Archive | November, 2010



November 27, 2010 

by Bob Nichols 

Soldiers, Ours, Theirs, Civilians:  It makes NO Difference!

(San Francisco) – American Expeditionary Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan use only the best weapons money can buy and American ingenuity can dream up. For twenty years that meant weaponized uranium poison gas and aerosols, a.k.a. “DU,” according to the Pentagon, weapons contractors, university weapons researchers and the political leadership of the United States.


Abrams Tank firing 120mm Gun - Defense Industry Daily

Abrams Tank firing 120mm Gun – Defense Industry Daily

Were they Right or Wrong? Not all military officers, experts and politicians agree.  They say there are weapons and systems that shoot farther, faster and more accurately than the weaponized uranium oxide rounds, shells, missiles and bombs. 

It makes no difference. Uranium is unique and it gets the nod from American leaders every time. Over twenty years of uranium warfare, with no end in sight, hundreds of thousands of tons of uranium oxide munitions ended up as uranium smoke, dust and shrapnel in Iraq. 

It makes no difference, it is all still in Iraq or on Earth somewhere; it did not go to the moon. 

It makes no difference to weaponized uranium poison gas whether it is shot, fired or dropped. Even just burned up in giant multi-billion Dollar ammo dump fires; the lethal aerosols are still circulating in the air, maiming and killing the enemy. Uranium oxide is the metal that burns at the drop of a hat or an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) round, in the cases of the big ammo dumps. 

It depends on your point of view whether or not this is good or a problem. The Pentagon says the uranium weapons are not a problem and that uranium shrapnel is heavy and falls to earth within 50 meters of where it strikes. 

Lawyers who are specialists in the International Law of Armed Conflict, War Crimes Law to the rest of us, say the uranium smoke, dust and shrapnel must be able to be turned off when the battle is over. 

Too bad. Uranium gas is a radioactive and electrically charged poison forever. No way uranium smoke can be “turned off.” There is no getting around that. Four Presidents said, in effect, “Go for it, anyway.” The Pentagon did just that. Nuremberg war crimes trials be damned. 

Here’s just the Pentagon’s list of uranium penetrators in 2002 as compiled by Colonel Wakayama: 

Depleted Uranium (DU) Munitions

COL J. Edgar Wakayama


Depleted Uranium (DU) Munitions

The following ammunition contains DU cartridge penetrators: 

A675       MK149     20mm
A676       MK149     20mm
A986       M919       25mm
A983       PGU-20   25mm
A979       PGU-20   25mm
B102       PGU-14    30mm
B103       PGU-14    30mm
B117       PGU-14    30mm
B128       PGU-14    30mm
C523       M774       105mm
C524       M833       105mm
C543       M900      105mm
C783       M827       120mm (Not fielded)
C786       M829       120mm
C380      M829A1   120mm
C792       M829A2  120mm 

Major Doug Rokke, US Army Ret., was the theater wide Health Physics Officer working for General Norman Schwarzkopf during the First Gulf War and then was the Director of the Pentagon’s Depleted Uranium Study in 1995-1996. 

Major Rokke is characteristically more blunt: “Uranium weapons are killing our own troops.” 

Meanwhile, take your guess as to why successive Administrations chronically underfund the vital services provided as a part of the historical promise of a “grateful country” to US Veterans. Then, as a result, some of the men and women in Congress “try” to “fight” for Veterans’ programs. 

How to Kill Off an American Army.

Let’s make this real simple. Veterans  costs big money; dead soldiers do not.  If US uranium oxide weapons maim and kill US Troops and Vets; then the government’s Veterans’ costs go way down. 

To save big money, the Pentagon’s own weapons would have to kill hundreds of thousands of Vets “before their time.” Is this the situation we are faced with here? 

To make sure this was the actual situation, I called uranium munitions experts and asked if the Pentagon, or the eight Nuclear Weapons Labs like Livermore Nuke Lab, had worked on, developed or perfected a way to make American Troops immune to uranium radioactive poison gas and aerosols. 

Pissed Off, Dying Soldiers a whole ‘nother thing.

“No. Absolutely not. Uranium maims and kills across the board, no matter who you are,” I was told in no uncertain terms. 

There you have it. If You or someone you know is one of the one million Vets and Soldiers with boots on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan now, or in the past 20 years – Iraq is a Self Cleaning Oven using hot, radioactive poison gas and you are on the long  list of Crispy Critters. The US Government decided you were a “throw away soldier” a long time ago. 

“Fuck You All,” from American “leaders.”

That’s a “twofer” for the smart ass “above our pay grade” types. First, US Soldiers do the dirty, filthy, dangerous work of nuclear war and dispose of the Iraqis and other troublesome civilians who happen to live in Central Asia. 

Second, the obliging US Soldiers – “grunts” – die an early and painful death; killed by their own uranium munitions, tortured internally by radiation that turns their insides to “mush” and praying to the Goddess Morphine for drug based relief that never comes. 

How do the Perps in Congress, the Executive Branch and the Pentagon kill off a loyal, patriotic American Army? Simple. The faithful, courageous Troops are trapped in a circular firing squad with their own uranium munitions. Ready. Aim. Fire! 

Bob Nichols is a Project Censored Award winner, a correspondent for the San Francisco Bay View newspaper and a frequent contributor to various online publications. He reports on war, politics and the two nuclear weapons labs in the Bay Area. Nichols is writing a book based on 20 years of nuclear war in Central Asia. He is a former employee of an Army Ammunition Plant. You are encouraged to write Nichols at 

Copyright 2010 – Bob Nichols. Feel free to distribute with attribution and Notes. Sources and Notes are an integral part of the article. Include when distributing. Your Comments are your Comments and are in the public domain. 

Sources and Notes:

Ecological Development Biology: Intergrating Epigenetics, Medicine and Evolution Scott F. Gilbert and David Epel, December 2008, 459 pages, 182 illustrations, Sinauer 

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7 November 2010


Petition to Israeli Supreme Court: the Knesset’s Revocation of MK Haneen Zoabi’s Parliamentary Privileges is Illegal and must be Cancelled

(Haifa, Israel) Today, 7 November 2010, Member of Knesset (MK) Haneen Zoabi (National Democratic Assembly-Balad), Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of Israel against the Knesset’s decision to revoke her parliamentary privileges for her participation in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2010.

Representing the petitioners, Adalah General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen argued that the Knesset exceeded its power and acted against the Law of Immunity of MKs, which prohibits the Knesset from harming the rights of MKs for their political activity. The Knesset relied on the wrong legal assumption, namely that immunity does not protect the MK from the Knesset itself but only protects the MK’s political activity from the intervention of the executive branch (i.e., from criminal indictment by the Attorney General).

In addition, the petitioners argued that revoking MK Zoabi’s rights will create a dangerous precedent that allows the majority’s representatives to punish the minority’s representatives for political activity with which they disagree. This precedent might shake the foundations of the right of political freedom of expression and the right to be equal of the minority’s representatives in the Knesset.

The process of revoking MK Zoabi’s rights began with the submission of a motion by MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) to the Knesset House Committee to revoke the parliamentary privileges of six Arab MKs including MK Zoabi because of their travel to Libya with the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel in April 2010. MK Ben Ari claimed that these Arab MKs are “traitors” and a “fifth column”.

This process ended with the revocation of the MK Zoabi’s rights until the end of the current 18th Knesset for her participation in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. On 7 June 2010, the Knesset House Committee decided to revoke three of MK Zoabi’s parliamentary privileges, under its authority pursuant to Article 13 of the Law of Immunity of Knesset Members, Their Rights and Their Duties – 1951: (1) privileges in overseas travel enjoyed by MKs; (2) her diplomatic passport; and (3) the right for the Knesset to cover her legal fees should her immunity be revoked for the purposes of criminal prosecution. On 13 July 2010, the 120-seat Knesset plenum voted 34 in favor and 16 against to approve the House Committee’s decision.

The petitioners described the incitement against MK Zoabi in the Knesset after her participation in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which led to the revocation of her rights. The House Committee’s decision followed several stormy sessions in the Knesset during which MK Zoabi was branded by fellow Israeli Jewish parliamentarians as a “terrorist” and “traitor,” and subjected to racist and overtly sexist remarks, as well as physical threats.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a multilateral political organization based in Geneva that brings together 155 national parliaments including the Israeli Knesset, denounced the Knesset’s decision on the grounds that it violates a parliamentarian’s freedom of expression rights, and called on the Chair of the Knesset to cancel this decision.

The petitioners argued that there is no legal basis for the decision. In deciding to revoke MK Zoabi’s parliamentary privileges, the Knesset House Committee relied on a decision delivered by Justice Aharon Barak 25 years ago, with which two justices, Justices Shamgar and Ben Porat disagreed. According to Justice Barak, the MK’s immunity does not protect him from the Knesset itself but solely protects him from the intervention of the executive branch.

However, as Attorney Jabareen argued in the petition, the Knesset ignored two later court decisions delivered by Justice Barak in which he clarified his earlier decision. In the later decisions, he stated that a parliamentarian’s immunity applies to his every political action and that the main goal of this immunity is to protect the minority from the majority, except in internal matters of the Knesset, such as violating the ethics or internal regulations of the Knesset.

As the petitioners argued, it is clear that MK Zoabi’s participation in the flotilla does not fall under the internal workings of the Knesset. Even the Chair of the Knesset, MK Reuven Rivlin stated before the Knesset House Committee at the time that they are not allowed to punish MK Zoabi for her participation in the flotilla; that the committee is authorized only to revoke the privileges of MKs when they violate the Knesset’s ethical rules or internal regulations, which is not relevant in this case.

The petitioners warned that the Knesset’s decision not only endangers the status of the Arab minority’s representatives in the Knesset but also it legitimizes the racist incitement against the Arabs in Israel in general. The purpose of parliamentary immunity, which was not considered by the Knesset, is to prohibit such situations.


The Petition (Hebrew)

For more information, see:






French firm Veolia reported to drop out of E. Jerusalem rail project under int’l pressure

If you’re going to cite Arabs re Iran in Wikileaks, why not re ‘Israel causing U.S. to lose Muslim hearts and minds’?

Nov 29, 2010

Philip Weiss


NPR just aired an exchange between Robert Segal and the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg over the fact that Wikileaks cables show that Arab governments want to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

I don’t doubt the cables; though when Goldberg says that the Arab governments perceive an “existential threat” from Iran, just as Israel does, I don’t trust him a lick. Goldberg told us that Saddam had links to Al Qaeda and helped get us into the Iraq debacle.

The answer to this hasbara (and it is hasbara: efforts by the Israel lobby, including former IDF soldier Goldberg, to gain cover for a militarist agenda; note that AIPAC is tweeting the news) is, If you are going to quote Arab government opinions, how can you be so selective?

Arab governments want to end the oppression of Palestinians so that the region can escape this neverending conflict. And the centrality of the Palestinian issue to Arab governments is underlined by two of the Wikileaks cables. In fairness, NPR should be doing reports on these cables:

1. Feb. 14, 2010 meeting of John Kerry and the Amir of Qatar.

The Amir advised the U.S. to continue trying to open a dialogue with the Iranian leadership. He also told Senator Kerry the U.S. needs to tell the Israelis they are causing the U.S. to lose the hearts and minds of Muslims. There was a time, such as during the Suez Canal crisis, when the Arabs loved the Americans and disliked the British and French, he said.

39. (C) Senator Kerry asked the Amir how the U.S. goes about changing its reputation. The Amir said first and foremost the U.S. must do everything in its power to find a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the best way to begin is by moving first on the Syrian track.

40. (C) The Chairman of the SFRC [Senate Foreign Relations Committee] said he expects a genuine effort by the President this year on an agreement and expressed his hope that Iranian issues would not complicate matters.

2. Dec. 31, 2007 meeting of Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Soliman with American congressmen and diplomats:

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the core issue; Soliman contended a peaceful resolution would be a “big blow” to terrorist organizations that use the conflict as a pretext.”

P.S. More Arab opinion:

Arab governments opposed Partition in 1947. FDR promised the King of Saudi Arabia that Arab governments would be consulted, but in the end, their opinions were trashed; and the State Department warned that establishing a Jewish state would mean no end of war in the region. The State Department was right. It was not a good idea not to consult the Arab governments.

The Arab governments said in 2002 that if Israel returned to the 67 lines, they would accept Israel’s existence. The U.S. has basically ignored this initiative even as it serves as Israel’s lawyer in the failed peace negotations.

Clinton ‘tore the fabric’ herself long before we ever heard of Wikileaks

Nov 29, 2010

Kathleen Galt


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to the latest Wikileaks release was shaky and full of holes at best. Hypocritical is more like it. Clinton stated “Let’s be clear. This disclosure is not just an attack on America — it’s an attack on the international community.” Such leaks, “tear at the fabric” of responsible government.

“There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people, and there is nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations,” Clinton said at the State Department news conference.

Former Senator Clinton thinks that we all have short memories. Senator Clinton voted for the 2002 Iraq war resolution. Knowing according to former IAEA weapons inspector Scott Ritter and others that Iraq had been required to eliminate its nuclear weapons program in the 90’s, Clinton had a damn good idea that the intelligence that the Bush administration put forth was highly questionable. Secretary Clinton, votes like yours tore and “tear at the fabric” of our government. How dare she pretend to be concerned about “endangering innocent people.”

Along with Clinton’s 2002 vote for the Iraq war resolution, there are many more decisions based on a “pack of lies” that have been tearing at the “fabric of our government.”

Just to name a few of those “tears in the fabric” of our government:

A 2000 Supreme Court judicial coup selecting the Bush administration, ignoring terrorism warnings from counter terrorism expert Richard Clarke, 9/11, invasion of Iraq based on a “pack of lies”, rewriting torture laws, torture, protection of that torture (Republicans, Nancy “impeachment is off the table” Pelosi, and now the Obama, Holder administration continuing to let the Bush administration off the hook), hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq, hundreds of thousands injured, millions displaced, American soldiers dead and injured (some of them for life) the complete lack of accountability for these crimes. 

That is what has torn and continues to “tear at the fabric of government.” And many people in our country and around the world who want to believe in the rule of law are now hanging on by the threads.

WikiLeaks docs expose Egyptian complicity with Israeli war crimes (again)

Nov 29, 2010

Alex Kane


One of the most striking things that I took away from my time in Egypt last winter was the extent to which the U.S.-backed Mubarak dictatorship goes to squash public dissent on their government’s Gaza policy. Swarms of riot police encircled countless peaceful protests calling on the Egyptian government to let activists part of the Gaza Freedom March into Gaza, and Egyptian police beat and injured activists part of the march. During the marchers’ standoff with the Mubarak regime, the Egyptian government was exposed as being collaborators in the Israeli blockade of Gaza, something that deeply upsets ordinary Egyptians and led to Mubarak getting hammered in the Arab press.

Egypt is being exposed once again as complicit in Israeli crimes, thanks to the over 250,000 documents the whistle blowing websiteWikiLeaks released yesterdayThis revelation–that Israel consulted with Egypt and Fatah in the run up to the brutal Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-09–is decidedly more explosive than the very public complicity of the Egyptian government in the siege of Gaza.

Ha’aretz reports:

In a June 2009 meeting between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and a U.S. congressional delegation, Barak claimed that the Israeli government “had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas.”

Egypt said no to the proposition, but the document shows that Egypt (and Fatah, but that’s for another post) had advance knowledge of Operation Cast Lead and could have stopped it. Instead, Mubarak was silent, the criminal assault went on, and some 1,400 Palestinians died because of it, the vast majority of them civilians.

Alex Kane blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the U.S. at  Follow him on Twitter

7-year-old assaulted, 15-year-old detained and father of 3 taken from home under cover of night

Nov 29, 2010



And other news from Today in Palestine:

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

Arab League denounces home demolitions
CAIRO (Ma’an) — The Arab League on Saturday denounced Israel’s recent escalation in demolitions of Palestinians homes across the West Bank.  In a statement, Assistant Secretary-General of the Arab League for Palestine Mohammad Subeih said Israel’s attacks on Palestinians exceeded the racism of the apartheid regime of South Africa, and called on human rights organizations to intervene. 

VIDEO: Israel pulls down West Bank mosque
Palestinians say troops have demolished mosques and several other structures in two areas in the occupied territory.

Israel to build 625 settlement units east of O. Jerusalem
Director of maps and survey center at the Orient House Khalil Tufakji revealed that Israel intends to build 625 new housing units in Pisgat Ze’ev settlement in east Jerusalem.

East Jerusalem housing gets preliminary OK (AP)
AP – Israel gave preliminary approval Monday for 130 new apartments in disputed east Jerusalem, the area the Palestinians want as the capital of their hoped-for state.*

U.N.: ‘The family has requested a tent as they have nowhere else to live’ (US: ‘What, me worry?’), Philip Weiss
A friend just sent me a summary of a comprehensive report being circulated inside the U.N. that details the latest house demolitions by Israel. They are not just in the Jordan Valley, as earlier reports suggested, but all over the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Below is the roundup in my friend’s paraphrase. Note the disputed claims in illegally-occupied territory that are always resolved in Jewish settlers’ favor, even on the Mount of Olives. This little list from 4 or 5 days of demolitions and evictions gives a real feel for the enormity of what is taking place daily. 

IOA expels Palestinian families from their homes in OJ
The IOA forcibly evicted a number of families from their apartments in a building in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem, media sources in the holy city reported on Monday.

Fatah official issued deportation order
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Fatah official Adnan Gheith said Israel issued him a military order Sunday to leave Jerusalem for four months.  Gheith described the order as “provocative and illegal” and said an Israeli commander told him he had two weeks to appeal the decision. 

Erekat: Christmas came early for Bethlehem settlers
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The chief PLO negotiator said Monday that Christmas had arrived early for residents of a settlement built on land owned by Bethlehem but considered Jerusalem by Israel.  In a statement, Saeb Erekat condemned the approval of 130 housing units in the illegal Gilo settlement, saying Israel had “begun its annual tradition of ‘Christmas gifts’ to the people of Bethlehem.”  He added: “Last year’s ‘gift’ was the expansion of Har Homa, also on Bethlehem’s land. Apparently, every December, Israel pushes on its agenda to further isolate Bethlehem from occupied East Jerusalem.”

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Non Violent Demos in Bil’in and Ni’lin Attacked by Israeli Troops
Dozens of people suffered tear gas inhalation during the weekly nonviolent protests against the Wall and Settlements in the West Bank Villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin, near Ramallah, on Friday; no arrest were reported. 

The 8th Week Against the Apartheid Wall – From Argentina to Australia, a Worldwide Call for the Wall to Fall!
Nov 28, 2010– This year’s Week Against the Apartheid Wall came against the backdrop of another round of peace talks doomed to failure, where once again the negotiators give the Israeli Occupation a free hand in dictating terms which would allow it to sustain its racist and illegal practices. 

International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian people
On the occasion of the Palestinian Partition Plan and the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian people, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi calls for recognition of a Palestinian state after years of struggle.  Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative called for the recognition of the Palestinian state after several years that have passed, and after the Palestinian Partition Plan which only resulted with the establishment of the Israeli state on the occupied Palestinian territories and did not comply with the creation of a Palestinian state.

Hebron declared free of settlement produce
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Hebron’s governor Kamil Hmeid announced Sunday that the southern West Bank city is now free of settlement produce.  Hmeid made the announcement at a ceremony in his office attended by representatives of Palestinian Authority ministries, security services and civil society organizations. 

#BDS: Dublin Food Co-Op passes Israeli boycott motion
Last night at a Special General Meeting, members of the Dublin Food Co-Op voted overwhelmingly to boycott Israeli goods. This was the third attempt over the last 2 years to bring in a boycott of Israeli goods. Previous attempts failed to reach consensus or when put to a vote failed to reach the required 75%. Last night the mood was clearly in favour with a final tally of 50 for to about 6 against. 

#BDS: Irish Groups Continue Supporting BDS
Members of Ireland’s Dublin Food Co-Op voted overwhelmingly to boycott Israeli goods at a Special General Meeting on 25 November. This was the third attempt over the last 2 years to bring in a boycott of Israeli goods, reported the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and this time the motion finally passed with 50 in support, and only 6 against.  The Dublin Food Co-op, which was formed in 1983 and is based “on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity,” had in the past an unwritten policy not to stock or sell Israeli produce, though some member were doing so anyway. 

#BDS: Another BDS Victory: Queensland Council of Unions Carries BDS Campaign Motion
The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) calls upon the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Australian Labour Party (ALP) to show genuine support for a two – state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict based on each other’s right to exist and live in peace within secure borders in accordance with UN resolutions and international law.

#BDS: “The Last Supper” Cancels Israel Show
This week features lots of interesting music; Canadian rock group “The Last Supper” are performing tonight and tomorrow, after they cancelled their show in West Jerusalem which was scheduled for later this week.

#BDS: Flashmob: AHAVA not for me!: Video

Israeli protesters to the Cape Town Opera House: ‘We believe that today Tel Aviv is a kind of ‘Sun City”

OSLO (EJP)—One hundred famous Norwegians, led by the country’s national football coach, have signed a petition demanding a cultural and academic boycott of Israel, accusing its educational institutions of “playing a key role in the occupation” and equating it with apartheid. 

Crossing the Line: Inside the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall
Not ironically, the biggest problem for the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall is organizing. With no functional leadership and no place to meet, they come together in Tel Aviv at vaguely agreed-upon times for bouts of organic, decentralized discourse and then disperse in borrowed cars and bicycles. The only reliable place to find the Anarchists together, it seems, is under a cloud of tear gas during one of the weekly anti-wall protests in the West Bank. 


Israel recruits citizen advocates in Europe
Israel has instructed its embassies in 10 European countries, including the UK, each to recruit 1,000 members of the public to act as advocates for its policies in a new public relations offensive.  A cable from the foreign affairs ministry was sent to embassies last week, with instructions from Avigdor Lieberman, the controversial and extreme right-wing foreign minister, to adopt a range of measures aimed at improving Israel’s standing in Europe. 

Abuse of Palestinian Children

Israeli forces assault 7 year old Palestinian in Silwan
Israeli forces assaulted 7 year old Adam Mansour Rishq during tense scenes in Silwan today. The child was beaten by Israeli troops who accused him of throwing stones at a military vehicle, who then attempted to arrest the youth but were stopped by residents who flocked to the scene. One resident told soldiers that “if you want to arrest him you can send an order to his father, summoning him to the police station.”

Israel army detains 15-year-old
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces seized a 15-year-old Palestinian during a late-night raid on his family’s home in the village of Sair, near Hebron, local sources said Monday.  Rifat Jaradat was taken from his house in the West Bank village while still wearing his pajamas, sources in the village said. 

Buffer zone attacks continue: three more workers shot
The northern border area of the Strip is for the second day under attack of IOF snipers. Yesterday three people were shot, including a 12 year old boy, leaving one man in a critical condition. Today three more people were injured by Israeli gunfire while working in the buffer zone, amongst them was yet again a child. Mokles Jawad Al Masri (15), Mamdoe Ajesh Alsoes (20) and Mohamed Khalil Zanin (21) were shot in Beit Hanoun, north Gaza.

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

Industrial Fuel – Needs Vs. Supply – Oct 31 – Nov 27

Goods – Needs Vs. Supply – Oct 31 – Nov 27

21 international organizations call for immediate end to Gaza siege
21 international human rights organizations have called for fresh international moves to lift the siege on Gaza immediately and without any conditions attached.

Racism and Discrimination

Netanyahu evades decision on income tax breaks to Arab and Druze towns
Residents of 167 communities in the country’s outskirts receive income tax benefits worth a total of NIS 700 million to NIS 750 million.


Israeli forces shoot child on Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – A Palestinian boy was shot and injured by Israeli forces in Beit Lahiya Saturday morning, after soldiers opened fire on the boy, who was with a group of men collecting stone aggregates along the Gaza-Israel border.  Medics said the unidentified 12-year-old was shot in the foot and evacuated to the Kamal Udwan Hospital where he was treated for the moderate injury. 

IOF Shoots Palestinian Collecting Scrap northwest of Beit Lahyia
At approximately 9:10am on Saturday 27 November 2010, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened fire at a group of Palestinian civilians as they were collecting scrap and rubble from the destroyed structures near the border fence between Gaza and Israel. The group was about 450 meters from the border fence near the evacuated settlement Eli Sinai northwest of Beit Lahyia, in the North Gaza district when IOF fired at them. As a result, Shamikh Sa’eed De’bes, 15, who is from Jablaia town, was injured in the left leg. Medical sources at Kamal Odwan Hospital described his injury as moderate. The civilians were terrified and left the area without finishing their work.  According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, the civilians carried De’bes on a donkey driven cart to the Al Waha area, west of Beit Lahiya, because the area of attack is close to the border fence and dirt roads do not allow ambulances to reach there. 

Israeli gunfire wounds four Gazans: medics (AFP)
AFP – Israeli soldiers on Sunday shot and wounded four Palestinians as they searched for building materials near Gaza’s border with Israel, medical sources and the military said.*

B’tselem hands Naalin shooting tape to police
Video of 2008 incident will undergo forensic testing after legal team disputes its authenticity.,7340,L-3991122,00.html 


Midnight raids continue, father of three taken from home
Early Thursday morning, at approximately 2:00am, Israeli forces from the Gush Etzion military base came to the homes of brothers and National Committee members Yousef and Mousa Abu Maria. Both are also co-founders of the Palestine Solidarity Project.
Mousa, whose wife and baby girl–both Israeli citizens–were visiting family, was forced outside while his home was searched. 3 computers belonging to the Palestine Solidarity Project were taken. Yousef, father of 10 year-old Reem, 4 year-old Obay, and 1 month-old Della’, was also taken from his home in the middle of the night.

IOF troops raid northern Gaza, round up more West Bankers
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) mounting a number of armored personnel carriers raided northern Gaza Strip areas to the east of Beit Hanun town on Monday, eyewitnesses told the PIC.

Hamas calls for the immediate release of Jericho detainees
Hamas movement has called on the security militias loyal to Fatah leader and de facto president Mahmoud Abbas to release all political detainees.

Two Detainees In Israeli Prisons Start Hunger Strike
The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights reported that Sheikh Jamal Abu Al Haija, 52, from the Jenin refugee camp, and detainee Ahed Abu Ghalama, 42, from Beit Forik near Hebron, started an open-ended hunger strike three days ago demanding to be removed from solitary and to be allowed visitations.

Khatib: Release of Sheikh Salah early next month
Deputy leader of the Islamic movement in 1948 occupied Palestine Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib has said that the leader of the movement Sheikh Ra’ed Salah is to be released from Israeli detention next month.

