Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places — Why is JDate advertising in the Gaza Strip?

Nov 11, 2011

Radhika Sainath

I live in the Gaza Strip, that sliver of land with a 37.4% unemployment rate Israel likes to claim is no longer under occupation.  But whenever I open my laptop and connect to the internet here, I get ads in Hebrew like this one for JDate:

אתר הכרויות לדתיים -‏ מי לא מכיר מישהו שהכיר בג’יי דייט? הירשמו בחינם – מקסימום מצאתם שידוך. ‏  www.JDate

Whether I’m reading the New York Times, perusing Facebook or checking my gmail account, Israeli companies bombard me with deals on manicures and massages beckoning me to “meet Jewish singles in my area.”

But I live in the besieged Gaza Strip, where 77% of the population lives below the poverty line of $2 a day, where 15% of children are stunted from malnutrition and the Israeli blockade has caused 163 key medicines to go out of a stock. The only Jewish singles in my area are those routinely flying F-16s above my apartment, firing at Palestinian fishermen off the coast,driving tanks through bulldozed orchards or shooting at me when I’m taking a Friday evening stroll. I really don’t want to meet them in my area “for dating and romance” or any other purpose.  And, given those bullets that passed eerily close to my head two weeks ago, I’m pretty sure they don’t want to meet me.

So why does .il — the domain for Israel — come up when I connect to the internet in Gaza City? Why am I enticed to read about Kim Kardeshian in Hebrew or encouraged to download “the world’s first Jewish news ipad app?”  Perhaps my laptop is telling me what anyone who spends more than five minutes in Gaza knows — that the Israeli Occupation is alive and well. Just because the Jewish-only settlements are gone, doesn’t mean that Israel no longer controls the sky, the water, the earth — and the internet of the Gaza Strip.

Radhika Sainath is a civil rights attorney and a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement.

Letter to the FM of Sweden from Gaza youth

Nov 11, 2011

Majed Abusalama

Dear Mr Carl Bildt,

My name is Majed Abusalama. I am 23 years old and I live in the Jabalya Refugee Camp, Gaza. I was born during the first Intifada, raised during the second and “found my voice” during the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009. So many of my friends and family members are dead as a result. However, I have chosen the sentence “never look back” as a motto and I have decided to dedicate my life to a just peace in Palestine.

Majed Abusalama

I have been asked to write this letter on behalf of the new generations in Palestine because my bewilderment and disappointment reflects theirs.

You don’t know me, but I know you. I know that you were one of the first high-ranking political figures to visit Gaza after the Israeli assault at the end of 2008. I know that in the aftermath of another Israeli attack, this time on the Free Gaza flotilla in 2010 (which left nine peace activists dead), you took the time to meet with the Swedish citizens who had been on board and publicly demanded that Israel end its siege on Gaza. I also know that you hosted Sweden’s first official welcoming ceremony for a Palestinian representative just two months ago, after upgrading his office’s status in your country from “general delegation” to “mission.” You have a long track record of fighting for the protection of human rights in the Middle East and in the world, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

That is one reason why, after I finished a speaking tour in about 20 European countries talking about the dreams of Palestinian youth, daily life in Gaza and the peace process, I spent much time in Stockholm. It mostly felt like home, and we successfully managed to collect donations, such as musical instruments, from the Swedish people for the people of Gaza.

But now, I — we — feel betrayed. I cannot describe the depth of our shock and feeling of abandonment when we heard that you had voted against Palestinian membership in UNESCO. It was like a slap in the face to me and to my generation. We are aware that your reluctance to recognize Palestine as a state now is based on your acknowledgement that there can be no independent state while the occupation continues. However, negotiations have gone nowhere for more than 40 years, and the siege of Gaza is in its sixth year. Just how long are we supposed to wait? Until the right-wing government of Israel decides to finally give us a truly viable, independent state, or at least rights that are equal to those of Jewish Israelis? Do you truly think that will happen without international action that makes it clear that there is no choice? If so, the lesson of history has not been learned.

As we watch our countrymen in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Syria take their fate into their own hands, we feel it is time for us to do the same. By voting against one of our first independent steps as a people who want to be part of the international community, you signaled that Sweden is now siding with the paternalistic imperialism of the Western countries, led by the United States. Is this truly the message you want to send to the youth of the Middle East, who for the first time are taking the campaign for democracy into their own hands? Sweden has the opportunity to play a new and important role in the Middle East, as the U.S. loses more and more credibility. But if you follow the lead of the “bully minority,” Sweden will squander the reputation of a brave standard-bearer for the underdog.

