Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


If the ‘NYRB’ wills it, it is not a dream

Feb 06, 2011



David Shulman reviewing both Sari Nusseibeh’s What Is a Palestinian State Worth and Occupation of the Territories: Israeli Soldier Testimonies 2000–2010 by Breaking the Silence offers readers what might best be described as a ‘Hold onto your Hat’ experience at New York Review of Books.

Shulman opens with an inviting description of the Palestinian non violent movement by way of a visit to the village of al-Nabi Salih, introducing us to the eloquent Ali Abu Awwad.

The article’s political trajectory picks up thru the introduction of Sari Nusseibeh, Palestinian philosopher, author and President of al-Quds University in Jerusalem. A “moral optimist” once so dedicated to forging a two state solution he joined with Ami Ayalon, former Shin Bet director, to forge a way–tho Nusseibeh no longer has certainty two states is worth the effort. Shulman journeys us thru Nusseibeh’s illuminating prescience, in viewing history as an evolving “moral trajectory”.

Essentially one comes to believe this might be Shulman’s own story. Initially tempered, his even pacing quickly builds as question upon question merge Israel’s actions and responses. He’d earlier described the Israeli academic establishment’s “stony and impassive silence.” A transformation takes place as he lashes away with distress at those convinced of the inevitability of one state, but has no qualms about naming those who he feels are responsible:

I don’t agree [with those who seek one state], but I think we are rapidly approaching such a result, and I think the cause is, on one level, entirely clear. It lies in the steadfast reluctance of the Israeli establishment to make a real peace, under any circumstances. What the present government and the Israeli security services clearly want is to continue the occupation under one form or another, maintaining near-total control over the entire Palestinian population.

He scathes after Breaking the Silence’s testimonials with an insistence that persists thru his infuriation:

This particular system could not continue to exist without a profound and willful blindness that we Israelis have cultivated for decades, and whose roots undoubtedly predate the existence of the State of Israel itself. I am speaking of blindness not to the existence of millions of Palestinian people—they are there for all to see—but to the full humanity of these people, their natural equality to us, and the parity (at least that, if one can measure such things) between their collective claim to the land and ours. There is also, again, a studied blindness to the cumulative trauma that we Israelis have inflicted upon the Palestinians in the course of realizing our own national goals (and later, in going far beyond any rational conception of such goals).

This is no ordinary blindness; it is a sickness of the soul that takes many forms, from a dull but superficial apathy to the silence and passivity of ordinary, decent people, to the malignant forms of racism and protofascist nationalism that are becoming more and more evident and powerful in today’s Israel, including segments of the present government. I suppose that to acknowledge these facts is too demoralizing, and too laden with potential guilt, for most of us. Often it seems that we will do anything—even risk catastrophic war—to avoid having to look our immediate neighbors in the face, to peel away the mythic mask. Palestinian violence over many years has made it easier for Israelis to make this choice, but it is important to bear in mind that it is, indeed, exactly that, a choice. There is a clear alternative—clearer today than ever before. In the history of this conflict, Israelis have by no means had a monopoly on blindness, but they are the party with by far the largest freedom of action and the greatest potential to bring about serious change.

The article culminates in a promising challenge of will, exactly what Shulman describes as Nusseibeh ‘s intentions. “He wants [Israelis] to step back from prejudice and an obsession with brute force and to open their eyes. He wants them to find in themselves the generosity of spirit needed in order to take a chance on peace, whether in the form of two states or a single binational entity or, perhaps, some kind of confederation.” Ultimately one can’t help but notice Shulman is a moral optimist himself. He’s both courageous and convincing. To NYRB’s Zionist readers, beware, a wave is upon you.


Some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon em, and some have none of the above

Feb 06, 2011

Philip Weiss


Robert Dreyfuss at the Nation has picked up Sarah Palin’s first comments on Egypt:

And nobody yet has, nobody yet has explained to the American public what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak and no, not, not real enthused about what it is that that’s being done on a national level and from D.C. in regards to understanding all the situation there in Egypt. And, in these areas that are so volatile right now, because obviously it’s not just Egypt but the other countries too where we are seeing uprisings, we know that now more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House. We need to know what it is that America stands for so we know who it is that America will stand with. And, we do not have all that information yet.


Americans need to get their priorities straight

Feb 06, 2011

Philip Weiss


I’m sure this has been tweeted already, but: Shouldn’t the Egyptian revolution put The Social Network over the top for Best Picture?

And inasmuch as young Jesse Eisenberg could become Best Actor for portraying facebook genius Mark Zuckerberg, isn’t that a fair trade for the end of the Jewish state in a state of its citizens? What do you think, Mom? 

Photo by Christina Rizk. Check out her Tahrir shots here.



It’s a boom time for settlements, and Palestinian prisoners threaten hunger strike