Arab Helpers (see Wikileaks news below for more)

Hamas: PA detains 8 supporters
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas movement accused the Palestinian Authority security forces of detaining eight of its members in the West Bank Monday.  In a statement, Hamas said the detentions took place in Nablus and Jenin. 

Hamas: Fatah’s fabrications to cover Abbas’s security practices
Hamas has denounced the Fatah factions’ attempt to fabricate “police stories”, adding that such lies were meant to cover the practices of Fatah-controlled security militias.

PFLP accuses PA of holding many of its cadres in its jails
The popular front for the liberation of Palestine said that the Palestinian authority’s security apparatuses are detaining a number of its cadres and other members of factions in West Bank jails.


Gaza security forces deny entry to Fatah officials
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Two senior Fatah officials said they were denied entry to Gaza on Sunday by security officers from the Hamas-led government.  Abdullah Al-Ifranji and Rouhi Fattouh were dispatched to Gaza by President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with Hamas leaders and work on conciliation between the rival factions, Al-Ifranji said. 

Political Developments  

Fatah: U.S. incentives to Israel never serve peace
RAMALLAH, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah party’s Revolutionary Council said the United States incentives given to Israel to freeze settlement “wouldn’t serve Mideast peace.”  The council, which concluded a three-day convention held in Ramallah, said in a final statement that the U.S. incentives given to Israel for halting settlement construction “would encourage Israel’s extremism.” 

Leftists ask Abbas to go to UN for statehood
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine called on the Palestinian Authority on Saturday, to go to the UN Security Council seeking international recognition of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.  The leftist party released a wide-ranging statement outlining its position on the stalled peace talks, entrenched unity process and ongoing development efforts. 

Other News

Tel Aviv bars Vanunu trip for award
Tel Aviv has denied permission for former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu to leave Israel in order to collect an international award in Berlin. A host of elites and Nobel laureates, including Irish peace activist Mairead Maguire and German writer Gunter Grass, have called on Israel to allow Vanunu to attend the International League of Human Rights prize ceremony. 


What peace process? What peace?, As’ad AbuKhalil
With every new US administration, especially toward the last year of the term of a US president, the talk about “Arab-Israel peace” increases. Usually, people are invited to Washington, DC to attend a ceremony of speeches. Arab official expectations usually rise, while Israeli governments get accustomed to resisting any signs of US pressures. Pressures never come, but the perceptions of imminent US pressures are deliberately promoted to bring a level of enthusiasm from Arab official delegations. 

Sam Bahour, “Economic Prison Zones”
Powerful third parties such as the United States, France, Germany, Turkey, and Japan — as well as Israel and a few rich Palestinians — promote industrial free trade zones in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the name of “development for peace,” but the zones will only serve to normalize the occupation. 

Halper predicts collapse of P.A. in 2011, and ‘violence, chaos,’ and hope
In “Palestine 2011,” Jeff Halper says the peace process has failed: “There will be no negotiated settlement, period.” And he imagines two outcomes in the next year, one being that the Palestinians declaring a state unilaterally, the other being more catastrophic/lytic.

Does Anthony Weiner believe that Muhammad al-Durrah’s killing was a ‘hoax’?, Philip Weiss
From the Zionist Organization of America dinner, in which neocon Bill Kristol rubs shoulders with liberal Democrat Congressman Anthony Weiner, no problemo. Brackets are ZOA’s:  French Senator Jean-Pierre Plancade was honored with the Cherna & Irving Moskowitz Award for outstanding pro-Israel activism in recognition of his extraordinary work by calling for the truth of the Al Dura hoax to be fully investigated and for new hearings into the matter while the French establishment has done its best to block the truth from coming out. Philippe Karsenty, a distinguished journalist, deputy mayor of Neuilly, France, and President of Media-Ratings, who exposed the Palestinian Authority’s Muhammad Al-Dura hoax [the fabricated killing of a Palestinian boy allegedly by Israeli gunfire in September 2000, for which Israel was lambasted in the international media ], spoke of Senator Plancade’s extraordinary efforts to see justice done. U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) also addressed the Dinner, as well as ZOA National President Morton A. Klein.

Yehoshua: ‘I as a man of the left would support drastic transfer’ (expelling Palestinians), Philip Weiss
Yesterday I did a piece that expressed some surprise at Israeli novelist AB Yehoshua’s sanitized view of the expulsion of Palestinians during the Nakba.  Well a friend passed along this shocker written by David Bloom in 2002. Bloom picked up on an Amira Hass piece inHa’aretz challenging bigtime writers, including Yehoshua, to come out against “transfer,” or the racist expulsion of Palestinians from Israel.

“Carlos the Movie: the Palestinian Cause through Zionist Eyes, As`ad AbuKhalil
Lebanon celebrated the movie “Carlos.” The movie’s director, Oliver Assayas, visited Lebanon. A number of Lebanese participated in the movie including ex-leftist Ahmad Qa’bour. Many parts of “Carlos” were shot in Lebanon and state institutions contributed to its production as indicated by the announcement at the end of the movie. The freak of a homeland is hospitable though it has received humiliation since its establishment. 

Ilan Pappe on the Future of Palestine
Ilan Pappe on Al Jazeera’s Frost over the World, discussing the prospects for a future Palestinian state and the means to achieve it. (The interview begins at 9:00 and is followed by an interview with the insufferable Mark Regev) 

Keep Your Promises, Mr. President, George Polley – Japan
Dear President Obama, I am deeply concerned about your administration’s recent agreement with the Netanyahu government supposedly aimed at resuming peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. According to media reports, this agreement involves the sale of $3 billion worth of US military aircraft, a veto of any UN Security Council resolution deemed unfavorable to Israel, the removal of East Jerusalem from peace process discussions, and a written promise that this will be the last time you ask the Israelis to halt settlement construction in Occupied Palestine. I shouldn’t need to remind you that establishing settlements in occupied territory is against international law, to say nothing about it being a violation of human rights. 

Feminism in Israel remains an esoteric movement of zealots
Feminism in this country remains a synonym for an esoteric movement of zealots. And while all women generally benefit from the feminists’ persistent campaigning, many keep a distance from the struggle.  “I do not define myself as a feminist, because the term has a negative connotation,” the non-Israeli Baroness Ariane de Rothschild said in a recent interview with The Marker. What does it mean to not join a just cause because of its reputation? This “negative connotation,” to be sure, has been fashioned by men, for their own purposes and uses. 

The opening of an American mind: Chalmers Johnson, Matthew Phillips
Many readers of Mondoweiss will, I’m sure, be familiar of the work of  Chalmers Johnson. In my last review, dealing with the relevance of imperial and postwar Japan for current American policy in the Middle East, I cited Johnson as notable American scholar of Japan whose work has, I believe, shown us how badly awry we have gone during the War on Terror. It is with great sadness that I learned that Johnson died a few days ago. What I offer is a quick reflection on Johnson’s work and went it meant to me personally. It is important to pay tribute, I think, in however small a way, as a number of rare and indispensable voices have been passing away recently (in the past year and a half alone, the names Howard Zinn, Tony Judt and Amos Elon come to mind, though there are undoubtedly many others). Needless to say, we hardly maintain a surplus of honest and reasonably courageous intellectuals eager to fill the void. 


Nasrallah: Solve political crisis before indictment
BEIRUT: Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah urged the Lebanese government Sunday to stop wasting time, warning rival factions that it might be too late to reach a solution for the political crisis once an indictment into former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination is issued. 

Safieddine: Anti-Hizbullah ‘conspiracies’ will fail
BEIRUT: Head of Hizbullah’s executive council Sayyed Hashem Safieddine said Sunday that those seeking to destroy Hizbullah will see their conspiracies destroyed. He spoke during a gathering in the Bekaa Valley city of Baalbek and addressed “those who dream of ripping apart Hizbullah.” 

Israel could wage new war on Lebanon: Hezbollah chief (AFP)
AFP – Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned on Sunday that Israel could wage a new war on Lebanon after the publication of indictments by a UN-backed tribunal probing the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.*

Erdogan: Hezbollah didn’t murder Hariri
As-Safir newpaper reports Turkish prime minister defends Hezbollah which is likely to be charged with former Lebanese PM’s murder. Meanwhile, Iranian supreme leader hosts Saad Hariri, says ‘Any division in Lebanon serves Israeli interests’.,7340,L-3991494,00.html


Sunday: 7 Iraqis Killed, 35 Wounded
Baghdad suffered a number of small bombings today, but few of them left any fatalities . At least seven Iraqis were killed and 35 more were wounded there and across the country. Meanwhile, rumors sparked a flood of Christian asylum-seekers to the French embassy in Arbil.

Iraq’s Tareq Aziz will not be spared death penalty: son (AFP)
AFP – Iraq’s former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz is bound to be executed despite international calls to Baghdad to spare him, his son told AFP in Jordan on Saturday.*

Iraq’s Aziz gets 10 years jail for Kurd killings (AFP)
AFP – An Iraqi court sentenced former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz to 10 years in prison on Monday for the killing of minority Faili Kurds during the rule of Saddam Hussein.*

Baghdad needs $100 billion for new homes: mayor (Reuters)
Reuters – Iraq needs an investment of $100 billion under a plan to build a million new homes in the capital and meet a shortfall in residential property for its growing population, Baghdad’s mayor said on Monday.*

IRAQ: No country for women
MADRID Sunday, November 28, 2010 (IRIN) – The improved political representation of women in Iraq is in sharp contrast to their broader disempowerment, as highlighted by the persistence of domestic violence and early marriage, according to a new report by the UN Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit. 

Always someone’s mother or father, always someone’s child.  The missing persons of Iraq
A forced disappearance (or enforced disappearance) is defined in Article 2 of the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly On 20 December 2006, as the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law. Often forced disappearance implies murder. The victim in such a case is first abducted, then illegally detained, and often tortured; the victim is then killed, and the body is then hidden. Typically, a murder will be surreptitious, with the corpse disposed of in such a way as to prevent it ever being found, so that the person apparently vanishes. The party committing the murder has deniability, as there is no body to prove that the victim has actually died. 

U.S. and other world news

FBI Thwarts Own Car Bomb
Will Americans recoil in yet more contrived fear?  The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) claims to have thwarted their own car bomb Friday, November 26, 2010 at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. 

Oregon mosque hit by arson 2 days after bomb sting
PORTLAND, Oregon, Nov 28 (Reuters) – U.S. investigators said on Sunday a fire at an Islamic center in Oregon was arson and warned no attack in retribution for a foiled bombing by a Somali-born teenager would be tolerated.  The fire occurred less than two days after the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who attended prayers at the center,for attempting to detonate what he thought was a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon’s largest city, Portland.

Iranian nuclear scientist ‘killed’
State media reports that a nuclear scientist was killed and three wounded in two separate explosions in Iran’s capital.

Iran: West behind scientist’s death
Officials accuse Israel and US for attacks in which one nuclear scientist was killed and another injured.

Egypt: image vs reality
As Egyptians head to the polls on Sunday for parliamentary elections, the ruling National Democratic Party is widely expected to secure a majority. The opposition has accused the government of intimidating and harassing candidates, especially those affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland reports from Alexandria. 

Saudi women sue male guardians who stop marriage
CAIRO – Year after year, the 42-year-old Saudi surgeon remains single, against her will. Her father keeps turning down marriage proposals, and her hefty salary keeps going directly to his bank account.  The surgeon in the holy city of Medina knows her father, also her male guardian, is violating Islamic law by forcibly keeping her single, a practice known as “adhl.” So she has sued him in court, with questionable success. 


Secret US Embassy Cables
Wikileaks began on Sunday November 28th publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities.

How 250,000 US embassy cables were leaked
From a fake Lady Gaga CD to a thumb drive that is a pocket-sized bombshell – the biggest intelligence leak in history.

U.S. Facing Global Diplomatic Crisis Following Massive WikiLeaks Release of Secret Diplomatic Cables
The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has begun releasing a giant trove of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables that is sending shockwaves through the global diplomatic establishment. Among the findings: Arab leaders are urging the United States to attack Iran; Washington and Yemen agreed to cover up the use of U.S. warplanes to bomb Yemen; the United States is using its embassies around the world as part of a global spy network and asking diplomats to gather intelligence; and much more. We host a roundtable discussion with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; Greg Mitchell, who writes the Media Fix blog at The Nation; Carne Ross, a British diplomat for 15 years who resigned before the Iraq war; and As’ad AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus.

The job of the media is not to protect power from embarrassment
It is for governments – not journalists – to guard public secrets, and there is no national jeopardy in WikiLeaks’ revelations. ?

Der Spiegel: US officials called Ahmadinejad ‘Hitler’
According to the German daily, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy is the emperor who has no clothes. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is “motivated by paranoia”, the report says.,7340,L-3991029,00.html 

Wexler told Israelis, American people will support attack on Iran if talks are tried and fail,  Philip Weiss
From the Wikileaks US Embassy cables. Robert Wexler is the former Florida congressman who has gone on to head a Jewish organization, and who people are always hinting is about to join the Obama administration as a Middle East envoy. How does he operate? Here are notes of a high-level meeting in Israel in May 2009 in which Wexler is representing Obama’s policy to Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Chief, Major General Amos Yadlin

The US government is still capable of producing the worst of the worst in vulgar Orientalism

WikiLeaks: Clinton ordered probe on UN chief
Secret files show Washington wanted to find links between UN members, terror groups.,7340,L-3991145,00.html 

WikiLeaks documents point to Turkish-U.S. tensions
Leaked U.S. cable describes Turkish PM as having ‘little understanding of politics beyond Ankara’. 

Diplomats tread in spy territory in WikiLeaks’ disclosures
Media begin to report on information from diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. Among sensitive revelations: Diplomats doing surprising work and some Arab nations urging the U.S. to attack Iran.  Five U.S. and European news organizations began Sunday to report information from a huge trove of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, disclosures that could strain U.S. relations with a variety of other nations.,0,6054592.story 

Iran ‘must be stopped’: Arab leaders pushed U.S. to attack, WikiLeaks disclosures show
Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as among nations strongly urging the U.S. to attack Iran and destroy its nuclear facilities. The cables reveal the fear of Iran in the Arab world.  Leaders of the oil-rich Arabian Peninsula monarchies repeatedly have beseeched the United States to attack Iran and take out its nuclear facilities, according to a series of classified diplomatic cables released to news organizations by the website Wikileaks.,0,4288707.story 

Wikileaks: the lies of Arab rulers 
What is also striking (or not really) is the extent to which those rulers–just as we say about them–say one thing in private to the US and another thing in public to their people.  In public, all those rulers say that they are opposed to war or to a military strike on Iran.  Look at the Qatari prime minister (whose government in public is a friend of the Iranian regime):  “The cables also expose frank, even rude, remarks about Iranian leaders, their trustworthiness and tactics at international meetings. Abdullah told another US diplomat: “The bottom line is that they cannot be trusted.” Mubarak told a US congressman: “Iran is always stirring trouble.” Others are learning from what they describe as Iranian deception. “They lie to us, and we lie to them,” said Qatar’s prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim Jaber al-Thani.” 

The (old) news from wikileaks so far – The US is Israel’s greatest enabler, Audrey Farber
That there is nothing new, or surprising, in these cables yet that we feel the need to parse through them is indicative of our frustration with the current state of affairs, leading us to believe this will be a worthwhile endeavor. Surely there is nothing new in the often-delusional Netanyahu’s petulance, or his persistent paranoid belief that Israel – nay, the Jews – is constantly under attack from all sides, even its allies. That the US will do just about anything for its protégé is likewise old – yawn – news. Netanyahu manages to coerce the US into supporting Israel in its pursuance of its divine mandate for constant, international protection no matter what, and in the face of every real or imagined obstacle.

Wikileaks Israel

US embassy cables: Israel grateful for US support Text of leaked diplomatic cable between US and Israel

US embassy cables: US pressed to maintain Israel’s ‘qualitative military edge’ 

Text of leaked diplomatic cable between US and Israel

US embassy cables: Mossad says US and Israel agree on Iran
1. (S) Summary: Mossad Chief Meir Dagan told CODEL Corzine March 13 that Israeli and U.S. thinking on Iran largely tracks, adding that he believes the EU dialogue with Iran will ultimately fail. Dagan said that Israel has evidence that some foreign fighters have returned home from Iraq, perhaps indicating that the tide may be starting to turn in the U.S. battle against the insurgency there. He worried however, that these militants’ countries of origin — in particular Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria and Sudan — are ill-equipped to control the returning jihadis, who might then pose a threat to stability in the region and, ultimately, to Israel. End Summary.

US embassy cables: Mossad chief wants to ‘detach’ Syria from Iran
1. (S) SUMMARY: Frances Fragos Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (AFHSC), met Mossad Director Meir Dagan on July 12 for a general discussion of regional security threats. On the Iranian nuclear program, Dagan proved surprisingly optimistic about the effects of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and their impact on Iranian elites. On most other fronts, however, Dagan expressed deep skepticism regarding any near-term solutions. Dagan believes that the Syrians were emboldened by the Second Lebanon War, and argued for a concerted international effort to enforce UNSC resolutions in Lebanon as a means of removing Syria from Iranian influence. In Dagan’s personal opinion, present attempts to prop up the government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will fail, and “an entirely new approach” with the Palestinians is required. Dagan and Townsend surveyed political developments in North Africa, Turkey, and the Gulf, and shared concerns about Pakistan’s ability to withstand the challenge of Islamic radicals. END SUMMARY.

Wikileaks and Mossad chief
I mean, reading the analysis that the Mossad chief presented to a US official, one is struck (not really) by how unintelligent the Mossad chief is in his analysis of the Middle East.  I guarantee you that lousy chiefs of lousy Arab intelligence services can do a better job.  Another sign that Israel’s years are numbered. Read his analysis: an anthology of cliches that he dervies from reading columns by Thomas Friedman. 

WikiLeaks: Arab world according to Mossad chief
WikiLeaks documents contain reports of 2007 meetings in which Meir Dagan presented US with five-step program to perform coup in Iran; said ‘nothing can be achieved’ with Palestinians.,7340,L-3991210,00.html

Mossad chief on Aljazeera and Qatar: from Wikileaks
“Dagan characterized Qatar as “a real problem,” and accused Sheikh Hamid of “annoying everyone.” In his view, Qatar is trying to play all sides — Syria, Iran, Hamas — in an effort to achieve security and some degree of independence. “I think you should remove your bases from there…seriously,” said Dagan. “They have confidence only because of the U.S. presence.” Dagan predicted, with some humor, that al-Jazeera would be the next cause of war in the Middle East as some Arab leaders (specifically Saudi Arabia) are willing to take drastic steps to shut down the channel, and hold Sheikh Hamid personally responsible for its provocations.”

U.S. tapped secure lines in Israel’s Washington embassy, ex-envoy says
Former Israeli envoy Rabinovich reveals that the tapping began at some point after 1996, and took a number of years for embassy officials to discover. 

WikiLeaks cable: Russian leadership viewed Lieberman as ‘one of its own’
Message from U.S. embassy to State Department shows FM was treated as an ‘old friend’ during a 2009 visit to Moscow.

Wikileaks Palestine

WikiLeaks exposé: Egypt, PA refuse to take over Gaza in case of Hamas defeat. 
In diplomatic cable documenting 2009 meeting, Defense Minister Barak says Egypt, PA refuse to take over Gaza in case of Hamas defeat.

WikiLeaks exposé: Israel offered to coordinate Cast Lead with Egypt and Fatah
In diplomatic cable documenting 2009 meeting, Defense Minister Barak says Egypt, PA refuse to take over Gaza in case of Hamas defeat.

Wikileaks: Israel assessed Abbas as weak, unpopular
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Senior Israeli defense and political figures described President Mahmoud Abbas as weak, unpopular and unlikely to survive politically past 2011, leaked US diplomatic cables showed on Monday.  In meetings with US representatives, Israeli officials ranging from then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, to senior defense official Amos Gilad expressed doubt about Abbas’s political longevity.

Leaked cable: US spied on Hamas, PA
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The US government in 2008 directed its personnel across the Middle East to gather meticulous intelligence on Hamas and Palestinian Authority officials, a leaked diplomatic cable reveals.  The cable, provided to The Guardian of Britain by the whistleblower group WikiLeaks, lays out a “national human intelligence collection directive” asking US personnel to obtain “Details of travel plans such as routes and vehicles used by Palestinian Authority leaders and HAMAS members.” 

US embassy cables: Washington requests personal data on Hamas 

US briefed Palestinians on WikiLeaks cache
Washington’s message, delivered by phone to the Office of the President a few days in advance of the scheduled release, was quick and to the point: Don’t overreact.  “They aren’t making a big deal out of it, and they hope we won’t either,” a senior Palestinian official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, told Ma’an. “But when they’re telling us ‘Don’t overreact,’ that basically translates as ‘There’s something you’re not going to like.'” 

Israeli official is pleased with the small Israeli tools in the PA collaborationist appratus
“Buchris acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority was doing a “good job” in the West Bank, noting respect for Palestinian Security Forces (PASF) as they take more control of security — giving them the chance to succeed was important, Buchris said.”

Mossad chief on the PA collaborators
“Departing from official GOI policy, Dagan expressed his personal opinion that after more than a decade of trying to reach a final status agreement with the Palestinians, “nothing will be achieved.” Only Israeli military operations against Hamas in the West Bank prevent them from expanding control beyond Gaza, lamented Dagan, without which Fatah would fall within one month and Abbas would join his “mysteriously wealthy” son in Qatar. Offering what he believed to be a conservative estimate, Dagan said that USD 6 billion had been invested in the Palestinian Authority since 1994. “What did it accomplish, other than adding a few more people to the Fortune 500?” asked Dagan. Although he expressed his personal faith in Salam Fayyad, Dagan said that the Palestinian Prime Minister had no power base. Fatah as a party would have to completely reorganize itself in order to regain credibility, argued Dagan, but instead they have turned once again to the “old guard.” The Mossad Chief suggested that a completely new approach was required, but did not provide Townsend any additional details.”

Wikileaks Egypt

US embassy cables: Egypt spy chief promises pressure on Hamas
3. (S) Soliman applauded the Administration’s efforts, commenting that Annapolis had given hope and begun a process. The timing is right for progress based on four factors. First, the PA leadership is moderate and willing to negotiate. Second, Hamas is isolated and politically cut off in Gaza. Third, the Israelis are ready for peace; Soliman assessed that the GOI coalition is broad and strong, and larger than Rabin’s coalition of the mid-nineties. Fourth, Arab states are ready to see an end to “the struggle.”

Mubarak serves the US to serve Israel (to serve Jamal Mubarak): from wikileaks

“But Egypt will continue to provide the USG with its knowledge and expertise on the critical regional issues, such as Lebanon and Iraq.

Omar Sulayman states that his Israeli masters are pleased with him after all
“Senator Voinovich asked Soliman why the Israelis continue to report problems with Egypt’s anti-smuggling efforts. Soliman said that the Israelis do not complain to him directly, and that GOI-GOE cooperation and exchange of information continues. He was at a loss as to why Israeli politicians continue to criticize Egypt publicly.”

Wikileaks Jordan

Jordanian King gives advice on how to get rid of Hizbullah
“In Lebanon, the GOJ fears Iran’s Hizballah proxy has been given too much rope and could be poised to increase its political influence during upcoming parliamentary elections. The King sees the Lebanon-Israel War of 2006 as having benefited Iran and Hizballah, by allowing a Sunni Arab street enamored of “resistance” to see past its suspicions of the Shia. And then-Foreign Minister Salah Al-Bashir in late 2008 described the spring 2009 vote as “when we will know who won last May,” referring to the outcome of the Doha Accords that put an end to Lebanese infighting. Much like with the Palestinian issue, Jordanian leaders have argued that the only way to pull the rug out from under Hizballah – and by extension their Iranian patrons – would be for Israel to hand over the disputed Sheba’a Farms to Lebanon. With Hizballah lacking the “resistance to occupation” rationale for continued confrontation with Israel, it would lose its raison d’etre and probably domestic support.

US embassy cables: Jordan wary of US engagement with Iran 

Wikileaks Lebanon

Mossad Chief is a fan of Fu’ad Sanyurah
“Dagan urged caution with respect to Lebanon, noting that the results of efforts there to bolster the Siniora government would impact Syria and Iraq. The U.S. and Israel, he said, are on the edge of achieving something in Lebanon, and so cannot afford to drop their guard. What is necessary is finding the right way to support PM Siniora. “He is a courageous man,” Dagan said. Syria, Iran and Hizballah are working hard against him. Dagan noted that much of what is animating the leadership of Lebanon to take on Syria is personal: “Hariri, Jumblat and others had their parents executed by the Syrians.” This anti-Syrian sentiment has forged an alliance based on personal and national interests. Siniora has worked well with the situation, but Dagan suggested that the odds are against him. Under Secretary Burns replied that the U.S. is trying to give PM Siniora as much support as possible, and that we would continue to consult closely with Israel on Lebanon. He noted that he would return to Israel in October.”

Fu’ad Sanyurah wants the US to push Syria
“Siniora encouraged the U.S. to push Syria to respect the sovereignty of other states (namely Lebanon) as a way to bring Syria back into the Arab fold.

Israeli official analyzes the March 14 parliamentary victory (from wikileaks)
“Shapiro asked if the election results might be the result in part of a backlash in the Christian community against Hizballah; the Policy Research analysts countered that the results were indicative of several factors, including the influx of Saudi money and an unstable opposition camp.”

Zionists are pleased with the Lebanese Army
“A/S Shapiro said the LAF has thus far demonstrated a solid record of accounting for U.S. systems transferred to Lebanon. 

Israel does not believe that Lebanese Army would attack Israel
“Amos Gilad said the GOI does not believe the LAF will attack Israel.”

Wikileaks Syria

“Asad pointedly asked in response to Representative McIntyre’s question about why Syria had not done more to monitor and staunch the flow of transiting fighters across the Syria-Iraq border. Asad continued: “Can you stop the immigration of Mexicans into the U.S.? No.”

UN as a tool for Israel Mossad chief argues:  “Dagan argued that the opposite is true: by enforcing UN resolutions on Lebanon and increasing efforts to disarm Hizballah, the international community can remove the glue that binds Iran and Syria. Enforcing the resolutions would put additional pressure on Assad, who fears being tried for the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri above all else. The advantage of such an approach, continued Dagan, is that the legal ground is already in place for action by the UNSC. This credible threat could sufficiently frighten Syria away from Iran and towards more natural allies in the Arab League.

Wikileaks Saudi Arabia

It is official: Saudi King does not hate Israel (from Wikileaks)
“On Saudi Arabia, Gilad said that King Abdullah does not hate Israel, but his chief priority is the survival of the regime.” 

WikiLeaks exposé: Saudis told U.S. ‘Cut off the head of the snake’ on Iran
Diplomatic cables to U.S. officials quote leaders of mainly Sunni Arab states urging Iranian nuclear program be stopped ‘by whatever means necessary’.

