Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


State Department awards $200,000 to Elliott-Abrams-led thinktank repeatedly cited by mass murderer Breivik

Aug 11, 2011

Philip Weiss

Jim Lobe asks, How many times did mass murderer Anders Breivik refer to the Middle East Media Research Institute in his Islamophobic manifesto?

Well I just went to Breivik’s manifesto and I counted, 23 references to MEMRI or MEMRITV.

MEMRI is an Israel lobby shop. Its directors include Elliott Abrams. Its advisers include a lot of Bush-era neocons, Bernard Lewis, Norman Podhoretz, John Bolton, not to mention Mort Zuckerman, Ehud Barak (the former Israeli P.M.) and Edgar Bronfman.

Why are we asking about MEMRI? Look at this at the State Department–they’re giving em money!

You connect the dots. I’m too tired! From State’s “International Religious Freedom” office:

Office of International Religious Freedom Funds Middle East Media Research Institute Project

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 11, 2011

The Department of States Office of International Religious Freedom in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor awarded a $200,000 grant to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) to conduct a project that documents anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and Holocaust glorification in the Middle East. This grant will enable MEMRI to expand its efforts to monitor the media, translate materials into ten languages, analyze trends in anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and glorification, and increase distribution of materials through its website and other outlets.

Through translations and research, MEMRI aims to inform and educate journalists, government leaders, academia, and the general public about trends in anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the Middle East and South Asia, thus generating awareness and response to these issues. MEMRI is a non-governmental organization based in Washington, DC, whose research is translated into ten languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Hebrew.

The Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (SEAS) advocates U.S. policy on anti-Semitism both in the U.S. and internationally, developing and implementing policies and projects to support efforts to combat anti-Semitism. The Special Envoy was created by the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, and is a part of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Who’s paying for Congress to summer in Israel? Liberal foundations that give halls to Princeton and Yale and fund Human Rights Watch

Aug 11, 2011

Philip Weiss

The center of student life at NYU is a striking building called theKimmel Center on Washington Square. Martin and Helen Kimmel have given NYU millions. The Kimmels also give tons of money to the Metropolitan Opera, the Museum of African Art, Habitat for Humanity, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Sidwell Friends School, and Human Rights Watch too.

Yesterday the Washington Post said that 81 congresspeople are going to Israel this summer “courtesy of the AIPAC lobby”– as if we have the bad old right-wing Israel lobby to blame.

But that’s a delusion. It’s people like the Kimmels, the heart and soul of the liberal Jewish establishment. The Kimmels give bigtime to the American Israel Education Foundation, the AIPAC spinoff that funds charities and pays for congresspeople to travel to Israel. The Kimmels gave $3.5 million to the American Israel Education Foundation, or AIEF, over several recent years, according to the Form 990s that their family foundation has provided to the government.

Indeed, my search of 990s shows that the AIEF is getting tons of money from the same people who fund good liberal institutions. I’ve looked at about a third of more than 300 federal filings of charitable contributions to the AIEF in recent years; and the pattern is clear–many people who give to liberal causes like abortion right also pay for Israel junkets.

The Abby and Mitch Leigh Foundation gave the Abby and Mitch Leigh Hall to Yale University’s music school. It also gives generously to the Center for Reproductive Rights, which took on the Bush Administration on abortion policy. Well, the Leigh Foundation has given $35,000 to send your congressperson to Israel.

Or the Wilf Foundation. It gave Princeton University a lovely new brick dormitory called Wilf Hall, which is under construction. And meantime the Wilfs have given $150,000 to the AIEF, according to government filings.

Consider the Arlene and Daniel Fisher Foundation– the Fishers love the arts. They give money to the Actor’s Fund, the Roundabout Theater and the Manhattan Theatre Club, where young friends of mine have done workshop productions. But they also gave $175,000 to the American Israel Education Foundation, which is paying for congresspeople to learn how great Israel is.

Or Margaret and Richard Lipmanson Foundation. It gave the liberal group the ACLU $10,000 one year– and the American Israel Education Foundation $30,000.

Or the Long-Island-based Susan and Leonard Feinstein Foundation. It helps liberal causes, education and the arts– Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the American Ballet Theater,  Nassau Coalition Against Domestic Violence, NYU School of Medicine. But the Feinstein Foundation gave $450,000 to the American Israel Education Foundation over eight years.

Yes, the American Israel Education Foundation gets hundreds of thousands, millions even, from rightwingers. Sheldon Adelson gives it money, for instance. There are many obviously-conservative Jewish-oriented foundations in the lists of AIEF givers. Susan Wexner’s foundation  funds AIEF and also the David Project and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

And Haim Saban, the “ardent Zionist” toymaker, gave $8 million to the American Israel Education Foundation over two years and more than $6 million to the Friends of the IDF (Israeli army).

