Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


‘I’ve been duped’ — America’s travel guide Rick Steves says our media black out the brutal occupation

Apr 07, 2012

Annie Robbins


Rick Steves watched Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land and had an epiphany, he has seen the light.

If you happen to be one of the 3.5 people in America who have never heard of Rick Steves watch this 60 Minute episode. He’s huge, the only famous American tour guide.

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Rick Steves

He’s got a popular TV show , hosts NPR Travel with Rick Steves, and has a 20-million-dollar-a-year business selling travel books. Can’t get much more mainstream than that. He’s the all-American boy (that’s how he strikes this California girl anyway).

So imagine my surprise when I read his recent article on Huffington Post,  Reflections on Israel and Palestine.

I’ve been duped.

Do you know the frustration you feel when you believed in something strongly and then you realize that the information that made you believe was from a source with an agenda to deceive?

I just watched a powerful and courageous documentary called Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land. It certainly has its own agenda and doesn’t present balanced coverage. Still, it showed me how my understanding of the struggles in the Middle East has been skewed by most of our mainstream media. I saw how coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian problem is brilliantly controlled and shaped. I pride myself in understanding how the media works… and I find I’ve been bamboozled….

In my view, many Palestinians live under inhumane conditions, and U.S. taxpayers help to make it happen. Please, watch this and then share your impressions. Criticism of Israel’s policies is not automatically anti-Semitic (see J-Street for an example of a pro-Israel, pro-peace group). In fact, the irony is that for Israel’s hard-liners, their clever PR strategy could be their own worst enemy. While Israel certainly deserves security on its land, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory (in Gaza and the West Bank) degrades Israel and drives Palestinians to desperation. The question of whether Israel is conducting a brutal military occupation or a reasonable defense against terrorism gets no real airtime. If we care about the long-term security of Israel, we have a responsibility to understand what our government is funding and supporting.

Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land is a fantastic important film and Steves has a huge following.


Here’s Rick Steves at the Temple Mount. Or watch the full episode on Hulu.


I’m looking forward to ‘Rick touring Palestine’ on an upcoming episode.

(Hat tip Marsha Holmquist)

Grass smears in ‘Times’, plus new translation of his ‘I’ve had it with the West’s hypocrisy’ poem

Apr 07, 2012

Philip Weiss

Gunter Grass
Gunter Grass

Below we have an improved translation of the Gunter Grass poem about breaking silence on Israel’s nuclear threat.

Meanwhile, The New York Times is treating the Gunter Grass poem as an artifact of his service in the Nazi SS as a teenager. “Story inadequate and tendentious by omission, without being exactly false,” writes a friend. “The headline calls it a poem ‘against Israel.’ It is not against Israel. It is against the sale of a German submarine to Israel which is capable of launching nuclear weapons. It speaks against ‘the burdensome lie’ of silence. Silence in general, about wrongs one knows of; and specifically German silence in the face of Israeli wrongs, because of the preemptive operation of self-censorship through an accurate awareness of guilt. It asks: why should Germany not speak the truth now, precisely because of its self-knowledge of the wrong of wars of aggression.”

At the Times, Nick Kulish and Ethan Bronner:

Others said that it was not a coincidence that Mr. Grass so often found himself at the center of controversy, but that controversy was instead his goal in the first place.

“He wrote this poem knowing from the way he wrote it that there would be condemnation,” said Frank Schirrmacher, co-publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, who was interviewing Mr. Grass when he made his revelation about the Waffen-SS membership. “He needs the condemnation to move on to the next step, which is to say that it is impossible in Germany to criticize Israel.”

Mr. Grass, the author of plays and essays as well as novels and poems, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999. He admitted that he was a member of the Hitler Youth as a boy and believed at the time in the group’s aims, but long claimed that he was drafted into an antiaircraft unit, never mentioning the Waffen-SS until he was 78.

In the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Anshel Pfeffer, a weekly columnist, devoted his Friday essay to Mr. Grass under the headline “The Moral Blindness of Günter Grass.”

“Logic and reason are useless when a highly intelligent man, a Nobel laureate no less, does not understand that his membership in an organization that planned and carried out the wholesale genocide of millions of Jews disqualified him from criticizing the descendants of those Jews for developing a weapon of last resort that is the insurance policy against someone finishing the job his organization began,” Mr. Pfeffer wrote.

More from my smart friend: “The Grass is a true and sober statement. It’s just wrong of Tom Segev to say that Meir Dagan has told Israelis everything they could get from the Grass poem. Who in Israel has spoken of the sale by Germany to Israel of a new submarine?”

Segev: Former Mossad director Meir Dagan, for example, shares the same opinion as Günter Grass. He is also opposed to an Israeli attack on Iran. He talks about it almost every day. There is a very lively discussion about this issue in Israel.

Der Spiegel: Grass also names a reason for his silence: the threat of being accused of anti-Semitism.

Segev: Meir Dagan has never been accused by anyone in Israel of being an anti-Semite. And it has been a long time since people in Germany were not able to criticize Israel — even if some in the Israeli government might regret that fact.

