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09/11/2010

TIME on the Corrie trial: ‘it has already validated anew Richard Nixon’s timeless observation that it is the cover-up that does you in’

Sep 10, 2010

Adam Horowitz

 

Karl Vick has done it again. A few days after angering the ADL for his reporting on Israeli feelings toward the peace process, Vick reports from the Corrie trial in Haifa.

From Israel’s Military on the Spot Over Activist’s Death:

Neither thorough nor credible, and every bit as transparent as a sandstorm, Israel’s investigation of Corrie’s death sheds little light on what happened — the grenade story apparently came out of thin air — but is providing a great deal of fodder for her family’s case against the state. Heard intermittently in the manner of Israel’s court system, the case may not conclude until November. But it has already validated anew Richard Nixon’s timeless observation that it is the cover-up that does you in.

“What, did you kill him?” a soldier asked after Corrie disappeared beneath the blade of a D9R Caterpillar, wreathed in armor for use by the Israel Defense Forces. “May God have mercy on him,” came the reply. The striking exchange, between Israeli soldiers speaking in Arabic, was not included in the report’s transcript of radio transmissions, the former investigator acknowledged on the stand. He said he didn’t think it was important.

Oded testified that the interview of the bulldozer driver was halted on the order of a senior commander. He also testified that investigators waited a week to retrieve from another unit the only known videotape of the incident; failed to interview non-military eyewitnesses; ignored the ambulance workers, doctors and other Palestinians who treated her; and did not even visit the scene of her death. That was a neighborhood in the Gaza Strip where a handful of foreign-born protesters with the International Solidarity Movement tried to do what Palestinians could not do themselves if they expected to survive: turn themselves into human shields between Israeli bulldozers and the Palestinian homes the bulldozers were trying to tear down on the grounds that they provided cover for gunmen and tunnels.

The army maintains that Corrie’s death was an accident: because of the armored plating around the cab, the driver, who is scheduled to testify next month, could not see her, even in a fluorescent orange vest. But on Monday the expert witness whose study of sightlines backed up that claim confirmed on the stand that he in fact set out to support the army’s narrative.

Afterward, Craig Corrie despaired at how easily the contradictions were coming.

“It was really depressing, because my impression was the people were making statements that indicated they never expected to be questioned,” Rachel’s father told TIME. “The lies were like the lies of a 7-year-old.”

Islamaphobia, sexism and American demagoguery in the 21st century

Sep 10, 2010

Betsy Taylor 

Mainstream media are flooding us with sensationalized images of Americans who fear and hate Islam. Ugly as these images are, there is a deeper brutality. The worst ugliness is in what they are not showing.  There are dangerous blind spots in the media coverage of American Islam.  For instance, there has been a brute blindness to women and to women’s concerns in news coverage of the proposed Islamic Center in New York City.  

At the center of the media firestorm is an interesting woman, Daisy Khan, co-visionary of the proposed center.  But, her vision and life work have been nearly invisible in recent media accounts.  She has been categorized almost exclusively as “the Imam’s wife” and quoted because he’s out of the country. But, if one pushes aside the media’s smothering memes, one can easily find out more about Daisy Khan beyond her role as wife. Why has the mainstream media ignored so much about her life and achievements?  It turns out she’s an interesting American woman struggling to build new institutions for women to reclaim voice and power.   

Daisy Khan’s work is important – for America, for Islam, for Muslim women and for the women’s movement within the US and internationally.  In an interfaith conversation at the Garrison Institute in 2009, Khan described her path to activism – especially to improve the condition of Muslim women. Khan said, “So, in 2006, I left my regular cushy job and dedicated myself to really looking at our community and seeing what needs to be done.” She convened a gathering of almost 200 Muslim women from 27 countries, out of which emerged the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE)– an organization which describes itself as a “grassroots social justice movement led by Muslim women” with the mission to build “a cohesive, global movement of Muslim women that will reclaim women’s rights in Islam, enabling them to make dignified choices and fully participate in creating just and flourishing societies”.  In four years WISE has tackled an impressive range of issues affecting Muslim women internationally – including domestic and sexual violence, education, women’s rights in marriage / divorce / inheritance. Their current focus is a campaign against extremist violence in Islam. In a striking innovation they are developing the first ever training program for women to become a Muslim jurist (or mufiyyah) – qualified to interpret Muslim law and pronounce decisions (or fatwas).  This program values modern scholarship (e.g., modern human rights law, theories of globalization), ecumenical exchange with Jewish / Christian and other traditions (it is hosted at the protestant Union Theological Seminary), and, is deeply rooted in the long and diverse traditions of Islamic scholarship and spirituality.  As Daisy Khan said, “If you look at the landscape of the Muslim world there are more than 500 million Muslim women around the world and there was not a single institution that spoke for us. So, if we are not at the table, who is going to speak for us?”  

Now this, I say, is truly newsworthy! What’s with U.S. media?  Why don’t they ask Khan about what she’s doing, rather than parroting rightwing talking points?   It’s important geopolitically that American Muslim women are innovating institutions like WISE.  American stereotypes tend to see Muslim societies as unremittingly sexist.  However, scholarship shows that historic patterns are complex and variegated.  Women’s inequality has marked some Muslim-majority communities, but not others.  Women tend to get oppressed under political economies dependent on herding, or agriculture with high inequality in landownership, or, marked by warfare (especially when combined with inequality, corruption and unequal patronage in access to natural resources) – whatever the religious culture.  However, theologians such as Abdul Rauf affirm strongly that sexism is not inherent to Islam – and that vibrant themes of peace, equality and justice are central to Islamic practices and teachings. One would think that America would support such important strands within the lavishly diverse fabric of Islam.  This kind of work could provide new fulcrums in dangerously balanced geopolitical forces. 

It is striking, however, that almost nothing been said about the feminist challenge of Daisy Khan’s work and its importance.  The Association for Women’s Rights in Development does have a brief, factual report. But I find little from other women’s organizations or feminist pundits to support Daisy Khan these days.   This is strange because gender is everywhere in this drama–in the intricate mix of racism and sexism in Far Right attacks, and, in the centrality of feminism to Khan and her husband’s work. But, informing us about Kahn’s work just doesn’t fit the national script. There appear to be weird currents in the American collective unconscious that need to hold onto images of the subhuman, violent Muslim male – as the Great Enemy, the Total Other.  Has our media landscape been highjacked by some strange collective psychodrama?

If Aristotle were around now, he’d be worried.  He has some great writing about how a democracy mutates into tyranny.  Lose your middle class (and we’re sure headed that way) and you have no buffer in democracy between arrogant elites and resentful masses.  Then, the time ripens for demagogues brandishing empty symbols of democracy to whip the masses into a frenzied panic toward –well, whatever direction best serves hidden (or not so hidden) elite interests.   

Hatred of Islam is the new engine of 21st century American demagoguery.  And, new mutations of sexism are essential to it.  There are two main mechanisms to collective hatred.  First, you need symbolic devices to project negative qualities onto a scapegoat – who is then destroyed.  Second, you need some magical image of social order that you wrap yourself in  – to protect yourself from the contagion of social disorder that scapegoats carry.  Women and women’s bodies often provide key symbols for both dramas.  Take the horrific violence between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs when India and Pakistan were separating in 1947-48.  Anthropologist Veena Das has powerfully documented how the two new nations purified self-images and scapegoated their Other – by means of sexualized imagery of this as a battle over women’s bodies.  What’s weird about America these days, however, is the extent to which the Far Right is changing the sexual and racial imagery in the symbols of national self-purification and other-scapegoating.  There has been a feminization of war partly because the lack of jobs has pushed so many women into the military.  But, also, folks like Sarah Palin are creating new imagery of Warrior Mom– a beast both man-eating and maternal.  Her speech at the Glenn Beck rally on August 29, reminded me of the mother in ancient Sparta who gave her son a shield as he left for war, saying come back victorious, or come back on this, dead.  That rally also downplayed old-style American racial scapegoating. No matter how white the crowd, the symbolism was all epluribusy—a multicultural medley of token racial others.  This multicultural, post-sexist veneer can put a symbolic veil over growing elite dominance and inequality in this country – reminding us of Bertram Gross’ fears of “friendly fascism”. 

