Let Americans’ shift on gays in the military be a lesson for Israelis

Nov 30, 2010

Philip Weiss


This is a great day in the U.S. The Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, recommended that the U.S. government end the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military. From now on, he said, they should serve openly. Battalions of liberal commentators, from Chris Matthews on down, will support Obama and the Congress as they move inevitably toward liberalization for a minority that has so often been hunted in our society.

Some day let me tell you about the rationalizations I came up with to justify discrimination against open gay service in the military, back when this issue first broke into American public life in 1993. That was 17 years ago. America wasn’t ready then, I wasn’t ready then; and those who haven’t changed will have to get out of the way.

Ali Abunimah has said that white South Africa was overwhelmingly against sharing power even near the end of apartheid; but those attitudes changed.

The whites of the segregationist south were overwhelmingly against sharing power in the Jim Crow era, and those attitudes changed.

I waffle about full democracy in Israel & Palestine, a one-state solution, because though I think it’s a grand idea, I know Israelis and I can tell you that they aren’t ready for it, they think they need a Jewish state. So I offer them a kind of shelter for what is often prejudice because I fear massive bloodshed.

How long can that shelter last? As the gays in the American military example shows, the world moves forward. Disturbing ideas become familiar before long. The two-state solution once seemed radical; now it is The Paradigm– and it has only produced oppression.

Today liberal Americans should remind Israelis about what has come to pass in our society in spite of engrained attitudes. And tell them that the widespread Israeli prejudice against Palestinians as being somehow inferior or unsuited to modern society is not just unbecoming, it’s going to disappear in the rear view mirror.

International day of solidarity in Gaza greeted with Israeli bullets in Beit Hanoun

Nov 30, 2010

Adie Mormech


Live bullets were fired from snipers at an Erez control tower within a metre of demonstrators on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Tuesday morning in Beit Hanoun, Northern Gaza. A German activist Vera Macht was injured as she stumbled while running for cover. The Local Initiative of Beit Hanoun organized the demonstration international mural and with extra attention focusing on the growing international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, against Israel for its ongoing human rights violations of the Palestinian people. The demonstration was held in the area where 6 farmers and rock collectors, including 2 children had been shot and injured over the previous 2 days, seeing an acceleration of violence against civilians from the Israeli Occupation Forces.

It was actually the United Nations General Assembly who in 1977 called for this annual observance of 29th November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It was on that day, in 1947, that the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine resolution 181, which began the horrific trend of violent land expropriation and expulsion of the Palestinian population. Over two thirds of Gazans are UN registered refugees from this period.

Tuesday morning 30 people, amongst them 5 internationals from the International Solidarity Movement and two more including Mavi Marmara survivor Ken O’Keefe and Irish Activist Cormac O’Daly, gathered in Beit Hanoun at approximately 800m from Erez Crossing. Opposite the remains of the destroyed Agricultural College, which was bombed during the war on Gaza, the demonstrators put up a wall of slogans and international and Palestinian flags to express solidarity. All demonstrators held up letters forming the slogan “Boycott Israel boycott!”, before marching down towards the Erez Wall.

They were also protesting their right to their land, much of which is now lost or out of bounds by the Israeli imposed “buffer-zone.” The  buffer-zone, extended to 300 metres  wide in December 2009, stretches along the entire border fence on the frontier with Israel. According to a recent UN report the violence used to restrict Palestinians from accessing their land actually covers areas up to 1500m from the border fence, meaning that over 35% of Gaza’s most agricultural land is in a high risk area causing severe losses of food production and livelihoods.

As the demonstrators neared to within 100 metres of the wall, chanting and waving flags it was clear one of the watch towers was open, evidently monitoring.  The barren waste land all around was a result of the forced neglect as they marched into a place that has been made out of bounds by the threat of Israel snipers and shelling. As a soldier shouted from the tower, the group decided to walk back towards the village center. At around 500 metres from the fence, IOF snipers opened fire at them, the first few shots at head height missing many of the people on the march by a metre or less. Afterwards, another ten shots were fired.

According to Local Initiative organiser Saber Al Za’anin the day highlights the responsibility of international civil society to exert pressure to end the violent siege and occupation of Palestinian lands: “It is vital that Internationals support the Palestinian cause and make the world understand the horrific occupation and attacks Palestinians live under day in day out. The international grass roots boycotts are saying no to Israeli violence and oppression and its time that the International governing community did the same to hold Israel to account for their crimes. We painted flags of countries from around the world on a mural and demonstrated. Now its time for the world to increase the power of their demonstrations, lobbying, festivals, legal work and boycotts to finally end the conflict.”

On the violence at the borders, demonstration participant Ken O’Keefe said: “When people are shot and killed for collecting rocks so they can be crushed and turned into powder and ultimately into cement, because cement is banned under the Israeli siege, you know the so-called “easing” of the siege is a farce. The siege must be smashed into oblivion, and the only people who will make that happen are people of conscience who are willing to act.”

Released on Wednesday was a report ‘Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ signed by over 21 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and Medical Aid for Palestinians. It calls for international action to make Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the condition of the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continues devastate daily living for the 1.5million  population, over half of which are children.

63 years before the day of the demonstration, On 29 November, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted for Resolution 181 for the partition of Palestine into two states and envisaged a Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. It was this plan that triggered the ongoing suffering for the Palestinians given the hugely unequal partition of the land.

According to Israeli Historian Ilan Pappe, “The injustice was as striking then as it appears now… the Jews, who owned less than six per cent of the total land area of Palestine and constituted no more than one third of the population, were handed more than half of its overall territory”

According to Pappe, from the beginning the major global institutions and power-brokers were pitted against them: “The Palestinians were at the mercy of an international organization [the United Nations] that appeared ready to ignore all the rules of international mediation, which its own charter endorsed…One does not have to be a great jurist or legal mind to predict how the international court would have ruled on forcing a solution on a country to which the majority of its people were vehemently opposed.”

Then after the resolution partition came the Nakba or ‘Catastrophe’ during which the nascent Israeli army forcibly annexed even more land, leaving them controlling 78% of the land for a prospective Israeli State, leaving behind the West Bank and Gaza. During these attacks which began in March 1948, which included massacres such as Deir Yassin village, close to 800,000 Palestinians were uprooted, 531 villages had been destroyed, and eleven urban neighbourhoods emptied of their inhabitants. With the ‘slow motion ethnic cleaning’ that has ensued ever since, Israel has now settled over 60% of the 22% of historic Palestine and militarily occupies the rest. [1]

[1] Pappe, I. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), One World Publications, Oxford.

Maybe the internet hasn’t killed Israeli PR just yet

Nov 30, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The above interview is with Curtis Brown about his article (written with Diana Allan) The Mavi Marmara at the Frontlines of Web 2.0 in the Autumn 2010 edition of the Journal of Palestine Studies. It looks critically of what many in the blogosphere are doing, including us here at Mondoweiss, and says that social media and blogs are not necessarily influencing the discourse and coverage of more mainstream media outlets as much as we might hope. From the interview:

Well, one of the ideas that my co-author and I were critiquing, or examining with a certain amount of skepticism, is the idea that social media is intrinsically leveling. To take one particularly salient example for the present case is the idea that because video is cheap to produce and free to distribute via You Tube that, therefore, grassroots use of video clips by media activists can compete on a level playing field against a state owned PR apparatus with a well oiled machine and influential lobby.

The videos of the Mavi Marmara attack, edited by the IDF, were promoted by Israeli spokespeople and commentators. They enjoyed almost, kind of, incessant reruns on American news and cable stations. They existed against a background machinery of promotion. The footage of activists and independent journalists and so on, you could say then, was promoted by progressive independent media, by Democracy Now and so on.

So, in other words, traditional preexisting networks of influence and material resources determine to a great extent the reach and impact of social media. And when large vested interests are involved, viral phenomenon can rock the boat but they are not going to capsize it.

Even more interesting is the idea that social media doesn’t actually enter the traditional media, but rather runs parallel to it. Again from the interview:

We could take, for example, Max Blumenthal. He is an excellent independent journalist who works in the blogosphere and on twitter. He did force a few Israeli retractions with regards to the flotilla attack. These then were reported by Robert Mackey’s blog in the New York Times and this, Blumenthal claimed and other commentators claimed, was a major breakthrough for pro-Palestinian, grassroots media activism.