Saudi Arabia urges US attack on Iran to stop nuclear programme
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to leaked US diplomatic cables that describe how other Arab allies have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.  The revelations, in secret memos from US embassies across the Middle East, expose behind-the-scenes pressures in the scramble to contain the Islamic Republic, which the US, Arab states and Israel suspect is close to acquiring nuclear weapons. Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities has hitherto been viewed as a desperate last resort that could ignite a far wider war. 

US embassy cables: Israel seeks to block US planes for Saudi 

Here, the US government issues orders to Saudi officials
“Saudi Arabia should exercise leadership with neighbors in the region and publicly by expressing concerns about Iran’s continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability and destabilizing activities in the region. — We would appreciate public expressions of support for the P5 1 dual track process including encouragement for Iran to accept the incentives package. — Saudi Arabia should exercise its influence with China, in particular, to persuade China to reduce its growing energy/economic cooperation and weapons purchases. Such efforts by China run contrary to the spirit of the UNSCRs and the P5 1 dual track strategy. A high level Saudi delegation could communicate to China Saudi concerns about the threat posed by Iran’s actions.”

This is how US officials bring human rights in Saudi Arabia; they praise the Kingdom’s record–I kid you NOT
“DIALOGUE AND REFORM AS DUTY: In response to Brennan,s praise for the King,s interfaith dialogue initiative, his commitment to advancing rights as reflected by his recent appointment of the first female (deputy education) minister, the King said “Thanks for the sentiment but I did nothing special, only what I thought was my duty. I believe we do our duty as determined by God.”” 

Sons of…Zayid and sons of…`Abdul-`Aziz
“Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdallah has developed good personal relations with Foreign Minister Livni, but the Emiratis are “not ready to do publicly what they say in private.” (Note: It was clear from Hadas’ remarks that Israel’s channel to Saudi Arabia does not run through the Foreign Ministry.)”

Saudi King: US Should Plant Chips in Gitmo Detainees
The King, proposed implanting detainees with an electronic chip containing information about them and allowing their movements to be tracked with Bluetooth. This was done with horses and falcons, the King said. 

Wikileaks UAE

UAE leaders on Hamas
“UAE leaders have told us that they consider Hamas a terrorist organization and that they would not fund Hamas unless they denounce violence (refs D and E).”

Muhammad bin Zayid
He wants nothing less than an invasion of Iran:  “MbZ asked Lt. Gen. Dunn whether it would be possible for &anyone8 to “take out” all locations of concern in Iran via air power; Lt. Gen. Dunn voiced doubt that this would be possible given the dispersed locations. “Then it will take ground forces!” MbZ exclaimed. Ambassador noted that the UAE’s Director of Military Intelligence, BG”>BG Essa al Mazrouei, would pay counterpart visits this week to CENTCOM, J-2, DIA, and CIA for discussions on Iran and Iraq-related matters. MbZ said he looked forward to sharing “contingency planning” scenarios in future conversations.” 

by the way, this man is the biggest servant of Israel in the Middle East
“In talks with US officials, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed favoured action against Iran, sooner rather than later. “I believe this guy is going to take us to war … It’s a matter of time. Personally, I cannot risk it with a guy like [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. He is young and aggressive.” 

Wikileaks Yemen

Wikileaks: Yemeni President Agreed To Cover up US Attack in Yemen
“We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Mr. Saleh said, according to the cable sent by the American ambassador, prompting Yemen’s deputy prime minister to “joke that he had just ‘lied’ by telling Parliament” that Yemeni forces had carried out the strikes. 

Wikileaks Libya

Summary: Recent first-hand experiences with Libyan Leader Muammar al-Qadhafi and his staff, primarily in preparation for his UNGA trip, provided rare insights into Qadhafi’s inner circle and personal proclivities. Qadhafi appears to rely heavily XXXXXXXXXXXXX reportedly cannot travel with his senior Ukrainian nurse, Galyna Kolotnytska. He also appears to have an intense dislike or fear 
of staying on upper floors, reportedly prefers not to fly over water, and seems to enjoy horse racing and flamenco dancing.  His recent travel may also suggest a diminished dependence on his legendary female guard force, as only one woman bodyguard


What would you do if . . .

Nov 29, 2010

Mohammed Said AlNadi


Someone had assailed your home, ethnically cleansed its people, annexed its land, exhausted its bounteous resources, and decimated its geographical characteristics?

Someone had denied you your inalienable right of defending your home and self, and mendaciously accused you of being “terrorist”, justifying crimes and oppression by “self-defense”?

Someone, by using humiliation and most degrading ways, had gotten in your way when you are dying and desperately in need of medical treatment?

Someone had taken away your most beloved ones and incarcerated them in a non-human environment?

Someone has inflicted an impermeable blockade upon your people and land.

Someone has incredibly blocked the only crossings to your land, preventing food, medications, building materials, stationery and also life…?

Someone has built a massive wall on your land, splitting your family property into two pieces you can’t see your family members on the other side of the wall, and if you are allowed to see them, you must take a day-long walk to a military checkpoint to cross, but most often, your ID card may be taken away from you and you are told to come next day, and when you are almost back, a soldier calls you to go back for ID, and again a new journey of one-day walk?

Someone has kept you waiting for long hours until your patient dies?

Someone has broken in your house after midnight, spreading terror among your children, before arresting some ones and forcing them away, and, of course all under the pretext of “security”?

Someone who is an excellent war criminal has allegedly said to you “let’s talk peace”, although the plate on the negotiation table is already empty?

Someone has desecrated your Holy Places by digging tunnels underneath and preventing people from practicing their freedom of worship, all in a tireless attempt to obliterate your unquestionable identity?

Someone has robbed your right to free movement due to an all-out siege?

Someone has controlled your access to the sea and driven you to risk your own life, where getting to be shot at is very likely, simply trying to make a hand-to-mouth living?

Someone has cut the electricity off your house, factory, shop, or, most importantly hospital, if you are dying and looking vacantly at the blank kidney-dialysis machine?

Someone has assailed your ears and scared you to death by the thundering sound of apaches and F-16s which constantly canopy the earth?

Someone has kept his gun pointed to your head, and you have no idea when you will be shot?

Someone has banned a certain formula needed for your ill child, and then your baby dies in front of your eyes because you can’t go out for proper medical attention?

Someone has mocked all norms of international law and flagrantly continued committing massacres and violating human rights against you and your civilian people?

Someone has coerced you to live in a technologically controlled prison without means of survival, and sentenced you to slow-motion genocide?

Note: Before you even think of any answer, just please put yourself in the shoes of one of these people living in such circumstances.

Mohammed Said AlNadi, 23, lives in Gaza and is an English literature graduate. He works as translator and freelance journalist.

Sedek review: The concrete steps needed to implement a vision

Nov 29, 2010

Ahmed Moor


From Sedek: A model for Kufr Bir’im (Credit: Zochrot)

The first English-language issue of Sedek, a journal produced by the Israeli organization Zochrot, is one of the most exciting things I’ve read recently. The collection of essays is the result of the sincere engagement of Palestinians and Israelis with one another around the Palestinian right of return. One can take issue with some of the ideas presented in the essays (and I will) but the cooperative spirit that suffuses the works is as significant as the content it’s produced.

The first essay is impressively comprehensive. It describes how the right of return can be implemented in stages while balancing individual and collective rights.

The authors of the essay (Norma Musih and Eitan Bronstein) draw upon Salman Abu Sita’s geographical studies to argue that there is ample room in Israel proper to resettle the refugees. I was lucky enough to catch a lecture by Abu Sita on the topic here in Beirut a few months ago. He projected slides with maps showing where historic Palestinian villages lay, and where the major urban centers in Israel are today. The maps demonstrated clearly that the Palestinians could resettle the geographical spaces they used to inhabit without too much hassle (large urban centers were the exception).

There isn’t any doubt that the moral and just case for resettling Palestinians in and around their villages is unassailable. But I wonder whether it’s the wise choice – are there better choices that will more positively impact the future viability of the state (subject to the refugees’ consent)? Is settling mostly urban refugees in rural environments practical?

There is an emotional appeal to resettling destroyed villages, but what does that mean for social life after the return? Most camps (at least here in Lebanon and in Gaza and the West Bank) are more densely populated, and closer to urban centers than the villages may be.

Also, one of the global trends observed throughout the twentieth century is the mass migration of people from rural to urban centers. Usually they’re following opportunity which is more concentrated in cities. Any decision to resettle Palestinian refugees in rehabilitated villages needs to take the history of migration into account. Decision makers have to evaluate whether there’s an opportunity gap between rural and urban centers in the state and what impact that will have on the resettled refugees’ lives.

Finally, the environment must be taken into account. Studies should be conducted to help us understand what impact rehabilitating the villages will have on the water table, animal migration patterns, air quality, etc… We have a historic right to resettle our villages, but we also have a responsibility to ourselves and future generations to prevent environmental degradation. Is there a balance between the two?

One thought that persisted when I was reading the document is that refugee absorption may not be as orderly as the authors envisage.

I think that before the refugees can return, the Zionist government will have to be dissolved and reconstructed (the Sedek constitutional outline is a great start); the one-state solution will antecede the return. But what’s to stop the refugees in Lebanon from amassing at the border and demanding their return immediately? (And should they be stopped? Why? Who will tell them?)

Relatedly, there isn’t enough of a focus on the actions other countries in the region may undertake on a unilateral basis. I hope that Lebanon is much less racist and sectarian by the time we’re in a position to implement the return, but it may not be. A deal needs to be made with the countries that share a border with Palestine/Israel to ensure the welfare of the refugees above all (Sami Hermez talks about what a deal may look like here).

My final issue with the first essay relates to Stage III. The authors envisage a weak state where each of many communities “will be the equivalent of a state, in the sense that it will be able to create its own social and cultural structures.”

This is OK in theory, but the vision quickly becomes problematic for me when the authors write that curricula “in each school would be determined by the community-state that runs it. The national government would have the authority to reject curricula (if, for example, they encouraged racism), but would not have to approve them.”

In my view, if the one-state solution is to have long-term viability, the state needs to be a strong one (which doesn’t mean overbearing or internally coercive). That means that a uniform curriculum ought to be applied. Of course, language differences will result in some curricular deviations, but every student should be taught the same version of history, for instance. The idea is to develop a multicultural state that respects particular cultural differences, but simultaneously seeks to develop a group (national) identity that endures.

Just as importantly, curricula should be tailored to permit students from Palestine/Israel to compete internationally (the Haredim have to be taught occupational skills). The country will have every opportunity to become a regional economic powerhouse if its graduates leverage their access to the Arab world and the West. This can be the country’s comparative advantage in lieu of natural resource wealth.  But it needs an education system that is modern and uniform.

The other essays in the collection are very good and well worth reading. But I want to engage with Shir Haver’s essay, Economic Aspects of the Return of Palestinian Refugees, on a practical level.

I agree with Haver that the influx of refugees will result in strain on the state initially but will ultimately yield growth through diminished unemployment rates, increased consumption, and greater labor diversity. Haver’s discussion is empirical and well-reasoned and I only have two more points to add to it:

1. Returning refugees can be employed in resettlement and infrastructure developments. I don’t think that individual compensation for refugees is a good idea. Instead, the money ought to be allocated to job-creating activities (like building apartment blocks). The jobs will be the result of the needs of the returning refugees themselves and therefore cannot be said to reduce opportunity for others (itself a weak argument, as Haver demonstrates). Government debt will increase in the short term (unless the Europeans fund everything) but that debt will be offset by a broadened tax base in the medium and long term.

2. The occupation’s economic warp in the West Bank and Gaza will presumably cease to exist in a one-state scenario. That means that growth based on entrepreneurialism, increased operational efficiencies (yielded by freedom of movement, for instance) and other factors can be expected to create new opportunities for returning refugees across Palestine.

Haver notes that the Israeli welfare state (for secular people) is disintegrating. This is something that alarms me personally. The state has a responsibility to safeguard human rights.  And unlike many Americans, I believe healthcare, higher education, and retirement benefits (to protect human dignity in old age) are human rights; people are entitled to them. A progressive income tax in a capitalist society can provide all of these things if society insists upon it. Israel’s economic liberalization policies in the nineties helped reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio, but they also increased the country’s wealth gap.

Pernicious economic policies that favor the rich are difficult to roll back because of the nexus between money and power. But the kind of society-wide restructuring that will result in the one-state solution and the refugees’ return may provide an opportunity to break from American economics and adopt a more Scandanavian model for society. Think of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine in reverse (or not, depending on your perspective). This will be necessary for preventing the emergence of another plutocratic state in the Middle East (or indeed, in the West).

There are other small issues that one can and must discuss. But the proposal document as a whole is remarkably solid I think. This collection of essays is a victory for liberal thought in an environment that is increasingly fascist. And the fact that it was written in good faith by a diverse group of people alone makes me hopeful. Their cooperation is a model for the kind of state that’s worth building.

A lot of the proposals cannot be enacted in the immediate term, but others can. The Israelis are faced with the formidable task of explaining to their countrymen that the return is not only inevitable, but desirable – that Israel is in the midst of the Zionist dusk. Zochorot’s work is a good start. But others must undertake the process of humanizing contemporary Palestinians to Jewish Israelis.

For us Palestinians, the process of humanizing the other in preparation for return can begin today as well. It’s very difficult to ask Palestinians in Gaza and in Lebanon to begin thinking of life in one state alongside Israelis, but that’s the kind of thing that will ease the return’s implementation.

I may be criticized for drawing ‘equivalences’ when I say that both sides must humanize the other (“We’re not the party that massacred 1400 people recently”). But the question now is less about the responsibility imbalance and more about the concrete steps that need to be taken to implement a vision.  Israelis can do a lot here too; it’s hard to describe the impact of seeing Israelis on a flotilla to Gaza on a television in Shatila.

Sedek review: Stuck on the right of return

Nov 29, 2010

Ben Zakkai


Sedek coverLast June, when I wrote an article for Mondoweiss proposing a framework for a one-state solution, I didn’t anticipate that it would draw me into a series of further posts on the political and legal aspects of the Palestinian right of return.  In retrospect, though, that was foreseeable, since the right of return issue must be resolved before any political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be reached. 

My previous posts led me to a fruitful exchange of views with Ahmed Moor, a more frequent contributor to this site. Now, Adam Horowitz has asked me and Ahmed to review a recent publication on the right of return by the Israeli organization Zochrot, and I do so with pleasure, since their report is worthwhile reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the subject. 

Zochrot, as many know, is dedicated to teaching Jewish Israelis about the Nakba.  Their recent report, called Sedek, is a collection of brief essays envisioning the implementation of the right of return.  The authors are clear in their purpose and vision on many critical points, including the following: 

First, rather than arguing for the right of return, the authors simply state their belief that the right is justified and proceed to describe the possible political, geographical, social and economic manner of its exercise.  Their projections are accompanied by perceptive critiques of present-day Israeli society. 

Second, the report addresses the right of return in its traditional formulation, as a collective and individual right.  Collective, in that the right belongs not only to the 1948 refugees, but also to anyone who can trace their lineage to at least one such refugee; and individual, in that no entity representing the Palestinian people may negotiate away the right of return of any individual Palestinian.  For practical purposes, I too accept that formulation of the right of return, since I’ve found that attempts to win Palestinian agreement to any limitation or delay of the right of return, including my own naïve proposals in previous posts, almost always meet with silence or rejection. 

Third, the authors recognize that the exercise of the right of return would result in the Jewish demographic majority in Israel becoming a Jewish minority, which would make the one-state solution the logical conclusion, since it would be superfluous to have two majority-Palestinian states.  Here too I would agree with Zochrot’s implicit assumption that great numbers of Palestinians would exercise their right of return if they could, since it doesn’t seem reasonable to assume that they would insist for so long on their right to do something that they don’t really want to do. 

Fourth, the authors recognize that there is no precedent for the physical return of such a large population of refugees and their descendants – particularly large in relation to the size of the receiving population – after the passage of so much time.  Indeed, as I’ve written, in the one instance where international law has been applied to a situation resembling the Palestinian refugee problem, the European Court of Human Rights ultimately required the vast majority of Greek Cypriot refugees to accept monetary compensation rather than physical repatriation.  

Fifth, the authors recognize that their views are shared by only a miniscule minority of Jewish Israelis.  Even Uri Avnery, the only major Israeli political and intellectual leader whom I consider a genuine visionary and hero – a man who has spent most of his long life relegated to the far fringes of Israeli politics due to his advocacy of Palestinian rights – favors accepting the physical return of only a small and symbolic number of Palestinian refugees, with the balance of Palestinian refugee claims settled through compensation.  The authors argue that the right of return should only be implemented with the consent of the Israeli public, without however suggesting how that consent might be obtained; instead they rely somewhat messianically on the kinds of surprising changes that unexpectedly brought down the Berlin Wall and apartheid. 

Sixth, more specifically, the authors recognize that Palestinians living in Lebanon would be priority candidates for migration to Israel, because of their numbers, their proximity, and the longstanding and continuing discrimination and deprivation they have suffered under Lebanese law and in Lebanese society. 

The staff of Zochrot deserve to be commended for their extraordinary courage, sensitivity and intelligence.  They are deeply informed about and affected by the injustice of the Nakba, the continuing suffering of Palestinian refugees and their descendants in many countries, and the persistence and strength of the Palestinian desire to return.  Zochrot’s activities and reports, for which they no doubt pay a heavy price within a largely hostile Israeli society, are a unique and valuable contribution to an essential conversation within that society.  And yet, it was their latest report that finally jolted me out of my agonizing indecision and convinced me that the right of return is a non-starter. 

I write for Mondoweiss under a pen name, but for the sake of this post I’ll relate two relevant personal details:  One, my (Jewish) grandparents survived World War II by fleeing their homes in Europe ahead of the Wehrmacht.  Two, my wife’s (Arab) grandparents were expelled from their homes and villages by Israeli forces in 1948.  Both of us grew up surrounded by traumatized refugees telling stories of persecution and dispossession.  None of our family members ever received any compensation for what they lost and endured.  Neither of us could remain indifferent to the suffering of Palestinian refugees, even if we wanted to. 

Looking forward, we worry about how our half-Jewish-half-Arab children will fare in Israeli society, with all its ethnic division and strife.  We want nothing more or less than peaceful, normal lives.  That’s why we can’t accept the right of return. 

Two years ago, upon his release by Israeli authorities, Samir Kuntar received a hero’s welcome in Lebanon, despite the fact that his sole claim to fame is that he murdered a Jewish Israeli family.  I wasn’t surprised.  If I was a Lebanese Palestinian, I would hate Israel deeply and passionately.  After all, Israel expelled Palestinians from their homes and villages and drove them into Lebanon, where they are still second-class non-citizens after more than six decades.  Then Israel conducted protracted military operations in Lebanon, causing them further suffering.  I can easily understand how Lebanese Palestinians feel, but for the same reason I think it would be crazy to let them into Israel.  If I was a Lebanese Palestinian, I would want to exercise my right of return so that I could reclaim Palestine for myself and for other Palestinians, not so that I could learn Hebrew, befriend my Jewish neighbors, and be a good Israeli.  That’s one piece of the puzzle that I think Zochrot is missing; they seem to think that any Israeli concern about Palestinian hostility and retribution is just irrational fear of the Other. 

Even more important is the fact that the right of return, while often expressed in abstract terms of human rights and international law, is primarily motivated by much more primal ties to blood, land, and the voice of God.  That’s another piece of the puzzle that I think Zochrot is missing.  Since tribal loyalty, devotion to the land, and religious belief are also the primary forces motivating Jewish attachments to Israel, the exercise of the right of return would most likely lead to civil war. 

To me, setting the stage for disaster is not justice.  “No justice, no peace” is a powerful principle, but it has limits.  As I’ve written before, peace can’t be achieved by demanding perfect justice.  More fundamentally, the rules of justice itself have always been primarily determined by the desire to keep the peace in human affairs.  

I’ve also written in previous posts that I have no truck with ethnocracy and would much prefer to live in a country where human beings are human beings and tribal loyalties are negligible.  Perhaps, some day, Israeli-Palestinian political unification can create that kind of country.  But today is not that day.  Indeed, that day seems very far off, and I don’t think that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can afford to wait until mutual affection and respect hold sway in the hearts of Israelis and Palestinians.  On the contrary, it seems that a solution to the conflict is the only thing that can begin to replace mutual hostility with more amicable feelings and relations.  

I can’t persuade Palestinians to give up on the right of return although, to be brutally honest, it’s backward-looking rather than forward-looking, fantasy rather than reality, and an impassable obstacle to reaching a peace agreement.  I can’t do so for two reasons:  First, as a Jew who came to Israel many years ago, under the spell of religious and Zionist myth and under the Law of Return, I have no standing to make such arguments, just as the guy who took your place after you got laid off has no business telling you to go out and find a new job, even if that’s exactly what you need to do.  Second, even if I was somebody else,  or anybody else, Palestinians wouldn’t accept my refutation of their dream. 

Still, for the sake of focusing the discussion, I can say what I would do if I were Prime Minister of Israel.  I would make the following offer to my Palestinian counterparts:  A Palestinian state including all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with an expressway joining the two.  All Israeli settlements evacuated, including those in and around Jerusalem.  West and East Jerusalem as the capitals of Israel and Palestine, respectively, with U.N. custodianship of the major holy sites.  The Palestinian state to have all the attributes of a sovereign state, including a standing army.  Monetary compensation and assistance for individual Palestinians and for the new Palestinian state.  Diplomatic assistance in bringing international pressure to bear on countries like Lebanon that refuse to regularize the status of their Palestinian residents.  And that would be my final offer.  Would it be accepted, or would it be rejected because the right of return was not included?

The (old) news from wikileaks so far – The US is Israel’s greatest enabler

Nov 29, 2010

Audrey Farber


That there is nothing new, or surprising, in these cables yet that we feel the need to parse through them is indicative of our frustration with the current state of affairs, leading us to believe this will be a worthwhile endeavor. Surely there is nothing new in the often-delusional Netanyahu’s petulance, or his persistent paranoid belief that Israel – nay, the Jews – is constantly under attack from all sides, even its allies. That the US will do just about anything for its protégé is likewise old – yawn – news. Netanyahu manages to coerce the US into supporting Israel in its pursuance of its divine mandate for constant, international protection no matter what, and in the face of every real or imagined obstacle. 

In the WikiLeaked cables, the Israeli government constantly highlights three threats: “Iran’s nuclear program, the build-up of rockets and missiles in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, and the Goldstone Report.” (#09TELAVIV2777) In defense against each of these threats, and in other arenas, the Israelis seem adept at coercing the US into doing their bidding. 


Israel’s criticisms of the Goldstone Report are verging on delusional. Its only defense –  repeated time and time and time again – is that “during Cast Lead the IDF send thousands and flyers, text messages and phone calls to civilians, warning them to get out of the way.” The population of Gaza is over 1.5 million, and I don’t think over 1 million of those are Hamas militants. “The deaths of several hundred civilians in Gaza was ‘tragic,’ Netanyahu said, but there was no deliberate targeting of civilians by Israel. Deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime, but what should Israel do when terrorists deliberately target Israeli civilians and then hide within their civilian population?” (#09TELAVIV2777) Netanyahu’s statement is contradictory and a blatant admission of criminal behavior, but this was Israel’s only defense despite Goldstone’s numerous accusations. “NSC Director for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Prem Kumar noted continued UNSC interest in the Goldstone Report, and asked Israel to inform the United States on any additional efforts or investigations the GOI was taking to help deflect any further damage from the report.” (#09TELAVIV2502) The Israeli government sees the Goldstone report as a threat – what it really is is a threat to Israel’s constant immunity. That the US, too, is keeping an eye out for “further damage” is indicative of our willingness to protect our neediest ally against any and all, especially legitimate, criticism. 

Iran, and the rest of the world 

Israel, perhaps rightly, perceives Iran as a threat. They seem to believe that everything from the Lebanese Armed Forces to Gaza tunnel smuggling to Turkey’s relationship with Syria represents Iranian infiltration and a constant threat. The idea that Iran is puppeteering the entire Middle East is reflected in Israel’s perception of its neighbors as part of a world-wide anti-Israel conspiracy. “Netanyahu warned…that if Iran gets a nuclear bomb, the peace process would be ‘washed away.’ Even Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan would come under enormous pressure.” (#09TELAVIV2777) This, despite all evidence that neither Cairo nor Amman are too keen on a nuclear Iran. “The relative calm on all Israel’s borders does not obscure the fact that Israeli intelligence is seeing significant activity and planning by Iranian surrogates.” (#09TELAVIV2482) “Gilad addressed threats posed by ‘Hizballahstan’ and ‘Hamastan,’ noting that Hizballah/Hamas-Syria-Iran cooperation has strengthened. …IDF J5 Col Shimon Arad noted…Lebanon’s susceptibility to outside influences, including Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. He recommended improved US.-Israel coordination, and called for an exchange of views. Arad also recommended creating Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) deconfliction measures, demanding improved LAF performance, and exerting greater pressure on Syria and smuggling.” (#09TELAVIV2502) Further, the Israelis believe US aid to Lebanon through the LAF will, in the end, go to support Iran. 


Regarding the laughable peace talks, Netanyahu and his cronies continue to throw blame, accusing Palestinians of being the ones standing in the way of peace.

