In 2011, Israel plans to build 3,000 new Jewish homes in Jerusalem, and hopes to build 50,000 in the next decade

Nov 13, 2010


And other news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers / Land, property and resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Report: 3,000 new Jewish homes for Jerusalem in 2011
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel plans to put up for sale 3,000 new Jewish homes in Jerusalem next year, including in Arab areas, a municipality official was quoted as saying by the weekly Israeli newspaper Kol Hair. Shlomo Eshkol, an engineer appointed by the Jerusalem municipality, also spoke of a long-term project to build 50,000 homes in Jerusalem during the next decade, Kol Hair said in its latest edition.
Report: Israel plans 130 units in East Jerusalem
TEL AVIV — Israel’s Jerusalem municipality is in talks over the construction of a hotel with 130 housing units in the illegal Israeli settlement Gilo in occupied East Jerusalem, the Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday. The project is the initiative of a private investor and would consist of three 11-floor buildings, the report said. The municipality said the owner of the land had submitted an application to build housing rather than a hotel on the land, according to the newspaper.
Jerusalem center warns of demolitions raid after Eid
An East Jerusalem community center active in reporting rights violations in the neighborhood of Silwan warned on Saturday of an impending wave of home demolitions to begin following the Eid Al-Adha holiday … The families of Khalil Abbasi, Muhammad Ar-Razim, and Ayman Abu Rmeila, in Silwan and Beit Hanina, have all been served demolition notices, the center’s statement said, adding that they had reason to believe the demolitions would be imminent. According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, 20,000 homes in East Jerusalem have standing demolition orders against them, while thousands of others have “stop work” orders, mandating owners to cease construction and apply for a permit to build.
Occupation bans renovation of school which is considered part of the Aqsa
The Israeli occupation refused to allow the Islamic Awqaf department in Jerusalem to renovate Al-Khatouneyya school which is considered part of the main building of the Aqsa Mosque … Sheikh Muhammad Husain, imam of the Aqsa Mosque said that the Israeli occupation authorities stopped workers last Tuesday from carrying out renovation work on the building … He added that while the Israeli occupation hampers maintenance work at the Aqsa Mosque it allows extremist Jewish groups to dig tunnels under it.
J’lem rights group: Israeli planners have begun isolating Issawiya from city
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– A rights group in occupied Jerusalem warned Saturday that Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) have kicked off a new scheme aimed at isolating the city’s Arab district of Al-Issawiya from the rest of the city. Similar isolation patterns were already witnessed by the Zaeem, Ras Shahada, Ras Khamees, Dahiya Al-Salam, and Sha’fat sections of the holy city, the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights added. The rights center went on to say that the IOA already started a few months ago implementing a plan to close down the district’s northeastern entrance and attempted to shut down the main western entrance leading to the Jewish French Hill settlement.
A kid throws a stone in East Jerusalem, and a village is locked down / Yuri Pines
One of the most devastating pieces of information we learned this year was Yonatan Shapira’s revelation, in an Upper West Side church, that while Israel has fostered the creation of hundreds of new Israeli towns since 1948, no Palestinian towns have been founded, evidence of rampant discrimination. Below is a report from occupied East Jerusalem– which Israel annexed in 1970 and considers part of Israel– that shows the racial discrimination. Note that the neighborhood of Isawiya (also spelled Issawiyya) neighbors Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood that is now being colonized by Jews.
Leftists urge Israel to repossess settlers’ home in East Jerusalem
Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement cites legal precedent to have houses appropriated to prevent friction with Palestinians and facilitate a peace agreement … “It’s the state’s duty to confiscate these properties to prevent a disruption of the social fabric,” said former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair. He was referring to houses occupied by Jewish settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Amnesty launches appeal to save Bedouin village
Amnesty International launched an urgent appeal Friday to prevent Israeli forces demolishing a Bedouin village in southern Israel. The rights group said residents of Al-Araqib village face forcible eviction and the destruction of their property for the seventh time since July. The residents are Israeli citizens, and one third of them are children, a statement from the organization said.
BBC News Video: Palestinians concerned about olive groves in the West Bank
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports.  [new tactic: nailing to trees a passage from the Qur’an about the Israelis coming to this area from Egypt. And sprayed on buildings: “Arabs out” – does no one remember “Juden raus”?]
Derisory Supreme Court ruling on the Wall in al-Walaja
On Monday the 8th of November, after a two hour charade in the Supreme Court of Israel, the decision over the path of the wall in Al-Walaja (near Bethlehem), was adjourned for another 45 days. Their indecisiveness was mainly with respect to the fact that the path on which the wall is already being built is entirely private property belonging to Palestinian villagers. The court needs to wait for the Palestinian’s land to be officially confiscated before they can make a decision, but for now has ruled that bulldozers can continue excavating along their preferred path for the wall while construction is temporarily frozen.
In case you missed it:

