Think back to 2003… the year the U.S. didn’t invade Iraq

Aug 25, 2010

 James North

Historians would later record how Secretary of State Colin Powell prevailed in a key Cabinet meeting in early 2003, when he refused to go before the United Nations because he lacked proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

“What if the U.N. inspections have actually worked, Mr. President?” he asked. “It would be a disaster if we invade and then can’t find anything.”

A reluctant George W. Bush agreed, maintaining the no-fly zones and other pressure but postponing the invasion. Saddam Hussein kept his crowing to a minimum, recognizing his narrow escape. What’s more, he had other problems….

Despite the obsequious yes-men around him, Saddam was still cunning enough to maintain back channel intelligence sources who told him at least part of the truth. He heard that unrest among the Shi’a majority continued to grow, despite the repression, and there were even grumblings from the Sunni. His regime had always depended on huge amounts of oil money to pay off the people with public works and populist health and education spending, and to also finance a giant network of informers.

But Iraq’s oil earnings were way down, due partly to deteriorating infrastructure and a stubbornly low world price. Saddam had invaded Kuwait in 1990 mainly for financial reasons, but that gambit failed. Iraq was cheating on the U.N.’s oil-for-food program, but he still was not getting enough income to maintain his system.

So in late 2003, when the first uprisings broke out in the south, the Iraqi army, with aging equipment and low morale, was slow to respond. The revolt spread to Saddam City right in Baghdad itself, which the Shi’a majority there had already started called Sadr City in honor of one of their martyrs. Hundreds were killed, but just as in the uprisings against the hated Shah in nearby Iran a quarter-century earlier, the deaths only inspired even more resistance.

After 6 months or so, the Sunni tribal sheikhs northwest of Baghdad recognized Saddam was losing control, which jeopardized their privileged position within the system. Their efforts to persuade him to leave peacefully failed, in part because no country could be found to accept him and his family into exile. So eventually, some of the Sunni generals staged a coup, killing him and many of his immediate entourage.

Yet violence only got worse. Armed militias formed from various religious and tribal groupings, and waged a horrible civil war, characterized by widespread torture and murder. The violence looked anarchic, or atavistically religious, but there was actually a grim but understandable logic to it. At bottom, the armed groups were fighting over access to Iraq’s oil wealth.

As the death toll climbed, commentators in the shocked outside world deplored “the flaws within Arab and Muslim culture“ and cited passages from the Koran they said explained the violence. But genuine scholars reminded the public that 620,000 people had died in the American Civil War itself, and that after the war was over white people in the U.S. south had lynched thousands more, most of them black, to restore and maintain white political control. Others added that Europe in the 20th century also had plenty to answer for with respect to war and mass murder.

At least there were no American occupation troops in Iraq to make the violence even worse. General David Petraeus, a brainy but little known lecturer at the National War College, pointed out in an Op-Ed piece: “Foreign soldiers can become a big part of the problem. Most of the local people reject their presence, and some start to attack them. The armed factions try and manipulate the occupiers into taking sides, which inflames and prolongs the conflict. Money from outside is also an incentive to keep fighting – just imagine if we had flooded Iraq with many millions of dollars! We Americans are lucky our far-sighted president kept us out.”

Without the complication of foreign troops and financial support, it only took the Iraqis a couple of years of fighting to realize they had to compromise. The warfare had cut off just about all oil exports, and the leaders of the various factions understood that they needed peace to get back to business. The negotiations were lengthy and painful. Certain injustices, such as the increased Sunni-Shi’a residential segregation in Baghdad, were ratified, at least provisionally, over the heated objection of Iraqi human rights groups.

By the middle of 2007, a working coalition government was in power in Baghdad. Violence continued, but at a much lower level. General Petraeus published another opinion piece. “The violence in Iraq in recent years has been horrible,” he wrote. “But with a U.S. invasion it might be still continuing – until 2010, or even longer, hard as that may be to imagine.”

The ‘memoricide’ of Palestine

Aug 25, 2010 

 Matthew Taylor

In a little-noted decision, a few weeks ago Netanyahu’s government extended by an additional twenty years Israel’s classification of sensitive documents. It is suspected that these documents tell the story of the the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in far more detail than currently declassified documents.

Jonathan Cook notes:

Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian, has referred to this massive erasure of Palestinian history as state-organised “memoricide”.

Some have proposed that in order to heal Israel/Palestine, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is needed. Will the truth set Israelis free? Does the memory of Palestinian life, pre-Nakba, pose an impossible and consciousness-shattering counterfactual to the mass cognitive dissonance that pervades much of Israeli society?

The Israeli right’s secret strategy to promote ‘Greater Israel’

Aug 25, 2010

Shalom Boguslavsky

“I think I will always want to stay behind the scenes. I think that’s where I have the greatest influence. When everyone else is busily thinking about what to say on stage, I’m busily building the stage, [deciding] who actually listens to you. After they start listening, then we can talk about what we’ll say.”

– Moshe Klughaft, in an interview to Israel’s Channel 7 television.

Introducing Moshe Klughaft: Forbes magazine has crowned him the second most influential strategic consultant in Israel, and one of the 300 most influential young adults. He is the man behind the campaigns against the New Israel Fund, both the one by Im Tirzu and the Arab Gas campaign. Obviously, all links between the two campaigns have been denied. Later on we’ll see just why such denial is one of the cornerstones of the system.