“Netanyahu stated that his government had removed hundreds of obstacles and roadblocks in the West Bank, helping the West Bank economy achieve a seven percent growth rate, adding ‘and we can kick it up to ten percent growth.’ … The current GOI had also restrainted [sic] construction in settlements more than its past several predecessors. … Netanyahu then contrasted his efforts with the PA, which he said is maintaining a ‘political and economic boycott’ of Israel, setting preconditions for negotiations, supporting the Goldstone Report in the UN, and is now talking about a unilateral declaration of independence.  Israel wants to engage, but the Palestinians do not.  Netanyahu quoted a Palestinian official as saying that the PA had ‘exhausted the negotiating process,’ then noted that the Palestinians have not even started to talk to his government. … Netanyahu also commented that the Palestinians had initially expected the U.S. to ‘deliver Israel’ on all of their demands, but are now realizing that this will not happen. President Obama understands, he stated, that Israel is ready to move forward.  The alternatives to negotiations are bad for everyone. Netanyahu said that if Abu Mazen would engage, they would confront all the issues.” (#09TELAVIV2777

“Gilad described the Middle East peace process as a ‘pillar’ of Israeli security. He quoted PM Netanyahu and President Peres that Israel remains sincerely committed to peace. Gilad noted however, that the re-launching of negotiations is complicated by the split in Palestinian leadership. … That said, he noted that Israeli-PA security and economic cooperation in the West Bank continues to improve as Jenin and Nablus flourish, and described Palestinian security forces as the “good guys.”” (#09TELAVIV2502

“’Gilad expressed optimism over the current atmosphere in the West Bank, citing improvements in the security and economic spheres, and further stated that the reduced Israeli Defense Force (IDF) footprint in the West Bank has made conditions ripe for advancing the relationship.  Gilad closed, however, on a sourer note by stating that the Government of Israel has little faith in the Palestinian negotiating team.’” (#09TELAVIV2482

Israel is adept at slyly keeping the PA exactly where they want them: under de facto Israeli control. Indeed, Netanyahu’s generosity towards the Palestinians is heartwarming, it’s no wonder we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes:

“Rosenblit said that Netanyahu emphasized his openness to talks between the GOR [Government of Russia] and the Palestinians because he welcomed any way to bring them back to negotiations. ‘We wanted everyone to tell Abbas to return to negotiations because we can’t give him a deal until he sits down.’ … Rosenblit said that Israel still insists on talks without preconditions and no interim agreements: ‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.’” (#10MOSCOW392

Further, the Israelis “also expressed skepticism about Palestinian President Abbas’s future, given his weakened position as a result of … his inability to get the full settlement freeze he had pushed for; they questioned his ability to restart peace negotiations.” (#09TELAVIV2482

As always, Israel is the innocent lamb being sent to slaughter. No mention, naturally, of Israel’s responsibility in stalling negotiations; for the failure to continue the settlement freeze, no responsibility for the ambivalence towards drawing a map, no responsibility for the fact that settlers and settler violence are financially and politically supported by the Israeli government. 

“Netanyahu stressed that he was not pushing for the Palestinians to hold elections, but was instead focused on promoting the expansion of the West Bank economy by removing both physical and bureaucratic obstacles.” (#09TELAVIV2777) Translation: Netanyahu rejects Palestinian statehood and any realistic potential for peace, but will do anything to make himself and his occupation look good. Israeli culpability seems to be lost on the Americans, deftly – if transparently – manipulated by Bibi. “Netanyahu said his meeting with the President was the best meeting that they have had.  He stressed that he had told the President that he is ready to negotiate with Abu Mazen now, and contrasted Israel’s position with the PA’s setting of preconditions for negotiations.”  

Mineshaft Gap 

Arguably of the most financial significance is our military support for Israel. (Ironic, I think, considering their own largest economic sector is defense-based.) No matter what Israel is intending to use these weapons for – and more likely than not, against Iran or its so-called “surrogates,” we continue to give give give. These next two excerpts don’t need explanation – we are all well-acquainted with the prolific arms trade, or rather gifting, between the US and Israel. And the US and everyone else, for that matter. But read this inside the mentality of the Cold War (which I would argue is not over in the Middle East, only its players have changed), and its becomes almost hilarious. 

“10. (S) Turning to U.S. regional arms transfers, Gilad suggested Qualitative Military Edge (QME) as a “codename” for potential threats against Israel.  Israel currently enjoys peace with regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — but the future is uncertain, and each of these regimes faces the potential for change, he argued. U.S. weapons — “the best in the world” — level the playing field by reducing the need for training — and could ultimately aid a future enemy of Israel, Gilad said.  A/S Shapiro stressed the importance of transparency — while there may be differences between Israel and the United States in terms of a regional assessment, the key is to ensure that there are no surprises, he said.” (#09TELAVIV2502

“3. (S) On QME, ASD Vershbow asked for Israel’s assessment of recent discussions, and across the board, Israeli officials expressed gratitude for U.S. efforts on this front and voiced optimism on the steps moving forward.  Amos Gilad acknowledged the sometimes difficult position the U.S. finds itself in given its global interests, and conceded that Israel’s security focus is so narrow that its QME concerns often clash with broader American security interests in the region.  Israeli officials acknowledged the impressive nature of the QME dialogue mechanisms recently established, but stated that the results of the process are what truly matter. MG Benny Gantz defined successful QME relations as “the effective process plus the right mitigations.”  While not explicitly saying it, Gantz seemed to acknowledge that Israel does not expect that all QME decisions will break in its favor, but that Israel only expects a fair and equitable process that incorporates “intimate dialogue.”  DG Buchris thanked Versbhow for the recent success of the JPMG and said he looks forward to convening the first meeting of the agreed upon working groups by the end of November.  Vershbow stated that the technical working group discussions would be launched soon, and that he was looking forward to future Israeli participation on this issue.” (#09TELAVIV2482

Even if it runs contrary to our own interests, we seem to be more interested in preventing –  or possibly creating – a mineshaft gap between Israel and her multitudinous enemies, we are willing to throw caution to the wind. 

A piece of old news, Obama and Congress are solidly in Netanyahu’s pocket, and that is worrisome. “Netanyahu said only the U.S. and Israel are currently working on missile defense. This cooperation sends a powerful message to Israel’s enemies he noted, and thanked the CODEL and the Congress for their support.” (#09TELAVIV2777) American diplomats cannot escape the hypnotic trance of the lures of cooperation. “Tauscher reiterated that the United States will not take any action to compromise Israel’s security and would consult closely with Israel — which GOI officials greatly appreciated. … Gilad … argued against creating the impression that Israel was the problem.” (#09TELAVIV2757) Alas, it seems our only role in Middle East politics is to be arms dealer and Israel’s workhorse, extraordinaire. 

If the American government is really listening to this kind of paranoid propagandic drivel, and all signs point to the affirmative, then we live in sad days indeed. The Israelis ask, and the US gives. Anything, anything, for our little darlings. Israel is never wrong, the finger is always pointed away.

Israeli protesters to the Cape Town Opera House: ‘We believe that today Tel Aviv is a kind of ‘Sun City”

Nov 29, 2010

Adam Horowitz

Two weeks ago we posted a video of Israeli protesters outside a Cape Town Opera House performance of Porgy and Bess in Tel Aviv. They were performing songs based on the show that highlighted Israel’s apartheid policies in an attempt to educate fellow Israelis attending the show and to build support for the cultural boycott of Israel. The video garnered wide attention and the protesters returned to attempt to bring the message directly to the performers themselves. Below is the text of a leaflet that accompanied the protest:

Dear singers, musicians, other artists and staff of the Cape Town Opera,

Many of you may have heard of our protest preceding your first premiere performance in Tel Aviv. We would like to introduce ourselves and explain our action.

We know that making a living as performing artists is not easy. We know that you have families to support. Our dispute is not with you but with the administrators of the Cape Town Opera, who have chosen to ignore a fundamental lesson learned from South Africa’s Apartheid era. We are strongly opposed to the Opera’s performance here because we believe that our government, with the support of many Israelis, is committing the crime of Apartheid and violating the human rights of millions of Palestinian civilians. Over a million people in the occupied Gaza Strip are trapped in an open-air prison, held hostage indefinitely; in the occupied West Bank Palestinian lands are confiscated for the construction of Jewish-only settlements and roads; and within Israel Palestinian citizens are relegated to second-class status and threatened with deportation if they refuse to swear allegiance to the Jewish state. As you may remember, in 1985 an international group of artists recorded a song with a clear message – I ain’t gonna play Sun City! As Israeli citizens in solidarity with the Palestinian people, we believe that today Tel Aviv is a kind of “Sun City” – a showcase of globalized entertainment and normalcy that serves to disguise the atrocities committed a stone’s throw away.

At its best, art can serve as a critique of oppression and as a reminder that humanity can triumph over bigotry and indifference. Certainly Porgy and Bess and your rendition of it embody this aspiration (as does our little act). But in Tel Aviv, where today most Palestinians are simply not allowed to step, much less enjoy an opera, we are convinced that its performance is wrong. In this we concur with Palestinian civil society’s call for an international cultural boycott on Israel. Twenty years ago the boycott on South Africa was both necessary and effective. Today Israel is the culprit. We would love to welcome you to our city when Apartheid is defeated here. For now we ask that you consider our message, and perhaps take it home and share it with others.

Please feel free to contact us by email at contact or by phone at 052-8331213.

Sincerely yours,

Israeli Citizens Against Israeli Apartheid

And here’s a video from the Daily Nuisance that puts the protest in the broader context of the BDS movement:

French firm Veolia reported to drop out of E. Jerusalem rail project under int’l pressure

Nov 29, 2010



and other news from Today in Palestine for Sunday:

Settlers / Land, property & resource theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Israel bulldozes PA-backed projects
NABLUS — Israeli forces demolished two agricultural projects south of Salfit in the northern West Bank on Wednesday, Palestinian officials said … The mayor of the village of Deir Istiyya Nathmi Salman said that Israeli forces raided Wadi Qana area near the village and declared the area a closed military zone. He said crews from the Israeli Civil Administration and the Society for Protecting Nature in Israel arrived with bulldozers which demolished the Wadi Qana rehabilitation project which cost the Palestinian finance ministry 120,000 US dollars. Salman added that a water canal was destroyed and parts of a reservoir and a water network carrying water to orange groves were confiscated. The fence surrounding the project was also removed.

Israeli bulldozers: demolishing homes, ruining livelihoods / Stella, ISM
26 Nov – In the last few days, with a wave of demolitions, Israeli bulldozers have spread destruction and despair in the villages across the West Bank: in Qarawat Bani Hassan near Salfeet, in al-Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley, in Hizma, near Jerusalem, in Khirbet Yarza, east of Tubas, and in the South Hebron Hills. Yesterday I went to the village of al-Rifayaia, east of Yatta in South Hebron, where at 8:15 AM Israeli forces had demolished a house that had been home to two families of twenty people (16 of them minors) … The many kids around had disoriented expressions while they were playing on the ruins of what used to be a nice 200 square meter house … The Israeli bulldozers didn’t even let them remove their belongings before demolishing the house.

Israel mulls rail link to West Bank settlement (AFP)
JERUSALEM — Israel is considering building a rail link to the sprawling Jewish settlement of Ariel, which lies deep inside the occupied West Bank, a transport ministry spokesman told AFP on Friday. The spokesman stressed that it was only one of a number of projects under consideration but the right-wing Maariv daily said three million shekels (800,000 dollars) had been allocated for a feasibility study. The proposed rail line would link the town of Rosh Ha Ayin, east of Tel Aviv, with Ariel and also serve Barkan, another settlement.

Violence / Aggression

Workers shot on Gaza border
28 Nov – Israeli forces shot and injured four Palestinian workers who were collecting stone aggregates Sunday near the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli authorities closed the terminal to all traffic except medical cases.

Gazan rubble collectors shot by Israeli forces
[with photos] 27 Nov – Khalid Ashraf Abosita, 22 years, is in critical condition after being shot by the Israeli Offensive Forces in Beit Hanoun, a city on the north-east edge of the Gaza Strip. He is currently hospitalized in Shifa hospital in Gaza City. At 6 pm, more than three hours after the assault, Khalid was trembling all over his body and was still losing a lot of blood. The bullet hit his left calf, fractured the bone and exited his leg again. According to the hospital doctor he was in an unstable state. Equipped with a horse carriage, Khalid tries to make a living as a scrap collector. He married eight months ago and is trying to establish a family … Like hundreds of men and youth, collecting stones, metal, pieces of concrete, and brick in the border areas–under the eye of Israeli snipers in the control towers–is the only way of making an income. This afternoon Khalid was roughly 500 meters away from the fence when suddenly two shots were fired.

Israeli forces shoot Gaza fisherman at shore
[with photos] 27 Nov – At 12:30 pm, Ahmed Mahmoud Jarboh, aged 26, was shot in the back of the left knee by the Israeli Offensive Forces while fishing at the shore of Beit Lahya, in the north of the Gaza Strip. He is currently hospitalized in Kamal Udwan, in the neighboring town Jabalya, where his condition is being monitored … For over a year Ahmed has daily frequented the same area to fish with a small cast net. Today he and two of his colleagues were fishing from the shore at approximately 350 meters from the border fence. This incident again exemplifies a recent UN report conclusion that the danger zone does not halt at 300 meters: it can reach up to 1.5 kilometers … Ahmed Mahmoud Jarboh marks the tenth victim of IOF buffer zone aggression in four weeks.

PA: Female prisoner of Israel beaten in custody
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The PA Ministry of Prisoners Affairs released a report Saturday alleging that a Palestinian woman in Israeli custody was brutally beaten in the Ramle prison after she refused to submit to a strip search. Twenty-two-year-old Sumoud Hasan Karaja, from the central West Bank village of Saffa, was transferred from Israel’s Damon prison to the Ramle facility on 8 November

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Police exonerate Israeli officers who shot tear gas canister into US activist’s eye
Art student Emily Henochowicz lost her eye during a protest against the IDF raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in late May — The Judea and Samaria district police found no criminal wrongdoing in the actions of the Border Police soldiers who left an American art student without an eye after getting hit in the face with a tear gas canister at a protest in Qalandiyah six months ago … Following the incident, Henochowicz’s family filed a complaint to the Judea and Samaria district police which is responsible for investigating the operational activity of the Border Police in the West Bank. The family argued the policeman shot the canister directly at the student, against regulations.

Activism roundup: Abu Rahme sentence extended, students stage mock checkpoint
Meanwhile, in the United States, South Africa, Scotland and England, solidarity activists continue to put pressure on the Israeli government while calling attention to the ongoing struggle for justice on the ground in Palestine.

French firm drops out of rail project
Pressure from pro-Palestinian groups has forced a French multinational to drop out of a light rail project that cuts into disputed east Jerusalem, a would-be Israeli partner in the project said Sunday. France’s Veolia disputed the assertion, which would bolster an international campaign to boycott companies supporting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Palestinians claim both areas for part of their future state.,7340,L-3991032,00.html


Army: Gaza rocket hits Israel, no casualties
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into southern Israel on Sunday but caused no casualties or damage, the Israeli army said. The rocket exploded in mid-air as it headed towards the Shaar HaNegev region of southern Israel which lies along Gaza’s northeastern border, a spokesman said.

Israel army admits to false alarm on Gaza rocket
28 Nov 17:48 – JERUSALEM (AFP) — The Israeli army said its report of a rocket being fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Sunday appeared to have been a false alarm.

Siege / Restriction on movement

[2 truckloads of] strawberries to be exported from Gaza
The Kerem Shalom crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, which is usually partly open every day in one direction, will operate in two directions Sunday after European countries convinced Israeli authorities to allow exports of strawberries from Gaza … Israeli authorities will open the Kerem Shalom crossing Sunday to allow entry of 150-160 truckloads of goods and humanitarian aid for the agricultural and the commercial sectors, Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh said. Fattouh said two truckloads of strawberries would be exported for the first time in 2010. Limited quantities of domestic-use gas and industrial diesel will also be delivered to Gaza through the same terminal,

18 European lawmakers arrive in Gaza
Eighteen European politicians arrived in Gaza on Friday evening to meet with Hamas lawmakers. The European delegation entered Gaza via the Rafah crossing on Egypt’s border. Crossings officials said the visit was coordinated by UNRWA’s Gaza office.

War criminals

Leftists: Naveh involved in ‘illegal killings’
Shulamit Aloni, Nathan Zach and others object appointment of new IDF deputy chief of staff, claiming he’s ‘not morally suitable’. In High Court petition, they accuse him of illegal targeted killings while serving as central command chief … The petitioners claimed that debriefings published in the past based on IDF files’ findings state that Naveh, as well as other IDF officials, allegedly confirmed the assassinations and targeted killings of wanted persons, who could have otherwise been arrested, even though their killing cost the lives of innocent people.,7340,L-3990817,00.html

Britain to act against arrest warrants targeting Israeli officials
The Jewish Chronicle reported that the United Kingdom will be taking measures meant to prevent British courts from issuing arrest warrants against Israeli military and political leaders accused of committing war crimes.

IDF officers get photo of dead child
‘How will you explain this to God?’ says letter sent from Spain to homes of officers exposed on ‘war criminals’ website. ‘I’ve gotten used to curses, but when such a thing arrives at your doorstep, it’s very unpleasant,’ reserve colonel tells Ynet … The poster includes a picture of a young child buried in the sand. His head is the only thing sticking out and he appears to be dead. [This was four-year-old Kaukab Al Dayah (female), killed in her house in Gaza City, bombed by an F-16 on 6 Jan 2009 during ‘Cast Lead’. Is it possible that Israelis, not to mention Israeli journalists, have never seen this photo? Most of the rest of the world has.],7340,L-3990611,00.html

Israel’s Arab helpers

Israel army’s West Bank presence ‘lowest in 20 years’ (AFP)
The number of Israeli troops operating in the occupied West Bank is at its lowest level in more than 20 years, a military source said on Sunday … However, there has been no reduction in the number of troops dedicated to surveillance, intelligence gathering and special operations, the source added. The army declined to comment on troop numbers. However, army spokesman Captain Arye Shalicar did say the West Bank was at its most stable since the outbreak of the second intifada due to “better coordination between the Palestinian Security Forces” and the Israeli military.

Israeli racism and discrimination

Israel’s cabinet approves building detention center for African infiltrators
Netanyahu clarifies that only infiltrators, not ‘refugees of war’, will be detained, says Israeli jobs and society under threat — Israel’s cabinet approved Sunday a plan to hold and deport thousands of illegal migrant workers whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as a “threat to the character of the country”. In remarks to the cabinet, Netanyahu said thousands of migrants who have entered Israel mainly through Egypt in past years would be housed at a special holding facility, due to built in Israel’s southern Negev desert … Israeli officials have yet to say exactly how many migrants would be sent to the facility, expected to be built at or near the site of a former prison camp for Palestinians deep in the desert.

Rights groups: Planned refugees detention center disgraces Israel
A cabinet decision on Sunday approving a plan to hold and deport thousands of illegal migrant workers drew the ire of rights groups, who called the plan a disgrace on the State of Israel and said such a move would do nothing to halt the stream of infiltrators crossing over from Sinai … Responding to Netanyahu’s plan later Sunday, Physicians for Human Rights severely criticized the cabinet’s decision: “That victims of torture, rape, war and genocide are to be imprisoned indefinitely, without the supervision of a judicial authority and against the international treaty on the protection of refugees is a stain of shame on the State of Israel.”

PM: Refugees threatening Israelis’ jobs
Netanyahu says Israel must create ‘humane response’ for African infiltrators ‘until they are removed from the country’. Detention facilities exist in European countries as well, he claims,7340,L-3990776,00.html

Infiltrators’ detention facility ‘a ghetto’
Foreign workers panic as government prepares to approve new Negev facility. ‘It’s like a refugee camp for forced and unlimited detention,’ says aid organization official,7340,L-3990663,00.html

Rabbi okays renting apartments to Arabs
Following rabbinical ruling against renting out flats to Arabs or migrant workers, head of Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva says ‘Jewish sovereignty cannot exist without caring for foreigners living among us’,7340,L-3990204,00.html

Political and diplomatic news

Hamas: Palestinians must resist against Israel in West Bank (Reuters)
Khaled Meshal says only armed resistance would keep the Palestinian cause alive, despite Western aid to Abbas and his forces. Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said on Saturday that his group faced “huge challenges” in the West Bank as a force against Israel. Armed struggle has a powerful appeal among the inhabitants of the occupied territory, where the rival Fatah faction has been extending influence since a civil war with Hamas in 2007, Meshal told a conference in the Syrian capital … Meshal, who lives in exile in Syria, said only armed resistance would keep the Palestinian cause alive, despite Western aid to Abbas and his forces.”The Palestinian people will not be bribed. They will not be cowed by Dayton’s forces,” he said, referring to Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian territories, who heads training of 8,000 members at the core of the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatus.

Wulff: Germany ‘responsible’ for Israeli security
…”Germany considers that it has a responsibility concerning Israel’s right to exist and to security,” said Wulff, Germany’s first head of state to be born after World War II. He stressed, however, that Israel’s long-term security can only be guaranteed through peace based on an independent Palestinian nation living side by side with Israel.

Indian president backs Syria’s claim on the Golan Heights
Indian President Pratibha Patil said that India fully supported the return of the Golan Heights to Syria during a joint press conference with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Israel Radio reported Saturday.

Turkish bill bans Israelis from owning land
A bill being formulated in Turkey stipulates that Israelis will no longer be able to buy land in the country, though they will be able to continue renting apartments, the Turkish Milliyet reported Sunday … while all of the world’s citizens will be able to purchase land by presenting a passport, only those with an Israeli or Greek passport will be barred from having the pleasure.,7340,L-3991055,00.html

Other news

17 Palestinians injured in traffic accident
A traffic accident injured 17 Palestinians Saturday when a vehicle pursued by the Israeli military crashed near Bethlehem, medics said. Bethlehem emergency services head Abed Al-Ja’afri said the vehicle was headed toward Israel when it flipped over near the Israeli settlement Betar Illit. The vehicle was carrying Palestinian workers, he said, and the injured were transferred in Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances to three hospitals in Bethlehem.

Soldiers ‘confiscate shirt’ from Palestinian
…Nader Rezeq Dweikat said he was walking near his home in Beta village to get fuel for his tractor when three soldiers in a military jeep stopped him. “Initially I thought they wanted to check my identity card, but they said ‘We do not want your ID card, just take off your shirt.’ I thought I misunderstood, but they repeated their order, ‘Take off your shirt,’ and I did so under force, they seized my shirt and immediately left the area, they didn’t ask me about anything else,” he said.

Israeli army says increase in Bedouin recruits
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — The number of Bedouins joining the Israeli army has doubled since 2007, Israel Radio reported Saturday. Colonel Yosi Haddad told the national radio station that 1,100 Bedouins are currently in service to the army, and half of these recruits are from southern Israel … Haddad told Israel Radio that Bedouin soldiers were treated equally, and that there was even some positive bias toward them. However, he admitted that they face problems in society once they finish military service.

IDF converts win ministerial backing, despite haredi opposition
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved Sunday a bill to protect the religious status of Israel Defense Forces soldiers who converted to Judaism through a military court.

Ministers pledge to endorse expat bill
Prime Minister’s Office likely to try and postpone debate on bill enabling Israeli citizens residing abroad to vote in Knesset elections which is scheduled to be discussed by Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs,7340,L-3990584,00.html

Analysis / Opinion

Israel can’t put occupation up for immoral referendum / Gideon Levy
Israeli democracy at its best: The entire people will decide on the next peace arrangement, but not on the question of settlements and annexation, and not on the question of wars. Israeli trickery at its best: Legislators pass laws relating to the day an arrangement is forged whose point is to defer that day’s arrival for as long as possible. And Israeli morality at its best: A manifestly immoral question is formulated for a referendum, and insult is added to injury because only we Israelis, members of the chosen people, will decide on the fate of another people which has for generations lived under occupation, and we dare to call all this tomfoolery democracy. In fact, this is Israeli chutzpah at its worst.

Thanksgiving, tikkun olam and US Jews breaking the Israel barrier / Bradley Burston
…it’s in the direct interest of pro-settlement and right-leaning forces in the U.S. Jewish community to have an Israeli government which alienates and repels as many young, energetic, moderate American Jews as possible. It’s in the direct interest of the powerful minority of pro-occupation, pro-settlement (let’s call them POPS) activists and communal officials, along with a Sharansky-driven Jewish Agency and a Lieberman-driven Foreign Ministry, to have these voices of conscience out of the way. For the pro-occupation, pro-settlement American Jewish right, it’s not a problem that most Jews find the settlement enterprise repellent – it’s a godsend.

The original sin / Uri Avnery
…Jewish religion, as fostered in Israel. It does not resemble the Judaism which existed in the Diaspora – neither the Orthodox nor the Reform model. It must be said: the Jewish religion in Israel is a mutation of Judaism, a tribal, racist, extreme nationalist and anti-democratic creed. There are now three religious educational systems – the national-religious, the “independent” one of the Orthodox, and “el-Hama’ayan (“to the source”) of Shas. All three are financed by the state at least 100%, if not much more. The differences between them are small, compared to their similarities. All teach their pupils the history of the Jewish people only (based, of course, on the religious myths), nothing about the history of the world, of other peoples, not to mention other religions.

Left standing: Signs of life in Israel’s peace camp / Shay Fogelman
Armed with self-confidence and ambition, Eldad Yaniv, a lawyer and former adviser to Ehud Barak, is promoting his idea of what Israel’s left should look like. He says he has no private political aspirations, but believes his National Left movement is just what the country needs. Others beg to differ


Saturday: 8 Iraqis killed, 7 wounded
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki insisted today that Iraq has no need of continued U.S. presence after 2011. Nevertheless, at least eight Iraqis were killed and seven more were wounded in light violence. Meanwhile, Iraqi refugees who have returned to unacceptable conditions are again leaving the country. Christians in particular are fleeing to Turkey.

US troops in convoy kill Iraqi civilian driver (AP)
BAGHDAD — U.S. troops who thought they were under attack killed an Iraqi airport employee Sunday as he drove near a military convoy on his way to work, officials said.

Iraq’s troubles drive out refugees who came back
BAGHDAD — A second exodus has begun here, of Iraqis who returned after fleeing the carnage of the height of the war, but now find that violence and the nation’s severe lack of jobs are pulling them away from home once again. Since the American invasion in 2003, refugees have been a measure of the country’s precarious condition, flooding outward during periods of violence and trickling back as Iraq seemed to stabilize. This new migration shows how far the nation remains from being stable and secure.

Twelve arrested over deadly Baghdad church siege
Jawad Bolani said the arrests were made in raids over recent days and described them as a blow to al-Qaeda. The suspects are said to include Huthaifa al-Batawi, the Baghdad chief of the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni militant umbrella group to which al-Qaeda in Iraq belongs, according to AFP news agency. The group has said it carried out the attack.


Talking to the Taliban about life after occupation / Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
Special report: In the last of his series from Afghanistan, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad asks Taliban leaders past and present what kind of regime they would run – and whether there is a chance of negotiated peace … In a striking parallel with what the Americans have been advocating as part of their counterinsurgency initiative, the Haqqanis have set up local shura (consultation) councils made up of village elders and clerics to run the affairs of villagers in the “liberated” areas and create local security.

Afghanistan war: US says violence reaches all-time high
Violence in Afghanistan has reached an all-time high, with clashes up fourfold since 2007, the Pentagon has said … Approximately 97,000 US troops and 48,800 troops from other countries are in Afghanistan at present.

US Marines shrug off Afghan anger at civilians’ killings / Jason Ditz
Most complaints in Sangin district not even investigated — As Taliban leadership admonish their fighters to avoid civilian deaths, locals in the Sangin District of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province are increasingly angry, complaining that the US Marines who recently took over the district have been regularly killing the civilians and refusing to investigate. The US denies the allegation of the killings, but admitted that they don’t bother to investigate the vast majority of the complaints because they assume them to be “Taliban propaganda.” The commander of the Marines is the district says that the Taliban are to blame for “every single instance” of a civilian casualty in the district.