Video: Understanding Israel’s increasing grip on Jerusalem
PalestineCenter | March 26, 2010 A video briefing explaining Israel’s continued and expanding grip on Jerusalem since the occupation began in 1967.
PRC hosts releasing “Atlas of Palestine” evening in London
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) held a seminar yesterday, Friday 12th November, in central London to release a comprehensive Atlas of Palestine from 1917-1966. This is a vital piece of work documenting history, landscape and Geography of Palestine that has been erased by Israel. The eagerly anticipated event was widely attended bringing together journalists, academics and activists Friday.
MK proposes transfer of Palestinians
NAZARETH, (PIC)– Likud MK Carmel Shama has proposed the transfer of the biggest possible number of Palestinians in 1948 occupied Palestine into the Palestinian state in the event of its establishment. Shama, addressing a seminar on Saturday, said that fanatic nationalism was growing in the midst of Arab population, adding that it was only a matter of time when the situation there explodes … For his part, Arab MK Talab Al-Sane called for a “criminal investigation” against Shama for suspicion of inciting racism.
Wilder’s side: a look into Hebron’s bare, tense settlers quarter
Hebron – PNN – David Wilder, self-described extremist and spokesman for the isolated community of Jewish settlers in Hebron, makes his points courteously in a mild New Jersey accent … “Palestinian culture, Palestinian heritage—it’s all bobbemeintze, it doesn’t exist, ‘ he asserts, using a Yiddish word for nonsense. “There never was a Palestinian people, there still isn’t a Palestinian people, and that’s why I don’t call them Palestinians. It’s all a fiction that today the world accepts in order to try to destroy the state of Israel.” Wilder’s theory, which is typically passed around more in online comment sections than in policy circles, is only surprising because of his situation: he is surrounded by at least 200,000 of the people he claims do not exist.
Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Activists mark year of protests in Sheikh Jarrah
Israelis, Palestinians and international activists beat drums and waved signs reading “Free Sheikh Jarrah” and “Stop Stealing Our Land,” in what has become a weekly ritual sign of opposition to settlement activity in the area. The demonstrations target a group of Israelis who moved into the area with help from the international Nahalat Shimon settler group.
Today in Bil`in / Hamde Abu Rahme
(photos) Today’s [Friday’s] demonstration in Bil’in was joined by a large number of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals. Members of the Fatah party were also present. The protesters walked together towards the Apartheid Wall, carrying posters of Yasser Arafat, in commemoration of the Fatah leader who passed away six years ago … Also this Friday the tear gas canister sat fire to the ground several places, and was put out by some protesters before it spread.
Video: Beit Ommar Nov 11 – Soldiers fire tear gas into school
Soldiers tear gassed a girls elementary school in Beit Ommar this morning following a student demonstration commemorating the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.
Israeli army segregates the village of Nabi Saleh to prevent commemorative folk festival
After the Fatah movement called the Palestinian people in Ramallah for a folk festival to commemorate late president Yasser Arafat, as a new step in escalating the popular resistance, the Israeli army imposed intensive blockade upon the village of an-Nabi Saleh, northwest Ramallah. Israeli army personnel also erected military barriers to separate the villages of Beit Ramba and Kufr Aein, northwest Ramallah, and tightened measures and obstructed the passage of the vehicles through the Israeli checkpoint, Attara.
Israeli soldiers suppress 3 separate anti-wall protests in al-Masara, Bil`in, Ni`lin
…In the central West Bank village of Ni’lin, Villagers held the midday prayers at their lands near the wall, later they were joined by Israeli and international supporters and marched up to the gate of the wall separating local farmers from their lands. Israeli soldiers stationed there fired tear gas and sound bombs at the unarmed protesters; many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. The protest in Nil’in today, like the one in al-Masara, was in memory of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who died six years ago.
Good news: Leading NY Jewish org sponsors ‘The Other Israel’ film festival / Philip Weiss
I’ve heard good things about the Other Israel film festival at the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side. I gather there are going to be some films from a Palestinian perspective in the festival, including Mohammad Bakri’s, and you can hear in the trailer below the statement, There must be another way. So the festival reflects the growing awareness of smart Jews in the U.S. that Israel is in crisis. And on Tuesday night Amy Goodman will be moderating a talk by Gideon Levy.
A perspective on the Jewish National Assembly from its only Palestinian attendee / Shereen Naser
…As I entered the exhibition hall I was greeted almost immediately by signs claiming to provide attendees with the truth about Israel, the land of milk, honey and great beach spots. Beach spots my cousins in the West Bank would never enjoy because of the less sunny truths about Israel ignored by these very signs … It became a little more difficult to breathe as I walked by banners touting Israel as a beacon of light in a sea of backward Middle Eastern countries. Smile, Shereen, and move forward. Despite my morning trepidation, I did come here with a focused mission.
Prominent film, television artists join boycott of West Bank arts center
A group of leading Israeli film and television artists have signed onto an online petition supporting the right of theater actors to refuse to perform in the newly opened arts center in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
In Haaretz: Young Jews tell Bibi: ‘Israel is delegitimizing itself” / Matthew Taylor
My oped in Haaretz dropped today [Friday] on the Netanyahu speech disruption. Check it out [And read the comments!]
Major Dutch pension fund divests from occupation / Adri Nieuwhof & Guus Hoelen
The major Dutch pension fund Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW), which has investments totaling 97 billion euros, has informed The Electronic Intifada that it has divested from almost all the Israeli companies in its portfolio … In addition, PFZM has also entered into discussions with Motorola, Veolia and Alstom to raise its concerns about human rights issues. All three companies have actively supported and profited from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip.
Stop the train! / Ofer N.
Following our report about the Tel Aviv- Jerusalem fast train, which would pass through the West Bank and take up Palestinian land, there is an internet petition going around, calling upon the companies to withdraw their involvement: Please sign the petition and send around to all lists
#BDS: Letter from California Scholars for Academic Freedom to the chancellor UC-Berkeley
We write as members of the California Scholars for Academic Freedom (cs4af)**– an organization with an ever-expanding membership of over 150– to express our concerns about efforts to prevent an event, “What Can American Academia Do to Realize Justice for the Palestinians,” that was held on the Berkeley campus on October 26.
#BDS: The joint is jumping! Codepink update on the boycott Ahava campaign
Since last we wrote on the one-year anniversary of the Stolen Beauty campaign, the proverbial joint has been jumping. The boycott is gaining steam all around with world, with new partners in South Africa and our stalwart friends in London, and our successes have Ahava so flustered that they are circulating a letter to retailers decrying the campaign. Will you keep the momentum building by taking action this season?
#BDS: Campaigners tell BT to ‘disconnect now’ from Israel’s occupation
‘A Just Peace For Palestine’ Launches New Initiative in Partnership with War on Want, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, and Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Human rights campaigners are today calling on BT [formerly British Telecom] to end its complicity in serious breaches of international law and human rights abuses, through its partnership with Israeli telecommunications company Bezeq International.
Arab ambassadors look into Palestinian solidarity activism in Brazil
Brasilia – PNN – On Friday, the Council of Arab Ambassadors arrived in Brazil to look into coordinating Palestinian solidarity activism with their South American counterparts … Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Silva visited Palestine in March of this year and said he dreamt of “an independent and free Palestine.” Links have historically been strong between the two.
