Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



Why Obama is wrong to ignore the War Powers Act

Jun 18, 2011

Lizzy Ratner

The New York Times published a disturbing story this morning about Obama’s unusual decision to ignore the advice of two top administration lawyers in deciding that he was not required to obey the War Powers Act and seek Congressional approval to continue military attacks on Libya.  By now we should be used to this — the Constitutional scholar and one-time Iraq War critic flagrantly flouting the law to pursue a hawkish foreign policy in far-flung places.  But the audacity of his position — that the US is not involved in “hostilities” in Libya and therefore the War Powers Act does not apply — is still stunning.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, which litigated the first case under the War Powers Resolution among many others, released a statement today by its vice president Jules Lobel explaining the numerous errors in the Administration’s position. Lobel is a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School and a contributor to our book, The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

Obama Administration in Violation of War Powers Resolution

1. The United States is clearly engaged in warfare against the Libyan government. Both the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution require Congressional authorization for the Libyan conflict, which the Obama Administration has not obtained. Since 60 days have passed since the U.S. first initiated these military operations, the War Powers Resolution requires that the President terminate the operations unless he obtains explicit Congressional authorization.

2. The Obama Administration’s June 15 letter to Speaker of the House Boehner nonetheless argues that Congressional authorization is not necessary under the Constitution or the War Powers Resolution because of the limited nature, scope and duration of the U.S. military operations in Libya. It claims that the U.S. military operations against Libya “are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the Resolution’s 60 day termination provision”. “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors”.

This argument simply ignores the language of the War Powers Resolution and would permit the U.S. to engage in wars against other nation through the use of predator drones or long range bombing without Congressional authorization, so long as there are no troops on the ground.

3. The War Powers Resolution covers the introduction of U.S. troops into hostilities or into situations where the imminent involvement in hostilities is likely. Thus, the contemplation was that the Resolution would cover U.S. “involvement” in hostilities, and not simply situations where U.S. soldiers are engaged in “sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces”, or are suffering casualties. The Obama Administration’s letter would permit the U.S. to engage in high altitude bombing of a foreign nation, or predator drone attacks (and the Administration admits that such drone attacks are occurring against Libya) so long as there was no active exchange of fire or substantial risk of U.S. casualties.

4. The War Powers Resolution’s language definitively rejects the Administration’s contorted definition of hostilities. Section 8 of the Resolution, entitled Interpretation of Joint Resolution, states that,

“For purposes of this joint resolution, the term ‘introduction of United States Armed Forces’ includes the assignment of members of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country of government when such military forces are engaged. . . in hostilities.”

Certainly, United States military actions in support of the NATO forces directly engaged in hostilities fall within this provision. Indeed, here the United States was not and is not simply a passive participant or accompanier of foreign forces, but was one of the key instigators of this military action and played a key role in the early military strikes against Libya.

5. It is particularly unfortunate that President Obama’s high level legal advisors have chosen to take such an inappropriate and narrow view of hostilities, which would allow the President to bypass the Constitution’s and War Powers Resolution’s restrictions on unilateral Executive war making by either coordinating efforts with NATO or the United Nations, or engaging in high tech warfare to overthrow another government. Where, as here, the United States has directly engaged in warfare against another government (for whatever purposes, either purportedly noble and high-minded or not), is currently engaged in what the Administration terms are “surgical strikes” against the military forces of another nation (perhaps killing civilians as a “collateral” consequence), is actively involved in the command, coordination and participation of NATO forces attacking Libya, and has expended one billion dollars in this ongoing military operation, it is pure legal sophistry to claim that we are not involved in hostilities.

CCR calls on the Administration to comply with the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution and make its case before Congress regarding the continued need for military action in Libya. Failing that, Congress should refuse to relinquish its authority for oversight and authorization.

Israel’s war against Palestinian children continues

Jun 18, 2011


Silwan children abducted from their bedrooms / Mel Frykberg
SILWAN, occupied East Jerusalem (IPS) 16 June — “Father please help me! Don’t let them take me away,” screamed 12-year-old Ahmed Siyam as approximately fifty heavily armed Israeli soldiers and police dragged the handcuffed and blindfolded boy away. Last month Ahmed was pulled out of his bed at 4am by Israeli security forces led by Shin Bet agents from Israel’s domestic intelligence agency. He was taken to the Russian Compound police station in West Jerusalem where he was accused of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and police during clashes with Palestinian youth in the volatile neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem … Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI) reports that Israeli police opened 1,267 criminal cases against Palestinian children between November 2009 and October 2010 for stone throwing in East Jerusalem. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselemreports 31 of those children were from Silwan.
Teenage boy targeted as part of Israeli campaign against local family
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 18 June — A 14-year old boy was abducted by Israeli undercover forces from Bir Ayyub this morning. Ahmed Siyam was taken by an undercover unit from outside his uncle’s shop in Bir Ayyub and transferred to Salah al-Din police station. Police claimed that the boy “constitutes a danger to society.” Siyam was targeted for arrest by Israeli forces only yesterday, after attending the weekly prayer in the Al-Bustan protest tent. A relative of Siyam told Silwanic that it is likely he was targeted as part of a campaign against the Siyam family, after his father made statements to the press recently regarding the murder of local resident Milad Ayyash several weeks previously.
Beaten child transferred to hospital
[photos] Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 18 June — A child attacked by Israeli forces in Issawiya, north Jerusalem has been transferred to Hadassah Hospital. Ahmed Dahoud Siyam was beaten severely by Israeli security and undercover forces and was found by doctors to have broken his right hand. Dahoud told Silwanic that “they beat me all over… I felt nauseous. They punched me in the back every time the police car stopped. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, as though I was about to die. Once in the police station an officer threatened and cursed me.” Dahoud’s father stated that a police officer informed him he would not see his son again. His son was accused of stone-throwing next to Silwan spring, a claim his father suspects is untrue due to the spring’s distant location from their home. There were also no clashes in the village at the time.
Israel displaces 67 Palestinian children from their homes in May 2011
AIC 16 June — …From the beginning of 2011 Israel has demolished 215 structures in East Jerusalem and Area C. As a result of these demolitions, 437 Palestinians have been displaced from their homes, including 213 children. An additional 751 Palestinians were harmed from the destruction of essential facilities, of whom 449 are children. The United Nations estimates that 28-46% of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and Area C are under threat of demolition.

