Archive | August, 2010




PLO urges Yale president to speak out on ‘anti-Arab hate-mongering’ conference
Aug 30, 2010

Philip Weiss

Last week we reported on a disgraceful 3-day conference at Yale that described criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism. Today Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO Representative to the United States, sent a letter to Yale President Richard C. Levin, objecting to the conference. It follows:

August 30, 2010

Dear President Levin,

I write to express my deep dismay over the contents of a recent conference held at Yale entitled “Global Anti-Semitism: A Crisis of Modernity”.

The conference, which was organized in cooperation with the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA), opened with a speech from an official from the Israeli embassy and featured seminars such as “The Central Role of Palestinian Antisemitism in Creating the Palestinian Identity”, “The Jihad Flotilla to Gaza: Provocative – Antisemitic – Not Humanitarian”, and “Lawfare, Human Rights Organizations and the Demonization of Israel”.

Amongst the “experts” leading these seminars were retired Israeli army officer Jonathan Fighel, Anne Herzberg of NGO Monitor (whose mission is to suppress criticism of Israel by undermining the credibility of human rights organizations), and an Israeli settler named Itamar Marcus.

In addition to being the head of a shady propaganda outfit known as “Palestinian Media Watch”, Mr. Marcus also lives in the West Bank colony of Efrat in violation of international law. Mr. Marcus – who, as a settler, has a vested interest in preventing the realization of the two-state solution – has spent much of his life attempting to “prove” that Palestinians are unwilling or unable to make peace, thereby justifying Israel’s continued military occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands. Mr. Marcus is also closely tied to an organization known as the Central Fund of Israel, which funds some of the most extreme and violent elements of Israel’s settler movement.

It’s shocking that a respected institution like Yale would give a platform to these right-wing extremists and their odious views, and it is deeply ironic that a conference on antisemitism that is ostensibly intended to combat hatred and discrimination against Semites would demonize Arabs – who are Semites themselves.

As Palestinians, we strongly support principles of academic freedom and free speech, however racist propaganda masquerading as scholarship does not fall into this category. 

I urge you to publicly dissociate yourself and Yale University from the anti-Arab extremism and hate mongering that were on display during this conference.


Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat

PLO Representative to the United States

Rocket Redux, the Israeli fiction

Aug 30, 2010

David Samel

A few months ago, I authored a post on the fiction that when Israel withdrew from two decades of military occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah responded with thousands of rockets rained down on Israeli communities. At the time, I cited false statements to that effect made by Michael Oren in a NY Times op-ed and Ethan Bronner in a Times article (links provided in that post). Unsurprisingly, Bibi Netanyahu has now joined in, quoted in today’s Ha’aretz:

“We will not allow the firing of thousands of rockets and missiles from Palestinian territories into Israel as was the case when we pulled out of Lebanon and Gaza.”

This is not an insignificant “mistake” but a concerted effort to convince the world that Israeli withdrawal is perversely punished by renewed Arab violence against civilians. Bibi, who has no desire to see the talks succeed, whatever that means, is clearly trying to set the stage to sabotage the negotiations with refusal to withdraw and/or unreasonable demands for retaining control after withdrawal. This is how history gets rewritten.

Writers Oz, Yehoshua, Grossman back artists’ boycott of Ariel settlement
Aug 30, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Where are the liberal American Zionists on this one? What will J Street do? Important news:

Ynet learned on Monday that prominent Israeli authors A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, David Grossman and Sami Michael are supporting a long line of actors, playwrights and artists who announced they would refuse to perform in the new culture auditorium in Ariel, which is located outside the Green Line.

 “The show does not have to go on,” read a letter drafted by the authors. “We, the signatories, express our support for the people of the theater who refuse to perform in Ariel. The Israeli occupation has recently entered its 43rd year. Legitimizing the settlement enterprise and coming to terms with it severely harm Israel’s chances of reaching a peace agreement with its Palestinian neighbors.”

Stuck inside of Cairo with the Gaza blues again
Aug 30, 2010 

Susan Johnson

Susan Johnson is a Doylestown, Pa., grandmother with two volunteer gigs in Gaza waiting for her. She’s written about her big trip earlier this summer.

And here I sit in Cairo, exhausted and disappointed. I have been denied entrance to Gaza twice! I’m amazed I’m not angry and ready to give up, even though I’m discouraged.

My trip began August 24 with my flight from JFK being delayed for two hours. Arrival in Cairo though three hours late was simple; purchasing a visa, exchanging money, processing through passport control, collecting bags, walking out of the terminal into the blast of Egyptian heat and relief upon seeing “Susan Johnson” in the midst of the driver’s signs.

I knew not speaking Arabic would be a disadvantage…boy was I correct! Mohammad, my driver, speaks some English which is a relief. The ride into Cairo was wild. I’d forgotten the traffic going at break-neck speeds, no traffic lights, horns blaring and turns being made in all directions. It’s amazing!

Mohammad invited me to his home for Iftar, the meal breaking the fast during Ramadan. It gave me my first experience in sharing the culture, not just observing it….one of the main reasons I’m here. We had chicken, rice, salad, a fantastic soup with bay leaves, whole cloves and other spices I couldn’t name. Mohammad’s wife was the cook; his mother having relinquished the role to her daughter in law. Mohammad’s family is Palestinian, moving to Egypt in 67. His father couldn’t imagine why I wanted to go to Gaza and kept saying no, no good. I tried to explain but his English is very limited…he only does well when trying to sell telephones, calculators, watches, etc. 

No matter where I go I’m asked “WHY” when people learn I’m going to Gaza.

They see no point in me going, especially the Egyptian-Palestinians. On the other hand, Palestinians in the US are excited and supportive. In fact they’ve been fantastic; I’ve received phone calls and emails from them since I’ve been here.

After the meal it was off to my hotel. Most of the shops are closed until sundown during Ramadan and then open until after midnight. Throughout our drive there was a carnival atmosphere; stores were open, hundreds of people of all ages walking the streets, shopping and visiting. Groups of men reclined on grassy spots. They looked like old friends but that’s not necessarily the case. Strangers are welcomed and just join in the conversation. The only place that might happen in the States is during a sporting event but without the intimacy.

Saturday we made the five hour drive to the Rafah border crossing, leaving at 4:00 am. The drive was long and exciting. Again, the cars and trucks race along, at times at 90 mph. When a car wants to pass they blow the horn and the “offending” car, truck, motor scooter or donkey cart moves over. Only saw one case of road rage…. The donkey carts were usually driven by women and sometimes loaded with goods for market. As Rafah drew closer the women were more conservatively dressed, many with all but their eyes covered. Workers were packed into vans and trucks with people hanging onto the back. Small houses made of concrete blocks dot the desert, some with a tin roof held down with rocks, others had no roof at all; most of the windows didn’t appear to have glass or shutters, There were also large houses, partially built in with the first floor finished and the metal supports for the second floor installed. There’s an enormous amounts of building every where; from Cairo all the way to Rafah. El Arish appears to be booming with new homes apartment buildings, industry and shops. I wonder if the US aid has something to do with it.

Goats and camels grazed in the desert, on what I don’t know. Small herds of goats, un- attended, wandered in village streets and even in El Arish. In a deserted area a large wooden camel marked the entrance to a camel farm. That was about the only commercial evidence I saw for live stock.        

As the border crossing appeared before us, I began to feel anxious about the process but had no real worry about being denied entry. A large ornamental gate encloses the actual gate and the head man has a room with typical glass window. I cheerfully went and presented my documents, which he examined with a puzzled look. I was motioned to go– go somewhere out of his sight. Once again I was the only woman present except for three women selling almonds and dates…they were covered with only their eyes exposed. Plastic chairs were placed under the only shade tree and occupied by men. I took a chair and moved it away from the group but was not going to sit in the sun. My driver, Mohammad sat with the men and I believe he put in a good word for me.

Periodically I would walk over to the man with the power, checking the progress on my request….Not yet…go sit…Not yet, go sit.

My buddies under the tree offered encouragement with thumbs up, big smiles and laughter. As for Mr. Power, at times he had four or five soldiers in his room…Once I arrived at the window finding everyone asleep. Who was working on my request? Or even taking it seriously? Mr Power said he was phoning the Embassy, it would take ten minutes, then, come back in 15 minutes, it will take another 10 minutes, five minutes. Each time I’d go sit down under the tree, wait and then  walk the long short distance to the window.

Finally I said I’d call if I could use the phone…Mr Power proceeded to tell outside, only inside call. That caused my mood to blacken..Then how could you call the Embassy? You aren’t being honest! All of the sudden he knows no English. I receive the same response when I ask for his name. I resumed my place under the tree…my buddies are sending signs of encouragement but I’m sure they knew way before I that I was denied entry to Gaza. The game had been played for five hours and it didn’t dawn on me until about 4 hours 55 minutes into it that I wouldn’t be crossing into Gaza.

The driver and I prepared for departure and my buddies under the tree waved good-bye. I was a bit discouraged about my failure but was quite excited and happy with the cultural experience. That was successful even though the border crossing wasn’t.

That night I stayed in El Arish. I kept asking the driver to take me to the Sinai Sun  Hotel… He conveniently didn’t understand English and took  me to an Egyptian hotel located in a semi-residential area. As we opened the door I saw a group of about eight men gathered around the front desk. By the time we made it up the three stairs to the lobby they had disappeared. Once again, I was the only woman within sight. This time it felt strange… I couldn’t help but wonder if there weren’t women hidden away somewhere.

I had a difficult time explaining I didn’t want my room service dinner delivered until after sunset. Finally I said Ramadan; made motions of eating then put my hand across my mouth and shook my head no. Understanding at last! I’d decided to try participating in the Ramadan fasting out of respect and good will. Most people, especially Muslims, discouraged me from fasting adding that I wouldn’t be expected to fast. Makes no difference to me; I’m fasting but need to drink water because of medications. This is my fourth day!

Looking out my hotel window I could see desert in the distance and up close, small enclosed back yards…about the size you’d find behind row houses in an American city. Amazing sights…a small herd of goats in one, chickens and small hutches similar to ones used for rabbits in another; one with a lovely outdoor seating arrangement, clothes drying on bushes in another; even a roof top chicken yard.

The next day, Sunday, it was back to the border and more of the same…only it wasn’t as much fun; still fun but not as much as the day before. I decided to try waiting by the window while Mr Power did nothing with my papers. He was in a terrible mood, screaming and hollering at the police, soldiers and “porters”. Once or twice tempers gave way to shoving matches. Who knows what caused the upsets but they certainly weren’t there the day before.

Must mention the “porters” who are really gangs of teenage boys hell bent on carrying your baggage. It’s a bit like throwing corn on the sidewalk and being overtaken by pigeons. They jump into cars grabbing suitcases before the passenger can get out. They work in teams and there’s some system that allows certain boys to carry baggage through the gate into “no man’s land” and put it on carts. The scene is wild but everyone appears not to notice….except me. The first time we arrived at the border and were overtaken by the helpers I was terrified. That’s the only fear I’ve experienced here. 

To make a long day, short; once again I was denied entry to Gaza. It didn’t feel good! Thankfully the ride back to Cairo was an adventure, making up for some of my disappointment. The driver was from El Arish and spoke no English. As the hours passed we developed some communication…usually involving humor. Mohammad (the original taxi driver) kept calling and it became a joke…as soon as the phone rang we’d say “Mohammad” and begin laughing. 

The big adventure was having dinner at a truck stop. There was an indoor area that contained the kitchen and what appeared to be a shop. There was a small room set off to one side for prayers. All the seating and a large elaborate home made grill were outside. Once again I was the only female…don’t know what the thoughts were about my sitting at the same table with Amed. The food was delicious and rather fancy for a truck stop. I ordered grilled meat, which turned out to be beef, served on a bed of greens. I’d already begun to eat with my fingers when someone appeared with a fork. We had two kinds of salad, mangoes in a syrup, an amazing soup beyond description, pickled something, I know I’m leaving out things…and lots of pita! Amed called for a hookah and after having it refilled twice finished his smoking and we hit the road again for another wild ride. 

Today I’m afraid I’m no closer to entering Gaza than I was yesterday. I can’t seem to make any progress. Getting in touch with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry is more difficult than contacting god. The emails sent to address listed on their website are returned. Phone calls to numbers I’ve been given to use in an emergency are not in service. I finally reached a person at the Ministry who spoke a tiny bit of English. She gave me two phone numbers for someone who handles Palestine. One turned out to be a fax number, the other was never answered. She also gave me the Foreign Ministry’s address. First thing tomorrow morning I’ll take a taxi to that address. If I have any luck it will be the correct address and someone will be able to help me. I really do want to go to Gaza!  

40 percent of Palestinian prisoners from Jenin are denied family visits–
Aug 30, 2010


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Israel won’t extend settlement freeze ahead of direct negotiations

The Israeli cabinet will not vote on extending a partial freeze in West Bank settlement construction before the start of the peace talks in Washington on September 2, a senior cabinet minister told Reuters on Sunday, a decision that could threaten to derail a recently re-launched peace process.

Abbas: Obama knows West Bank building will ruin talks

Hours before leaving for Washington for peace talks, Palestinian president says he notified US, international officials that Israel will bear sole and full responsibility should talks collapse due to settlement building. ‘Israel’s security can’t continue to be excuse for continued occupation,’ he says.,7340,L-3945664,00.html

Abbas: No peace talks with settlement building (AP)

AP – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Sunday that he will not back down from his threat to pull out of new peace talks with Israel if it resumes construction in West Bank settlements.*

Abbas: Israel to bear sole responsibility for talks collapse due to building

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that direct talks with Israel will be based on the Mideast Quartet’s demand, as he puts it, to end the 1967 occupation, including in east Jerusalem.,7340,L-3945638,00.html

The Purpose Of Israel’s Settlements Is To Be Difficult To Remove

I had to read Fred Barnes’ new Weekly Standard piece “In Defense of Settlers” a few times to be sure that Fred wasn’t actually putting us on. It appears he isn’t.  Things go awry beginning with the very first paragraph, in which Barnes writes, “When direct talks begin next week between Israelis and Palestinians, the fate of Jewish settlers in the West Bank — tens of thousands of them — will be a major issue in the negotiations. But the settlers themselves won’t be part of the discussion.”

For Arabs in Israel, a house is not a home

Three representatives of Hamas have been forced to seek sanctuary at the Red Cross compound in East Jerusalem — charged not with terrorism, but with “disloyalty” to the state. Edward Platt on a strange case of exile inside Israel.

Photos of expulsion plastered to Jewish Nat’l Fund wall reveal a society in crisis, Philip Weiss

Something that made me feel great today: a report from Israel that activists have plastered the sides of the Jewish National Fund building, the organization that for over a century has bought up land for Jews, with photographs of JNF’s work: the recent destruction of the Bedouin village of Al-Arakib. Here is the original Hebrew report, with photos of the Al-Arakib pictures on the side of the JNF building in Tel Aviv. Here is the report from Haaretz.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Two international activists arrested and five injured at Ma’sara demonstration

August 29th, 2010– The weekly protest commemorated nine years since the assassinated by Israel of the Palestinian leader Abu Ali Mustafa as well as the 23rd anniversary of the assassination of the Palestinian political cartoonist Naji al-Ali.

Facing jail, the unarmed activist who dared to take on Israel

Donald Macintyre–The protest by Lady Ashton, who was yesterday accused by Israel`s foreign ministry of “interfering” in the country`s judicial process, follows mounting concern by Western diplomats over the severity of measures taken by Israeli security forces against the mainly rural protests. Officials from several European countries, including Britain, were present for the verdict in the Ofer military court on Monday.–

Irish groups to buy ship for new Gaza aid flotilla

DUBLIN, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Pro-Palestinian groups in Ireland launched a fundraising drive on Monday to buy a ship for a second attempt to breach Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza.  The Irish Ship to Gaza campaign aims to send between 30 and 50 Irish people, including public figures, journalists and activists, to join a flotilla taking aid to people in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

50 set to join Gaza aid flotilla

Up to 50 Irish campaigners are expected to join a coalition of pro-Palestinian supporters on a second aid flotilla to Gaza, it has been revealed.  Seven groups have come together to bring public figures, members of the media and activists on cargo ships and passenger boats in late autumn.  Campaigners say the sea mission is a second attempt to end the four year-long Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Palestinian traders clear shops of settlement goods

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian traders have submitted 25,000 applications for a Dignity medal to certify their compliance with the government ban on trading in settlement produce, an official said Sunday.  National Dignity Fund director Omer Qabaha said 8,000 traders have already received the medal, following inspections to check their stores are free of settlement goods.

SHOULD PEOPLE BOYCOTT ISRAEL?: Omar Barghouti explains the aims of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement

“Once winter’s over, the sun will shine”

When Israel’s construction of the wall began in their village May 2008, the people of Nilin embarked on a campaign of unarmed grassroots resistance against the theft of their land. They have followed a philosophy of direct action, cutting through the electronic fence and razor wire on an almost weekly basis. Jody McIntyre interviewed Mohammed Amireh, a leader of the Nilin Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements for The Electronic Intifada.

Art as resistance: “Against the Wall” reviewed

London-based journalist and photographer William Parry’s Against the Wall serves as both a political and aesthetic document, perhaps exemplifying the German philosopher Walter Benjamin’s famous thesis that “[t]here is no document of culture that is not at the same time a document of barbarism.”


Amira Hass / Who’s suppressing opposition rallies in Ramallah?

They carried photos of Abbas, but the PA president’s office says he had nothing to do with the hundreds of young men who prevented an opposition conference from taking place in Ramallah.

Censorship in Ramallah mini-republic-under-occupation

A reader who does not want to be identified sent me this–he/she fears retribution.   “You might be interested to know that the Arabic translation of the recent book\interview with George Habash (Al-Thawriyyun la Yamutun Abadan, published by Dar A-Ssaki 2009) is possibly censored in the Palestinian Authority. While I was reading the copy I bought in Ramallah I discovered that page 258 was all blank. I thought it was normal since it was surely a bootleg edition. But when I found a copy from a street vendor in Jerusalem I opened on page 258 which  did exist in this one; it was the only page where Habash refers to the Palestinian Authority and the corruption there (Israel, of course, did not bother to censor it; by the way, it happens quite often that Palestinians in West Bank ask Palestinian Jerusalemites or Palestinians 48, who are under direct Israeli occupation, to bring them books the PA prohibit in its territories).”

Netanyahu: Israel won’t fund boycott efforts from within

Prime Minister slams boycott staged by theater personnel, who refuse to take part in performances in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Israeli universities condemn ‘witch hunt’ by right-wing groups

In a joint statement released by Israel’s largest and most prominent universities, the academic leadership challenged a foreign-funded campaign to undermine academic freedom in the name of Zionism, led by radical Israeli rightists and Christian fundamentalists.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism

Gaza worker killed in tunnel collapse

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A 16-year-old worker was killed Sunday when a tunnel under the border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip collapsed, a medical official said.  Abed Al-Latif Abu Tuyur was taken to Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital, Gaza Health Ministry emergency chief Muawiya Hassanein said.  Since Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza, the tunnels have transferred goods, construction material and food into the Strip, providing a lifeline to residents. Israel says they are also used to transfer weapons.

Israel refuses to lift ban on family unification

Jerusalem-born Firas al-Maraghi has been holding a hunger strike outside the Israeli embassy in Berlin, Germany, since 26 July, protesting a decision by the Israeli government to prevent his newborn daughter from being registered as a Jerusalem resident. Al-Maraghi, who is married to a German citizen, temporarily moved to Berlin to accompany his wife as she completed her doctoral thesis, and was informed by the Israeli embassy that the couple’s daughter, Zeinab, would not be granted the identification and residency papers needed to live in their home when the family moved back to Jerusalem.

Hamas delivers 1 million shekels to poor families

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas officials in Rafah said Monday they distributed one million shekels among the poorest families in the southern Gaza Strip district, a statement read.  Hamas said it was able to hand out thousands of food parcels, financial aid and iftar meals to the families under the One Body campaign, which was donated by party members.  The Islamist movement thanked its supporters for the success of the campaign and vowed continued support for families in need to strengthen Palestinian steadfastness “in the face of the siege.”


IOF opens fire towards fishermen in Rafah

Gaza, August 29, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli gunboats stationed off the coast of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, opened fire towards Rafah shores using its heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades against Palestinian fishing boats without reported casualties among fishermen.

