Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



Israeli Foreign Ministry sent ‘spy’ to report on Gideon Levy speech in Dublin
Mar 24, 2011 01:06 pm | Philip Weiss

Gideon Levy writes in Haaretz:

About two weeks ago, I was invited to the Jewish Book Week in London, following the publication in English of my book “The Punishment of Gaza.” The Jewish establishment in Britain threatened to boycott the event, the organizers considered hiring security guards, and roughly 500 people, mainly middle-of-the-road Jews, filled the hall, asked questions and mainly, in their modest way, expressed great sympathy. I spoke, as I always do, against the occupation, the injustices and the damage it does to Israel and to the Palestinians, against the attacks on Israeli democracy as I have written in the hundreds of articles that have been published in Haaretz in Hebrew and in English, and as I did at the London School of Economics and Trinity University in Dublin.

As on previous occasions, a “spy” from the Israeli Embassy was sent to Trinity – this one, an Israeli student who was asked to write down what I said and convey it to the embassy. The embassy quickly dispatched a report to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, and the Foreign Ministry quickly leaked it to a well-known newspaper, which published only my harshest statements, without context – and there you have it: the indictment of a dissident.

One can ignore the way the embassy spies on journalists, evoking dark regimes. I would be glad to see a government representative at my lectures who was not under cover, if they have any interest. But one cannot ignore the message conveyed by such conduct – that of a witch hunt against a journalist whose opinions diverge from the party line.

Update: Original headline put Levy speech in England. Commenter spotted the error. Thanks.

JVP: The best hope for ending the occupation is to support ‘the inspiring nonviolent Palestinian movement for change’ and the global BDS movement

Mar 24, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Jewish Voice for Peace has issued the following statement on the escalation of violence in Israel/Palestine:

Any act of violence, especially one against civilians, marks a profound failure of human imagination and causes a deep and abiding trauma for all involved. In mourning the nine lives lost in Gaza yesterday, and the one life lost in Jerusalem today, we reject the pattern of condemning the loss of Israeli lives while ignoring the loss of Palestinian life. We do not discriminate. Life is life. One lost life is one life too many-whether Palestinian or Israeli.
Within the context of 44 years of the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, in the past two years (Jan 31, 2009 – January 31, 2011), over a thousand Palestinians have been made homeless by home demolitions, hundreds have been unlawfully detained, and over 150 men, women and children have been killed by the IDF and settlers, according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem (1) . Many acres of Palestinian land were taken and orchards uprooted by armed settlers. Countless hours were lost at checkpoints, often fruitlessly, while Palestinians attempted to get medical care, jobs, and access to education. One and a half million Gazans have been living with a limited food supply, lack of electricity and dangerously toxic sewage.
This is occupation: daily, persistent acts of structural violence. These acts don’t reach our headlines because they are so habitual, so we learn not to see them. But Palestinians live them everyday, and we must keep that in mind, even as we ponder the terrible events of the past few weeks (2):

  • Someone or some people (we don’t know who) bombed a bus stop in Jerusalem, injuring 30 and killing 1 Israeli civilian;
  • An Israeli bombing killed 3 children and an older man in Gaza;
  • Someone or some people, (we don’t know who), murdered 5 members of a family, including three children, in Itamar, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank;
  • The Israeli government suddenly tightened the siege of Gaza and escalated military attacks, killing a total of 11 Palestinians and injuring more than 40 since mid-March;(3)
  • Palestinians fired over 50 shells and rockets from Gaza into civilian areas in southern Israel.

These terrible acts of violence remind us that to end the Israeli occupation our best hope is supporting the inspiring nonviolent Palestinian movement for change, in the form of unarmed protests every Friday in places like Bil’in and Ni’lin, and the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. This is a movement that respects life, that is part and parcel of the nonviolent democratic people’s movements we have been inspired by throughout the Arab world, that welcomes the solidarity and support of Israeli and international believers in equality and universal human rights. This is a movement that fundamentally subverts the logic of armies, revenge and armed struggle.
Because it has been so powerful, it should come as no surprise that this nonviolent resistance itself is under attack in Israel. Human rights activists are being detained or imprisoned. Bills to criminalize the BDS movement, or harass human rights organizations, are working their way through the Knesset. Just yesterday, the very act of publicly commemorating the Nakba, a crucial nonviolent act of Palestinian remembrance, was essentially criminalized in Israel.
As the Israeli government increasingly deploys anti-democratic measures and military repression, we at JVP are redoubling our efforts to support the best hope- a nonviolent Palestinian-led resistance movement in which we all work together to nurture life, justice and equality. We invite you to join the movement.

What is Mohammed’s last name?

Mar 24, 2011

James North

The NYT published a gripping story by Anthony Shadid, Tyler Hicks, Steven Farrell and Lynsey Addario describing their captivity in Libya. They were seized by Qaddafy forces at a checkpoint as they fled the city of Ajdabiya on March 15, and released six days later.

The man who drove them out of Ajdabiya is identified as Mohammed. These are the 23rd, 24th, and 25th paragraphs of the story:

From the pickup, Lynsey saw a body outstretched next to our car, one arm outstretched. We still don’t know whether that was Mohammed. We fear it was, though his body has yet to be found.

