During the time of the siege

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 04:58 PM PDT

During the time of the siege, Ahmed, a very young child in Gaza, left his home with his family because it was located very close to a big mosque that people had heard was going to be bombed. Later, while he was playing football, he was bombed by an Israeli F-16, separating his body into very small pieces. Ahmed escaped from his destiny to his destiny.

images News 2008 12 20 gaza siege1 300 0

During the time of the siege, Zyneb, a youth in her twenties, was prevented from leaving Gaza to receive medical attention. Due to that, she passed away and was the first victim of the siege. She left her family, husband, and many friends, all who loved her. After she passed away, one of the Israeli soldiers who worked hard to prevent her from leaving, asked her father, as he was carrying her dead body, “Why do you cry? All of us will die!”

During the time of the siege, Salah, a very clever youth who was forced to leave school to work in one of Rafah’s tunnels in order to provide food for his family, was suffocated under the sand of a destroyed tunnel. He joined the list of 150 people who died inside the tunnels while they were “smuggling” food and medicine to their besieged people.

During the time of the siege, Fadel, a very handsome journalist was killed while he was covering an Israeli attack on Gaza, carrying only his camera. He joined the list of dozens of journalists who were killed by the same means, and maybe even by the same soldiers. 

During the time of the siege, Abed, a new high school graduate was prevented from leaving Gaza to attend a university outside. He lost his opportunity to continue his education like students do all over the world. 

During the time of the siege, Islamic University of Gaza was attacked, but its academic staff and students were determined to continue to reach their goal of conveying their eternal message to the whole world. They showed the world that determination could be enough to change the face of history. 

During the time of the siege, China marked the anniversary of 70 years of continuous electricity without cutting off, while in Gaza, electricity goes off daily. This threatens the life of hundreds of patients at hospitals, and the hopes of hundreds of students who wish to find light to read in order to get out of ignorance.

During the time of the siege, people created everything from nothing, built high buildings from the remains of destruction and sang for peace and love. During that time, students were looking for pens to write, while patients were busy looking for medicine to aid a speedy recovery.

During the time of the siege, people used corn oil to run cars, wood to cook, candles to read, mud to build, tents to learn, Zinc to cover the remains of homes, and hope to live.

During the time of the siege, Gaza was turned into an open air prison, walls were built to prevent the shine of the sun, tanks were on the borders prepared to shell, and soldiers observed the hungry and sick people inside but still prevented them from getting their food and medicine, much in the same way they prevented them from getting their freedom. 

During the time of the siege, thousands of Palestinian prisoners were prevented from seeing their families for years, and yet no one talked about them, while the whole world was engaged in Gilad Shalit, thinking of creative ways to release him. During that time, Shalit realized what spending 33 years in prison means and his family shared just a part of what the suffering of the Palestinian people feels like.

During the time of the siege, hundreds of peace activists tried to break the siege of Gaza. Many of them succeeded at their task, while many others were prevented from getting into the Gaza Strip, sometimes by governments refusing their entry and other times by navy soldiers, armed to the teeth, killing nine of them in international waters. 

During the time of the siege, people became more aware of what was going on. They learned who was right and who was wrong, who were the victims and who were the victimizers, who were the occupiers, who were the occupied and who was defending and who was attacking. 

During the time of the siege, Gaza became the most famous city in the world; however, it’s the smallest part of it. The city wrote verses of glory upon history walls, stories of steadfastness and sent glimpses of hope and messages of peace to the rest of the world, which exerted no effort to harm her. 

Yousef M. Aljamal is a senior student at the Islamic University of Gaza. His sister was one of the victims of the siege he describes above. She passed away June 18, 2007 after being prevented from leaving Gaza to receive medical attention. All of the stories told above are stories Aljamal himself has witnessed.

One-state debate explodes myth about the Zionist left

 20 Jul 2010

A fascinating debate is entering Israel’s political mainstream on a once-taboo subject: the establishment of a single state as a resolution of the conflict, one in which Jews and Palestinians might potentially live as equal citizens. Surprisingly, those advocating such a solution are to be found chiefly on Israel’s political right.
The debate, which challenges the current orthodoxy of a two-state future, is rapidly exploding traditional conceptions about the Zionist right and left.
Most observers — including a series of US administrations — have supposed that Israel’s peace-makers are to be found exclusively on the Zionist left, with the right dismissed as incorrigible opponents of Palestinian rights.
In keeping with this assumption, the US president Barack Obama tried until recently to sideline the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyhau, Israel’s rightwing prime minister, and bolster instead Ehud Barak, his defence minister from the left-wing Labour party, and the opposition leader Tzipi Livni, of the centrist Kadima party.
But, as the Israeli right often points out, the supposedly “pro-peace” left and centre parties have a long and ignominious record in power of failing to advance Palestinian statehood, including during the Oslo process. The settler population, for example, grew the fastest during the short premiership of Mr Barak a decade ago.
What the new one-state debate reveals is that, while some on the right — and even among the settlers — are showing that they are now open to the idea of sharing a state with the Palestinians, the left continues to adamantly oppose such an outcome.


In a supplement of Israel’s liberal Haaretz newspaper last weekend largely dedicated to the issue, Yossi Beilin, a former leader of the ultra-dovish Meretz party and an architect of Oslo, spoke for the Zionist left in calling a one-state solution “nonsense”. He added dismissively: “I’m not interested in living in a state that isn’t Jewish.”
The Israeli left still hangs on resolutely to the goal it has espoused since Mr Barak attended the failed Camp David talks in 2000: the annexation to Israel of most of the settlements in the West Bank and all of those in East Jerusalem. The consensus on the left is that the separation wall, Mr Barak’s brainchild, will ensure that almost all the half million settlers stay put while an embittered Palestinian population is corralled into a series of ghettoes misleadingly called a Palestinian state. The purpose of this separation, says the left, is to protect Israel’s Jewishness from the encroaching Palestinian majority if the territory is not partitioned.
The problem with the left’s solution has been summed up by Tzipi Hotoveley, a senior Likud legislator who recently declared her support for a single state. “There is a moral failure here [by the left]. … The result is a solution that perpetuates the conflict and turns us from occupiers into perpetrators of massacres, to put it bluntly. It’s the left that made us a crueler nation and also put our security at risk.”
The right is beginning to understand that separation requires not just abandoning dreams of Greater Israel but making Gaza the template for the West Bank. Excluded and besieged, the Palestinians will have to be “pacified” through regular military assaults like the one on Gaza in winter 2008 that brought international opprobrium on Israel’s head. Some on the right believe Israel will not survive long causing such outrages.
But if the right is rethinking its historic positions, the left is still wedded to its traditional advocacy of ethnic separation and wall-building.
It was the pre-state ideologues of Labour Zionism who first argued for segregation under the slogans “Hebrew labour” and “redemption of the land” and then adopted the policy of transfer. It was the Labour founders of the Jewish state who carried out the almost wholesale expulsion of the Palestinians under cover of the 1948 war.
For the right, on the other hand, the creation of a “pure” Jewish territory has never been a holy grail. Early on, it resigned itself to sharing the land. The much-misunderstood “iron wall” doctrine of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the Likud’s intellectual father, was actually presented as an alternative to Labour Zionism’s policies of segregation and expulsion. He expected to live with the Palestinians, but preferred that they be cowed into submission with an iron wall of force.
Jabotinsky’s successors are grappling with the same dilemmas. Most, like Mr Netanyahu, still believe Israel has time to expand Israeli control by buying the Palestinians off with such scraps as fewer checkpoints and minor economic incentives. But a growing number of Likud leaders are admitting that the Palestinians will not accept this model of apartheid forever.
Foremost among them is Moshe Arens, a former defence minister and Likud guru, who wrote recently that the idea of giving citizenship to many Palestinians under occupation “merits serious consideration”. Reuven Rivlin, the parliament’s speaker, has conceded that “the lesser evil is a single state in which there are equal rights for all citizens”.
We should not romanticise these Likud converts. They are not speaking of the “state of all its citizens” demanded by Israel’s tiny group of Jewish non-Zionists. Most would require that Palestinians accept life in a state dominated by Jews. Arens, for example, wants to exclude the 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza from citizenship to gerrymander his Jewish-majority state for a few more decades. None seems to be considering including a right of return for the millions of Palestinian refugees. And almost all of them would expect citizenship to be conditional on loyalty, recreating for new Palestinian citizens the same problematic relationship to a Jewish state endured by the current Palestinian minority inside Israel.
Nonetheless, the right is showing that it may be more willing to redefine its paradigms than the Zionist left. And in the end it may confound Washington by proving more capable of peace-making than the architects of Oslo.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is
A version of this article originally appeared in The National (, published in Abu Dhabi.

