Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



Israeli defense establishment seems to want Netanyahu out
Jun 07, 2011 09:34 pm | Ira Glunts

According to a Ben Caspit column in Ma’ariv (Hebrew), for the past two years there has been a growing power struggle involving the Israeli leadership team of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, against many officials past and present who are in the highest echelons of the defense establishment.  That struggle is apparently quickly becoming a real challenge to the Netanyahu government.

The battle focuses upon the Netanyahu/Barak desire to launch a military attack against Iran, which the dissidents regard as reckless and irresponsible.  In addition, there appears to be more general dissatisfaction with the Bibi and Barak duo, both of whom are known as extremely difficult personalities.

Ex-Mossad head, Meir Dagan, has recently been the most publicly vocal opponent of the current Israeli leadership and its push for military action against Teheran.   However, his discontent is just the tip of the iceberg.  It has been reported that many power players support Dagan’s views, including the recently retired head of the military, Gabi Askenazi and his present replacement, Benny Gantz.

The level of vituperative discourse and personal attacks which characterizes the current debate have been highly unusual even for the freewheeling and sometimes bizarre Israeli political scene.  “There is something not right about him,” is how Dagan described Netanyahu, according to a high level official quoted in Ma’ariv.

Surprisingly, Ben Caspit claims that the dissidents blame Barak and see Netanyahu as a weakling under the spell of his defense minister.  What a shocker!!!  Did anyone see Netanyahu’s performance in Washington recently?  He didn’t look weak to me.

In the following excerpt from Ben Caspit’s report he describes the bitterness of the words and feelings of the dissidents.

Their (Dagan and the other dissidents) shared fear is Barak.  In Netanyahu they see a naïve captive, a weakling and a lightweight mind that has become a rubber stamp for the Defense Minister.  The words that Dagan uses, that others use, in regard to the present danger that comes from the double leadership, Barak and Netanyahu; they are the most bitter and sharp words that are in the dictionary.  Most of them are not suitable for print [translation mine].

Who knows what to make of all this?  Dagan has always been known as an Arab hater who is a Jewish Rambo.  Maybe he has a soft spot for Persians.  I am just kidding.  Dagan has headed all manner of covert operations against Iran which include assassinating scientists, computer viruses which attack Iranian nuclear facilities, sabotage and promoting regime change.  Still none of these misadventures have caused a regional war which a military attack probably would.

All of the dissidents, of course, have always supported the occupation and have contributed greatly to its horrors.  Also, Dagan’s recent embrace of  the Saudi Initiative smells bad to me. And plans for attacking Iran have been on the Israeli agenda in a very public way for at least 15 years.  In the summer of 2008, the U.S. red- lighted the Olmert government, which was intent on military action against Iranian nuclear installations.  Why didn’t Dagan or the others speak out then?

Still, in reading the reports in the Israeli press today, I am convinced that there is a serious campaign to remove Barak and Netanyahu from power.  It is coming from the defense establishment, which has a lot of power in Israel.  The leaders seem to have sympathizers in the press.

My question is: would a government led by the dissidents be any better?  My answer is that for the Palestinians, no.  However, if it could prevent the regional war which an Israeli or American military action against Iran would produce, then my answer is definitely yes.

U.S. media buys Israel’s Naksa spin that protesters were orchestrated

Jun 07, 2011

Alex Kane

Variations on the line the Israeli government fed to Israeli media yesterday about the killings of demonstrators in the Golan Heights Sunday have made their way to the U.S. media, despite there being little evidence produced to support their claims.

The New York Times report is representative of how U.S. corporate media is covering the killings:

Israeli military officials on Monday disputed the casualty figures announced by Syria a day earlier, after Israeli forces fired on protesters who had tried to breach the Syrian frontier border with the Israeli-held Golan Heights. The discrepancy in numbers underlined the messages being conveyed by each side…

Israel said the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria was exploiting the Palestinian issue by sending unarmed protesters to the frontier in order to divert attention from its own antigovernment uprising and the bloody attempts to put it down.

Israel could not provide an exact number of how many protesters had been killed. But the Israeli military said Monday that 10 protesters were killed after they threw makeshift firebombs and started a fire that set off land mines near the border town of Quneitra, on the Syrian side of the lines.

“There were also a lot of shows being put on for the cameras,” said Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a spokeswoman for the Israeli military. “If somebody was shot in the toe, 30 people would crowd around with a stretcher. At night, when there was no shooting, the ambulances kept running up and down, their lights flashing in the dark.”

The Washington Post and the Christian Science Monitor reports have similar bents. On CNN, Eliot Spitzer interviewed Aaron David Miller, and they both agreed that the protests had been “orchestrated” by the Assad regime, which is in the middle of suppressing its own uprising for democracy.

It very well may be that the Syrian regime decided not to block protesters from approaching the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. But that is a far cry from saying that Syria deliberately orchestrated unarmed protests by, perhaps, paying demonstrators, implying that Palestinian refugees demanding their rights can’t protest on their own initiative. Max Blumenthal does a good job of casting doubt on the “demonstrators-for-hire” claim here.

More evidence and analysis point in the opposite direction of the Israeli military’s justifications that are printed in U.S. media. The Israeli government has not produced a shred of evidence in support of their claims (and if they have, do point them out to me). Yet there’s plenty of evidence to support claims of Israeli troops firing on protesters and killing them.

Before getting into the evidence and analysis, though, it’s worth asking: why were there only hundreds of people marching to the Golan Heights on Naksa Day, if the Assad regime really wanted to divert attention from their own oppressive tactics? Couldn’t they have brought out thousands if that were true? And why would they be blocking people from reaching the Golan again if they wanted to provoke Israel more?

Over at the Electronic IntifadaJillian Kestler D’Amours, a journalist based in Jerusalem, interviews Salman Fakhreddin, an activist who protested in the Golan. His response testifies to reports that Israeli snipers killed unarmed demonstrators:

Yesterday, hundreds of refugees from Syria — Palestinians and Syrians — marched to the ceasefire line near Majdal Shams in a place called the Valley of Tears. We usually use this place for families [living opposite of the ceasefire line] to meet each other and to speak to each other with loudspeaker on all days of the year. Yesterday, it was a demonstration in memory of the war of ‘67 and the occupation of the Golan, West Bank and Gaza and Sinai. When these people reached the ceasefire line, the Israeli forces were well prepared with snipers. They were there already and they began firing live bullets and they killed and injured hundreds of people. Twenty-three people were killed yesterday.