IOF raids houses in Bethlehem

Bethlehem, August 29, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces raided Sunday number of houses in the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.   Security sources said that the occupation forces raided a house in Al-Shwawra village while notified other to visit the Israeli intelligence for questioning.  The occupation forces raided Taqua town and stayed in it for hours, the sources added. The sources confirmed that Israeli occupation forces raided Hosan and Bter towns and searched number of houses.
Jerusalem teenager says constantly harassed by police

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A 17-year-old resident of occupied East Jerusalem, who was detained Sunday, said he faces constant harassment from Israeli police.  Na’im Al-Banna, from Silwan, said he was with friends when police detained him and and took him to a police station in the city. He was searched and questioned, and released later the same day.

Brigade: Clashes after bulldozers enter south Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades said violent clashes followed an Israeli military incursion east of Rafah, southern Gaza, overnight Sunday, a leader said.  Abdul Muntaser Omar said the entering force was attempting to bulldoze land in the An-Nahda neighborhood. Brigade members and Israeli forces exchanged fire, forcing the troops to retreat, he added.


Jerusalem man charged with contacting Hamas

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem has been indicted for contacting Hamas operatives during his studies in Cyprus, reportedly agreeing to gather intelligence on Israel, Israeli media reported Monday.  The indictment, filed by the Jerusalem District Prosecution, said Ahmad Awad, 22, became acquainted with two Hamas-affiliated people from Gaza, with one, identified as Hamad Asham, introducing him to the Jerusalem Muslim Brotherhood, Israeli news site Ynet reported.

IOF detains 2 Palestinians in Hebron

Hebron, August 29, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces raided Sunday Dora and Al-Zahria in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank where they detained two Palestinians, local sources reported.   Security sources said that the occupation forces raided number of houses in Al-Zahria and detained Eyad Al-Jabrin. Besides, they detained Reyad Harbyat after raiding his house in Dora.  The occupation forces searched number of houses and stayed in the city till the early hours of today, the sources added.  The sources confirmed that Israeli occupation forces searched the houses of Husian Amro’s sons in Dorah.  Israeli forces raid the West Bank cities on a daily basis under the pretext of searching for what they call “wanted Palestinians”.

Hebron: IOF detains 2 Palestinians

Hebron, August 30, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces raided Monday Saer village in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank where they detained two Palestinians, local sources reported. Security sources said that the occupation forces raided the house of Zedan Al-Frokh and then detained him. Besides, they detained Eyad Mojahed after raiding other areas in the city.  The occupation forces roamed the city and notified other three citizens to visit the Israeli intelligence for questioning, the sources added.  The sources confirmed that Israeli occupation forces raided Bait Amra and Kraz villages in south of Hebron.

40% of Jenin prison population denied family visits

The IPA is fully denying more than 40% of the Jenin prison population the right to family visits against 30% who are denied partial visits, the Palestinian Prisoner Society reported.

Political/Flotilla Developments

Palestinian rivals crack down harder on opponents (AP)

AP – The rival Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have clamped down harder on opponents and critics in recent months — deepening a nasty split that could prevent Palestinian statehood even if peace talks with Israel kicking off this week succeed against long odds.*

Abbas is a man in exile, even among his own

The Palestinian president appears increasingly out of touch with his own people for accepting a US invitation for direct talks with Israel in Washington.

Fayyad: PA will be prepared to establish state in a year

Palestinian PM says second year of his plan will focus on separation of powers, transparency, strengthening rule of law, fighting corruption; calls on public to back necessary measures before establishment of ‘our own state’.,7340,L-3946281,00.html

Arab League chief doubts US-led talks will succeed

BLED, Slovenia: Arab League chief Amr Moussa said on Sunday he had little hope that direct peace talks between Israel and Palestine, which are due to start on Thursday, will be successful. He also said he will not seek re-election as secretary general of the Arab League after his second mandate expires in March.

Jordan’s Islamists condemn direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations

AMMAN, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) – Jordan’s Islamic Action Front (IAF) on Monday urged the Arab states to withdraw the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel normal ties with the Arabs, ahead of direct Palestinian-Israeli talks scheduled to start in Washington on Thursday.  In a statement posted on its website, the IAF, the political arm of Muslim Brotherhood, called for giving up negotiations and urged the Arab regimes to withdraw the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, describing it as “useless.”

Level of US role in peace talks key to success: experts (AFP)

AFP – The Obama administration will relaunch direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks next week, ready to intervene as needed in what analysts hope will mean unprecedented US engagement and pressure.*

Security tops Israeli-Palestinian talks

Security, is one of the key issues for Israel in the upcoming peace talks. Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister has already said Israel’s security demands will come first before any discussions on borders and final status issues. Among Israel’s security concerns is the Jordan valley. This is an area that was occupied in 1967 and is meant to be part of a future Palestinian state. Israel, however, wants to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley to make sure it remains a buffer zone protecting Israel from any external threat. It insists that any future Palestinian state must be ‘demilitarized’ which raises the question for whom will the Palestinian state be providing security Palestinians or Israelis? Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from the West Bank.

UN investigators to probe Gaza flotilla raid (AFP)

AFP – A UN human rights inquiry into Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla started on Monday a probe in Jordan where investigators interviewed four Jordanian activists.*

Israel’s Mossad chief urged to clarify agency’s role in flotilla raid

JERUSALEM, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — A commission probing an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla wants Israel’s Mossad ( intelligence) chief to detail any involvement in the military operation, an official statement said on Sunday.  The Turkel Commission, an independent public commission set up to investigate the commando raid on May 31 which killed nine pro- Palestinian Turkish activists, has already heard testimony of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and top Israel Defense Forces officials concerning the decision-making process that preceded the raid.

Other News

Despite Israeli protests, Russia won’t halt arms sale to Syria

Haaretz reported on Friday that PM Benjamin Netanyahu had asked Russian PM Vladimir Putin to cancel the sale of long-range surface-to-sea cruise missiles to the Syrian Army.

Intended chief-of-staff must be investigated

Maj. Gen. Galant’s appointment as IDF chief of staff must be preceded by an investigation of his responsibility for suspected violations of human rights during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, which he commanded as GOC Southern Command.

U.S.: Rabbi’s ‘offensive’ remarks harm peace efforts

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley condemns Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s ‘inflammatory’ statement that all Palestinians should perish.

Foreign legalists to defend Israel abroad?

Foreign Ministry conference attended by 170 legal experts from 32 countries aims to fight de-legitimization against Jewish state.,7340,L-3945991,00.html

Palestinians prepare to battle ‘Zionist editing’ on Wikipedia

Association of Palestinian Journalists chairman calls on Palestinians to prepare for ‘PR war’ on Israel.

Look how casual Israeli racism is in their media

“An American businessman who travels often to the Persian Gulf (where he removes his kippah) recently told me that leaders of the ruling families in the oil empires are setting their sights on Israel with great desire to cooperate with the Jewish State. Jewish brains and Arab money – what could be better?”  Yes, Arabs don’t have brains, only Israelis are born with them.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Siun and Philip Munger say FDL has offered a platform for criticism of Israel, Philip Weiss

My post yesterday on Firedoglake suppressing criticism of Israel has hit a nerve; even neocon Eli Lake has commented on it. I’m going to respond later but in the meantime, I wanted to post two sharply-critical comments that we’ve received from two longtime contributors to FDL, the blogger Siun and the composer Philip Munger. Their responses are in the comment thread, but this is an important conversation on the left (as Alex Kane notes); and it feels right to highlight these criticisms from the FDL community. On a defensive note, I’d add that Jane Hamsher, FDL’s founder, has been tweeting that I’ve been in favor of McCarthyite tactics. That’s not me. She is referring to a post by Jack Ross about blacklists. Yes I like Jack’s independent mind, which mingles anti-Zionism and libertarianism; and we post a lot of stuff I don’t personally agree with but find interesting.

For Jerusalem, True Devotion, Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

This was the first Friday in Ramadan that I happened to see the Qalandiya checkpoint in the early morning hours and I was shocked at the scene in front of me. On my way to the Allenby Bridge for a short trip abroad, I was already on the West Bank side of the crossing but needed to go around it towards the Jericho road. As soon as the taxi approached the Qalandiya refugee camp about half a kilometer away from the actual checkpoint, the traffic began to pile up. Literally dozens of buses were lined up on the side of the roads filled with determined and faithful Muslims who most likely showed up at the crack of dawn for a chance to reach the coveted Al Aqsa Mosque for Friday Ramadan prayers. At the actual checkpoint – which Israeli soldiers close off completely to traffic on Fridays in the holy month – there were even more people. Throngs of men, women and children stood under the hot sun, parcels in hand and waited for Israeli soldiers barring the way to let them through.

Israel Today Is Tomorrow’s South Africa

By: Mitri I. Musleh – The mind boggling events in the Middle East are unfolding at a faster rate than the speeding bullet. To better comprehend such events, one must critically view and analyze every political behavior concerning peace or war in the Middle East. The United States, the Quartet and the European Union ‘EU’ have decided that the Palestinians and the Israelis must hold direct talks on September 2, 2010 and within one year, should conclude their discussion with the proposed Two-State solution, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and harmony.

Worst show on TV

“His attitude is patently patronizing — he is distributing largess from the donor-supported Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, to the poor Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. [They are definitely poor — a bill was passed in the Lebanese Parliament only last week, that finally allowed Palestinian refugees who have in Lebanon for over 30 years or more to be able to seek work, although they have no residency status and no official papers.]  The money comes from the Palestine Investment Fund [!].  Tonight’s episode was filmed in Beddawi refugee camp. One lady said she was from “Bared” — and the journalist quickly asks her if she was from Nahr al-Bared, which was in part destroyed during a Lebanese Army assault several years ago on militants who were said to be part of a group called “Fatah al-Islam”, which the Palestinian representative in Lebanon quickly denounced. That lady said that she and her large family were still being sheltered in a garage. “What can we do?”, she asked plaintively.”

Personal Reflections About Kairos Document

By: Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D. – Palestinian Christian leaders have issued the timely Kairos Palestine Document  calling on Churches around the world “to say a word of truth and to take a position of truth with regard to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.”  ( My most personal thoughts about the Kairos Document  is that it immediately reflects  the continued steadfastness witness of the Christian community in the land of the Mother Church. It gives our Christian voice a spiritual and psychological renewal to have finalized such a document promoting peace, justice and reconciliation.

Palestine Betrayed – Book Review, Jim Miles

Palestine Betrayed. Efraim Karsh. Yale University Press, London, 2010.  Was Palestine betrayed? Of course it was, by the British, the United States, France, the League of Nations, the United Nations, the remnants of the Ottoman empire, all of the regional Arab countries, and by certain elites and powerful of Palestine itself. Efraim Karsh makes the latter two the main if not the sole responsible for the nakba – the disaster – that occurred in 1947-48 with the announced partition of Palestine followed by the declaration of the state of Israel. “Palestine Betrayed,” as portrayed by Karsh, is the story of the connivances of the Arab leaders in the region along with the elites of Palestine while the Jewish population continually offered peace and coexistence with their brethren and encouraged them to stay in their villages and towns to become partners in the new state enterprise.


Report: Hezbollah, Syria to join forces in future clash with Israel

Kuwait’s al-Rai daily says Lebanon-based group, Syrian army have created a joint military command, dividing potential war fronts.

Hariri: State won’t be intimidated

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed Sunday that threats of strife would not intimidate the state from assuming its responsibilities in preserving the country’s national security. Later Sunday, Hariri left for Damascus following an invitation by President Bashar Assad to attend a souhour meal in the Syrian capital.

LEBANON: Palestinians still dissatisfied despite labour law changes

BEIRUT Monday, August 30, 2010 (IRIN) – Recent amendments to Lebanese law grant work permits to Palestinians in the private sector, and some welfare benefits, and are an important step in the right direction, according to the UN’s agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), but many Palestinians say they fall short of what they had hoped for.


Sunday: 7 Iraqis Killed, 18 Wounded

Although the country is expecting an increase in violence this week, so far it has been relatively quiet. Today, at least seven Iraqis were killed and 18 more were wounded in light violence. Other news from Iraq dealt with formation of the new government, the aftermath of the drawdown and the huge waste of resources on the part of the United States.

Iraqis say war “not ending” despite U.S. drawdown (Reuters)

Reuters – President Barack Obama’s message this weekend that Iraq would “chart its own course” may have been welcome news for war-weary Americans, but it has fueled anxieties about the future among Iraqis.*

Iraq army to remain dependent on US

While the combat troops have pulled out of Iraq, the country’s army will continue to depend on the US military for training and maintenance. Rebuilding its military from scratch, Iraq has also been purchasing sophisticated American weapons, a dramatic departure from Saddam Hussein’s soviet-era equipment. Thus even after full withdrawal, an enduring relationship will likely lock the Iraqis and the Americans in a long-term partnership Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reports from Iraq.

ANALYSIS-Iraq no pushover in regional power struggle

* Iraq more robust, but still prone to foreign meddling
* Iran can’t call all the shots even as U.S. combat ops end
* Turkey emerges as counterweight, champions Sunni inclusion

Ashour: Al Iraqiya might boycott the government

Al Iraqiya List advisor Hani Ashour affirmed in a statement to Alsumaria that all options are possible before the list including boycotting the government if no agreement is reached on Al Iraqiya’s right to form the government.

Baghdad slams ‘illegal’ RWE gas deal with Iraqi Kurds (AFP)

AFP – Iraq on Sunday slammed as “illegal” an agreement between its autonomous Kurdistan region and the German energy firm RWE that is expected to help supply the planned Nabucco gas pipeline to Europe.*

‘Every Corner in the Region Is Frightened

Ayad Allawi: Iraq’s former and possibly future prime minister, discusses the withdrawal of US troops, the power struggle in Baghdad and the “very high possibility” of a new war in the Middle East.,1518,714363,00.html#ref=rss

As U.S. withdraws, Iraqis still live in crisis (Reuters)

Reuters – Kareem Hassan Abboud’s family of seven share a two room house in a makeshift squatter camp in the mainly Shi’ite district of Chukook in northwestern Baghdad. Sewage muddies the dirt road outside.*

Inside Iraq – Pulling out of Iraq

The withdrawal of the US combat troops has begun and by the end of August there will be fewer than 50,000 US troops in Iraq. But is their mission accomplished?

Politicians blamed for growing Iraq unrest

The official end of US combat operations in Iraq is fast approaching. On August 31, troops hand over control of Iraq’s internal security to local forces. But violence remains a concern, after national elections failed to create a unified government. Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports from Baghdad.

Iraqi Shiites suffer from violent sectarianism

The second of a five-part series Mixed neighbourhoods in which Shiites once lived are now a thing of the past.

Iraq’s troubled young hearts

A decimated healthcare system cannot meet the need for pediatric heart surgery. In all the waiting list is above 20,000.

Iraq recovers 90 percent of US computers: customs (AFP)

AFP – Iraq’s top customs official on Sunday said 90 percent of a multi-million dollar batch of US-purchased computers destined for schoolchildren but allegedly sold off on the cheap had been recovered.*

The sculptures made out of Iraqi weapons

Zahim Jehad is doing his bit to get rid of weapons in Iraq. So why is he in trouble with the authorities?  On a blistering day last month, Zahim Jehad was fossicking around a scrap yard in Basra amid hundreds of live artillery shells. After photographing rusting rounds he took the pictures to Iraq’s environment ministry, buoyed by hope he could once again start transforming the lethal relics into sculptures.

Cost of Iraq’s ‘new era’

The US government has said that the change of military strategy in Iraq is a “new era” for the country. Operation Iraqi Freedom will become Operation New Dawn from Wednesday. This means fewer soldiers in the country, but more diplomats who will be living in the world’s biggest embassy in Baghdad. The embassy stretches across 2km and and 104 acres of land – six times the size of the UN headquarters and bigger than the Vatican. Along with four new regional offices it will house nearly 2,500 diplomats, protected by as many as 7,000 private security guards. For travel anywhere outside of the embassy, the diplomats have a new fleet of armoured cars, trucks and special aircraft. All this will cost the US $2.5bn next year, over and above the costs of maintaining a military force of 50,000 American soldiers. Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports.


Larijani: Iran ready for nuclear talks

As the US expresses optimism about future talks on Iran’s nuclear program, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says Tehran has never refused nuclear talks, Press TV reported.

Maariv: Israeli a significant importer (and re-exporter) of Iranian goods

This is a fairly wide-raging, if shallow, review. I found the section the section describing a botched attempt by an Israeli company to re-export Iranian marble to the US interesting. Particularly insightful was the justification for an Israeli double standard on this issue, as articulated by Danny Catarivas, head of the Division of Foreign Trade and International Relations in the Manufacturers Association of Israel.

MJ Rosenberg: Pro-Bombing Iran Is Anti-Israel

In his Atlantic piece designed to elicit an Obama endorsement of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, Jeff Goldberg undermines his case by realistically predicting what the effects of an attack would be.  He predicts thousands of deaths – not only Iranians but also many Israelis and probably Americans. Oil prices would skyrocket, Jews in the diaspora would come under attack, the United States would be embroiled in the worst Middle East crisis ever, and Israel would become the “leper of nations.”  Pretty horrible.


Afghans protest killing of civilians

Over 500 protesters condemned the killing of two Afghan civilians by mercenaries in the region, a Press TV correspondent reported on Saturday.

The Listening Post – Reporting the Afghan war

This week on The Listening Post – reporting the Afghan war: Time magazine’s shocking cover story walks the thin line between editorial and editorialising. And we lay out the pros and the cons of embedded journalism coming to us from the battlefields of Afghanistan.

U.S. and Other World News
Who is watching you?

Spy satellite use in the U.S. : Video report.

Inside Top Secret America

A major investigation reveals the extent of America’s vast and heavily privatized military-corporate-intelligence establishment.

Saudis demand government jobs in rare protest

RIYADH: Some 200 unemployed Saudi university graduates staged a rare protest in the capital Riyadh demanding the Gulf Arab state give them jobs, Saudi media said on Sunday. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is an absolute monarchy that has no elected parliament and usually does not tolerate public displays of dissent.

Saudi judge scraps dissident’s lawsuit over detention

RIYADH: A judge on Saturday threw out a dissident’s lawsuit over his three-and-a-half-year detention without trial, saying the government had finally filed its charges against the pro-democracy activist.

Jordanians battle teen marriage

Women rights activists in Jordan are trying to overturn a legal clause which allows girls as young as 15 to be married off. They say the teenage brides are missing out on education, and many suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives. Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Amman, the Jordanian capital.

In Egypt, more people call for civil instead of religious marriage

Controversial cases in Egypt have spotlighted a legal system that leaves regulation of marriage and divorce to religious institutions, limiting individuals’ freedom to make personal decisions.

Gadhafi gives lesson on Islam to young Italian women in Rome

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gave a lesson on Islam and copies of the Koran to a few hundred young Italian women on Sunday as he arrived in Rome to mark a friendship treaty with Italy.  It was the second time the Libyan leader – who travels with female bodyguards and fancies himself a self-styled feminist – had staged such an event for Italian women, who were recruited by a modeling agency and paid an undisclosed sum to attend.  Michela, who asked that her last name not be used, told Associated Press Television News that three of the participants converted to Islam on the spot.  “It was a really beautiful meeting and went very well,” she said. “He is very easygoing and he gave us a copy of the Koran. Three girls converted themselves to Islam during the ceremony. It was a beautiful event.”

Silencing Spencer: Taqiyya and Kitman are part of Judeo-Christian Belief

Part of the grandiose anti-Muslim conspiracy theory espoused by Islamophobes today includes the idea that Muslims are, in the words of Robert Spencer, involved in “large scale deception campaigns today.”  Spencer dedicates chapter 6 of his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) to convince his readers that Islamic law allows for and even encourages lying “if it fosters the growth of Islam.” In this manner, moderate Muslim-Americans are cast away as “stealth jihadists”, who are simply using deception to further their belligerent faith.  Any Muslim who says otherwise is accused of lying.  When moderate Muslims express their peaceful views, these are dismissed as “deception campaigns.”  On the other hand, when extremist and fundamentalist Muslims express their belligerent views, these are accepted as being “real Islam.”

Islam in America
Exhibit seeks to reshape view of Muslim heritage with history of advances

ISTANBUL (AP) — For generations, the lore of “One Thousand and One Nights’’ helped shape Western notions about Muslim culture. The collection of tales described an exotic world of harems and flying carpets, Sinbad and monsters, Aladdin and the jinn, Ali Baba and the 40 thieves.  Now an exhibition about innovation in Muslim civilization seeks to highlight what organizers say is an overshadowed period of history, a “Golden Age’’ in which advances in engineering, medicine, and architecture laid groundwork for Western progress from the Renaissance until modern times.

There is no struggle between Islam and America, imam says

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf says opposition to the plan to build an interfaith centre near Ground Zero was being led by a “tiny, vociferous minority”.

