” of musical career with social activism the way one might think of Bono’s contribution to the 1985 ‘won’t play Sun City’ campaign against Apartheid (whether or not you agree with Bono’s particular brand of social activism).”

Court docs show that the Israeli government sold property in East Jerusalem to settlers

Nov 07, 2010


And more news from Today in Palestine:


Settlers / Land, property and resource theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Court documents show settlers got land deals in E J’lem
(AP) The government sold or leased properties in Arab areas of east Jerusalem to settlers at low prices and helped them cement a Jewish presence in disputed areas of the holy city, according to court documents published on Sunday. The documents are the first to show how easily settlers were able to put down stakes in these areas with the help of successive Israeli governments. The documents were released to anti-settlement activists who sought a comprehensive accounting of the government’s relationship with the groups Elad and Ateret Cohanim. The documents refer to 11 properties, but activists say the state is withholding information.
Settlers carry out work on seized Jerusalem home
Israeli settlers have expanded construction work on a Palestinian-owned house in Jerusalem’s Old City they took control of nearly a year ago. Witnesses said settlers brought construction equipment and furniture to the building, which is owned by Fatima Dahoody, 80. The Palestinian Prisoner Society’s Jerusalem chairman, Nasser Qaws, confirmed these reports, saying settlers are attempting to add another floor to the building. Dahoody, the elderly owner, still lives in a small part of the structure. In late January, Israeli settlers began an illegal squat in the home after an Israeli court granted settlers partial access to the building.
MK: Remove memorial for Silwan riots instigator
Knesset Member Miri Regev (Likud) sent a letter to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat Sunday demanding he remove a memorial set up in Silwan for a Palestinian man who was shot to death by an Israeli security guard. The incident led to riots in east Jerusalem last September. In her letter, MK Regev claimed that the memorial is illegal and “perpetuates the legacy of a Fatah militant who headed a terrorist organization. Samer Sarhan was shot to death by a Jewish security guard in September 22.,7340,L-3981064,00.html

Getting onto the map / Joanna Paraszczuk
Close to half of the Beduin population of the Negev lives in 45 ‘unrecognized’ villages that are fighting for recognition from the state — Around 13 kilometers west of Arad in the Negev desert, a narrow dirt track heads south off Route 31 toward a small cluster of buildings. Goats graze – somehow – on the stony ground near a signpost bearing the name of this tiny Beduin village: al-Sira. Underneath, in Hebrew, another line has been added – Founded in the Ottoman Era. Many places like to show off their historicity, but in al-Sira’s case there is a subtle but significant subtext to this assertion of pre-state establishment. It is a claim of legitimacy.
Rahat mosque razed; police officers stoned
Land Administration personnel demolish mosque built in Bedouin city without a permit; residents demonstrate, throw stones at security forces; no injuries. Mayor: Crime committed against entire public by wicked government,7340,L-3980592,00.html
Israeli police, Bedouin clash at mosque demolition
Israeli police on Sunday arrested five people protesting the demolition of a mosque in the Bedouin city of Rahat in southern Israel. Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the protesters had thrown rocks at the police, who were providing security for civil authority workers who were taking down the structure.
Big settlement projects approved as Netanyahu flies to US
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli government approved three settlement projects in occupied Jerusalem on the eve of its premier’s departure for Washington to meet with US president Barack Obama. Different Israeli sources said that one of these projects is to build 1, 250 settlement units in Mount Abu Ghoneim in addition to building 983 units in the context of the plan number 10310, stage C. The second project is to finish stage B of building 42 settlement units in Har Homa B area, also located in Mount Abu Ghoneim. The plan number is 12825, according to the sources. They said that the Israeli government and its municipal council in Jerusalem have been imposing a news blackout on their settlement activities since the end of the alleged freeze. They also pointed out to a third project, number 4820B, to build 250 housing units and a huge shopping mall in Ramot settlement, which was established illegally on Palestinian lands in Beit Hanina village and another destroyed and deserted village called Lafta.
Israeli settlers threaten Sheikh Jarrah / Stephen Lendman
…The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published an October report titled, “The Case of Sheikh Jarrah,” explaining the growing threat, saying it’s “of serious humanitarian concern.” Settlers have used different methods to encroach, including: (1) taking over land or property confiscated or expropriated by Israeli authorities, one way, among others, under the 1950 Absentee Property Law (2) giving settlers land designated “public” or “state” for environmental, historic or religious reasons. (3) using Israeli law (denied Palestinians) to pursue alleged Jewish ownership of land or property prior to 1948. (4) buying land through intermediaries as well as through a process involving threats, deception, false depositions, or forged documentation, complicit courts cheating Palestinian owners.
State: Settlers have 2 weeks to seal outpost synagogue
If the building in Elmatan is not sealed by then, the state will do so itself, representative says … The building was completed in violation of a court order to stop construction and is currently used as a synagogue.
Soldiers shoot worker on north Gaza border
A Palestinian man was injured Sunday when Israeli forces opened fire at a group of workers collecting stone aggregates near an evacuated Israeli settlement in northern Gaza. Eyewitnesses said 19-year-old Karam Al-Adham was shot in his left leg near the abandoned Eli Sinai structure northwest of Beit Lahiya.
Gaza scrap gleaners risk life in tense border zone
BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip (Reuters) – A Palestinian was wounded by Israeli forces on Sunday while collecting scrap from a no-go border zone in the Gaza Strip, the latest casualty in the blockaded enclave’s most dangerous way to scrape a living … Adham Abu Selmeya, a spokesman of the Hamas-run medical service, told Reuters most of the casualties were shot in the legs, in northern areas where the border with Israel is formed by a high concrete wall with watchtowers and machine guns. He said the Palestinians clearly did not pose real danger, otherwise the Israelis would not be firing at their legs.

Israeli war jets hit southern Gaza targets
Israeli war jets struck two targets in southern Gaza Strip Saturday night in response to an earlier homemade projectile fired from [northern!] Gaza at southern Israel … The first airstrike targeted an empty olive farm east of the city of Khan Younis and the second targeted a smuggling tunnel under the borderline between Egypt and the salient, ruled by the Hamas movement … Medics at southern Gaza hospitals said that ambulances and rescue crews rushed to the theatre of the airstrikes; no injuries were reported [from either the projectile or the airstrikes] [later: one Palestinian was injured inside his house by shattering glass]
Watch: Truth seekers
[This] latest documentary film produced by Ma’an, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information, highlights the role of Palestinian journalists covering Israel’s occupation. Five journalists were interviewed for the project, each speaking about the dangers they faced reporting from the field. The documentary features photojournalist Nasser Shtayyeh, who was shot twice with live ammunition and six times with rubber-coated steel bullets, and brutally beaten twice. In 1995, settlers threw him in a well and left him to die as he covered a rally near the illegal Israeli settlement of Qedumim in the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya. He was rescued by a colleague. [Warning: graphic content]
Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Israel refuses entry to Sweden MP and ex-Israeli who sailed on Gaza flotilla
MP Mehmet Kaplan and artist Dror Feiler planned to lodge complaint against IDF for violence, armed robbery, obstruction of freedom and kidnapping.
African academics launch boycott campaign against Israeli universities
JOHANNESBURG, (PIC)– Hundreds of African academics with the support of international influential figures announced an initiative to boycott Israeli universities until their state ends its occupation of the Palestinian territories. More than 200 academics from 13 African universities pledged in a statement reported by different media outlets on Sunday to support the initiative made the university of Johannesburg which calls for ending academic cooperation with the Israeli occupation.
Open letter from Gaza students to the European Students’ Union: Oppose apartheid and war crimes
One Democratic State Group — Nov 6, 2010 — [email protected] — We are writing to you as students from the besieged Gaza Strip whose entire educational system has been crippled as a result of Israel’s four-year long and ongoing blockade. We are deeply distressed that you held your annual conference this year in Jerusalem, a conference organized by the National Union of Israeli Students and the Israeli Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, in addition to the Prime Minister’s Office. We are saddened that you failed to empathize with us and break through the silence imposed on our voices by the state you visited…
The US to Gaza initiative and the Hillel controversy at Rutgers / Deepak Kumar
Last night I attended a fundraiser for the US to Gaza mission that intends to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.  It was an incredible success.  About 350 mostly young people had crowded the hall, most of whom stayed on past 10 pm to listen to the invited speakers. The presence of so many students who had chosen to attend the event despite intimidation by those claiming to represent Rutgers Hillel was truly heartening … Hillel’s line of attack was predictable.  In a press release Andrew Getraer, the executive director of Rutger’s Hillel, argued that there were “serious legal issues” involved.  First on the list was the claim that the “blockade runners will attempt to deliver goods, services or technical assistance to Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).”
Settlers counter artists’ call to boycott Ariel
Shomron Settlers’ Committee urges ‘supporters of Land of Israel’ to boycott performances, works of artists who refuse to appear in Ariel. Katzover: Separate politics from the arts,7340,L-3980701,00.html
MKs: Stop funding ‘lunatic’ artists
A number of MKs are objecting to the ongoing artists’ boycott of the soon-to-open Ariel culture center, and on Saturday MK Yariv Levin (Likud) suggested the government withdraw funding from theaters supporting the protest.,7340,L-3980481,00.html
War criminals
Palestinian government asks Britain not to amend war criminals law
GAZA, (PIC)– The Palestinian government in Gaza has asked the British government to revoke an earlier decision to amend the legislation on prosecuting war criminals. The justice ministry said in a statement on Sunday that such an amendment would constitute a big insult to the British judiciary’s reputation, independence, and integrity. It charged that the step was meant to please Israel, noting that the British foreign secretary William Hague had said that the law would be amended, which meant treating criminals as official guests with diplomatic immunity and sparing them punishment.
British activists slam cave-in to Israel
Britain’s decision to revoke a law which allows activists to request arrest warrants for Israeli officials during their visits to the UK over war crimes has outraged senior pro-Palestinian figures.
Nazareth imam charged with incitement and supporting terror
…Sheikh Nazem Abu Salim, who heads the Shihab A-Din Mosque, has delivered regular Friday sermons since 1997 at his own institution as well as in a number of other houses of prayer, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem. He also founded and runs a website called Muslim 48. The indictment presented to the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court states that Abu Salim has used his sermons, books and web site to disseminate the views of global jihad and to show solidarity with Al-Qaida.
PA security militias kidnap 10 citizens from Hamas
WEST BANK, (PIC)– The Palestinian authority (PA) did not cease for one day its arrest campaign in the West Bank in the context of its cooperation with Israel, where its security militias kidnapped during the last two days 10 other Palestinian citizens affiliated with Hamas Movement in the cities of Al-Khalil and Ramallah, according to local sources on Sunday. Among those who were arrested in Al-Khalil because of their political affiliation are two brothers called Yehya and Zakariya Saleh. Both of them are still students at Al-Khalil university and has a brother called Isa who was kidnapped two months ago by the PA intelligence and is still in prison.
Islamic Jihad: PA detains leader in Ramallah
…The movement said in a statement that Abdul-Hakim Masalma, 50, was taken to a detention center. The official had been wanted by Israeli forces for five years, the statement said.
Rights group: Female detainees in Talmond denied medical treatment
RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Several ill detainees in the female population of the Israeli Talmond prison have been denied medical treatment, a Palestinian rights group reported, adding that the prison administration has refused to allow a dentist into the facility.
Int’l jurist: Palestinian detainees are hostages under international law
CAIRO, (PIC) — International law expert Hasan Omar stated that the Palestinian detainees in Isreli jails are not prisoners, but they are hostages being held by the Israeli occupation state and they must be released according to the principles of international law. In an interview published by the journal of Muslim Palestine, Omar explained that the prisoner under the third Geneva convention is the one who is captured by an adversary during military operations and thus he is subject to the provisions of this convention which governs his release after the end of military actions.
Siege / Restriction of movement / Other rights violations / Humanitarian issues
Zoabi petitions High Court to keep parliamentary rights
MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) petitioned the High Court on Sunday to nullify the Knesset decision depriving her of her parliamentary rights following her involvement with the Gaza flotilla in May. The petition, filed in conjunction with Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), claimed that the Knesset exceeded its authority and acted against the law of immunity, which prohibits abuse of the rights and immunity of parliament members if they engage in political activity.
German FM urges end to Gaza export ban
JERUSALEM (AFP) – German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday urged Israel to lift export restrictions against the Gaza Strip, on the eve of a visit to the impoverished Hamas-run Palestinian territory. After talks with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, Westerwelle said the Palestinians needed improved economic prospects if peace talks were to stand a chance.
Shortage of medicines felt by patients in Gaza
…Al-Barsh asserted that hospitals in the besieged Strip are short of 100 types of medicines and 160 types of medical requirements such as cotton, gauze and other stuff.  He explained that the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health was mostly responsible for that shortage because in 2008 they delivered to the only 48 percent of the needed medical equipment; in 2009, they sent 50 percent and in 2010, only 37 percent has been delivered. He noted that the World Bank pays for 100 percent of equipment costs … Asked about the tons of medicines and medical equipment the Gaza Strip receives through solidarity activists who keep arriving to the Gaza Strip, he said, “They can’t bring every medication and medical device for all 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip.”
Easing of Gaza blockade leaves many smugglers idle
RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel’s relaxing of its blockade on Gaza has accomplished something that bombing raids and an underground steel wall could not: It has devastated the Hamas-ruled territory’s once thriving smuggling industry. Now that most consumer goods can again reach Gaza through Israel — after three years of tight border closures  — many of the hundreds of smuggling tunnels that once served as the Palestinian territory’s lifeline have simply shut down. Only a few dozen are still active, compared with a total of about 400, a Hamas government official said. And an Associated Press spot check in one former smuggling hot spot found only 1 in 4 tunnels working.