Why I’m fasting on Tisha B’av

20 Jul 2010

Today is Tisha B’av, the ninth of the Jewish month of Av, a day when Jews traditionally remember the destruction of the Temples and other tragedies of our history by fasting and reading from the Book of Lamentations, culminating a three week period of remembering and mourning.  As I fast, I am remembering the destruction that so many teachers, advertisements, politicians, a lobby group, and synagogues have tried to instruct me to ‘forget’ or not know: the destruction of Palestine.  This destruction continues today, as we see the actions of modern day Israel in repressing freedom of speech, movement, and quality of life.   


3632535579 0c8595c90c zThe idea of destroying someone’s sacred site had always been appalling to me – shouldn’t holy grounds remain beyond the reach of warfare, just as the lives of children should remain untouchable by the clutches of warriors?  My naivety has waned as I have grown to understand that warfare is a blind beast that cannot help but harm the innocent and the sacred, like a man sick with the disease of addiction who will harm those in his path, a bull in a china shop.  Nonetheless the reaches of the violence of occupation are still unnerving.  One year ago I was standing in a destroyed Palestinian village in northern Israel, staring at what was once a sacred mosque, and is now an off-limits crumbling building (pictured right), sealed by the same barbed wire that kept my not-so-distant relatives in the death camps in Poland.

How do we mourn destruction while it continues in every moment?  Even as I write this new settlement homes are being built in the West Bank and companies continue to profit from occupation.  For so long many have cried out for an end to the destruction, shook their fists in the air, marched, rallied, lamented, sobbed.  It is essential to feel our grief and to vocalize it, but it is not enough.  Today is a day that my people do not eat to express our grief.  But there is something more we can do.  We can refuse to buy the products that continue to destroy people’s lives, homes, and sacred sites.  By putting our money where our mouths are, and refusing to imbibe products that have led to the suffering of people elsewhere on the planet, we can embody our values.   

And truly embodiment is at the core of Tisha B’av.  During the time of wandering the desert for 40 years after fleeing slavery in Egypt, legend says that my Jewish ancestors would dig shallow graves for themselves on the night of Tisha B’av and lie down in them to sleep, so that when they awoke they literally crawled out of their graves and were reborn anew. Tisha B’av is not only about mourning death and destruction, then, it is also about rebirth and renewal, the promise of creative innovation that destruction forces upon us.     

Mishna Taanit 1.6-1.7 states that the public ritual during days of fasting include imposed limits on “buying and selling; on building and planting; on betrothals and weddings; and on inquiring about each other’s well-being…” Perhaps we can continue to carry this imposition through for the following weeks until the High Holidays (the Jewish New Year, a time for reflection, mourning, and the creation of resolute commitments for the year to come) and beyond, until a just peace is attained in the Middle East.  We can refuse to buy goods made in the Occupied Territories, or do business with companies who are illegally profiting from the occupation; we can refuse to support businesses that contribute to the building of settlements; we can ensure that all people can live, love, and grow in peace.   

As I write this, an angry backlash has sprung up in response to one moral act of boycotting a business involved in the illegal occupation of the West Bank: ultra-Orthodox and pro-occupation groups are calling for a buycott of illegally-made Ahava cosmetics sold at Ricky’s, a family beauty supply chain in New York City.  The buycott call comes after peace groups CODEPINK and Brooklyn for Peace coordinated a public action outside the Brooklyn store on July 9.  An online “mud fight” erupted in the comments section of a Brooklyn article about the peace action, in which people commenting went so far as to equate one activist with pogroms and make comments about her vagina and sexuality.  Groups including the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) on the East Coast have stepped up to defend the occupation by promoting this product. Read more about it in Adam Horowitz’s post. It seems that when the ugly truth behind fancy skin care products is revealed, the beauty of Jewish teachings in the minds of those who profess to be most observant is more dead than the Dead Sea itself.   

May the ancient teachings of Tisha B’av be remembered in place of modern attempts to wipe out the history of a people living in a land that was given to a people without a land.    

“Any person who can prevent the people of their household from committing a sin but does not is responsible for the sins of their household.  If a person can prevent the people of their city from sinning, they are responsible for the sins of the people of their city.  If the whole world, that person is responsible for the sins of the whole world.” ~ Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 54b  

Rae Abileah ([email protected]) is a national organizer with CODEPINK Women for Peace and lives in San Francisco, CA.   Join the monthly Jewish Fast for Gaza at and pledge to boycott of Ahava products at

Orphans and cataracts– IHH is a charity

20 Jul 2010

Love Boat or Hate Boat? An Interview with IHH from Cultures of Resistance on Vimeo.

At Huffington Post, director of Cultures of Resistance and flotilla member, Iara Lee demonstrates that the attacks on IHH, the Turkish charity that helped organized the Gaza flotilla, are essentially Islamophobic. “Slandering the good guys”:

After the attack on the Mavi Marmara, I had an opportunity to ask the vice president of IHH, Huseyin Oruc, about accusations of IHH terror links. While he was not interested in dignifying such claims, he was very emphatic about the transparency of IHH’s work over the years, and hoped people would look at their large-scale sanitation and medical missions around the African continent — including 40,000 cataract surgeries in Sudan alone, clean water projects in Ethiopia- and IHH’s extensive work dealing with orphans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Gaza. While they are an Islamic organization, Oruc told me that IHH refuses to differentiate who receives attention based on religion, race, or political affiliation, and has noted their various projects in South America where Muslim populations are slight.


Their modus operandi is simple and direct. Given the neutrality of their humanitarian mission, IHH has been able to access some of the most inaccessible and dangerous regions of the world to help those most in need. Like most NGOs, this means they must coordinate with local governments in order to reach these populations. So while they must communicate with the Hamas government of Gaza to help civilians there, they must likewise do so with Fatah in the West Bank, Al Shabab in Somalia, the military junta in Myanmar and so on. Oruc was adamant that this did not mean IHH endorses any of those governments, and said that anyone who cared to investigate their work would find nothing other than great successes in helping ordinary people in situations of war, poverty, and natural disasters in places such as Haiti, Indonesia, and even the US in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also told me people were free to investigate their funding, most of which comes from lower and middle class donors, while the rest is raised through food fairs, auctions for Turkish artifacts, and other cultural events. By its own mandate, IHH is not beholden to any government or business interests.