N.Y. imam: Ground Zero mosque debate spurred by nearing U.S. vote

Feisal Abdul Rauf Rauf compares plight of U.S. Muslims to past religious-based prejudices and attacks against Jews and Roman Catholic immigrants.

Rev. Wright criticizes those who think Obama is Muslim

The comment by Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s former pastor, comes in the wake of a recent poll that found 18 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that Obama is a Muslim.

Obama: Muslim Rumors Not A Concern (VIDEO)

NEW ORLEANS (Associated Press) – President Barack Obama said Sunday he isn’t worried about a recent poll showing that nearly one-fifth of Americans believe he is a Muslim. “The facts are the facts,” said Obama, who is a Christian. In an interview broadcast on “NBC Nightly News,” the president blamed the confusion over his religious beliefs on “a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly.”

‘Arson’ at Tennessee mosque site

‘Successful’ attempt at terrorizing Muslim community takes mosque controversy ‘to whole new level,’ mosque spokeswoman says A fire started Saturday morning at the site of a controversial mosque expansion in a Nashville suburb is being ruled an arson, CBS affiliate WTVF reports.

How moderate Muslims in Africa view NYC mosque debate

Senegal is a critical junction for US dialogue with the Muslim world. Reaction there to the NYC mosque debate has potentially far-reaching implications for the battle against Al Qaeda.

Tea Party Reveals Real Reason Behind Mosque Opposition Frenzy

Privately, however, there seems to be little such confusion. The reasons there are given clearly, and it turns out it is precisely what many of us have argued all along: opposition organizers are motivated by an ideological belief that “Islam is evil and must be stopped; America is Judeo-Christian.”

Anti-mosque sentiment rages far from Ground Zero, Glenn Greenwald

One of the most under-reported political stories is the increasingly vehement, nationwide movement — far from Ground Zero — to oppose new mosques and Islamic community centers.  These ugly campaigns are found across the country, in every region, and extend far beyond the warped extremists who are doing things such as sponsoring “Burn a Quran Day.”

The Muslim Mosque New York City

The precise location in New York City of a new community center that includes a Muslim mosque is becoming an important national campaign issue for the Republican Party as the Nov. 2 Congressional and state election draws closer.  GOP politicians, their Tea Party warriors and the right wing in general are livid about plans to situate the facility two blocks from where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed in a terrorist attack nine years ago this Sept. 11.  This calculated Republican tantrum over an essentially trivial placement of an Islamic-associated community center seems to have hoodwinked a majority of Americans — over 60% — into opposing a project intended to improve relations between different faiths in the U.S., and “in particular between the Muslim world and the United States,” according to its backers.

Could Ground-Zero Mosque’s Backers Be Worse Than AIPAC’s?,  Grant Smith

Former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) staffer M.J. Rosenberg told the Israel lobby to “pull the plug” on activities fanning the “anti-Muslim explosion that has seized this country over the past month.” The former insider charges organizations such as AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and assorted neocon outfits with having “set the stage” for hysteria by demonizing Muslims in the name of “advancing their Middle East Agenda.” This strategy has been decades in the making.

America’s Holy Crusade against the Muslim World, Michel Chossudovsky

We have reached a decisive transition in the evolution of US military doctrine. The “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) directed against Al Qaeda launched in the wake of 9/11 is evolving towards a full-fledged “war of religion”, a “holy crusade” directed against the Muslim World.  US military dogma and war propaganda under the Bush administration, was predicated on combating Islamic fundamentalism rather than targeting Muslims. “This is not a war between the West and Islam, but .. a war against terrorism.” So-called “Good Muslims” are to be distinguished from “Bad Muslims”:

NYT Op-Ed offers tiresome dichotomy of good Zionists vs bad religious settlers

Aug 30, 2010 

Matthew Taylor 

Gadi Taub’s NYT oped on the coming negotiations is so problematic, ahistorical, Israeli-centric, and rife with elisions, it reads like… well… a lot of other stuff cluttering the pages and electrons of said publication.

It leads off with the rhetorical question, “Will Israel remain a Zionist state?” – as if this is the most important issue to be tackled at the talks. Not “Will the systematic and willful oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people finally come to an end?” (Which all sane observers are doubtful will be the result.) Then he sets up the Zionist left’s desperate, tiresome good guys vs. bad guys frame: the pious seculars vs. the evil religious nuts.

The secular Zionist dream was fundamentally democratic. Its proponents, from Theodor Herzl to David Ben-Gurion, sought to apply the universal right of self-determination to the Jews, to set them free individually and collectively as a nation within a democratic state.

David Ben-Gurion and his allies also orchestrated what can only be described as a “fundamentally democratic” ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians, which “set them free” from their home, their lands, their lives….

Taub contrasts his Ben-Gurion good guys with the loathsome bad guys:

This dream is now seriously threatened by the religious settlers’ movement, Orthodox Jews whose theological version of Zionism is radically different…. Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, later focused his father’s theological ideas around a single commandment: to settle all the land promised to the ancient Hebrews in the Bible.

Wait a second… The colonization of the West Bank has been a national project of every government of Israel for decades.

Whether Likud or Labor, so-called “left, “center,” or “right,” all Israeli governments have devoted massive financial, military, and human resources to the expulsion of Palestinians, confiscation of their farmlands, demolition of their homes, and construction of illegal settlements. But that’s an inconvenient fact for Taub, who wants to blame the religious kooks. He then glorifies the secular Zionists some more:

Herzl never doubted that Israeli Arabs should have full and equal rights. For religious settlers, Arabs are an alien element in the organic unity of Jews and their land.

Notice he doesn’t mention Ben-Gurion here. Ben-Gurion never doubted that his militias must expel the multitudes of indigenous Arabs in order to fulfill his dream (their nightmare) of an artificial Jewish majority.

Palestinians inside Israel have never had “full and equal rights.” From day one Israel has treated Palestinians as second class citizens if that — see, for example, the Association of 40 unrecognized Palestinian villages inside Israel that still, 60 years later, seek recognition and basic social services like garbage collection. Several Palestinian orgs inside Israel are trying to get the country to (finally) adopt a constitution to protect their rights.

On the subject of apartheid, Taub’s op-ed rambles on about how there’s no apartheid now, but there will be someday soon if the pernicious religious settlers get their way. What, I’d like to ask Taub, do you anticipate the settlers would do that they aren’t doing already, that would get you to call it apartheid? No doubt, you will return to the NYT and write a new oped entitled “Now it’s finally apartheid, and it’s all the fault of the religious settlers — but not the government of Israel of course.” Taub also claims that if (?) Israel becomes an apartheid state, “Israel will betray the beliefs it was founded on.” Maybe Martin Buber’s beliefs, but certainly not Ben-Gurion’s, who insisted on Israel as a de facto apartheid state from the very beginning – how else to describe the impact of ethnic cleansing on those who are not allowed to return to their homes, not recognizing Palestinian villages, differing social services, etc.?

Predictably, Taub busts out that time-worn line of hasbara about how Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was an anti-settlement move, ignoring of course that it was a ploy to solidify Israel’s hold on the West Bank, as Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass proudly proclaimed.

But the most outrageous elision above all elisions is that Taub skips a chance to report some real news in his oped, about how far senior religious settler leaders have gone: calling for genocide of the Palestinians.

[Israel’s former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Shas party], said during his weekly Shabbat sermon that the Palestinians, namely Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, should perish from the world. Yosef, a founder of the Shas Party, also described Palestinians as evil, bitter enemies of Israel.

“All these evil people should perish from this world … God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians,” Yosef said.

Taub wraps it all up with the desperate plea of liberal self-absorbed Zionism, which I translate as “Please, please stop the occupation and the settlements now that they appear to be a threat of my dream of a militarily-enforced Jewish majority state existing in perpetuity”:

The religious settlement movement is not just secular Zionism’s ideological adversary, it is a danger to its very existence. Terrorism is a hazard, but it cannot destroy Herzl’s Zionist vision. More settlements and continued occupation can.

Never once in the entire piece does Taub mention the suffering of the Palestinian people. For shame!

From where I sit, the only Zionist vision that ever has been worth saving and ever will be is Martin Buber’s. Humanists (non-tribal, post-tribal) should read Buber’s book, and try to imagine how much different and better life would be today for Israelis and Palestinians alike if the Zionist project had followed Buber’s humanistic path of equality and cooperation instead of Ben-Gurion’s “secular” path of military conquest, ethnic cleansing, and domination.

What Lebanon can teach the U.S. about religious tolerance

Aug 30, 2010

David Samel

In Beirut, a recent event, under-reported in the United States, provides a dramatic contrast with the New York controversy over Park51, an Islamic cultural center planned for lower Manhattan. According to Ha’aretz, Lebanon’s largest Jewish synagogue has been saved from the wrecking ball and beautifully restored to its past glory.

The Magen Avraham synagogue had fallen into disrepair during the Lebanese Civil War of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Located in the city center, the synagogue was in danger of being demolished in favor of urban renewal. However, Beirut’s tiny Jewish population decided to save and renovate the structure, and received the approval not only of the Lebanese government but specifically of Hezbollah. The Islamic party, announcing its support, proclaimed: “We respect divine religions, including the Jewish religion.”

There was no public outcry, demonstrations, or even controversy. The contrast with the proposal to build the Islamic Center two blocks from the World Trade Center site could not be more stark. There have been increasingly strident and even frightening demonstrations against Park51, and the protesters cannot be dismissed as isolated fringe elements. Some public opinion polls have shown a majority of Americans, even a majority of New Yorkers, against the “Ground Zero Mosque,” which has become the unofficial, doubly inaccurate shorthand for the nearby cultural center. Politicians and media pundits have been divided, but many prominent conservatives, and even a significant number of prominent Democrats, such as Anthony Weiner and Harry Reid, have voiced various degrees of opposition.

It would be difficult to reconcile the dramatically different reactions in Beirut and New York. Of course, Park51 is in close proximity to the site where terrorists, supposedly acting in harmony with their interpretation of Islam, committed a heinous atrocity. The principal argument against the cultural center is that the wounds of 2001 are still too fresh to erect any Islamic symbol in the neighborhood. (Of course, anti-mosque fervor has spread to other states, including Tennessee, Wisconsin, and California, where proximity to “hallowed ground” cannot be considered a factor.)

But similar circumstances exist in Beirut as well.

The Lebanese are divided on many issues, but there is overwhelming agreement condemning Israel’s 2006 military campaign that took well over a thousand lives and destroyed residential areas of Beirut and other population centers throughout the country. A generation earlier, Israel’s 1982 invasion had a far higher death toll and began an 18-year military occupation of a wide swath of southern Lebanon. While this occupation featured frequent outbursts of lethal violence against the civilian population, the worst were in 1993 and 1996 when Labor Prime Ministers Rabin and Peres exhibited their “toughness” by randomly killing many civilians and panicking hundreds of thousands more into fleeing their homes.

Even those who might object to a comparison between the 9/11 attacks and Israel’s actions in Lebanon cannot reasonably dispute that Israel is about as unpopular in Lebanon as al-Qaeda is in the U.S. And just as the 9/11 terrorists cited Islam as their motivation, Israel acted as the self-proclaimed State of the Jewish People. Thus, the Lebanese had at least as much reason to oppose the Beirut synagogue restoration project as Americans have to oppose Park51.

But they did not.

The cooperation of the Lebanese, even Hezbollah, in the synagogue project demonstrates a degree of understanding that is sorely lacking in the U.S. The Lebanese did not allow their raw wounds from Israel’s repeated military assaults against their country to make them intolerant of Beirut’s remaining Jewish community and its symbols. Unfortunately, many Park51 opponents have a different view, holding New York’s Muslim population collectively responsible for the 19 individuals who hijacked not only airplanes but an entire religion. It seems that Americans and New Yorkers have a lot to learn about religious freedom and tolerance, and can take lessons from Beirut.

On a related note: Hezbollah’s approval of the synagogue renovation is entirely consistent with other statements it has made regarding distinctions between Jews and Zionism, e.g. “Our problem with them (the Israelis) is not that they are Jews, but that they are occupiers who are raping our land and holy places.” However, it is entirely inconsistent with the 2002 supposed quote of Hezbollah head Nasrallah that has been peddled as genuine by the likes of David Horowitz and Alan Dershowitz and CAMERA: “If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” This quote has gone viral, even finding its way into a New York Times book review, misleadingly cited by Dershowitz as the source for the quote, as if it had been reported in the Times rather than simply repeated by a book reviewer. Charles Glass, a journalist who actually was captured and held hostage by Hezbollah in 1987, has provided an excellent refutation of the quote, but it persists in hasbara lore because of its great value in portraying Arabs as motivated by genocidal Jew-hatred rather than resistance to Israeli aggression and occupation.

Back on TV due to popular demand…. ‘The Peace Industry’

Aug 30, 2010 

 Joseph Glatzer

A Happy Moment on the Set with Ban Ki-moon and Tony Blair

The Nobel Prize award winning show, “The Peace Industry” comes back for its 19th season on September 2nd, after an almost 2 year hiatus.  It is one of the longest running and most popular shows in TV history.

The pilot episode of the series premiered way back in 1991 in the exotic locale of Madrid, Spain.


There were a few highly rated one-off specials set in frigid Oslo, Norway, but the show wasn’t picked up for a full run until 1993. 

The Nobel Award winning cast in the glory days of the series

Critics say the picture below is proof that what used to be a natural and easy going chemistry among the cast members has now become something forced and awkward.


Expectations among critics are low this season. Even New York Times gossip columnist Ethan Bronner, who’s always strongly supported the Peace Industry, is expressing doubts:

…support for many of the settlements remains relatively strong in Israel. In other words, if this view holds, the Israelis have closed out any serious option of a two-state solution. So the talks are useless.

To add to the drama, some of the long running series’ most prominent Palestinian cast members are threatening to leave the show for good if their demands aren’t met. 

Abbas, who plays Abu Mazen on the show, is reportedly insisting that the plot pick up where it left off: the cliffhanger which left the gang stranded in Annapolis, Maryland.

The angry star, Mahmoud Abbas

Critics dismiss this as an empty threat, because similar statements over the years have never been followed through on.

While interest in the series has slumped among Palestinian and Israeli audiences as of late, several key European markets seem to never tire of the same old drama.

Germany expresses her undying love of the Peace Industry:

Germany’s Angela Merkel is excited

Merkel said feasible solutions to the key issues of dispute had already been drafted in earlier rounds of talks.

It was now up to the parties to demonstrate political willpower and the necessary willingness to compromise.

The Peace Industry has drawn comparisons to Law and Order because the casts of both shows have changed constantly over the years; but you never really notice the difference.

One of the most exciting new faces this year is a fresh faced youngster (and the show’s historic first black character) Barack Obama.  He’s reportedly been heard on the set muttering to himself, “I’ll succeed where all else have failed!”

“We’re counting on him to add a much needed new direction to the Peace Industry,” series regular, Mahmoud Abbas

There’s also a spinoff of the Bill Clinton character from the 2000 season: Hillary Clinton.  She’ll be joining the rest of the fictional peace processors in the Quartet. 

The Quartet: Not really a team of peacemakers, but they play one on tv

 After a long absence, returning to the cast is everyone’s favorite right wing hothead who just can’t seem to do anything right: Bibi! 

Bibi, in a characteristic outburst of anger

This is a controversial choice because Bibi was previously kicked off the show after a brief stint in the Peace Industry in 1999.  But he’s been brought back due to popular demand from Israeli fans! 

The Peace Processors insist the Peace Industry will reach its long promised conclusion this year. 

Having heard this promise for the last 20 years it’s hard not to see the whole thing as just another tragic comedy.

More on the ‘Firedoglake’ controversy

Aug 30, 2010 

Philip Weiss

A few more thoughts on the Firedoglake controversy I initiated. First the mea culpas.

My post on Saturday lacked context. I should have mentioned Siun’s fine work on Israel/Palestine, including the Al-Arakib demolition. I should have mentioned Spencer Ackerman’s tough columns on Israel’s behavior. Both these writers have prominence on FDL. And as Philip Munger and CTuttle point out in comments on that post, they have had platforms at the site, to do work that is critical of Israel. I should have mentioned FDL founder Jane Hamsher’s own progressive stance on the issue, for instance this 2008 Gaza-war piece celebrating the fact that people were no longer getting fried on the third rail for criticizing Israel, and pointing to folks like Ezra Klein, J Street, Joe Klein, Glenn Greenwald and Matt Yglesias. 

If I had it to do over again, I would have been more positive, too. I would have congratulated FDL on its great record in progressive politics and its achievements, going back to Valerie Plame and Libby and on feminist issues too. They certainly deserve credit, notably Hamsher, notwithstanding the vicious character of many of her tweets in the last couple days.

But let me get to what I think was right about the post, and why I don’t regret it, and why this is such an important conversation.

First of all, the post dealt with a specific incident in which an FDL moderator sought to suppress a conversation about the media’s treatment of Israel.

The moderator, Rayne, went after Kathleen Galt– Leen– who considers the Israel/Palestine issue the most important issue in progressive politics and has pushed it at FDL. Rayne scolded Leen and accused her of a “harangue” for her suggestion that FDL is closing down the parameters of that discussion. Galt was already in bad odor because she had faulted Hamsher for not bringing up Israel-Palestine, not even “a whisper,” in a 45-minute-long Washington Journal appearance discussing progressive issues. In that first set-to, Leen had made her criticism politely, and Hamsher was high-handed with her. No one asked me about it, she said, re her C-Span appearance. As if being asked means you can’t bring up something that’s important. In her back-and-forth with the moderator, Rayne, Leen was also polite and persistent, and Rayne was censorious.

Yes, I should have framed this incident in all the good work FDL has done but I’m bad at my lines, and the key thing is, It was ugly. Leen was making a case for treating the Israel Palestine issue as a central piece of our politics, and she got a lot of stick about curbing her speech. As Leen has asked: “Why would the moderator start demanding definitions of terms used, like ‘Zionism,’ and not demand more defined definitions of ‘conservative’ Republican etc?” (You’ll find more of Leen’s commentary, as Kathleen, in the comments on this post about Firedoglake.)

The issue here is parameters and leadership. While it is true that FDL does a lot of good stuff on Israel/Palestine, it tends to follow the news and it does not give the issue particular prominence. We’ve seen what this site is capable of when it wants to put an issue on the progressive agenda, it leads and does a lot of digging. In this case it has tended to follow others. The parameters are clear, at the top anyway. Hamsher herself will enthusiastically support progressive Democrats like Anthony Weiner and Alan Grayson and never hold them to account on their backward views on Israel/Palestine and Hamas. Weiner is the darling of the rightwing Zionist Organization of America. MJ Rosenberg once said that we’re only going to see change on this issue when liberal reporters start asking Jerry Nadler at press conferences how he can be so progressive domestically and say nothing about the abuse of Palestinians in the occupied territories (and in Israel as well). Hamsher won’t do that. Though yes, some voices on her site will.

Imagine enthusiastically supporting a candidate who was good on most of your issues but was fiercely anti-choice. For Galt and myself, that’s the point. 

That brings me to leadership. For many of us on the left and in the Realist camp too, this is The central foreign policy issue. It ties into 9/11 and Iraq and now Iran. You can’t oppose war on Iran without dealing with the Israel question in our politics, and you can’t deal with the Israel question without getting out a moral compass. Our policy there violates two great American liberal fighting traditions: all people are created equal, as Jefferson and then Lincoln reminded us, and the respect for the political self-determination of peoples, as articulated by Wilson 100 years ago. It was on such moral grounds that I.F. Stone got engaged in the civil rights movement in the 1950s and urged northerners to support the blacks who were taking on segregation. Give them political oxygen, he called out!

Well if you search FDL for Sheikh Jarrah or al-Masara or al-Walaja, the front line in the protests against the Israeli occupation, you find little. Walaja is a scene of desperate displacement of Palestinians by American-made bulldozers in the shadow of a hateful settlement. Well, I found one hit for Walaja— and it was by Kathleen Galt, whom Hamsher has described as a “mentally ill troll.” Galt is not a troll; for me, a person who is struggling with this issue every day and seeking the company of strong men and women who can guide me and support me and whom I can support in turn, she’s a leader.

And I’m not even talking about other progressive conversations people should be having– like What about the one state solution–isn’t the two-state-solution dead? Why are our politicians so blind to the reality on the ground in the West Bank? I don’t see that conversation being pushed at FDL. I see a circumscribed debate.

I don’t like this fight. I want the progressive community engaged on this question with moral fervor. I want Hamsher’s creative talents engaged head-on here. I want our progressive politicians to move on it. We need FDL, and I regret the tone of my first post and apologize for it.