Gaza: Kerem crossing partly open, Karni closed
Israeli authorities will partially open one crossing into the Gaza Strip on Sunday for the limited delivery of food and fuel, a Palestinian liaison official said.
Dubai Cares to implement de-worming program in Gaza and West Bank in partnership with global network
The program which will be implemented for a period of one year will eventually benefit 258,000 children enrolled with UNRWA schools. Commenting on this new initiative, Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares, said, “Intestinal worms are considered to be one of the most critical mortality factors causing malnutrition and anemia among children in Gaza and the West Bank, resulting in an increase in absenteeism and drop in performance…” A survey conducted by UNRWA in 2005 revealed the prevalence of anemia among 23.95% of all school children and 36.3% of first grade students in Gaza.
Racism / Discrimination / Segregation
Court okays Jews-only building in Jaffa
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish rejected an appeal filed by Arab residents of the Jaffa neighborhood of Ajami, in which they inveighed against a decision allowing for the construction of a Jewish-only apartment complex. Beinish, however, hinted that the permit for the building constituted “wrongful discrimination”.,7340,L-3980909,00.html
State prosecutor: Probe anti-Arab flyers in Safed
Authorities continue to battle racism in northern city as teen indicted for calling ‘Death to Arabs’ —  The State Prosecutor’s Office ordered police on Sunday to investigate the distribution of fliers against Safed’s mayor and the city’s Arabs. The fliers took aim at Mayor Ilan Shohat because, they say, his support of the establishment of a medical school in the city will attract secular students. Mayor Shohat wants to “found a refugee camp and a shelter for sadistic, deranged Arabs” in the city, the fliers say.,7340,L-3981071,00.html
Artists: Stop racist legislation
Academic, humanitarian figures sign petition sent to PM and Knesset demanding firm action against ‘racist laws and inciting rabbis’ forbidding renting or selling apartments to Arabs. Prof Shenhar: Reaching level of discrimination never imagined,7340,L-3980731,00.html
Shulamit Aloni: I feel like stranger here
As artists protest ‘wave of racism’ sweeping country, Lieberman slams renewed call to boycott Ariel center — Academics, artists and civilians demonstrated Sunday afternoon in Tel Aviv against what they call racist laws recently approved by the government and Knesset, which they say are contrary to the spirit of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.,7340,L-3981038,00.html
State scholarships for haredi students support segregation
Discrimination, Education Ministry style: Only haredim who study at colleges that separate between men and women will be eligible for State scholarships, those who choose to study at “regular” universities will be forced to do without them.,7340,L-3980623,00.html
ADL condemns racism against Arabs in Safed
The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement condemning racism towards Beduin students in Safed on Thursday. Recently, an 89-year-old holocaust survivor and resident of the northern city was harassed and threatened for renting an apartment to Beduin students studying at the Safed Academic College. The ADL statement said, “All citizens of the state of Israel, according to the law, have equal rights, including renting apartments.” The statement continued, “Citizens should not be discriminated against for their ethnic background.”
Political / Diplomatic news
US ambassador: Midterm results won’t affect US-Israel relations
US Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham said the results of the US midterm elections would not affect relations between the US administration and Israel. During a conference at Bar-Ilan University, Cunningham said the US wanted peace in the region, and this policy would not change. He added the US would maintain Israel’s security superiority and assist in its defense against Hezbollah and Hamas rockets.,7340,L-3981072,00.html
Palestinian leadership warns US concessions to Netanyahu is destroying talks
Palestinian leaders have warned that the US role as an honest broker in Middle East peace talks has been severely undermined by President Barack Obama’s concessions to Israel’s ruling coalition … Mr Obama’s strategy of mollification could tip him over the edge, Mr Shaath said. “There is an increasing malaise in the Palestinian ranks,” he said. “The Palestinian leadership is totally convinced that they have been victims of a game of deception. That feeling has pushed Palestinians to discuss alternatives.”
Israel must extend settlement moratorium: Italy FM
RIYADH (AFP) – Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Saturday urged Israel to reinstate a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank until a final peace deal is reached with the Palestinians. Europe has to make a greater effort to convince the Jewish state “that it is in the best interest of Israel to reach a peace deal,” he told reporters on a visit to the Saudi capital.;_ylc=X3oDMTEwYThkNnUzBF9TAzIwMjM4Mjc1MjQEZW1haWxJZAMxMjg5MDc3NTg1
Ashqar leaves Gaza to join Hamas delegation in reconciliation talks
GAZA, (PIC)– MP Ismail Al-Ashqar, a Hamas leader, left Gaza on Sunday heading for Syria to participate in the next round of reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah that would be held in Damascus on Tuesday … The MP had earlier said that the next round of dialog in Syria would focus on formation of a security committee to supervise the restructuring of the PA security apparatuses.
Britain’s first Jewish envoy to Jerusalem negotiates dual identity with aplomb / Nathan Jeffay
Tel Aviv — The day before his interview with the Forward, Great Britain’s first Jewish ambassador to the State of Israel met with a senior member of the government to discuss Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank — a topic on which London and Jerusalem sharply disagree. “In the course of this discussion he started quoting various pieces of talmudic wisdom to me,” marveled Matthew Gould, the British envoy. “Now, I just don’t think there’s any other job in the British Foreign Service where I could go and see a senior government minister and, arguing over an incredibly important point of geopolitical significance, end up discussing it in terms of talmudic debate.”
Other news
Peres expresses support for the legal system of the IDF
President meets with Mandelblit; says he is “shocked to the depths of his soul” at “traitor” graffiti painted on the walls of military legal chief’s home.
IAF receives first batch of small diameter bombs
The 250-lb. (113.6-kg.) bomb was developed by Boeing Company as a low-cost weapon capable of high-precision and low-collateral damage strikes. [no comment] Israel received approval from Congress in late 2008 to buy 1,000 units. Israel is the first country outside of the United States to receive the weapon. The IAF has named the new bomb “Sharp Hail.”
IDF presents: Missile alerts on your cell phone
Home Front Command to launch new cellular application alerting citizens about missile attacks starting June 2011 … The system enables sending alerts in several languages simultaneously (Hebrew, English, Russian, Arabic and Amharic)
Union: UNRWA rejected PA mediation
Striking UN workers accused UNRWA of obstructing attempts by the Palestinian Authority’s Labor Ministry to resolve the dispute. Workers at the UN refugee agency have been on strike since mid October in protest over the agency’s refusal to pay salaries during the last strike and other issues. UNRWA officials have described the workers’ demands as “absurd.”
Luxury hotel to open in Gaza
Nablus businessman Munib Al-Masri on Sunday toured industrial projects being carried out by the Palestine Development and Investment Company in the Gaza Strip … The West Bank multimillionaire told journalists Friday that after three years of waiting, his company decided to inaugurate a five-star hotel in the northern Gaza Strip. The hotel was completed in 2007, but its opening was delayed due to the dire conditions in the Strip. In Ramallah, officials announced the opening of the city’s first five-star hotel on Monday. The Movenpick Ramallah, a locally owned franchise of the Swiss-based chain, includes 171 rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, fitness center and seven conference rooms, Agence France-Presse reported.
Stones thrown at ambulance treating Palestinian
Stones were thrown Saturday at an ambulance and an MDA mobile intensive care unit near the village of Al-Azariya just a day after some young Israelis were attacked as they drove through nearby Issawiya, in east Jerusalem. The ambulance teams had been called to village to treat a young man who had fallen from the fifth floor of a building … “Unfortunately, we see once again how terror groups operate without limits, even when it’s clear to all that ambulances don’t do any damage anywhere in the world” said Danny Rotenberg, MDA spokesman in the Jerusalem region. [Right, and the Israelis have never, never shot at Palestinian ambulances…],7340,L-3980498,00.html
Off-duty cop arrested for deadly Gaza shooting
Authorities in the Gaza Strip have arrested a police officer for shooting two civilians in a Gaza City market last week, the local Ministry of Interior said Sunday … The ministry said AN was not working in his capacity as a police officer at the time of the incident.
Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
Dear American Jews, if you love Israel, criticize it / Gideon Levy
Today, your representatives will open your great annual convention, the General Assembly … I read that your menu includes an Israeli breakfast, and also several discussions about the global delegitimization of Israel. Doubtless the speakers will tell you it’s because of anti-Semitism. Don’t believe them. There is anti-Semitism in the world, but not to the extent they will tell you. Nor is there any “delegitimization of Israel.” There is only delegitimization of Israel’s policy of force and occupation.
Education is Palestinians’ path to independence / Daoud Kuttab
I can see the path to the state of Palestine. And education is an integral part of it. Palestinians have always prided themselves on being among the highest educated among all Arabs, but if this was true in the past, it is not true anymore, and it is certainly not true for Palestinians in the occupied territories.
The Incitement Index / Adam Keller
…This week, at long last, marked the launching of the “Index of Incitement” project, on which Prime Minister Netanyahu and his aides have been working for almost a year. A team of senior officials led by Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s political advisor, and retired Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser have carefully monitored and recorded unsympathetic statements made by Palestinians. They are to be published and widely distributed, divided into four major categories: explicit incitement to violence, encouraging the creation of an atmosphere of violence and terror, promoting hatred and demonization and failing to prepare the hearts for a positive change. Of course, this project is limited solely to monitoring Palestinian performance in the field of incitement. Still, it is worthwhile to ask Nethanyhau’s experts in which of their four categories they would have placed “The King’s Torah”.
Gideon Orwell / Adam Keller
George Orwell described in his famous “1984” a monstrous tyrannical regime which calls everything by an opposite word. The distributors of lying propaganda are called “Ministry of Truth”, the constant wars are run by the “Ministry of Peace”, and the dreaded secret police is managed from the “Ministry of Love.” 1984 is long past, but Mr. Gideon Sa’ar, Minister of Education in the State of Israel, has proven himself a worthy Orwell pupil. The Minister of Education announced this week that he intends to formulate “guidelines” which would be imposed on Israel’s universities forbid lecturers from expressing “anti-Zionist positions” of the kind disliked by the minister. To these guidelines the minister refers by the name “Principles of Academic Freedom.”