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
State moves to expand settlement on Palestinian land confiscated by Jordan
Haaretz 17 June — Israel is pushing ahead with a plan that would legitimize construction on land near the settlement of Ofra in the West Bank. The Supreme Court ruled as early as 1979 that settlements may not be built on confiscated private Palestinian land. The move’s legal foundation appears to hinge on the fact that it was the Jordanians, not the Israelis, who confiscated the land – before Israel took over the West Bank during the Six-Day War in 1967. Jordan had confiscated land from the villages of Ein Yabrud and Silwad to build a military camp.
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Cabinet expected to curtail Barak’s power to veto West Bank settlement construction
Haaretz 17 June — Anticipated decision would move control of World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division from Agriculture Ministry to Prime Minister’s Office — The cabinet is expected to vote on Sunday to curtail Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s authority to supervise construction in West Bank settlements. The proposal would revoke Barak’s right to veto West Bank construction by the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division. The division budgets NIS 25 million a year for this purpose.
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Barak: Palestinians shouldn’t mind WB construction
Ynet 18 June — Defense minister says settlement construction cannot fully stop due to ‘reality, natural population growth,’ but states ‘Palestinians shouldn’t care – they’ll get any house built on lands they get in talks’
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Israeli occupation Judaizes Islamic Umayyad palaces
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 June — The Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage (AFEH) warned that the Israeli occupation is racing with time to Judaize Umayyad palaces to the south of the Aqsa Mosque, as part of a plan to turn the surroundings of the Mosque into a biblical garden … The organisation added that one of its teams made a field visit to the site over the past couple of days and saw that work is being carried out from early morning till late at night and that steel platforms have been set up to the south of the Mosque and behind the Marwani Mosque … The organisation also said that it has learnt that the area will be announce part of a biblical route that extends from Eisaweyyah to the north of Jerusalem, through Jabal al-Masharef, to Wadi al-Jouz to Bab al-Rahma cemetery to the Umayyad palaces and the Buraq wall to the south western corner of the Aqsa Mosque to Wadi Helwa in Silwan and ending in the Bustan neighbourhood of Silwan. Meanwhile, there were reports that the occupation municipality of Jerusalem has closed two weeks ago the area between Bab al-Amoud and Sulaiman’s cave, and has been doing fundamental changes to the features of the area including changing the Arabic names to Hebrew names.
Occupation bulldozers demolish Palestinian homes in Negev
NEGEV (PIC) 17 June — Israeli occupation bulldozers demolished three residential structures in the villages of Karnab and Faraa, two unrecognised villages of Negev in southern occupied Palestine, as part of the occupation efforts to cleanse the Negev of Palestinian Bedouins. Head of the regional council of unrecognised villages, Ibrahim al-Waqili, said … “For the Zionist Ministry of Interior to choose this this time for the demolition is an indication that they aim to destroy man not walls,”… pointing out that the occupation authorities chose the time of final secondary exams to carry out such demolitions to demolish the hopes of affected students of passing their final exams.
Settlers set fire to Palestinian crops; IOF troops burn olive groves
NABLUS (PIC) 17 June — Extremist Jewish settlers on Thursday torched Palestinian crops in agricultural land belonging to the villagers of Awarta to the south east of the Northern West Bank city of Nablus. Qais Awwad, head of the village council of Awarta, told the PIC correspondent that settlers from Itamar and Yitzhar  settlements were behind the fires in the villagers fields. Awwad added that seven dunums (1 dunum= 1000 square meters or 1/4 acre) planted with wheat were affected by the fire before the Palestinian fire brigades managed to control the fire.
Meanwhile, IOF troops combing areas close to the village of Ya’bad west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin set fire to olive groves on Thursday afternoon  resulting in a fire which went out of control. Local sources said that the IOF troops started the fire and local residents as well as the Palestinian fire brigades fought the fire and managed to put it off, but only after the fire destroyed 30 dunums of olive groves.
1,000 settlers visit Salfit village tombs
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 17 June — A thousand Israeli settlers accompanied by Israeli military patrols entered northern West Bank village Kifl Haris overnight Thursday, villagers said. Checkpoints were installed at all village entrances and soldiers manned the roads, as the settler group came to pray at sites revered by both Muslims and Jews, a local center said in a statement. Settler news site Arutz Sheva reported that the settlers and army spent five hours in the Salfit-area village, which houses tombs believed to contain Joshua and Caleb, historical Jewish figures, and is surrounded by illegal settlements of Ariel, Revava and Immanue’l.
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Medics: Settlers assault Palestinian in central Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 June — A group of Israeli settlers harshly beat a young Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank, medics said. Anas Hashem Abu Al-Halawa, 21, came under attack while walking in central Hebron, Red Crescent official Naser Qabaja said. The incident, on Shuhada street, left Abu Al-Halawa with extensive bruising. He was admitted to the government hospital.
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Witnesses: Settlers torch farmland near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 June — Dozens of settlers on Friday set fire to farmland in Al-Mughayyir village near Ramallah, witnesses said. Villagers said settlers torched around 35 dunums of wheat. Israeli forces and Palestinian and Israeli liaison officials visited the area to investigate the incident.
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Gaza’s gas wealth kept from Palestine
[MAP] PalMon 15 June — Estimated to be worth at least $4 billion, gas deposits off Palestine’s territorial waters are being targeted by international corporations and the Israeli government. Currently the 1.5 trillion cubic feet of estimated reserves are split between British Gas (60 percent), the Lebanese Consolidated Contractors (30 percent) and the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). Following Egypt’s withdrawal of their gas suppliesfollowing the end of Hosni Mubarak’s military rule and his previous cheap price for Israel, President Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet began a concerted effort to keep the gas flowing to Israel rather than sold at fair market price to generate corporate profits and revenue for the now unified Palestinian government … Sixty percent of the known gas reserves off the Gazan/Israeli coast lies in Palestinian territorial waters.
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New excavation site in West Bank village has Palestinians on edge / Sean O’Neill
972blog 17 June — In a country guided by ethno-nationalism, an excavation site is rarely ever just about archaeology — The village of At-Tuwani, in the West Bank’s south Hebron hills, rises above Israeli route 60 as you come down from the city of Yatta with unmistakable roundness.   Its smooth shape is a telltale sign of centuries, if not millennia, of human habitation.  The village wraps around Tel Tuwani, a hill that has slowly grown as one layer of life has replaced the next.  Some are readily visible.  Old cave homes now serve as animal stables, several feet below the current road level, with homes made of large stones above them.  The concrete homes of a new generation are being built yet another layer up.  Old Roman-era tombs and wine presses are often visible on this hill and the hills nearby where villagers graze their sheep and goats. Now some of these layers are being stripped away, inspected, and studied … “They’re looking for ancient Israeli things,” says a woman on whose land the dig is taking place. “People are worried that if they find something Jewish, what happened in Susiya could happen here.” Susiya, the name of both a nearby Palestinian village and an adjacent Israeli settlement, is a good example of the politics that often accompany archaeology in Israel/Palestine.  The settlement was started in 1983, near the Palestinian village of the same name.  Three years later, the Palestinian village was demolished and its residents evicted to make way for an archaeological park because excavations had uncovered the ruins of a synagogue that dated from between the 4th and 7th centuries AD … The excavation [in At-Tuwani] began when the village tried to get permission from the Civil Administration to put in running water and to approve new construction of houses.
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Incursions (most not reported)
Army raids West Bank village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israel’s army raided Bil‘in, west of Ramallah, and fired tear gas, said Rateb Abu Rahmah, spokesman of the popular committee against the wall in the village. Abu Rahmah said troops intensively fired gas canisters and many of the residents were hurt after inhaling gas while wide areas of farmlands near the houses were set on fire.
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Activism / Solidarity
Troops attack West Bank anti-wall protests; ten injured
Ramallah (PNN) 17 June — Ten civilians were injured as Israeli troops attacked the weekly nonviolent protests organized at a number of West Bank communities … a group of officials from a number of EU consulates visited al-Nabi Salleh and watched the protest from a distance. Local sources told PNN that the EU officials were shocked by the military way of dealing with the protesters … A group of young men decided to take a “shower” with the military chemical water to show refusal to the army attack. One man was injured when a tear gas [canister] hit him in his back.
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Hundreds join weekly anti-wall protests across West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 June — Palestinians and international activists protested Friday against Israel’s separation wall in villages across the West Bank. Israeli forces fired-tear canisters at the demonstrators in Ni‘lin, Bil‘in, Nabi Saleh and Al-Ma‘sara, villages near Ramallah and Bethlehem. In Al-Ma‘sara, near Bethlehem, activists protested Israel’s decision to demolish a mosque in the village. Israeli troops used force to quash the rally, injuring three Palestinian protesters, the local popular committee said. The committee called for a demonstration Wednesday to stop Israeli forces from demolishing the mosque.
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Palestinians film West Bank protests with Israel-supplied cameras / Robert Mackey
NYTimes Lede blog 17 June — While journalists have found themselves scouring the Internet in search of video from protests across the Middle East recently, one protest movement, by small groups of villagers opposed to Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank, has gotten far less attention. Even so, there is no lack of footage of the weekly protests that my colleague Isabel Kershner described last year as a sort of slow-motion, “part-time intifada.” That’s true in part because an Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, has distributed video cameras to Palestinians to make sure the demonstrations do not go undocumented.