It is a blood harvest of the Israeli army. I think first they began shooting to kill and during the afternoon and at beginning of the night, they began firing tear gas and rubber bullets. It means that the Israeli army yesterday was standing on its head and thinking with its feet. They dealt with the issue in the opposite of a humanitarian way. They decided to kill people in order to frighten them not to continue with this demonstration because they are afraid of the delegitimization of the state of Israel and the Israeli policy in the international community.

On the other hand, the demonstration yesterday and the demonstration of Nakba Day [on 15 May] is trying to develop a culture of nonviolence in the area, in the struggle against the Israelis, or what’s called the popular resistance. In Israel, they want to stop that because they are afraid it will reach the knowledge of the international community and the internal Israeli community will join this struggle as a peaceful struggle against colonialism and apartheid in this place of the world.

I think the idea was to stop that and because of that, they chose this way: to kill people first and then to shoot them with tear gas.

An eyewitness account released by Amnesty International and reported on by the Ma’an News Agency deal further blows to Israeli claims:

The global rights group said they had spoken to a human rights activist in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights who “contradicts IDF [Israeli army] claims that all possible non-lethal means were used to disperse the protesters before lethal force was used.”

The march, marking Naksa day which commemorates the 1967 war, saw thousands of demonstrators calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Syrian lands rush the ceasefire line. Syria’s state media say 23 were killed by Israeli army fire, while the Israeli military say 10 died throwing Molotov cocktails toward landmines.

A human rights activist who was 10 meters from the army told Amnesty he saw Israeli soldiers sheltering behind multiple barbed wire fences and periodically firing live ammunition at protesters some 60 meters away between 11am to 9pm.

The activist said soldiers had initially warned protesters in Arabic before opening fire, as Israeli army statements had said, but that troops did not fire tear gas or sound bombs to disperse the protesters until around dusk, in contradiction to army assurances that all non-lethal means were used, Amnesty said in a statement.

The rights organization also noted that while military spokespeople said Israeli troops aimed at the lower half of protesters’ bodies, Syrian health authorities reported that the majority of injuries were to the upper body.

Amnesty said it was “seriously concerned that Israeli troops used excessive force by firing live ammunition against protesters who were not endangering the lives of Israeli military personnel or others.”

The Israeli disinformation about the Naksa Day killings are similar to what happened after the flotilla raid and the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah. But the U.S. media continues to print Israeli spin without investigating what really happened.

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist based in New York City, blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia at, where thispost originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Israel arrests 76-year-old Israeli journalist for incitement and 6-year-old Palestinian boy

Jun 07, 2011


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
[price tag] Settlers set fire to mosque near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) 7 June — A Ramallah-area mosque was torched overnight and its remains graffitied with racist anti-Arab slogans; witnesses said Israeli settlers were seen setting the fire at 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Al-Mughayyir’s village council said the building was badly damaged, and its contents incinerated, drawing condemnation of the third mosque torching in three years … The vandals spray-painted “Alei Ayin” on the walls, which is the name of a nearby settlement outpost demolished by Israeli police last week, sparking fierce clashes with the settlers … The National Christian Coalition in the Holy land condemned the arson, with President Dimitri Diliani blaming Israel’s occupation and unquestioning protection of militarized settlers … Al-Mughayyir, north east of Ramallah, is the fifth village to have their mosque vandalized by settlers in the last three years, four of which were burnt down.
Netanyahu condemns West Bank mosque attack as ‘criminal act’
Haaretz 7 June — Defense Minister Barak echoes PM’s condemnation and says IDF will take steps to catch the perpetrators … Civil rights organizations have spoken out against the arson as well. Rabbis for Human Rights said Tuesday that this kind violence threatens everyone and may backfire. “This despicable act goes against human morality and our Jewish belief that we must not harm followers of different religion,” the organization said in a statement. The Peace Now movement responded by calling for more decisive actions against violent settlers. “The Shin Bet security service and the police must uproot the ‘hill youth’ phenomenon,” it said. This condemnation has not, however, been universal. Rightist activist Itamar Ben-Gvir said the arson doesn’t come as a surprise. “In the last few months Jewish blood has been spilled like water in Judea and Samaria,” he said.