The new generation in Palestine wants to live in peace, to have the opportunity to engage and trade with the world. We have the same dreams, really, as the youth of Sweden. And now, “Arab Spring” has given us the courage to do what we can to achieve those dreams, despite the ongoing occupation. Please don’t join with those who would crush those dreams!

I am looking forward to your response.


Majed Abusalama

Israeli settlers gas a 10-year-old boy, and stop olive harvest

Nov 11, 2011


Settlers Spray 10-year-old with Gas
Israeli forces arrested three Palestinians from the town of Qabatya, south of Jenin, on Wednesday morning, while Israeli settlers in the southern West Bank sprayed a family of Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, with gas. In Jenin refugee camp, local sources reporting to Palestinian government news wire Wafa said that “a huge number” of forces accompanied by a low-flying helicopter conducted a four hour raid in which troops searched all the neighborhoods in the camp. By dawn soldiers had arrested Anas Atta Kamil, 27, Ahmed Hisham Kamil, 26—a student in the American University in Jenin and released prisoner—and 24-year-old Yazan Ateb Obaideh.

IDF kills Israeli, wounds two others in accidental West Bank shooting
IDF forces, who believed the incident to be a terrorist attack, opened fire on the vehicle, killing a 60-year-old man, and wounding two other passengers.

and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

 “Jewish Terrorism” pays – illegal outpost evacuation postponed
Haaretz reports today that the state will postpone the dismantling of the West Bank settlement outpost known as Givat Assaf, close to Beit El – never mind that the government has yet to bother cooking up any new excuses for doing so. Haaretz explains that following a 2007 petition to the High Court of Justice by Peace Now against six settlements in the area, the state has been evading dismantling the outposts with various claims (‘wait! we’re negotiating with them’). After a Court injunction, the outposts were supposed to have been either legalized or evacuated by the end of the year. Failing to do the former, Givat Assaf was to have been dismantled.

Israeli Violence / Aggression / Threats

Large numbers participate in the funeral of man killed by settler
Palestinian residents from the district of Salfit and the village of Deir Estia participated in large numbers in the funeral of a Palestinian farmer who was run-over on Tuesday by a Jewish settler.
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Likud MK Danon: Destroy Gaza neighborhoods for every rocket fired, Alex Kane
I am currently in Ashkelon to witness the security problem facing the city specifically in neighborhoods with new Olim and have come to two main conclusions. Firstly, we must do everything we can to ensure the safety of all residents with an emphasis on areas with new immigrants who greatly lack protection, and more importantly, to deal with Hamas leaders in Gaza, and for every missile that falls in our southern towns, we retaliate by deleting a neighborhood in Gaza.
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Political Detainees & Activists

Israel still detaining 21 foreign solidarity activists
Israel is still holding 21 solidarity activists who were taken by Israeli navy vessels along with their two boats into Asdod port for trying to sail into Gaza, Hebrew press said on Thursday.
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Israeli Forces Arrest Three near Jenin
Israeli forces arrested three Palestinians from the town of Qabatya, south of Jenin, on Wednesday morning, while Israeli settlers in the southern West Bank sprayed a family of Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, with gas.  In Jenin refugee camp, local sources reporting to Palestinian government news wire Wafa said that “a huge number” of forces accompanied by a low-flying helicopter conducted a four hour raid in which troops searched all the neighborhoods in the camp. By dawn soldiers had arrested Anas Atta Kamil, 27, Ahmed Hisham Kamil, 26—a student in the American University in Jenin and released prisoner—and 24-year-old Yazan Ateb Obaideh.
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Hamas: Israel to release remaining Palestinian female prisoners after Shalit deal
Report by Palestinian Ma’an news agency claims Egypt mediating talks geared at finalizing demands over first stage of last month’s prisoner exchange deal.
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Veteran Shalit swap prisoner detained for questioning
Sami Younis, 82, who is oldest prisoner to be freed in exchange deal, detained for questioning near Ramallah. He was later released.
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Campaign: Parliamentarians set to visit Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A delegation of 200 international parliamentarians and political leaders are preparing to visit the Gaza Strip at the end of November, Palestinian activists said Thursday.  Rami Abdo of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza said the delegation’s objective was to issue a universal declaration that rejects imposing sieges on a civilian population.  The delegation will include lawmakers from several continents as well as leaders of the recent revolutions in the Arab world, he said. A parliamentary session will be held between the West Bank and Gaza.  The three-day trip will include visits to refugee camps and other sites, he said.
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Israeli Criminal Injustice System