Nabi Saleh
18 June — …We made our way back to the beginning of the street, near the two houses that I was in before. We chanted and chanted. I looked at each soldier’s eyes. They betrayed no emotion. How do you explain that cool dispassionate stare? The tear gas was fired. Everyone ran. I ran. I forgot to hold my breath though. How do I explain tear gas? The nasty, acrimonious taste at the back of your throat, the sudden sharp stinging of the eyes, all coupled with unbridled fury. There are CHILDREN protesting, there are HUMAN BEINGS unarmed harmless using only the weapons of their voice-boxes, WHERE ARE THE EYES OF THE WORLD TO WITNESS THIS! The soldiers are decked out from head to toe looking like an infantry troop about to embark on another Operation Cast Lead, and here we are, no more than 40, all dressed in jeans and shirts and holding up posters, flags, two fingers in the victory sign. Before at breakfast the family recognized a new face and asked me why I came. I told them to see it firsthand. To know what it feels like to resist the occupation, as opposed to Ramallah’s suaveness. I wasn’t prepared for this fury though.
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Egyptian authorities refuse entry of 6 busloads out of 8 at Rafah
Gaza (PIC) 17 June …Palestinian security sources told PIC correspondent that the Egyptian authorities, in an unexplained step, returned six buses out of eight at the Rafah crossing denying dozens of passengers to travel on Thursday. The sources added that a state of discontent prevailed amongst the affected passengers and expressed surprise at the deterioration of the Egyptian declared policy of facilitating the travel of Palestinians through the Rafah crossing. Many passengers who were denied travel on Thursday have visas to third countries and air tickets which could mean they miss their flights or their visas run out before they could reach their destination. Dozens of Palestinians held a sit in on Thursday outside the Rafah border crossing calling for the permanent opening of the crossing which is the only gateway for Gaza residents to the outside world.
Rafah crossing opens for limited numbers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 June — Egypt will allow limited numbers of Palestinians to cross the Rafah border on Saturday, crossings officials in Gaza said. On Thursday, Egyptian authorities turned back six buses of Palestinians at the terminal. They will be the first to cross on Saturday, Hamas officials said. Around 12,000 people in Gaza have registered to cross the border into Egypt. Cairo is allowing 300 – 400 Palestinians to cross each day.
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Rezqa: Gazans can no longer bear humiliation at Rafah Crossing
GAZA, (PIC) 18 June — The Palestinians can no longer bear the humiliation received at the Rafah border crossing, said Yousef Rezqa, advisor to Gaza prime minister Ismail Haneyya. On Thursday, Egyptian authorities turned back six buses on a fleet of eight buses seeking to cross the border to Egypt. “This was aimed at disciplining Gaza over the peaceful protests against humiliation at the Rafah crossing,” Rezqa said in a statement to the local daily Palestine on Saturday. “Not one Egyptian would accept this unjustified policy,” he said. “It is inconceivable that Arab Egypt’s doors and skies are open to Jews and Americans and Indians and Africans, and anyone who wishes to travel there, while it deprives Gaza, which defends the honor of the [Arabs and Muslims], of the human and legal right to travel.”
Palestinians urge Egypt to ease restrictions at Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 June — Palestinian authorities in Gaza are urging Cairo to increase the number of travelers allowed to cross the Rafah border each day, crossings official Hatem Oweida said Friday. Oweida said 12,000 Gaza residents had registered to travel to Egypt by August, and that at least 300 – 400 must be allowed to cross each day to meet the demand. He urged Egyptian authorities to allow more travelers to cross each day and to speed up maintenance work at the terminal, which he said was slowing passengers’ transit.
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Delivery for Gaza medical shortages
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 June — The Turkish Red Crescent donated a truckload of medical supplies to the Palestinian Ministry of Health to meet ongoing shortages, the ministry’s PR head said Thursday. Omer An-Naser told Ma‘an that the truck contained medication which has run out in Gaza, to be added to a delivery of 20 truckloads of medical supplies to Gaza by the ministry on Saturday and Sunday.
Also Thursday, international humanitarian group Oxfam said the Gaza health ministry was forced into “emergency measures” by the “disastrous” state of the health service in the coastal enclave.
Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights called for President Mahmoud Abbas and Ramallah Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to “investigate thoroughly the reasons for the obstructed supply of medications … and to hold those responsible accountable,” the report said.
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PA sends 20 trucks of medicine to Gaza
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 June — The Palestinian Authority health ministry on Saturday sent 20 truckloads of medicine to the Gaza Strip to ease critical hospital shortages. Another 20 trucks will be transferred by Monday from warehouses in the West Bank city of Nablus to Gaza via the Erez crossing on Israel’s border, the ministry said in a statement. Ramallah Health Minister Fathi Abu Moghli said that the critical shortage of medicine in the Gaza Strip was caused by suppliers’ delays. But he accused the Hamas health ministry in Gaza of trying “to politicize the health sector” by blaming the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority for the shortages … The PA distributed medicines to hospitals in Gaza and the West Bank as soon as they were received from suppliers, he added. Abu Moghli said 300 types of medicine worth 10 million shekels ($2.91 million) as well as laboratory equipment and surgical items would be delivered to Gaza on Saturday … PCHR said the Gaza Strip had not received any medical supplies since February, and that shortages had led to a “devastating crisis” since early June.
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Australian surgeons operate in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 June — Two Australian surgeons are performing specialist operations in hospitals in the Gaza Strip, the union of health care committees said … The surgeons’ work will include complicated operations that are not usually available in the besieged coastal enclave on children who don’t have Israel’s permission to leave the territory, the union said in a statement … The delegation is funded by the Australian foundation Kind Cuts for Kids.
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from Dec 2009:
Gaza’s shrinking borders: 16 years of the Oslo process / Sharat G. Lin
[MAP of ever-tightening fishing limits] Forty-two years of military occupation and sixteen years of the Oslo Process have made Gaza a smaller place. Already one of the most densely-populated strips of land in the world, its population has grown during this period from less than 360,000 in 1967 to 1.5 million today. Meanwhile, its borders have not only become more impermeable, but they have been progressively closing in on what some have called “the world’s largest open air prison.”
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Short video: UNRWA summer camps kick off in Gaza
PalNote 17 June – from Ma’an- Children in Gaza attending UNRWA summer camps this year will attempt to break four world records in July, in an effort to top the two records smashed the year before. An Olympic-style torch relay through the Gaza Strip kicked off the summer camps, known as the UNRWA Summer Games, which according to organizers is the largest recreational program for an estimated quarter of a million children in Gaza.
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Gaza families shut down UNRWA summer camps
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 June — Homeless families in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday shut down UNRWA summer camps in protest over the agency’s failure to reconstruct homes destroyed during the Second Intifada. Gaza residents also closed UNRWA’s emergency department, social services office and ration stores, said Atiyya Radwan, who heads a committee of families whose homes have been destroyed. Over 40,000 families in Gaza have lost their homes since 2000, Radwan said, adding that they blamed the UN for failing to reconstruct the buildings. He said the UN gave priority to families whose homes were destroyed during Israel’s 3-week Operation Cast Lead offensive on Gaza, launched in December 2008. But the international body neglected families who lost their homes during the Second Intifada, or uprising, Radwan said.
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Egyptian businessmen postpone visit to Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 June — A delegation of Egyptian businessmen and entrepreneurs has postponed a visit to the Gaza Strip scheduled for Saturday. The visit was postponed for technical reasons, said deputy chair of the Palestinian association of businessmen in Gaza Nabil Abu Mualiq. The Egyptian delegation said they would visit Gaza as soon as possible, Abu Mualiq said in a statement. The group was scheduled to spend two days in the coastal enclave to hold meetings with businessmen in the Strip and discuss possible cooperation.
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‘UNRWA report on Gaza education false, biased’
JPost 17 June — The Foreign Ministry is hitting back at what it is calling a series of biased and false United Nations reports issued recently about the Gaza Strip, with plans to submit an official report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in the coming days. The Israeli report, prepared by the Civil Affairs Department in the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), is aimed at UNRWA, the UN body that assists Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
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Israel closes Gaza crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 June — Israel on Friday closed the sole operating goods crossing into the Gaza Strip [for the Israeli weekend], Palestinian officials said. Liaison official Raed Fattouh said Israel would reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing on Sunday.
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Palestinian desire for food security drives farming innovation / Rebecca Collard
Guardian 17 June — Gaza goes organic in bid for safer and more reliable supply of vegetables and fruit — In a rural area of the central Gaza Strip, Eyad Najjar plucks organic carrots from the sandy soil of his tiny farm. Najjar no longer uses fertilisers or pesticides for his plot, which also grows tomatoes, parsley, rocket, lettuce and spinach. Instead, a fishpond on the field’s far edge delivers water rich in nutrients via drip irrigation … But Najjar is not part of a hip, green revolution. In Gaza, organic agriculture has grown out of a concern for safe supplies of food. When Hamas took control in 2007, Israel imposed a crippling blockade. Not only were a number of foods blocked from entering, but stocks of pesticides and fertilisers also dried up. Israeli officials have said militants can use agricultural chemicals to make rockets. Food insecurity among Gaza’s 1.6 million people rose, and 80% became reliant on food aid, according to the Word Food Programme. Najjar was one of them.
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Young mechanics in Gaza dream of joining world’s Formula race
Xinhua 17 June — Happiness appeared on the face of the 20-year old Gaza young man Osama Othmani as he switched on the engine of a racing car he made with his colleague with humble materials and recycled parts, where he dreams to join the world’s Formula racing in United Kingdom on July. Othmani and his colleagues are students at a mechanic institute run by the United Nations in Gaza. They cheered up amid heavy applause as the engine of his new car started. It is the first time in Gaza Strip, which has been under a tight Israeli blockade for four years, that such a racing car has been made with recycled spare parts.
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PJTV: Civil lawsuit filed today against flotilla ships by terror victim
EL SEGUNDO, Calif., June 16, 2011 — A civil lawsuit has been filed today against 14 ships, including at least one American-registered vessel named The Audacity of Hope, which are set to participate in a reprise international flotilla against Israel.  Dr. Alan Bauer, a Harvard-educated biologist and terror victim injured in a 2002 Jerusalem bombing, is the plaintiff in the suit that was filed in Federal Court in New York City.
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IHH: Mavi Marmara will not sail with Gaza flotilla
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 June — The Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, which was raided by Israeli troops en route to Gaza in May 2010, will not join a flotilla to the coastal strip in the coming weeks organizers said Friday, amid conflicting reports as to what prevented its launch. “After the damage caused to the Mavi Marmara [during the raid], we are not in a position to go to sea,” said Bulent Yildirim, the president of the Islamic charity IHH which owns the ship and is spearheading the mission. Meanwhile the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that IHH members said port authorities in Turkey did not provide them with the necessary approval for the ship … The Turkish daily Hurriyet said Thursday that the government had been using “indirect channels” to pressure IHH not to sail with the Gaza flotilla … In its statement, IHH said pulling the Mavi Marmara from the flotilla, in which around 10 ships are currently preparing to sail from European and US ports, could strengthen the public diplomacy case. “The misinformation put forward by the Israeli government and its supporters that the flotilla is a ‘Turkish’ and ‘Islamist’ effort will be completely exposed.”
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Gaza flotilla organizers disappointed by Turkish group’s decision to cancel ship
Haaretz 18 June — Flotilla organizers hold urgent consultations following IHH announcement that Mavi Marmara won’t sail to Gaza; five to eight ships expected to take part in flotilla later this month … Speaking to Haaretz, a member of the coalition seeking the end of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza called the Turkish group’s decision puzzling. “It is hard to understand the motives behind the cancellation or postponement of the Mavi Marmara setting sail, even if it is political pressure,” he said.
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2 French ships to join Gaza flotilla
Ynet 18 June — Two French ships will join the Gaza-bound flotilla that aims to break Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip, the organizers of the initiative announced Saturday. One of the ships is to leave from Greece and the other from France. French organizer Claude Leostic said in a press conference in Marseille that the ship leaving from the Greek port will carry 25 passengers, including radical left-wing French politicians, as well entertainment and sports personalities.
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Israel to stop Gaza flotilla regardless of cargo
TEL AVIV (Reuters) 16 June – Israel will do everything necessary to prevent a planned international flotilla from reaching Gaza, despite the fact the ships will probably not be carrying weapons, a senior military source said. The source, who declined to be named, said Israel’s maritime blockade would only be deemed legal if it imposed a total exclusion zone around the small Palestinian enclave and urged the flotilla organizers not to challenge the navy.
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Canadian Boat to Gaza announces the delegates who will be aboard the Tahrir
MONTREAL, QUEBEC (Marketwire – 06/16/11) — Before the end of June, the Canadian ship Tahrir will join the Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human, carrying civil society delegates from coast to coast, international partners, and journalists from a range of media organizations.  The delegates on board the Tahrir include politicians; Jewish, Muslim and Christian Canadians; artists, peace and human rights activists; small business owners; some of whom have taken part in previous flotillas …Also on board the Tahrir will be Former Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and professor of Indigenous Studies at Queen’s University Robert Lovelace
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Don’t look away — the siege of Gaza must end / Kathy Kelly
Voices for Creative Nonviolence 16 June — In late June 2011, I’m going to be a passenger on “The Audacity of Hope,” the USA boat in this summer’s international flotilla to break the illegal and deadly Israeli siege of Gaza. Organizers, supporters and passengers aim to nonviolently end the brutal collective punishment imposed on Gazan residents since 2006 when the Israeli government began a stringent air, naval and land blockade of the Gaza Strip explicitly to punish Gaza’s residents for choosing the Hamas government in a democratic election.
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International abduction
Israel: Engineer to be held for duration of trial
JERUSALEM (AP) 16 June — An Israeli court has ruled that a Palestinian engineer abducted from a train in Ukraine will remain in custody until his trial ends. Israel accuses Dirar Abu Sisi, 42, of masterminding Hamas’ rocket program and training fighters in Gaza. He is charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and weapons production. He denies the charges. Abu Sisi disappeared from a sleeper train in Ukraine on Feb. 19 and resurfaced days later in an Israeli prison. The details of his capture and transfer remain unclear.