Israel confronts flagging interest in military service / Janine Zakaria

TEL HASHOMER, ISRAEL – Since Israel’s founding, the military here has served not just as a defender against outside threats, but as the glue that brings together a patchwork nation of immigrants. Now, the Israel Defense Forces’ position as the country’s most venerated institution appears to be slipping. While service is compulsory for most young men and women, a growing minority is avoiding conscription
Blind West Bank woman conquers disability by unremitting efforts
Ikhlas Ijbara, a 23-year- old Palestinian girl in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, has never put an end to her ambitions, although she was born blind. She insists on continuing her higher education, where she showed brilliant talents in learning foreign languages, in addition to practicing her other hobbies of sports that many healthy people in her city are not able to master.
Apple pie and bitter loss — a Palestinian’s 60 years in America
Saleh always thought he would return to his mother and family in Yafa’s suburbs of Beit Dajan once he completed his master’s degree at Berkeley. He even planned to go back and work with the Arabic government there, but never did. In fact, Saleh could not return home – because it was taken. He learned that his family was forced to leave their home and orange grove in Yafa’s suburbs of Beit Dajan, which became part of Israel. Saleh could not leave the United States to see what happened to his family. His British passport was revoked after England withdrew from Palestine and he became stateless. Both the governments of Israel and Jordan, which controlled the West Bank then, rejected his letters asking for permission to return to his family.—-a-palestinians-60-years-in-america.php
Iraq rivals ‘agree to share power’ eight months after poll
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq’s political rivals reached a breakthrough power-sharing deal in which Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, retains the premiership, a spokesman said on Sunday, exactly eight months after inconclusive elections. “An agreement was reached yesterday among the political parties in which Jalal Talabani will continue as head of state, Nuri al-Maliki will stay on as prime minister and Iraqiya will choose its candidate for parliament speaker,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told AFP.
Saturday: 2 Iraqis killed, 52 wounded
At least two Iraqis were killed and 52 more were wounded in mostly light violence. The worst attack occurred in Kirkuk, where three cars bombs apparently targeted Kurdis officials. Meanwhile, about three-dozen Iraqis wounded in Sunday’s attack on a church in Baghdad will be flown to France for further treatments.
Sunday: 10 Iraqis killed, 25 wounded
Eight months after national elections, lawmakers have tentatively resolved a deadlock preventing the selection of the new government. Meanwhile, several of today’s attacks focused on Awakening Council (Sahwa) and other security forces. At least 10 Iraqis were killed and 25 more were wounded across the country.
Iraqi Christians hold Mass in assaulted church
Just a week earlier, 58 people died in the worst attack against the country’s Christian minority since 2003 — BAGHDAD (AP) The walls were still splattered with blood and pieces of flesh as Iraqi Christians celebrated Mass on Sunday in the church that just a week before had been the scene of a horrific bloodbath in which dozens died.
Al-Qaida is turning its focus on Iraq’s vulnerable Christians / James Denselow
Over the last week in publicity trailing the release of his autobiography, former president George W Bush admitted that when it came to Iraq he felt a “sickening feeling”. Sadly for those looking for greater remorse he was only referring to the failure to discover weapons of mass destruction. But as a man of devout Christian faith it would be interesting to discover what Bush’s thoughts are on the fact that one of the consequences of his war is that Iraq’s Christian community of 1 million pre-war has shrunk by 60% since 2003, as its members have fled abroad or been killed.
Other Mideast
Anger at Israel flares in Jordan election campaign
ZARQA, Jordan (AP) — Frustration with the interminable deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is bleeding over into Jordan, where bitterness at Israel is flowing more freely than ever during campaigning for this week’s parliamentary elections. Behind the anger expressed by candidates and voters lies U.S. ally Jordan’s greatest fear: that if peacemaking collapses, Israel will try to force it to take in the residents of the West Bank and stand as the Palestinian state. Recent talk by right-wing Israelis about the “Jordanian option” has only fueled the belief here that this is Israel’s ultimate plan.

Netanyahu to tell UN: We’ll withdraw from Ghajar soon
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to present UN chief Ban Ki-moon with Israel’s plan to withdraw from the northern sector of the village of Ghajar, Ynet reported Sunday. A border drawn by the United Nations in 2000 split Ghajar between Lebanon and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Israel has occupied all of Ghajar since its 2006 war with Hezbollah,7340,L-3980625,00.html
Israel to pull out from Lebanon border village
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel is planning to withdraw its troops from part of a disputed village on the Lebanese border and hand over control to a UN peacekeeping force, an official said on Sunday … UNIFIL confirmed it has been pressing Israel to withdraw from northern Ghajar in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended a 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon’s Shiite movement Hezbollah … Northern Ghajar is in Lebanon and the rest lies in the Golan Heights, but Israel took over the Lebanese half during the 2006 war. The villagers of southern Ghajar were Syrian nationals when Israel occupied the region but they took Israeli nationality after the Golan annexation, a move not recognised by the international community. Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar hailed the planned pullout and said it should extend to other areas of dispute along the border.
Lieberman: Israel will quit Lebanon town unilaterally due to Hezbollah refusal to cooperate
Netanyahu to inform UN of expected disengagement from disputed border village of Ghajar; FM: We told Netanyahu we could not wait for Lebanese government to comply … The international border between Israel and Lebanon runs through the middle of the village of Ghajar, and according to UN Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War, Israel was required to cease all operations north of the border, with an emphasis on military operations.
US deploying drones in Yemen to hunt for Al-Qaeda, has yet to fire missiles
The United States has deployed Predator drones to hunt for al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen for the first time in years but has not fired missiles from the unmanned aircraft because it lacks solid intelligence on the insurgents’ whereabouts, senior U.S. officials said.
Iran’s middle class to be hard hit as subsidy program is overhauled
TEHRAN – Last year, Tehran’s writers, doctors and small-business owners formed the backbone of a grass-roots opposition movement against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now these middle-class urbanites feel they’re being singled out by a government plan that will soon cut off state subsidies and boost the prices of a wide array of everyday products. Members of Iran’s middle class are already bearing the brunt of U.S. and European sanctions intended to curtail the country’s nuclear weapons program.
Iran suggests new nuclear talks be held in Turkey
FM Mottaki says Tehran informed its ‘friends in Ankara’ it is willing to conduct negotiations with world powers there; adds ‘situation in US after election is boiling’,7340,L-3980785,00.html
‘Black cloud season’ sees rise in health problems
CAIRO (IRIN) — Every year a noxious black smog hangs over Egypt as the seasonal burning of rice straw by farmers begins, and with it comes a surge in allergic reactions and lung infections.  The inky haze lasts from October to November;
Egypt vows to protect Christians after Qaeda threat
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak promised to protect Coptic Christians in the country after Al-Qaeda renewed threats against them, state-run media said Sunday … Last week, the group made threats against Christians, and called for the “release” of two Egyptian women, which it said had converted to Islam and were now being forcibly held by the Coptic church.
US and other world news
Detainee’s release is put on hold
WASHINGTON (Reuters) –  An appeals court yesterday [Friday] overturned a judge’s order for the release of a Guantanamo Bay detainee accused of helping Al Qaeda recruit two men who became Sept. 11 hijackers. A lower-court judge had ruled that Mohamedou Ould Salahi should be freed after eight years in the US military prison in Cuba because he was abused by interrogators, which tainted the evidence against him.
US to step up military presence across Asia, into Indian Ocean / Hamish Macdonald
THE United States military will store equipment and supplies in Australia as part of a new regional posture to respond faster to natural disasters and other contingencies, and conduct more intensive training with Australian forces. The two militaries will also build a new space-monitoring facility in Western Australia, as previously reported in the Herald, to extend tracking of space activity, including missiles from rogue states like North Korea and orbiting debris.
Muslim president inaugurates Jewish school
Azerbaijan leader applauded at Jewish education center in Baku, says hopes ‘school’s graduates will be proud Jews and proud Azeri citizens’,7340,L-3980207,00.html
Open season on Muslims in America / Stephen Lendman
More than ever today, Muslims are public enemy number one. Post-9/11, they’ve been ruthlessly vilified and persecuted for their faith, ethnicity, prominence and activism. As a result, innocent men and women have been spuriously called terrorists, or charged with conspiracy to provide them material support.