Saban was also giving millions to Bill Clinton’s Presidential Foundation and the Brookings Institution.

And that’s the point. When you comb through the lists of people who are paying for 1 out of 5 Congresspeople to spend their recess in Israel this summer, many of them are the heart and soul of the liberal Jewish establishment. And apart from the political corruption question– why is a Congresswoman in Israel not her home district this August as the economy disintegrates?– these donor lists speak to a larger cultural issue: the inability of the liberal establishment to address the Israel/Palestine issue in a liberal fashion.

When Princeton, and Yale, and NYU, and Human Rights Watch, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the American Ballet Theater, and the Manhattan Theatre Club and the ACLU are getting huge gifts from these foundations, do you think they don’t know which side their bread is buttered on?

Netanyahu’s 5,524 ‘Concessions.’ Or, ‘All your onions chopped to perfection without shedding a single tear!’

Aug 11, 2011

Paul Mutter

The most tangible gain an Israeli protester can hope to win from the housing protests in Israel, is, well, a house (leave aside “intangibles” like political clout and minority rights, ok?). And the Israeli government is making concessions!

No, really! Don’t change the channel!

Has Netanyahu got a deal for you!

You want houses? Well, then, they’ll give you houses!

We have the 930 housing units (“they’re just the thing you need!”) in Har Homa I reported on earlier in the week, plus the1,600 announced homes in Ramat Shlomo and 2,700 more pending in Givat Hamatos (2,000) and Pisgat Zeev (700) that Adam mentioned in his post earlier today (“we’re practically giving them away!”). And don’t forget the 294 new homes announced for Beitar Illit and Karnei Shomron at the very end of July.

And it’s all Israel’s for just three easy payments of US$185.33 million annually!

That’s 5,524 “concessions”* to the demonstrators in less than two weeks! These are tangible gains we are talking about here (the fine print: assuming you want to live in East Jerusalem – otherwise, you’ll have to put your name and a deposit down on a waiting list for that Haifa co-op you’ve been eying).

“But wait, there’s more!” Netanyahu will also negotiate with the protesters over the cost of living in Israel! Such beneficence! And don’t think for a second that 5,524 is the limit. Oh no, at a minimum, we have at least 1,500 more in stock for this season!

Will the protesters soon have guns or butter moment and say to themselves “Hey, you know what? The cost of the Occupation is an indirect tax digging into our pocketbooks, and it’s a moral tax on Israel’s image, too. Maybe these 5,524concessions* are actually symptomatic of the problem! This isn’t a solution! This is a cop-out!” Is Bibi on the ropes?


Netanyahu, like an American infomercial host, knows exactly what kind of snake oil he’s selling. Beyond Tent 1948 and its environs, several hundred thousand pigeons are either happily snapping up the crumbs the PM is tossing them, or are too skittish to shy away from him and disrupt the flock.

*This figure does not include indirect concessions, such as theroughly 400 home demolitions that have taken place just this year in the West Bank.

Holy moley, Rick Perry says ‘my faith requires me to support Israel’

Aug 11, 2011

Philip Weiss

From Justin Elliott at Salon, more at the link:

Josh Rogin…  digs up an interview Perry gave to the Weekly Standard in 2009 in which the Texas governor explicitly said his views on the Middle East are informed by his evangelical Christianity:

“My faith requires me to support Israel.”

That’s a remarkable statement for a man who could be president — beingrequired by one’s faith to support a foreign country. Of course, what “support” means is open to interpretation; I’ve asked Perry’s office for elaboration.

It’s only in the context of his Christian Zionism that Perry’s emotional new comments to Timeabout Israel and its West Bank settlement project make any sense:

“The idea that the President would make this statement about going back to the ’67 borders sent a chill down all of my friends’ back and certainly mine. Israel is our friend. Israel is a democracy in the middle of a part of the world where having a democracy is really important.”

I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more of this rhetoric from Perry as he tries to attract pro-Israel evangelical voters in the GOP primary.

How could Congress be so tone-deaf as to go to Israel when US is in crisis?? Greta Van Susteren asks

Aug 11, 2011

Philip Weiss

TV personality Greta Van Susteren has nailed it.  “Please tell me Congress is not doing this… they could not be that tone deaf….no one could be.” Look at the comments. Those folks get it too. Her post in part:

I just received a press release [included at link] that 84 Members of Congress are taking a free trip next week to Israel.

Please tell me this is not so: that while we are in crisis, 84 Members of Congress are getting an all expense paid trip to Israel instead of returning to DC to work on our economic crisis (or even review the March GAO report which outlines billions of dollars of waste that they are ignoring but you are paying????) How could they?

