Categorized | Middle East




         *   And Tom Friedman says the Arab world is rife with conspiracy theory…

And Tom Friedman says the Arab world is rife with conspiracy theory…

Oct 13, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Israel National News:

President Obama’s incoming National Security Adviser is well known for his close ties to the Jewish and pro-Israel community….

One of Donilon’s clients during his time as a lawyer was Penny Pritzker, daughter of Hyatt hotel chain founder Donald Pritzker and member of the notable Jewish American Pritzker business family. Penny Pritzker is one of President Obama’s strongest Jewish backers. She was the national finance chair of Obama’s presidential campaign…

Donilon’s appointment has also been backed and approved by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “Tom Donilon understands it’s a dangerous world,” said Committee spokesman Josh Block in a statement. “In every position he has held throughout his career in government, he has been a strong friend of the US-Israel relationship.”

Partners in occupation

Oct 12, 2010

Jesse Rosenfeld 

Lacking popular legitimacy amongst Palestinians, de-facto control in Gaza and dependent on American and European aid to stay afloat, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is without a base to find strength in as he officially remains in a negotiations process that most of his constituents view skeptically.

As a result, the continued series of PA concessions illustrates the context of the August 31 settler assassinations, intended to derail talks before they began. Although these attacks were carried out by Hamas’ military wings, they received support from a wide coalition spanning the Palestinian political spectrum, including leftist PLO factions like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

However, this approach to derailment is different in reason and context to Hamas’ suicide bombing campaign of the Oslo period, which sought to send the message that the PLO lacked a monopoly on resistance. This target – against Hebron settler communities, especially known for violence and cruelty to Palestinians – was one of broad appeal, stating that resistance can still be mustered despite the continuous Israeli and PA security force crackdowns in the West Bank.

Although tit-for-tat internal reprisal and repression between PA forces in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza colors PA West Bank repression, it does not explain the depth of the crackdown which again climaxed during the lead up and commencement to negotiations. Even before the assassinations, a public meeting in Ramallah of civil society and political organizations opposing the talks, primarily from the Palestinian left, was infiltrated by PA general intelligence and violently dispersed before it could get underway.

Following the settler assassinations, PA forces swept through the West Bank arresting hundreds suspected of involvement with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a move condemned by the Palestinian human rights organization, Al Haq. On the night of the assassinations, PA forces reportedly entered the Deheisha refugee camp – regularly invaded by Israeli forces and one of the few remaining PFLP stronghold camps – shooting. Clashes with residents throwing stones then ensued and 13 people connected to the Popular Front were later arrested by the PA. The website Electronic Intifada has reported that the PFLP in the camp has since decided to move political activities underground and PA forces now patrol the camp, painting over gratified PFLP, Hamas and anti-negotiations slogans.

“The PA problem is their program matches Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia,” former Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader turned cultural activist with Jenin’s Freedom Theatre, Zakaria Zubeidi says, referring to the largest US military aid recipients in the Middle East after Israel. “They are all beholden,” he continues, contending that Iran sets Hamas’ program. Formerly topping Israel’s assassination list, Zubeidi says he gave up armed resistance after the internal split which he believes set back the Palestinian struggle 50 years. “The Palestinian yard is now empty of resistance,” he adds, overlooking the Jenin refugee camp from his porch – which was an Israeli army lookout point during the last Intifada.

In the West Bank it has been more than a two-year process of blanket Israeli repression followed by PA security force clean up and behind-the-scenes debilitating of resistance. A prime example is the town of Ni’lin – located near the 1967 green line and waging popular demonstrations since 2008 against Israeli land annexation stemming from the Wall. Once a forceful and broad struggle that was an example for national unity, it now faces consistently shrinking participation.

“When [the Israelis] kill five people, shoot 45 with live ammunition and arrest 150, people start to ask who will look after my family if I go to jail or am killed,” says Ni’lin resident Saeed Ibrahim Amira, a young man who spent four and half months in an Israeli jail for activism against the Wall. According to Amira, the PA has also fallen short in supporting those injured by Israeli soldiers and done nothing to deal with spiraling unemployment stemming from denials of work permits to Israel for town residents because of the anti-Wall campaign. As the wall construction was completed, unity began to break down and in June PA general intelligence began summoning residents suspected of Hamas affiliation and then arresting 15, including people involved in the popular struggle.

Like Ni’lin and Deheisha, Jenin has also experienced the impact of duel Israeli and PA force presence, starting in 2008 with an unpopular mass policing operation in the city and refugee camp. Yet, when the Israeli army enters, the PA security forces disappear from sight (as they do across the West Bank). “The PA come in and [have a] ‘peaceful’ occupation of the camp. Since this started, Zakariah [Zubeidi] and the resistance has been losing power,” says Mustafa Staiti, a local resident who grew up in the refugee camp and now lives in the city. “People are not close with the PA and most people are skeptical about the negotiations,” he adds contending that Fatah’s internal resistance was broken at its last conference in Bethlehem.

With Israelis clearly looking to use these negotiations as cover for expanding occupation – as all governments since Rabin have done – the PA presence can only be that of an unpopular authority openly embracing its only remaining source of marginal power: Israel and the US. Where an ability to convince Palestinians that this style of talks will lead to freedom has failed, a systematic campaign to break resistance so the status quo can continue has emerged.

The post originally appeared on The Daily Nuisance.

The settlements are illegal regardless of whether Israel is recognized as a ‘Jewish state’

Oct 12, 2010

Maggie Sager 

In the newest development concerning peace negotiations between Israel and the PA, Netanyahu has offered to partially extend the fake settlement freeze in exchange for recognition of Israel’s Jewish character. In a startling spectacle of rationality, the PA has rejected the offer in kind. BBC reports: 

The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said Mr. Netanyahu was “playing games” with his offer, and that there was no connection between settlements and the national character of Israel.

