Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Two boats are a day and a half from Gaza, and plan to arrive at daylight

Nov 03, 2011

Philip Weiss

Democracy Now! is covering the latest Gaza flotilla, with exclusive video coverage from Jihan Hafiz, who is aboard the Canadian boat, the Tahrir. And here is a portion of Amy Goodman’s conversation with Hafiz, one of five journalists on the boat.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, we can hear you fine. Can you tell us the latest report from where you are in international waters? You’re on the Tahrir, the Canadian boat. The other boat that is alongside of you, the Irish boat—have you made contact yet? And what are your plans, the group’s plans, on the two boats at this point?

JIHAN HAFIZ: Yes, for the first time today, actually since this trip was planned, the delegations from the Canadian boat were able to make physical contact with the Irish boat. As we’ve been sailing, it’s been—the seas—the waters have been very rough here. So they haven’t been able to board the boat, and we haven’t been able to board their vessel. However, the plan is to continue the voyage, to continue this voyage to Gaza, regardless of the threats coming from the Israeli government. And in fact, both teams met today to hold meetings with the journalists and delegates on board to discuss a strategy for when the Israelis do intercept the boat, if they intercept the boat, and what will take place from there.

We’re about 120—excuse me, 150 to 170 kilometers off the coast of Gaza. It will take us about another day and a half to get there.

As I mentioned in the report, the activists and the organizers of both flotillas do not want to reach Gaza’s borders, at least the territorial region, until daylight. They do not want to have a similar situation to what happened to the Mavi Marmara. That boat was attacked in the evening. And they want to avoid any kind of misperception about violence, if violence is committed. As mentioned in the report, as well, there’s also a commitment to nonviolent resistance. There was training for that today on the boats to make sure that if we do come in contact with the Israelis, there will be no confrontation from those on either boats. Aside from that, the spirits have been very high.

AMY GOODMAN: Jihan, is there a boat that is following you?

JIHAN HAFIZ: At the moment, there is not. There was—last night, up until 4:00 in the morning, on our side, there was an unidentified boat that was following us. The only other boat that followed us out of international waters was the Turkish coast guard. So, from the boat, we all presumed it was the Turkish coast guard, but there’s no longer anyone following us. It’s only the Irish boat and the Canadian in open waters.

AMY GOODMAN: Jihan, we—you took us on a tour of the boat you are on, theTahrir, and we met some of the activists on board—Canadian, Australian, there’s a U.S. citizen on board, as well. Who’s on the Irish boat?

JIHAN HAFIZ: These are solely Irish delegates. Some of them are former members of parliament. We haven’t been able to sit down and speak with them, but we do know that there are three to five on board who are former members of parliament. Also, they’re a group that has been making—that has continuously made efforts, through different initiatives, to reach Gaza. And we haven’t been able to speak with them, but they have been to Gaza a number of times before, some of the delegates. And they planned this on their own, in close coordination with the steering committee here. However, we have not been in touch with them at all. They’ve sort of been on their own in this journey, mainly because of the waters, but also because of the secrecy of the planning of this. So they’re mainly—it’s mainly an Irish delegation.

I also want to mention that the Canadian boat was restricted to 12 people. Of the 36 who were meant to come along on the Tahrir, the Canadian boat, only 12 were allowed on, whereas the Irish boat, they only allowed them to have 12 on, but they snuck some people on their boat. And so, the entire Irish delegation that came to Turkey to take this—to make this voyage to Gaza is present, and they’re heading in that direction now. We have—supporters from this boat are still in Turkey. Some returned home, and they’re working on—they’re working on logistical work, as well as media work, to communicate with people on the boat. The internet hasn’t been—hasn’t been precise at times. It goes out every now and then. But there is a lot of international support from the organizations represented on this boat, as well as the Irish one, including a number of committees around the world that are supporting what these Freedom Waves to Gaza are: essentially, an extension of the Free Gaza movement, which is a movement to break the siege by any means, at any costs.

AMY GOODMAN: Is there fear on board your boat, the Tahrir, the Canadian boat that you’re covering? There are 12 people on board the boat, is that right? The captain, six activists and five journalists?

JIHAN HAFIZ: Yes. There is concern. I wouldn’t say “fear.” I think people here are defiant, in that they believe in what they’re doing, and they believe that what they’re doing is peaceful and that they will—even if there is any kind of—if the Israelis do board the boat or intercept the boat, there will not be any resistance, any violent confrontation from any of the activists here. So the concern is mainly losing—losing a lot of their equipment.

