Categorized | Nova Newsletter




Zionism, discrimination, and racist intent

Nov 18, 2010

David Samel


Jerry Slater constructs an artful but unconvincing defense against the charge that the

 Jewish State is inherently racist. He reasons that the preferences and privileges

accorded to Jews over non-Jews in Israel/Palestine is founded upon genuine Jewish

insecurity rather than racist Jewish superiority. He concedes that many Israeli Jews,

an increasing number in fact, are personally racist, but insists that racism need not be

 inherent in the concept of a Jewish State.

Jerry’s error is in defining racism narrowly to include only those attitudes that are

based upon superiority. The problem is that the absence of such motive is no defense

to a charge of racism. Any system that confers rights and privileges upon some people

based upon race, creed, color, national origin, or in this case, a unique hybrid of ethno-

religious qualities, is a racist system. Jerry distinguishes South African apartheid on

the ground that the white colony there was established via actual racism rather than

insecurity. But what of white people born in South Africa during the apartheid regime?

They surely had a genuine fear of backlash should they grant equal rights to the 80+%

of the population who were harshly oppressed for their skin color, but whites could not

reasonably defend apartheid on the ground that it was needed to preserve their safety.

They could not reasonably claim that they thought blacks were just as capable and worthy

as whites, but that apartheid was nevertheless necessary to protect their physical safety.

Nor can Israeli Jews employ that excuse.

This has been true from the very beginning. The early Zionists formulated a plan to

establish a Jewish State in a land populated by a large number of non-Jewish people.

Their attitude toward the indigenous population was that their wants and needs and

rights were trumped by those of Jewish people throughout the world. “We want your

land for our state,” was the message. Does it matter whether they were motivated by

feelings of insecurity or superiority? Surely not to the Palestinians, who were equally

victimized regardless of the victimizers’ motives.

In the U.S., we have an equal protection clause in our Constitution to protect against racism.

It is intended to ensure that the law is applied equally to all, regardless of birth characteristics.

It is the application of government policy that is scrutinized for compliance with the clause.

Intent is sometimes a factor, but only in the sense of whether there is unlawful intent to

discriminate. The motive is irrelevant, and a discriminatory policy may not be defended on

the ground that it is not based on the concept of racial superiority. That will not save a

constitutionally infirm application of discriminatory law. 

Any regime that accords rights and privileges to some of the people living under its jurisd-

iction over others, based on any foundation of ethnicity, is an anachronism that has no place

in the 21st century, and hopefully, has a limited life span. Israel may not be unique in this

regard, though it probably is unique in the sense that Palestinians must yield superior rights

not only to Israeli Jews, but to Diaspora Jews as well.

Finally, this raises an important question: If Zionism is a form of racism, is it fair to label

all Zionists as racist? The superficial answer might be yes, because those who subscribe to

a racist ideology are themselves racist. But I dissent from that view. Personal racism is an

extremely serious charge, and an accusation of racism is meant to attach a stigma to the

accused; surely that is the basis for the absurdly overused charge of anti-Semitism against

Israeli critics.

Several years ago, Harvard President Larry Summers said that those who support BDS

were “anti-Semitic in their effect if not in their intent.” Many who shared my negative

opinion of this remark asked “What the hell does that even mean?” However, I understood

the nature of the charge, while disagreeing with Summers’s application to BDS.

There is not necessarily a correlation between those who subscribe to what may fairly be

described as a racist ideology and those who are genuinely racist. For example, on affirmative

action, each side claims the mantle of opposition to racism, thereby portraying the opposite

view as one founded on racism. Most people on either side, however, are not actually racist.

Obviously, racism is a deplorable and highly visible phenomenon in Israeli society, but I

think that to portray all those who believe in a Jewish State as racist is facile and unfair.

It also is unwise, because if there is an effort to reach so-called liberal Zionists and convince

them that Zionism itself is the root cause of the problem, accusing them of racism would

needlessly provoke antagonism. Virtually everyone would vehemently deny such a charge,

and refuse to consider whether there is any truth to it. On the other hand, trying to persuade

a liberal Zionist that race-like preferences are inherent in the ideology is more likely to succeed

if it is not accompanied with a charge of personal racism. Besides, I know many, many people

who believe in the Jewish State but are genuinely anti-racist. Jerry Slater, who has made many

insightful and valuable contributions to the I/P debate, is a one-person refutation of the notion

 that all Zonists are racists.

No goyim need apply as experts at taxpayer-funded confab on Israel

Nov 18, 2010

Philip Weiss


I haven’t done a post like this in a while. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still very bad, and

don’t think about this kind of thing 24/7.

The U.S. Institute of Peace is funded by Congress as a nonpartisan institution to help resolve

international conflicts. Now look here.

 They’re doing a big panel Dec. 7 on internal politics in Israel. And it looks like all 4 speakers

are Jewish and/or Israeli. What can you say about this kind of thing? It’s inappropriate.

In an area of conflict in which religious and ethnic differences have played a large role…

regarding a country that is 20 percent non-Jewish and in which questions of racial

discrimination have become huge, and questions about blind American support for whose

policies have also lately arisen… they couldn’t find a Palestinian-American or a non-Jewish


But I guess those people don’t have opinions or expertise. From the USIP:

For Israel, the question of peace with its neighbors has always touched on the most

sensitive internal divides. As part of a USIP series focusing on domestic politics in

Israel and its neighbors, a panel of esteemed experts will examine various levels of

internal dynamics in Israel – from divides within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s

inner circle to fissures within Israeli society more broadly – and their impact on Israel’s

regional conflicts and its relationship with the United States.

This event will be on the record and feature the following speakers:

David Makovsky

Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and Director, Project on the Middle East Peace Process

The Washington Institute

Yoram Peri

Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair in Israel Studies and Director of the Joseph and

Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies University of Maryland

Shai Feldman

Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies

Brandeis University

Scott Lasensky,

Chair and Discussant co-author with Daniel C. Kurtzer, “Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace”

U.S. Institute of Peace

About the Series: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Internal Challenges on the Road to

Peace Certain domestic Israeli and Palestinian concerns — from state institution-building

and secular-religious divides, to coalition politics and educational reform — have strong

implications for the broader conflict, and for international efforts towards a peaceful

resolution. Through a series of panels and related publications over the course of the

 year, USIP will explore such critical yet oft-neglected internal dynamics….

One by one, Americans awaken

Nov 18, 2010

Philip Weiss


Deppen Webber, 42, and father of one, quit his $100,000 job in Sonoma County, CA,

after 9 years with the company when he realized how much it was making off defense

contracts, and then he went off to Israel-Palestine to help in the olive harvest and bring

attention to the struggle. Reporting by Jeremy Hay of the Press-Democrat

(thanks to Jeff Blankfort):

Deppen, a one-time baker who could be described as a sort of slow-rising activist,

began to have concerns about U.S. foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan over the

past decade…

“I just can’t understand why we constantly need to be at war,” said Webber, also a

critic of U.S. policy regarding Israel, one of its staunchest allies, and the Palestinians.

…Local Palestinian supporters have hailed Webber’s actions…

During his weeks in the Middle East, Webber said he harvested olives with Palestinian

farmers and met with pro-Palestinian activists and educational organizations.

He also explored parts of the West Bank where Jewish settlements — the continuation

of which have stalled the latest round of peace negotiations — have sprouted, an

experience he said was eye-opening.

“Seeing the settlements first hand, and seeing the settlers right there in Palestinian

territory, it just confirmed my suspicions of how things worked over there,” he said.

What young Israeli refused to do in Palestine, she acted out on 116th St

Nov 18, 2010

Philip Weiss



Writes Nancy Kricorian of Code Pink’s Stolen Beauty campaign:

I went to the Students for Justice in Palestine’s mock checkpoint on the Columbia

campus this afternoon and handed out fliers for an hour and a half. Columbia’s LionPAC,

HIllel, Just Peace, Grain Lavi and Tarbootnikim were counter-demonstrating, handing

out fliers, some of them wrapped in Israeli flags, others of them attempting to get into

provocative arguments, which for the most part SJP’ers were able to avoid. Maya Wind,

one of the JVP/CODEPINK Shministim [Wind refused to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces]

from last year who is now a freshman at Barnard, was carrying a cardboard rifle and helping

to run the checkpoint. She was completely in character as a gruff and unpleasant checkpoint

 guard, so I didn’t even say hello, but the photo above shows her in the role that she refused

to play in real life.

