Boycott grows as Stephen Sondheim, Mira Nair and Julianne Moore join call against settlement theater; Palestinian activists say keep focus on the big picture

Sep 07, 2010 

Adam Horowitz


Jewish Voice for Peace’s campaign to support 60 leading Israeli actors and playwrights who are refusing to play a new theater in Ariel continues to grow. New notable figures are joining by the day. Ed Asner explains his support, “It is always amazing when actors turn down jobs.To have the actors of Israel say they will not work in those venues is truly an act of courage.. I applaud them and would live to instill the actors of America with that courage.” And Corey Fischer, co-founder of the Traveling Jewish Theater (now Jewish Theater San Francisco), expressed his admiration in the spirit of the season, “It seems to me that, as often happens in our times, these artists are taking on what was traditionally the task of the Hebrew Prophets: speaking truth to power. I hope someone is listening.”

But some questions are being raised in Palestine. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has issued a statement in response the Israeli actors’ boycott. While PACBI is clear they “welcome acts of protest against any manifestation of Israel’s regime of colonialism and apartheid,” they do raise some important questions about the boycott, and what the protesters might be ignoring.

From the PACBI statement Boycotting Ariel: Missing the Forest for the Trees.

First, we believe that the exclusive focus on settlement institutions ignores and obscures the complicity of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions in upholding the system of colonial control and apartheid under which Palestinians suffer. PACBI believes there is firm evidence of the collusion of the Israeli academic and cultural establishment with the major oppressive organs of the Israeli state. Focusing solely on obviously complicit institutions, such as cultural centers in a West Bank colony, serves to shield mainstream Israeli institutions from opprobrium or, ultimately, from the growing global boycott movement that consistently targets all complicit institutions.

Furthermore, the cherry-picking approach behind targeting a notorious colonial settlement in the heart of the occupied West Bank diverts attention from other institutions built on occupied land. Supporters of this peculiarly selective boycott must be asked: Is lecturing or performing at the Hebrew University, whose Mount Scopus campus sits on occupied Palestinian land in East Jerusalem, acceptable?

If opposition to Israel’s military occupation is driving this movement, then why has the deplorable stifling of cultural institutions in occupied Jerusalem, for example, been ignored? In 2009, the Arab League with support from UNESCO declared Jerusalem the Arab Cultural Capital for that year. Celebrations that were to be held across the city throughout the year highlighting the historical and cultural role of Jerusalem in Palestinian society and beyond were shut down and at times physically attacked by Israeli security forces in their ongoing attempt to stifle expressions of Palestinian identity in the occupied city. In scenes worthy of Kafka’s novels, organized activities throughout East Jerusalem were summarily cancelled as Palestinian artists, writers and cultural figures resorted to underground techniques to celebrate their city’s cultural and popular heritage [2].

If the artists’ and intellectuals’ role as voices of moral reason is behind this most recent call to boycott Ariel, where were these voices when academic and cultural institutions were wantonly destroyed in Israel’s war of aggression on Gaza in 2008-2009?

It has not gone without notice in Israel that BDS is gaining momentum internationally as an effective means of resisting Israeli colonial oppression. Given this context, one may be excused to assert that these recent efforts to narrow the focus of the boycott against Israel may be deliberately missing the forest for the trees.. It is important to reiterate the morally-consistent rationale and principles of the Palestinian boycott campaign against Israel.

Are the settlers civilians?

Sep 07, 2010 

David Samel

Although I have replied individually to a few comments to my recent post regarding the recent killing of four Israeli settlers, there was one issue repeatedly raised in several comments. To what extent should Jewish settlers in the West Bank be considered

Armed – Some have questioned whether the victims were armed, and suggested that if they were, they deserved their fate. This makes little sense to me. If they were armed, it seems it was purely for defensive purposes, as they were not engaged in any aggressive operation themselves. Considering what happened to them, their fears
were not imaginary. True, if they and their fellow settlers were not living this illegal, immoral lifestyle that was choking the lives of their fellow human beings, they would have no need for armed defense, but here, their possession of weapons to use defensively in the case of hostility does not make them kill-worthy. There’s no reason to believe that the Palestinian gunmen even knew whether they were armed.

In fact, I find a parallel in the Israeli claim that it has to strike at Iran or Hezbollah, etc. because those entities are arming themselves to defend against an Israeli strike.  I view this entire rationale as backwards.

Age – The occupation has continued for several decades now, and although settlement building is continuing and settler population increasing, there are now many who have been born and raised into adulthood without ever knowing another home. They have been taught since birth that they are entitled to live on this land, and that those of a different ancestry are interlopers who would be welcome in 22 other countries where similar people live, but instead insist on being a thorn in the side of the Jewish people, who desire only a tiny sliver of land.

Needless to say, I abhor this ideology, but can we blame six-year-olds for believing what they’ve been told? What about when they turn 10, or 15 or 21? At some point, we can expect them to think for themselves and act appropriately (though it’s hard to see how outside influences will ever persuade them), but at what age do they change from being innocent children force-fed a supremacist ideology to something more killable? Is there a gray area, say 16 to 21, when they are on probation? Do we make allowances for those who are retarded or autistic? Several years ago, during the second intifada, it was revealed by Amira Hass that Israeli soldiers had standing orders not to shoot children, who were defined as those appearing to be 11 and under. Twelve-year old adults were fair game. Should Palestinians play the same game? Would raising the age boundary solve the problem?

They Were Settlers – The most important factor is clearly that these victims were settlers who chose to live beyond the “green line.” The entire world agrees that this area does not belong to Israel, and international law forbids Israel from allowing its citizens to settler there, a law that has been broken about a half-million times. But settlers, while all illegal, are not monolithic. Some are ideological and insufferably racist and clearly get satisfaction out of depriving Palestinians of the ability to live in freedom and security. Others are induced by economic incentives to live in the OPT. There surely are many more complicated situations as well..