“I don’t see a relevance between his obligations under international law and him trying to define the nature of Israel,” he added. “I hope he will stop playing these games and will start the peace process by stopping settlements.”

He’s right. Settlement activity in the West Bank is illegal under international law regardless of Israel’s “Jewishness”. Perhaps Bibi Netanyahu forgot the following:

Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development [… and] have been established in breach of international law. -International Court of Justice Ruling, July 9, 2004

Or operative paragraph one of UNSC Resolution 242, in which the Security Council unanimously:

…Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of…the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict…

Or UNSC Resolution 446, which affirmed in explicit terms the conclusions of UNSC Resolution 242 (three abstentions) as did UNSC Resolution 452 (one abstention) UNSC Resolution 465 (unanimous), and UNSC Resolution 471 (one abstention)?

Or the portion of UNSC Resolution 252, passed with two abstentions, in which the Security Council:

…Considers that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status; [and] Urgently calls upon Israel to rescind all such measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any further action which tends to change the status of Jerusalem…

Or UNSC Resolution 267, unanimously adopted, which affirmed the conclusions of UNSC Resolution 252, as did UNSC Resolution 298 (one abstention), UNSC Resoluition 476 (one abstention) and UNSC Resolution 478 (one abstention)? 

Maybe Bibi forgot that, unlike the General Assembly, resolutions passed by the Security Council are indeed binding?

Maybe he forgot that in 1993 the UNSC approved a report by the Secretary General which concluded beyond doubt that the law applicable in armed conflict as embodied in the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the Hague Convention (IV) of 18 October 1907 had become part of international customary law, and thus applied even if the other party was not a High Contracting Party (as is the case in Palestine)?

Did he simply imagine that at the end of each of these resolutions is the caveat “if and only if Israel is recognized as a Jewish state,” thus exempting Israel from its legal obligations?

Or perhaps Erekat is right, and Bibi really is just playing games. Setting aside the composition of Israel’s demand of recognition as a Jewish state (which is ridiculous in and of itself), the mere act of setting preconditions for compliance with international law attests to Netanyahu’s seemingly limitless arrogance. He honestly thinks he can shift the blame for the disintegration of peace talks by throwing bones to the PA, which already affirmed Israel’s right to exist (sans the racist classification) in 1993.

He clearly believes that through slight of hand he can simultaneously eviscerate the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, and strengthen the codification of Arab subjugation in Israel all in exchange for what exactly? “An additional suspension of building for a limited period of time,” says Bibi. Will this be the same kind of “suspension” that still allowed for unhindered construction in East Jerusalem, for the razing of Palestinian villages and confiscation of private Palestinian property, and for continued work on current projects which would most likely include the 3,000 that began as soon as the last “suspension” ended?

Let’s just hope this doesn’t constitute the kind of gesture Obama promised to prostitute US taxpayers in order to coax out of the Israeli government.

Maggie Sager is currently a student at Mills College in Oakland, California. You can find her work at

Israeli Jews don’t have to recognize Israel as Jewish state

Oct 12, 2010


A Palestinian professor whom I cited yesterday in this post regarding Israel’s new declaration of loyalty legislation has asked me to post these intriguing clarifications.

“The Jewish State” is defined by and was established by means of Israel’s Declaration of Establishment in 1948, which acts as a sort of preamble to Israel’s basic laws. The Declaration however does not compel Israel’s Jewish or non-Jewish citizens (or anyone else) to recognize this or its other historical narratives. That would go against the spirit of the Declaration, which essentially affords Israel’s citizens the ability and right to remain silent on the issue (and even contradict and oppose the historical narrative in the Declaration).

In the contemporary struggle between Netanyahu and Lieberman for leadership of the right in Israel, both seek to make this notion not something declared by the Jewish leadership upon the establishment of Israel but something declared by Palestinians as well as Arab citizens of Israel; but at the same time maintaining the status quo that allows Jews to remain silent on or contradict the Declaration. So they want to restrict the rights afforded by the Declaration to Jews only.

In that regard it is well understood that both Natenyahu and Lieberman are using such demands to indefinitely delay the formation of a Palestinian state and withdrawal back to Israel’s 1967 international borders as well as entertain fantasies about the expulsion of Israel’s Arab citizens.

But why do they seek to maintain the status quo that allows Jews to remain silent on or contradict the Declaration? Because, they cannot conceivably reconcile the right of all Jews to live as citizens in Israel with a requirement that all these Jews recognize Israel as the Jewish state defined in the Declaration of Establishment. For example, Jewish religious authorities do not explicitly recognize this, nor does their congregation. They have different ideas regarding Israel and these are not consistent with the Declaration of Establishment: Further, the traditional secular (shrinking) majority in Israel rejects the rabbinical notion of the nature of Israel. Not to mention that there are Jews happily living as citizens in Israel who reject the Declaration for leftist liberal reasons.

Thus, Jews are not and will never be required to declare loyalty or even acceptance of Israel’s Jewishness in accordance to the Declaration or in accordance to any other conception. Even, Ehud Barak’s recent insistence that non-Jews declare loyalty to the Jewish State as conceived in the Declaration was rejected.

There is, however, almost unanimity among Jews in israel that though they themselves will not be encumbered with recognizing Israel’s nature in any way; non-Jews, in particular Palestinians, should recognize and even define Israel as a Jewish state. It is as though internal tensions regarding Israel’s nature are being diverted to outsiders.