Japan connects village to electricity grid
The government of Japan signed a contact with the Palestinian Authority on Thursday to extend the electricity grid east toward the village of Kfar Ayin, near Ramallah. The $104,017 project will see 400 residents given access to electricity, where only illegal and unsafe, unreliable connections previously existed.
My student group received a letter. We write back. / Max Ajl
Two freshman at Cornell University did not like the posters for the Joseph Dana talk that my student group, United for Peace and Justice in Palestine, recently hosted. They disliked it so much that they wrote us a letter, and because one of them placed it in the public domain on her blog (Shalom from Home) I am quoting it in full:
Dramatic video: Activists taken to sea against their will now held at gunpoint in Greece / Tim Kinge
Nov-12-2010 17:29 (SALEM, Ore.) – “We may be going to jail according to one of the officials on board the ship. In the meantime we remain confined” – Ken O’Keefe — Stories are circulating the world about the Gaza convoy activists who were taken captive aboard a Greek freighter that had been chartered to transport the Convoy from Derna Port in Libya. A good deal of information is being directed to our newsroom and this is my attempt to add clarity to what is actually taking place. This is important because propaganda is already circulating the discredit the activists. [See several other articles on this site about this]
Greek commandos board Gaza-bound aid ship
12/11/2010 17:53 Athens (dpa) — Greek commandos boarded a Gaza-bound aid ship on Friday in the country’s main harbour of Pireaus amid an apparent dispute between the ship’s captain and the aid group over money, media reports in Athens said. The 10 British aid workers from the Road to Hope organisation in London said they were being treated like terror suspects by the Greek commandos. The organisation said the Maltese-flagged ship, Strofades IV, with 16 crew members was originally supposed to sail from Libya to El Raidin Egypt with the aid then to be transported via land route to Gaza. But following an argument between the ship’s Greek captain and an Egyptian broker, the aid group’s cargo and nearly 70 other volunteers were left behind in Libya and the ship sailed to Pireaus instead.
Road to Hope aid convoy to sail again for Gaza before Rafah crossing closed
LONDON, (PIC)– The European Road to Hope aid convoy destined for the besieged Gaza Strip is getting prepared to sail once again for the port of Al-Arish before the Egyptian authorities close the Rafah border crossing for six day as of next Monday. A Libyan participant in the convoy said the activists stranded at the Egyptian-Libyan borders will take a new cargo ship called Nuweiba during the next few hours in an attempt to cross into Gaza with the aid after the previous ship they were aboard was hijacked by its own Greek captain who sailed it to Greece before he fled in a small boat.
Freedom Flotilla II: Anchor to weigh spring 2011
The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza announced Friday that the next in a series of ships to Gaza will embark for the besieged enclave in the spring. The group previously participated in the May Freedom Flotilla, which saw six boats boarded by Israeli commando forces … In a statement, coordinator of the European campaign Mazen Kahil said there was a large number of participants for the journey, with most of the ships’ volunteers from Europe. Other ships have volunteered to come from Asia and the Americas, he added. “We now have more than ten European countries that will send vessels,” he wrote, naming Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, and Switzerland.
Violence / Provocations / Incursions
Fire on Gaza borders continues, worker injured
A Saturday morning shooting incident by Israeli forces patrolling the Gaza border brought up to 67 the number of men collecting construction aggregates injured by Israeli fire, medical officials said.
Militant group says mortars fired at invading force
The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said fighters launched mortars toward a force of four invading Israeli tanks along the Gaza border east of Khan Younis. A statement from the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said the tanks were ripping up farmland with their tread east of the Al-Farahin neighborhood on Saturday, and said fighters responded by firing a number of mortars.
Rights center catalogs violent discrimination in Jerusalem
The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center published a report on Saturday, detailing two recent acts of violent discrimination targeting Palestinians in Jerusalem. Both instances occurred in West Jerusalem, and were precipitated by Jewish Israeli individuals asking the targets for a cigarette. When the targets complied with the requests, previously unseen men came out and attacked the Palestinians. Both were admitted to hospital.
Homes raided and checkpoints set up at Hebron entrances
Hebron – PNN- Israeli forces raided several homes in Hebron on Friday and set up military checkpoints at entrances to the city. A source told Wafa that troops entered the districts of Ithna, west of Hebron, to inspect the home of resident Abdul Adheem Fayyad al-Qisi. Inside Hebron, they raided the house of one Arafat Abdul Hakim al-Rajibi, while raids without incarcerations took place in the township of al-Dhahireen.
Don’t think you’re immune, O collaborators….
Israeli soldiers assault PA security at checkpoint
Israeli soldiers assaulted four Palestinian Authority security officers at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday, medical officials said. Soldiers at the Wadi Nar checkpoint beat the men with rifle butts and batons, said Abed Al-Halim Ja’afrah, head of the Red Crescent emergency services.
Siege / Restriction of movement
Israel denies 32 pilgrims passage at Allenby Bridge
Detainees’ Minister Issa Qaraqe said Friday that Israel banned 32 residents related to detainees from travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. The minister said Israel’s civil administration had previously informed the Palestinian side that detainees’ relatives would be permitted to travel. Qaraqe added that his ministry had made several calls to Israeli officials to determine why the pilgrims were refused passage, but had not received a response.
Gaza tunnel worker injured
A 40-year-old worker was seriously injured Friday when a tunnel collapsed in Rafah in southern Gaza, medics said. Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiyya said the man was transferred to the Abu Yousef An-Najjar hospital for treatment. Since 2006, 154 tunnel workers have been killed and many more injured, Abu Salmiyya added.
UN warns of Gaza wheat shortage
A report from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said recent weeks had seen a “sharp fall” in the amount of wheat grain allowed into Gaza, with imports decreasing by around one-quarter between June and October. The wheat imports, the report said, decreased by some 14 tonnes over the previous five months. The wheat, mainly used in the production of flour and bread, is transported into Gaza using the Karni crossing conveyor belt. UN officials said limited operation of the belt – down to twice per week – was split between animal feed, aggregates for construction and the baking wheat.
Beit Ummar youth targeted over protests / Brynn Ruba
Collective punishment has found a new focus in Beit Ummar. 13 youths aged 15-28 have been arrested for participation in peaceful demonstrations over the past month. Some are arrested during the demonstrations; others are picked up in aggressive midnight raids. Israelis soldiers often smash furniture and break windows, forcing families to wait outside as they abduct their children and vandalise their property.
Palestinian detainees say skin rash rampant in Israeli prison
Palestinian detainees in Israel’s Ashkelon prison reported a recent outbreak of skin conditions, saying what appeared to be a scabby rash had spread to dozens of inmates … Detainees said that no doctor had seen the affected individuals, and worried that there would be further health risks for those infected, noting that despite the quarantine efforts more people were developing the rash.
Haniyeh not heartened by Abbas’ words
Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech appeared frustrated, but ultimately failed to open the horizon to Palestinian unity … He asked that Palestinians “review the contents of that speech,” and pointed out that in all of Abbas’ rhetoric, there was not a word about Palestinian unity. “He preferred not to go into the losses the Palestinian national project has suffered” because of unity, he said, adding that Abbas also failed to comment on the right of Palestinians to resistance.