If he died, we will have to bear the burden for the rest of our lives that an innocent man died because of us, because of wrong choices that we made, for an article that was never worth dying for.

No article is, but we were too blind to admit that.

Mohammeds are indispensable to Anthony Shadid and other reporters.  Where’s his last name? Maybe they’re keeping it out for a good reason?  I’m not blaming the reporters for his death — though they should have put his story higher up in the piece. I’m blaming the culture of war reporting, the reporting of bang-bang. Such reporting is more defensible in Libya than in other places; still it’s important to raise the issues.

God willing, Mohammed is still alive. But it would be good if the Times might explain just why this story was not worth dying for.

I waiver, and still I approve of military support for the Libyan resistance

Mar 24, 2011


Benghazi celebrates UN resolution

Phil has asked me to expand on a comment I left over the weekend regarding Libya. Some of this is new, and some of this I took from that previous comment.

I want to say from the beginning that I realize my opinion is very unpopular among the circles I run in and I am getting a lot of grief for it and though I waiver on whether I should be vocal about my position, I still haven’t waivered on my actual position. Also, I reserve the right to decide what my position on the NFZ is on a day to day basis based on what Libyans inside of Libya are asking for and whether this international force is massacring Libyan civilians. So, I do understand and can even agree with the positions of As`ad Abukhalil here and Max Ajl here and I appreciate that those voices are a part of the discussion, but I can’t personally say that I reject what Libyans are asking for.  I’m also disturbed by leftists that are beginning to question the motivations of the Libyan opposition, the false rumors about an alleged alliance with Al Qaida and I am disturbed when I hear Americans talk about the cost of this intervention.  Arab lives are always reduced to dollar amounts and the cost of oil.

I can’t help but be incredibly moved by the courage that the Libyan resistance is showing and I don’t want them to be massacred and their uprising crushed by Qadhafi.  I’m Palestinian, I know what indiscriminate bombing and shelling looks like but I have seen really grisly videos of defecting soldiers with their hands and feet amputated and reports that they were raped, I’ve had nightmares and don’t watch most of the violent videos I post on my news list. If I can’t even handle watching those things, what right would I have to opine that Libyans don’t have the right to get help from whoever is willing to offer it?  Also, I am optimistic that a people oppressed for so long will not settle for anything less than complete freedom and will not allow the Americans to hijack their impending freedom and mandate what the future of their country will be.

But, I am also very upset about the air strikes in Gaza today and the double standards over which Arab lives the West views as worthy and which are not.   Even the Israeli press is saying that Hamas is likely not responsible for the bombing, yet we are watching indiscriminate bombings of Gaza today, why? My frustration extends to the collaborationist Palestinian Authority, which waited until today to give lip service to the children killed while playing soccer in Gaza on Wednesday while issuing their customary condemnations of any violence that the Israelis decide to blame on Palestinians –and the Americans that have no shame and almost trampled themselves to issue the first condemnation about the incident in Jerusalem.  And while I’m at it why is their still a gag order on Itamar and what happened to the Thai workers that were detained and questioned

These things all dampen my feelings towards international intervention in Libya, but I keep reminding myself that Libyans are not at fault for immoral American and European policies towards Palestine.  And from what I have seen, regardless of what popular Arab (non-Libyan) opinion may be, Libyans were begging for help from anyone, unfortunately anyone turned out to be the West. I so wanted Egypt to be the ones that went into Libya to help for so many reasons–not just because I wanted them to help their Arab neighbors who wanted the same exact thing that their countrymen have just struggled so beautifully for–but because I would have liked to see Egypt continue to elevate itself rapidly in the Arab world. But they didn’t do anything. So I do understand all of the things that some leftists are troubled by but I would have a pretty hard time making any of those arguments to the people that are living in terror of Qadhafi right now or to the crowd in Benghazi that cheered the decisions with Tahrir-like delight.

Oh and they had a Palestinian flag in Benghazi during the announcement and they chanted anti Zionist slogans. So, I trust the Arabs who are risking their lives for what they believe in. Arabs don’t have to sit there and get killed just so the rest of us can have a great time watching the revolutions on Al Jazeera. Oh and I think Iran and Hezbollah should help Bahrainis, Yemenis and Palestinians. Arabs everywhere have the right to live and they don’t need to be ultra selective about who helps them while they are being massacred.

Qadhafi snipers kill 16 in Misrata– and reporters view 18 charred corpses after Western strikes on Tripoli

Mar 24, 2011


Developments/International Intervention
Libya Live Blog – March 24
As the uprising in Libya continues, we update you with the latest developments from our correspondents, news agencies and citizens across the globe.
Loud blast heard in Libyan capital – residents
TRIPOLI, March 24 (Reuters) – A loud explosion was heard in the Libyan capital Tripoli early on Thursday and smoke could be seen rising from an area where a military base is situated, residents said. “We heard another explosion just now. We see smoke rising. There are people on rooftops. It seems to be in a military area near the engineering college (in the Tajoura area),” said one resident, declining to be named.
Gaddafi tanks at entrances to city of Ajdabiyah
TRIPOLI, March 23 (Reuters) – Government tanks loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were positioned at the eastern and western entrances of the city of Ajdabiyah, Arabiya television reported on Wednesday.