In an effort to combat BDS, the JCRC doubles down on the occupation

20 Jul 2010

The leaders of the American Jewish community continue to struggle with how to respond to the the growing BDS movement. The Jewish Community Relations Committee of Greater Washington has adopted a particularly strange approach – they want their members to actively support the occupation.

This call is in response the Code Pink “Stolen Beauty” campaign targeting Ahava cosmetics, which are produced in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem.

Here’s a recent newsletter the JCRC sent out:

Buy Ahava This Week and Support Stores Being Boycotted for Selling Israeli Products

An anti-Israel organization called Sabeel organized a boycott of a Silver Spring store that sells AHAVA brand Israeli skin care products. In what they call a “Boycott to End the Occupation,” protesters on Saturday picketed Ulta Salon, a cosmetics store in downtown Silver Spring. This local effort is part of a global movement called the Boycott Divestment Sanctions for Palestine (BDS) movement, an international effort to delegitimize Israel.

The power of the anti-AHAVA campaign, supported by the international BDS network, should not be under estimated. They have tried to pressure COSCTO stores to remove AHAVA products, and pressured “Sex and the City” star Kristin Davis not to seek renewal of her contract as an AHAVA spokeswoman.

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) urges you to support Israel by combating this boycott. What can you do?

(1) Shop! Buy AHAVA at Ulta this week! Please visit the Ulta store in Silver Spring and buy as many AHAVA products as you can. 914 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20910, 301-588-8744 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              301-588-8744      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. If you cannot make it to the Silver Spring store this week, you can shop for AHAVA products on the Ulta website. Although it is not possible to specifically support the Silver Spring store in this way, you can leave a message on the website by clicking on the “Guest Services” tab and leaving a comment that your purchase is made in support of the Silver Spring store’s continued carrying of AHAVA products.


(2) Tell the store manager that you support Ulta’s selling of AHAVA and that you will continue to support their carrying of AHAVA because you enjoy the product. Let them know that there is a bigger, more active, consumer population that strongly opposes the AHAVA boycott and will continue to buy AHAVA products.

(3) Let the JCRC know that you have purchased AHAVA products at the Ulta store in Silver Spring this week. As a thank you for your support of this initiative we will send you a free gift compliments of AHAVA US.

(4) Encourage your friends to join you in taking the first three steps and spread this email message far and wide. For more information about Sabeel DC Metro visit the Friends of Sabeel–North America website. Thank you for standing up for Israel when her name and legitimacy are smeared.

Arielle Farber, Director of Israel & International Affairs, JCRC

Closing the settlement loophole

 20 Jul 2010

Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the Jerusalem Fund and the Palestine Center, writes in Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel about ending tax exempt donations to Israeli settlements. Acknowledging that efforts to challenge this practice through the IRS hasn’t worked, he suggests a government-led interagency approach:

FinCEN, or the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, became an official branch of the Treasury Department with the passage of the USA PATRIOT act in 2002. It is tasked with enforcing laws and regulations relating to financial crimes like money laundering and foreign terrorism finance. The foreign component of this policy, of course, involves the State Department. When it comes to combating international terrorism finance, for example, the agencies work together to prevent funding to organizations designated by the State Department as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

In fact, in 1995, then President Clinton issued Executive Order 12947 which stated that acts that “disrupt the Middle East peace process constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” and funding of these acts is illegal and prohibited. In this context, the Executive Order was targeting militant organizations, Arab and Jewish alike, who used violence against civilians.

Minor changes in legislation or an Executive Order could allow the State Department to maintain a similar list of settlement organizations which American banks and charities would not legally be allowed to deal with, and would give FinCEN the appropriate authority to crack down on organizations in the United States which direct U.S. tax dollars to settlements.

Israel on Tish’a B’Av, 2010

 20 Jul 2010

The video above was sent to us by an Israeli activist who goes by the name gangreentv. They also sent this explanation:

Today is Tish’a B’Av, the day on the Hebrew calendar that Jews all over the world commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem because of baseless hatred. So it’s especially ironic that his past week we witnessed no less than FOUR new laws proposed and passed in the Israeli Knesset that are outrageously anti-democratic in nature:

  1. Stripping an Arab parliamentarian of her privileges for her non-violent activism

  2. Narrowly defining who is considered a Jew, and therefore able to access state privileges

  3. Requiring a loyalty oath to a supremacist ideology in order to receive state privileges

  4. Criminalizing free speech that advocates divestment from the occupation

Under these circumstances, it is nearly impossible to not feel inexorably swept towards total fascism. Combining the dystopic art of local artist Yosi Even Kama with the video for the Flobots’ song “Handlebars” approaches a sense of the fear and frustration that the peace and justice camp is currently experiencing in Israel.

Getting to one state

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 09:57 AM PDT

I’ve been grappling with the refugee issue for a long time now. I’ve mostly avoided writing about it because I don’t know what the right and workable solution is. So many thanks to Ben Zakkai for forcing the question – and more introspection. The right of return is sacrosanct and inviolable, but it’s not a coherent policy on its own. I hope to write about Palestinian refugees in the near future, but for now I want to address the substantive question of how to bring about a one-state solution which Zakkai (and Chomsky) also raised.

Zakkai’s call for a Palestinian enfranchisement campaign in the Occupied Territories is a no-brainer so far as I’m concerned. I’ve written before that I believe that the ‘two-state’ solution exists purely in the feverish minds of Zionists and their clients in the West Bank. That belief has resulted in a kind of lazy faith in the organic rise of a Palestinian enfranchisement movement. My thinking was that it’s only a matter of time before everyone everywhere realizes that there will never be a Palestinian state. And because people resist systemic repression, they will continue to agitate for freedom. Taking a long historical perspective and a fluid view of global public opinion, well, how can we not end up at the one-state solution?

We can and should take a decidedly more active approach to bringing about the one-state solution. Talking and writing about Palestinian enfranchisement is one kind of advocacy work, but there is more we can do.


There are factors whose bearing on the one-state solution – or rather, the movement for Palestinian voting rights – is unknowable. Mahmoud Abbas’ militia in the West Bank has done an admirable job of putting a Palestinian face on the Israeli occupation. Dissent in the West Bank today means a call from Yuval Diskin to Mohammed Dahlan and an uncomfortably intimate rendezvous with a Coke bottle. Meanwhile, Fayyad cannily co-opts BDS forms, if not goals. That may seem innocuous at worst, but it really means The Functionary hopes to gain control of something that isn’t his for use as leverage against the Israelis. The last time a hapless Palestinian leader succeeded in doing that, we plunged from popular Intifada to malignant Oslo. Call it the desperate and vainglorious stench of an old man’s last appeal for relevance.

So we’re confronted by important questions: How does a movement whose purpose is to undo the Jewish state take root and take off in a Vichy environment?; How do we abolish the Palestinian Authority?; How do we reform the PLO (an organization designed to liberate a colonized people, not to enfranchise them)?; and other related and corresponding questions on the Israeli side.