US General McChrystal approved peace talks with fake Taliban leader
*American Nato commander asked MI6 to develop contacts *News contradicts Hamid Karzai’s attempt to put blame on UK — Peace talks conducted with an impostor who posed as a Taliban leader, and which led to a meeting with Hamid Karzai in Kabul and thousands of dollars in “goodwill payments”, were started by the Afghan government and approved by the former American commander, Stanley McChrystal, the Guardian has learned.

An overeager Petraeus ignored danger signs on Taliban imposter / Gareth Porter
IPS — The revelation that the man presumed to be a high-ranking Taliban leader who had met with top Afghan officials was an imposter sheds new light on Gen. David Petraeus’s aggressive propaganda about the supposed Taliban approach to the Hamid Karzai regime.

Lebanon and other Mideast

Hezbollah: Evidence held by Hariri court is worthless (AP)
Nasrallah reiterates claim that Israel manipulated Lebanon’s telecommunications network to frame Hezbollah for 2005 murder of Rafik Hariri.

War in Lebanon depends on Israel / Zvi Bar’el
Israel and Egypt are probably the only two countries in the region eager to see how the international tribunal will indict Hezbollah and its secretary general. The hell with Lebanon, as long as it’s possible to condemn Nasrallah once again. Let justice see the light, despite the cost. We’ll be ready. As always. After all, the forum of seven has already discussed, recommended and approved an Israeli response if Hezbollah launches even a single small missile. Four summers have passed without war in Lebanon. Prophecies are not coming true. The situation is intolerable. Maybe this time we’ll succeed; maybe the Hariri trial will rescue Israel from the corner it has painted itself into.

Lebanese premier arrives in Iran
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri arrived in Iran on Saturday, seeking its help to prevent political tensions turning violent if a U.N.-backed tribunal indicts Hezbollah members for killing his father.

Ex-Israel PM doesn’t deny Israeli air strike on Syria (AP)
JERUSALEM – Israel’s former prime minister said Thursday that he can’t deny ex-President George W. Bush’s claim in a new book that Israel destroyed a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria. It was Ehud Olmert’s first public comment on the mysterious September 2007 incident, which happened while he was in office.

Iran offers Hariri to help Lebanese military
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Sunday told Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that Tehran was prepared to help the Lebanese army, state television’s website reported. “We have stated on several occasions, and we say it again today, that we stand alongside the Lebanese army and are prepared to cooperate” with it, Vahidi said during a meeting with the visiting premier, the report said.

Iran: Bushehr nuclear power plant has been fueled up (AP)
‘We hope the Bushehr power plant will be connected to the country’s national power grid within the next one or two months,’ says Iranian vice president.

Voting begins in Egypt parliamentary election
Egyptian government aiming to squeeze Islamist Muslim Brotherhood out of parliament before presidential vote in 2011; meanwhile, opposition candidates complain of fraud in polls.

Islam is the Solution / Ashraf Ezzat
The streets are crammed with banners and posters everywhere advertising different candidates for the coming Egyptian parliamentary elections due on next Sunday 28th, November. The banners and posters carry photos and names of candidates and often a slogan that summarizes the candidate’s plan of action if he is to be elected. For anyone who didn’t know better this might seem as the sign of a fierce and free democratic competition between candidates of different political parties, but frankly it isn’t; this whole show is a one party show disguised in a make-believe democracy.  The national Democratic Party (NDP) is the ruling party headed by Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt for almost a world record of 30 long years.

Egyptians shrug off voting in Alexandria (AFP)
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (AFP) – It’s a hazy Sunday in Egypt’s northern city of Alexandria, a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold, where many residents are ignoring the elections as they go about their daily chores … Voter apathy is rife across Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, with low turnout as many see Sunday’s election as a foregone conclusion that will help the ruling National Democratic Party tighten its grip … The Brotherhood, outlawed but tolerated, is fielding 130 candidates across the country … The group, which has seen at least 1,000 of its supporters detained in the past two months and a dozen of its candidates disqualified, is predicted to win far fewer seats than the fifth it secured in 2005 legislative polls.

Son of Egypt election candidate stabbed to death (AFP)
The son of an independent candidate in Egypt’s parliamentary election was stabbed to death on the eve of the vote as he was putting up posters of his father in Cairo, relatives and a medic said Sunday … A Palestinian boy was shot and injured a day earlier after soldiers opened fire on a group of men collecting stone aggregates in the same area along the border. Medics said his injuries were moderate.

Muslim Brotherhood threatens to sever Israel ties
Egypt’s Opposition leader says ‘illicit marriage with Tel Aviv’ will be scrapped if elections won … “Leaders of the regime know that if we rise to power we will change many aspects of its policy, first and foremost relations with Israel, which have contributed significantly to the maladies that have ailed us,” Badie said. “We will not allow the Palestinians to die of hunger and close the door on them while opening it to Israelis who can enter Sinai whenever they so choose.”,7340,L-3990446,00.html

U.S. and other world news

WikiLeaks says it is under cyber attack
LONDON (AFP) — WikiLeaks said Sunday it was under a cyber attack but stressed this would not stop the publication of classified US documents, in a message on Twitter. “We are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack,” the whistle-blower website said in a statement on its Twitter feed, just hours before an expected mass release of the documents. But it insisted that the Spanish, French, German, British and US newspapers that were planning to publish the information later Sunday would go ahead, in the face of strong opposition from the United States. “El Pais, Le Monde, Spiegel, Guardian and NYT (the New York Times) will publish many US embassy cables tonight, even if WikiLeaks goes down,” it said.

US warns WikiLeaks’ Assange on possible leak
The US has written to the founder of whistleblower site Wikileaks, Julian Assange, requesting him not to release a cache of diplomatic files. The release of classified state department documents is against US law and will put “countless” lives at risk, the letter warns.

Netanyahu: Israel will not stand at center of new WikiLeaks report
Material concerning Israel will not be the focal point of a new exposé by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, as Israel and the United States tensely awaited the imminent release of American classified diplomatic cables expected to include secret communiques between the two countries. “Israel is not the center of international attention,” the premier said, adding that Jerusalem had not “been updated by the Americans about specific sensitive materials to be disclosed regarding Israel.”

US briefed Palestinians on WikiLeaks cache
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The United States has informed the Palestinian government in Ramallah that some of the hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables set for release by the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks will deal with US-Palestinian relations. Washington’s message, delivered by phone to the Office of the President a few days in advance of the scheduled release, was quick and to the point: Don’t overreact.

Book: Suicide bombers and what makes them tick / Arshad M. Khan
Chalmers Johnson died last Saturday.  An intellectual stalwart and a powerhouse in political economy, he will be sorely missed.  He was ever the pragmatist — first, when he realized its futility, turning against the Vietnam war … His views of the causes of terrorism also come to mind as the empirical analysis in a new book, Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It (University of Chicago Press, 2010) by Robert A. Pape and James K. Feldman, validates his thinking … So what fuels such terrorism? The media would have us believe it is religious extremism  … But Pape and Feldman, after exhaustive research into 30 years of data, conclude otherwise; instead they contend the evidence places the blame squarely on foreign occupation.  The principal objective of the terrorist, it seems, has always been to compel a democracy to withdraw from prized land.

Posted in Middle East1 Comment





Wexler told Israelis, American people will support attack on Iran if talks are tried and fail

Nov 28, 2010

Philip Weiss


From the Wikileaks US Embassy cables. Robert Wexler is the former Florida congressman who has gone on to head a Jewish organization, and who people are always hinting is about to join the Obama administration as a Middle East envoy. How does he operate? Here are notes of a high-level meeting in Israel in May 2009 in which Wexler is representing Obama’s policy to Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Chief, Major General Amos Yadlin:

Rep. Wexler went on to discuss that there is a third good option in that the President may have better leverage with the American public to support action if engagement efforts are attempted and failed. Rep Wexler recommended that the Israeli people need to consider the US perspective and public opinion. MG Yadlin responded that he is not recommending the US enter a third front, but it has to be understood that Israel sees things differently and that Israel has to be ready and can not remove the military option from the table. Rep Wexler stated that he expected Israel would be pleasantly surprised by the President’s acceptance of all possible options in regards to Iran.

And along the same lines, here’s Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state [A/S] for political-military affairs (who once said that Lincoln was for a Jewish state), assuring the government of Israel (GOI) in July ’09 that diplomacy with Iran will soon be exhausted:

A/S Shapiro made clear that a nuclear armed Iran was unacceptable to the United States. He referenced Secretary Clinton’s July 15 foreign policy address at the Council on Foreign Relations, noting the offer of engagement with Iran — but reinforcing that such an offer is not indefinite. A/S Shapiro argued that an Iranian rejection of our offer to engage will only help bolster international support for increased sanctions. He also pointed to the uncertain situation following the Iranian elections — it was unclear at this point how the regime in Tehran will react to our offer of engagement. That said, he repeated that the engagement offer was not unlimited, noting that the United States will reassess its engagement strategy with Iran later this fall. 

How many of these people do you suppose there are?

The opening of an American mind: Chalmers Johnson

Nov 28, 2010

Matthew Phillips


Many readers of Mondoweiss will, I’m sure, be familiar of the work of  Chalmers Johnson. In my last review, dealing with the relevance of imperial and postwar Japan for current American policy in the Middle East, I cited Johnson as notable American scholar of Japan whose work has, I believe, shown us how badly awry we have gone during the War on Terror. It is with great sadness that I learned that Johnson died a few days ago. What I offer is a quick reflection on Johnson’s work and went it meant to me personally. It is important to pay tribute, I think, in however small a way, as a number of rare and indispensable voices have been passing away recently (in the past year and a half alone, the names Howard Zinn, Tony Judt and Amos Elon come to mind, though there are undoubtedly many others). Needless to say, we hardly maintain a surplus of honest and reasonably courageous intellectuals eager to fill the void.

One day perhaps someone will put together an anthology showing how and when some of our dissident voices came to the realization that their country was not the very essence of virtue it pretends to be. For Howard Zinn, this apparently came as a bombardier in World War II, when he was involved in air raids over France only weeks before the war in Europe came to an end.

For Chalmers Johnson, his awakening came at the end of the Cold War, when he saw that the collapse of the Soviet Union, rather than compelling us to drastically reduce our military posture in the world, had the opposite effect. Johnson observed the immediate replacement of our traditional adversary with new justifications for our militarism, whether it was the defense of George H.W. Bush’s “New World Order” or the neo-liberal economic policies of Clinton and the moral crusade of “humanitarian intervention”.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, in other words, so did an entire rationale—that the outrageous amount of money spent on “defense” was necessary because of our conflict with communism. Noting with alarm how desperate we were to find another enemy to justify our posturing (quickly settling on fundamentalist Islam), Johnson would devote the rest of his work, in part, to undermining this central myth of the Cold War.

If there is a word often associated with Johnson’s name, it is “prophetic”. This is the label Johnson readily acquired when his book Blowback was published just before the 9/11 attacks. In Blowback, Chalmers Johnson argued that “blowback” (a term the CIA coined after its 1953 overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran ) was the anticipated consequence of not only American actions abroad but also, and crucially, covert actions. Because of the secrecy attending American violence abroad, Johnson argued, if retaliation ever did come the American people would have no way of contextualizing the events.

It goes without saying that the Bush administration’s effort to invoke a ready-made answer to the 9/11 attacks, specifically with regard to what Johnson called “that forensic question”—“why do they hate us?”— became a paradigmatic example of what Johnson was warning of in Blowback. Having no real knowledge of U.S. support for dictators, the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, U.S crimes against the Iraqi people, or the Palestinians, the only conceivable answer to the question was “they hate us because we are free”, nonsense that Johnson ridiculed but nonsense that was spouted vociferously, and with equal conviction, by both republicans and democrats.

This last point brings me to the main lesson that I learned from Johnson, which is that the terms “left” and “right”, and especially the term “conservative”, have become utterly devoid of meaning in the U.S. I’m not sure if he said this explicitly but it was the inescapable conclusion of reading his work. Johnson was undoubtedly an authentic “conservative”, one of the very few remaining, a man loyal to the principles of republican government. The central tenet of Johnson’s writing was that imperial ambitions abroad necessarily corrupt the virtues of republicanism at home. Period.

There were no exceptions to this rule, and Johnson was fond of making historical comparisons of the U.S. to Rome in this respect.

As readers of his know, he was never shy about using the term “empire” to describe the United States (if I were to offer one mild criticism of Johnson, it would be that he could become somewhat dogmatic in his use of the concept of  “empire”, a term, I think, he somewhat over-relied on). That being said, his concept of the “empire of bases” came as something of a revelation to me. Johnson saw the military base as serving roughly the same function for the American “empire” as the colony did for its European antecedents. His 2005 book The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic brilliantly analyzed the system of bases (of which there were, at the time, approximately seven hundred spread out in over one hundred countries) and the culture of militarism they represented, at home and abroad. The book puts the nightmare of Iraq, which was only beginning, in its proper context, along a continuum of American policy (Johnson called them “Iraqi Wars”).

The book came out shortly after I began college, when justifications for the war were shifting from nonexistent WMD to democratization, a pretense Johnson utterly demolished. It should be said that Johnson was far more than just a critic of war. He primarily understood war as the inevitable consequence of our military industrial complex, which was his real concern (Johnson, witnessing the total collapse of the legislative branch as a mechanism of oversight, added a third party to Eisenhower’s formula; in Johnson’s words, it became the “military-industrial- congressional complex”).

Johnson was nothing if not scathing when he came to the national security state and it’s dissembling, which he felt stole money from Americans to start of fires overseas, while shredding the constitution to boot. On this particular subject, the only one who can match Johnson in the relentlessness of his critique (and wit) is Gore Vidal. That being said, Johnson was essentially a careful and (in another sense) conservative scholar, and was thus quick to emphasize how incomplete his analysis was, given the lengths many governmental agencies go to conceal not only their actions but also—as with the pentagon’s budget—simply the amount of money they spend.

When it came to the issue of “secrecy”, another critical harbinger of the unraveling of democracy, the impression one gets from reading Johnson is that of a first-rate private detective hired to discover the inner workings of a supposedly open institution, and coming up short. In any event, if the Republican Party, as well as its Tea Party faction, were in any way “conservative”, Johnson’s The Sorrows of Empire would be their foreign policy handbook.

It wouldn’t be unfair to Johnson, I hope, to point out that he was mainly concerned in his work with might be called “costs to us”. Johnson was outraged by U.S. actions abroad, and consistently demonstrated that such interests had nothing to do with the interests of the American people. Johnson wrote much about the costs of what he dubbed “military Keynesianism”, which he defined as the pernicious belief that “public policies focused on frequent wars, huge expenditures on weapons and munitions, and large standing armies can indefinitely sustain a wealthy capitalist economy”.

He understood how absurd it was to feign outrage about the economy while continuing to tolerate the astronomical “defense” budget. I think Johnson believed that given the narrowness of the spectrum of opinion in the U.S., the most effective way to protest against policies he deplored would be to focus on why they were  harming the American people. Johnson’s academic interests, however, show that he was hardly any kind of caricature of an “isolationist”— the economic histories of Japan and China were his forte. His popular writing demonstrates that he was widely read in ancient history; and my favorite essay of his from his last book—Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope—is called “Smash of Civilizations”, where he recounts the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad, a site once host to some of the most invaluable treasures in mankind’s possession. As Johnson makes clear, the destruction of the museum, whose responsibility lies solely with the occupation forces, can never be forgiven or forgotten.

I’ve always thought that the description of Johnson as “prophetic”, however appropriate it is in describing his warnings about the consequences of American policy, might perhaps obscure what I think was Johnson’s most impressive accomplishment: changing his mind. Johnson, who spent years as an analyst for the CIA, once described himself as a “spear-carrier for the empire”. Accused of being inconsistent, Johnson would quote Keynes, who famously responded to the same charge by noting “When I get new information, sir, I change my position. What do you, sir, do with new information?” Unlike neoconservatives such as Norman Podhoretz, who have written tomes describing how remarkable they have been in going from one illusion to the next, Johnson was relatively quiet, as far as I can tell, about his actually meaningful intellectual trajectory.

By the end of his life, however, he had become as strident a critic to be found, all the more valuable because of his perspective as one who had once subscribed to the illusions that he worked hard to disabuse himself of. Considering the way in which most people become more entrenched in their thinking as they grow older, this is no small thing. Had Johnson devoted himself to telling himself (and all of us) comforting lies, his writing, given his unimpeachable credentials, would undoubtedly have been featured in op-eds throughout the press and he would have been a frequent guest on television panels alongside David Brooks.

He didn’t, however, and outlets like, truthdig and especially, the website run by the remarkable Tom Engelhardt, greatly profited from his contributions instead. Johnson’s passing, while undoubtedly an enormous loss, gives an occasion to reflect on the example of  a man who had the courage to reconsider the world around him. Readers of Mondoweiss will agree, I think, that a just peace in Israel/ Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East crucially depends on many Americans similarly revising deeply-held opinions, though we surely have less time in which to do so. In any event, for his wisdom and personal integrity, Chalmers Johnson deserves to be remembered.

Wikileaks ‘Embassy cables’ are now breaking…

Nov 28, 2010

Philip Weiss


The Wikileaks dump of “US Embassy cables” that include Israel Palestine has apparently started dropping. At the Guardian site.

Here’s a juicy one. Stuart Levey, under secretary of the Treasury in the Bush Administration, goes to Israel two weeks after the presidential election in ’08, and promises that the Obama administration will keep up the pressure to stop Iran from getting nukes:

In a visit to Israel on 16-17 November, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart A. Levey, reassured GOI officials that no momentum would be lost in USG efforts to combat terrorist financing or to pressure Iran during the transition to a new US administration in January…
[Israeli] National Security Council (NCS) Chairman, Dani Arditi, in a November 16 meeting with U/S Stuart Levey, asked whether Levey thought his efforts would continue into the next U.S. administration. Even though he said he planned to resign as required in January, Levey told Arditi that he believed the Obama team would be committed to continuing the ambitious program against terrorism finance that he has shepherded over the last several years.

Levey didn’t resign by the way. He’s still around. Guess he knew something.


Egypt’s military dictatorship holds parliamentary elections

Nov 28, 2010

Ali Glenesk

Ali Glenesk is a Berkeley alum currently working as a media monitor at a communications agency in Cairo.student living in Cairo.She blogged about today’s elections at her site. She took the shot at left of posters supporting candidates from Mubarak’s “National Democratic Party.”

508 parliamentary seats are up for grabs in today’s elections in Egypt, with over 5000 candidates from a variety of parties vying for votes. While opposition parties, including Al-Wafd, Al-Tagammu, and the Muslim Brotherhood, have mounted campaigns to challenge the ruling National Democratic Party, the NDP, is expected to come out of today’s elections on top.

Campaigning has been ongoing throughout the day in spite of instructions from the High Electoral Commission, which supposedly forbade campaigning past midnight last night. In Cairo’s Sayyeda Zainab neighborhood NDP supporters passed out leaflets at polling stations, and groups of men drove around on trucks mounted with microphones, festively proclaiming their support for ruling party candidates.

The atmosphere in most of Egypt however, has been anything but festive, with reports of election-related violence emerging from around the country. Al-Ahram newspaper, which is majority-owned by the Egyptian government, reported seven election-related deaths by the early afternoon. Shots were fired in polling station clashes between MB and NDP supporters in the Monufia Governorate, and police reportedly fired tear gas at voters at multiple polling stations in the delta area. Demonstrations grew in Suez, with some reports indicating that as many as 4000 people had seized a building in protest of election procedures. Al-Jazeera correspondents working in Suez reported having their camera equipment stolen, and foreign correspondents in Al-Arish were refused entrance to polling stations. Additional violence erupted in Mansoura in front of a school when thugs brandishing weapons clashed with Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

In Sayyeda Zainab neighborhood, candidates can reportedly buy a vote for as little as 20 Egyptian pounds, while eyewitnesses in Shoubra report votes being bought for as much as 100 pounds. Reports emerged in Qena that a young girl who died twenty years ago was registered to vote for the NDP. Yet in spite of widespread reports of violence, forgery, rigging, and other election irregularities, Al-Ahram reported in the early afternoon that, according to the Head of the High Electoral Commission, the election process was going quite smoothly.

Egyptian election monitors were undoubtedly frustrated by the day’s events, as the ruling government forbade any foreign groups to monitor the election. In response to a suggestion from the United States that Egypt accept international election observers, an Egyptian government spokesman rebuffed, “We don’t want any international monitoring agencies to interfere in Egypt’s national affairs. This is the business of Egypt.”

The violence marking today’s elections shows that Mubarak has indeed carried on business as usual, assuring the ruling party’s victory with the aid of hired thugs, stifled media, and stuffed ballot boxes. If today’s parliamentary elections are any indicator, the upcoming 2011 presidential election will be anything but democratic. Meanwhile, the United States has been largely silent about Egypt’s human rights violations, even though Egypt is one of the largest recipients of American foreign aid, receiving just under US $2 billion from its American ally annually.

The United States’ unfettered support for Mubarak’s regime is yet another instance of American leadership funding human rights violations and crimes against humanity. While the United States wages war in the name of democracy in some areas of the Middle East, here in Egypt Mubarak runs his military dictatorship largely on America’s dime.

Live Election Coverage here:

You can also follow on twitter tag #egyelections

I took these pictures on a walk around my neighborhood today. The one above shows campaign banners strung in the street in front of Sayyeda Zainab mosque.

It’s interesting because most of the violence from Egypt today came out of poor areas- let another example of the squashing of Egypt’s impoverished. My roommate and I passed by about five polling stations. All were crowded with lots of men and some police, some had people outside holding signs and passing out leaflets. A pick-up truck was making rounds about the neighborhood playing festive music and blasting slogans supporting NDP candidates over the microphone. I asked some people around the neighborhood what they thought of the election.

The man at the corner store was a hopeful supporter of an Al-Ghad party candidate, and a girl at the grocery store told me that she didn’t vote and giggled, as if the election was all a bit of a joke. While many aren’t voting due to the election boycott, even more people aren’t voting simply out of cynicism. The best reaction came from my bowab (the doorman). When I asked the news of the election and who he supported, he said, “The more important question is who does President Mubarak support. I am just a bowab.”

The regrets of a war-party liberal

Nov 28, 2010



From the last two paragraphs of George Packer’s review in The New Yorker of George W. Bush’s book, Decision Points:

[Bush’s] decisions, he still believes, made America safer, gave Iraqis hope, and changed the future of the Middle East for the better. Of these three claims, only one is true–the second–and it’s a truth steeped in tragedy. 
Bush ends “Decision Points” with the sanguine thought that history’s verdict on his Presidency will come only after his death. During his years in office, two wars turned into needless disasters, and the freedom agenda created such deep cynicism around the world that the word itself was spoiled.

Note the assurance that Iraqis, in retrospect, would not wish the Iraq war undone: the result has given them hope (though shaded by tragic awareness). This can’t be the view of the more than 100,000 dead, or the more than four million refugees. Rather, it is a wishful surmise, by an American journalist who pressed for the war, regarding the judgment of those who survived with a fair portion of their friends, families, and livelihoods intact.

There should have been a way, thinks Packer, for Americans to walk in cleanly, after the devastation of Shock and Awe, and help the country back to its feet. That we could not do so is the fault of one man, George W. Bush. The same with Afghanistan–both wars were “needless disasters.” Craftily waged, and followed through with a judicious design of nation-building, they could have succeeded. The idealism of liberal empire is still going strong in American think tanks and respectable journalism.


Yehoshua sanitizes

Nov 28, 2010

Philip Weiss


Israeli novelist AB Yehoshua is upset by the battle developing over Zionism world-wide, and he is trying to turn down the heat with a piece in Haaretz. I don’t think he succeeds. First an excerpt, in which he portrays ethnic discrimination as all in a day’s work for nation-states:

After the Jewish state, namely the State of Israel, was actually established, the only way in which the meaning of Zionism was expressed was through the principle of the Law of Return…. it is still open to any Jew who wants to become a citizen.

Such a law of return exists today in several other countries, including Hungary and Germany. Hopefully a similar law of return will also soon be instituted in the Palestinian state to be established alongside us. And just as that will not be a racist law in the Palestinian state, by the same token the law is not racist in Israel either. When the nations of the world decided in 1947 on the establishment of a Jewish state, they did not tear off part of Palestine for only the 600,000 Jews living there at the time, they did so with the assumption that this state had to provide refuge for any Jew who so desired.

This is pabulum. Yes, the world partitioned Palestine in 1947 so as to establish a Jewish state and an Arab one; and that decision– which the entire Arab neighborhood rejected– was also a legal one. I acknowledge that.

But because Jewish numbers in mandate Palestine were low, the world gerrymandered a state that was Jewish, by about 600,000 to 500,000 non Jews; and before and after that “state” became a state, the Jews expelled almost all those non-Jews and greatly increased their boundaries from the ones the U.N. had granted. So if you really want to talk about “tearing off part of Palestine,” well Israel did that to the Palestinians; it leapfrogged the U.N. boundaries and tossed out a lot of Arabs.

The Israelis have never acknowledged the expulsion, apologize for it, or made reparations (even as their own state was built with the help of German reparations soon after the war).

And as for Yehoshua’s wonderful returning, well, many of those Palestinians have sought to return to their homes, a right granted them under international law. The U.N. has stood by that right. Yehoshua seems to imagine them exercising that right some time in the future (as if 60 years is mere preamble) and not to their original lands; but it is dishonest not to acknowledge that the frustration of the exercise of this right has caused seething resentment for decades– even as 1 million Russians, many of them non-Jews, showed up under Yehoshua’s hunky-dory Law of Return. The failure to relate this skewed history is what makes me crazy about Zionism. Back to the video:

An Israeli, a Jew, a Palestinian or anyone else who defines himself as a-Zionist is a citizen who is opposed to the Law of Return. This opposition, like any other political viewpoint, is legitimate. An anti-Zionist, on the other hand, is someone who wants to overturn the State of Israel after the fact – and with the exception of extremist sects among the ultra-Orthodox or among radical Jewish circles in the Diaspora, not many Jews hold this view.

All of the important and fundamental debates taking place in Israel – annexation or non-annexation of the territories; the relationship between the country’s Jewish majority and the Palestinian minority; the relationship between religion and the state; the nature and values of economic policy and the social welfare system; and even the interpretation of historical events – are the sort of debates and controversies that existed and still exist in many countries.

Here the taxonomical Yehoshua makes out that the debate that’s going on in Israel is a war of foundational ideas like the one in many other countries. I don’t think it’s the same. Israel is a young country; and it is facing an existential crisis for a very simple reason: it is governing a population of 4-5 million Palestinians who have no rights and by and large do not accept their governance. Yehoshua calls these people a “minority.” In fact they may outnumber the Jews (as JPost now reports).