Overnight detentions bring town total to 10 in June
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 16 June — Israeli forces detained two from the town of Azzun, east of Qalqiliya, during raids overnight, local sources told Ma‘an. Locals say the detentions are just the latest in a string of night raids targeting residents, and have seen ten of Azzun’s men and teenagers detained since the start of the month. The invading troops used stun grenades as they surrounded two homes in the village, taking 20-year-old Makram Abu Haniyeh, and 17-year-old Mustafa Hussein, to an unknown destination.
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Prisoners brutally beaten by Israeli guards
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 June — Two detainees in Israel’s Etzion prison near Bethlehem were brutally beaten during an interrogation, a lawyer representing political prisoners told Ma‘an. Mahomoud Al-Amour told the lawyer that he was beaten, handcuffed and blindfolded upon entering the interrogation room, before being thrown to the ground. He said he passed out for two hours after being repeatedly jumped on by guards. He had clear bruises on his face and body, according to the lawyer. Mahmoud testified that he was forced into falsely answering the investigator’s questions as a result of the beating, which was filmed by video camera. The lawyer mentioned that the man has been urinating blood as a result of his treatment. The other prisoner, Haitham Al-Amour, was also beaten, suffering head injuries, according to the lawyer.
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Qaraqe: Prisoners’ health conditions reach catastrophic levels
Ramallah (PNN) 17 June — Minister of Prisoner Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, stated on Friday that the health conditions of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli military detention facilities have reached a critical level. When visiting one of the prisoners from the village of Tamun in northern West Bank, Qaraqe said, “There is no place for silence and waiting in the face of the serious conditions of political prisoners, especially those who are disabled and those with chronic diseases.” Minister Qaraqe urged Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the UN, to interfere promptly to save the lives of sick Palestinian political detainees, and spoke of the medical negligence and refusal of care in Israel detention facilities.
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Report: Palestinian prisoners in Israel use Facebook
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 June – Trying to show that Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s custody enjoy VIP treatment, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv published Wednesday a report by Amit Cohen who monitored the Facebook accounts of some prisoners.
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International campaign demands firm measures to halt Israeli abduction of MPs
GAZA (PIC) 18 June — The international campaign to release detained Palestinian lawmakers has addressed urgent messages on Saturday to speakers of world parliaments asking for their immediate intervention to stop Israel from re-arresting MPs. It charged that the systematic Israeli policy aimed at paralyzing the Palestinian legislative council and foiling the Palestinian reconciliation process.
Abu al-Suabah calls for enabling captives to sit GCSC exams
GAZA (PIC) 17 June — Minister of Prisoners and Ex-prisoners Affairs, Dr. Attallah Abu al-Subah, called on human rights organisations to intervene to enable Palestinian captives in Israeli occupation jails to sit the exams for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), which captives have been denied over the past three years. He added that the prison authorities did promise to allow captives to take the exams this year, but so far have not started implementing the measures for those exams to take place. Hundreds of prisoners are waiting to be allowed to take the exams as the number of captives waiting for the exams grew up to reach about 1800.
Merkel, Sarkozy call for Gilad Shalit’s release amid new efforts to secure deal
Haaretz 17 June — In an usual move, the two European leaders issue joint statement calling for release of abducted IDF soldier; according to foreign media, there have been renewed attempts at advancing prisoner swap deal with Hamas.