Sen. Lindsey Graham says U.S. should ‘neuter’ Iran

Nov 07, 2010


I fear this is just the beginning… Lindsey Graham has lately been denounced by Limbaugh and others for selling out to the establishment (for his efforts with Kerry for cap-and-trade and skeptical words about the Tea Party). This wildly irresponsible idea is meant to conciliate them. It costs him nothing in South Carolina and it shows his solidarity with the Israel lobby. It will make the Likud/neoconservative pressure to bomb merely the nuclear enrichment facilities seem by comparison “moderate.” It sets them up to portray Obama as weak in the extreme if he tries to prevent some sort of strike against Iran. Graham won’t have had the approval of the military for this move. He’s on his own–catalyst of a new triangulation rightward and building a bridge with the likely militarist majority of the Tea Party

My mother gave up her seat

Nov 07, 2010

Saleema Gul

My mom recently went to New York City. She loved it. She loved the lights, the crowds and the crazy people on the corners selling things. She brought back a lot of crap.

When she gets excited, she’s like a child, full of energy and wonder. She told us everything about the trip.

She and her friend gave up their seats on the Staten Island ferry to an elderly Jewish couple because they looked so tired. Awww…my mom is so sweet, I think to myself. She thought they were cute. With her limited English she struck up a conversation and found out that their kids had made aliyah to Israel in the late 60s. “Were you angry then? I would have taken my seats back!” I exclaimed. 

My mom shot me a look that only a mother can give when she is displeased with you. “Why would I do that?” she asked.

My sisters stared at me. I felt stupid. 

My mom carried on telling her story, with the same enthusiasm. My mom felt sorry for them. “What kind of children leave their ‘zaeef’ (elderly) parents all alone?”

And I wondered at the softness of her heart and my anger. I hope to be a better person. Not full of revenge. I’ve been feeling like that lately, making nasty comments and way too many sarcastic remarks.

I also reflected on Ali Abunimah’s book, “One Country.” My reaction to his book was the same. At first anger, because he didn’t fill the book with injustices and make them a focal point. His focus in the book was on reconciliation and recognition from both sides. I’m glad there are rational people out there like Ali Abunimah and compassionate people like my mother. I hope to learn from both. 

Abunimah quotes an American Jew who moved to Israel, but then decided it wasn’t really the place for him, “Who cares who owns the land? Everyone who lives there owns the land. The issue is how can all the people who live there have equal rights?

Alienated affection: Israel relationship is costing the U.S. its alliance with Turkey

Nov 07, 2010

Gil Maguire

Israel and its U.S. lobby’s insistence on unquestioning U.S. support for Israel in its brutal and illegal conduct toward Palestinian and Turkish civilians has cost the U.S. a major, strategic ally, Turkey, and has severely undermined U.S. foreign policy goals, strategy, and power in the Middle East .

President George W. Bush has been accused of having the most disastrous foreign policy in U.S. history. Unfortunately, President Obama’s apparent inability to stand up to Israel’s U.S. lobby may have created a foreign policy catastrophe that exceeds even that of his hapless predecessor by costing the U.S. the loss of Turkey as our main strategic ally in the region, and by drastically reducing U.S. influence and power in the Middle East.

If this sounds implausible, consider the following: Turkey just recently concluded a public but covert military air combat training exercise with the Chinese in Turkey in which the Chinese flew their jet fighter aircraft from China to Turkey, refueling in Iran.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao just made a state visit to Turkey after which both countries concluded a strategic cooperation agreement. China will build a 4500-kilometer railroad to Turkey, along with two high-speed rail lines, plus oil pipeline systems from Iran to Turkish ports. China has agreed to sell military equipment to Turkey, and is also developing a surface-to-surface rocket-launching system together with Turkey. Turkey’s foreign minister is visited China this week, working out details of its new strategic relationship. Turkey has also strengthened its ties with Russia, Iraq, Syria and Iran, and refused to support the most recent UN resolution imposing sanctions on Iran.

Turkey has ceased all cooperation with its former close ally, Israel, including closing its airspace to Israeli planes, ceasing all cooperative military exercises, ending intelligence sharing with Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, and has changed Israel’s status from a close ally to a strategic threat. Turkey has strongly condemned Israel for its brutal conduct against Palestinian and Turkish civilians in Israel ’s December 2008 Gaza invasion, and the recent Gaza aid flotilla incident, accusing Israel of committing state terrorism.

Turkey has also accused the U.S., formerly its strongest ally, of supporting an international terrorist (Israel) for failing to condemn Israel’s atrocities, and for its monetary, military, and diplomatic support of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and illegal settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

In less than two years, Turkey has changed from being a strong U.S. ally and NATO member to a country pursuing an independent path toward strategic relationships with countries that are either adversaries or potential adversaries of the U.S. How did we get to this point?

Turkey’s Importance as a Major U.S. Strategic Ally 

Turkey , a nation of 73 million Muslims, has been a major strategic ally of the U.S. for some six decades since the beginnings of the Cold War, providing the U.S. with military bases and a forward bulwark against Soviet expansionism into the Middle-East and the Mediterranean . Turkey fought valiantly alongside the U.S. in the Korean War, and risked nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis by allowing the U.S. to station nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles in Turkey , on the Soviet Union ’s doorstep.

Turkey has the second largest military force in NATO and occupies one of the most vital geographic areas in the world, bordering the Mediterranean, Greece, Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. It has the second fastest growing economy in the world, behind only China . Most important, Turkey is a stable, moderate, secular, Muslim democracy and provides a model template for success for the many Muslim nations in the Middle East and South Asia that suffer from instability, autocratic rule, religious extremism, and poverty. 

Turkey also provides the U.S. with an invaluable entrée into the Muslim world and a proven ability to conduct effective diplomacy and mediation among Muslim nations such as Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Turkey permits the U.S. to use a critical military air base and transportation hub at Incirlik, in southeastern Turkey While strong militarily, Turkey has been successfully moving to reduce tensions with all of its neighbors, including traditional rivals such as Greece, Armenia, Syria, and Iraq, and, in addition, has also moved to defuse the conflicts with its minority Kurdish population.

It has also taken steps, in part with Brazil , to reduce the conflict between Iran and the West. In short, Turkey , under its strong civilian leadership, has become a major strategic player in the world economically, politically, and diplomatically, and a vital player and asset for the U.S. and its European allies in the Muslim world and in the Middle East and South Asia.

It is difficult to imagine an ally of greater strategic importance to the U.S. in the Middle East than Turkey . Its loss is a major blow to U.S. vital national security interests. 

The Gaza Disasters and the Loss of Turkey

In December of 2008, the U.S. and Turkey remained strong, close NATO allies. Israel and Turkey also had a strong strategic alliance in which they cooperated on intelligence matters, and conducted joint military training exercises; Israel had the use of Turkish airspace for training and operational use; Turkey purchased weapons systems from Israel ; trade and tourism between the two countries was booming.

Turkey was also mediating the disputes between Syria and Israel in the hope of resolving their differences and achieving a permanent peace treaty for the two countries.

Israel’s brutal bombing and shelling of civilian noncombatants in its invasion of Gaza in December 2008, and in its violent capture of a Gaza aid ship in May of 2010, in which nine Turkish citizens were killed, at least five execution-style, by Israeli commandos, deeply angered the Turks. These events, coupled with subsequent UN investigative reports that confirmed Israeli atrocities against civilians and other war crimes in both incidents, ultimately caused Turkey to end its close strategic alliance with Israel .

The U.S.’ unquestioning support of Israel in both incidents, even after both later UN investigative reports confirmed Israeli atrocities toward civilians, caused Turkey to be highly critical of the U.S., and ultimately caused it to reduce its strategic alliance with the U.S. and seek, or at least consider, new strategic relationships and agreements with potential U.S. adversaries such as Russia, Iran, and, of greatest and most recent concern, China. 

The strength and effectiveness of Israel ’s U.S. lobby in influencing U.S. foreign policy in matters related to Israel was demonstrated by Congress and the Obama administration’s unqualified support of Israel ’s excessively brutal actions toward civilians in its Gaza invasion and capture of the Gaza aid flotilla in the face of worldwide approbation of Israel . An unfortunate and apparently unforeseen byproduct of the lobby’s actions was the loss to both the U.S. and Israel of the support of a critical major strategic ally, Turkey.

The loss of Turkey as a major U.S. ally will change the balance of power in the Middle East and do serious harm to U.S. vital national security interests in that region, and to Israel ’s as well. It is inconceivable that the U.S. would allow a strategic relationship with an ally as vitally important as Turkey to be undermined by supporting brutal and unlawful conduct on the part of a far less strategically important ally, Israel . Yet, because of the overwhelming strength and influence of Israel ’s U.S. lobby on the Obama administration and Congress, that is precisely what has occurred.

The Israel Lobby’s Role in the Loss of Turkey as a Key U.S. Ally

The Israel Lobby, headed by the American-Israeli Political Action Committee, or AIPAC, acts in a variety of ways to protect and promote Israeli interests in this country. Any Israeli action, such as the Gaza invasion or the capture of the Gaza aid flotilla, is immediately condoned and praised, discussion and debate are stifled, and dissent is punished. While it is beyond the scope of this article to address the lobby’s strategy and methods in any detail, these are well-known and well-documented. After the Gaza incidents, letters or resolutions supporting Israel ’s actions were immediately forthcoming from either the U.S. Senate or the House, or both, and were typically signed or approved by astonishingly overwhelming margins, typically 75 to 90 percent.