Islam is our current national scapegoat – so if we can understand the internal symbolic mechanisms of Islamaphobia, we can learn how to take it apart.  One key linchpin is the American view of Muslim women.  The feared “Islamist” scapegoat is stereotyped as male – it oscillates between the young male terrorist threatening mad violence, and, the old male patriarch Imam who imposes vile Islamic law.  Increasingly, the feared contagion of runamuck Social Disorder is carried in terrifying images of Sharia –which, incredibly, many on the right believe threatens to take over America.  Sharia in this mindset, is often symbolized as a patriarchal Imam’s who veils and controls women.  The American stereotypic view of Islam needs, therefore, to keep Muslim women invisible.  Note that the media talks the most about Muslim women right before a rush to war.  It seems Muslim women appear when American men need to have someone to rescue, but quickly disappear behind a media veil after the fighting starts. Is this why we’ve seen only one side of Daisy Khan?  Perhaps, the sight of strong, unveiled, free, eloquent Muslim women is like kyrptonite to Islamophobia.  Would Islamophobic psychodramas just not work if they included mutually respectful, reasoning and gentle couples like Khan and her husband?   

For me, Daisy Khan and Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE) are crucial parts of American repudiation of extremism as we turn away from the bread and circus of sensationalized scapegoats – to rebuild our nation in the wake of war, financial meltdown, globalization, and de-industrialization. Daisy Khan is an American hero, facing down vicious death threats, to reclaim the American democratic promise – and to build an American Islam that can be a beacon to the world of tolerance, love, women’s rights, and freedom of faith and assembly.  Much is at stake in the current controversy over the proposed Islamic Center in Manhattan.  It is important for progressive and feminist media to widen the debate beyond the mainstream media’s far too narrow frames. 

Betsy Taylor is a cultural anthropologist, and co-author of Recovering the Commons: Democracy, Place and Global Justice.  She can be reached at blog.betsy.taylor@gmail.com

Meeting 3 U.S. officers who are angered by the special relationship

Sep 10, 2010

Philip Weiss

I often look around the political rabbithole I went down a few years ago and wonder what I’m doing here and whether I’ll ever get out. I think of all the associations and even interests I had earlier in life that I’ve cut myself off from. I wonder if I’m not bonkers or if I’ve had a temperamental breakdown in midlife that unsuited me for the world. Though generally I end up saying, What the hell, my wife’s ok with it, I’ve got a good life, you gotta do what you gotta do.

In the last couple days I’ve had conversations with three American military officers in Jordan that left me feeling good about my choice. In each case it was the officers who brought up the tremendous strategic liability that Israel represents for the U.S., and two of them used the words “Jewish lobby” without prompting.

I’m not going to give away details because these were two chance meetings; the individuals had no idea what use I’d make of their comments. All three work in the Arab world. One is retired, the other two were passing through. Now let me tell you what they said.

My first meeting was with the retired officer, and it was a little shocking, for while he seemed goodnatured, he twice used the word Nazis to describe Israeli political culture.

We got talking about what we were doing out here and when he told me about Palestinians he knows, I brought up the conflict. He said Americans have no idea how closely intertwined the Israeli military is with our military. He trained on a Cobra helicopter flight simulator back home, and he and every other American had to clear out of the building when the Israelis wanted to use the place. They were control freaks, on American soil. They flew around in F-15s and were refueled by American planes. The officer later visited Israel and was surprised to find out that the society is overwhelmingly right wing; and his military counterparts reminded him of what he’d read about Nazis. They were all in a permanent war mind-set he said, and with who? The Palestinians! Who are they kidding?

“The abused becomes the abuser,” he said. He tried to visit the Palestinian territories and was not allowed because he is American military and retired officers aren’t allowed in there for a period of years. Again; control. During the fierce questioning at the border, he began questioning the Israelis back, he was so angered by them.

This is a man who is pulling for the P.A. and the Israelis to make a deal to establish a two-state solution. But he brought up the “Jewish lobby” to explain our policy here. When it came to the whole Mideast, he was more Chomskyian. “Who weaponized religion?” he asked; “we did,” in Afghanistan in the 80s, to fight the Russians.

I didn’t respond– I think religions are pretty good at weaponizing themselves.

I asked him what generals think of the Israeli presence in our institutional life. All the generals know the story, he said, but they won’t say anything. To get to be a general, you have to be political; and once you’ve become a general, you know that it’s easy to make $1 million in corporate contracts upon retirement. You don’t want to screw that up.

My next run-in was with two officers who are younger and more idealistic. Once again the subject of the conflict came up naturally during a conversation about what we’re doing out here. The first officer was blunt about the special relationship’s damage to American interests, and he also used the phrase “Jewish lobby,” and mentioned AIPAC, to explain a miserable policy.

He was accompanied by a female officer. She told me of a friend she has back home running for a state legislature, and a supporter of Israel came up to him at an event and gave him $1000 and said, We know you’re strong on Israel. The friend confessed to her that he took the money because he needs it if he’s going to win, so he’s now bought on an issue that he’s never said anything aboout and that means nothing to his district. Yes and what happens when he runs for Congress? I told her about all the folks at AIPAC bragging about building relationships with budding politicians, and even cultivating student government presidents.

The two officers have traveled widely here. It cannot surprise any regular reader of this site to hear their view that the issue is turning off the entire Arab world and “fueling extremists.” Ordinary Arabs are far better informed than any American, the officers said. They can quote verbatim portions of Obama’s speeches, they take him at his word. If nothing comes of the latest initiative, there will be rage across the Arab world.

The female officer complained about American ignorance of the situation. Americans have no idea what is going on in Palestine, she said. I argued with her about this a little (and cited the Time Magazine cover Adam blogged about—which turns out to be no great revelation).

She took the conversation further. When she was training in Arabic she had one teacher who told her that Truman’s whole State Department was against Partition and against recognizing the Jewish state. She was shocked to learn this, and then she came out here and understood why. Another of her teachers was a Palestinian American woman. Her mother was dying and she couldn’t get into the territories. The Israelis kept her from going back to the place she was born. Finally she got in, but her mother had died. “And she’s an American citizen!”

The female officer had found it a heartbreaking story that showed that our policy was wrong at two levels, strategic and moral. She sounded like Walt and Mearsheimer!

I won’t soon forget her last words to me, for they resonated in my own experience, and in the experience of many of my friends. “I’ve never thought of being an activist in life. I’m not that type. But on this issue, I am tempted to become an activist. I don’t see any other way that things will change.”

The conversation gave me hope that we are building a movement with new materials at the edges of American political life. We are fighting a political conspiracy in the very sense that Lincoln used that word when he ran for the new Republican party against slave power Democrats and Whigs in 1858 and then 1860. The existing political parties were corrupted by slavery, the Supreme Court was corrupted, the business class, and the main newspapers. They were all going along with slavery, overturning the old agreements to expand slavery in the territories. Taking on the establishment had required activism—building a grassroots movement. Lincoln was a moderate outsider. Remember that he was tolerant of slavery for a time. 

And these officers are also moderates, they are all pulling for the two state solution. When it fails, I have little doubt where that female officer will go. Down the rabbithole. 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 2.0

Sep 10, 2010

Adam Horowitz

Adi Kuntsman and Rebecca L. Stein have an interesting article on the Middle East Report website about the use of the internet and social media in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is an issue we’ve touched on here on the site, but it’s good to read a much more rigorous discussion of current trends and where things might be headed.

From their article, Another War Zone: Social Media in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:

As the stronger party in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel is accustomed to writing the dominant draft of history. As such, the state’s marked loss of control over the public narrative that followed the flotilla episode narrative has caused no small amount of consternation and surprise among its supporters. Some of the criticism has been directed at Israelis and pro-Israel activists. Writing ruefully about the the failure of Israeli supporters adequately to respond in kind, Amir Mizroch pronounced Israel the loser in the ongoing social media wars: “We may be a startup nation, but we are bricks-and-mortar communicators.”[21]

In the months that followed, Israel would receive more bad press in the digital sphere. First, video footage of a group of Israeli combat soldiers performing a choreographed dance through the streets of occupied Hebron — streets forcibly emptied of their Palestinian residents — went viral on the Internet, earning the offenders an army reprimand. More recently, the digital sphere was saturated with the Facebook images uploaded by a young Israeli female soldier shown smiling in front of blindfolded Palestinians — images that, for many pundits, resonated with those from Abu Ghraib. In the exposé that followed, Israeli newspapers reported on the prevalence of this digital activity. They noted the frequency with which soldiers in other units had taken and shared similar photographs from their military service or posted video clips of their everyday army activities on YouTube — despite IDF regulations forbidding the posting of such images on security grounds. The Palestinian Authority indicted these images as evidence of how military occupation has corrupted the occupier.