My correspondent: “Who has spoken of the scandal of European and American silence  on the subject of Israel’s possession of hundreds of nuclear weapons? Who has signaled the danger of Israeli use of nuclear weapons? It is not true, either, that there is no ‘incitement’ in Israel.'” Segev again:

And it is not as if there is incitement against Iran in Israel. There is even a peace campaign on Facebook.

My correspondent: “Barak, Netanyahu, Lieberman and a half  dozen others have been inciting panic-fear in remarks made almost every day for months now.”

And Idrees Ahmad has posted this translation of the Grass poem by Michael Keefer and Nica Mintz of Günter Grass’s “Was gesagt werden muss”:

Why have I kept silent, silent for too long
over what is openly played out
in war games at the end of which we
the survivors are at best footnotes.

It’s that claim of a right to first strike
against those who under a loudmouth’s thumb
are pushed into organized cheering—
a strike to snuff out the Iranian people
on suspicion that under his influence
an atom bomb’s being built.

But why do I forbid myself
to name that other land in which
for years—although kept secret—
a usable nuclear capability has grown
beyond all control, because
no scrutiny is allowed.

The universal silence around this fact,
under which my own silence lay,
I feel now as a heavy lie,
a strong constraint, which to dismiss
courts forceful punishment:
the verdict of “Antisemitism” is well known.

But now, when my own country,
guilty of primal and unequalled crimes
for which time and again it must be tasked—
once again, in pure commerce,
though with quick lips we declare it
reparations, wants to send
Israel yet another submarine—
one whose specialty is to deliver
warheads capable of ending all life
where the existence of even one
nuclear weapon remains unproven,
but where suspicion serves for proof—
now I say what must be said.

But why was I silent for so long?
Because I thought my origin,
marked with an ineradicable stain,
forbade mention of this fact
as definite truth about Israel, a country
to which I am and will remain attached.

Why is it only now I say,
in old age, with my last drop of ink,
that Israel’s nuclear power endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because what by tomorrow might be
too late, must be spoken now,
and because we—as Germans, already
burdened enough—could become
enablers of a crime, foreseeable and therefore
not to be eradicated
with any of the usual excuses.

And admittedly: I’m silent no more
because I’ve had it with the West’s hypocrisy
—and one can hope that many others too
may free themselves from silence,
challenge the instigator of known danger
to abstain from violence,
and at the same time demand
a permanent and unrestrained control
of Israel’s atomic power
and Iranian nuclear plants
by an international authority
accepted by both governments.

Only thus can one give help
to Israelis and Palestinians—still more,
all the peoples, neighbour-enemies
living in this region occupied by madness
—and finally, to ourselves as well.

‘Foreign Policy’ hookups: Resilient democracy seeks blue-eyed worshiper to make work in progress

Apr 07, 2012

Philip Weiss

Jeremy Hammond takes down Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s op-ed at Foreign Policy on“Israel’s resilient democracy.” Oren:

The Jewish state, moreover, belongs to a tiny group of countries — the United States, Britain, and Canada among them — never to have suffered intervals of non-democratic governance.

Hammond titles his piece, Oren’s Worship of Israel’s resilient democracy, a wonderful line. As this sort of proclamation truly is based on religious ardor. Thanks to Nima Shirazi. Excerpts:

But “Israel is entirely unique” and “exceptional”, Oren worships. If it is not perfect, it is because it “has never known a moment of peace, and must struggle to reconcile the often-clashing duties of preserving liberty and ensuring national survival.” Of course, “preserving liberty and ensuring national survival” is Oren’s euphemism for “occupying and stealing Palestinian land”, which is why there is no peace, least not for the Palestinians who suffer under the occupation, or from Israel’s frequent acts of aggression, such as its massacre in Gaza from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, codenamed “Operation Cast Lead”. Oren admits that Israel “grapples” with discrimination, but his excuse is that this, “unfortunately, is common to virtually all countries”—yes, even (gasp) the United States! His focus is, of course, on Arabs living within Israel. He makes no argument that Arabs living in the occupied territories do not face institutional discrimination. In fact, he admits to it later on (we’ll come to that).

He tries to offer some examples of how wonderful Israel is in being tolerant of the Arabs in its midst. So he says, for example, that Israel tolerates Ahmed Tibi as a member of the Knesset (Israel’s legislative branch), even though he “once advised PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and recently praised Palestinian ‘martyrs’”, which, he adds, is “a well-known euphemism for suicide bombers”. That is technically true, but his implication is that even though Tibi praised suicide bombers, his presence is still tolerated in the government because Israel is so tolerant and fair with its Arab citizens. Of course, “martyrs” is also a well-known euphemism for innocent civilians murdered by Israeli soldiers. But Oren’s point wouldn’t sound as good if he pointed that out, so he doesn’t. It just wouldn’t be as effective propaganda if he didn’t demonize Tibi by putting words in his mouth. His next example follows suit: “Another Arab Knesset member, Hanin Zoabi, was censured for her participation in the 2010 flotilla in support of the terrorist organization Hamas, but retained her seat and parliamentary immunity.” Of course, the May 2010 Freedom Flotilla was not in support of Hamas, but in support of the rights of the Palestinian civilians living in Gaza, whom Israel has been collectively punishing in violation of international law by placing the entire territory under siege.