There is never any debate in Congress or investigations by congressional committees into Israel ’s actions and whether or not they might have a negative effect on U.S. foreign policy interests. Any member of Congress that publicly questions, let alone disapproves, any action taken by Israel , quickly suffers the consequences. For instance, 54 members of Congress, many of whom were running for reelection, were attacked for supposedly being “anti-Israel” because they signed a letter that labeled Israel ’s invasion of Gaza as “de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip” and pressed for “immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza .”

Yet, the charge of collective punishment, a war crime, was later well documented and confirmed by a balanced and competent United Nations investigating committee.

The problem isn’t whether a member of Congress can be criticized for a statement made or action taken, but whether healthy debate about U.S. foreign policy interests is being stifled by the aggressive actions of a lobby that acts in the interest of a foreign government, namely Israel . When Turkey , a major U.S. ally, criticized Israel ’s brutality toward civilians in both the Gaza invasion and the Gaza aid flotilla capture, Congress should have at least debated the issue, particularly since there was widespread televised evidence of the conduct and worldwide universal criticism of Israel ’s actions during and after both events. Instead, Congress showed unquestioning support for Israel , without investigating or even inquiring about the facts related to either incident. 

Later, when two separate UN investigations of these incidents developed overwhelming evidence of Israeli war crimes and atrocities toward civilian noncombatants, Congress again immediately sided with Israel and conducted no inquiry or investigation into the incidents, or the allegations and evidence provided in the UN investigations. The Obama administration also sided with and provided unquestioning support for Israel , describing the investigations as biased.

The fact that a major strategic ally and fellow NATO member had suffered the death of nine of its citizens in the Gaza aid flotilla incident, and that the UN investigation described at least six of the deaths as illegal summary executions seemed an unimportant detail to the Obama administration.

The key, critical question is whether Israel ’s U.S. lobby’s actions forcing congressional and executive branch approval and support for Israel ’s brutal and illegal treatment of civilian noncombatants caused Turkey to change its policies toward the U.S. , reduce its commitment to its alliance with the U.S. , and take steps contrary to the vital national security interests of the U.S. The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

The public statements of Turkish leaders since these incidents, strongly criticizing the U.S. failure to criticize Israel and support Turkey and the rest of the world in sanctioning Israel, plus the strong actions taken by Turkey that negatively impact U.S. interests in that region, after the U.S.’ failure to provide that support, demonstrates that causal link. Turkey ’s frustrations and disillusionment with U.S. uncritical support for Israel along with its failure to move aggressively toward achieving a two-state solution, had reached a breaking point.

While it would be easy to adopt the Israel lobby’s view that Turkey ’s actions are those of an increasingly radical and Islamic regime, there is little evidence to support such a view. Turkey , in fact, has taken the moral high ground in criticizing Israel ’s brutal behavior toward Gazan and Palestinian noncombatants. Turkey had little to gain by entering this fray, and much to lose, both in its relationship with Israel and with its longtime ally the U.S. Nonetheless, it has taken a strong public position against both Israel’s actions and U.S. enablement and complicity in those actions, and it is clearly not about to back down.

The Consequences of Inaction / Unless the U.S. can reengage with Turkey , allow the UN to sanction Israel for its Gaza atrocities toward civilian noncombatants, and move to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a major, even cataclysmic shift in the balance of power in the Middle East could occur. Turkey , Syria , Iraq and Iran could assume control and assert power in that area in place of the U.S. ’ traditional “moderate” allies of Saudi Arabia and Egypt . Both China and Russia are interested in gaining economic and political influence in the northern Persian Gulf area and are lukewarm toward or unwilling to support strong sanctions against Iran. China , in particular, sees that area as the most important source of oil and natural gas in the world, and would be willing to pay almost any price to gain influence in that area and access to its oil.

For those who remain nostalgic about Israel , our supposed great friend, strong ally, and strategic partner in the Middle East, imagine the following scenario: China offers Turkey billions of dollars in development aid for oil and gas pipelines, ports, railways, and other infrastructure projects. In return it receives a long-term exclusive lease for Incirlik air base and a major naval base on Turkey ’s Mediterranean coast. Turkey then withdraws from NATO and improves its trade ties with Iran , Iraq , Syria and Russian and forms an alliance with these countries, and perhaps including Lebanon and even Jordan . Such an alliance would control much of the oil resources in the Persian Gulf . Russia and China would both benefit from this arrangement, China most of all by gaining access to Iranian and Iraqi oil and natural gas resources. China would also gain a significant strategic position in southern Europe, the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf with a major air base and naval base in Turkey . 

The U.S. and NATO would be suddenly faced with a major strategic competitor in what had been largely their own private Mediterranean lake. With the loss of its Incirlik air base, the U.S. would no longer have easy air access to its conflicts and interests in the Middle East and South Asia . European Union countries would be facing a potential loss of Persian Gulf oil and gas resources. Israel would be even more isolated strategically, now facing the might of Turkey against any incursion it might contemplate against Lebanon , Syria , or Iran . The U.S. would be in the unenviable position of having to defend Israel against not only Turkey but potentially China and Russia as well.

While the above scenario may not be imminent or even likely, the reality is that Turkey has become so disillusioned by the U.S.’ inability to fulfill its role as the dominant player in the Middle East that it has decided to forge its own path, independent of the U.S. and its NATO allies. Turkey clearly sees U.S. Middle East policy as feckless and dominated by Israel and its U.S. lobby, and unlikely to change.

It no longer views the U.S. as a strong, reliable, trustworthy partner and ally, but as a weakened giant unable to control small allies like Israel even when its vital national security interests are under threat. That view of the U.S. , as a feeble, declining giant, unable or unwilling to defend its vital interests, may well increasingly be shared by many of our allies and potential adversaries. If so, that is a dangerous trend indeed, and one that we need to stop.

Clearly the U.S. desperately needs to reevaluate its foreign policy goals and relationships in the Middle East . Faced with the loss of a Turkey , a foreign policy disaster of epic proportions, it needs to do so immediately. President Obama should begin his post-election administration by conducting a major reevaluation of U.S. Middle East policy, beginning by appointing an independent, bi-partisan commission of distinguished elder statesmen and states women to review U.S. Middle East policy and the effect of Israel and its U.S. lobby on influencing that policy.

Continuing down a byzantine path of a U.S. Middle East policy influenced or even directed by Israel and its U.S. lobby is a recipe for further foreign policy disasters and a cataclysmic decline in U.S. influence in the world. This is an outcome that even Israel and its lobby should fear.

This post is similar to a post by Gil Maguire at his IrishMoses blog.

Half of Milgram’s subjects told him to take a hike, hallelujah

Nov 07, 2010

Philip Weiss

I’m running today but needed to get this up in an optimistic spirit. On Sunday mornings, my NPR station airs Krista Tippett’s great religion show, On Being. And this morning during a conversation with a social scientist about torture, Tippett aired audiotape from the Stanley Milgram experiment at Yale that blew me away.

The Milgram experiment is famous of course for what it demonstrated about human beings’ willingness to torture others at the direction of authority. Well, Tippett pointed out that half of Milgram’s subjects refused to follow orders, and she played a section of the researchers’ tapes that showed a true profile in independence.

I wish we knew his name, but his anonymity serves the larger spiritual point. Here’s a transcript, with Tippett’s intoduction. “Man” in the transcript is the authority figure. The “subject” is the confederate who acts like he’s being tortured. And “Man Two” is the actual subject of the experiment, who has been assigned the role of “teacher.” Tippett:

“The famous ‘obedience experiments’ conducted by social psychologist Stanley Milgram beginning in the early 1960s tested whether average citizens would inflict harm on another person under instruction from an authority figure. Milgram and his staff asked participants to deliver a series of progressively intense electric shocks each time a man answered a word problem incorrectly. Before this experiment, leading psychiatrists predicted that fewer than 1 percent of participants would be willing to administer shocks at dangerous levels. As it turned out, half of the participants were ready to comply in this.

Yet, as Darius Rejali notes, half did not. Like the man we’ll hear resisting instructions in the following audio. Please note that the electric shock you are about to hear is fake and the subjects of punishment in the Milgram experiment were in fact actors, though participants believed they were administering real pain.”

Man: The experiment requires that you go on. Teacher, please continue.


Man: Incorrect. A hundred-and-fifty volts.


[Man groans]

Man Two: Sad face.

Subject: That’s all. Get me out of here. I told you I had heart trouble. My heart’s starting to bother me now. Get me out of here, please.

Man: Continue. Go on.

Subject: You’re starting to bother me. I refuse to go on. Let me out.

Man Two: I think we ought to find out what’s wrong in there first.

Man: The experiment requires that you continue, teacher.

Man Two: Well, the experiment might require that we continue but I still think we should find out what the condition of the gentleman is.

Man: As I said before, although the shocks may be painful, they’re not dangerous.

Man Two: Look, I don’t know anything about electricity. I don’t profess any knowledge, nor will I go any further until I found out if the guy’s OK.

Man: It’s absolutely essential that you continue.

Man Two: Well, essential or not, this program isn’t quite that important to me that I should go along doing something that I know nothing about, particularly if it’s going to injure someone. I don’t know what this is all about.

Man: Well, whether the learner likes it or not, we must go on until he’s learned all the word pairs correctly.

Man Two: Well, you can sure have your $4.50 back. I didn’t want it anyhow. I intended to give it some charitable organization. But I wouldn’t go on with it.

Man: The $4.50 is not the issue here. That check is yours …

Man Two: Yeah, I realize that.

Man: … simply for coming to the lab. It is essential that you continue the experiment.

Man Two: No, it isn’t essential. Not one bit.

Man: You’ve got no other choice, teacher.

Man Two: Oh, I have a lot of choices. My number one choice is that I wouldn’t go on if I thought he was being harmed.