Political / Diplomatic / International news
Negotiator: UN bid with or without negotiations
RAMALLAH (AFP) 17 June — Palestinians will seek UN recognition and membership regardless of whether there is a resumption of peace talks, negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh said on Thursday. His comments were made as the international community pushes a raft of new peace initiatives in a bid to head off the Palestinian push for UN membership.
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Abbas calls on EU to recognize Palestine
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 17 June – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas urged European Union nations on Friday to separately or collectively recognise the state of Palestine.
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Palestinians stick to call for settlement freeze
JERUSALEM (AP) 17 June — The Palestinians are sticking to their demand for an Israeli settlement construction freeze in the West Bank, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Thursday, complicating President Barack Obama’s latest peace drive. Obama recently outlined his vision of two states based on the pre-1967 war lines, with mutually agreed land swaps. The president’s call for talks did not mention a new settlement freeze, and U.S. officials have indicated it is not essential to the restarting of talks.
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EU, Israel spar over peace prospects
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 June — The EU’s top diplomat had a terse exchange with Israel’s Avigdor Lieberman on Friday … Lieberman told her there was “zero chance” of resuming peace talks given the Palestinians’ determination to seek UN support for their state, and that if it happened, it would render null and void the 1993 Oslo Accords and all the other agreements reached since.
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Lieberman: Palestinian UN bid undoes Oslo accords
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 June — The Israeli foreign minister said Friday there was zero chance of talks resuming and all past agreements could be broken if Palestinians go to the UN, Israeli press reported. Avigdor Lieberman made the comments at a breakfast with European foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, as she began a day of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials in a bid to revive peace talks between the two sides.
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Barghouti arrives in Gaza to meet factions
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 June — Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti arrived in Gaza late Thursday to meet with factions on ways to overcome obstacles to a Palestinian reconciliation agreement … The former presidential candidate declined to discuss reports he is being considered for the post of prime minister in the unity government, saying only that “what is needed now is implementation of the agreement.”
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Haniyeh courts Turkish PM as Israel sends wishes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 June — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh invited his Turkish counterpart to visit Gaza in a phone call Thursday evening, a statement from the Haniyeh’s office said. The Gaza premier congratulated Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the re-election of his Justice and Development Party [AKP] in the country’s Sunday vote, and welcomed his victory speech. On Sunday, Erdogan said the AKP’s win would benefit Palestinians, as well as Bosnians, Lebanese and Syrians, alluding to the party’s regional ambitions.
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Egypt’s foreign ministry denies meeting with Israeli official
MEMO 17 June — An Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson, Menha Bakhoum, stated on the ministry’s website that “what was circulated in the media and cited by an Israeli newspaper about a meeting between foreign minister Dr Nabil El Arabi and Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, is totally untrue.” The ministry’s website further clarified, “this alleged meeting did not take place, and even if it is true, the Egyptian foreign ministry would not find anything wrong to declare.”
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Palestinian Authority fears Israeli tax transfer freeze
Gaza (Ria Novosti) 18 June — The Palestinian National Authority will be unable to meet its budgetary obligations if Israel again stops the transfer or tax payments from Palestinians, which make up two thirds of the monthly earnings of the Authority, the PNA said on Saturday. On Friday, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel was ready to stop transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian authority from the beginning of next week, if there was a declaration of formation of a “national unity” government as part of an agreement between the Palestinian HAMAS and Fatah movements. PNA representative Hassan Al-Khatib said the PNA had requested financial help from the Arab League if Israel carried out its threat, but it had received no reply.