Klughaft was also the behind-the-scenes leader of the reserve soldiers’ struggle after the second Lebanon war, a struggle which is already known to have been hiding a separate agenda: preventing the progress of the Gaza disengagement program. Front and center to this effort was Ronen Shoval. After this struggle Shoval, and his number two, Erez Tadmor, took part in an Institute for Zionist Strategy (IZS) young leadership program run by Israel Harel. Last week both organizations (Im Tirzu and the IZS) attacked the academic world, but denied any links between the parent organization and the subsidiary one, claiming that there was merely “a certain degree of ideological congruence” between them. After completing the training program Shoval founded Im Tirzu and Moshe Klughaft became his strategic consultant.

Klughaft is a man of many talents and schemes, but it seems that the thing that most concerns him is how to convey the right wing, religious message to secular people in their own language. Here is a quote, straight from the horse’s mouth:

For religious Zionism and the right, in general, even to penetrate the public, they must move into the colorful, secular rhetoric of the playing field they are in. What you think and how you see the world is nice, but when you get to this specific playing field of politics, of public action, you have to play by the rules that suit the place you are in.

In the two years following the disengagement, which is when planning started for the coordinated attack against everything that bears even the faintest scent of democracy, this point became critical. We are beginning to feel the results on this campaign only now. The leaders of the right wing religious public, the public which sees itself following Rabbi Kook as the ‘vanguard’ and the secular public as the ‘troops’, looked back and saw that the troops were no longer with them. In demonstrations against disengagement, almost all demonstrators wore yarmulkes, which is a hallmark of identification with the religious right.

This led to a strengthening of the separatist, ultra-orthodox wing, which has stopped seeing the Zionist state as “the beginning of redemption” and instead preaches right wing post-Zionism. According to this belief, secular Zionism has finished its job and it is now time for a “faith-based revolution”. The more traditional right wing, represented in the “Yesha council” settler leadership, which believes that secular people have a role in the divine plan as “the ass on which the Messiah shall ride upon” understood that the new trend distances secular people from the right wing. If it were to continue, the right wing would stop leading the country and become a marginal faction, just another one of many religious factions. Israel Harel along with his secular disciple Ronen Shoval have both stated that the rise of the ultra-orthodox nationalist post-Zionism is what called them to action.

It is important to understand how the religious right reads reality. Most of the Israeli public leans to the right, but it is a pragmatic right. In other words, it is a right which could, following various real-world constraints, declare its support for two states for two nations, freeze construction of the settlements, et cetera. In contrast, as far as the religious right is concerned, it is not some constraint of reality that leads to this but rather “a weakness of resolve” on the one hand and subversive elements of impurity that have lodged themselves in powerful focus points: civil society organizations, the academic world, the media, and the courts, on the other hand.

They believe the Jewish nation, which Rabbi Kook portrays as a direct delegation of divine presence onto the world, was contaminated by that riffraff and exchanged Messianic zeal with a passion for the comforts of secular life. They are of the opinion that when the Nation of Israel is committed to their vision the constraints of reality will have no meaning. The leaders of this group came to the understanding that in order to salvage the religious right, secular people must be recruited, ones who are not interested in messianic theology but self-identify as Zionists and are open to the idea that the problems of Israel are not due to stupid policy but rather, to internal subversiveness.

How do you do it? Like this: “You have to make this arena into an exciting one, you just have to. You have to bring in people so that some will say one thing and some will say another. You have to have it be exciting, colorful, to get people to talk about you, to evoke arguments, to have factions leaning this way and that,” said Moshe Klughaft. He has long since developed a theory of “in disunion there is strength.” According to Klughaft, decisions like the Gaza disengagement were made possible because secular people supported parties like Shinui and the Retired Citizens Party, who did not declare a policy in matters of state, and these parties won votes due to other issues, but when it came down to brass tacks, they voted for what he saw as a left-wing policy. The religious right must deploy niche organizations and parties which are attractive to a broad secular public which would, at the moment of truth, vote for the Greater Eretz Yisrael. Pay attention to this: “Do you want to preserve Eretz Yisrael? Wipe it off your map! If it is important, shut up and don’t talk about it.”

That is why the Institute of Zionist Strategy, who established the Yesha Council, and its subsidiary, Im Tirzu, whose opinions on this matter are also well known, consistently avoid taking a stand on the matter of Greater Eretz Yisrael and object so vociferously when anyone tries to mark them as “right wing” organizations. No, they deal in “Zionist consciousness”, in strengthening the flagging national spirit, and in battling that very same riffraff (which would translate as “post Zionists”, when spoken in secular vernacular) which contaminates them: mainly democratic organizations, the academic world, the media, and the courts.

Over the past two yeas, many of us have felt that the democratic camp in Israel has been under a well-planned, coordinated attack. Factual information that has recently begun surfacing confirms that feeling: during [former Prime Minister] Olmert’s term in office, organizations from the old-style religious right, whose status has eroded continually since the eighties – the Yesha Council, the MAFDAL orthodox party, and the Hatchiya party which may be the clearest expression of this ideology – got together and planned, under the baton of one of the most talented and innovative strategic consultants in Israel, the move that would bring them back to the front of the stage as the hegemonic ideology of Israel.