People on both sides are making progress in advancing the cause for Palestinian enfranchisement. The impact of conversations like this one shouldn’t be underestimated, if only to concretize proposals and isolate the rough crags. The recent launch of Takamol is very encouraging as well; it’s the next step in studying and presenting a positive political program in digestible form. Yet, none of these mitigate the problems implicit in the questions I’ve posed above.

The answer may be in an idea proposed to me by an Israeli woman. She suggested that we create a supranational political party to run in both the PNC and Knesset on a one-state platform. I responded that I thought that the time may be premature, but that the idea itself was a very good one.

Elections are to polls what a biopsy is to an X-RAY. Creating a political party is a way to simultaneously gauge and promote support for the full enfranchisement of Palestinians in Palestine/Israel. Doing so also presents an opportunity to encourage the fuller participation of Palestinian-Israelis in Knesset elections. A one-state party with a unified Palestinian and Jewish leadership can also undermine the endemic corruption in Palestinian national institutions like the Palestinian Authority. By seeking to participate in elections, supporters of the one-state solution can more directly impact the political agenda in Palestine/Israel.

But I do think it’s a little too early for this approach. There’s no reason to believe that free and fair elections like those conducted in 2006 will ever take place again so long as the Abbasniks are on the scene. Yet, declaring the formation of a party will still capture the attention of large segments of the population. Heretofore supportive but bashful segments of the population (I know they’re out there) may take heart in witnessing the development of a formalized charter. Party congresses can be organized to elect the leadership and formalize bylaws, programs, etc… While elections aren’t going to happen, it’s worth waiting until the Abbas/Fayyad exilarchy is slightly more discredited before making that declaration. Neither one of those gerontocrats is likely to subordinate his ego to the public good. Furthermore, the Merkava tanks that sustain them are still too widely prevalent in Palestinian streets for anyone to publically call for their early retirement (to the south of France?).

Likewise, I’m not sure that the Israelis will permit a non or anti-Zionist party to register for elections in their state, particularly now that Israel is demonstrating openly fascist tendencies. It’s impossible to predict where Israel is going, but my guess is that we’re in for a total or near-total collapse of Jewish-Israeli society before something gives. Jewish Israelis have exhibited a remarkably high threshold for atrocity (of course, they’re not the first stupidly vicious and narcotized population in human history). And despite Gideon Levy’s best efforts, too many Israelis continue to snort Zionism in large doses. One is reminded (somewhat ironically) of the title of Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s famous book, “What is to be done?”

Right now, in the short term, the best thing we can do is promote and explore the idea through forums like this. Ben Zakkai’s Articles should be developed further so that we end up with a constitutional outline (my personal preference is for federation) – the point is to develop something concrete. Probably a working group comprised of well-intentioned people from both sides can develop a host of preliminary drafts and the best ideas from each can be lifted to create an aggregate proposal. At that stage, an abbreviated version can be presented in newspapers, ads, and other widely consumed public media. Civil society organizations can be contacted for feedback and encouraged to endorse core principles, if not the comprehensive plan itself.

It’s worth cultivating a one-state leadership even at this likely distant juncture. I know Azmi Bishara is widely popular among the Palestinians in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon. And he’s voiced interest in the one-state solution, if not outright support. Maybe Avraham Burg will one day identify publically as a non, post or anti-Zionist and he could represent the sane portion of Israeli society.

I’m aware that one-state conferences have been organized in the West in the past. I haven’t heard of any others being organized (I’d be very grateful to learn of any that are). Perhaps it’s time to begin thinking about organizing another one in either Amman or Cairo so that both Palestinians and Israelis can ‘freely’ attend (what do we do about Palestinians from Gaza?).

The point is that we’re already engaging in diffuse education and organizing around the cause for Palestinian enfranchisement in Palestine/Israel. There is no reason we can’t take a more active approach to organizing around these conversations.

Today in Palestine: 1:30 a.m. raid with 12 Jeeps nets… 17-year-old Palestinian

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 09:13 AM PDT

And other news from Today in Palestine:


Land theft and destruction/Ethnic cleansing

Israel brings down Palestinians’ tents
The international community has made repeated calls for an end to Israeli demolitions.  Israel has leveled tents used by Palestinians as their homes in the northern West Bank in defiance of global calls for halting the destruction of Palestinian shelters.
Israeli soldiers entered al-Farisiya village on Monday morning and ordered the residents away before knocking the structures down, the Ma’an news agency reported.  Tel Aviv said the military knocked down nine agricultural structures because they were put up without permits.  Last week, Israel destroyed one Palestinian home and two unfinished houses along with parts of a factory in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Israel intends to destroy new part of historical Maman Allah cemetery
The Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage said that the Israeli occupation authority intends to build a compound of courts on another part of Maman Allah cemetery near Al-Khalil Gate.

Palestinians in Jerusalem feeling abandoned
With the specter of more housing demolitions and the Judaification of East Jerusalem, leaders are looking for help where they can.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Seventeen year old from Bil’in arrested in night raid
Last night the Israeli army carried out a night raid in the West Bank village of Bil’in and arrested a seventeen year old boy.  At least 12 Israeli army jeeps entered the village at approximately 1.30 in the morning. Soldiers from two of the jeeps then closed off the house of Ahmed Abdul Fatah Durnat, 17, who was arrested during the course of the 40 minute raid.

IOF create security zone to shut out the weekly protest in Wadi Rahal
July 18th, 2010– The demonstrators were caught off-guard when the Israeli Occupation Forces sealed of the Wall and prevented the demonstrators from approaching the regular site of picketing. This was the first time since the beginning of the weekly protests in Wadi Rahal that the Occupation Forces shut off the area as a “security zone” and banned people from entering Israel.

Weekly march in Al-Ma’sara commemorates Khaled Al-Azzeh
July 18th, 2010– The coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign in al Ma’sara delivered a speech honoring Khaled al-Azzeh for his achievements in resisting the apartheid systems of the Israeli Occupation. Has spoke about his commitment to the Palestinian cause and confirmed that the popular resistance will continue to follow the path of Khaled al-Azzeh.

Conscientious objector Yonatan Shapira questioned by Shin Bet, Amira Hass
Non-active Israel Air Force pilot who authored the “pilots’ letter” of 2003, signed by 27 IAF pilots who said they would refuse to fly over the occupied territories

Olympia Food Co-op removes Israeli goods from shelves; first US store to institute boycott
Olympia, WA– The Olympia Food Co-op Board of Directors has decided to boycott Israeli goods at their two locations in Olympia, Washington. At a July 15th meeting packed with Co-op members, the Board reached this consensus. The Co-op becomes the first US grocery store to publicly join the international grassroots movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) on Israel for its human rights abuses.  Co-op board member Rob Richards explained, “My hope is that by being the first in the US to adopt the boycott we act as a catalyst for other co-ops to join in. Each additional organizational entity that joins may have a very small effect on the big picture, but drop by drop fills the tub.”

9,000 activists and 35 media organizations to participate in Freedom Flotilla 2
The European campaign to end the Siege on Gaza announced Monday that Freedom Flotilla 2 will be delayed until late September or early October due to expansion in participation from European countries.