Feb 06, 2011



and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Israeli settlers cause environmental damage to Bethlehem villages
4 Feb – BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– Israeli settlers on Thursday caused environmental damage to fields belonging to residents of the villages of Husan, Wadi Fokin and Nahalin to the west of Bethlehem when they pumped large amounts of waste water the fields. Olive trees and plantations of Palestinian farmers in the villages were damaged, said Osama Shakarneh, head of the Nahaleen village council
Meanwhile, the IOF troops stationed at the Atarah checkpoint, north of Ramallah, intentionally caused traffic jam after they held Palestinian vehicles for long hours for “security” reasons, badly affecting students and sick people seeking medical treatment.
IOA accelerates settlement activity in WB
5 Feb – RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has been accelerating lately the construction spree in various settlements planted in the West Bank, popular committees against the settlement activity reported on Saturday. They said that IOA bulldozers were seen bulldozing land in villages south of Nablus, north of Ramallah, and near each of Salfit and Al-Khalil. Engineering teams and construction workers are building new settlement units inside and in the vicinity of settlements without any media coverage, the committees said, adding that the media are preoccupied with the events in Egypt.
Fifteen wounded in Friday East Jerusalem clashes
Jerusalem – Maysa Abu Ghazala – 5 Feb – Violent clashes erupted on Friday after midday prayers in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud between local Palestinian youths and Israeli forces. Fifteen people suffered from tear gas inhalation and rubber bullet wounds and were treated by medical personnel. Youths threw stones at the Israeli forces, who blocked neighborhood streets and prohibited men and women from attending Friday prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque. Troops responded with gunfire and tear gas canisters.
January 2011: Wadi Hilweh Information Center Report
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) — The first month of 2011 was marred by escalations in the ongoing political crises of Jerusalem, with increasing numbers of demolitions, arrests, violence and repression of Palestinian protest. This repression has been wanton but by no means random, aimed at several prominent local activists and their families, particularly in Silwan. In January 2011 the Wadi Hilweh Information Center counted 65 arrest, detention and interrogations in Silwan, 25 of them children. An unknown number of youth were also stopped by Israeli forces on the streets of Silwan, who were subjected to on-the-spot background checks. Two homes were demolished during the month, in addition to a hotel, a kiosk, 2 animal barns and a water well. The latter was cleared along with the 40 dunums of land surrounding it in East Jerusalem, belonging to over 6 Palestinian families. Frequent clashes between armed Israeli troops, police, settlers and settler guards and Silwan residents resulted in a high number of injuries of Palestinians such as over 30 cases of injury from rubber bullets (including 2 journalists and 3 children under 13 years) and widespread exposure to toxic tear gas fumes (including several pregnant women).
Worker hurt by gunfire in north Gaza
5 Feb — Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians from the Gaza Strip while they were collecting stones, medics said. Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmeya said a 22-year-old man was hit by a gunshot to the pelvic cavity, and another 19-year-old was hit in his right foot as they were collecting aggregates east of Gaza City’s Shuja’iyyaneighborhood …. He added that a 42-year-old man sustained a moderate injury while collecting stone aggregates north of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza strip … The shooting brings the toll for injuries in that area to 118 since March 2010, he said.
Film review: “The Shooting of Tom Hurndall” / Tim King
(with photos) 3 Feb …This triumphant film is not without an air of victory. Through their diligence, the Hurndall family was finally able to see a real investigation launched by the IDF – Israeli Defence Forces. The soldier ended up receiving the longest sentence ever handed down to a member of the IDF for the murder of a Palestinian civilian – eight years behind bars. The Israeli investigators who eventually prosecute the case push for what we perceive to be justice, but then we are confronted with the part of the story that is agonizing … Because a large number of Arab citizens of Israel are poverty stricken, and they also because they live under an apartheid legal system with clearly different laws for Jews and non-Jews, one option they sometimes take is to join the IDF … The obvious question centers around whether or not Israel finally chose to prosecute this soldier only because he was Arab and not Jewish.
Israel releases Ramallah MP Abd al Jaber Fuqaha
EXCLUSIVE PICTURES – The Israeli occupation authorities have released Islamic bloc politician Mr Abd al-Jaber Fuqaha. He was given his freedom at the al-Thahiriya checkpoint near Hebron in the south of the occupied West Bank on 3 February. The elected representative for Ramallah had served 27 months in “administrative detention” in a prison in the Negev Desert. He was met at the checkpoint by the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Dr Aziz Duweik, along with a delegation of other West Bank politicians.
Megiddo prisoners threaten to go on hunger strike over strip searches
NABLUS, (PIC)– The Megiddo prison administration could be exploiting the world’s preoccupation with Egypt to impose heavier restrictions, prisoners say.  Prisoners have threatened to kick off an open-ended hunger strike to protest the escalation.  The prison administration has engaged in suppressive policies turning life into hell, prisoners wrote in a statement to the public on Friday, saying they are forced into strip searches, severe beatings and property damage during nearly everyday night raids.
Ministry of captives condemns PA summoning of captive’s wife in Ramallah
4 Feb – GAZA, (PIC)– The ministry of captives in the Gaza Strip has strongly condemned the PA security forces in the West Bank city of Ramallah for summoning wife of a Palestinian captive incarcerated in an Israeli occupation jail, describing such behavior as a stab in the back of the captives. The ministry added … that the PA security forces summoned Palestinian citizen Fatima Shaker Al-Ajrab, wife of Palestinian captive Hussein Yakoob Al-Ajrab who is under administrative detention in occupation jails since 18 months. He spent several periods in occupation jails totaling ten years. The ministry also explained that Mrs. Al-Ajrab was sick and suffered a stroke recently
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Video: Wad Rahhal 4 Feb 2011
Demonstration In Wad Rahhal [over] land some of it taken for an illegal Jewish only colonial settlement
Updated: PR firms drop Israeli image campaign
4 Feb – Israel wants to hire PR firms in 10 countries to improve its reputation, according to Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth. Norwegian PR firms have refused.
A Jewish group makes waves, locally and abroad
3 Feb – Hundreds of people, mostly Arab-Americans, are expected to gather Saturday in downtown San Francisco to support anti-government protests in Egypt, and a large contingent of Jews representing a Bay Area peace-advocacy group will join them, one of its leaders says. “We are deeply inspired by their push for democracy and freedom,” said Cecilie Surasky, deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace, based in Oakland. Ms. Surasky said she hoped a new political order in Egypt would help speed the end of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which her group opposes.
Ishmael Khaldi lecture in Edinburgh cancelled after protests
Ishmael Khaldi’s lecture at the University of Edinburgh, hosted by the university’s Jewish Society, was cancelled after protest by students acting in support of Palestinian refugees. Khaldi, special advisor to Avigdor Lieberman, left the stage after 45 minutes, having been unable to speak due to the group of approximately 50 protesters, whose presence was not removed by security.
Supporters around the world demand justice for Yousef Ikhlayl
5 Feb – Throughout the week supporters around the world honored Yousef Ikhlayl, shot and killed on January 28 by settlers from the Bat Ayn settlement. Demonstrators in Jaffa and San Francisco carried signs with pictures of Yousef and handed out fliers explaining what had happened to him. Protesters in Chicago dropped a banner in his honor, and The Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Scotland honored Yousef at their annual conference. In Santa Fe, a presentation on Yousef drew over 150 participants. Yousef Ikhlayl was shot and killed Friday, January 28, when 100 settlers from the Bat Ayn settlement descended upon the Palestinian villages of Saffa and nearby Beit Ommar in the southern West Bank.
First International Apartheid Short Film contest announces winners
3 Feb – The winning films are as follows: The Expert Panel prize and Overall prize was awarded to “Road Map to Apartheid” The Global Jury prize was awarded to “Confronting the Wall” The Palestine Jury prize was awarded to  “Ali Wall” These powerful films are starting to circulate on the internet all over the world. There have been showing of the films, in the US, Canada, Venezuela , Britain, Australia, France and the Netherlands. [Links above are to YouTube]
Omar Barghouti: Why is BDS a moral duty today? A response to Bernard-Henri Levy
1 Feb – …Since 2008, the BDS movement has been led by the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations inside historic Palestine and in exile, the BDS National Committee (BNC). Anchored in deep respect for international law and universal human rights, the movement has spread across the world, empowering and mobilizing creative energies and emphasizing sensitivity to the particularities of each context. BDS activists anywhere select their own targets and set the tactics that best suit their political and cultural environment. The fact that BDS categorically rejects racism of all sorts, including anti-Semitism, has further increased its appeal among liberal and progressive movements everywhere.
The price of success: Fanatical wingnuts target Jewish Voice for Peace activist /  Mitchell Plitnick
On the same day that Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) could celebrate an excellent article about it in the New York Times, they also had to send out the alert below, alerting us to another threat to one of their activists. I had reported some time back on a physical attack perpetrated by at least one member of the fanatical extremist group, Stand With Us against JVP members in Berkeley. The violence, however, doesn’t seem to be abating. Quite the opposite, as the defenders of occupation, human rights violations, and ethnic hatred continue to be exposed by groups like JVP, they will increasingly turn to intimidation tactics. It’s all they have.
One Portland grocer that buys into apartheid
Palestinian solidarity activists got an answer drenched in hypocrisy when they asked a Portland grocer to boycott Israeli goods, reports Wael Elasady.
Daily life in Gaza / Nathan Stuckey
4 Feb ISM — …Drones and F16’s can often be heard in the air overhead. Thankfully, since I arrived, there haven’t been any strikes that I know of. Gaza is densely populated but the streets are very quiet. Unemployment is brutally high because of the siege, few imports, and exports are impossible, so you don’t see many cars or people on the street. They don’t have jobs to go to, and they don’t have any money to shop with. The apartment has a generator, so it took me a few days to realize just how often there is no electricity in Gaza. If you don’t have a generator there is electricity for less than half the day, and you never know when you will have it.

