Archive | October, 2010



       *    when Israelis call their country “apartheid”, we’re in trouble

When Israelis call their country “apartheid”, we’re in trouble

31 Oct 2010

Zvi Bar’el in Haaretz:

Israel is quickly defining the borders of the Arab autonomy and through apartheid legislation it is granting the Arab minority a legal standing of enclaves with lesser rights; of a cultural-ethnic region which, because it is being expelled from the broader who, can also demand international recognition for its unique standing.


MSM commentator prays for Iran attack

31 Oct 2010

This is what a Serious columnist for the Washington Post, David Broder, wrote yesterday:

Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.

What other response than ridicule to such ignorant bollocks? Perhaps Broder would like to kill Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself.


Talking sense in the Sri Lankan media barely happens these days

31 Oct 2010

Behold a true rarity. This article in Sri Lanka’s The Sunday Leader shows that there are still a few voices of reason in that authoritarian state:

Contrary to the attempts to spin-doctor every excess of the current regime and its sins of omission by those whose names hardly need specifying to anyone familiar with the media in this country, Sri Lanka has very serious problems that stem, primarily, from the militarism, racism, triumphalism and brutality that appears to pervade society and is increasingly taken for granted, as a ‘fact of life,’ thanks to the seemingly never-ending barrage of propaganda from writers of this ilk and those who provide them with patronage.

The fact that most of this stems from nearly three decades of violent conflict, does not provide an excuse to pretend it isn’t a problem in the here and now.

Suffice it to say that the sycophantic voices are significant and their ranks swelling, thanks to the perks that accrue to such people for providing the cloak of concealment to a regime that it is increasingly short of raiment with which to cover its moral and ethical nakedness.

Sri Lankan governments past and present are guilty of generating and presiding over this tragic state of affairs. The constant fall back of the horde of apologists when confronted with these horrors is, “They did it first,” the “they” ranging from Atilla the Hun, the Visigoths, the leaders of the Inquisition, on to Hitler, Idi Amin and the governments that invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. In the case of the last category, the very fact that their conduct was totally reprehensible and their subsequent behaviour hypocritical, does not give us the right to use them as stalking horses to visit misery on those we victimise.
And this is exactly the path that these apologists tread in their seemingly endless sycophantic posturing.

A simple phrase would describe the response of those of us who subscribe to a code of decency, morality or ethics of some description: “This is just not good enough.” Invoking the horrors of years and centuries past to justify the excesses of Sri Lanka today is just not acceptable.


Al Jazeera’s Listening Post on Wikileaks Iraq documents

31 Oct 2010

The Wikileaks Iraq files continue to cause robust discussion around the world.

Al-Jazeera’s weekly media show, Listening Post, examined the impact of the latest revelations and how some journalists preferred to focus on the personal life of Julian Assange rather than the fact that the US had turned a blind eye to Iraqi torture and murder.

The show asked me to briefly comment on the Wikileaks story and it starts below at 8.03. (My previous Al-Jazeera appearance, regarding the Wikileaks documents on Afghanistan, is here):


Is the Times too worried about upsetting its mates in Washington?

30 Oct 2010

New York Times‘ Public Editor looks at the ethical decisions made by the paper in accepting the Wikileaks documents over Afghanistan.

In the end, he argues that the paper made the right choice but there is one thing missing; the focus the paper took towards the US government. Was it too servile?

Mr. Bill Keller [Times editor] said no conditions were placed on the news organizations’ use of the material, except that they were obligated to synchronize publication with WikiLeaks’s publication online. The Times mapped out its own coverage.

“We chose the documents that struck us as most interesting,” Mr. Keller said in an e-mail message. “We did our own analysis of the material. We decided what to write. We did not discuss any of those matters with WikiLeaks, or give them an advance look at our stories.”

He emphasized, in other words, The Times’s independence from WikiLeaks. The issue emerged as a definitive one in my conversations with veteran journalists, a legal expert and a retired general.

Some say that what’s important is the material itself. Whether or not Julian Assange is a rogue with a political agenda, what matters most is that The Times authenticates the information.

“They did exactly the right thing to establish an arms-length distance,” said Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief of the news organization ProPublica. “WikiLeaks is not the A.P.”

David Rudenstine, a Cardozo Law School professor and author of “The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the Pentagon Papers Case,” said, “If The Times makes the judgment that this is the real thing, I don’t think it matters much” who it is dealing with.

Another view holds that it is impossible to separate the legitimacy of the material from its source. In this situation, the challenge is compounded because The Times’s source, WikiLeaks, obtained the material from its own source — a leaker whose identity remains uncertain.

“Did the source select which documents to turn over?” asked Bill Kovach, of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, in an e-mail message to me. “What was the nature of the transaction between WikiLeaks and the source(s)? Did WikiLeaks turn over only some documents and not others?”

Mr. Keller said the documents deserved attention, “whatever you think of WikiLeaks as an organization.” He added that Times staffers scrutinized the material to satisfy themselves that it had not been manipulated.


Prosecuting a child at Gitmo and calling it justice

30 Oct 2010

Obama’s America:

Everything about the last week’s events at Guantánamo has been deeply disturbing. On Monday, in defiance of international obligations requiring the rehabilitation of child prisoners, the US government — under President Obama — fulfilled the deepest wishes of the Bush administration, and persuaded Omar Khadr, the Canadian citizen who was just 15 years old when he was seized after a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002, to plead guilty to charges of murder in violation of the laws of war, attempted murder, spying, conspiracy, and providing material support to terrorism, in a plea deal that apparently involves an eight-year sentence, with Khadr serving one more year at Guantánamo before being returned to Canada.

At the heart of the plea deal is a 50-point “Stipulation of Fact” (PDF), signed by Khadr and stating that he “does not have any legal defense to any of the offenses to which he is pleading guilty,” in which, despite his previous protestations to the contrary, he accepted that he threw a grenade that killed Delta Force Sgt. Christopher Speer on the day of his capture, and, moreover, that he was, at the time, an “alien unprivileged enemy belligerent,” who did not have “any legal basis to commit any war-like acts” at all.

As part of the Bush administration’s apparently successful rewriting of international law — facilitated by President Obama and lawmakers in Congress — Khadr was therefore obliged not only to forego further complaints about his age at the time of his capture, and the responsibility of others for indoctrinating him, but also to accept that he had been captured in circumstances in which it was impossible for him to be a legitimate combatant.


Pulling the troops out of Afghanistan

30 Oct 2010

Who says hip-hop isn’t political?


How Stewart/Colbert mock Fox News America

30 Oct 2010

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER



So in a break from reading the delightful ethnographies of the players in the Israel Lobby littering the comment section in Mondoweiss, I started reading Grant Smith’s homework assignment book, Spy Trade, which asserts that the Israel Lobby and American slavish adherence to Israeli policies is undermining American rule of law and our Proud Traditions. Enough of this. The Lobby pursues Likudnik policies, but the policies that are carried out are in the main imperial policies.

They are class war, best captured by a Gini coefficient rising to third-world levels during the time of strongest support for Israel, from 1967-2001. Keep on trying to convince imperial managers that support for Israel is against their interests. They don’t seem to agree. Zionism shouldn’t be opposed because it’s harming the empire. It should be opposed because it harms Palestinians, while the Lobby gives good cover for imperial policies. Greg Palast explained all of this a long time ago.

Two and a half years and $202 billion into the war in Iraq, the United States has at least one significant new asset to show for it: effective membership, through our control of Iraq’s energy policy, in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the Arab-dominated oil cartel.

Just what to do with this proxy power has been, almost since President Bush’s first inaugural, the cause of a pitched battle between neoconservatives at the Pentagon, on the one hand, and the State Department and the oil industry, on the other. At issue is whether Iraq will remain a member in good standing of OPEC, upholding production limits and thereby high prices, or a mutinous spoiler that could topple the Arab oligopoly.

According to insiders and to documents obtained from the State Department, the neocons, once in command, are now in full retreat. Iraq’s system of oil production, after a year of failed free-market experimentation, is being re-created almost entirely on the lines originally laid out by Saddam Hussein.

Under the quiet direction of U.S. oil company executives working with the State Department, the Iraqis have discarded the neocon vision of a laissez faire, privatized oil operation in favor of one shackled to quotas set by OPEC, which have been key to the 148% rise in oil prices since the beginning of 2002. This rise is estimated to have cost the U.S. economy 1.5% of its GDP, or a third of its total growth during the period.

Walla is Palast arguing that analyzing the “U.S. economy” doesn’t help us understand the world very much??

In plotting the destruction of OPEC, the neocons failed to predict the virulent resistance of insurgent forces: the U.S. oil industry itself. From the outset of the planning for war, U.S. oil executives had thrown in their lot with the pragmatists at the State Department and the National Security Council. Within weeks of the first inaugural, prominent Iraqi expatriates-many with ties to U.S. industry-were invited to secret discussions directed by Pamela Quanrud, an NSC economics expert now employed at State.

“It quickly became an oil group,” one participant, Falah Aljibury, told me. Aljibury, an adviser to Amerada Hess’s oil trading arm and to investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, who once served as a back channel between the United States and Iraq during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, cut ties to the Hussein regime following the invasion of Kuwait.

And then suggesting that oil industry executives actually know how to run their companies? That’s too complicated. Let’s just stick to talking about Douglas Feith’s bar mitzvah.

Posted in CampaignsComments Off on THE LOBBY DEBATE IS A JOKE



Iran Condemns Burning of Ancient Church in Occupied Quds (Jerusalem)

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday condemned the arson attack by extremist Jewish settlers on an old church in the Western sector of the occupied Quds.


“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the Zionists’ provocative and sacrilegious act against a historical church in the occupied Quds is another instance of the Zionist regime’s disrespect for divine faiths and religious sanctities,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said in a statement on Sunday.

The statement also reminded the previous insults to the sacred and holy places of Muslims and Christians by the Zionist regime of Israel, specially Zionists’ measures against Muslims’ the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and reiterated that all these examples prove the regime does not at all feel any respect for divine religions and their believers.

Mehman-Parast further called on the international community to condemn the recent insult to Christians’ ancient church on the occupied territories and adopt immediate measures to stop such desecrations.

A Group of extremist Jewish settlers set a one hundred year old Christian church on fire in the occupied Quds (Jerusalem) on Friday causing substantial damage to its first floor.

Zakaria Al-Mashriqi, a leader in the church, denounced in a press release the “sinful crime” that targets destabilizing relations among heavenly religions and inciting strife in addition to expelling Palestinians from the holy city through such repeated attacks on citizens and their property.

He added that the church was built in al-Quds (Jerusalem) in 1897, and housed the Palestinian Bible College until 1948, when parishioners were pushed out by Jewish armed gangs during the violence accompanying the creation of the state of Israel.

He said that right-wing Israeli settlers broke a number of windows of the two-storey church and hurled Molotov cocktails inside it completely burning the first floor.

Article Source:  Fars News Agency

Posted in EducationComments Off on ARSON ATTACK BY ZIO=NAZI SETTLERS


What a damn shame. One private firm that engages in thuggery is shunned by the British government:

The private security firm G4S said tonight that it was “extremely disappointed” to lose a multimillion-pound government contract to forcibly deport foreign nationals.

A decision to award the lucrative contract to a rival firm was announced today, two weeks after G4S guards were arrested by police investigating the death of an Angolan deportee at Heathrow.

The company that will now deport detainees from next year, Reliance Security Task Management Limited, already manages several contracts for the Prison Service.

Three G4S guards were released on bail this month after being questioned over the death of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan who collapsed and died on BA flight 77 as it was preparing to depart for Luanda. G4S said it had received assurances that the failure to renew its contract was related to the price of its bid “and not to recent events”.

But not to worry. According to a recent piece in the Financial Times, business is booming for private companies looking to make a fortune on the misery of others. Disaster capitalism running riot:

To private providers seeking to maximise their advantage from Wednesday’s comprehensive spending review, criminal justice represents an opportunity – despite the axe poised over a £4bn prison-building programme inherited by the government from Labour.

Serco and G4S believe there are still rich pickings to be found in the “offender management” budget of Ken Clarke, justice secretary, not least as he tries to modernise the most Dickensian parts of the prison estate by opening them up to market competition.

Mr Clarke’s need for private investment will be crucial as he struggles to bring about a “rehabilitation revolution” at the same time as taking a hatchet to costs. However, the historic evidence on whether companies have been any better at running prisons than the public sector is hardly compelling.

Ben Crewe and Alison Liebling of Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology have published one of the few in-depth studies to compare the performance of private and public prisons. Their findings highlight some real concerns about privatisation – particularly when spending is being brutally curtailed.

Mr Crewe says that the performance of company-run prisons is extremely variable. At one end of the scale there is Altcourse, the G4S prison that is recognised by some as one of the best in England and Wales. At the other end there is Wolds, another G4S jail that received a damning assessment this year from the chief inspector of prisons for its “considerable weaknesses”, including a rampant drugs culture and lack of confidence by staff to confront bad behaviour.

“The best private prisons are – relatively speaking – very good, particularly in terms of staff-prisoner relationships and prisoner development and well-being,” says Mr Crewe. “However, as the prisons inspector has also noted, the worse-performing ones are poor in most areas: relationships; security; professionalism; use of authority; and prisoner development and well-being.”

The Cambridge research team – given lengthy access to several private and public jails – found that generous contract terms had a clear and positive impact on company-run prisons, with Altcourse a good example of a well-funded jail. But it also found that money was not the only reason that some private prisons performed better than others. Lowdham Grange, a training prison run by Serco, was “very good”, it said, but it had a relatively modest contract.

Mr Crewe warned the fact that private jails tended to use fewer prison guards, often far less experienced than their public sector counterparts, meant there was a real risk of “things going badly wrong”, particularly when companies would be trying to squeeze a profit from cheaper contracts.

Take this as an example:

A private security company plans to start renting out custody cells to police forces across the country in a move it says could save forces more than £400 million a year and help return officers to the streets.

G4S Police Support Services said it hoped to sign its first contract with a police force in November and to start operating the cells by July next year.

The new suites, which will be overseen by police custody sergeants but staffed by G4S employees, will cut costs by centralising facilities, the firm said.

Managing director John Shaw said it will ‘improve the whole experience of custody for everyone’ and ‘cut red tape for police officers, enabling them to return to the beat faster’.

The custody suites were being launched now ‘primarily because of the financial situation’ and they will help to ensure ‘significant cost savings for the public sector’, bring in efficiencies and ‘standardise the way custody is delivered’, he said.

Posted in UK1 Comment



Gilad Atzmon

As other dissidents from Judaism and the Jewish supremacist, terrorist state of Israel have pointed out, most “Jewish leftists” aren’t really leftists.  They are not leftists, or socialists, egalitarians, multiculturalists, advocates of diversity and human rights WHEN those things are applied to ISRAEL.

Supposedly they are for these things for everybody else, but what they really seek is tolerance of Jewish extremism.

They don’t dare point out the fact that Israel is RACIAL-RELIGIOUS SUPREMACIST STATE that not only takes away the human rights of non-Jews, if their victims dare to object  — they imprison them, torture them, and bomb and even murder their enemies children. That may sound pretty extreme, but it is true. Facts speak for themselves. One heroic exception, and I do say heroic, is Gilad Atzmon, who has defected from the Jewish Supremacist State and from the Jewish Supremacist power structure of both Zionism and Judaism.

I have spent the last ten years elaborating on Jewish national ideology and tribal politics.  During my journey of grasping what Zionism and Israel stand for, I came to realize that it is actually the Jewish left — and Jewish Marxists in particular — that provide us with an adequate glimpse into contemporary Jewish identity,  tribal supremacy,  marginal politics and tribalism.

‘Jewish left’ is basically an oxymoron. It is a contradiction in terms, because ‘Jewishness’ is a tribal ideology, whilst ‘the left’ are traditionally understood as aspiring to universalism.

On the face of it, the ‘Jewish left’ is, at least categorically, no different from Israel or Zionism: after all, it is an attempt to form yet another ‘Jews only political club’.  And as  far as the Palestinian solidarity movement is concerned, its role is subject to a growing debate — For  on the one hand, one can see the political benefit of pointing at a very few ‘good Jews’, and emphasizing that there are Jews who ‘oppose Zionism as Jews’. Yet on the other hand, however, accepting the legitimacy of such a racially orientated political affair, is in itself, an acceptance of yet another form, or manifestation of Zionism, for Zionism claims that Jews are primarily Jewish, and had better operate politically as Jews(1).

To a certain extent then, it is clear that Jewish anti Zionism, is, in itself, still just another  form of Zionism.