Israeli doctors ‘failing to report torture of Palestinian detainees’

Nov 03, 2011


Israeli doctors ‘failing to report torture of Palestinian detainees’

Human rights groups accuse doctors of failing to document signs of torture and returning detainees to interrogators. Medical professionals in Israel are being accused of failing to document and report injuries caused by the ill-treatment and torture of detainees by security personnel in violation of their ethical code. A report by two Israeli human rights organisations, the Public Committee Against Torture (PCAT) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), claims that medical staff are also failing to report suspicion of torture and ill-treatment, returning detainees to their interrogators and passing medical information to interrogators.

Mukhlis Burghal, a Palestinian prisoner who was freed in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, recalls, “[The] torture keeps changing: beatings, isolation, tear gas, suspension of family visits.” And after spending over 24 years in Israeli prisons, Burghal looks towards the future.
And more news from Today in Palestine:

Land, Property, Resources Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of Movement

Jerusalem Demolitions Leave 71 People Homeless

Seventy-one people, including 35 children, have been left homeless after the Israeli administration demolished five homes in the Khan al-Amar area north east of East Jerusalem on Monday. Fifteen army jeeps and one bulldozer arrived in Khan al-Amar early in the morning to demolish the homes, and had completed their task within a couple of hours.
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IOA services demolition notices to five families in Silwan

The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) served five demolition notices to Palestinian families in Silwan town in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday, local sources said.

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Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees: 3.5 Olive Trees Destroyed Per Hour in 2011

The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) released its monthly report on Monday, revealing that about three and half olive trees were destroyed per hour during the 2011 season. The report includes all 51 attacks on olive trees in 37 West Bank villages between October 1st and 31st, which resulted in around 546,000 NIS ($156,000) in damages. The attacks affected 53% of farmers in Nablus, 16% in Salfit, 11% in Tulkarm, 5.5% each in Ramallah and Bethlehem, 3.5% each in Jenin and Hebron, and 2.2% of farmers in Qalqiliya.

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Setters Burn a Tractor in Nablus

On Wednesday, a number of Israeli settlers set fire to a tractor belonging to a Palestinian farmer, after trying to attack him in the neighbourhood of ‘Arqabam, in the southern part of the West Bank city of Nablus, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.

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Faiez: the story of a Palestinian farmer

The first time I went to Turkalem, in the northeast of the West Bank, I did not know much about the situation there. I basically knew that it was mainly an agricultural region. In Turkalem I met Faize Taneeb, an organic farmer, which already makes his story intresting, but the conditions he has to wrok his land, are the ones that make his case a special one.

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Palestinian Killed By Electric Shock In Rafah Tunnel

Palestinian medical sources reported on Wednesday evening that a Palestinian man was killed by an electric shock while working inside a siege-busting tunnel on the border with Egypt, in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

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Israeli air forces kill 2 in north Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli air forces killed two people in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, after clashes broke out between forces and unknown gunmen near the border with Israel, medics and witnesses said.  Earlier, Israeli artillery fired on fighters near Beit Hanoun after gunfire from militants towards the northern border, witnesses told Ma’an. Israeli forces entered the Gaza Strip and were joined by the Israeli air force, they said.

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Egypt ‘will not allow’ new war on Gaza

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — Egyptian security officials have expressed concerns after recent violence in Gaza despite Cairo’s efforts to secure a truce between Israel and Palestinian factions. Security officials said Wednesday that Egypt “will not allow” a renewed Israeli operation against Gaza, in light of changes since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, seen as supportive of Israel.

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Gaza: Women die waiting – an appeal

(MELBOURNE, Aust.) – Editor’s Note:  We often get requests from people wanting to help the Palestinians.  It is always difficult to know just what to suggest because there is so much need as a result of the oppressive political situation in which they live.   It is true that unless Israel lifts the siege on Gaza, ends the military occupation and stops discriminating against its own Palestinian citizens, the situation for Palestinians will continue to deteriorate.

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History of Israeli blockade on Gaza

Israel has cleverly fine-tuned the siege, hurting Gazans but not letting the situation there reach crisis levels.

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Palestinian Couple Marry after 18 Years of Groom’s Captivity

Former Palestinian prisoner and now groom, Taher Qubha claps as he is escorted by his male friends and family members to meet his bride on their wedding day in Gaza City on 28 October 2011.