Wikipedia has become the latest locus of these digital skirmishes. In August, the Yesha Council representing Jewish settlers in the West Bank responded to the perceived crisis of Israeli public relations by sponsoring a course on the “Zionist editing” of the omnipresent informational website. Some 50 people attended the first training session, where participants were informed that the person who enters the greatest number of “Zionist” editorial changes — such as identifying Ariel as in Israel rather than on occupied land — would win a hot-air balloon ride.[22] In response, the Association of Palestinian Journalists called on Palestinian institutions to edit Wikipedia entries with Palestinian interests in mind, arguing for the need to respond digitally to the latest phase of Israel’s “public relations war.”

It is now nearly a truism to note that digital media is fundamentally changing the terrain of politics, due to its reach and speed, and its function in the lives of civilian populations and states alike. In the early years of the Internet, many journalists and scholars celebrated its emancipatory promise, such as the opportunities for “digital democracy” and the ways cyber-activism might assist in destabilizing and even toppling authoritarian regimes. Social media enjoyed particular political prominence amidst the Twitter-fueled tumult in Tehran following Iran’s contested 2009 presidential election. Yet as digital technologies have spread, and their user base has broadened, states and non-state actors have appropriated them for purposes that Internet boosters never envisioned. The emerging forms of digital warfare — the stealth bombings of hackers, the passionate arguments in talkbacks and on Facebook, the visual battlefield of videos and photographs — can be seen as mirroring or even intensifying warfare on the ground, fueling hatred and reaffirming state power. But they can also be understood and employed as a powerful alternative to repressive military violence.

 US: Pressuring Israel on its nuclear arsenal will jeopardize possibility of nuclear-free Middle East (huh?)

Sep 10, 2010

Seham 

And other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing    

Israel approves East Jerusalem center
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israel has approved a plan to establish a medical center in occupied East Jerusalem.  The Central District’s planning and building commission approved the new facility in Sheikh Jarrah for ZAKA, a first responder organization which employs experts in handling the deceased according to religious custom.  The new center near the campus of Hebrew University will be 6,500 square meters including a 1,200-meter memorial to victims and a 1,500 square meter morgue to be used in the event of an emergency of natural disaster.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=314253
Aqraba inhabitants facing confiscation of yet more farmland to serve the expansion of an illegal settlement
On Monday 6th September, farmers in Aqraba were forbidden by the Israeli army to work on a 200 dunam area of land near the village.  The land is currently in the process of being converted, by a combination of local workers and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, from rocky terrain into usable farmland to increase the productivity of local agriculture.  The land in question was bought one year ago by a businessman from the area as a gift for many local farmers, and is located next to the main road between Nablus and the Jordan Valley (southwest of the village, towards Jurish). Three days ago, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees received a letter from the Israeli authorities saying that they must depart the area immediately. They claim that the land is in Area C, despite papers held by the owner showing otherwise. In one month, the land would have been ready to be used as farmland in the winter. The army threatened to confiscate bulldozers, and arrest workers and union members if work continued.
http://palsolidarity.org/2010/09/14394/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+palsolidarity+%28International+Solidarity+Movement%29
Fatah: Settlements deepen occupation
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — “Settlements deepen the occupation, they steal Palestinian lands and water; with settlements there is no peace,” a statement from the Fatah Central Committee said Thursday.  In an effort to clarify the staunch stance of Palestinain negotiators around the settlement issue, a document was released by the committee following a Ramallah meeting ahead of Eid Al-Fitr, as negotiations will resume on 14 September, a day after the Eid holiday closes.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=314333
Lieberman Vows To Counter Any Settlement Freeze
Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, vowed to act against any decision to freeze settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in occupied East Jerusalem.

Lieberman Vows To Counter Any Settlement Freeze


Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Israeli Soldiers uses tear gas to suppress anti wall Protests in the West Bank
Bethlehem – PNN – on Friday villagers from Al Walajah, southern West Bank, and Bil’in, central West Bank organized their weekly anti wall protests.  In other villages who organize weekly nonviolent protest, the villagers decided to visit their relatives on the Muslim Holiday of Eid Al-Fitr to promote integrity and to support each other instead of the direct action for this week.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8759
Palestinian – British Political Artist Shadia Mansour Detained And Stripped Searched At Ben Gurion Airport
By Nancy leigh / London – PNN – on Saturday September 4th British-born Palestinian Political Hip Hop artist, Shadia Mansour, was held at gunpoint airport security and intelligence officers.  Ms. Mansour was told to return to her luggage after a usual baggage xray and multiple searches, when eight agents ran towards her, weapons drawn and pointed, they aggressively kicked away her bags and surrounded her.  The eight agents had their guns pointed at Ms. Mansour while having her stand in the same position for one hour in suspicion of a bomb being planted in her microphone which they had in their possession for ten minutes already.  Ms. Mansour assured the agents the microphone was used for recording music and was then asked by an officer to sing her lyrics to him, they screamed at her and asked “who she worked for, who bought the microphone, what does she sing about” and as the agents and officers shouted over one another she was also told, “we have found something planted in the microphone” all this transpiring while airport goers observed the entire ordeal.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8757&Itemid=56
Shadia Mansour: British Palestinian rapper conducts a ‘musical intifada’
The 24-year-old has been on tour in the West Bank, “It’s a musical intifada, a musical uprising,” says Shadia Mansour squinting in the sunshine outside the hip hop workshop she is running in the West Bank city of Hebron.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11215298
Respect the Palestinian-led picket line
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel warmly salutes the tens of American and British theater, film and TV artists for their recently published statement supporting the spreading cultural boycott of Ariel and the rest of Israel’s colonial settlements illegally built on occupied Palestinian territory due to their violation of international law.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11513.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+electronicIntifadaPalestine+%28Electronic+Intifada+%3A+Palestine+News%29
Boycott leadership: solidarity with French activists
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), on behalf of its constituent organizations and unions representing the majority of Palestinian civil society, strongly condemns the decision taken by French authorities to prosecute people of conscience for calling for a boycott of Israeli produce.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11514.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+electronicIntifadaPalestine+%28Electronic+Intifada+%3A+Palestine+News%29
ISM is seeking a qualified Media Coordinator to join the Ramallah team
The International Solidarity Movement are currently looking for a Media Coordinator to join the team in Ramallah, Palestine. We are looking for someone who has previous media experience and is able to commit a minimum of 3 months, ideally 6.
http://palsolidarity.org/2010/09/14388/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+palsolidarity+%28International+Solidarity+Movement%29
8th Week against the Apartheid Wall, November 9 – 16 2010
September 1st, 2010– Eight years into the construction of the Apartheid Wall, over 60% has already been built to ghettoize communities, threatening over 260,000 people with displacement and stealing land and water resources.
http://stopthewall.org/latestnews/2361.shtml
Invitation: Join the Palestinian Olive Harvest efforts!
September 4th, 2010– The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and its popular committees are coordinating collective efforts to safeguard the annual olive harvest and are calling on volunteers to stand in solidarity with Palestinian communities and join in the harvest on October 5 until November 15, 2010.
http://stopthewall.org/latestnews/2362.shtml
The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism
Another Eid under Siege
MEMO – Palestinians in Gaza are preparing for yet another ‘Eid al-Fitr under siege. Preparations have begun for families to make the most out of what they have for the celebration, which this year coincides with the new academic school year. Parents and guardians are rushing around trying to ensure that their children have the best possible in terms of uniform, school equipment and books.
http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/1507-another-eid-under-siege
The United States President Barack Obama approves of the crippling blockade Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip under the pretext of security
During a Tuesday meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama said the regional situation was “unsustainable” and called for a narrow blockade on the impoverished coastal sliver, the Associated Press reported.  Israel placed Gaza under the all-out siege in mid-June 2007, claiming it was preventing alleged security hazards posed by the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, which had won democratic elections a year earlier.
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/141886.html
A Castle in the Sand – Gaza Two Years After Operation Cast Lead, GRAHAM USHER
September 9th, 2010 Abu Raad’s home is built of mud. Hewn from concrete splits, water and sand, the artifice is necessary because of an Israeli siege that bars all raw materials into the Gaza Strip. Abu Raad lost six houses when the Israeli army blitzed northern Gaza in operation Cast Lead in December 2008.
http://counterpunch.org/usher09092010.html
Israel’s Arab Helpers

Egypt police kill Sudanese migrant to Israel
Egyptian police shot and killed a Sudanese man as he tried to cross the border illegally into Israel on Friday, a security official told AFP. “Police ordered him by loudspeaker to stop, but when he did not obey they shot him,” the official said.
http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/09/10/118967.html
Violence and other Provocations

PCHR Weekly Report: 2 Workers Killed, 2 Wounded, 13 Abducted by Israeli Forces This Week
In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 02-07 September 2010, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights found that Israeli forces killed two Palestinian workers in an air strike against a tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip.