UK Foreign Ministry official says Gaza blockade is unbearable

Nov 07, 2010


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers / Land, property and resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing
MK Baraka exposes plan targeting Arab homes in Lod
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Arab MK Mohammed Baraka, speaking Saturday before the Israeli Knesset, offered evidence suggesting that NIS 40 million of the NIS 130 million budget set aside to develop the city of Lod will be used to demolish Arab homes that were allegedly built without permits. Baraka accused the Israeli government of promoting the development project without discussing details. “But when we read that NIS 40 million of the total amount for the plan, which is nearly 31 per cent of the total allocated budget, will be spent on what the government calls ‘applying the law against building violations’, we know in what way the government will develop the city of Lod,” he said.
Fires in West Bank destroy 300 olive trees
Firefighters controlled blazes in several villages throughout the week which had burned around 300 olive trees, a civil defense report said. Civil defense crews also extinguished fires in two cars in Qalqiliya and Dura, the report added.
Adding insult to injury / Gideon Levy
A Palestinian family’s olive-picking was interrupted by angry settlers, who ended up receiving the output … Only 25 trees remains today in the grove of 300 trees planted in the 1980s, which have been damaged or uprooted over the years by settlers. In this case, members of the Abu Sabha family from the village of Yatta, south of Hebron, picked the olives, the settlers attacked them – and the police gave the sack to the settlers. Adding insult to injury, the police detained two members of the family, but not a single one of the attackers.
Hundreds of worshipers pray Jumaa at the Bustan sit-in tent and the Red Cross
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Hundreds of Jerusalem residents performed the Friday prayers at the Bustan sit-in tent in the Jerusalem suburb of Silwan and outside the Red Cross compound where three Jerusalem officials threatened with deportation are holding a sit-in for the past 128 days. Local sources said that the occupation police intensified its presence around the protest tent at Bustan neighbourhood which witnessed clashes between occupation police and local Palestinian youth last night.
Israeli fast train to run through West Bank
BEIT IKSA, West Bank (AP) — A high-speed train between two major cities seems like a must for a developed nation. But Israel’s long-awaited, $2 billion Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway is turning into a potential political nightmare after planners moved parts of the route into the West Bank. The route dips twice into the war-won territory, at one point as a short cut and at another to appease Israelis who objected to tracks in their backyard. Critics say that violates international law because the construction has seized occupied Palestinian land and won’t serve West Bankers.
The settlements have been a project of Main Street Jewish America / K. Feldman
The ironic part about this Al Jazeera video is that, because it’s Al Jazeera, they have to frame their story as “going undercover” to expose sales in the settlement of Efrat by real estate giant Anglo-Saxon (motto: “have a foothold in Israel”). And yet, there’s nothing secret about the very mundane way that the Green Line has been erased for the past 30+ years. I approach real estate agents as simply a New York-based reporter, and they are happy to talk my ear off. Just this past June, the Jewish Agency hosted a real estate expo in the Times Square Marriott, where property on both sides of the Green Line was for sale—with no mention of the 1967 borders in sight.
Israel moves to improve relations with UNESCO after forging holy sites
NAZARETH, (PIC)– The Israeli government is determined to settle existing differences with UNESCO (the UN organization for Education, Science and Culture) in light of the organization’s recent decisions to counter the prior’s practice of adding Islamic holy sites in Palestine to the country’s Jewish heritage list, Israeli media said. According to Israeli Radio, a series of bilateral talks between Israeli officials and UNESCO representatives will be held in the French capital this week in an effort to solve current disagreements between both parties as relates to Israel’s decision to include a number of religious and archaeological sites in Palestine to the alleged heritage list.
Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Foreign activists take part in protest rally in JV
JERICHO, (PIC)– Inhabitants of Jaftelk village, Jericho district, in the Jordan Valley organized a protest sit-in on Saturday with the participation of foreign solidarity activists against Israeli settlement activity. The rally was held following the recent Israeli confiscation of 25 dunums of the Jaftelk land, which would isolate 32 families, 120 individuals, from their land and property. The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) already controls 95% of the area and is trying to expropriate the remaining 5%.
Gazans demonstrate on anniversary of Balfour Declaration
(ISM) As Israeli army snipers in the control tower at the Erez crossing looked on, Saber Al Za’anin, the General Coordinator of the Local Initiative group spoke passionately about Palestinian resistance on the anniversary of the November 3rd 1917 Balfour Declaration.“We carry forward the fight of our great grandfathers to dismiss the disgraceful and unjust promise that the UK Foreign Secretary offered to the Zionists to create a state in the middle of Palestine 93 years ago. Here we are, the present-day Palestinian generation standing strong again to uphold the principle of our forefathers and the struggle that has been passed down for us to continue today.”

The People Speak / Eva Bartlett
(IPS) – The focus on people’s movements in Palestine continues to gain momentum with growing non-violent demonstrations in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and with a Palestine-wide call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Years of the non-violent demonstrations throughout the occupied West Bank against Israel’s separation wall have finally generated some media interest in the issue of the wall and annexation of Palestinian land. Yet the behind-the- scenes work of Palestinian unions, Palestinian and international BDS groups, video conferences bridging Palestine to the outside world, and the struggle of Palestinian students to access an education continues largely unnoticed by the cameras.
Ali Abunimah lecture at Stanford Nov 3 – YouTube in 13 parts
“My lecture at Stanford, hosted by Students Confronting Israeli Apartheid on Nov 3, 2010. Go to the Youtube page to access the subsequent segments.”
UK official: Gaza situation is unbearable
British Foreign Office spokesman Martin Day on Thursday called on Israel to allow Gaza borders to open for exports to ease an unbearable situation in the Strip … Day said the British government believed settlements were a major obstacle to achieving peace, and that the UK continuously relayed this to Israel. All settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem, contravened international law and should be frozen to create an atmosphere for successful negotiations, he said
Letter calls on Israeli artists not to perform in Ariel
Group of Israeli artists say there is no obligation to perform in West Bank settlement because ‘Ariel is not part of sovereign territory of Israel’. — A group of well-known arts and entertainment figures issued a letter Friday to all theater actors, calling on them not to perform in Ariel and providing them with legal information regarding their rights to refuse performances in the West Bank settlement, reported Army Radio.
Jeez louise: Freiburg, Germany, demands that Nakba exhibit with Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein requires …. balance
From Hedy Epstein, Palestinian-solidarity activist and Holocaust survivor, who leaves the midwest for Germany tomorrow to do several speaking engagements: “A Palestine Solidarity Group in Freiburg, Germany, applied and received permission from the city gov’t to show a Nakba Exhibit in the city public library, beginning on Nov. 12, 2010.  Just nine days before the opening of the exhibit, the permission was withdrawn.  Reason: The one sidedness of the exhibit. Additionally it was stated that I will speak at the opening of the exhibit as a patron of the exhibit…that I am a member of a terrorist organization, Free Gaza.”
Friends of Humanity calls on Egypt to facilitate Road to Hope convoy mission
VIENNA, (PIC)– Friends of humanity international organization appealed to the Egyptian authorities to allow Road to Hope convoy to move from the Egyptian-Libyan borders into the Gaza Strip to deliver medical and human assistance to the impoverished Palestinian people there.
Swedish activists to sue Israeli leaders
LONDON, (PIC)– Swedish activists have decided to sue Israeli leaders for their role in ordering the attack on the Freedom Flotilla aid convoy that was bound to Gaza Strip but was intercepted at sea by Israeli navy forces late last May. Dror Feiler, the spokesman for the Swedish ship that was part of the Flotilla, told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper on Friday that he would file a complaint on behalf of 11 Swedes against the Israeli leaders on 8th November with Tel Aviv police and the Israeli prosecutor.
Israeli flotilla participant wants saxophone back
Artist Dror Feiler demands confiscated items be returned. ‘Why does Israel need my saxophone?’,7340,L-3978738,00.html
Siege / Restriction of movement / Denial of rights
Israel issues Jerusalem resident 6 month travel ban
Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yeshai issued an order Thursday banning Jerusalem resident Ya’qoub Abu A’sab, 40, from travelling for six months. Ma’an’s correspondent said the minister cited security concerns as grounds for the order.
Internal issues behind Allenby travel block, PA says
Senior Palestinian officials blamed internal politics for an embarrassing incident at the Israeli-controlled West Bank-Jordanian border crossing on Wednesday, a report in the Arabic daily Al-Quds newspaper said. PLO official Ahmad Qrei’a was told by Israeli officials at the border crossing that he would not be permitted to drive his government car through to Jordan, saying the privilege had been reserved for President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad only. The incident, which drew ire from Palestinians as another humiliation from the Israeli occupation, did not illicit immediate comment from Palestinian officials. Reports in the Israeli press said the privilege had been revoked because of statements issued by Qrei’a against the stalled peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Speaking anonymously to Al-Quds, one official said “I believe that a Palestinian side requested from the Israeli side to take this measure.”
Israeli occupation stops dozens of pilgrims from leaving for Makka
RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Palestinian captives committee said that the Israeli occupation authorities refused to allow dozens of pilgrims from leaving the West Bank to Amman on their way to Makka to perform Hajj. The committee added in a statement on Friday that the Israeli occupation intelligence held the pilgrims in different areas of the Allenby bridge border crossing. Some of them were thoroughly searched and questioned by occupation intelligence officers. Some of them were barred from travelling on allegations they constitute a security threat to “Israel” and others under other “security” pretexts.
Rafah crossing sees more pilgrims depart Gaza
Hajj pilgrims from Gaza continue to leave the coastal enclave via the Rafah crossing with Egypt in a process that has so run smoothly, officials told Ma’an on Saturday.
Protest against Fayyad for excluding Jerusalemite pilgrims from Hajj mission
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Dozens of Jerusalemite families of prisoners, ex-detainees and martyrs on Friday rallied outside the house of Salam Fayyad, head of Fatah’s government in Ramallah city, in protest at excluding them from the pilgrimage (Hajj) mission to Makkah this year as part of the generous gesture made by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz.
Plea deal ‘only option’ for political prisoner Ameer Makhoul / Jillian Kestler- D’Amours
After spending nearly six months in jail, Palestinian political prisoner Ameer Makhoul signed a plea agreement with Israeli state prosecutors on 27 October … According to Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh, Chairperson of the Committee for the Defense of Ameer Makhoul, while the decision to plead guilty to reduced charges was extremely difficult for Makhoul, his family and the defense team, the reality of life for Palestinian citizens of Israel made it the only option. “Historically, the record of Israel’s court system shows that nearly 100 percent — definitely over 95 percent — of cases where a person is accused or arrested on the basis of security violations, are indicted and put in jail. The court finds them guilty.
Sheikh Saleh goes on trial Wednesday
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli court in the Israeli Ramle prison has scheduled the hearing of Sheikh Raed Salah this coming Wednesday to investigate whether or not he violated orders from the Israeli occupation police not to meet with more then seven people in a public place.
Hamas: PA security carried out 163 political arrests this month
WEST BANK, (PIC)– PA security forces arrested this month 163 Palestinians throughout the West Bank, among them 74 ex-detainees who were released from Israeli jails, and transferred 40 detainees for military trials over their political affiliation, the Hamas movement in Gaza reported Saturday. The official report added that Israeli forces arrested 13 Hamas supporters who were previously released by the PA security militia, while the PA security arrested a number of Hamas affiliates immediately after their release from Israeli prisons.
Hamas: PA gave detainee day release for funeral
Hamas officials in the West Bank said Saturday that PA forces continued to detain the party’s members and affiliates in the region, citing two recent releases as evidence that detentions remained political.  With three Hamas affiliates allegedly detained by PA forces overnight, the party statement said, two others were released without charges, one for only a few hours to attend his mother’s funeral, and a second man due to deteriorating health conditions.
Extrajudicial killings
Israeli occupation hints at involvement in the assassination of Nimnim
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli occupation military sources hinted that the US was involved in the assassination of Muhammad al-Nimnim, a Palestinian resistance fighter affiliate with the Islamic Army faction and whose car was targeted by an Israeli occupation drone on Wednesday. Israeli radio on Friday quoted occupation military sources that the assassination of Nimnim was coordinated with the US, and while an occupation military spokeswoman refused to give details on the subject she said that there was good coordination between the two sides [the Zionist occupation and the US] and added that “Israel” conveys from time to time information to the US and other parties.
Racism / Discrimination / Segregation
A lesson in inequality
As opposed to comfortable learning conditions in Omer, Bedouin students attending nearby Segev Shalom high school study in overcrowded caravans with no air-condition. Teacher: Our goal is that these students attend university, but it’s not easy,7340,L-3980374,00.html
87% of seculars: We won’t live in haredi building
Ynet-Gesher poll finds two-thirds of secular Jews have not visited ultra-Orthodox home, one-third have no religious acquaintance or friend. And how many secular employers would hire former yeshiva student?,7340,L-3978555,00.html
Projectile fire reported from northern Gaza
An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed media reports Saturday morning saying a single homemade projectile was fired from northern Gaza toward Israeli territory … there were no reports of injury or damage from the projectile, which was said to have landed in an open field. No Palestinian faction has claimed the act.
Israelis attacked on way to Jerusalem pub
Three students and Australian tourist take wrong turn on way to Jerusalem’s city center, find themselves in heart of Arab neighborhood of Issawiya. ‘Dozens of young men began throwing stones and sticks at us. It was a well-planned ambush,’ driver recounts,7340,L-3980165,00.html
Political news
Mideast peace still a priority for Obama, US says
(dpa) Republican gains in midterm elections will not reduce pressure on Israelis to strike a peace deal, says State Department.