Hamas releases 30 Fatah supporters detained during Arafat’s commemoration in Gaza
The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights confirmed that security forces had detained Fatah supporters at an event at the home of Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Ashraf Juma’a in Rafah. Four Reuters journalists, summoned for questioning by security forces, were also released after being questioned for an hour. According to Israel’s Foreign Press Association, the journalists had been ordered to hand over all footage and photos of the event.
Khreisheh considers lawsuit against Abbas
Independent politicians are considering filing a lawsuit against President Mahmoud Abbas to demand that he reconvenes the Palestinian Legislative Council, which has been defunct since 2007, and holds elections for the Presidency Office, official sources told Ma’an. Deputized PLC speaker Hasan Khreisheh confirmed the report, and said he was leading a group of independents who have held consultations with legal organizations to end the paralysis of the PLC.
Unity leader denounces Fatah detention in Gaza
Hamas-affiliated unity leader Naser Ash-Sha’er denounced the Gaza government police raid on the office of Fatah PLC member Asharaf Jom’ah’s office in Rafah. Ash-Shaer further condemned the Gaza government’s decision to summon former minister in the 2006 unity government Ibraim Abrash, called to an investigation center on Wednesday, the same day Jom’ah was targeted. “Any violation of human rights anywhere in this homeland is a crime,” Ash-Sha’r said.
Popular Struggle Front: Hamas targeting member
…In a statement, the group said politburo member Mahmud Az-Zaq was summoned to Hamas security headquarters on Sunday The front said that by targeting Az-Zaq the government was harming prospects for national unity, and demanded that Hamas clarified the basis of the summons.
Egypt, Israel, and Sinai
Governor: Israel trying to harm tourism
The governor of northern Sinai rejected an anti-terror warning Saturday morning, urging Israelis to visit the popular tourist sites in the Egyptian peninsula. Abdel Fadil Shusha said the warning published by Israel Thursday was an attempt by the state to harm Egypt’s economy. He added that the Israeli government had been publishing such warnings during Egyptian holidays ever since the attacks in Taba and Nuweiba in 2004.,7340,L-3983795,00.html
Security official: Egypt arrests 20 Islamists in Sinai
Security forces in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula have arrested at least 20 Islamists suspected of extremist ideology, as Israel warned citizens of a possible kidnap plot, a security official said on Friday … The official, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said the detainees were being questioned, while witnesses said the authorities seized computers and books during the arrests … The statement said the Israeli army’s killing in Gaza on November 3 of Mohammed Jamil al-Nemnem, 27, a senior Army of Islam commander, was linked to the intended Sinai attack.
Egyptian intel says 7 militants entered Gaza
Egyptian state security raised its alert level in the Sinai Peninsula Friday, with a focus along the country’s border with Gaza during a failed arrest campaign for seven militants believed to have infiltrated the Strip overnight. All the suspects are former political and religious activists from the northern Egyptian city of Marsa Matrouh, 240 kilometers west of Alexandria. One is suspected of involvement in shell launches from the northern Sinai in August which landed in the Red Sea ports of Aqaba and Eilat, killing one Jordanian taxi driver and causing some damage in Israel.
Racism / Discrimination
Twilight Zone: Safed, a war story / Gideon Levy
A campaign of racism and anti-Arab incitement is turning one of Israel’s holy cities into a ticking bomb
Political and Diplomatic news
Inside the seven-hour Clinton-Netanyahu marathon meeting, Josh Rogin
“This amounts to undermining the efforts of the U.S. to achieve peace,” he said. “People like Eric Cantor who blindly oppose the Palestinians, they think they are helping Israeli interests but he is hurting Israeli interests. By making these statements they are hardening Israeli positions.”
‘NYT’ says Netanyahu is trespassing in our politics / Philip Weiss
To its credit, the Times faults Netanyahu in its editorial on the peace process today. I was shocked by the news in this editorial that Hillary Clinton spent 7 hours with Netanyahu on Thursday. What’s that about? Isn’t it time to freeze Netanyahu? This is reminiscent of the fact revealed in Clayton Swisher’s Camp David book that Ehud Barak had an open line to Bill Clinton throughout 2000. And why was that, do you think? An election year, in which Hillary was running for New York Senate.
Netanyahu associate: Don’t bet on a full freeze
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to convene the forum of top seven ministers Saturday night in order to present US proposals and agreements secured during his meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The US is pressing Israel to resume direct talks with the Palestinians and extend the settlement freeze, yet a Netanyahu associate said “I won’t bet on a full freeze.”,7340,L-3983908,00.html
PA: Freeze settlements or we’ll go to UN (AFP)
Chief Palestinian negotiator says if US fails to force Israel to halt West Bank construction by end of November, Palestinians will ask Security Council to recognize independent state within 1967 borders,7340,L-3983679,00.html
Israel appears defiant, sensing Obama weakness
A shift in the nations’ alliance is apparent after the Democrats’ midterm losses, with Netanyahu reaching out to congressional Republicans as he resists Obama’s peace initiative and pushes for stronger action against Iran.,0,324342.story
Other news
Conditions critical in refugee camps as strike continues
Outside the Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, trash that has accumulated over the past month lies unattended, while schools and health clinics remain shut. The UNRWA workers have been on strike for nearly one month, demanding what they believe has become their right to strike.
Radio Nisaa: Middle Eastern women have their say
A European NGO is funding a women-only station in the Palestinian territories to help give women a stronger voice. Our Middle East correspondent Anne Barker visited Radio Nisaa – and filed this report.
Galilee couple marries at Arafat shrine
A couple from the Galilee in northern Israel were married at the shrine of late President Yasser Arafat in Ramallah on Friday. Ali Darawsheh, 28, and his bride Nawras Atallah An-Najjar, 27, laid a wreath on Arafat’s shrine with the message “Always in our weddings.”
Sharon returns home in coma five years after stroke
….The 82-year-old, who is in a vegetative state, would spend the weekend at his Sycamore Ranch in the southern Negev desert, as a trial to see if he caring for him outside hospital is possible.
High tech company aims to be first Israeli firm to hire Palestinian engineers
7 Nov – Forget the Far East, says CEO. Palestinian workers are good, cheap, close – and take shekels.
19 rightists arrested on way to Jericho
The security forces on Friday afternoon prevented 19 Hilltop Youth members from reaching two synagogues in the West Bank city of Jericho. The Israel Defense Forces and Judea and Samaria Police set up barriers on the roads leading to the Palestinian city and detained the right-wing activists for questioning on suspicion of trying to enter Area A.,7340,L-3983691,00.html
Interpol hunts two Israelis for Kosovo organ trafficking (AP)
Moshe Harel among seven indicted for membership of a criminal group trafficking people into Kosovo to remove human organs for transplant; another Israeli citizen, Zaki Shapira, identified as co-conspirator.
Carter: Hamas agrees to deliver new Gilad Shalit letter
In interview with Al-Jazeera, former U.S. President says he received consent of Hamas political chief Meshal to deliver first letter from the abducted IDF soldier since 2008.
Western Sahara: Gaza child used in propaganda war by elite media in Spain
In an unprecedented wave of xenophobic, anti-Morocco reporting by the press in Spain on the Western Sahara conflict, a new milestone has occurred.
 A photo of a child victim from Gaza was presented as a [Western Sahara]  “sahrawi” child, a ” victim of Moroccan Violence” during the latest clashes between Moroccan Security forces and protesters.
Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
Why Palestinians may one day thank Netanyahu / Jonathan Cook