We the Palestinians will have nothing to do with this and understand fully well that the Declaration of Establishment at the very least allows us to remain mute regarding Israel’s nature. As it allows Jewish israelis to remain mute on this issue and does not compel anyone to recognize Israel beyond being a state like any other sovereign state.

‘Hey BU you’ve been had, Dershowitz is WICKED bad!’: Boston University students protest CAMERA

Oct 12, 2010

Adam Horowitz 

Alan Dershowitz takes a photo of the protest outside CAMERA’s conference at Boston University.

The following statement was sent by protest organizers:

On Sunday, October 10th, students from Boston University’s Students for Justice in Palestine group and their allies (American Jews for a Just Peace, ItisApartheid, and students from several other Boston Palestine groups) assembled to demonstrate against the university’s hosting of “War by Other Means: the Global Campaign to Delegitimize Israel,” a conference put on by the anti-Palestinian group CAMERA (the Committee For Accuracy in Middle East Reporting). As a result of the growing success of the international Palestine solidarity movement, Israel’s supporters increasingly feel that they are en route to a South African like pariah status.

According to CAMERA, “Israel faces a convergence of global forces that may undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of the world community.” Its conference contained many prominent Israel supporters including keynote speaker and Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, Daniel Pipes, and Gerald Steinberg of NGO monitor.

As conference attendees arrived, they were met with a mock “apartheid wall” assembled by protesters symbolizing the nearly 440 mile long wall Israel has used to seize and carve up Palestinian territory beyond the 1967 Green line. The Brass Liberation Orchestra, a marching band which incorporates socio-political messages into its often theatrical performances, accompanied several dozen protesters as they held banners, sang, and handed out hundreds of fliers. Protestors used chants such as “BU, US, it’s time for BDS!” and “Hey BU you’ve been had, Dershowitz is WICKED bad!” (as Alan Dershowitz photographed a banner with his name on it).

BDS or boycott, divestment, and sanctions, is a global non-violent movement that aims to put economic pressure on the Israeli state to end the occupation of the territories seized in 1967, recognize international law, and grant full and equal rights to Arab-Palestinians living within Israel.

Israel-centric Ethan Bronner cites Israeli law on East J’lem and Golan, ignoring crystal clear int’l standards

Oct 12, 2010

Alex Kane 

Nestled in this all over-the-place article written by Ethan Bronner in today’s New York Times is this factually-challenged nugget:

Both East Jerusalem and the Golan were officially annexed by Israel through parliamentary votes, so by Israeli law they count as Israeli territory. That is not true of the West Bank, which the Palestinians want as their future state and where Israel has settled more than 300,000 Jewish citizens.

That paragraph is in the middle of an article that, in part, is about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support for a bill that would require a national referendum in Israel on giving up the occupied territories.

Bronner’s reporting gives readers no substantive understanding of why East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are a huge part of the Israel/Palestine conflict. Those territories, captured by Israel during the 1967 War, were indeed unilaterally annexed by the Israeli government. So it’s true, as Bronner writes, that they “count as Israeli territory” under Israeli law.

But not under international law, which is really the relevant body of law to look at when discussing Israel/Palestine. This is how the United Nations’ Goldstone report describes East Jerusalem:

After 1967, the two areas [referring to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip] were administered directly by military commanders until 1981 and since then through a “Civil Administration” established by the Israeli armed forces. “Military orders” were used to rule the civil affairs of the Palestinian population superimposing and often revoking pre-existing Jordanian laws in the West Bank and Egyptian laws in the Gaza Strip. East Jerusalem was annexed to the Israeli municipality of the city and in 1980 the Knesset passed a law which declared that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel”. With Security Council resolution 478 (1980), the United Nations declared this law “null and void”, condemning any attempt to “alter the character and status of Jerusalem”. No member of the United Nations, apart from Israel, recognizes the annexation of East Jerusalem.

This is how UN Security Council Resolution 497, passed in the aftermath of Israel’s declaration of the Golan Heights in Syria as falling under the laws, jurisdiction and administration of the State of Israel, characterized the Syrian territory:

The Security Council,

Having considered the letter of 14 December 1981 from the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic contained in document S/14791,

Reaffirming that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, the principles of international law, and relevant Security Council resolutions,

1. Decides that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect;
2. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, should rescind forthwith its decision;
3. Determines that all the provisions of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 continue to apply to the Syrian territory occupied by Israel since June 1967;
4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the implementation of this resolution within two weeks and decides that in the event of non-compliance by Israel, the Security Council would meet urgently, and not later than 5 January 1982, to consider taking appropriate measures in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

The whole focus on whether Israelis will voluntarily give up illegally occupied territory is irrelevant. International law is crystal clear, and it doesn’t bend to the popular will of Israeli citizens.

This post originally appeared on Alex Kane’s blog.

Question: How has activism changed your vision of the conflict?
Oct 12, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Question for Joseph Dana:

I’m going to put up a post today for your event in New York City next week. A question, one I’d ask at the event, but maybe you want to respond to now:

You have spent a couple years now working with activists across ethnic, religious, national lines against the occupation. How has this experience changed your political vision of the future of the country and the OPT?

Dana responds:

The last three years of activism have driven home a very important point which is that co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians which could form the basis of a one state solution is entirely possible and could be realized in the near future. I do not feel pessimistic about the future of the conflict, in fact, I feel the optimist about our ability to defeat the occupation via grassroots and unarmed joint struggle. 