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Political Detainees
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces operating undercover seized a man from a Bethlehem refugee camp on Thursday morning, witnesses told Ma’an. Khalid Nayef Ramadan, 30, was working outside his home in the main street of Duheisha refugee camp, when two armed men came out of a trade truck and grabbed him around 11 a.m., they said.
Army Kidnaps Five Palestinians in Nablus, One in Hebron
The Israeli army kidnapped five Palestinian residents from the Refugee Camp of al-’Ein, near the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday. All were transferred to an undisclosed location, the Palestinian news agency, Ma’an reported.
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JENIN (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained four people on Thursday in a dawn raid on Qabatiya village in the northern West Bank, locals and the army said.  Local security officials told Ma’an that soldiers detained Muhammad Saeed Abul Rub, Ala Saeed and Hussam Yehya after raiding their homes.

IOA detains seven Jerusalemites including three minors
The Israeli occupation authority has arrested seven Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem over the past few days including three minors.

Resheq: The issue of the 9 female captives is on its way to be solved
Ezat al-Resheq, a leading Hamas official, said that the issue of the nine remaining female captives in occupation jails is on its way to be solved.

Hamas holds Israel responsible for consequences of arresting MP Yusuf
Hamas movement strongly condemned the Israeli occupation for detaining MP Hassan Yusuf and 13 other Palestinian citizens on Tuesday.
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FreedomWaves Flotillas
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Demonstrators rallied in Gaza City and Ramallah on Thursday to demand protection for a flotilla sailing to the Gaza Strip. Two boats quietly departed from a Mediterranean port on Wednesday to bring medication to Gaza and break Israel’s blockade of the enclave. The Canadian Tahrir (Liberation) and the Irish Saoirse (Freedom) are carrying 27 people from nine countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United States, organizers said.

Exclusive: Gaza-Bound “Freedom Waves” Flotilla Sets Sail from an Eastern Mediterranean Port
At the end of our live broadcast today, Democracy Now! received breaking news from a source aboard “The Tahrir,” a ship involved in the “Freedom Waves to Gaza” flotilla. Without any public notice, the ship left from an undisclosed port in the eastern Mediterranean Sea earlier today which the participants say is bound for the Gaza Strip. The “Freedom Waves to Gaza” flotilla marks the latest attempt by international activists to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. Earlier this year, Greece blocked the departure of several ships from another flotilla heading to the region. In 2010, Israeli forces killed nine activists, including a U.S. citizen, on an aid boat called the “Mavi Marmara,” which was part of the first such international flotilla. Additional information on the “Freedom Waves” flotilla will be posted on our website,, once received.

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Act now to defend today’s boats to Gaza
Two boats, called “Freedom Waves to Gaza,” are now traveling on the high seas to the besieged Gaza Strip. Their civilian passengers include people from five countries, including Palestinians from 1948. This is another non-violent attempt to break Israel’s siege, an illegal policy that has forced Gaza’s Palestinian residents into subsistence on international aid and subjected them to severe travel restrictions to and from the territory.

VIDEO: Voices from the Secret International Flotilla Now Sailing to Gaza
The Canadian ship Tahrir and the Irish ship Saoirse quietly left a Turkish port earlier today bound for the Gaza Strip. The mission of the “Freedom Waves to Gaza” flotilla was kept secret until they reached international waters just after 11:00 a.m. EDT. Democracy Now! first broke the news on our live broadcast this morning. Embedded on the Tahrir is Democracy Now! correspondent Jihan Hafiz. Prior to the ship setting sail, Hafiz spoke with three of the flotilla participants on board the Tahrir ship: David Heap of the University of Western Ontario; Kit Kittredge of Code Pink; and Michael Coleman, an Australian activist.

Palestinian Youth Demand U.N. Action
On 1 November 2011, two boats carrying 24 civilians from various countries, including a representative from our youth movement, set sail for Gaza. Conscious of the violent tactics that Israel has used to intercept previous boats to Gaza, including the 31 May 2010 military assault on the Freedom Flotilla, which resulted in the death of nine volunteers and the injury of over 50, we call on the United Nations to take urgent action to protect this mission as well as to end its compliance with Israel’s criminal blockade of Gaza.  Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, has been returned to his family, removing one of Israel’s main pretexts, albeit not a justification, for its Draconian closure policy. And while 1027 Palestinian prisoners have been exchanged for Shalit (although 550 have yet to be released), over 1.5 million Palestinians remain caged in the prison that is Gaza.