Thabit warns: Relinquishing right of return might be price for Palestinian state
BEIRUT (PIC)- 18 June — The Beirut-based Thabit organization for the Palestinian refugees’ right of return warned Friday that the Palestinian Authority’s attempt to seek statehood with the UN risks relinquishing the Palestinian refugees’ right of return for good. The statement came Friday after PA president Mahmoud Abbas called on European nations to recognize Palestine as a state, and ahead of the World Refugee Day on June 20 … According to the Thabit, some 11 million Palestinians have spread across 132 states, with a large majority in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, in the largest and oldest diaspora in the world. “The declaration of an alleged Palestinian state this year — whether or not it happens — only means two things: one is an end to the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization; and the second: a write-off of the refugees issue and right of return. The aspired state has no value without the Palestinian refugees’ return to their homes and property they lost after the 1948 Nakba.”
Racism / Discrimination
Man to have Jewishness revoked after newspaper interview / Dimi Raider
972blog 16 June — The Israeli-born son of a Holocaust survivor told a newspaper he wasn’t Jewish by religious law – and had access to state services temporarily frozen, and his nationality put under review. But this is no isolated incident: Religion plays an increasingly dominant role in the mechanisms of the state.
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Yellow Pages scrambles to defend ‘No Arabs’ ads / Dimi Reider
972blog 15 June — Yellow Pages have responded to demands to take down ads advertising “Jews Only” businesses by claiming they can’t refuse ads carrying business names approved by the company registrar. This doesn’t stand up to even the most rudimentary fact-checking.
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AG to Netanyahu: Stop bill giving preference to IDF veterans
Haaretz 16 June — Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein tells Prime Minister that the bill, which gives preference to applicants for government jobs who are veterans of Israel Defense Forces, is discriminatory.

WAFA monitors incitement and racism in Israeli media
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 18 June — Palestine News and Information Agency (WAFA) monitored incitement and racism against the Palestinians and Arabs published by the Israeli media between June 3 and 6. ‘Today’ program on  the Israeli ‘Reshet Bet’ radio station hosted Avichai Rontzki, former military chief Rabbi of the Israeli army and a resident of Itamar settlement, who considered the murder of five settlers in Itamar months ago an “ordinary event by Palestinians.” … NRG website published an article by Shmulik Rifman, chairman of Ramat Negev regional council, in which he urged the Israeli government to respond to Goldberg Report’s recommendations to organize Bedouin communities in Negev. He considered these communities as ‘ticking social bombs’ and called to address this issue immediately. He said that Bedouins are an unorganized expansion in the consumed large pieces of Negev lands. They occupied and diminished several hills and open areas as well as obstructed the possible economic potentials that are unreachable now … NRG website also published a piece of news by Eric Bender, in which he referred to Knesset Member for Yisrael Beiteinu, Lia Shemtov’s suggestion to the Israeli army; use “diarrhea gas” to deal with intruders who cross the Israeli borders.  “The Arabs are adjusted to tear gas now, therefore, the Israeli army should use additional substances. If these terrorists realized they will have diarrhea in the end, they won’t cross the borders. In case this doesn’t help and the terrorists became a threat to our soldiers, live bullets will be necessary,” said Bender … NFC website also published a racist article by Hen Ben-Eliyahu, calling the Arabs and the Palestinians “Nazis” and calling President Mahmoud Abbas “a Nazi peace partner.” He claimed that the Nazi Palestinian narration corresponds exactly with the ethnic theory that was adopted by the Third Reich.
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Israelis try to set new mass wedding record
AFP 18 June — Some 160 newlyweds attend mass civil marriage ceremony in Cyprus, try to break world record of largest matrimonial event … It is estimated that 1,000 civil marriages involving Israelis take place in Cyprus each year, with many couples coming to the island because they are unable to have a religious ceremony back home … Russian-born partners Vladimir Levchin, 30, and Natalie, 34, said they participated because they couldn’t get married in Israel, as they are a mixed-faith couple.
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Other news
Where freelance means abandoned / Mohammed Omer
GAZA CITY, Jun 17, 2011 (IPS) – Sitting by the hospital bed of freelance photographer Mohammed Othman, Ashraf Abu Amrah knows that nobody owns a freelance journalist from Gaza who gets injured, or dies. “When a news agency crew is injured, the world reacts with anger, and human rights groups send letters of protests,” Abu Amrah, 29, himself a freelance photographer, tells IPS. A Palestinian free-lance journalist in Gaza is on his own, he says … An international group recently donated bulletproof vests, helmets and safety equipment to journalists in the region. “Freelance photojournalists were not given any,” says Shtawi. Most of the new equipment, he says, was given to the wealthier news agencies, which can afford such equipment anyway … Eyad Al Baba has worked six years as a freelance photographer selling images to foreign news agencies. “Freelance media should be recognised in hot spots like Palestine by an organisation that protects them,” he tells IPS.
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Palestinian soccer seeks points for statehood
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 17 June — For years, Palestinian soccer was disorganized, underfunded and hindered so much by Israeli travel restrictions that games were often forfeited because players couldn’t arrive for kickoff. But the sport is growing, with new stadiums rising across the West Bank, the local soccer federation hosting international competitions, and the Palestinians set to host their first-ever World Cup qualifying match next month. On July 3 the Palestinian team will welcome Afghanistan in an early-round World Cup qualifier. Players say boosting the game is about more than sports: It’s a mission to build an independent nation. “When teams come play on our land, it’s a way of recognizing the Palestinian state,” said 26-year-old player Murad Ismael. “That benefits the Palestinian cause, not just Palestinian sports.”
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Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation starts ‘Know your heritage’ campaign for diaspora youth
Bethlehem (PNN) 15 June — The Holy Land Ecumenical Christian Foundation and its partners started the Know Thy Heritage Project, aimed at Palestinian youth in diaspora by organizing yearly visits for youth groups to reconnect them with their Palestinian roots … Anthony Habash, director of the project, said that the campaign is a Palestinian campaign that will stretch from July 14 to August 2 that aims to bring Palestinians together from home and abroad in addition to helping the efforts to construct the Palestinian state in the hearts and minds of Palestinian youth everywhere. [Next question: will Israel let them in?]
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Hot topics transformed into games
SMH 19 June — THE object of online game Raid Gaza! is simple: ”You get 5 minutes. Eliminate as many Palestinians as possible.” Players are instructed to spend 10,000 shekels on missiles, tanks and helicopters, which then fire on a clutter of buildings meant to represent the Gaza Strip. A scoreboard counts the number of Palestinian casualties, which climbs at a faster rate than Israeli casualties, and graphics arise congratulating the player with ”Bonus Hospital Hit!” or ”Bonus UN School Hit”. The game, which features in the documentary Gaza Shield that screens at the Arab Film Festival, enraged three Lebanese artists who decided to create Gaza Shield for players ”against the killing of innocent women and children”. These are just two examples of what Professor Ian Bogost of the Georgia Institute of Technology calls newsgames, which transform current issues into games in order to inform or persuade players.