Several children, including 8 year old, arrested in Silwan

Oct 12, 2010


And more news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Civil Administration razes farmland in Beit Fajjar

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s Civil Administration razed farmland and a barn owned by a resident of the Beit Fajjar village in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem on Monday.  Raed Taqatqa, the land owner, said Israeli forces sought to control the area near the village’s main road and that of Al-Ma’sara, the site of demonstrations against Israel’s separation wall.

Settlers: No Jewish state without West Bank construction
Leaders of Jewish communities in West Bank slam PM’s offer for new construction freeze in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as Jewish state, say he will be put in ‘political slaughterhouse’ if plan implemented. ‘It is our Zionist right and duty to build here,’ they declare.,7340,L-3967977,00.html

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Bil’in’s Abdallah Abu Rahmah sentenced to a year in prison, Joseph Dana
Bil’in protest organizer Abdallah Abu Rahmah was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment today, for his involvement in his village’s unarmed struggle against the wall.

Free Abdallah Abu Rahmah, Joseph Dana
Bil’in Popular Committee Chairman Abdallah Abu Rahmah was sentenced to one year in jail this afternoon for non-violent resistance to Israeli occupation. The time for international support of Abdallah Abu Rahmah and the popular unarmed struggle is now!  Please visit the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee for more information on how you can help Abdallah’s case and share the below poster.

Vanunu`s freedom denied again
Eileen Fleming – Salem News – Having recently spent three months in detention for the “crime” of talking to foreigners, whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu returned to the Supreme Court, seeking to rescind the restrictions imposed on him the government. As on previous occasions, his appeal was denied. On 12 December this year, Vanunu is due to be granted the Carl-von-Ossietzky-Medal for 2010. Evidently, he will be able to arrive at the Berlin ceremony.

Photo essay of a West Bank demonstration against the occupation in Nabi Saleh, Joseph Dana
Every Friday the village of Nabi Saleh holds an unarmed demonstration against the occupation and continued Israeli settlement expansion. The following is a photo essay of last Friday’s demonstration in which the IDF used live ammunition against unarmed protesters and six Palestinians were injured.

Al-Ma’sara commemorates 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Che Guevara
Oct 9, 2010– Tens of people were suffocated by tear gas at the Al-Masara weekly protest on 8 October marking the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Che Guevara and in solidarity with Ahmed Sadat, the general secretary of the PFLP who has been in solitary confinement for more than 500 days.

Activists disrupt JNF conference, including ‘Not in my name’ Jews who are labeled ‘traitors’, Philip Weiss
The Jewish National Fund, which pays for the purchase of land for Jews in Israel, and of trees to cover up Palestinian villages, is holding a national conference in Atlanta. Activists picketed the conference, and several walked in on the conference yesterday, some identifying themselves as Jews. Among them is Lisa Adler, above, being pulled out of the room by a JNF’r.

PLO calls for boycott of OECD Jerusalem summit
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The PLO has called on member states of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development to boycott a summit on sustainable tourism which will be held in West Jerusalem in mid-October, a statement issued Tuesday read.  The PLO said convening the summit in West Jerusalem “under current conditions is a reward to Israel and grants legitimacy to the Israeli occupation of the city [East Jerusalem] and all its racist and oppressive measures against Palestinians in Jerusalem.”

Groups plan 2nd aid flotilla to Gaza from February (AP)
AP – Pro-Palestinian groups plan to sail a flotilla of boats through Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza as early as February in the second such attempt in less than a year, activists said Monday.*

Swiss ship to join Gaza-bound flotilla
A ship with Swiss nationals aboard is scheduled to take part in an aid flotilla bound for Gaza next spring, a solidarity group announced on Monday.  Nathan Finkelstein, a spokesman with the Geneva-based Collectif Urgence Palestine, said about 45 people could be aboard the ship as part of a flotilla with vessels from 17 countries. It could set sail as early as February.

Slain US activist’s parents seek justice in Israel (AP)
AP – The parents of a young American activist crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer seven years ago as she tried to save a Palestinian home from demolition never saw the soldier who killed her or his commanders put on trial or punished.*

‘We wouldn’t eat their sandwiches!’ –an interview with Lillian Rosengarten, Philip Weiss
Lillian Rosengarten, the only American on the Jewish boat to Gaza, lives near me in the Hudson Valley, and the other day I visited her to interview her about her experience on the British-flagged catamaran that the Israelis had intercepted on the high seas on September 28.  I hoped the activist/therapist/poet could answer a big question. How did she reconcile two important events in her life: her family had fled Nazi Germany when she was a toddler, but now, 73 years later, the state created to rescue the Jews had deported her and said she could never come back?

8th Week against the Apartheid Wall, November 9 – 16 2010
Sep 1, 2010– Eight years into the construction of the Apartheid Wall, over 60% has already been built to ghettoize communities, threatening over 260,000 people with displacement and stealing land and water resources.

Calendar of collective olive harvest initiatives
Oct 12, 2010– The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and its popular committees are coordinating collective efforts to safeguard the annual olive harvest. Click here to see the dates and locations of the olive harvest initiatives.

More ‘best shots of Israel’
Lara Elborno sent the following email and photos to the Israel Project as part of its “Best Shots of Israel” contest. Elborno is a Palestinian-American and currently a 2nd year law student in Chicago.

Breaking the Silence nominated for EU peace prize
Breaking the Silence documents testimony of soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza; right-wing group calls on parliament members not to let it win award.

Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

Gaza power problem ‘partially solved’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Gaza Electricity Company said several improvements in supply have led to a partial solution to the electricity crisis in the coastal enclave, which has been plagued with power cuts since January.  A statement issued by the GEC on Monday said the crisis was also partly solved through a government-enforced salary deduction, which was implemented to pay outstanding electricity bills. As a result, the GEC wrote, the company was able to cover the fuel costs for running the sole power plant’s generators.