Egyptian uprising and Palestine, Israel
In solidarity with Egypt, fifty gather in Bethlehem’s Nativity Square
5 Feb – The protest was organized by human rights activist Dr. Mazen Qumsiyeh, author of the book “Popular Struggle in Palestine,” and coincided with others in Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Gaza. After between 50 and 60 protesters had gathered, flying Egyptian and Palestinian flags in Nativity Square — typically crowded only around Christmas — the group marched toward the marketplace, only to be stopped by local police. “The people in power are trying to stem the tide, they’re trying to go against the inevitable,” said Qumsiyeh.
Palestinians trapped in Egypt: Ambassador has done little to rescue us
CAIRO, (PIC) 5 Feb — While countries across the globe scramble to evacuate their citizens from volatile protests in Egypt, little has been done to aid Palestinian commuters trapped at the Cairo International Airport. Authorities have detained around 30 Palestinians transiting Egypt in a constricted room for over ten days … The stranded group includes people with illnesses, women, children, and elderly. No one is left in the airport besides them.
Hamas denies involvement in Egyptian upheaval
GAZA, (PIC) 5 Feb — Senior Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil called on Egyptian news outlets to hold their hands and tongues back from the Palestinians and pay heed to the Egyptians. He condemned in statements on Saturday “fabricated” accusations by the Egyptian Al-Akhbar newspaper dragging Hamas into the Egyptian disorder. “The siege, aggression and injustice are enough for the Palestinians,” he said. Bardawil considered the accusations were designed to alienate Hamas from the west, evade an objective diagnosis of the incidents in Egypt and spread the crisis to the Gaza Strip.
US expects Egypt to keep peace with Israel regardless of who is in power
5 Feb – …”Our expectation would be that whatever the next government of Egypt is, that they would adhere to a treaty signed by the government of Egypt,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Gibbs was referring to the 1978 Camp David Accords, which were brokered by the U.S. and set the stage for the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, which is in force to this day.
Israelis discover a new love for Mubarak / Pierre Klochendler
5 Feb – JERUSALEM – Around the world, peoples revel in anticipation of the fall of a regime that has denied its citizens their basic rights. But most Israelis are haunted by nightmare scenarios of ‘the day after’, as if their country’s stability was anchored in the continuity of the rule of Hosni Mubarak – not in peace.
Critical connections: Egypt, the US, and Israel / Alison Weir
5 Feb – Minimally explored in all the coverage of the momentous Egyptian uprising taking place over the last 10 days are the Israeli connections. A central and critical reality is that it is US tax money that has propped up Hosni Mubarak’s despotic regime over the past 30 years, and that this money has flowed, from the beginning, largely on behalf of Israel. Israel is generally a significant factor in events in the Middle East, and to understand ongoing happenings it is important to understand the historic and current Israeli connections. The violent creation, perpetuation, and expansion of a state based on ethnic expulsion of the majority inhabitants has been central to Middle East dynamics ever since Israel was created by European and American Zionists in 1948 as a self-identified “Jewish State.”
Politics / Diplomacy
PA rejects Israeli ‘incentives’
BETHLEHEM 5 Feb — The Palestinians rejected a package of economic incentives Israel and the Quartet’s envoy Tony Blair offered Friday. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is playing games and haggling, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement commenting on the offer … Israel proposed Friday to wean Hamas-run Gaza off its infrastructure network, as Netanyahu set out a series of steps intended to ease the economic lot of the Palestinians.
Egypt overshadows talks on Palestine-Israel
5 Feb – MUNICH, Germany (AFP) – Egypt loomed large over talks of the Middle East Quartet in Germany on Saturday, with fears that a change of regime in Cairo could throw into turmoil an already deeply troubled peace process. “One of our big partners did not want the Quartet to meet at this stage, saying maybe it’s not the moment to be discussing the peace process when the whole region is undergoing dramatic changes,” a European diplomat said. “And our analysis is just the opposite. Because this is happening, the Quartet needs to meet, and the Quartet needs to give a strong signal that the peace process is alive.”