PCHR Weekly Report: 2 Workers Killed, 2 Wounded, 13 Abducted by Israeli Forces This Week


Two injured in Israeli air strike on Gaza: Palestinians (AFP)
AFP – Two members of the Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip were wounded in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, Palestinian witnesses said late Thursday.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100909/wl_mideast_afp/israelpalestinianconflictgazaairstrike
Army Carries Out Five Airstrikes In Gaza
On Thursday at night, the Israeli Air Force carried out five airstrikes targeting a number of areas in different parts of the Gaza Strip inflicting damage a number of injuries.
http://www.imemc.org/article/59384
CNN report: IDF sexually abused Palestinian children
Damning CNN report cites uncorroborated charges of sexual abuse against Palestinian children detained by IDF; army says detention of minors undertaken in line with international law, cannot respond to abuse charges as no details provided.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3952077,00.html
Joseph Dana: “Price Tag” Reprisals Against Palestinians in Hebron
Since last week’s fatal shooting of four settlers from the settlement of Beit Haggai, Palestinians in the area have been subjected to what the settlers call “price tag” reprisal attacks and repeated Israeli army incursions.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-dana/price-tag-reprisals-again_b_708720.html
Detainees

Hamas: PA detained 7 affiliates
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas officials in the West Bank accused Palestinain Authority security forces of detaining sevenof its members and affiliates between Thursday night and Friday afternoon.  Two separate statements from the party said forces targeted affiliates in Nablus and Hebron on Thursday night, while a second statement said three affiliates were targeted, 2 from Hebron and a third from Jenin on Friday morning.  The statement condemned the act as a continuation of a policy of politically-motivated arrests and detentions.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=314330
   
Hamas: Leader transferred from PA prison to hospital
NABLUS (Ma’an) — A Hamas party statement accused PA prison authorities of torturing a senior leader after he was moved from a government prison to hospital on Thursday.  Hamas leader Nader Sawafta from Tubas was transferred to from a Palestinain Authority prison to Nablus’ Rafidia hospital in Nablus a statement said.  Officials wrote that Sawafta’s health was deteriorating and held the PA responsible for his life.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=314348
Jenin: 3 detained for ‘violating sanctity of Ramadan’
JENIN (Ma’an) — Police in Jenin detained three residents accused of “violating the sanctity of Ramadan” by eating in the street Thursday.  The three were detained and taken for interrogation before prosecution, police said.  Eating or smoking during the day is forbidden during Ramadan, although fasting is rarely enforced by the police.  Six people were detained for smoking during the day in Salfit in August.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=314276
Palestinian Violence    

Gunman kills one Israeli Arab near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) — Gunmen killed an Israeli Arab and wounded another in a shooting near Jerusalem on Thursday, after four Israelis were killed in similar attacks last week, local emergency service reported.  The attack happened in the region between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, where an Israeli Arab was killed and another Israeli wounded, Magen David Adom, local emergency medical agency, was quoted by Israeli daily Ha’aretz as saying.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-09/10/c_13487654.htm
Gaza missiles strike Israel, no casualties: military (AFP)
AFP – A mortar shell fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel on Thursday evening causing no casualties, the second such attack of the day, the Israeli military said.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100909/wl_mideast_afp/israelpalestiniansconflict
“Peace” Talks/Political Developments

EU’s Ashton defends no-show at Mideast peace talks (AFP)
AFP – EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, under fire for not attending Israeli-Palestinian talks last week, on Friday said her decision in no way reflected a priority shift for the 27-nation bloc.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100910/wl_mideast_afp/euisraelpalestinianspeaceashton
Obama, Lieberman to meet in Washington?
After Palestinians refer to foreign minister as ‘major obstacle to peace,’ Ynet learns US president may join one of his meetings with senior White House officials in bid to bring him closer to peace talks.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3952180,00.html
Peres to Abbas: Netanyahu is a trustworthy partner
Palestinian president calls Israeli counterpart to offer Rosh Hashanah greetings; Peres urges Abbas not to abandon peace talks.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/peres-to-abbas-netanyahu-is-a-trustworthy-partner-1.313092?localLinksEnabled=false
Islamic Jihad Calls For Unity
As Muslims around the world prepare for celebrate the Al Fitir Feast, the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine issued a statement calling on the Palestinian people, and their factions, to use this occasion as step towards comprehensive unity among in order to boost their struggle and steadfastness.
http://www.imemc.org/article/59385

Abbas isolated in Mideast talks
Buttu: Mahmoud Abbas has little support from the Palestinian public for the negotiations.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75nCJ2aCZ6E&feature=player_embedded
Other news

Israel Faces Arab Nuclear Pressure At IAEA Meetings
VIENNA (Reuters) – Arab states backed by Iran are poised to target Israel over its assumed atomic arsenal at U.N. nuclear watchdog meetings this month, despite U.S. warnings this may hamper broader steps to ban such weapons in the Middle East.
http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=228bc751bae605a0841a2c0e53da6f40
Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

MiddleEastPizzaTalks
Ali Abunimah, journalist and co-founder of Electronic Intifada, uses a humorous metaphor to describe the Middle East peace talks, at a gathering in Olympia, Washington August 31.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgdff7wrWRw&feature=player_embedded
Peace Process Déjà Vu, ANTHONY DiMAGGIO
We’ve been here many times before.  The “peace process” through which the U.S. allegedly seeks to broker a long lasting stability between Israelis and Palestinians reaches back a number of decades.  Many readers of the American press will no doubt be fed up with the entire charade.  How many negotiations does it take before a real peace agreement materializes?  We’ve seen numerous initiatives in the form of the Bush I Baker Plan, the 1993 Oslo agreement, the 2000 Camp David meetings, the 2001 Taba Negotiations, the Bush administration’s “Road Map,” and now a renewed initiative under the Obama administration – yet peace has eluded Israelis and Palestinians every step of the way.
http://www.counterpunch.org/dimaggio09092010.html
Carly’s Schlep to Israel
Locked in a tight race against California Senator Barbara Boxer, Republican candidate Carly Fiorina just had a curious getaway in Israel. Samuel P. Jacobs on the chutzpah of her High Holy Day gamble.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-09-08/carly-fiorina-jets-to-israel-during-campaign/?om_rid=NkUo5e&om_mid=_BMiNX8B8Um8prK
Meeting 3 U.S. officers who are angered by the special relationship, Philip Weiss
I often look around the political rabbithole I went down a few years ago and wonder what I’m doing here and whether I’ll ever get out. I think of all the associations and even interests I had earlier in life that I’ve cut myself off from. I wonder if I’m not bonkers or if I’ve had a temperamental breakdown in midlife that unsuited me for the world. Though generally I end up saying, What the hell, my wife’s ok with it, I’ve got a good life, you gotta do what you gotta do.  In the last couple days I’ve had conversations with three American military officers in Jordan that left me feeling good about my choice. In each case it was the officers who brought up the tremendous strategic liability that Israel represents for the U.S., and two of them used the words “Jewish lobby” without prompting.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/09/meeting-3-u-s-officers-who-are-angered-by-the-special-relationship.html
The Photo Before the Storm, RAMZY BAROUD
A picture is not always worth a thousand words. The recently released photographs of Palestinian and Israeli leaders in Washington during their first direct talks in many months certainly don’t say anything new.  It was the status quo at its best, a mere procession of regional and US leaders before hungry cameramen. The leaders promised “not to spare any effort” and praised the undeniable altruism embedded in the very concept of “peace”. Israeli Prime Minister repeated the martyr-like emphasis of past Israeli leaders regarding the “painful” compromises and sacrifices required to defeat the many obstacles standing before them. Mahmoud Abbas – with his expired presidency over a corrupt Palestinian Authority – smiled, shook hands and spoke unconvincingly about his hopes and expectations.
http://www.counterpunch.com/baroud09102010.html
The Silence of the Israeli Intelligentsia, LISA TARAKI
The ongoing buzz in the Israeli media around statements issued by artists and academics against lecturing or performing in the colony of Ariel – built on occupied Palestinian land – betrays a stark contradiction in the positions of the Israeli intelligentsia. While they are now calling for a boycott of settlements, they have remained apathetic or even content regarding the far more significant heavy hand of the military-security-political establishment in society, including in academia and cultural institutions.
http://www.counterpunch.com/taraki09102010.html
Israel/Palestine: Banquet of Peace, Carlos Latuff
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/latuff100910.html
Lebanon