But what gets lost there is that Mackey’s blog is almost entirely devoted to meta commentary about what goes on in the new media. It’s viral videos, mashups, internet memes. So that an important story about the official Israeli narrative being contradicted or undermined, or even disproved in some cases, that sits side by side with the story about the “Bed Intruder Rant” being turned into a music video through Auto-Tune and then it becomes a viral on You Tube.

Neither of these stories, then, migrate to the news pages or the print edition of the New York Times. In other words, you could say that what goes on in social media has become a circumscribed arena within the mainstream press. It is something that is reported on for an enthusiastic sub audience that is interested in this, the way that sports, technology news, and pop news are reported. It has become an arena in itself.

One of the things that we say in this paper, one of the ideas that we suggest, is that if the Mohammed al-Dura video were coming out now in this media climate, rather than a decade ago, that it might rip through the blogosphere and onto Robert Mackey’s desk and not get noticed by the news pages.

Not sure what I think about this quite yet (I think the characterization of Mackey’s work at the Times, and its news function, is incorrect for one), but I’ll wait to comment once I’ve read their full piece. In the meantime, certainly something to think about.

Searching for the ghost of Israeli democracy

Nov 30, 2010

Max Blumenthal


Fania Oz-Salzberger, Amos Oz’s daughter, has challenged my characterization of her comments at the Nexus Institute’s “Return of Ghosts” symposium. Here is what she wrote in the comments section of my blog:

I am befuddled by your representation of what I thought had been a cordial and thoughtful exchange. The snippets you report of my symposium input are inaccurate and out of context. My arguments in the symposium and the accompanying article are far more qualified and complex than represented here. I do stand by the claim that Israel is a vibrant democracy, but it is also – as I said clearly – a flawed one. Wilders is unwelcome to many Israelis, certainly not the handful in which you purport to place me. More crucially, I never “proclaimed” “that occupation has little or nothing to do with the motives of suicide bombers”, but spoke against any insinuation that suicide bombings could be justified by occupation. Finally, I did not “jump in” but politely awaited my turn, despite being an Israeli. In our public and private exchanges I gave your opinions the respect that your blog has now denied my own views. You have good arguments in your arsenal, why the cheap shots?

I have been waiting for video of the symposium before responding to Oz-Salzberger or clarifying my own account, which was based on my impressions from the panel and recorded without the benefit of notes. Now that we are able to view a portion of the symposium’s first debate, let’s go to the videotape:

In her opening remarks (at around 2:45), Oz-Salzberger went on at length about Israel’s democratic tradition. I did not take her comments out of context. Oz-Salzberger said, “My own experience, I come from Israel; 62 years old. Always a democracy ever since it was founded, it was made a democracy which was quite an achievement for its generation, but always a democracy under siege from outside and from within.” I did not hear her describe Israel as a flawed democracy, though she did make a general statement against majoritarian rule and in favor of protecting minority rights in Israel and Europe.

To restate what I wrote in my previous post, I thought Oz-Salzberger’s remarks about Israel’s uninterrupted democratic tradition underplayed the severity of the situation in her country, and seemed incongruous in light of the other panelists’ remarks about the decline of democracy in their own countries. Reasonable people can debate whether Israel is a democracy. Personally I agree with MK Ahmed Tibi, who says that Israel is indeed a Jewish and democratic state: it is democratic to its Jewish citizens and Jewish to its Arabs. Just ask the residents of  Dahamash  and  Al-Arakib — all Israeli citizens — if they think Israel is a democracy. I also think it is critical to note that Israel controls everything in the West Bank, administering a kangaroo court system that railroads non-violent activists and jails people for organizing against the occupation. Is that democratic? Whether or not it is, my only objection with Oz-Salzberger was that she downplayed the authoritarian and racist trends being advanced by Israel’s government, in the Knesset, and in the streets of Tel Aviv — and which beg for exposure.

I did not write anything in my first post about Oz-Salzberger’s reference to Israel as “a democracy under siege from outside and from within,” but after watching the video, I think this remark demands clarification, especially because of Oz-Salzberger’s claim to Ofer N. in my comments section: “I don’t believe in “enemies within”, and young (or old) Israelis holding such opinions [my note: she was referring to supporters of BDS] are no traitors. But I think they are wrong.” I distinctly recall Oz-Salzberger complaining to the audience about the leftists in Tel Aviv, presumably referring to supporters of BDS. There is no video yet to confirm my recollection, but I would be surprised if she thinks, as Avigdor Lieberman does, that this small element is besieging Israel “from within.” So whom or what was she referring to? Arabs? Leftists? Extremist settlers?

As for my characterization of Oz-Salzberger’s response to my comments on suicide bombing, I am still awaiting video of the exchange (I never accused her of interrupting me, but perhaps my use of the American colloquialism “jumped in,” which is the same as “weighed in,” but could be misconstrued as “cut in,” was unclear to her). Oz-Salzberger claimed she said suicide bombing could not be justified by occupation, but when did I say that it could? I was making an objective point about the motives of suicide bombers, not justifying their actions by way of insinuation. If video appears of the exchange, I will clarify this dispute.

If I took anything out of context, it was a comment by Mitchell Cohen. I originally reported that he “enthusiastically seconded” Oz-Salzberger’s remarks about Israel’s vibrant democracy. In fact, he seconded her opposition to majoritarian rule and made an important point about demagogues who exploit the language of democracy to advance an anti-democratic agenda. (I think he would have agreed with her characterization of Israeli democracy, but that is beside the point).

Based on our public and private interactions, which were indeed cordial and thoughtful, I think Oz-Salzberger represents an element within the Zionist movement that is reasonable and worldly, but is standing by passively with a sense of bewilderment while the colonial, ethnocentric aspects of Zionism consolidate their hold on Jewish Israeli society and gain strength in the Jewish diaspora. If a solution to the conflict ever appears on the horizon, I am confident that she and others like her would a part of it, especially if it preserves the fundaments of Zionism through two states. However, a solution has never been further away. Soothing a foreign audience by telling them that everything is basically kosher with Israeli democracy only furthers the problem because sooner or later, that celebrated democracy may be nothing more than a ghost.

This post originally appeared on Max Blumenthal’s blog here.

U.S. State Department: Israel is not a tolerant society

Nov 30, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The above headline is taken right from Haaretz. Akiva Eldar wrote in 2009 about a report from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor which found:

The report says that the 1967 law on the protection of holy places refers to all religious groups in the country, including in Jerusalem, but “the government implements regulations only for Jewish sites. Non-Jewish holy sites do not enjoy legal protection under it because the government does not recognize them as official holy sites.”

At the end of 2008, for example, all of the 137 officially recognized holy sites were Jewish. Moreover, Israel issued regulations for the identification, preservation and guarding of Jewish sites only. Many Christian and Muslim sites are said to be neglected, inaccessible or at risk of exploitation by real estate entrepreneurs and local authorities.

The report makes it clear that practices that have become routine in Israel are considered unacceptable in enlightened countries and should be corrected.

You can read the most recent State Department report here; it shows that many of these issues remain the same. To understand how and why this level of inequality continues it is useful to look at the Israel Democracy Institute’s new Israeli Democracy Index for 2010 which was released today. It offers some very interesting data that sheds light on current Israeli (especially Jewish Israeli) views on democracy and the Jewish state. Here is a sampling of its findings:

86% of the Jewish public (76% of the total population) thinks that critical decisions for the state should be made by the Jewish majority.

53% of the Jewish public also believe that the State is entitled to encourage the emigration of Arabs.

81% of the population agrees with the assertion that “democracy is not a perfect regime, but it is better than any other form of government.” However, 55% of the public believes that Israel should put observing the law and public order before the ideals of democracy. Of the Jewish respondents, 60% of those on the political right supported this idea compared with 50% of those in the center and 49% of those on the left.

43% of the general population feels that it is equally important for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic country, while 31% regards the Jewish component as being more important, and only 20% defines the democratic element as being more important.

51% of the general public approves of equality of rights between Jews and Arabs. The more Orthodox the group, the greater the opposition to equal rights between Jews and Arabs: only 33.5% of secular Jews oppose this, compared with 51% of traditional Jews, 65% of Orthodox Jews and 72% of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

67% of the Jewish public believe that close relatives of Arabs should not be permitted to enter Israel under of the rubric of family unification.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of Jews believe that as long as Israel is in conflict with the Palestinians, the views of Arab citizens of Israel on foreign policy and security matters should not be taken into consideration.

55% of the general public thinks that more resources should be allocated to Jewish municipalities than to Arab municipalities, while a 42% minority disagrees with this statement.