Don’t get me wrong. I support Israel. [Security boilerplate for two paragraphs] …

Meanwhile, WE in the USA are in crisis right now (15 million Americans are looking for work to put food on the table and 45 million are on food stamps.) Do we really need to have 84 Members of Congress leave the USA instead of returning to DC to work?

How about we just send 4 Members to Israel? (2 R’s, and 2 D’s) The 4 can meet with Israeli officials, and get information and return and brief the 80 who didn’t go. Chances are they would get more information than if you crammed 84 + people in one room with Israeli officials.

And what should the 80 do who would not go to Israel on this free junket ? The 80 should return to DC now and put their nose to the grindstone and help get us out of our economic hell. Just a return to Washington would be an important message to the American people that they care! We at least need that!

Yes but Greta if we only send four, how will people know who the other 80 disciples are to give the money to?


Gaza, Somalia: Humanity lives on

Aug 11, 2011

Ramzy Baroud

I remember how exhilarated I felt when I was told I was old enough to fast for the month of Ramadan. My feelings had little to do with abstention from food and drink between dawn and sunset each day. For a child, there is little joy in that. The meaning and implications for me were much greater. I believed that the occasion signaled I had now become a man. I wanted to share this news with all my brothers, friends and neighbors.

Three days into the fast, lethargy set it. The end seemed near. Although I fared well in my first attempt at fasting for an entire month, I had my weak and reprehensible moments. I hid in dark corners with my favorite snacks: a cucumber, a tomato, a loaf of pita bread. To be caught would be shameful and degrading, a regression back into childhood, a terrible example to my younger siblings, and a ripe topic of ridicule from my older brothers.

Ramadan in a Gaza refugee camp is an entirely different experience from Ramadan anywhere else. A malnourished population of impoverished refugees abstains from food and gives endless thanks for life’s fortunes. The irony didn’t escape me then, as it doesn’t escape me now. The Imam of our refugee camp’s Great Mosque would spend much time thanking Allah for his numerous gifts. Hands extended to the sky, and faces lowered to the ground, the faithful would repeat in impressive unison: ‘Amen’. Even as Israeli helicopters buzzed above their heads and military vehicles speed nearby, the faithful kept their faces lowered. Even as the smell of gunpowder and teargas poisoned the atmosphere, their hands stayed extended. “Alhamdulilah,” said the Imam. Thanks to God. And the crowd repeated, “Amen.”

I tried to make sense of all this as I struggled with my hunger pains. I questioned the wisdom of the whole endeavor. At times, I even challenged my mother. Fasting herself, she had no room for a self-indulgent, sacrilegious eight-year-old. “We fast to feel the pain of others,” she said simply. Any child in a refugee camp could understand the meaning behind her words. Our refugee camp was rife with ‘others’ in pain. One of them was Umm Ali, a mother forced to take her children out of school and send them to work as cheap laborers in Israel. Another was Abu Musa, a construction worker in Tel Aviv who just about managed to feed his own children, but never managed to repair his decaying house.

Since my family was also a member of the ‘others’ club, I fasted. And like all the ‘others’, I thanked God with a lowered gaze and extended arms.

Years later, in 1999, I joined a group of journalists and peace activists on a trip to Iraq. The aim was to stand in solidarity with all those devastated by the US-led siege. According to modest UN estimates, hundreds of thousands of people – the majority of whom were children under the age of five – were killed as a result of the decades-long sanctions.

For this trip, we flew in from different countries and congregated in Jordan. I myself had flown in from the US. One delegation member arrived from Gaza with nearly $10,000 dollars, which he had collected from schools, mosques and the street. The Israelis didn’t allow him to haul boxes of medicine donated by Gaza hospitals, and the Iraqis didn’t allow him entry because his passport had been stamped in Hebrew letters. The young man left the money in trusted hands, asking them to purchase medicine for Iraqi children from Amman. As he turned back at the Jordan-Iraq border on the way back to Gaza, he asked me to convey the solidarity of Palestine and Gaza to the people of Iraq.

In this way, Gaza speaks. Gaza Feels. Gaza takes stances and Gaza conveys regards.

Expectedly, the Horn of Africa famine is now generating quite a stir in Gaza. Starving Somalis are also now the ‘others’ whose pain we are urged to feel. 11 million people are reeling under the encroaching famine, and tens of thousands have already died. Somalia is the epic center of the disaster. The hunger of its people shames humanity to its core. Stories from the region tell of the absolute horror experienced by whole generations. Yet scenes of mothers tenderly comforting their dying children also tell a different story. It is a story of love, one that no statistic can capture, no politician can override.