Anger at Israel’s controversial oath
Israel’s Arab community has been angered by the government’s proposal requiring any non-Jew taking Israeli citizenship to swear allegiance to the country as a Jewish and democratic state. The controversial phrase added to citizenship law in move is seen by critics as attempt to get support for new settlement freeze. Palestinians say the law would legitimise discrimination and the dispossession of the indigenous people. Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports from Jerusalem.

Bahar: Loyalty oath another nakba
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israel’s new loyalty oath requiring non-Jews to to swear allegiance to “a Jewish and democratic state” was described as a new catastrophe or nakba for Palestinians living in Israel by the Palestinian Legislative Council’s deputy speaker on Monday.  Speaking to reporters in Gaza City, Ahmad Bahar said the recent amendment to Israel’s citizenship law would lead to a catastrophe leading to the forced immigration of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

Assad says ‘racist’ oath proves Israel doesn’t want peace (AFP)
AFP – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday slammed an Israeli citizenship law that he said was proof the Jewish state does not want to make peace with the Palestinians.*

EU says Israel must guarantee equality for all (AFP)
AFP – The European Union on Tuesday urged Israel to guarantee the equality of all its citizens after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Palestinians to recognise Israel’s Jewish identity.*


Israeli soldiers ‘shot at children collecting gravel by Gaza border’
The Israeli military has been urged to investigate the shootings of at least 12 impoverished young Palestinians collecting gravel in an effort to eke out an income within 800 metres of Gaza’s heavily guarded northern border.

Israeli troops accused of shooting children in Gaza
• Victims were scavenging for rubble, say rights groups
• Attacks allegedly took place outside 300-metre buffer zone

Child injured in Silwan clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian child sustained a rubber bullet wound to the leg and another injury to his face after he was hit by a stun grenade during clashes in the flashpoint East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Monday afternoon, locals said.  Locals identified the child as Suleiman Siyam, 12, who was injured when clashes broke out in Silwan after undercover Israeli forces raided the Beir Yacoub neighborhood.

Three men sustain bruises, fractures during IOF attack in Al-Khalil
Three Palestinians were injured and one of them arrested after a brutal assault by Israeli soldiers in the Al Tawana region south of Yatta, Al-Khalil.


Center: 8 year old child detained in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Wad Hilweh Information Center said an eight-year-old Palestinian resident of Silwan was detained at dawn on Tuesday by Israeli police.  Center director Jawad Siyam said police raided Omran Mansour’s home in the Beir Ayoub neighborhood of the flashpoint area. The center had said they believed the child was the one seen being struck down by an Israeli car days earlier but later said he was not.

Israeli Army Invades Silwan and Arrests Children
Tuesday night Israeli troops launched large-scale raids of homes in several neighbourhoods and battled with children in the town of Silwan near the Al Aqsa Mosque.

2 youth arrested and their father beaten by the Occupying Forces
Oct 9, 2010– The Israeli Occupying Forces arrested two teenagers this afternoon, Jihad Jamal Currency (17 years), and Iyad Jamil Currency (18 years), while they were harvesting olives in the town of Beit Ula west of Hebron. The arrest took place at the start of the annual olive harvesting season. Their father, Iyad Jamal, was also severely beaten by the Occupying Forces.

Israeli Soldiers Arrest A Student From Hebon University
On Monday the Israeli military arrested Sajeda Al-‘Awawda, 20, a student at the Hebron University, and moved her to an unknown destination.

Israeli Military Arrests Five Citizens From Hebron
On Monday, the Israeli army arrested five citizens from the Hebron area and invaded several other areas in the same region.

Political Developments

Vice Premier: No chance of peace with Palestinians in near future
Ya’alon tells Army Radio that Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state shows they are not serious about two-state solution.

Netanyahu asking Palestinians to cede right of return
Netanyahu understands that a Palestinian leadership prepared to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is tantamount to an up-front concession on the Palestinian right of return.

Palestinian official: PA will never recognize Israel as Jewish state
PA negotiator: Partial construction freeze not enough; PLO official accuses Netanyahu of using freeze-for-recognition proposal to weaken Obama’s influence in Mideast and distract from core issues in peace negotiations.

Abbas told Arab summit Israel has ‘cancelled Oslo’: aide
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas told Arab leaders over the weekend that Israel has in effect scrapped the landmark 1993 Oslo autonomy accords, an aide said on Monday.  “Abbas affirmed to the Arabs that Israel has effectively cancelled the Oslo agreement and the other agreements it has signed with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO),” chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

President’s office rebuffs rumors of Abbas resignation
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas will continue on as leader of the Palestinian Authority, the secretary-general of the president’s office said Monday.  Abdul Rahim said reports of Abbas’ resignation and the dismantling of the PA were “all rumors to lower the spirits of the Palestinians,” as he received the Tunisian representative to the PA Shakib Ath-Thawadi at the presentational compound in Ramallah, central West Bank.

Hamas calls on Fatah to return to role as national liberation movement
Ramallah, 11 October – Tensions between the Fatah leadership heading the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah and the Hamas resistance movement rose to an all-time high after PA spokesman Adnan al-Dhameri commented the assassination of two Hamas exponents in Hebron on Friday saying that neither the Israeli occupation forces nor his own security forces held any responsibility for the deaths. Rather, he suggested, the Hamas movement itself was responsible because it apparently had permitted his ranks to be infiltrated by the Israeli internal security services, the Shin Bet, who, he said, liquidated the two Hamas men. The statement prompted protest from the Palestinian parliamentarian Hosam Khader, himself a member of Fatah. Khader said he proved dismay witnessing exponents of Fatah joining security forces, who embark on arrest and liquidation campaigns against resistance fighters in the West Bank.
Palestinians say they have other options if U.S. fails to convince Israel to halt settlement
RAMALLAH, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) — Palestinian officials said on Monday they hoped that the United States would convince Israel to halt settlement construction within the one-month time the Arab League committee had given before the direct peace talks can be resumed. But they threat to take other options if it fails.