Doctor says Libyan tanks nearing Misrata hospital
BEIRUT, March 23 (Reuters) – A doctor in the rebel-held city of Misrata in Libya said on Wednesday government forces were closing in on the hospital where locals had described difficult conditions in recent days. “Government tanks are closing in on Misrata hospital and shelling the area,” said the doctor who was briefly reached by phone before the line was cut off.
Gaddafi snipers kill 16 people in Misrata-rebels
BENGHAZI, March 23 (Reuters) – Snipers from Muammar Gaddafi’s forces killed 16 people in the Libyan town of Misrata on Wednesday, Hafiz Ghoga, the official spokesman for the rebel national council said. Ghoga also told a news conference in Benghazi that six people were killed in a bombardment by Gaddafi forces at the eastern entrance to the town of Zintan, another town in west Libya.
Gadhafi’s forces carry out massacre in Misrata
TRIPOLI: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces resumed their attack on the rebel-held town of Misrata Wednesday, moving back onto the offensive just hours after Western strikes silenced their guns.
Libya denies cutting off supplies to Misrata
TRIPOLI, March 24 (Reuters) – Libya denied allegations on Thursday that it had cut off water and electricity supplies to the rebel-held city of Misrata. “We heard those rumours that the government has intentionally cut off supplies,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim. “It’s just a technical problem because of damage and looting.” Misrata residents say it is under attack by government forces who have severed their basic supplies and effectively besieged the last major rebel holdout in western Libya.
Gaddafi defiant despite coalition action
Libyan troops target rebels after air force ‘destroyed’
NEAR AJDABIYA, Libya – Libyan forces hammered rebel cities on Wednesday with tank fire forcing civilians to flee as a top British officer said Moamer Kadhafi’s air force had been almost obliterated. At the end of a day of bitter fighting in key rebel strongholds, forces loyal to Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi pounded a hospital in the western city of Misrata, a rebel spokesman said.
Muammar Gaddafi makes first appearance since air strikes began
“We will not surrender,” he said. “We will defeat them by any means … We are ready for the fight, whether it will be a short or a long one … We will be victorious in the end,” he said in comments carried live by state television.
Charred corpses after Western strikes on Tripoli
TRIPOLI, March 24 (Reuters) – Eighteen Libyans killed by what officials say were Western air strikes and missile attacks in the capital Tripoli lay in a hospital morgue, some charred beyond recognition. Reuters journalists given access to the morgue on Thursday saw the corpses of adult males on metal beds beneath green and white sheets. It was the first time foreign reporters in Tripoli were shown the bodies of alleged victims of the Western strikes. The journalists were not shown bodies of women or children. “They are civilians. They are not guilty of anything,” said morgue worker Abdel Salaam.
Libyan warplane shot down by French -ABC report
WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) – A French fighter jet shot down a Libyan warplane violating the no-fly zone over the country, ABC News said on Thursday. ABC reported the incident on its website. Reuters was seeking to confirm the report.–abc-report
Airstrikes fail to deter Gaddafi forces
Residents say forces loyal to the Libyan leader shell area near Misurata hospital as explosions are heard in Tripoli.
Gaddafi compound under air strike – TV report
BERLIN, March 23 (Reuters) – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in Ajdabiyah was subject to air strikes, Arabiya TV reported on Wednesday.
‘Civilians spared’ by Libya raids
The US chief of staff for the mission in Libya insists there have been no reports of civilian casualties caused by allied action.
Libya rebels coordinating with West on air assault
Leaders of the opposition national council, in Benghazi and in Europe, are helping allied commanders identify targets for strikes. Allied officials walk a fine line as the U.N. mandate bars them from actively helping the rebels in their goal to oust Moammar Kadafi. Leaders of the opposition national council in rebel-controlled eastern Libya say they are making regular, secure contacts with allied military representatives in Europe to help commanders identify targets for the U.S.-led air assault.,0,2848036.story
Allies Pressuring Qaddafi Forces Around Rebel Cities
The United States military said it was stepping up attacks on units loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi that are besieging rebel-held cities.
U.S. finds no organized Al Qaeda presence in Libya opposition, officials say
Eastern Libya, the rebels’ base, has a history as a breeding ground for Islamic militants, but an intelligence-gathering effort has not uncovered a significant number of extremists, officials say. Despite fears that Islamic extremists may be playing a hidden role in the rebellion against Moammar Kadafi, the U.S. intelligence community has found no organized presence of Al Qaeda or its allies among the Libyan opposition, American officials say.,0,5352122.story
U.S. Gates says up to Libyans to settle own fate
CAIRO, March 23 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday it was ultimately up to Libyans to settle matters in their country, where rebels are fighting an insurgency against Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule. “It seems to me that if there is a mediation to be done, if there is a role to be played, it is among the Libyans themselves. This matter at the end of the day is going to have to be settled by Libyans. It’s their country,” Gates told reporters during a visit to Cairo. Gates said he was unsure if there would be any value in trying to bring the rebels and Gaddafi together for talks.