Here in Gaza, people — especially the youth — are really excited about the new flotilla on its way from Turkey. “I can’t wait to receive my brothers and sisters who share our suffering and who also experience Israel’s apartheid policies and aggression,” said 19-year-old Al-Azher University student Hussien Amody, upon hearing news that a Palestinian from Haifa was on board yesterday evening.   Hussein subsequently stayed up all night making signs and posters for today’s march  in Gaza demanding that the United the Nations and the international community protect the two small boats.

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Israel ready to stop boats heading for Gaza (Reuters)
Reuters – The Israeli navy will prevent two yachts carrying pro-Palestinian activists which left Turkey on Wednesday from breaching an Israeli blockade and reaching the Gaza Strip, an Israeli military official said.

Activists from the two-vessel flotilla say did not publicize plans out of fear they would be stopped before leaving port in Turkey.
Back to Gaza: ‘Freedom Waves’ on the Way, By Ben Lorber – Ramallah, The West Bank
On Wednesday, November 2, two international ships left the Turkish harbor to carry humanitarian aid through the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The event, called ‘Freedom Waves for Gaza’,  unites 27 activists from 9 countries, including America, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Australia, alongside Palestinians from Bethlehem and Haifa, in a broad-based international movement to break Israel’s illegal and immoral suffocation of the 1.6 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. The Irish yacht Saoirse (Freedom), which carries 15 activists, and the Canadian boat Tahrir (Liberation), which holds 12, will attempt to carry $30,000 in medical supplies beyond the Israeli blockade later this week. ‘Freedom Waves for Gaza’ is the 11th attempt by international activists to deliver humanitarian aid through the Israeli blockade of Gaza since 2008.

Solidarity / Activism / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

International Activists Support Olive Harvest in Surif

The olive harvest is a busy season and many hands are required to do the job. Several traditions and rituals are related to the olive harvest, and it is also an important social event. The internationals were glad to help and enjoyed picking the olives in beautiful surroundings, but their presence is not only for fun. International presence and attention can be of great importance because of the continual harassment the farmers face from settlers.

Resistance Is Fertile: Palestine’s Eco-War

They come from across the planet and meet in the shadow of Israel’s 12m concrete wall. They strap olive saplings and water bottles to the back of a donkey, silent under its burden. Former police officers from Sweden, German punks, Australian conservationists, leftist activists from the US, South African priests, and a Celtic fringe of Welsh students join Israeli anarchists and Palestinian pacifists.

Students protest Israeli spokesperson at Wayne State University, Adam Horowitz

Turkish PM Erdogan: Why No UN Sanctions for Israel?, Eric Walberg
The Boycott, Divests and Sanctions (BDS) movement is growing relentless. On the boycott front, Natacha Atlas, who won a 2007 BBC Music award for her fusion of Arabic and Western styles, cancelled a planned concert in Israel: “I had an idea that performing in Israel would have been a unique opportunity to encourage and support my fans’ opposition to the current government’s actions and policies, but after much deliberation I now see that it would be more effective a statement to not go to Israel until this systemised apartheid is abolished once and for all.”

Israel’s pinkwashing propaganda comes to Boston this month. As part of its Brand Israel campaign, the Israeli government is sponsoring Out in Israel Month in Boston and has partnered with the Boston LGBT Film Festival on a series of events designed to promote Israel as a progressive, liberal bastion “with many faces and just as many narratives.” Israel is cynically co-opting the hard fought struggle for gay rights in Israel to divert attention away from its brutal occupation of Palestine. Tell the Boston LGBT Film Festival to respect the international cultural boycott of Israel and cancel all events associated with Out in Israel! The text below is from the petition to the Boston LGBT Film Festival Organizers to stop pinkwashing Israeli apartheid.

BDS: Israel’s Exceptionalism: Normalizing the Abnormal
“In the Palestinian and Arab struggle against Israeli colonization, occupation and apartheid, the “normalization” of Israel is a concept that has generated controversy because it is often misunderstood or because there are disagreements on its parameters. This is despite the near consensus among Palestinians and people in the Arab region on rejecting the treatment of Israel as a “normal” state with which business as usual can be conducted. Here, we discuss the definition of normalization that the great majority of Palestinian civil society, as represented in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, has adopted since November 2007, and elaborate on the nuances that it takes on in different contexts.