Fatah: Netanyahu demand ‘new obstacle’ to talks
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Fatah described Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as Jewish state for the extension of a moratorium on West Bank settlement construction as a “new obstacle in reviving negotiations,” on Monday.  Party spokesman Ahmad Assaf said the condition “proves false claims by the Israeli government on the natural expansion of settlements, which it has used to resume settlement activity.”

Palestinians: US not taking Bibi seriously
Senior Palestinian Authority official tells Ynet direct peace talks unlikely to resume prior to US midterm elections; says Washington views Netanyahu’s demands as ‘ridiculous’.,7340,L-3968179,00.html

Europe FMs dismiss Lieberman comments
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Spain’s foreign minister dismissed comments Monday by his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman that the EU should resolve internal conflicts before attempting to find solutions for the Middle East, Israeli media reported.  Miguel Moratinos said Lieberman’s remarks were prompted by Europe’s vital role in the Middle East peace process, Israeli news site Ynet reported.

Syria accuses Israel of hindering peace process
Assad says that while the Arab side is interested in peace, ‘the Israeli side is working in the opposite direction’.

Other News

New U.S. military chief takes office in the West Bank
U.S. military chief in the West Bank Keith Dayton has handed over the task of training Palestinian Authority security forces to his successor Gen. Michael Moeller, several sources confirmed on Monday.

Report: PA submits request for new airport
TEL AVIV (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority has submitted a request to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office for the construction of a new Palestinian airport in the central West Bank district of Jericho, Hebrew-language media reported Tuesday  The four square kilometer airport 10km southeast of Jerusalem includes plans for a single terminal, six gates for boarding, a large parking lot and international airport facilities and was submitted by the PA transport minister, Israeli daily Maariv reported.

Fayyad signs €30 million deal with Spanish FM
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Spain pledged to offer €30 million to support the Palestinian Authority after signing an agreement between the country’s foreign minister Miguel Moratinos and premier Salam Fayyad.  Fayyad met with Moratinos and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner to discuss political developments and dangers to the peace process, where he said direct talks required Israel to commit to international law, a settlement halt, opening all crossings into Gaza and an end to Israeli military incursions into Area A under the PA’s jurisdiction.

Israeli who killed British tourist to be freed early from 20-year sentence
Daniel Okev was convicted of murdering British tourist Jeffrey Hunter and of seriously injuring his friend Charlotte Gibb 13 years ago.

Israel Police officers suspected of organizing pay-for-sex scheme at station
Shfela District commander Shimon Ben Harosh ordered the probe after tipped off to the allegations of misconduct.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi Declares An Alternative To Failing Negotiations
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI), MP and runner-up in the 2005 presidential election declared in a press conference in Ramallah yesterday that failed negotiations are threatening the last opportunity of peace based on a two-state solution. He argued that negotiations are meaningless and damaging while Israeli settlement building continues, and proposed an initiative to surpass the intractable impasse in the so called peace process.

Israel’s Human Shields and Live Bait, Sharmine Narwani
“Sharmoota!” hisses the Jewish settler as she presses up against the bars of a Hebron home where she has forced a Palestinian woman to take cover. “Whore” in Arabic, the shameful word hangs in the air like verbal dynamite – and shocks again and again as rapid-fire “Sharmootas” are spat out at their victim.

Can the OECD stand up to Israel? | Sam Bahour and Charles Shamas
The upcoming OECD tourism summit in Jerusalem will test its member countries’ commitment to international law.  What can be said for the state of international law when international organisations such as the OECD find themselves unable to prevent a member country from bringing its unlawful practice into the life of the organisation itself? In such situations, how can law-abiding member countries avoid being drawn into acquiescence? Later this month, these questions may find answers when Israel hosts an OECD gathering in Jerusalem to discuss global tourism.

Lieberman Wins, Democracy Loses, Palestine Monitor
Amending the Citizenship Act to include a loyalty oath has moved the Israeli government a step away from democracy toward a system of apartheid.Written by Dorien Vanden Boer and Liza Noteris.

A precondition for Palestinian statehood / Menachem KleinA question: Which government functions better, that of Salam Fayyad in the West Bank or that of Hamas in the Gaza Strip? Answer: The Hamas government. Another question: Which of the two governments would stop functioning without foreign aid? Answer: The West Bank one.

Donna Edwards flap fosters debate over one-state vs two-state, Philip Weiss
Last week we picked up the news that Congresswoman Donna Edwards is holding a fundraiser with a non-Zionist organization, New, this weekend, Saturday afternoon, at the Sheraton Washington North in Beltsville, MD.

Israel’s ethnic cleansing drill a result of nationalists adopting the two-state solution, Dimi Reider
Noam Sheizaf reports on his blog the police and army recently concluded an extensive drill, practicing response to riots that would follow the signing of a peace agreement covering “population exchange”. Here is a verbatim translation of the very careful phrasing used by Carmela Menashe, the IBA’s veteran military correspondent, from whose report Noam fished the info.