Libya coalition steering group open to all-French source
PARIS, March 23 (Reuters) – A planned steering group of countries backing the military intervention in Libya will be open to all nations that want to join and could be set up in a matter of days, a French presidential source said on Wednesday. “The idea is to also invite countries who weren’t at the summit on Saturday who are interested in being involved,” the source said. “We need to have a place where all those who want to commit to help Libyans build a future and discuss the political framework.”
Libya rebels name US-based academic as finance chief
BENGAHZI, Libya, March 23 (Reuters) – The Libyan rebel national council on Wednesday named U.S. based academic Ali Tarhouni as the top financial official in a transitional government they are in the process of setting up. Tarhouni will head the financial and commercial committee, in effect acting as finance minister, spokeswoman Iman Bughaeus told reporters. Tarhouni has a doctorate in economics and finance from Michigan State University and teaches at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, Seattle. “He understands the Western mentality,” she said. Tarhouni has been a member of the Libyan opposition for 40 years while living in the United States.
Libyan rebels meet UN official as Gaddafi attacks anew
The United Nations envoy to Libya met Tuesday for the first time with leaders of rebel forces fighting Moamer Gaddafi’s brigades, as a number of western rebel-held cities came under attack.
Message from youth in Tajura (Tripoli) March 23
A message to all Libyans in all cities.  Tajura (Tripoli District) today is rising up against Gaddafi.  Take note of this, today we have risen up.  In the next few days Allah Willing you will hear about Tajura being liberated from Gaddafi the dog and his criminal forces.  Gaddafi’s battalions have been hit by airstrikes in Tajura, all of his six battalions in Tajura.  Right now our youth are attacking Gaddafi’s forces  and until now we have not lost any of our people, and all the losses are on Gaddafi’s side Alhamdulillah.  And by the Will of Allah, we will achieve victory.  Please make Dua for us.
U.N. says wants to negotiate Libya aid “corridors”
The United Nations wants to negotiate “humanitarian corridors” to let more aid into Libya where fighting in the east of the country has uprooted tens of thousands and hit food supplies, the U.N. said on Wednesday.
POLL-In US poll, 60 percent back Libya military action
* 48 percent see Obama military leadership as “cautious”
* Reuters/Ipsos poll taken 3 days after Libya strikes
* Just 17 percent call his military leadership “strong”
* 79 percent of Americans think Gaddafi should be removed
Three journalists freed in Libya
RABAT, March 23 (Reuters) – Two AFP journalists and a photographer arrested in Libya last week were released in Tripoli, the agency said on Wednesday. Al Jazeera television also said authorities would release its reporting crew within 24 hours. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, journalists have suffered 60 attacks in Libya since last month, resulting in two dead and 36 detentions. Libyan government forces arrested AFP reporters Dave Clark, Roberto Schmidt and Getty Images photographer Joe Raedle on Saturday near the eastern town of Ajdabiyah.
Libya: Free Detained Journalists
(New York) – The Libyan government should release all Libyan and foreign journalists detained because of their reporting and allow them to cover the crisis in Libya freely, Human Rights Watch said today.
Humanitarian Efforts
Libya-headed Palestinian doctors wait Egypt’s approval to pass
A delegation of 20 Palestinian doctors and nurses prepare to leave the Gaza Strip for Libya to join Arab medics there, Palestinian Nursing Association said Thursday. Yousef Fahjjan, the secretary of the association, urged Egypt to let the medical mission leave Gaza through its territories. “We are still waiting for the Egyptian authorities’ approval,” he told Xinhua. The Palestinian doctors will be based on Egypt-Libya borders ” to help receive the wounded,” Fahjjan said. Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza since Islamic Hamas movement took over the coastal enclave in 2007. Rafah crossing point between Gaza and Egypt has been the only gate for Gazans to the world since then. However, the crossing is open only for urgent medical cases, visa holders as well as university students and nationals of other countries.
Prison of Terror, Nafissa Assed
On the 17th of March I headed to the airport, leaving Tripoli for safety reasons. The internet has been cut off in Libya since 3rd March, phone lines are very bad in all the cities, and some cities are totally isolated (no phone lines, no water, no electricity) – like Zawiya, Misurata, and now Benghazi’s too. God only knows what is coming next. After we lost the internet, Tripoli became a prison of terror. Qaddafi’s thugs are celebrating all the time, and every day gunfire starts and stops all of a sudden, at any second. Out of a complete silence, we see cars passing by our building playing very loud music, songs for Qaddafi. At other times (usually between 2 and 4 am) we hear gunfire that gradually increases, with no celebrations or cars chanting his name around the streets.
Many rural Libyans look to Kadafi
Libya leader Moammar Kadafi’s populist largess doled out disproportionately to rural people has won the loyalty of large swaths of citizens. And the countryside shows the signs of his attention to it. The gift for his family’s loyalty, service and sacrifice was an AK-47 assault rifle.,0,7118226.story
Muqtedar Khan: In Defense of Intervention in Libya