But that doesn’t sound as good as saying that the flotilla supported terrorists, either. He goes on and on with this same kind of lying sophistry. Fast forward to where he acknowledges that Arabs living in the West Bank face institutional discrimination. He tries to dismiss this by saying that “the legal situation in the West Bank cannot simply be reduced to democracy or non-democracy.” There are areas under the administrative jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) and some under Israel. He brags about how fair Israel is in dealing with the Arab pests, who, for example, complain about “the location of Israel’s security barrier” by “claiming it infringed on their land”, and whose complaints have been heard by the Israeli Supreme Court, which has “often found in the Palestinians’ favor and ordered the fence moved.” Of course, Israel doesn’t sound quite so wonderful when you point out the fact that all of the wall within the West Bank is illegal, its very existence in the occupied territories a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. So, naturally, Oren doesn’t mention that.

He doesn’t mention that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in 2004 that the parts of the wall built occupied soil violate the rights of the Palestinians. He goes on like that a bit more before lying, “Prime Minister Netanyahu has made the two-state solution the cornerstone of a peaceful prototype state.” That, of course, is false. Oren could possibly have made the case that Netanyahu favors “a two-state solution”, if he were to define a “state” as a territory excluding most of the illegal settlements on the best Palestinian land; a territory also excluding East Jerusalem, which Israel has illegally annexed (the U.N. Security Council has repeatedly condemned Israel’s legal actions in this regard and declared them “illegal, null and void”); a territory whose borders are controlled by Israel; which is not permitted to enter into treaties with other states; which is not permitted sovereignty over its own airspace; which may not have a military to defend itself; which is divided up into non-contiguous areas by Jewish-only highways connecting illegally built settlements; etc. If he defined a “state” thusly, Oren might have had a case. But he didn’t do so, and he didn’t say “two-state solution”; he said “the two-state solution”.

The two-state solution, in favor of which there is an international consensus, is that Israel must withdraw completely from the occupied territories in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, passed in the aftermath of Israel’s occupation of the territories during the ’67 war, and a Palestinian state established along the pre-June ’67 lines (the ’49 Armistice Lines, a.k.a., “Green Line”), with minor and mutually agreed adjustments to the final border. Netanyahu, needless to say, absolutely rejects the two-state solution, so Oren’s statement is just an outright lie, without even any attempt to be clever about it.

He rambles on a bit longer after that, but you get the idea. Israel is “a work in progress”, it “has its flaws”, but it is nevertheless a vibrant “democracy”, a place where the democratic ideal shines through the darkness, a beacon of light. “[W]hich country”, Oren asks, “could rival the commitment to the rule of law displayed by the Jewish state”? A commitment evidenced by its ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory, illegal colonization, illegal construction of the annexation wall, it’s collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, it’s ’08-’09 massacre in Gaza, it’s May ’10 murder of nine civilian peace activists aboard a civilian vessel in in international waters, etc., etc., etc.

Sy Hersh: US funded and trained Iranian group on State Dept. terror list

Apr 07, 2012

Alex Kane

MEK supporters have been lobbying to take their organization off the State Department terrorist list (Photo: EPA/Al Jazeera English)

Seymour Hersh, the venerable investigative journalist, dropped another bombshell yesterday in the New Yorker: the US military trained members of an Iranian terrorist group in Nevada in 2005.

What’s more, American intelligence continues to be transferred to the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) for use in operations that include the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.

This report, if true, would mean that the US is deeply involved in the business of conducting what can only be described as a low-level, covert war being waged on Iran.

Hersh reports that during the Bush administration, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), an elite Special Operations force, transferred funds, arms and intelligence to the MEK.

While this type of covert activity is standard practice for the US–see Iran-Contra–what makes this revelation shocking is that the MEK is still on the US terrorist list. Because of that fact, the training had to be conducted in secret, away from the eyes of the State Department, at the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site.

It should also be emphasized that the MEK has been implicated in the killing of Americans.

Here’s more from Hersh:

The training ended sometime before President Obama took office, the former official said. In a separate interview, a retired four-star general, who has advised the Bush and Obama Administrations on national-security issues, said that he had been privately briefed in 2005 about the training of Iranians associated with the M.E.K. in Nevada by an American involved in the program. They got “the standard training,” he said, “in commo, crypto [cryptography], small-unit tactics, and weaponry—that went on for six months,” the retired general said. “They were kept in little pods.” He also was told, he said, that the men doing the training were from JSOC, which, by 2005, had become a major instrument in the Bush Administration’s global war on terror. “The JSOC trainers were not front-line guys who had been in the field, but second- and third-tier guys—trainers and the like—and they started going off the reservation. ‘If we’re going to teach you tactics, let me show you some really sexy stuff…’ ”

The training may have ended before Obama’s term began, but Hersh quotes a former senior intelligence officer as saying that US intelligence continues to be used by the MEK.

These revelations come two months after NBC News reported that the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, was training the MEK to carry out assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. The Obama administration denied any involvement then.