The reason that some radicals want to revolutionize the state of Israel, and why even conservative-liberals like myself seek dramatic reform of Israel, is because of this unfairness, which has gone on for many decades. Henry Siegman and Noam Sheizaf have both explained these conditions to us recently.

Siegman: “Israel’s… denial of all rights to millions of Palestinians for nearly half a century…”

Sheizaf: “Palestinians are real people, people older than the age of almost everyone in this room, almost, who have never been one day in their life free.”

That’s the issue, in a region inflamed by imperial occupation; and why this injustice has gained global attention.

Emily Henochowicz lost an eye? No harm, no foul

Nov 28, 2010

Philip Weiss


Culture of impunity. From Haaretz. The Israeli border police who fired a tear gas canister at American art student Emily Henochowicz, maiming her, inside the Occupied Territories, during a protest last May 31, have been cleared of any wrongdoing. Her lawyer is the great Michael Sfard:

“Every investigation of killing or injuries ends up emitting this stench of blamelessness,” Sfard said. “This particular case shows that the negligence borders whitewash. Anyone who finds no need to question objective witnesses, who have stated the Border Police officer took direct aim, is obstructing the investigation and is as good as confessing to having no interest in finding the truth.”

Henochowicz meanwhile is at work on an Adam Shapiro documentary. What doesnt kill you makes you stronger.

U.N.: ‘The family has requested a tent as they have nowhere else to live’ (US: ‘What, me worry?’)

Nov 28, 2010

Philip Weiss


A friend just sent me a summary of a comprehensive report being circulated inside the U.N. that details the latest house demolitions by Israel. They are not just in the Jordan Valley, as earlier reports suggested, but all over the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Below is the roundup in my friend’s paraphrase. Note the disputed claims in illegally-occupied territory that are always resolved in Jewish settlers’ favor, even on the Mount of Olives. This little list from 4 or 5 days of demolitions and evictions gives a real feel for the enormity of what is taking place daily.

If you were Palestinian, you would feel humiliated, despairing, angry– and as afraid as my ancestors felt when pogroms were happening in Russia 120 years ago.

Where is the United States, which claims to be supporting a two-state solution on lands east of the Green Line? From the U.N.:

November 22

Israeli forces demolished Palestinian structures in the Al Isawiya area between East Jerusalem and the settlement of Maele Adummin. Initial information: at least 2 barracks used for work purposes and some stone walls. Some fence material was also confiscated. This is the second time that barracks here were demolished. Last time was 27 October.

November 23

As you know, Israeli police and settlers this morning forcibly evicted 3 Palestinian families from their home in Al Farouq neighbourhood of Jabal al Mukabber in East Jerusalem. A large force of Israeli police and border police were reported to have forcibly evicted the families between 9.00 and 10.00. Immediately following the eviction the building was handed over to a group of settlers that reportedly are affiliated with the settler organization El Ad. The settler group is currently undertaking some work on the premises — 3 separate apartments located on 3 floors.

It was inhabited by the Qara’in family, which includes 3 families of 14 people, among them 5 children ranging from 3 to 10 years of age. The families are currently sheltering with neighbors, they have no place to live. Supposedly the settler group claims to have purchased the building from a deceased relative of the family a few years ago. The family and their lawyer tried to challenge these claims before Israeli courts. 

November 24

Israeli forces destroyed a large number of Palestinian-owned structures in several locations in the West Bank, forcibly displacing 23 people, including 16 children , and destroying the livelihood of dozens of others. Also on this day, Israeli settlers took over an uninhabited apartment in East Jerusalem. The reports:

–In the At Tur neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem , the Jerusalem Municipality demolished the home of a Palestinian family, forcibly displacing 7 people, including 4 children . The family, which has lived in the building for 8 years, had attempted to obtain an Israeli building permit for the home. The family has requested a tent and other basic humanitarian assistance as they have nowhere else to live.

–In the area around Hizma checkpoint , the Jerusalem Municipality demolished 7 work-related Palestinian structures, 6 of them plant nurseries/shops and 1 a furniture business. The demolitions reportedly devastated the livelihoods of 13 Palestinian families and resulted in extensive loss of materials and equipment.

–On the Mount of Olives, Israeli settlers took over an apartment on the 3rd floor of a building near an existing Israeli settlement (the one overlooking the Old City). The apartment, which is one of 4 apartments in the building, was uninhabited at the time; it was vacated and sealed last year by a Palestinian family which had purchased it in 2005. Since that time the settlers have disputed the family’s ownership. The apartment was sealed last year following an order from the District Court.

–On Nov. 23, the Jerusalem Municipality returned to Al Isawiye and completed the demolition of 2 Palestinian work-related structures that were partly demolished on 11 November. This included a stable for horses and a cement structure where some members of the family lived when tending the farm.

–In the Abu Al Ajaj area of Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley , the IDF demolished 3 large structures , including 2 buildings (containing 2 units each) that were used for residential and work-related purposes. 2 Palestinian families of 16 people, including 12 children , have lost their home and been forcibly displaced. In addition, a number of young sheep were killed as the structures were demolished on top of them. A considerable amount of fodder was destroyed. The structures in question received demolition orders from Israeli authorities in 2008, but the families were challenging the orders before the Israeli High Court. This is the same area that in recent weeks has been targeted by Israeli settlers from Masu’a settlement, who have made repeated and aggressive attempts to expand the settlement by taking over village land, using illegal fencing that cuts the Palestinian herders residing in the area from their livelihood. For information about these attempts, please see the Humanitarian Monitor for October.

* In the village of Qarawat Bani Hassan in the West Bank, to the north of the Ariel settlement “finger”, the IDF reportedly demolished at least 1 work-related Palestinian structure. Levelling of land was reported in nearby Wadi Qana.

November 25

Israeli forces have demolished a number of Palestinian structures in at least 2 different locations in the West Bank, displacing at least 31 Palestinians, more than half of them children.

–In Khirbet Yasra in the Jordan Valley, Israeli forces demolished at least 7 Palestinian structures. According to the village council, this included 2 houses and 4 work-related structures, as well as a mosque. As a result at least 2 Palestinian families of 11 have been forcibly displaced.

–In Ar Rifa’iyya village near Hebron, Israeli forces demolished a building containing 2 apartments, forcibly displacing 2 families of 20 people, including 16 children.

25 rendered homeless in latest Israeli demolition

Nov 28, 2010



and other news from Today in Palestine, for Saturday Nov. 27:

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

25 rendered homeless in latest Israeli demolition
HEBRON (Ma’an) — The extended family of Iyad and Muhammad Musleh Al-Amour, 25 men, women and children in total, had their 250 square meter home demolished by Israeli Civil Administration forces early on Thursday.  The home, in the Ad-Derat area east of Yatta in the southern West Bank, was razed using heavy machinery and in the presence of personnel from 15 military jeeps. Officials on the scene said the home had no permit.

Army Demolishes A House In Yatta VIllage
The Palestine News and Information Center,WAFA, reported on Thursday that Israeli soldiers demolished a house of that belongs to two brothers identified as Iyad and Mohammad Al-Ummor, in the village of Yatta in the eastern part of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Israeli Forces Demolish Mosque in a wave of West Bank Demolitions
Israeli forces demolished Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley and the South Hebron Hills today in what seems as a wave of demolitions following yesterday’s demolitions all across the West Bank. Non-violent leaders from Beit Ummar have also been arrested in night raids. Grassroots organizers Mousa and Yousef Abu Maria were arrested from their homes as harassment continues in Beit Ummar

BBC puts mosque between quotation marks 
“Israel razes West Bank ‘mosque’”   If an Arab puts a “synagogue” between quotation marks, cries of anti-Semitic would follow and the ADL would call on the UN Security Council to convene.

Israeli settlers expand presence in east Jerusalem (AFP)
AFP – Jewish settlers moved into a house in the Al-Tur district of occupied east Jerusalem on Wednesday, just hours after Israeli officials razed another Palestinian home in the same neighbourhood.*

Eviction Notices Not Enforced Against Hebron’s Squatter Settlers, Palestine Monitor
This week saw Palestinian shopkeepers from Hebron petition the High Court of Israel to honour an eviction notice given to settlers over two and a half years ago. In 2001 settlers moved illegally into part of Hebron market, which remains under the control of Israel’s Civil Administration. Today a number of settler families are squatting there, a presence which has severely reduced the numbers of Palestinian visitors and damaged the local economy.

Israel destroyed his home: if you are an American liberal who supports Israel, don’t talk to me

Our Story Released on DVD, Palestine Monitor
After generations of one-sided analysis of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi’s ‘Our Story’ finally provides a Palestinian perspective on the history of occupation and ethnic cleansing.  Following an enthusiastic international reception and cinematic release, ‘Our Story’ provides a definitive account of Palestinian history, charting occupation and displacement from 1948 up to the present day. Featuring shocking accounts from the Gaza war, the film is a must for anybody who wishes to hear the untold truths behind the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Four Detained, Many Treated for Tear Gas Inhalation During W.B. Anti Wall Protests
Ghassan Bannoura- PNN –  This week four were arrested and dozens of civilians were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation as Israeli troops attacked anti wall protests organized at a number of Locations in the West Bank.  Israeli troops detained three Israeli peace activists and one young Palestinian man during the weekly Friday non-violent demonstration in the village of al-Ma’sara , south of Bethlehem.

Palestinians demonstrate in Jerusalem against house appropriations
Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Friday in the Sheikh Jarrah suburb in Jerusalem to protest the occupation policy of confiscating Palestinian property and passing it on to settlers.

Majida Abu Rahmah: Al Eid Without a Father and Husband
Al Eid is a holy time of the year for Muslims, when families gather and visit each other. But with my husband in Israeli jail, it’s hard to enjoy this Al Eid in the same way.

Jewish settlements targeted in divestment campaign (AP)
AP – There is a budding movement by foreign investors and activists to join a Palestinian campaign against companies doing business in the West Bank — aimed at hitting them in their pockets.*

Scandinavian funds divest from companies involved in occupation of Palestinian land
Activists with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement ( claimed another victory on Wednesday as Swedish and Norwegian pension funds announced their divestment from companies doing business in Israeli settlements or with the Israeli military occupying Palestinian land.

#BDS: Another BDS victory: TEEU votes to Boycott Israel
At its biennial conference last weekend, the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) unanimously voted to “support for a boycott campaign of Israeli goods and services and a policy of disinvestment from Israeli companies” as a result of the Israeli state’s continuing breaches of international law and human rights abuses against the people of Palestinian. The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) welcomed the passing of the motion[1].

Princeton students: Boycott Sabra hummus
Palestinian group wants Israeli product removed from campus stores because it serves ‘occupation’.,7340,L-3990406,00.html

USPCN Endorses Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign
Building upon the USPCN Popular Conference 2010, and its National Call to Action, the US Palestinian Community Network is pleased to announce its endorsement of the Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign.  MN Break the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC) is a movement advocating for the state of Minnesota to divest from Israel Bonds in solidarity with the 2005 Palestinian Call for BDS (Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions) –

Confronting the Hebron Settlers in New York, Max Blumenthal
I stood with about 100 demonstrators outside Chelsea Piers in silent protest of the Hebron Fund’s cruise. A group from J Street’s campus division protested nearby, but would not stand with us, which was weird but not unexpected. Regardless, it was nice to see that a few liberal Zionists were willing to back up their talk about removing settlements to make a Palestinian state possible. I hung around for an hour with good people like Joseph DanaNoam SheizafAdam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf, Emily Henochowicz, Rebecca Vilkomersen, the Bitar familyDaniel LevyDaniel May and a former Givati brigade soldier who turned his back on the occupation and now wears a Cynthia McKinney button emblazoned on his IDF uniform.

#BDS: The Fall – The Fall Gig Targeted By Protesters
British rockers THE FALL were targeted by protesters at their London show on Tuesday night (23Nov10) over their plans to play in Israel next year (11).  The post-punk band took to the stage at the Electric Ballroom but their performance was marred by a group of activists who gathered outside the venue waving banners and placards.  The protesters are angry about the band’s decision to schedule a concert in Tel Aviv in January (11) and they are urging the group to scrap the show and boycott the country over unrest in the Gaza Strip.
The band’s gig went ahead uninterrupted, according to

#BDS: Tell Amazon shoppers it’s not OK to buy apartheid products
Would you buy products tested on animals, or that you know to be environmentally destructive, or exploit child labor? If you know that a product harms others or violates international law, shouldn’t you boycott it?  #BDS: Tell Amazon shoppers it’s not OK to buy apartheid products
Below, please sign up to help us “save (the) amazon!” It’s not good for the world’s biggest online retailer to sell products that support inhumane policies.

#BDS: Act now: Tell BT to hang up on the Occupation
BT is complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.  BT has recently allowed Israeli company Bezeq into its exclusive BT alliance club. Bezeq provides telecommunications support for Israel’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. BT will remain complicit in Israel’s breaches of international law unless it cuts all ties with Bezeq International.  Using the form below, write to BT Chief Executive Ian Livingston to demand that the company hang up on the Occupation.

Thousands write to BT about complicity in occupation
Two weeks after the launch of Disconnect Now, thousands of people have emailed BT asking for an end to the company’s complicity in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As BT ignores the human rights implications of their relationship with Bezeq International, activists are calling for people to phone BT and tell them to disconnect now.  A Just Peace for Palestine, along with campaign coalition members War on Want, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, and Palestine Solidarity Campaign, are yet to receive any formal response from BT to their letter calling for a meeting to discuss our concerns.

#BDS: Veolia and Alstom feel the heat – BNC calls for intensifying pressure!
Occupied Palestine, November 2010 – Veolia and Alstom, the two French companies involved in the construction and management of a tramway linking west Jerusalem with illegal Israeli colonial settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory, described by the UN Human Rights Council as a “clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions,”1 have both recently been reported to be selling their shares in the consortium that manages the project. There can be little doubt that Veolia and Alstom are responding to the overwhelming campaigns launched against them by the Palestinian-led global movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law (BDS). Campaigners have successfully lobbied for the exclusion of Veolia and Alstom from several large public sector contracts and investment funds – the BDS movement has shown that there is a price to pay for actively supporting Israel‟s system of occupation, colonisation and apartheid.

Volvo equipment enabling torture, facilitating occupation
Volvo prides itself on being a byword for sturdiness, safety and reliability. After a careful examination of the vehicle-maker’s investment in Israel, perhaps it should also become synonymous with enabling torture.

Arava Institute claims to promote peace, but remains silent on justice, Adalah-NY
The Arava Institute’s online event “With Earth and Each Other,” held Sunday, November 14, exemplified why the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions is vital. The event was billed as a celebration of Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians working together for the environment. But it failed to educate viewers about the most basic facts of Israeli policies, and thus simply reinforced the status quo. The event, billed as not “political,” suggested that the Middle East conflict can be resolved if people of different religions and ethnicities are nicer to each other. It presented no information on the fundamental and systematic inequalities that are at the root of the conflict.

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

Industrial Fuel – Needs Vs. Supply – Oct 24 – Nov 20

Goods – Needs Vs. Supply – Oct 24 – Nov 20

Photostory: somber holiday under occupation
The holiday of Eid al-Ahda — the Feast of the Sacrifice — is celebrated by Muslims across the world to commemorate the prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of a sheep in the place of his son Ishmael. Palestine is no different than most countries where the holiday is observed, but with one notable exception: the Israeli occupation. Photographer Sanne Winderickx documents the Eid al-Adha holiday under occupation in the West Bank.

Racism and Discrimination

‘Washington Post’ columnist describes bald racism behind Israeli security, Philip Weiss
I keep saying that if our journalists only described conditions in Israel and Palestine honestly, Americans would rise up. But they don’t. Which makes all the more refreshing Joel Dreyfuss’s piece at the Washington Post, explaining why a multiethnic society would not wish to emulate Israel’s security methods at airports. At a time when many mainstream journalists are piping the line that Israel does it right, Dreyfuss recalls a trip to Israel five years ago. Dreyfuss, please go back and visit the West Bank and East Jerusalem and Negev and tell young Americans what’s going down, gov’t land theft carried out on a racial basis..:

Violence/Aggression & Detainees

Israeli forces re-take Nablus during op
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Following an official hand over of military control to Palestinian Authority Security forces one week earlier, Israeli military vehicles were reported moving near the former government compound toward Joseph’s Tomb.  Informed Palestinian security sources said the Israeli military had informed the appropriate officials ahead of what was described as a “security activity” in the eastern sector of Nablus, in the region of the Balata refugee camp mid-morning on Friday.

Jewish settlers open random fire at Qalaqalia village
A gang of Jewish settlers opened heavy fire on Palestinian homes on Wednesday in the village of Kafr Qadoum, east of Qalalia, the West Bank.

Israel’s Arab Helpers

Abbas’s militia kidnap a number of pilgrims for meeting with Gaza pilgrims
Abbas’s militia kidnapped Majed al-Nouri and his nephew Hazem al-Nouri one day after their return from the pilgrimage trip under the pretext that they met with pilgrims from Gaza during pilgrimage.

Hamas: PA detains 10 supporters in latest raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas officials in the West Bank accused the Palestinian Authority security services of detaining 10 of its supporters from three different municipal regions on Friday.  A statement released the morning after the arrests accused the PA of “continuing their campaign against Hamas supporters,” naming ten affiliates from the Nablus, Tulkarem and Hebron regions who were reportedly detained overnight.

Egypt seizes 14 tunnels along Gaza border
AL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — Egyptian forces seized 14 tunnels on the border between Egypt and Gaza on Thursday, Egyptian security sources said.  Two tunnels were seized in As-Sarsuria, where large quantities of paint and iron pipes were found, and a further 12 tunnels were found in Abu Halawa south of Salah Ad-Din, sources said.

Egypt refuses entry of nine “Hope” activists
The Egyptian authorities have informed organizers of the European aid convoy “Hope” that it would not allow nine of the accompanying activists to enter Egypt en route to deliver the aid to Gaza.

Political Developments   

U.S. efforts to restart Mideast peace process stumbling
JERUSALEM, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) — Two months after the direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations broke down, effort by the U. S. to restart them seems stumbling.  When Israel’s 10-month freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank ended in September, so did the U.S.-sponsored peace talks between the two parties. The Palestinians insist that the negotiations can only be continued after settlement construction halts.

Yediot’s defense analyst on the looming US-Israel ’security catastrophe’, Didi Remez
Alex Fishman is Yediot’s veteran defense analyst. Besides providing a detailed post-mortem of the latest fiasco in US-Israeli diplomacy, he makes a very blunt allegation: Netanyahu is selling out the IDF’s self-defined strategic interests and the good will of the US administration in order to buy political time.  In the economic jargon that Netanyahu loves to use, this would be called paying for recurrent expenditures with the proceeds from the sale of national assets.

Haniyeh, leftists stress need for unity
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh met with a senior leftist leader in Gaza City on Tuesday, to discuss the latest on the reconciliation efforts between rival parties Hamas and Fatah.  Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine official Salih Zeidan was invited to meet with Haniyeh, who said in a statement following the discussion, that reconciliation efforts were being held up by Fatah.

Egypt denies rumors that Dahlan is persona non grata
CAIRO (Ma’an) — The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied news reports Thursday alleging ministry officials had informed Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan that he is persona non grata in the country.  Sources in the ministry said in a statement that “the Egyptian government is standing by the side of the Palestinians and their cause to reach just solutions that will end division among them.”

Other News

Despite Netanyahu’s promises, battered Israeli women find no relief
Of the NIS 5 million the PM pledged, NIS 2 million was to be given as grants to women leaving shelters, enabling them to rent an apartment and finance other initial expenses.


‘My political party is my poem’,   An evening with Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti
In today’s fast-paced culture poetry readings can seem a little old-fashioned. But the faithful fans of Mourid Barghouti who recently gathered in Doha, Qatar, to hear the Palestinian poet were treated to an evening that was anything but quaint. The author holds a unique position in the Palestinian diaspora. His book, I saw Ramallah, is a seminal work. First published in Arabic in 1997, it has since been translated into many different languages and won him global acclaim. It is in turns warm and touching, funny and politically charged. The Palestinian intellectual Edward Said described it as “one of the finest existential accounts of Palestinian displacement we now have”.

Mourid Barghouti poetry reading
Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti gives a reading.


Akiva Eldar / Referendum bill uses public as peace deal rubber stamp
Knesset approves bill mandating referendum before decision to withdraw from Israeli territory, but does not enable appeal against decision to reject a peace agreement.

The Palestinian right of return is not for the US, Israel, or Israel’s supporters, to bargain away, Nima Shirazi
When discussing possible solutions to the current Israeli/Palestinian impasse during a recent panel discussion entitled “Jewish Perspectives on the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions Movement,” participant Gil Kulick suggested a return to the proposals of the 2000 Clinton Parameters, the 2002 Nusseibeh-Ayalon agreement, and the 2003 Geneva Accords. This would effectively declare the Nakba a Zionist fait accompli and force us to pretend that a wholly demilitarized Palestinian state – existing on 42% of the 80% of the 22% of 100% of their original homeland – is a viable expression of nationhood.  In terms of Israel’s actual legal obligations regarding the Palestinian right of return, Kulick said this: “The right of return will have to be exercised within the Palestinian state…and I think everyone understands that.”

Should Palestine Declare Statehood?, Palestine Monitor
It would not be the first time. In 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) unilaterally declared independence in Algeria. Other than an upgrade of the PLO’s 1974-acquired observer status though, the Algiers declaration did not have much effect. As dozens of countries – but none of the main Western players – endorsed the declaration, the occupation and the settlement-building went on, and Israel retained main control over the land, the resources and the population.

There is no “Talibanization” of Gaza
To accuse Hamas of marketing fundamentalism and extremism in the Gaza Strip is false and inaccurate. There is no “Talibanization” of Gaza. Such a claim is based on Israeli propaganda and the deliberately distorted accounts of those in Gaza who are politically and ideologically opposed to the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Ahmed Yousef, Deputy of the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, comments for The Electronic Intifada.

No Palestinian State without Gaza, Ahmad Yousef – Gaza
To accuse Hamas of marketing fundamentalism and extremism in the Gaza Strip is false and inaccurate. There is no “Talibanization” of the Gaza. Such a claim is based on Israeli propaganda and the deliberately distorted accounts of those in Gaza who are politically and ideologically opposed to the government of Ismail Haniya. It is true that some individuals in the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs have acted in an overzealous or misguided manner driven by their own concern to preserve what they see as the culture of the community but their actions were not done so on the basis of any governmental decision or a ministerial policy. In fact on a number of occasions the government directly intervened to reverse their misguided actions.

America’s Latest $3 Billion Bribe to Israel
The danger in this latest American bribe is that it comes not as a reward for progress in talks, but as an incentive to the Netanyahu government to agree to stop carrying out actions that are considered illegal by the entire international community, including the US.

Isabel Kershner is outraged
1) Israeli leaders, scholars, and journalists belittle or downplay or disregard Muslim and Christian feelings about Jerusalem on regular basis and that does not produce outrage in the articles of the New York Times.  One lone PA guy (in the collaborationist government set up by Israel) writes one article on a website, and the whole world has to know about it.  It becomes major news story.  2)  Kershner said:  “About 200,000 Jews live in areas of East Jerusalem that have been developed since 1967…” Is “developed” another word for occupied now? 3)  Why no article about the Wailing Wall talks about how the Zionist occupation forces destroyed an entire quarter (the Moroccan residential quarter) to make room for more worshipers at the Wall?

What the Oslo Accords were about, from the mouths of babes. Literally, Didi Remez
In the second episode, broadcast Tuesday evening, the girls are quizzed in the Channel Ten TV News studio on the Israeli-Arab conflict by high-brow interviewer Yaron London and mythical Palestinian affairs reporter Yoram Binur. Most of the section is heart breaking. At one point, however, viewers are treated to a dose of honest wisdom that would never be broadcast on a “serious” venue [watch the entire episode here; the passage translated below starts at 48:14].

Exposing Israel’s Fraudulent Third Periodic Report to the UN, Steven Lendman
On October 18, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights offered an “Alternative Report” response to Israel’s submission, sent to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).  Submitting to the UN, Aharon Leshno Yaar, Israel’s Permanent Representative to Geneva said “Israel was proud of its long-lasting recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family,” omitting to explain he means only Jews, no others, especially Muslims. State belligerence for over six decades proves it. PCHR reviewed recent facts, documenting them in its report. Previous articles discussed them it detail, but they bear repeating. By so doing, peace and self-determination for a beleaguered people may come sooner.

the future of Fayyadism, Max Ajl
The apartheid metaphor is fine for polemical purposes. For analytical ends, it is problematic. The central issue is that of labor dependency. Israel long ago replaced Gaza-as-bedroom-community with near-slaves from the Philippines and other Asian countries, and does not rely on West Bank-based Palestinian labor. In contrast, South Africa was vitally dependent on black labor from the Bantustans. So what’s the plan for economic growth in the West Bank (As always, forget Gaza)? A recent essay by Sam Bahour in the Middle East Research and Information Project lays out the economic trajectory of Fayyadism. At best, these economic development programs are composed of industrial zones which “promise menial labor-intensive jobs to Palestinians who are extremely reliant on donor funds to maintain their livelihoods,” meant to shift over to a system based on foreign-capital inflows like the aid-based development model currently prevalent in the West Bank. The forthcoming programs are slightly different in that they “require Palestinians to sell their labor for the benefit of those commercial entities established in the industrial zones, which will depend on Israeli good will to succeed.”

Amira Hass Eqbal Ahmad Memorial Lecture
The brave and gifted Israeli journalist Amira Hass, daughter of Nazi Holocaust survivors and a past resident of Gaza (she authored a book about Gaza in 2000), was a featured lecturer at this year’s Eqbal Ahmad Memorial hosted by Hampshire College.

Everyday heroes: filmmaker Dahna Abourahme interviewed
Filmmaker Dahna Abourahme’s latest film focuses on the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein al-Hilwe in south Lebanon, and on the women in particular as they reminisce about their roles during the Israeli attack on the camp in 1982-1984. Amany Al-Sayyed interviews for The Electronic Intifada.

“Racists and Hypocrites When it Comes to Palestinians”
Some stinging remarks about U.S. professors and Palestine from University of Illinois law school professor Francis Boyle. 

After the Elections: U.S. policy, Israel and Gaza – A conversation with Congressman Brian Baird
November 18, 2010 — Listen to this extraordinary conversation with Congressman Brian Baird on “After the Elections: U.S. Policy, Israel and Gaza.” Congressman Baird is the congressman of Rachel Corrie and has traveled to Gaza on four separate occasions.  In this remarkable interview he discusses why he became so involved in the issue of Gaza and his experience in Congress. He reflects on U.S. policy in the Middle East and discusses what he thinks the U.S. should do to protect our security, the security of Israel and justice for the Palestinians. Listen here.