But let’s be clear. Many of us on the left, and in the realist camp too, are going to take our stand on this issue. We are much like the abolitionists of the 1850s, in that we feel no allegiance to either existing political party when it comes to this matter. Firedoglake’s leadership doesn’t see it as a central issue, and that’s where we differ.

As my friend Annie writes, “There is no reason why this election season Israel and the lobby should not be front and center. Nothing the prez is doing in a foreign policy way (Iran or the ‘peace talks’) can conceivably be construed to be devoid of Israeli/American neocon manipulations, and we need to have a national dialogue about it, because it is huge and w/ elections coming up we all know there are going to be these damning scary sounding lobby commercials all over the place accusing people of not loving Israel enough.”

Much of the progressive base shares Annie’s view. Much of the rank-and-file at J Street is with us, too. They are tired of a political system both of whose parties validate the open prison that is Gaza and the denial of basic human and political rights to millions of Palestinians living under occupation. Educated Americans are beginning to question Israel’s ethnocentric policies and the strategic burden it represents for the U.S. across a volatile region. Even the New York Times is moving, publishing Glenn Loury on the Nakba and Ali Abunimah on the importance of Hamas. Progressives are going to have to get on board that train, or they will become irrelevant.

Handicapping Islamophobia

Aug 30, 2010

Scott McConnell

All of sudden two of the usually completely distinct spheres of my life are on the same highway, merging into the same lane. Two days ago my new golf friend Stephanie Wei posted this on her golf blog, calling out a woman golf luminary for posting Islamophobic comments on her facebook page. As I know her, Stephanie is not political, but no fan of bigots either. In the golf world her post was widely picked up. I wasn’t surprised, for there is no American sport whose top players are more Republican, and self-consciously Christian than the PGA tour. At the same time, golf has a (pretty well-deserved) self image as being a realm of fair play and decency in a fallen world. The issue of Islamophobia cuts right into that, teasing out all the contradictions and spinning them about.

As it happened, I was playing yesterday with Stephanie, my wife, and an old friend. Somewhere late in the round, Stephanie and I began talking about the mosque, and I was expounding on my own view that whatever I might have thought about the idea of an Islamic cultural center in that spot, the issue had morphed into the much bigger one of whether the United States would be “officially” anti-Muslim or not, and the world was watching.

Walking up the fairway, my old friend overheard us talking. He said, I don’t know how anyone could say that the United States is anti-Muslim, or what basis any Muslims have for thinking that. Wow, I thought. I replied that we had killed several hundred thousand Iraqis and made refugees of several million more. I added that we had given more aid to Israel than we had to all the countries of the world combined. (That’s a slight exaggeration, I think).

Are you saying we shouldn’t, he asked. Not if they keep preventing a Palestinian state, I said.

We fell silent. It seemed better to drop the subject and think about the approach shots we faced, and the next three holes.

Posted in Middle East1 Comment




Code Pink aims to stage barbed-wire Gaza outside White House tomorrow

Aug 31, 2010 

Philip Weiss

From CodePink’s press release on a street theater action planned for the front of the White House tomorrow: A Peace Charade – A Theatre Parody of the Peace Talks:

Led by CODEPINK, activists will come together to put on a short performance, with the White House as their backdrop, to parody the farce masquerading as peace talks. The performers will include “President Abbas,” “Prime Minister Netanyahu,” and “Secretary Clinton”. There will be people from Gaza, behind barbed wire, complaining that they are not included, and settlers and IDF soldiers busily building more settlements while the talks are going on. The activists will employ large props, witty dialogue, and the White House background to put on an engaging and funny performance that delivers an important message: these talks are little more than a farce meant for producing photo opportunities for the U.S. while allowing a continuation of Israeli settlement expansion, land annexation and the siege of Gaza.

“While we are making fun of a process that will go nowhere, we will also be making a serious point that real negotiations can only happen if the people of Gaza are represented through their elected government, Hamas, and if there is a halt to Israel’s expansionist policies,” says CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin, who will play Hillary Clinton in the play. The actors/actresses will also be available for serious interviews on their views of the peace process.


When: Wednesday, September 1st, 12 PM

Where: In front of the White House

Who: The CODEPINK Theater Troupe

Meshal: Most Palestinians, from elites to regular people, reject the talks

Aug 31, 2010 

Philip Weiss

From Huffpo, a piece saying that the peace process under Obama is risking greater violence. Interview by Shamine Narwani of Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus:

KM: These negotiations are taking place for American and Israeli considerations, calculations and interests only. There are no interests at all for us as Palestinians or Arabs. That’s why the negotiations can only be conducted under American orders, threats and pressure exerted on the PA and some Arab countries.

The negotiations are neither supported nationally nor are they perceived as legitimate by the authoritative Palestinian institutions. They are rejected by most of the Palestinian factions, powers, personalities, elites, and regular people — that is why these “peace talks” are destined for failure.

This represents a perfect example of how the US administration deals with the Arab-Israeli conflict — how American policy appears to be based on temporary troubleshooting instead of working toward finding a real and lasting solution.

Consecutive US administrations have adopted this same policy of “managing conflict” instead of “resolving conflict.” This can be useful for American tactical and short-term purposes, but it is very dangerous on the long-term and the strategic levels. This approach will ultimately prove catastrophic for the region.

SN: There is debate about whether Hamas accepts the premise of a two-state solution — your language seems often vague and heavily nuanced. I want to ask if you could clarify, but I am also curious as to whether it is even worth accepting a two-state solution today when there has been so much land confiscation and settlement activity by Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem? 

KM: Hamas does accept a Palestinian state on the lines of 1967 — and does not accept the two-state solution.

SN: What is the difference between the two?

KM: There is big difference between these two. I am a Palestinian. I am a Palestinian leader. I am concerned with accomplishing what the Palestinian people are looking for — which is to get rid of the occupation, attain liberation and freedom, and establish the Palestinian state on the lines of 1967. Talking about Israel is not relevant to me — I am not concerned about it. It is an occupying state, and I am the victim. I am the victim of the occupation; I am not concerned with giving legitimacy to this occupying country. The international community can deal with this (Israeli) state; I am concerned with the Palestinian people. I am as a Palestinian concerned with establishing the Palestinian state only.

SN: Can you clarify further? As a Palestinian leader of the Resistance you have to give people an idea of what you aspire to — and how you expect to attain it?

KM: For us, the 20 years of experience with these peace negotiations — and the failure of it — very much convinces us today that the legitimate rights of Palestinians will be only be gained by snatching them, not by being gifted with them at the negotiating table. Neither Netanyahu nor any other Israeli leader will ever simply gift us a Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority has watered down all its demands and is merely asking for a frame of reference to the 1967 borders in negotiations, but Netanyahu has repeatedly refused to accept even this most basic premise for peace. Nor will America or the international community gift us with a state — we have to depend on ourselves and help ourselves.

As a Palestinian leader, I tell my people that the Palestinian state and Palestinian rights will not be accomplished through this peace process — but it will be accomplished by force, and it will be accomplished by resistance. I tell them that through this bitter experience of long negotiations with the Israelis, we got nothing — we could not even get the 1967 solution. I tell them the only option in front of us today is to take this by force and by resistance. And the Palestinian people today realize this — yes, it has a steep price, but there is no other option for the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people tried the peace process option but the result was nothing.

Smear campaign targets pro-Palestinian Brooklyn College professor; alum suspends ’significant bequest’

Aug 31, 2010 

Zoe Zenowich and Alex Kane

A campaign reminiscent of past academic battles over Israel is afoot, this time targeting Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi, who edited the newly released book titled Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How it Changed the Course of the Israel/Palestine Conflict.

Critics of Bayoumi say it is inappropriate for the college to assign his book, How Does It Feel to be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America, to the approximately 1500 incoming freshmen, a longstanding tradition meant to engage students in collective dialogue through writing. Critics are accusing Bayoumi’s book of seeking to “inculcate students with a political viewpoint,” claiming the decision lacks “balance.” But upon closer examination of the concocted controversy, it becomes clear that the targeting of Bayoumi is principally for his advocacy for Palestinian human rights. His adversaries are using the college’s decision to have his book read by freshmen as a tool to raise questions about his stance on Israel/Palestine.

Assigning the book to incoming freshmen is meant to “humanize a population that’s being increasingly dehumanized,” Bayoumi told a group of Brooklyn College students today in an afternoon meet-the-author session where students had the opportunity to ask questions.

Bayoumi has been labeled a “radical pro-Palestinian” professor by Brooklyn College alumni Bruce Kesler, who recently wrote that the college will no longer be receiving a “significant bequest” from him. Kesler, a contributing editor to the right-wing group Family Security Matters, a project of the Center for Security Policy, whose members include former Vice President Dick Cheney and neoconservatives like Elliot Abrams, has brought the most attention to Bayoumi, with an article citing him appearing in the New York Daily News.

Kesler is not the only person to join in on the smear campaign. The Jewish Week has joined in the fray, citing anonymous professors from the college as saying that Bayoumi’s book will “indoctrinate” students.

Professor of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College, Jonathan Helfand, told Ashley Thorne of the National Association of Scholars, a conservative group that opposes “racial, gender, and other group preferences,” that the book on the flotilla “is at best biased, at worst vile propaganda.” The NAS also opposes the use of Bayoumi’s book, referring to it as “polemical,” and the decision to assign it as “troubling.”

Abigail Rosenthal, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Brooklyn College, called Bayoumi the “author of a blatantly one-sided collection on the Gaza flotilla” whose book on Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. “will intimidate incoming students who have a different point of view.”

And Campus Watch, an organization dedicated to suppressing criticism of Israel on campus, has highlighted an article on Pajamas Media about Bayoumi.

One of the criticisms directed at How Does It Feel to be a Problem? is the claim that the book draws a parallel between “the horrible and pervasive discrimination and injustices that Blacks were subjected to a century ago and Arab-Americans today,” which Kesler labels “ridiculous.” But in their zeal to make it look like Bayoumi’s book on young Arabs in America is their real problem, as opposed to his advocacy for Palestinians, the critics don’t seem to have read the book. The first footnote in Bayoumi’s book, whose title comes from a famous W.E.B. DuBois line, explains that by making a link between blacks and Arabs in the U.S., he means to “draw attention to how difference operates in American society, but this certainly does not mean that Arab-American life since September 11, 2001, is in any way equivalent to the ravages of slavery and segregation.”

Bayoumi’s How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? has also been used at other colleges, like Johnson State College in Vermont.

So far, Brooklyn College has stood its ground. In a statement given to the Daily News, the college says that it is “regrettable that Mr. Bruce Kesler misunderstands the intentions of the Common Reader experience and the broader context of this selection.”

However, there’s bound to be sympathy among pro-Israel Brooklyn College and City University of New York donors with regard to those sentiments expressed by Kesler and others. Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, for one, who sits on the board that governs the city’s public college system, is a prominent supporter of Israel, and was a key player in the witch hunt against the Khalil Gibran International Academy.

The smears against Bayoumi bring to mind similar campaigns, like the one that undid Norman Finkelstein’s tenure bid at DePaul University and the failed attempt to deny Joseph Massad, a professor at Columbia University, tenure.

Those campaigns may be a harbinger of things to come for Bayoumi, who is not tenured at Brooklyn College.

Zoe Zenowich is a Senior in the Scholars Program at Brooklyn College, where she is the managing editor of the Excelsior, a student newspaper. She is currently interning for the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and has interned for the Nation and the Economist.

Alex Kane is a college student, journalist and blogger based in New York City. He is a reporter for the Indypendent, and a frequent contributor to this site. His articles have also appeared in Common Dreams, Electronic Intifada, Extra! and Palestine Chronicle. He blogs at Follow him on Twitter here.

Unchallenged violence and intimidation, coming soon to a mosque near you

Aug 31, 2010

Alex Kane

Reading accounts of the far-right English Defense League’s (EDL) recent anti-Muslim rally in Bradford, England is disturbing. EDL members, shouting slogans that state that Allah is a “pedophile” and that they “love the floods” currently devastating Pakistan, clashed with riot police during a rally held last Saturday in a city with a significant Muslim presence.

More disturbingly, recent events here don’t seem to be far from what Muslims in England have experienced. And no one in power is doing anything to stop it.

Islamophobic attitudes are rampant in both Europe and the United States. A recent TIME magazine poll found “that many Americans harbor lingering animosity toward Muslims. Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one-third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President.”

Public expressions of hate against Muslims is on the rise. In Connecticut, as Hailey Woldt, who worked as a researcher to find out “what it meant to be Muslim in post-9/11 America,” highlighted, “a group of children leaving a Bridgeport mosque last week, as reported by the Connecticut Post, had to brace themselves as they walked past a group of about a dozen Christian protestors yelling ‘Islam is a lie’ and ‘Jesus hates Muslims.’”

During the August 22 rally near Ground Zero, anti-community center protesters surrounded a black man, apparently thinking he was Muslim, and forcefully confronted him. A fire at a Tennessee mosque was ruled to be an arson, and there were reports of gunshots being fired nearby. Today, Talking Points Memo highlights how the armed group the Minutemen are now taking up the anti-Muslim mantle, warning of border-crossing terrorists. And we can’t forget the stabbing of Ahmed Sharif, a Muslim cabdriver in New York City.

The Islamophobic thread running through Europe and the United States doesn’t end there, and Israel/Palestine plays an important role. Pamela Geller, the far-right anti-Muslim blogger who is leading the anti-Muslim crusade here, has defended and made common cause with the EDL, as Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball reported.

Geller and the EDL are part of the alliance between far-right groups, who see the Israel-Palestine conflict as a key battle in the fight to end “Islamism,”and right-wing Zionists like Geller.

Far-right groups keen on using violence, implicitly or overtly, are not new to the United States. The real danger today lies in the spinelessness of American politicians, who are aiding the hate or tacitly sitting by while attacks against Muslims continue. And it also lies in the complicity of some American Jews, like the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman and neo-conservatives like William Kristol, who are strong supporters of Israel and have come out against the Islamic community center near Ground Zero because, as MJ Rosenberg put it, “they believe that the more acceptance there is of Muslims here at home, the less reflexive hatred there will be for Muslims abroad. And that, in their view, reduces America’s sympathy for Israel.”

The horror that Muslim children in Bridgeport, CT felt when protesters shouted “Jesus hates Muslims” at them; the fear of the Muslim community in Tennessee after a fire at a mosque and reported gunshots; the blood that gushed from Ahmed Sharif; all of these incidents are not taking place in a vacuum. Expect similar stories in the future, though–our politicians are aiding and abetting this dangerous trend.

Signed sealed delivered I’m yours

Aug 31, 2010 

Philip Weiss

What’s she running for? Sarah Palin celebrated Shabbat in Pennsylvania last Friday night with many Jews, before her appearance at that Glenn Beck rally. From Benyamin Korn of Jews for Sarah:

my organization, Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin, set up a Shabbaton — a Sabbath gathering for meals, songs, prayers, and conversation — with the assistance of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, to be a part of their weekend with Mrs. Palin….

By evening, the halls of the Hershey Lodge were filled with the aroma of chulent, the traditional Sabbath stew. More than 1,000 citizens came to the $200-a-plate dinner with the governor, including a small group whose members paid $25,000 each to sit at the governor’s table. Our Jews for Sarah tables included a cross-section. Some came from Philadelphia, Baltimore, or North Jersey, while others from farther afield. Dr. Joseph Frager, president of the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, made the drive from Queens.

Some say that Jews aren’t moving right, by the way. I’m not buying, I think the community is politically transformed from the one I grew up in…

Some diasporas from persecution have honor

Aug 31, 2010 

Philip Weiss

Janet Maslin in the Times on Isabel Wilkerson’s new book, The Warmth of Other Suns, which documents the ways that blacks sought to flee the Jim Crow south.

She has documented the sweeping 55-year-long migration of black Americans across their own country….

Ms. Wilkerson makes a case that people who left the South only to create hometown-based communities in new places are more like refugees than migrants: more closely tied to their old friends and families, more apt to form tight expatriate groups, more enduringly attached to the areas they left behind. She argues that these people, among them her Georgia-born mother and Virginia-born father who raised Ms. Wilkerson in Washington, D.C., were better educated and more closely tied to their families than other scholars have assumed. She works on a grand, panoramic scale but also on a very intimate one, since this work of living history boils down to the tenderly told stories of three rural Southerners who immigrated to big cities from their hometowns.

…Ms. Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,200 people whose lives had followed the same basic pattern: early years in the South followed by relocation in either the North or the West.

‘How to kill goyim and influence people’

Aug 31, 2010 

Max Blumenthal 

Weiss: Earlier today I complained that Americans are not getting the news about what Israel is becoming. My endless complaint. Here is someone who can cut the corridor, as they say: Max Blumenthal, whose message from Jerusalem a year ago was killed and killed and killed but still it lived, and who is now exploring the violent underbelly of Israeli settler fundamentalism, which is completely supported by the government. Here he’s writing about the origins of a tract that encourages the murder of goyim, and tying it into the genocidal speech toward Palestinians by leading Orthodox rabbi Ovadia Yosef the other day (not part of this excerpt). Terrorism, in front of our eyes:

As soon as it was published late last year, Torat Ha’Melech sparked a national uproar. The controversy began when an Israeli tabloid panned the book’s contents as “230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guidebook for anyone who ponders the question of if and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew.” According to the book’s author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira… “If we kill a gentile who has has violated one of the seven commandments… there is nothing wrong with the murder.”… Citing Jewish law as his source (or at least a very selective interpretation of it) he declared: “There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.”

In January, Shapira was briefly detained by the Israeli police, while two leading rabbis who endorsed the book, Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef, were summoned to interrogations by the Shabak. However, the rabbis refused to appear at the interrogations, essentially thumbing their noses at the state and its laws. And the government did nothing. The episode raised grave questions about the willingness of the Israeli government to confront the ferociously racist swathe of the country’s rabbinate…

In response to the rabbis’ public rebuke of the state’s legal system, the Israeli Attorney General and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept silent. Indeed, since the publication of

Torat Ha’Melech

, Netanyahu has strenuously avoided criticizing its contents or the author’s leading supporters. Like so many prime ministers before him, he has been cowed into submission by Israel’s religious nationalist community. But Netanyahu appears to be particularly impotent. His weakness stems from the fact that the religious nationalist right figures prominently in his governing coalition and comprises a substantial portion of his political base….

The disturbing philosophy expressed in Torat Ha’Melech emerged from the fevered atmosphere of a settlement called Yitzhar located in the northern West Bank near the Palestinian city of Nablus. Shapira leads the settlement’s Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, holding sway over a small army of fanatics who are eager to lash out at the Palestinians tending to their crops and livestock in the valleys below them. One of Shapira’s followers, an American immigrant named Jack Teitel, has confessed to murdering two innocent Palestinians and attempting to the kill the liberal Israeli historian Ze’ev Sternhell with a mail bomb. Teitel is suspected of many more murders, including an attack on a Tel Aviv gay community center.

Despite its apparent role as a terror training institute,

Od Yosef Chai has raked in nearly fifty thousand

dollars from the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs since 2007, while the Ministry of Education has pumped over 250 thousand dollars into the yeshiva’s coffers between 2006 and 2007.

Now Israeli academics sign on to occupation-boycott, citing disaster for Jewish state

Aug 31, 2010 

Philip Weiss

Another shoe drops on boycott. Here are Israeli academics, many of them obviously Zionist, saying that they will not go into the territories. Their petition helps to dispel the big clouds surrounding academic boycott here in the U.S. Yes these Israelis are leaders; because as Omar Barghouthi has said, If you will boycott just an egg, we want you to boycott that egg.

The Israeli gesture also gets at the poverty of the American discourse on this issue.

Why is it that these lecturers have gone further than liberal Zionists here? Why is it that you will now see liberal Zionists in the U.S., granted permission by the Israelis, taking similar steps? Why must they have Israeli permission? Why can’t American liberals come to this understanding on their own? Remember: they didn’t need the Phoenix Suns (brave) gesture against the Arizona law to say, We’re gonna boycott Arizona. Finally, when will the existential crisis that the Jewish state is in due chiefly to its endless expansionism be communicated to the American people, without hysteria, by the media? Why is Israeli media freer to discuss the one-state-solution than the American media? (It is all about deference to Zionism inside American culture, and the guardian role granted the Israel lobby by the Jewish community and the U.S. establishment.) From Ynet:

“We are dealing with a catastrophe whose implication is a failure to partition the land; this may threaten the State’s existence as a Jewish entity.” [said Economics prof Ariel Rubenstein]

Rubinstein added that he does not dismiss the possibility of imposing an academic boycott similar to the one imposed against South Africa during the apartheid era. “Under some circumstances, academic boycotts should not be rejected, but the question is who imposes the boycott and why,” he said….[meaning, he’s against the right of return…]

Another signatory to the boycott petition is Professor Amiram Goldblum, a chemistry lecturer at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“By signing, we declare that we shall refuse invitations for lectures or seminars in the territories,” he said. “We will not appear at the Ariel College or at its branches, because we believe that any appearance or academic discussion there violates the law and international conventions, which Israel should adhere to like all other nations.”