Israel boosts troop training close to Blue Line
BEIRUT: Israel is boosting its military training close to the Blue Line in anticipation of a fresh conflict with Lebanon’s Hizbullah, Israeli public radio said Thursday. Israeli Army Head of Operations Unit Brigadier General Sami Turjeman said continuing growth of recruits and equipment would stand it in good stead should a new war arise.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=119178
Abbas proposes assistance for Lebanon refugees
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmud Abbas has ordered the establishment of a family solidarity charity which will be twinning Palestinian families in the occupied territories with refugees in Lebanon.  Hasan Al-Ory, the president’s legal counsel, was quoted by the official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA as saying the initiative would see Palestinians at home make monthly donations to improve the lives of Palestinians in Lebanon.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=314269
No, the US is not shifting on Hizbullah
In a June 30 article on the Foreign Policy website, Mark Perry argued that an intelligence unit inside the US Central Command (CENTCOM) known as the “Red Team” was thinking outside the box about the Middle East and recommending strategies for Hizbullah and Hamas that are “at odds with current US policy.”
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=119165
Iraq

Thursday: 7 Iraqis Killed, 15 Wounded
Iraqis are awaiting the sighting of the crescent moon that will mark the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid al-Fitr celebrations. Although security forces are concerned this may trigger an increase in violence, so far attacks have remained light. At least seven Iraqis were killed and 15 more were wounded.
http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2010/09/09/thursday-7-iraqis-killed-15-wounded/
Gunmen behead, set alight Sunni cleric in Iraq (Reuters)
Reuters – Gunmen stormed the house of a Sunni cleric on Thursday and cut his head off before setting him alight in an attack that bore the hallmark of insurgents, a police spokesman said.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/iraq/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100909/wl_nm/us_iraq_violence
Imam and policeman’s wife beheaded in Iraq attacks (AFP)
AFP – The imam of a Sunni mosque and a policeman’s wife were both beheaded in separate incidents in the central Iraqi province of Diyala on Thursday, police said.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/iraq/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100909/wl_mideast_afp/iraqunrest
Al Iraqiya member warns of democracy disintegration
Al Iraqiya List member Aliya Nassif warned of democracy collapse in Iraq if the Constitution and elections results are not respected. Al Iraqiya will not cede its constitutional right, she added.
http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-54228-Al-Iraqiya-member-warns-of-democracy-disintegration.html
Massive Cache of Iraq War Docs to Be Published by WikiLeaks
A massive cache of previously unpublished classified U.S. military documents from the Iraq War is being readied for publication by WikiLeaks, a new report has confirmed.  The documents constitute the “biggest leak of military intelligence” that has ever occurred, according to Iain Overton, editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit British organization that is working with WikiLeaks on the documents.  The documents are expected to be published in several weeks.
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/09/iraq-war-docs/#ixzz0z61kbyZF
Iraq to pay $400 million for Saddam’s mistreatment of Americans
The controversial settlement opens the door for the US to pressure the United Nations to end sanctions imposed during Saddam Hussein’s rule, which were never fully lifted.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/XBL9_uflq04/Iraq-to-pay-400-million-for-Saddam-s-mistreatment-of-Americans
Deported Iraqi asylum seekers say they were beaten and forced off plane
Violence allegedly erupted when refugees refused to leave flight after it touched down in Baghdad.  A group of failed Iraqi asylum seekers who were forcibly deported to Baghdad this week have claimed they were beaten by British security staff and Iraqi police.  The violence allegedly erupted when the refugees refused to leave a charter flight after it touched down in Baghdad on Tuesday morning.  Pictures of one those said to have been injured were released by the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR), a London-based organisation.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/sep/09/deported-iraqi-asylum-seekers-beaten-plane-allegations
What America Left Behind in Iraq, It’s even uglier than you think, NIR ROSEN
Hundreds of cars waiting in the heat to slowly pass through one of the dozens of checkpoints and searches they must endure every day. The constant roar of generators. The smell of fuel, of sewage, of kabobs. Automatic weapons pointed at your head out of military vehicles, out of SUVs with tinted windows. Mountains of garbage. Rumors of the latest assassination or explosion. Welcome to the new Iraq, same as the old Iraq — even if Barack Obama has declared George W. Bush’s Operation Iraqi Freedom over and announced the beginning of his own Operation New Dawn, and Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has declared Iraq sovereign and independent.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/09/07/what_america_left_behind_in_iraq
Iraq comedy show under fire
A new Iraqi comedy show has come under criticism for making jokes about the dangerous reality of life in the country. The show, “Put him in Bucca”, features fake bombs being planted in celebrities’cars, and candid camera-style recording of their reactions. But as Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reports from Baghdad, not everyone finds it funny.

Iran

China Opposes South Korean Sanctions Against Iran
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Thursday China does not approve of the unilateral sanctions. She said the Chinese government hopes countries will instead stick to diplomatic efforts and seek a resolution through dialogue and negotiations.
http://www.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/China-Opposes-South-Korean-Sanctions-Against-Iran-102532964.html
Iranian opposition claims to have found secret nuclear site
Leading Iranian opposition members claimed Thursday to have uncovered a secret nuclear enrichment site buried in the mountains northwest of Tehran, as South Korea announced late Wednesday it had adopted new unilateral sanctions designed to pressure Iranian authorities to put a halt to their nuclear program over fears it might be geared toward a military objective.  Information obtained by the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI) has revealed Iran began building the site in Abyek, about 120 kilometers northwest of Tehran, in 2005, the opposition members said.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=119168#axzz0z4H6NNXM
Iran denies claims of building covert uranium enrichment site: atomic chief
TEHRAN, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) — Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali-Akbar Salehi, denied on Friday allegations of a clandestine underground atomic site near the country’s capital of Tehran, the local satellite Press TV reported.  Iranian Paris-based dissident group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said Thursday in Washington that it had discovered a secret underground uranium enrichment site in Abyek, about 120 km (70 miles) northwest of Tehran which the country started building in 2005.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-09/10/c_13489598.htm
U.S.: Newly revealed ‘covert’ Iran facility not nuclear
U.S. backs Iran’s insistence that site ‘exposed’ by Iranian dissident group alleging secret uranium enrichment was in fact not a nuclear facility.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/u-s-newly-revealed-covert-iran-facility-not-nuclear-1.313154?localLinksEnabled=false
American to be released by Iran
Iran will free Sarah Shourd, one of the three Americans it has held in prison for more than a year accused of spying on Saturday, a government official has announced.  Shourd, along with Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were arrested in July 2009 after straying into Iranian territory from Iraq. The three say that they became lost on hike in Iraqi Kurdistan.  US authorities insist that they are innocent and say they should be released immediately.  In a brief text message, the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance announced the “freedom of one of the American detainees on Saturday 20th of (Iranian month of) Shahrivar at 9.00 (0430 GMT) at Hotel Esteghal” in the capital Tehran.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2010/09/201099165337110265.html
Iran human rights lawyer detained
A prominent human rights lawyer in Iran, Nasrin Sotoudeh, is detained by the authorities on security charges.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/world-middle-east-11243683
Ahmadinejad envoys stir trouble at home
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, under fire for appointing special envoys from his inner circle, was advised by parliamentarians this week to “follow the advice” of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to work with, rather than bypass, the Foreign Ministry. The turf war exposes the balancing act between prudent officials and an action-oriented president.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LI10Ak01.html
Pakistan and Afghanistan