This was most probably all the gunmen knew about their victims – that they were settlers. Maybe they were indeed armed and fanatic members of the most racist strain of the settler movement. But they were anonymous settlers when killed. In my view, they were civilians, not engaged in any immediately threatening behavior, and therefore not subject to a death sentence.

Contrast this situation with the incident in Beita I wrote about a few months ago, where an armed Israeli settler guarding teenagers out for a deliberately provocative hike shot to death a Palestinian they encountered. The victim’s sister hit the murderer in the head with a rock, leading to a melee in which several others, including an Israeli girl, were killed by the gunman. If the sister had had a gun, my guess is she would have used it rather than the rock, and I would have found no fault with her for doing so. Interestingly, some Palestinian villagers protected and sheltered the Israeli youth from the completely understandable rage of other Palestinians. Wasn’t this heroic rather than foolish, even though these teens represented the worst strain and the bleak future of the militant Israeli settler movement?

I’m not a big fan of “slippery slope” arguments – they’re used far too often – but I think there is a good one to be made here. If we support or even excuse murder of settlers, what about Israeli Jewish citizens within the green line? There surely is something additionally nefarious about all settlers, but Jews who live within Israel proper enjoy special rights, privileges and status to them over their non-Jewish fellow citizens. Don’t they accept those goodies, mostly without any reservation at all? Aren’t some non-settler Jews more virulently racist than some settlers? Aren’t they all at least somewhat guilty for enjoying the benefits of a ethno-religious preference in violation of 21st century standards of egalitarianism?

Then there are the Americans, who watched with minimal protest while their government slaughtered hundreds of thousands or more the past decade, and continues to reserve the right to arrest (or even murder) anyone anywhere for any reason, and hold them for any length of time without any recourse. How long would it be before we’re all implicated as “alleged civilians” rather than actual civilians, before we are all ensnared in this sense of collective guilt for which the ultimate penalty may be paid, even where the crimes of the State are very real?

This entire discussion reminds me of a 1945 propaganda newsreel I once saw about the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings. There was footage, presumably genuine but who knows, of Japanese schoolgirls undergoing military training with bayonets, as the narrator solemnly intoned that such fierce resistance from the entire citizenry was what allied troops could have expected had they invaded rather than nuked Japan. The message was clear: even the children of Japan were not truly civilians to be mourned, but genuine military targets whose incineration was entirely justified.

My rejection of this notion of distinctions among civilians can get no better support than its obvious similarity to Alan Dershowitz’s ”continuum of civilianality”, one of his most morally reprehensible concepts, a remarkable distinction considering the voluminous competition. Dershowitz seeks to rationalize Israel’s slaughter of Palestinian civilians by minimizing the number of people who qualify for civilianhood based on criteria that are not that different from those listed above.

Palestinians under the age of four are certainly deemed genuine civilians, although their deaths are excusable because the Hamas baddies hoist them up with their left hand while firing rockets and rifles with their right. (About the only value in Dershowitz’s continuum is that it gave rise to this brilliantly witty evisceration of the doctrine.) Dershowitz goes to great lengths to make distinctions between different kinds of Palestinian civilians, but of course he would never apply his analysis to Israelis, all of whom are deemed pure-as-driven-snow civilians unless engaged in active combat. Shouldn’t we avoid engaging in a reciprocal double standard?

I am certainly not saying that force may not be used to compel settlers to comply with international law, or even a common international consensus on resolving the dispute. I have no doubt that a great deal of force eventually will be required, especially on the most intransigent settlers who would neither move nor accept any Palestinian jurisdiction (see Phil’s post about I.F. Stone). What I object to is indiscriminate lethal force decided upon in secret by people self-appointed to assume the roles of judge, jury, and executioner. I see no obligation to support such a travesty, or even to refrain from condemnation.


Sep 07, 2010 

Philip Weiss


I’m off to the Middle East for a couple weeks. I wish everyone a happy end to Ramadan and happy beginning of the Jewish new year. Well– those sons and daughters of Abraham, anyway!

I’m going to try and write from my destinations and keep an eye on the news. Others will be carrying the weight. During the high holidays I know I’m going to reflect on the mistakes I’ve made at this site over the last year, failures of kindness, understanding, and generosity of spirit, and also remember the many blessings of this work, chiefly all the serious people who come to this site because they think this community can be a fulcrum for change.

On that note I got on email today from Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb about a fast during the high holidays to atone for crimes against the Palestinians. Organized by the Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence. All are welcome:

People of all faith and cultural traditions are invited to join a morning to evening public fast from the third of Tishri through the fast of Yom Kippur in order to demand a new era of respect for Palestinian human rights. You are welcome to fast for all or any part of this period of time. We hope to attract a minyan of ten individuals around the country who will fast during the entire period…

The two-state solution is in serious trouble and the majority of Israelis and Palestinians no longer believe it will happen. Therefore, our actions from this point onward need to be conducted in a new way. We have to think outside the box. We cannot think outside the box without forming enduring relationships with Palestinians and Israelis who are working together to create meaningful change. 

May this public fast encourage us to form new partnerships and take new steps. The future we shape is one where people live together as good neighbors, no matter what political solution finally emerges that establishes the parameters of peace. Peace on the ground will be shaped by civil society. How are we preparing the way?

Meet the Chernicks

Sep 07, 2010 

Philip Weiss

 A few weeks back Juan Cole created a data point to explain the neocons:

They have more assets than is visible on the surface. They have perhaps half of America’s 400 billionaires on their side.

I am deeply grateful to Cole for that assertion. Even if it’s imprecise, even if it’s off, it’s obviously based on knowledge of how the discourse works and it’s got a large truth in it: it explains the fiendish persistence inside the political establishment of neoconservatism. I wish Chris Matthews would have Cole on and ask him why he believes this, ask him who gives money to Yale and why Yale wouldn’t have Cole but Yale would have a conference that attacked Palestinian identity formation and “self-hating Jews.”