NSFW (unless you work at AIPAC)

Nov 18, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The following is a dramatization of Steven J. Rosen’s deposition given on September 22, 2010

as part of his lawsuit against AIPAC.

You can read the entire deposition, in a pdf after the jump. Now someone just has to animate

the portions that are leading commentators to ask:

 “why isn’t AIPAC properly registered as a foreign agent of the government?


Israel arrests 13 activists attempting to help Palestinian farmers access their land

Nov 18, 2010

Adam Horowitz


From the Palestine Solidarity Project:

Beit Ommar, Southern West Bank, 10:00am: 13 Israeli, international and Palestinian

activists were arrested at 10 am this morning while accompanying farmers to their

land in the Saffa region of Beit Ommar. A group of nearly 30 activists accompanied

Sheik Mohammad Aady to his land near the Bat Ayn settlement, which is marked for

annexation by the Israeli military. After working on the land for half an hour, soldiers

emerged from the Bat Ayn settlement and surrounding hills and detained the group.

A number of sound bombs were shot at those working on the land before the arrests.

Amongst those arrested was Biet Ommar National Committee member and cameraman

Mohammed Ayyad. As of 1 pm the group was still being detained in the police station in

the Gush Ezion settlement.

Upon leaving the nearby village of Beit Ommar, soldiers fired from their military vehicles

around 25 canisters of tear gas at a group of children who were throwing rocks.

The tear gas spread throughout the residential area.

In the past two weeks there have been 33 detentions of farmers and activists in Saffa.

The military claims that the land is “state land,” indicating their unequivocal intention

to annex it to the Bat Ayn settlement. All of the farmers have documents proving their

ownership of the land.

Settlers frequently attack the farmers and land in Saffa. Two nights ago settlers set fire

to 70 olive trees on the hillside near Bat Ayn, and three Palestinians were arrested as they

tried to extinguish the fire. Three more Palestinian activists who went to take pictures the

next day were also detained.


Residents react to court allowing ‘Jewish only’ building in Jaffa: ‘The result of this decision is

that it is legal and legitimate to build a settlement in the heart of the Ajami neighborhood’

Nov 18, 2010



And more news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers / Land, property and resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Residents fume as court approves Jewish-only housing / Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
…”We are very disappointed from the decision of the [Supreme] Court,” saidSami Abu Shahadeh, the Coordinator of Darna, The Popular Committee for Housing

Rights in Jaffa.”The result of this decision is that it is legal and legitimate to build a

settlement in the heart of the Ajami neighborhood, which has a vast Arab majority.

 The settlement is closed only for national, religious Jews, and this means that anyone

who is living now in the Ajami neighborhood — Arab or Jew — is not allowed to have an

apartment in the project which is built nearby his house,” he said. Indeed, with the

Supreme Court’s ruling, Be’emunah, a settler movement that aims to create ideological

and religious Jewish communities in cities with large Palestinian populations, was given

the go-ahead to build 20 apartments in the heart of Ajami.

A privatized Nakba / Charlotte Silver

Palestinians describe the Israel Land Administration Law (ILA) quietly passed by

the Israeli Knesset in 2009 as the final stage in the 62-year process of displacement from

their homeland. The legislation is expected to have a long-term, disastrous impact on

Palestinian lives and precludes the possibility of a negotiated resolution to the conflict …

 This law allows the state to transfer ownership of all developed land to an individual,

private company or corporation. With egregious disregard for international law, Israel’s

Land Reform Law applies not only to land within Israel proper, but also to occupied

East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, which Israel annexed in violation of

international law in 1981.

Israel: New planning policy for East Jerusalem

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat presented a controversial new city planning policy for

East Jerusalem to the public on Tuesday morning, as East Jerusalemites celebrated

Eid Al-Adha with friends and family. The re-zoning plan, according to a statement from

the mayor’s office, would take into account the “current unsatisfactory situation” and

call for a freeze on all current demolition orders until the plan is approved and can go

forward … In the spring of 2010, residents of the community put together an alternative plan

proposing a series of measures that would bring the number of forced evictions and

demolitions planned by the Jerusalem municipality down to zero. Days ahead of the

announcement of the new policy, a spokesman for the municipality said he was not

aware of the plan.

Haaretz editorial: Israel’s government can restore reason to Sheikh Jarrah

A new plan that urges the state to take possession of disputed properties could head

of decades-old disputes on both sides of the city … Efforts to reclaim Jewish assets in

East Jerusalem open up old “1948 files,” invite Palestinians to pursue reciprocal claims

on the western side of the city [quelle horreur!], undermine Israeli opposition to a right

of refugee return, sabotage hopes of a peace agreement and turn Jerusalem into a flashpoint

in the continuing dispute. The government, however, still has the power to amend this distortion.

PM office prevented the recognition of two Bedouin villages / Noam Sheizaf

A state committee was about to include two Palestinian-Bedouin villages in a new

municipal plan, thus giving their residents official rights over their lands and homes

after decades of dispute. A letter from an adviser to Netanyahu changed this decision —

The problem of the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Israeli south received some

media attention recently following the repeated destruction by the state of a village

named Al-Arakiv. There are more than 40 unrecognized Palestinian-Bedouin villages in

Israel, many of them predating the state itself. Their residents are Israeli citizens, but they

don’t receive basic services such as water and electricity, and occasionally, they are evicted

from their homes and lands.

Of scorpions, settlers, soldiers, and springs / Mazin Qumsiyeh

…The Zawahras’ saga is just an example.  Colonial Jewish settlements in two main

locations of the Zawahras’ domain (in the hills around Bethlehem and in the Jordan

valley) have made it impossible for the Zawahras to continue the Bedouin way of life.  

In the Bethlehem district, Israeli colonies, security zones, army bases etc now control

the vast majority of the rich lands.  The remaining land is basically the developed

Palestinian areas with few open areas.  With less than 5% of the open range areas of the

Bethlehem district left available for grazing, the impact was devastating:

 1) significant decrease in number of animals (even as the human population more than

tripled in the past 45 years), and 2) the forced overgrazing on the few remaining open areas

 had a devastating ecological effect.  It is sad to compare biodiversity in the Bethlehem area

today versus what I saw 40 years ago.

After Ariel: Kiryat Arba gets new culture hall

After Ariel residents got their very own brand new cultural center which was accompanied

by three boycott letters, and quite a media storm, the residents of Kiryat Arba are hoping

to enjoy concerts and performance in their own culture hall: The construction of luxurious

cultural center, the second beyond the green line, is set to be completed over the next few months.

Settlers set Saffa ablaze, 3 Palestinian youth arrested
17 Nov – Palestine Solidarity Project – Last night [Tuesday] settlers from the Bat Ayn settlement set fire to 70 olive trees in the Saffa region of Beit Ommar. The trees belonged to the Thalji Aady family, who have been subject to frequent settler violence and military harassment. The fire was lit around 9:30 pm, and burned for 3 hours before fire trucks from the village were able to extinguish the flames. At 11:00 pm 3 military jeeps arrived and attempted to prevent villagers from extinguishing the fire, arresting 3 Palestinian youth in the process. blamed for fire near Nablus
Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian farmland between the West Bank cities of Nablus and Qalqiliya on Tuesday, officials said. Ghassan Dughlus, the Palestinian Authority official monitoring settler activity in the northern West Bank, said Israelis from the settlement of Givat Gilad set fires in the village of Jit. He said about 100 trees were burned in the blaze. Mayor Nasser As-Sida told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers bared villagers from going to the land in order to put out the fire.

AG: Seal Jewish home in East Jerusalem
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein orders municipality to carry out court order to evacuate, seal Jewish building in east Jerusalem suburb of Silwan, in keeping with rule of law principle [why this one building… to look impartial?],7340,L-3986174,00.html

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

13 activists detained during volunteer work
BEIT UMMAR, Hebron (Ma’an) — Thirteen activists from a group of 30 were detained by Israeli forces Thursday afternoon while aiding local farmers whose land is set for confiscation by an adjacent settlement, locals from the village of Saffa reported. Early Thursday morning officials said the activists were escorted to lands belonging to Sheik Mohammad Aady, reportedly slated for annexation the Bat Ayin settlement.