4 Children Among 18 Killed In US Attack In Pakistan
Fourteen suspected militants and four children were killed when US drones carried out three attacks in North Waziristan on Wednesday.
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/three-drone-strikes-in-waziristan-18-killed-990
Soldiers’ families call for pullout from ‘unwinnable’ war in Afghanistan
Relatives of those who have died or who are serving to present letter to parliament before MPs debate on conflict’s future
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/sep/08/families-letter-troop-pullout-afghanistan
Not just fingers: US soldier ‘kept Afghan body parts’
Officer charged in conspiracy to murder civilians kept bones and tooth as souvenirs, report says.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/09/2010994272865650.html
Mullah Omar : Taliban Victory ‘Imminent,’ Demands U.S. Withdraw
In a section addressing US citizens, he said: “They have wasted hundreds of billion(s) of dollars of your tax money in the shape of financial expenditures and your manpower in Afghanistan and have still been wasting them. You shall be witness to another economic melt-down.”
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/09/2010990391117976.html
Afghan security forces beat angry customers to prevent run on Kabul Bank
Afghanistan’s biggest bank, caught in a corruption scandal, closes all its branches bar one just before Muslim holiday.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/08/security-forces-kabul-bank-run
Karzai brother’s Kabul Bank villa deal revealed
Karzai, who owns 7 per cent of the ailing Kabul Bank, said in an interview Monday there was “nothing wrong” with the transaction.
http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=226404
Guns and Butter:  “Why America Cannot Win In Afghanistan”:  Interview with Pakistani General Hamid Gul
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26333.htm
Afghanistan war: What happens when a war interpreter doesn’t know the language
US troops rely on local Afghan interpreters in the mission to win hearts and minds in the Afghanistan war. But many learn crucial languages on the job, resulting in deadly mishaps.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/L6CIxu_cAIo/Afghanistan-war-What-happens-when-a-war-interpreter-doesn-t-know-the-language
Inside Story – Rethinking the war in Afghanistan
A new report by the London-based International Insititute for the Strategic Studies (IISS) concludes that the threat posed by al-Qaeda and Taliban is exaggerated and that the strategy in Afghanistan has “ballooned” out of proportion from the original aim of preventing attacks by al-Qaeda. With the US due to review its own progress at the end of the year, how will this impact future strategy in Afghanistan?

U.S. and Other World News

Former CIA officer accused of abusing suspect now training other operatives
A former CIA officer accused of revving an electric drill near the head of an imprisoned terror suspect has returned to U.S. intelligence as a contractor, training CIA operatives after leaving the agency.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/cia-officer-accused-abusing-suspect-training-operatives/
Federal appeals court tosses lawsuit over CIA ‘torture’ flights
In siding with the Obama administration’s executive privilege arguments, a bitterly divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lawsuit could not proceed that alleges five former CIA detainees were transported to foreign countries and subjected to brutal interrogation tactics.
http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_16022130?source=email&nclick_check=1
Jordan, Japan sign nuclear cooperation pact
Kingdom’s Atomic Energy Commission chief says Japan will assist in construction, operation of local reactor.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3952260,00.html
Mo. man accused of keeping woman as sex slave
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Five Missouri men are accused of taking part in the sexual torture of a young woman allegedly kept as a sex slave by one of the men and forced to work as a stripper, prosecutors announced Thursday.  Federal prosecutors describe the woman, now 24, as mentally deficient and say that she grew up in foster homes. They said one of the men, Edward Bagley Sr., 43, of Lebanon, invited her to live in his trailer in southern Missouri starting in 2002 and promised to make her a model, dancer and a great life.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h4wxmXSUVGZ9xE4S13Xcv-L7fKagD9I4P1S00
Robert Fisk: A place of refuge from fear and guilt
It is a small villa in a shady street, with a sunny courtyard and trees, and a kitchen tucked away at the end of an alleyway, and there are cheerful women in scarves to explain Jordanian laws on marriage and divorce to girls who come to them, frightened, desperate, in fear of their lives.
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-a-place-of-refuge-from-fear-and-guilt-2075213.html
Robert Fisk: The truth about ‘honour’ killings
The old Pakistani maulawi laid two currency bills on the table between us, one for 50 rupees, the other for 100 rupees. “Now tell me,” Rahat Gul asked, “which is the more valuable?” I thought it was a trap – which it was, in a way – but he lost patience with me and seized the 100 rupee note. “Now come with me.” And he stood up and led me down a narrow corridor into a small bedroom. There was a camp bed, a military radio and, at the far end, a giant British-made safe. He fiddled with the combination and hauled on the iron door. Then he placed the 100 rupee bill inside and locked the vault. “You see?” he said. “This is like a woman. She must be protected and looked after, because she is more precious than us.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-truth-about-honour-killings-2075317.html
Blair’s book hits a nerve in Arab world
The memoirs of former British prime minister Tony Blair have been blasted by the Arab press for their unapologetic stance towards the Iraq War and Blair’s alliance with former US president George W Bush. With painful memories of the bad blood, civilian deaths and mayhem unleashed by the “war on terror”, many Arabs would prefer to see Blair complete his march into history.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LI08Ak02.html
Riz Khan – 9/11’s first responders
To what extent did toxic dust and debris from the September 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center contribute to health problems of firefighters and other first responders who risked their lives to help victims at Ground Zero? What should be done to help first responders of the 9/11 attacks?

Islam in the West

Most Americans object to planned Islamic center near Ground Zero, poll finds
Most Americans say the planned Muslim community center and place of worship should not be built in Lower Manhattan, with the sensitive locale being their overwhelming objection, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/08/AR2010090806231_pf.html
Donald Trump Offers To Buy Proposed Park51 Mosque Site
NEW YORK — Donald Trump is offering to buy out one of the major investors in the real estate partnership that controls the site near ground zero where a Muslim group wants to build a 13-story Islamic center and mosque.  In a letter released Thursday by Trump’s publicist, the real estate investor tells Hisham Elzanaty he would buy his stake in the lower Manhattan building for 25 percent more than whatever he paid.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/09/donald-trump-offers-to-bu_n_711142.html
US pastor ‘calls off Quran burning’
Planned event to burn copies of Muslim holy book on anniversary of September 11 attacks cancelled amid criticism.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/09/20109921337885578.html
U.S. pastor reconsiders cancelling Koran burning after ‘lied to’ by N.Y. imam
Florida’s Rev. Terry Jones says clerics linked to Ground Zero mosque promised they would relocate the mosque in exchange for him cancelling his planned burning of the Muslim holy book.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/u-s-pastor-reconsiders-cancelling-koran-burning-after-lied-to-by-n-y-imam-1.313111?localLinksEnabled=false
New twists in US pastor’s Quran-burning plan
The Florida pastor who threatened to burn copies of the Quran has suspended the plan in the face of condemnation by the US government and international outrage. Hours later though, Terry Jones, who heads the Dove World Outreach Centre church, said the plan was only suspended because he was “lied to” over a deal to call off the event in exchange for a promise to move a planned Islamic centre away from New York’s Ground Zero, and may still reconsider. The burning had been planned to coincide with the ninth anniversary on Saturday of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. But Interpol, the Pentagon and others warned that such an act would provoke violent acts around the world by outraged Muslims. Al Jazeera’s Nick Spicer reports from Gainesville on the pastor who is showing no sign of being unnerved by the global backlash. [September 10, 2010]