Long preamble. Politico follows the money on the Islamic center opposition campaign, though it buries the neoconservative angle, the juicy one, deep in the story, who’s funding the opposition:

there’s also big money behind the mosque opposition, as highlighted by the relationship between Horowitz’s Los Angeles-based nonprofit, Jihad Watch — the website run by Spencer “dedicated to bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology play in the modern world” — and Joyce Chernick, the wife of a wealthy California tech company founder.

Though it was not listed on the public tax reports filed by Horowitz’s Freedom Center, POLITICO has confirmed that the lion’s share of the $920,000 it provided over the past three years to Jihad Watch came from Chernick, whose husband, Aubrey Chernick, has a net worth of $750 million, as a result of his 2004 sale to IBM of a software company he created, and a security consulting firm he now owns.

A onetime trustee of the hawkish Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Aubrey Chernick led the effort to pull together $3.5 million in venture capital to start Pajamas Media, a conservative blog network that made its name partly with hawkish pro-Israel commentary and of late has kept up a steady stream of anti-mosque postings, including one rebutting attacks by CAIR against Spencer — who Pajamas CEO Roger Simon called “one of the ideological point men in the global war on terror.”..

The David Horowitz Freedom Center had a budget of $4.5 million last year, according to its tax filings, of which $290,000 came from the conservative Bradley Foundation, which also gave $75,000 to the Center for Security Policy last year. Horowitz has received an average of $461,000 a year in salary and benefits over the past three years, while Spencer has pulled in an average of $140,000, according to the center’s IRS filings.

To its credit, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency then followed up that report:

Aubrey and Joyce Chernick, Politico reported, have over the years contributed to, among other groups, the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles; the Anti-Defamation League; the Zionist Organization of America; MEMRI, a group that distributes translations of inflammatory Arabic language material; the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a group that tracks what it depicts as the threat of radical Islam;  the American Jewish Congress; CAMERA, a group that tracks what it says is anti-Israel bias in the media; the Central Fund for Israel, a clearinghouse for moneys directed to pro-settler groups; and a number of conservative think tanks.

Aubrey Chernick, additionally, was at one time a trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Finally, Laura Rozen also follows up on it, showing the Chernicks’ links to the Hudson Institute, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and…. inevitably… the Central Fund of Israel, which funds settlers in the West Bank, including their “urgent security needs,” and is administered by a 6th Avenue fabric store. Read Rozen’s list of Chernick contributions for her delicious twist on religiosity and secularism:

Similar donations in 2007 and 2006, including $190k in 2007 to the Hudson Institute; $200k in 2006 to the Zionist Organization of America, and $250k to ZOA in 2005; $60k in 2005 to the Central Fund of Israel, a U.S. nonprofit that funds settler security and other programs in Israel, and on whose board (listed in 2008 as vice president) is Itamar Marcus, who heads Palestinian Media Watch; $25k in 2005 to fund projects by Tariq Ismail at the Council for Secular Humanism (the funding for Islamic secularism contrasting with the foundation’s generous funding of Jewish religiosity, including Aish HaTorah of Los Angeles); $120k in 2005 to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, on whose board Chernick’s wife Joyce Chernick served

Notice that Richard Silverstein has described Aubrey Chernick’s funding for StandWithUs, the Israel lobby group, and the neoconservative website Pajamas Media ($7 million, slightly more than the seed funding for this website) and pointing out that Jim Koshland of the Levi Strauss family was in on the deal– Silverstein speculates so that Koshland could get into the good business graces of the dynamic Chernick. Oh and Alex Kane posts on the Chernicks here.

Palestinian parents donate organs of their dead 4-year-old to save 3 Israelis

Sep 07, 2010



and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Abbas asks US to step into settlement dispute (AP)

AP – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he has asked the U.S. to settle a dispute with Israel over settlement expansion that is threatening to derail Mideast peace talks.*
Edelstein: We’ll support Netanyahu to renew building in West Bank

“On September 26 the construction freeze will not be renewed, there will be no government decision to renew it,” Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said. “We will fight for every home, every permit and every tender.”  “The ten months in which tens of thousands of families were frozen will not return,” he promised, speaking to Likud activists. “Our mission is to prop up the prime minister so that construction will begin again throughout Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).”,7340,L-3950683,00.html
Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Boycotting Ariel: Missing the Forest for the Trees, PACBI

Provoked by the recent announcement of the inauguration of a cultural center in Ariel, the fourth largest Jewish colony in the occupied Palestinian territory, 150 prominent Israeli academics, writers, and cultural figures have declared that they “will not take part in any kind of cultural activity beyond the Green Line, take part in discussions and seminars, or lecture in any kind of academic setting in these settlements”. A few protestors went as far as reiterating the fact that all Israeli colonies built on occupied Palestinian land are in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and thus constitute a war crime.
The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement

Ramadan in Gaza’s boundary zone

JOHR AL-DIK, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) – With power cuts up to 16 hours to full days, a soaring heat wave and unbearable humidity, the Israeli-led siege on Gaza is but one of many factors leaving Ramadan miserable for the majority of Palestinians in Gaza.
Siege casts shadow over Ramadan

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) – The Muslim festival approaches, but not the end to power cuts that have darkened the month-long Ramadan fasting leading up to the festival. Or to the agony of Gazans, made worse by the reminder that it’s approaching festive time.
Hearing aids warn Gaza kids of bombs

Deaf children in Gaza don’t need hearing aids just to help them learn – they need them to simply survive.  Hamilton woman and former Waikato Hospital nurse Helen Green flies out this week for the Gaza strip – one of the most volatile parcels of land in the world.  It will be her third trip to the region to monitor progress on a governance project she’s working on for German non-government organisation CBM (Christoffel-Blindenmission), an organisation which acts on the needs and rights of people with disabilities in 113 countries around the world.  The work Mrs Green is doing with the deaf and blind in Gaza is just a small part of that.
Discrimination/Human Rights