Analysis / Opinion / Statements
A response to accusations made against Shaikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in Palestine
MEMO 16 June — This statement was issued by the Office of Shaikh Raed Salah, Um al Faham … Specific recent allegations: With reference to the question of Al Aqsa Mosque and the Buraq/Western/ Wall, Sh. Raed stresses that he has no personal opinion about this; what he stands by is rooted in Islamic doctrine as well as international law which regards this as part of occupied Palestinian land. He cannot compromise on this to satisfy the occupiers or their supporters.
It has been claimed that he repeated a “blood libel” by saying, “among those whose blood was mixed with the sacred (Jewish) bread”; this is an absolute lie and a malicious fabrication. Sh. Raed was questioned by the Israeli authorities over allegations that he made such a remark, which he refuted categorically challenging them to provide any shred of evidence and they could not.
With regard to the statement that “the Creator made from you [the Jews] monkeys and losers”, this is again a lie and fabrication. We challenge anyone to provide any true evidence that such words were ever uttered by Sh. Raed Salah.
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Palestinian statehood and bypassing Israel / Lamis Andoni
AL 16 June — Israel breaks international law and UN agreements under the guise of “protecting state legitimacy” — Israel, backed by the US, has started a campaign to preempt a Palestinian drive to win United Nations recognition of an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israeli in the 1967 war. If such a recognition is secured, it will neither lead to an establishment of a Palestinian state nor would it stop the continued Israeli colonisation of Palestinian lands. Nevertheless, Israel is mainly concerned that the Palestinian move would restore the United Nations resolution – and international resolutions – as the main reference for solving the conflict.
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Look, “who started…” is not what 1948 is all about / Dimi Reider
978blog 18 June — “The Arabs started the war” has been a long-standing Israeli argument against the commemoration and amendment of the wrongs of the Nakba. But the truth is that the Nakba is what happened during and after the war — not how it began … But what caused the war isn’t and has never been the true challenge of the Nakba. The true challenge is what happened after the war was caused. Even if we accept Avineri’s argument that “they started,” it’s still unclear why Israel had to expel neighborhoods, towns and villages; and if, somehow, we accepted that, it’s very unclear why this had to be accompanied by massacres; and even if we accept (heaven forbids) that massacres and expulsions happen in wars, no amount of “they started” can excuse the still-standing ban on the refugees and survivors to return. In other words, if someone picks a fight with my on my street, and I proceed to not only soundly beat him but to burn his house, kill and expel his family, and then his banish all his neighbors neighborhood, taking over their properties and violently preventing them from coming back, “who started” will need to be reported in the newspapers, but will form a very weak defense in any court.
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Deny! Deny! / Uri Avnery
18 June — I am fed up with all this nonsense about recognizing Israel as the “Jewish State.”  It is based on a collection of hollow phrases and vague definitions, devoid of any real content. It serves many different purposes, almost all of them malign. Binyamin Netanyahu uses it as a trick to obstruct the establishment of the Palestinian state. This week he declared that the conflict just has no solution. Why? Because the Palestinians do not agree to recognize etc. etc. … The courts favor the words “Jewish and democratic state.” But that is far from being the only definition around.The most widely used is just “Jewish State.” But that is not enough for Netanyahu and Co., who speak about “the nation-state of the Jewish people,” which has a nice 19th-century ring. The “state of the Jewish people” is also quite popular. The one thing that all these brand-names have in common is that they are perfectly imprecise. What does “Jewish” mean? A nationality, a religion, a tribe? Who are the “Jewish people”? Or, even more vague, the “Jewish nation”? Does this include the Congressmen who enact the laws of the United States? Or the cohorts of Jews who are in charge of US Middle East policy? Which country does the Jewish ambassador of the UK in Tel Aviv represent?
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Experts fear Israeli design to balkanize Arab states / Adam Morrow & Khaled Moussa al-Omrani
CAIRO (IPS) 18 June — Developments in Libya have raised fears among Egyptian analysts and political figures of the possible break-up of the North African nation into two warring halves. To support the assertion, they point to longstanding Israeli designs – supported by the western powers – to balkanise the Arab states of the region … the fact that NATO – despite its overwhelming air superiority – has so far failed to dislodge the Gaddafi regime has led many local observers to question the western alliance’s intentions. “The western campaign against Libya wasn’t undertaken to protect human rights or foster democracy,” said al-Sakhawi. “It was launched with the aim of breaking Libya up politically so as to prevent the unification of three revolutionary Arab states – Egypt, Libya and Tunisia – which together might pose a threat to Israeli regional dominance.”
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U.S., U.K., France as collaborators
US Zionist hypocrisy and the punishment of a young Palestinian cartoonist / David Baldinger
15 June — Today, I received a letter containing bad news from Majed Badra, a young Palestinian cartoonist. He was very excited to be coming to the USA to learn about political cartooning and the culture of the USA. This program includes stops in New York City, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Maryland,  Portland, Oregon and finally St. Petersburg, Florida. Many events are planned that include meeting with professional US political cartoonists and seminars about press freedom, journalism, Human rights and ethics. Majed encountered a slight problem, however. He had the audacity to criticize the state of Israel for its occupation of the Palestinian territories and the inhuman treatment of the Palestinian people in his cartoons … Dear David, I was nominated to participate in the (International Visitor Leadership Program) “Political Cartoonist Program” on June 20, 2011 to July 9, 2011. After I got the VISA, and have the tickets for flying, I took a holiday from my work, and I canceled all my obligations, even I leave more than 2 works chances and I prepared myself for traveling in few days. I received a call from the General Consulate in Jerusalem and they told me that they refused my participation due to the anti-Semitic nature of some of my cartoons … In the fact, I’m not (anti Semitic and anti Jewish), I respect all religions, I just wanted express that I’m against the Israeli occupation, settlements, killing, siege and injustice, and how much we want democracy, human rights, freedom and two states solution.
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Video: France prosecutes Palestinian activist
PressTV 18 June — One of the leaders of a pro-Palestinian group in Paris has been sued for racial hatred after she called for a boycott of Israeli products from the occupied Arab land. On Friday, Olivia Zemor of the CAPJPO-EuroPalestine group was taken to court by pro-Israeli groups after she appeared in a video made back in 2009 at a supermarket in the French capital that called for the boycott of products made on the land occupied by Israel since 1967 … Around 80 people are facing trial in France for calling for a boycott of Israeli products.
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London is turning into Israel’s laboratory in preparation for 2012 Summer Olympics
PNN 17 June — By David Cronin  – The current issue of muckraking journal Private Eye reports that Heathrow Airport will have shiny new equipment for screening passengers installed with the help of several Israeli firms as part of preparations for next year’s Olympic Games. The sporting event affords an opportunity to run a ‘live test’ on the Total Airport Security System (TASS), a 14.5 million euro ($21 million) project mainly financed by the European Union … The project is being coordinated by Verint, an Israeli supplier of surveillance equipment (or “actionable intelligence solutions,” according to its own bumph). Another participant in the consortium is Elbit, which made many of the pilotless drones that Israel used to devastate Gaza during 2008 and 2009 … This is by no means the first indication that Israel’s shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach to security has caught on in London.
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At Netroots, Rep. Keith Ellison supports Palestinian statehood initiative at UN