‘Jewish dissidence’ has two main roles: First, it attempts to depict and bolster a positive image of Jews in general (2). Second, it is there to silence and obscure any attempts on the part of the outsider to grasp the meaning of Jewish identity and Jewish politics within the machinations of the Jewish state. It is also there to stop elements in this movement from elaborating on the crucial role of Jewish lobbying.

The Jewish Left is there then, to mute any possible criticism of Jewish politics within the wider Left movements.  It is there to stop the Goyim from looking into Jewish affairs.

A decade ago I met the Kosher dissident brigade for the first time — As soon as I started to  express criticism of Israel and Zionism — they started to  bounce around me.

For a short while, I fitted nicely into their  discourse : I was young  and energetic.   I was an award winning musician, as well as a promising writer. In their eyes I was a celebrity, or at least a good reason to celebrate.  Their chief commissars reserved  the best, and most expensive dining tables ahead  of my Orient House’s  Ensemble concerts. The five grass-root penniless activists, followed the trend and came to my free stage Jazz Combo  afternoon  concerts in the Barbican Centre’s Foyer.  They all wanted to believe that I would follow their agenda, and become a commissar myself.  They were also very quick  to preach to me who were the ‘bad guys’, those who should be burnt in hell: Israel Shahak, Paul EisenIsrael Shamir and Otto Weininger were just a few amongst the many baddies.

As one may guess by now, it didn’t take me too long to admit to myself that there was more wisdom in a single sentence  by Eisen, Weininger, Shahak or Shamir than in the entire work of the Jewish Left  put together. I was quick to make it clear to my new ‘Red’ fans that it was not going to work : I was an ex-Israeli, and I no longer regarded myself as a Jew any more. I shared nothing with them and I did not believe in their agenda.  Indeed, I had left Israel because I wanted to drift as far away as I could from any form of tribal politics.

Paddling in chicken soup has never been  my thing.

Naturally, I bought  myself at least a half a dozen enemies, and they were quick to run a campaign against me. They tried to silence me; they desperately ( and hopelessly ) tried to wreck my music career; they mounted pressure on political institutions, media outlets,  and music venues.  One of them even tried to drag me to court.

But they failed all the way through and they failed on every possible level. The more pressure they mounted, the more people read my writing. At a certain point, people around me were convinced that my detractors were actually running my PR campaign. Moreover, the relentless attempts to silence me could only prove my point. They were there to divert attention away from the crucial role of Jewish politics and Jewish identity politics.

I have asked myself often enough — how is it that they failed with me? But I guess that the same internet that successfully defeated Israeli Hasbara, has also defeated the Jewish left and its hegemony within the movement. In the wider scheme of things, it is totally obvious how marginal the Jewish Marxist discourse is. Its voice within the dissident movement is, in actuality, insignificant.

I guess also, that the fact that I am a popular Jazz artist didn’t make life easy for them — At the time those Jewish commissars labeled me as a racist and an anti Semite, I was touring around the world with two ex Israeli Jews, an Argentinean Jew, a Romanian Gipsy and  a Palestinian Oud player.  It just couldn’t work for them, and it didn’t.

But here is an interesting twist :  In comparison with the contemporaneous  Jewish Red terror, Zionism comes across as a relatively tolerant  endeavour.  In recent months I have been approached by every possible Israeli media outlet. In the summer, Ouvda, the leading Israeli investigative TV show asked repeatedly to join with me and my band on the road. They were interested to  launch a debate, and to discuss my ideas in prime time.  This week, The Israeli Second Channel approached me for a news item.  Again, they were interested in my views. Yesterday, I discussed my views for an hour with Guy Elhanan on Israel’s ‘Kol ha-shalom’ (Voice of Peace).

For the most obvious of reasons, I am very cautious when dealing with the Israeli media.  I choose my outlets very carefully. I usually tend to refuse. But, I also accept that as a person who cares about the prospect of  peace I must keep an open channel with the Israeli public, and two weeks ago I agreed to be interviewed by Haaretz writer,Yaron Frid.  This was my first published interview in Israel for more than a decade. I must admit that I was shocked to find out that not a single word of mine had been removed or censored. Haaretz let me say everything that the Kosher ‘Socialists’ had consistently tried to stop me from saying.

On my ‘self-hatred’ and  Jewishness   the Israeli paper Haaretz let me say :

“I am not a nice Jew, because I don’t want to be a Jew, because Jewish values don’t really turn me on and all this ‘Pour out Thy wrath on the nations’ stuff doesn’t impress me.”

It also let me question the entire Zionist ethos; the reality of plunder and deluded historicism : “Why do I live on lands that are not mine, the plundered lands of another people whose owners want to return to them but cannot? Why do I send my children to kill and be killed, after I myself was a soldier, too? Why do I believe all this bullshit about ‘because it’s the land of our forefathers’ and ‘our patrimony’ if I am not even religious?

And about  Palestinians’ right of return, I said :

“The Israelis can put an end to the conflict in two fucking minutes. Netanyahu gets up tomorrow morning, returns to the Palestinians the lands that belong to them.”

They let me express how I would differentiate between, and define Israel and Palestine:  “Palestine is the land and Israel is the state. It took me time to realize that Israel was never my home, but only a fantasy saturated in blood and sweat.”

About chosen-ness, de-Judification  and Jewish identity I said, “for Netanyahu and the Israelis to do that (accept the Palestinian  right of return), they have to undergo de-Judaization and accept the fact that they are like all peoples and are not the chosen people. So, in my analysis this is not a political, sociopolitical or socioeconomic issue but something basic that has to do with Jewish identity.”

And in the interview I compared Jewish left with National Socialism — And Haaretz’s editorial  let it through: “The idea of left-wing Jews is fundamentally sickening.  It contains an absolute internal contradiction. If you are leftists it doesn’t matter whether you’re Jewish or not, so on principle when you present yourselves as leftist Jews you are accepting the idea of national socialism. Nazism.”

Haaretz, as could be expected, challenged   my  opposition to Jewish politics :    “Atzmon has been accused from every possible platform of disseminating vitriol against Jews. He, though, maintains that he ‘hates everyone in equal measure.’ He’s also been accused of self-hatred, but he is the first to admit this, and in comparison with Otto Weininger – the Austrian Jewish philosopher who converted to Christianity and of whom Hitler said, ‘There was one good Jew in Germany, and he killed himself’ – he is even proud. ‘Otto and I are good friends.’”

But clearly, at least Israelis can cope with Otto Weininger and his ideology. However — when I gave a talk about Otto Weininger in a London Marxist book shop five years ago (Bookmarks), a ‘synagogue’ of fourteen Jewish Marxists unsuccessfully tried to picket the event and to pressure the SWP into submission.

Guess what; they failed.

Haaretz  challenged  my take on the Holocaust; yet it  printed my answer without changing  a single word. “I am fighting against all the disgusting laws and persecutions of those so-called Holocaust deniers – a categorization I don’t accept. I think the Holocaust, like any historical episode, must be open to research, to examination, to discussion and debate.”

And Haaretz, evidently an Israeli Zionist paper, let me express my thoughts about Israeli mass murderers and their destiny. “It might be a good thing if the Nazi hunters hunt down [Shaul] Mofaz and [Ehud] Barak, for example, and not all kinds of 96-year-olds who are barely alive. It’s pathetic.”

It also let me tell Israelis that they are all to be blamed : “In Israel 94 percent of the nation supported Operation Cast Lead. On the one hand, you want to behave like a post-enlightenment state and talk to me about individualism, but on the other hand you surround yourselves with a wall and remain attached to a tribal identity.”

Yaron Frid ended his piece saying, “Israel lost Gilad,” and,   “The score, for now: 1-0, Palestine leading.”

I was happy with the article. But I was also jealous. For here in Britain, we are still far from being free  to explore these issues.

The message here is plain and simple — Haaretz, a  Zionist paper,  has let me discuss all those intellectual avenues that ‘the  Kosher Socialists’ insist on blocking. A week before my Haaretz special, the Israeli paper featured Mavi Marmara hero Ken O’keefe. Again, Haaretz coverage was fairly balanced; certainly more balanced than BBC Panorama.

The moral is clear : As much as Zionism is repugnant and  murderous — it is still way ahead of the Jewish Left , simply because it is still, in some regards at least, part of an ongoing and open discourse.

There is no doubt that amongst the  most prolific enemies of Israel and Jewish identity,  you will find Israelis and ex Israelis, such as Ilan Pappe,  Gideon Levi, Amira Hass, Tali Fahima, Israel Shamir, Israel Shahak,  Nurit Peled , Rami Elhanan Guy Elhanan, Jonathan Shapira, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Mordechai Vanunu,  Uri Avneri, Shimon Tzabar, myself,  and others.

We may not always agree with each other — but we let each other be.

Zionism was an attempt to bring about a new Jew: an ethical, productive and authentic being.  But Zionism failed all the way through. Israel is a criminal state, and the Israelis are collectively complicit in relentless crimes against humanity. And yet, Zionism has also  succeeded  in  erecting  a solid   school of eloquent and proud  ‘self haters’. Israelis are taught to be outspoken  and critical. Unlike the Diaspora Jewish left, that for some reason, operates as a thought-police, Israeli dissidence speaks out. Israelis are trained to celebrate their ‘symptoms’ — and this also applies in the case of dissidence.

Unlike Jewish Marxism that operates  largely as a tribal PR campaign, Israeli dissidence is an ethical approach : You wouldn’t hear Israeli activists  shouting ‘not in my name’.   The Israelis mentioned above do accept that each Israeli crime is committed  in their names. They also accept that activism is the crucial shift from guilt into responsibility.  Hence, it is also far from  surprising that on the ‘Jewish Boat to Gaza’ mission, the Israeli veteran AIF pilot Shapira and also Elahanan, both spoke about ethics and humanitarian issues, while the British Jew, Kuper, was apparently, judging from his words, perhaps more concerned  with the amendment of  the image of world Jewry.

Being an ex Israeli, I believe that the only thing I  can do for Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, myself, my family, my neighbours and humanity — is to stand firm and speak my heart against all odds.

I also believe that we all know the truth.

We just need to be courageous enough to spit it out.

(1) As bizarre as it may sound to some, ‘Jews Against  Zionists’ (JAZ) and ‘Jews for BDS’ (Boycott of Divestment of Israeli Goods) do affirm the Zionist mantra : They operate, primarily, as Jews.  As much as it is impossible for uprooted Palestinians   to settle in Israel and become a citizen with equal civil rights — it is also impossible for them to  join any of the primarily Jewish groups for Palestine.

(2) Richard Kuper,  the person behind ‘Irene-the Jewish Boat to Gaza’, was bold enough to admit it —  “Our goal is to show that not all Jews support Israeli policies toward Palestinians,” he said. It is now an established fact that the Jewish boat carried hardly any humanitarian aid for the Gazans : its main mission, as far as Kuper was concerned, seems to have been to amend Jewish reputation.

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on ZIONIST TOLERANCE FOR A CHANGE



David Cameron’s paradise is allowing privatisation to run wild

30 Oct 2010

What a damn shame. One private firm that engages in thuggery is shunned by the British government:

The private security firm G4S said tonight that it was “extremely disappointed” to lose a multimillion-pound government contract to forcibly deport foreign nationals.

A decision to award the lucrative contract to a rival firm was announced today, two weeks after G4S guards were arrested by police investigating the death of an Angolan deportee at Heathrow.

The company that will now deport detainees from next year, Reliance Security Task Management Limited, already manages several contracts for the Prison Service.

Three G4S guards were released on bail this month after being questioned over the death of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan who collapsed and died on BA flight 77 as it was preparing to depart for Luanda. G4S said it had received assurances that the failure to renew its contract was related to the price of its bid “and not to recent events”.

But not to worry. According to a recent piece in the Financial Times, business is booming for private companies looking to make a fortune on the misery of others. Disaster capitalism running riot:

To private providers seeking to maximise their advantage from Wednesday’s comprehensive spending review, criminal justice represents an opportunity – despite the axe poised over a £4bn prison-building programme inherited by the government from Labour.

Serco and G4S believe there are still rich pickings to be found in the “offender management” budget of Ken Clarke, justice secretary, not least as he tries to modernise the most Dickensian parts of the prison estate by opening them up to market competition.

Mr Clarke’s need for private investment will be crucial as he struggles to bring about a “rehabilitation revolution” at the same time as taking a hatchet to costs. However, the historic evidence on whether companies have been any better at running prisons than the public sector is hardly compelling.

Ben Crewe and Alison Liebling of Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology have published one of the few in-depth studies to compare the performance of private and public prisons. Their findings highlight some real concerns about privatisation – particularly when spending is being brutally curtailed.

Mr Crewe says that the performance of company-run prisons is extremely variable. At one end of the scale there is Altcourse, the G4S prison that is recognised by some as one of the best in England and Wales. At the other end there is Wolds, another G4S jail that received a damning assessment this year from the chief inspector of prisons for its “considerable weaknesses”, including a rampant drugs culture and lack of confidence by staff to confront bad behaviour.

“The best private prisons are – relatively speaking – very good, particularly in terms of staff-prisoner relationships and prisoner development and well-being,” says Mr Crewe. “However, as the prisons inspector has also noted, the worse-performing ones are poor in most areas: relationships; security; professionalism; use of authority; and prisoner development and well-being.”

The Cambridge research team – given lengthy access to several private and public jails – found that generous contract terms had a clear and positive impact on company-run prisons, with Altcourse a good example of a well-funded jail. But it also found that money was not the only reason that some private prisons performed better than others. Lowdham Grange, a training prison run by Serco, was “very good”, it said, but it had a relatively modest contract.

Mr Crewe warned the fact that private jails tended to use fewer prison guards, often far less experienced than their public sector counterparts, meant there was a real risk of “things going badly wrong”, particularly when companies would be trying to squeeze a profit from cheaper contracts.

Take this as an example:

A private security company plans to start renting out custody cells to police forces across the country in a move it says could save forces more than £400 million a year and help return officers to the streets.

G4S Police Support Services said it hoped to sign its first contract with a police force in November and to start operating the cells by July next year.

The new suites, which will be overseen by police custody sergeants but staffed by G4S employees, will cut costs by centralising facilities, the firm said.

Managing director John Shaw said it will ‘improve the whole experience of custody for everyone’ and ‘cut red tape for police officers, enabling them to return to the beat faster’.

The custody suites were being launched now ‘primarily because of the financial situation’ and they will help to ensure ‘significant cost savings for the public sector’, bring in efficiencies and ‘standardise the way custody is delivered’, he said.



Times just hopes and prays Israel will listen to its pleasant request

30 Oct 2010

A New York Times editorial gets tough (for a Zionist publication):

Enough game-playing. Mr. Netanyahu should accept Mr. Obama’s offer and be ready to form a new governing coalition if some current members bolt. Arab states need to do more to nudge Mr. Abbas back to the table and give him the political support he will need to stay there.

Israelis might dismiss the Palestinian threats to go to the United Nations as theatrics. Today they might be. But the Israelis cannot bet on the infinite patience of the Palestinian people — or the international community.


We are failing in Afghanistan and most reporters don’t see why

29 Oct 2010

Being unembedded in Afghanistan is a rarity, most journalists preferring to be near and dear to the military.

That’s why Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley are in a class of their own. They’re just back from the war-torn country and reveal the utter failure of the American-led counter-insurgency. Here’s Scahill:

Well, first of all, what’s abundantly clear from traveling around the Pashtun heartland—the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan are where the Taliban have their strongholds, and also Rick and I traveled in areas that are really heavily populated by members of the Haqqani network, which is the insurgent group that the United States government most closely identifies with al-Qaeda, with strong links to Pakistan’s ISI spy agency, and so we traveled around these areas talking to tribal leadership, to civilians.

We even interviewed some current Taliban commanders, as well as former senior members of the Taliban government, including Mullah Zaeef, who was the former Taliban spokesperson to Pakistan, the man who after 9/11 really emerged as the public face of the Taliban. He then was taken for four years to Guantánamo prison. So, much of what Rick and I focused on was trying to get a sense of the nature of the insurgency. And what’s abundantly clear is that the US counterinsurgency strategy, the so-called COIN doctrine, has utterly failed.

The Taliban are gaining in popularity, gaining in strength. The leadership of the Taliban acknowledged that the so-called targeted killing campaign of senior Taliban leadership has been successful, but they say that it’s only producing new generations of leaders within the Taliban that are actually more radical than the previous generation. In fact, when we talked to Mullah Zaeef, who’s under house arrest in Kabul, he has Hamid Karzai’s military forces in front of his house, and when we entered there, they went nuts about Rick’s camera, and they tried to sort of grab his camera from him. And then we entered Mullah Zaeef’s house, and we interviewed him.