Border Guard officer gets 3 months in jail for abusing Palestinian minor
Jerusalem District Court convicts Shani Sevilya of abuse, intimidation, after she aims gun at Palestinian detainee, squeezes trigger while saying ‘death to Arabs’.
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Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Irish Gaza activists stranded in airport in Tel Aviv after flight is ‘delayed’
Foreign Affairs officials are to lodge a protest with the Israeli government after seven Irish activists detained on an aid convoy to Gaza missed a deportation flight home. Seven of the 14 Irish human rights activists were detained by Israeli authorities as they tried to break the naval blockade onGaza. Irish consular officials have met the seven at Ben Gurion Airport and a complaint is being made over the delay. The seven were expected to arrive in Dublin this afternoon, with the final seven expected home tomorrow — a week after their vessel the MV Saoirse was intercepted by Israeli military in international waters.
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VIDEO: Free Michael Coleman! Free Gaza!
Supporters of Palestinian human rights gathered in Sydney on November 10 to protest the Australian government’s silence on the arrest by Israeli authorities of Australian Michael Coleman, who took part in the recent Freedom Waves to Gaza attempt to sail humanitarian aid to Gaza.
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Video: Jewish activists disrupt and “occupy” Birthright Israel event, Ali Abunimah
Members of the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace disrupted a Birthright Israel event on 7 November.
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Young U.S. Jews aim ‘occupy’ movement at Birthright Israel
Members of youth section of Jewish Voice for Peace disrupt New York event sponsored by Birthright, say program ‘free propaganda trips for predominantly middle and upper class American Jews.
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Solidarity with the Palestinian Freedom Riders
On November 15th, Palestinian activists will attempt to board segregated Israeli settler public transport headed to occupied East Jerusalem in an act of civil disobedience inspired by the Freedom Riders of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Fifty years after the U.S. Freedom Riders staged mixed-race bus rides through the roads of the segregated American South, Palestinian Freedom Riders will be asserting their right for liberty and dignity by disrupting the military regime of the Occupation through peaceful civil disobedience. Organizers say that this ride to demand liberty, equality, and access to Jerusalem is the first of many to come. The Freedom Riders will be riding Egged and Veolia buses. Veolia runs many transportation services in local US communities, and is the target of many BDS campaigns. This provides a great opportunity for local Boycott or Dump Veolia campaigns to have a creative action that ties directly to Palestinian-led direct action.
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‘International week against the Apartheid Wall’ seeks to rally the ‘global 99%’, Anna Baltzer
US Campaign National Organizer Anna Baltzer with #Occupy protesters. On October 25th at Oakland City Hall, barricades and riot police had replaced the hundreds of committed activists who had inhabited Oscar Grant Plaza since Occupy Oakland began. Helicopters swarmed above. The atmosphere was tense and thick with teargas. Earlier that day, Scott Olsen, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, had been shot in the head with a tear gas canister and hospitalized.
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Leeds Student TV- Interview with Dr. Norman Finkelstein
Renowned Jewish-American political scientist and author, Professor Norman Finkelstein, interviewed by Leeds Student TV during his tour of UK campuses entitled ‘How to solve the Israel — Palestine conflict’. The tour is sponsored by The Palestinian Return Centre ( and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.
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Placebo Effect: Lawsuit Might Boost BDS Campaign in Lebanon
A lawsuit against BDS activists in Beirut has ignited a debate about freedom of expression and is shaping up to be a landmark case in Lebanese courts. The editor of Al Adab magazine, Samah Idriss, the Campaign to Boycott Israel Supporters in Lebanon, the Center for the Rights of Refuges-Aidoun, and the International Campaign for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Against Israel (BDS) are being sued by the head of the event management company 2U2C, Jihad Murr. Perhaps unintentionally, Murr has breathed new life into the BDS campaign in Lebanon. The court case is no longer just a local concern; international campaigners are pledging to appear before the Lebanese court in support of their comrades.
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Political Developments / Diplomacy