Advocates for 3 U.S. hikers captured by Iran spotlight their leftwing activism

Aug 31, 2010 

Philip Weiss

Here is a great piece by Stephen Zunes on Huffpo about the three American hikers captured by Iran a year ago, evidently when they were on Iraqi soil, visiting a famous water fall. Zunes situates the travelers’ experience in leftwing activism. They had worked in a Palestinian refugee camp. They had visited their hospitalized friend Tristan Anderson, maimed by the Israelis. They are from the Bay Area, and  Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal are from the Bay Area, and Bauer has published a fine investigative piece in the Nation on Bush-era sponsorship of Iraqi death squads. (He had support from the Nation Institute, too.) Zunes:

Perhaps as a testament to his own youthful idealism as a community organizer, President Barack Obama acknowledged their activism in a statement calling for their release, saying, “They are simply open-minded and adventurous young people who represent the best of America, and of the human spirit. They are teachers, artists, and advocates for social and environmental justice.” Overall, however, the Obama administration appears to place freeing them from Iranian captivity as a relatively low priority.     

After months of working unsuccessfully through official channels, some of the friends and family members of the detainees have decided to publicize their plight — along with their history of activism — in the hopes that global civil society, particularly the progressive activist community, can take the kind of initiative not yet coming from Washington.       

The fear-mongering and saber-rattling that U.S. hawks have directed at the Iranian regime make it difficult for some progressive activists in the United States to speak out against the repression of the right-wing theocratic regime in Tehran. Yet, while the military threat posed by Iran is often greatly exaggerated, the repressive nature of the regime is not. Indeed, the absurd notion that these three progressive anti-imperialist activists would be spying for the U.S. government is but one more demonstration of the moral and political bankruptcy of the Iranian regime. And, given that — despite all the extreme anti-Iranian rhetoric — Washington is not doing much in support of these American captives, it’s up the progressive community to organize on their behalf.     

Leading progressives such as Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Angela Davis, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Alex Cockburn, Christian Parenti, and the late Howard Zinn have called for their release. As Chomsky put it, “These young people represent a segment of the U.S. population that is critical of [U.S.] policies, and often actively opposed to them. Hence their detention is particularly distressing to all of us who are dedicated to shifting U.S. policy to one of mutual respect rather than domination.”

3-year-old in Hebron has cerebral atrophy, but Israel won’t let her mother in Gaza come back to her

Aug 31, 2010 


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Israel expands 2 settlements ahead of direct talks with Palestinians
RAMALLAH, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) — Three days before the direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are officially launched in Washington on Thursday, a Palestinian official revealed on Monday that Israel began to expand two Jewish settlements in the West Bank.  The Palestinian state-run news agency Wafa has quoted Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) official, who is in charge of the Jewish settlement file in northern West Bank, as saying that the expansion have begun in the settlements of Elon Moreh and Giv’at Gilad north of Nablus.

Rabbi Yosef gives PM breathing space on building freeze
Shas spiritual leader supports quiet continuation of settlement building freeze as Netanyahu travels to US to kickoff negotiations; values peace with Palestinians despite recent inflammatory remarks.,7340,L-3946523,00.html

Israeli settlements to be determining issue in peace talks
The building of new Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory will be one of the key and determining issues in upcoming peace talks that will be held in the US capital Washington DC.   Israel has been criticised by all sides, including the US, for its illegal construction of thousands of new homes, which have been separated by an imposing wall.   Nour Odeh reports from the Palestinian village of Al-Walajeh in the West Bank, where many are suffering from the unlawful settelements. [August 30, 2010]

6 families ordered to vacate homes for demolition
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Monday told six Palestinian families in the Nablus district their homes would be demolished and ordered them to vacate within 48 hours, an official said.  The families were from Um Ar-Rashash, near Duma village, Palestinian Authority settlement affairs officer Ghassan Doughlas said.

A fortnight of injustice in Sheikh Jarrah
The past two weeks in Sheikh Jarrah have seen a resurgence of settler harassment and violence against the local Palestinians – beyond low intensity abuse that is the norm.  Verbal sparring and abusive exchanges were sparked when a young settler entered the occupied Al-Ghawe house on August 16th. The teenager then went to the top of house and hoisted a huge Israeli flag up on the roof, next to the oversized menorah, a deliberate act of provocation intended to insult the evicted Palestinian family further.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Invitation: Mass demonstration “No direct bilateral negotiations under the conditions set by the US and Israel”
August 31st, 2010– The coordination committee formed in opposition to the direct negotiations held under conditions set by the US and Israel calls on all political forces and Palestinians to join a mass demonstration.
When: Wednesday, September 1 2010
Where: al-Manara Square, Ramallah
When: 11.00 am

“Solidarity tastes different inside prison”, Ameer Makhoul
“My human dignity, basic human rights and constitutional rights are suffering from basic violations. I still have no permit to meet my lawyers without being recorded.” The Electronic Intifada publishes an edited excerpt from a 7 August 2010 letter written by Ameer Makhoul from Israeli prison.

Catalonian Youth Advocate Palestine Via Music
Nablus – PNN exclusive – a group of Catalonian youth currently visiting the Palestinian territory have taken the responsibility to advocate the Palestinian cause using a number of methods among them music.  The group visit is organized by Solidarity with Palestine from Barcelona, an organization that is specialized in advocacy work for the Palestinian cause.   The organization advocacy work is done by organizing tours to Catalonian musical groups visiting schools, workshops, and art galleries and movies, Ashraf Ayoup, an organizer for the organization told PNN.

MK Oron: Artists have a right not to perform in West Bank settlements
300 demonstrators gathered outside Habima Theater in Tel Aviv to protest the theater’s decision to stage performances in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Actor’s West Bank boycott gets boost from 150 academics and artists
Men and women of letters lend their support to artists that announced their intention to boycott Ariel cultural center.

Should people boycott Israel? Pt2 with  Omar Barghouti

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism
Goods – Needs Vs. Supply – Aug 1 – Aug 28

Industrial Fuel – Needs Vs. Supply – Aug 1 – Aug 28

PA Health Ministry to send fuel to Gaza hospitals
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said Monday it would provide fuel to hospitals in Gaza.  Gaza’s sole power station shut down earlier this month due to lack of fuel leading the Strip’s hospitals to declare a state of emergency.  Director of Gaza City’s Dar Ash-Shifa Hospital Hussein Ashour said Monday that lives were at risk due to fuel shortages in the Strip. The hospital had only 16,000 liters of fuel left, Ashour said, adding that generators consume 7,000 liters daily. In the event of a power cut, the hospital would be unable to power the intensive care ward, operating rooms, dialysis wards, the cardiac unit or oxygen suppliers, he said.

Gisha: Is the Closure of the Gaza Strip Really for Security Reasons?
GIsha-  PNN- head of today’s testimony by Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Gisha sent a letter to The Turkel Public Commission to Examine the Israeli May  attack on the aid ships bound for Gaza.  Gisha letter reveals that the closure of Gaza was not imposed only for security reasons but also in order to wage “economic warfare” against the Gaza Strip.  The Turkel Committee is an inquiry set up by Israel to investigate the Israeli navy attack on Gaza flotilla on May which left nine aid workers dead and 54 others injured. The Committee  also investigate the Blockade of Gaza. It is led by Israeli retired Supreme Court Judge Jacob Turkel. The two other members of the panel are professor of international law Shabtai Rosenne, and military expert Amos Horev. The probe will be overseen by two International observers: Northern Irish former First Minister William David Trimble, and Canadian former military judge Ken Watkin.

Mother of sick 3-year-old stranded in Gaza
HEBRON (Ma’an) — The father of a 3-year-old girl suffering from cerebral atrophy is appealing for his wife and sons to be allowed to leave Gaza and return to the family home in the West Bank.  Osama Rasras, from Beit Ummar near Hebron, said his three children travelled with their mother to Gaza to visit his wife’s sick father. Israeli authorities would not allow them to leave for 18 months, during which time Dalal could not access medical treatment.

Palestinian student says denied travel at Allenby
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – Israeli authorities on Tuesday prevented a Palestinian student from exiting the West Bank at the Allenby Bridge, as he was en route to Cyprus to continue his studies, the young man said.  The Ramallah resident said it was the second time he had tried to cross the bridge and return to the Near East University in Cyprus, and the second time he was denied permission to cross out of the West Bank.  Not permitted to travel out of the Tel Aviv or the now-defunct Gaza airports, Ala Idreis said he was on his way to the Queen Aliya International Airport in Amman.

Life Amid The Ruins: Gazans Still Feel Under Siege
In the Gaza Strip, many homes remain in ruins after Israel’s military incursion at the end of 2008 crippled the territory. The war destroyed thousands of buildings, but the Israeli government won’t allow construction materials in even though there is a dire need.

Students from Gaza: Disregarded Victims of Israel’s Siege of the Gaza Strip – A Report on Israel’s Prevention of Gazan Students from Studying at the West Bank Universities
The Palestinian National Authority’s (PNA) educational system is an integrated national system that has been designed to meet the educational needs of Palestinian students in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Accordingly, the various Palestinian universities have, over the years, developed particular specializations. Thus, specializations that are available in the Gaza Strip may not be available in West Bank universities and vice versa. The close geographical proximity of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has always facilitated the education system in the oPt. In the absence of Israeli movement and access barriers, Gazan students can, for example, reach a university in Ramallah City in the West Bank by car in approximately one hour. As some major fields of study are not available in Gazan universities, thousands of Gazan students, particularly those who seek to obtain post-graduate degrees in medicine, dentistry, veterinary studies, radiology, medical engineering, environment protection, law and democracy, and human rights used to travel to the West Bank to study there.

Egypt banned Hamas pilgrims, party says
GAZA (Ma’an) — Hamas accused Egyptian security services Monday of obstructing the travel of pilgrims affiliated with the party to Mecca.  The Islamist party said it was “puzzled” by Egypt’s decision to prevent Hamas-affiliated pilgrims from passing through the country to reach Saudi Arabia, noting that the only route available to pilgrims is via the Rafah crossing on Egypt’s border.

Stuck inside of Cairo with the Gaza blues again, Susan Johnson
And here I sit in Cairo, exhausted and disappointed. I have been denied entrance to Gaza twice! I’m amazed I’m not angry and ready to give up, even though I’m discouraged.  My trip began August 24 with my flight from JFK being delayed for two hours. Arrival in Cairo though three hours late was simple; purchasing a visa, exchanging money, processing through passport control, collecting bags, walking out of the terminal into the blast of Egyptian heat and relief upon seeing “Susan Johnson” in the midst of the driver’s signs.


Mayor: Settlers open fire at Palestinian farmers
NABLUS (Ma’an) — A village mayor in Salfit said Tuesday that 10 armed Israeli settlers opened fire at three Palestinian teenagers as they tended to their land in Deir Istiya.  Village Mayor Nathmi Salman said Yousef Muhammad Al-Qaysi, 17, Sharaf Dawoud Ubeid, 18, and Udayy Azzam Ubeid, 18, were all tending to their land at 7:40 a.m. on the northern side of the village when mounted settlers rode past and fired on them. No injuries or damage were reported in the incident he said, adding that the village is in close proximity to the illegal West Bank settlement of Immanuel, which were built on lands owned by village residents.

Israeli forces invade Rafah; clashes reported
Late Sunday night, Israeli tanks, bulldozers and armored vehicles invaded the southern Gaza Strip, east of Rafah, and began bulldozing land in the An-Nahda neighborhood.

East Jerusalem neighborhood attacked by Israeli soldiers; at least 4 detained
The Silwan neighborhood, which has been the site of an Israeli municipal plan to rid the neighborhood of its Palestinian residents, came under fire once again on Monday when Israeli forces invaded to abduct Palestinians that they claim took part in clashes with settlers last Thursday.

Detainees’ mothers plan sit-in at Red Cross HQ
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Detainees’ Mothers Committee said Monday that it will spend a night in front the International Committee of the Red Cross’ headquarters in Gaza City to protest Israel’s policy of barring Strip residents from visiting detainees, a member said.  Mother of detained Ibrahim Baroud said the sit-in will be held a day before Eid begins, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is expected around 10 September.  Rafat Hamdounah, the head of the Detainees’ Studies Center, said dozens of mothers will join the sit-in to “express their condemnation of the Israeli Administration’s treatment of them and their sons,” a statement read.  Hamdounah called for organizations to support the sit-in and for the media to widely cover the issue.

Political/Flotilla Developments

Mideast talks reopen under tough conditions (AP)
AP – The U.S. relaunches Israeli-Palestinian talks this week, its third push over the past decade to solve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts — and this time under some of the most difficult conditions yet.*

U.S. anticipates ‘vigorous process’ between Israel, Palestinians
Washington officials and analysts express cautious optimism about direct peace negotiations, but cast doubt on one-year framework.

Israel PM assures right wing ahead of Washington summit (AFP)
AFP – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to reassure his right-wing Likud bloc in Israel’s ruling coalition on Monday he would not bow to territorial concessions in peace talks with the Palestinians.*

Abbas, Barak held secret meeting in Jordan (AFP)
AFP – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak have met secretly in Amman ahead of Middle East peace talks that start in Washington this week, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.*

Sha’ath to accompany Abbas to Washington
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’ath will accompany President Mahmoud Abbas to Washington, the official announced on Tuesday in Ramallah during a meeting on Israel’s settlement policy.  Sha’ath is expected to be among a small handful of officials traveling to the American capital for a short series of peace talks, the first face-to-face meetings in more than 20 months.  The peace-talk delegate made the announcement in parallel with a news conference accusing Israel of only partially implementing its 10-month settlement freeze in the West Bank.

Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad signals make or break for two-state solution
Talks in Washington – the first direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine for 20 months – ‘can and must’ succeed, says PM.  The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, warned today that a “moment of reckoning” was approaching as Israel and the Palestinian Authority prepare to embark this week on their first direct negotiations for 20 months.  Setting out his second-year plans to build the institutions and framework of a Palestinian state – which the US wants complete in 12 months – Fayyad said the talks “can and must” succeed or the chances of a two-state solution to the conflict would fade.

Fayyad says self-sufficient economy PA’s next goal
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A year into his two-year plan to build a Palestinian state, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says the next goal is be a self-sufficient economy.  Speaking at a presentation marking the midway point of his plan, Fayyad said recent growth was a result of foreign aid, but aid-dependency must be reduced to build an economy that can support statehood.

Barghouthi: Abbas should reconsider talks
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi said Monday that any concessions made by Palestinians in negotiations would only embolden Israel.  Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah, Barghouthi urged President Mahmoud Abbas to reconsider his decision to engage in direct talks, set to resume Thursday in Washington after a 20-month hiatus.

Diana Buttu: direct talks bound to fail
As US officials arrived in Jerusalem last week to meet with Palestinian Authority and Israeli government officials, The Electronic Intifada interviewed Ramallah-based lawyer and former PLO advisor Diana Buttu about this week’s US-brokered direct talks between the two parties.

Poll: Palestinians back negotiations with Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Two-thirds of Palestinians are in favor of either direct or indirect negotiations with Israel, the results of a new poll released Monday finds.  The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion surveyed over 1,000 Palestinians from the West Bank, occupied East Jerusalem and Gaza earlier this month, ahead of the resumption of direct talks in Washington on 2 September.

Palestinians skeptical of new round of peace talks
Mahmoud Abbas is risking his political future in agreeing to the talks. After a string of failed negotiations and with continued settlement building in the West Bank, less than 25% of Palestinians predict success.  As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas prepares to embark down a well-trod path of peace talks — a road he’s spent a career helping to pave — the pragmatic leader is risking his political future in what some predict could be his last trip to the negotiating table.,0,1915578.story

UN probe of Gaza flotilla talks to Israeli-Arab MK (AP)
AP – An Israeli-Arab lawmaker said Tuesday she told U.N. investigators probing Israel’s deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip that its commandos were on a mission to kill.*

Arab MK Zuabi: IDF boarded Gaza flotilla ships with intent to kill
Zuabi testified before UN panel probing Israeli naval commando raid that left nine Turkish citizens dead on May 31.

Court asked to protect Zoabi’s rights
Labor’s Cabel, former MKs say High Court petition motivated by love of democracy.,7340,L-3946873,00.html

Other News

Comptroller: IDF officers lack training
State comptroller’s report on appointments of army’s senior officers reveals grim picture.,7340,L-3947019,00.html

Arab-Israeli suspected of security offenses
Umm al-Fahm resident suspected of jeopardizing national security, gag order placed on investigation’s details.,7340,L-3946996,00.html

How To Kill Goyim And Influence People: Leading Israeli Rabbis Defend Manual for For Killing Non-Jews, Max Blumenthal
When I went into the Jewish religious book emporium, Pomeranz, in central Jerusalem to inquire about the availability of a book called Torat Ha’Melech, or the King’s Torah, a commotion immediately ensued. “Are you sure you want it?” the owner, M. Pomeranz, asked me half-jokingly. “The Shabak [Israel’s internal security service] is going to want a word with you if you do.” As customers stopped browsing and began to stare in my direction, Pomeranz pointed to a security camera affixed to a wall. “See that?” he told me. “It goes straight to the Shabak!”

Rabbinate provides address for couples whose Judaism is contested
Marriage registrars appointed to tackle problems faced by couples whose Judaism is under question. Itim: State trying to evade finding appropriate solution to problem.,7340,L-3946418,00.html

PLO urges Yale president to speak out on ‘anti-Arab hate-mongering’ conference
Last week we reported on a disgraceful 3-day conference at Yale  that described criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism. Today Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO Representative to the United States, sent a letter to Yale President Richard C. Levin, objecting to the conference. It follows

Hamas headband? Fatah keychain? Gaza Strip gift shop has it all
Gaza Strip’s Chairman Arafat Gift Shop sells souvenirs that span the Palestinian political spectrum, even if there are no visitors to buy them.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Abbas faces a mission impossible
High hopes are placed on the long-stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace talks that resume in Washington this week. United States President Barack Obama desperately needs a success story in the Middle East, and so does Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unwillingness and Abbas’ likely inability to deliver spell failure.

Direct talks will fail – is that what the US is planning on?, Tony Karon
There is more chance of Saddam Hussein’s elusive weapons of mass destruction suddenly turning up in Iraq than there is of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas agreeing on the terms for a two-state solution in Washington this week. That does not mean the direct talks being orchestrated by President Barack Obama are pointless. On the contrary, they represent a moment of truth, not for the Israelis or the Palestinians, but for Mr Obama, who is creating a crisis by forcing irreconcilable differences between the two sides onto the table. The question now becomes, what is Washington prepared to do once the Israelis and Palestinians fail to agree.

‘Bullied’ but not surrendering; US may have forced the PA to the negotiating table but Palestinians will not submit, Lamis Andoni
The resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) will allow Barack Obama to have his day presiding over the launch of another series of futile negotiations and, in providing an opportunity for Binyamin Netanyahu to assert his unwavering commitment to Israel’s colonial policies, will earn the Israeli prime minister further bragging rights.

What to Read About the “Direct Talks” (and why you should still be pessimistic), Stephen M. Walt
President Obama is hosting a dinner for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sept. 1, in order to kick off the new round of direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. As regular readers know, I don’t think this effort will go anywhere, because the two sides are too far apart and because the Obama administration won’t have the political will to push them towards the necessary compromises.

Obama sets himself up for failure on peace talks, Josh Ruebner
Speaking before State Department personnel on his third day in office, President Obama stated it would be his administration’s policy to “actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israel and its Arab neighbors.”  During his first eight months in office, Obama pursued this goal by repeatedly calling on Israel to freeze its settlement of Palestinian land to set the right tone for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. In the face of Israeli intransigence, however, he made an abrupt volte face on the sidelines of last fall’s U.N. General Assembly session, declaring, “It is past time to talk about starting negotiations — it is time to move forward,” even while ongoing Israeli colonization of Palestinian land made the ostensible goal of these negotiations — a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict —increasingly unlikely.

A poisoned process holds little hope,  David Gardner
As the caravans of Middle East peace negotiators rumble into Washington next week for the umpteenth time, the pervasive cynicism and sense of deja vu all over again is overwhelming – and with good reason.