Within the Jewish public, 71% of right-wing supporters agree that more resources should be allocated to Jewish municipalities than to Arab municipalities, as compared to 46% of centrists and 38% of leftists. When segmented by degree of religious observance, 51% of ultra-Orthodox Jews agree with the statement, while 45% of Orthodox Jews, 28% of traditional Jews, and 18% of secular Jews agree with it.

46% of the Jewish public admitted to being most bothered by Arabs, followed equally by people with cognitive disabilities living in the community. 39% were bothered by foreign workers, 25% would be bothered by same-sex couples, 23% by ultra-Orthodox Jews, 17% by Ethiopian immigrants, 10% by non-Sabbath observers, and 8% by immigrants from the Former Soviet Union.

The Arab public is less tolerant than Jews of neighbors who are “Other.” 70% thought the least desirable neighbors would be same-sex couples and 67% were opposed to having ultra-Orthodox Jews as neighbors, followed closely by 65% who would be opposed to former settlers. 48% answered that the most “tolerable” neighbors would be foreign workers.

You can read the whole report here.

Exclusive excerpt from Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between

Nov 30, 2010

Laila El-Haddad


El Haddad book coverLaila El-Haddad’s new book, Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between, follows El-Haddad’s life and work from 2004-2010, and includes great reportage from and about Gaza, Palestinian life, several pieces of poetry; a live-tweeted text from Cairo Airport, and even a recipe. It includes a great Foreword by Prof. miriam cooke of Duke University, and has received strong endorsements from Hanan Ashrawi, Ali Abunimah, Profs. Stephen Walt, Sara Roy, and Richard Falk, and Nora Barrows-Friedman.

Laila will be undertaking a west-coast book tour in February 2011, requests to have Laila come speak to community or activist groups on the west coast or elsewhere should be made via [email protected].

The blog that was the source of much of the material in my book Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between came about largely by happenstance. It was originally named “Raising Yousuf” and later became “Gaza Mom.” I started it during fall 2004, not even knowing what the word “blog” meant and with no idea of where this new adventure would take me.

That year was a testing time for my husband and me: We were recently married and living with our first child in Boston, where we had met shortly before I finished graduate school at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Just one year earlier, in August 2003, I had gotten my first real break as a journalist with the newly launched Al Jazeera English website. In 2004, that position would take me back to do some reporting from Gaza, my family’s beloved home city. But my husband Yassine could not come with us. As a Palestinian with refugee status, Yassine was denied the right to enter or even visit Gaza or any other part of the occupied Palestinian territories (OPTs)—despite the fact that Palestine is his homeland and that of his wife and child.

Yassine is denied any version of “the Right of Return” to his ancestral homeland. This, while Israel gives Jewish people from anywhere in the world—or anyone who can trace his Jewish ancestry back to several generations earlier or is a spouse, a grandchild, or child of such a person—the immediate “right” to reside in any of the areas it controls, even if their immediate ancestors have never lived in the area.

Yassine was born in the UN-administered refugee camp of Baalbek in Lebanon. Until shortly before that point, his family had been living in a Palestinian refugee camp in a refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, called Tel al-Zaatar (“Hill of Thyme”) that was a flashpoint in the internecine fighting of the Lebanese civil war. (Yassine’s uncle was killed in the anti-Palestinian massacre perpetrated in Tel al-Zaater in 1976.) Yassine grew up amid the civil war that continued to rage throughout Lebanon in the 1980s. Thirty-five years earlier, his grandparents had been driven out of their homes in historic Palestine, during the Jewish-Palestinian battles that accompanied the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The villages from which two of his grandparents fled were both destroyed in their entirety by the Israeli authorities, soon after 1948. . . .

In 1993, Yassine won a scholarship to attend high school in the United States. From there he made his way to college and eventually to Harvard Medical School. I had also done all my college studies in the United States; and it was while he was at medical school that we met.

* * *

My parents were both medical doctors. When I was born in the late 1970s, they were among the scores of thousands of Palestinian professionals working in Kuwait. I was born in Kuwait and then passed most of my youth living primarily in the Gulf kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain; however, my brothers and I would spend our summers, springs, and sometimes our winters in Gaza.

I remember that at the height of the first Palestinian Intifada in around 1990, we kids were mocked in my mother’s hometown of Khan Younis, just south of Gaza City, for not knowing the difference between the insignia of the two main Palestinian movements, Fateh and Hamas! My parents tried to keep our lives as far away from politics as possible. But our existence as Gaza Palestinians was itself inescapably political.

Because I am a Gaza Palestinian, I hold a Palestinian Authority (PA) “passport” and the all-important identification or residency card, known as a hawyia, issued by the Israeli military authorities who still control the population registries of both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The hawiya is the document by which we Palestinians from the OPTs live and die. It is a document that, when I was growing up in the 1980s, we struggled hard to preserve and renew because Israel threatened to take it away from Gazans living outside the occupied Gaza Strip, just as today it still tries to take it away from Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. Even when we were children we endured annual, 24-hour trips to Gaza by land, complete with strip searches at the hands of young soldiers, just so we could hang on to our hawiyas.

But the hawiya is the ultimate Catch-22. With it, the Israelis, who still today—despite their much-vaunted “withdrawal” from Gaza in 2005—control all the Gaza Strip borders, consider me to be a “legal resident” of Gaza. And thus, so long as the only land crossing, at Rafah, is open. the Israelis will graciously “allow” me to travel to my hometown, Gaza. But they forbid most other kinds of people—even Palestinians from the nearby West Bank or refugee Palestinians who grew up in exile, like my husband, let alone any of my American or European friends who might want to visit me—from doing so.

The hawiya is also used to prevent me from traveling to other areas Israel controls like the West Bank, Jerusalem, or “1948 Palestine” (that is, modern-day Israel). It even bars me from the kind of access to those areas that other, non-Palestinian journalists have. As an Israeli army officer once explained to me, “We consider you as Palestinians, and therefore security threats, first; as journalists, second.” All those kinds of restrictions intensified after the conclusion of the Oslo Accords in 1993. (Go figure.)

The Israeli military has imposed the hawiya system on the indigenous (and therefore legitimate) residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip continuously throughout all the 43 years since they first occupied these territories back in 1967, long before I was born. From the mid-1990s on, possession of a hawiya has also entitled its holder to obtain a passport issued in the name of the PA (though the whole system is still maintained and controlled by Israel.) But basically, the hawiya system lies at the heart of the tight-knit mechanism by which Israel controls Palestinian movement, residency, and life in general.

It allows Israel alone to decide which “Arabs” it will recognize as “Palestinian,” which couples it will recognize as “families” that qualify for “reunification” and thus residency, and who is allowed to move where and at what point—all inside our own homeland. As the pioneering Israeli journalist Amira Hass has explained:

This control allowed Israel to deprive hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of their residency status after 1967. It allowed the continuation of marital, social, economic, religious and cultural ties between Gaza and the West Bank until 1991—and then, it severed those ties.

This control allows Israel to prevent the addition of foreign residents to the population registry; it allows Israel to intervene in, and even decide, the choice of a partner, place of study, type of medical treatment, address, quality time with children, participation in celebrations and funerals, the writing of wills and distribution of family property. Israel has the authority to ban the entry of friends or family members who are not Palestinian residents—not just their entry into Israel, but also into the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

After Israel occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip in June 1967, it issued hawiyas only to those Palestinians it found in residence there during a door-to-door census. Palestinians who had been driven out of, or fled, their homes in either the 1948 war or the 1967 war were excluded, as were any Palestinians who, at that time, were abroad for whatever reason—studying, working, visiting family, or vacationing. An exception was made for Palestinian physicians, for whom there was a desperate need. My parents were both dong medical internships in Egypt at the time. They grabbed the opportunity to return to Gaza, traveling in Red Cross ambulances with blackened windows that whisked them through the closed military zones of the newly occupied Sinai.

Then in 1975, my father had a sharp argument with the head of the Israeli medical military unit, who had come to meet with leading Palestinian doctors in Gaza to assess the needs of the main hospital there. The Israeli officer arrived with a predetermined opinion: The hospital had no further needs. My father, a person who tells it like it is, staunchly disagreed. He told the officer that the hospital was substandard, ranking at only “negative 2 on a scale of 1 to 10,” and that “we run out of antibiotics by the first week of the month!” The other Palestinian doctors panicked, pleading with my father to stay quiet, but he continued. Israeli promises to build a new hospital never materialize, he continued.

“So we’re liars?” asked the Israeli official. “Take it anyway you like,” My father replied.