Al-Maliki : American Intervention Kept Us From Getting Nine Votes in Security Council
Palestinian Foreign Minister Dr. Riyad al-Maliki said on Thurdsday that American intervention had stopped the Palestinian application for statehood from getting nine votes in the UN Security Council and that he would not pursue a vote on Friday.
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Obama Middle East envoy Ross to step down: White House (Reuters)
Reuters – Dennis Ross, a senior aide to President Barack Obama on the Middle East, has decided to step down from his post, the White House said on Thursday.*

UNESCO files complaint against Israeli delegation over Haaretz cartoon
A cartoon published in Haaretz causes a riff between Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
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UNESCO suspends new programs after U.S. funding cut (Reuters)
Reuters – The United Nations’ cultural agency has temporarily suspended new programs in response to the United States’ decision to cut off funding after UNESCO granted the Palestinians membership, the agency said on Thursday.*

Family: Platelet disorder killed Arafat
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A nephew of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says the family will soon release a French medical report revealing Arafat’s cause of death. Naser al-Qudwa says the document is being translated from French before it is released. Al-Qudwa says the report will answer “many questions,” as it is the Palestinian people’s right to get a clear answer about how Arafat died. The document has not previously been seen in Arabic.
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Family says to release Arafat medical docs
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A nephew of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says the family will soon release a French medical report revealing Arafat’s cause of death.  Naser al-Qudwa says the document is being translated from French before it is released.  Arafat died on Nov. 11, 2004 in Paris. Medical records have been closely guarded amid speculation on the cause of a sudden illness that struck the Palestinian leader shortly before his death.
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‘Katsav should have gotten harsher sentence’
Woman who blew lid off of rape case against former president says he would have gotten longer prison term if more victims were included in suit. State Prosecutor’s Office: Ruling sends unequivocal message to those in positions of power.
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U.S.: Strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities may have unintended consequences
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says attack on Iran enrichment centers ought to be ‘last resort’, and may only delay nuclear program by a few years.
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Romney says ‘prepare for war’ against Iran
WASHINGTON — Accusing President Barack Obama of naivete on Iran, Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney promised Thursday that if elected president he would “prepare for war” with the Islamic republic. In a commentary published in the Wall Street Journal, Romney said he would back up US diplomacy “with a very real and very credible military option,” deploying carrier battle groups to the Gulf and boosting military aid to Israel.
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Wexler on the warpath: Opening volleys of major push for Iran war by liberal Zionists and hawks?, Scott McConnell
Robert Wexler, former Florida congressman and a key Obama ally on Israel/Palestine issues, was one of the speakers at a Churches for Middle East Peace dinner last night. Wexler is a liberal Zionist, who (correctly) sees Israel’s long term interest in a two state solution, and has taken a lot of flack for defending Obama from attack by the Zionist right. But last night he was terrifying.
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IAEA report is a dud, and ‘Moon of Alabama’ busted it wide open with “Nanodiamonds”
Anybody else notice the big sucking sound in reaction to the endlessly uber hyped IAEA report? I knew it, I just knew it. Humping their fear mongering and cramming it down our collective throats the week before the report was due was because they had nothing. Because the only time they’d get away with it was before the report came out, so they ran with it hook line and sinker.  Russia and China immediately said ‘No’ to more sanctions, and virtually nothing ‘diplomats‘ and western ‘officials‘ (Elliott and Ross?) said panned out in the report, which was basically old nothing news.  The IAEA report was a Dud With Little Consequences For Iran and everybody knows it too. Here’s CSM being somewhat polite about it.
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Nuclear Israel revisited, Joseph Massad
To have or not to have nuclear weapons is a question of human security and not European privilege.
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Other Mideast News