Culture / Human Interest

Palestinian Literary Café Organizes Evening of “Mahmoud Darwish, the Poet of Palestine”
On Wednesday, the al-Bireh municipal library hosted the fifth gathering of the Palestinian Literary Café for an evening of poetry titled “Mahmoud Darwish, the Poet of Palestine.” Palestinian poets old and young, as well as intellectuals and poetry lovers, gathered from around the country to honor the poet an author, who died in 2008.

The Alternative Information Center (AIC) spoke with political activist Mahmoud Jiddah about his family’s experience, the challenges the African-Palestinian community faced and continues to face in Jerusalem, and how he defines himself.
Political Developments / UNESCO Fallout / Other News

Israel withholds Palestinian tax revenues 
Palestinians say they are outraged by the Israeli government’s decision to withhold millions of dollars of tax revenues from them while accelerating settlement construction. The decision follows Palestine being recognised as a state by UNESCO – the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. There are now 150,000 Palestinian Authority employees across the West Bank and Gaza who do not know whether they will receive their full salaries next week. Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from Jerusalem, Occupied West Bank.

Israeli Ambassador Set To Return To Egypt
Israeli sources reported that the Israeli Ambassador to Egypt will be returning to his office in the near future, with Israeli officials arriving in Cairo Wednesday to hold meetings with Egyptian officials.
Radio reports in Israel have claimed that the indications from the government are that the country’s embassy in Cairo will remain closed for the time being, perhaps for a few more months. The diplomats who were in Cairo have been assigned to new posts, said Israel’s Foreign Ministry. They left Egypt when the embassy was attacked by protestors in early September. According to the reports, Israel is intensifying its efforts to find a new location for the embassy; the owners of the current building are not responding to the Israeli government’s queries.

Hamas: “Balfour Declaration, An Illegal, Unjust Declaration Made By An Occupying Power”
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, stated on Wednesday, November 2nd, that marks the 94th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, in which Britain, the occupier of Palestine at the time, promised Palestine as a National Homeland to the Jewish People, is an illegal and unjust declaration that violated the basic rights to existence of the Palestinian people in their homeland.

American stupidity: U.S., peace talks hurt most by Palestinian UNESCO bid (Reuters)
Reuters – The Palestinians’ success in joining UNESCO and Israel’s immediate retaliation has two main casualties: the peace process and the Obama administration.

Reuters – Israel’s tough responses to a successful Palestinian bid to join UNESCO — financial sanctions and a faster settlement drive in the occupied West Bank — are unlikely to halt a Palestinian quest for recognition as a state at the United Nations.

Obama asks Bosnia not to support Palestinian bid (AP)
AP – Officials say President Barack Obama has urged Bosnia not to support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N. Security Council.

UN’s Ban: Palestinians should defer agency bids (AP)
AP – Palestinian efforts to join U.N. agencies beyond its cultural arm is “not beneficial for anybody” and will lead to cuts in funding sure to affect millions of people, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warned Thursday.

Israel PM orders UNESCO funding halt
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday ordered a halt to Israel’s financial contributions to UNESCO after the UN cultural organisation granted the Palestinians full membership. Netanyahu “ordered that Israel’s $2 million-per-annum participation in the budget of UNESCO be frozen, following the organisation’s decision to accept the Palestinian Authority into its ranks,” the premier’s office said. “The prime minister ordered that the budget be directed to cooperative initiatives towards the same goals in the region.”

Canada cuts funding for UNESCO (AP)
AP – Canada is joining the U.S. in cutting off funding for the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO because it approved a Palestinian bid for full membership.

After UNESCO Palestine vote, could US defund nuclear watchdog IAEA, too?
The US withdrew funding after UNESCO’s Palestine vote yesterday. There’s no reason that Palestinians won’t be able to muster the votes for recognition in other UN agencies like the International Atomic Energy Agency.
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Israeli Air Force Conducts Manoeuvres In Italy
Last week, the Israeli Air Force conducted aerial manoeuvres at an Italian NATO military base, in which fourteen sophisticated Israeli F-16 Fighting Falcons and mid-air refuelling Boeing jets, conducted various air drills, the Maan News Agency reported.

Israel sliding down world gender gap index
Israel is three places lower than it was last year, ranking behind such states as Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Namibia.

What they won’t do for Gazans: Israel Air Force to improve guard dogs’ living conditions after welfare campaign
Air force been using dogs to guard bases for many years, these dogs are mostly kept in small doghouses, tied to a short cable near the base’s perimeter fence.