The Israeli official forwarded my father’s file to Israeli intelligence, where he was then summoned on a weekly basis. He was advised to leave Gaza to seek work elsewhere—or face imprisonment, so he and my mother left. . . . Many years later, when their careers in the Gulf came to an end, my parents decided to retire back home in Gaza City.

* * *

When I started traveling to Gaza for my job in 2004, I took my son Yousuf, then 9 months old, with me. (He was still nursing.) Yassine stayed behind in the United States. A tech-savvy cousin suggested I should start a “blog” to help Yassine keep in touch with our travels and with Yousuf’s development. My first reaction was that I knew nothing about creating or maintaining websites! “You don’t need to,” she replied. “Just create a title, and you’re off.”

And so I did. In the fall of 2004, Raising Yousuf was born while we were visiting Boston. The idea was to write strictly about, well, raising Yousuf. I created a separate blog in which I commented on all things purely political, often in a satirical manner. But in December 2004, as I traveled back to Gaza with Yousuf, I was faced with the very real prospect that I would be unable to return to the Strip, and I would have no recourse for appeal against that decision. I was stuck in Cairo, a city that I barely knew, waiting to make the arduous land journey to the Rafah Crossing, which was (and still is) the only way Gazans who had left the Strip for any reason, could get back in.

Israel announced it was indefinitely closing the Rafah crossing after a bomb killed several of their soldiers there. That closure stranded 1.5 million Palestinians inside the Strip, and tens of thousands of others (including us) outside it. It continued for 55 days, leaving Yousuf and me beached in Cairo. I came to understand then, as I would 100 times over in the years that followed, that as a Palestinian you cannot separate the personal from the political. Our identity surfaces with particular intensity on international borders!

In 2006, I left Gaza to spend more time with Yassine in the United States, though I remained determined to return as frequently as I could. My parents stayed behind in their apartment in central Gaza City. At that point, I had to face a different challenge: the pain of being stranded outside my homeland when it was under siege. I struggled to explain our complicated lives to Yousuf—and later to his little sister Noor, born in early 2008: Palestine and Gaza; border crossings and closures; the right of return and occupation; civil unrest and Palestinian division. Who were “the bad guys”? Why were the Israelis, who made for so many of the miserable experiences he had, not visible? Why couldn’t we travel like ordinary people, when we want and how we want? Why could the children’s beloved baba (daddy) never travel to Gaza with us, anyway?

I managed to visit Gaza twice more in 2007. But in 2009, after Gaza had been under prolonged closure, my attempts to go back failed. In April 2009, the Egyptian authorities, which were colluding closely with Israel to keep Gaza completely closed, held my children and me in Cairo airport for 30 hours before they finally expelled us back to the United States. Finally, in early summer 2010, responding to pressures raised by the Israel’s lethal showdown with the Turkish-led aid flotilla, Egypt loosened the siege—just a little. In July 2010, I was able to go back to Gaza for a three-month visit.

The chapters that follow cover this 6-year period—from fall 2004, when the second Intifada was still raging and Israel’s systematic demolitions of homes along Gaza’s southern border was at a peak, until the very recent past. They chronicle in intimate detail such historic events as Israel’s highly misleading “disengagement” from Gaza, which ended up repackaging its occupation in more insidious forms; the first truly democratic Palestinian parliamentary elections, held in 2006—and the Western-backed, Israeli-enforced boycott and bloody intra-Palestinian feuds that ensued; and ultimately, Israel’s “Cast Lead” assault on Gaza, which still left Israel’s tough siege of the Strip in place despite the many new needs for reconstruction that became clear once that assault’s ruins could be surveyed. Today, much of the optimism and hope I saw during critical moments like the Palestinian elections also lie in ruins. But its people go on living.

* * *

Throughout the book, you will be introduced to many of the people in my life, most of them Gazans. Chief among them are my children, Yousuf, now 6 years old; Noor, who turns 3 in January 2011; my husband, Yassine, now nearing the end of his medical training in the United States; my parents, Maii El-Farra, a pediatrician, and Moussa, a retired obstetrician gynecologist (OBGYN).

The tone and style of writing changes continuously throughout the book, as do the space, the setting, the content, and the situation. In the book, you will see me trying to navigate the variegated terrain of identities and spaces, of being reporter and mother, of being a Palestinian under occupation and a Palestinian in exile—and all the complexities and details in between. I try to do this with as much fluidity and clarity as possible.

This book does not claim to explain Gaza comprehensively or to speak for all of its residents. It is merely a singular account within the dizzying multiplicity of experiences and existences that constitute the Palestinian experience as a whole. It is a window into Gaza during some of its most turbulent years and into the violated but resilient lives we live as Palestinians. It is a story about mothering, homeland, identity—and su.

Israeli troops arrest two boys in Hebron– 10 and 15

Nov 30, 2010



Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

MSD: Israel has razed 1, 485 homes in east J’lem since its occupation
Al-Maqdesi for society development said Israel has demolished 1, 485 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem since 1967 and issued 1, 322 orders to raze homes in the same area in 2009 and 2010.
Four Houses Razed in Jerusalem; Estimates Predict Unprecedented Palestinian Exodus
Jerusalem – PNN – In a series of home demolition operations in East Jerusalem, Israeli troops razed one building in Ras Khamis and two in ‘Issawiya, and a fourth home was destroyed by its owners in Sheikh Jarrah to avoid the demolition fee imposed by the Israeli municipal authorities. The incidents come as a Jerusalem think tank predicts that about 3500 Palestinians will be forced out of the city in the next year.
Violent Confrontations in ‘Issawiya Ahead of Planned Demolitions 
Jerusalem – PNN – The East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya witnessed violent confrontations between Palestinian citizens and heavily-armed Israeli police.  A local source said police set up blockades and issued a demolition order for one home, saying it was unlicensed. Violence ensued near the entrances of the blockade and more Israeli soldiers and police were called in.  Eyewitnesses said that most of the assaults and arrests of Palestinians were carried out by Israeli soldiers dressed up as Arabs. Others claimed they used police dogs to disperse the protestors.  Maher Husayn of ‘Issawiya said the Israeli police went beyond their lawful responsibilities in arresting children and closing off entrance points to the neighborhood.
Bulldozers demolish home, workshop in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – Bulldozers of the Jerusalem municipal council escorted by Israeli police and border guards demolished a newly constructed home and a printing workshop Tuesday in the neighborhood of Al-Isawiya, north of the Old City.  The home, under construction for two years, was a 125-square-meter building belonging to Atiyya Imteir, a father of eight and worker at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

Protests after Israel demolishes E.Jerusalem home
JERUSALEM — Palestinians protested in east Jerusalem on Tuesday, throwing rocks and setting several cars on fire, after Israeli forces demolished a home in the Arab neighbourhood of Issawiya.  Israeli police and the local officials confirmed that a home and a small room housing a printing press next door had been demolished in Issawiya, in occupied east Jerusalem.  Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the building was demolished because it was built illegally.
UN Report Uncovers Israeli Efforts to Drive Palestinians from Jerusalem 
Cairo – PNN – The Cairo-based UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a report on Monday saying that Israeli settlers in Jerusalem cooperated with Israeli police to seize a three-storey Palestinian apartment in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebel al-Mukabar between November 10 and November 23.  Three families, 14 people all together including five children, left as a result.  The OCHA report said that settlers bought the apartment from a family member who died several years ago, putting the deal into dispute. The Palestinian owners of the buildings demanded to see the papers of sale and alleged that they were defrauded.  OCHA claimed this is the second time buildings have been seized by settlers since the beginning of the year. In July, settlers took over eight residential units in the Old City, resulting in the flight of eight Palestinian families, or 29 people in all. 
Palestinian leader warns of settlement ‘time bomb’ (AFP)
AFP – Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas warned Monday that Israel’s settlement of occupied territories has become “a time bomb” that could destroy peace hopes at any moment.*
Israel`s latest settlement plan angers Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli authorities on Monday approved a request for 130 new Jewish homes on the outskirts of annexed east Jerusalem, drawing an immediate protest from Palestinian officials.  The Jerusalem municipal council approved a request that would rezone an area in the settlement of Gilo, near Bethlehem, allowing residential construction on a plot of land originally designated for a hotel. 
Non-Aligned Movement reiterates call for end to Israeli settlement building
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — Maged Abdelaziz, the permanent representative of Egypt to the UN, said here Monday that Israel must stop infringing on the Occupied Palestinian Territories in order to allow a two-state solution to be negotiated in the Middle East.  The Egyptian ambassador made the statement when he was speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) at a UN meeting to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. 
Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Weekly Repression Update 22-29 November 2010
Protesters: Israeli forces fire on Gaza march
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces opened fire on a peaceful protest march in the northern Gaza Strip near the Erez crossing point, demonstrators said.  The march was organized by the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The demonstrators were carrying Palestinian flags. 
Letter from prison: I have a lot of energy to struggle
The following is an excerpt from a letter by Palestinian political prisoner and civil society leader Ameer Makhoul, written in response to a postcard featuring an image of a lighthouse sent by The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof: “The lighthouse, al-fanar in Arabic, is an inspiration. I have built a lighthouse here in jail. It has been built in my mind because I am not allowed to use the space, but my mind is totally mine.” 
Arrested while helping farmers in Saffa Valley
It was a bright, warm morning in the occupied West Bank’s Saffa Valley Thursday, 18 November when, without warning, the Israeli occupation forces were upon us. Within moments, five Israeli soldiers were shouting in Hebrew. “You have one minute to leave the area!” they said, before shooting stun grenades at our feet. Moments later, we were told to sit quietly and hand over our passports. A six-hour detention was to follow. 
Ain al-Hilweh refugees mark day Palestine was divided
SIDON: Palestinian refugees at the south Lebanon camp of Ain al-Hilweh staged a demonstration Monday to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Refugees gathered outside the notorious refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh and representatives of various Palestinian political and civil-society organizations were present. 
Princeton students vote on alternate hummus brands (AP)
AP – Princeton University students voted Monday in a referendum by a pro-Palestine student group on whether to expand the school’s hummus offerings.*
My aunt the revolutionary, Dima Shaibani
Hana al-Shaibani gave up her comfortable life in 1960s Baghdad to live in a refugee camp and fight for the PLO.