And what he was saying is, look, if you kill all of the old-school Taliban leaders, people who actually were part of a government that had diplomatic relations with Muslim countries, that knew how to negotiate, you’re not going to like what you create in that, because this new generation—and he said to us, “I know this new generation. They’re more radical.” And evidence of this can be found in the fact that when Mullah Mohammed Omar, who—all the Taliban people we talked to—is still running the show, still issuing orders through the shadow governors that the Taliban has—all over the country they have a shadow government, and in many cases, local people go to that shadow government instead of the Karzai government, because they feel that they’re going to get results there.

But what they were saying is that within this structure, when they try to give orders to new commanders, sometimes it’s met with hostility from the new generation of Taliban. A few months ago in Paktia province, which is a Taliban area just outside of Kabul, Mullah Omar sent an emissary to a new Taliban commander to try to say that “you’re violating some of the rules of Taliban combat,” and they literally murdered his emissary.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER



October 30, 2010

by crescentandcross Quantcast

America is now approaching the worst election in its history and it doesn’t even involve a presidency.  Campaign ads are ridden with lies, smears and the clear signs of a social meltdown.  When the Supreme Court opened the door to allowing laundered drug money to buy American elections, I knew it was coming.  Yes, any drug baron with an account in the Cayman Islands and a lawyer in Delaware can buy a seat in congress, can and are.  Organized crime has now replaced phony religion as the primary political force in the United States.

What is the election really about?  Drug money, pure and simple, not “corporate” but “crime,” has bought race after race in the current election.  If our Tea Party/Republican alliance gets in, the borders will open, Wall Street will start the mortgage games again, gas will hit $6 bucks, a new terrorist attack, a 9/11 will mysteriously occur, we will reinstate the draft and invade Iran.  This is what it is about, pure and simple.

America is being played.  If “they” pull it off, it will be proof that America is clearly too stupid to survive.

Why should we hate the Democrats?

They didn’t have the guts for a 9/11 investigation.  There are 3 choices that 65% of Americans look at for 9/11.

  1. Bush and Cheney did it
  2. Israel did it entirely
  3. They did it together

Last week, when 10,000 Australians were polled after a network Israeli pundit claimed anyone questioning 9/11 was insane, 77% of Aussies screamed out:


What am I saying?  This is what I am saying, if your candidate is unwilling to talk about the real issues, don’t support them.  what are the real issues?

  1. Stop the wars, all of them, bring all our troops home to defend our own borders, end of story
  2. Jail our financial criminals, all of them and everyone in government who helped them.  Secure our future by enforcing our laws.
  3. End all foreign influence in government, Israel, China and the corporations that claim to be American but are owned by foreigners that hate our guts.
  4. Restore democracy by getting rid of the Supreme Court justices that think they can make up any law they want and spit on the constitution.  Scalia, Roberts and Thomas have enough dirt on them to be impeached in a New York minute.  Then, let the American people decide who replaces them, not Israel, not Wall Street and certainly not a pack of thieving lawyers and politicians.
  5. Immediately disband the CIA and Homeland Security.  These two groups exist with no purpose other than to perpetuate threats against America.  They are the disease, not the problem.  The CIA proved, back in 2003, that they are liars and cheats.  Nothing has changed since.  These groups hate democracy, hate freedom, eat money and do nothing but find new enemies for America, proven over and over enemies that wouldn’t exist without them.
  6. Immediate term limits for congress, end the current seniority/committee system and flush Washington clean of lobbyists.  A criminal conspiracy is running America, at least it can be a smaller and more efficient one!
  7. Restore respect for “right and wrong,” real morality which is based on accepting fact, honoring truth, honesty, hard work and decency.  For decades, petty conspirators, just like the ones we see on TV every day, have taken control, not just of the secret world of spies and wars but our news, what our children are taught in school and, shamefully, what most of us have come to accept as “real.”

Every day you find out something you believed had been a lie.  Eventually, you may find everything was a lie, if you are lucky.  Currently, Israeli citizens control our news, yes, totally, entirely, unquestionably.  We love them, every single one of them, they are a warm and generous people but as for believing them?  Get real.  We get our news from people we wouldn’t buy a used car from.  (When this is read in Israel, people will be rolling on the floors laughing.)

We have a simple issue with this election.  We had the worst president in our history, one who left office with 22% approval, Mr. Bush.  Clinton, even after an impeachment trial, left office with 68% approval.  Now we are being told that we need to bring him back, in spirit anyway.  Is this because he didn’t finish destroying America in the 8 years he had, an office he held through, as many more know each day, he never won in an election, not even close?  (Ohio was lost in both 2000 and 2004 by substantial margins)

Every issue meant to attack Obama, a president I have mixed feelings about, is phony.  Obama’s primary fault is his failure to clean up the country, investigate, arrest and imprison the criminals who are responsible for 9/11, responsible for Afghanistan and Iraq, are responsible for our economic collapse, are responsible for our deluge of illegal aliens.

To a normal person, a solution would be to look for candidates that would do what is right, show courage and act decisively for what is correct.  Instead, funded by drug money, we have the old Bush gang, some pretending to be Tea Party but most crooked phony “neo-cons” at heart, drowning in laundered cash, trying to buy their way back in.

Expect the worst, terror attacks, gas prices skyrocketing, more wiretapping, armed guards everywhere, cameras on our streets, our schools and eventually in our homes.

Its about government.  It has failed.  It serves itself, it doesn’t trust the people but the people still are willing to sell their remaining freedoms.  Why?  Weakness, fear and hate seem to still have a grip on America.

Exploiting that weakness will destroy us.  Expect the worst and know that by voting, watching the news and not screaming:


…you will get what you deserve.





Dear All,

This evening’s message is rather long—6 items.  But as usual there are many more items that are not included.  Tonight is one of these times when it was truly difficult to decide what to include below, what to slip back into its folder.

Items 1, 2, and 3 are about the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and about the impact of Israel’s misdeeds on Palestinians.   I include these to keep you abreast of why being a Palestinian in Israel or in the OPT is very difficult.  None of us would wish to live their lives.

Item 4 is a repeat.  I originally transmitted it about July this year.  In the light of the new Who Profits study about Israeli banks being complicit in the Israeli occupation, colonization, and expansion (  Terry Crawford Browne’s article, ‘To end the occupation, cripple Israeli banks” seems even more an idea worthy of pursuing.  Anyone willing to try?

Item 5 is an additional (to the one that I sent yesterday) South African letter to the Cape Town Opera company attempting to convince it to boycott Israel rather to than perform in Israel.

Item 6 is also a boycott incentive, this time by Montreal activists to 2 Canadian universities to cut ties with the Technion, an Israeli university.

Lots of reading.  I know.  Just do your best.




1. From cpt_hebron

CPT Al Khalil (Hebron)


Israeli military occupy Palestinian house

On Thursday 28th October, Israeli soldiers occupied a Palestinian house in the Baqa’a Valley, north east of Hebron. The house is located next to Route 60, across from the illegal settlement of Havot Harsina. It is the third time in less than two months that the house has been occupied.
When CPTers arrived they were met by 7 soldiers on the steps of the house, who refused to allow them to enter. Members of the family came out and told CPTers that their father had collapsed when he tried to prevent soldiers from entering. He had been taken to hospital by ambulance. A month ago, when the house was occupied for the second time, his wife had a heart attack and died later in hospital.

15 people live in the house, of whom five are minors under 16.A son told CPTers that there were a total of 17 soldiers in and around the house, and that military vehicles were positioned behind the house, invisible from the road.A spokesman for the occupation forces came out and told CPTers that they could not go into the house, where the third floor and roof of the house were being occupied. He added that the occupation would be for 48 hours. (CPTers have learned that the military occupied two more Palestinian houses in the vicinity: part of a security operation to protect Israeli visitors to Hebron commemorating the death and burial of Sarah).The house is strategically located, with views in all directions. There is no other obvious reason for the occupation.
A neighbor told CPTers that he had heard screams, cries and shots from the house and therefore called for an ambulance. The soldiers had fired tear gas before they entered the house 

When CPTers left, the military were installing floodlights, and had covered part of the roof with camourflage netting. The Israeli flag was flying from the roof-top.


2  From Shadi Fadda’s “Today in Palestine”


Israeli crackdown on Palestinian youths in Silwan

By Ben Lynfield Ben Lynfield –

Fri Oct 29, 2010

Jerusalem – Amid rising Israeli-Arab tensions, Israeli police are waging a crackdown on Palestinian youths – many not yet teenagers – in East Jerusalem’s most volatile neighborhood, Silwan.

In a recent incident, M., a slightly chubby 10-year-old with dark eyes, was harmed by a group of plainclothes forces who sprang out of an unmarked car and grabbed him off the street, according to his father’s account, which was backed up by other residents. (M.’s full name could not be used because of an Israeli law protecting juveniles.)

“There were five mistarabin,” M. recalls, referring to Israeli security forces who disguise themselves as Arabs. At a detention center he was questioned by someone who identified himself as Capt. Shadi, adds M. “He asked me, ‘Who throws stones?’ I told him I don’t know.”

The report of a local doctor, Fawzi Aasi, who treated M. after he was released from six hours in custody, said his knees were “bleeding from laceration” and elsewhere he was suffering from pain and swelling – which his father attributed to beating.

The Oct. 18 incident marked the fourth time M. has been arrested since February amid the Israeli police’s escalating battle with the youths of Silwan, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the East Jerusalem area captured by Israel in the 1967 war and then annexed – a move the international community views as illegal.

Since 1991, Silwan has been increasingly penetrated by Israeli Jews who believe it was once inhabited by the biblical King David, and thus view it as a Jewish patrimony.

Tensions are especially high now, after an Israeli security guard – one of numerous guards hired to protect the area’s several hundred Jewish residents – shot dead Palestinian resident Samir Sirhan in disputed circumstances three weeks ago. And on Oct. 24, municipality workers accompanied by police began handing out demolition orders against 22 homes as part of a municipal plan to create a biblically-themed archaeological park, The King’s Garden.

SPECIAL REPORT: How Israeli-Palestinian battle for Jerusalem plays out in one neighborhood

The safety situation for Jews living in the area is “undoubtedly the worst it has ever been,” says Udi Ragones, a spokesman for Jewish residents in Silwan, who sees more police force as the answer. During the past month, he says, there has been an incident of Palestinian stonethrowing or other violence every day. “Stones can kill,” he stresses.

But critics say that the police crackdown, combined with recent scuffles and demolition plans – as well as the municipality’s move this week to shut down a protest tent erected by residents – could cause Silwan’s simmering tensions to boil over.

“They are merely adding fuel to the fire that is spreading and threatening to engulf all of us in flames,” says Meir Margalit, a liberal member of the Jerusalem City Council. “Each day we are on the brink of a new intifada [uprising] that could start in Silwan or elsewhere.”

Youths arrested at home, on streetsCommunity leaders say that more than 100 youths have been arrested over the past month in Silwan, most of them under 13 years old. Police counter that only 40 people have been arrested throughout East Jerusalem during that time, “all directly involved in violence.” Many are teenagers who engage in violence on their way to or from school, the police say.

But the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) argued otherwise in a letter it sent to the Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonvich of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, on Monday.

“From the complaints reaching us it should be emphasized that at least some of the arrests [by undercover forces] were carried out without any disturbance or stonethrowing beforehand and that the children were at the entrance to their homes or in the adjacent roads and alleys that serve as their playground.â€

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld disputes this, saying “all the arrests in Silwan have been made against suspects directly involved in disturbances and riots, attacking houses and security personnel. The police will continue to arrest anyone who breaks the law in Silwan.”

He said he had no knowledge of M.’s arrest and would check the matter but did not respond to a follow-up query in time for publication.

Interrogation without parentsAnother youth, who was recently arrested at 4 a.m. in his house, says he was handcuffed and taken to a police station.

“They started screaming in my face and banging on the table,” says the 13-year-old, wearing a black T-shirt and a baseball cap. “The interrogator asked me did you throw stones? I said no, but they insisted.”

Residents and human rights groups confirm arrests are sometimes conducted at 3 or 4 a.m., with a large force surrounding the child’s house.

“A disturbing picture arises of children being removed from their beds in the middle of the night and carted off to the police station in handcuffs without parents’ accompaniment,” the ACRI wrote in the same letter earlier this week. “The children report violent and frightening interrogations conducted by regular police officers and not by child and youth investigators.”

Attorney Nasreen Aliyan of ACRI says legally youths under 12 can be treated by police as witnesses but not suspects, and that the parents should be present. She adds that in many recent cases, parents are evicted from the interrogation room during questioning. “The law says you have to do it in the least harmful way, by inviting him with his family and having a specially trained officer do the questioning while the parents are present in the investigation.”

Security through fear?Community leaders and social workers accuse Israeli police of intentionally trying to instill fear in young people.

Four months ago, 15 police entered the youth wing of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, which has computers and a library, and arrested a 14-year-old, according to Ahmad Karain, a staffer at the center. The boy was released after 48 hours.

“The police knew all the children were in the center. They want all the children to be afraid. After that no children came to the center for two weeks,” says Mr. Karain, who was himself shot in the foot by an Israeli settler last year and uses a walking stick.

“When I send my child to the market I’m always nervous about whether he will make it back to the house,” says Abed Shlode, a father of four and member of a committee to fight the home demolitions. “When they can’t catch stonethrowers, they take anyone from the street, just like they kidnapped M.,” the 10-year-old, he says.

M.’s father has two other sons in prison after being convicted of throwing stones at police, and his house also faces demolition. He says that after being arrested M. “wakes up a lot shouting at night. In school he is not studying. He cannot live normally. A 10-year-old in a police station alone. I+ suffer the pain. They have destroyed my child.”

It’s not just M.

Rawia Saba, a social worker at the Palestinian Center for Guidance in East Jerusalem, says many children are frightened. “They have nightmares, they wet their beds. They are always afraid when walking.”

In the view of Fakhri Abu Diab, a local resident active in the battle against house demolitions, the arrests are actually aimed at forcing parents out of Silwan, part of the city Israel claims as its “undivided and eternal capital.” 

“They want to scare the parent so he will give up and leave this area,” says Mr. Diab, whose own home is slated for demolition. “They want the land without the people.


3.  The paragraph below is a summary.  For the full report click either on the English or Hebrew, depending on your language preference, or, if that doesn’t work, use the link

Protection of Civilians Weekly Report | 20 – 26 October 2010

This week, 29 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in the oPt; another six injured by settlers in the West Bank; three Palestinians killed and three others injured in tunnel related incidents and 26 injured in an explosion in Gaza. Also in the West Bank, settler violence continues unabated during olive harvest. Stop-work and eviction orders continue. In the Gaza Strip, limited construction materials for UN projects continue to enter. Fuel shortages continue; power cuts increase to 16 hours per day.

English | Hebrew

United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
P.O.Box 38712
Tel:  02-5829962/5853
Fax: 02-5825841 


4.  Sabbah Report

July 3, 2010

To end the occupation, cripple Israeli banks –

by Terry Crawford-Browne

by Guest Post

The international banking sanctions campaign in New York against apartheid South Africa during the 1980s is regarded as the most effective strategy in bringing about a nonviolent end to the country’s apartheid system. The campaign culminated in President FW de Klerk’s announcement in February 1990, releasing Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, and the beginning of constitutional negotiations towards a non-racial and democratic society.

If international civil society is serious about urgently ending Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, including ending the occupation, then suspension of SWIFT transactions to and from Israeli banks offers an instrument to help bring about a peaceful resolution of an intractable conflict. With computerization, international banking technology has advanced dramatically in the subsequent 20 years since the South African anti-apartheid campaign.

Although access to New York banks remains essential for foreign exchange transactions because of the role of the dollar, interbank transfer instructions are conducted through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which is based in Belgium. So, instead of New York — as in the period when sanctions were applied on South Africa– Belgium is now the pressure point.

SWIFT links 8,740 financial institutions in 209 countries. Without access to SWIFT and its interbank payment network, countries are unable either to pay for imports or to receive payment for exports. In short, no payment — no trade. Should it come to a point where trade sanctions are imposed on Israel, it may be able to evade them. Instead of chasing trade sanctions-busters and plugging loopholes, it is both faster and much more effective to suspend the payment system.

The Israeli government may consider itself to be militarily and diplomatically invincible, given support from the United States, and other governments, but Israel’s economy is exceptionally dependent upon international trade. It is thus very vulnerable to financial retaliation. South Africa’s apartheid government had also believed itself to be immune from foreign pressure.

Without SWIFT, Israel’s access to the international banking system would be crippled. Banking is the lifeblood of any economy. Without payment for imports or exports, the Israeli economy would quickly collapse. The matter has gained additional urgency with the bill now before the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to penalize any person who promotes the imposition of boycotts against Israel. Another important political factor is that SWIFT is not only outside American jurisdiction, it is also beyond the reach of Israeli military retaliation.