Gaza, itself under a harsh Israeli siege imposed since Hamas was elected to power in 2006, has been one of the first places to respond to calls for help.

During a recent Al Jazeera interview, the head of a Somalia-based charity mission decried the lack of support his people were receiving. He lambasted the world, particularly Arabs and Muslims. He seemed puzzled by the fact that little support is reaching the victims even during the holiest of Muslim periods. Then he spoke of the aid arriving from Gaza. The news anchor cut him off quickly at this point, and moved on to a ‘related topic’: aid sent by the Qatari government.

I wondered about it myself. Could Israel-besieged Gaza really be sending aid to famine-besieged Somalia?


One of multiple Gaza-led charity campaigns to aid Somalia is called “From Gaza: hand in hand to save the children of Somalia”. According to Ma’an News Agency, this latest effort is led by the Arab Medical Union. “The campaign aimed to demonstrate the extent of physical cohesion between besieged Gaza and Somalia and that the Palestinian people are capable to support and stand with the Somali people,” Ma’an reported on August 2. Palestinians in the West Bank are also mobilizing around help for Somalia. The doctor’ union has opened several bank accounts to accommodate donations.

My mother’s generation must be immensely proud. Their endless sermons about the ‘pain of others’ has registered well in the minds and hearts of their children. Somalis, too, I am certain, can fully appreciate the pain of Gaza.

Gaza. Somalia. Even in its darkest moment, humanity somehow lives on.

Ramzy Baroud ( is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), available on

Hoyer uses AIPAC junket to promise US veto on Palestinian statehood

Aug 11, 2011


Congressman: US ready to veto recognition bid
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — US representative Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that the Obama administration would use its veto at the UN Security Council if Palestinians move forward with a bid for recognition in September.  Hoyer, the Democratic Whip of the House of Representatives, is in the region leading a congressional delegation sponsored by a pro-Israel lobby group, the AIPAC-backed America-Israel Education Foundation.
Marwan Barghouti warns of protests if US wields veto
CAIRO (AFP) 10 Aug — A Palestinian leader jailed in Israel has warned Washington that vetoing a Palestinian state at the United Nations would spark huge regional protests, Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported Wednesday. Marwan Barghouti, a leading member of the dominant Fatah party convicted of organizing attacks against Israelis during the second intifada, gave an interview to MENA through his lawyer from an Israeli prison. “Voting against the Palestinian state would be a historic, deadly mistake in the record of US President Barack Obama, in whom there was hope for change,” he said of Palestinian plans to ask the United Nations for state recognition.
IDF chief joins brigade’s surprise inspection
Ynet 10 Aug — Army tests readiness of Binyamin Brigade, deployed in Jerusalem and Ramallah vicinity areas, ahead of September as Palestinians plan to take statehood bid to UN. Chief of Staff Benny Gantz joins troops to get first-hand impression …  Last week it was revealed that an internal Israeli parliamentary report showed that Israel doesn’t anticipate violence in September, but it proposed reserve soldiers be called up just in case.
Palestinians plan for calm protests
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 10 Aug  – Palestinian leaders have drawn up a plan to keep their rallies in September peaceful, officials said Wednesday, hoping that violence-free demonstrations would boost their drive for a U.N. recognition. The rallies, set for Palestinian territories and abroad, are to coincide with a hoped-for U.N. endorsement of a Palestinian state.

Western diplomat: UN statehood bid will harm US-Palestinian Authority ties
Haaretz 10 Aug — …”If the PA will go to the UN in September, it will make it harder for us to have the same relations with them as we had before when it comes to aid and security training,” the diplomat said. “We want that to continue that cooperation but it will make it harder for us. It is easier to work together as partners.”  According to the diplomat, the U.S. is trying hard to prevent a confrontation at the UN in September.