State Department warns Americans abroad about reaction to planned Koran-burning
The department issues a worldwide travel alert and cautions that ‘the potential for further protests and demonstrations, which may turn violent, remains high.’  WASHINGTON — The State Department on Thursday warned Americans abroad that a Florida church’s plans to burn Korans on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks may set off violent demonstrations against Americans around the world, as U.S. officials huddled to consider further precautions.
http://feeds.latimes.com/%7Er/latimes/middleeast/%7E3/yOtpCsVQ9xE/sc-dc-0910-koran-travel-alert-20100909,0,6740888.story
11 countries speaking out against Koran burning in Florida
More than 10 countries have now condemned a Florida pastor’s plan to burn the Koran in commemoration of the 9/11 terrorist attacks of nine years ago. As noted in the Monitor article Why the planned Koran burning causes outrage and alarm, “Muslims see it as the uninterrupted, unchangeable, and eternal word of God. Burning the Koran is akin to directly burning the word of God.” Here is what leaders are saying worldwide.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/Yif8SCveR4E/11-countries-speaking-out-against-Koran-burning-in-Florida
US religious leaders condemn Islamophobia
Leaders of mainstream denominations have denounced “outright bigotry” against American Muslims surrounding the controversy over the construction of an Islamic center near New York’s ”Ground Zero” and planned burnings of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11. Many fear such actions will fuel perceptions in the Islamic world that the United States is anti-Islam.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LI09Ak02.html
Can global leaders’ outcry minimize fallout from Koran burning plan?
The planned Florida Koran burning has compelled outcry from President Obama, Pakistani President Zardari, and others. Those messages appear to be muting wider Muslim reaction to the planned Koran burning.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/jTYOcroHg9U/Can-global-leaders-outcry-minimize-fallout-from-Koran-burning-plan
Fashionable bigotry, As’ad Abukhalil
Would an American writer be able to keep his/her job if she/he wrote those words about Judaism and Jews?  “”But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.”
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/09/fashionable-bigotry.html
Jamal Dajani: The Grinch Who Stole Eid
Today, 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe celebrate Eid al-Fiter, a three-day holiday marking the end of Ramadan, however; one renegade pastor of a church, Rev. Terry Jones, with fewer than 50 members has cast a shadow on their festivities. For the past several weeks, the media have treated us to live theater of the absurd by amplifying a statement made by an unknown preacher from Gainesville, Florida proposing to burn Qurans on the ninth anniversary of 9/11.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamal-dajani/the-grinch-who-stole-eid_b_711880.html
The Koran at Fahrenheit 451, ALEXANDER COCKBURN
By the end of the week, the air was so thick with pieties about the need for tolerance and respect for all creeds that one yearned for the Rev. Terry Jones, mutton chop whiskers akimbo, to rescind his last minute cave-in, stiffen his spine, then toss those Korans into the burn barrels outside his Gainesville church in Florida and torch them on this year’s anniversary of 9/11.
http://www.counterpunch.com/cockburn09102010.html

www.TheHeadlines.org

Massachusetts State Treasurer candidate has anti-Iran agenda

Sep 10, 2010

Jeff Klein 

Steve Grossman, one of the candidates in next Tuesday’s Democratic primary for Massachusetts State Treasurer, is a past national president of AIPAC (The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee). Grossman, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, has been very coy about publicly admitting his involvement with pro-Israel lobbying. Although AIPAC has been an important part of his political activism – he was chosen its National President in 1992 — you cannot find any mention of the organization on his campaign web site. When questioned about AIPAC during the campaign, Grossman has reacted with angry stonewalling.

AIPAC and its kindred Israel Lobby groups were instrumental in promoting the Iraq War. Today the same people are pushing for confrontation — and possibly another war — with Iran. These are matters which should give Massachusetts residents pause before elevating an AIPAC stalwart to important statewide office.

And AIPAC’s pressure has had a local impact in Mass as well. Grossman, along with other state pro-Israel lobby organizations, was a key player in promoting the so-called Iran Divestment Bill, which passed in the legislature this summer. Besides promoting war hysteria, the Iran Divestment measure comes with a substantial price tag. The State Pension Board estimated that retirement funds would have to sell $452 million worth of stock, at a cost of $5 million in transaction fees, and up to $40,000 annually for consultant services. Those costs could pay the annual pension benefit for nearly 200 state employees and teachers — at a time when pension funds are under severe strain. The lost money which will have to be made up out of general tax revenues.

The Iran Divestment Bill was passed with almost no local media attention. However, it was touted enthusiastically in the Israeli press:

Jerusalem Post: Steve Grossman, Former AIPAC president hopes to oversee Iran divestment

Steve Grossman, the former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is looking forward to ridding Massachusetts’s pension funds of companies doing business with Iran should he win his race for state treasurer. “It’s an important statement of our values and our priorities, that we don’t invest in companies that are working against the interests of the United States,” Grossman told The Jerusalem Post. “Our pension funds should not be put into stocks of foreign companies that are helping Iran develop an oil and gas industry and exporting terrorism and are creating problems in terms of the national security of the United States.”
 

Extra large peace process to go

Sep 10, 2010

Adam Horowitz

 Some violence gets to be righteous

Sep 10, 2010

Joseph Glatzer

The recent killing of settlers near Hebron provides a useful case study for how the media, society and political officials regard the value of Palestinian and Israeli lives.

From the New York Times coverage, written by Mark Landler in D.C. and Israeli Isabel Kershner in Jerusalem:

Mr. Netanyahu ordered Israel’s security forces “to pursue the attackers without any diplomatic restraint and to lay hands on the attackers and those who sent them”

The awful truth is that the killing of 400 children in 3 weeks hasn’t produced the morality debates in Israeli society which our community has painstakingly engaged in over the deaths of 4 Israelis.  To the Israeli government and the Israeli society: the moral clarity of whose violence is righteous is a no-brainer.

Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, said in a statement, “Israel will not allow any terrorist element to raise its head, and will exact a price from the murderers and those who sent them.”

After an Israeli attack, if the following was the response from Khaled Meshaal, would it be considered valid by anyone?

“Palestine will not allow any terrorist element to raise its head, and will exact a price from the murderers and those who sent them”

Hamas is an elected government too.  So, following the Israeli logic: after an Israeli attack on Palestinians, Hamas could ignore “diplomatic restraint” in trying to kill Ehud Barak and the murderer soldiers he sent to torture and kill Palestinians.

Of course this rhetoric would be regarded as illegitimate coming from Palestinians, but somehow it’s perfectly acceptable coming from Bibi and Barak?

I wonder if the Western media would euphemistically call it a “targeted killing” if it was Ehud Barak in the cross-hairs.  Why do we automatically accept the legitimacy of Israeli violence without hesitation? 

Our community is not innocent in this either.  Our serious emotional struggle over the 4 Israeli deaths indeed reflects our own bias in this matter.

The Hamas military wing’s statement:

The military wing of Hamas said that the attack was “a natural response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation and its settlers.”

On January 5th 2009 an Israeli Apache helicopter launched unknown projectiles at and around the al-Samouni home in the Zeytoun neighborhood of Gaza.  23 members of the family were killed including: Azza (2 years old), Rezqa (14 years old), Fares (12 years old) and al-Moa’tasim Bilah Muhammad (6 months old). 

When the Goldstone Report summarized this attack which targeted dozens of civilians the word “murder” was never used.  But…

With neither an investigation nor a hint of hesitation; UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry condemned Hamas’ actions as a “murderous act”.

Without a hint of irony, the chairman of the South Mount Hebron settlers’ council is quoted in the article as saying:

“For the past 100 years there has been a link between the Jewish people’s desire to live and the Arab people’s desire to kill us.”

For the past 100 years the Zionist movement and its settlers have ethnically cleansed Palestine, one step at a time. 

The killing of the 4 settlers was the worst death toll for Israel in 2 years.  In the attack described above 6 times more people were killed in just one of many standard Israeli attacks.

So, it’s good that the New York Times makes it clear to everyone who the murderers are.

a bit of luck….but little progress

Sep 10, 2010

Susan Johnson

……and here I sit in Cairo, in my cheap little hotel. It’s getting scary, when I return from embassy visits, wandering around my neighborhood, a trip to the bakery…I run, well quickly walk, up the steps, hop on the little two person elevator, get off on floor three and I’m home. That’s even before I’m in my room. The Cairo Central Hotel, never did I think it would become my home away from home.