Israel has long experience in sanctions-busting since the 1948 Arab boycotts. Apartheid South Africa was also well experienced in sanctions-busting — breaking oil embargoes was almost a “national sport.” Trade sanctions are invariably full of loopholes. Profiteering opportunities abound, as illustrated by Iraq, Cuba and numerous countries against which for many years the United States unsuccessfully has applied trade sanctions. Iran conducts its trade through Dubai, which happily profits from the political impasse.

Suspension of bank payments plugs such loopholes, and also alters the balance of power so that meaningful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians become even possible. This is because banking sanctions impact quickly upon financial elites who have the clout to pressure governments to concede political change. Trade sanctions, by contrast, impact hardest on the poor or lower-paid workers, who have virtually no political influence.

SWIFT will, however, only take action against Israeli banks if ordered to do so by a Belgian court, and then only in very exceptional circumstances. Such very exceptional circumstances are now well-documented by the UN-commissioned Goldstone report into Israel’s winter 2008-09 invasion and massacre in Gaza and by the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on 31 May 2010. There is also a huge body of literature from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations detailing Israeli war crimes and violations of humanitarian law.

The Israeli government, like that of apartheid South Africa, has become a menace to the international community. Corruption and abuses of human rights are invariably interconnected. Israel’s long military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, for example, has corrupted almost every aspect of Israeli society, most especially its economy. The Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported in December 2009 that the Israeli government lacks commitment in tackling international corruption and money laundering.

The international financial system is exceedingly sensitive about allegations of money laundering, but also to any associations with human rights abuses. Organized crime and money laundering are major international security threats, as illustrated by the United States subpoena after the 11 September 2001 attacks of SWIFT data to track terrorist financing. The website Who Profits? ( lists hundreds of international and Israeli companies that illegally profiteer from the occupation.

Their operations range from construction of the “apartheid wall” and settlements to agricultural produce grown on confiscated Palestinian land. As examples, Caterpillar, Volvo and Hyundai supply bulldozing equipment to demolish Palestinian homes. British supermarkets sell fresh produce grown in the West Bank, but illegally labelled as Israeli. Ahava markets Dead Sea mud and cosmetics.

The notorious Lev Leviev claims in Dubai that Leviev diamonds are of African origin, and are cut and polished in the United States rather than Israel. They are sourced from Angola, Namibia and also allegedly Zimbabwe, and can rightly be described as “blood diamonds.” Israeli diamond exports in 2008 were worth $19.4 billion, and accounted for almost 35 percent of Israeli exports. Industrial grade diamonds are essential to Israel’s armaments industry, and its provision of surveillance equipment to the world’s most unsavory dictatorships. Such profiteering depends on foreign exchange and access to the international payments system. Hence interbank transfers are essential, and SWIFT — willingly or unwillingly — has become complicit, as were the New York banks with apartheid South Africa.

Accordingly, a credible civil society organization amongst the Palestinian diaspora should lead the SWIFT sanctions campaign against Israeli banks. And, per the South African experience, it should be led by civil society rather than rely on governments.

Each bank has an eight letter SWIFT code that identifies both the bank and its country of domicile. “IL” are the fifth and sixth letters in SWIFT codes that identify Israel. The four major Israeli banks and their SWIFT codes are Israel Discount Bank (IDBILIT), Bank Hapoalim (POALILIT), Bank Leumi (LUMIILIT) and Bank of Israel (ISRAILIJ).

Such a suspension would not affect domestic banking transactions within Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip — or international transfers to Palestinian banks that have separate “PS” identities. The campaign can be reversed as soon as the objectives have been achieved, and without long-term economic damage.

What is required is an urgent application in a Belgian court ordering SWIFT to reprogram its computers to suspend all transactions to and from Israeli banks until the Israeli government agrees to end the occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and that it will dismantle the “apartheid wall;” the Israeli government recognizes the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and Israel recognizes, respects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees.

* The writer is a retired banker, who advised the South African Council of Churches on the banking sanctions campaign against apartheid South Africa. He spent October 2009 to January 2010 in East Jerusalem monitoring checkpoints, house demolitions and evictions, and liaising with Israeli peace groups. He lives in Cape Town.

Source: EI

5. Cape Town Opera: Don’t help Israel whitewash its crimes

open letter, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, 29 October 2010

The following open letter to the Cape Town Opera was issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel on

25 October 2010:

Dear members of the Cape Town Opera,

We at the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), have recently learned of your scheduled performance in Israel on 12 November 2010. As you may know, in 2004, inspired by the triumphant cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, and supported by key Palestinian unions and cultural groups, PACBI issued a call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel (“Call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel”). We wish, in our letter to you, to stress the importance of this Palestinian call, and underscore the reasons for the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. We trust you will listen as we take our cue from your struggles and experiences in South Africa against oppression and injustice.

The 2004 Palestinian call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel appealed to international artists to refuse to perform in Israel or participate in events that serve to equate the occupier and the occupied and thus promote the continuation of injustice (“Palestinian civil society call”). Following this, in 2005, Palestinian civil society called for an all-encompassing boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign based on the principles of human rights, justice, freedom and equality . The BDS movement is asking artists to heed our call until “Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid” (see “About the campaign”). In light of our call, your upcoming performance would violate the appeal of the Palestinian BDS movement which urges people of conscience throughout the world to isolate Israel until it ends its colonial and apartheid oppression of the Palestinian people, as was done to the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Your performance is especially disturbing considering the history of the “Porgy and Bess” production. In one of its initial tours in Washington, DC in 1936, the opera singer and actor Todd Duncan “led the cast in an ultimately successful protest against the National Theatre’s segregation policy, resulting in the first time an integrated audience attended a performance at the National Theatre” (“Cape Town’s Porgy and Bess opens the Israeli opera season,” Midnight East blog, 20 October 2010). Ironically, this rich history will be lost on your audience as neither the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, nor the Palestinian refugees in the Diaspora will be allowed to attend your show.

Important, too, is the very nature of this opera as carrying a social and political message, whether it is racial, as some critics claim, or a reminder of policies of segregation. Such a message is further evidence that opera, and culture more broadly, do not rise above politics but are deeply embedded within it. That the subject of your opera carries political overtones should alert you to the fact that performing it in Israel, in this climate of persistent oppression and racist subjugation, would effectively serve to cover up Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. Some of Israel ‘s violations of international law and Palestinian rights that you would be turning a blind eye to are:

•Its brutal and unlawful military occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip. Israel restricts Palestinians’ freedom of movement and of speech; blocks access to lands, health care, and education; imprisons Palestinian leaders and human rights activists without charge or trial; and inflicts, on a daily basis, humiliation and violence at the more than 600 military checkpoints and roadblocks strangling the West Bank. All the while, Israel continues to build its illegal wall on Palestinian land and to support the ever-expanding network of illegal, Jewish-only settlements that divide the West Bank into Bantustans.

•Its growing system of apartheid towards the Palestinian citizens of Israel, with laws and policies that deny Palestinian citizens the rights that their Jewish counterparts enjoy. These laws and policies affect education, land ownership, housing, employment, marriage and all other aspects of people’s daily lives.

•Its denial of the internationally-recognized right of return for Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 in the process of forming an exclusivist Jewish state. Israel also continues to expel people from their homes in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev). Today, there are more than 7 million refugees, still struggling for their right to return to their homes, like all refugees around the world.

•Its illegal and criminal siege of Gaza. As part of this siege, Israel has prevented not only various types of medicines, candles, books, crayons, clothing, shoes, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee and chocolate, but also musical instruments from reaching the 1.5 million Palestinians incarcerated in the world’s largest open-air prison.

Can you entertain such a state with a clear conscience?

Israel uses artists, musicians and other cultural workers as part of a campaign to Brand Israel, a campaign that has been launched by the Israeli government and promoted by institutions throughout the country and abroad in order to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and project a false image of normalcy. But after Israel’s war of aggression against Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, which left 1,400 Palestinians dead, predominantly civilians, and led the UN Goldstone report to declare that Israel had committed war crimes, and after the flotilla massacre, many international artists have refused to conduct business as usual with a country that places itself above international standards. Elvis Costello, Gil Scott Heron, Carlos Santana, Devendra Banhart and the Pixies are but a few of the artists who have refused to perform in Israel in the past year. In his decision not to play, Devendra Banhart said:

“Unfortunately, we tried to make it clear that we were coming to share a human and not a political message but it seems that we are being used to support views that are not our own” (“Folk singer Devendra Banhart cancels Israel shows,” Ynet, 16 June 2010).

The call for BDS has also been supported by prominent and devoted anti-racist activists around the world, from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to best-selling African-American author Alice Walker. Your own Archbishop Tutu recently noted in a historic statement unequivocally supporting the Palestinian boycott campaign against Israel:

“I never tire of speaking about the very deep distress in my visits to the Holy Land; they remind me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like we did when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. My heart aches. I say, ‘Why are our memories so short?’ Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their own previous humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? … When we say ‘Never again!’ do we mean ‘Never again!’ or do we mean ‘Never again to us!’?” (“Israeli ties: a chance to do the right thing,” The Times, 26 September 2010).

If you remain unconvinced because of claims that a cultural boycott of Israel may infringe on freedom of expression and cultural exchange, then we recall for you the judicious words of Enuga S. Reddy, director of the United Nations Center against Apartheid, who in 1984 responded to a similar criticism voiced against the cultural boycott of South Africa by saying:

“It is rather strange, to say the least, that the South African regime which denies all freedoms … to the African majority … should become a defender of the freedom of artists and sportsmen of the world. We have a list of people who have performed in South Africa because of ignorance of the situation or the lure of money or unconcern over racism. They need to be persuaded to stop entertaining apartheid, to stop profiting from apartheid money and to stop serving the propaganda purposes of the apartheid regime” (see 12 Positions on Cultural Sanctions,” Theatre Communications Group).

We understand that your director, Angelo Gobbato, continued to defy the anti-apartheid boycotts, believing that there was another way. But you know now the effectiveness of your own boycott movements and the need for international solidarity. It is your solidarity with the Palestinian people against Israel’s repression that we ask for now. We hope you will grant us that.


6. The Electronic Intifada,

27 October 2010

Montreal activists launch campus boycott campaign

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours,

As a boycott, divestment and sanctions conference was convened in Montreal last week, activists launched a boycott campaign at two city universities. A group of students, professors and staff from Concordia and McGill universities are calling on the schools cut ties with the Israeli Institute of Technology, more commonly referred to as Technion University.

A report compiled by the group says that the links between Concordia, McGill and Technion universities “serve to normalize the Israeli state’s policies of institutionalized oppression and should be of serious concern to students, faculty and all members of McGill and Concordia’s campus community.”

The 13-page report, entitled “Structures of Oppression: Why McGill and Concordia’s campus community must sever their links with the Technion University” [PDF], examines Technion’s links to military technologies and manufacturers and the militarization and repression of political dissent on the Israeli university’s campus. The report also details the nature of Concordia and McGill universities’ relationships with the Israeli institution.

Based primarily on news articles, websites of Israeli weapons and military technology manufacturers, Technion press releases and reports written by human rights organizations, the report highlights “Technion University’s involvement in the development of deadly military technologies and the intense militarization of an academic institution which directly and indirectly denies Palestinian citizens of Israel the same access to education as other students.”

“Technion is complicit in the violations of international law and human rights abuses committed by the Israeli military against Palestinians by providing new military technologies to defense manufacturers,” the report stated.

Technion University

Founded in 1924 in Haifa, Technion University is a science and technology research-focused university that today enrolls approximately 12,600 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.

The university boasts on its website that “Technion graduates comprise the majority of Israeli-educated scientists and engineers, constituting over 70 percent of the country’s founders and managers of high-tech industries. 

Technion University also prides itself on its deep and far-reaching links to Israeli military technology manufacturers and to the Israeli military itself.

According to a report released by the Alternative Information Center in October 2009, titled “Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories,” Technion University “has all but enlisted itself in the military.”

“The extent of cooperation between the Technion and Israeli military was demonstrated when the Technion opened a center for the development of electro-optics in complete partnership with Elbit, one of the biggest Israeli private weapons’ research companies which is also heavily involved in development for the Israeli military,” according to the AIC.

AIC reports that Technion University’s technological programs are directly linked to the many human rights abuses perpetrated by the Israeli army:

“The [Technion] students and professors who are working in these co-op programs are directly participating in the research, manufacturing and upgrading of weaponry of which the vast majority is used in the [Israeli] occupation, as well as acts of aggression like the 2008 attacks in Gaza which resulted in over 1,400 mostly civilian deaths.”

“But what most people don’t realize is how this militarization effects Palestinian students who are citizens of Israel; many programs are off limits to these students for not having (nor wanting) the military experience and security clearance required,” the report adds.

Institutional racism in Israeli academia

In the “Structures of Oppression” report by the Montreal campus activists, researchers outline Technion’s connection to Elbit Systems Ltd., which is “‘one of two main providers of the electronic detection fence’ in the West Bank, deemed to violate international law by the International Court of Justice.” In July 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that Israel’s construction of a wall on occupied West Bank land was contrary to international law.

The Montreal activists’ report specifies that Elbit “also provides the Israeli army with unmanned aerial and ground vehicles that are routinely used in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

Technion University’ connections to Rafael Advanced System Ltd., one of Israel’s largest military technologies companies, are also exposed in the report.

“Rafael technologies were … reportedly used in indiscriminate attacks on civilians during the Israeli offensive into Gaza in December 2008/January 2009. Spike-MR (medium range) missiles — built by Rafael — were used in attacks launched by unmanned combat aerial vehicles that killed at least 29 civilians,” the report states.

Today, while Palestinians make up 20 percent of the citizens of Israel, they are only 9.5 percent of undergraduate students. Less than 5 percent reach the MA degree level, only 3.2 percent earn a PhD, and only 1 percent of university staff is Palestinian.

According to “Structures of Oppression,” “these statistics are indicative of discrimination and the persistence of institutional racism against Palestinian Israelis in the academic realm.”

In addition, the report states that Arab students at Technion University “are prevented from practicing their basic rights of expression and from forming an Arab students union, for the freedom of speech right is limited to those who support the Israeli state project.”

During a police-approved demonstration earlier this year against the 31 May Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, ten Palestinian Technion students were arrested while a right-wing counter-protest — which was not approved in advance by the university — went ahead without problems or arrests.

The report also outlines Technion University policies and programs that unfairly favor Israeli Jewish students over their Palestinian counterparts, including the Brakim academic reserve program.

The Brakim program gives 15 students the chance to complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in four years.

“According to a brochure released by the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the ‘Brakim program [was] initiated to meet the request of the IDF [Israeli army] to create an elite group of mechanical engineers to become the future [research and development] leaders in [the] IDF,'” the report states.

The report adds, “an academic institution that not only places a major amount of its efforts in military technology, but also in promoting student/soldier cooperative programs, is therefore deeply implicated in the occupation and crimes committed by the military.”

Cutting off ties

Concordia University currently maintains a program called the Goldie and Joe Raymer Fellowship that enables “alternating yearlong visits for students between Concordia and the Technion” and covers students’ airfare, tuition and housing costs.

For its part, McGill University lists Technion as a partner institution in its student exchange program, and allocates two spots each year for students to study at the Israeli institution.

According to the authors of the report, these programs serve as a way to legitimize Technion’s complicity in human rights violations, just like the role North American universities had in maintaining the status quo did during the time of South African apartheid.

“There’s no question, North American universities that maintained institutional links to South African universities during the apartheid era were indirectly legitimizing institutions that openly oppressed a major section of the indigenous population. Israel is no different,” the report states.

The authors explain that this is why it is so crucial for McGill and Concordia to severe their ties to Technion University.

“So long as Concordia and McGill keep [these] institutional links, they are helping normalize a university which openly and flagrantly violates the human rights of the Palestinian people, whether in the Occupied Territories or [as] citizens of Israel, as well as people who openly speak out about against these policies. McGill and Concordia have to come clean and cancel these programs until the state of Israel complies with international law and basic human rights, as stipulated by the three demands of the [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement.”

Originally from Montreal, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in occupied East Jerusalem. More of her work can be found at

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER



October 30, 2010

by crescentandcross Quantcast

A top Hamas official warned Saturday against what he said were the consequences of breaking ranks with Hamas policy toward Israel. Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar said that anyone who fires rockets from Gaza into Israel is a “rebel.”

In an interview with the Arabic language daily Al Hayat, quoted by Israel’s Channel 10 Saturday, Zahar explained that Hamas vowed to adhere to a cease-fire agreement reached with Israel following Israel’s assault on the Strip in late 2008.