Jun 18, 2011

Philip Weiss

Last night at Netroots Nation, I had a conversation with Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, one of two Muslims in the Congress, and after I congratulated him for his outspokenness on Gaza, he told me of his support for the Palestinian statehood initiative in the United Nations.

“We all say we’re for two states. Everyone is for two states. Well for me this is the rubber meeting the road. Why do we oppose it if we are for the two state solution?

“Because,” he said, answering his own question, “we are captured by the Likud and to the right of the Likud. We are not captured by Israel or even by the lobby.” Israel, he said, has a more diverse political discourse than the United States, and as for the lobby in the U.S., it’s more progressive than people give it credit, it’s the Republican right that is making trouble.

“We are captured by the dispensationalists and the dominionists. It’s a myth that the Jewish lobby is doing it. Every single Jewish congressman in the Democratic Party is for two states and for peace. But the Republican party is drivng the debate, and it’s dominionists and dispensationalists who need the Jews of Israel for the end times.”

I disagreed with him. His is the conventional dodge of any Democratic or by extension communal Jewish responsibility for Palestinian rightslessness, when support for Israeli maximalism is imbedded in his own party. I told Ellison about the debate between his good friend Brian Baird, a former congressman, and then-congressman Anthony Weiner in New York in March. “Weiner has said racist and intolerant things, including that there’s no occupation.”

Ellison said, “I don’t think that Anthony necessarily represents where the Democratic Party would be given its druthers.” He said that Jews vote 80 percent for Obama and their concerns are far more diverse than Israel, they have a progressive agenda. Again we differed. I said that opinion polls show that Jews are conservative on the Israel issue, against dividing Jerusalem for instance, and that this is not a trivial area for us, and we’re an empowered community.

“A lot of communities have had you know people who are not tolerant, Every community has its own us versus them going on,” Ellison said, and he included the black community. “But you got to remember 80 percent of Jews voted for Obama.”

He went on to say, “I’ve been to Sderot, I understand the Israeli security need.” He said he has heard some insensitivity toward Israeli concerns from the Palestinian solidarity community.

The fault in Ellison’s thinking is, Rightwingers can’t be driving this debate if they did not have adherents inside the Democratic Party; and they do. Anthony Weiner is hardly alone. The Democratic Party is also extreme. And Obama is, according to the Wall Street Journal and Commentary and the Jewish press, afraid of losing Jewish money, which is likely a majority of Democratic giving, if he say, comes out against settlements in the Security Council or supports a Palestinian state in the General Assembly.

I’m having some great conversations at Netroots, meaning kindred spirits, like Ellison. But in spite of Ellison’s great efforts, this issue continues to be special, even in the progressive community. Yesterday at Netroots, a heavyweight panel including two congressmen (John Garamendi, Jim McGovern) and Darcy Burner and Steve Clemons said that Democratic Party antiwar folks have to make common cause with the Republican libertarians on Afghanistan, so as to get us out of there, by putting pressure on the president. The thrust of the panel was that Obama has become a war president, and we must take him on by talking, from an American national interest, along with Republicans, about how much money we are wasting that we could be spending on education and infrastructure.

There is no panel here to talk about a creative coalition to take on the Republican right on settlements/Palestine. Because support for Israel no matter what is actually embedded in the Democratic Party’s left-prog base.

Though again, I’m having good conversations here, there are a lot of us here. Netroots is like J Street that way. The base is to the left of the leadership. More to come soon.

Update: This post initially said that Ellison is the only Muslim in the Congress. He was the first. Andre Carson of Indiana is the other.

John Greyson’s latest brilliant BDS video

Jun 18, 2011


Canadian filmmaker John Greyson will be traveling on the Canadian Boat to Gaza, the Tahrir,  joining the global effort of Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human.

On the heels of taking off tomorrow he just finished another fantastic witty, fresh, must-see BDS video.

Sure I’m nervous — we all remember what happened with the Mavi Marmara last year, when nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos — but I feel very honoured (and safe), travelling with an incredible, diverse group of longtime peace activists from across the country — some of whom are featured in the video.

Gaza Island from Albino Squirrel Channel on Vimeo.

Thanks John, travel safely in peace but most importantly…Stay Human.

As a personal aside I don’t know if it’s just me..the videos seems to get progressively better and better. Who wrote those ‘Dylan’ lyrics? and Paul Simon? Who woulda thunk we’d be on opposite sides decades down the road, my personal fallen heroes.

hello darkness my old friend.


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