Israeli-Palestine Holiday Tour, Without Showing the Conflict
The French tour company Voyageurs du Monde (World Travelers) has launched a new brochure to promote tourism in Israel and Palestine as a whole, under the slogan “peace and love” but only mentions, superficially, the separation wall or the checkpoints. The project has been supported by the Israeli National Tourism Office as well as the Delegation of Palestine in France. 
Abuse of Palestinian Children

Israeli Troops Arrest Two Boys in Hebron, 10 and 15
Hebron – PNN – Israeli forces arrested two boys in the township of Saeer, east of Hebron, during a series of home raids on Tuesday.
Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

UN officials denounce Israeli law violations
BEIRUT: Israel’s continued flouting of international law and denial of human rights to millions of Palestinian civilians living under occupation was strongly denounced Monday by a collection of leading United Nations and Lebanese political figures speaking on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. 
Gaza still struggling despite Israeli let-up
A partial lifting of Israel’s Gaza Strip blockade has had only a limited effect in improving life for residents of the Palestinian coastal enclave, a coalition of humanitarian groups said Tuesday.  A report by 22 organizations and entitled “Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade” says an Israeli pledge to liberalize the import of materials for UN and other international building projects has barely dented a backlog. 
Falk: Prolonged occupation new crime against humanity
GENEVA (Ma’an) — Israel’s prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territories is “a new type of crime against humanity,” a senior UN envoy said Monday.  UN representative on human rights in the Palestinian territories Richard Falk urged the international community to draft a new protocol of international humanitarian law to address the situation imposed on Palestinian people by 43 years of Israeli occupation. 
The Victims of Sol Or
The Sol Or factory, located in Tulkarem’s industrial settlement, has become a killer. The factory produces gas and fuels, which require strict safety regulations, but its owners have neglected them at the cost of their employee’s lives.
Gaza Famers Get Home Garden Training
ANERA – PNN/Gaza – Winter is approaching in Gaza but that doesn’t mean that farmers there are idle. With help from ANERA, 35 farmers are getting ready to launch their own home gardens.   The first step included five training sessions conducted by the American Near East Refugee Aid – ANERA. In the coming weeks the 23 men and 12 women in the project will receive the greenhouses, tools, seedlings, water tanks, fertilizers and irrigation system to achieve their goal. Throughout the training and implementation of the gardens, the focus is on best agricultural practices.  Trainer Mohammed Khader describes the term “home gardens”: “Home garden is an area of arable land surrounding a home, regardless of its size. It can be used for growing vegetables, fruit trees and ornamental plants and flowers or for raising animals such as sheep and poultry for the provision of animal protein.” 
Racism and Discrimination

Poll: Most Israeli Jews believe Arab citizens should have no say in foreign policy
Israel Democratic Institute conducts study on democracy, concludes that more than half Israelis say Arabs should be encouraged to emigrate.
Survey: Half of Israeli Jews oppose having Arab neighbors
Survey finds 46% of Israeli Jews consider Arabs as worst neighbors, while quarter of population thinks haredi and gay neighbors the least desirable. ‘Media fuels radicalization,’ says Justice Minister Ne’eman.,7340,L-3992058,00.html
Haredi town of Bnei Brak moves to evict migrant workers
This comes on the heels of a campaign announced by the municipality earlier this month to stop landlords in the city from renting to illegal immigrants.
Chief rabbi: Torpedo IDF conversions law
In urgent letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, Rabbi Amar says automatic recognition of army conversions will have ‘severe consequences’.,7340,L-3991615,00.html

Israel raids limited area in Bait Hanoon
Israeli occupation forces raided Monday a limited area in Bait Hanoon, in north of Gaza Strip. According to local sources, bulldozers and vehicles invaded meters in the Palestinian land. Residents in the area reported that they targeted the invaded forces by mortar shells. 
Carts evacuate 5 wounded workers at Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Five Palestinian workers were shot and taken to hospital on Tuesday, after Israeli forces opened fire on the group in what the injured said appeared to be a rapid succession of sniper attacks.  The men said they were collecting stone aggregates in the northern Gaza Strip near the evacuated Israeli settlement of Eli Sinai north of Beit Lahiya when the incident occurred.  Medics said ambulances could not reach the area, so the men were first evacuated by donkey cart until they were safely out of Israel’s unilaterally imposed “no-go-zone” which officials say is kept clear because it is an area where attacks are launched against Israel. The lands in the zone constitute some 20 percent of arable farm lands in the Strip.

Shin Bet arrests 3 Fatah faction members
Three Fatah members admit to carrying out September terror attack in Hebron injuring 35-year-old pregnant woman, who gave birth hours later.,7340,L-3992109,00.html
Center condemns nights raids in Israeli prisons
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli prison authorities assaulted detainees during overnight cell raids at Nafha prison, a detainees’ center in Gaza said Monday.  The center issued a statement condemning the raids and said the treatment of Palestinian political prisoners violated human rights. 
Arab Helpers

PA militia kidnaps professor Douqan from his home
A Security militia from the Palestinian authority kidnapped Monday evening professor Ghassan Douqan, a lecturer at Al-Najah university, after a violent raid on his home in Ma’ajeen neighborhood.
20 Hamas affiliates arrested by PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority forces detained 20 members of Hamas, the Islamist movement said Tuesday.  The group said in a statement the arrests took place in Nablus, Jenin, Hebron and Qalqiliya.
Political Developments

Palestinians confront Israeli control in West Bank (AP)
AP – With a pledge to rebuild a demolished road, the Palestinian prime minister is opening a confrontation with Israel over the large parts of the West Bank that are under sole Israeli control.*
Netanyahu: Germany could play central role in Mideast peace
Speaking after joint meeting in Jerusalem, German President Christian Wulff urges Israel to adopt a constructive attitude on settlements and the Gaza Strip.
IOF raids villages in Jenin
29 Nov 2010 – Jenin, November 29 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided Monday Brqeen village and number of neighborhoods in south of Jenin city, in north of the West Bank. Israeli soldiers raided shops and restaurants and questioned number of citezens , local sources reported. 
WikiLeaked: John Kerry calls for Israel to cede Golan Heights and East Jerusalem – By Josh Rogin
On a February trip to the Middle East, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) told Qatari leaders that the Golan Heights should be returned to Syria, that a Palestinian capital should be established in East Jerusalem as part of the Arab-Israeli peace process, and that he was “shocked” by what he saw on a visit to Gaza.
Netanyahu said no peace with ‘right of return’: WikiLeaks (AFP)
AFP – The Palestinians will not be a partner for peace until they drop demands for the “right of return,” Benjamin Netanyahu said two years before being elected premier, leaked US cables showed on Monday.*
WikiLeaks blows cover off Israel’s covert Gulf states ties
Diplomatic cable dating from 2009 indicates that then FM Tzipi Livni had a good working, personal relationship with U.A.E. Foreign Minister Abdullah Ibn Zayed.
‘Souring’ Israel-Turkey relationship seen in WikiLeaks trove
Confidential documents show how Americans grew frustrated and even angry over a Turkish foreign policy out of sync with the U.S. vision.  U.S. officials had scrambled to keep two allies from airing their growing differences in public — again.,0,1451149.story 
WikiLeaks exposé: Israeli officials accused Egypt of undermining ties
The cable, from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, quoted Uzi Arad, chairman of Israel’s National Security Council, as accusing Egypt’s Foreign Ministry of harming relations with Jerusalem.
Other News

Golan Leaders Disown Likud MK Ayyoub Qarra
During a meeting led by dozens of Druze figures in the occupied Golan Heights, social and religious leaders and residents declared that they disown Member of Knesset Ayyoub Qarra of the Likud Party, and that al-Qarra will not be welcomed or acknowledged by anyone. 