More reasons for U.S. foreign policy foolishness, Stephen M. Walt
The writer who pens the “Democracy in America” blog at The Economist has taken mild issue with my post from earlier this week on the negative consequences of America’s extraordinarily secure international position. It’s a thoughtful comment and well worth reading.

Robert Fisk: Oceans of blood and profits for the mongers of war
Since there are now three conflicts in the greater Middle East; Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/”Palestine” and maybe another Lebanese war in the offing, it might be a good idea to take a look at the cost of war.

Is America on the path to ‘permanent war’?
Bacevich says the notion that the U.S. military has to stay in Afghanistan to deny al Qaeda a sanctuary doesn’t “pass the laugh test.”

When a Saudi propaganda rag attacks Counterpunch, As’ad Abukhalil
This is rather a classic definition of irony: a Saudi propaganda rag (Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat–the mouthpiece of lousy Prince Salman) labels Counterpunch as example of “yellowjournalism“.  For Saudi rags to label a newsite or news outlet “yellow journalism” is like Muhammad Dahlan labeling somebody as “collaborator”, or is like Sa`d Hariri calling someone “dumb” or like Saudi King calling someone incompetent and inarticulate.  What irony.  In the past, the folks at Counterpunch got mad at me because I did expose that an alleged interview with Hasan Nasrallah was in fact a hoax.  They got mad at me when I in fact was keen on protecting their credibility.  I am a fan of Counterpunch and it has my support although they may sometimes publish what I may deem as unreliable. The pieces on Lebanon by Franklin Lamb (which are peddled by pro-Iranian media in the Middle East) are very unreliable and he has proven consistently to be wrong in his assessments and predictions.  His last piece attributing stuff to Jeffrey Feltman is clearly–in my mind at least made up.  Most importantly, Walid Jumblat who was a witness–according to the account of Lamb–just denied that story categorically.  The language used in the alleged conversation does not sound like one to be used by a US official–as much as I detest the Zionist Feltman. [end]


Lebanon’s bedouin still denied citizenship
FAOUR: Hiam Abu Ragheb has big dreams for her 19-month-old triplets despite being a bedouin without papers in Lebanon. Her sons will be doctors – Bahaa a gynaecologist and Saad a surgeon – and her daughter Nazek will be a lawyer or journalist. But little Bahaa, Saad and Nazek, namesakes of members of Lebanon’s Hariri dynasty might not even make it through school.

Israel’s Ghajar proposal ‘fake withdrawal’ – Berri
BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said Friday recent Israeli moves in the direction of a withdrawal from the village of Ghajar represented a masked occupation of Lebanese territories, given that the Lebanese Army was still prevented from deploying in the village.

The Washington Post on Hariri: or when Jenine Zacharia sees the Hariri light

This piece on Hariri in the Washington Post by Jenine Zacharia suffers from the same problems that other articles on the Middle East in mainstream US press suffer from.


Friday: 3 Iraqis Killed, 9 Wounded
At least three Iraqis were killed and nine more were wounded in light violence. Both Iranian refugees at Camp Ashraf and Iraqi journalists throughout the country have long maintained they are the targets of illegal harassment under the Maliki government. Two significant stories that were published today appear to support their allegations. European lawmakers are asking the United States and United Nations to help the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (Mujahedeen-e-Khalq).

Thursday: 10 Iraqis Killed, 30 Wounded
At least six Iraqis were killed and 28 more were wounded in violence that mostly occurred in the north. Also, Nouri al-Maliki was formally tasked with forming the next government as its prime minister today.

Iraq blast wounds 3 children
An explosion in Abu Ajeil village, southeastern Tikrit, near the house of Mahmoud Ali Issa wounded his three children. Another blast on Thursday night killed an Interior Minister Major due to a bomb stuck to his car in Al Basatin District in Al Shaab region.

Iraqi soldiers suffer from poisoning in camps
12 Iraqi soldiers suffer from poisoning in Al Mostaqbal camp at Baghdad International Airport without knowing the reasons thereof, an informed police source reported. Soldiers were transported to Al Yarmouk Hospital for treatment, the source said.

Nineveh Christian families allowed to possess protection arms
Nineveh Governor Athil Al Nujaifi announced in a joint press conference with deputy US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Johns that the Iraqi Government decided to grant every Christian family in Nineveh an official permission to possess one piece of arm for protection.

Cairo-based TV in church siege row ends Iraq operations (AFP)
AFP – Cairo-based satellite TV channel Al-Baghdadiya said Friday it had shut its Iraq operations, weeks after its broadcasts were cut for airing demands of militants who took Christians hostage in a church.*

Iraq weapon factories turn peaceful
In Iraq, dozens of factories which were involved in military industries have realigned their production for peaceful purposes by the orders of the post-invasion US Administrator Paul Bremer. What was once a place for making cluster bomb components is now churning out plumbing pipes and gas fittings. Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reports on the turnaround.

Sadr sees star rise again in Iraq
The radical Shiite cleric’s move to support Prime Minister Maliki’s bid for a second term has reaped him a political windfall, netting key posts and release from jail for his supporters.  Anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada Sadr, whose feared militia was crushed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki two years ago, has leveraged support for his former enemy’s government into renewed influence over the country’s security forces, governors’ offices and even its prisons.,0,1708589.story

European Parliament urges Iraq to drop Aziz death sentence
The European Parliament urged Iraq on Thursday to drop a death sentence against Tareq Aziz, warning that killing him would “do little to improve the climate of violence.”

Head-bangers in Baghdad sing of war-torn lives
On a makeshift stage in a neglected wedding hall, Ahmed Salhi and his heavy-metal bandmates swigged vodka and screamed into their microphones, even though it was still midafternoon.

U.S. & Other World News

New leaks may harm Pakistan, warns US
The United States is reported to have warned Pakistan that it tops a list of countries that may be affected by a leak of secret documents by a whistleblowers’ website. US officials warned that the documents may also contain “unpleasant facts” about US policies in the Pak-Afghan region.,-warns-us-610

WikiLeaks may show US has helped terrorist group
Several of the documents set to be published by WikiLeaks this weekend are believed to show the US has been helping Turkey’s Kurdish separatist movement the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party. – The documents also say US forces in Iraq have given weapons to the PKK.

US envoys forced to apologise in advance as Wikileaks release looms
Frantic behind the scenes wrangling was under way last night as US officials tried to stem the fallout from the expected release of up to three million confidential diplomatic communiques by the Wikileaks website.

Classified Papers Prove German Warnings to Bush
It indicates steps by the German government to prevent the war and undermines claims in George W. Bush’s memoir that Gerhard Schröder indicated he would support the president should the US go to war.,1518,730979,00.html

The Tea Party and Israel
I don’t believe this article one bit.  I think that the Tea Party will come around and support Israel and aid to Israel in the same vehemence like the Republican Party leadership.  Remember: Marco Rubio flew to Israel days after his election victory.

Islam in Tennessee: or the danger of one mosque (or the expansion of an existing mosque)
“So perhaps it should not have come as a surprise that three Rutherford County residents filed a lawsuit in September to block construction of the mosque. The plaintiffs believe that they “have been and will be irreparably harmed by the risk of terrorism generated by proselytising for Islam and inciting the practices of sharia law,” which, they claim, “advocates sexual abuse of children, beating and physical abuse of women, death edicts, honour killings, killing of homosexuals, outright lies to Kafirs (those who don’t submit to sharia law), Constitution-free zones, and total world dominion.” Of course, Murfreesboro has had a mosque for decades, and does not seem infested with “Constitution-free zones”; quite how moving to a bigger building in a different location intensifies the risk remains unclear.  The defence called a single witness, who testified that the county’s planning commission followed proper procedure; the plaintiffs called at least 17, including Frank Gaffney, who runs a think-tank in Washington, DC, and speaks often about the dangers of sharia (for whatever that is worth: on the stand he admitted, “I am not an expert on sharia, but I have talked a lot about it as a threat”). Their attorney’s questioning often focused not on the details of open-meetings laws but on the incompatibility of sharia and American law, on whether Islam is a religion (the federal government filed a brief saying that it is) and on whether advocating sharia law ought to be protected by the first amendment.”

Bolivia rejects US warning on Iran ties
“Nobody will stop me” from negotiating with any country, Morales said at the opening of a biannual conference of regional defense ministers attended by Gates. “Bolivia, under my leadership, will have agreements and alliances with everyone,” the leftist leader added.

Election troubles in Alexandria
Egyptian courts have ordered the cancellation of Sunday’s parliamentary election in 24 districts in the city of Alexandria. This is after the government ignored orders to reinstate opposition and independent candidates. The Muslim Brotherhood is competing for a third of Egypt’s parliamentary seats and was founded in Alexandria – but has officially been banned in Egypt for over half a century. The Brotherhood has built its support by providing an alternative welfare system, and the ban adds to its appeal. But critics say its main goal is the same as that of all other parties — to win power. Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland reports from Alexandria.

Muslim Brotherhood rally
Thousands turn up at a Muslim Brotherhood rally in the northern city of Damanhour.

Young Egyptians campaign for change
Egyptians will vote in parliamentary election on Sunday, but rights groups say the vote will be neither free nor fair. There have been a series of government crackdowns against the media and opposition supporters ahead of the poll. Despite resistance from the government, young Egyptians are beginning to agitate for change. Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland has the story in Alexandria.

Robert Fisk: The man who dares to take on Egypt’s brutal regime
Ayman Nour touches his sideburns, just a shade grey beneath his black hair: not bad for a 45-year old, but not up to the standard of the absolutely uncompromisingly jet black hair of 82-year-old Egyptian President Hosni Moubarak, whose job – in theory at least – Dr Nour would like.

Egyptian Facebook user faces five years in jail for posts
Amnesty International today called on the Egyptian authorities to stop the trial in a military court of a Facebook user facing up to five years in prison after he published public information on Egypt’s military service.  Amnesty International today called on the Egyptian authorities to stop the trial in a military court of a Facebook user facing up to five years in prison after he published public information on Egypt’s military service. Ahmed Hassan Bassyouni, 30, appeared before a military court Tuesday 24 November charged with revealing military secrets, for establishing a Facebook group on carrying out military service and answering questions on the military without permission.

Inside Story – Egypt’s growing sectarian tensions
One protester has been killed and dozens injured in clashes between Egyptian police and Coptic Christians over the construction of a new church. How might these growing sectarian tensions impact the upcoming elections?

Kuwait urged to release blogger who criticized Prime Minister
Journalist and lawyer Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qader al-Jasem was sentenced to one year in prison this week after he was convicted of criminal defamation.  Amnesty International has urged the Kuwaiti authorities to release a blogger who was sentenced to one year in prison this week, on charges relating to an article he wrote on his blog criticizing the country’s Prime Minister.  A criminal court in the capital, Kuwait City, sentenced the journalist and lawyer Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qader al-Jasem on Monday after he was convicted of criminal defamation in a case filed against him by the Prime Minister, Shaikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah.

Western Sahara: Beatings, Abuse by Moroccan Security Forces
(New York) – Moroccan security forces repeatedly beat and abused people they detained following disturbances on November 8, 2010, in the Western Sahara capital city of El-Ayoun, Human Rights Watch said today. Security forces also directly attacked civilians, a Human Rights Watch investigation showed.

Women of Saudi Arabia Emerge on the Bosporus
A creative movement based in London and Jidda has organized an exhibition in Istanbul of works from 22 Saudi artists that touch on faith, culture and identity.

Bahrain names Jewish woman to parliament
King Hamad appoints Nancy Khadhori after fellow Jew, Huda Nono, leaves house to take role of country’s US ambassador.,7340,L-3990184,00.html


JNF embarks on NY gaywashing

Nov 28, 2010

Philip Weiss


A couple weeks back the Arava Institute for ecology in Israel did a feel-good-we-can-all-get-along online event featuring Pete Seeger, the American icon. The Arava Institute is partnered with the Jewish National Fund, which controls a lot of land in Israel and discriminates against would-be residents who aren’t Jewish.

Let’s not forget that we got rid of such discriminatory covenants in American real estate a long time ago; and the NYT said that his residual anger over anti-Jewish covenants 50 years on played a role in Mayor Bloomberg’s heroic stance on the Islamic center in downtown Manhattan. Well, Palestinians have to live with this discrimination every day, and they hate it. 

Also, the JNF has spearheaded the repeated demolition of a Bedouin village in the Negev, making the desert bloom for Jews.

Now JNF has another idea of messaging to liberal Americans; they’re reaching out to gay people, featuring Israel’s proud record on gay rights to cover racial discrimination. Ali Abunimah calls these efforts “greenwashing” and “gaywashing.”

wine and cheese in New York on December 9 will celebrate JNF’s new LGBT committee. Spaces are going fast, they say; you can meet Israel’s consul-general in New York, a former leader of Israel’s branding campaign. The event will be at the law office of Jordana Gutman– who is also hooked up with a neoconservative campaign to show that Muslims turn their children into suicide bombers for reasons that have nothing to do with occupation.

I’m reminded that in his debate with Noam Sheizaf on Israel’s image, former Israeli consul for media, David Saranga, kept emphasizing the LGBT angle. Here’s the JNF release:

JNF launches gay membership group: Early next month, the Jewish National Fund will open a new chapter in its fund-raising history by reaching out specifically to gay New Yorkers.

The century-old organization, which is most famous for foresting Israel, and which has become more involved in recent years in environmentalism and water issues, has started an affinity member group out of its New York office aimed at the LGBT community.

The new group will hold its first event Dec. 9 at a private law office, featuring an intimate talk and a wine-and-cheese ceremony with Israel’s acting consul general in New York, Ido Aharoni. Chaired by real-estate lawyer Jordana Gutman, the new JNF committee is seeking to raise $15,000 to cover a scholarship for a member of the LGBT community to attend the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel, which brings together Jewish and Arab college students to work on the region’s environmental challenges.

“The goal is to provide a gateway for the LGBT community into JNF and to provide targeted programming,” Shira Berenson, the JNF staff member overseeing the new committee, told The Fundermentalist. “The board is really excited about this. We think it is really incredible and we are embracing this new committee. JNF is for Israel for everyone.”

Gutman, who had not previously been involved in JNF, said she hopes the initiative will lead to more inclusion for the gay community. While JNF and other organizations have not necessarily been exclusionary, she added, the social settings they present are primarily for heterosexuals, which can lead to a feeling of exclusion for members of the gay community.

“For such an old, established institution to be moving toward being so open of alternative lifestyles is nice,” she said. “It sends a positive message.”


Posted in Middle EastComments Off on MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER




Handy reminder of reporter’s role in the Wikileaks story

28 Nov 2010

Great piece by Simon Jenkins at the UK Guardian that reminds journalists our job is to expose secrets and not protect governments. Unless, of course, you’re on the official drip-feed:

Is it justified? Should a newspaper disclose virtually all a nation’s secret diplomatic communication, illegally downloaded by one of its citizens? The reporting in the Guardian of the first of a selection of 250,000 US state department cables marks a recasting of modern diplomacy. Clearly, there is no longer such a thing as a safe electronic archive, whatever computing’s snake-oil salesmen claim. No organisation can treat digitised communication as confidential. An electronic secret is a contradiction in terms.

Anything said or done in the name of a democracy is, prima facie, of public interest. When that democracy purports to be “world policeman” – an assumption that runs ghostlike through these cables – that interest is global. Nonetheless, the Guardian had to consider two things in abetting disclosure, irrespective of what is anyway published by WikiLeaks. It could not be party to putting the lives of individuals or sources at risk, nor reveal material that might compromise ongoing military operations or the location of special forces.

In this light, two backup checks were applied. The US government was told in advance the areas or themes covered, and “representations” were invited in return. These were considered. Details of “redactions” were then shared with the other four media recipients of the material and sent to WikiLeaks itself, to establish, albeit voluntarily, some common standard.

The state department knew of the leak several months ago and had ample time to alert staff in sensitive locations. Its pre-emptive scaremongering over the weekend stupidly contrived to hint at material not in fact being published. Nor is the material classified top secret, being at a level that more than 3 million US government employees are cleared to see, and available on the defence department’s internal Siprnet. Such dissemination of “secrets” might be thought reckless, suggesting a diplomatic outreach that makes the British empire seem minuscule.

The revelations do not have the startling, coldblooded immediacy of the WikiLeaks war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, with their astonishing insight into the minds of fighting men seemingly detached from the ethics of war. The’s disclosures are largely of analysis and high-grade gossip. Insofar as they are sensational, it is in showing the corruption and mendacity of those in power, and the mismatch between what they claim and what they do.

Few will be surprised to know that Vladimir Putin runs the world’s most sensational kleptocracy, that the Saudis wanted the Americans to bomb Iran, or that Pakistan’s ISI is hopelessly involved with Taliban groups of fiendish complexity. We now know that Washington knows too. The full extent of American dealings with Yemen might upset that country’s government, but is hardly surprising. If it is true that the Pentagon targeted refugee camps for bombing, it should be of general concern. American congressmen might also be interested in the sums of money given to certain foreign generals supposedly to pay for military equipment.

The job of the media is not to protect power from embarrassment. If American spies are breaking United Nations rules by seeking the DNA biometrics of the UN director general, he is entitled to hear of it. British voters should know what Afghan leaders thought of British troops. American (and British) taxpayers might question, too, how most of the billions of dollars going in aid to Afghanistan simply exits the country at Kabul airport.

No harm is done by high-class chatter about President Nicolas Sarkozy’s vulgarity and lack of house-training, or about the British royal family. What the American embassy in London thinks about the coalition suggests not an alliance at risk but an embassy with a talent problem.

Some stars shine through the banality such as the heroic envoy in Islamabad, Anne Patterson. She pleads that Washington’s whole policy is counterproductive: it “risks destabilising the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and the military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis without finally achieving the goal”. Nor is any amount of money going to bribe the Taliban to our side. Patterson’s cables are like missives from the Titanic as it already heads for the bottom.

The money‑wasting is staggering. Aid payments are never followed, never audited, never evaluated. The impression is of the world’s superpower roaming helpless in a world in which nobody behaves as bidden. Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the United Nations, are all perpetually off script. Washington reacts like a wounded bear, its instincts imperial but its power projection unproductive.

America’s foreign policy is revealed as a slave to rightwing drift, terrified of a bomb exploding abroad or of a pro-Israeli congressman at home. If the cables tell of the progress to war over Iran or Pakistan or Gaza or Yemen, their revelation might help debate the inanity of policies which, as Patterson says, seem to be leading in just that direction. Perhaps we can now see how catastrophe unfolds when there is time to avert it, rather than having to await aChilcot report after the event. If that is not in the public’s interest, I fail to see what is.

Clearly, it is for governments, not journalists, to protect public secrets. Were there some overriding national jeopardy in revealing them, greater restraint might be in order. There is no such overriding jeopardy, except from the policies themselves as revealed. Where it is doing the right thing, a great power should be robust against embarrassment.

What this saga must do is alter the basis of diplomatic reporting. If WikiLeaks can gain access to secret material, by whatever means, so presumably can a foreign power. Words on paper can be made secure, electronic archives not. The leaks have blown a hole in the framework by which states guard their secrets. The Guardian material must be a breach of the official secrets acts. But coupled with the penetration already allowed under freedom of information, the walls round policy formation and documentation are all but gone. All barriers are permeable. In future the only secrets will be spoken ones. Whether that is a good thing should be a topic for public debate.



Israel can handle killed Iranians to end regional threat

28 Nov 2010

How many dead Iranians is an acceptable price to pay for Zionist ambitions?

A 2009 American government cable released Sunday by the WikiLeaks website quotes Defense Minister Ehud Barak as telling visiting American officials that a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities was viable until the end of 2010, but after that “any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage.”


The inside workings of a paranoid super-power

28 Nov 2010

The latest Wikileaks news hereherehereherehere and here.



The Wikileaks cable drop begins

28 Nov 2010

This is how the US views the world (reporting by the Guardian):

The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.

At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables – many designated “secret” – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN leadership. These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistleblowers’ website, also reveal Washington’s evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues.

These include a shift in relations between China and North Korea, high level concerns over Pakistan’s growing instability and details of clandestine US efforts to combat al-Qaida in Yemen.

Among scores of disclosures that are likely to cause uproar, the cables detail:

• Grave fears in Washington and London over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, with officials warning that as the country faces economic collapse, government employees could smuggle out enough nuclear material for terrorists to build a bomb.

• Suspicions of corruption in the Afghan government, with one cable alleging that vice president Zia Massoud was carrying $52m in cash when he was stopped during a visit to the United Arab Emirates. Massoud denies taking money out of Afghanistan.

• How the hacker attacks which forced Google to quit China in January were orchestrated by a senior member of the Politburo who typed his own name into the global version of the search engine and found articles criticising him personally.

• The extraordinarily close relationship between Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, which is causing intense US suspicion. Cables detail allegations of “lavish gifts”, lucrative energy contracts and the use by Berlusconi of a “shadowy” Russian-speaking Italian go-between.

• Allegations that Russia and its intelligence agencies are using mafia bosses to carry out criminal operations, with one cable reporting that the relationship is so close that the country has become a “virtual mafia state”.

•  Devastating criticism of the UK’s military operations in Afghanistan by US commanders, the Afghan president and local officials in Helmand. The dispatches reveal particular contempt for the failure to impose security around Sangin – the town which has claimed more British lives than any other in the country.

• Inappropriate remarks by a member of the British royal family about a UK law enforcement agency and a foreign country.

The US has particularly intimate dealings with Britain, and some of the dispatches from the London embassy in Grosvenor Square will make uncomfortable reading in Whitehall and Westminster. They range from political criticisms of David Cameron to requests for specific intelligence about individual MPs.

The cables contain specific allegations of corruption, as well as harsh criticism by US embassy staff of their host governments, from Caribbean islands to China and Russia. The material includes a reference to Putin as an “alpha-dog”, Hamid Karzai as being “driven by paranoia” while Angela Merkel allegedly “avoids risk and is rarely creative”. There is also a comparison between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Adolf Hitler.

The cables names Saudi donors as the biggest financiers of terror groups, and provide an extraordinarily detailed account of an agreement between Washington and Yemen to cover up the use of US planes to bomb al-Qaida targets. One cable records that during a meeting in January with General David Petraeus, then US commander in the Middle East, Yemeni president Abdullah Saleh said: “We’ll continue saying they are our bombs, not yours.”

Other revelations include a description of a near “environmental disaster” last year over a rogue shipment of enriched uranium, technical details of secret US-Russian nuclear missile negotiations in Geneva, and a profile of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, who they say is accompanied everywhere by a “voluptuous blonde” Ukrainian nurse.

Clinton led a frantic damage limitation exercise this weekend as Washington prepared foreign governments for the revelations, contacting leaders in Germany, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, France and Afghanistan.

US ambassadors in other capitals were instructed to brief their hosts in advance of the release of unflattering pen-portraits or nakedly frank accounts of transactions with the US which they had thought would be kept quiet. Washington now faces a difficult task in convincing contacts around the world that any future conversations will remain confidential.

As the cables were published the White House released a statement condemning their release. “Such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the US for assistance in promoting democracy and open government. By releasing stolen and classified documents, WikiLeaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals.”

In London, a Foreign Office spokesman said: “We condemn any unauthorised release of this classified information, just as we condemn leaks of classified material in the UK. They can damage national security, are not in the national interest and, as the US have said, may put lives at risk. We have a very strong relationship with the US Government. That will continue”.

The state department’s legal adviser has written to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his London lawyer, warning that the cables were obtained illegally and that publication would place at risk “the lives of countless innocent individuals … ongoing military operations … and cooperation between countries”.

The electronic archive of embassy dispatches from around the world was allegedly downloaded by a US soldier earlier this year and passed to WikiLeaks. Assange made them available to the Guardian and four other news organisations: the New York TimesDer Spiegel in Germany, Le Monde in France and El País in Spain. All five plan to publish extracts from the most significant cables, but have decided neither to “dump” the entire dataset into the public domain, nor to publish names that would endanger innocent individuals. WikiLeaks says that, contrary to the state department’s fears, it also initially intends to post only limited cable extracts, and to redact identities.

The cables published today reveal how the US uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network, with diplomats tasked to obtain not just information from the people they meet, but personal details, such as frequent flyer numbers, credit card details and even DNA material.

Classified “human intelligence directives” issued in the name of Clinton or her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, instruct officials to gather information on military installations, weapons markings, vehicle details of political leaders as well as iris scans, fingerprints and DNA.

The most controversial target was the UN leadership. That directive requested the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top officials and their staff and details of “private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys”.

PJ Crowley, the state department spokesman in Washington, said: “Let me assure you: our diplomats are just that, diplomats. They do not engage in intelligence activities. They represent our country around the world, maintain open and transparent contact with other governments as well as public and private figures, and report home. That’s what diplomats have done for hundreds of years.”

The acting deputy spokesman for Ban Ki Moon, Farhan Haq, said the UN chief had no immediate comment: “We are aware of the reports.”

The dispatches also shed light on older diplomatic issues. One cable, for example, reveals, that Nelson Mandela was “furious” when a top adviser stopped him meeting Margaret Thatcher shortly after his release from prison to explain why the ANC objected to her policy of “constructive engagement” with the apartheid regime. “We understand Mandela was keen for a Thatcher meeting but that [appointments secretary Zwelakhe] Sisulu argued successfully against it,” according to the cable. It continues: “Mandela has on several occasions expressed his eagerness for an early meeting with Thatcher to express the ANC’s objections to her policy. We were consequently surprised when the meeting didn’t materialise on his mid-April visit to London and suspected that ANC hardliners had nixed Mandela’s plans.”

The US embassy cables are marked “Sipdis” – secret internet protocol distribution. They were compiled as part of a programme under which selected dispatches, considered moderately secret but suitable for sharing with other agencies, would be automatically loaded on to secure embassy websites, and linked with the military’s Siprnet internet system.

They are classified at various levels up to “secret noforn” [no foreigners]. More than 11,000 are marked secret, while around 9,000 of the cables are marked noforn.

More than 3 million US government personnel and soldiers, many extremely junior, are cleared to have potential access to this material, even though the cables contain the identities of foreign informants, often sensitive contacts in dictatorial regimes. Some are marked “protect” or “strictly protect”.

Last spring, 22-year-old intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was charged with leaking many of these cables, along with a gun-camera video of an Apache helicopter crew mistakenly killing two Reuters news agency employees in Baghdad in 2007, which was subsequently posted by WikiLeaks. Manning is facing a court martial.

In July and October WikiLeaks also published thousands of leaked military reports from Afghanistan and Iraq. These were made available for analysis beforehand to the Guardian, along with Der Spiegel and the New York Times.