Yes, we cannot afford another war, and it may bankrupt us financially. But ignoring crimes against humanity will bankrupt us morally.
Obama’s Next Step in Libya?, George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C.
One wonders whether the hesitance of Barack Obama to go all out against Libya’s brutal dictator, Moammar Qaddafi, may be attributable to his fear that this may turn out as a repeat performance of what happened to the first American military intervention overseas along ‘the shores of Tripoli’ more than 200 years ago.  Although this episode at the beginning of the so-called Barbary War, is now memorable, many militarists or historians do not see the first battle as glorious since the pirates, then the scourge of the Mediterranean, took over the American frigate that brought them over.
“Joint Statement of 58 Communist and Workers’ Parties against Imperialist Aggression in Libya”
The imperialist killers headed by the USA, France, Britain and NATO as a whole and with the approval of the UN started a new imperialist war. This time in Libya. Their allegedly humanitarian pretexts are completely misleading! They throw dust into peoples’ eyes! Their real goals are the hydrocarbons in Libya.
Israeli Press: Keep Gaddafi in power
Op-ed: Saddam example showed West that Arab states may be worse off after tyrants’ removal. It’s not as tough I like this man or have some kind of emotional connection to him and therefore wish to spare him. I only wish to spare his oppressed citizens. I do like his dresses and sense of fashion; the man would fit in well with Tel Aviv’s nightlife scene. Indeed, the city was overrun by Gaddafis during Purim as a last gesture to the tyrant, highlighting his value as a cultural icon.,7340,L-4046383,00.html
how we missed you, humanitarian intervention, Max Ajl
With the mealy-mouthed support of the Arab League and soon-to-be-repentant sectors of the Arab left, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the creation of a free-fire zone in Qaddafi-controlled quadrants of Libya. NATO warplanes are already alight. Qaddafi’s air-defenses are reportedly being taken out, while a column of tanks manned by working-class soldiers – Qadaffi’s murderous mercenaries, in the cant of Western journalists and bamboozled Arab leftists – has been left smoldering on the road to Benghazi. Boom! We forget so quickly that the soldiers of Arab armies are made up of young Arab men, and when we bomb an army we kill its constituent molecules: in this case, human beings. (Already, Special Forces in an Osprey riddled a bunch of villagers with bullets. Freedom is never free, right?)
Bongani Masuku, “COSATU Supports Democracy, But Condemns Foreign Military Occupation in Libya”
In their own imagination, military occupation can deliver democracy to the masses. Is it not the same doctrine that failed in Iraq before, Afghanistan recently and is it not inevitably bound to fail in Libya? This can be best described as helicopter democracy, which disempowers the masses in whose name the struggle for democracy is waged and renders them spectators as foreign powers arrogate themselves the role of liberators, in the process, relegating the masses and their role in their own struggle. It is very clear that the UN resolution fitted into a well designed scheme by the big powers that was deliberately set to ensure military occupation and regional reconfiguration to further assert imperialist domination and neo-liberal economic orthodoxy in the interest of profiteering at all costs for their giant oil companies. It was further meant to ensure stage-managed “regime change” which sought to impose regimes that would best service their interests as was the case with Hosni Mubarak for a long time. International solidarity does not mean foreign occupation or undermining the sovereign rights and territorial integrity of any country and peoples, but supporting the struggling masses to defeat an oppressor through their own struggle.
There’s nothing moral about Nato’s intervention in Libya | Seumas Milne
The attacks on Libya risk a bloody stalemate and are a threat to the region. The alternative has to be a negotiated settlement. It’s as if it’s a habit they can’t kick. Once again US, British and other Nato forces are bombarding an Arab country with cruise missiles and bunker-busting bombs. Both David Cameron and Barack Obama insist this is nothing like Iraq. There will be no occupation. The attack is solely to protect civilians.
The consensus on intervention in Libya has shattered | Simon Tisdall
Russia and China have called for a ceasefire in Libya. Now South Africa and India have joined in the outrage over the scale of the attacks. Britain and France are facing a rising torrent of international criticism over military intervention in Libya, with Russia and China leading calls for an immediate ceasefire. Just as a majority of Britons distrusts their government’s motives, according to a new YouGov poll, many, if not most, countries around the world also view the action as risky, self-interested, and duplicitous.
Bahrain: Investigate Shooting, Arrest of Man Caught Up in Police Sweep
(Manama) – Bahraini authorities should immediately investigate the shooting of a 32-year-old man caught up in a police sweep on March 19, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should immediately reveal his whereabouts and condition and hold those responsible for his attack accountable, Human Rights Watch said.
Obscene Sectarianism: Bahrain airlines stop Lebanon, Iran, Iraq flights (AFP)
AFP – Bahrain’s two carriers said Wednesday they have suspended flights to Lebanon, after a halt in services to Iran and Iraq, where Shiite communities have also slammed the kingdom’s handling of protests.*
Obscene Sectarianism: Gulf states ‘to deport Hezbollah, Iranian agents’ (AFP)