“Did we agree to the truce in order to stick to it, or to violate it?,” Zahar said. “Do they expect us to give a round of applause to people who rebel against their organization?” he asked, referring to so-called rebels firing rockets in violation of the truce.

Referring to Hamas’ stance toward the launches, Zahar said that allowing “to open the gates of defiance could lead to anarchy.”

The Hamas strongman also denied claims that Syria and Iran had been disrupting attempts to reach reconciliation between Hamas and the rival Fatah, which rules the West Bank, saying such reports were “irrational.”

Zahar also denied claims that Hamas had been systematically and brutally violating human rights in the territory, instead blaming Fatah for “turning to Israel and committing crimes against the Palestinian people.”

On Thursday, Zahar warned Israel against launching a large- scale offensive against the Gaza Strip, saying the Islamist group seriously considered “Israel’s threats to launch another war on Gaza, but we frankly say if Israel tries to enter Gaza, it will cost it a lot and it won’t be able to achieve its goals.”

Israel had accused Hamas movement, which has been ruling the Gaza Strip since June 2007, of trying to get more arms and weapons to the salient to use in carrying out attacks against Israeli territory.

“It is the right of Hamas to have all kinds of weapons to defend itself,” Zahar said. “If Israel carries out another war in the future, it should think thousand of times before carrying out a war.”

He said that Israel “exaggerates that armed organizations have various kinds of weapons to find an excuse to strike again on the Gaza Strip.”






‘New York Times’ is clueless

Oct 29, 2010

Philip Weiss 

“New York Times execs visit West Bank city

“Publisher, senior editors of influential American newspaper given tour of Ariel as part of Yesha Council PR campaign”

Those are Ynet’s headlines. NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and executive editor Bill Keller and other editors visited a West Bank settlement two days ago as guests of Yesha, a settlers’ organization…

I wonder–in good faith– what the Times brass is doing in the West Bank; are they going to report on it? Well, then–oh my, this is like visiting Selma with Bull Connor– why did they go at the behest of a group and leader, Dani Dayan, that have pushed for illegal colonization? Why not with Jeff Halper or some anti-settlement group?

Why not with the modern day Martin Luther Kings who are fighting Jim Crow and need oxygen to continue this noble battle? Dr. Rateb Abu Rahma who is trying to defend Bil’in from continuing encroachment? Or Dr. Mazim Qumsiyeh who has been jailed for trying to do the same in Walaje? Or why not with some of the Israelis who are leading an artistic boycott of the Ariel settlement?

Do these guys have a clue? No. Ynet:

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and the influential daily’s executive editor Bill Keller visited the West Bank city of Ariel on Wednesday.

According to the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the American executives were given a tour of a number of settlements as part of a PR campaign launched by the Yesha Council.

During their 24-hour stay in Israel, Sulzberger, Keller, the editor of the New York Times’ editorial page and the paper’s foreign desk editor met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Palestinian counterpart Salam Fayyad. As part of their tour of the West Bank, Sulzberger and the editors visited the Barkan Industrial Park, which is an important source of employment for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Following a meeting with Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan, the New York Times executives continued to the Ariel University Center of Samaria, where Chancellor Yigal Cohen-Orgad spoke to them about the Arab students who are enrolled in the institution. Some 160 opinion leaders from all over the world have visited the West Bank over the past six months.

Exclusive excerpt from the important new book A Country Called Amreeka: U.S. History Retold Through Arab-American Lives

Oct 29, 2010

Alia Malek 

We are excited to share the following excerpt from A Country Called Amreeka: U.S. History Retold Through Arab-American Lives by Alia Malek. The book provides a necessary, and long overdue, service by inserting the Arab-American experience into the American narrative of the last 50 years. This passage tells the story of Omar Dajani‘s arrival at Northwestern University after growing up in Tyler, TX, his introduction to campus, and identity, politics during the outbreak of the first intifada, and his process of coming to understand his own history and culture .

Malek ppbk jktOmar arrived at Northwestern University in the fall of 1987 with three major goals: 1) becoming a confident, cool, urban intellectual—a person with culture, wit, and interesting liberal friends from places like New York; 2) falling deeply in love with a beautiful and sophisticated girl; and 3) becoming a liberal political advocate.

Nearing the end of the fall quarter, he hadn’t had so much luck yet on the girlfriend, nor with becoming a liberal political advocate, mostly because he still wasn’t really sure what that meant, though over the summer he had attended a demonstration in Washington, D.C., against nuclear weapons and actor Martin Sheen had been there too!

But on the friends front, he couldn’t have been happier. At the center of his new group were Jen and Lissy. They were from Philadelphia and Cleveland, respectively, which for Omar were closer to New York than Tyler was ever going to be, and he was completely charmed by them.

Jen told hysterical stories about her grandparents Rudy and Adele that made Omar cry from laughing while Lissy told them about her warring parents and how her sarcastic mother needled her father. At the core of their stories, of who they were, was a self–deprecating yet whole-hearted embrace of their being Jewish—idiosyncrasies and all. The girls talked about what being Jewish meant, and subsequently the group would discuss ethnicity. They were curious and asked people, “Where is your family from?”

Omar had never had such conversations back in East Texas; in Tyler, there was “black,” “white,” and “Mexican.” There was no category for him. At Robert E. Lee High School, the black kids were bused in and were never in the gifted classes to which Omar was assigned, and there were barely any Hispanic kids in his school. Everyone around Omar was white, so he just tried to fit in with them. But the whites in Tyler were blond and had straight hair, unless it was permed, and they had names like Tiffany, Mandy, and Jason unless they were Oh-mar or the Indian girl in his grade, Indu. In Tyler, Omar had no notion that there were different ways to be white.

The world of curly–haired Jen and Lissy, on the other hand, could accommodate other categories. To see white people possessing the warmth he associated with Arabs, behaving with foibles, having grandparents who also bought smelly foods, did crazy things, and seemed “not so American” in the Tyler sense of the word, was really familiar to Omar. And yet, they were so exotic.

There was something a bit thrilling in being around the people—Jews—whom modern history had made Arabs’ “Other” and whom Omar vaguely understood to have been part of his family’s own tragic history. He had some understanding that Palestinians had been displaced by Jews. He knew that his father’s family—who had centuries–old roots in Jaffa—had been forced to flee by fishing boat to Syria in April 1948, subsequently losing their lands and home with the founding of Israel. So meeting Jewish Americans was charged for Omar. It was electric in part because there was a taboo in it, but mostly because Omar didn’t expect the connection to feel so powerful, to feel bonded to these friends on so many levels.

For Omar, it didn’t seem that his being Arab was an issue or constrained their friendships. While everyone in the group identified as Democrats, the group was not particularly political. The fact that they were each connected to peoples who had been locked in conflict for the last century was just fodder for jokes, like when Omar first met his roommate. Kent, who was also Jewish, had been raised in Indiana and knew much more about basketball than about Judaism or Israel. Together, they decided to decorate their door in the colors of the Arab–Israeli conflict and jokingly named parts of their dorm room the Gaza Towel Rack and the West Closet. It was their shtick, and they used it when they introduced themselves to everyone the first few weeks of school.

So Omar was caught off guard when, in December after returning home to Tyler for winter break, Palestine intruded on his life, and he found himself actually paying attention. On December 8, 1987, an Israeli army tank transporter ran into a group of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, killing four and injuring seven.

The thirty–mile–long, six–mile–wide strip where 650,000 Palestinians were packed, many in impoverished refugee camps where sewage passed through open troughs in the street, was a powder keg ready to be lit. Since the initial four deaths, the Palestinians had been demonstrating against the Israeli Occupation daily, and each day a few more were being killed.

At home, Omar watched the daily violence with his father. The last time Omar had seen his father this engrossed by the events over there had been when he had sat tensely in front of the TV watching coverage of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.

Omar now was taken by the images that he saw. Young kids were throwing rocks at armed Israeli soldiers—with only the strength of an arm or aided by a slingshot—taunting the soldiers to “Kill us all! Come and kill us all or get out!”

The soldiers often answered with real or rubber bullets, and Omar was struck by the sound of gunfire ricocheting off the stone edifices that were Palestinian homes, schools, churches, mosques, and offices.

When he returned to campus for the winter quarter, he continued to follow the events, most closely in the Daily Northwestern, the school paper. He found himself getting more and more angry. The paper ran AP wire stories from the region on a daily basis, and in addition, staff reporters covered a protest of Palestinians at the Israeli consulate in Chicago. A staff photo showed the image of a little boy on the shoulders of a teenager, flashing a peace or victory sign and brandishing a toy gun. Four days later, the Daily published a letter from a fellow student, the president of the Northwestern Israel Public Affairs Committee (NIPAC). In it, Jonathan Barrish wrote:

The picture that you published in the Daily on Friday, Jan. 8, is an excellent illustration of the problem Israel faces in solving the Palestinian issue. The picture showed a child attending a rally who was making the victory sign with one hand, and holding a toy gun in the other. Until the attitude of violence on the part of the Palestinians (as exemplified by the toy gun) is replaced by one of peace, there will never be a solution to this vexing problem.

Omar read the letter and thought, how manipulative! To seize on a little kid and his toy gun when it was Palestinian kids being shot at! He sat down and immediately penned a letter, hoping it would at least get published.

The letter ran the following day.

Omar had directed his letter toward both the staff of the Daily and the NIPAC president. In it he wrote:

As an American of Palestinian origin, I am both appalled and offended by the bias with which your newspaper has dealt with the Palestinian issue.

Throughout this last week, items have appeared highlighting Arab rioting and stone–throwing. However, only once, and then in passing, did you mention the reason for this rioting. Is it not significant that Israel is actively and forcibly deporting a great number of Palestinian people from the only home they have ever known? How many Americans, faced with a similar situation, would not react in much the same manner? This issue surpasses, or should surpass, national or ethnic loyalties; this is a matter of human rights.

Next I would like to address Mr. Barrish’s contention of a Palestinian “attitude of violence.” His ludicrous basis for this assertion is a toy gun in the hand of a young boy. How many men on this campus or, for that matter, in this country can honestly say that they never possessed or played with a toy gun in their youth? Conversely, the headline “Violence no route to peace” should be a message to the Israeli army, which has just recently murdered more than 25 Palestinians. I have a difficult time believing that an 8-year–old boy or a 65-year–old man poses any sort of threat to one of the most powerful militaries in the world.

The United States government, as part of the United Nations, for the first time has condemned Israel for this inexcusable violence. It is beyond my comprehension how both the Daily and Mr. Barrish can so easily overlook it.

In January 1988, Omar finally lost his virginity to the prettiest girl in his dorm, realizing his goal of having sex before his eighteenth birthday.

Then shortly after his letter was published, Jonathan Barrish called Omar.

The fighting between Palestinians and Israelis had made its way further onto the Letters pages of the Daily. Some of the letters were addressed specifically to Omar, and during a service at the Hillel Center, a rabbi expressed concern about anti–Semitism on campus, naming Omar Dajani as an example.

Omar had been unprepared for the reaction.

Barrish had written an entire editorial in the Daily asserting that, being familiar with the Israeli political and social system, he knew that Israel had the resolve to put an end to the pointless bloodshed and hatred for peace. What was needed, he had written, was an Arab leader willing to follow Sadat’s example. According to Barrish, “History has shown us that when an Arab leader makes peace with Israel, she is more than willing to meet them halfway. The way I see it, the ball is now squarely in the Arab and Palestinian court, but unfortunately for humanity, the score has been deuce for a long, long time.” And then ten days later, the Daily had published another one of his letters to the editor about the situation.

Over the phone, Barrish told Omar he had read his letter and wanted to challenge him to a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One on one. No press.

Omar thought the bit about “no press” was funny—who would want to cover a debate between two college students?—but agreed to the duel.

As soon as he hung up the phone, he freaked out; he had basically exhausted his full knowledge of the situation in his letter and had not really relied on any scholarship but rather on emotion and the sort of rhetorical tactics he had learned in debate club. If he were to actually face this guy and not look or sound like an idiot, he needed to know way more about the story of Palestine.

Unlike other Arab–American or Arab families that Omar had encountered, his was not particularly obsessed with politics nor were they always talking about how much better “over there” was than “over here.”

His father had dreamed of coming to America even before being forced to leave Palestine. His desire grew stronger while he was in Syria, where he had landed after Palestine. There he had been denied access to the best opportunities because he was Palestinian and not Syrian. In America, he had been able to put himself through college working at a hospital in Chicago and had always believed that anything was possible in this country if one worked hard. Omar’s father once told him he had walked by a jazz club while visiting New York City, just after he had arrived in the States, and he had stopped and listened from outside. In that music, modern and exciting to his ears, he felt all the potential of this new country. And peering in at the elegant people—Americans—seated around tables covered with white tablecloths, he looked forward to being one of them.

When Omar’s mother arrived and joined her husband, she came to love the country immediately. In Chicago, they had a diverse group of friends, Americans and newly arrived immigrants. She always laughed telling her children that she had crossed the Atlantic in first class aboard an Italian ocean liner with forty pairs of shoes to come live in a tiny basement apartment for two years that were the best years of her life.

In addition, Omar’s mother was utterly distrustful of the Arab world after having gotten stuck for two years in Syria when she visited with her mother in Latakya with two of her American–born children. The Syrians had confiscated their passports and insisted they were “Palestinians.” Omar’s mother had left the States pregnant with twins, and when the stress had caused her to go into labor early, both babies had died as a result of the lack of optimal medical care in the small Syrian coastal town.

Yes, Omar’s parents loved America and believed their children’s future was here. They worried about Omar compromising himself by getting too wrapped up in the Palestinian cause. His father had explicitly told him, “If you want to contribute, become successful in America as an American, then you can try to make a difference in Palestine.”

Notwithstanding his parents’ concerns, Omar did not want to make an ass of himself at the debate. He reached out to his father’s old schoolmate from Jaffa, Professor Ibrahim Abu Lughod, chair of the political science department at Northwestern. The professor lent him a few books and explained to Omar the difference between cities and lands lost in 1948—like Jaffa, where his father came from—and lands occupied in 1967 after the June War.

Omar read and read and read. He became increasingly incensed,
thinking to himself, this can’t be real. Why hadn’t he known all this before?

His father had told him only the smallest part of the story—his family’s part—of leaving Jaffa in 1948 on a fishing boat, thinking they would ride out the fighting in safety. They had thought they were coming back; they had no idea they would be forced to leave it all behind. His family had set out for Lebanon but landed in Syria because her shores were sandier, settling on the coast in Latakya. There he had met and fallen in love with his wife. Now Omar understood the greater course of events to which his father’s history belonged.

Finally, Omar felt prepared to do battle. Then, the debate was canceled. The NIPAC president had contracted mononucleosis.

But Omar’s interest had already been piqued, and he continued to read about the past and follow the present on TV, in Newsweek, and in the Daily.

He found the Palestinian protesters to be brave and decent. These were not the gunmen and hijackers who had for so long personified the Palestinian cause. They were teenage boys and girls, professors and students, strong men and women. Omar felt thrilled and proud to be connected to them and felt a sense of movement; after years when it seemed that Palestine was a lost cause, suddenly there was something imperative about it. Something had to be done to stop the Israelis, now that the reality of their occupation had been revealed.

During his spring quarter, Omar watched a special episode of ABC’s Nightline, broadcast from the Holy Land and featuring four Israelis and four Palestinians. Like many Americans, Omar was introduced for the first time to Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian woman and professor from Bir Zeit University in the West Bank. He thought she was amazing, and he was thrilled that she—and not some “terrorist”—was being presented as the face and voice of Palestine. He thought that this was someone with whom he would be thrilled to be associated. Omar felt so hopeful—the story was getting out!

At the dining hall with his friends, Omar chatted excitedly about what he was learning. They had never talked about it all—being Arab, being Jewish, both implicated in events half a globe away—in a serious fashion, and Omar sensed some discomfort. The conversations once prompted Jen, who had family in Israel, to comment, “Oh, but that’s political, let’s not talk about that,” as if Omar had broken an unspoken rule that they wouldn’t invite topics that would divide them as friends. Since they had different views, it was better just not to talk about them.

Toward the end of spring quarter, at the age of eighteen, Omar decided to travel to the Middle East for the summer. He had not been since he was eight years old, and he hadn’t been particularly interested until now. His friends were super excited for him, and his parents were happy that he would be connecting with his family overseas.

He was also looking forward to having an adventure and expected he would have to rough it; he remembered being a kid in Syria and grossed out by not being able to flush toilet paper down the drain and having to put it in the wastebasket instead. But that would be more than made up for with seeing the pyramids and other remnants of the ancient world that existed across the Middle East.