Memo From Baghdad: Iraqi Shiite Anger at U.S. Remains Strong
The United States ambassador has apologized to Shiite leaders in Iraq for the United States’ inaction during the 1991 popular uprising.
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Soldier found guilty of murdering Afghans, collecting body parts
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington — The ringleader of a rogue US army unit responsible for “thrill kills” of Afghan civilians was sentenced to life behind bars. But a five-person military panel said Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs — who was found guilty at the end of a week-long court martial — would be eligible for parole after serving at least 10 years. Gibbs was found guilty of 15 counts in all, including three charges of premeditated murder for his role in three so-called “thrill kills” in southern Afghanistan between January and May last year.
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UK backs bid to overturn ban on cluster bombs
Britain is backing a US-led plan to torpedo the global ban on cluster bombs, in what MPs and arms campaigners fear is an attempt to legitimise the use of weapons that are widely deemed to be inherently indiscriminate.
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For Bahrain’s soccer team, shades of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq
A short ESPN documentary focuses on the torture of soccer-team athletes in Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, for their faith and political beliefs.
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Bahrain’s Courageous Doctors, Adil E. ShamooThe United States continues to ignore the thwarted Arab Spring in Bahrain. Recently, a quasi-military court in the small Gulf state sentenced 20 doctors and nurses to up to 15 years in jail. The charge against them? Treating injured demonstrators opposing the regime. Doctors and nurses in the Middle East have a long and proud tradition of treating the ill, regardless of the situation. In ninth-century Baghdad, for example, Hunayn ibn Ishaq was the Caliph’s physician. The Caliph asked this physician to prepare a poison to kill his enemies. The physician refused, risking his life, and was eventually jailed for one year. After serving his sentence, the Caliph inquired as to why he refused. The physician replied, “My profession is instituted for the benefit of humanity and limited to their relief and cure.”
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Tunisia: Ennahda Islamist Party Promises Open Society
TUNIS, Tunisia — The new Tunisia will welcome people of all faiths and carry on the tradition of moderation for which it has always been known, the leader of the Islamist party that won the country’s first free elections promised Thursday. Secretary-General Hammadi Jebali’s pledge was aimed at countering concerns voiced both in Tunisia and abroad that the Ennahdha party might put the country on a path of extremism.
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Fate of ‘flower of Syria’ offers cautionary tale
Relatives are convinced they buried Zaynab Hosni — who has become a rallying symbol for the Syrian opposition — in September. But she turned up last month on Syrian TV, sparking conspiracy theories. Fatat Malouk said she has no doubt: The burned, mutilated and seemingly unrecognizable body parts that she viewed in a Syrian military hospital in September were the remains of her child — the victim, she said, of government thugs who snatched the teenager off the street.
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Ancient Sana may be casualty of Yemen’s violent unrest
Much is at stake in the old city, its buildings covered in geometric designs of white gypsum and glimmers of stained glass, a place so striking that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Hariri’s Twitter Comeback
This suggests that Hariri decided to go public on Twitter after he partly of fully resolved his financial crisis.

Arab Christians, minorities, reshaping US enclaves (AP)

AP – Jordanian immigrants take Communion at an Arabic-language Mass in Albuquerque. Lebanese-Americans help raise nearly $2 million for major improvements to a West Virginia church. Iraqi refugees who practice an ancient religion that views John the Baptist as their teacher hold baptisms in a Massachusetts pond popular for rowing regattas.*