Elements of the system are “laundering” the ideology of the messianic, religious right into terms which the secular public can more easily swallow, creating the appearance of a spontaneous national movement by evoking various organizations, with apparently-different agendas, led by Im Tirzu, which introduce themselves as grassroots activists while in fact they are nurtured, linked, and subsidized by the religious right and secular old boys network, where the secular messianic perception is shared (such as [Minister of Education] Gideon Sa’ar, who had been a member of Hatchiya Youth). This is all done while denying completely and untruthfully any connection between the various persons and organizations involved, and hiding the Greater Eretz Yisrael ideology, which is not shared by most of the public, until that “moment of truth.” The primary working method is an attack on the democratic forces which could call a halt on them, an attack which relies on the willingness of a besieged society to seek guilty parties and the “left wing traitor” stereotype, which has been successful inserted into public discourse.

The first stage was an attack on the institutions of civil society. The second stage, the one we are currently experiencing, is an attack on the academic world. I wager that as soon as this campaign burns itself out, the media will be attacked, and thereafter, the judiciary system. In other words, anyone who can resist, criticize, and expose the true face of this organization will be slurred, sullied, and named as suspected of subversion and treason – before even raising objections about it.

And then they’ll go into politics. Everyone knows that. It could even happen in the coming elections. Following strategic consultant Moshe Klughaft’s system, I think we can expect more than one party, all of which will run on different versions of the same message, position themselves as “center” and talk about “Zionism”, “education”, “society, and “a struggle against post-Zionism.”

On a personal note, I really don’t feel like writing very much about Im Tirzu and its friends and relations. In fact, I’d much prefer to write less about politics and more about other things. But I sense danger, and my gut feelings about what is going on in this story have – so far – all turned out exactly as I feared. I can only hope that I am wrong about the next steps. What I propose is that we stop responding only after we get slammed on the head with yet another brick. What is being exposed here, and in other places, is only the tip of the iceberg. Storm the Internet, search, dig deep, cross-reference, expose – and tell the story. 

Shalom Boguslavsky was born in Russia in 1976, has been living in Jerusalem since 1981, studies history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and makes his living as a group leader, facilitating discussions about Jewish-Israeli identity, dialogue & conflict management. This article originally appeared in Hebrew on the blog Put Down the Scissors And Let’s Talk About It. It was translated with the author’s permission by Dena Shunra.

Begging for your freedom is utterly humiliating
Aug 25, 2010 

Saleema Gul

When I was in the second grade, I barely escaped a kidnapping.

A few days before I had a nightmare, a premonition, if you will, of what was about to unfold. In my dream, I found myself in a dark room with no door. There was a tiny window, way up high, through which a little light was shining. Every few years, the dream still haunts me, and I always wake up in a sweat, shaken and scared.

When it actually happened, my captor threw me inside an empty room and locked the door from the outside. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I noticed a brick was missing from one of the walls through which a little light was coming. I ran to it, and peeked out. I could see legs walking at a little distance. I shouted for help. No one heard me.

With my backpack still on, I sat down on the floor facing the doorway. Suddenly, he opened the door and stood right in front of me, staring. I started to cry. I begged for him to let me go. I said I was late and that my mom was waiting for me at home. I told him I had to do a lot of homework. He never said a word. I looked up at him, right into his eyes. He was a young boy, a teenager. I had seen him a few times on my way from school.

Then I started to beg. Even at that age I was immediately filled with shame for having to beg. But I begged anyway. I clasped my hands in front of me and I begged him to let me go. If he didn’t, my mom and dad would miss me. My brothers would cry for me. He just stared. I don’t remember the expression on his face as clearly as I remember my humiliation. Even at that age, at that moment, I knew that I was doing something a human should not have to do. I felt like dirt, and yet, I had to do it. I talked and talked. I told him whatever came to my mind. I told him about my friends. I told him why I liked the swings better than the slide.

He never said a word. He never threatened me. He just stared. Suddenly, he stepped away, and then very casually took out a cigarette to smoke. At first I didn’t know what to do, to bolt through the open door or to wait for him to say something to me. I mustered the courage and bolted.

I wrote my earlier post about having a back-up plan, of having some sort of a home in Pakistan, something to “return” to If America ever becomes hostile to Muslims. I do not wish to live through the humiliation that I suffered as a child in my narrow brush with the kidnapper. The act of begging from another human to show you some grace, to allow you freedom, is utterly humiliating.

I wish to always live freely, without feeling ashamed, without humiliation, as I do now, in the country that I love and call home.

What would Izzy Stone do? (Embrace Abdallah Abu Rahmah)
Aug 25, 2010 

Philip Weiss

When I was visiting my parents lately, I found an old I.F. Stone book on their shelves, The Haunted Fifties, that no one reads anymore. Most of the pieces in it are about dated subjects, or a matter that would not come to a head for another few years: the civil rights struggle.

In coming days I’m going to excerpt a few Stone pieces from the ’50s on the civil rights struggle because they show me that this moral leader seized on harbinger cases of the Jim Crow period that apply with uncanny directness to the American treatment of Palestinians. The pieces leave no doubt in my mind that if Stone were around today he would have to renounce Zionism and criticize Israel on a regular basis.