Too Early to Write-off New Israel-Palestine Talks?
In his article in the Globe and Mail, Aluf Benn asks is it “Too Early to Write-off the New Israel-Palestine Talks”?  Too early to write-off direct talks?  Please!  Representatives for these “direct talks” on the Palestinian side in a sense do not even exist: Abbas’s election mandate timed out a year ago, and he stays in office under emergency measures – i.e, he has absolutely no democratic legitimacy.  But even poor Abbas, a kind of Palestinian “step’n’fetch it” figure if ever there was one, wanted nothing to do with such talks while Israel continued stealing land. The American administration browbeat him for months, threatening him with loss of all aid, into attending.

Back on TV due to popular demand…. ‘The Peace Industry’, Joseph Glatzer
The Nobel Prize award winning show, “The Peace Industry” comes back for its 19th season on September 2nd, after an almost 2 year hiatus.  It is one of the longest running and most popular shows in TV history.

NYT Op-Ed offers tiresome dichotomy of good Zionists vs bad religious settlers, Matthew Taylor
Gadi Taub’s NYT oped on the coming negotiations is so problematic, ahistorical, Israeli-centric, and rife with elisions, it reads like… well… a lot of other stuff cluttering the pages and electrons of said publication.  It leads off with the rhetorical question, “Will Israel remain a Zionist state?” – as if this is the most important issue to be tackled at the talks. Not “Will the systematic and willful oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people finally come to an end?” (Which all sane observers are doubtful will be the result.) Then he sets up the Zionist left’s desperate, tiresome good guys vs. bad guys frame: the pious seculars vs. the evil religious nuts.

Rocket Redux, the Israeli fiction, David Samel
A few months ago, I authored a post on the fiction that when Israel withdrew from two decades of military occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah responded with thousands of rockets rained down on Israeli communities. At the time, I cited false statements to that effect made by Michael Oren in a NY Times op-ed and Ethan Bronner in a Times article (links provided in that post). Unsurprisingly, Bibi Netanyahu has now joined in, quoted in today’s Ha’aretz:


Army details Israeli airspace violations
BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army command detailing violations of Lebanese airspace by Israeli drones on Monday. A statement said at 7:30 am on Monday an Israeli reconnaissance plane violated Lebanese airspace over the southern village of Rmeish, and then flew over the towns of Riaq, Baalbeck, Hermel, and south Lebanon.
Israeli Activity Near Lebanon Border; Mizrahi Predicts Major War Next Year
31/08/2010 The Israeli daily Maariv reported Monday that the Israeli army will deploy the “Kfir” infantry brigade to the border with Lebanon further north.  Maariv said that the security situation in the West Bank, where the brigade has been operating for the past 20 years, has improved and other army units will replace the “Kfir” Brigade which will be sent to the north. The daily added that the move comes in line with the strategic vision of General Avi Mizrahi, the commander of the central region, to improve the performance of the brigade. Mizrahi has given his orders to the “Kfir” brigade to move out of the West Bank next year to take part in the “major war” expected in the north, Maariv reported. It added that the infantry brigade will hold drills in a medium simulating Lebanon and Syria and that all exercises will include armored and artillery units. “Combatants will take part in operational activities next year on the northern border,” the Israeli daily said.

Hariri: ‘Security has no sectarian, religious identity’
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Monday that the capital, like the rest of Lebanese territories, should never for any reason be above the rule of law and the state’s authority in imposing its sovereignty and preserving security.

UN votes to keep peacekeepers on Israel-Lebanon border until 2011
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the presence of UNIFIL remains critical following the incident on August 3, during which Lebanese and Israeli forces exchanged fire.

Families of the lost seek answers; laws against forced disappearance sought
BEIRUT: The relatives of victims kidnapped during the 1970-1990 Civil War or the long years of Israeli or Syrian occupation gathered on Monday to protest continued secrecy over the disappearances.  Wearing plastic expressionless masks to hide their faces as a symbol of the indifference shown to the disappeared by the authorities, the families joined with the Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture (KRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to call for national governments to prevent future abductions and help in confirming the fate of the missing.

Authorities arrest suspect in murder of Egyptian
BEIRUT: An man was arrested on the Syrian-Lebanese borders on suspicion of being involved in the murder of an Egyptian national.The NNA reported Monday that Ahmad A. was arrested by members of the General Security at the Bukaia border crossing while returning back to Lebanon from Syria.

Israel Threatens War with Lebanon, Stephen Lendman
Palestine is belligerently occupied. Threats continue against Iran and Syria as well as Lebanon, specifically Hezbollah, elected partner in the nation’s unity government, bogusly designated a US State Department Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), what Israel also calls it, repeating veiled and overt warnings, suggesting violence or an impending attack.


Monday: 8 Iraqis Killed, 10 Wounded
At least eight Iraqis were killed and 10 more were wounded in light violence as Iraq prepares for the official end of U.S. military operations. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad to officiate at handover ceremonies.

At least one killed in bomb attack in Iraq’s Mosul
At least one civilian was killed and 12 others were wounded on Sunday in a coordinated cart bomb and hand grenades attacks in the city of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province, a provincial police source said.

Policemen attack journalist’s home in Baghdad
Policemen fired on the Baghdad home of the head of the Iraqi Press Agency, Haydar Hassoun Al-Fizaa, on 27 August, injuring his wife and other relatives, before searching the premises and damaging furniture.  The attack on Al-Fazaa’s home in the east Baghdad neighbourhood of Al-Shaab was carried by police officers travelling in seven interior ministry vehicles. With the help of neighbours, Al-Fizaa was able to take his badly-injured wife to hospital. Other members of the family were also hospitalised.  Officials said the police had not known that Al-Fizaa owned the house and carried out the raid on the basis of information that a hostage was being held there. They also claimed that no shots were fired during the operation.

Mysterious killings spread panic in Iraq
Iraqis say a postelection political deadlock has given free rein to terrorists, but no one knows who they are or how they choose their victims.  It has been a month now and still there are no answers. There is just a father gripping the photographs of his son.,0,2759500.story

Iraq Shiite leader sees end to political impasse ‘in days’ (AFP)
AFP – An Iraqi Shiite leader, Ammar al-Hakim, said on Monday the long-delayed formation of a new government could be resolved within days but refused to be drawn on the name of the next prime minister.*

An Iraqi Mother Finds Her Eldest Son, Where She Least Wants To
An Iraqi family’s journey from morgue to cemetery.

For Iraqis, Victims of War Are So Much More Than Numbers, By ANTHONY SHADID
A quest to confirm the death of a loved one — a son, husband, father and brother — took years, along with courage and luck.

Fearful Iraqis scrambling to buy weapons
BAGHDAD – Four days after his brother was slain in a Baghdad robbery this month, Muntather Shaker borrowed $1,500 and bought a pistol. He carries it in his back pocket, sleeps with it under his pillow and is ready to use it to defend his family.

Inside Story – Leaving Iraq
As the US completes its combat troop drawdown from Iraq, domestic security forces are put to the test. A suicide attack against army recruits on Tuesday, in which 63 pople were killed, raised concerns about the Iraqi security forces’ ability to take care of its own, let alone the safety of ordinary Iraqis. Are Iraqi security forces up to the job? What is their security strategy, if there is one at all?

Iraqis fear bleak future
Barack Obama, the US president, said in a message this weekend that Iraq would “chart its own course” as US combat operations come to an end. This may have been welcome news for war-weary Americans, but it has fuelled anxieties about the future among Iraqis. Meeting the August 31 deadline allows Obama to say he is fulfilling a pledge to end the war launched by George Bush, his predecessor, seven years ago. However, some 50,000 US troops will remain until the end of 2011 to advise Iraqi security forces in combat missions and protect US interests – in what Washington is calling an “advisory and support” role. But the failure of Iraqi leaders to form a new government almost six months after elections, and persistent attacks by insurgents, have done little to instill confidence among Iraqis. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen sharply since the peak in 2006-07 of the sectarian killings unleashed after the 2003 US-led invasion, but levels of violence remain high. Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports from Baghdad on Iraqis who are left wondering what the future will bring.

Iraq war: Inquiry launched into Iraqi boy’s disappearance from UK base
The British government has ordered an urgent inquiry into the disappearance of an injured Iraqi child who has not been seen since being placed in the care of UK military medics in 2003.  In one of the most bewildering episodes of the Iraq occupation, Memmon Salam al-Maliki, an 11-year-old boy, disappeared within days of being taken to a British base after he was wounded while playing with unexploded munitions. Although his injuries appeared not to be life-threatening, his family have not seen him since.

At summer school, Iraqi refugees in Syria try to catch up
Displaced by war, children of Iraqi refugees enter ambitious programs to help compensate for missed school and the mental stresses of war. But Iraqi enrollment in Syrian schools has dropped 30 percent in the past year.

Serving in Iraq Killed my Faith in God
The destruction I saw made me question everything I had previously thought about religion.

Why Moqtada Haunts the White House
There will be plenty spirits of Iraq policy past, present and future crowding the dais tonight as the President announces a “successful” transition and “a promise kept” for the drawdown of American troops from Iraq.  There’s George W. and Dick Cheney and their ghoulish courtiers – Donald Rumsfeld and his number two Paul Wolfowitz, not to mention coalition provisional authority viceroy L. Paul Bremer and Douglas Feith, all who dragged the country into Iraq and then botched it irreparably.

What Is the US Legacy in Iraq?, PATRICK COCKBURN
A few days after the US announced that it had withdrawn its last combat brigade from Iraq, the local branch of al-Qa’ida staged a show of strength, killing or wounding 300 people in attacks across the country.  Its suicide bombers drove vehicles packed with explosives into police stations or military convoys from Mosul in the north to Basra in the south.  The continuing ferocious violence in Iraq, where most days more people die by bomb and bullet than in Afghanistan, is leading to questions about its stability once US forces finally withdraw by the end of next year.


Iran ex-prosecutor suspended over prison deaths
TEHRAN: Tehran’s notorious former prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi and two judges have been suspended over the prison deaths of three anti-government protesters, Iranian newspapers reported on Monday, quoting MPs.

Obama Resists Pressure for Red Line on Iran’s Nuclear Capability, Gareth Porter
IPS — President Barack Obama’s refusal in a White House briefing earlier this month to announce a “red line” in regard to the Iran nuclear programme represented another in a series of rebuffs of pressure from Defence Secretary Robert Gates for statement that the United States will not accept its existing stocks of low enriched uranium.

U.S. and Other World News

Entire US-Mexico border to be guarded by Predator drones
The launch of a fourth Predator drone Wednesday will mean the entire US-Mexico border is now patrolled by the unmanned aircraft.

Rights groups challenge Obama on targeted killings
WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Civil liberties groups sued the Obama administration on Monday over a program they said illegally tries to kill U.S. citizens believed to be militants living abroad, like the anti-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.  The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of Nasser al-Awlaki, the father of the Muslim cleric, arguing targeted killings violate the U.S. Constitution and international law.

Veterans’ group: CIA blocking lawsuit over experiments on troops
An advocacy group working on behalf of Vietnam veterans has asked a federal judge in California to sanction the CIA, saying the spy agency has been blocking efforts to uncover its role in alleged experiments on US soldiers from the 1950s to 1970s.

Mubarak signals Egypt succession by taking son to Washington
Gamal Mubarak, long presumed heir to the ageing president, will meet Israeli delegates to peace summit – and maybe even Netanyahu himself.

Imam Sadr and companions still alive in captivity of Libya, son tells news agency
BEIRUT: The son of disappeared Imam Musa Sadr has said his father and his companions is still alive in Libyan jails. Sadreddine Sadr told the state-run National News Agency (NNA) in an exclusive interview on Monday that his father Sadr, who disappeared during a visit to Libya in 1978, was still alive and being held captive by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Islam in America

Newsweek: Majority in GOP say Obama likely supports radical Muslim extremists
Majority in GOP say Obama likely supports radical Muslim extremistsIs President Obama secretly a radical Islamic fundamentalist here to impose a tribal system of law on the American public?  Ask any Republican and there’s more than a 50 percent chance they’ll say “yes,” if a recent Newsweek survey is to be believed.  While the questionnaire, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, focused mainly on approval of the president, his party and their policies, poll-takers also focused on one particular issue of current public discussion: the president’s religion.

Andy Ostroy: Racist Maniac Stabs Muslim Cabbie — Is Republican Hate-Mongering Working?
Republican leaders today are doing exactly what George W. Bush did nine years ago when conflating al Qaeda terrorists with Saddam Hussein and Iraq, turning the masses against an easy scapegoat.

The Ground Zero Synagogue—Lebanon Becoming More American than America
 Incidentally, July and August of 2006 only tell a small part of the story when it comes to Israeli aggression against Lebanon. There have been decades of invasion, devastation, and occupation which predated 2006. Several thousands of Lebanese have been killed at the hands of the Israeli Defense Force. Tens of billions of dollars of damage have been levied on the Lebanese infrastructure and private and public property courtesy of the IDF over the course of decades.

Letter to Cordoba Center on Behalf of a Former ‘Slave’
I. The three century old remains of 20,000 African men, women, children former slaves
were discovered after the clean up of the World Trace Center’s collapse.
II. Between twenty and thirty percent of all stolen Africans brought to America as slaves
were Muslim. A Letter on behalf of Cordova Center by one such “slave”

Handicapping Islamophobia, Scott McConnell
All of sudden two of the usually completely distinct spheres of my life are on the same highway, merging into the same lane. Two days ago my new golf friend Stephanie Wei posted this on her golf blog, calling out a woman golf luminary for posting Islamophobic comments on her facebook page. As I know her, Stephanie is not political, but no fan of bigots either. In the golf world her post was widely picked up. I wasn’t surprised, for there is no American sport whose top players are more Republican, and self-consciously Christian than the PGA tour. At the same time, golf has a (pretty well-deserved) self image as being a realm of fair play and decency in a fallen world. The issue of Islamophobia cuts right into that, teasing out all the contradictions and spinning them about.

FBI: No Probable Cause Required For Surveillance
The bitter controversy over the building of a Muslim community center and mosque near the site of the terrorist attacks in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, is sparking new fears of government snooping on Islamic holy places –  which it now claims it can do without a warrant.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Asian Law Caucus (ALC), and the San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper, are suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in San Francisco over the agency’s failure to respond to a five-month-old request for information on its investigation of Bay Area Muslim groups.

“Sensitivity”: The New Islamophobia, Anthony Alessandrini
Alongside the unfolding of attacks upon the proposed Park51 community center in Lower Manhattan, as well as the attacks on other proposed Muslim community centers and mosques throughout the U.S. in recent months, comes the news that a growing number of Americans (especially conservative Republicans) believe that President Barack Obama is a “secret Muslim.”  In the face of all this, it is hard not to conclude that, as Alex Pareene has recently put it, for many Americans, “Muslim” has come to mean “someone they dislike.”

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER



The Politically incorrect necktie: on boycotts and secular coercion

 31 Aug 2010

 Republished with permission from karlremarks.blogspot. Click on the link for the original article.

Karl Sharro

A Lebanese friend recently revealed on a social networking website that he had bought a tie from Marks and Spencer. This otherwise insignificant revelation provoked a tirade of angry comments from Lebanese vigilantes that chided the irresponsible tie-wearer on his unpatriotic choice of neck wear. Even though I was aware of the M&S boycott policy as being one of the cornerstones of anti-Zionism among the Arab Diaspora, I was taken aback by the intensity of the reaction and people’s willingness to publicly chastise someone simply because of their fashion choices.

This militant censoriousness is chiefly practiced by people who regard themselves as ‘secular’, and even liberal, making it much more problematic. It points to the disturbing emergence of a secular piety that is far more insidious than one stemming from a religious worldview.

Before I left for Britain several years ago, I was instructed by several Lebanese friends on the necessity of boycotting M&S because of its ‘support for Israel’. Some assured me that all the profits that it made on Saturdays went directly to the IDF. The blunt way of phrasing the argument insisted that every pound spent in M&S translated into bullets fired at the Palestinians and the Lebanese, and no one would want to live with this burden on their conscience.

But aside from the veracity of the claims, which I will come back to, this argument fails to comprehend the reasons for Israel’s military superiority. This superiority is not attained through private and public foreign aid but because Israel is an advanced industrial economy that is capable of developing advanced weapons through a combination of industrial and technological development.

Although Israel receives a large amount of military aid from the US annually, in percentage terms, this aid amounts to just 15% of Israel’s military expenditure. But in parallel, Israel is now one of the largest weapons exporters in the world, with up to two thirds of its weapons production made for export. In fact, Israel exports more than double the amount of US military aid it receives. It’s worth noting that Israeli weapon exports span the full range of military equipment from ammunition to advanced warning systems and drones. By contrast, Arab countries have a very small share of the production and sales of weapons globally, despite the fact that some of them have very large defence expenditure. (Saudi Arabia had the 8th largest military expenditure in the world in 2009 for example.

Of course the large difference in weapons production between Israel and Arab countries reflects the overall difference in levels of industrialisation and research and development capabilities between them. The notion that Israel’s military capability can be damaged through consumer boycotts in the West is misguided. Of course, most advocates of such boycotts are aware of this, that’s why boycotts are not intended as practical measures but as largely symbolic actions.

A consumer boycott can be an easy and convenient way of appeasing one’s conscience and, but it is not a serious political act. But once such behaviour becomes imperative and social pressure is applied to monitor adherence to it, it becomes a form of grassroots authoritarianism that is fundamentally undemocratic in nature. The irony is that the same people who would normally oppose other forms of conformity in Arab societies would voluntarily act as social enforcers in the case of boycotts.

Going back to the claim that all the Saturday takings at Marks & Spencer tills go to the IDF, there is certainly no record of it anywhere. However, activists insist on boycotting Marks & Spencer because it trades with Israel, although its historic position of supporting Israel has been altered in recent years. I am not interested in defending Marks & Spencer, but I find the idea of promoting the Palestinian cause through consumer boycotts in the West seriously flawed.

Aside from all arguments on the effectiveness of such boycotts, pretending that complex political problems can be solved through altering consumer behaviour is a perverse notion. The most dangerous aspect of this is that it turns people from active political actors into passive consumers, both of products and of political/ethical choices that are distributed via ‘trusted sources’.

Solidarity has of course played a vital role in the promotion of political causes historically; this is why it is important to understand how the expression of solidarity has altered in recent years in parallel with this shift from active political subjects to passive observers. The international volunteers that participated in the Spanish Civil War left their families and friends behind and fought alongside their republican comrades against the Fascists. This was a conscious and active political choice as opposed to the mundane consumerist choices that we are now told are legitimate expressions of solidarity. I am obviously not asking for people to volunteer in global conflicts today, but asking for a reassessment of what forms of solidarity are politically meaningful. Where you buy your underwear is not one of them.

Beyond solidarity, there is a further dimension to global boycotts that is particularly pertinent to Arab countries. Not doing business with Israel is one thing, but boycotting companies purely on the basis that they do business with Israel is a luxury that the developing economies of the Arab world. The list of companies to be boycotted because of links with Israel has Intel among many others; the consequences of boycotting Intel products will certainly have a severe impact on Arab societies. (That’s why it’s much easier to focus on Marks & Spencer, much like animal rights activists direct their energy against fur instead of leather, on the basis that it’s easier to harass rich old ladies than biker gangs.)

Taking the boycott argument to its logical conclusion reveals the arbitrariness of singling out specific companies. Should we boycott the Western countries that support Israel financially and militarily? Would anyone seriously propose not studying in the US or going on a holiday in the UK? Should we stop using American textbooks and boycott all German cars? If boycotts are not about the actual economic impacts but represent a moral imperative as some insist, then where do we draw the line of responsibility? Why is boycotting Marks & Spencer more morally pressing than the US? It seems to me that pro-boycott activists have taken their cue from another UK retailer: their message seems to be every little helps.

Like it or not, global trade links are so wide and complex today that singling out companies to boycott is impractical. But more importantly, as long as Arab countries remain as net importers of industrial products, as well as technology and knowledge, such boycotts will definitely harm Arab societies more than the intended companies. The international economic sanctions on Iraq that followed its invasion of Kuwait were a stark example of the devastating effect of disengaging from the global economy. I witnessed firsthand the deterioration in Iraqi society during the 90s as a result of the sanctions. Within the space of a decade, one of the most advanced Arab societies was set back several decades. Boycotts are in fact a form of self-imposed economic sanctions.

The advocates of boycotts are of course aware of this. They are not interested in implementing wide-ranging boycotts but in altering individual behaviour and maintaining conformity to a ‘shared’ idea. They insist on those meaningless symbolic gestures as a way of showing commitment to The Cause. But boycott vigilantism is only a symptom of widespread intellectual intolerance. By volunteering to behave like secular coercers, educated and politicised individuals are only contributing to this problem. No just cause will thrive on a climate of intellectual repression. And while we’re at it, let’s keep where we buy our underwear out of public discourse.