Justice For The Abu Rahmahs?
The Israeli army has finally decided to open an investigation into the April 2009 killing of an unarmed, peaceful Palestinian protester in the West Bank village of Bil’in. The announcement came days after the Israeli government’s expansion of the Gaza flotilla inquiry into a full-fledged government commission, while a separate ruling has been passed to allow consumer goods into Gaza.

Violence and Aggression

Settler attacks increase in Tel Rumeida
Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians have increased over the past few days in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Al Khalil (Hebron).  On Sat. July 17, Mohammed, a shopkeeper, was approached by twelve Israeli settlers near his shop by the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Without provocation, two of the settlers grabbed Mohammed and a third punched him in the face, forcing him to the ground, according to Mohammed. When the ambulance arrived to take Mohammed to the hospital, the military refused. After some discussions between the soldiers and the border police, who witnessed the event, a military ambulance arrived, checked Mohammed’s medical status, and transported him to the waiting Palestinian ambulance. Although he was not in need for further hospitalization, Mohammed’s left chin and the area around his left eye were black and blue and swollen.

IOF breaks into Hebron, no arrests reported
Hebron, July 20,  (Pal Telegraph) Three militant patrols raided Today the village of “Kharsa” southern town of Dura in Hebron in the occupied West Bank.  Eyewitnesses said that the officers of the Israeli intelligence were roaming the streets of the village and stopped at a number of citizens and workers in the street which being renovated and paved which connects Hebron villages with other southern towns.  The roaming of Israeli intelligence was described as “provocative”, and raised doubts and suspicions among the citizens, specially when they were asking questions and inquiries about the working in the street and the nature of the region.

Israeli court imprisons Palestinian child
The Israeli military court in Ofer on Tuesday sentenced a 12-year-old Palestinian boy to one week imprisonment term along with 125 dollars fine, local sources said.

Israel extends administrative detention of Nablus man
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli authorities renewed the administrative detention of Reda Khaled for a further three months Monday, a prisoners affairs representative said.  Maysar Atyani said Khaled, from a refugee camp near Nablus, was arrested in December 2008 but has spent seven years in Israeli prisons on-and-off.

Ahrar denounces IOF arrest of Palestinian woman
Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies and human rights has denounced the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) for arresting a 57-year-old Palestinian woman in her house in Tulkarem at dawn Monday.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian and Human Rights/Restriction of Movement
Goods – Needs Vs. Supply – June 20 – July 17

UNRWA: Israeli blockade stalls construction
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel has not let in sufficient construction material under its new siege conditions, and current levels are not even enough to complete limited UNRWA housing projects, agency director John Ging said.  Speaking at the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City alongside independent Palestinian lawmaker and head of the popular committee against the siege Jamal Al-Khudari, Ging for the first time criticized the new import policy adopted by Israel for Gaza.

Assad, Davutoglu want to ‘end blockade’
Syrian president, Turkish FM discuss peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, Syria.,7340,L-3922163,00.html

Palestinians in Gaza denied PA passports
Amid all the obstacles preventing Palestinians in Gaza from traveling outside the besieged territory, Nidal Abdo faces an additional one. He needs a passport and despite five attempts to obtain one, he has so far failed. Rami Almeghari reports for The Electronic Intifada.
Israel shuts down Allenby Bridge overnight
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli authorities closed down the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on Monday evening for the second day, officials said.  Palestinian Authority Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein Ash-Sheikh said Israel was “responsible for what happens at the crossings, and the disruption of civilians and increasing their suffering.”

Children are just Israel’s latest victims | Mya Guarnieri
Michelle is the 14-year-old daughter of undocumented migrant labourers from the Philippines. In fluent Hebrew, she sums up the inhumanity of Israel’s plans to deport the children of foreign workers. “It’s like they’re taking sheep and packing them,” she says.  While Michelle will probably be naturalised, Israel is set to expel scores of minors, along with their families, to their parents’ country of origin. The criteria that determine who will get residency are rigid and arbitrary. Because of tight age restrictions and an even smaller window to get one’s paperwork turned in (parents will have just three weeks to submit documents that might be impossible to obtain) many children will be left out in the cold.

Gaza’s bee industry stung by Israeli attacks
GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) – Said Hillis, 60, has kept bees since he was a boy. Until the Israeli attacks changed his business. Until 2009 Hillis’ farm had hundreds of trees, and more than 10,000 chickens. “It was all destroyed during the Israeli attacks,” Hillis says.

Political/Other Developments 
Report: Mubarak rejects Netanyahu’s ‘peace map’
Israeli official tells Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that during Cairo meeting on Sunday Egyptian president recommended Israeli PM revise map in accordance with Palestinian demand for state within 1967 borders.,7340,L-3922421,00.html
Israel denies presenting Egypt with map of Palestinian state
London-based newspaper quoted an Israeli source on Tuesday as saying that the Egyptian leader had rejected PM’s outline for a final settlement.

PFLP denies reports of tensions with PA
Nablus – Ma’an – The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denied reports issued by the Hamas-affiliated Paldf website on Monday which alleged a strain in relations between the party and the PA.  The site quoted “informed sources” describing a sit-in held Saturday in protest of the postponement of local elections as an event where “sharp differences erupted” between PFLP and PA officials in Nablus, saying the leftist party “harshly criticized and cursed the PA president, Mahmud Abbas, because of his obedience to Fatah.”

International troops bound for West Bank?
JERUSALEM, July 19 (Xinhua) — A report in a Jordanian newspaper suggesting the Palestinians want to see an international force deployed along the borders of any future Palestinian state has sent ripples around the diplomatic world over the weekend.  The newspaper Al-Ghad quoted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as saying that he will enter direct peace talks with Israel if the Israelis accept in principle the deployment of foreign troops around the borders of what are presently referred to by the international community as the occupied territories.

‘South Africa to reinstate Israel envoy, after recalled over Gaza flotilla’
Government reiterates call for international probe and end to Gaza siege, but says ambassador needed to monitor developments in Middle East.
Other News
Demands for release of nuclear whistleblower as Israel holds Vanunu in solitary confinement
Amnesty International is calling for Vanunu’s immediate release and his brother, Meir, contacted the Sunday Herald to express fears over Vanunu’s wellbeing after being the first person to visit him in seven weeks.

Netanyahu, Lieberman try to mend fences in conversion-bill crisis
After announcing he had no intention of quitting coalition, Lieberman harshly criticized Netanyahu and Likud for the way they treated his party.

‘Mossad agents’ expelled from Mauritius
Israeli men arrested upon arrival on island by officers claiming they came to spy on Dubai citizens.,7340,L-3922024,00.html
Pearlman supporters clash with cops
Police say protestors backing ‘Jewish terrorist’ gathered illegally outside court hearing his case.,7340,L-3922047,00.html
Meridor: Loyalty oath will only make Israeli Arabs more extreme
Likud minister objects to proposed amendment which would require prospective citizens to swear allegiance to ‘Jewish democratic state.’