I should note that in 1956, Stone sided with Israeli aggression during the Suez crisis; “[b]ecause so many bonds attach me to Israel… Israel’s survival seemed worth the risk to world peace.” But even as he took that position, he described it as hypocritical. And I am saying that in today’s political scene, with 10,000 Palestinians in jail and millions excluded from political representation and another war being pushed by Israel’s supporters, IF Stone would have found that hypocrisy too great to bear.

But let’s get to my first excerpt. It’s 1955. Emmett Till, a 14-year-old “colored boy” from Chicago, was lynched in Mississippi after he supposedly whistled at a white woman, 55 years ago this Saturday, and in October of that year, two white men were acquitted of his killing.

Blacks were of course disturbed across the country. But whites were largely silent. Remember, it is 1955. Now listen to I.F. Stone on this political situation. I would italicize key phrases, except I’d have to italicize everything!

It shames our country and it shames white Americans that the only meetings, in Harlem, Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit, have been Negro meetings. Those whites in the South and in the North who would normally have been moved to act have been hounded out of public life and into inactivity. To the outside world it must look as if the conscience of white America has been silenced, and the appearance is not too deceiving. Basically all of us whites, North and South, acquiesce in white supremacy, and benefit from the pool of cheap labor created by it…

Unless Negroes rouse themselves to make their indignation felt in some dramatic way, nothing will be done in Mississippi or in Congress…. Were thousands of Negroes to converge on the Department of Justice and demand action against the murderers of Till, and of the other Negroes whose murders have gone unpunished in the South, such a demonstration would have an impact. The American Negro needs a Gandhi to lead him, and we need the American Negro to lead us. If he does not provide leadership against the sickness in the South, the time will come when we will all pay a terrible price for allowing a psychopathic racist brutality to flourish unchecked.

OK. I don’t think I need to connect the dots, but a couple of points. A Gandhi did arise, no question. And blacks led the struggle. Things changed dramatically. There were marches on Washington, and political change was demanded.

Every bit of this is happening today in Israel/Palestine. There is thorough-going American acquiescence in a system of racial supremacy in Palestine. We need Palestinians to lead us; and they are leading. We need a Palestinian Gandhi: and there are many of them. Read an IF Stone of our time, Jerry Haber, writing yesterday of the Abdallah Abu Rahmah case, Israel Convicts Another Palestinian Gandhi.

What is needed more than anything now is for Americans of conscience to embrace and celebrate these brave Palestinians who are taking such great personal risk. Lift them up, lift them up! I have said before that Mustafa Barghouthi is the Martin Lurther King of the struggle; he has tremendous mainstream appeal. Help him! We need to help our country stumble forward from 1955 to 1964. And we will.

Listen to I.F. Stone, a few weeks after that last column, now outraged by the University of Alabama expelling its first black student, Autherine Lucy because it could not protect her from the mob:

People and nations are made glorious by those men [and women, Izzy] who are willing to stand up against their own in defense of justice for minority elements. Milton opposing his own Puritans, Voltaire and later Zola defying the French mob, Gandhi living with the untouchables–such are the incidents which give a people honor in the eyes of mankind.

Israeli army escorts 500 Jewish Israelis into controversial settlement near Nablus
Aug 25, 2010 11:15 am | Seham 

And other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Lieberman: Settlement building should restart in September

No reason why construction should not resume in major West Bank settlements when 10-month freeze ends on September 26, foreign minister says.
Likud hawks convene against freeze

While Netanyahu is abroad, his party’s rightist camp launch campaign against continuation of West Bank settlement building moratorium.,7340,L-3943386,00.html
Israeli settlers warn PM could face ‘day of judgment’ (AFP)

AFP – Israeli settlers warned on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will face his “day of judgment” if he caves in to pressure to further limit settlement construction in the West Bank.*
Report: Settlers plan rallies to ensure construction resumes

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The settler regional council has begun planning a large rally celebrating the end of the Israeli government’s settlement building moratorium on 26 September, Israeli media reported Wednesday.  According to Israeli daily Ma’ariv, several Likud party members were expected to attend what has been coined a “bulldozer event,” after which construction on homes and private structures will begin immediately.
Education Ministry approves new private school in West Bank settlement

Earlier this year, controversy erupted after a West Bank girls’ school allowed separate classes to be held for Ashkenazi and Sephardi students.
Palestinians vow to rebuild demolished mosques

The Israeli Army said it demolished the mosques under the pretext that they were built in the area C and without the necessary licences being obtained.
Izbet Tabib under threat

In the small village of Ezbet at Tabib near Qalqiliya in the north of the West Bank, 27 of the 55 houses have received eviction orders from Israeli authorities. Located in Area C (following the Oslo Accords making it Israeli civilian and militarily controlled), the village has an extremely hard time getting building permits. Furthermore as it is situated near both the annexation wall and several illegal settlements, villagers experiences daily harassment and constant tension.
Children’s group concerned about house demolitions

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Since the beginning of 2010, there has been a sharp increase in house demolitions in Area C, Defense for Children – Palestine said in a report expressing concern about the effects such actions have on children.  Displacement has an acute negative psychological impact on children, the group said in a statement issued Saturday. It called on Israel to “cease these demolitions and to respect the rights of Palestinian children to an adequate standard of living.”
Jordan Valley Demolitions: a History of Ongoing Silent Deportation