Palestinians say Israeli government was behind West Bank mosque fire
CNN 7 June — The Palestinian Authority has accused the Israeli government of incitement in an arson attack Tuesday on a West Bank mosque, claiming the act was committed by settlers under the protection of the Israeli military. “Israel is forever accusing Palestinians of incitement, but does nothing to stop its citizens attacking our religious places — what is that but incitement?” read a statement from the Palestinian Authority’s media office.
Jewish settlers burn 250 Palestinian trees in Nablus village
NABLUS, (PIC) 6 June — Jewish settlers started a huge fire in Palestinian farmland in Deir Al-Hatab village east of Nablus on Monday burning 250 olive and almond trees, local sources reported. They said that Palestinian fire brigades managed to contain and extinguish the fire before it spread to nearby groves. The firefighters said that the fire destroyed 200 olive trees and 50 almond trees, but hundreds of others were protected and saved.
Israel to approve 4,100 settlement units in Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 6 June — An expert planning researcher has revealed that an official board in Israel is on the verge of approving the construction of 4,100 houses in Jewish settlements in Jerusalem. The Israeli interior ministry tasked the board two months ago to see that settlement construction increases in Jerusalem, said Attorney Qais Nasser, who specializes in monitoring settlement activity in holy city. In its first session scheduled for June 14, the committee is expected to approve plans to erect 4,100 homes in Ramat Shlomo, Gilo, Pisgat Ze’ev, and Har Homa.
Dark days for Silwan’s youth
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 7 June — Israel’s continuous arrest campaign of Palestinian youth and children of Silwan has intensified in recent weeks, with no place or activity seemingly safe for minors from Israeli authorities. Arrests have occurred as children return from school, drink coffee on the balcony of their family home or buy vegetables in the street. Many minor arrests in recent days have taken place during quiet periods in Silwan, entirely unprovoked. The campaign highlights Israeli authorities’ willingness to defy basic standards of conduct and treatment, such as targeting and criminalisation of minors. Humiliation and physical assault are reportedly commonplace in interrogation and detention, even for minors. 7 children numbered amongst 8 arrested by Israeli forces in Silwan today. One child arrested, Yahya al-Rishaq, is not even 6 years of age. Despite al-Rishaq’s attempts to persuade soldiers not to take his young son, Israeli forces insisted on his arrest.
Rights group: Israel holding boy nearly blinded by IOF
NABLUS, (PIC) 6 June — A human rights group has revealed that the Israel Prison Service is detaining an ill Palestinian boy left nearly blind by Israeli occupation force soldiers. The development shows that the IPS has not restricted its medical neglect policy to adult prisoners alone. Ismail Turki Mohammed Okel, 16, from the Old City of Nablus was arrested a year back and sentenced to 20 months in jail … [His mother] said that earlier in 2002, Ismail was caught in a situation while playing ball with friends. After an Israeli soldier stationed nearby claimed to have been attacked by stones, patrol cars began searching for suspects; and they reportedly hit Okel with their vehicle under suspicion that he was behind the attack. Ismail’s mother Umm Rasmi asserted that the soldiers not only ran Oker down but they also assaulted him with the butts of their rifles, putting him in a coma for a week as he stayed at the Rafidia hospital in Nablus. The crash broke Oker’s skull and caused internal bleeding and broken teeth and back pains, and he also lost about 70 percent of his vision, ISHRO researcher Ahmed al-Beitawi said.
OCHA weekly report says 13 Palestinians injured in West Bank at end of May
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 7 June — Israeli forces injured 13 Palestinians in West Bank incidents during the week between May 25 and 31, said the weekly report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA) … Thus far in 2011, 699 Palestinians and 47 Israeli soldiers and policemen were injured in conflict-related incidents in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, a 6% increase and 44% decline, respectively, compared to the equivalent period of 2010. … Overall that week, Israeli forces conducted over 100 search-and-arrest operations throughout the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, a slight increase compared to the weekly average for such operations since the beginning of 2011.
Gaza – under siege for 1,455 days now
Gaza: Non-violent protester injured by Israeli fire
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 June — A young Palestinian man was injured Tuesday when Israeli forces opened fire on a non-violent rally in Beit Hanoun near Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. A group of dozens had marched toward the border with Israel, demanding Israel’s disengagement from a swath of land inside the coastal enclave that has been declared a “no-go zone” by the military. Eyewitnesses identified the injured man as Muhammad Osama Kafarna, saying he was shot in his head and neck and was evacuated to a hospital in Beit Hanoun … Extending between 300-1,500 meters from the border, the “no-go zone” consumes 20 percent of the arable land in the coastal enclave.
Video — Trapped in Gaza: Rafah crossing closed to Palestinians soon after Egyptian pledge to reopen it
Democracy Now 7 June — Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar were one of the few teams of foreign journalists to witness the scene at the Rafah border, and they file this report from the Gaza Strip … BADREYA: [translated] The Egyptians told us the crossing is open and that they’re letting in elderly people and women. They haven’t let in anything. I’m going to have surgery that I myself am paying for. For three days I’ve been coming to this crossing for no reason.
Rafah crossing to re-open Wednesday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 June — The crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip will be re-opened Wednesday after a four-day closure, the Palestinian official responsible for the Rafah terminal said Tuesday. Ayyoub Abu Sha‘ar said in a statement that the transit point would open normally in both directions for travel, and travelers on a list of passengers due to cross last Thursday and Saturday would be given priority.
Gaza activists: Monitoring boat to sail Wednesday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 June — The first monitoring boat in Gaza waters crewed by international citizens will set sail on Wednesday morning, activists said. The vessel, named Oliva, will leave from Gaza City fishing port with crew from Spain, the US, Sweden and the UK, and accompany Gaza fisherman in the waters, organizers said in a statement released Tuesday. “Violations of international law will be monitored, documented, and disseminated,” the release from the Civil Peace Service said … Israeli military vessels monitor the Gaza coast and enforcing a fishing limit of three nautical miles and blockade of the Gaza Strip, with fishermen reporting fire, boat confiscations and detentions by the navy.  Last Wednesday, fishermen said one skiff was hit by an Israeli ship and sunk, injuring a fisherman, off the southern Gaza coast.
Turkey asks flotilla to ‘rethink’ planned voyage
ANKARA, Turkey (AFP) 7 June — Turkey’s foreign minister has called on activists to rethink a planned flotilla to the blockaded Gaza Strip and suggested how to avoid fresh tensions after last year’s bloodshed, reports said. “Civic groups should take into account the fact that the Rafah crossing [between Gaza and Egypt] has been opened and… act in a more careful manner,” Ahmet Davutoğlu said in remarks carried by Anatolia news agency Tuesday.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Video: Kalandia checkpoint 5 June
An Naksa demonstration in Ramallah on the way to Kallandia Checkpoint – photos, filmed, edited by Jan Beddegnoodts   IDF violence towards Internationals, Israelis, as well as Palestinians – women as well as men
Scores treated for gas inhalation as soldiers attack protest in northern West Bank
Tul-Karam (PNN) 7 June — Scores of civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation as Israeli soldiers attacked a non-violent protest against the wall and settlements on Tuesday at the village of Nazlit Issa, near Tul-Karam city in the northern West Bank. The protest was organized by the popular committee against the wall and settlements in the village and was meant to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the Naksa.
Three arrested in Majdal Shams; Israeli army enforces closure of the Golan Heights
Majdal Shams (PNN) 7 June — At dawn on Tuesday, the Israeli police arrested three young men from the town of Majdal Shams in the occupied Golan Heights after clashes erupted between local youth and Israeli soldiers. Young men and women from Majdal Shams organized a protest that started late on Monday evening. The youngsters were protesting the Israeli military attack on Naksa Day protesters on Sunday across the border from Majdal Shams, which left 23 dead, according to Syrian TV.
In related developments Israeli army radio announced that the West Bank and Gaza would be closed military zones and only people with special permission and humanitarian cases would be allowed through to Israel.
Syria warns of more marches on Israeli border, says thousands of refugees will return
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) 7 June — A Syrian government newspaper said Tuesday that more Syrians and Palestinians plan to march to the Israeli border, warning Israel the day will come when hundreds of thousands of refugees return to their occupied villages.Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian and Syrian protesters Sunday, killing as many as 23 people who tried to cross into the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights. The article referred to Palestinian refugees in camps in Syria, as well as Syrians who fled the Golan Heights when Israel captured the strategic plateau in the 1967 Mideast war.
IDF on high alert for ‘Al-Quds Day’
Ynet 7 June — Palestinians prepare to mark day IDF seized control of east Jerusalem [today, 7 June]; IDF, police remain on high alert on northern border, Jerusalem,7340,L-4079333,00.html
IHH publishes second Marmara book
Ynet 7 June —  Turkey’s IHH, the group which organized the 2010 Gaza flotilla, has released a book detailing the story of the aid sail and its tragic results, Ynet learned Tuesday. The book, titled “Freedom Flotilla through Language of Global Conscience: Interviews with Passengers,” follows a previous publication by the IHH, “Mavi Marmara/Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” and reportedly details “never before published testimonies” by 39 passengers.,7340,L-4079460,00.html
Cosmetics firm LUSH endorses “Freedom for Palestine” / Ali Abunimah
EI 4 June — The UK-based international cosmetics firm LUSH has endorsed a single aimed at raising awareness of the struggle for human rights in Palestine … The LUSH statement adds, “The catastrophe facing the Palestinian people is one of the defining global justice issues of our time” and urges, “If OneWorld are successful at getting the song in the charts, the mainstream media will find it hard to ignore it or censor its message.”
Hamas legislator detained by Israeli forces
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 May — …Ahmad Al-Hajj Ali was taken into Israeli custody after soldiers entered and searched his home in the Ein Beit El-Mai refugee camp west of Nablus in the northern West Bank …The 73-year-old lawmaker is the fourth Hamas official to have been detained without charge since the party signed a unity deal with its former rival party Fatah in early May.
Israeli forces detain man in Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) 7 June — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man in Jenin on Tuesday morning, after a raid on houses in the city’s ancient center. Palestinian security sources said Hani Adnan Makhzoum was detained after 15 military vehicles entered the city, fired sound grenades and raided a number of houses. Also Tuesday morning, witnesses told Ma’an that the Israeli army set up a flying checkpoint to the south of Jenin. Soldiers stopped cars on the road between villages Meithalun and Sanur, with no detentions reported, the locals said.
Hamas: PA detained 4 members in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 June — In a statement, Hamas officials in the West Bank accused Palestinian Authority security forces of arresting four of the party’s members and summoning several others for an appearance in front of police. The statement, issued on Tuesday, was the first accusing PA-affiliated security forces of carrying out politically-motivated arrests since the signing of a unity agreement in early May.
Videos: Update on protests, killings in Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria / Ali Abunimah
EI 7 June — More information is emerging about events in Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus, Syria. Yesterday, 6 June, news emerged of the shooting of a number of people in the camp. According to various reports members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) a small faction headed by Ahmad Jibril, opened fire on people protesting and chant slogans against faction leaders, after some protesters had set fire to a PFLP-GC building. A shocking videoshowed an unarmed young man being shot in the head, although the shooter is not visible … New videos show more of the 6 June events in Yarmouk camp, including a mass protest as what is said to be the PFLP-GC building burns. In the first video, posted above, protesters are apparently heard shouting “al-sha’ab yurid isqat al-fasa’il” – or “The people want the fall of the factions.” Political factions have a long history of exercising some governance functions and controlling resources and patronage within refugee camps. …