Glenn Greenwald comments for Salon on the Hersh story:

If this report is true, it means the U.S. Government actively trained a group that the U.S. Government itself legally categorizes as a “foreign terrorist organization,” a clear felony under U.S. law…

That alone compels serious DOJ and Congressional investigations into these claims. Worse, this reportedly happened at the very same time that the U.S. aggressively prosecuted and imprisoned numerous Muslims for providing material support for groups on that list even though many of those prosecuted provided support that was far, far less than what the U.S. Government itself was providing to MEK. Meanwhile, right at this moment, America’s closest ally — Israel — is clearly a state sponsor of this designated Terrorist organization, providing training, funding and arms to it, and the U.S. may very well be as well (independent of all else, given that Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid, the U.S., at the very least, is financing a state sponsor of Terror).

At the same time, a glittering bipartisan cast of former Washington officials is receiving large payments from this designated Terrorist group, meeting with its leaders, and then advocating on its behalf — again, providing far more material support than many powerless, marginalized Muslims who have been and continue to be prosecuted under this law. All of this appears to be clearly criminal regardless of whether MEK belongs on the list — once a group is placed by the State Department on the list, whether justifiably or not, it is a felony to provide material support to it — but MEK appears to be doing exactly that which is typically considered Terrorism: assassinating civilian scientists (and severely wounding their wives) with bombs and causing other civilian-killing explosions on Iranian soil in order to induce fear.

A version of this article originally appeared on AlterNet’s blog.

German-financed solar energy systems in six occupied communities are targeted with stop-work orders

Apr 07, 2012


Land theft / Ethnic cleansing

Israel to spend NIS 25 million on temporary housing for Migron settlers
Haaretz 6 Apr — The state is set to spend NIS 25 million to build a temporary housing site for Migron’s settlers, who have been ordered to leave the West Bank outpost by August. A team headed by cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser is due to meet Sunday to find a source for the money from the budget.
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Palestinian held over Hebron home sale to settlers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — A Palestinian man suspected of selling property to Israeli settlers in Hebron was detained by the national security forces following Wednesday’s evacuation of a building near the Old City.  Israeli police evicted 15 settlers in the two-story structure which they said they had bought from a Palestinian. Security officials say the man — identified only by his initials, M.S. — originally from the Gaza Strip was involved in the effort to make the transaction, which would have been invalid under Palestinian law.
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The occupation seeks to consolidate Jewish demographic domination in Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 6 Apr — A Jerusalemite committee condemned the occupation authorities’ declaration of building new housing units in occupied Jerusalem, and the opening of a new police station in the Mount of Olives, noting that it will build 872 settlement units in the “Har Homa” settlement, south of occupied Jerusalem, and another 180 units in “Givat Ze’ev” settlement in the north of the holy city, and the establishment of 69 housing units in the occupied Golan Heights. The occupation forces are continuing their arbitrary measures and their plans to Judaize Jerusalem and its sacred sites, the Islamic-Christian association to support Jerusalem and holy sites stated in a press statement
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See and Hear: Israel to demolish Hebron Hills renewable energy / Jill Kestler-D’Amours
AIC 5 Apr — The Israeli Civil Administration – the Israeli military body that controls Area C of the occupied West Bank – has issued stop-work orders on solar panel and wind turbine systems in six separate communities in the South Hebron Hills. These orders in Area C are seen as the first step to demolishing the renewable energy systems entirely. The systems were installed by the Israeli group Community Electricity and Technology Middle East (COMET-ME), and funded in large part by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs … [Audio] Noam Dotan, COMET-ME co-founder, explains why the group constructed renewable energy sources in the South Hebron Hills community and how Israel is attempting to destroy this humanitarian work:
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Israel: Palestinians cut off from farmlands
Jerusalem (Human Rights Watch) 5 Apr — A Year After Court Ruling, a Worsening Situation —  A court ruling upholding a military permit system has had the result that a year later West Bank Palestinians in one affected area are virtually unable to work on their farmlands, Human Rights Watch said today, on the anniversary of the High Court of Justice ruling. The system, which requires Palestinians to obtain special military permits to access their lands on the “Israeli” side of the separation barrier in the West Bank, in effect treats all Palestinians living in or seeking to access farmlands in these areas as though they were security threats, and imposes unnecessarily severe restrictions on their access, harming their livelihoods, Human Rights Watch said. Such a system violates the requirement under international law that security measures must be narrowly tailored to the threat that they aim to meet.
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In Photos: Bayt Jibrin — stolen beauty
AIC 5 Apr — Over 2,800 Palestinians from the Hebron-area village of Bayt Jibrin were expelled during the 1948 Middle East war. Today the area is an Israeli national park which erases the memory of its original inhabitants … In the 1947 UN Partition Plan, it was designated as part of the Arab state, but was occupied by Zionist forces during the 1948 Middle East war.  The over 2,800 Bayt Jibrin inhabitants were deported during the war and today, many of these refugees and their descendants live in  the ‘Azza and Fawwar refugee camps in the southern West Bank. The kibbutz of Beit Guvrin was established on Bayt Jibrin’s lands in 1949. The residents of Bayt Jibrin left behind a life and an amazingly beautiful place that is today an Israeli national park. [unusual photos, worth seeing]
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Restriction of movement