Details of ‘rape by deceit’ conviction surface

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — In July, an Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian, Sabar Kushur, to 18 months imprisonment for obtaining consensual sex by failing to reveal he was not a Jewish bachelor.  An Israeli newspaper on Friday published testimony made in court by the complainant.  Kushur was initially charged with rape by force, and the conviction of “rape by deceit” was a plea bargain agreed to, and according to the newspaper report initiated by, Kushur’s lawyers.
War Crimes

Munir’s Story: 28 years after the Massacre at Sabra-Shatila, Franklin Lamb

The untreated psychic wounds are still open. Accountability, justice and basic civil rights for the survivors are still denied.  Scores of horror testimonies have been shared over the past nearly three decades by survivors of the September 1982 Sabra- Shatila massacre. More come to light only through circumstantial evidence because would be affiants perished during the slaughter. Other eyewitness are just beginning to emerge from deep trauma or self imposed silence.  Some testimonies will be shared this month by massacre survivors at Shatila camp. They will sit with the every growing numbers of international visitors who annually come to commemorate one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century.
Violence and other Provocations against Palestinians

Report: Settler fires on Palestinian cars

Palestinian driving near Kedumim settlement says Israeli man fired at his vehicle; no injuries reported. Police believe shooting a case of road rage.,7340,L-3951092,00.html
Clashes at Aroub refugee camp

Hebron, September 7, (Pal Telegraph) A Palestinian citizen was wounded and bruised after being beaten by Israeli soldiers who raided the refugee camp of Aroub, north of Hebron in the West Bank.

IOF raids Hebron, arrests a whole family

Hebron, September 7, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli occupation forces arrested today a whole Palestinian family after a raid on their home in the town of Surif north-west of Hebron in the West Bank.
IOF arrests a child on checkpoint near Bethlehem

Hebron, September 7, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli occupation forces arrested today a child from the town of Dura in Hebron, in the West Bank, on an Israeli military checkpoint near Bethlehem.
PFLP to launch campaign in support of jailed leader

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A leftist Palestinian faction will begin a week of activities on 5 October to protest Israel’s decision to keep the movement’s leader in solitary confinement , a party source said Tuesday.  Activities will coincide with an Israeli court hearing to determine if Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Ahmad Sa’adat will remain in solitary confinement.
Prisoners’ families protest salary deductions

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza families of prisoners detained in Israeli jails held a protest Monday against the deduction of 170 shekels from prisoners’ salaries for electricity payments, a prisoners’ group said.  The protesters gathered at Red Cross headquarters, and chanted slogans blaming the ruling Hamas party for the deduction, which they said increased prisoners’ suffering,group coordinator Nasha’at Al-Waheedi said.

Qassam lands outside Sderot

Color Red alert sounds throughout city, Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council in wee hours of the night; rocket lands just outside city limits.,7340,L-3950841,00.html
Israel’s Arab Helpers

Egypt seizes Gaza-bound arms across Sinai

EL-ARISH (Ma’an) — Egyptian police took control of nine weapons caches across the Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday, nearly a week after discovering three stores in the same area.  All of the stores, officials said, were ready to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip.  Several types of weaponry were discovered in the hideouts, located in northern and central Sinai neighborhoods as well as the southern border city of Rafah and the port city of Al-Arish, police told Ma’an.
“Peace” Talks/Political Developments

No meeting between Abbas, Netanyahu in Jerusalem in mid September: Palestinian official

RAMALLAH, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) — Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denied on Monday that there will be a meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in mid September.  “What has been agreed upon is a meeting between President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sept. 14 only,” Erekat told Xinhua.  He added “No other meeting has been agreed upon, except the one in Sharm el-Sheikh.”
Palestinian leaders slam Geneva Initiative for using their pictures in peace campaign

Furthermore, in the past several days, through an intermediary, Fayyad has asked that his picture be removed from the Geneva Initiative’s campaign. Abbas, who has been in Washington and North Africa over the past week, has not asked that the campaign stop using his likeness and has not withdrawn his participation in the campaign, but Fayyad, who was in the West Bank at the time, has sought to have his picture removed.
Abbas: No peace without Gaza

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority would “not leave Gaza or the West Bank to Hamas or others,” President Mahmoud Abbas told the Kuwait-based daily newspaper Ar-Ray on Tuesday.  The interview followed one in the Ramallah-based Al-Ayyam newspaper on Monday, where Abbas said that if he was forced to concede on key issues such as refugees or borders during the next round of direct negotiations with Israel, he would “pack my bags and leave.”
Israel PM sees deal possible in year: spokesman (Reuters)

Reuters – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told visiting U.S. congressmen he thinks it could be possible to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians in a year despite huge differences, his spokesman said.*
Netanyahu tells Israeli public: No guarantee peace talks will succeed

In New Year’s greeting, prime minister lays down security and recognition of Israel as Jewish state as two criteria for a peace agreement with Palestinians.
Palestinian Figures Condemn PA Remarks, Back Ahmadinejad

06/09/2010 Prominent Palestinian figures condemned the Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesman’s insulting remarks about the Iranian president, endorsing Iran’s supports for the rights of Palestinians.  “The offensive remarks of Palestinian Authority Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the International Quds Day is indicative of the PA’s irresponsibility and serious crisis between the negotiating team and the Israelis in direct talks,” Fars news agency quoted Hamas political leader Khezr Habib as saying on Sunday.  On Friday, addressing large crowds of people at the Quds Day rally, President Ahmadinejad accused the Middle East mediators who have been engaged in direct talks with Israeli officials of being accomplices to Israel’s atrocities against Palestinians, saying, “Only Palestinians could decide on their own lands not foreign powers.”
MK Ahmed Tibi, do you believe Netanyahu has changed and will move toward peace?