Resistance factions refuse elections in absence of reconciliation
GAZA, (PIC) 5 Feb — Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip have declared rejection of de facto president Mahmoud Abbas’s call for elections while division was still ruling in the Palestinian arena. Politburo member of the popular resistance factions Hasan Al-Za’lan said in a terse statement after a meeting for those factions on Saturday that the results of such elections would not be binding for them.
Palestinian negotiator backtracks on CIA charge
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The PLO’s chief negotiator has backed down from allegations an Al-Jazeera journalist worked for the CIA and stole a cache of secret documents on behalf of the Qatar-based network.  Saeb Erekat claimed in January that Clayton Swisher, a US citizen and Al-Jazeera International journalist, was a current member of the CIA who had worked six months in the PLO’s Negotiations Support Unit.
Other news
Egypt holds gas supply to Israel and Jordan after pipeline explosion
5 Feb 9:33 – Security source in Sinai says ‘foreign elements’ targeted the pipe that supplies Jordan; Egypt supplies Israel with over 40 percent of its natural gas –Saboteurs blew up a pipeline that runs through Egypt’s Northern Sinai, state television reported on Saturday, disrupting flows to Israel and Jordan after Islamist groups called on militants to exploit the unrest that has rocked the government. The Egyptian army closed the main source of gas supplying the pipeline and were trying to control the fires. Following the explosion, Israel Radio said, quoting sources in the consortium overseeing imports, that the blast did not target supplies to Israel but they had been halted as a precaution.
Egypt pipeline blast affects Jordan
(with map) 5 Feb 14:46 – An explosion at a pipeline in Egypt that supplies gas to Jordan and Israel has been blamed on a gas leak, according to the country’s natural gas company. Earlier reports suggested that sabotage had been behind the blast on Saturday. Magdy Toufik, the head of Egypt’s natural gas company, said in a statement that the fire broke out “as a result of a small amount of gas leaking” in the terminal at the pipeline that runs through the El-Arish area of Egypt’s north Sinai. However, a local security official said an explosive device was detonated inside the terminal, and the regional governor, Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, said he suspected sabotage … Jordan does not have any of its own reserves and currently gets all of its gas from Egypt.
Israeli official sees cyber alternative to ‘ugly’ war
JERUSALEM, Feb 3 (Reuters) – Cyberwarfare of the kind waged against Iran last year offers advanced nations an alternative to “ugly” military force with its moral costs, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday … [Deputy PM Dan] Meridor, who oversees Israel’s spy services and nuclear affairs, said Israel had learned from news coverage and the ensuing public censure of its conflicts with often outgunned enemies. Over the past two years, Israeli officials have quietly unveiled cyberwar capabilities that they say are a core pillar of defence strategy.
Israeli army battles new dangers within / Pierre Klochendler
JERUSALEM, Feb 3, 2011 (IPS) – They chant, “One people, one draft!” They raise the flag of unified, across-the- board army enlistment – students and veterans wearing scars of past wars from a few dozen mainstream Zionist civil society organisations and youth movements … They protest against a societal trend which many here view as a threat to national security … Meanwhile, the draft dodgers continue to raise the banner of deferment.
A UFO over Jerusalem? Only if you want to believe in those sorts of things
(with video) Videos have surfaced on YouTube that claim to show a UFO, really a glowing, pulsating ball of light, as it descends from the sky, hovers over the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and then shoots straight back up into the night sky. The Sydney Morning Herald says the sightings took place on January 28. A story on The Vancouver Sun offers several choices of video showing the event. Is it a hoax? Probably. Or, maybe, it’s just an illusion, a trick of the eye and there’s some more down-to-earth explanation. But, for the moment, it’s fun to take it at face value and just wonder: What was that?
Analysis / Opinion
Visit Palestine / Paula Rosine Long
5 Feb – This holiday season, an advertisement from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism was attacked for “ignoring” Israel’s existence. The charges of geographical misrepresentation stem from the following lines: “From the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus, and Gaza, the Palestinian people welcome you to visit this Holy Land … Palestine lies between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan River, at the crossroads between Africa and the Middle East.” … Last year, two Israeli tourism ads were banned by the ASA for including landmarks from disputed territories, such as the Dome of the Rock. But if the same standards are applied to Palestine — if Palestine is forbidden to include “disputed” territories — then Palestine has little or nothing to advertise.
A villa in the jungle? / Uri Avnery
4 Feb …The turmoil in Egypt was caused by economic factors: the rising cost of living, the poverty, the unemployment, the hopelessness of the educated young. But let there be no mistake: the underlying causes are far more profound. They can be summed up in one word: Palestine. In Arab culture, nothing is more important than honor. People can suffer deprivation, but they will not stand humiliation [no people will!]. Yet what every young Arab from Morocco to Oman saw daily was his leaders humiliating themselves, forsaking their Palestinian brothers in order to gain favor and money from America, collaborating with the Israeli occupation, cringing before the new colonizers. This was deeply humiliating for young people brought up on the achievements of Arab culture in times gone by and the glories of the early Caliphs. Nowhere was this loss of honor more obvious than in Egypt, which openly collaborated with the Israeli leadership in imposing the shameful blockade on the Gaza Strip
Palestine Papers: The Palestinians’ ‘generous offer’ / Ramzy Baroud
3 Feb – As Palestinians are becoming increasingly confident about the authenticity of the Palestine Papers – 1,600 leaked documents that Al Jazeera began publishing on January 23 – they can also find little to be proud of in their contents. According to Palestinian political commentator Mazin Qumsiyeh, the PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat “comes out basically pleading and begging sometimes and other times using the presence of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran to try and convince (American and Israeli) officials.” If the conduct of PA officials is not outright betrayal of the rights of their people, then it is, at best, degrading political groveling in exchange for factional gains. Others have convincingly argued that such demeaning behavior is also indicative of the true nature of the negotiations. Palestinians are, in fact, the party desperate for a peace agreement, while the Israelis insist on arrogantly refusing all Palestinian initiatives
‘NYT’ pulls back the curtain for US: Egypt is about Israel / Ira Glunts
5 Feb – In an extraordinary report which appeared today both on the Internet and in the print edition of The New York Times, writers Helene Cooper and Mark Landler make plain the huge importance of Israel and the Israel lobby in all American government decisions regarding the ongoing crisis in Egypt. Among those quoted in the article, which is innocuously titled “Crisis In Egypt Tests US Ties With Israel,” are some of the usual players in the lobby game … But the most prominent and sane voice is that of Daniel Levy, the former Israeli negotiator who is presently a so-called pro-Israel critic of the occupation and Israeli militarism.  Levy declares, “…the core of what is the American interest in this [Egypt]. It’s Israel. It’s not worry about whether the Egyptians are going to close down the Suez Canal, or even the narrower terror issue. It really can be distilled down to one thing, and that’s Israel.”
Will US collude with the Brotherhood in Egypt?