Analysis / Op-ed

Ex-Mossad chief’s testimony reveals bloody past
An Israeli court has given the go-ahead for the publication of ex-Mossad Chief Meir Dagan’s testimony in a murder trial. The accused has claimed that he killed a British tourist in cold blood in part due to the psychological effects of his service in an elite Special Forces unit once commanded by Dagan. Sayeret Rimon unit operated on the southern front, including Gaza, and is held responsible for killing 290 Palestinians on a wanted list of 300. Dagan told the court that he didn’t count the Palestinians who were killed and that for every one who was killed there were hundreds who were arrested. Reports in Israel claim that the Israeli Army’s Southern Command is reviving the Sayeret Rimon unit to work undercover in the Gaza Strip. Recruits, it is said, must be fearless and experienced soldiers. Several dozen have been recruited for the unit, whose targets include the leaders of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza.
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The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Cape Town session
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) is an international people’s tribunal set up with the intention of seeking justice for the Palestinian people where governments and international institutions have failed to do so. By raising global levels of awareness it is hoped to put pressure on decision-makers to look at the facts surrounding Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Following two successful sessions in Barcelona and London, the third session was held in Cape Town. The tribunal considered the question, “Are Israel’s practices against the Palestinian people in breach of the prohibition on Apartheid under International Law?”
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Are We about to Betray the Palestinians, Again?, Stuart Littlewood
Media reports suggest that Britain will again betray the Palestinian people in the UN vote tomorrow on whether to recognise the Palestinian territories as an independent state. The Guardian, for example, says that Britain will join forces with two other EU allies on the Security Council, France and Portugal, to abstain. Germany, the third EU member of the Council, is also likely to abstain. “The UK had considered voting in favour of statehood but is planning to abstain because it wants to forge a common front with its EU partners. Government sources say the EU – the single biggest donor to the Palestinian authority – is playing an increasingly influential role in the Middle East. It is feared this could be put at risk if the EU fails to act collectively.”
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Israel vs. Free Press: Uri Blau Faces Seven Years in Prison for Practicing Investigative Journalism, Richard Silverstein
Haaretz’ Uri Blau, one of Israel’s finest investigative journalists, faces seven years in prison for doing nothing more than practicing his craft in a country that upholds the values of a national security state above those of press freedom.  Blau has published some of the most hard-hitting exposes involving the IDF and human rights violations over the past few years.  Among them was the two reports he wrote based on top-secret documents leaked to him by Anat Kamm.  These were memos from the headquarters of IDF general Yair Naveh, revealing that he approved assassinations of unarmed Palestinian suspects in contravention of Israeli Supreme Court rulings.  Of course, when given a chance to support these ruling in practice, the Court refused to do so as is often the case with security matters in which it is loath to second guess the military-intelligence apparatus.
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Rabin’s murderers are still free and happy
Instead of lighting candles and singing we should protest against the fact that those responsible for Rabin’s murder are walking around free.
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Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Cal Berkeley Protest Draws Thousands, As Two Years Of Occupation Come Home
Facing some of the steepest budget cuts and tuition hikes in the country, thousands college students across California staged a mass walkout on Wednesday and set up camp to form the latest Occupy site. But unlike many others around the country, who have only started to get involved in the protests, California students are continuing a movement they’ve been pursuing for two years.
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Gorenberg says a one-state solution would produce another Lebanon

Nov 11, 2011

Philip Weiss

Gershom Gorenberg has a new book out, The Unmaking of Israel. Below I offer (first, to be fair) his argument against the one-state resolution of the conflict favored by so many on this site and (second) my mini-review from leafing through the book.

1) Gorenberg’s argument against the one-state answer begins with the assertion that progressives are fighting “the last battle,” South Africa. But this answer won’t work in “Israel.” He continues:

In fact, a one-state arrangement would solve little and make many things worse. Imagine that tomorrow Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip are reconstituted as the Eastern Mediterranean Republic, and elections are held. With the current population, the parliament will be split almost evenly between Jews and Palestinians. One of the first issues that the parliament and judiciary will face is the settlements that Israel built on privately owned Palestinian property, whether it was requisitioned, stolen, or declared state land over Palestinian objections Palestinian claimants will demand return of their property. The problem of evacuating settlers won’t vanish. Rather, it wil divide the new state on communal grounds.

Gorenberg says the same divide will occur over return of Palestinian refugees. Jews will oppose it. Palestinians will demand return of property “lost in 1948 and perhaps the rebuilding of destroyed villages. Except for the drawing of borders, virtually every question that bedevils Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations will become a domestic problem setting the new political entity aflame.”

The Palestinian and Israeli communities are also very unequal economically, he says; and when the economies are combined, Jews will be required to pay higher taxes and “individuals and companies will leave, crippling the new shared economy.”

There would be separate Palestinian and Israeli political parties, and no one would be able to bridge the ethnic divide. Writes Gorenberg, who calls this imagined new country “Israel”:

“Israel would become a second Belgium, perpetually incapable of forming a stable government. In the more likely case, the political tensions owuld ignite as violence. The transition to a single state would mark a new stage in the conflict.”

Israel might well become Lebanon, he says.

“It would be a nightmare: another of the places marked on the globe as a country in which two or more communities do battle while the most educated or well-connected members of each look for refuge elsewhere.”

2, My response after skimming the book:


Many Israeli Jews are proudly ethnocentric. They would say that the Jews built a society here and we have our narrative and the Arabs have their narrative, but I can really only tell you ours, and Gershom Gorenberg is in that group. He is an Israeli by choice, as he announces. He moved from the United States to Israel as a youth for a reason, and he doesn’t look back. He says that Israel must provide refuge for “people persecuted as Jews… [any] where in the world.” His children have Hebrew names, and he seems to love a place “where the public arena is largely Jewish” and– this is interesting– “where the standards of physical beauty are shaped by how Jews look.”