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Video: Tear gas, sound grenades and rubber-coated bullets at Nabi Saleh
The Israeli Occupation Army attacked Nabi Saleh Village once more on Monday [8 Aug] causing injuries and suffocation among the villagers. This is the third day of attacks since Friday 5 in an apparent attempt to quell the resistance of the village.
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Video: Al-Walaje demo August 10 2011
Dozens of olive trees were uprooted in Walaje. and it seems many more will be uprooted.
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11 detained at rally near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — Israeli forces detained 11 protesters Wednesday afternoon during a rally in the village of Al-Walaja, near Bethlehem, the village committee and Israel’s army said. Alaa Darras, a member of the village’s local committee against the wall, said Israeli troops dispersed the rally using tear gas and stun grenades. Soldiers also physically attacked protesters before detaining four internationals, six Israelis and a Palestinian man identified as Hisham Khalid Al-Atrash, Darras said … The activists were protesting the Israeli separation wall, which annexes village land … The village of Al-Walaja was, in 1948, the second largest land area after Jerusalem but was cut down to one third the size when Israel declared statehood that year. Now a border village, Al-Walaja is edged on its eastern flank by an expanding bloc of settlements and is being reduced in size by the path of the wall, which annexes between two to three kilometers of village lands from the pre-1967 border.
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VIDEO: Al Walaja: A kid’s view
My town of Bedford, England has a friendship link with Al Walaja, a Palestinian village. Here is what I made of our visit there.
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Throwing rocks / Linah
4 Aug — I had denied it for too long now, but for a Palestinian, my rock throwing is shockingly abysmal. On one of the Fridays I spent in Nabi Saleh, I had grumbled out loud at this particular incompetence of mine, and I suddenly found myself surrounded by eager teachers. It was the Friday of the flotilla model. That day was mostly spent indoors as after the first couple of hours of the protest, the Israeli army aimed and fired tear gas at whoever so much poked their heads out the door … Earlier that day, as activists were cooped up in Bilal and Manal Tamimi’s house, one Israeli activist, a first-timer here, was standing in the middle of the room drawing attention to himself as he loudly asserted that throwing rocks automatically cancelled out a “non-violent protest.” Another activist was arguing with him, pointing out that the rocks were barely the source of bodily harm, but to me they were missing the point completely.
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Victoria, Australia threatens further crackdown on boycott activists / Annie
Mondoweiss 9 Aug — Things are heating up in Australia. The turmoil over boycott arrests previously covered here has escalated. A group called Defend the boycott Israel 19 has issued a press release today announcing Pro-Palestine activists arrested in dawn raids calling this “the most severe crack-down on civil liberties in decades”. Protesters were arrested on the pretense of “breaching bail conditions”, and it is said that they will be held until September 5th. This is just days after the Victoria government issued an unprecedented request by calling in the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to investigate citizens who have joined the BDS campaign.

Australia’s repression of BDS movement coordinated with Israel / Kim Bullimore
EI 9 Aug — …Charged with ‘trespassing’ and ‘besetting’, those arrested are now facing fines of up to AUD $30,000 (approximately US $32,300). The 1 July action, organized by the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, had sought to highlight the complicity of two Israeli companies, Jericho and Max Brenner Chocolate, with Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. The action was the fourth protest against both companies since December 2010 … Max Brenner Chocolate, the other Israeli company subject to BDS protests in Melbourne, is owned by the Strauss Group — one of Israel’s largest food and beverage companies. On its website, the Strauss Group emphasizes its support for the Israeli military, providing care packages, sports and recreational equipment, books and games for soldiers. [this article doesn’t prove coordination with Israel, as far as I can see; headline may not have been written by the author]
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Internet, phone service restored in Gaza
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — The Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel said Wednesday technicians were working to renew services to the Gaza Strip following an unprecedented outage overnight. Paltel executive manager Ammar Al-Aker told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers destroyed a fiber-optics cable near the border that cut mobile, Internet and international landline services for over 12 hours beginning late Tuesday. Al-Aker said bulldozers struck several cables, the first of which was located eight meters [26′] underground. Backup cables 20 meters [65′] deep also sustained damage, eventually taking the entire network offline. Jawwal towers receive signals from the cables, he said, so mobile services shut down … An Israeli military spokeswoman denied involvement in the incident that damaged the wire
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Population of Gaza fears invasion in midst of communication blackout
IMEMC 10 Aug — Late Tuesday night, residents throughout Gaza lost internet, cell phone and landline phone service, creating a communication blackout similar to one which occurred just before a massive Israeli invasion in 2008. The blackout sparked fear among Gaza residents that an Israeli invasion might be underway … During the 2008-9 invasion of Gaza, Israeli forces bombed the main power plants, plunging Gaza into a sea of darkness. Due to the ongoing Israeli siege, the electricity infrastructure of the Gaza Strip has been unable to fully recover,
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Gaza blackout / Linah
10 Aug — When I finally got home yesterday it was already around 1 am. After having iftaar at a great aunt’s house, we then went to another aunt’s house to welcome back her son from the ghurbeh-six years spent studying in Russia. I was dying for internet access. I’ve become somewhat of an addict, and for some reason the internet in my aunt’s home wouldn’t work on my laptop. The hours spent drinking tea and coffee and eating qatayif were a bit marred by the black looks I was shooting my mother. Yallah Ma are we planning on sleeping over? I had planned on cobbling another informal post about the second PalTweetUp meeting. Instead, news across Twitter quickly spread about a mass communications cut in the Gaza strip, entering its seventh hour. My heart dropped somewhere between my toes. The first thought I had was “Ground Invasion. Air Raids. Naval Attacks.” In short, another Operation Cast Lead.
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Palestinians blame Israel for Gaza blackout
Al Jazeera 10 Aug — Internet and phone services were shut off in Gaza late on Tuesday night, putting the blockaded territory into an information blackout for around 12 hours. Palestinian telecommunications officials blamed Israeli bulldozers for severing fibreoptic lines into Gaza, but Israel denied its army had any connection to the problem. The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories said the outage was likely an internal Palestinian problem, and a spokesman for the Israeli army wrote on Twitter that bulldozers had not been digging at Nahal Oz, where the cables cross into Gaza. Officials from PalTel, which operates Internet and phone networks in Gaza, told Al Jazeera that Israeli bulldozers cut the cables at Nahal Oz two weeks ago, forcing the company to use another set of communications lines at the Erez crossing, which were then cut on Tuesday. PalTel needed permits to repair the lines but had not yet received them from Israel, chief executive officer Ammar al-Aker said.
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Gaza crossing unaffected by telecoms shutoff
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) – The coordinator of the crossings authority Raed Fattouh said Wednesday the Kerem Shalom crossing would open partly for 300 trucks containing aid for the trade and agriculture sectors. He added that 99 trucks of gravel for UN projects and cooking gas would enter. On a related note, general-director of the Palestinian crossings authority Nazmi Mhana said that the unprecedented cutoff in communication would not affect daily quantities of goods entering the enclave.
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Hamas: No improvement at Rafah crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — Gaza Interior Ministry deputy Kamel Abu Madi said Wednesday there had been no improvements at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. “The working procedures at the Rafah crossing are as usual and no improvement has occurred,” Abu Madi said. He added that Egyptian authorities were still preventing Palestinians who had fled Libya from entering the Gaza Strip. The official said there were serious discussions with Egyptian authorities over ongoing issues which he hoped would be resolved soon.
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Health ministry: Cancer patients are exposed to pharmaceutical piracy
GAZA  (PIC) 10 Aug — In a press release, spokesman for the ministry Ashraf Al-Qudra stated that one third of the total medicines, about 62 types, used by cancer patients are out of stock. Spokesman Qudra affirmed that Gaza hospitals have not been provided with these vital medicines since the crisis of medical supplies started to worsen last July.