America should fund Israeli settlers to leave, Diana Butto
The latest round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is already on shaky ground. At issue, once again, is Israel’s insistence that it can build and expand settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Budrus: West Bank Story, M.J. Rosenberg
It is hard to imagine that anyone feels anything but hopelessness about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict these days. Are there a dozen people in the world who honestly believe that President Obama’s main guy, Dennis Ross, is capable of achieving an equitable agreement, even if he sincerely wanted to. And even if Congress was not there to prevent peace from somehow erupting.

Turn right at the end: The future of a country that gave up on democracy, Sivan Hurvitz
Sivan Hurvitz is a a graphic designer and illustrator, living and working in Tel Aviv. Learn more about her work by visiting her portfolio and her website. Click on each image to enlarge.

Manitoba Government Ignores Palestinian Oppression, Paul Graham
A few days ago, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announced his government’s intention to deepen economic and cultural relations with Israel.  “Manitoba and Israel have common interests in clean energy, water quality and conservation. These interests provide the opportunities to share knowledge and strengthen our education and economic relationships and partnership,” Selinger said in a news release.

One Wall, Two People, No States: the Peace Pretense,  William A. Cook
‘Our goal is two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security,’ (President Obama) such is the illusion that resurfaces to restart the peace negotiations that will stabilize the mid-east. For 63 years that “goal” has been the carrot held before the people of the United States and Britain as the ultimate resolution for the Israeli/Palestinian crisis. In reality there is nothing in the statement that is true.

Israel, Palestine: A History of Economic Oppression, Jamil Salman
Many of last month’s headlines would have you believe that a vibrant, independent Palestinian state had become an inevitable reality. On the back of ‘peace talks’ which offered renewed hope and financial institutions which declared that the “Palestinian economy is growing”, one could be forgiven for presuming that Palestinians had finally turned the corner towards prosperity. Both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have published impressive first half GDP growth rates that should, theoretically, place both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank amongst the top 10 countries in the world for this category. It is estimated that combined, both Territories will even out at an overall 8% GDP growth rate by the year’s end. This may come as a pleasant surprise to most people who would not have expected such rapid growth in light of the debilitating effects of a combination of factors involving, the Second Intifada, Israeli barriers and the Gaza blockade and occupation. However, these figures should not be taken as a prediction of any future trends in the Palestinian economy, but rather, as an indicator of how much Israel has stifled Palestinian growth.

Palestinians Must Fight Fire with Fire, James Gundun
For a moment the Palestinians appeared to be playing with fire by continuing Israel’s momentum. September 26th felt like a distant memory when the Arab League finally convened a special summit to debate the future of direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who resists any thought of a free extension on settlement restrictions. The intervening weeks have further eroded the Palestinians’ weak negotiating position as Washington rolls over to prevent another collapse of US-sponsored talks and shield its own floundering image in the Middle East.

Ahmadinejad and the Limits of American and Israeli Power, Juan Cole
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Middle East’s populist answer to the American tea party, has stirred controversy with his trip to Lebanon, which will begin Wednesday. He is planning to visit villages in southern Lebanon on the border with Israel that have been rebuilt with Iranian aid after Israeli incursions and wars, the last in 2006. Ahmadinejad’s theatrical politics often make him a laughingstock, but his trip is intended to make the serious point that Tehran can stand up to Western sanctions and thwart attempts to box the Islamic Republic in.


Army arrests nine suspected spies for Israel
BEIRUT: The army announced on Monday it has arrested nine individuals in recent months on suspicion of spying for Israel, as part of the military’s ongoing crackdown on foreign agents.

Saqr: Hariri ‘will not accuse Hizbullah’ in father’s killing
BEIRUT: Lebanon First bloc MP Oqab Saqr said that Prime Minister Saad Hariri “did not and will not” accuse Hizbullah in killing his father late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. “We say that we did not and will not accuse Hizbullah of this crime, Prime Minister Hariri has announced so,” Saqr said, addressing a news conference he called for at the March 14 General Secretariat headquarters in Beirut on Monday.


Monday: 14 Iraqis Killed, 31 Wounded
At least 14 Iraqis were killed and 31 more were wounded in new violence, mostly across central Iraq. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Iraqiya said the party was willing to give up the premiership so long as they received equal power in the new government. Iraqiya narrowly defeated second-place State of Law party in March elections, but neither party has been able to find enough support to form a new government. Such a concession could allow the seven-month long political deadlock to end.

Al-Qaida threatens to nab Iraq ministers’ families (AP)
AP – Al-Qaida’s umbrella group in Iraq has threatened to kidnap family members of Iraqi politicians and ministers unless the wife and children of its slain leader are released from prison.*

In Iraq, 30,000 prisoners are without trial and under torture
41961.jpegThe non-governmental organization Amnesty International is denouncing to the world the existence of 30,000 persons in Iraqi prisons without having been judged, whose confessions were extracted under torture, and suggests the U.S. military as the persons in charge being responsible for this situation.  According to Amnesty International, rape, threats of rape, beatings, electric shocks, fingernails torn out and maiming are some forms of torture used in Iraqi prisons.  “The Iraqi security forces are responsible for systematic violations of prisoners’ rights (…) and for all impunity,” said Malcolm Smart, in a statement. He is the Middle East director for the organization of human rights, based in London.

Cancer outbreak in Iraq school due to pollution
With cancer outbreak in Adan school and surroundings in Al Shaab region, northern Baghdad, Iraq’s Environment Ministry revealed after investigations that the mounting number of cancer diseases in the school is due to Dijla water pollution caused by wastes.