Racism / Discrimination / Repression of dissent
WAFA monitors incitement and racism in Israeli media May 27-June 2
RAMALLAH (WAFA)  June — Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli researcher and lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, published a racist article on NFC website under the title “Arabs Can’t Live Without War and Arms.” He said that Netanyahu’s demand of a demilitarized Palestinian state is absurd and unacceptable for the Arabs, who live by the law of the gun, adding “perpetual conflicts are the core of an Arab’s existence.” … . M. Shalom wrote an instigating article against Abbas in ‘Hamodia’ newspaper, accusing him of being a racist. … Shalom also attacked Islam, saying that deception and lying are Arabs’ main traits and solid characteristics of Mohammad’s religion.
Can equality exist in the Jewish state? Kieron Monks
AJ 4 June — As right-wingers dominate the Knesset, Arab citizens of Israel say institutional discrimination is getting worse.
Israel’s treatment of gay Palestinian asylum seekers / Caroline Esser
WashNote 6 June — …Israel advocacy groups like the ADL and the Jewish Federations have latched on to LGBT rights in Israel as a means of combating negative press and demonstrating Israel’s dedication to equal rights and democracy … Sadly, when the ADL wrote in small print that Israel supports civil rights for “all its citizens” it meant exactly what it said–basic human rights are strictly for Israelis. In their 2008 study, “Nowhere to Run: Gay Palestinian Asylum-Seekers in Israel,” Michael Kagan and Anat Ben-Dor describe in detail Israel’s unsympathetic and unbending policy towards gay Palestinians. In stark contrast to the vibrant gay culture within Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinians face intense discrimination and often brutal violence if they are discovered to be gay … However, despite their desperation, Israel refuses to even review gay Palestinian applications for asylum (those who have successfully received asylum have had to submit their cases directly to the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva). Moreover, gay Palestinians who have illegally entered Israel have been arrested and promptly deported
Journalist and activist Gideon Spiro arrested for ‘incitement’
978mag 7 June — A Tel Aviv Police investigator arrested Monday Gideon Spiro, a veteran leftist activist aged 76, for suspected incitement relating to an article he had written. Spiro was discharged two hours later, after his attorneys – from the office of Michael Sfard – intervened on his behalf.
Political / Diplomatic / International news
Palestinians in Washington deny indirect talks with Israel
Haaretz 6 June — Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Monday denied that a Palestinian delegation to Washington exchanged messages with an Israeli official, who is also in the United States for meetings with the White House, saying that he did not know the Israelis would be there.
Obama: Palestinians should avoid seeking UN recognition for statehood
Reuters 7 June — U.S. president meets German Chancellor Merkel, who says ‘unilateral measures are not helping at all’ to bring about a two-state solution.