…A leading analyst of Palestinian politics says the picture is not as bleak for the Palestinians as it might appear. Asad Ghanem, a professor of political science at Haifa University, predicts Netanyahu and his cabinet will eventually come to rue their obduracy.
The vaunted Jewish intellectual tradition, not — Federations General Assembly features no criticism of Israeli policy / Philip Weiss
Josh Nathan-Kazis reports in the Forward from New Orleans that the Jewish leadership is not really interested in hearing from Israel’s critics, or even from young Jews:
Congressional Republicans: the best friend BDS ever had / Didi Remez
“Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, who stands to head House Foreign Affairs Committee, opposes transfer of $150 in aid [to the Palestinian Authority (PA)] because Palestinian leadership ‘failing to live up to commitments’” With friends likes these, I don’t envy Bibi. The Republican understanding of what it means to be “pro-Israel” is simple-minded in the extreme. Their inability to grasp that how essential the PA is to sustaining Netanyahu’s policies is astounding: No PA — no “negotiations.” No “negotiations” — nothing but “Occupation” and “Apartheid.” Many, including most of those advocating for Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) would welcome such an outcome.
Bibi, Tom Friedman, and US Jews divesting from Israel / Bradley Burston
Where it comes to any issue of the Mideast conflict, and where it comes to questions relating to the complex relations between the U.S. Jewish community and Israel, you can either answer in three hours, or in one sentence. This was hers: “You know what it is – American Jews are divesting from Israel.” This is what I was to see in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Marin County, Portland and Seattle. It’s not that they’re getting involved in significant numbers in the divestment movement. It’s that American Jews are divesting emotionally. They are quietly – but in terms of impact, dramatically – withdrawing altogether.
Bittersweet remembrance for Palestinian veterans / Jocelyne Zablit
AIN AL-HELWEH, Lebanon (AFP) – Mussa Al-Hussein may have a hard time recalling dates and places, but the 86-year-old Palestinian does not miss a beat when asked for his ID number when he was in the British army in Palestine in World War II.
History: Discerning conqueror / Dalia Karpel
“I would have given my soul to be there,” Ronald Storrs, who was then in Cairo, wrote in his diary when he learned that Jerusalem had been captured and General Edmund Allenby would officially enter the gates of the city on December 9, 1917. Six days later, Storrs was asked to come to Jerusalem and help with the administration of the city, on the basis of his diplomatic skills and his experience as a senior British official in the Middle East.
Friday: 1 Iraqi killed, 23 wounded
At least one Iraqi was killed and 23 more wounded in new attacks. A number of the attacks occurred yesterday but went unreported until today or late last night. Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed a new Iraqi government that is already seeing its first conflict. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, whose Iraqiya party won the largest number of seats in March elections, called the new Iraqi government a “dictatorship.”
Saturday: 1 Iraqi killed, 10 wounded
At least one Iraqi was killed and nine more were wounded in light violence in northern Iraq. Meanwhile, Iraqiya ended its boycott of parliament and promised to work on a fragile power-sharing agreement that rivals in the Kurd and Shi’ite alliances now threaten they will abandon. Many fear the instability of the new government could unleash a significant wave of sectarian violence.
US-Iraqi raid kills Sunni politician’s brother (AFP)
November 12 – FALLUJAH, Iraq – A US-Iraqi force killed a brother of a local politician and arrested another in a dawn raid in the Sunni Arab former rebel bastion of Fallujah on Friday, officials from both forces said.
Sunni-backed bloc returns to Iraqi parliament (WaPo)
BAGHDAD – The Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc returned to parliament Saturday two days after walking out on a critical session in which Iraq’s top three leaders were named. The bloc’s departure had alarmed U.S. observers and officials, who worried about its implications for a political deal brokered this week more than eight months after inconclusive elections.
Power-sharing agreement leave some Iraqis bitter, saying nothing will change (WaPo)
IN BAGHDAD The mood in Baghdad’s Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah was one of quiet but bitter resignation Friday, a day after Iraq’s Shiite incumbent prime minister kept his post during a chaotic parliamentary session marred by a walkout by a largely Sunni- and secularist-backed bloc
Other Mideast
US lifts hold on over $100 million aid for Lebanon army (Reuters)
A senior United States lawmaker lifted a hold on Friday on U.S. funding for Lebanon’s military, saying he was persuaded it had taken steps that would avoid a repeat of August’s deadly border clash between Lebanese and Israeli forces.
Lebanon cleric sentenced to life (AJ)
Military court convicts Omar Bakri Mohammed of terrorism charges and sentences him in absentia to life in prison … Bakri, who lives in the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli, a hotbed of Sunni fundamentalists, said he was “shocked” to learn of the verdict through his lawyer on Friday. “I never received any summons for a trial, or any arrest warrant,” he said, adding that the charges were “lies and fabrications”.
Al-Hayat: Israeli spy suspect not guilty
The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat quoted sources Friday saying charges of espionage brought against a Lebanese man for alleged spying for Israel were in fact false. The newspaper said the case against Ogero telecom employee and former Telecommunications Ministry official Milad Eid was not sufficient to prove guilt. He was released on Thursday following his August arrest.
Saudi Arabia blocks Facebook
(AP) Social networking site doesn’t conform to kingdom’s conservative values, official says,7340,L-3983845,00.html
Egypt frees arrested opposition election candidates
Cairo (AFP) Three Muslim Brotherhood candidates in Egypt’s 28 November legislative election who were arrested earlier this week have been released, a judiciary official said on Saturday. Another 44 members of the group will appear in court charged with the illegal use of religious slogans while campaigning.
Mubarak son says ‘not eyeing Egypt presidency’
The younger son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said he has “no personal ambition” to succeed his father at the helm of the country, newspapers reported on Saturday.
U.S., other world news
Third Circuit Court panel re-hears issue of Abu Jamal’s death penalty on orders of Supreme Court
The three-decades-long murder case of Philadelphia journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has sat in solitary in a cramped cell on Pennsylvania’s death row for 28 years fighting his conviction and a concerted campaign by the national police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, to execute him, was back in court Tuesday, with a three-judge federal Appeals Court panel reconsidering its 2008 decision backing the vacating of his death sentence, on orders of the US Supreme Court.
UN Human Rights Council calls on US to enforce Leahy amendment
Call for Greater Transparency and Accountability in U.S. Foreign Military aid and Programs – Rachel Corrie Foundation Joins First-Ever U.S. Universal Periodic Review — The report called for greater transparency and accountability in U.S. foreign military aid and programs … Last Friday, a high level delegation of the U.S. government presented the U.S. UPR report and answered questions from more than 50 nations about the U.S. human rights record.
US pushes back Afghanistan timetable as fighting escalates
WSWS, November 13, 2010 – In the run-up to next week’s NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, there has been a steady drumbeat from Washington dismissing the July 2011 date set by President Barack Obama for beginning US troop withdrawals. Instead, top officials and others close to the administration have put forward the end of 2014 as a target for a “transition” of military operations from US-led occupation troops to Afghan puppet security forces.
Canada to extend participation in Afghan war through 2014
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed Thursday that his Conservative government has decided to extend the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) participation in the Afghan War for a further three years through 2014. Harper did not provide details beyond saying that Canadian troops will train Afghan soldiers in counter-insurgency warfare.