Posted in Campaigns1 Comment



Dear Friends,

This evening’s 8 items are a mixed bag—some good some bad, mostly the latter.  Actually only items 1 and 8 can be classified as positive, 8 being a request. 

The worst for today is item 7 which relates that 4 Israelis were killed by a drive-by gunner or gunners.  Hamas has taken the credit.  The event is not good—not for the 4 Israelis who were killed, not for Palestinians, surely not for those Palestinians who believe in non-violent opposition, some of whom have paid with their lives. This event won’t make any difference in the ‘talks.’  Few people believe that they will succeed anyhow.  But Palestinian villages in the area of the shootings will undoubtedly witness IOF nightly invasions until the IOF believes that it has found the perpetrators.  Many innocent people will pay for the crime of a few.  Sad. 

Item 1 reveals that by this morning 150 academics, artists, authors had opted to stand with the actors who refuse to act in the colonies.  May their numbers increase by leaps and bounds.  Perhaps if they become sufficiently numerous, then the government will think twice before punishing them.  But this is not certain.

Item 2 justifiably comments on the vulgarity of responses that our public figures utter.

Items 3 and 4 are about education.  3 is an Haaretz editorial that reveals that in Israel education is indoctrination rather than education.   This has always been the case, only now it is more blatant.

The title of item 4 reveals the essence: of 290 students in a school, 289 are black.  Racism?  In Israel?  If not, why, then, did all the white children leave? The single white child is not a holdover from those who left.  He is the son of a wise and decent human being, who happens to be a rabbi.

Item 5 reports on Haneen Zuabi’s testimony before a UN panel probing Israel’s commando raid of the Mavi Marmara.  Tonight’s TV news reported that some of Zuabi’s Knesset compatriots are demanding that the government revoke her citizenship.  It will not surprise me if this happens.

Item 6 is merely a headline.  The link is there in case  you wish to read, but the headline says it all: the US might give Israel arms in exchange for concessions.  Arms?  How many more does Israel need?  Have they given  Israelis an iota of security?  No.  But they have killed large numbers of Palestinians, Lebanese, and others.  And the use of arms in wars and even in training have killed not a few Israelis.

In item 7 BBC relates that the 4 who were killed tonight included a husband and wife, and another couple.

Item 8 is, as I have said, a request for financial help—not for huge sums, just for whatever you can give.  The money is to enable Palestinian prisoners to purchase food and other goods from the canteen,  If you can help, even if only with a small sum, please do.




1. Haaaretz Tuesday,

August 31, 2010

150 academics, artists back actors’ boycott of settlement arts center

Last week nearly 60 theater professionals announced they would refuse to perform at new cultural center built in West Bank settlement of Ariel.

By Chaim Levinson and Or Kashti

The actors’ boycott of the new Ariel cultural center received a boost yesterday with over 150 academics and several dozen authors and artists signing letters in their support.

In the academics’ letter, released yesterday, over 150 faculty members from universities across the country vowed not to lecture or participate in any discussions in settlements, and voiced support for the theater artists who have said they would refuse to perform in the West Bank city. “We 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,” the academics wrote.

“We support the theater artists refusing to play in Ariel, express our appreciation of their public courage and thank them for bringing the debate on settlements back into the headlines,” the petition said. “We’d like to remind the Israeli public that like all settlements, Ariel is also in occupied territory. If a future peace agreement with the Palestinian authorities puts Ariel within Israel’s borders, then it will be treated like any other Israeli town.”

Signatories of the academic petition included Zeev Sternhell and Yael Sternhell, Nissim Calderon, Anat Biletzki, Ziva Ben-Porat, Yaron Ezrachi, Aeyal Gross, Shlomo Sand, Dan Rabinowitz, Neve Gordon and Oren Yiftachel.

A separate letter, signed by a number of well-known authors and artists, is expected to be published in the coming days. Signatories already include writers David Grossman, A.B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz; writer and editor Ilana Hammerman; sculptor Dani Caravan; poet Dori Manor; filmmakers Hagai Levi and Ibtisam Mara’ana; and actress Orly Silbersatz.

“We, the undersigned, express our support and solidarity with the theater artists refusing to perform in Ariel. Freedom of creation and freedom of opinion are the cornerstones of a free and democratic society. Not too long ago, we marked the 43rd anniversary of the Israeli occupation. Legitimization and acceptance of the settler enterprise cause critical damage to Israel’s chances of achieving a peace accord with its Palestinian neighbors.”

Novelist A.B. Yehoshua told Haaretz that the boycott was “not of the residents of Ariel, but of the city, located in the heart of Palestinian territory. If they’d invite me to lecture there, I wouldn’t have come. It’s been a while since I went there except for political discussions. I wouldn’t go there to entertain people.”

Ariel mayor Ron Nachman said that just as he opposed the boycott threats by the Im Tirtzu against Ben-Gurion University for its alleged leftist bias, he equally rejected the scholars’ petition. “When faculty members in universities supported by the state sign a petition to boycott Ariel, it’s no longer my problem, but the problem of the education minister, the Knesset Education Committee, and the entire political system. It’s not about academic freedom. There’s no difference between Prof. Sternhell and Im Tirtzu. Their calls for boycott are tantamount to incitement to rebellion.”

Yigal Cohen-Orgad, chancellor of the Ariel University Center, said that “stupid behavior seems to attract academic stupidity. Just last week we had an international scientific conference [at Ariel] with scientists from 34 states. If there’s a vocal minority stupid enough to say it won’t cooperate with us, they are quite welcome.”

Meanwhile, some 300 persons gathered yesterday outside the Habimah Theater in Tel Aviv to protest its decision to perform in Ariel when its new cultural center opens this November.

Participating in the protest were MKs Dov Khenin (Hadash ), Nitzan Horowitz and Haim Oron (Meretz ), actors Hana Meron, Oded Kotler, playwright Yehoshua Sobol, former MKs Yael Dayan and Zahava Gal-On, and former editor-in-chief of Maariv Doron Galezer.

“We are here not only to bolster those actors [who said they will refuse to perform beyond the Green Line], but to support the right of people to express their opinion, not to take part in the occupation festival. We will not participate in the festivities of Ariel,” said Yariv Oppenheimer, head of Peace Now.

Yehoshual Sobol said: “When society attacks artists, it is a symptom of its unwillingness to look at the mirror. They say we receive money from the government. The truth be said, the portion of the government [funding] is minimal. If they threaten us with budgetary cuts, then take a look at how much they give. The theater will not collapse, but will become healthier. 

A counter-demonstration of about 15 persons held up signs announcing: “You are Traitors.”

This story is by:  Chaim Levinson  Or Kashti


2. Haaretz Tuesday,

August 31, 2010

The disgrace of it all

At a time that should be reserved for reflection, public figures are quick with the crude comments.

By Niva Lanir

A few dozen writers and actors signed a petition urging artists not to appear in the new Ariel performing arts center, and created an uproar: The culture and finance ministers sprang to the defense of the rights of residents of the capital of Samaria, and on the way they taught the rebels a lesson. It cannot be, said Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, that Mr. Artist will say, Tel Aviv yes, and Ariel no. Culture Minister Limor Livnat proposed leaving the political debate outside the life of culture and the arts (which is like separating thought from the mind ). The prime minister was quick to react this time, and set the price for protest. The government, said Benjamin Netanyahu, does not have to fund those who are trying to promote a boycott from within.

This is an issue that causes discomfort. It has little to do with the cultural welfare of residents of Ariel, which might be harmed, and more to do with the vulgarity that is customary here, and especially with the reminder that breathing down the neck of every apparently restrained minister is a political interest group more determined than he is.

“Go perform in Gaza, traitors!” cried the Our Land of Israel movement, (composed of Baruch Marzel and Michael Ben-Ari ) to the actors and playwrights who served notice that the occupation continues and that Ariel is not part of the State of Israel.

“Get out of there,” screamed Dr. Hagai Ben-Artzi to those gathered at Aviva and Noam Shalit’s protest tent around the corner from home of the prime minister, his brother-in-law. “These people think only of themselves. There’s no people of Israel. No one else. Only their son. Something so egoistic and contemptible should be shunned.”

“May our enemies and haters be wiped out,” was Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s blessing for the new year. Abu Mazen and all those wicked people should perish from the earth. Let the Almighty strike them with a plague, along with all those Palestinians. What a wonderful spiritual revival campaign.

The greatest vulgarity belongs to Hagai Ben-Artzi. The foolishness to Livnat and Steinitz, the disgrace to the rabbi, and the disregard to Netanyahu, as always. That’s what happens when alongside the established right there is an unfettered, wild right, when there is no opposition (and MKs Ronit Tirosh and Otniel Schneller of Kadima are silent ), and the ongoing occupation is accompanied by deceit and euphemism. We are fortunate that at least the Americans protested the words of the patron of Interior Minister Eli Yishai and the Shas party.

That is how we start anew. The new year and the negotiations with the Palestinians are cursed by the rabbi, and all is quiet. We’ll welcome the 26th of September, the end of the settlement building freeze, by denouncing the defeatists from the theater and sending them to Hamas. That’s because the Likud is not facing forward but toward the party central committee and the settlers. Whoever expected that Netanyahu would become more moderate, would restrain his brother-in-law and protest the words of Rabbi Yosef, expected in vain. And whoever pinned his hopes on Netanyahu’s ministers had it coming.

Ariel was once “five minutes from Kfar Sava.” Today it is the consensus. That’s a fact. Pablo Rosenberg said so. And if a judge on “A Star is Born” said so, why look it up in the map of settlement blocs? Even Yitzhak Rabin has been recruited to the Ariel consensus. A bit of archival work, and his quote that Ariel does not contribute a gram to security leaps out. But Ariel has a college and a performing arts center. Just like Netivot and Yeruham, Dimona and Kiryat Shmona. And we have the leadership of Livnat and Steinitz, who are responsible for culture and philosophy. 

“Families, when a child is born / Want it to be intelligent. / I, through intelligence, / Having wrecked my whole life, / Only hope the baby will prove Ignorant and stupid. / Then he will crown a tranquil life / By becoming a Cabinet Minister.” Bertold Brecht. Playwright.

This story is by: Niva Lanir


3.  Haaretz Editoral, Tuesday,

August 31, 2010

Educating toward indoctrination

The minister’s claims of liberalism are disingenuous; under his watch, the national curriculum is whitewashed.

Haaretz Editorial

The frequent changes the Education Ministry makes to school curricula share one common denominator. Each smells of the same kind of crass, shallow patriotism that glosses over any complicated issue, forcing students to swallow the same rote, sanitized version of the multifaceted, paradoxical Israeli story and silences all critical thought.

The history books have already been rewritten. The Palestinian perspective of the Nakba – which is apparently at odds with the sterile Israeli narrative offered by Dr. Zvi Zameret, chair of the ministry’s Pedagogic Secretariat – has been censored, leaving only hollow praise for the state’s establishment. The Oslo Accords have been erased, and Holocaust studies have been expanded to “strengthen Jewish identity,” while any reference to the wider context of the rise of European fascism has been omitted.

Now the school system’s main civics textbook will also be modified, because it states that “since its establishment, the State of Israel has engaged in a policy of discrimination against its Arab citizens.” It seems Zameret and his staff do not understand the meaning of civics which, apart from imparting the basics of government and democracy, is meant to offer tools for understanding conflicts within society and nurturing critical thought among citizens.

But like the Institute for Zionist Strategies (where Zameret has been active),  the head of the ministry’s pedagogic secretariat is trying to do away with 50 years of open, critical study of Zionism, the state’s history and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, students are given a patronizing version of the past, one that insults their intelligence and diminishes their ability to understand complex historical developments and identify with the society in which they live, despite its many problems. 

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar says he would never intervene in course curricula, but these changes conform snugly to his world view. Sa’ar presents himself as a liberal to whom freedom of expression is dear, but he remains convinced that students must be inculcated with “national values.” In light of the indoctrination championed by his ministry, it seems he and his staff are less interested in promoting free expression than narrow-minded, isolationist nationalism.

Haaretz Editorial


4. Haaretz Tuesday,

August 31, 2010

A school of 290 students, 289 of them black

Petah Tikvah city hall won’t let Ethiopian kids transfer out of elementary school.

By Or Kashti

Dozens of parents of Ethiopian origin have been blocked by the Petah Tikva municipality from moving their children from the majority-Ethiopian religious Ner Etzion elementary school to other schools in the city.

Most of the requests were based on the parents’ desire not to have their children studying in a school whose student population was nearly exclusively Ethiopian. The municipality, backed by the Education Ministry, rejected most of the requests, saying that it could not force the other religious schools, private and public, to accept a large group of Ethiopian students.

“The arrangement with the schools is based on the assumption that each religious school takes only a small group of Ethiopian students. Taking several dozen such children is out of the question,” a source with close knowledge of the Petah Tikva education system told Haaretz.

Of the 290 students expected to attend Ner Etzion this year, only one, first-grader Ran Keinan, is not of Ethiopian origin. The process by which the Ethiopian students became the school’s majority took place over a period of years, and is due to the large number of Ethiopian families in the underprivileged neighborhoods for whom this is their default school, and partly because the parents not of Ethiopian background removed their children from the school.

While some moved their children to independent Orthodox schools (most of them associated with Shas), while others moved their children to other state-religious schools, with the approval of the municipality.

Another source said that Ner Etzion provided a convenient solution for everyone involved – everyone, that is, except the parents who wanted to move their children to a different school. “The existence of a school that contains nearly 300 children of Ethiopian background means other schools don’t need to take them,” the source said.

Young Ran Keinan comes to the school from a “Shuvu” network kindergarden, where most children are from families with their origins in the former Soviet Union. “Ran had a great time in the kindergarten, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t get along fine in Ner Etzion, even if he is the only ‘white’ kid in the school,” said Ran’s father, Rabbi Amiel Keinan. He said that the mass exodus of veteran Israelis from the increasingly Ethiopian-majority school was “utterly shameful. It’s a phenomenon that disgusts me.”

Rabbi Keinan teaches in a yeshiva in Petah Tikva, which includes students with special needs. “It’s all about values,” he says. “Integration and equality are very important in our yeshiva, so I thought, why not do the same at home. In the class I teach in the yeshiva there are recent immigrants from Ethiopia, France and the United States, as well as native Israelis. And it’s fine. Why can’t the same be happening in first grade? This was the background for my decision to register Ran at Ner Etzion.”

Sources in the municipality stressed to Haaretz that the students at Nir Etzion “get special assistance not enjoyed by any other schools. They get longer schooldays, up to 4 P.M., a hot meal and hundreds of hours of extra classes [schoolwide] each week. Students who didn’t read Hebrew a year ago have acquired the language, test results are excellent, and graduates are accepted into the best yeshivas.”

One municipality source said: “With all due respect to the parents, in other schools these kids wouldn’t get the same attention.” The sources also stressed that all transfer requests to secular schools were confirmed.

The Education Ministry said in a statement that student registration falls under the responsibility of the local authority, but decisions made at the local authority level can be appealed to the district director at the ministry. “No appeals hav been received so far,” the ministry said, noting it ran support programs in schools with high percentages of recent immigrants. 

Children in the largely Ethiopian neighborhood were divided on the issue, with some saying they’d like to have some “white” friends and other saying caucasian Israelis shunned them at school and called them “Negroes.”

This story is by:

 Or Kashti


5. Haaretz Tuesday,

August 31, 2010

Israeli Arab MK Zuabi: IDF boarded Gaza flotilla ships with intent to kill

Zuabi testified before UN panel probing Israeli naval commando raid that left nine Turkish citizens dead on May 31.

By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press

Israeli Arab MK Hanin Zuabi testified before a United Nations panel probing Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May, telling the panel that commandos who boarded the ships intended to kill, Army Radio reported on Tuesday.

A UN inquiry team began hearings on Monday with Jordanian activists about the May 31 Israeli raid on a Turkish ship trying to break an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the raid.

So far, Israeli Knesset member Zuabi and six others have been interviewed.

“It was evident from the beginning that the commandoes viewed all of us activists as terrorists, Zuabi told The Associated Press after her testimony before a three-member UN team headed by Karl Hudson-Phillips, former judge of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Israel’s use of large numbers of elite troops with sophisticated weaponry showed it intended to kill the passengers, added the lawmaker, who was aboard the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, where the killing took place.

“We were very peaceful activists, but the commandoes came to kill,” she said.

Israel has refused to cooperate with this probe, accusing the UN Human Rights Council of bias. But it is working with a separate UN group led by New Zealand’s ex-Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and Colombia’s ex-President Alvaro Uribe that is examining the legal ramifications of the incident.

Israel’s military has already wrapped up its own investigation, finding that intelligence failed to predict the violent response but troops acted properly under the circumstances.

The panel is due to report back to the UN Human Rights Council during its next session, between September 13 and October 11.

The Knesset in mid-July voted to revoke three parliamentary privileges from Zuabi (Balad) due to her participation in the aid flotilla that sailed to Gaza.

Thirty-four lawmakers voted in favor of stripping Zuabi’s privileges and 16 voted against, after a heated debate, in which Zuabi accused her fellow lawmakers of punishing her out of vengeance.

Zuabi responded to the Knesset vote by saying, “It’s not surprising that a country that strips the fundamental rights of its Arab citizens would revoke the privileges of a Knesset member who loyally represents her electorate.”

The UN fact-finding mission is chaired by Karl Hudson-Phillips, former judge of the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Israel has refused cooperation with the team, claiming it lacks neutrality. 


6. Jerusalem Post Tuesday,

August 31, 2010

US may give Israel arms in exchange for concessions 




7. BBC Tuesday,

August 31, 2010

Four Israelis shot dead near Kyriat Arba in West Bank

 Hebron has been a flashpoint for violence in the past


8. [from Against the Wall Media]

Collecting donations for Canteen accounts of the popular struggle prisoners

As we all know, in addition to the hard running violence in
demonstrations against the occupation, one of the key tools of
repression against the popular movement is the mass arrests – along
with bogus trials that lead to long periods of confinement in prisons
in the West Bank and Israel.

Nearly a 100 of Bil’in residents were jailed for various periods of
time since 2005. In Ni’lin alone, more than 120 people were detained
since the beginning of the struggle in May 2008. During the months in
which the people of An Nabi-Salih, Karawat Bnei-Zeid, Beit Rima and
Kufer Ein dared to protest more than 40 of them were arrested.

These arrests, mostly operated as a military invasion in the middle of
the night, are based almost entirely on general incriminations that
were forced out of arrestees after pulled from their bed and
interrogated without presence of their parents or a lawyer even though
many of them are under aged. “the Legal rule” in the military court
system is such that even one incrimination on throwing one stone can
lead to being arrested until the end of the proceedings. The
“proceedings”, in most cases, will take more than a year so the
defendant has no choice but to admit a plea bargain on an offense not
committed by him in order to cut the period of time of his

Today, there are close to forty prisoners\detainees awaiting long
prison terms. Most of them are youths aged 16-30, some of them being
the only breadwinners of their families. Between them are two members
of the Bil’in popular committee, and three members of the Ni’lin
popular committee.

Canteen accounts are available to inmates in prisons which allow
purchasing limited amounts of basic products, somewhat easing prison
life. Most of the families of prisoners – even those that are not
dependent on the prisoner as the only breadwinner, or that their
agricultural livelihoods weren’t stolen by the fence, or have not been
denied their work permits in Israel for their participation in
demonstrations – find it hard to put even the smallest amounts

Support prisoners through a donation to their canteen accounts may
facilitate their time in prison and is an act of critical solidarity
for those who pay the highest price for their partnership in the

Local donations can be transferred to the following bank account:

Shai Gorsky
Bank Hapoalim (12)
Account number:  306029
Branch number: 694 (please specify in comments “Canteen”)

It is also possible to bring a donation to one of the weekly

demonstrations and we will take care of the depositing.

Donations from abroad can be transferred to the following bank account:

IBAN: IL430090010000007125479

Any donation should be followed by sending an email as a confirmation

For further information:
Shai – 052-3727602
Chaska – 050-2167583

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER



Everyone, except for the people running our most important paper, agrees that failure is inevitable in the current round of peace talks [and see this excellent post for a sum-up]. Here’s a conservative Haaretz columnist:

Therefore, there are good reasons to believe that detailed proposals published this year by the hawkish Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs more or less reflect Netanyahu’s position, particularly because the center is associated with Moshe Ya’alon, Netanyahu’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs, and Uzi Arad, his security advisor.