Israeli army closes West Bank checkpoints
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Israel’s military on Thursday issued a closure order affecting crossings into and out of the occupied West Bank, ahead of a Jewish holiday. “In accordance with the directives of the Minister of Defense and as part of the situation assessments in the IDF, a general closure will be implemented in the Judea and Samaria region,” a statement said. The closure will begin late Thursday and be lifted late Saturday “in accordance with security assessments,” the military said.
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Pilgrims fill Jerusalem for Good Friday, Passover
JERUSALEM (AFP) 6 Apr — Christians and Jews in the Holy Land were set to begin marking their most important festivals of the year on Friday, with Good Friday and the Jewish holiday of Passover coinciding …thousands of Roman Catholics and Protestants were packed into the narrow alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City in processions marking the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter next Sunday after hold the Holy Fire ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre the previous day …Hundreds of Israeli police and border police carefully watched over the processions under the blazing sun. Ahead of the holidays, the Israeli military imposed a two-day closure on the West Bank, saying it would only allow Palestinians access into Israel for emergency medical or humanitarian reasons. At the same time, the army granted entry permits to 500 Christians living in the Gaza Strip for Israel and the West Bank, and allowed 20,000 Christians living in the West Bank to enter Israel over Easter, a statement from the military read.[???? not according to the Palestinians]
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Arab Christians [no, West Bank Christians] denied chance to celebrate Good Friday
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 6 Apr – While Christians from all over the world were able to attend the Good Friday celebrations in the Old City of Jerusalem, Palestinian Christians were denied this opportunity. Israel has imposed a total closure on the occupied territories preventing Christians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip the chance to reach East Jerusalem to participate in the Good Friday procession. Military-issued permits granted to Christians that would have allowed them to reach Jerusalem to celebrate Easter were canceled as Israel has imposed a total closure on the occupied territories while Jews celebrate Passover, which starts Friday night ,,, The Arab Christians from Jerusalem and inside Israel, who participated in the procession, carried a large cross and sang hymns as they walked along Via Dolorosa on their way to the Holy Sepulcher Church.
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What would a ‘safe passage’ between W. Bank, Gaza look like?
[with map] 982mag 5 Apr — …The absence of a ‘safe passage’ is by no means the only reason for the restrictions on travel between Gaza and the West Bank – Israel forbids passage even when Palestinians seek to access the West Bank from Gaza via Jordan, without entering Israel at all. A ‘safe passage’ could facilitate travel. AIX brings together senior researchers, individuals who have participated in negotiations and people experienced in Israel and the Palestinian Authority’s economic institutions with the aim of analyzing the economic aspects of a permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The cost of the territorial link between Gaza and the West Bank has also been considered. AIX estimates that the project would cost about $700 million, in addition to $180 million for security arrangements.

Shalabi exposes the Gaza-West Bank divide / Daoud Kuttab
PNN 6 Apr — The end of Hana Shalabi’s 45-day hunger strike has produced mixed results, and has pointed out another underreported issue, the separation and difficulty of movement between Gaza and West Bank. Shalabi, like Khader Adnan before her, have done a great service to fellow Palestinians by exposing the undemocratic nature of administrative detention. It might be some time before it can be seen whether their struggle will reduce or totally end this kind of detention. By choosing to reside in Gaza for three years, Shalabi exposed what few people around the world realise, namely, that the unjust Israeli siege of Gaza also prevents 1.5 million ordinary Palestinians from the strip and over 2.5 million Palestinians from the West Bank to travel back and forth.
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WATCH: The Separation Wall
972mag 5 Apr — A short [6 min.] film by Porter Speakman, Jr on the Separation Wall, and what makes it a tool of the occupation rather than just a security measure.
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B’Tselem interactive map — The West Bank and the Gaza Strip
2 Apr — This complete, interactive map of the West Bank and Gaza includes information about Palestinian communities and Israeli settlements, checkpoints, the separation barrier, agricultural gates in the separation barrier, settlement zones in East Jerusalem, etc. Plus ongoing B’Tselem reports and video clips, organized by location.
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Foreign support for settlements, occupation

English billionaire linked to Israeli settlers’ attempts to prove ownership over Migron outpost
Haaretz 6 Apr — Foreign residents are forbidden from buying lands in the West Bank, though English billionaire Cyril Stein has been linked to land purchases in Migron — In response to a 2006 Peace Now petition to evacuate the Migron outpost in the West Bank, the High Court of Justice ruled in 2007 that the land on which the Migron people were living was privately owned by Palestinians and the outpost had to be evacuated within a few months. It can be exclusively revealed here that the Migron settlers consequently organized a deal to buy land there with the help of English billionaire Cyril Stein. Stein, who died in February 2011, was a North London Jew who made his fortune from gambling (turning Ladbrokes into a multibillion business ). He funded the $100 million Mamilla complex in Jerusalem, and donated a lot of money to settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. link to

Commentary: Ros-Lehtinen opposing Christian tourism to Holy Land / Daoud Kuttab
4 Apr — The Palestinian people received some good news last month. After an eight-month delay, the hold placed on funds approved by Congress to Palestinians was lifted. This decision, however, came with some unusual conditions and restrictions … A second hold, placed by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, was only partially lifted, allowing for $88.6 million of the $147 million to be disbursed. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen conditioned the lifting of the hold with the understanding that the money not be used for assistance in Gaza. She also prohibited use for road construction projects in the West Bank, except if directly related to security. Finally, and bizarrely, she denied use for trade facilitation, tourism promotion, scholarships for Palestinian students and other aid for Palestinian Authority agencies and ministries.
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Violence and raids