National Assembly for Democracy calls for stopping Israel’s arbitrary measures against sick Palestinians
RAFAH (WAFA) 9 Aug – The National Assembly for Democracy Tuesday called on human rights organizations worldwide to intervene to provide a safe passage to sick people from and to Palestinian or Israeli hospitals in the West Bank, in light of the Israeli interrogation and extortion measures, according to a press statement issued by the Assembly
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Crippled terrorists back in action
Ynet 10 Aug — What PR value is there in a military display that includes crippled and injured operatives? According to the Islamic Jihad’s website, the military wing recently held maneuvers in which veteran members of the Jihad who had been injured over the years in battles with Israeli forces had a starring role. The maneuvers included sights not usually seen on the battlefield, one-legged men carrying Kalashnikov rifles or RPG launchers while leaning on crutches or sitting in wheelchairs … Based on the photos, it is extremely doubtful that the maneuver participants are capable of fighting, but through the images and the maneuver itself the Islamic Jihad is looking to show the Palestinians their tenacity. “The injury has damaged my body but not my will,” summarized al-Rahman. [apologies for the word ‘terrorists’;  would have preferred ‘fighters’ but not my headline]
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Revived Mujahidin faction emerges in the Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (JPost) 10 Aug — Ansar Al-Mujahidin says it wants to bridge divisions between Hamas and Fatah; “rise of jihadist groups in Gaza creating headache for Hamas.”  A new break-away armed faction with declared links to Fatah has emerged in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip claiming to have thousands of members. At a press conference held after evening prayers in Gaza this week, a trio of masked men dressed in camouflage and toting assault rifles said they were the Ansar Al-Mujahidin [all of it?], an independent Palestinian political armed faction in Gaza and with roots in the Fatah-held West Bank.