US denies support for UN statehood bid
WASHINGTON (Ma’an) — A US State Department official denied a host of rumors on the progress of the peace process Friday, including reports that Washington would back a bid for a Palestinian state presented to the UN Security Council.
Erekat: US-Israeli decision on freeze in 3 weeks
Chief Palestinian negotiator expecting answer from US on requested settlement construction freeze,7340,L-3980438,00.html
Palestinians will shun talks without freeze
LONDON: An overwhelming majority of Palestinians will refuse to back the current peace process if Israel resumes building settlements in the occupied West Bank. A report by research group YouGov Siraj revealed that 90 percent of Palestinians would no longer back talks if West Bank settlement building restarted. It also stated that most Palestinians believe the current talks are meaningless with only 16 percent believing the talks will lead to a positive outcome and 60 percent believing they were likely to fail.
Report: PA to make decision on talks late November
ABU DHABI, UAE (Ma’an) — US mediators will hand the Arab League peace initiative’s followup committee details on a deal to bring Palestinian and Israeli negotiators back to the table by 10 November, the Palestinian presidential spokesman told AFP Friday.
Al-Masri arrives in Gaza
Palestinian National Coalition leader Munib Al-Masri urged Hamas and Fatah to engage every effort to achieve success in their upcoming meeting in Damascus. On November 9 the rival factions will discuss security, the final issue stalling the ratification of an Egyptian-backed reconciliation agreement, said Yaser Al-Wadieyah, a representative of independent officials seeking unity. Al-Masri arrived in Gaza Friday via the Erez crossing for a three-day visit to meet Hamas and Fatah leaders including Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to prepare for the Damascus meeting. The Nablus tycoon would also discuss economic issues, he said.
Abbas: Iran is holding up peace talks
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that Iran was holding up peace talks by pressuring Hamas not to be part of any agreement, CNN reported.
PLO official criticizes one-state solution
A movement to seek a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse would only prolong Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi said Thursday … “It will be buying time for Israel to do more damage and create more prejudicial situations on the ground,” she said, adding, “we’re not going to find a global partnership for this anywhere.”
Other news
Past fails to pass barriers / Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler
JERUSALEM, Nov 2, 2010 (IPS) – A Swedish attempt to bridge conflicting historical narratives has failed to bring Israeli and Palestinian educators together in teaching the other side’s views on history … The Swedish project revolves around a joint textbook titled ‘Learning the Historical Narrative of the Other’, which tries to present both national narratives of the conflict. The book was banned from the outset by the Israeli Education Ministry, and now the Palestinian Education Ministry, after initially approving the project, has also backed away.
Bethlehem holds vigil for Baghdad church victims
A mass and a candlelight vigil were held in Bethlehem Sunday for the victims of Sunday’s massacre in a Baghdad church. Hundreds of Christians attended a mass at the Nativity Church, and then held a candlelight vigil in Nativity Square in Bethlehem city center.  Several speeches were given in front of the Peace Center expressing solidarity with Iraqi Christians and Iraqis in general. Muslims and Christians from all denominations held candles and signs condemning the slaughter, which left dozens dead.
Israel allows guns into Gaza to protect UN chief
Israel has authorized a UN agency to take automatic weapons into Gaza for the protection of its director, Agence-France Presse reported Friday. UNRWA, whose mandate is to assist and protect Palestinian refugees, requested the weapons three years ago, an Israeli military spokesman told AFP. The agency acquired the weapons in June, but it took five months for Israel to authorize their transfer, the spokesman said … UNRWA director John Ging survived an assassination attack in March 2007, when gunmen sprayed bullets at his armored car.
Islamist students boycott Najah University election
Islamist students at an-Najah University, in the city of Nablus, have announced that they will boycott the Student Council election after the PA security forces arrested several supporters, according to local sources.
Authorities battle Jenin tattoo parlors
Municipality says underground parlors pose serious health, moral risks for Palestinian youth [not to mention being against Islamic teachings],7340,L-3973650,00.html
Israeli army chief’s letter on military conduct to be read to every soldier
The unusual decision to send a clear and direct message to every soldier reflects concern over a backlash against the prosecution of military personnel. It follows a campaign of graffiti-spraying near the home of Brigadier General Avichai Mendelblit, the military advocate general, accusing him of being a traitor. The graffiti is thought to refer to a few prosecutions of soldiers on charges relating to the war in Gaza of 2008-2009. [see next article]
Radical students from Yitzhar launch campaign against MAG [military advocate general]
Calling themselves ‘Your Wreckers and Your Destroyers,’ the group of anonymous activists from Samaria are operating in their rabbis’ name in an effort to protest against civil servants and law-enforcement agencies.
Civil marriage possible by weekend
Knesset approves fee for civil marriage certificate, allowing non-Jewish Israelis or citizens defined by State as lacking religious denomination to wed without Chief Rabbinate. ‘Law will solve a problem faced by thousands of people,’ says law’s initiator, MK David Rotem,7340,L-3979038,00.html
What ‘fortifications’?
IDF Home Front engineers on strike
Civilian engineers working for the IDF Home Front Command have been striking for several days now, holding up fortification work across Israel, Ynet has learned. The engineers, who are in charge of approving fortification plans, are striking over what they refer to as “unbearable working conditions.” They say that they are facing an immense burden because of new fortification regulations.,7340,L-3980264,00.html
Golan Heights bushfire ravages thousands of dunams in nature reserve
Fire apparently erupts after tourists burn toilet paper near the archaeology site Umm el-Kanater and throw it away.
Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
Financing the Israeli occupation
Israeli banks provide the financial infrastructure for all activities of companies, governmental agencies and individuals in the continuing occupation of Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights. The services provided by the banks support and sustain these activities. Additionally, as this report shows, it is evident that the banks are well aware of the types and whereabouts of the activity that is being carried out with their financial assistance. Our research has identified six categories of involvement of Israeli banks in the occupation.
Where will the next leaders come from?
The Palestinian youth are fed up with politics. In a country where 70% of young people described themselves as ‘politically inactive’ in a Sharek youth forum survey, and just 33% professed to have trust in any political party, what has gone wrong? It was a question debated by representatives of all the major parties in a specially convened event at the Sharek Centre on Wednesday.
Ramallah seeks an out / Khalid Amayreh
The Palestinian leadership is looking for side exits from a moribund peace process that appears set to collapse — Increasingly frustrated by US inability — or unwillingness — to force Israel to end its decades-old military occupation of Palestinian territories, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is preparing a list of alternatives that would forestall the looming breakdown of US- sponsored talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The voice of Hamas – Manuela Paraipan interviews Khaled Mashal
Q: Why is a top ranking Hamas leader living in Damascus? And who is Khaled Mashal in his own words?  A: On your first question – you should ask the Israelis. But I can answer your second. I am a Palestinian, an Arab, a Muslim and a human being. I am looking for freedom and self-determination. I have two purposes in life: to serve Almighty God and my people. In the time I devote to serving my people, I take as my guiding light humane and religious values.
UN will be judged on whether it upholds Palestinian rights / Richard Falk
As this is my last report to the General Assembly in my term as Special Rapporteur on the Situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 it seems appropriate to describe some of the special difficulties that have faced the mandate-holder in discharging the functions of the position. The most salient of these difficulties involves the non-cooperation of the Government of Israel … This mandate has also been hampered to some extent, as well, by the Human Rights Council and by the Palestinian Authority.
Tears of Gaza / Ashraf Ezzat
The history of Gaza is the history of empires come and empires go but the people of Gaza always remain in the land, They do not go. They remain to grow more children and more olive trees. Many times they have been conquered but never have they been treated like prisoners. Never have they been terrorized nor punished except by the Israeli occupation. Never have they been humiliated nor the olive trees uprooted like this before.
“We won” / Shay Fogelman
Fifteen years after casting a death curse on Yitzhak Rabin, Avigdor Eskin is satisfied with the way his views are spreading. Now, to further his ideological and business interests, he is allying with white segregationists in South Africa
The nobleman and the horse / Uri Avnery
…THE BIG winner of the American election is none other than Binyamin Netanyahu. His policy is similar to that of his political mentor, Yitzhak Shamir. It is based on the Jew who had to teach the Polish nobleman’s horse to read and to write within a year – otherwise the whole shtetel would be massacred. “A year is a long time,” he tried to soothe his weeping wife, “Within a year the horse or the nobleman will be dead.” Shamir’s game was to postpone everything, miss every opportunity to bring peace closer, gain time.
Red Rag: Israel is not a Nazi state – yet / Gideon Spiro
…Israel is not a Nazi state – not yet. But there are alarming signs that are reminiscent of the racist demon of the 1930s. There is much evil and crime in Israel, as well as military occupation, racism and apartheid. And here too, it is not just the army that collaborates with the evil. Without the collaboration of the wearers of ties, the whole complex could not move.
Travels in hyperreality / Ilana Hammerman
A police investigation of another trip in which young Palestinian women were brought into Israel for a day of fun; a nighttime encounter with laborers easing past checkpoints to get to work in Israel.
Vicious circle / Tal Niv
Of all the many recently published photographs of the policing and suppression of demonstrations in the territories, this is one of the most disturbing, like a thorn in an animal’s paw. It was taken on October 9 by Nasser Shiyoukhi of the Associated Press in the village of Beit Ummar, near the settlement of Karmei Tzur in the Hebron area, during the dispersal of a routine demonstration by Palestinians and foreign activists. The headlock is the focus of this photograph. Not just the headlock itself but the dominance it represents.
Friday: 5 Iraqis killed, 9 wounded
At least five Iraqis were killed and nine others were wounded in a pair of attacks in Iraq. Other reports focused on past violence, including abuse from British soldiers, and the potential for future attacks … The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for a string of attacks on Shi’ite targets in Baghdad earlier this week and threatened more violence towards Christians and Shi’ites … Baghdadiya television station was shut down ostensibly for breaching “professional standards and regulations” after Sunday’s attack against a Baghdad church, but many believe the closure is in retaliation for programming that is embarrassing to the government.
Iraqi prisoners were abused at ‘UK’s Abu Ghraib’, court hears
(with video) Detainees were starved, deprived of sleep and threatened with execution at JFIT facilities near Basra, high court told … [The court] also received allegations that JFIT’s prisoners were beaten, forced to kneel in stressful positions for up to 30 hours at a time, and that some were subjected to electric shocks. Some of the prisoners say that they were subject to sexual humiliation by women soldiers, while others allege that they were held for days in cells as small as one metre square.
European court demands halt to forcible return of Iraqi asylum seekers
• Human rights court cites ‘deteriorating security’ in Iraq • Home Office ‘will not enforce’ deportations under rule 39 — The government’s programme of deporting failed asylum seekers to Iraq has been thrown into confusion after the European court of human rights ruled that forcible returns to Baghdad should be suspended immediately because of an upsurge in sectarian violence and suicide bombings. The court decision has already led to the Netherlands halting all removal flights to Iraq. In the UK, the Home Office pledged to “continue to undertake” deportations but acknowledged that in cases where the Strasbourg court supported petitions from individuals it would not enforce removal.
Car bombs wound 27 civilians in northern Iraq
(AP) An Iraqi police officer says three car bombs have exploded in the northern city of Kirkuk, wounding 27 civilians. Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir said Saturday morning that the parked cars exploded over a 30-minute period in three adjacent Kurdish areas.,7340,L-3980338,00.html
Iraq postpones crucial parliament session
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi MPs on Friday postponed a meeting to elect a speaker and kick off the process of forming a government, as civil society groups seek to recover 40 million dollars from deputies left idle over the past eight months.
Iraqi Christians seek autonomous region in Nineveh province
An organization representing Iraqi Christians today issued a call for the Iraqi government to accept the establishment of an autonomous region for the nation’s Christian minority, carving out part of the Nineveh Province and bordering Iraqi Kurdistan, the first such autonomous region. Iraqi Christians have an ancient history but have come under growing attack since the 2003 US invasion. As many as half of the nation’s Christians are believed to have died or fled into exile. The region in question includes a large number of Iraqi Christians, but has also been singled out as a target of annexation for the Kurds.
They kill Christians (too) / Sinan Antoon
…While Iraqi Christians are not the only targets of this sectarian violence (Sabaeans and Yazidis amongst the non-Muslims, for example) and of course hundreds of thousands of Sunnis and Shi`is have also been the victims of violence and have had their mosques and shrines attacked, the plight of Christians and other non-Muslims always receives disproportionate attention in the west. Genuine concern for the plight of others notwithstanding, the tradition of official “concern” for minorities in the Middle East, especially Christians, has been used as a pretext for intervention and a tool to gain geopolitical influence and power.
Outlook improves for two large southern Iraq oilfields: SOC
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Output at one of southern Iraq’s largest oilfields is on the uptick after sharp declines, and it should bottom out at a second field next month before turning higher, the head of South Oil Co said in comments published on Friday.
Other Mideast
Report: Lebanon says Israel erecting 21 spy posts along its border
Lebanon’s parliament accused Israel on of erecting 21 wiretapping and spy posts along the Lebanese border, Channel 10 quoted Quds Net news agency as having reported on Thursday. Hassan Fadlallah, a Hezbollah representative in the Lebanese parliament, said that the parliament’s media and committee had investigated photographs, documents and maps proving that Israel was engaging in intelligence activity.
Beirut probes tribunal staff attack
(Al Jazeera) Lebanon has told the United Nations that it is investigating an attack last week on UN officials involved in the inquiry into the killing of Rafiq al-Hariri, Lebanon’s assassinated ex-prime minister.
US: Syria risks IAEA action over suspected atom site
(Reuters) The United States warned Syria on Friday it may face action by governors of the UN nuclear watchdog if Damascus fails to give its inspectors access to the remains of a suspected nuclear site in the desert.  It has been over two years since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was allowed to visit the Dair Alzour site in Syria where secret nuclear activity may have taken place before it was bombed to rubble by Israel in 2007.,7340,L-3980339,00.html
Bush considered attack on Syrian facility: book
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former President George W. Bush says he considered ordering a U.S. military strike against a suspected Syrian nuclear facility at Israel’s request in 2007 but ultimately opted against it. Israel eventually destroyed the facility, which Syria denied was aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability.
UK: Damascus has failed to protect jailed lawyer
(AFP) …Eight groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, say Hassani, co-founder of the Syrian Human Rights Organization, was “physically assaulted” on October 28 by a fellow prisoner in his jail in Damascus. They said Muhannad al-Hassani, who was awarded an international human-rights prize in May for representing opposition figures, needed 10 stitches for a head wound after the assault.
Al-Qaeda claims parcel bomb plot
(Al Jazeera) Group’s Yemen wing says it was behind plan to hit US targets, and caused earlier Dubai air crash.
Yemen orders US born cleric to be found dead or alive
(AP) A Yemeni judge ordered police Saturday to find a radical U.S.-born cleric “dead or alive” after the al-Qaida-linked preacher failed to appear at his trial for his role in the killing of foreigners. Yemen is under heavy U.S. pressure to crack down on the country’s al-Qaida offshoot after a scheme to send bombs through the mail in packages addressed to the U.S. was thwarted a week ago.