France: Israel considering Paris peace talks
WASHINGTON (Ma‘an) 7 June — Israel is considering a French proposal to resume peace talks with Palestine in Paris before the end of June, France’s foreign minister told reporters in the United Sates on Wednesday. Speaking alongside the minister, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the two discussed Paris’ plan, “will be certainly working together,” she said, adding that both nations believed the “status quo is unsustainable.”
Blair open to French Mideast peace talks
OSLO, Norway (AFP) 7 June — Tony Blair, the envoy of the Quartet group of world powers seeking an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, said Tuesday he was open to a French proposal to host a Middle East peace conference. “What the French foreign minister has been saying is absolutely right in the sense that you need to put together not just the support for Palestinian statehood and institutions building, but some political momentum has to be injected back into this,” he said on a visit to Oslo.
US delegation visits Cairo to study Egypt’s new foreign policy
MEMO 7 June — A US delegation of members of both Houses of Congress has been touring the Middle East, beginning with Cairo to identify new aspects of Egypt’s foreign policy. The delegation met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Araby, who briefed them on the most important characteristics of the policy and its impact on various regional issues. Paramount is how Egypt is going to manage its role in the Israel-Palestine conflict; the American delegation is also going to visit Tel Aviv. The meeting included a discussion of the latest regional political and social developments … The delegation’s visit, headed by Democrat John Yarmouth, was arranged by Jewish-American organisation J Street.
J Street: PM refuses to meet delegation
Ynet 6 June — Despite enjoying a hearty welcome at the US Congress recently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to meet with a delegation of representatives organized by J Street, the liberal Jewish lobby said Sunday … The delegation, composed of Democratic Congress members, was set to arrive in Israel on Monday. The trip was initiated by J Street, considered a controversial group known for its fierce criticism of Israel, particularly over the issue of West Bank settlements.,7340,L-4078936,00.html
Other news
Israeli towns’ new line of defense from Gaza rockets: trees
Haaretz 7 June — Israel has spent no less than NIS 1.6 billion on defenses for the townships around the Gaza Strip in the last five years, Udi Shani, Defense Ministry director general, said yesterday. “We view the present state of quiet as transient,” said Shani, speaking during a tour of the boundary between Israel and the Strip … One [defense] is afforestation — planting rows of trees by the towns located along the Gaza Strip. The idea is that the trees will prevent precise mortar fire on Israeli targets and camouflage Israeli troops. [Just give Gaza justice and freedom and you won’t have to spend anything….]
OPT: Huge demand for hearing aids
TULKAREM, WEST BANK (IRIN) 7 June — Hearing impairments are common among Palestinians mainly due to inherited genetic mutations and lack of access to adequate medical services which allows minor infections to develop into major problems, according to Rafi Walden, a surgeon at Sheba medical centre in Israel … “Hearing aids are not funded by Palestinian public health providers and are out of reach for nearly all Palestinians,” said Salah Haj Yihyeh, who recently coordinated a donation of hearing aids by the Starkey Hearing Foundation to 1,000 Palestinians in Tulkarem. Before this, speech therapists and experts from the Sheba medical centre had visited the area in April.
Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
Finding the Israel lobby on the map / Yusuf Munayyer
7 June — How can you see the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on a map? … You could, I suppose, look up the address of AIPAC headquarters, but that wouldn’t be nearly as illustrative as this … [W]hen you study a conflict over land, the precise location of every square meter is important. For years, Israel’s continued colonization of Palestinian territory has happened one settlement or one settlement home at a time. Hilltops, aquifers, valleys, walls, checkpoints, distances, locations are all vital for understanding the intricacies of this conflict. So, as with just about every field, technology has revolutionized the study of Palestinian geography, especially with the advent of widely available satellite imagery (e.g. Google Maps) which allows anyone with a computer to see how big illegal settlements around Jerusalem are, just how deep Ariel protrudes into the West Bank or how tiny Gaza really is …. Take a look at this image, for example. What you are looking at, at Google Maps’ highest available resolution, is Military Aircraft parked at Area 51, the secret U.S. military base in Nevada’s desert used to test and develop state of the art weapons and planes. Go ahead, zoom in and out. But if we were to look at any random location in Israel at Google Maps’ highest resolution, not say a top-secret military facility, we get this: [blurs] This image is supposed to be of the Dahmash village outside of my ancestral hometown of Al-Lyd. Dahmash is an Arab village unrecognized by the state and thus homes there do not receive permits and they are subject to demolition. Hardly a sensitive military location, in fact, it is more like a shanty town. If you zoom out you can see it. But you won’t be able to see it, or any other area under Israeli state control (including in the Occupied Territories) at the highest resolution. Why is that? Well, it’s because Congress passed a law which stipulated that Israel and any territory it controls deserve more privacy than the USA’s most secret military installations.
Shavuot 2011: Obscenities as words of Torah / Yossi Sarid
7 June — This isn’t the Torah we received. Since that time, Israel has been swallowed up by the Land of Israel and disappeared inside its maw — Go to your computer right now and watch the frightening video clip posted on YouTube as a memento of Jerusalem Day (it’s called “Yom Yeru 2011” ). Not a handful, but hundreds of young people high on hard-core nationalism wave blue-and-white flags; may their eyes grow dim. “Death to the Arabs, death to the leftists,” they chanted. “The Temple will be rebuilt, the mosque will be destroyed.” “Kahane lives, Mohammed is dead.” “Itbach al-Arab” (“Death to the Arabs” in Arabic ). Thus they elevate Jerusalem as their chief sin: May their tongues cleave to their palates. While I was roaming Jerusalem’s streets, another mob was gathering at the city’s Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, with rabbis Shmuel Eliyahu of Safed and Dov Lior of Hebron among the guests. The former demands Israel be purged of Arabs, while the latter endorses a book that justifies killing gentiles, urges soldiers to disobey orders and refuses to show up for questioning by the police. Nowadays, every obscenity is treated as ‘words of Torah.’ A bill was even submitted for discussion to the cabinet that would permit incitement by rabbis, and rabbis only. And MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union ) was also among the guests. The guest of honor was the prime minister; lift up your heads, O ye gates. “I see you as an elite Torah combat unit,” the king of glory – and of shame – said fawningly. Now the Torah, too, has its own elite combat unit.
Israel-Palestinian conflict is in the eye of the beholder / Amira Hass
Haaretz 6 June — Israel is fighting against the memory of the Nakba, whereas others are searching for ways to give the Nakba its rightful place in teaching and education — Some six months ago, 54 Israeli and Palestinian students received a series of photos and were asked to describe them and jot down their impressions and the feelings stirred by them in two stages – before seeing the caption explaining them and then afterwards … Some 32 such photos from 1948, along with the impressions of the Palestinian and Israeli students, appear in a book called “Zoom In, Palestinian Refugees of 1948, Remembrances.” The book was issued by the Holland-based Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, which “seeks to dispel public myths about historic legacies in societies divided by ethnic conflict.”
Haaretz editorial: Readiness and blindness in the Golan Heights
7 June — The IDF proved this week that it does a good job preparing for the previous war. … On Sunday, Naksa Day, the Israel Defense Forces succeeded in blocking hundreds of demonstrators who, surrounded by cameras, stormed the border fences in the Golan Heights, carrying flags, posters and loudspeakers … The Palestinians reckoned they would have casualties. They too have learned lessons from May 15. It did not deter them, and there are no grounds to assume it will deter others on other fronts, especially when the regimes or organizations holding the Arab side of the border have no interest in acting against the demonstrators. The incidents have also shown that 30 years of forced annexation and naturalization have not turned the Golan Druze into devoted Israeli citizens. This has become routine in the Israeli-Arab conflict — the IDF scores a tactical victory, which shrinks in contrast to the strategic failure.
Revealed: the untold story of the deal that shocked the Middle East / Robert Fisk
Independent 7 June — Secret meetings between Palestinian intermediaries, Egyptian intelligence officials, the Turkish foreign minister, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal – the latter requiring a covert journey to Damascus with a detour round the rebellious city of Deraa – brought about the Palestinian unity which has so disturbed both Israelis and the American government. Fatah and Hamas ended four years of conflict in May with an agreement that is crucial to the Palestinian demand for a state. A series of detailed letters, accepted by all sides, of which The Independent has copies, show just how complex the negotiations were
the open-minded:
Between warm and fuzzy and dangerous in the West Bank / Olivia Snaije
Haaretz 7 June — Refugee camps, desert moonscapes, checkpoints and monasteries – all were part of an eye-opening bike trip around the West Bank, organized by a nonprofit Palestinian rights organization — We left Jenin early on our first day of cycling through Palestine. After an inaugural hill, we crossed a main thoroughfare where the terrain flattened, and whizzed along under a brilliant sun, the road lined with olive trees as well as multicolored fields of thistles, poppies, marigolds and daisies.
and the very fearful:
Israel needs northern wall / Yosef Argaman
Ynet 6 June — Op-ed: In face of new Arab invasion strategy on Golan, Israel must build new cement wall — Not transparent fences that can be cut, not a series of new outposts, and not a system of fortifications that can be circumvented. We need a contiguous, high and deterring cement wall like the security fence in Judea and Samaria or the Great Wall of China.,7340,L-4079282,00.html (listserv) (archive)