Deputy Knesset Speaker Tibi, who is considered close to the PA negotiating team in the peace talks, says he is pessimistic about Netanyahu and the peace process.
Hamas: Achieving inter-reconciliation still an American decision

GAZA, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) — Gaza Strip-ruling Islamic Hamas movement on Monday said that achieving the inter-Palestinian reconciliation and ending the internal rift is still an American decision.  Hamas leader Salah al-Bardaweel told journalists in southern Gaza Strip that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party ” rejects achieving the reconciliation because its decision is still a hostage in the Americans’ hands.”  Disputes between the two rivals, Fatah and Hamas, mounted after signing the historic reconciliation agreement in Mecca in Feb. 2007. Their feuds reached its peak after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip by force in June 2007.
Muhammad Dahlan: the  rejectionist

When I saw that Muhammad Dahlan was not part of the Palestinian delegation to the surrender talks in Washington, DC, I knew that he would come out to oppose them.  Sure enough, he uses strong language against the talks and offers a damning characterization of the ruling prime minister of the Zionist entity.
Egypt FM: Palestinians could get $50 billion in compensation under peace deal

Aboul-Gheit did not elaborate on where he had received that information, nor did he say who would supply the funds.
Jordan and Syria call for Israeli withdrawal from all Arab lands

Leaders of both states say that Israel must return to pre-1967 borders in order to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Other News

Palestinian family’s tragedy saves 3 dying Israelis

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – On 27 August, a Palestinian 4-year-old, Abdul-Hayy Salhout, fell from a balcony at his family’s home in the Jabal Al-Mukabbir village in occupied East Jerusalem.  Doctors at the Hadassah Medical Center spent eight hours trying to revive the toddler in the ICU, where he died six days later. Abdul-Hayy’s parents decided at the time to donate his organs.
WATCH: Gaza’s first female truck driver breaks rules

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Women do not drive trucks in Gaza. Not until Lina Ibrahim broke the social taboo and insisted that she be allowed to take a course in truck driving, and use the skill to pay for her university studies.  With Gaza’s economy in ruins, women have increasingly joined the formal and informal workforce sectors to help support themselves and their families.
Austrian tycoon may face Israel charges: report (AFP)

AFP – Israeli police are recommending an Austrian billionaire be charged with bribery for funnelling millions of dollars into the pockets of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.*
Deportation of foreign workers’ kids to begin after holidays

Last ditch effort to prevent deportation of migrant workers’ children underway; protest rally scheduled in Tel Aviv, Kibbutz Movement says will disperse kids between volunteers.,7340,L-3950857,00.html
Yishai: Probe sedition against deportation

Interior minister urges attorney general to launch investigation against head of Kibbutz Movement’s task force for calling on public to hide foreign workers’ children.,7340,L-3951061,00.html
Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

No Restrictions: Gaza Journalist Rebel Against The Rules

Hiba Lama – PNN/Exclusive – As girls becomes women in Gaza they slowly get dragged into the world of restrictions. These rules have become an art those who govern Gaza have perfected. They are meant to segregate women from men.
Who are we stand in moral and legal judgment of the settlers’ killers?, Max Ajl

Aware of that, return to the issue of the right to criticize. Before criticizing, there’s a necessary question: are we innocent, do we stand apart from the society that produced the Hamas killings? Can we stand in moral and legal judgment of them? Not a chance. Samel, and take Samel as an avatar for all of us, is not innocent. By not being innocent, through condemnation, we become hypocrites. We live in privilege and we have lived in privilege. Our lives are the product of that privilege. Their ease is the experience of privilege. That privilege came at a cost. We are the condensed, living subjects of a tremendous, bloody, messy, tragic, horrible history of violence that has constituted us as privileged Westerners and has left the Palestinian people scrabbling in the sands of Gaza and the Jordan Valley, in refugee camps scattered around the Levant.
God Announces Palestinian State in Uganda, Belen Fernandez

In an interview this week with Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi, omnipresent Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev addressed the difficulty of defining the border between Israel and Palestine without knowing “what’s going to be on the other side” and whether whatever it is will recognize the Jewish state.  Deftly skirting Rattansi’s interjection that the Palestinians had already recognized Israel in 1993 by saying he would “answer that in a second” despite the fact that it was not a question, Regev continued: “How can we agree to a border unless we know what’s the nature and the character of the society on the other side of the border?” As for the nature and character of the Jewish state, comparable spiritual exclusivity on the other side of the fence such as an Islamic Republic of Palestine would presumably not merit comparable insistence by Regev of the state’s utter democracy.
Imagining Palestinians as Equal, George Polley

‘The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.’ — Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)   If the question is, are the Israeli government and its supporters serious about addressing the issues that cause them their biggest public relations problems, the answer is no. Instead of changing its behavior, Israel’s response to criticism is a simple one: Deny wrongdoing, play the role of victim, punish those who resist, and attack and destroy the credibility of those who criticize it.  Earlier this year The Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank founded in 2004 by Gidi Grinstein and others, published a 93-page report titled: “Building a Political Firewall against Israel’s Delegitimization”. A primer in designing and carrying out a propaganda campaign (called “public relations” in the report), it is a very revealing document. (For a copy, click here).
When the Israeli Jews Lose Their Moral Compass; Burg: Israeli Jews are the judges and the masters of the

land,Hasan Afif El-Hasan
On the first day of the Palestinian-Israeli direct negotiations, I was reading a book by Avraham Burg on Israel. Avraham Burg, a man who once was at the heart of the Israeli establishment as the speaker of the Knesset, asked the same question which I spent years trying to answer. Why the Jewish people, the yesterday’s victims of Hitler and the survivors of the Holocaust do not view the indigenous Palestinians as people with possibly legitimate needs? Burg wants his fellow Jews, the victims of anti-Semitism, to establish a just and compassionate society that lives according to the principles of its Bible including: “What is hateful to thee, do not do unto thy fellow.” He reminds the Jews that their “existence has not been just to the Father, the King, up in heaven, but up toward the great human calling.” The moral issue of the Israeli Jews was put eloquently by one of their intellectuals, David Grossman, “I could not understand how an entire nation like mine, an enlightened nation by all accounts, is able to train itself to live as a conqueror without making its own life wretched.”
God’s Humor In Promoting Taybeh?  