Such a narrator is pointedly not worldly. Gorenberg is not interested in the new global political movement about Palestine, though he is aware of it; he fears that Israel could become a “pariah” state internationally. He’s not interested really in Palestinian society or politics. Mahmoud Abbas and boycott don’t show up in the index. He has interviewed a few Palestinians for this book, but they don’t show up much either. He doesn’t seem to care at all about American Jewish politics. Barack Obama isn’t in the index, even though Gorenberg is trying to save the two state solution.

He seems to believe this is an inside-Israeli challenge. He is engaged here as an Israeli with what Israel is doing to itself. He is worried that Israel has become Pakistan, whereas it should be the United States of the civil war and the civil rights movement. He fears that the religious have taken over the public culture and the settlers have taken over the politics.  So this book is about being a liberal Zionist in crisis, the crisis of Israel’s soul.

The blinders are sometimes disturbing. Cast Lead, that monstrous onslaught that precipitated so much international criticism of Israel, only really figures in this account because of the ways that Israelis talked about it—“The IDF’s behavior in Gaza, especially toward Palestinan civilians, was intensely controversial—not just abroad but within Israel,” he writes. Then for a few pages, Gorenberg describes that Israeli controversy: rightwing objections that Israeli soldiers were commanded to bend over backwards to protect Palestinian civilians.

He does not ever mention that 1400 Palestinians were killed in 3 weeks, more than 300 of them children. Even Gaddafyi wasn’t that efficient. He never says that his government dropped white phosphorus on children. I guess Israelis didn’t talk about that. I don’t think Gorenberg has a clue how bad things are in the occupation.

He does not count the 250,000 or so Israeli settlers of East Jerusalem as settlers. He says Jerusalem was annexed. Full stop.

It ought to be curious that such a nonworldy perspective is so prominent inside the American discourse, but then Gorenberg has earned high status for writing well about Israeli Jewish culture and politics, and he has had a good ride in recent years. The American Prospect, which I guess is liberal Zionist, anointed him a guide on the issue. He’s been promoted by Fresh Air, the New York Review of Books, and Columbia University. Michael Chabon blurbs this book as a hopeful one.

Still, I wonder how helpful such a doggedly-I’m-an-Israeli-inside-Israel focus is. When he says that the Palestinian desire to move back into their villages in Israel and make one country between the river and the sea is as preposterous as Algerians claiming not just Algeria in the 1960s but France too– “Unlike Palestinians, Algerian nationalists did not claim France as part of their birthright”– that is nutty. Many of those Palestinians were born in what is now Israel and have been denied the right to return to their homes. Wikipedia says that Gorenberg was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He seems to believe that Israel really always was the homeland of the Jews, even when they were outnumbered in the place 18 to 1. And that’s the way it’s always going to be.

His ideas on how to bring about the two state solution aren’t original: you’ve read them before. The settlers have to move, to save Israel’s soul. Israel can do it and also secularize its public space. Just as America had to have the civil war to save itself from slavery. (Well the civil war was a huge bloodletting…)

The most interesting part of the book is Gorenberg’s argument against the one state solution, above. I think Gorenberg ought to debate Ali Abnimah or Udi Aloni. Maybe we could make that happen?

Fact Check!: DePaul students disrupt ‘Israel 101′; Northwestern students walk out on Israel propagandist

Nov 11, 2011

Adam Horowitz

From a press release sent out by protest organizers:

On the evening of November 10th, students and community members staged two simultaneous walkouts at events promoting Israel’s narrative of its history and  politics. At Northwestern University’s Evanston campus, demonstrators held a silent walkout during a presentation by Gil Hoffman, an Israeli military reservist and journalist. Meanwhile, on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, students and community members used the “People’s Mic” technique – popularized by Occupy Wall Street – to disrupt a presentation sponsored by the organization Stand With Us. Organizers say that they protested because the presentations omitted the disturbing reality of Israel’s repeated  violations of international law and countless human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.

At DePaul, a group of about thirty concerned individuals “fact checked” an event called “Israel 101,” sponsored by Stand With Us, an organization that seeks to brand Israel in a friendly and positive light. Demonstrators interrupted the presentation, stood up, and announced a statement about Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. According to one of the participants, University of Chicago student Ishan  Chakrabarti: “We used a version of the ‘People’s Mic’ technique, recently utilized by the Occupy Wall Street movement. We challenged Israel 101’s propaganda and selective history and spoke truth to power by amplifying our voices.” The “fact check” was followed by a walkout and teach-in.