Yemen mobilized tribe of radical cleric against Al-Qaeda
ADEN, Yemen: The Yemeni government, which this week charged radical US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi with incitement to kill foreigners and with links to Al-Qaeda, is trying to mobilize his Awaliq tribe in Shabwa Province. Tribal dignitaries who are close to the government met Awaliq leaders in October to convince them to combat the local arm of Osama bin Laden’s extremist network, a tribal source told AFP.
Egypt holds blogger past deadline
Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, an Egyptian blogger serving a four-year prison term for inciting unrest and antipathy to Islam, has not been released despite serving out the end of his sentence, journalists and activists close to Suleiman say.
Blog at your own risk in the Middle East
“According to Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based watchdog, at least 17 “netizens” are in jail across the Middle East: eight in Iran and the rest in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. China may be the biggest online represser, but the Middle East is not far behind.”
U.S. and other world news
UN body accuses US of rights abuses
(Al Jazeera) The United States has for the first time faced the United Nations Human Rights Council over accusations of human rights violations. Council members in Geneva, Switzerland, levelled a barrage of criticisms at the US administration on Friday, calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison and for investigations into alleged torture by US troops abroad.

Largest world gathering of Muslims, Jews kicks off in US
The third annual Twinningsm weekend kicked off this weekend as Jews and Muslims, as well as representatives of Mosques and Synagogues from across the globe came together to take part in the world’s largest gathering encouraging ethnic tolerance.
Upper West Side Synagogue and Brooklyn Jewish Center to host memorial events for far right extremist Meir Kahane / Alex Kane
Three memorial events for the racist, far-right ultra-nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane are to be held throughout New York City this Sunday in ceremonies marking twenty years since the killing of Kahane … The honoring of Meir Kahane has sparked controversy among the Jewish community in New York City, and there are plans, led by Yeshiva students in the city, to protest the memorial events … Perhaps the most infamous act of violence by a follower of Kahane was the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, when Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli-settler born in Brooklyn, murdered 29 Muslims praying at the Cave of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.  The Israeli government outlawed the Kach political party, which was founded by Kahane, and an offshoot party, in the 1990′s.
NJ train worker who burned Quran sues over firing
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A former New Jersey train worker fired after publicly burning pages from the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks filed a lawsuit Friday seeking reinstatement and monetary damages. Derek Fenton’s dismissal violated his constitutional right to free expression, the American Civil Liberties Union said in its lawsuit.
California man accused of terrorism
(AP) SAN DIEGO – A Somali national accused of routing money from San Diego to a terrorist organization in his native country was being held without bail Friday after government prosecutors argued he was a flight risk and danger to the community. Basaaly Saeed Moalin and two other Somali nationals living in San Diego were among six people indicted nationwide this week by federal authorities and accused of funneling funds to al-Shabab

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