Greek hotels kick out unruly Israeli teens
Three groups of Israeli teens facing IDF enlistment get expelled from various hotels in island of Ios after getting drunk, causing damage to property. Israel’s consul in Athens says such cases cause great damage to country’s image.,7340,L-3922387,00.html

Gaza opens first mall, Israelis say its a rich new target to strike
The website mocked Gaza by saying that Gaza has now a new big commercial mall that includes all kinds of shops whether for clothing, food, tools, appliances or other stuff saying now they know that Gaza not only contains weaponry but a new mall too, this Israel website is very widely spread among the Israeli public.  Some made fun of Hamas’s ministers who were present at the opening, others lashed at Haneen Zoubi, Knesset Arab member, and said that she should move to Gaza and open a shop in that mall since she supports Gaza, while others made fun of the shops and their merchandises saying Gaza’s mall sells bombs and rockets, other Israeli hoped that mall will keep Hamas busy referring to the exaggerated claims of rockets falling on Israel daily. A very interesting opinion was shared with an Israeli saying: “ Good, let them open new malls for us to have new rich targets to strike with out warplanes, they will lose everything.”
Parole for Israeli soldier who killed UK activist (AFP)
AFP – An Israeli soldier jailed for killing a British activist in the Gaza Strip will be released after serving six-and-a-half years of an eight-year sentence, media reported on Monday.*

Palestinian gets 14 years for raping UNICEF volunteer
Norwegian tourist, 60, falls victim to brutal rape by 20-year old man, two of his friends in east Jerusalem.,7340,L-3922074,00.html

There is a difference between rape and lying, not surprising that Zionists don’t know the difference:  ISRAEL: Arab man convicted of rape after posing as Jew to seduce woman
In a ruling that could strike fear in the hearts of cads everywhere, a Jerusalem court has ruled that lying to a woman to get her into bed is a form of rape.  Sabbar Kashur, 30, an Arab resident of Jerusalem, pretended to be a Jewish bachelor looking for a relationship. He met a Jewish woman and they went to a nearby building to have consensual sex, according the account in the Haaretz newspaper. He split before she’d finished putting her clothes back on.

Convicted Hamas murderer: Shalit swap deal won’t increase terror,  Akiva Eldar
If a study by an imprisoned Hamas leader is right, a deal to release Shalit shouldn’t lead to more abductions of Israelis.

Hamas threatens legal action against Iranian news agency
GAZA, July 19 (Xinhua) — The deposed Hamas government in the Gaza Strip on Monday vowed to take a legal action against an Iranian news agency for reporting “false” news saying Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya was going to reshuffle government in the Gaza Strip.  “We deny the information and the names that Fars News Agency mentioned in its report,” Hamas Government Media Office said in a statement sent to the press.  The report, which detailed the reshuffle and mentioned the names of the ministers who would be replaced or join the government, “was no more than a rumor that caused political and professional embarrassment” to some ministers, the statement said.

Gaza women defy Hamas shisha ban
On Sunday, plain-clothes agents patrolled beachside cafés enforcing the edict.  However, some Gazan women are still smoking.  The BBC’s Hamada Abu Qamar met Jihad, a veiled woman in her twenties, who was enjoying her shisha at sunset.

Proposal to Turn Palestinian Sufferings and Struggles into School Curriculum
KUALA LUMPUR, 19 JULY, 2010: A senator today proposed that the sufferings and struggles of the Palestinian people be turned into part of the curriculum in Malaysian schools.  Senator Datuk Dr Firdaus Abdullah said the curriculum on Palestine could be included into the General Knowledge or History subjects.  He said this was as part of the commitment that could be continued by the future generation to be together with the international community in championing the rights of the Palestinians to set up an independent and sovereign nation. “For example, at the primary school stage, we just inform basic things and at the secondary level, we adopt a deeper approach,” he said when debating the motion to criticize the cruel attack by the Israeli troops on the Freedom Flotilla convoy bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza, at the Dewan Negara sitting today.

Gaza’s Ancient Treasures Buried
Palestinian Territory (TML) – Parts of an ancient archeological house built for a wealthy family during the era of the Mamluk Sultanate (1250 to 1517) were discovered in the Old City of Gaza last week.  A few months before that finding, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities discovered about 1300 gold coins on the Egyptian-Palestinian border in the southern Gaza Strip. The oldest piece dates back to around 330 B.C. Jars, pots, gold and silver items and household appliances were also discovered.  More Bronze historical coins were recently discovered at a different site, Tel Rafah, set to be revealed by the ministry in the coming weeks.  The number of archaeological findings has increased recently in the Gaza Strip, once a transit point for many ancient trade caravans on the way between Asia and Africa, or various civilizations across the Levant.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
Analysis: ‘Groundhog Day’ for MidEast peace process, Ben Wedeman
Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — For some, it may have felt like the diplomatic equivalent of Groundhog Day. Officials, in Cairo, Egypt for another round of talks in the never-ending Middle East peace process.  Despite a spate of rumors about his failing health, Sunday Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had a busy schedule. First, he met with U.S. Mideast Envoy George Mitchell, then Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and finally Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  According to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, the meeting between Mubarak and Netanyahu was scheduled to last four hours. Not bad for the 82-year-old Egyptian leader. In any event, the meeting was brief.

Israeli right embracing one-state?, Ali Abunimah
There has been a strong revival in recent years of support among Palestinians for a one-state solution guaranteeing equal rights to Palestinians and Israeli Jews throughout historic Palestine.  One might expect that any support for a single state among Israeli Jews would come from the far left, and in fact this is where the most prominent Israeli Jewish champions of the idea are found, although in small numbers.  Recently, proposals to grant Israeli citizenship to Palestinians in the West Bank, including the right to vote for the knesset, have emerged from a surprising direction: Right-wing stalwarts such as knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, and former defence minister Moshe Arens, both from the Likud party of Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister.

Fighting racism through sports
Comprised of four women and three men between the ages of 18 and 27, a Palestinian football team was organized to participate in the Anti-Racism World Cup in Belfast, Ireland. Jillian Kestler-D’Amours reports for The Electronic Intifada.

Why Israel is leaning on Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak to nudge peace process
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a staple of Mideast politics for more than 30 years, hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Cairo this weekend amid rising concerns about Mubarak’s health.

Hagai El-Ad: Democracy Be Damned
July 13th 2010, the day in which the Knesset revoked the parliamentary privileges of an elected member of parliament through a public humiliation spectacle, represents a black day for Israeli democracy. The stars of this anti-democracy fest, MKs Yariv Levin, Michael Ben Ari, and Anastasia Michaeli, believed that they were shaming MK Hanin Zoabi, that they might realize their wish of expelling her from the Knesset to Gaza or, even better, to Iran. But the actual victims of this public humiliation were the diminishing trappings of democracy in Israel. It was the Knesset itself, not Zoabi, which was shamed. It is not MK Zoabi who is being expelled, but rather the hope for full civil equality of all Israeli citizens under the accepted ground rules of democracy.

Nargila ban distracts attention from ethnic cleansing, Matthew Taylor
The New York Times, blazing beacon of Palestinian women’s rights, broke an important story yesterday front and center on its website: Hamas bans Nargila (“water pipes”) in public, specifically targeting woman.  As Glatzer would say, once again the NYT is “spinning one for the ladies in the house tonight.” This time the groove is:  Islamic governments are oppressing women in Gaza and around the Arab world (whereas Israel is the land of women’s rights, gay rights, etc.)

A Video from Outside Hebron, NICHOLAS KRISTOF
Here’s my latest video, from near the southern Hebron Hills, from my recent trip to the Middle East. I try to make the argument that while we can disagree about details, about history, about solutions, a starting point is simply an acknowledgment that Israel’s West Bank policy is profoundly unfair. But somehow I imagine that there will be disagreement about that as well — and go ahead and record your disagreements here.