A word about the staff…fantastic, amazing, awesome. I know, that’s three words. They have been wonderful to me. I think I cause them to think of their grandmothers and what they might be doing had they not been so restricted by religion and culture. The twenty-three year old manager and three of his friends invited me to spend Iftar with them, will tell about that later. All staff are young men in their early twenties except one who’s about thirty. One night I mentioned fresh mango juice, how delicious it was in Gaza, how I’d love to have a big glass right now….fifteen minutes later I’m handed two medium size paper cups of fresh mango juice with an apology, the shop didn’t have large cups. I’m invited to eat the evening meal with them (they are all fasting) Often they won’t let me pay for my share.  I was instructed to use only the white taxis that have air-conditioning.  Someone saw me getting into a black taxi with no air conditioning….now I must let them get taxis for me. I am spoiled! They certainly keep my spirits up and make me feel special..

Iftar with the young men was an adventure. We piled into a cab and drove through traffic more insane that usual. Traffic lights are few and no one pays much attention to them anyway. I fact, I saw a traffic light for pedestrians…the type with a green light and a little person walking….the light in Cairo had a little green man running as fast as his legs could carry him. Too funny! As we approached a very large open intersection the cars and trucks were squashed together; horns were blaring, every once in a while a space would open up, there would be a flurry of movement and then back to a standstill. Most cars were trying to drive down a small side street, with little luck.

We left our cab and began walking toward the side street. This was where we were to celebrate Iftar. On either side of the street were small restaurants with out door tables in front…as many as would fit. People were sitting in chairs (plastic, wood, aluminum) crammed around the tables and the tables? They’re filled with food; salads, rice dishes, chickpeas and veggies, sauces, chicken, beef, lamb, soup, innards (liver, heart, etc.) in a stew…piles of pita. Everyone was poised, waiting for the magic moment 6:30, sunset. When the moment arrives, in unison, they begin to eat. Because we were late we had to wait for a table to become vacant, according to my escorts the food is better after the first seating.

The traffic congestion eased up as we began to eat…not as many horns blaring which was a relief. I looked up from my salad and passing our table was a man leading two camels through all the craziness. I could have reached and touched them. They were oblivious to the cars, people, food, noise, etc. One of my goals during this trip is to have my picture taken riding a camel. I decided this was not the right setting for a picture taking session and the camels were so calm I didn’t want to upset them.

I have been asked numerous times if I’ve seen the pyramids and other sights. I haven’t! Some day I’d like to return, visit Egypt and do it justice; but not this trip. There are many emotions and reasons involved…Gaza is on my mind. is my goal…I want to be with people not tourists…the Egyptians I’ve been with are offering me a cultural experience most people don’t even think about seeking out. If I want noisy Americans, I can find them in the US, why go to the pyramids for that. As silly as it may sound I feel it would be almost betray Gaza and my motivation for being here to turn into a tourist on holiday. I am having fun and wonderful experiences…not walking around in a hair coat or being a martyr…just having my own type enjoyment while I wait, wait and wait.

Yesterday I went to the US Embassy in hopes of leaving with a clearer picture about the future…should I prepare to change my flight reservation or secure a ride to the Rafah border with my bags ready for Gaza. Well…as I said at the beginning…here I sit in Cairo.

At the time of my last post I had scheduled an appointment with the Embassy for Sept. 14 at some point I decided to check the website again and found an appointment had opened up on September 8. I signed up for it immediately. Then I noticed you had to cancel any appointment you had already made. I started to cancel my September 14 appointment but was worried I’d end up with out any appointment so I kept both of them. Later I thought about the fact I hadn’t received a confirmation email but put it out of my mind.

The night of the 7th I went to a restaurant I’d found that serves liquor…ordered a glass of wine and an appetizer, took out my notebook and began to plan my visit with the embassy staff. I certainly didn’t want to become  “wild woman” but becoming “the rabbit” would not be the answer either. I tried to write down every stupid question, response or statement anyone at the embassy could possibly make to me. Then I thought of all the ways I could respond and work my way towards “being in charge” and obtaining what I needed. I had a second glass of wine, a lousy dessert and went “home” where I proceeded to go over possibilities and make certain my goals were cemented into my brain and emotions. I fell asleep around 2:00 am.

When I arrived at the Embassy there was already a very long line waiting at the entrance and I could not find the entrance for citizens. I inquired about the citizens line and was told by the man in charge there was no line other than the one he was in charge of. Not believing him I went on a wild goose chase…found the embassy’s computer/communications center, was invited into a research library for employees only and finally decided the man in charge of the line knew what he was talking about.

I went back to plead my case. Where was my appointment confirmation letter…I didn’t have one, didn’t receive one…Without one you can’t enter! finally he asked who the appointment was with American Citizen Services or Visa and Couns Services. Here was my opportunity…I wasn’t sure who I should see but I had a 9:00 appointment He checked with a man behind a glass window…you have no appointment. But I had to have one, I’d used the internet, he wasn’t budging. I mentioned speaking to B in the legal department who’d said I could call if I had problems…no appointment, no confirmation, no entrance.

I said I’d like to speak to the man behind the glass. He immediately asked for my confirmation letter and just as quickly I slid my pass port through the glass and began explaining my problem and how much I appreciated his taking the time to help me. He confirmed I had no 9:00m appointment. We went through my problem again…this time I mention B in legal, maybe I should call him; could I please use the phone…Lets think about this…I mention Mohammad L. in the Egyptian Intelligence who had put my name on the Egyptian list to get into Gaza. Out of the blue he says, “Go, go, go in” and began waving toward the door into the Embassy. I quickly moved toward the door before he changed his mind.

“You don’t realize how very lucky you are!” booms the man in charge of the line…he is shaking his head as I swish through the door. I give a sigh of relief when I hear it close. I’m directed to the same place I’d gone to sign my affidavit. I take a number and join the other tired, discouraged looking citizens.

When my number is called I go through another door where again there are glass windows, this time there are four of them. I’ve drawn window 2. The clerk thinks she remembers me, wasn’t I here in the winter when all those people were in Cairo (Gaza Freedom March, Code Pink…trouble) No, no, no I was here in May 2009. When I explain why I’m there she says she can’t help me. I need to wait for window three. When it becomes available my number is called….it’s the man who’d notarized my affidavit, he doesn’t have a clue who I am.

What can we do for you? As soon as Gaza is mentioned he begins the speech about warnings, danger, affidavit must be signed. When he’s finished I show him my documents, including my signed affidavit and explain all I need for him to do is fax the papers over to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry so they can process my request to go to Gaza. He can not possibly do this….the US considers it a danger zone and can’t approve my going there. I don’t want their approval, all I want is for the Embassy to follow the new Egyptian procedure and fax my documents. Finally I thank him so much for trying to help and for spending so much time with me but I think I need to talk to his supervisor. He offers no resistance, I think he was happy to be rid of me.

I was given a long form to complete including a release giving them the right to do a security check, etc. Right! They’d do that whether I gave permission or not.  I wait for my number to be called, when it is. I find the supervisor is in window number three. It’s a repeat of my conversation with the first man. They certainly have learned the script for the Gaza speech. He is shocked that the Egyptian Foreign Ministry would ask the Embassy to forward documents. Perhaps I should go visit the ministry…yes, that’s where I learned of the new procedure. Oh! After ten minutes of getting no where I thank him for spending time with me, I appreciate his concern and suggestions but I think I’d like to speak to his supervisor. Dead silence…Well, she’s very busy, she may not even be there, he knows she has appointments. I explain I’m in no hurry, I don’t want or expect her to change her busy schedule but I’d appreciate having a few minutes of her time. I have no plans for the rest of the day and I’ll wait.

Twenty minutes later my number is called and behind window two I meet Y the supervisor…she looks more alive than anyone I’ve seen since I stepped out of taxi hours earlier. She shares, this is what I have been told…now Susan you tell me about it. She actually listens and thinks. I have to remind myself…she’s an Embassy employee be cautious. She has not heard of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s new procedure. But that wouldn’t surprise her, often they don’t learn about changes until someone like myself makes them aware.  I share my interpretation that forwarding my documents is a procedure and nothing more…I am not asking the US for anything other than to follow a procedure. If there are concerns, I would gladly sign a release or statement…

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