Can a mythic figure called ‘Doctor Delegitimizer’ save Israel’s image in the eyes of young American Jews?

Nov 13, 2010

Matthew Taylor 

When Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter (comprised of Jews, Palestinians, and many other diverse folks) launched a campaign to persuade the University of California student government and the UC Regents to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation and war crimes, we discovered that the American Jewish establishment was giving out prepared talking points to our opponents. And so young Jewish students were compelled to parrot “Israel: Right or Wrong” propagandistic distortions and outright lies during the public debate on the divestment bill.

Where does this propaganda come from, exactly?

At the General Assembly in New Orleans, I found out the answer: groups like The David Project, and characters like Doctor Delegitimizer.

I interviewed one of the leaders of The David Project, whose name happened to be David. He spoke to me about how the David Project is deploying “a mythic figure” named Dr. Delegitimizer (apparently an adult in a costume!) who will attack Israel on such grounds as that it prevents Palestinians from having equal rights, and thereby train young Jews to tell a pro-Israel tall tale. Check out the video, above, which would be preposterously funny if the consequences of these lies weren’t such severe suffering for the Palestinian people. One key clip, which I think says it all:

Q: Critics say all of the settlements being built in the West Bank, all of the land being taken from the Palestinians, makes the two state solution impossible. That delegitimizes the whole idea that Israel is interested in a two state solution. Your response?

A: Israel has offered to not only end settlements, but to dismantle settlements. It did so at Camp David, it did so again just two years ago under Olmert. If you look at the geography, the actual [territorial] footprint of the settlements hasn’t expanded in the West Bank lately…

Unfortunately I didn’t capture footage of Dr. D in action — I was too busy preparing to protest Netanyahu’s speech — but David’s comments paint quite the picture.

David, I love you as a brother…even when I disagree, I do my best to maintain my feelings of respect for you as a fellow human being. So please don’t take this personally: Your comment about settlements is absolutely false. Over the past decade, the footprint of the settlements has expanded massively. Just look at all the land confiscated from villages like Bil’in, to make way for the expanded settlement Matityahu East, and so many others. The Land Grab Wall is built illegally inside the West Bank, not on the green line, confiscating a significant portion of the West Bank land that the entire international community sees as rightfully and legally part of a Palestinian state. Additionally, what about all the Palestinians being ethnically cleansed, including children, in occupied East Jerusaelm? And serious journalistic investigation has thoroughly — well, what can I say — delegitimized the mythological narrative of the “generous offer” at Camp David.

Doctor Delegitimizer (and The David Project) needs to get his license revoked. Doctor Delegitimizer is doing the same thing as all the other “Israel: Right or Wrong” cheerleaders: enabling Israel’s addiction to land theft and colonization. He needs to get into a truth telling rehabilitation program so he can help Israel to end its cruel, self-destructive policies, so we can have true equality, safety, and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.

The vaunted Jewish intellectual tradition, not– Federations General Assembly featured no criticism of Israeli policy

Nov 13, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Josh Nathan-Kazis reports in the Forward from New Orleans that the Jewish leadership is not really interested in hearing from Israel’s critics, or even from young Jews:

Communal leaders said that their effort to bring students to the conference undercut protesters’ complaints about exclusion. “The community gets it right when it says we’re not just giving you a symbolic presence, but we’re inviting you into the discussion,” said Wayne Firestone, president of Hillel.

But one Hillel student pointed out that although Hillel professionals spoke on G.A. panels, no undergraduate students were included as speakers.

And though conference leaders claimed to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from delegitimization, the panels promoted as addressing the issue contained no public critics of Israeli policy. The audience heard instead from Republican messaging guru Frank Luntz and from representatives of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the right-leaning Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

Five panels addressed the topic of delegitimization, and each of the conference’s keynote speakers — Netanyahu, Vice President Joe Biden, and Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni — spoke of the seriousness of the threat. Biden and Netanyahu both praised the Israel Action Network, a new $6 million effort that is sponsored by the JFNA and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and will facilitate local responses to efforts to boycott Israel. 

Writes a friend: Reading the response of some students and leaders, I couldn’t help but think of the white ministers whose silence and inaction so bothered King. There’s been a huge shift in the Jewish community in the last 50 years. My sense is that 50 years ago Jewish communal organizations were far more engaged in important civil rights work and it wasn’t just individual Jews acting independently, though that was probably the case too.

Today, though, the action on Israel/Palestine is from individuals and a handful of groups such as JVP, but not from the mainstream communal organizations. They’re blocking the whole way. And the mainstream groups seem to remain popular with other liberal organizations because they’re fairly progressive on other issues. For broader coalition work, it looks as though the pass on Israel/Palestine continues.

‘NYT’ says Netanyahu is trespassing in our politics

Nov 13, 2010

Philip Weiss 

To its credit, the Times faults Netanyahu in its editorial on the peace process today. I was shocked by the news in this editorial that Hillary Clinton spent 7 hours with Netanyahu on Thursday. What’s that about? Isn’t it time to freeze Netanyahu? This is reminiscent of the fact revealed in Clayton Swisher’s Camp David book that Ehud Barak had an open line to Bill Clinton throughout 2000. And why was that, do you think? An election year, in which Hillary was running for New York Senate.