To prepare for the trip, Omar bought several books and practiced his father’s elaborate system for avoiding pickpockets. It involved putting his money in a handkerchief and safety pinning it to the inside of his front pocket. He also went shopping with his girlfriend Mary to buy clothes for his trip. They decided to hit Banana Republic because, as Omar and Mary reasoned, the store would have appropriate attire for a safari, or a trek through the bush, or his trip to Egypt and Jordan.

They combed the racks and pulled aside khaki pants to buy. And they found the exact kind of shirts that they had come to the store seeking. One was the color of rust and another of a blue breathable material—perfect for an Arab summer—each with the -label’s characteristic gentlemanly adventurer epaulets buttoned at the slope of the shoulders.

From the plane circling above Cairo, Egypt looked to be color of pulverized red bricks. As soon as Omar walked off the plane, he smelled burning wood. Waiting for him in the airport was his cousin Basma, Tayeb’s sister. Their father, Omar’s uncle Ahmad Sidqi, had sent his car and driver to bring Omar back to the apartment building where -Omar’s uncle and grandmother lived.

Omar was amazed when he noticed that the car had diplomatic plates. He knew his uncle was a member of the executive committee of the PLO, but he hadn’t thought of him as a diplomat, though now it made sense. Omar realized that, here, the PLO was regarded differently than in America, where the umbrella organization of all the different Palestinian political parties was associated only with Arafat, who was utterly despised. Here, as the representatives of a people, of a nation, the PLO deserved and had legitimacy, and someone was a diplomat, not a terrorist, for being affiliated with its leadership.

The driver, Abdelrahman, a Saidi from the south of Egypt, was positively horrified that Omar—the nephew of Ahmad Sidqi!—spoke no Arabic.

But no one spoke Arabic in Tyler, Texas. Omar’s parents only occasionally spoke it to each other, a decision they had made after his mother—newly arrived from Syria speaking Arabic and French, but not English—bought fifteen cans of tuna fish on sale at the grocery store. When she proudly showed them to her husband, he asked when they had acquired a cat, looking over the tuna–flavored cat food. They had agreed from then on to speak only English so she could learn the language. So Omar knew very little Arabic.

Abdelrahman drove the way Tayeb did, speeding through the crowded streets of Cairo to Heliopolis or Masr il-Gidida, New Egypt, a well–to–do neighborhood in the Egyptian capital.

Omar had last seen his grandparents in 1983, when they had come to visit; since then, his grandfather had died, during Omar’s senior year. When the news of his death had arrived in Tyler, Omar had petulantly demanded to be able to play tennis and not have to stay inside—he didn’t really know these people living across the world anyway. His mother had chastised him then, “Be considerate of your father’s feelings.”

Now when his grandmother saw him, she hugged and kissed him and immediately pulled him to the dining table to eat the meal she had prepared. She was a tough woman who ran a strict household. She had been illiterate into her forties, when she had her husband teach her how to read so she could read the Koran; through the force of her will all her children today had graduate degrees. But she spoke no English, so she and Omar used food as their dialogue. She would say, “Ahlan! Ahlan–wa–sahlan,” welcome, welcome, and Omar would respond with what he had learned was the correct response, “Ahlan fiki.” Then they would stare at each other and she would say again, “Ahlan! Ahlan!” and Omar would again repeat his line. Then she would ask him in Arabic if he were hungry. He would nod, and then with relief she would start laying out food and smile, beaming, as he ate.

She spent the next four weeks feeding him.

His cousin Mehdi took charge of his social program—he taught Omar how to ride horses, and they galloped around the pyramids at Giza at sunset. Mehdi introduced him to friends who had houses on the Nile, and all together they spent afternoons on the riverbank for long picnics. Behind their grandmother’s back, Mehdi would take him to KFC and -Chili’s for a break from her labored dishes like sayyadiyyah and ma’lubeh. He was surprised how cool his cousins were; both Mehdi and Basma had been student body president at the American University of Cairo. They took road trips outside of Cairo together, made jokes, and teased one another; Omar loved shocking them with alternative songs like Berlin’s “Sex.”

On his own, Omar spent hours wandering in Cairo with his guidebook. He was fascinated by the loud, crowded, layered city. He meandered through the labyrinthine alleys and bazaars of the Hussein district, the medieval city, learning its Fatimid and Mamluk history and comparing their architecture. He loved the ornamentation of the buildings of the Mamluks, the slave soldiers who had come to rule Egypt and Syria. The craftsmen of that era had chiseled the stone with unimaginable skill, rendering it to look as delicate as lace. He particularly adored the Sultan Hassan Mosque, which had been built in the fourteenth century. The massive walls that surrounded the sahn, a mosque’s courtyard, hid modern Cairo from sight, and for a moment it felt like being in another time. He could see how the mosque’s beautiful, silent simplicity underneath the open sky could move a heart toward the heavens.

He loved the shopping and bought the girls back at school silver necklaces and bracelets. He even began to hear beauty in the ever-present music that he had hated before. He began to appreciate Um Kalthoum—the original Arabic diva who always sang in her oversized dark glasses, waving her handkerchief as she sang to the entire Arab world for over fifty years. When he was younger and drove on family vacations to Florida, he would protest so when his father wanted to play her tapes in the car—Omar wanted Duran Duran. As a compromise, his father would play one of Omar’s songs and then one of his. The problem was, a Duran Duran song was four minutes long, while Um Kalthoum would go easily for an hour singing the same song.

Abdelrahman would drop Omar off and pick him up, shouting as he drove the Arabic names for things and pointing to them. Omar learned to answer with a smile Abdelrahman’s daily “Izzayyak?”—How are you?—with a very practiced and very Egyptian “Miya Miya!”—100 percent!

Egypt was nothing like the desert fantasy he had expected when he bought his safari gear from Banana Republic. But it was nonetheless seductive, with its crowds awake and out late at night; Omar found a whole region of late night people like himself. He loved the sweetness of the people—the way men touched each other unself–consciously, the endless little endearments like “ya habibi,” “ya hilu,” and “inta bitnawwirna”—oh my love, oh handsome, you light us up—that peppered the most casual of speech, and the hospitality, particularly among the poorest of the poor, who spared nothing to make him feel welcome.

What he loved best were the long walks he took with his uncle, arm–in–arm around the Merryland park beneath the apartment building where they lived. Unlike the conventional wisdom he had learned in Tyler, where one never talked about religion, politics, or sex, his uncle spoke as if they were all wrapped up in one. He was handsome—tall and slender with brilliant white hair. He was also a scholar and gentle, thoughtful, and interesting. He knew all the heads of the Arab states intimately and was much more involved in the Palestinian struggle than -Omar’s father had been. He also had met with many European leaders, including Pope John Paul, and -Omar’s mother kept a picture of their meeting on her vanity in Tyler.

With Arabic speakers, his uncle spoke only in Fusha, the classical Arabic of the Koran, and he spoke it to everyone from heads of states to shopkeepers to drivers. His Arabic was famous, and Omar finally understood who Tayeb had been trying to emulate.

Omar learned from his uncle about his family’s history—they had been judges, landowners, officials, and qadis in the religious courts in Jaffa. He had known that his father’s family, his family, had gone back centuries to Jaffa—he had looked through the book Before Their Diaspora, and had found the old pictures to be beautiful—but now his curiosity was aroused. His father had always lamented that when they left in the fishing boat they hadn’t even brought the photographs, and now Omar found himself grieving for them as well.

Omar’s uncle had broken with Arafat in 1984 and had never been a member of Fatah, Arafat’s party. Speaking to him completely shifted Omar’s understanding of the Palestinian movement, and the people involved in it. Instead of associating it with Arafat—who seemed to Omar as thoroughly unwholesome a face for the Palestinians as a person could imagine—he now thought of his uncle and his humanism.

From Egypt, Mehdi and Omar traveled to Jordan and stayed with relatives there. They were joined by family that came from the West Bank. Omar found it amazing to meet someone from his own family still living in Palestine! Even as he began to follow the events in the Occupied Territories, in his imagination Palestine had been almost fictional, with no form. He felt an incredible sense of family—they had come from all over the Diaspora, but they were all Palestinians, they all still knew who they were. He listened with anger as his cousin from the West Bank told him about life under the Occupation and how the Israeli soldiers—just kids themselves—treated Palestinians in their interactions.

Together they traveled to Petra—the ancient rose–red capital of the Nabataeans–and the Dead Sea. As they approached the lowest point on Earth, Omar noticed all the signs about security zones, and then before he knew it, he saw Jerusalem’s twinkling lights in the distance. Oh my God, he thought, there it is. There is the land of Palestine.

Northwestern seemed so far away, and Tyler even farther. But he couldn’t wait to tell Jen and Lissy and the others about it all. He had sent postcards to all of them and had bought gifts for each one. But most of all, he could barely wait to share with them when they all returned to Northwestern for the new fall quarter how great and idiosyncratic his world and his culture were as well.

Excerpted from Copyright A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA: Arab Roots, American Stories by Alia Malek © 2010 by Alia Malek Excerpted with permission by Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Naked conspiracy: Ackerman says ‘first class team’ of 5 Jewish, pro-Israel congressional chairs has ‘major, major, major influence’ on Obama

Oct 29, 2010

Philip Weiss 

The Forward’s Nathan Guttman has a fine piece of reporting up about how the Israeli right is hoping that the Congress will change hands next week. The best part of the piece is where the Congressional Democrats protest, Hey we love Israel just as much, even more! Read this with your eyes open. I know, that’s hard. The juice comes at the end.

And tell me, will Gary Ackerman have to eat his words, or lose his job, ala Rick Sanchez and Helen Thomas? Will Howard Berman, Henry Waxman, Sander Levin, or Barney Frank speak a word of criticism? Will the Obama administration?

And you ask why the Obama administration folded on settlements? Our politics are broken.

A Congressional Democratic staff member pointed also to the impact a switch to a Republican majority could have on coordination between the White House and Congress. Recently, the administration has worked closely on Iran sanctions legislation with Howard Berman, the Democratic chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. At the request of the White House, Berman delayed a vote on sanctions legislation, despite Republican pressure, until the administration completed international consultations that led to a United Nations resolution on this issue. It is not clear if Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is expected to chair the committee if her party wins the majority, would act in the same way.

Citing the sanctions bill as an example, New York Democrat Gary Ackerman, argued that Israel’s best bet for addressing any concerns about Obama’s policy would be for Democrats to retain power. “I’m not saying that if the Republicans take the House it would be doomsday for Israel, but if they want positive influence on the White House, that’s us,” said Ackerman, who chairs the subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Ackerman and other Jewish Democrats point to the forceful criticisms they conveyed to the White House when they thought that Obama was leaning too hard on Israel.

“If you need the president, you need us as chairs of the committees,” Ackerman said as he listed what he called the “first-class team” of Jewish pro-Israel Democrats who chair key House committees: Berman at Foreign Affairs, Barney Frank at Financial Services, Henry Waxman at the Energy and Commerce committee, Sander Levin at Ways and Means, and Ackerman himself in his role as head of the Middle East subcommittee. “We are all pro-Israel and we all have major, major, major influence in the executive branch.”

Cambridge debater set out to ‘nail’ others on his side

Oct 29, 2010

Philip Weiss 

The other day we reported on a Cambridge University debate about whether Israel is a rogue state in which one of the students arguing the affirmative acted as a proponent for Israel. Well, the student, Gabriel Latner, has been banned from debating for life (who says the west doesn’t have fatwas) by Cambridge Union president James Counsel, according to the newspaper, the Varsity:

Gabriel Latner, a second-year Law student at Peterhouse, was handed the ban after he refused to apologize to fellow proposition speaker Lauren Booth for making a comment that was deemed inappropriate last Thursday at the Union debate, “This House believes Israel is a rogue state.”

According to Latner’s account, the incident began when he told Booth that he was Jewish and had volunteered with the Israeli Army. Latner believes this information contributed to Booth’s unease with him speaking for the proposition.

On Booth’s request, Latner was moved from first to second speaker for the proposition. Before getting up to speak, he turned to Booth and said, “I am going to nail you to the fucking wall up there.”

Booth later complained about Latner’s comment to Counsell, who then confronted Latner, and requested that he apologise to Booth. When Latner refused to do so, Counsell had Latner escorted off the premises and told him he was banned for life for disrupting a Union event and verbally abusing a guest on the Society’s premises.

Speaking to Varsity, Counsell said, “Gabe had ten minutes to address an audience of 800, during which time he was representing the Union and all its membership to our guests and the wider world watching. His decision to verbally abuse one of our female guests using sexual language has done enormous levels of harm to the reputation of our Union, as well as crossing all boundaries of basic human decency.

“I should remind our members that our speakers participate for free because of our reputation, and that anybody personally connected to Lauren Booth will now almost certainly avoid us like the plague. This includes, amongst many others, Cherie Booth and Tony Blair….”

Latner further told Varsity, “I’m not saying I acted without fault. Did I offend Ms Booth? I have no doubt that I did. But I don’t know if what Ms Booth found offensive was my (private) comment to her, or the fact that I actually ‘nailed her to the wall’ in my (public) speech. I can guess though.”

IDF bars Palestinian children from Tel Aviv film festival

Oct 29, 2010


And more news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Soldiers Deny Palestinians Access to Lands in Hebron
On Friday morning, the Israeli military prevented Palestinian farmers from working on their lands, adjacent to the separation wall, in the western part of the town of Beit Ula, northwest of Hebron.

Israeli occupation decide to banish Kabaha from his birthplace
Former Palestinian minister, Wasfi Kabaha, said that the Israeli occupation has decided to banish him from his birthplace, Bartaa al-Sharqeyya, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

Arab League report reveals that Israel’s Wall is almost all built on occupied land
Arab League report reveals that Israel’s Wall is almost all built on occupied landIsrael’s so-called “Separation Wall” is nearly all built on Palestinian land occupied by the Zionists state since 1967, according to a report produced by the Arab League. The more commonly-called Apartheid Wall is also “an overt violation of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice”, as well as international law which prohibits occupation forces from controlling occupied land by force.

Jordan slams UN official for urging Palestinian refugees to resettle in Arab states
Amman minister criticizes comment by UNRWA official, according to which Palestinian refugees must discard illusions they will return one day to their homes.

Israeli rights orgs demand action over settler vandalism
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Four human rights organizations collaborated on a project documenting settler vandalism during the 2010 olive harvest, reporting a total of 35 incidents of tree vandalism during the six-week season.  The organizations, all based in Israel, included The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), B’Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights and Yesh Din. Following the documentation effort the group sent an urgent letter to senior Israeli military commanders, calling on the commanders to take all necessary steps to ensure that Palestinians and their properties were protected from violence and damage during the remainder of the season.

Netanyahu: Settlement building won’t affect final status peace deal
PM comment comes as Palestinians consider UN Security Council vote on unilateral declaration of statehood if Israel does not cease its recently resumed settlement constructing.

Rivlin: “Settlement Issue used by Palestinians as an excuse to End Peace talks”
On Thursday, Israeli Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin lambasted the Palestinian leadership, accusing them of using the issue of Israeli settlements as an excuse to end peace talks currently on hold in Washington.

Settler numbers rise at almost 3 times nat’l average
Central Bureau of Statistics figures show West Bank Jewish population at 303,900 in June 2010, up 7,200 in six months.

The War of the Olive Harvest: Palestinians vs. Settlers
It is ritual of autumn, like homecoming or leaf peeping in more decorous parts of the world: Come fall, Palestinians go out to harvest their olives. And Israeli settlers come down from the hilltops to stop them.  “There! There! All these olive trees were burned,” says Bureen mayor Ali Eid, with an angry gesture that takes in a hillside once colored with the dusty green of ancient trees, and now charred after the settlers had come through. “We have lost more than 16,000 olive trees by cutting or burning since 2005. Every year is worse than the year before.”,8599,2028009,00.html?xid=rss-world&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+time%2Fworld+%28TIME%3A+Top+World+Stories%29#ixzz13hY7wotD

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Israeli Forces Suppress Al-Ma’sara Protest
Bethlehem – PNN – Israeli troops stopped the weekly protest march against the wall and settlements in the Palestinian village of al-Ma’sara.  Israeli troops broke up the protest with tear gas and sound bombs. One unnamed Israeli activist was beaten by police and taken away.  Villagers and international supporters were also commemorating the 54th anniversary of the 1956 Kafr Qasem massacre, in which Israeli troops killed 49 unarmed Palestinians.  The story is developing.