PCHR Weekly Report: ‘Three killed, dozens injured last week’ [29 Mar – 4 Apr]
IMEMC 6 Apr — …Israeli soldiers continued their systematic attacks against the Palestinians killing three residents, including one child, and wounding 73, including 18 children in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. During the reported period, Israeli soldiers carried out 77 invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank in addition to 3 limited invasions into the Gaza Strip. During these invasions, soldiers kidnapped 28 Palestinians, including five children and one journalist.  Full report
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Shin Bet: Action against Jewish extremists has reduced attacks on Palestinians in West Bank
Haaretz 6 Apr — Shin Bet security service restraining orders take right-wing activists by surprise —  Shin Bet security service officials say their actions against extreme right-wing activists have led to a significant reduction in violent incidents against Palestinians … The speakers attributed the reduction in violence − which they labeled ‘terror’ − to the restraining orders issued to 25 far-right activists, prohibiting them from entering the West Bank, as well as numerous indictments filed against the activists.

Palestinian man chased by settlers dies after his tractor crashes
NABLUS (PIC) 7 Apr — Fadi Zaitoun, from the village of Beita, south of Nablus, died late Thursday evening of injuries he sustained when his tractor crashed on its side as he was being chased by Jewish settlers from Yitzhar. Eyewitnesses said that Zaitoun was on his tractor ploughing village land when settlers from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar started chasing him. As he tried to flee on his tractor, the tractor crashed on its side and he was critically injured. He was taken to Rafidya hospital in Nablus, where he succumbed to his injuries.
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Armed settlers attack farmers near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 5 Apr – Armed Jewish settlers attacked on Thursday farmers near Aqraba, southeast of Nablus, according to a local activist. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, said settlers opened fire at farmers who were plowing their land in an area known as Wadi Yanoon without causing any injury. Farmers confronted the settlers and forced them to leave the area before Israeli soldiers had intervened and arrested one of the farmers and seized keys for the tractors used to plow the land.
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Price tag actions follow Israeli eviction of Hebron settlers
AIC 5 Apr — Following Israel’s eviction of settlers on Wednesday from a downtown Hebron home they occupied last week, Hebron-area settlers conducted ‘price tag’ operations against Palestinian property in the area. Settlers set fire to several chairs in the protest tent of Hana Abu Haikal in the Tel Romeida area of downtown Hebron. The Abu Haikal family is the target of settler violence for years now as their home is located next to the Israeli settlement in Tel Romeida … Settlers further threw stones at several Palestinian homes in the Tel Romeida area.  Yet even prior to Israel’s eviction of settlers from the building in Hebron, settlers from the Pene Hever settlement to the southeast of the Palestinian town of Bani Na‘em, located in the eastern Hebron district, attacked farmers who were cultivating their lands located near the settlement. Settlers started a fire in order to chase the farmers away, after which they damaged the wheels of the farmers’ tractors. This attack occurred despite permission from the Israeli civil administration for the farmers to work this land.
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Why were undercover Israeli agents creeping inside a Palestinian village? / Charlotte Silver
EI 6 Apr — Last week, on 27 March, three brothers were shot in Rammoun village during an “Israeli raid,” and then taken to a Jerusalem hospital. A few days later, one of the brothers, Rashad Shawakha, age 28, died of his wounds. The event received little attention and the details of the so-called “raid” were not expounded. But Al-Haq, a Palestinian human and legal rights organization, has released important findings from its own investigation into the incident. Most unsettling was the discovery that the brothers were shot by Israeli soldiers in disguise. The day after the shooting, an Israeli intelligence officer (also in civilian clothes) told one of the brothers that “there had been a mistake and that the incident would be investigated.”
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Tanks ‘open fire’ east of Gaza City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Israeli tanks on Thursday opened fire in an open area east of Gaza City, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an they heard tank fire near the Israeli border. Emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said no injuries were reported.
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Nablus City: Family left pleading in the night for their sons’ freedom
ISM West Bank 3 Apr by ‘Lydia’ — Essam Amer Ghassal,16 Khaled Beal Harabi, 22, Yousef Beal Harabi, 23: Three more names to be added to the political prisoner list, two more mothers to carry framed pictures of their children to prisoner awareness demonstrations. At 2 AM, on April 2nd the Israeli soldiers invaded an apartment block on An Najjah university road, Nablus city. They arrived at the homes of Essam, 16 and Khaled,22, friends who live just two floors apart. Both families were asked to step away from their door as the soldiers entered with force. Both families offered to open the doors for the soldiers, but the soldiers insisted on breaking the door down, preferring to use the force of their rifles to maximize damage. The shocked families were faced with 20 soldiers whose rifles [were] aimed [at] head height when the doors was opened.
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They shoot the youth, don’t they? / Johnny Barber
OpEdNews 3 Apr — On this Land Day, I was at Erez Crossing. Several hundred youth had managed to find their way around the Hamas policemen blocking the roads leading to Erez. At the crossing, they moved to within 200 yards of the Israeli gate. There they found their path blocked by rows of concertina wire across the road. The shabob set fire to tires in the roadway and threw stones towards the Israeli wall, most falling into the roadway, well short of their target. Intermittently and without warning, the Israeli occupation forces open fire on the stone throwers. Each volley consists of one to three shots, and with each volley, young men fall. Others immediately retrieve them. Dozens of youth mob the wounded. Somehow they manage to carry them through the crowd and load them onto motorcycles where they are ferried to the Palestinian side of the crossing to waiting ambulances.  I wonder about the young Israeli soldiers, picking their targets amongst the crowd and firing, like shooting fish in a barrel … And I wonder about the young stone throwers, completely exposed to the guns of the Israelis, knowing full well someone is going to be shot.
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Israeli soldiers arrest 20 in a pre-dawn raid on Kufr Qaddoum
PSCC 5 Apr by Abir Kopty — Massive numbers of Israeli soldiers staged an extensive pre-dawn raid on the West Bank village of Kufr Qaddoum last night, storming over a dozen houses. Twenty individuals, aged 16 to 38 were motioned from their beds at gunpoint and  arrested. Several of the raided houses were ransacked and left with extensive damage to their interiors. Soldiers have gone as far as pillaging gold jewelry estimated in thousands of shekels from the house belonging to Atta Shtawi, whose son Sabri was detained.
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Adri Nieuwhof: Israel has murdered more political opponents than apartheid South Africa ever judicially executed
EI 6 Apr — This week the United Nations held an international meeting in Geneva on the question of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention facilities. Professor John Dugard presented on the status of Palestinians who engage in resistance against Israeli oppression. Former Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Professor Dugard draws a parallel with the treatment of militant political opponents by South Africa’s apartheid regime and highlights the similarities between the two regimes. The below is a summary of Professor Dugard’s analysis.
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Occupation forces storm Nafha prison and assault captives
GAZA (PIC) 5 Apr — The Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs reported in an urgent statement, Thursday, that a brave prisoner at Nafha prison. Awadh al-Saidi attacked a jailer, in retaliation to the flagrant assault on the two leaders Abbas al-Sayed and Jamal Abu al-Hija, and as a rejection of the repressive policy of the prison administration. Consequently, the Police forces and Matsada forces were called and assaulted prisoner Saidi then took him to an unknown destination.
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Report: Israeli hurt in attack near Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — An Israeli national was injured by Palestinians late Thursday in the occupied West Bank, news reports said. The man was driving near al-Nabi Elias neighborhood of eastern Qalqiliya when Palestinians attacked him, Israel radio reported. The man was taken to hospital for treatment while Israeli forces combed the area, according to the report.
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Coverage of hate crime against Jew highlights media biases / Mya Guarnieri
972mag 6 Apr — A group of Arab teenagers were indicted yesterday for the racially motivated shooting death of a 51-year-old Jewish man. Comparing coverage of a similar incident in 2011 – in which a Palestinian man was stabbed to death by Jewish youth – reveals deep bias in Israel’s media … While in both incidents, the Israeli media downplays the racial motives, the reaction of the government is interesting. While the racially motivated violence of Jewish extremists gets a gag order – essentially sweeping the stabbing death of a man under the rug –  the gritty details of Sa’ado’s murder are out for all to see.
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Activism / Solidarity