Number of West Bankers who refuse to comply with summonses on the rise
RAMALLAH (PIC) 10 Aug — The number of Palestinian citizens who jointed the youth campaign against summonses issued arbitrarily by the Palestinian authority security apparatuses in the West Bank has risen since the signing of the national reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah factions. A Palestinian youth campaign active in the West Bank has documented about 100 cases in which Palestinian citizens refused to comply with wanton summonses issued against them to go to headquarters of security apparatuses for interrogation
Witnesses: Israel army detains 2 teens in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — Israeli forces detained two Palestinian teenagers overnight Tuesday in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar, locals said. Soldiers detained Ahmad Jawabreh, 15, and Muhammad Eqtet, 16, after raiding their homes, popular committee spokesman Muhammad Awad told Ma’an. Awad said a Molotov cocktail had been thrown at an army watchtower at the entrance to the town but caused no injuries.
A military spokeswoman said there were no arrests in Beit Ummar overnight. She said three Palestinians were detained in Idhna, west of Hebron.
Meanwhile Yousef Abu Maria, a member of the national committee to resist the wall and settlements, said Israeli forces raided the Al-Mantara area. Soldiers fired stun grenades before entering homes, she added.
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Rights group condemns Israeli arrest of Al-Jazeera journalist
RAMALLAH WAFA) 10 Aug — The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) Wednesday condemned the Israeli authority’s arrest on Tuesday of Samer Allawi, Al-Jazeera bureau chief in Afghanistan. The center considered the arrest of Allawi, as he was leaving the West Bank to Jordan through Al-Karama (Allenby) bridge after spending a vacation with his family in the city of Nablus, “a blatant violation of freedom of speech and international law.”
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Prisoner transferred to hospital in critical condition
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 10 Aug — Sick Palestinian prisoner Zakaria DAwood, 42, was transferred on Wednesday from Naqap prison to Soroka hospital, near Beersheba in southern Israel, in a critical condition, according to Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe‘e. Qaraqe‘e told WAFA that Dawood, from Bethlehem, who has served nine years of his 14-year sentence, was transferred from Naqap prison after he lost consciousness and the ability to speak. Dawood, who has been sick while he was imprisoned, did not receive any treatment and lost a lot of weight in one month, weighing now 35 kilograms, to be discovered later that he had head tumors.
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Prisoner granted access to medical equipment
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — The Israeli prison administration will allow a Palestinian prisoner suffering from severe diabetes access to vital medical equipment, the Palestinian prisoners’ society said Wednesday. Ahmad Asfour, 23, will be connected to a machine which injects insulin into his body. The decision came after the prisoners’ society sent a letter to prison authorities informing them of Asfour’s condition. Asfour was seriously injured during the war on Gaza … He was also severely wounded in his stomach and chest, undergoing an operation to remove part of his intestine and pancreas.
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Prison service raids Nafha jail cells
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) 10 Aug — A representative of the Palestinian prisoners society said Tuesday after visiting Nafha prison that the Israeli prison’s administration raided a cell area during dawn prayers. Forces searched the detainees “brutally” during the raid on section 11, room six, he said. According to the rights group, detainees went on hunger strike even after breaking the fast because the prison service had agreed not to cause any “escalations” during the Muslim holy month.
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B’Tselem: Map of the restrictions on Palestinian movement in Hebron, August 2011
Map [download PDF] showing the restrictions on movement of Palestinians and opening of businesses in Hebron’s center.More on the topic
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Political / Diplomatic / International
Campaign for UN bid launched in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — The national campaign to support Palestine’s bid for membership of the United Nations was launched Tuesday in Ramallah. Representatives of civil society, unions and youth activists met for the first meeting of the campaign’s preparatory committee.
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Israel denies it agreed to discuss a nuclear-free Middle East
Haaretz 10 Aug — Israel said Wednesday there has been no change in its position regarding a nuclear-free Middle East, and that it has not received an invitation to a conference on the matter, sources at the Israeli Nuclear Agency told Haaretz. Their statement comes after the Associated Press reported Israel and Arab countries agreed in principle to attend a conference hosted by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Israel has said for more than a decade that it is ready in principle to hold an unbinding discussion, but not negotiations on “learning from others about the experience of establishing of a nuclear-free zone.”
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Hamas official: Internal Israeli pressure will spark movement on Shalit deal
Haaretz 10 Aug — Moussa Abu Marzouk tells London-based Al-Hayat that Hamas is interested in deal on captured IDF soldier, but group’s stance unchanged — Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk believes that internal pressure in Israel and changes in the composition of the Israeli negotiating team will lead to positive movement toward reaching a prisoner exchange deal that will include the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
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UN: Israel, Lebanon hope to avoid maritime border dispute
Reuters 10 Aug — Both countries claim an 850-square-kilometer stretch of sea off their coasts, close to an area where U.S. and Israeli firms have discovered two massive natural gas fields.