I was thinking that just recently.  The Muslim Brotherhood kept out of the Egyptian fray until the rising looked unstoppable.  Hamas wouldn’t allow solidarity with Egypt demonstrations until the Brotherhood was on board.  Such opportunism ought to be grist to the American imperial mill.  I don’t do punditry so I kept these thoughts to myself until I just read this Guardian article by Noam Chomsky: “A common refrain among pundits is that fear of radical Islam requires (reluctant) opposition to democracy on pragmatic grounds. While not without some merit, the formulation is misleading. The general threat has always been independence. The US and its allies have regularly supported radical Islamists, sometimes to prevent the threat of secular nationalism…”
Israel isn’t the center of the Mideast, or of the world / Yitzhak Laor
4 Feb – The problem with Orientalist discourse of our commentators − which sees the world through the prism of the Shin Bet Security Service − is that it helps to seal off the ghetto into which we are gradually locking ourselves, a ghetto within the Middle East and within world history.
Interview with Dr. Mustafa Barghouti
27 Jan – In this interview Dr. Barghouti addresses the current economic situation in the West Bank, the failed peace process, the Palestine Papers and the responsibility of the international community for the continued occupation and situation of the Palestinians.
Friday: 2 Iraqis killed, 8 wounded
At least two Iraqis were killed and eight more were wounded in light reported violence. Meanwhile, 40 Iraqi interpreters, or their surviving families, are suing the British government for not protecting them sufficiently. Also, civilian and military officials fear that Iraq has become the forgotten war, but its fragile state could mean continued U.S. presence there. During Friday’s sermons in Karbala, clerics warned that mass demonstrations could spread from Tunisia and Egypt into Iraq. Hoping to stave off such unrest, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has promised to give back half his rumored $360,000 salary to the country.
Video: The end of farming in the Fertile Crescent
Rick Rowley: A rough short piece from a longer film we’re working on about how the US destroyed agriculture in the place where it was invented 10,000 years ago.
Amnesty: Kurdistan authorities must ensure fair trial of man held for 11 years
Amnesty International has urged authorities in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to ensure the fair trial of a man charged with terrorism-related offences 11 years after his arrest. Walid Yunis Ahmad, was arrested on 6 February 2000 and was held for 10 years without charge or trial. Recently, after international pressure for his release or trial, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities charged him with involvement in “terrorist” activities allegedly committed in 2009 when he had already been in prison for more than nine years.
An unsuppressible truth / John Green
(with film) 2 Feb – Only a few years ago the media was full of discussion about the so-called “Gulf war syndrome,” the mysterious illness affecting British and US troops who took part in the Iraq invasion of 1991. Then it dropped off the radar. But in Iraq the civilian population was subject to even more alarming incidences of unexplained illnesses. A recently published study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health confirms what film maker Friedere Wagner has been saying for years.
Iraq PM pledges not to seek third term
BAGHDAD (AFP) 5 Feb – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Saturday that Egyptians have the right to democracy, and also pledged not to seek a third term in power himself. Maliki also backed constitutional term limits on his office in an interview with AFP
Son of Babylon: ‘I made it for my family, for Iraq’
Film-making was a lost art in Iraq, until Mohamed Al-Daradji set about making an epic road movie. He tells Kate Connolly how difficult it was, and its significance to everyone involved
Other Mideast / Arab world
Tunisia to lift state of emergency next week
TUNIS, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Tunisia will next week lift a state of emergency that was imposed last month by ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali at the height of a popular revolt, Tourism Minister Mehdi Houass said on Friday.
Algeria opposition bent on protest despite government move
ALGIERS, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Algerian opposition groups said on Friday they would probably go ahead with a planned protest march next week despite promises from the president to heed some of their demands and allow more political freedoms. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, keen to stop uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia spreading to his energy-exporting state, said on Thursday he would give the opposition air time on television and soon lift a 19-year-old state of emergency.
Syria: Gang attacks peaceful demonstrators; police look on
3 Feb – Syria’s government should immediately cease its intimidation and harassment of demonstrators expressing solidarity with pro-democracy campaigners in Egypt, Human Rights Watch said today … On February 2, a group of 20 people dressed in civilian clothing beat and dispersed 15 demonstrators who had assembled in Bab Touma in old Damascus to hold a candlelight vigil for Egyptian demonstrators, one of the gathering’s organizers told Human Rights Watch. The police, who were present nearby, failed to intervene, the sources said. When demonstrators went to the local police station to file a complaint, a security official insulted and slapped Suheir Atassi, one of the main organizers, and accused her of being a “germ” and an agent of foreign powers.
Facebook fails to ignite protests in Syria
DAMASCUS (AFP) — Rain, not protesters, flooded the streets of Damascus on Friday after Muslim prayers when a “day of anger” had been promoted by online activists in an echo of Egypt’s popular uprising. For a week, Facebook activists had touted Friday as the day they would mark a peaceful “2011 Syrian revolution” to “end corruption and tyranny.” The group’s page had amassed over 12,000 ‘likes’ on the social networking platform by early Friday.
US: Conspiracy charges filed against Muslim students
5 Feb (AP) A group of Muslim students accused of disrupting a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren at the University of California, Irvine, were charged Friday with misdemeanor conspiracy counts, ending speculation about what would come from their actions nearly a year ago.,7340,L-4024067,00.html
$5 million lawsuit targets Jimmy Carter for ‘attacking Israel’
WASHINGTON – Former President Jimmy Carter has become the target of a class action lawsuit over ostensibly mean things he said about Israel in his best-selling 2006 book,Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The lawsuit, filed in New York by an Israeli firm, alleges that the book “contained numerous false and knowingly misleading statements intended to promote the author’s agenda of anti-Israel propaganda and to deceive the reading public instead of presenting accurate information as advertised.”
Lawless FBI intelligence gathering practices / Stephen Lendman
4 Feb – A new Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report titled, “Patterns of Misconduct: FBI Intelligence Violations from 2001 – 2008” based its findings on nearly 2,500 FOIA-obtained document pages, revealing “alarming (lawless) trends….” They suggest far more frequent civil liberty violations than previously known, including: (1) grossly understated numbers; (2) long delays between violations and reporting them; (3) types of violations involved, including: … (d) complicity of ISPs, phone companies, financial institutions and credit agencies, supplying unauthorized personal information without their customers’ knowledge or consent. (4) flagrant ones, including false declarations to courts, supplying bogus evidence to get indictments, and accessing protected documents without warrants.
Guantánamo: a tale of two Tunisias / Andy Worthington
In the last week, there have been two significant developments. In the first, former Guantánamo prisoner Abdallah Hajji (also identified as Abdullah bin Amor), who is 55 years old, was freed from prison in Tunisia “as part of a promise by the interim government to free all political prisoners.” A former member of the previously banned Islamist political party Ennahdha … Hajji, who was seized in April 2002 in Pakistan, where he had been living with his wife and children since fleeing Tunisia in 1989, had, in 1995, been sentenced in absentia to ten years in prison, on terrorism-related charges that his lawyer was convinced had been extracted through the torture and abuse of other prisoners in Tunisian custody.