Wait– did Israel lay a minefield in Golan in last 3 weeks to kill protesters?

Jun 07, 2011

Philip Weiss

Marian Houk has a disturbing report at UN-Truth. The beginning of her post:

There were several Israeli media reports published yesterday (in English) and today (in Hebrew) that the IDF has, in recent weeks, laid new minefields in the Golan — as part of the military preparations against continuing demonstrations at the “border”.

According to these reports, new minefields were laid in the weeks between the May 15 Nakba Day demonstrations [marking the expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians in the fighting that surrounded the creation of the State of Israel in 1948] and the June 5 demonstrations held on Sunday [to mark the 1967 war and the start of the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and Golan].

On May 15, Israeli officials were surprised by an infiltration of Palestinians and their supporters who managed to cross the lines and enter the Golan town of Majdal Shams. One of these infiltrators even managed to get as far as Yaffa, the birthplace and home town of his parents, where he went for a meal, looked around, and then turned himself in to Israeli police.

The Syrian Golan Heights was occupied by Israel in the June 1967 war — and annexed by Israel in 1980, a move that UN members said was “null and void”.

The well-informed Defense Correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz, wrote in an article published last night [06/06/2011 22:01] that “In general, the army was pleased with the way it handled the protests on Sunday … In the weeks before, the IDF prepared extensively, laying down new minefields, digging trenches and installing new barbed-wire fences … At least eight of the dead, IDF sources said on Monday, were killed by mines that exploded after the protesters threw Molotov cocktails in fields near the border, causing their premature detonation”. This was posted here.

Laying new minefields in the Golan raises serious questions — including whether proper notification was made, particularly to the Syrian authorities (also to the UN, which has peacekeeping missions there).

It also raises questions about whether such military measures — normally intended to address grave dangers and prevent invasions — are also intended as the Israeli response to protest demonstrations and civilian infiltration.

‘Mishigas’ and ‘mensch’ make primetime

Jun 07, 2011

Philip Weiss

I track Yiddish in the mainstream media. And yesterday:

1. John Schaefer of Soundcheck was interviewing the bandleader of “My Morning Jacket” in the afternoon and asked him how recording had gone on their latest album. No “mishigas,” he said, ala Crosby Still and Nash or the Beatles? No, said the bandleader.

2. Chris Matthews was talking about Anthony Weiner last night and said that he was a “mensch” in one respect, that he came out and admitted lying.

Yiddish isn’t ours anymore, it shapes American culture. I can’t wait formohel jokes.