A former hacker, Adrian Lamo, who reported Manning to the US authorities, said the soldier had told him in chat messages that the cables revealed “how the first world exploits the third, in detail”.

He also said, according to Lamo, that Clinton “and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available in searchable format to the public … everywhere there’s a US post … there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed”.

Asked why such sensitive material was posted on a network accessible to thousands of government employees, the state department spokesman told the Guardian: “The 9/11 attacks and their aftermath revealed gaps in intra-governmental information sharing. Since the attacks of 9/11, the US government has taken significant steps to facilitate information sharing. These efforts were focused on giving diplomatic, military, law enforcement and intelligence specialists quicker and easier access to more data to more effectively do their jobs.”

He added: “We have been taking aggressive action in recent weeks and months to enhance the security of our systems and to prevent the leak of information.”



Who is really the bad guy in the Wikileaks story?

28 Nov 2010

US investigative journalist Michael Hastings tweets:

Thought experiment: if [Wikileaks’ Julian] Assange had exposed thousands of secret docs from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, etc, would we consider him a hero or villain?



Turkey first major nation to embrace one-state?

28 Nov 2010

The Israeli press is reporting the following and if true a very reasonable call from Ankara to not tolerate Zionist racism against Palestinians. After all, one-state is almost inevitable in the Middle East. One day:

Israel will not be able to remain over time an independent country, and a bi-national state will be established on all of the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River in which Jews and Palestinians will live,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a number of meetings that he held with journalists and academics, including a number of Israeli academics.  Davutoglu’s vision, which he revisited a number of times, is for Turkey to become a dominant force in the Middle East and further, that it will be the protector state of the above-cited bi-national state within a number of years.



IAJV November newsletter

28 Nov 2010

The following newsletter was sent out today:

Dear friends,

We are sending our occasional newsletter here and would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has been so supportive of our efforts; both with their willingness to sign our recent statement and donations. You will be aware that we are very limited in our resources and so it is both very heartening and practically helpful to receive so much ongoing encouragement and support. Above all, it indicates clearly that we are helping to fill an important gap in the public dialogue.

Our recent IAJV advertisement appeared prominently in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian and Australian Jewish News with around 120 signatures ( and highlighted the importance of Jews speaking out for peace and justice in the Middle East.

The ad was attacked by the Australian Jewish News’ columnist Mark Baker ( and a number of Jewish writers in the letter’s pages of the AJN (

We are pleased with the more than 130 Jewish signatories (and growing) and very generous financial support that made the advertisements possible. We continue to receive many emails and letters from across the community including both Jewish and non-Jewish supporters who express gratitude and encouragement for our public stand as Jewish voices. We are planning to maintain the momentum with new initiatives and will inform you all soon of IAJV events in the pipeline.

We want to express our thanks to all who contributed in various ways to our efforts and thereby to add to the growing pressure on the Australian government to take a more enlightened view of the Middle East crisis.

In other news, American Jewish writer and activist Anna Baltzer recently toured Australia and attracted large crowds across the country. She received great media coverage (Eg. and

Her visit was sponsored by Australians for Palestine, Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine and IAJV and we are again pleased to work together with these groups to promote human rights in the Middle East.

Anna was attacked by the mainstream Jewish community and defended by IAJV’s Peter Slezak on J Wire:

Alan Gold on Baltzer

Peter Slezak reply to Gold

David Singer reply to Slezak

Alan Gold again

Peter Slezak reply to Gold and Singer

David Singer again

Anna appeared at Canberra’s Parliament House and made a presentation to 20 Federal parliamentarians among many others including diplomats and journalists. As in her many talks, Anna presented some of the troubling aspects of human rights violations in the West Bank and the need for governments and individuals to act on behalf of the principles of justice, international law and human rights for all.

Finally, the following links are some recent news from the Middle East:

– Antony Loewenstein, Western politicians prefer to ignore Israel’s inherent racism, Sydney Morning Herald:

– Gideon Levy, Israel is proud to present; the aggressor-victim, Haaretz:

– Israeli human rights group B’Tselem on abuse of Palestinians in Israeli detention:

– Israeli human rights group Gisha on the real situation with the Israeli blockade of Gaza:

Thanks again for your support and ongoing interest in our efforts.

Best wishes for now,

Independent Australian Jewish Voices
Peter Slezak
James Levy
Antony Loewenstein
Eran Asoulin



How scared are Western governments over Wikileaks?

28 Nov 2010

US blogger firedoglake reports:

Skdadl, who has been tweeting up a storm on the upcoming WikiLeaks dump, noted that the British government hasissued D-notices regarding the upcoming dump, which is basically a non-binding request on editors to brief the government before doing a story.

“The news came to light in two Tweets from WikiLeaks one of which said, “UK Government has issued a “D-notice” warning to all UK news editors, asking to be briefed on upcoming WikiLeaks stories.” The follow up pointed out that the notices were “Type 1″ which relates to “Military Operations Plans and Capabilities”, and “Type 5″ which relates to “United Kingdom Security and Intelligence Special Services.””

Here’s the content of the D-notice:

Subject: DA Notice Letter of Advice to All UK Editors – Further Wikileaks Disclosures

To All Editors

Impending Further National Security Disclosures by Wikileaks

I understand that Wikileaks will very shortly release a further mass of US official documents onto its internet website. The full scope of the subject matter covered by these documents remains to be seen, but it is possible that some of them may contain information that falls within the UK’s Defence Advisory Notice code. Given the large number of documents thought to be involved, it is unlikely that sensitive UK national security information within these documents would be recognised by a casual browser. However, aspects of national security might be put at risk if a major UK media news outlet brought such information into obvious public prominence through its general publication or broadcast.

Therefore, may I ask you to seek my advice before publishing or broadcasting any information drawn from these latest Wikileaks’ disclosures which might be covered by the five standing DA Notices. In particular, would you carefully consider information that might be judged to fall within the terms of DA Notice 1 (UK Military Operations, Plans and Capabilities) and DA Notice 5 (UK Intelligence Services and Special Forces). May I also ask you to bear in mind the potential consequential effects of disclosing information which would put at risk the safety and security of Britons working or living in volatile regions where such publicity might trigger violent local reactions, for example Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan? [my emphasis]

Of course, there’s something odd about this effort.

The intertoobz don’t have national boundaries.

So even if the Brits are successful at getting the British press not to cover these stories, that doesn’t prevent media outlets outside of the UK from reporting on them, making them available to be read within the UK (or, given that the concern seems to focus on our war zones, Pakistan).

Mind you, the D-notice seems to be particularly concerned about major outlets and the “prominence” they can accord. And since with the last dump, at least, WikiLeaks actually did a great deal of redacting before releasing the documents via its public site, it would suggest the British government would be most worried about the one British outlet that got advance copies — presumably unredacted ones — of the latest dump.

So, the Guardian.



US aims to destroy Wikileaks

28 Nov 2010

Looks like it’s game on:

The United States has rejected talks with WikiLeaks over its planned release of confidential US documents, saying the whistleblower website is holding them in violation of US law.

The US State Department set out its position in a letter to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his attorney that was released to the media.

“We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained US government classified materials,” State Department legal adviser Harold Koh wrote.

“As you know, if any of the materials you intend to publish were provided by any government officials, or any intermediary without proper authorisation, they were provided in violation of US law and without regard for the grave consequences of this action.

“As long as WikiLeaks holds such material, the violation of the law is ongoing.”

WikiLeaks is expected to put online 3 million leaked cables covering US dealings and its confidential views of other countries.

Many fear it will embarrass the United States and its allies and reveal sensitive details about US relations with other countries.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER




Failing work in Afghanistan is signal for a promotion

29 Nov 2010

This is what we’re doing in Afghanistan:

For more than a year, Afghan police chief Rajab Mohammed and his men have worked out of a dark, cramped mud home in a remote corner of Afghanistan while waiting in vain for construction workers to finish building the U.S.-funded police station across the street.

With winter fast approaching, some of the men, who’d been sleeping in a dirt courtyard, recently took over the idle construction site and set up cots inside the half-built station after they learned that the U.S. government had fired the Afghan company responsible for the project.

The U.S. is spending billions of dollars to build facilities like the one in Badakhshan for Afghanistan’s expanding national police and new garrisons for its army. The ambitious program is a linchpin of President Barack Obama’s strategy to strengthen Afghan security forces so 100,000 U.S. troops can come home.

However, like much of the wider Afghan reconstruction effort, it’s faltering, according to current and former U.S. officials, Afghan and American contractors, and contract documents.

Dozens of structures across the country either were poorly constructed or never completed at all. Tens of thousands of Afghan soldiers who were supposed to be living in garrisons by now are still housed in tents.

The stations and barracks represent a pattern repeated across Afghanistan: Construction projects are failing with such frequency that the administration’s initiative to reinforce the Afghan security forces could be hobbled.

While American policymakers struggle to find enough money to resuscitate the U.S. economy or rebuild infrastructure at home, American taxpayers are financing an unprecedented construction boom in Afghanistan for new schools and clinics, electricity and water and roads and bridges.

U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, has ordered a dramatic expansion in contracting. Other than asking a brigadier general to investigate problems with military contracts, so far he’s failed to address their flaws.

A McClatchy investigation has found that since January 2008, nearly $200 million in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction projects in Afghanistan have failed, face serious delays or resulted in subpar work. Poor recordkeeping made it impossible for McClatchy to determine the value of faulty projects before then. The military tries to recover part of a project’s cost, but in many cases, the funds were already spent.

The investigation also found that:

  • In a rush to award contracts to Afghan companies, the Corps accepts bids that don’t cover the cost of a project, including the expense of security and a contractor’s profit.
  • Rather than scrap a project that’s failing, the government sometimes rewrites the contract to require only the work that’s been done and declares the effort a success. The process is called “de-scoping.”

At the same time, a vast majority of the companies that McClatchy found were doing shoddy work haven’t been banned from getting new U.S. contracts, according to government records. U.S. taxpayer dollars also continue to go to firms whose true ownership is hard to determine, making it difficult to hold anyone accountable.


Delegitimisation inc.

29 Nov 2010

Akiva Eldar in Haaretz on yet another Zionist-created disinformation campaign breathlessly repeated by many Jews in the Diaspora. Why oh why can’t the world just accept Israel as a charming occupying nation?

The State of Israel is under the threat of delegitimization, “which is no less disturbing than Hamas and Hezbollah,” intoned Defense Minister Ehud Barak in a speech last week.

“Attempts by our enemies and their misguided fellow travelers to delegitimize the Jewish state must be countered,” warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three weeks ago, in response to cries of protest by peace activists at the General Assembly of Jewish Federations in New Orleans.

“If the delegitimization continues it will be an obstacle to peace,” declared Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon recently. He added: “We are facing sophisticated enemies who are working in various ways to besmirch Israel’s reputation.”

Words like missiles. It’s an emergency. Hush, we’re shooting.

A look at the “guidebook” the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs is offering Israelis at the exit gates from the country reinforces the suspicion that the inflation in the expression “delegitimization” (formerly called “anti-Semitism” ) is not a random lexical construction.

“How many times have you had occasion to encounter information presented about Israel that was far from being real?” the tourist/good-will ambassador is asked before he is requested to “take part in changing the image of the State of Israel.” The booklet “Explaining Israel” reminds him of such things as the dates of the wars (including Operation Peace for Galilee ) and the victories (including the win by Maccabi Tel Aviv of the European Cup ), the humanitarian delegations and the invention of the disc-on-key.

There is not a single word about the Madrid conference, which paved the way to the direct peace negotiations and diplomatic relations with many important countries, such as China. There is no sign of the fact that the Oslo Accords opened doors to Israel in the Arab countries. Nor is there any trace of the peace with Jordan – a bonus for the Oslo agreement. Nothing about the Arab peace initiative, which is still waiting for an Israeli answer. The Public Diplomacy Ministry is also not mentioning that the European Union decided to upgrade relations with Israel – and then froze the process in the wake of the crisis of the Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla.

Israel is basking in the light of the delegitimization. It will not allow the inexhaustible tin of olive oil to be defiled by any hint of legitimization. It is much easier to give the world the finger when the whole of it is against you. If we say “delegitimization” enough times the public will believe there is no connection between what the gentiles say and what the Jews do.


Inside the Tamil Tigers from a man who knows

29 Nov 2010

An amazing interview with key former Tamil Tiger leader Thambiaiya Selvarasa Pathmanathan, alias “KP”. He’s currently under house arrest and monitored by the Sri Lankan regime. Some of this interview is filled with clearly scripted comments about the kindness of Colombo but despite this KP talks about the inside workings of the Tigers. The last months of the 2009 battle, too:

Q: Did you not try to save the [Tamils] civilians by getting the LTTE to release them [during the fierce months of fighting in 2008 and 2009]?

A: I did try at the start.

There was even an offer by the Americans to transport them by sea to Trincomalee. But the LTTE hierarchy was not agreeable. This attitude was most unfortunate and may appear as inhuman. I am not trying to condone or justify this action but when I reflect upon the past I think the LTTE leadership also had no choice. If they released the people first, then only the tigers would be left there. Thereafter all of them could have been wiped out.

I had a tentative plan with international endorsement. The LTTE was to lay down arms by hoarding them in specific locations. The words used were “lock –off”. That is arms particularly heavy weapons were to be locked off in specific places. They were to be handed over to representatives of the UN. Afterwards there was to be a cessation of hostilities in which the people were to be kept in specific “no firing zones”. Negotiations were to be conducted between the Govt and LTTE with Norwegian facilitation.

Tentatively about 25 to 50 top leaders with their families were to be transported to a foreign country if necessary.The middle level leaders and cadres were to be detained, charged in courts and given relatively minor sentences. The low level junior cadres were to be given a general amnesty.

The scheme was to endorsed by the west including Norway, EU and the USA. The Americans were ready to send their naval fleet in to do evacuation if necessary

Q: Was the Sri Lankan government agreeable

A: I don’t think there was any official intimation to Colombo but maybe they were sounded out informally. But the plan was never concretised because the main man concerned, Prabhakaran rejected it.

I had written an outline of the plan and sent it to him for approval. If he said “Proceed” I would have concretised it and started work on implementing it. But when I faxed the details in a 16 page memorandum he rejected the 16 pages in just three words “Ithai Etrukkolla Mudiyathu” (This is unacceptable)So I had to drop it

Q: Even if Prabhakaran had agreed to it do you think the Govt would have complied given the fact that the armed forces were on the verge of annihilating the LTTE?

A: I don’t know. Most probably the Govt may not have obliged because it was on the verge of victory and would not have wanted to be deprived of it. But the point is that it was never concretised and submitted to the Govt. Given the situation the LTTE was in, Prabhakaran should have taken it.

Q: Why did Prabhakaran reject it then?

A; I don’t know I can only guess.It is too painful to dwell on it because he is no more and I will always be thinking “why didn’t he accept this opportunity”?


Canberra just desperate to do America’s bidding, anywhere anytime

28 Nov 2010

Australia is little more than a reliable lackey, keen to follow Washington into every futile war and action they launch:

Australia is described as a “rock solid” but uninfluential US ally in secret US government documents made public by the controversial whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks.

A small number of the 250,000 cables have been released, leaving the US government in damage control and warning the release of the top-secret documents could endanger lives.

About 930 of the WikiLeaks documents were written by US officials in Australia, but it is not yet clear what information they contain and the WikiLeaks website was struggling under the massive amount of traffic.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland says he has established a taskforce to deal with any fallout from the new leaks, which he describes as of a “real concern” to the Government.

Mr McClelland says the Australian Federal Police is assessing if any Australian laws had been broken.

One confidential document from the US Embassy in Harare, seen by ABC News Online, describes Australia as a “rock solid” ally of the US.


So much for the noble power that helps its democratic mates

28 Nov 2010

How Wikileaks themselves introduce the latest revelations:

Wikileaks began on Sunday November 28th publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities.

The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret.

The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice.

The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.

This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments — even the most corrupt — around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.

The full set consists of 251,287 documents, comprising 261,276,536 words (seven times the size of “The Iraq War Logs”, the world’s previously largest classified information release).

The cables cover from 28th December 1966 to 28th February 2010 and originate from 274 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions.


US embassy in Tehran in 1979 had no idea about much

28 Nov 2010

How clueless were the Americans in 1979 when looking at the situation in Iran? A Wikileaks released document explains:






Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER



From the Palestine Solidarity Project

Early Thursday morning, at approximately 2:00am, Israeli forces from the Gush Etzion military base came to the homes of brothers and National Committee members Yousef and Mousa Abu Maria. Both are also co-founders of the Palestine Solidarity Project. 
Mousa, whose wife and baby girl–both Israeli citizens–were visiting family, was forced outside while his home was searched. 3 computers belonging to the Palestine Solidarity Project were taken. Yousef, father of 10 year-old Reem, 4 year-old Obay, and 1 month-old Della’, was also taken from his home in the middle of the night.

Both were held outside in freezing temperatures in Gush Etzion military base for over 5 hours; neither were allowed to put on proper shoes or clothing and repeated requests to be put inside were denied.

The soldiers, who have been harassing the committee of Beit Ommar for months now, including a previous late-night home invasion last month, accused both brothers of organizing the demonstrations in Beit Ommar, held every Saturday against the illegal settlements surrounding Beit Ommar, particularly Karmei Tsur. They were also “accused” of “bringing internationals” to Beit Ommar. 

The brothers were also threatened if they did not stop the PSP program of reclaiming land in Saffa, this just days after settlers from nearby Bat ‘Ayn settlement set fire to Saffa land. In addition to Mousa and Yousef, two youth from Saffa were also arrested and released the next day. 

The ongoing harassment and arrest of activists and participants in the demonstrations of Beit Ommar, and the confiscation of PSP equipment, has taken its toll on PSP’s limited finances. PSP covers the bail and legal fees of all Palestinians arrested at Beit Ommar demonstrations if they cannot be covered by the families. Please consider making a donation to PSP for our continued legal expenses. 

See our ‘Donate’ page for ways you can help.

Here is a youtube of a Beit Ommar demonstration that Israel is so desperate to stop, complete with arrests of a child and internationals. 

Mostly Hebrew and Arabic. 

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Posted in Middle EastComments Off on GESTAPO MIDNIGHT RAIDS CONTINUE




Welcome to to Zionist lies. Welcome to the elections that will propel Zionist  Mu-Barak to his sixth term as Zionist puppet’s — if his health improves, that is. Otherwise his son Gamal is likely to be named puppet.

A recipient of $1.56 billion per annum in US /Zionist assistance, Egypt’s population of roughly 80 million still enjoys a per capita income of less than $3,000. And three decades of aid has ensured virtually no diversification of its economy — tourism remains the country’s main industry.

Mu-Barak’s legislative elections held on Sunday were a sham from the start. A number of opposition parties are boycotting the elections in protest of the government’s machinations. The Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan), the largest opposition bloc and a moderate Islamist party, decided to run, although they are participating blindfolded and shackled for all intents and purposes.

Since the Ikhwan gained a hefty 88 seats in the 2005 elections — often credited to pressure inflicted by U.S. President George W. Bush for more free elections there — the government has sought to reduce their influence by implementing electoral reform in 2007, which Amnesty International called the “biggest erosion of human rights since emergency laws were introduced in 1981.”

In further electoral trickery, the government has rejected the participation of international observers, barred dozens of Ikhwan candidates from running as independents, arrested more than 1,306 members of the group and raised the number of parliamentary seats to further dilute the opposition. Human Rights Watch published a 24-page report in the weeks leading up to the election that should have Egypt’s friends at the U.S. State Department reeling.

And don’t be distracted by the oddly progressive designation of 64 seats in the 508-member “majlis” for women. This bizarre quota system that was approved for two five-year election cycles in 2009 is more likely another way for Zionist Mu-Barak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) to assure more seats and is meant to appeal largely to secular elites. A good article here on the “pro-women” aspect of Sunday’s elections.

Brookings Doha Center study this summer warned about upcoming elections in the Arab world — polls that, under their democratic-looking facade, have actually snuffed out largely moderate Islamist opposition parties in countries like Jordan and Egypt.

The report analyzes how “nonviolent Islamist groups in the Arab world are responding to a new, sometimes unprecedented, set of challenges” and warns that the U.S., international community, and Arab governments need to “incorporate Islamists into the democratic equation lest more radical elements fill the vacuum.” The study finds that many of the moderate Islamist groups like Jordan’s Islamic Action Front (IAF) and Egypt’s Ikhwan have more “democratic” experience than most of the governments within which they aspire to participate.

These Islamist parties are “building grassroots support, assembling cross-ideological coalitions, and oiling their electoral operations… Their reorientation away from the application of Islamic law (or Sharia) toward an aggressive reform program” presents a serious threat to the autocratic regimes in much of the Arab Mideast.

The report argues:

In some important respects, the objectives of the United States are, perhaps counterintuitively, more aligned with mainstream Islamists than pro-Zionist/American Arab regimes. After all, US policymakers share with Islamist leaders a stated interest in gradual institutional and constitutional reform and a rhetorical commitment to democratization.

But the Brookings report also warns that “Islamist leaders often speak of an ‘American veto.’ The veto is used by the Zionist regime and  the United States and other Western powers to block Islamists from gaining power, even if they win at the ballot box.” Think Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections.

This concern may ultimately ensure that moderates refrain from participation — as they did in Jordan’s recent election — while more radical Salafist types rise to the fore — as they did in the 2008 Kuwaiti elections: “Groups that are considerably more conservative and less amenable to compromise.”

And so back to the Egyptian elections on Sunday. I will leave you now to the live-blogging capabilities of EA Worldview, a website that is following developments on the ground and is posting video footage as well as regular updates:

0845 GMT: Muslim Brotherhood MP Mohamed al-Beltagy has filed a report with the general prosecutor, accusing security forces of arming men in plainclothes to assault his supporters.

0910 GMT: Police have encircled the Tareq Ibn Ziad School in the Sahel district of Shubra, Cairo, allowing only representatives of National Democratic Party (NDP) candidates into the polling station.

1005 GMT: Ismail Askary, the independent candidate in Kafr El Dawar, has allegedly been beaten by NDP supporters and is now in hospital.

1120 GMT: Egypt’s High Elections Commission said that it has received only 10 complaints so far, the most serious involving a claim of supporters of rival National Democratic Party candidates shooting each other.

1420 GMT: MP Hamdeen Sabbahy, one of the founding members of the National Association for Change, has said he will withdraw from the election because of widespread violations.

1650 GMT: Polls will close soon. Several stations have reportedly shut early because of a shortage of ballots.




November 29, 2010


From time to time, the Palestine Center distributes articles it believes will enhance understanding of the Palestinian political reality. The following article was published by AFP on 29 November 2010. To view this article online, please go to:

“Israel consulted Egypt, Fatah on Gaza war: WikiLeaks” 

“He explained that the GOI (government of Israel) had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas,” he said, referring to the Fatah party of Palestinian puppet Mahmud Ab-A$$.



“Not surprisingly, Barak said, the GOI received negative answers from both,” it said.



Israel launched its massive offensive, dubbed “Operation Cast Lead,” on December 27, 2008 with the stated aim of halting rocket attacks from Gaza.



During the 22-day war, some 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in the fighting. Thirteen Israelis were also killed, 10 of them soldiers.



Barak also “stressed the importance of continued consultations with both Egypt and Fatah,” over reconstruction of the tiny coastal enclave which was devastated by the operation.



The Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have long been bitter rivals, but their divisions came to a head in June 2007 when Hamas drove its Fatah rivals out of the Gaza Strip and seized control of the impoverished territory.



The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.

Israel discussed its planned war on Gaza with the Palestinian leadership and Egypt ahead of time, offering to hand them control of the strip if it defeated Hamas, US documents released by WikiLeaks showed.


The attempt to coordinate its devastating offensive against Gaza’s Islamist rulers was revealed by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak whose remarks were included in a telegram sent in June 2009 by then deputy US ambassador Luis Moreno.






The following is an excerpt from a letter by Palestinian political prisoner and civil society leader Ameer Makhoul, written in response to a postcard featuring an image of a lighthouse sent by The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof.

A citizen of Israel, Makhoul was arrested in his home on 6 May 2010 and held in isolation and refused a meeting with his lawyers or family for 12 days following the arrest.


The Israeli government indicted Makhoul with trumped-up charges of espionage and assistance to the enemy in a time of war, which carries a life sentence. According to Makhoul, during that time the Israeli authorities used severe interrogation methods that caused him both psychological and physical harm. Last month Makhoul agreed to a plea deal to avoid lengthy imprisonment and now faces a maximum sentence of seven to ten years.

The lighthouse, al-fanar in Arabic, is an inspiration. I have built a lighthouse here in jail. It has been built in my mind because I am not allowed to use the space, but my mind is totally mine. Al-fanar became part of my vision and dream for freedom and human dignity. The lighthouse is out of prison, while the role of the anchor is to be rooted and safe.

In fact, I need both — al-fanar to give direction to my vision, while the role of the anchor is to understand where I currently am. I need to be balanced and realistic to act within a totally unbalanced reality. I need to challenge and to change. I need, and we need to change. The anchor is needed in order to act. The lighthouse shows how and where and for what.

It is not easy to have both elements, especially to “new” prisoners of freedom. It is defined as new but it is almost half a year that I have been in prison. Several prisoners have already been here 23 to 28 years. So I am relatively new here, but for me every day is a lot of time, with a lot of suffering and reflecting on the reality of being Palestinian in my homeland.

To be proven innocent is totally not accepted by the court. Thousands of cases show that both the rate and the number of Palestinians who have been released as innocents is zero. Palestinians are guilty, it is the only option.

The Shabak [Israel’s internal intelligence agency, also known as the Shin Bet] monitored and recorded 30,000 of my telephone calls and those in relevant circles; in addition they surveilled all email, Skype, Internet and electronic media. Yet they declared in the court that they have no material evidence.

Based on my experience and on the findings regarding 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the Shabak having no evidence does not mean the end of the game. They have their secret weapon, which is the so-called “secret evidence.” They present it to the judges, but neither me nor my lawyers are allowed to know what it is about. The Israeli system will never blame the state or the Shabak, but will blame their Palestinian victims.

Statistics and experience show that without a deal with the attorney general the sentence would be double the length! So the lack of evidence is not the road to freedom. Israel will never allow its court to declare me as innocent. On the other hand, every Palestinian refugee of Arab friend or partner in the Arab world is potentially considered a so-called “foreign agent.”

The state’s role is to blame and the victim’s role is to explain, even to prove that he or she is innocent. I have so many friends and partners all around the Arab world and among people in the homeland and diaspora. I have no illusions, but I have a lot of energy to struggle for freedom and dignity.



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