‘We yearn for a democratic Middle East’ — until we don’t, that is!

Feb 06, 2011

Philip Weiss


Another Israeli is agonized by the democracy movement in Egypt. Donniel Hartman at first tries to say it’s a good thing, writing on the last day of January:

As Jews our natural affinity group is the oppressed. Legally, this has been the moral imperative of the Jew since our Exodus from Egypt. Instead of serving solely as a narrative depicting God’s covenant with the Jewish people, our tradition positioned the Exodus story as the paradigm for God’s covenant with the powerless and downtrodden….

When people take to the streets and lay claim to their inalienable rights as free people, when they ask that their government be of the people and for the people, when they plead for an equitable and just distribution of their society’s goods, the natural response of the Jew is to stand at their side. “Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19)

Here, however, we Jews and especially Jewish Israelis find ourselves particularly challenged. We yearn for a democratic Middle East. Deep down, we often suspect that only in a democratic Middle East will we achieve the peace for which we aspire. Only when peace is made between free peoples, ratified by their elected governments, will it have a viable and sustainable future. In our experience, however, we have yet to meet such people.

But Hartman seems to resolve some of his agonies by February 2:

A government run by the people in accordance with the will of the people potentially undermines the status quo to which we have become accustomed and threatens to expand the reach of radical Islamic and anti-Israeli forces. Our border with Lebanon, instead of being the exception, could become the rule.

It is not that the existence of the State of Israel itself will be brought into question. Our faith in our military is such that, here too we believe we will be able to overcome any existential threat.

Thx to a Bir Zeit graduate and reader of Haaretz.



Searching for Egyptian unity in Ramallah

Feb 06, 2011

Linah Alsaafin


The last few days of the solid millions of protesting Egyptians got me thinking how Palestinians would react in a similar situation. But the fact of the matter is that we are so segmented from each other, with political party allegiances prioritizing over national ones, that it was hard for me to envisage a true Palestinian people revolution where citizens from all walks of life, young old religious secular rich poor students employees etc, intensely unite against a common adversary (either the PA or the Israeli occupation-take your pick) simply for the reason of wanting a proper representative or their basic freedom, without propagating factional or religious interests.

Expressing solidarity for either Tunisia or Egypt in Ramallah has been met with PA saboteurs, which only allowed a small pro-Mubarak demonstration. PA spokesman Adnan Damiri announced that all protests were illegal and not allowed because “our policy is that we don’t intervene in the internal affairs of other countries.” However, Saturday was proclaimed to be the International Day in Support of Global Democracy, an event sponsored by a number of civil society organizations and individual artists and that was largely promoted by social networking media. The announcement included “Participation Guidelines” warning that this was a non-violent rally not coordinated by any political party, therefore only Egyptian, Palestinian, and Tunisian flags be brought and not factional signs. I told my friend the minute I see the yellow Fateh flag I would be going home. The rally would be in sync with ones taking place the same day in Jerusalem and Bethlehem at 2 pm. It looked like the PA had given this one the green light to go ahead, perhaps to save face from its undemocratic decision to ban any solidarity protests. Abbas certainly knows how to pick his friends, and is scared shitless lest the Palestinians in the West Bank get afflicted with the revolutionary fever. It’s the same in Gaza; any protest unbacked by Hamas immediately got shut down.

I’ve already spoken about the university’s nonchalant reaction toward the unfolding events in Egypt, but today on campus a suspension of classes after noon was declared, and a bus was to collect participants and drop them off at the Manara square in Ramallah. It wasn’t clear what time classes would resume, but some of the teachers wanted to take part in the rally. It would be shameful if we didn’t put on at least one good demonstration for the heroic Egyptian protesters. I walked past the bus, where students bundled in with rolled up posters. I hoped the turnout would be good, not just from students but from everyone.

  The crowd when I arrived at the Manara square was a sizable one, but the chants could only be heard faintly from a smaller inner group of people. After five minutes of standing there, I went to photocopy a book down the road and returned ten minutes later to a bigger crowd, slowly finding their voices. Along with my friend and my sister, I pushed in to get to where the chants were concentrated most, thanking the young man who gave me a tiny flag of Egypt. Abu Ali, an elderly man in a kuffiyeh known for leading chants at demonstrations, was up on someone’s shoulders shouting rhymes about despotic Arab leaders, Ramallah hailing Tahrir square, and “Thawra thawra hata nasr! Revolution until we achieve victory!” Suddenly, the ever popular staccato that summed up the Egyptians’ protests was given about a dozen rounds: The people deMAND the END of the reGIME! It was simply glorious, everyone in one deafening voice.

Then an American flag was burned amidst cheers and whistles of approval, but I thought it was unnecessary and untactful. The USA is the crown of imperialism that backs tyrannical corrupt Arab governments for fear of national independence or pan-Arabism or whatever, but we were protesting in solidarity with Egypt, who in twelve days so far have not burned a single American or Israeli flag.   It looked like everyone was having a good time. The sky was cloudy but had stopped drizzling. Posters with Gamal Abdel-Nasser were held up, Egyptian and Palestinian flags rippled together with one or two Tunisian flags in the distance, and more and more people joined us which added to the buoyant atmosphere. Finally, we were allowed to express our voices, try out the chants the Egyptians made popular, and smile furtively as we chanted them out with other intentions. “The people demand the end of the regime” perhaps wasn’t only alluding to Mubarak’s…   The students from Birzeit University arrived, and they seemed to be a group on their own.

They began moving away from the Manara square into Rukab Street, and many people followed suit. Yet unity was definitely missing here. I heard someone say that the PFLP party was leading the procession with their own chants, while the Fateh party was just behind us, also with their own chants. We were all moving together which made it more cacophonous, not knowing whether to repeat after chants of “Down with Mubarak!” or “Egypt is Palestine, and Palestine is Egypt.” Two million people in Cairo shouted together in unison yesterday, whereas a couple of thousand people in Ramallah couldn’t demonstrate in consonance. It was fairly disappointing to say the least. I saw a lot of my teachers who I greeted, and remarked to one of them that this was a good turnout. She quietly replied, “This is not a lot of people.” The days of more than a few thousand milling around the Manara square were over due to the political crackdown by the PA on anything not pro-sulta, as anything otherwise is conceived as a threat to Abbas’s dominion of a few cities sadly riddled with checkpoints and settlements.  

We headed back to the Manara, and there were as many as five or six different people intoning all at the same time: national unity, no to division, Ramallah and proud Gaza hail Egypt, the people demand the fall of Erekat, no to negotiations, no to normalization, the people demand the annulment of the Oslo agreement, CIA out of the country, Arab leaders are so shameful, the people demand the end of occupation, etc. Then it sort of fizzled out a bit. Abu Ali was still on the shoulders of a man, but without a loudspeaker no one could hear what he was saying unless he was facing us. Other men were sporadically shouting out slogans but more and more people were just standing there, not knowing again who to repeat after. One guy behind me was discussing the situation is Egypt with his non-Palestinian friend and described Mubarak in delightfully colorful words, my favorite being “He’s such a persistent fuck.”   My friend decided to go home, and my sister and I found my mother standing outside the railings of the Manara. I sighed and began griping about how people couldn’t be united even for this cause when she gave me a look and murmured close to my ear that the plainclothes police were behind us.