AFP – Arab states in the Gulf plan to deport thousands of Lebanese Shiites over their alleged links to Hezbollah and Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard force, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Thursday.*
Bahrain: Armed Thugs Intimidate Protesters, Journalists ( – The opposition accuses the government of hiring civilian thugs to intimidate protesters and foreign journalists.*
30 hurt in Bahrain crackdown, some face probe: government (Reuters)
Reuters – Thirty people were wounded in Bahrain’s crackdown on protesters last week, including 22 who are facing investigation over their role and five who are in a critical condition, the government said on Wednesday.*
EU envoy defends Bahrain police
A top EU diplomat says police in Bahrain, accused of human rights abuses, have had a tough task and during unrest “accidents happen”.
Bahraini activists plan Day of Rage on Friday
MANAMA, March 23 (Reuters) – Bahraini opposition activists are planning to hold a day of demonstrations throughout the tiny island country on Friday, in defiance of a ban on all public gatherings under martial law declared last week. It was not clear which groups were behind the marches, plans of which were circulated by email and Internet. They did not appear to involve the mainstream Shi’ite Muslim opposition group Wefaq, nor the Feb. 14 Youth Movement which led protests at Pearl roundabout that were dispersed by riot police a week ago.
Yemen: Emergency Law Does Not Trump Basic Rights
(New York) – Yemen’s new emergency law does not override the government’s obligation to respect fundamental human rights under international law, Human Rights Watch said today.
Pro-Saleh forces clash with Yemen army units
Forces loyal to the Yemeni president have clashed with regular army troops in the eastern town of Mukalla.
Yemeni president offers early elections
Saleh offers parliamenatry and presidential polls before the end of this year in bid to appease protesters.
Yemeni protesters call for march on palace
Opposition groups vow to oust Ali Abdullah Saleh from power as parliament approves emergency laws after weeks of unrest.
UK embassy team pull out of Yemen
Britain is temporarily withdrawing part of its embassy team from Yemen due to ongoing violence in the country, the Foreign Office says.
Yemen says Al-Jazeera shut for ‘false’ footage (AFP)
AFP – Yemen said on Thursday it evicted Al-Jazeera, which gives extensive coverage of Arab revolts, after it said footage of torture in an Iraqi jail was broadcast as having been filmed in the Arabian peninsula state.*
Riyadh will decide the fate of Ali Abdullah Saleh – and of Yemen | Ginny Hill
The outcome of army and ministerial defections will reflect the internal politics of Yemen’s patron, the House of Saud. Passion for change in the Arab world is spreading to Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh has dominated national life for more than three decades. More than 75% of the population was born after he came to power in 1978. He was once a skilful manipulator, but now the political tide has turned against him. His latest offer, to stand down at the end of the year, comes too late to appease either his political enemies or the Yemeni people. Saleh is on his way out. The only questions now are the timing and the manner of his departure.
Other Middle East
Anger in Syria over crackdown
Around 20,000 people chanting freedom slogans march in funerals for protesters killed by security forces.
Moroccan FM: Obama needs to “adjust” his Middle East approach
Two years after President Barack Obama‘s famous speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, it’s time for him to rethink and adjust his approach to the region, according to the foreign minister of Morocco.Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri, who is touring Washington this week, met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday afternoon. He sat down with The Cable for an exclusive interview on Thursday afternoon, following a speech at the Brookings Institution. Fihri said that Obama should revise his strategy for dealing with the Arab world in light of the dramatic events sweeping the region.
Jordan aims to avoid unrest with dialogue on sweeping reforms
There is an ever-present worry in Jordan that, if dialogue fails now, a public that has so far asked only for reform of the regime could start thinking of revolution.
The Alternative Opposition in Jordan and the Failure to Understand the Lessons of the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions
In Jordan, no one seems to have learned from the lessons of Tunisia and Egypt. Especially not the “opposition,” which can be divided into the “official” opposition and the “alternative” opposition.
Bouazizi’s mom remembers him with pride
TUNIS: The mother of Mohammad Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit seller whose desperate protest has shaken strong-arm regimes across the Arab world, says she will stop her grieving because of the success of the revolution he inspired. Manoubiyeh Bouazizi, clad in black, still fights to hold back tears more than two months after the death of her son from gruesome burns.
Children of the revolution
Youngsters from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya share their experiences.
Preliminary Historical Observations on the Arab Revolutions of 2011
Towards the end of his long, eventful life, in 1402, the renowned Arab historian Ibn Khaldun was in Damascus. He left us a description of Taymur’s siege of the city and of his meeting with the world conqueror. None of us is Ibn Khaldun, but any Arab historian today watching the Arab revolutions of 2011 has the sense of awe that our forbear must have had as we witness a great turning in world affairs.
The road from Sidi Bouzid to Algiers
The profound disillusionment of Algerians makes following in Tunisia’s footsteps difficult, but activists believe change will come.