By: Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D. – I am sitting in the middle of the wilderness and most of the days I am sincerely happy that the whole world is willing to come to me. I clearly have nothing to do with this fame since my brother-in-law, Nadim Khoury, worked extraordinarily hard since the early 90’s to make one of the best products that exist in Palestine.  People from all of the world want to come and see how we make this great micro brewed beer, the only micro brew beer in the whole Middle East, Taybeh Beer.

84 charged over deadly Beirut shootout (AFP)

AFP – Eighty-four people have been charged in connection with a deadly clash last month between Hezbollah and a pro-Syrian Sunni faction, Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported.*
Sleiman responds fiercely to criticism from Aoun

BEIRUT: Criticisms by head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Kesrouan MP Michel Aoun against President Michel Sleiman and a number of ministers stirred a wave of disapproving reactions on Monday.
Hezbollah Supports Aoun’s Criticism as “Cry of Pain”

One day after the head of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc MP Michel Aoun raised the voice against the current situation in the country, Hezbollah declared solidarity with its ally in its frank ‘cry of pain’.
Death threat stokes tensions in Ain al-Hilweh

BEIRUT: Tensions arose in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp as a circulating statement bearing the signature of an Al-Qaeda-inspired group threatened to assassinate the head of the Armed Struggle in the camp, saying he was involved in the recent killing of the group’s leader.

Monday: 10 Iraqis Killed, 28 Wounded

At least 10 Iraqis were killed and 28 more were wounded in new violence. Meanwhile, the U.S. military admitted that attacks against American troops increased during Ramadan, which ends this week. Also, the long war has destroyed the hopes of many older Iraqi women who are seeking marriage.
Unknown gunmen kill Al Iraqiya anchor

Religious programs anchor on Al Iraqiya Satellite TV network and head of Al Sheala District Riyad Al Saray was killed by unknown gunmen in central Baghdad. Unknown gunmen opened fire from mute weapons in a drive-by shooting on a car in Al Harithiya region, an informed source told Alsumaria.
Iraqi Al Qaeda group says it behind army base raid (Reuters)

Reuters – Al Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a daylight raid by suicide bombers on an army base in central Baghdad in which 12 people died.*
Iraq’s Allawi sees progress on forming government by end-October

BAGHDAD: Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi hopes coalition talks will have progressed by end-October and said forming a government was key to security in Iraq after the United States formally ended combat operations.
SYRIA: Iraqi refugee children dropping out of school

Source: IRIN Iraqi refugee children in Syria are struggling to keep up at school, or are dropping out to seek paid work, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Iraq: The forgotten ‘nakba’; Why has the plight of Iraq failed to capture the imagination and interest of the Arab world?, Lamis Andoni

The US invasion of Iraq marked a dramatic turning point for the Arab world, but the recent partial American withdrawal generated notably little interest across the region. This is partly because it signaled neither an unequivocal end to the occupation nor an explicit continuation of US military control. But the silence also reflects the bitter reality that many have simply tuned out of Iraq.  When Baghdad fell in 2003, it drew comparisons with the loss of Palestine and the dispossession of its people in 1948. And while the US invasion did not lead to, or aim at, colonising the country, changing its name or razing its towns and villages, it did serve to remove a once powerful state from the regional political equation and, in so doing, weakened the Arab world. This emboldened Israel and Iran, while striking a critical blow against pan-Arabism.

Iran has enough fuel for 2 nuclear warheads, report says

The International Atomic Energy Agency also reports that Tehran’s efforts to master uranium enrichment at one facility could be slowing. Iran says it has 6,180 pounds of low-enriched uranium.  Iran has produced more than enough nuclear fuel to power two atomic warheads if it were to further enrich its supply and disregard its treaty obligations, according to a report issued Monday by the world’s nuclear energy watchdog.,0,572622.story
translation from Persian and Ahmadinajad’s speeches

A keen and knowledgeable Western correspondent in the Middle East sent me this (he/she does not want to be identified):
“Hi As’ad. This is unreal. Or rather I’m astounded, but I shouldn’t be.   we had a story last night on Ahmadinejad in Qatar. I heard the Arabic in passing on TV and it said he said Israel should be destroyed siyasiyyan.  I come in today and find, as I feared, story misquoting him: Any Israeli attack against Iran means the elimination of the Zionist entity from the world map. no mentioned of “politically”
So I check the Farsi on IRNA. He says: هر اقدامي عليه ايران به معناي پاك شدن رژيم صهيونيستي از جغرافياي سياسي است
i.e. he does NOT say ‘map’ and he says the Zionist ‘regime’, as well as ‘political geography’; i.e. he means that as a political entity it would cease, not that it’s people would be destroyed.  the rest you probably know: the original quote from 2005. I got curious and checked it (I read at time it was questioned but I didn’t know Farsi then). ran him saying “israel should be wiped off the map”, baldly; no other words of context. as far as I’m aware, it was this story that provoked the world reaction. but he actually said: imam goft een regime -e ishghalgar -e quds bayad az safheh -ye ruzgar mahv shavad, the Imam said this regime that occupies Jerusalem should be effaced from the page of time. i.e. he’s talking about the political entity.  I’m not defending him one bit, but he’s making a point about the state of Israel, not that the population therein should be exterminated as the Nazis did.   and look how successful this propaganda has been: the phrase has become so well-known that someone translating automatically jumped to these phrases “wiped off” and “map” when translating what Ahmadinejad said in Doha last night, fitting his words into this linguistic cast pre-prepared by media, without realising the distortion involved. (or not so successful this time: i caught it.. but not after the story was translated into every language service you can imagine)”.
Obama Follows Bush on Iran, Muhammad Sahimi