Democracy Now reports from the Rafah border crossing

Jun 07, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Encountering Leonard Cohen in an L.A. pizzeria

Jun 07, 2011

Rachel Roberts

I graduated from law school two weeks ago. Last Tuesday, I decided to take the evening away from boring bar prep outlines and write a few lines of poetry. I have sorely neglected my writing for a few months as I focus on transitioning from student to grown up but the lines needed to come out. So I sat in a pizza parlor in Los Angeles near where I live, ordered some food and put my pen in my hand. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks, because I’ve spent so much time listening to his music, reading his words, watching him perform. Maybe it was just my mind, I thought, but there was no mistaking that black hat, he was wearing exactly what he wears on stage, and then I heard him speak. Oh gosh.

The legendary singer-songwriter and poet, Leonard Cohen, had walked into the pizzeria. I knew I had to approach him, because he is not just a writer whose work I’ve learned and grown from, but because there is some unfinished business between Leonard and me. A year and a half ago, he made the decision to play a concert in Tel Aviv only months after the Israeli government perpetrated a horror on the people of Gaza, Operation Cast Lead. According to B’tselem, the Israeli human rights group, 1,389 Palestinians were killed, 789 of whom did not take part in hostilities. This all happened in the context of Israel’s ongoing military occupation and settlement of Palestinian land, which has rendered the Palestinians second class citizens in the country their ancestors built. The Israel Discount Bank, which according to Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace is deeply involved in Israel’s settlement building enterprise, co-sponsored Cohen’s concert.

Despite my disappointment, I understand where Leonard Cohen is coming from. Artists want their work heard far and wide and don’t want politics to get between them and their audiences. And coming to terms with Israel’s perpetuation of Palestinian suffering wasn’t easy for me as I’m sure it’s not easy for Cohen. Speaking it aloud felt like I was betraying my own. I worried that I was helping those who wanted to demonize Israelis if I acknowledged Israel’s crimes publicly. What I found when I became involved in the struggle against the occupation, however, is that Israelis march side by side with Palestinians every weekend to protest the confiscation of Palestinian land. Israelis also play an important role in undermining those who profit off of Palestinian suffering. The BDS movement embodies co-existence and peace, because it is made up of Palestinians, Israelis and people around the world working together to stop those who would profit off of suffering and war. When an artist chooses to support the boycott, he or she makes a strong statement that bolsters these unpopular voices for change.

Non-violent Palestinian, Israeli and international activists approached Cohen about making a historic statement in support of real peace and canceling his Tel Aviv show in protest. To his credit, Cohen donated the proceeds to a reconciliation fund, which benefited the group, Bereaved Families for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

I got out my phone to call everyone I could for advice. How to handle this? I finally got a hold of my friend Andrew Kadi, who helped me muster my courage. After I composed myself (shaking and quaking like a knee-knocked child) I walked up to Cohen and said: “Hi, my name is Rachel. I am a big admirer of your work but I really wish you would have made a different decision about your concert in Israel. I wish that you had listened to the activists who met with your PR team. He said: “well you know I started a reconciliation fund.” I said: “I think that shows you’re really well intentioned but the boycott call is clear. I’ve been involved with the joint struggle for the past eight years and I can’t tell you what it’s meant to me as a Jewish American.”

He said that he didn’t want to get into a big discussion about it (the poor man was putting parmasan on his pasta when I walked up to him). I said that’s fine but I would be remiss in not saying anything at all because his work has meant so much to me but so has this movement. And then I said I hoped he would make a different decision next time.

Cohen’s response to the BDS movement’s challenge represents a fundamental misunderstanding about what it will take to bring peace about. We don’t need money from Leonard Cohen, we need him to stand with us. It is not helpful to simply acknowledge that both innocent Israelis and innocent Palestinians have died when you say nothing about the fact that one people live under the thumb of the other. It is not a virtue to be neutral in the face of injustice. To quote Leonard Cohen: the killers in high places say their prayers out loud. Now they do it with one of the great poets of the 20th century to use as a fig leaf. When Cohen chose to play that concert, he sided against us at the moment we needed his support the most. I can’t hide my disappointment and the sense of betrayal that comes with it.

I like to think it’s not too late. Dozens of artists the world over have chosen to support the boycott. They do so because they can see that we have the power to make things better, if we support those Israelis and Palestinians committed to facing the truth and stopping the occupation. I still hope one day Leonard Cohen will choose to join us.

Read Rachel Roberts’s poetry at her blog,

Brooke Gladstone is hip

Jun 07, 2011

Peter Voskamp

Saw your post about Keller retiring and Brooke Gladstone interviewing him and Abramson. I share your outrage.

I write though to relate to you a great line from Gladstone I heard on an NPR interview a few weeks ago. She was talking about her new book on the state of journalism/media — “The Influencing Machine.” She mentioned that with the Internet and Twitter there are now countless sources — from citizen journalists to “curated” blogs, etc., across the political spectrum — delivering “news.”

The interviewer, in what came off as a slightly smug, denigrating tone of voice, said, “But let me point out the inevitable: How do you know it’s true?” And Gladstone, god bless her, said, “How do you ever know it’s true?”

‘Birth pangs’ of the new Middle East? More on the Iran attack

Jun 07, 2011


Recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations will have little impact on the lives of Palestinians under occupation, which is why it is all the more frustrating to watch Obama flailing like a fish out of water begging the world to shun recognition.  According to Haaretz, Obama really is no better than any leader of Israel who wages war to distract from their criminal occupation of Palestinian land:

Obama’s new security staff may approve attack on Iran
Obama has chosen the summer of 2011, about a year before the election season warms up in 2012, to refresh his national security staff, a move that may have serious repercussions on Israel.
Shameless and transparent.

More from Nima Shirazi for his critical insight which cuts through American and Israeli hasbara on Iran:

05.24.2011 – A Busy Week, AIPAC’d with Propaganda
My analysis of recent speeches delivered by Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, along with the new IAEA Safeguards Report and the hypocrisy of Iran sanctions.