Their claims are as follows: the international assertion that any future peace agreement must be based on 1967 borders is unacceptable, because it fails to address Israel’s security needs. Hence Israel must to return to a security based diplomacy in which the parameters of any peace agreement must be defined by Israel’s security needs.

For Abbas to gain support for a final status agreement, he needs some sizable gains with high symbolic value. The most important would be Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem, and at least some form of international sovereignty over the holy basin. Even under these conditions, it would be an uphill battle for him to sell the final agreement to the Palestinian people.

If Abbas has to make concessions regarding borders, it will make his task nearly impossible. This is why he insisted that the talks need to presume some understanding about borders. But if Netanyahu’s views are more or less reflected in the presentation of the Jerusalem Center of Public Studies, there are very good reasons why he refused to agree to such an understanding – his best offer falls far short of the 1967 borders.

Note that they don’t bother re-writing Barak’s proposals and parameters anymore to pretend that they were anything close to the ’67 borders either. Not there’s a frank acknowledgment: Israeli society is incapable of providing peace.

The only scenario that could conceivably lead to positive results is the option that Fayyad has been working toward in the last years by improving enormously on Palestinian governance and creating a viable Palestinian security force. After the talks fail, Palestinians will unilaterally declare a state along the 1967 borders next year, and seek international recognition while implementing de facto sovereignty over the territories currently under Palestinian control.

Even Fayyad’s option will only bear fruit if he succeeds in the difficult task of running Palestine without major security incidents for a few years. The question is whether this will change the state of mind of Israelis sufficiently to regain the lost belief that they will see peace in their lifetime.

Despite these caveats, Fayyad’s option is the only one that offers a glimmer of hope. His success might wake up Israel’s disempowered liberals to restate the case for peace. But both Israel’s liberals and Fayyad must be aware that such a turnaround may take the better part of the coming decade. And in the Middle East, a decade is more than enough for catastrophe to derail anything. 

In other words, a decade of apartheid–that’s what the “territories currently under Palestinian control” amount to. After that? In some vague way, a decade of peaceful, resistance-free apartheid, which will never happen, “will [perhaps] change the state of mind of Israelis sufficiently to regain the lost belief that they will see peace in their lifetime.” Whatever that blubbery formulation means. My only question is when will Israeli liberals and their Western apologists start calling for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions on their own society, a call that the picayune Israeli left has already made? The glib answer is that some, in a uselessly attenuated form, already are.

When Israel turns into an open apartheid state and is regarded as such by its liberal class? After the next Cast Lead, while in the interim they wait and struggle and suffer and die, while another generation of youth loses its youth? There’s only one way forward for us. Recently, the Nation published two juxtaposed articles, with Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz arguing for BDS and that intolerable twerp Bernard Avishai against BDS. Soon it’ll be just for, and it’ll be an editorial. Then the rest of American liberalism will fall into line. But not without being pushed, in one way or another. Why wait?

Technorati Tags: Adam Horowitz, BDS, Bernard Avishai, peace process, Philip Weiss

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Posted in Middle EastComments Off on AFTER PEACE TALKS FAIL



Derry Journal


See also at

Derry’s Bloody Sunday campaigners were described by Mayor Colum Eastwood as a “beacon of hope” during a civic reception on Thursday evening.

Over a hundred relatives of those killed on January 30, 1972, as well as many of those who were wounded on the day, were honoured during the Guildhall event. Opening the event, the city’s Mayor, Colum Eastwood, praised all those involved in the “tremendous achievement” of the Saville Report on June 15 and described the Bloody Sunday families as “a beacon of hope” for people all over the world.

“I hope you will all feel vindicated that the truth has come home at last,” Mayor Eastwood added.

In a rousing speech on behalf of the families and injured, campaigner Mickey McKinney, brother of victim Willie McKinney, began by reiterating the massive achievement of June 15, when Lord Saville declared all those killed and injured as innocent and held the British Army solely responsible.

Mr McKinney then insisted that all those present should stand and give themselves a huge round of applause for all that they collectively achieved.

He went on to thank all those at Derry City Council for their ongoing support, particularly all who assisted on the day of the Saville Report, and specifically thanked the Mayor Colum Eastwood and all past Mayors who supported the campaign since it began.

“It is a great honour for us to be invited to Derry’s Guildhall for this occasion. This building has always played a central part in the story of Bloody Sunday.

“It was the destination of the original march in 1972, the home of the Saville Inquiry and the place where we declared our loved one’s innocence to the world,” he added.

A special presentation was made to Conal McFeely of the Bloody Sunday Trust by campaigner John Kelly, brother of victim Michael Kelly.

Mr Kelly praised Mr McFeely for “going above and beyond the call of duty” in organising the events of June 15. 


Troops Out Movement

Campaigning for British Withdrawal from Ireland

PO Box 1032 Birmingham B12 8BZ  Tel: 0121 773 8683 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0121 773 8683      end_of_the_skype_highlighting Mob: 0797 017 4167 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0797 017 4167      end_of_the_skype_highlighting







Like a barking dog emboldened by the fact a metal fence protects him from a real fight with whomever or whatever is on the other side, Pastor Terry Jones of the infamous Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida has officially announced his membership in the Confraternity of Cowards by refusing an open, honest, civil debate on the religion of Islam with Dr. Hesham Tillawi, President of the Islamic Center located in Lafayette, Louisiana.

After hearing the outrageous claims recently made publicly by Jones concerning the religion of Islam, what its adherents believe and the “threat” that Islam’s “Sharia Law” poses to Christian America, Tillawi issued the challenge to Jones that he put his money where his mouth is by debating the issue publicly in Jones’ hometown, any costs to Jones being reimbursed by Tillawi and Tillawi making the several hundred mile distance trip at his own expense and inconvenience.

Seemingly all-too-eager to get his face in front of a camera to discuss his church’s planned wiener roast of Islam’s most holy book, nevertheless when asked to debate the issue in an intelligent, civil manner with Dr. Tillawi, host of the weekly television program Current Issues, Jones suddenly found himself speechless, saying he does not “debate”, choosing instead to continue forth with the same tactics made famous by Communist and Fascist regimes of the last century–burning books.

Dr. Jones, author of the book “Islam Is Of The Devil”, contends that America is in a period of spiritual crisis, and that what is needed if the land of the free and home of the brave is to return to her Christian roots is a revival of sorts, and burning the Koran publicly is just the way to get the recuperative process going. In naming the plagues threatening the destruction of America’s Christian character, he lists abortion, pornography, gay marriage, and a host of similar moral ills, none of which are related to Islam in any way.

No doubt Jones’ decision to avoid the boxing ring stems from a recent tete-a-tete he had with a Muslim scholar who–after hearing the nonsense spewing forth from the pastor’s mouth–proceeded to take the pastor and his unfounded arguments concerning Islam apart molecule by molecule until there was nothing left except an embarrassing mess on the floor somewhere in Gainesville, Florida.

The interview, taking place on The Ugly Truth Podcast, hosted by independent journalist Mark Glenn and co-hosted by Nashid Abdul Khaaliq of proved to be an absolute disaster for Jones and his public standing. Beginning in an atmosphere of cordiality, nevertheless from there it took a sharp turn into tough issues Jones did not realize he would be asked to explain or discuss. When pressed to describe the co-relation between Islam and the aforementioned moral ills destroying the “Christian character” of America, Jones admitted flat out that Islam had nothing to do with them and that in all honesty America was in no danger of succumbing to the same “Sharia Law” that he contends will destroy everything if not stopped. Furthermore, when pressed to describe the real groups, persons and agendas behind the de-Christianizing of America and the subversion of her moral, political and cultural moorings, Jones admitted that the extremists directing the controlled demolition of American society were not Islamic in character, but rather Jewish. Furthermore, Jones agreed that on September the 11th, he would be burning copies of the Jewish Talmud along with the Koran.

After the airing of this interview, Jones was contacted by several independent journalists with follow-up questions concerning his double-speak with regards to Islam and whether he planned on burning the Talmud as promised. Jones’ first response was to deny that the interview on the Ugly Truth Podcast took place, saying it was a “hoax”, but then when cornered on that issue, admitted that the interview did indeed take place but that he had not said the aforementioned items. When soundfiles of the actual recording featuring him agreeing to burn the Talmud on September 11th were sent to him, leaving him no room to maneuver, he simply broke off all contact and refused any further correspondence. He ended the discussion by saying he had changed his mind about burning the Talmud (despite its hateful depictions of Jesus as a homosexual sorcerer boiling in hell and His mother as a prostitute) saying “We have many Jewish supporters and are thankful for that.”

At present Dr. Tillawi plans upon venturing forth to Gainesville for the proposed debate. Jones showing up for the intellectual boxing match is highly doubtful at this point, given the fact that–like that aforementioned dog sitting safely behind that aforedescribed steel fence, he will only bark when there is no chance he will actually be forced to bite.

Developments as they occur…

© 2010 Mark Glenn

Posted in Campaigns2 Comments



By crescentandcross Categories: Uncategorized

A young cowboy from Texas goes off to college. Half way through the semester, he has foolishly squandered all his money. He calls home.

 ”Dad,” he says, “You won’t believe what modern education is developing! They actually have a program here in Austin that will teach our dog, Ol’ Blue how to talk!”

 ”That’s amazing,” his Dad says. “How do I get Ol’ Blue in that program?”

 ”Just send him down here with $1,000″ the young cowboy says. “I’ll get him in the course.”

 So, his father sends the dog and $1,000.

 About two-thirds of the way through the semester, the money again runs out.. The boy calls home.

 ”So how’s Ol’ Blue doing son?” his father asks.

 ”Awesome, Dad, he’s talking up a storm,” he says, “but you just won’t believe this – they’ve had such good results they have started to teach the animals how to read!”

 ”Read!?” says his father, “No kidding! How do we get Blue in that program?”

 ”Just send $2,500, I’ll get him in the class.”

 The money promptly arrives. But our hero has a problem. At the end of the year, his father will find out the dog can neither talk, nor read.

So he shoots the dog.

When he arrives home at the end of the year, his father is all excited.

“Where’s Ol’ Blue? I just can’t wait to see him read something and talk!”

“Dad,” the boy says, “I have some grim news. Yesterday morning, just before we left to drive home, Ol’ Blue was in the living room, kicked back in the recliner, reading the Wall Street Journal , like he usually does.

Then Ol’ Blue turned to me and asked, “So, is your daddy still messing around with that little redhead who lives down the street?”

The father exclaimed, “I hope you shot that son of a bitch before he talks to your Mother!

” I sure did, Dad!”

“That’s my boy!”

The kid went on to law school, and now serves in Washington D.C. as a Congressman.

–author unknown

Posted in USAComments Off on THE TEXAS COWBOY



August 31, 2010

by Michael Leon  

By Markos Moulitsas

Conservatives say a lot of ridiculous things. But few were more ridiculous than the repeated claims that liberals were in league with Islamic terrorists.

Why would we make common cause with terrorists? The values and tactics that make Jihadists so despicable are the same values and tactics embraced by our own homegrown fundamentalists — the American Taliban.

That’s why I wrote the book American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right.

In the book, I show how similar both the American Taliban and Islamic Jihadists are — from their fetishization of violence and guns, to their love of theocracy, to their hatred of women and gays, to their fear of scientific progress and education, to their weird hangups about sex, to their disdain for popular culture.

I’ve got to say, I’m pretty proud of this book. It’s my best yet. And I’m definitely enjoying the hysteria over it from our friends on the Right. Turns out, they’d rather people not make the obvious connections between them and their supposed enemies!

The book is out on paperback, so it’s relatively cheap. It’s a great read. Buy it, read it, then pass it around. Let’s spread the word that our domestic Taliban is just as regressive as Islamic fundamentalists. And given the opportunity, they can be just as deadly.

Buy American Taliban now at:

Barnes & Noble

Or pick it up at your favorite book store.

As always, thanks for everything you do.

Posted in USAComments Off on THE AMERICAN TALIBAN



August 31st, 2010

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Filed Under: BritainEducationMagazineMost read articles

All across the country teachers, school staff and pupils are looking forward to the start of the new academic year. Alex Kenny, an executive member of the National Union of Teachers, looks the Tories’ ideologically driven plans for education and sets out how we need to fight them.

The education industry represents the largest market opportunity for private sector involvement…. In the USA spending on 5-12 education is as large as the domestic auto industry. It is the largest segment of the education and the one almost entirely in the public sector. Clearly education offers new and lucrative opportunities…”

Merrill Lynch Annual Report – 1999

We have to select: to ration the educational opportunities so that society can cope with the output of education… We are in a period of considerable social change. There may be social unrest… But if we have a highly educated and idle population, we may possibly anticipate more serious social conflict. People must be educated once more to know their place.”

Unnamed Tory education minister – 1985

The coalition government has wasted no time in pushing ahead with their plans for the dissolution of state education. Using parliamentary procedures usually reserved for times of national crisis the Education Act, allowing all schools to become academies and the establishment of “free schools, received Royal Assent and passed into legislation on July 27th.

The Education Act has correctly been described as, “Thatcher’s unfinished business” on the education service. The plans crystallise Tory party ideology in a number of ways:

· It’s an attack on a section of workers with high union density – 750,000 teachers represent the largest single collection of workers after nurses; if they were in one union it would be the third biggest union in this country;

· It shows their hatred for local government, that they have carried with them for years and completes the circle they started with the introduction of Local Management of Schools;

· It highlights their burning ambition to get money that is trapped in town halls out of there into private pockets, to privatise further the education service.

But above all these considerations it is a class issue and what lies hidden, but not very well, beneath this is an attempt by the Tories to protect their own, and dampen down the expectations of the rest as we enter a period of cutbacks.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the big divide in education is still social class and in considering the latest government policy I think it is worth taking a step sideways and looking at their agenda from a class perspective and in that respect to place it firmly within the context of the development of education in this country but also what is happening in the economy, the attacks on public spending, benefits and so on.

For many decades education around the world has been of public concern and a site of struggle. That is because education under capital is set up to replicate class divisions, to mirror society, but it is also riddled with contradictions and it is these contradictions that enable our side to push back and to fight for reforms.

The great struggles have been around the right to education and to challenge the way education was used to establish and maintain privileges.

The right to free education, the abolition of child labour, the fight for comprehensive education, the raising of the school leaving age and so on have pushed back the restrictions placed particularly on working class children.

But the fact that private schools continue to exist and that in 2010 there are more children sitting entrance exams of one form or another for secondary school than there were in 1997 confirm that class privilege is still embedded deep within education in this country.

Guardian journalist, Nick Davies, drew this conclusion in 2000, “education policy since 1944 is a triumph for class politics, for the power of the middle class to corner what is best for its children, much of it disguised as parental choice.”

Michael Gove’s stated intentions are to empower parents and to provide them with more choice. However, parental choice is a fallacy that has nothing to do with the government’s plans. I think Michael Gove’s aim is to recreate the stratified, differentiated education system of the 1950s and to drive this down into primary education.

They dare not say they want to do this; but I want to argue that this is a deliberate policy to increase the differences between schools and so widen the gap between successful schools and the rest.

Gove is also lying when he talks about raising standards and closing the attainment gap – the gap in achievement between the highest and lowest achievers. All research shows that this gap actually widens as children move through the school years. Some research suggests that this gap narrowed in the heyday of comprehensive education but has widened again in the time it has been under attack and undermined.

For all the previous Labour government’s talk about raising standards the attainment gap between highest and lowest achievers has remained the same in the last thirteen years.

Gove’s free schools and academies will exacerbate these differences and create division, inequality, and failure. They will neither raise standards nor close the achievement gap.

All the evidence from Sweden, the principal model for Gove’s free schools, points to this; the evidence is the exact opposite of politicians’ claims.

Sweden now has more than 1,000 free schools, introduced by a right-wing government in the 1990s, and the country has slipped down the international league table for pupil performance in the period since. Evidence also shows that the introduction of ‘free’ schools has led to increased social segregation.

The director general of the Swedish National Agency for Education recently, “The students in the new schools have, in general, better standards, but it has to do with their parents and backgrounds. They come from well-educated families. We have had increasing segregation and decreasing results, so we can’t say that increasing competition between schools has led to better results”.

Michael Gove is not stupid, he has read the same research as us, so there must be something more to these plans, it can’t be an accident that they are pursuing polices that will do this.

In order to understand why the Tories might be pursuing an ideologically driven policy, intended to make our system more unfair one has to consider the way in which education under capitalism is riddled with contradictions.

Capital needs an educated workforce but it needs that workforce to know where it will go when it leaves school and to know its place. In times of expansion expectations are raised and in times of contraction they have to be dampened down.

Looked at it in this way the bleak prospect is that in the third millennium, if the forces of reaction are unchecked, the only future is one in which education will worsen – in which education will fuel rather than tackle social differentiation and where education will regiment rather than enlighten.

Of course, they cannot openly say that they want to hold back working-class advancement through education, so they wrap this up in the language of raising standards, tackling underachievement and improving life chances.

But you have to look no further than this quote from a Tory education minister in 1985 to understand what they really think about the purpose of compulsory education – an attitude which could equally apply in 2010.

“There has to be selection because we are beginning to create aspirations which society cannot match. In some ways, this points to the success of education, in contrast to the public mythology we’ve created.

When young people drop off the education production-line and cannot find work at all, or work which meets their abilities and expectations, then we are creating frustrations with perhaps disturbing consequences.

He goes on:

We have to select: to ration the educational opportunities so that society can cope with the output of education… We are in a period of considerable social change. There may be social unrest… But if we have a highly educated and idle population, we may possibly anticipate more serious social conflict. People must be educated once more to know their place.”

And there you have it…. you can see why the growth in the number of working class children attending university has to be slowed – first by tuition fees then by cutting the number of places and perhaps now by further embedding segregation by class within the system. There are too many of us going to university and competing for jobs.

Already a shortage of university places will mean thousands of school leavers will not get a place this year; it is expected that around 200,000 students will fail to get places despite having good qualifications. Reasons given include the twin problems of a rise in applications and a ban on over recruiting. A lack of job opportunities for school leavers has also contributed to the problem; BT has reported that it received 24,000 applications for 211 apprenticeships, up 60% on last year.

This explains the ruling class hatred for comprehensive education, and the demonization of mixed ability teaching, attacks on the development of a curriculum based on race, gender and class, the abolition of the ILEA, the removal of discussions on pedagogy from many training courses.

It also explains why education is now so regulated through testing, league tables, targets, performance pay and Ofsted – all of these reduce parents, teachers, governors to thinking about what is best for my child, my classroom, my school rather than looking at the whole process as part of a collective endeavour – and all of these are being kept in place by the Coalition.

But there are already signs that the government plans could be derailed and that they are showing signs of weakness. To date only 153 schools have applied for academy status, hardly the ‘overwhelming’ response Michael Gove bragged about.

It is less than 10% of the 1,907 schools that ‘expressed an interest’. Given that there are about 24,000 schools in England & Wales, it does not amount to the ’schools revolution’ that the Tories heralded before the election and which required such a quick passage through parliament.

Coming so soon after the government’s embarrassment over the cuts in the Building Schools for the Future programme, Michael Gove has quickly been placed on the defensive.

In conclusion, we are in a fight for the very soul of comprehensive education, and there are many very good campaigns up and running all over the country.

Urgent campaigning, mobilising the widest possible forces, can stop schools becoming academies. It is interesting to note that a number of Tory councils have come out against the government plans – no doubt wise to the fact that there will be little left for them if they lose responsibility for schools.

In the current situation

· We have to fight rearguard actions – fight every academy, every free school, build alliances with parents, governors etc. that cut against the atomisation of schools, teachers and parents;

· We have to build anti-cuts alliances not just to defend jobs but to defend vital services and benefits;

· We have to be unashamed defenders of local education authorities, no matter how imperfect they may be in our eyes, because of what their existence represents for us;

· We have to build progressive campaigns – for anti-racism, anti sexism and equality using the spaces created within the curriculum; and there are plenty of good examples of this;

· Finally we also have to have a vision of transforming society, so that education truly does become a lifelong experience that can really liberate the full scale of human potential;

The choice ahead of us is summed up very well by Sean Vernell from the UCU in a pamphlet, Don’t Get Young in the Third Millenimum:

The fight we are engaged in now takes place within a bigger picture where two paths for humanity are signposted.

The first, signposted “business as usual” will lead to a worsening of young people’s conditions of life, where millions languish on the dole, further alienated from the potentially liberating experience of education, or be forced into soul-destroying and meaningless jobs.

The other path is one that holds out hope for the whole of humanity, where working people unite across industries and communities to fight against the attacks on their jobs and services and put forward a vision of society based on their collective values.

It is this path that lays the potential for the liberation of the young working class to unleash their creativity and energy to build a more equal and productive society.


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