At Northwestern University, around thirty students and community members protested a presentation entitled “63 Reasons to Like Israel: Why American Jews should be Optimistic about Israel,” featuring Gil Hoffman, a reserve soldier and spokesman for the Israeli military as well as the chief political correspondent/analyst for The Jerusalem Post. Co-sponsors of the event included the Coalition for
Accuracy of Middle East Reporting in America and the Zionist Organization of America. The university’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter staged a walkout on Hoffman’s speech, inspired by the example of other student groups around the Midwest, including The University of Michigan, Benedictine University and Wayne State University. Outside, a diverse crowd demonstrated in support of the walkout.

DePaul student Agnieszka Karoluk explained, “At DePaul, we made up about three-quarters of the audience. At Northwestern, they filled a third of the room. We made it obvious that the community at large does not tolerate the promotion of Israel at the expense of Palestinian human rights.” A handful of protesters at both events decided to stay behind to engage in civil debate and discussion.

Organizers say these actions are part of the recent rise of a new global political consciousness about Palestine. This is reflected not only through non-violent protests and walkouts, but also through the growing “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement, which reuses the methods that helped dismantle apartheid in South Africa. For the third year in a row, international solidarity activists nonviolently challenged Israel’s six-year blockade of Gaza. These events reflect the success of civil disobedience in achieving concrete political change across the world, from the US civil rights movement to the South African anti-apartheid struggle. Palestinians and their supporters are part of this history

Arab Spring? What Arab Spring?: US policy in the Middle East shows no change since the fall of Mubarak

Nov 11, 2011

Paul Mutter

Some telling remarks buried in a speech (“On Ensuring Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge”, PDF) justifying the annual US$3 billion aid package to Israel by Andrew Shapiro, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs:

I know that the uncertainty over the Egyptian transition has prompted some in Congress to propose conditioning our security assistance to Egypt. The Administration believes that putting conditions on our assistance to Egypt is the wrong approach, and Secretary Clinton has made this point strongly. Egypt is a pivotal country in the Middle East and a long-time partner of the United States. We have continued to rely on Egypt to support and advance U.S. interests in the region, including peace with Israel, confronting Iranian ambitions, interdicting smugglers, and supporting Iraq. Egypt’s well-being is important for the region as a whole.

Conditioning assistance risks putting our relations with Egypt in a contentious place at the worst possible moment. As the Secretary explained, “We support the democratic transition, and we don’t want to do anything that in any way draws into question our relationship or our support.” The Egyptian people, not just the Egyptian government, view our assistance as symbolic of our support for their country and their transition. At this time of great change, we need to maintain the flexibility to respond to events and adjust our assistance accordingly.

As The Arabist notes, it was ever thus: “there was reluctance to upset Mubarak and a feeling that arguing with him was a lost battle. The SCAF [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] is playing the same obtuse game of stubbornness.”

So is this Administration.

And yet Obama still isn’t good enough for the Israel lobby and Congress. He threw the Palestinian Authority under the bus at the UN (and continues to do so at the moribund Quartet Talks), and he’s apparently willing to endure SCAF’s troubling actions – sectarian violenceconstitutional manipulation, the torture and detention of activists – all in the name of the Camp David Accords.

Bahrain, Shmarain – there’s the Fifth Fleet to consider (Tunisia sure is lucky that it doesn’t host a U.S. naval base). And Yemen is the new Afghanistan. Send in the drones.

Goodness knows what Obama has planned for Libya, though I imagine Bechtel and Halliburton have some ideas (and if not them, others will).

Of course, the fact that Obama is nonetheless willing to do business with Islamists is (somehow) just further proof of his anti-Israel sentiment, even though these people are Israel’s silent partners in the region, thanks to their shared fear of Iran and willingness to throw Palestinian statehood under the bus.

Man, what’s a President got to do to win some love from John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s favorite people?

TV won’t tell me why students are occupying Berkeley–

Nov 11, 2011


calNight before last I was visiting my Mom and over dinner we watched some television news. I have not had reception at my house since last spring and I’d forgotten all the reasons why I’d opted out. Channel 5 news had a segment on a puppy kidnapped from the rescue center with the overriding message ‘thieves do not make responsible dog owners’ and something about not eating imported honey.

Then they showed a

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