Students join Ariel boycott
Ariel boycott — first artists, now students. A group of education students from Beit Berl College on Wednesday informed the college’s administration that they refuse to hold their final project at an educational facility in the city [settlement] of Ariel. “We will not teach beyond the Green Line,” the students said.,7340,L-3986308,00.html

Veteran TV host Yaron London endorses cultural boycott of Ariel
In this morning’s Yediot [full translation of article at bottom of post; Hebrew original here], London explains how a chance encounter with two of West Bank settlers lead him [to] this conclusion: “This story taught me that contrary to what I thought at first, there is actually some benefit to the boycott declared by the actors.  Its main goal is to damage Ariel’s image as a completely ordinary community, just like one of the communities within the Green Line. The image of normalcy has been successfully instilled, because consciousness is not fond of complex structures of thinking … But this is not so: Ariel was built on occupied land, and its existence poses a challenge to common decency and international law.  A few brave artists have done us the service of reminding us of this, and their protest created a great commotion.  This is all that is required of an effective protest.

New Yorkers protest fundraising cruise for illegal Hebron settlements
17 Nov – 120 New Yorkers silently picketed at the entrance to Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers this evening (16 November) to protest against the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund’s fundraising event to expand Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Hebron … The protest was endorsed by sixteen US human rights and peace groups, three of which are Jewish (see groups below).

#BDS: British boycott campaigners target Israeli string quartet
British activists of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) are planning to protest outside a concert hall in the city of Bath, in England, later this week, over a concert given by a string quartet from Israel. The ‘Bath Chronicle’ reports that the Bristol branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign alleges that group – the Jerusalem String Quartet – was aligned with the Israeli military. The musicians reject the charge.

#BDS: 5 Australian unions support BDS of Israel
Five Australian unions have joined the international campaign advocating the boycott of Israeli goods from the occupied West Bank … Peter Tighe, national secretary of the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, told The Australian newspaper, “We are not anti-Jewish, we just think the human misery over there is outrageous.”

#BDS: US Mennonite students push for divestment from Israeli occupation
On 12 November 2010, Students for Morally Responsible Investment (SMRI) presented their case against EMU’s investment in businesses which help fund or further oppression in Israel-Palestine. Leaders of SMRI have now met with Everence (a Mennonite financial institution), Mennonite Educational Agency (MEA) and the EMU administration, seeking a change of policy. They say they are hopeful about progress made at the meetings – including the Financial and Audit Committee of EMU last week.


Israeli fights Spanish site’s boycott
Bertha Linker gets Spanish learning website to accept her, remove anti-Israel material — Bertha Linker, 32, recently decided to register with the website in order to improve her level of writing in Spanish through online studies. But she was soon surprised to learn that her request had been rejected as the website is boycotting Israel over its policy in the Palestinian territories.,7340,L-3985818,00.html

Strauss Group removes support for IDf from English website
An Israeli company that co-owns Sabra, the number one selling hummus brand in the United States, has removed support of the IDF from its English-language website after a video circulating the internet criticized the company’s support of Israel’s “human rights abuses,” according to a press release issued Thursday by the Philadelphia branch of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement … Kate Zaidan, a spokesperson for BDS group said, “We notice that while Stauss’s English-language website no longer makes these claims, the Hebrew-language part of the site still includes them.”

Extrajudicial assassinations / War crimes / War criminals

Brothers killed in Gaza strike
GAZA CITY — Israeli aircraft targeted Gaza’s most populous city Wednesday, killing two Palestinian men. Witnesses said a drone strike targeted a white Subaru just off central Gaza City’s Al-Wehda street, leaving a hole in the ground. The car was ripped in half, the back blown 10 meters from the front with other pieces littering the street. Power lines were damaged in the blast. Black stains from smoke and fire could be seen on an adjacent building. The strike came at sundown on the second night of the Eid Al Adha holiday, in a busy section of the city. Medical officials at Ash-Shifa Hospital identified the deceased as Muhammad Yassin and his brother, Islam Yassin. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the assassination, which was the second in two weeks. She said “a senior operative belonging to the terrorist group Army of Islam was targeted” because the group, a radical Islamist organization, was plotting to attack Israeli citizens in the Sinai.

Islamist group posts Hebrew-language threat online
An Islamist group on Thursday posted a Hebrew-language threat on the Internet, pledging revenge for the killing of two militants in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City a day earlier … At the end of the clip, the speaker identifies himself as belonging to “Ansar al-Sunna in Al-Quds” — in what appeared to be a reference to a Gaza-based Salafist group which models itself on Al-Qaeda.

Israel and gang warfare in Gaza / Tim King
(SALEM, Ore.) – Try to imagine driving down the street in Los Angeles, London, or any other modern city, and watching the car in front of you blow to smithereens from a drone strike as parts of auto and men fly into the sky, filling the air momentarily with a reddish haze. This was the scene in the historic city of Gaza today, when Israel savagely attacked two men in a white Subaru in a busy part of Gaza … Welcome to the Mideast gang wars. That is how Israel operates, like a ruthless street gang; perhaps the supreme street gang.

Dubai’s top cop denies meeting Israeli police official
DUBAI, November 17, 2010 (AFP) – Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan, who has said Israeli agents assassinated a Hamas commander while in the emirate, on Wednesday denied a press report he met a top Israeli police official in Qatar. “I categorically deny the report,” Khalfan told AFP. He was referring to a report in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot that he had met Israel’s police investigations and intelligence branch chief, Major General Yoav Segalovich, at the Interpol general assembly in Doha. “I did not even attend the Interpol meeting,” Khalfan said.

German photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer exhibition – aftermath of Cast Lead in Gaza
Exhibition of Kai Wiedenhöfer at the Musée d´Art Moderne de la ville de Paris. Interview with France 3. [Warning: many photos horrifying.  Israel National News says that there is no mention of this exhibition on the museum’s website, and that appears to be true, though it is mentioned elsewhere. A large Jewish group in France has objected to the exhibition, and the museum’s director seems to have claimed no responsibility for housing it.]

IDF officer suspected of covering up Gaza killing
An IDF commander is suspected of blocking an investigation into the death of a Palestinian in Gaza, according to reports released on Thursday. The officer is suspected of not submitting the results of a probe about a woman killed when she approached a Givati Brigade station during Operation Cast Lead.

Site exposes IDF ‘war crminals’
A website that went online Tuesday has published a list of 200 IDF soldiers which it classifies as directly involved in operations carried out in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. Each entry features the soldiers and officers’ pictures and personal details, including identification numbers and addresses … Soldiers listed include officers from the very top of the IDF hierarchy – Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and down to a sergeant in the infantry training program … The officers and soldiers aren’t quite sure how their details got into the website’s hands, but clarified that they were proud of their actions and happy to be included in the list.,7340,L-3986365,00.html

MK Dichter cancels participation in Madrid Coalition peace conference for fear of arrest
Member of Knesset Avi Dichter, former Head of Israeli General Security Services (GSS), recently canceled a trip to Spain, due to fear he would be detained or arrested by Spanish authorities for his involvement in alleged war crimes against Palestinians.

Violence / Incursions

Israeli troops raid Beni Naim school, east of Hebron
Hebron – PNN – Israeli forces raided the Abdullah bin Mas’ud school in Beni Naim township east of Hebron on Thursday morning. Local sources said surrounded and inspected the school and ransacked much of the furniture inside. The specific target of the raid was unclear. On the morning of the raid, Israeli troops set up military checkpoints and stopped passersby to check their identification at the main entrances to Hebron, including the northern Halhoul Bridge. This is the second day in a row such checkpoints have been set up. Raids and arrests have been occurring in Hebron for the past week.