Other Mideast / U.S. News

US kills 20 people in Somalia

A US drone attack has killed 20 civilians and injured 60 others in southern Somalia, Press TV reports.
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Attackers strike Iraq Sunni militia, six killed (Reuters)
Reuters – Two bombs exploded as members of a government-backed Sunni militia gathered to collect their pay in the Iraqi city of Baquba on Thursday, killing six people and wounding dozens, security and health officials said.

Rare Triple Bombing in Basra Kills a Dozen Iraqis
At least 16 Iraqis were killed and 64 more were wounded today, most of them during a rare bombing in Basra.

Bahrain rights probe head says torture systematic

“It is not possible to justify torture in any way, and despite the small number of cases, it is clear there was a systematic policy,” Bassiouni said in an interview with Egyptian daily Almasry Alyoum on Monday.

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Syria: Arab League Proposal Accepted
CAIRO (AP)  The Arab League says Syria has accepted an Arab League proposal to ease the country’s 7-month-old political crisis.
The proposal calls on Syria to withdraw all tanks and armored vehicles from the streets, stop violence against protesters, release all political prisoners and begin a dialogue with the opposition within two weeks. Syria also agreed to allow journalists, rights groups and Arab League representatives to monitor the situation in Syria.
Syrian army defectors ‘kill 15’
Soldiers who have defected to the opposition have killed 15 security personnel in Homs, activists say, as Syria agrees a plan to end the violence.

The movement’s ability to dismiss the more problematic features of Syria’s past is facilitated by the Asad leadership’s refusal to reach a settlement with Israel in contrast to its capitulatory Arab brethren. For many Arab progressives though, this negotiating stand alone does not qualify the regime for “confrontational” status given that Syria remains “Israel’s quietest front”. 11 Hizbullah rejects this line of reasoning as intellectual absolutism. In the first place, it does not evaluate Syria’s actions according to the same benchmark used for non-state (resistance) actors. Nasrallah admitted as much in a 2009 Al-Quds Day speech when he distinguished between Syria “as a regime” and resistance movements who do not have the same “economic, social and political responsibilities and international affairs’ [obligations].

‘Attack on Iran would ignite regional conflict’
Former adviser to US administration says Israeli strike on Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities could mean a disaster for both Jerusalem, Washington; spark regional war ‘from Gaza to Afghanistan’.

Haaretz poll: 80% of Israelis believe Iran strike will lead to war with Hamas, Hezbollah
According to a Haaretz-Dialog poll, 59% of respondents say Iran attack would likely cause a regional war, while 20% believe that the probability of war is unlikely or entirely improbable.

Senior Israeli Ministers clash over military option against Iran
Barak supports military strike on Iran, Ya’alon favors U.S. intervention.

US House Committee Okays Sweeping Sanctions on Iran, Jim Lobe
Amid growing tensions in the Middle East, including speculation about a possible Israeli attack on Iran, a key U.S. congressional committee Wednesday approved two bills that would impose sweeping new economic and diplomatic sanctions against Tehran.’

A new Haaretz poll finds that Israelis are almost evenly split on whether Israel should attack Iran, 41% for and 39% against.  I recall a similar poll of several years ago which asked how many thought Israel would eventually go to war against Iran and the numbers were much higher.  So it’s possible as the prospect has become more tangible, Israelis are having second thoughts.  A majority in the current survey, however trust Netanyahu and Barak’s policy toward Iran.  Presumably if there is a war that number might change significantly.
Israel may well attack Iran in an effort to distract the world from the Palestinian issue, Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions said last Saturday in New York. “There’s a very real possibility that Israel will attack Iran,” he said. At a time when there is tremendous international pressure on Israel to end the occupation and even the U.S. discourse is beginning to shift on Israel, an Iran attack would be the “ultimate deflection… it would deflect everything.”
Meir Dagan, Israel’s former spy chief, lashed back (Hebrew and shorter English version) against cabinet ministers who criticized him for attacking plans by Bibi Netanyahu to bomb Iran. Treasury minister Yuval Steinitz even called for Dagan to be charged with violating the law.  There is a general notion in Israeli political and military circles that operational plans are sacrosanct and should not be discussed in order to alert an enemy to Israeli military plans.
Exclusive: Israel Tests New Jericho ICBM, Rattling Sabers Against Iran, Richard Silverstein