US voters can demand Palestine’s freedom
It is only a matter of time before voters of conscience make it clear that elected policy-makers who collaborate in America’s unconditional partnership with Israel will be exposed as shameful; and make it clear to policy-makers that such shameful behavior is unsustainable because collaborators in injustice will be ejected from office by the people. Cynthia McKinney comments on the growing grassroots boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for The Electronic Intifada.

Qualitative Military Edge — another name for US-backed Israeli brutality, Paul Woodward
On October 15, 2008, just three weeks before the US presidential election, George Bush signed into law the Naval Vessel Transfer Act which had been sponsored by one of Israel’s most loyal supporters in the US Congress, Rep. Howard Berman.  The new law, which from its title might have been assumed to relate primarily to the sale of ships from the US Navy to foreign governments, actually had a much more important purpose: to place every American president under a legal obligation to ensure that Israel maintains its military dominance over the Middle East.

60 years ago, first Defense Sec’y said ‘Zionist pressure’ endangered US security, all the way to Afghanistan, Philip Weiss
I’ve kept dropping hints about this. It’s time to post some excerpts about the birth of Israel from the Forrestal Diaries– by James V. Forrestal, the first U.S. Secretary of Defense.  Forrestal is famous of course for tragedy: Not long after these thoughts were set down, Forrestal was sacked by Truman in March 1949 and died two months later, apparently jumping from a high floor of the Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he was being treated for depression. My introduction. 1, know your narrator: James Forrestal was a serious man to the point of humorless, rigid/repressed, intelligent, selfmade.

Slandering the Good Guys: Some Basic Facts About IHH, Iara Lee
In the immediate aftermath of the massacre aboard the Mavi Marmara on May 31st, 2010, while journalists and activists were detained and isolated from the world, the Israeli government was quick to unleash their own version of events. Like the physical assault on the boat, the Israeli media assault was also reckless, clumsy, malicious, and dangerous. They were cynical enough to understand that first impressions in the mainstream American media are what count, and with this in mind they began to frantically hurl the word “terrorist” in reference to both the victims of their attack, as well as one of the main organizers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the Turkish NGO IHH. It is a curious thing that few people asked the Israeli government why they would release “terrorists” that they had in their custody, and even fewer asked for (or received) solid evidence to support this claim. Despite the fact that several courageous journalists both in the US and abroad thoroughly debunked the Israeli account of what happened (this includes deliberately doctored footage along with the libelous accusations of links to terrorism), the damage was done.

An Open Letter to All Who Support Shalit’s Family, Yossi Schwartz
If the price for the release of one thousand Palestinian political prisoners is an Israeli soldier who was part of the criminal siege of Gaza, then so be it.  You understand that the Israeli government is responsible for the fact that Shalit is still a prisoner because Netanyahu’s government refuses to release the Palestinian prisoners that Hamas demands. You are willing to exchange Shalit because in your eyes the life of one Israeli is more valuable than the lives of one thousand Palestinians. As long as you hold to this racist outlook, you remain prisoners of the Israeli state. All 11,000 political Palestinian prisoners should be released, because they belong to a nation struggling against the oppression that you are part of.

Israeli group gives young Palestinians their first taste of the beach

Mohammed Shawasha has spent his life in a West Bank village just 37 miles from the sea, but he has never been there. So when the opportunity to spend a day on the Mediterranean coast arose for the 12-year-old Palestinian, he jumped at it.  From hilltops across the landlocked West Bank, Palestinians can see the sea, but they can’t get there because of Israeli restrictions.

Obama’s Costly Appeasement of Israelis, George S. Hishmeh –Washington, D.C.
It was a session replete with superlatives when the assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs, Andrew J. Shapiro, spelled out in unprecedented detail the Obama administration’s approach to U.S.-Israel security cooperation, reassuring the Israelis of “preserving (their country’s) qualitative military edge.”  The crowded event, held at the Brookings Saban Center founded by a wealthy Egyptian-Jew, seemed to serve as an obvious attempt by the administration to reassure Israelis that President Barack Obama, whose popularity in Israel is very low (about 10 percent), means well in his lethargic bid to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Inside the Israeli Knesset,  URI AVNERY
WHEN I was first elected to the Knesset, I was appalled at what I found. I discovered that, with rare exceptions, the intellectual level of the debates was close to zero. They consisted mainly of strings of clichés of the most commonplace variety. During most of the debates, the plenum was almost empty. Most participants spoke vulgar Hebrew. When voting, many members had no idea what they were voting for or against, they just followed the party whip.  That was 1967, when the Knesset included members like Levy Eshkol and Pinchas Sapir, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, Menachem Begin and Yohanan Bader,  Meir Yaari and Yaakov Chazan, for whom today’s streets, highroads and neighborhoods are named.  In comparison to the present Knesset, that Knesset now looks like Plato’s Academy.

Watch the Trailer for Julian Schnabel’s Miral
It stars Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto as a Palestinian who becomes politicized, thanks to love and against her father’s wishes. Intense. And with Tom Waits.

Monday: 1 British Contractor, 10 Iraqis Killed; 29 Iraqis Wounded
An attack in northern Iraq killed one Briton and as many as three other foreign nationals. At least 10 Iraqis were killed and 29 more were wounded in that attack and other violence across the country. Meanwhile, Ayad Allawi outlined his plans for the new government should he become the next prime minister. He also met with Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr during a trip to Damascus.

9 wounded , senior Iraqi official escapes attack in Baghdad bombings
BAGHDAD, July 19 (Xinhua) — Nine people were wounded in bomb attacks in Baghdad on Monday, including twin bomb explosions targeting an Iraqi deputy minister who escaped unhurt, an Interior Ministry source said.  Two roadside bombs went off coordinately near the convoy of Mahdi Dhamad, a deputy of Iraqi agriculture minister, while passing the Gailani Intersection in downtown Baghdad in the morning, wounding one of his bodyguards and four civilians, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Sunni Awakening resolute in face of Iraq bombing
A suicide bomber on Sunday killed at least 43 in an attack on members of the Sunni Awakening, which helped turned the tide against Al Qaeda in Iraq. Iraqis are concerned Al Qaeda could regain ground as the US pulls out its combat troops next month.

U.S. bears responsibility for disorder in Iraq: Shiite cleric
DAMASCUS, July 19 (Xinhua) — Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al- Sadr said Monday the United States is responsible for the disorder in Iraq.  Al-Sadr made the remarks at a press conference held in Damascus, where he stressed his support for the formation of an Iraqi unified national government representing all Iraqi people.  The U.S. troops in Iraq currently stand at 77,500, the lowest since the 2003 invasion and less than half of the peak level of 165,000 during the “surge.”

Sadr urges Iraqi political progress
Shia leader meets Allawi in Syria for talks on negotiating formation of new government.

Allawi pulls out of talks with al Sadr
Ayad Allawi, the narrow winner of the Iraqi elections, pulled out of a weekend trip to Syria during which he had been expected to hold talks with the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr.