Israeli forces close village looking for Molotov thrower
Israeli forces entered the Nablus-area village of Madama on Wednesday night, searching for young residents allegedly behind a Molotov cocktail-throwing incident earlier in the day. Member of the local village council Hasan Ziyadeh said that during the raid soldiers closed down the town, preventing residents from leaving their homes and searched several residential buildings under the cover of gunfire before detaining one man … An Israeli military spokeswoman said two Molotov cocktails were thrown toward a settler road in the area,

Stones injure Palestinian, Israeli drivers
A Palestinian and two Israelis were injured when vehicles were pelted with stones in separate incidents in the Jerusalem area on Tuesday night, Israeli radio reported. According to the report, a Palestinian man was hospitalized after his car was struck with stones near Israel’s Hizma military checkpoint northeast of Jerusalem. A Palestinian and two Israelis were injured when cars were showered with stones in several areas near Jerusalem. It was unclear who was responsible. Two Israelis were also mildly injured when stones were thrown at a bus traveling through East Jerusalem.

Israeli settlers’ violence report – September and October 2010
The following report highlights a drastic change in Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians, not only because of the increasing number of aggressions but also because of the evolution of the violence itself. In September and October 2009, only a few aggressions against Palestinian farmers – related to harvest, land and farming equipment – were reported. Yet approximately 22 incidents of this kind were reported this year for the same period. Even if this time of year is particularly violent in the West Bank due to the olive harvesting season, other notable changes can be observed this year.


Mortar shells from Gaza hit Israel, no injuries
Two mortar shells fired from Gaza landed in Israeli territory on Thursday, causing no injuries, the country’s army said, a day after an Israeli airstrike killed two brothers in the Palestinian enclave. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the shells landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, adjacent to Gaza. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.

Group reports clashes near Gaza border
The military wing of Islamic Jihad confronted an Israeli force entering the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, the group said. The Al-Quds Brigades said in a statement that its fighters launched mortar shells and live gunfire to turn back an Israeli force which crossed into Gaza via the Al-Qaraqa village north of Khan Younis in the southern strip. A number of soldiers were injured during the approximately 15-minute clash, according to the group, which reiterated its “right to resist Israeli aggression and affirmed the choice of resistance until the whole land is free.”


Israel may hold protester beyond sentence
BETHLEHEM — Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the anti-wall protester, was scheduled to be released Thursday after a 1-year prison term. But the military prosecution has filed a petition demanding to extend Abu Rahmah’s detention past the time he was sentenced. If the petition is accepted, Abu Rahmah will be kept in jail past his release date, and despite having served his sentence in full. Supporters said Wednesday that the detainee’s case will be heard at Ofter prison Thursday morning.

Eid without a father and husband / Evie Soli, ISM
An interview with the wives of Abdallah and Adeeb Abu Rahma — Al Eid is a holy time of the year for Muslims. Families gather and visit each other over the four holidays, which are for most a time for families to be together. When one member of the family is missing, it makes it hard to enjoy Al Eid in the same way. Thousands of families of Palestinian political prisoners are suffering because a family member is in prison. For Majida, wife of Abdallah Abu Rahma who has now been held for one year in Israeli jail under the accusation of ‘incitement’, every day without her husband is difficult.

Wa’el al Faqeeh released from Israeli prison
UPDATE | 17 November 2010: Wa’el al-Faqeeh was released from Israeli prison today and is back in his Nablus home. The International Solidarity Movement strongly condemned his arrest, which marked an escalation in Israeli targeting of Palestinian popular resistance leaders. Wa’el has been a irreplaceable grassroots organizer in the Nablus area and we are ecstatic that he has been released. He is back in Nablus and is ready to continue his reign as Chess champion. Please consider making a donation to help pay for his legal fees (see bottom of the post to donate) or visit the International Solidarity Movement donations page.

Journalists held after covering Safa village arson
Hebron – PNN – Israeli forces held a group of journalists who tried to cover Wednesday’s settler assaults in the village of Safa, near Hebron. Muhammad Ayad Awad, media spokesman for the Palestine Solidarity Project, said that troops detained a Palestine Television crew including Fada Nasir and Mahmoud Khilaf, as well as a group of solidarity activists. They were forbidden from taking pictures of the fire started in Safa by Israeli settlers from nearby Bat Ayin. The fire reportedly destroyed more than ten acres of olive and almond trees.According to Awad, the military’s explanation was that the burning acreage was a “closed military zone.”

Two arrested in Beit Awla west of Hebron
Hebron – PNN – On Wednesday, Israeli forces arrested two citizens of Beit Awla, a Palestinian village west of Hebron, and set up two military checkpoints at the city’s north and south entrances. Local sources said the troops arrested Hakim Muslim Firashat and confiscated his motorcycle, but the other arrested citizen has not been identified.

66-year-old sentenced to 6 months in jail
NABLUS – The Israeli military court Ofer has sentenced Yousef Aref Muhammad, 66, from Nablus to six months in prison. The detainees’ center reported that Muhammad was detained for opposing the occupation, and it was not his first time in prison.

Israel grants reprieve to former Fatah fighters
Israel granted a reprieve Wednesday to 75 members of Fatah’s now-dormant armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Palestinian sources said. The former guerrilla fighters were all in various stages of an amnesty process established by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Under the deal, the fighters agreed to hand in their weapons and serve time in prison, in return for Israel’s agreement not to arrest or kill them. Some of the men were granted the right to sleep in their own homes instead of a security compound where they were told to report under the amnesty deal. Others were granted full amnesty and a return to civilian life.

Siege / Restriction of movement / Humanitarian

Palestinian-Israelis flock to West Bank for Eid
The parks, zoo and playgrounds of northern West Bank cities Qalqiliya, Jenin and Tulkarem were overwhelmed with visitors from the Palestinian cities and towns in Israel over the Eid Al-Adha holiday, giving a boost to the local economy … In Jenin, the Hadad resort was full of visitors locally known as “48 Palestinians,” with Israeli residency or citizenship, prompting locals to wonder why. “When all we want is to be able to reach the shores of Lake Tiberias or the beach at Haifa, like we used to do on holidays, why are so many coming here?” one local visitor at the resort asked.

Israel opens 2 Gaza crossings
Israel decided to open the Kerem Shalom crossing point in order to allow cooking gas and other fuels into the blockaded Gaza Strip on Thursday. PA liaison official Raed Fattuh said the Karni crossing would also be opened to allow 130 trucks carrying wheat and feed for animals into Gaza.

Racism and discrimination / Israeli injustice system

This racist’s salary is paid for by our taxes / Didi Remez
This morning’s Maariv runs a 1,000-word teaser for a weekend magazine interview with Safed’s Chief Rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu. If the name doesn’t ring a bell you should read the full translation at the bottom of this post. If you’ve been following the latest bout of anti-Arab racism in Israel in general – particularly the consequences of the Rabbinical decree proscribing the rental of apartments to Palestinian-Israeli students – nothing in the article will surprise you. Like most other reporting to date, there’s something missing from the most extensive interview with this racist in recent weeks – the fact that he’s a senior civil-servant.

Safed rabbi to be suspended for inciting war between Jews and Arabs
Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman asked Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman on Wednesday to begin the process of immediate suspension of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu from his post as municipal rabbi of Safed. Braverman wrote Neeman that Eliyahu, whose salary is paid by public funds, has been conducting a campaign of racism against the Arabs for years.

Haaretz editorial: Racism under cover of the Torah
Not only are some rabbis not acting according to guidelines, they are using public bodies to incite, inflame passions and provoke divisiveness in Israeli society … The justice minister, the religious services minister and the mayors where these rabbis serve must warn them that they are abusing their positions and even suspend them if necessary. Otherwise, they too will bear responsibility for turning Israeli society into a tool in the hands of religious racist fanatics.

The lesser of many evils: plea bargain of Ameer Makhoul and the Israeli legal system
Advocate Hussein Abu Hussein spoke to the Haifa Arabic-language daily Al-Ittihad about the plea bargain that was reached by the state prosecutor and the defendant of Ittijah’s Executive Director Ameer Makhoul. … According to official Israeli statistics, the percentage of convicted defendants in criminal cases in Israel ranges between 96% and 99% of the cases. When compared to the same official statistics in the state of New York, for example, according to which in 50% of the criminal cases brought to court the defendant is found guilty, the figure in Israel seems irrational. Furthermore, a closer study of the Israeli statistics shows that the percentage of convicted Arab citizens of the state of Israel in criminal courts is much higher than that of Jewish citizens.