Gaza/West Bank Unite Through ‘Puppet Shoes’
Yesterday night, the French-German Cultural Center in Ramallah screened a series of short films produced by youth in refugee camps throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The screening was held in coordination with venues in Nablus, Gaza City and Amman, Jordan to commemorate International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Palestinian Folk Dance- Dabka – Goes International
The groups in Genève – Switzerland, Toronto – Canada, Utrecht – The Netherlands, Paris – France and Geel in Belgium, preformed the Palestinian traditional Dabka dance.  These groups did a joined international flashmob action to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and to promote the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions until Israel complies with international law. 
Review: paintings scream to break walls of silence
Scottish artist Jane Frere’s exhibition In the Shadow of the Wall reminds us that the plight of the Palestinian people is not just confined to periods of overt conflict, but is an ongoing, everyday experience. Stephen Fiddes reviews for The Electronic Intifada. 

Robert Fisk: Now we know. America really doesn’t care about injustice in the Middle East
I came to the latest uproarious US diplomatic history with the deepest cynicism. And yesterday, in the dust of post-election Cairo – the Egyptian parliamentary poll was as usual a mixture of farce and fraud, which is at least better than shock and awe – I ploughed through so many thousands of American diplomatic reports with something approaching utter hopelessness. After all, they do quote President Hosni Mubarak as saying that “you can forget about democracy,” don’t they? 
WikiLeaks Docs Expose Egyptian Complicity with Israeli War Crimes (Again), Alex Kane
One of the most striking things that I took away from my time in Egypt last winter was the extent to which the U.S.-backed Mubarak dictatorship goes to squash public dissent on their government’s Gaza policy (see the video above).  Swarms of riot police encircled peaceful protests calling on the Egyptian government to let activists part of the Gaza Freedom March into Gaza.  During the marchers’ standoff with the Mubarak regime, the Egyptian government was exposed as being collaborators in the Israeli blockade of Gaza, something that deeply upsets ordinary Egyptians and led to Mubarak getting hammered in the Arab press. 
Someone Should Tell Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: WikiLeaks Docs Show Israel’s Happiness with Palestinian Authority, Alex Kane
There isn’t anything earth shattering (yet) that was revealed by the latest batch of WikiLeaks documents regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but that doesn’t mean they are meaningless.  Numerous leaked cables have given insight into how Israel views its negotiating partner, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which controls the West Bank. Some members of Congress should especially read the cables, like incoming House Foreign Relations Committee chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose hysteria over the United States’ funding of the PA doesn’t bear much relation to the reality of how the PA operates. 
Clinton ‘tore the fabric’ herself long before we ever heard of Wikileaks, Kathleen Galt
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to the latest Wikileaks release was shaky and full of holes at best. Hypocritical is more like it. Clinton stated “Let’s be clear. This disclosure is not just an attack on America — it’s an attack on the international community.” Such leaks, “tear at the fabric” of responsible government.  “There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people, and there is nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations,” Clinton said at the State Department news conference.
If you’re going to cite Arabs re Iran in Wikileaks, why not re ‘Israel causing U.S. to lose Muslim hearts and minds’?, Philip Weiss
NPR just aired an exchange between Robert Segal and the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg over the fact that Wikileaks cables show that Arab governments want to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  I don’t doubt the cables; though when Goldberg says that the Arab governments perceive an “existential threat” from Iran, just as Israel does, I don’t trust him a lick. Goldberg told us that Saddam had links to Al Qaeda and helped get us into the Iraq debacle.
“We Have Not Seen Anything Yet”: Guardian Editor Says Most Startling WikiLeaks Cables Still To Be Released
“In the coming days, we are going to see some quite startling disclosures about Russia, the nature of the Russian state, and about bribery and corruption in other countries, particularly in Central Asia,” says Investigations Executive Editor David Leigh at the Guardian, one of the three newspapers given advanced access to the secret U.S. embassy cables by the whistleblower website, WikiLeaks. “We will see a wrath of disclosures about pretty terrible things going on around the world.” Leigh reviews the major WikiLeaks revelations so far, explains how the 250,000 files were downloaded and given to the newspaper on a thumb drive, and confirms the Guardian gave the files to the New York Times. Additional cables will be disclosed throughout the week.
Noam Chomsky: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal “Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership”
In a national broadcast exclusive interview, we speak with world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky about the release of more than 250,000 secret U.S. State Department cables by WikiLeaks. In 1971, Chomsky helped government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg release the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret internal U.S. account of the Vietnam War. Commenting on the revelations that several Arab leaders are urging the United STates to attack Iran, Chomsky says, “Latest polls show] Arab opinion holds that the major threat in the region is Israel, that’s 80 percent; the second threat is the United States, that’s 77 percent. Iran is listed as a threat by 10 percent,” Chomsky says. “This may not be reported in the newspapers, but it’s certainly familiar to the Israeli and U.S. governments and the ambassadors. What this reveals is the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership.”
Wikileaks: fishy? The seclection, As`ad Abukhalil
Many in the Arab world are expressing doubts and skepticism about Wikileaks.  I note to them–when they ask me the following.  The selection by the New York Times (and even by Guardian) is rather fishy.  There is not a single document that is embarrassing to Israel.  Not one.  The New York Times did a political hack job with the documents: it used them as a campaign to launch a war on Iran.  Yesterday, they drew a silly chart showing all those Arab leaders calling for a war on Iran.  The documents released is a small fraction of the total documents.  We have to wait for the total release.  Is it possible that the intelligence officer who released them protected Israel by holding off on some documents? The volume is too large for him to go through them, I think.  And most importantly, despite the release and the fanfare and the noise from the White House: there is nothing that is really embarrassing or revealing about the US government.  Only embarrassing about US puppets in the Middle East region. [end]
Obama’s Middle East turkeys, MJ Roseberg
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government has repeatedly treated even the most polite requests to live up to its international commitments (i.e., freezing settlements) with contempt. So now the Obama administration has escalated from simple requests to a version of “pretty please, with a cherry on top.” 
MSM stirs– Wilkerson tells Olbermann Israel can’t be ‘democratic and Jewish’, Susie Kneedler
Last night Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson gently set a naive Keith Olbermann partly straight. Olbermann noticed (at 2:45 or so) that a 2007 cable in the WikiLeaks communiques gives “a reason other than the obvious for Israel’s opposition to Iranian nukes”: that they pose a ‘demographic” threat to “Israel’s long-term survival as a Jewish and democratic state.” Olbermann mentioned that “surveys find that one-third of Israelis would leave [Israel if Iran had the bomb] and Palestinian Israelis already make up twenty percent,” so if Palestinians “become a majority, Israel would have to figure out how it could remain both Jewish and democratic at the same time.”
Sullivan combats anti-Semitic smear by Goldberg, Philip Weiss
Is Sullivan the best? Yes. He is doing the hard labor of taking on the Israel lobby forcefully in the mainstream media, with unrivaled clarity and eloquence. Here he bats down a piece of thuggery from Jeffrey Goldberg, that Sullivan believes that “a group of warmongering Jews– alone” is pushing World War III. Disgusting. Though Sullivan makes clear as he has again and again lately that the Israel lobby is unstraightforward about its agenda and that agenda is at odds with the American people’s interests.
Will the PA Declare a State… or Collapse?, Stuart Littlewood – London
The other day I looked back with sadness on how nothing had changed for the better since my last trip to Palestine three years ago. On that occasion I also visited Gaza, an experience indelibly etched on my memory. The situation there only goes from bad to worse – intolerably worse. But if I’m dispirited, heaven knows how the average Palestinian must feel as a result of the incompetent leadership they have had to endure these last 63 years… a leadership which failed to coherently argue and convey the justice of the Palestinian cause and never bothered, even to this day, to formulate and put into action an effective communications plan to win freedom.
Fatal Diplomacy, Mitri I. Musleh
The Israeli cabinet continues debating on whether to accept the US offer for a 90 day freeze in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, excluding any settlements build up in East Jerusalem.  By doing so, the US is hoping to get the direct talks between the Palestinians and Israelis back on track. International news quoted diplomats claiming that the incentive package the US is offering Israel includes commitments to fight international resolutions critical to Israel. Further, the US Congress would be asked to supply 20 F-35 stealth fighter jets to Israel as part of a huge military aid package.  If the above claim proves true, a new fatal chapter in the Middle East could just be opening up. 
What would you do if . . ., Mohammed Said AlNadi 
By disempowering women, Arab states only punish themselves
The Egyptian poet Hafiz Ibrahim once declared that “a mother is a school. Empower her and you empower a great nation.” What he meant was that if women were offered the social and economic opportunities they merited, they could help to build strong nations.