I stole a look, noting they were weedier and scrawnier than the Egyptian thugs I saw on TV, rolled my eyes and stared back at the crowd from my slightly elevated position, my flag slightly crumpled. All of a sudden I saw a Styrofoam board with “Down with Abbas” written on it in Arabic. I quickly told my sister to snap a picture of it, and sure enough seconds later the board was ripped into pieces and the man holding it up was dragged away. The plainclothes behind me were buzzing, “Keep your eye on him…he’s changed his jacket..” One man jumped out of nowhere and began yelling “The people demand the fall of Abbas!” but no one swarmed up on him which obviously meant that he was part of the secret police hoping to instigate others. Some of the crowd, who were onto him, yelled back “The people demand the end of disunity” but the man was joined by two others who were then all hoisted up onto shoulders, still screaming for the end of Abbas.

It was such a poor blatant show of instigation, that even the foreign journalists around us were muttering all too knowingly. A couple of scuffles broke out as the plainclothes dragged away a few men, and that was the end of the Egyptian solidarity rally. It seemed inevitable that Abbas’s goons would screw this peaceful assemblage over. The same men who had shouted for Abbas’ demise were now yelling over and over again “The people. Want. Mahmoud. Abbas!” A few people urged the others to start up one of the popular chants, “Mubarak is a coward, he is America’s agent” in an attempt to drown out the insultingly rude men but the mood was broken and the crowd was slowly drifting apart. A yellow Fateh umbrella was unfurled. My mother, sister and I began walking away from the Manara. When I looked back, more Fateh flags had materialized and we could hear the men yelling out pro-Abbas slogans-our rightful president, our role model, etc. They went further though; chants about Al Jazeera being Zionist and not Arab, chants against Hamas, chants for the division of Gaza and the West Bank, and to demonstrate their imbecilic deficient selves, chants against Tehran.

In the end, it had to be all about them.   No one could doubt that these Fateh supporters were planted among us for the very glaring purpose of one way or another, turning it into a Fateh celebration. It’s completely sickening and frustrating to know that we have reached a stagnant point. Any protest must be infiltrated with dozens of plainclothes police. Anyone daring to speak out against the PA or even have the nerve to publicly advocate national unity is promptly arrested. Those outside the country wrote that the PA has lost any shred of credibility it hung on to as a result of the leaked Palestine Papers, but they were disappointed by the lack of response on behalf of Palestinians who did not take to the streets demanding the dissolution of the PA. The Palestine Papers did not reveal anything we did not know. Saeb Erekat’s offer of the biggest Yerushalayim shouldn’t have caused an uproar (minor or not) as for years we have seen East Jerusalem disappearing under its Judaized neighborhoods and incessant settlements.

Raja Shehadeh wrote of an emerging strong police state in the West Bank which contrasts ironically with the surge of revolutionary change currently taking place in Arab countries. We have a double fight on our hands-overcoming the corrupt PA and instating a new government devoid of Fateh and Hamas representatives (wishful thinking), and resisting against the Israeli occupation, which should have been our only contest.   A couple of days ago, I was embroiled in an online debate with a friend. He had written that none of the Arabs cared about the Palestinians and that we in turn shouldn’t care about them. I patiently explained to him that the Arab governments couldn’t care less about us because of the nature of their relationships with the USA and Israel who supply them with military aid and business deals, and that they saw us as a tenacious problem, but the average Arab common man were sympathetic to our cause. One thing led to another, and I was spewing out words like “sell-outs”, “traitors”, “corrupt mercenaries” and he countered back with the childish justifications that the PA learn from their mistakes and were a good force for us all-look at how the number of stolen cars have drastically reduced! I pointed out the failure of negotiations, that ever since 2005 we haven’t achieved any small part sovereignty, and that Israel has successfully put up more checkpoints, built more settlements, evicted more Palestinians, expropriated more land-in short, making us more occupied than we ever were.

He opened my eyes to the sad truth-one that I refused to believe that likable people could ever be victim to- that there is a large majority who wholeheartedly support the PA and would rise to its defense without thinking. I thought that the only people like that were goons. In today’s rally, I saw people who earnestly shouted for the end of the division and for national unity. They didn’t give a damn about about any political party/faction or had either become disillusioned with them a long time ago, and wanted the Palestinians to be a unitary population. I fear that we might be a tiny minority. If we weren’t, then there would have been protests against the PA. Abbas has been president for six years now, there’s only twenty four years left until we could be level with Egypt-more than enough time for a sufficient people’s revolution.   Linah Alsaafin is a third-year student at Birzeit University in the West Bank, where she is studying English Literature. She’s been living in Ramallah, West Bank since 2004, and despite being only 50 miles away from her grandparents and uncles in the Gaza Strip, she hasn’t seen them since 2005. Alsaafin was born in Cardiff, Wales, and was raised in England, the United States, and Palestine.  


Israel’s Egyptian teachers

Feb 06, 2011

Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel


Recent events in Egypt have already provided Israelis with a number of invaluable lessons. The first was right there in the Bible the whole time (Prov 27:24 – nice play on words in Hebrew, by the way: ‘h[o]sn[i] is not forever’), but there’s nothing like a live demonstration to jog one’s memory: a system based on oppression and privilege has a limited shelf-life. Even the most stoic of peoples will eventually rise up and demand their rights and dignity. To ignore this truth in the name of stability and security is like putting out a fire with gasoline. It’s not just about human rights or international law. It’s also a really lousy survival strategy.

The second lesson is that peace agreements signed with corrupt and corruptible elites, without seeking to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict are, in the long-term, a rather unsafe investment. The active corruption of Palestinian officials and creation of a (relatively) privileged Palestinian elite have been an integral part of the “peace” process, ever since Oslo. The result – as the leaked Palestine Papers have shown – has been a Palestinian leadership capable of signing almost anything. But even if Israeli leaders were actually interested in a deal, what would such a deal be worth, without popular support, “ratified” by brute force?

The third and possibly most important lesson – certainly the most shocking for many – is that Arabs are people too. They don’t like being oppressed any more than you or me, and they are perfectly capable of rationally and heroically pursuing their goals, without any atavistic bloodlust or uncontrollable desire for revenge. The remarkable behaviour of the movement and crowds in Tahrir Square and throughout Egypt offer some indication of how Palestinians might go about building a single state, two states or a federation with Jewish Israelis once their democratic rights and fundamental humanity have been recognised.