PSP activists join weekly demonstration in Um Salmona
6 Apr — On Friday, April 06, 2012, Palestinian, Israeli and international activists joined the weekly peaceful demonstration in Um Salmona. Um Salmona is a small village located 12 km southwest of Bethlehem, and a separation barrier cuts through the village. During the demonstration, Israeli soldiers blocked two roads, preventing demonstrators from reaching the barrier, and also stopping cars from using the roads. Several Palestinian children broke through the line of soldiers, and waved Palestinian flags over an Israeli army jeep. There were no arrests, and no injuries.
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Soldiers attack West Bank protests injuring two civilians
IMEMC 6 Apr — …At the village of Nabi Saleh, in central west Bank, one man and a journalist were injured when they got hit in the head by tear gas bombs in the head … Meanwhile, many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation at the nearby villages of Bil‘in and Ni‘lin. Both protests started after midday prayers on Friday … In southern West bank, also on Friday, the villagers of Al Ma‘ssara and residents of Beit Jala town near Bethlehem marched against the wall. Soldiers used tear gas in al Ma‘ssara village , many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. At the town of Beit Jala, the residents of the town marched the Good Friday and marched up to their lands Israel took over to build the wall on. Residents marched led by local priests. The protests ended after a short mass near the [confiscated] lands.
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Israeli forces suppress Kafr Qaddum protest
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Israeli forces suppressed a weekly protest in Kafr Qaddum on Friday, which was attended by several Palestinian Authority officials. Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and a liquid spray at protesters near Qalqiliya who were composed of international, Israeli and Palestinian activists. An Israeli spokeswoman said 150 Palestinians had participated in a “violent and illegal riot during which they hurled rocks at security forces, who responded with riot dispersal means.”
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Cash shortage stops Gaza kids’ summer camps
AFP 5 Apr — The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees is cancelling its annual summer camps for children in the Gaza Strip, saying it has failed to raise enough money. “It was decided to stop the Summer Games programme in the Gaza Strip for 2012 due to not having received sufficient funding from donors, that is $9.9 million (7.5 million euros),” said Adnan Abu Hasna, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in Gaza.
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More than 14,000 new births in Gaza since start of year
GAZA (WAFA) 5 Apr – More than 14,000 new born babies were registered in the Gaza Strip in the first three months of this year, or an average of 150 babies a day, a little bit more than half of them were males, according to figures provided Thursday by a Hamas-run department .. At the same time, the Gaza Strip registered an average of 12 deaths a day in the first three months of this year, more than a third of them in Gaza City and its area towns, making the ratio of births to death in the entire Strip 13 to 1 … The Israeli-besieged Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is the one of the world’s most densely populated areas in capita per square meter of space.
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Gaza militants say they’ll adhere to cease-fire
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (Daily Star) 7 Apr —  A Palestinian militant leader said Friday that his group is adhering to a cease-fire that stopped rockets and airstrikes between Israel and the Gaza Strip last month. Sheikh Nafez Azzam of Islamic Jihad said Israeli reports that he had called for an ongoing struggle against Israel despite a cease-fire were mistaken. “We, in the Islamic Jihad, are committed to the cease-fire,” Azzam told the Associated Press. He said a firebrand speech calling for ongoing resistance was a general political statement.
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Miles of Smiles 11 arrives in Gaza
IMEMC 6 Apr — The Miles of Smiles 11 solidarity convoy made it into the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening after the Egyptian border control at the Rafah Border Terminal granted it the green light. The humanitarian convoy, and it 71 peace activists from several Arab and international countries, including Britain, South Arica, Jordan and Egypt, managed to cross into Rafah, in the southern party of the Gaza Strip.  Several physicians and surgeons, accompanying the solidarity convoy, will be performing surgeries in Gaza.