More WikiLeaks memos touch on Lebanese politicians’ stands
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri reportedly urged the United States to “go all the way” in stopping Iran’s nuclear program in August 2006, according to leaked secret US diplomatic memos released this week. 
Jumblatt: Erdogan’s stance ends Lebanon’s isolation
BEIRUT: Head of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) MP Walid Jumblatt praised Monday remarks made by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited Lebanon last week, saying the stances moved Lebanon from isolation. “Erdogan has stressed in Akkar that Palestine is the central cause and he also recalled the Sabra and Shatila massacres. 
Berri Working on Meeting between Nasralla and Hariri
28/11/2010 Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri reassured the Lebanese that he is thoroughly following up the situation in Lebanon from every angle and with all concerned parties.  Speaking to the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar, Berri revealed he was working on setting a meeting between Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and Prime Minister Saad Hariri when the latter returns from his tour abroad.  The Speaker underlined the Syrian-Saudi efforts to establish reconciliation in Lebanon and pull this country from its quagmire.  Berri also said that the few coming days will be “very busy” especially upon Hariri’s return to Lebanon, as a large scale political activity should take place amongst the parties involved in the current crisis. 
Hezbollah hoping Syria, Saudi can defuse Lebanon tensions (AFP)
AFP – Hezbollah is counting on a joint Syrian-Saudi initiative to contain the impact of looming indictments by a UN-backed court set to implicate members of the group in the murder of Lebanon’s ex-premier, experts say.* 
Maariv: Ball in Hezbollah’s Court, Feltman Deeply Involved in Lebanon Quagmire 
27/11/2010 Israeli daily Maariv reported Friday that “there are US-Israeli understandings” on ways to counter the repercussions of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) indictment against Hezbollah in the assassination case of former Premier Rafiq Hariri.  The newspaper’s correspondent in Washington Shmuel Rosner said that the US administration was working on this track more than it was on the Israeli Palestinian track. He added it was surprising to see how busy the US official’s schedule on the Middle East, be it with Saudi or Israeli officials who have been to Washington lately. 
Iran, Lebanon ink 9 MoUs on mutual cooperation
TEHRAN, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — Iran and Lebanon signed nine memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on expansion of mutual cooperation between the two countries Monday as Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri wrapped up his visit to the Islamic Republic, the official IRNA news agency reported.  The agreements included the expansion of mutual cooperation, campaign against illiteracy, addiction and drug trafficking, cultural heritage, rehabilitation of handicaps, protecting elderly males and females, supporting unprotected children and women affairs as well as family planning, said the report. 
Rights activist calls for end to brutality in dealing with spy suspects
BEIRUT: The Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights called for respecting the rights of suspected spies, during a workshop against the death penalty it held Monday. Several experts took part in the workshop and the foundation’s executive director Wael Kheir linked human rights to the freedom of the press, saying a free press played a major role in protecting human rights. 

Monday: 13 Iraqis Killed, 33 Wounded
Interior Minister Jawad Bolani said security forces thwarted an attack on the French embassy that was planned by the same insurgents who took over a church last month; however, they were not able to prevent the violence that led to at least 13 Iraqis losing their lives today. Another 33 were wounded as well. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari called the latest WikiLeaks dump “unhelpful and untimely.” 
Iraq forces thwart attack against French embassy: general (AFP)
AFP – Iraqi forces thwarted an attempt by a suicide bomber to blow up a vehicle by the French embassy using intelligence gathered after a bloodbath at a Baghdad cathedral, a general told AFP on Monday.*
More than 500 Iraqi Christian families flee to Kurdish north
The exodus of Iraqi Christians is continuing and 507 families have landed in the Kurdish north where security conditions are relatively stable.  Many more families have fled directly abroad, mainly to Syria, Jordan and Turkey.  Those fleeing to the Kurdish north are reported to be mostly low income Iraqi Christians whose meager resources will not make it easy for them to make ends meet in a foreign country.  But the Kurdish north, where Kurds have established a semi-independent state in the three provinces of Arbil, Sulaimaniya and Dahouk, is even more expensive than countries such as Syria.  Rents are extremely high and commodity prices dearer than in other parts of Iraq.  The large exodus began after scores of Iraqi Christians were killed in a church in Baghdad as they attended mass on Sunday.\2010-11-29\kurd.htm 
U.S. and other world news

Powerful Republican suggests to colleagues he’d shoot at Obama
‘Put anything in my scope and I will shoot it,’ GOP Rep. says of Obama Administration The former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee may have just destroyed his chances to lead that committee again — if close attention is paid to a slideshow he’s circulating to his Republican colleagues.
US says it may go after WikiLeaks chief
The United States on Monday said it was carrying out a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and would pursue the whistle-blower website’s chief if he were found to have broken the law.  “We have an active, ongoing criminal investigation with regard to this matter,” Attorney General Eric Holder told a press conference the day after the website began releasing some 250,000 confidential State Department memos.  “We are not in the position, as yet, to announce the result of that investigation,” he said, adding that the justice and defense departments were both probing the website. 
U.S. opens criminal investigation against WikiLeaks founder
Julian Assange: Obama administration is ‘a regime that doesn’t believe in the freedom of the press’; Ecuador offers asylum to Assange.
GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’
GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a foreign terrorist organizationA key Republican Congressman from New York has a new definition for the word “terrorism” that doesn’t require the use of violence or even fear. 
Assange may have a new home
Bravo:  Ecuador on Monday offered Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has enraged Washington by releasing masses of classified U.S. documents, residency with no questions asked. “We are ready to give him residence in Ecuador, with no problems and no conditions,” Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas told the Internet site Ecuadorinmediato.  “We are going to invite him to come to Ecuador so he can freely present the information he possesses and all the documentation, not just over the Internet but in a variety of public forums,” he said. 
WikiLeaks fallout reveal more cracks in Afghan war strategy
The continued political survival of US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry suggests the doubts he expressed about the war strategy have deepened in American government circles.
Afghan policeman kills 6 American troops
The shooter also is killed. It is the deadliest such incident in a year and points up the dangers U.S. troops face as they try to train local police and soldiers to take over security.  An Afghan border policeman on Monday turned his weapon on Western troops, fatally shooting six of them. NATO did not disclose the nationalities of the slain soldiers, but an Afghan official said they were American.,0,4351945.story 
Exclusive: Leaked cable reveals US-Israeli strategy for regime change in Iran
Wiki-leak confirms reporting by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh According to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, in August 2007 the head of Israel’s intelligence agency urged US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, R. Nicholas Burns, to join with Israel in carrying out a five-part strategy to implement regime change in Iran. 
Iran calls for unity among Islamic countries
TEHRAN, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for strengthening unity among Islamic countries, especially between Iran and Lebanon, the Iranian presidential website reported Monday.  If the Lebanese government and its “resistance”, implying Iran- backed Shi’a group Hezbollah, against Israel are in the same front, the Zionist regime will not be able to harm the Lebanese nation, Ahmadinejad said in a meeting with the visiting Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri in Tehran on Sunday. 
US threatens Iran with military action
Mullen made the remarks following Iran’s announcement that the Bushehr nuclear power plant in south of the country has started to generate electricity.
Israel primed to attack a nuclear Iran
US embassy cables show security service has told Washington ‘all options’ are on table if Iranian bomb looks inevitable 
Russia offered Israel $1 billion for drone technologies to cancel deal to supply Iran with S-300 missiles
Russia offered Israel $1 billion for advanced drone (automatic aircraft) technologies, and in addition offered to cancel the deal to supply Iran with S-300 missiles, according to an official cable published Sunday via WikiLeaks. 
Bomb blast blamed on Israel and US kills Iran nuclear scientist
Iran has accused Israel and the US of orchestrating bomb blasts yesterday morning in Tehran that killed a prominent nuclear scientist and injured a colleague.
Landslide vote was a fraud, say Egyptian opposition
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said yesterday a “rigged election” had all but wiped out its presence in parliament, virtually eliminating opposition to President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party before next year’s presidential vote. 
Angry Egyptians riot, burn cars, claiming vote fraud
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt: Protesters set fire to cars, tires and two polling stations, clashing with police firing tear gas in riots that erupted around Egypt Monday over allegations the ruling party carried out widespread fraud to sweep parliamentary elections.
MIDDLE EAST: Focus on domestic workers’ rights
DAMASCUS Tuesday, November 30, 2010 (IRIN) – The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) is encouraging the drafting of labour legislation to provide foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in the Middle East with legal protection.
Kuwait MPs want jail for women in swimsuits
KUWAIT CITY: Five Islamist MPs in Kuwait Monday proposed a one-year prison term and $3,500 fine for women who wear swimsuits at the beach. The lawmakers, representing various Islamist groups in Parliament, also said in a proposal to amend Kuwait’s penal code that the same penalty should apply to women who reveal their upper chest or take part in “indecent behavior.