Ahmad Jaradat & Maria Chiara Rioli- Alternative Information Center – Israel has recently recommenced a policy of demolishing houses and even entire villages in the northern valleys of West Bank. In the beginning of August, Israeli bulldozers came in the morning and demolished 23 small houses, structures and shacks in the Bedouin village of al-Farsiya.
Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
EU says convicted Bilin man ‘human rights defender’

Following conviction of Abdallah Abu Rahmah on charges of organizing demonstrations against West Bank security wall, European Union’s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton issues statement saying ‘illegal’ barrier built on ‘Palestinian land’.,7340,L-3943847,00.html
Ashton ‘concerned’ by anti-wall leader’s conviction

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — EU foreign affairs and security chief Catherine Ashton said Tuesday she was concerned by the conviction of a Palestinian anti-wall campaign leader by an Israeli military court on charges of incitement and organizing demonstrations.  “The EU considers Abdallah Abu Rahmah to be a Human Rights Defender committed to non violent protest against the route of the Israeli separation barrier through his West Bank village of Bil’in,” Ashton said in a statement.
Israel proscribes Free Speech: Anti-Wall activist sentenced

August 25th, 2010– After more than thirty hearings, on Tuesday the Israeli military court convicted Palestinian human rights defender Abdullah Abu Rahma of participating, organizing and incitement at Bil’in’s protests.
Criminalizing peaceful protest: Act up for Abdallah Abu Rahmah

Help us send the message that Abdallah Abu Rahmah and the other prisoners of the popular struggle must be protected.  Abu Rahmah did not find himself behind bars because he is a dangerous man. Abdallah, who is amongst the leaders of the Palestinian village of Bil’in, is viewed as a threat for his work in the five-year unarmed struggle to save the village’s land from Israel’s wall and expanding settlements.  As a member of the Popular Committee and its coordinator since it was formed in 2004, Abdallah has represented the village of Bil’in around the world. In June 2009, he attended the village’s precedent-setting legal case in Montreal against two Canadian companies illegally building settlements on Bil’in’s land; in December of 2008, he participated in a speaking tour in France, and on 10 December 2008, exactly a year before his arrest, Abdallah received the Carl Von Ossietzky Medal for Outstanding Service in the Realization of Basic Human Rights, awarded by the International League for Human Rights in Berlin.

Protester Arrested In Chicago While Challenging Israeli Segregation

In a demonstration organized by the Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago on 23 August, more than two dozen activists converged on downtown Millennium Park to call on city leaders to sever ties with Israel and drop Petach Tikva, Israel from the Chicago Sister Cities program. During the annual Chicago Sister Cities’ International Festival, protesters rallied outside — and later, inside — the venue. One activist was arrested and released later that day.

Protester Arrested In Chicago While Challenging Israeli Segregation

Comprehensive list of items to boycott
Global boycott movement claims victories, arrests

Palestinians and solidarity activists claimed a major victory as the Norwegian government divested from two Israeli companies involved in settlement construction. Meanwhile, a Chicago activist was arrested days after charges were dropped against UK activists arrested during a boycott action.
Norwegian gov’t pension fund excludes more Israeli companies

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has divested from two Israeli companies, Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus, over their involvement in construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank.
Israeli ships not welcome in Vancouver

Vancouver – Locally-based activists, called out by the Boycott Israeli Apartheid Coalition (BIAC), are mounting a picket line at the Port of Vancouver’s Delta Port facility at Roberts Bank, south of Vancouver, as part of a mounting international campaign to put pressure on the government of Israel.  The Israeli ship Djibouti, owned by Zim, one of the ten largest shipping companies in the world, is scheduled to land at Delta Port at 7:00 a.m. this morning.
Viva Palestina prepares for next Gaza convoy

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — British MP George Galloway’s charity Viva Palestina will send “the largest convoy to date” to Gaza with aid on 18 September, the group said Tuesday.  The land convoy, named the Viva Palestina Global Lifeline To Gaza, will travel through Europe and the Middle East expecting to arrive in Gaza in early October. Two other convoys from Doha and Morocco will also join the group, organizers said.
Waging Peace from Afar: U.S. Movement Uses Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions Against Israeli Occupation

Phyllis Bennis, a member of our steering committee and a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, gives a compelling overview of the grassroots movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), its origin and present form, and prospects for redirecting US policy away from a foreign military buildup that is wasteful, harmful and illegal. Followed by critical reader comments.
The BDS Movement: Now with Plasma TV’s

Sue Fisckoff writes in the JTA about the off season preparations of Team Israel, aka Hillel, the Jewish student organization. The article highlights the very real panic the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement has caused and its automatic equation with anti-Semitism in the minds of some.
On Local Boycott and Deception; Is the PA sincere in calling for boycott of ‘settlements’ products?, Khalil Nakhleh
Like many thousands of Palestinians in Ramallah, I feel utterly confused by the dishonesty of being railroaded concerning local boycott of ‘settlements’ products. Because we—my wife and I—are committed to the principle and act of boycott, as a means of resistance, I decided to clarify the primary issues involved, in order to minimize, as much as possible, daily contradictions.  I embarked on sorting out, systematically, methodically and with clarity, related major issues.
Waging Peace from Afar: Divestment and Israeli Occupation

A growing grassroots movement is using the techniques of the anti-apartheid movement to challenge U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
BUST ELBIT: Stop bankrolling Israeli wars and ghettos