Anguish for families of Iraq’s disappeared
Many of the thousands of Iraqi families who saw a loved one arbitrarily detained or kidnapped by armed militia in the worst days of sectarian warfare are still unable to find any information on their missing relatives. – Ibrahim Saleh (Oct 12, ’10)

U.S. and other world news

Obama’s enthusiasm for drone strikes takes heavy toll on Pakistan’s tribesmen
So far Barack Obama has signed off on over 125 strikes – twice the number authorised by George Bush during the last five years of his presidency. Manufacturers are scrambling to keep up with demand from the CIA.

Probe launched into 500 missing Nato vehicles
A senior customs official told Dawn on Sunday that 500 oil tankers and containers which had left Port Qasim in Karachi for Kandahar did not reach the Pak-Afghan border near Chaman. in the Asian country.

Pak’s secret nuclear weapons programme infuriating US
The US is also believed to be worried about China’s plans to build two new nuclear reactors in Pakistan.

The Family:  Secretive Christian Group of Conservative Lawmakers Building a ‘God-Led’ Government
The Family, also known as the Fellowship, is a cohort of powerful lawmakers seeking to create a “God-led government” at home and abroad.

A New Study Shows that Americans are Idiots
Remember how Democrats always refuse to fight back against smears because “The American people are too smart to fall for that”? No, they aren’t.

Rights group protest jailing of eight Syrian Islamists
DAMASCUS: A Syrian security court has sentenced eight Islamists to jail terms ranging from three to six years for membership of a “secret” organization, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said late on Sunday.

Inside Story – Egypt’s independent media
Reporters without Borders has recently ranked Egypt 143 out of 175 countries when it comes to media and press freedom. Is there a plan to silence the most critical voices in Egypt ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections? Is the government scared of the independent media?

Why I protested the Jewish National Fund

Oct 12, 2010

Jesse Benjamin 

This Columbus Day weekend, the Jewish National Fund USA held its annual meeting in Atlanta. Like many Jews from the US, I grew up in communities that raised money for seemingly benign JNF campaigns to plant trees in Israel through our purchase of Hanukkah candles. But this year, as the JNF gathered in Atlanta, I stood with many Atlanta Jews and others to protest JNF practices which stand as obstacles in the path to a just peace based on freedom, safety, and equality for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

As a charity with 501c3 status, the JNF, created in 1901 to acquire land exclusively for Jewish settlement, enjoys a wide reputation as a leading environmental organization. To many of us, however, this reputation has become incompatible with the reality that the trees we funded for all those years were purposefully used to plant over and to hide villages from which Palestinians were forcibly removed (greenwashing). Far from a charity organization, the activities of the JNF are based on its discriminatory founding mission: the removal of indigenous Palestinians from their land and property to hold in exclusive reserve for Jews living in Israel and elsewhere. This is only one part of a worrying trend when it comes to American tax dollars and Israel.

A recent New York Times report identified “at least 40 American groups”, such as the controversial Hebron Fund, that over the last decade “have collected more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts “for illegal and often extremist Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.” Illegal Israeli settlement policies are today widely seen as a central obstacle to U.S.-backed peace efforts in the region. We are confident that challenging the JNF’s similarly counterproductive mission is both relevant and timely for those of us who wish for peace.

With ostensible control over vast tracks of Israel’s land holdings, the JNF’s forestation efforts have generally coincided with the erasure of historic Palestinian villages by over-planting pine and other fast-growing species in forests often named for donor countries, such as the controversial “South Africa Park” that covers the depopulated and destroyed Palestinian village of Lubya.

To support this mission the JNF has for decades employed its own paramilitary force, which in Orwellian fashion is named the Green Patrol, in order to uproot Palestinian trees, destroy Palestinian houses and crops, and confiscate livestock for resale to Jews. In one recent action in the Negev/Naqab Desert, the JNF teamed with military and police units, as well as Jewish high-schoolers to destroy the historic Bedouin village of Al-Arakib to make way for planned Jewish settlements and suburbs.

For decades, the JNF and the Israeli state have insisted that only modern urban Jews can protect the fragile desert ecology, when in fact it is often Israeli military exercises, suburban sprawl, industrial agriculture, and overuse of water resources that pose the greatest threats to these same ecosystems. Palestinians, on the other hand, have been recognized by UN and other agencies as the stewards of the land. As is common amongst indigenous peoples, they use age-old, environmentally sustainable methods of grazing, farming, dry riverbed cultivation, water harvesting, cistern catchment, and arid forestry. Not only does the JNF refuse to acknowledge this expertise, it actively portrays local peoples as harmful to the environment in order to acquire more land.

Such policies explain the growing number of Jews who stand with Palestinians and others in exposing the truth behind the JNF and in support of the wider Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The BDS movement, which was initiated by Palestinian civil society as a peaceful means to create meaningful change, embraces non-violent tactics not unlike those used by Black South Africans in the 1980s and Dr. King before that. The campaign against the JNF–including a call to revoke its charitable status–is part of this urgent initiative. Atlanta, with its rich civil rights tradition, was active in the anti-apartheid struggle decades ago, and now Atlanta communities are joining Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a growing chorus in calling for an equally strong BDS campaign against the hard-line Israeli state and its policies of discrimination, segregation, and occupation.

Linking the JNF with systematic discrimination is not to be taken lightly, and it is no small task to challenge the state of Israel and its practices, even for an Israeli citizen like myself. However, doing so is not only imperative, but is in line with a major trajectory within Jewish history and culture committed to social justice

Jesse Benjamin, an associate professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University, is a US and an Israeli citizen.

NYC film screening with Zizek, Badiou and Aloni to support the Jenin Freedom Theatre

Oct 12, 2010

Adam Horowitz 

nyc jenin

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