Israel has now arrested 10% of people of Palestinian village who nonviolently oppose occupation

Mar 24, 2011

Jonathan Pollak

The following is a press release from the nonviolent protest movement against Israeli occupation. Pollak is a spokesperson for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.

Bassem Tamimi, coordinator of the Nabi Saleh [West Bank village] popular committee, was arrested when dozens of soldiers raided his house at noon today beating his wife and daughter in the process. Only yesterday the military court had ordered the indefinite remand of Naji Tamimi, another member of the Nabi Saleh population committee.

Minutes after Bassem Tamimi entered his home to prepare for a meeting with foreign diplomats, dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed his house at the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh and arrested him. The soldiers tried to prevent Tamimi’s wife, Nariman Tamimi, from filming the arrest, hitting her and trying to grab the camera from her. When she passed the camera to her 10 year-old daughter, the soldiers grabbed it from her using violence and threw it outside in the mud.

Tamimi is one of the prominent figures of the Palestinian popular struggle in the West Bank and considered by many as the engine behind Nabi Saleh’s grassroots mobilization against the occupation and for the protection of the village’s lands from settler take over.

Just yesterday, another leading protest organizer from Nabi Saleh, Naji Tamimi, was indicted on charges of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations. The court extended his arrest until the end of legal proceedings. Bassem Tamimi is expected to face the same charges.

Over the past two months, the army has arrested eighteen of Nabi Saleh’s residents on protests related suspicions. Half of those arrested are minors, the youngest of whom merely eleven.

The majority of recent Nabi Saleh arrested are made based on incriminations extracted from a fourteen year-old boy from the village, recently arrested at gun-point during a military night raid. The boy was then subjected to verbal and emotional pressure during his interrogation, denied his fundamental right to legal consul and interrogated in absence of his parents, albeit obliged by law. The interrogators have also never bothered informing the boy of his right to remain silent.

Ever since the beginning of the village’s struggle against settler takeover of their lands, in December of 2009, the army has conducted 64 arrests related to protest in the village. As the entire village numbers just over 500 residents, the number constitutes a gross 10% of its population.

Tamimi’s arrest last night corresponds to the systematic arrest of protest leaders all around the West Bank, as in the case of the villages of Bil’in and Ni’ilin.

Only recently the Military Court of Appeals has aggravated the sentence of Abdallah Abu Rahmah from the village of Bilin, sending him to 16 months imprisonment on charges of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations. Abu Rahmah was released last week.

The arrest and trial of Abu Rahmah has been widely condemned by the international community, most notably by Britain and EU foreign minister, Catherin Ashton. Harsh criticism of the arrest has also been offered by leading human rights organizations in Israel and around the world, among them B’tselem, ACRI, as well as Human Rights Watch, which declared Abu Rahmah’s trial unfair, and Amnesty International, which declared Abu Rahmah a prisoner of conscience.

Five years after publication of ‘The Israel Lobby,’ I’m still grateful

Mar 24, 2011

Philip Weiss

Five years ago yesterday, a friend sent me the link to the Walt and Mearsheimer piece on The Israel Lobby, and I sat at my computer with my mouth open. A seal had been broken, and I believed that it was high noon for the Israel lobby. As it turns out it was 2 in the morning, but let’s not quibble. A seal had been broken, and I thought that no longer would Chris Matthews get to act dumb about why American officials took such a different view from European officials of Saddam Hussein’s threat. Well, this was why, and we all knew it.

Looking back, I can’t escape the importance of the authors’ prestige. It made a big difference; these were Establishment players and there was a feeling around the paper that they had laid their careers on the line and all the perquisites too. Steve Walt was a Harvard dean with a future in a Democratic administration. Now he was about to be labeled an anti-Semite by the jealous guardians of power. I called him that day and left a message on his office machine, thanking him. Over the days and weeks to come, big guns had to be wheeled out to take the authors on, and in the fervor of the denial, by one Jewish writer after another, you could see a confirmation of the authors’ thesis.

That is one thing I loved about the piece: it described my own experience in the media. The authors weren’t journalists, but now they were getting a taste of that orthodoxy for themselves, from the time that the Atlantic killed the piece and they had had to go to the London Review of Books to publish it.

Today I still feel enormous gratitude. The Israel Lobby was a costly thing to write. The smearing never stopped, I imagine it surprised even the authors. A few months later they appeared on a panel at the Naval War College in Rhode Island with a fellow realist, a Jew named Robert J. Art. The subject of the talk wasn’t the Israel lobby but it was a generous act on Art’s part to share the stage. People were making million-dollar threats to Harvard over the paper, or at least Marty Peretz was, and the rabbi who headed the Harvard Hillel threatened them in the Nation. The New York Sun and the Washington Post and the Yivo Institute were smearing the authors. It was great to see Jews stand up for them– Uri Avnery in Israel, too.

Speaking personally, their paper was a doorway on an intellectual path and more than that, my literary material. So many of the issues I am most deeply interested in in life, power, access, Jewish identity, the Iraq war, the relationship of neoconservatism to Zionism in my parents’ New York Jewish generation, the meritocracy in my generation, the media, had been barred to me; editors had said these were trivial topics, or anyway they were not to be examined through a Jewish lens. Walt and Mearsheimer made clear that these were great subjects. Thus these political scientists gave me permission. I dedicated a lot of the first year of this blog to supporting them. James North told me that Darwin had had a bulldog in the London newspapers, and you are their bulldog. I was happy to play the part, I was so grateful to be able to speak about the things I thought about.

I wasn’t in full agreement with them. They were precise academics who had spent time in Israel. (Mearsheimer is a former air force captain and admired Israeli pilots.) They talked about the Israel lobby and did not use the words Julian Schnabel does, or Zbig Brzezinski, the Jewish lobby. No that was sloppy thinking to them; and so they steered clear of the issue of messianism in the Jewish community. That became central to me. I wanted to learn about the rise of Zionism in Jewish life, and the collectivized spirit of Jews on behalf of other Jews, the willingness of Jewish bankers to use their bond-writing power to free my ancestors from Russia at the turn of the last century (thank you lobby!) and a few years later, Herzl’s offer to the Sultan to relieve the Turkish debt and work on the Armenian persecution p.r. problem for the Turks in Europe in exchange for Palestine. And so the Israel lobby lit up for me the special role of Jews in western life, a role I am largely proud of but one that it was intellectual idiocy to pretend was not a signal factor in Middle East policy making.