An authoritative Israeli source with extensive political and military experience, informs me that the launch was of the latest version of the Jericho III and the announcement is specifically designed to rattle the Iranians.  It will offer Israel a longer-range (see quotation below) missile which can be launched from a submarine, thus making any Israeli attack harder to detect and defend against, and making the underwater missile-carrier harder to target.  My source calls it “muscle-flexing.”  Looks like a game of chicken played between two 900-pound gorillas. The Guardian article linked above is based on a report preparedby a weapons think tank called BASIC (British-American Security Information Council).  It contains an entire chapter on the Israeli missile program (page 27ff.).  Though many of the assumptions of the paper concerning Israeli motivations for having nuclear weapons and the impact this has on the region seem unreasonably charitable to Israel, the paper is nonetheless useful for portraying Israel’s current technical abilities.
Israel Attack on Iran Military Suicide, Ismail Salami – Tehran
There is a strong speculation that Israel is bound to mount an attack on Iranian nuclear sites, a threat which the Zionist regime has frequently repeated and an idea which, if translated into action, will bring about apocalyptic consequences for the Zionist entity. Reportedly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently sought to drum up cabinet support for a military strike against the nuclear sites of the Islamic republic of Iran. In joint efforts with the defense minister Ehud Barak, Netanyahu has succeeded in wringing support for such a reckless act from the skeptics who were already opposed to launching an attack on Iran. Among those he managed to convince was Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Analysis / Op-ed
The prisoner exchange deal was a major achievement for Hamas and a great step forward for the Palestinian people, particularly the prisoners’ movement.

Prisoner Exchange Exposes Palestinian Authority
Palestinians from the Gaza Strip celebrate the release of hundreds of prisoners following a swap with captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on 18 October 2011 in Gaza City. Crowds of Palestinians, many of them overwhelmed and in tears, welcomed home hundreds of freed detainees in the West Bank and Gaza, under a landmark prisoner exchange deal with Israel.

Disbanding the Palestinian Authority Back on the Table
Ramallah — Over the years, many have called for the disbandment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose legitimacy and sovereignty can be revoked at any time by the Israeli state. This arrangement grants Israel amnesty from the responsibility of managing the daily life and welfare of Palestinians.
In pulling out of Unesco, Obama gives the right a boost and abandons all pretensions of being an honest peace broker. The cheers that rang across the hall of the Unesco meeting when Palestine became a member on Monday are being echoed in surprising quarters. The Obama administration has perversely given a big boost to the Republican right’s antipathy to the UN and all it stands for. Ironically, it was George W Bush who brought the United States back into Unesco 20 years after Reagan withdrew. Equally ironically, driving the engine in this diplomatic train wreck was Barack Obama, whose speeches in Turkey and Egypt during the early months of his presidency had deceptively signalled a new opening to the Muslim world.
Reporters again turn State Dep’t briefing into moshpit, scorning US ‘impotence’ in the conflict, Philip Weiss
The discourse is changing. Here is yesterday’s daily press briefing at the State Department– and once again you see a group of reporters emboldened to ridicule the Obama administration’s position on Palestinian rights. Notice the scorn for the Obama administration for doing nothing in response to Israeli settlement expansion. Notice the frank references to the Israel lobby in an election season. Notice the description of American “impotence” in its failure to play any role in the conflict. Emphases mine. (Michael Wolff made a name for himself by taking on the gov’t spokesperson during an Iraq war press conference; will these renegade questions resonate?).

‘You lost’ — reporters at State say UNESCO vote isolates U.S. from world opinion (and possibly from intellectual property enforcement)

Below is the transcript of the amazing interchange yesterday between State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland and AP’s Matt Lee, among other reporters at the daily briefing. The reporters have had it with the emperor’s new clothes. Matt Lee points out repeatedly how the United States has isolated itself from world opinion on the UNESCO vote, damaging our standing. The claim that the vote upsets the peace process is bull, Lee says; all the UNESCO vote does is “it upsets Israel.” And a nettled Nuland accuses him of engaging in “a polemic.”

Defunding UNESCO for the 1 percent
Putting Israeli interests ahead of American interests begins to backfire. We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the 1 percent — the rich, the powerful, the ones who buy off our government, impose their wars, avoid paying their taxes, you know the ones.  The 99 percent — the rest of us – are the ones who pay the price.