This is why the peace process is doomed in its present form, structurally undermined by the conservative Jewish prominence in the Establishment… Even The Times knows that Netanyahu is trespassing in our politics, giving speeches all over the U.S.:

[He is] counting on his newly empowered Republican allies on Capitol Hill to back him up, no matter what he does. Since last week’s American elections, Mr. Netanyahu’s government has published plans for 1,000 new housing units

Yes and why does he have this power? The Times warns that if this process fails, extremists will take over. Excuse me but if Netanyahu is coddling his coalition– loyalty oaths, transfer, second-class citizenship– those are extremists, getting blind support from the American Jewish leadership.

Good news: Leading NY Jewish org sponsors ‘The Other Israel’ film festival

Nov 13, 2010

Philip Weiss 

I’ve heard good things about the Other Israel film festival at the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side. I gather there are going to be some films from a Palestinian perspective in the festival, including Mohammad Bakri’s, and you can hear in the trailer below the statement, There must be another way. So the festival reflects the growing awareness of smart Jews in the U.S. that Israel is in crisis. And on Tuesday night Amy Goodman will be moderating a talk by Gideon Levy. So non- and anti-Zionism make their inevitable progress into informed life within the most empowered minority in the world.

A kid throws a stone in East Jerusalem, and a village is locked down

Nov 13, 2010

Yuri Pines 

One of the most devastating pieces of information we learned this year was Yonatan Shapira’s revelation, in an Upper West Side church, that while Israel has fostered the creation of hundreds of new Israeli towns since 1948, no Palestinian towns have been founded, evidence of rampant discrimination. Below is a report from occupied East Jerusalem– which Israel annexed in 1970 and considers part of Israel– that shows the racial discrimination. Note that the neighborhood of Isawiya (also spelled Issawiyya) neighbors Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood that is now being colonized by Jews. 

Yuri Pines wrote the report. Ofer Neiman translated it from Hebrew.

Background: The village of Isawiya is located just below the Hebrew University campus on Mt. Scopus, near the French Hill neighborhood. Between 16-18,000 people reside in the village nowadays (many – immigrants from more remote neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and some – holders of West Bank ID cards). The village suffers severe neglect; the municipality refuses to authorize the new master plan submitted in the name of the residents by the Bimkom association; infrastructure is crumbling, sanitary conditions are very bad, and there is a general sense of extreme deprivation and contempt about the municipality’s treatment of Isawiya.

The most salient manifestation of this attitude is the fate of the little playground built by the municipality in the village a decade ago (at the request of the French Hill administration – to dissuade the village children from going to the neighborhood’s playgrounds). After five years of leasing the plot, the municipality dismantled the facility in its entirety, leaving behind an ugly desolate plot in the entrance to the village. Contempt for the village and dereliction of municipal duties towards its inhabitants are nowadays more evident than in the past. Land that was once slated for development is now being slated for “natural reserve”/”national park” use; there is no minimal urban planning and driving on the village roads requires acrobatic skills.

The situation in Isawiya began to deteriorate last Friday (5 November) when the local youths stoned a Jewish vehicle which came (apparently by accident) within the boundaries of the village. As a result of this, the police decided “to teach the village a lesson” in the manner remembered by many of us from the first years of the Second Intifada. What follows are some of the actions of the police over the past two days:

* Renewed blockage of alleys and roads (licensed and unlicensed) which link the village with the outside world. New concrete road-blocks have been set up, and in a few places bulldozers have dug trenches and raised ramparts of earth in order to prevent movement in and out.

*In the main road of the village (the exit to the French Hill), concrete cubes have been set up which make travel very difficult indeed. In tandem with this, mobile police roadblocks have been set up. The greatest pressure was imposed upon the residents in the morning (Wednesday) at the time at which people leave for work.

Every private vehicle is checked, and the police “look for” reasons to impose fines with respect to mechanical faults with the vehicles deemed to render them unroadworthy, or for other infractions: many dozens of fines of between 250 NIS and 1000 NIS [$70-$280] have been imposed upon residents. According to the residents, the policemen came with the explicit aim of taking vehicles off the road. In a similar fashion, the roadblocks have also been used to collect fines for other authorities (municipal tax, national insurance, license-fees for the Israeli broadcasting authority, and the like).

*Along with the fining (which delayed traffic at peak hours) and the meticulous checking (including bus passengers) there was an incident with a 15 year old boy who looks older than his age. He was denied the right to go out of the village because he did not have an I.D card. [translation note: minors are not required to possess an ID card]. 

*During the blockade that was imposed on village, the police patrolled its streets (on our visit we saw a 3 police patrols). One can assume that the target was to provoke and bring about stone throwing, as indeed happened. The reaction was uncontrolled tear gas shooting, including shooting into houses. 

*Lately the pressure on the village people has increased by demolition of farming facilities, fining livestock owners etc.

• When will all this end? One of the police officers in east Jerusalem said the torture would end “when he can walk around Isawiya with the Israeli flag” and “when the village will be safe for him like King George Street [west Jerusalem] is”. This is a classic example of the ‘show of strength’ and ‘searing deep into Palestinian consciousness’ mentality.

• The residents reaction to this weeks events: 

• Condemnation of Friday’s violence. One of the activists claims he was the one calling the police regarding the stoning of the car; the answer he received was “find out for us if the driver being stoned is a Jew or an Arab”.

• A sharp protest against the police’s violent and provocative conduct. Many of the residents say nobody would dare close all of Mea Shearim [an ultra-orthodox neighborhood in west Jerusalem] after Arabs had been attacked by residents of that area, and in no Jewish settlement would the police imagine punishing an entire community because of criminal activity of individuals. One of the residents says, regarding the statement uttered by the police officer (see paragraph above): “You will be free to walk around Issawiya like you wander around King George street, as soon as Issawiya’s municipal development status is like King George street’s”.

They can’t contain themselves

Nov 13, 2010

Peter Voskamp 

Dum Spiro Spero: “While I breathe I hope” is South Carolina’s state motto. With that in mind, it was unsettling to hear Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina call for military action against Iran from, of all places, the Canadian Maritimes.

“The last thing America wants is another military conflict, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran… Containment is off the table,” the Agence France-Presse quoted Graham as saying in Halifax. This week’s calls for ratcheting up the military option with Iran have an odd geographic discordance to them.

While a senator of the south was in foggy Nova Scotia, Israeli’s Benyamin Netanyahu was in humid New Orleans. 

“Containment against Iran won’t work,” Netanyahu told the Jewish Federations of North America, echoing his American friend.

In the wake of the mid-term elections, it feels like a pile on — a version of “when did you stop beating your wife?” When, President Obama, did you become soft on potentially nuclear-armed Holocaust denying sponsors of terrorism who want to obliterate Israel and the West?