The call to divest from Elbit Systems Ltd. has become a key element of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at ending Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid against the Palestinian people.  One and a half years after Stop the Wall Campaign initiated campaigning efforts within the framework of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) to pressure international investors and public authorities across the world to divest from the Israeli corporation, victories for the Bust Elbit campaign are beginning to mount rapidly. The Bust Elbit campaign is part of the wider BDS efforts which seek to hold Israel and its supporters accountable by pressuring Israel on all fronts – politically, culturally, and economically.
Greece: A role in Middle East peace or in Israeli wars?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was right to describe his visit this Monday to Greece as of ‘historic importance’. Just like the visit of his Greek counterpart to Israel in July this year, Netanyahu’s visit was the first ever official visit at this level. Perhaps more significantly, this apparent strengthening of ties comes at a time when foreign ministries all over the world are reconsidering, even downgrading, their relationship with Israel.
Israel’s Arab Helpers
The PA Police Attack Leftists Rally In Ramallah

Ramallah – PNN – the Palestinian police suppressed on Wednesday a rally organized by leftists groups in the central West Bank city of Ramallah to protest the direct talks slated for next month.  Leftists groups were organizing a press conference after the march that was attacked by the police in downtown Ramallah. During the attack police officers attack three journalists working for WATAN local TV and took their taps and cameras.  Rowhi  Maluh, Deputy Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told PNN that his group and other leftists groups wanted to show their rejection to the new round of Palestinian-Israeli direct talks hosted by Washington slated for the 1st and 2nd of September.
Hamas: PA forces detain 60 party members

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas said Tuesday that Palestinian Authority security services recently detained 60 party affiliates in the West Bank.  Ismail Al-Ashqar, a member of the Legislative Council, said that the PA’s arrest campaign “comes in the context of a religious war being waged against Islam in the West Bank.”
Hamas lawmaker slams PA arrest campaign

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The parliament speaker and Hamas leader Ahmad Bahar on Tuesday condemned the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority’s recent escalation against Hamas officials.  PA security services recently detained 60 party affiliates in the West Bank, Hamas said Tuesday.  Ismail Al-Ashqar, a member of the Legislative Council, said that the PA’s arrest campaign “comes in the context of a religious war being waged against Islam in the West Bank.”
Hamas: The new arrest campaign in W. Bank a requirement for Washington talks

Hamas slammed the PA’s security militias for kidnapping dozens of its cadres and senior officials in the West Bank, considering this campaign an urgent requirement for the peace talks in Washington.
The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism
Israel erects military checkpoints in Hebron, Bethlehem

Hebron, August 25, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces (IOF) erected today military checkpoints at the north of Hebron city, in the West Bank.  Local sources said that Israeli soldiers stopped citizens’ cars for hours. They searched them carefully and verified their ID cards.  In addition to, IOF raided Bait Omer and Yonis area in Hebron, the sources added.  In Bethlehem, IOF erected a military checkpoint at the entrance of Al-Jba village where they stopped the citizens for hours.  Israel erects more than 500 military checkpoints in the West Bank where they used to stop the citizens and verify their ID cars searching for what they call “wanted Palestinians”.
Gaza homeless charge Hamas broke its pledge

GAZA CITY — Thousands of homeless Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have begun to resist the Hamas regime.  Palestinian sources said homeless Gazan families have sought to seize property and buildings in an attempt to return to permanent dwellings. They said the families have blamed Hamas for failing to re-settle the families made homeless by the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip in January 2009.  “It’s been nearly two years and Hamas has done very little, although it received lots of money,” a Palestinian source familiar with the Hamas government said.
Agreement could reverse Gaza fuel crisis

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced plans Tuesday to introduce increased amounts of fuel into the Gaza Strip.  After the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company transferred $2 million to the account of the Ramallah-based power authority, the supplier company agreed to transfer 320,000 liters of diesel per day for five days starting Wednesday.
Supporting blood banking in the Gaza Strip

Merlin is supporting blood banking services in the Gaza Strip, helping bring vital services to the conflict-affected population.As a result of the conflict in the Gaza Strip, blood banks play a hugely important role in the area. The blockade of Gaza has severely hampered these services, which lack qualified health workers, supplies, equipment and even regular electricity. To support the blood bank service, Merlin is providing equipment, training and emergency planning.
“Like living in a big factory” in Gaza

“Uff, uff, uff, you can never get time to rest or sleep quietly and you can’t even work. Wherever you are, you hear sound of power generators which makes it seem we are all living in a big factory,” Ahmad al-Bar explained, expressing the frustration of many Palestinians in Gaza at the electricity crisis there, now going on three years.
Gaza Mall Seeks to Make Statement of Resolve, Ethan Bronner

The Gaza Mall may seek to evoke such places, but it is not one of them. At 1,000 square meters, or a quarter of an acre, it is the size of a suburban residential lot in the United States and would fit in its entirety into a corner of any J. C. Penney. The stairs do not move. The piped-in music is Islamic. There are no appliances or electronics for sale, no movie screens, and exactly one fried-food restaurant. Its first floor is almost entirely taken up by a supermarket, a rarity in Gaza.
Israeli army escorts 500 Jewish Israelis into controversial settlement near Nablus

500 Israeli citizens, escorted by dozens of military vehicles, drove by bus deep into the West Bank on Wednesday in a provocative visit to a West Bank settlement. The settlement has been the home of a number of violent attackers of local Palestinians, and many incidents of violence originated from the settlement.