Israel’s Justice Ministry to probe claims of Shin Bet torture and abuse
…More than 650 complaints of abuse and torture of examinees by Shin Bet investigators have been turned over to the government’s legal advisers since 2001. According to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, in every one of these cases the Shin Bet’s internal examiner decided not to open a criminal investigation.

My flight out of Tel Aviv, with a $60 fee for an empty suitcase / Daoud Kuttab
For years I have succeeded to avoid it, but for some reason, I fell in the trap. I am not sure if my decision to fly out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport rather than my usual starting point of Amman’s Queen Alia Airport was to see if things might have changes or some crazy sadistic desire to suffer on the hands of the Israeli airport security.

Political/Diplomatic news

US official: Israel must refrain from East Jerusalem construction during freeze
18 Nov – Shas has said that it will oppose U.S. exchange offer if Jerusalem is included in the 90-day freeze; U.S. official: Whatever Netanyahu told Shas about Jerusalem is not true.

About half Netanyahu’s party against new freeze (dpa)
JERUSALEM – Around half of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 27-member parliamentary caucus have signed a petition rejecting a new temporary freeze on construction in West Bank settlements, Israeli media reported Wednesday.

Abbas briefed on US plan for new freeze (AFP)
David Hale, assistant to US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, briefed Abbas on details of the plan at a meeting [Wednesday] in the West Bank town of Ramallah, the Palestinian political capital, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said. It was the first time the Palestinians had been officially informed of details of the offer, which would grant Israel a package of diplomatic and security pledges in exchange for a fresh 90-day moratorium on new West Bank settlement building.

Abbas: We refuse any link between settlement freeze and arming Israel
Ramallah – PNN – Commenting on reports of an American deal circulated by Arab and international media, Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said on Thursday that Palestinians refused to be the means to further arm Israel.

Israel hopes to have US building freeze offer ‘soon’ (AFP)
JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes to receive written US commitments “soon” on incentives for a fresh freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, his office said Wednesday. Netanyahu “hopes to soon complete his contacts with the US administration,” his office said in a statement.

Netanyahu meets Yishai on freeze deal
Nov 17, 14:24 -Prime minister attempts to secure Shas’s support for freeze while rightists fight to protest before homes of ministers who refuse to take sides on issue,7340,L-3985944,00.html

Shas threatens Netanyahu
Nov 17, 21:01…The haredi party is demanding the exact details of housing construction to be permitted in Jerusalem during the moratorium in return for its support in the cabinet. Shas expects Netanyahu to present such details to the US and obtain its blessing — even if this is verbal alone. Shas is also demanding that Defense Minister Ehud Barak approve building in the West Bank immediately after the freeze period. Party representatives say that Barak has not signed any such permits since the current government was formed.,7340,L-3986263,00.html

Court asks why demos outside Shas MKs’ homes denied
The High Court of Justice on Thursday issued a show-cause order asking the state to explain why the police refused to grant a permit for a vigil outside the homes of Shas ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias. The petition was filed by attorney Itzhak Bam on behalf of Ro’i David Reeder, who wanted to hold a protest outside their homes to pressure them into voting in the security cabinet against the three-month building freeze on Jewish settlements and illegal outposts which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to impose.

Israel: Freeze deal with US nearly finalized
18 Nov – Government sources say Jerusalem, Washington close to agreement on American incentives package aimed at convincing hard-liners to back settlement construction moratorium. ‘Pressure on Bibi increasing daily,’ official says,7340,L-3986589,00.html

Poll: 51% of Israelis support renewing freeze
Over half of Israelis (51 percent) support an additional construction moratorium, according to a poll commissioned by the Knesset Channel, released Thursday. The survey also shows that 45% of the public oppose a freeze. In addition, 73% agree with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that any building freeze should not include Jerusalem.

Rightist rabbis back Lieberman for PM
In protest of freeze, rabbis dub Netanyahu a ‘fraud’, call on Shas not to abstain from vote ‘as in Oslo’,7340,L-3985825,00.html

Yaalon: Bibi taken captive by Barak
Rift between prime minister, deputy PM growing; Yaalon slams Bibi for ‘capitulating’ to US — Tensions between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his deputy Moshe (Bogi) Yaalon are “on the verge of explosion,” Likud sources say.,7340,L-3986152,00.html

IDF officers: Talks failure may cause Fatah collapse
IDF sources reportedly say Fatah government’s survival depends on peace talks’ progress … According to foreign reports, IDF military and intelligence officers warn that if no peace agreement is soon reached, the Fatah government may collapse, leaving the regime in the hands of Hamas – supported by Iran and Syria.,7340,L-3986210,00.html

Turkish ire is hurting Israel’s NATO ties / Amir Oren
To avoid angering the Turks, Israel has scrapped plans to take part in a NATO naval drill.

Other news

Israel grants PA 24-hour control of Nablus
NABLUS — Israel has transferred full security control of the West Bank city of Nablus, long considered a stronghold of Palestinian armed groups, to the Palestinian Authority, officials said Wednesday. Until recently, Western-backed PA troops controlled the city each day from sunup until midnight, when PA forces left their posts, allowing Israeli forces to operate freely in the city, raiding houses and arresting “wanted” Palestinians. From now on, if Israeli forces wish to invade the city, liaison officers from Israel’s Civil Administration will have to notify the PA and coordinate any operation in advance, Palestinian officials told Ma’an. Earlier on Wednesday, PA officials said their forces arrested Hamas members who were plotting to kill the governor of of Nablus, Jibrin Al-Bakri.

Al-Dhamiri denies Israeli reports of security transfer in Nablus
Brigadier-general and Palestinian military spokesman Adnan al-Dhamiri rejected recently leaked information from Israeli media, which claimed the security responsibility for the northern West Bank city of Nablus had been transferred to the Palestinian Authority … He said the Palestinian policy was to follow a 2000 agreement agreed upon under the Road Map to Peace.“We don’t deal piece by piece with the Israelis,” said al-Dhamiri … About the security arrangements, al-Dhamiri was brief. He said coordinating security with an occupier was “like coordinating between a prisoner and a guard.”

PA says it foiled Hamas plot to kill governor
NABLUS — Palestinian Authority forces arrested Hamas members who were plotting to kill the governor of the West Bank city of Nablus, Jibrin Al-Bakri, PA officials claimed Wednesday. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the group that hatched the alleged plot was based in Nablus with a network extending throughout the northern West Bank. PA forces raided the group’s headquarters, seizing weapons and cash, they said. The group were said to be members of Hamas’ armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, who were in direct contact with the Hamas-run government in Gaza.

Zahhar rebuts claim of attempted assassination of Nablus governor
GAZA, (PIC)– Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al Zahhar refuted Wednesday allegations by the Palestinian Authority security that his Movement was behind a plan to assassinate the mayor of the West Bank city of Nablus … Zahhar considered these claims as an attempt to justify Fatah faction’s escape from national reconciliation and continued abuse of Hamas supporters in the West Bank.

Haifa University bans Palestinian MK from campus event
MK Zoabi was scheduled to participate in a student Balad Party sponsored event at Haifa University Monday, focusing on the political situation over the past year, according to the Israeli news daily Haaretz. The students, who requested event permission in October and learned Sunday that Zoabi would not be allowed on campus, decided to hold the event anyway.

Half of Israelis don’t enlist or finish IDF service
Half of Israel’s citizens either don’t enlist in the IDF or fail to complete their army service, Army Radio reported on Thursday, quoting a report released by the IDF’s human resources department. According to the report, 67 % of those obligated to enlist in the IDF do so, a number that is expected to fall to 64 % by 2020.