Bahrain to open health centre in Gaza
Manama, Bahrain 6 Apr — Bahrain is set to open a health centre in a refugee camp in Gaza as part of a BD2 million ($5.3 million) reconstruction initiative in the war-torn state … It involves reconstruction, furnishing and equipping of the health centre in the Khan Younis refugee camp, a new library at Al Fakhoura School in Jabalia Cam, and a new elementary boys school, also in Jabalia.
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Gaza: You can’t keep a good kid down / Julie Webb-Pullman
6 Apr — Today I visited the Association of Educational Excellence in Beit Hanoun, a city on the north-east edge of the Gaza Strip with a population of about 40,000 people, 99 percent of whom are Palestine refugees. The Association provides services to the poorest and most marginalised families in Beit Hanoun, to improve students’ performance and academic achievement, as well as providing social, material and psychological support to them and their parents. Their services are necessary – Beit Hanoun has extremely high levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in its population, particularly the children … Against such a backdrop, the Association holds sessions twice a day for severely traumatised children, morning sessions for the afternoon-school-children, and afternoon sessions for the morning-school-children. At this-morning’s session, I was amazed by the enthusiasm of the kids, and their excitement at having a New Zealander visit them. Yes, they know where New Zealand is, and yes, they all study English at school!!
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Scoop Gaza independent breaking news website launched today
6 Apr Letter to the readers from Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson: Dear Scoop Independent News readers, subscribers and guests, I am delighted this day to announce the launch of a project which is dear to my heart and true to the founding spirit of Scoop – Scoop correspondent Julie Webb-Pullman has been in Gaza for most of the past 12 months giving Scoop’s readers a very rare view inside a city which is generally regarded as among the most dangerous places in the planet.

Gazan lights his house using solar energy to overcome power crisis
6 Apr — The two-floor house of Mahmoud Shain is the only one that is lighted in a neighborhood in the town of Jabalia in northern Gaza Strip, while the adjacent and surrounding houses are in complete blackout amid an electricity shortage that the coastal enclave suffers from. The astonishing thing is that Shain is not using an electric generator like other Gaza residents, who have been obliged to turn their generators off due to a severe shortage of gasoline. Shain told Xinhua with pride and a big smile, “I managed to generate power to light my house from the sun’s heat.” “I developed glass cells to generate power from solar energy. Although it is little, but still I can light the house and operate some electric machines,” said Shain, who specializes in solar energy, adding that his dream to light his house using solar energy “has become true. It is a personal self-funded effort.” link to

Amnesty: 4 men face execution in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr– Four Palestinian men are on death row in the Gaza Strip and could face execution at any time, an urgent report from Amnesty International said Thursday.  The group identified Mohammed Baraka as one of the detainees who recently lost his appeal. Three other men have also had their appeals rejected recently, Amnesty said. Baraka, a father of six, was convicted on May 30, 2010, of murdering one of his relatives, the group said. He was sentenced to death and an appeal against the ruling was rejected in February. Three other men have been convicted of various crimes including kidnapping, murder, political killings and of collaboration with the Israeli army resulting in killings of fellow Palestinians.
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Hamas official says capital punishment brings security to Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 5 Apr – A senior Hamas official said Thursday that capital punishment against people he described as traitors and criminals have brought security to the Gaza Strip.
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Dark day for international justice
PNN 6 Apr — The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) wishes to express its extreme disappointment following the decision by the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) not to open an investigation in the situation in Palestine. This situation has been under examination by the Court for more than 3 years; i

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