Israeli Army Escorts 500 Jewish Israelis Into Controversial Settlement Near Nablus

Petition: Probe troops who killed Palestinians

Yesh Din human rights group asks High Court to launch criminal investigation into incident described by army as thwarted terror attack. Two cousins shot and killed in incident after allegedly attacking soldiers with broken bottle, pitchfork.,7340,L-3943772,00.html
Islamic Jihad: Gaza forces raid party office, detain 4

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Islamic Jihad accused Gaza internal security forces of detaining four affiliates on Wednesday after breaking into one of the movement’s offices in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, an official said.  The Islamic Jihad official, who preferred to remain anonymous, said Gaza forces beat the party’s supporters before detaining them. Forces confiscated several documents and ransacked the office, the official added.
Palestinian prisoners “tortured” during Ramadan

The Israeli prison service “deliberately tortures” Palestinian prisoners during the fasting month of Ramadan, it has been claimed. Reports from “Free”, the Centre for the Study of Prisoners and Human Rights, describe prisoners in transit being forced to break their fast while handcuffed so tightly that some were unable to move properly. The accusations have been made against the Alnhacon Unit responsible for transporting prisoners between prisons.  According to the Director of the Centre, Fouad Khuffash, the Alnhacon Unit is known for its harsh treatment of prisoners and the wide latitude it is given to mistreat them, often for the most trivial of reasons.
Political/Flotilla Developments
Hamas: Talks with Israel fatal

Exiled Hamas leader says negotiations with Israel are a blow to Palestinian cause.
Hamas: Direct Israeli-Palestinian talks illegitimate, coerced by U.S.

Hamas politburo chief urges Egypt’s Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah not to take part in Washington-backed peace negotiations.
Hamas urges Jordan, Egypt to boycott Mideast talks launch (AFP)

AFP – Exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal urged the Egyptian and Jordanian leaders on Tuesday to boycott the resumption early next month of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks to be hosted by Washington.*
Gaza will be the ghost at Mideast talks banquet (Reuters)

Reuters – It’s the proverbial elephant in the room, the ghost at the banquet, the specter no one wants to acknowledge.*
U.S. warns Israel, Palestinians: Refrain from harming peace talks

Senior American official says U.S. views Israeli construction in West Bank settlements as illegitimate.
US official: We want full peace deal in 1 year

Washington expects Israel, Palestinians to use timeframe given for negotiations to overcome difficulties, strike comprehensive peace, US official tells reports in Jerusalem. America won’t accept partial deal, he said.,7340,L-3943318,00.html
Israeli FM says peace deal in one year unlikely (AFP)

AFP – Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday that renewed peace talks with the Palestinians were unlikely to get anywhere within the one-year time frame set by the United States.*
Barak says peace talks will need ‘brave decisions’ (AFP)

AFP – Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday that Israel’s direct peace talks with the Palestinians due to resume in Washington on September 2 will require concessions from both sides.*
Turkey sees 90% decline in Israeli tourism

Israelis have stayed away in droves ever since the Gaza flotilla incident.
Other News
Gaza police say weapons found in PA officer’s home

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza intelligence forces reportedly confiscated ammunition and weapons from the home of a Palestinian Authority officer in Jabaliya, northern Gaza.  Jabaliya police chief Sa’eed Sha’aban said the intelligence department received information that the PA officer, identified only by the initials FSH, was storing weapons and ammunition in his home.
Gaza Surf Club gets delivery of 23 new surfboards

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 24 August, 2010 : – – U.S.-Based non-profit Explore Corps and Surfing 4 Peace successfully delivered 23 surfboards to the members of the Gaza Surf Club, a community-based surfing project in the Gaza Strip.  Since 2008, Explore Corps and the Surfing 4 Peace community have negotiated with the Israeli Border Authority for permission to enter the boards into Gaza.
Focus U.S.A. / A quest to coax Israel out of the nuclear closet

Acclaimed researcher Avner Cohen says Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity is past its sell-by date.
Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
Riz Khan – Gideon Levy on Middle East peace

The controversial Israeli columnist and author discusses the ‘peace talks’ that are set to resume between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington.

Akiva Eldar / Both peace and war pose massive challenges for new IDF chief

The next IDF chief will have to deal with the outcome of Israeli-Palestinian talks, overseeing either a historic agreement – or the next war.
Iraq pullout makes Israeli-Palestinian peace crucial for U.S.