What was the effect of the paper broadly? Was it right? And what of the leftwing’s criticism?

For a while the paper was only read in brown paper covers, but everyone read it. It opened up a whole new field of consideration if not expression. Scott McConnell wrote about that effect here yesterday. I expected the big newspapers to begin to do investigative pieces on the paper; that didn’t happen (Mike Massing was the sparkling exception, in the NY Review of Books). Still the blogosphere responded. I know countless editors and reporters and officials who studied the paper if they could not speak openly about it. It affected their thinking. It opened things up, it is still having an effect. The authors published a book, The Israel Lobby, a year after the paper, in 2007, and I compared it to Silent Spring, Unsafe at Any Speed, and the Jungle. These comparisons seem righter than ever, the effect of their muckraking was that large. I have no doubt that Obama has read the paper and understood it as a roadmap to reality, and Rand Paul too.

Of course they were right. In the Security Council settlements veto of three weeks ago, even Mitchell Plitnick, a doubter, saw the lobby at work. Obama is nakedly worried about 2012, that’s conservative Jewish power. The whole world is against this project, and a progressive Democrat goes along with the religious right in Israel because of collectivized Jewish political power. For my part I have written that the denial of a Palestinian state, when everyone and his brother have gotten their states, is an American Jewish achievement. (And so, in its time, will be the loss of the Jewish state: the lobby was never simply satisfied with the 67 line.) It’s hardly a coincidence that of the six Americans on stage at the Cooper Union debate of the paper in September 2006, three who argued against the thesis or doubted it (Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and Anne-Marie Slaughter) all have served in government or would again. The three who were against it never did, including Rashid Khalidi, an Obama friend who was smeared during the 2008 campaign.

As for the left, well, Walt and Mearsheimer’s analysis had a strong moral component– they said that the occupation went against human-rights values, and they hammered away at Palestinian suffering– and this made it easier for many on the left to acknowledge the wisdom of their theory. It is a measure of their political creativity, and also of their excommunication by the mainstream liberals who should have championed them, that in May Walt and Mearsheimer will be featured speakers (along with Alice Walker, Laila El-Haddad, Ralph Nader, and Rebecca Vilkomerson) at an anti-AIPAC convention in Washington.

Of course some on the left disparaged the Israel lobby theory and will never be convinced by it. These are chiefly materialists who say that corporate interests direct Amercan foreign policy; and that if Israel wasn’t serving the military industrial complex it would have been dumped years ago. I never found this critique persuasive. For one thing there was little evident material interest in the Iraq war, not when oil concessions are going to Chinese and Russian companies. And material interests never ruled my life, nor Noam Chomsky’s life, nor Gary Bauer’s, nor Bill Kristol’s either. Material interests didn’t push the religious right that turned out to support George Bush in ’00 or ’04. No– religion, fear, devotion, tribal loyalty always seemed to me to be stronger passions than the pursuit of the holy buck; and when people in my extended family asked, Is it good for the Jews? they weren’t talking about money. In that sense the Walt and Mearsheimer thesis was romantic. In taking on the special relationship, they were writing about love.

‘NY Jewish Week’ excommunicates ‘J Street’ for opposing settlement project

Mar 24, 2011

Philip Weiss

I say all the time that American Jews have supported the settlement project. Here, proving my point, is James Besser in the NY Jewish Week, talking about J Street’s “self-inflicted wounds” including its opposition to same. Bear in mind that the entire world is against this project and that American president after president has opposed the project. Yet inside the Jewish community, it’s a disaster to oppose them.

The group has been plagued with what critics say are mostly self- inflicted wounds, including… J Street’s suggestion earlier this year that the United States consider not vetoing a UN resolution blasting Israel’s settlement activities and labeling them illegal…

When Israel disappears as a Jewish state– an inevitability of the unending colonization project– it will be these fools who the American Jewish community will then turn on.

Watching ‘Seinfeld’ in Beirut

Mar 24, 2011

Philip Weiss

This photograph was taken in Lebanon by Adam Abel during the Israeli attack on teh country in 2006. It is featured in his wife Leila Buck’s fine play In the Crossing, produced by the Culture Project, at the Living Theatre in New York this weekend.


AP publishes calumny of Palestinian attitudes re Holocaust

Mar 24, 2011


Associated Press on the teaching of the Holocaust in Palestinian schools:

Many Palestinians are reluctant to acknowledge Jewish suffering, fearing it would diminish recognition of their own claims. Views range from outright denial to challenging the scope of the Holocaust.

That’s quite a limited range. According to AP, Palestinians either deny the Holocaust or “challenge the scope.” I believe it’s what the ADL would call a “calumny.” Perhaps AP will say we said “many” and not “all,” but it’s certainly extremely misleading language.

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