When Barack Obama was running for the presidency in 2008, he wanted, first and foremost, to differentiate himself from George W. Bush, who was despised by a large majority of people practically everywhere on this planet. Obama had opposed the invasion of Iraq, and during his campaign he continued to criticize the invasion and its aftermath. He criticized the Bush administration for what he considered its neglect of the “right war” (if there is such a war), namely, the war in Afghanistan. And while the Bush administration conducted a relentless program of propaganda and threats against Iran for eight years, Obama offered to negotiate with Iran without any preconditions. To make his offer sound credible, he even quoted President John F. Kennedy: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
Land or a nuclear umbrella?, Akiva Eldar

The right way to cope with the Iranian threat is by boosting regional peace, in combination with an American assurance of a nuclear umbrella and an improvement in Israeli deterrence.
U.S. and Other World News

ElBaradei eyes Egypt poll boycott

Egyptian opposition figure Mohammed ElBaradei calls for a boycott of November’s parliamentary election, saying it is certain to be rigged.
One woman’s nightmare, and a crime against humanity, Robert Fisk in Amman

Forced to marry her own rapist, Hanan now lives in terror of losing her son – and of being murdered by her family. Her case-history introduces a four-day series investigating a global scandal that destroys many thousands of lives every year
The crimewave that shames the world, Robert Fisk

It’s one of the last great taboos: the murder of at least 20,000 women a year in the name of ‘honour’. Nor is the problem confined to the Middle East: the contagion is spreading rapidly
Internet Evangelist Bill Keller Preaching Against Islam Near Ground Zero

NEW YORK — An Internet evangelist from Florida has begun holding services near ground zero to preach against Islam as debate continues over plans for a nearby Muslim community center.  Bill Keller has gained a following through his website, and has promised to establish a “9/11 Christian Center” to counter what he referred to Sunday as “the lies of Islam.”
Michael Moore on His Life, His Films and His Activism

In a Democracy Now! special broadcast, we spend the hour with one of the most famous independent filmmakers in the world: Michael Moore. For the past twenty years, Michael has been one of the most politically active, provocative and successful documentary filmmakers in the business. His films include Roger & me; Fahrenheit 9/11; Bowling for Columbine, for which he won the Academy Award; and his latest, Capitalism: A Love Story.[includes rush transcript]

Mearsheimer: There will be no two-state solution, only a greater Israel, and Palestinians will need the int’l community in the coming fight against apartheid

Sep 07, 2010 

Philip Weiss

Something you won’t see on American television: Al Jazeera ran a long piece on the peace talks (linked here at Pulse.). “Empire” host Marwan Bishara is incisive; he speaks of the “Zionist lobby” and the emergence of a state in Kosovo with far less rigmarole than the endless peace process. His guests, on barstools in a rooftop interview in view of the White House, are Nabil Shaath of the P.A., former negotiator Rob Malley, and John Mearsheimer.

Mearsheimer is unbound. He dispels Malley’s assertion that Israel can cobble together a Palestinian state. He helps to elicit from Shaath wonderful statements, including the description of Israelis as “control freaks” and the simple explanation of why Palestinians, even Fatah Palestinians, cannot recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Some Mearsheimer soundbites:

“The talks are going to fail and who’s going to be blamed– the Palestinians.”

[Obama has caved to Netanyahu twice. In July, Obama invited Netanyahu to the White House and] “treated him like visiting royalty. He’s 0 for 2. He’s bringing these two leaders to Washington with no sense of how they’re going to reach agreement… Israel holds virtually all the cards in this game… And President Obama has proved clearly that he’s incapable of putting pressure on Israel… The [cause] is very simple, the Israel lobby here in the United States.

“The peace process was not a major step forward because it’s led nowhere and has provided perfect cover to the Israelis to continue colonization… The peace process is a charade….

“Where is this all headed?.. You’re going to end up with a greater Israel.

You already have a greater Israel. It’s going to be one state. The Palestinians are going to have a handful of enclaves inside that state, one of which is the Gaza Strip, and there will be three or four in the West Bank. This will be an apartheid state… That’s where it’s headed. But it’s Israel in the driver’s seat. And the United States is merely Israel’s lawyer…

“How [can] the international community… facilitate the two state solution? I think that question is largely irrelevant. There’s not going to be a two-state solution. There’s going to be a greater Israel, and the Palestinians are going to live in a greater Israel. The reason that the international community is of enormous importance to the Palestinians is because the big fight that lies ahead is going to involve democracy inside of that greater Israel. What the Israelis are going to try to do is keep the Palestinians boxed up in Bantustans… The South African model, that’s correct.”

[Malley says Mearsheimer underestimates the Israeli ability to create a state.]

“The question is, Are they going to give the Palestinians a viable state? They’ll give the Palestinians a handful of bantustans and call it a state….. The Palestinians will not accept anything short of a viable state, anything short of a state that’s based on the Clinton parameters… And there is no Israeli government now or in the future that will do that. And you’ll end up with a greater Israel. And therefore the international community will be very important because of the South African analogy.

“The two state solution is in my view the ideal solution… No, Washington cannot deliver. We’re wasting our time. This is a charade, this is not serious. This is a charade… You’re going to get a one-state solution. And it’s not clear that it’s not in the Palestinians’ interest to go for a one state solution over a two-state solution.”

Throughout the 90s, Israel would not allow the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

“Clinton stabbed Arafat in the back… When these talks fail, you can rest assured that the knife will go in the back of the Palestinians and not the Israelis…”

Then this from Shaath: “The Israelis are control freaks. They control everything that we do.”

Bishara: “Will you recognize the Jewish state?”

Shaath: “Of course not.” To do so would be to put in jeopardy the Palestinians in Israel, and foreclose the right of return.

Right-wing Zionists hammer out their vision of one state

Sep 07, 2010 

Philip Weiss

We got the note below from a man called Peter Paton. It is a reminder that the Zionist right is actively developing its ideas of what one state between the river and the sea will look like. And it ain’t pretty.