A fourth and final lesson (for honours students only, I’m afraid) is that there is a limit to how much one can expect others – millions and tens of millions of others – to pay, in order to assuage one’s own fears and sustain one’s own unsustainable way of life.


A proposal to integrate the opposition into the heart of the state
Feb 06, 2011 11:30 am | Philip Weiss


As a foreigner who has absolute starry-eyed confidence in the youth committee that is at the vanguard of the revolution, even I am a little afraid right now of them being coopted by the U.S. and the lobby and other regressive forces in this vaunted transition period. But Issandr El Amrani has a proposal to “integrate the opposition into the heart of the state” thru the appointment of five vice presidents. The opposition, he states, is divided– so maybe this will redound to the Palestinians’ unification? El Amrani:

It would be wise at this point to curtail Suleiman’s power by handing out different functions to different vice-presidents as Mubarak withdraws from any lead role in handling the crisis. Some of what multiple vice-presidents could do:

  1. A vice-president to handle to act as a constitutional ombudsman, focusing on the enforcement of the rule of law and guiding the constitutional reform process. Could be someone like Tareq al-Bishri or Yehia al-Gammal.

  2. A vice-president to oversee and investigate the Ministry of Interior. Fully delegated to have the Minister of Interior answer to him, charged with preserving MoI documents, restoring the police’s presence, the dismantlement of the Popular Committees, and investigating the security vacuum. A prominent judge would be appropriate here.

  3. A vice-president for media and communications. This person would look at preventing any further tampering with communications by the authorities, and oversee state media to ensure equal access and the end of the propaganda and incitement of the last week. He would appoint a new Minister of Information to replace Anas al-Fiqi, who is chiefly responsible for the sad spectacle of state propaganda over the last week. Ideally, this should be a person known for media professionalism and neutrality: Salama Ahmed Salama, Hisham Kassem, etc.

  4. A vice-president that would oversee the relaunch of the economy, with economic ministers and the head of financial institutions such as the Central Bank and the Financial Services Authority directly answering to him — a kind of economic war room. Ideally, a prominent economist or even the respected head of the Central Bank, Farouk al-Ogda.

Omar Suleiman would remain as the vice-president representing the ancien regime and taking the lead with the negotiations with the (hopefully more united than it currently is) opposition. Personally, I think such a bargain would make it worth it to postpone the demand that Mubarak step down immediately.


The existential threat to Israel is… democracy

Feb 06, 2011

Philip Weiss


Adam Shatz in LRB rightly anatomizes Israel’s role in the counter-revolution, sees the geological shift underway– and also singles out the regrettable “mob” claim by former-liberal Richard Cohen. But the analysis:

Mubarak, when he stands down, is not likely to be missed by many people in Egypt, where he has pledged to spend his last days, but he will be missed in Washington and, above all, in Tel Aviv. Mubarak and Omar Suleiman, now the interim vice president, worked closely with Israel on everything from the Gaza blockade to intelligence-gathering; they allowed Israeli warships into the Suez Canal to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza from Sudan, and did their best to stir up tensions between Fatah and Hamas. The Egyptian public is well aware of this intimate collaboration, and ashamed of it: democratisation could spell its end. A democratic government isn’t likely to abolish the peace treaty with Israel – even some of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood have said they would respect it. But Egyptian foreign policy would be set in Cairo rather than in Washington and Tel Aviv, and the cold peace would grow colder. A democratic government in Cairo would have to take public opinion into account, much as Erdogan’s government does in Turkey: another former US client state but one that, in marked contrast to Egypt, has escaped American tutelage, made the transition to democracy under an Islamist government, and pursued an independent foreign policy that is widely admired in the Muslim world. If Egypt became a democracy, it might work to achieve Palestinian unity, open up the crossing from Gaza and improve relations with Iran and Hizbullah: shifts which would be anathema to Israel.

Almost from the moment the demonstrations began, while much of the world rejoiced at the scenes in Tahrir Square, Binyamin Netanyahu and other high-ranking Israeli officials were urging Western politicians to stop criticising Mubarak, and raising fears of an Iranian-style revolution. For years, Israel had said it could hardly be expected to make concessions in such a dangerously undemocratic region. But as calls for Mubarak’s exit grew, Israeli officials and commentators began to talk about Arab democracy as if it constituted another existential threat to the Jewish state. ‘If, the day after elections [in Egypt], we have an extremist religious dictatorship, what good are democratic elections?’ Shimon Peres asked, while Moshe Arens, the former defence minister, wondered in Haaretzwhether Israel could make peace only with dictators like Mubarak. As one Israeli commentator wrote in Yediot Ahronot, Israel has been ‘overtaken by fear: the fear of democracy. Not here, in neighbouring countries.’


Avnery says underlying cause of Egypt is… Palestine

Feb 06, 2011

Philip Weiss


The ad below the excerpt is from Gush Shalom in Haaretz. And Uri Avnery gets it. Here’shis column and wonderful excerpt. By the way, this isn’t about the two-state solution or the 23-state solution. It’s about the Israel lobby and the the enforced political backwardness of the Arab world in the name of “the only democracy in the Middle East,” which isn’t. It’s about human rights and international law.

The turmoil in Egypt was caused by economic factors: the rising cost of living, the poverty, the unemployment, the hopelessness of the educated young. But let there be no mistake: the underlying causes are far more profound. They can be summed up in one word: Palestine….

When Egypt moves, the Arab world follows. Whatever transpires in the immediate future in Egypt – democracy or an army dictatorship – It is only a matter of (a short) time before the dictators fall all over the Arab world, and the masses will shape a new reality, without the generals.

Everything the Israeli leadership has done in the last 44 years of occupation or 63 years of its existence is becoming obsolete. We are facing a new reality. We can ignore it – insisting that we are “a villa in the jungle”, as Ehud Barak famously put it – or find our proper place in the new reality.

Peace with the Palestinians is no longer a luxury. It is an absolute necessity. Peace now, peace quickly. Peace with the Palestinians, and then peace with the democratic masses all over the Arab world, peace with the reasonable Islamic forces (like Hamas and the Muslim Brothers, who are quite different from al Qaeda), peace with the leaders who are about to emerge in Egypt and everywhere.


Ad in Ha’aretz,  Feb. 4, 2011


There has
Not been
And there
Will not be
Real peace with
The Egyptian people
(As distinct
From the regime)
Without peace with
The Palestinian people.


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