Dear Ministers and Ambassadors, The UNESCO vote to accept Palestine as their 195th member – a recognition that does not entail any formal diplomatic standing at the UN – may mark a milestone in the “peace process,” or turn into a debacle of the first order for the Palestinian people as the US Congress and Prime Minister Netanyahu scramble to outdo each other in responding to this “unilateral” and “anti-peace” action.

The author of the Gaza War report erroneously argues that Israel does not practice apartheid.

South Africans think Israel is practicing apartheid, Adam Horowitz
Paging Judge Goldstone . . . From the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa: The HSRC commissioned an international team of scholars and practitioners of international public law from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Israel and the West Bank to conduct the study. The resulting 300-page draft, titled Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?: A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law, represents 15 months of research and constitutes an exhaustive review of Israel’s practices in the OPT according to definitions of colonialism and apartheid provided by international law. The project was suggested originally by the January 2007 report by eminent South African jurist John Dugard, in his capacity as Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Council, when he indicated that Israel practices had assumed characteristics of colonialism and apartheid . . .

Julie Holm – MIFTAH – I found it very interesting to see that just as many men showed up for the screening as women, given that it is a women’s film festival being shown in a predominantly male-oriented society. That did not seem to put off the male students at Birzeit however, many of whom also took the opportunity to participate in the discussions about gender roles and gender divided labor.

Shafiq al-Hout memoirs provide warts-and-all history of PLO, Asa Winstanley
My Life in the PLO: The Inside Story of the Palestinian Struggle, the memoirs of the late Shafiq al-Hout, is historically sweeping, politically critical and fascinating throughout.

No surprise– New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner has cancelled his scheduled appearance on an Islamophobic panel at the 92d Street Y organized by the Clarion Fund with neocons Richard Perle and John Bolton sharing the stage. The Times tells Politico’s Ben Smith that Bronner didn’t know what Clarion is, or who his stagemates were.

The human toll of the U.S. drone campaign, GLENN GREENWALD

The principal reason so little attention is paid to the constant victims of American violence in the Muslim world is because the U.S. Government refuses to disclose anything about these attacks and media outlets virtually never report on those victims (MSNBC demoted and then firedits then-rising-star Ashleigh Banfield when she returned from Iraq and pointed out that fact in an April, 2003 speech denouncing the “one-sided” coverage of American wars: meaning, the invisibility in U.S. media of America’s civilian victims). It’s easy to cheer for a leader who regularly extinguishes the lives of innocent men, women, teeangers and young children when you can remain blissfully free of hearing about the victims. It’s even easier when the victims all have Muslim-ish names and live in the parts of the Muslim world we’ve been taught to view as a cauldron of sub-human demons.

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Occupy Wallstreet

Occupy Oakland Protesters Force Halt To Operations At Busy Port [LATEST UPDATES]
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Several thousand Occupy Wall Street demonstrators gathering in Oakland forced a halt to operations at the nation’s fifth busiest port Wednesday evening, escalating a movement whose tactics had largely been limited to marches, rallies and tent encampments since it began in September.

Oakland activists step up ‘Occupy’ protest 
Protesters in Oakland, California are planning to try and shut down the city’s port – the fifth-busiest shipping container port in the United States, in what they are calling a general strike on Wednesday. The protesters are part of the ‘Occupy’ movement sweeping the world in which people are rallying to stop, amongst other things, corporate greed. Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports from Oakland.

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Occupy Oakland Prepares for General Strike as War Veterans Organize Day of Action at Occupy Camps
Protesters in Oakland, California, are launching a citywide general strike today that will include an attempt to shut down the nation’s fifth-busiest shipping port. The strike is expected to draw thousands of people to downtown Oakland, many responding to police attacks last week on nonviolent protesters with Occupy Oakland, including two-time Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen. During the strike, protesters intend to picket banks, businesses, schools, libraries, and any employers who try to reprimand striking workers. “What this general strike is all about is this: this is a call to working people, not only throughout the United States, but throughout the world, to retract their labor. The only time that working people can gain the attention of the bosses or the ruling class is when we withhold our labor,” says Clarence Thomas of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10. “This is a fight-back moment.” We also speak with Boots Riley of the hip-hop group The Coup. “This general strike puts some teeth to the slogan that ‘We are the 99 percent.’ It’s not only that we are the 99 percent and that they are the one percent; it’s that the one percent gets all of their wealth by exploiting the 99 percent,” Boots Riley says. “And we

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