But the right recognizes a reality that the left, including the American liberal establishment, is in denial about: the two-state solution is over because Israel won’t disgorge the territories.

Shouldn’t the left be developing and offering its ideas for the same framework? Paton’s letter:

Dear Editorial team

Israel should actively focus and promote a One State Solution by annexing Judea and Samaria, with Arabs living in the territories being given Israeli Citizenship subject to stringent conditions.

Only a One State Solution will guarantee a Jewish Nation, preserve a Holy and Indivisible Jerusalem,

and keep Judea and Samaria in Jewish hands for the defence of the State of Israel.

We should not be promoting something we don’t actually believe in, and which would be deeply injurious to the Land of Israel.

1. Arabs would be required to declare loyalty to Israel as a Jewish (and democratic ) state.

2. They would be subject to a security check

3. They would have to sever all ties, legal or otherwise, with their relatives in Jordan and other countries.

4. Those Arabs who are refugees from the 1948 War of Independence and their descendants would be required to declare they are forgoing both their right of return to Israel proper and their property claims.

We would develope a constitution guaranteeing Israel’s future as a Jewish state. The bills would encourage Aliya in a serious way and require all citizens to perform national service, which could be done in their communities. Israel would return to policing Ramallah and Jenin and would control the Palestinian education system to ensure that it encourages coexistence.

Gaza would come under Egyptian rule.

In short Israel should annex the West Bank, and create a One State from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.The Two State Solution is dead in the water as it is just another land grab by the Arabs for another terror state from which to murder Jews.

This should be the intention of the right thinking International Community and the Israeli inner cabinet and Unity Government from now on, and it will guarantee us Peace and a Jewish State for Time Memorial.

Only a One State Solution will save the Zionist Project.

* For Jerusalem’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Zion’s sake I will not rest *

Shanah Tovah

Arab leaders reaffirm ‘67 borders. And Israel?

Sep 07, 2010 

Philip Weiss

This one sure seems like a no-brainer.

1. Jordan’s King Abdullah attended Obama’s peace talk photo-op in D.C. last week, then he went back home and visited Damascus and the two countries’ leaders called on Israel to withdraw from all the lands taken in ’67 in order to have peace with its neighbors.

Abdullah and Assad “emphasized that resolving the Palestinian- Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state vision requires the regaining of all Arab rights in accordance with … the Arab peace initiative,” the statement said.

2. Longtime PLO official Afif Safieh says the same thing at Politico:

Truth be told, I never once felt, during the past two decades, that peace might be at hand. Throughout, our negotiating teams faced deliberate Israeli ambiguity about the final outcome and a lack of commitment to the 1967 boundaries. Ehud Barak’s “generous offer” at Camp David in 2000 wanted to keep the Jordan Valley as a so-called security zone, as well as almost all of Jerusalem and the major settlement blocs that deliberately fragment the West Bank into disconnected Bantustans and that are strategically situated on our water aquifers — all the while rejecting any responsibility for the Palestinian refugees.

…So where do we go from here? There has been an Arab peace plan on the table since 2002 that offers a comprehensive peace in exchange for withdrawal to the 1967 borders and a just and agreed-upon resolution for Palestinian refugees. As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has noted, this would bring Israel not only a two-state solution but a 57-state solution because it is also supported by the entire Muslim world. Israel has been saying for decades that it is looking for acceptance and legitimacy. Well, here it is.

I don’t understand this. You’d think this was the only path forward for Israel. But it can’t take it, because it would tear the society apart? But holding the territories, won’t that destroy Israel?

3. Rob Malley on Al Jazeera explains: There does not exist an Israeli gov’t, even with leftwinger Yossi Beilin as Prime Minister, that could freeze settlements. That coalition doesn’t exist.

Israel really is on a self-destructive course…

Road to Jerusalem now moved from Baghdad to Tehran!

Sep 07, 2010 

Philip Weiss

Wonderful post at Lobelog by Eli Clifton: The neocons used to insist that the road to peace in Jerusalem led through Baghdad.

Guess what, now they’re saying it leads “through Tehran.” And the sad news, they’re still in the ideological driver’s seat.

On a nearly daily occurrence, neoconservative op-ed columns and blogs are recycling the worn talking point, with hawks reiterating peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis are doomed as long as Iran continues its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Back in April 2002, a year prior to the invasion of Iraq, Foreign Policy Initiative and PNAC co-founders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan wrote that Middle East peace would be unattainable unless Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

Their Weekly Standard article “Remember the Bush Doctrine” read:

“… President Bush needs to stay focused on Iraq. Many of those who want him to become deeply and personally involved in the Middle East peace process also want him to do nothing about Saddam Hussein. In the Arab world, in Europe, in Washington and New York, and in some corners of the administration itself, there is the hope that Bush will become so immersed in peace-processing that he’ll have neither the time, the energy, nor the inclination to tackle the more fundamental problem in the Middle East. By turning Bush into a Middle East mediator, they think they can shunt him off the road that leads to real security and peace–the road that runs through Baghdad. We trust the president will see and avoid this trap.”

Looking through the rear view mirror with 20/20 hindsight, it’s hard to detect much truth in Kagan and Kristol’s assertion. Although they called Saddam Hussein “the fundamental problem in the Middle East”, the 2006 Lebanon War, the 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza and the winter 2008-2009 Gaza War all occurred after he had been removed from power….

The reverse linkage argument — where neocons tell the American public not to worry about Arab-Israeli peace but to focus instead on Iraq, Iran or another country yet to be named on their map — has been tried, tested and failed. Reverse linkage looks like it’s here to stay no matter how disastrous and ineffective the notion’s implementation has been. Perhaps the best counterargument against those who promote reverse linkage is in the title of Kagan and Kristol’s 2002 article, “Remember the Bush Doctrine.”

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