05.31.2011 – Meir Javedanfar’s Continued Fear-Mongering and Shoddy Journalism
A more complete look at the new IAEA report and how the Western media – notably the work of Israeli-Iranian reporter Javedanfar – consistently repeat falsehoods about the Iranian nuclear program.
05.31.2011 – An Illegal, Unprovoked Military Attack on Iran?: Anything Less Would Be Uncivilized
A brief note regarding Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s recent suggestion that an internationally coordinated attack on Iran is necessary, along with IISS’ Mark Fitzgerald’s latest fear-mongering about Iranian nuclear capabilities.
06.01.2011 – Israel’s Pompous Posturing & Idle Threats
Occasionally, the truth comes out about the impossibility of an Israeli attack on Iran.  That happened again this week with Meir Dagan’s latest statements on Israeli bluster, bluffing, and over-confidence.
06.02.2011 – Jeremy Bernstein’s Nuclear Propaganda Fail: The New York Review of Books Gets It Wrong on Iran
A comprehensive rebuttal to a new article regarding the Iranian nuclear program and the implications of the latest IAEA report.

06.05.2011 – On the Tehran Research Reactor & Polonium-210: An E-Mail Exchange with Jeremy Bernstein
A brief response from Jeremy Bernstein about two aspects of the Iranian nuclear narrative and my subsequent reply.

06.06.2011 – RAND Report: Iran is Two Months Away From a Nuke!
A new RAND report claims Iran will have a nuclear bomb in eight weeks, while Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Danny Danon wants the U.S. and its Western allies to attack Iran.

Weiner repeatedly lied (about Israel and Palestine– does anyone care?)

Jun 07, 2011

Philip Weiss

If the Anthony Weiner scandal has an upside, let us hope that it will unearth the countless lies, stretchers, and bodacious and rabid falsehoods that the congressman told three months back at the New School in a debate about the Goldstone Report that we set up between him and former Congressman Brian Baird, moderated by Roger Cohen of the New York Times.

Here are five of those lies: There is no Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Goldstone Report was not based on the laws of war, Israel is at war with 20 neighbors, American progressives should support the absence of free speech in Israel when it comes to its character as a Jewish state, and Egypt is an Islamic state. To the videotape:

Lie #1. There is no Israeli occupation of the West Bank, no Israeli military presence there:

WEINER: You can see a difference in the development in the West Bank with 11 percent year over year growth, with no Israeli occupation there either, with increasing access to checkpoints…

COHEN: No occupation in the West Bank, did I hear you right?


COHEN: Have you been to the West Bank lately?


COHEN: You didn’t see the IDF there?

WEINER: In Ramallah? No. In Nablus? No. Now can I tell you there might be some people in this room who think Jerusalem is occupied.

COHEN: Well hold on a second there, let’s stick to the West Bank. You’re saying there is no IDF presence there?


Lie #2. The Goldstone Report was not based on the laws of war.

COHEN: Do you accept the idea that [Israel’s] self-defense can become grossly disproportionate?

WEINER: I will say that whether or not grossly disproportion– it is not something that is subject to the rules of international law. It is subject ot the rules of war. The Geneva Convention was followed scrupulously and I didn’t see anywhere in the allegations that even the rules of war were even considered for this report. Because quite the opposite. Goldstone said we’re looking at this through the laws of justice. Unfortunately and this pains me to say, when you’re at war it’s because the laws have broken down…

This is a flatout misrepresentation.

The Goldstone Report repeatedly invokes the laws of war. The largest body of law on which it is based are the numerous conventions of international humanitarian law (IHL) how states are supposed to behave toward non-combatants.  For instance, paragraph 270:

All parties to the armed conflict are bound by relevant rules of IHL, whether of conventional or customary character. International humanitarian law comprises principles and rules applicable to the conduct of military hostilities and provides for restraints upon the conduct of military action so as to protect civilians and those that are hors de combat. It also applies to situations of belligerent occupation.

And Goldstone repeatedly cites violations of the Geneva Conventions. Paragraph 1919.

The intentional strike at al-Quds hospital using high-explosive artillery shells and white phosphorous in and around the hospital also violated articles 18 and 19 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Lie #3. Israel is at war with 20 neighbors.

WEINER: We have a problem, we being progressives, have a problem that large numbers of us have come to turn the story of David and Goliath as relates to Israel on its head and have lost sight of the fact that Israel is the democracy in the middle east, in that region which is at war with 20 of its neighbors. Not that she declared war, the 20 neighbors declared war against her. She is the one with the judiciary, she is the one that puts out reports… that are critical of its own military

This is an absurd statement. Egypt and Jordan have treaties with Israel that permit trade and travel. And as Brian Baird promptly pointed out, the Arab League has repeatedly offered to recognize Israel on the ’67 lines. “This idea that Israel is surrounded by countries intent on driving it into the sea is just not accurate.”

Lie #4  American progressives should support Israel limiting free speech about its character as a Jewish state.

Weiner said that he had come to the debate to show that progressives in New York must support Israel. “We have to start pushing back on the notion that it is somehow anathema to progressive thought to support a democracy in the middle east, that is Israel, and im proud to be a progressive that supports that.”

Baird said, “It is an inequal democracy by any standard,” and said that when he was at the Knesset, he watched a bill being passed on first reading to make it a criminal offense to suggest in public that Israel should not be a Jewish state. “A criminal offense. Just to say it. So much for first amendment, so much for separation of church and state. All the things that we value as progressives. You can’t even say it, or you go to jail…”

WEINER: I do see discussions and debate and votes in the Knesset, the democratically elected legislature of Israel, I do see good ideas and crazy ideas. When my friend Brian Baird describes the First Amendment, it’s a Jewish state… The idea of a First Amendment, that shows a little bit of a blind spot…The idea that somehow Israel is not a jewish state is part of the problem here. Some people believe that it shouldn’t be. They have their rights, but it is, it’s going to be..

Whatever these ideas are, they are not progressive.

Lie #5. Egypt is an “Islamic state.”

WEINER: It’s a Jewish state and that’s the way it’s created to be, and it’s a right to be that, just like in Egypt it’s going to be an Islamic state… [hooting from the audience] Let me stipulate that Egypt probably will be… It’s going to have many of the precepts of Islam and I’m sure that’s going to be the prevailing religion. It’s not? [to Roger Cohen] You were there. I’d certainly be surprised if it emerged as a Coptic Christian state.

Egypt’s official religion is Islam. It does not have the same separation of church and state that we have in the U.S., but it is not an “Islamic state.” Till recently, Egypt sharply limited the role of Islamist parties. Israel, by contrast, does little to limit religious political parties.

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