One Injured, Dozens Suffer Ffrom Gas Inhalation At Bil’in Weekly Protest
Ramallah – PNN – One Palestinian was injured and dozens were treated for tear gas inhalation after a confrontation with Israeli troops during the weekly march to protest the wall in the village of Bil’in.  The protestors shouted slogans against the wall and Israel’s settlement and detainment policies. When they reached the wall and tried to cross into the Palestinian land on the other side, the Israeli military shot rubber bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas canisters at them. Samir Barnat, 34, was injured when a tear gas canister exploded on his shoulder.  The march, organized by the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, was joined by Sten Rinet, a Norwegian member of parliament, and Toron Hovik, a member of the Norwegian worker’s party, as well as Bil’in villagers and dozens of Israeli and international peace activists.

Peace Group Director ‘Forced to Accept’ Plea Bargain On Spy Charges, Palestine Monitor
An Arab-Israeli political activist accepted a plea bargain on charges of espionage yesterday. Ameer Makhoul, head of the peace group Ittijah, was accused of spying for the Lebanese Hizbollah party. He admitted guilt for crimes that will see him serve seven to 10 years in exchange for more serious charges being dropped.

Take Action: Help Stop Delivery of CAT Bulldozers to Israel, Josh Ruebner
For more than five years, we’ve been working to hold Israel, Caterpillar, and the United States accountable for Israel’s misuse of Caterpillar bulldozers to commit human rights abuses of Palestinians. These bulldozers are provided to Israel as U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid.  Earlier this week, we learned from Israeli media that Caterpillar has decided to delay the delivery of tens of D9 bulldozers–the same kind that the Israeli military used to kill U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie as she nonviolently tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in the occupied Gaza Strip in March 2003.  Together with the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.), and Jewish Voice for Peace, we are pressing the Obama Administration to make sure that the delivery of these bulldozers does not go through.

#BDS: The Palestinian Civil Society Campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Marks 5 Years
In meeting rooms and conference halls, on high streets and university campuses, the Palestine solidarity movement is changing. In the dozen years following the signing of the Oslo Accords, few doubted the determination and resolve of solidarity campaigns, but there were fears that they were beginning to lose direction. Today, as we mark the fifth anniversary of the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law, a truly global movement is rapidly emerging whose concrete forms of solidarity is not only changing the discourse surrounding the Palestinian struggle, but are also achieving concrete results towards the isolation of the Israeli regime.


Jewish organizations debate BDS in online forum, Adam Horowitz
Zeek, a Jewish journal of thought and culture, has hosted a liberal Jewish exchange on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Jewish Voice for Peace speaks in favor of BDS, while the New Israel Fund speaks against. Below are two snippets of their arguments. Zeek is providing a great service in helping bring this debate out into the open, which helps illustrate the developing fault lines in American liberal Jewish thought.

NY Jewish group raises 15,000 signatures in support of Israeli occupation, Philip Weiss
Good coverage in the Forward, written by Joy Resmovits, of the Ahava boycott, which is led by Code Pink, which targets Ricky’s, Brooklyn store, which sells Ahava cosmetics, which steals Palestinian minerals in the occupied West Bank, which beat the dog, which bit the kid that my father bought for two zuzim. That’s a Jewish joke. Sorry. From a Passover song. Because my new theme here is to pound not just the Jewish establishment, but rank and file liberal Jews who support the occupation. Like the flock of Brooklyn Rabbi Andy Bachman, who urges people to buy from Ricky’s. Flock, tell me, if your rabbi really wants two states, he should be pushing Israel out of the longest occupation in recent history, right? (And not just leading demonstrations about  Darfur. Darfur Jews, finding a place to stand up for human rights. Charity begins at home.)

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement
Gaza borders closed for weekend
GAZA (Ma’an) — Israeli crossings authorities operating on the Gaza borders informed their Palestinian counterparts on Friday that the borders would not be open for goods transport that day.  While crossings are scheduled to open on Friday, the Muslim holy day, Israeli officials have announced their closure every week since the August 2009, barring one where emergency fuel supplies were delivered at the request of officials. decided Friday to close all borders to the Gaza Strip.

Hamas-Fatah divide turns the lights out on Gazans
Deep distrust between Hamas and Fatah, which are due for another round of reconciliation talks next week, has led to a dispute over who should pay the electricity bill.

Gaza’s rubble collectors

Sun Deprived in Palestine, Robin Yassin-Kassab
Balata Camp started as tents in the fifties, grew cement blocks in the sixties, installed sewage and water in the seventies, and has stretched ever upwards until now. The camp boasts the densest population in the West Bank: at least 25,000 people in a couple of square kilometres (the inhabitants claim up to 40,000).

British clowns lift spirits in Gaza
ZAYTOUN, GAZA (Ma’an) — A troupe of six British circus performers are touring the Gaza Strip in an effort to lift children’s spirits in the besieged enclave.  The group, called Circus2Gaza, in the middle of a 10-day tour, doing performances in schools and community centers. On Thursday afternoon, the troupe performed in the Samouni compound, home to the family of the same name that lost 29 people in what became the most famous massacre of Israel’s 2009 attack on Gaza.


Lebanon’s refugee camps no better than those in Gaza – UNRWA official, One-third of school graduates unemployed, while others poorly paid, study finds
BEIRUT: The conditions of Palestinians living in and outside of Lebanon’s 12 refugee camps are equal to, or even worse, than those in Gaza, a top United Nations Refugee and Work Agency (UNRWA) official said Thursday.  “The situation in Gaza under full Israeli blockade is very difficult,” UNRWA Lebanon director, Salvatore Lombardo, said at the opening of the annual World Education Forum. “But the situation in Lebanon is far from acceptable.”

Teenager killed, three wounded in Beddawi blast
BEIRUT: A teenager was killed and three other people were wounded when a grenade exploded outside a scrap-metal yard in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Beddawi, the state-run National News Agency reported Thursday.  “13-year-old Mohammad Ashkar died in hospital of injuries sustained when a hand grenade exploded outside a scrap metal yard in the Beddawi camp,” 5 kilometers north of the port city of Tripoli, the Palestinian source told AFP.  “We believe the owner of the yard was sifting through his metal, found the grenade and tossed it outside where the children were standing,” the source added.

A refugee, single mother, worker, struggler
Seventy-year-old Amna Hammad managed to raise three children — now grown men — despite decades of separation from her husband and despite displacement and occupation in Gaza.

Racism & Discrimination

Shas spiritual leader may back ban on renting to Arabs
Former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef cites centuries-old interpretation of halakhic ruling barring the sale of land to non-Jews.

IDF bars Palestinian children from Tel Aviv film festival
Army West Bank villagers from entering Israel in time for children’s film festival in the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.

African refugees: We’re being sold
Human rights groups warn against Netanyahu’s plan to pay African states to absorb illegal migrants.,7340,L-3976311,00.html

Violence & Aggression

Israeli police shoot legislator as racists march in Arab town
Israeli police injured two Arab legislators on Wednesday in violent clashes provoked by Jewish right-wing extremists staging a march through the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm.

Israeli Police Shoot ‘Hated’ Arab Legislator in Back, Jonathan Cook – Nazareth
Israeli police injured two Arab legislators yesterday in violent clashes provoked by Jewish rightwing extremists staging a march through the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm.  Haneen Zoubi, a parliament member who has become a national hate figure in Israel and received hundreds of death threats since her participation in an aid flotilla to Gaza in the summer, was among those hurt. Ms Zoubi reported being hit in the back and neck by rubber bullets as she fled the area when police opened fire. In an interview, she said she believed she had been specifically targeted by police snipers after they identified her.

Israeli Navy Opens Fire at Palestinian Fishermen
Israeli Navy gunboats opened fire on Friday at dawn at several Palestinian fishing boats near the central district and Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.

Troops Invade Towns in Jenin
Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday morning, the towns of ‘Araba and Yamoun in Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

Limited incursion into south Gaza reported
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces carried out a limited incursion into the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday evening, onlookers said.  There were no reports of injury or damage.  Two tanks and a bulldozer drove 200 meters east of Rafah, where they bulldozed land while combing the area, witnesses said.  Also, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees said its Salah Ad-Din Brigades fired six mortar shells at an invading force in the same area.  An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army was unaware of either reported incident.


3 Palestinians detained near Nablus
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained three Palestinians Thursday near a Nablus checkpoint, officials said.  An Israeli military spokeswoman said they were carrying “a number of improvised handguns and pipe bombs” near the Huwara checkpoint.  The three unnamed Palestinians were taken for security questioning, she added.

Female Detainee on Hunger Strike for Third Day
The Mandela Institute in the Occupied Territories reported on Friday that detainee Linan Abu Ghalama, imprisoned at the Ha-Sharon Israeli prison, went on hunger strike three days ago demanding the prison administration to allow her to be joined with her detained sister.

Nafha detainees on hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – Detainees at Israel’s Nafha prison began a hunger strike on Friday, protesting what representatives said were inhumane practices by prison authorities.  Attorney Buthayna Duqmaq with the Mandella Association told Ma’an that during a visit to the prison facility she had spoken with several detainees angered over a series of night raids on inmates cells.

War Crimes

Arabs mark Kfar Kassem massacre anniversary
MKs, Arab leaders and some Jews remember those killed by Border Police officers 54 years ago, call out against current government’s ‘racist discourse’.,7340,L-3976683,00.html

Political “Developments”

Egypt: No breakthrough in Mideast peace talks
Egyptian officials meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and confirm Egypt’s support for Palestinian demand that Israel freeze West Bank settlement construction before talks can continue.

Abbas: We’ll demand UN recognition within months
Following talks with senior Egyptian officials, Palestinian president says ‘Israel has been taking unilateral steps for decades.’ Abbas also blames Netanyahu government for not preventing ‘criminal settler violence’.,7340,L-3976494,00.html

Israel could lease Palestinian lands in exchange for Palestinian statehood: report
In exchange for a state of their own, Palestinians would lease Israel parts of the long-contested lands for the next 40 to 99 years, according to a report today in Al-Sharq al-Awsat.

Hamas leader: Next unity talks in Damascus
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Hamas leader said Thursday that the next round of reconciliation talks would be held in Damascus, despite a recent dispute between President Mahmoud Abbas and Syria’s leadership.  Negotiations to reconcile the rival movements Hamas and Fatah came to a sudden halt this month when Fatah pulled out of scheduled talks in the Syrian capital after President Bashar Al-Assad criticized the Ramallah government.

Hamas warns Israel against launching new offensive on Gaza
Gaza – A Gaza-based high-ranking Islamic Hamas movement leader on Thursday warned Israel againts launching any new large- scale offensive on the Gaza Strip similar to the late 2008 ‘Cast Lead’ campaign.  “‘We seriously consider Israel’s threats to launch another war on Gaza, but we frankly say if Israel tries to enter Gaza, it will cost it a lot and it won’t be able to achieve its goals,’ said Mahmoud al- Zahar during a workshop in Gaza.

Hamas official: We were warned of possible Israeli strike
Sources in Gaza claim at least one Arab state warned Islamist group of possible Israeli attack if rearmament in Gaza continues.,7340,L-3976711,00.html

Netanyahu: Direct talks are only path to true Mideast peace
PM’s comment comes after Abbas says considering appeal to UN Security Council to approve unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

MK Ya’alon: Peace won’t happen if Jerusalem is divided
“Peace wouldn’t stand a chance if, god forbid, the control of parts of Jerusalem would be transferred to Muslim authorities,” Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon said during a book launch.  “Our experience in the Middle East proves that there is no religious tolerance from the side of the Muslim Arabs,” he added. “Not in Ramallah, not in Bethlehem, and not in neighboring countries. The only way to reach peace is by keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli control.”,7340,L-3976541,00.html

Is Clinton (Bill) poised to return to Mideast diplomacy?
Recent report claims former US president will return to politics in region in one capacity or another, may be involved in peace process.

Report: Israel slams UNESCO decisions as biased
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A week after UNESCO passed five resolutions on their work and mandate in Palestine, Israeli officials condemned the decisions as anti-Israeli.  An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman being interviewed on Radio Israel on Friday said UNESCO had accused Israel of conducting excavations beneath Rachel’s Tomb, cordoned off from Bethlehem and its surrounding Muslim cemetery by the separation wall in 2004.

Other News

Tens of thousands rally for Islamic Jihad in Gaza (AFP)
AFP – Tens of thousands of Palestinians turned out for a rally in the Gaza Strip on Friday to mark the 23rd anniversary of the founding of the hardline militant group Islamic Jihad.*

New York Times execs visit West Bank city
Publisher, senior editors of influential American newspaper given tour of Ariel as part of Yesha Council PR campaign.,7340,L-3976644,00.html

Virginia House candidates battle over Israel in final debate
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Republican Scott Rigell said NPR’s recent firing of news analyst Juan Williams is a sign America is falling into the “trap of true political correctness.”  During a debate Thursday, Rigell also took a stand against the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City and said Israel has a right to sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Minister backs segregated haredi housing
Housing minister says ultra-Orthodox sector will take over secular neighborhoods if haredi cities not planned. ‘I wouldn’t let my kids meet with secular youth,’ he notes.,7340,L-3976199,00.html

IDF commanders to get ‘haredi glossary’
What is glatt kosher? IDF commanders to receive 18-page booklet explaining long list of religious terms, as more haredim show interest in joining army; hundreds of ultra-Orthodox enlist for army service in recent years.,7340,L-3976475,00.html

US college president: Anti-Israel professor cannot be fired
Tenured Pennsylvania professor who questioned Shoah, referred to Israel as ‘hydra-headed monster’ cannot be fired, university president says; Pakistan-born lecturer gets green-light to express his opinions outside classroom.,7340,L-3976608,00.html

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Collaborator, Palestine Monitor
From Algeria to Cuba, national liberation movements have been plagued by informers. It is the dirtiest game of any occupation and Israel’s stranglehold on Palestine is no different.

Will the Palestinians Take Their Case to the U.N.?, Tony Karon – Skeptical of the Obama Administration’s peace effort, PLO leaders could appeal to international law. But political calculations are likely to hold them back.*

Israel Lobby’s Last Minute GOP Push, MJ Rosenberg
The usual suspects have been warning President Barack Obama almost since Inauguration Day that there would be a literal price to pay if he assumed the role of “honest broker” in the Middle East.  Following Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech and then his short-lived stand against Israeli settlements, Obama was warned by Democrats close to the lobby (including some inside the White House) that publicly disagreeing with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would offend donors.  That would harm the Democrats in 2010 and doom his re-election chances in 2012.

‘In my opinion, every Jewish town needs at least one Arab. What would happen if my refrigerator stopped working on a Saturday?’, Eva Smagacz
Asked David Rotem, chairman of Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee after said committee approved unanimously a law that allows communities to reject potential residents if they do not meet criteria of “suitability to the communities fundamental outlook” so that they are free to reject candidates on the grounds of age, sex, religion and socio-economic status.

Such is the Peace Process: Obama as a Salesman,  Ramzy Baroud
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim that the resumption of peace talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have thus far yielded nothing of value, at least not as far as settling the decades-long struggle.  For one, the media has paid the talks little attention, aside from the ceremonial coverage of the first round of talks in Washington on September 2. It barely noticed the following round in the Middle East nearly two weeks later. What did capture the media’s attention was US President Barack Obama’s attempt to minimize the damage he invited upon himself for merely pressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to issue a partial moratorium on settlement building (about 11 months ago), and then to extend the settlement freeze.

Democracy in Illinois: Pro-Israel Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Maidhc Ó Cathail
Helen Keller’s pithy observation about American democracy being little more than a choice ‘between Tweedledum and Tweedledee’ was never more true than in the upcoming midterm elections in the ninth congressional district of Illinois.  In a district which includes the affluent northern suburbs of Chicago along the shore of Lake Michigan, the central issue is not the two wars—or is it now three?—the country is fighting, nor is it the tanking economy, in great part caused by those debt-inducing wars. No, the burning issue here is… who cares more about Israel?

Associated Press Hasbara: Palestinians of Israel ‘enjoy equal rights under Israeli law’, Alex Kane
An Associated Press article on yesterday’s clashes between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Israeli police and extreme rightists marching through the the town of Umm el-Fahm states.

Wolfensohn: “no-one particularly likes the Jews, no-one particularly likes the Palestinians”, Antony Loewenstein
James Wolfensohn, former World Bank President and former head of the Middle East Quartet, was on Australian TV last night talking about Israel/Palestine and the message was clear; America is Israel’s lawyer.

Daoud Kuttab: Jewish or Israeli
I feel that it is problematic to erase differences between “Israeli” and “Jew.” It bothers me when Palestinians use these two terms interchangeably.