Timing is crucial as Obama convenes as many Arab leaders as he possibly can and gambles on a diplomatic breakthrough.
The Light Rail Racist? Of Course it is, Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

My two kids, especially my son, just love catching a glimpse of the shiny new trains being tested these days in Jerusalem. On our way to Ramallah, if you are “lucky” you can see the trains on a test drive along the main road, moving up to the beginning part of Shufat. In any other country, this would be a wonderful development – a necessary and efficient public service for all. However, this is not any other country, this is Israel and occupied Jerusalem, and my kids’ childlike enthusiasm would be short lived if they understood the racist ramifications of Jerusalem’s light rail.
Farid Marjai, “Photos, Representation, and the ‘Banality of Oppression'”

Pictures of former Israeli soldier Eden Abargil posing in front of blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian prisoners have caused some controversies in the media. Abargil did not think she had done anything wrong by posting her photos to her Facebook site; she was genuinely surprised by the “fuss” over the photos. Clearly her indifference is a cultural product of military rule over occupied territories, the colonial mentality that arises from subjugation of a displaced and dispossessed people. It is the de-humanization of the victims of colonial force. Yishai Menuchim of the Israeli Committee Against Torture said, “this reflects an attitude which has become the norm and consists in treating the Palestinians like objects, not human beings.” Abargil’s Facebook photos represent the banality of oppression. The transformation of oppressed into oppressor is nothing new in history, so why do we find her Facebook photos so disturbing? The same question struck me even more forcefully when I first saw Abu Ghraib pictures of women guards posing with Iraqi prisoner victims, in porno-sadistic settings used as a mechanism of domination (putting leashes on naked men prisoners and so forth).
A People That Shall Dwell Alone – Israel’s Attack On The Gaza Flotilla

At approximately 4am on May 31st 2010, a group of vessels attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza were attacked by the Israeli navy in international waters off the coast of the occupied Palestinian territories. Nine civilians aboard the largest vessel, the Mavi Marmara, were shot dead by Israeli soldiers and dozens more were wounded. The Israeli government claimed it was exercising its right to self defence. Flotilla members, and much of the international community, saw it as an act of piracy and murder on the high seas that has exposed deep flaws in the Israeli mentality and further alienated it from the rest of the world.
Obama Exploits US Strength, Abbas’s Weakness, James Gundun – Washington, D.C.

You may be surprised to know that direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have commenced. PA President Mahmoud Abbas was. Multiple sources told reporters Monday that Abbas became “enraged” after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly announced an invitation for direct talks without informing him beforehand. Abbas received four calls from the State Department after rumor spread that he would decline, ultimately talking him into agreement.
Where these negotiations could be useful – Yossi Alpher

The resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that is projected for 2 September in Washington serves a number of useful purposes.  Sadly, none of them is directly connected to the effort to “resolve all final status issues” trumpeted last Friday in statements by the Quartet and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Why does this peace process not excite?, Rami G. Khouri

It is hard to be excited or optimistic about the prospects for resumed direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations next week, because all the important factors comprising the diplomatic process are either politically anemic or totally absent.
Four Reasons Why Americans Should Oppose Zionism

Zionism, by virtue of its exclusionary outlook and ethnocentric model of citizenship, is on its own a purveyor of fundamental violence.
Yale conference on anti-Semitism targets Palestinian identity, ’self-hating’ Jews, and anyone who criticizes Israel, Philip Weiss

This is disturbing. A Yale University center that purports to study anti-Semitism is holding a three-day conference on “the crisis” of global anti-Semitism (ending tomorrow) that is dedicated to the idea that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.  The flotilla raid, anti-Semitic. Helen Thomas, anti-Semitic. The very idea of Palestinian identity, anti-Semitic.
Arab-American candidate for California state assembly claims he’s Swedish

It’s too bad the vast majority of Arab-Americans will never hear about this story or the characters involved.  It unfolds against the backdrop of a state Assembly race in central Orange County, California.  The race for the 68th assembly district pits Costa Mesa Republican Mayor Allan Mansoor against Democratic candidate Phu Nguyen.  Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American, but Mansoor’s background is not so clear cut and has apparently been causing him some personal anguish.  The district includes the city of Anaheim, home of the Disneyland resort and adventure Park, and the Arab-Americans involved in this local squabble can be escapees straight out of Disneyland’s popular Fantasyland attractions.   The Arab-American candidate claims to be Swedish while one of his local detractors is another Arab-American who used to claim to be Greek, which is an often believable, and always less ambitious metamorphosis.
Nasrallah: Lebanon must build nuclear reactor

Hezbollah head says reactor similar to Iran’s Bushehr solution to country’s electricity crisis.,7340,L-3943417,00.html
Iran prepared to arm Lebanon ‘if it seeks military assistance’

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah vowed on Tuesday that his Iranian-backed group could help secure aid for Lebanon’s poorly equipped army.
Hezbollah: Iran can equip Lebanese army (AP)

AP – The leader of Lebanon’s Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group says authorities should formally ask Iran to help equip the country’s military.*
Clashes erupt in Lebanon’s capital

Two people killed in “personal fight” between supporters of different political factions.
Senior Hezbollah member killed in Beirut clashes (Reuters)

Reuters – Two Lebanese men, including a senior member of Hezbollah, were killed in Beirut on Tuesday in clashes between supporters of the Shi’ite militant group and a Sunni faction, security sources said.*
Hezbollah data on Hariri murder ‘incomplete’: UN (AFP)

AFP – The UN tribunal probing the murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri said on Tuesday evidence Hezbollah provided allegedly implicating Israel was incomplete and called for the remaining material to be submitted “without delay.”*
Police grill new suspected ‘spy’ at Telecom Ministry

BEIRUT: Lebanese police probing an Israeli spy ring are quizzing an employee of the Telecommunications Ministry, more than two weeks after another employee was charged with spying for Mossad, a security source said Tuesday.  “An employee at the Telecommunications Ministry is currently under interrogation by the police intelligence unit on suspicion of spying for Is