Haniyeh: Christians share our pain, hope
Gaza-based Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday reiterated his government’s “moral and national commitment” to the Palestinian Christian community. During a meeting with Bishop Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Church, Haniyeh reaffirmed the unity of the Palestinian people and “especially that our Christian brothers are sharing our pain and hope.”

very odd
Suspicion: Anarchists torched field near settlement
Security forces detain 12 people, including seven foreigners for allegedly setting fire to field near Bat Ayin; 12 acres destroyed … The grove has been set on fire three times over the past few weeks by anarchists.,7340,L-3986648,00.html

A new bill threatens Reform, Conservative movements
Knesset pushes two more legislative pieces that would drive Israel further from democracy — ACRI, which sent a sharp letter regarding the bill to Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman, termed the bill as an attempt at political persecution by one side of another. Among the societies who may be hit by the law, it cautioned, are “The Reform movement, the Conservative movement, and other movements of Jewish pluralism; any organization supporting, in any way, full civil equality to minorities in Israel, even under a democratic regime; any organization supporting refugee rights, or work emigrants’ rights, or Palestinian rights (regarding their status in Israel); companies or societies supporting or carrying out activities on Shabbat; societies who support people who left religious life (hozrim b’sheela) or women trying to have an abortion; societies working for freedom from religion or for women’s rights in rabbinical courts, or for women’s prayer at the Western Wall with talis; human rights organizations who act for Palestinians’ rights in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza; organizations trying to carry out educational activity which engages in dialogue with ‘the other’, trying to understand its history and point of view; and many more … The Israeli media has given the bill absolutely no coverage.

UN pay strike closes Palestinian schools in West Bank (BBC)
A strike by UN workers in the West Bank has entered its second month, forcing Palestinian children out of school and leaving rubbish piling on the streets. Local staff of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) are demanding strike pay – for this strike and an earlier one. The agency runs camps and schools for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank.

Palestinians meet Golan Druze in makeshift soccer friendly
Palestinian soccer association was established 15 years ago, with long interruptions in between due to the security situation at various times.

UK center releases historic map of Palestine
LONDON – The Palestinian Return Centre in London held a seminar Friday to release an atlas of Palestine between 1917 and 1966. The project is the work of Professor Salaman Abu Sita, who used official documents and maps collected from German, French, Turkish and British archives to outline the history, landscape and geography of Palestine, a statement from the centre said. In a presentation attended by MPs, journalists and researchers, Abu Sita analysed the ongoing mechanism of expulsion which began in 1947, the centre said.

Scientists dig below Dead Sea for slice of Earth’s history (AFP)
JERUSALEM – An international team of scientists has begun drilling deep below the Dead Sea in an effort to extract material that could provide an unusual look at Earth’s history over the past 500,000 years … In an unusual example of regional coordination, the governments of Israel and Jordan, which lies on the east bank of the Dead Sea, as well as the Palestinian Authority are cooperating with the project, which is expected to run until the end of this year.

Analysis / Opinion / Reviews

With Netanyahu bribe, Washington going for broke / Jonathan Cook
So far, in attempting to resolve the conflict, Obama has nearly exhausted his political capital. There were intimations this week that the White House could not afford further humiliation and was going for broke … Washington’s hopeful logic is that a renewal of the freeze will be unnecessary in three months because an agreement on borders will already have established whether a settlement is to be considered included in Israel’s territory and therefore permitted to expand or inside Palestine and therefore slated for destruction.

Settlements are destroying Zionism / Ari Shavit
The right is loonier than ever and about to turn Israel into South Africa … The conclusion is unequivocal – if Israel wants to live it must release itself from the loony right’s stranglehold.

Review: The burden of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 2010, Adva Center
The Adva Center, an Israeli think tank dedicated to studying equality and social justice, recently published its second issue of a bi-annual report entitled, The Burden of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The report seeks to examine the costs of occupation on Israel in economic, social, military, political, and diplomatic terms and concludes that Israel would be richer socially and economically if it ended the occupation. In its own words,

Expert suggests sovereignty for Gaza as talks stall / Glenn Kessler
With Israeli-Palestinian peace talks mired in stalemate, someone has come up with a truly provocative idea: Give Gaza sovereignty. Gaza, of course, is the Palestinian enclave now run by Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist group. It is the subject of an Israeli quarantine and been largely forgotten as the Obama administration presses ahead with a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank.

Book Review: Mechanisms of state discrimination
State Practices and Zionist Images: Shaping Economic Development in Arab Towns in Israel, by David A. Wesley. 2008. This is a book of major importance by an Israeli anthropologist. It analyzes the relations between Jewish and Arab towns in the Galilee during the period 1992-1997 when an industrial area close to Nazareth called Zipporit was being developed. It also examines the role of central and local government bureaucracies in the planning process. Israeli bureaucracy is formidable in its ability to block development, but where the Arab minority is concerned there are additional factors at work.

Book review: An Israeli academic’s struggle against McCarthyism
The Israeli historian Ilan Pappé’s new memoir Out of the Frame (Pluto Press, London and New York, 2010) is subtitled “The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel.” This manages to link Pappé’s personal struggle against Israeli McCarthyism with a broader struggle for human and political rights of which “academic freedom” is merely one aspect.


Wednesday: 3 Iraqis killed
While the Eid al-Adha observances may still be cutting the number of reports, two significant stories did come out of Iraq today. In the first, President Talabani has taken a stand against executing Tariq Aziz. The second deals with the continuing problems of government formation. Only three casualties were reported today, all of them deaths.

Talabani against Aziz execution
Iraqi president says he will not sign execution order for Tariq Aziz, the former foreign minister under Saddam Hussein. “No, I will not sign the execution order for Tariq Aziz, because I am a socialist,” Talabani told French television France 24 in an interview on Wednesday.”I sympathise with Tariq Aziz because he is an Iraqi Christian. Moreover he is an old man who is over 70,” he said.

Other Mideast

Israel approves Ghajar pullout
Israel has approved a plan to withdraw troops from the northern half of a divided village that straddles the country’s border with Lebanon. The 15-member security cabinet of Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, passed the northern Ghajar pullout in a vote on Wednesday, but did not set a date … The village, which lies in a strategic corner where the boundaries between Syria, Israel and Lebanon meet, has already changed hands three times in the last century. Israel captured it from Syria in 1967 … as Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports, Israel is negotiating the agreement with the UN, without consulting Lebanon or the villagers themselves. The villagers are originally Syrian and feel no affiliation with Lebanon. Video:

‘Israel wants UN to declare it free of Lebanon border violations’ / Barak Ravid
Israel will ask the United Nations to announce that once the Israel Defense Forces withdraws from the northern section of Ghajar, it will no longer be in violation of the international border with Lebanon, a senior Israeli official told Haaretz Wednesday … Israel is seeking the UN’s official recognition to prevent Lebanese factions from raising further territorial demands, such as the future of the Shaba Farms area on Mount Dov.

Report: Unilateral land transfer angers villagers
Residents of a small village in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights told reporters they were furious on Wednesday, following a unilateral decision by the Israeli government to hand half of the town over to Lebanon.  [See photo with caption: “Family members watch an Israeli-Druse bride from the village of Buqata in the occupied Golan Heights. The bride walks through the buffer zone at the Kuneitra Crossing, manned by UNIFIL forces. Crossing over into Syria, the bride will not likely see her family again.” Also see film The Syrian Bride on this subject]

Israel finally leaves tiny village straddling Middle East’s political fault line / Donald Macintyre in Ghajar
…Yigal Palmor, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, insisted that there is “no intention” physically to divide the village, and that residents – most of whom have been Israeli citizens since the occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967 – have nothing to fear. “We hope to preserve their daily lives without any changes,” he added. But the assurances seem unlikely to satisfy residents, in the absence of direct guarantees or consultation.

Villagers protest Israeli withdrawal plan
(dpa) Residents of the southern border town of Ghajar have decided to protest the Israeli decision to withdraw from the northern part of the village, Lebanese media reported Wednesday. Local council representative Najib Khatib said in radio interviews that the entry of UN troops “into the northern part of the village will be over the corpses of its residents.”

War overshadows Eid al-Adha
RIYADH (AFP) — Muslims around the world on Tuesday marked Eid al-Adha with prayers and ritual sacrifices, but celebrations in some countries were overshadowed by war, natural disaster and soaring livestock prices. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, honours Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael on the order of God, who according to Islamic tradition provided a lamb in the boy’s place.