These containment-dismissers follow veteran Washington Post columnist David Broder and his suggestion of an invigorating war with Iran to get the country into the swing of things and to raise Obama’s poll numbers for 2012.

Even the recent WikiLeaks document-drop on Iraq has been used to rationalize belligerence. The New York Times focused on Iran; Michael Gordon and Andrew Lehren filed a 2,267-word front-page piece detailing various border skirmishes and intelligence that suggested various Shiite insurgents were being trained and armed by elite Iranians.

Der Spiegel, meanwhile, in its English-language International on-line edition, devoted about a paragraph or two to Iran, of an entirely different flavor:

“The special attention the Americans were paying to weapons shipments from Iran reads more like a deliberate search for proof that Iran was one of the main supporters of the Shiite militias in Iraq, especially given the relatively sporadic discoveries of such weapons. The reports do show, however, that such weapons shipments existed. Nevertheless, the documents offer no evidence that the government in Tehran controlled the arms trade centrally.”

The Guardian had a similar response to how U.S. publications reacted to the WikiLeaks revelations:

“Much of the U.S. press also focused on the claim that the WikiLeaks papers supported the former president George Bush’s claim that the war in Iraq was severely complicated by Iran’s covert role. The Washington Times said the leaked documents showed ‘Iran was orchestrating one side of the Iraqi insurgency.’”

And, back in July when the first WikiLeaks material was published, the Weekly Standard made the most of reports in the Guardian of various alleged collaborations between al Qaeda and Iran.

“One of the more interesting aspects of the WikiLeaks document dump is the persistence of intelligence reports indicating collusion between al Qaeda, al Qaeda-affiliated parties, and Iran.”

The same Standard article went on to qualify that it could not vouch for the veracity of the reports.

Arthur Brisbane, the current Public Editor for the Times, offered an email from Executive Editor Bill Keller to explain in part the venerable paper’s choices with WikiLeaks:

“‘We chose the documents that struck us as most interesting,’ Mr. Keller said in an e-mail message. ‘We did our own analysis of the material. We decided what to write. We did not discuss any of those matters with WikiLeaks, or give them an advance look at our stories.’”

With all this impatience with containment, one must ask: what’s the rush? Iran is a country of 72 million people and not yet a single nuclear weapon. The world lived nearly a half a century with a Soviet Union armed with thousands of nuclear warheads. Not to mention China, India, Pakistan and Israel herself.

Stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a noble aim, but the proliferation of heated exhortations that could needlessly spark another ill-starred cataclysm in the Middle East feels like the clearer, and more present, danger.

Voskamp is the editor of the Block Island Times.

Lincoln overcame a belief in ethnic cleansing to imagine an interracial future (Notes on my racism, part 4)

Nov 13, 2010

Philip Weiss 

The latest New York Review of Books has a great piece by James McPherson about Eric Foner’s new biography of Abraham Lincoln that emphasizes the transformation of Lincoln’s view of blacks, especially during the Civil War. The piece is behind a fire wall, but let me summarize its main points:

Lincoln was born and grew up in strongly pro-slavery country (KY, IN) and it is a sign of the majesty of his mind that he maintained a hatred of slavery through his youth and adulthood. Slavery was evil, he said often.

That belief was compatible in his mind with the belief that blacks were not the equals of whites, and indeed that slavery as an institution must be tolerated for the sake of peace, though of course he said as a failed Senate candidate in 1858 that he would “place it [slavery] where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction…”

Even as president, Lincoln subscribed to a policy of ethnic cleansing, or transfer, to use the phrases we use today. He was for the “colonization” of blacks, their return to Africa (Liberia).

And yet, according to Foner, Lincoln “began during the last two years of the war to imagine an interracial future for the United States.”

This mental process occurred through a remarkable series of events. During the war, 100,000 black soldiers made up about 10 percent of the Union forces, and Lincoln was staggered by their commitment, and saw the immorality of colonization in that light. The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 reflected these new views. “I should be damned in time & eternity,” Lincoln wrote (boy, presidents knew how to write once!) if he returned those men to slavery. 

Early on, Lincoln had respected racist public attitudes toward blacks, explaining that one had to respect a bulwark of public opinion, and change it slowly. “There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free colored people to remain with us.” Toward the end of his life he became more impatient with these attitudes. He hosted blacks at the White House during the second inaugural and endorsed the idea of black suffrage. At a speech on the White House lawn after Appomattox, he had an interracial audience.

He had, Foner writes, “developed a deep sense of compassion for the slaves he had helped to liberate, and a concern for their fate.” 

I offer Lincoln’s progress of course as a reflection of Jewish attitudes towards Palestinians and Arabs, and my own racism. In my life I have– through no virtue of my own, but because of social movements– overcome engrained prejudices against blacks, gays, women, even Irish- and Italian-Americans. I’m not saying I’m perfect (nor that I wish to remove considerations of cultural difference from my thinking; I don’t), but it is simply a fact that I have watched myself change dramatically due to changing societal attitudes. Some of my prejudice had to do with elitist Jewish attitudes I got growing up in an environment of high intellectual achievement. And I am sure that many others whites and Jews have overcome similar training in their modern lives. It’s a good thing, as Martha Stewart says.

The next hurdle is anti-Arab prejudice. Many in our country hate Muslims. The federal prison population is 6 percent Muslim, but the percentage is ten times that, 65 percent, in new and horrifying CMUs, or Communication Management Units, where prisoners are granted very limited contact with their families (as Alexis Agathocleous of the Center for Constitutional Rights explained in Manhattan the other night). I have wrestled with anti-Islamic prejudice in myself, I have struggled with a disdain for Arabs related to the Jewish community’s largely vicious view of Arabs borne by the attachment to Zionism–which has had to justify the demolition and dismissal of Arab political desires and hopes by demonizing these people as subhuman.

I think we can all learn from Lincoln’s progress, during our own two military occupations of Muslim countries. 

Another particular echo for me in Lincoln is his view that slavery had to be tolerated because so many were committed to it. On a similar basis, I have often supported the existence of the Jewish state– because millions of people believe in Zionism, and indeed international law granted a legal basis for that belief. I don’t recant that support here, if only because of the historical parallel, the Civil War; slavery was ended with a massive bloodletting that created hostility and bitterness for generations. I continue to hope that a peaceful transition to equal rights can be achieved in Israel and Palestine.

But I would argue that that transition is largely mental; it will involve American Jews interrogating their attitudes towards Arabs and Palestinians and trying to give the goddamn news to their Israeli cousins. My money is on young Jews, to approach their Arab peers on an equal footing, remembering that our country has seen dramatic advances, all brought upon us by the revolutionary assertion that all men are created equal.

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