MSM stirs– Wilkerson tells Olbermann Israel can’t be ‘democratic and Jewish’

Nov 30, 2010

Susie Kneedler


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Last night Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson gently set a naive Keith Olbermann partly straight. Olbermann noticed (at 2:45 or so) that a 2007 cable in the WikiLeaks communiques gives “a reason other than the obvious for Israel’s opposition to Iranian nukes”: that they pose a ‘demographic” threat to “Israel’s long-term survival as a Jewish and democratic state.” Olbermann mentioned that “surveys find that one-third of Israelis would leave [Israel if Iran had the bomb] and Palestinian Israelis already make up twenty percent,” so if Palestinians “become a majority, Israel would have to figure out how it could remain both Jewish and democratic at the same time.” 

Wilkerson, formerly Colin Powell’s chief of staff, countered:

Israel’s problem is more profound, I think, than you just stated it.  The profoundness of it is that Israel will find it increasingly difficult to be democratic and Jewish, even with the current demographic situation–no outside [Iranian] forces impacting.  Israel will be an apartheid state probably within a couple of decades if it tries to maintain the current policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians’ growing population.  And that’s not very good for the future. South Africa proved that.

Wilkerson didn’t discuss Israeli-government apartheid now–suffered by Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as the stateless people in the illegally Occupied Territories.   Instead, Wilkerson affirms that “Israel’s got a problem….That’s why we need a two-state solution….two states that are viable, economically, politically, security-wise.”

Perhaps Wilkerson wants to ease Olbermann and his “Countdown” audience into the full facts. Wilkerson tells Keith that “Anyone who’s studied the situation–and I will admit that that’s few” knows about Israel’s “demographic” “problem.”  Olbermann himself started by proving his ignorance that Iran is Persian rather than “Arab”– announcing that “the biggest cheerleaders for war with Iran, are–[pause]–other Arab leaders.”  (KO corrected himself later, substituting “Middle Eastern” for “Arab.”)

Wilkerson, to his credit, pointed out–as one who’s composed and read many such cables–that “the information being reported back to Washington isn’t necessarily the truth,” but is “designed to obfuscate, and to lie, and to twist, and to turn–anything but the complete truth….and if they are the truth as seen by the observers, the observers are often fooled.”

University of Toronto caught in controversy over anti-Zionist master’s thesis

Nov 30, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The Canadian Jewish News reports on Jennifer Peto’s master’s thesis from department of sociology and equity studies in education at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE), a branch of the University of Toronto. The paper is titled “The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education”:

The University of Toronto is coming under fire for granting its “imprimatur” to a master’s thesis that critics say is an allegation of “Jewish racism” and is of low academic standards.

In a letter to University of Toronto president David Naylor, retired sociology professor Werner Cohn said the thesis posits that “the Jews of the world, most particularly those of Canada and the United States, are racist and seek to oppress people of colour everywhere.”

The thesis, Cohen goes on, is averse to empirical data, and its author, Jennifer Peto, “makes wild… charges against her fellow Jews without a shred of evidence. . . “

Summarizing her thesis, Peto stated that it “focuses on issues of Jewish identity, whiteness and victimhood within hegemonic Holocaust education. I argue that today, Jewish people of European descent enjoy white privilege and are among the most socio-economically advantaged groups in the West. Despite this privilege, the organized Jewish community makes claims about Jewish victimhood that are widely accepted within that community and within popular discourse in the West.

“I propose that these claims to victimhood are no longer based in a reality of oppression, but continue to be propagated because a victimized Jewish identity can produce certain effects that are beneficial to the organized Jewish community and the Israeli nation-state.

Later in the article Peto identifies as “an anti-Zionist Jew” and says “by supporting Israel, [Jews] are supporting a brutally oppressive regime.” The article adds:

She said it can be painful for Jews to become anti-Zionist, but it was less painful for her “because I was already an outcast in the Jewish community and estranged from my family for being atheist, queer, gender-queer, feminist and generally outspoken in a highly normative, Orthodox setting.”

Update from Alex Kane:

Werner Cohn, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of British Columbia, has been making quite a name for himself this year as someone who wants to shut down academic critics of Israel.

He was among the academics leading the smear campaign against Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi, theeditor of a book highly critical of the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.  Bayoumi’s other book about Arab-Americans in Brooklyn was assigned as reading for incoming freshmen at Brooklyn College, which prompted Cohn and others to create an uproar. . . .

To give you an idea on where Cohn is coming from, he has written on “Jews who hate Israel,” links to documents that supposedly show Noam Chomsky’s “links to the neo-Nazis” and recently wrote a blog post that compared the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement to the Nazi campaign of boycotting Jewish-owned businesses in Germany.

It appears Cohn has somewhat of an obsession with members of the Jewish community who are critical of Israeli policy.  But instead of interrogating why such members exist–the occupation, massacres in Gaza, the colonization of the West Bank–he simply denounces them as “haters” of Israel.

You can read Peto’s thesis and judge for yourself after the jump:

Israel – Jennifer Peto

Is ‘Peace Now’ friending settlers?

Nov 30, 2010

Philip Weiss


We just got this picture of Yariv Oppenheimer, the head of Peace Now in Israel, in green at left, hanging at a party with men who are said to be members of the Yesha Council, the settlers’ group. The guy to the right of Oppenheimer is said to be Danny Dayan, who has said, “a withdrawal from the territories of Judea and Samaria in the hope that a sympathetic president will rule is a suicidal delusion.”

Ofer N. found the picture on Facebook (at a farewell party for the outgoing Galei Tzahal radio reporter Guy Varon) and sent it to me… Ofer says that in the background (left) you can see Itamar Ben Gvir, of the Jewish National Front, a Kahanist party.


I don’t live in Israel, I find it hard to understand that society. I do know that it’s hard for Israelis to support, for instance, boycott of the settlements if they have friends and relatives living there…

A week or so back Uri Avnery blasted Oppenheimer for meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

[H]ow did it enter the minds of these “Senior Peace Now Members” to meet this man of all people, and thus bestow legitimacy on him?

[B]ehind Ayalon there looms the man who appointed him: the minister for foreign affairs, Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman is an international symbol of racism, a settler and defender of settlers, the principal assistant in Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to obstruct peace and eternalize the occupation. …

Dozens of foreign ministers refuse to meet with Lieberman. No Arab leader agrees to shake his hand. Egyptians loathe him; for Palestinians he is the symbol of evil. He cannot show his face in respectable international society. So, for heaven’s sake, what caused the “Senior Peace Now Members” to legitimize this person?

UPDATE: Oppenheimer has responded on facebook, writing a comment there (per Ofer) stating he never socializes with people like Ben Gvir, but people like Dayan are different, because they do not support pogroms against Palestinians, so Dayan is only an “ideological adversary.”

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