Amnesty: Egypt should probe torture death allegation
CAIRO (AFP) — Amnesty International said on Tuesday that Egypt should immediately investigate allegations that a teenager was killed in detention in the same district another man died after being beaten by police. Relatives of 19-year-old Ahmed Shabaan say he was tortured to death by police in the Sidi Gaber district in the port city of Alexandria and his corpse thrown into a canal.

Mass arrests ahead of Egyptian election (AFP)
CAIRO — Egyptian police have rounded up about 600 Muslim Brotherhood members ahead of this month’s parliamentary election and some 250 are still detained, a senior Brotherhood official said Tuesday.

Outspoken Egyptian blogger released
Kareem Suleiman freed after serving four-year sentence for his online writings about religion. — Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, reportedly the first blogger in Egypt to face trial for his online writings, has been freed from prison after being held 10 days beyond his intended release date.Suleiman, who was imprisoned for more than four years, has declined to speak publicly since he was released on Monday, according to the website of the campaign organised to support him.

U.S. and other world news

US activists face new repression
For decades the United States government has attempted to criminalize work in the Palestinian community in support of their national liberation cause. But in recent years this repression has increased dramatically. The Electronic Intifada spoke with the daughter of Sami al-Arian and the daughter of Ghassan Elashi — both political prisoners in the US — about the impact this repression has had on their families’ lives. And in an Electronic Intifada exclusive, Hatem Abudayyeh, an organizer and community leader whose home in Chicago was raided by federal agents on 24 September 2010, spoke to the press for the first time about his family’s story.

New York’s Muslims, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Israel / Alex Kane
Ever since Lawrence Swaim of the California-based Interfaith Freedom Foundation articulated his valuable insight to me that the question of Israel courses through Jewish-Muslim relations, I’ve been coming across stories that fit into that theme.  In general, strong support for Israel correlates with an aversion to understanding legitimate Palestinian, Arab and Muslim grievances about the United States and Israel, and given the dehumanization of Palestinians (the majority of them Muslims) that pervades Israeli and U.S. society, it’s no surprise that Israel is a big roadblock in Jewish-Muslim relations.  You have to place the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s opposition to Park 51 in lower Manhattan in that context.

Thanksgiving in Beirut / Maya Mikdashi
On November 25, people from across the United States will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving … Like all ideologically inflected nationalist myths, holidays such as Thanksgiving or Columbus Day both commemorate and mask the histories of violence that build and sustain nations. Such masking enables us to know that people lived on and were removed from the land but also allows us to disregard the fact that the descendants of those people still live in the reservations their ancestors were forced onto through acts of genocide. On November 25, people from across the United States will be, unwittingly or not, celebrating the ongoing success of settler colonialism.

Baiting a faith in Oklahoma / Micharl Gerson – WaPo
Just to be on the safe side, voters in Oklahoma this month overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that prevents the Talibanization of the Sooner State. Henceforth, there will be no public stonings in Ponca City, no forced burqa wearing in Bartlesville, no sharia law in Lawton. Even supporters of the referendum – which forbade state courts from considering sharia in their deliberations – admitted that the threat from Oklahoma’s 30,000 Muslims couldn’t be called “imminent.” “It’s not a problem and we want to keep it that way,” explains state Sen. Anthony Sykes. Sharia law, according to state Rep. Rex Duncan, is a “cancer that must be removed with a preemptive strike.”

Oklahoma Univ. student government votes to condemn Shariah law ban
NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma’s Undergraduate Student Congress on Tuesday condemned Oklahoma’s recent ban on international and Shariah law. With two members abstaining, the other 23 members of the Student Congress voted unanimously in favor of a resolution stating that the recent passage of State Question 755 hurts OU’s ability to function on the international stage and when recruiting international students.

Tanzanian cleared of terror charges in key Guantanamo trial (AFP)
NEW YORK – A Tanzanian man accused in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies was cleared of terror charges Wednesday, but could still face life in prison in a dramatic end to the first civilian trial of a former Guantanamo Bay inmate. A jury in New York federal court returned the surprise verdict after five days of deliberations, finding Ahmed Ghailani not guilty on all but one of 286 charges. He was found guilty only of conspiracy to destroy US property,

Hague’s Guantanamo plea overshadows Middle East talks / David Usborne in Washington
A day after announcing it was to pay millions in tax-payers’ money to compensate a group of 16 men who were detained and allegedly tortured by American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, the ][U.K.] Government last night implored the US to free the last Briton remaining there.

Britain to settle rendition torture case for millions
The British government will reportedly pay millions in compensation to seven British nationals who were unlawfully “rendered” to U.S.-run prisons and tortured with the cooperation of British intelligence. The British press is reporting that ministers and the security services appear to have decided that exposure of thousands of documents in open court was a risk they could not take.

The obstacles to reporting the truth about war / Serene Assir
The phenomenon of over-exposure with little or no interest in context and other aspects of ethical journalism is not the only problem that media workers and human rights activists have to face in the West. Other subjects are treated with complete silence. Among the topics highlighted by Arce and Diaz are Egypt’s increasingly powerful workers’ movement and the systematic violation of human rights in Syria. “Stories on Palestine are manipulated but at least the topic is now on the agenda,” said Arce. Meanwhile, Diaz added, “The list of issues that never make it into Western media is long and varied.

Eisenhower on the opportunity cost of defense spending
Dwight David Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Apr. 16, 1953: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat….”

Michael Bloomberg and New York’s Muslims: a lesson in how Israel courses through

Jewish-Muslim relations

Nov 18, 2010

Alex Kane


gaza bloomberg

(Protesters throw shoes at a portrait of Mayor Michael Bloomberg after the mayor’s trip to Israel while Operation Cast Lead raged on. PHOTO: Zahra Hankir)

Ever since Lawrence Swaim of the California-based Interfaith Freedom Foundation articulated his valuable insight to me that the question of Israel courses through Jewish-Muslim relations, I’ve been coming across stories that fit into that theme. In general, strong support for Israel correlates with an aversion to understanding legitimate Palestinian, Arab and Muslim grievances about the United States and Israel, and given the dehumanization of Palestinians (the majority of them Muslims) that pervades Israeli and U.S. society, it’s no surprise that Israel is a big roadblock in Jewish-Muslim relations. You have to place the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s opposition to Park 51 in lower Manhattan in that context.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy reporting on how Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City is perceived by the Muslim community here–which is at about 800,000 strong–in the wake of Bloomberg’s admirable defense of the mosque and community center near Ground Zero. (The fruits of my labor are here at the Gotham Gazette.) A lot of different issues came up in my discussions with Muslim community leaders in New York City, but Bloomberg’s staunch support for Israel came up in a number of interviews. Bloomberg’s role in not standing up for Debbie Almontaser, the founding and former principal of the city’s first dual-language Arabic school who was felled by a right-wing smear campaign, also had something to do with Israel, as Kiera Feldman points out in this excellent article. Bloomberg’s relationship with the Muslim community is one prominent symbol of the role Israel plays in the challenge of forging strong Jewish-Muslim solidarity, all the more important in a time of rising Islamophobia that bears many of the same hallmarks that characterized anti-Semitism.

In early 2009, around the same time that the massacre of the al-Samouni family occurred in Gaza, Mayor Bloomberg flew in to Israel on his private jet along with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelley and Representative Gary Ackerman. Bloomberg went to Sderot, the Israeli town that saw many rockets from Gaza rain down, and laid the blame for the Israeli assault on Hamas: “That they are putting people at risk is an outrage. If Hamas would focus on building a country instead of trying to destroy another one, then those people would not be getting injured or killed.”

This trip enraged the Arab and Muslim community in New York City. Shortly after Bloomberg’s trip, Palestine solidarity activists organized a rally outside of City Hall, throwing shoes at a portrait of Bloomberg.

“His relationship with Israel, supporting Israel with no limits, hurts us,” Zein Rimawi, a member of the New York City-based Arab Muslim American Federation, recently told me. “Don’t forget: We are Arabs, we are Muslims, and the people in Gaza are Arabs and Muslims and we support them.”