Allawi, Sadr hold talks on forming Iraqi govt (AFP)
AFP – Two figures at the centre of drawn-out efforts to form a new Iraqi government, former premier Iyad Allawi and radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, met in Syria’s capital on Monday.*

Iraqi football official: federation offices raided
BAGHDAD — A member of the Iraqi Football Association says men in military-style uniforms have raided the organization’s offices and displayed arrest warrants for some of its officials.  The official said Monday that the men drove Humvees in Sunday’s raid, which caused the association to suspend work in the offices and delay all tournaments and matches until further notice.

US Marine officer in Haditha case leaves service (AP)
AP – A Camp Pendleton Marine officer who was accused of failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqis by a squad in the town of Haditha has left the service.*

‘No-one to turn to’
Iraqi asylum seeker forcibly deported from the UK is not finding life easy.

Iraq inquiry: Saddam posed very limited threat to UK, ex-MI5 chief says
Eliza Manningham-Buller tells Chilcot inquiry that Iraq invasion radicalised part of a generation of Muslims and increased terrorist threat to Britain.  The former MI5 director general Eliza Manningham-Buller today delivered a withering assessment of the case for war against Iraq, saying it had significantly increased the terrorist threat to Britian.  Giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, Manningham-Buller said the threat posed by Saddam Hussein before the US-led invasion in 2003 was low.

The Silent Palestinian Refugee Crisis
Lebanon, which has long placed severe restrictions on the Palestinians in the country, may finally give them the rights they deserve.,1

Ghanem: Work permits retain refugee status for Palestinians
BEIRUT: Head of the Administration and Justice parliamentary committee, MP Robert Ghanem, said work permits will preserve the refugee status of Palestinians in Lebanon. The West Bekaa MP spoke to reporters on Monday after chairing a meeting for the committee at the Parliament.

Hamas organizes its first group wedding in Lebanon
SIDON: Fifty Palestinian couples were married on Sunday, during a mass wedding organized by Hamas in the southern coastal city of Sidon. “Our Joy Will Be Complete When We Return,” was the motto for the wedding held at the Rafik Hariri Stadium, in the presence of Hamas officials and the head of al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, Hassan Abu Zeid.

Druze gathering urges support for Palestinian members
BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt said Monday the Druze community in Israel should reject compulsory military service in the Israeli army. Jumblatt spoke to a delegation of Druze sheikhs from Palestine, who visited him at his residence in the Beirut district of Clemanceau.

Analyst: Israel’s Next War Could Be Lebanon, Jim Lobe
While speculation over a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities intensifies, at least one influential analyst is calling on Washington to focus more on the likelihood of a new war breaking out between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and how to prevent or contain it.  In his eight-page “Contingency Planning Memorandum” released last week by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), retired U.S. ambassador Daniel Kurtzer argued that Israel was more likely than Hezbollah to initiative hostilities and that it could “also use a conflict with Hezbollah as the catalyst and cover for an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Iran calls for ‘more fair’ world body than UN
Iran’s parliament speaker charges UN with prompting the emergence of terrorism in ‘dangerous and organized framework.’

‘Israel convinces US with Credible military plan on Iran’
Have Israel’s efforts to convince the US to threaten Iran with a credible military option paid off? According to recent media reports, the answer might be yes.

Israel re-arms ready for war with Iran
Israel has successfully re-armed its air force with long-range F-151 and F-161 strike aircraft, supported by an upgraded fleet of tanker aircraft.

Sources: Amiri Told CIA Iran Has No Nuclear Bomb Program, Gareth Porter
Contrary to a news media narrative that Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri has provided intelligence on covert Iranian nuclear weapons work, CIA sources familiar with the Amiri case say he told his CIA handlers that there is no such Iranian nuclear weapons program, according to a former CIA officer.  Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counterterrorism official, told IPS that his sources are CIA officials with direct knowledge of the entire Amiri operation.

U.S. and other World News
Baha Mousa inquiry: Commander accused of lying
Counsel for Iraqi civilian who died in British custody questions evidence given by officer in charge.  The commanding officer of the regiment in whose custody an Iraqi civilian died was accused today of misleading an official public inquiry about what he knew of the treatment meted out by his soldiers.  Colonel Jorge Mendonca of 1st Battalion the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (1QLR) said he saw nothing out of the ordinary when he checked on hotel worker Baha Mousa and a number of other Iraqi civilians after their arrest in Basra, southern Iraq, in 2003.

US spy network ‘bloated’
An investigation by The Washington Post has revealed that America’s intelligence system has grown so large since the September 11 attacks, that determining its effectiveness is “impossible”. Buildings have been cropping up across the country to house new government workers and contractors, yet the newspaper says the sprawling network is so massive and so secretive that nobody knows how much it costs, or how many agencies are doing the same work. Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan reports.

Zawahiri slams Arab leaders as ‘Zionists’ in new tape (AFP)
AFP – Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri slammed Arab leaders as “Zionists” who are helping Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip, in his first message since December posted online Monday.*

Riz Khan – Afghanistan: Cash and corruption
Just 12 months before US forces are to begin withdrawing, what hope is there for progress in Afghanistan? We speak with Ashraf Ghani, the former Afghan finance minister and presidential candidate, about what it will take to turn the country around and how much longer Afghanistan can cunt on international support.

Colonial Feminism Among House Muslims
First, she argues “Some have tried to present the ban as a matter of Islam vs. the West. It is not. First, Islam is not monolithic. It, like other major religions, has strains and sects.” One wonders what Islam’s diversity has anything to do with the anti-Islamic motivation behind the French ban on veils. Had France passed a law against wearing yermulkes, it would have been anti-Jewish regardless of strains and sects within Judaism. Had France passed a law against wearing crucifixes, it would’ve been anti-Christian regardless of strains and sects within Christianity. Granted, there are different interpretations within Islam that range from requiring the woman to cover her body completely (as in Saudi Arabia, for example), to requiring covering only the hair, to not requiring any hijab whatsoever per more liberal interpretations. But the variety of opinions within Islam doesn’t make a ban on an expression of some Muslim women’s faith any less of an anti-Islamic law.

Booming beauty industry unveiled in Saudi
While their faces might be invisible in most public places, Saudi Arabia’s female citizens spend more on hair and cosmetics per capita than almost any other women in the Middle East.

Hopes and Prospects, By Noam Chomsky, Johann Hari
Chomsky is trying to rescue crimes from the memory-hole. He explains that Ronald Reagan – the great hero of the US right – was a great champion of jihadism. It was Reagan who encouraged Pakistan simultaneously to become fundamentalist, and acquire nuclear weapons.

When is the ‘Times’ going to run a furious piece about Knesset bills that discriminate against Palestinians?

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 05:51 AM PDT

Alana Newhouse of Tablet has a piece on the Times Op-Ed page expressing fury at the Knesset bill that would grant final say over Jewish conversions to a group of Orthodox rabbis.

Even if you are Orthodox — and especially if you are Modern Orthodox — your rabbi probably doesn’t make the cut. (Don’t believe it? Go ask him.)

Maybe I was supposed to skip that line? It’s undoubtedly an important issue and another example of the discrimination being pushed forward in Israel, but Newhouse really might have opened up the discussion to other forms of Israeli discrimination. I guess what’s happening to Palestinians is on some sort of different plane?


Newhouse says that a Jewish identity formed by mutually-reinforcing communities in the Diaspora and Israel is critical to the Jewish future. I think that’s the problem; a Jewish identity rooted in power politics that ignores the oppression of others.

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