Other news
Palestinian university ranks seventh in Arab world
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — An-Najah University in Nablus ranks seventh in a list of the top 100 universities in the Arab world, according to findings published by Spanish public research body CSIC. An-Najah is ranked as the top Palestinian university and is among the top 5% of 22,000 universities worldwide, a study published by the group in July 2011 found.
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Analysis: Ambitious plans to boost oPt transport, trade infrastructure
RAMALLAH (IRIN) 10 Aug – Developing transport and trade infrastructure in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is the focus of a growing number of proposed donor and Palestinian Authority (PA) projects, but it remains to be seen how many of them will ever come to fruition … Donors and the PA have been struggling to develop transport infrastructure like roads and international crossing points essential to move goods and people, due to access and building restrictions in the West Bank, mainly in Area C. Over 1,000 Israeli checkpoints and physical barriers hinder the movement of goods and people in the West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
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Clergy welcome scholars at annual theological conference
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — The sixth international theological conference opened Monday in Bethlehem, as theologians and intellectuals gathered from more than 17 countries and various Christian denominations.
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West Bank: Not everyone’s laughing at Palestinian TV comedy
LA Times blog 10 Aug — Imad Faragin last year launched a political-social satirical TV show called “Watan ala Watar” (“Country on a String”). The short series, which was sponsored and aired daily on state-owned Palestine TV during last year’s fast month of Ramadan, was a hit mainly because of its harsh and funny criticism of Palestinian political, social and civil society leaders and organizations. Happy with the positive reviews he got, Faragin, the writer and main actor of the show, decided to do it again for this year’s Ramadan. Following the same style, he hit hard in a comical and sarcastic manner at more or less the same officials and groups. However, this time the reaction was different … “Officials are more tense this year than before,” Faragin said. “I imagine the reason is because of the Arab Spring. They are afraid that too much criticism may lead them to the same fate as other Arab officials.”

Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
The people want a reset / Amira Hass
Haaretz 10 Aug — As the movement grows, some will continue to think and demand “justice” within the borders of one nation, at the expense of the other nation that lives in this land. Others will understand that this will never be a country of justice and welfare if it is not a state of all its citizens.
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Feeling the pain of ‘others’: humanity lives on / Ramzy Baroud
ArabNews 9 Aug — Could Gaza under the Israeli siege really be sending aid to famine-besieged Somalia? …Ramadan in a Gaza refugee camp is an entirely different experience from Ramadan anywhere else. A malnourished population of impoverished refugees abstains from food and gives endless thanks for life’s fortunes. The irony didn’t escape me then, as it doesn’t escape me now. The imam of our refugee camp’s Great Mosque would spend much time thanking Allah for his numerous gifts. Hands extended to the sky, and faces lowered to the ground, the faithful would repeat in impressive unison: “Amen.” Even as Israeli helicopters buzzed above their heads and military vehicles sped nearby, the faithful kept their faces lowered. Even as the smell of gunpowder and teargas poisoned the atmosphere, their hands stayed extended. “Alhamdulillah,” said the Imam. Thanks to God. And the crowd repeated, “Amen.” … I tried to make sense of all this as I struggled with my hunger pains. I questioned the wisdom of the whole endeavor. At times, I even challenged my mother. Fasting herself, she had no room for a self-indulgent, sacrilegious eight-year-old. “We fast to feel the pain of others,” she said simply.
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Israel’s manipulation of soccer violence dissected in new book /Steven Salaita
EI 8 Aug — Magid Shihade’s new book Not Just a Soccer Game is a thorough exploration of internecine conflict among Palestinian citizens of Israel, using a series of violent events in 1981 as a foundational point of analysis that leads to a wide-ranging assessment of failed Israeli state policies vis-á-vis its Arab minority.
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How will the tent protest movement respond to gov’t plan to address housing crisis through expanded settlements?

Aug 11, 2011

Adam Horowitz

The J14 “tent protests” focused on housing and economic issues in Israel continue to grow, and the government is starting to respond. Several commentators, including Joseph Dana on the London Review of Books blog and Abir Kopty here in Mondoweiss, have taken the movement to task for ignoring the occupation and the needs of Palestinians inside Israel even as it professes to focus on social justice issues. Protest organizers have claimed their protest is “apolitical” and have avoided commenting on the occupation out of a desire to maintain a patchwork coalition that represents both elements of the left and right within Israeli Jewish society.

The days of this “strategic ambiguity” however may be coming to an end. Interior Minister Eli Yishai has signed off on the construction of thousands of new settlement units in Jerusalem, half of which are in the occupied territories. Ynetreports:

Sources in the Interior Ministry said that Yishai views the projects as one of the solutions to Jerusalem’s housing plight, adding that the recent induction of the National Housing Committees’ Law, has allowed for the projects’ authorization process to be accelerated.

The article goes on to quote Peace Now as saying the government is “cynically using the current housing crisis in Israel to promote construction in the settlements”. True as this may be, the question remains – how will the J14 movement respond?

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