The art of sucking up, Philip Weiss
Elena Kagan goes skeet shooting with arch-conservative Antonin Scalia. Demonstrating that wherever she is, this woman orients herself toward the powerful. A lot here. The decline of the Jewish meritocracy, the decline of the Jewish liberal tradition, the decline of Jewish intelligence, the dissipation of Obama’s promise.

Living Simply At Age 108: Beautiful Memories From The Oldest Person In ‘Issawiya Village
Jersualem – Maysa Abu Ghazala – PNN/Exclusive – “It was a beautiful life. We ate what we grew and we drank the well water that we carried on our shoulders.” This was the simple life of Sarya Muhammad Alyan, now 108 years old and the oldest person in ‘Issawiya village.  She speaks about the early years of the last century, where there were no noisy cars, no complicated new technology, and no chemicals in the crops.  After she married her cousin in her thirties, Sarya had six children, three boys and three girls. The oldest of them is now 77. Between her children, grandchildren, and great-grand children, the number exceeds 200 people.

Winning the War in Afghanistan at $50 Million per Kill, NICHOLAS C. ARGUIMBAU
Michael Nasuti of Kabul Press recently published an article in which he calculated that killing each Taliban soldier in Afghanistan costs on average of $50 million to the US. The article, seemingly carefully. researched with all assumptions laid out so that anyone can examine them, is well worth reading. Nasuti, “Killing Each Taliban Soldier Costs $50 million.” He points out that at this rate, killing the entire Taliban forces (only 35,000) would cost $1.7 trillion, not a small amount for a country suffering from a severe economic downturn to spend on a war with no apparent purpose. And Nasuti’s number, of course, assumes that they coud not be replaced faster than they are killed, but it appears that they can, easily.

Gitmo’s Indelible Stain, SHERWOOD ROSS
Although U.S. officials have attributed the torture of Muslim prisoners in their custody to a handful of maverick guards, in fact such criminal acts were widely perpetrated and systemic, likely involving large numbers of military personnel, a book by a survivor suggests. Additionally, guards were responsible for countless acts of murder, including death by crucifixion, lynching, poisoning, snakebite, withholding of medicines, starvation, and bludgeoning of innocent victims. And the murders committed by U.S. troops numbered at least in the hundreds, according to reliable sources.

Mike Elk: Jon Stewart Rally Represents Elitism, Consumerism, and Disrespect for the Progressive Movement
Many Jon Stewart followers see his “Rally to Restore Sanity” on Saturday as a progressive rallying cry. Stewart claims on his website it is not, saying, “If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.”  However, over 200,000 attendees, who mostly identify themselves as progressives have RSVP’ed for the rally on Facebook. The rally is being backed by major progressive forces like Arianna Huffington–who is paying to bus in 10,000 supporters from New York City to attend the rally. Stewart himself on his website compares the rally to major progressive events like Woodstock and the more recent Million Man March for civil rights. Whether or not Stewart intends the Rally to Restore Sanity to be a left wing political event, progressive activists throughout the country see it as an important political statement that counters the message of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party.


Hezbollah urges Hariri case boycott
Hassan Nasrallah warns against Lebanese co-operation with investigation into 2005 assassination of Rafiq Hariri.

US accuses Syria, Iran over Lebanon tensions (AFP)
AFP – The United States on Thursday accused Syria and Iran of fuelling tensions in Lebanon with arms supplies and other support for the Hezbollah militia in contravention of UN resolutions.*

Israel traded 52 prisoners for missing soldier’s gun: report (AFP)  [Guns are more important than Gilad Shalit?]
AFP – Israel traded 52 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners to the Hezbollah militia in exchange for the gun of an Israeli airman who went missing in southern Lebanon in 1986, a newspaper said on Thursday.*

The encounter in the clinic in the southern suburbs of Beirut
Talal, a comrade and friend who heads a division at a major medical center at well-known US university, sent me this regarding the “visit” by a Hariri tribunal team to the clinic of a Lebanese physician:  “Is it not interesting that the International Tribunal sanctions practices in Lebanon that would be banned in the native countries of its investigators and jurists? For example, they went into a clinic in the Southern district of Beirut asking to check on the names and files of a large number of women who attend the clinic. That would not fly in the USA. One cannot just come in, even with legal sanction, and check wholesale on the FILES (containing sensitive personal information) of ALL those that come through (they claimed to start with 17 names but it was made obvious that it was to be an open ended investigation with a free hand to investigate any file in the clinic). Such a act would constitute a serious violation of Medical Privacy laws, unnecessarily exposing not only their names of a large number of individuals but also the details of their medical conditions as well as other private information. This is ILLEGAL under any of a number of medical privacy laws. One is usually  presented with a court order to obtain information on a SPECIFIC person, and no other subjects so as to safe guard people’s privacy. I am amazed the Physician in question even let them in. She should have been the first to kick them out of the clinic, court order notwithstanding. Shame on the Lebanese government and the Lebanese Order of Physicians for providing cover for such a travesty to take place.” [end]

Squeezing Hezbollah,  FRANKLIN LAMB
Beirut is abuzz over some pretty bizarre events that have been unfolding the past few months concerning Hezbollah and the UN created International Tribunal for Lebanon, set up in 2007 to bring to justice those involved in the Valentine Day 2005 assassination of then Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.  One such event occurred yesterday morning, 10/27/10, at 9:00 am at  Dr. Iman Charara’s  street-level private obstetrics and gynecology clinic, here in Dahiyeh, a Hezbollah south Beirut neighborhood which is still recovering from Israel’s 33 days of carpet bombing in 2006 which destroyed pretty much everything including  more than 250 homes, scores of businesses, and much of the infrastructure.


Thursday: 4 Iraqis Killed, 19 Wounded
At least four Iraqis were killed and 19 more were wounded in the latest violence. Meanwhile, the Iraqiya party continues to use the Wikileaks Iraq reports to bolster their claim that the prime minister is unfit for a second term.

One million cubic tons of garbage dumped in Tigris River
The Tigris River which bisects Baghdad and several other major Iraqi cities has about one billion cubic meters of polluted materials dumped into it, according to a senior environment expert.  Kamel al-Saadi, Baghdad Province’s expert on environment, said pollution was surging in the river “at an alarming scale” and called for immediate measure to put a halt.  “The rate of pollution (in the Tigris River) has reached one billion cubic meters and is on the increase,” Saadi said.  He said the volume of pollution has been documented by a group of experts selected by the Province of Baghdad.\2010-10-28\kurd.htm

Chlorine blast sickens Iraqis (AP)
AP – Officals say more than 200 people were sicked by a chlorine gas explosion at a water purificiation plant in southern Iraq.*

Iraqi Kurdistan: Journalists Under Threat
(New York) – Journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan who criticize the regional government have faced substantial violence, threats, and lawsuits in recent months, and some have fled the country, Human Rights Watch reported today.  Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government needs to ensure an independent and transparent inquiry into the killing of journalist Sardasht Osman in May 2010, that will lead to the identification and prosecution of all those responsible, Human Rights Watch said. An investigation by an anonymous committee appointed by President Masoud Barzani did not substantiate its findings, Human Rights Watch added.  “This secret investigation into Sardasht Osman’s murder is exactly the opposite of what’s needed,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Kurdistan government needs to get to the bottom of this killing with an open and independent inquiry that will include looking into allegations of government involvement.”

Iraqi TV personality takes on a perilous job: Giving a microphone to the masses, Leila Fadel
BAGHDAD – On a recent morning, as Minas Suheil and his crew set up their cameras in the working class area of Bab al-Sharji, people instantly swarmed the Iraqi television personality.

A new effort to preserve Iraq’s rich biodiversity, from mountains to marshes
As an international conference noted this week, the world’s biodiversity is threatened. Iraq is no exception – but before anything can be done, it needs Iraqis who understand the problems.


Iraq war logs: ‘The US was part of the Wolf Brigade operation against us’
Omar Salem Shehab tells of torture at hands of notorious Iraqi police unit and says US forces were involved in his capture.  During the foreboding months of 2005, one police unit struck more fear into Iraqis than the entire occupying US army. They were known as the Wolf Brigade.  Brutal even by Iraqi standards, their soldiers and officers seemingly answered to no one. They were seen as indiscriminate and predatory. The unit’s reputation had been known Iraq-wide and results of their numerous raids are still bogged down in Iraq’s legal system.

Iraq war logs: Prisoner beaten to death days after British handover to police
High-level diplomatic protests were made to Iraqi interior minister after death of Abbas Alawi while in custody of Basra police.  An Iraqi criminal prisoner was tortured and beaten to death within three days of being turned over to police in Basra by British troops. This latest detailed evidence of previously covered-up Iraq atrocities has emerged following the leak of a vast number of Iraq war logs compiled by the US army and containing hour-by-hour military field reports.

U.S. and other world news

Even though Obama’s latest offer to Iran revealed
Ali GharibIran has yet to respond to an invitation for the P5+1 talks that are now only a few weeks away, officials in the Obama administration are leaking details to the New York Times of an offer that could be on the table.

Guantanamo inmate Khadr ‘sorry’
Canadian-born detainee apologises to widow of US soldier he killed in Afghanistan in his first remarks to trial.

Security Tight At Bahrain Trial Of Shi’ites
DUBAI (Reuters) – The trial of 25 Bahraini Shi’ites accused of plotting to topple the Sunni-dominated political system began on Thursday with defendants saying they were tortured and police encircling the area to keep protests at bay.

Al-Shabab executes two girl ‘spies’
Somali armed group publicly execute by firing squad two teenage girls accused of spying “for the enemy”.

Exposing the infrastructure of anti-Muslim hate
The dismissal of Juan Williams’ from NPR once again exposes the difficulty America is having discussing Islam in a cool or rational manner. Williams’ exchange with Bill O’Reilly featured much of the usual ignorance, with both agreeing that, although undefined “good Muslims” do exist, all Muslims must be considered potential soldiers in an Islamic war against America. This ludicrous belief is not only a distortion of reality, but also poses a serious threat to the well-being and security of the United States. In adopting this position, Williams and O’Reilly were reflecting the climate of hatred against Muslims that is fueled by prejudice and lack of knowledge.

Tea Party Founder Judson Phillips Admits He Has ‘Real Problem With Islam’
Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation, fortified a recent email encouraging Minnesotans in the 5th Congressional District to vote Rep. Keith Ellison (D) out — in part because he’s a Muslim — by stating that he, as well as most Tea Party members, had serious qualms with Islam.

Obama missed his chance to start a pullout from Afghanistan

Oct 29, 2010

Philip Weiss 

A friend who has just finished Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward tells me, No review has reported the size of the opportunity Obama missed in late 2009 to start a pullout from Afghanistan. Here is Woodward’s diagram of forces:

ON HIS SIDE against more troops were Gen. Jones, Eikenberry, Biden, Gen. Lute, John Brennan, Colin Powell, half of Richard Holbrooke.

FOR ESCALATION: Petraeus, McChrystal, Mullen, Hillary Clinton, half of Gates.

Half of Gates on one side, half of Holbrooke on the other only means that both gave clear signs of doubt though they came out formally and at a certain distance for one tendency in the meetings, Gates a bit stronger pro than Holbrooke con.

Obama went with the latter group–or bent three-quarters in their direction.

Jones saw his role as running interference for Obama to prevent intimidation by the Pentagon. Obama didn’t use him. But Jones came around to support the 30,000 “compromise”–as they all did.

Obama has a hard time going against any powerful person he has once consulted if he takes that person to represent the conventional wisdom.

Is he a reliable narrator?

Oct 29, 2010

Philip Weiss 

A year ago, Jeffrey Goldberg approvingly quoted a reader who said that the Jewish settlement of Gilo is part of Jerusalem:

First of all, Gilo is not a suburb of Jerusalem.  It’s a neighborhood in the city, i.e., within the city limits, forming the southernmost part of the city (not in “east” Jerusalem as a number of ignorant journalists have reported).

If you visit Gilo, you see that it is at the very least a suburb. It is on a hill a few miles south of Jerusalem and it is now gobbling up the lands of Walaje, a Palestinian village. There are demonstrations against this further illegal expansion all the time. Palestinian houses are being demolished, lands seized, farmers dispossessed. The unending narrative of 43 years of military-religious occupation.

And now we read in the Jewish Journal that

Goldberg forged his Jewish identity in response to some schoolyard anti-Semitism whose traumas left him longing for the so-called muscle Judaism represented by Zionism. As a teenager, he voraciously consumed Zionist literature by Theodor Herzl, Max Nordau and Vladimir Jabotinsky, and chose to go to a socialist Zionist camp in the Catskills, where summer games like “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” and “Siege of Jerusalem” were imbued with historic seriousness [emphasis mine]

So you have a race man schooled in passion plays about Jerusalem. Is Goldberg a reliable narrator for Americans about what is or isn’t the occupation?

A certain type of namedropping

Oct 29, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Dennis Ross, telling an AIPAC gathering about the Obama administration’s foreign policy achievements, in Florida, a week before the midterm elections:

As my colleague Stuart Levey from the Treasury Department circles the globe explaining sanctions measures to governments and companies, and highlighting the risks of doing business with Iran, we expect that more banks and more industries will continue to cut ties with Iran.

Does chosen mean unequal?

Oct 29, 2010

Philip Weiss 

A Christian friend asked me to put out a call to religious scholars. He writes:

Did you see this statement from Abe Foxman of the ADL responding to the Catholic bishops gathering that called for an end to the occupation?

We write to protest the shocking and outrageous anti-Jewish comments made by Greek Melkite Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros in connection with the final communique of the Bishops Synod on the Middle East. By stating that God’s Covenantal promise of land to the Jewish people, “was nullified by Christ” and that “there is no longer a chosen people,” Archbishop Bustros is effectively stating that Judaism should no longer exist. This represents the worst kind of anti-Judaism, bordering on anti-Semitism.

It seems to me that Christians ought to be able to say that they’re the equals of Jews and everybody else without being called anti-Jewish, and without being told that they’re saying Judaism should no longer exist. One can believe that Judaism should exist and can even believe that Jews regard themselves as God’s chosen people while believing that all people are equal. Bustros:

The advent of Jesus, he said, meant that Jews “are no longer the preferred people, the chosen people. All men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.” Bustros added that “sacred Scripture should not be used to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestine.”

If a non-Jew says that he or she is the equal of a Jew, surely that is not borderline anti-Semitism. And if one professes that he or she is chosen by God, surely that is not borderline anti-Semitism.

Foxman is simply putting words in his mouth when he indicates that Bustros said, “Judaism should no longer exist.”  In his angry letter to a cardinal protesting the statement, Foxman calls into question the equality of everyone else. Other religions can’t believe that everybody is chosen? “Archbishop Bustros contradicts decades of official Vatican and papal teachings which affirm God’s ongoing Covenant with the Jewish people at Sinai, and calls on Christians to appreciate the Jewish people’s religious self-understanding, including its spiritual attachment to the land of Israel.”

I wish some thoughtful religious scholars would weigh in on this to help unpack the remarks on both sides (while reminding all of the history of the enormous tension so clearly seen here). I simply fail to understand why a multiplicity of groups can’t believe they’re chosen by God and why there can’t be a real level of equality for everybody who chooses to worship (and for those who don’t as well). Well, perhaps I do understand it, but don’t grasp why people can’t simultaneously recognize that one’s own viewpoint may not be the same as a neighbor’s and that that’s okay.

Yes, perhaps I’m hopelessly naive, but Foxman seems to be pushing a dangerous line that implicitly exalts his religious group over others. Sure, I wish Bustros had said that Jews have every right to regard themselves as chosen, but that he believed something else. But what he did say doesn’t seem nearly as hard-hitting (and supremacist) as the response from Foxman which I read as saying Jews are God’s chosen people and that’s he’s not prepared to acknowledge that others may think that they too are chosen and equal in God’s eyes. If Foxman does believe that, I sure wish he had said it. I regard this Bustros-Foxman argument as important and suspect that most are terrified to address it and aware that they lack the words and historical grounding to weigh in with a full range of the facts and understanding of the relevant beliefs.

Apartheid South Africa’s big mistake: no t-shirts with slogans

Oct 29, 2010

Philip Weiss 

The JTA reports that the Israel lobby group Stand With Us is starting a website to help
“students counter anti-Israel activism on campus.”

It will provide tools for students looking to counter boycott and divestment campaigns at their schools…

The site provides general support, as well as outlines specific steps and strategies that students can use to head off or defeat divestment resolutions. It also offers T-shirts with slogans, posters and other publicity materials for pro-Israel campaigns, and access to a hot line to the StandWithUs office so students can strategize directly with the group’s leadership….

The site joins other new resources for pro-Israel students facing what many in the Jewish community fear will be a surge in anti-Israel activism on North American campuses this academic year.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER

Shoah’s pages