Bloomberg made many New York Muslims happy with his defense of Park 51. But Israel looms large, and it’s obvious that his disregard for the suffering of the people in Gaza dealt substantial damage to his relationship with the New York City Muslim community. Take the relationship between Bloomberg and Muslims as a lesson that those interested in forming stronger Jewish-Muslim coalitions must deal with the question of Israel. Fighting Islamophobia and the right-wing Zionist project of expelling Palestinians from their historic homeland depends on strong Jewish-Muslim solidarity.

Alex Kane blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the United States at, where this post originally appeared.  Follow him on Twitter here.

Hasan’s dilemma

Nov 18, 2010

James North


Despite the efficiency of crime labs in TV dramas, or the storied deductions of Sherlock Holmes, law enforcement officials will tell you that most criminals are caught by informants. This truth extends to international terrorism. The recent effort to place explosives on cargo aircraft headed to the United States was apparently foiled by a tip-off. A year ago, the underwear bomber was actually turned in by his own father, but the U.S. embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, failed to take proper action.

Former CIA operative Robert Baer published a memoir some years ago, See No Evil, (which was part of the basis for the 2005 film Syriana). Baer includes a tantalizing portrait of one of his best informants, who he calls Hasan, a man who walked into the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1987 and offered to help.

Hasan risked his life by actually joining Hizballah, and passing information to Baer at clandestine safe spots around Beirut. At their first meeting, Baer had asked him why he decided to meet with the CIA. “I can’t stand the murder of innocent people,” he replied. “What Hizballah does is wrong.”

Hasan’s actions cry out for more explanation, but Baer unfortunately drops the subject. Hasan must have lived with an intense internal struggle. On the one hand, his human, ethical beliefs, quite probably based on his Muslim religion and culture, prompted him to repudiate Hizballah’s hostage-taking and violence. On the other, American warships regularly shelled his city, and America’s ally, Israel, had invaded his nation a few years earlier, bringing death and destruction.

No doubt Hasan’s agonizing dilemma is played out today in many parts of the world. You are living, say, in a suburb of Karachi, or in Jeddah, or in Britain. You notice suspicious activity by relatives, or neighbors. You are uncomfortable. You turn on your television. First, you see a speech by President Barack Obama, reassuring you that America does not regard Islam as the enemy.

Then, the latest news from Palestine. Occupying Israeli soldiers shoot and kill nonviolent demonstrators, and uproot olive groves.

Next, you learn that hateful people in America are willing to violate the U.S. Constitution to block the construction of a peaceful mosque in downtown Manhattan.

But you also see film footage about the Mavi Marmara, with people from all over the world, including some Israelis, willing to risk (and lose) their lives to help Gaza.

The suspicious activity continues around you. What will you do?

Protesting the Hebron Fund, I remember a long afternoon at a segregated swimming hole

Nov 18, 2010

Seán O’Neill


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(Protesters in New York. Photo: Vanissa W. Chan)

Hebron Fund held its annual fundraiser in New York Tuesday night. A report from O’Neill, a former member of Christian Peacemaker Teams in the South Hebron Hills, who attended the protest:

I was just leaving Hebron’s Old City one day in August 2009 when a friend of mine, Hamzi, invited me to go swimming. 

He and a few other guys were going for a dip in Abraham’s Well, an ancient spring located in Tel Rumeida, essentially the only neighborhood in the West Bank city where Palestinians and Israeli settlers physically encounter one another on a daily basis.

Whereas in the Old City a complex system of barricades, roadblocks, and checkpoints keeps Palestinians caged in and under the settlement pockets, in Tel Rumeida there is some level of mutual access, albeit unequal and under the watchful eye of Israeli soldiers.

It was a hot, sticky day, and the thought of taking a dip in the cool undeground waters of Abraham’s Well sounded superb.  After a long circuitous route, unable to cross Shuhada St., Hebron’s main thoroughfare banned from use by Palestinians, we reached an olive grove just above the well.  In our enthusiasm, we didn’t notice the four Israeli soldiers sitting above it until they came running, screaming at us, rifles aimed in our direction.  Hamzi explained that we were just on our way down to swim.  The soldiers replied that there were a couple Jewish girls there swimming, so we’d have to wait.  We began to sit down in the shade of the olive tree next to the soldiers when a soldier began yelling again, shooing us with his free hand, indicating that we were too close. 

“He acts like were dogs,” Hamzi muttered to himself as we moved back a few trees. 

Occasionally we would crane our necks over the terraced rocks to see if the girls were leaving yet.  Noticing this, the soldier berated us again, instructing us to face the other direction, so as not to offend the young women, who by now, done swimming, were having a picnic next to the well.  Hamzi and the others stared for a moment, absorbing this latest humiliation, before turning away, powerless.  We sat there for about an hour in the midday heat, sweating profusely, debating whether it was worth the wait.  Finally one of us, sneaking a look, noticed the girls leaving.  We jumped up happily and asked the soldiers if we could now swim. 

“No,” one said.  “There’s someone else coming.”  Indeed, two young Jewish boys had now approached the well and began to disrobe.

“But we’ve been here over an hour,” Hamzi protested.  “It’s a hot day.  If we have to wait for every Jew in Hebron to swim we’ll never get a turn.” 

“Maybe not,” the soldier said, matter-of-factly.

And so we left, hot and irritated.  There wasn’t a physical attack or a home bulldozed.  No one was arrested or tear gassed.  Just another of the thousand daily humiliations that is apartheid Hebron.  That was the last day I was in Hebron, and the last time I saw Hamzi, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  Shortly thereafter I flew home for a visit and returning a month later discovered I had been banned from re-entry.

Tuesday night in New York was windy, cold and dark, a far cry from that blistering day in August.  Strange in a way to think that the men in women in suits and gowns at Chelsea Piers making their way to a dinner cruise on the Hudson River had any connection at all to that conflicted place thousands of miles away.  Hamzi and some 160,000 Palestinians in Hebron settled down to bed after celebrating another Eid al Adha in the grip of a suffocating occupation. 

Here in New York husbands and wives and their families parked their cars and walked breezily past the indoor soccer fields to a feast of their own, making tax-exempt donations to bankroll Hamzi’s oppression.  Tuesday night was the annual dinner of the Hebron Fund, founded in 1979 to raise money for the Hebron settlements.  According to the Washington Post, the Hebron Fund and similar organizations have donated $33.4 million since 2004 to the settlement enterprise.  Settlements, keep in mind, are illegal according to international law. 

This year’s dinner, held on a boat, was styled as the Hebron Aid Flotilla, a perverse celebration of the murder of nine human rights activists by Israeli commandos on the flotilla to Gaza this past May.

The event, however, did not go unnoticed.  A couple hundred people gathered at the piers’ entrance in not one, but two protests.  On the one hand was a coalition of Palestinian, Jewish, and anti-occupation groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Women in Black, Code Pink, and Adalah NY, among others.  They stood in a mostly silent vigil with signs reading “End the Siege of Hebron”, “Remove the Settlers”, and “Free Gaza”. 

On the other, about 40 feet away, was a protest staged by J Street U, the college branch of the advocacy group which styles itself as pro-Israel, pro-peace.  They held Israeli flags and lamented the settlements as an obstacle to a two-state solution.  A participant in the J Street protest, Moriel Rothman said of the two protests, “I think that we’re working in parallel.  Ultimately we probably want similar things but have different tactics in how to get there.”

An attendee of the fundraiser, who chose to remain anonymous, brushed the protests off, saying, “If you look at the amount of energy that goes into protesting Jewish misconduct, it is disproportionate.  The world holds Jews to a higher standard.”  He added, referring to the Jewish protesters, “They are introspective.  You very seldom see that amongst the Palestinians.”

My first thought at seeing the two different protests was one of dismay.  Had the ideology of separation reared its ugly head even here, among the dissenters?  On second thought however, in a context in which meaningful dissent has been muffled for so long, a bit of pluralism may not be bad.  The groups didn’t agree on tactics, or symbols, or what a solution to the conflict will look like.  However, if there is an emerging consensus that the Hebron settlements, at least, are beyond the pale, that on a hot summer day Palestinian residents shouldn’t have to navigate around Jew-only roads to find that the well is closed to Arabs, that just might be progress.

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