Archive | December 11th, 2010

WIKILEAKS & ARMS SALES

NOVANEWS

I think what has been most telling in the Wikileaks release has less what has been released—which has been nothing substantively new, and in a moment when there is simple a torrent of information available, simply overwhelming to people not short of information but of people to act on it—but instead what the sifting through of the information reveals about those who comment about it. The lunatics assume that Julian Assange is a CIA-plant, a Zionist operative, a stooge, a villain, a triple-agent, or whatever else their minds come up with. Busy looking for subterranean conspiracies, they refuse to see the conspiracy right out in the open: class war, neo-colonialism, occupation, domination.

What has been second-most telling is the texture of interactions between Israeli officials and their American counterparts, which we do not get to see very frequently, because the documents ordinarily would remain under seal for 25 years. What emerges is a negotiating process, neither dog nor tail dominating, but two allies discussing how to dominate the Middle East to what they understand as their respective advantage, an advantage that usually overlaps and sometimes does not (Of course, the U.S. conception of its “advantage” and interests is informed by the allies of Israel whispering advice in its ears. What is missed is that the Israeli conception of its own advantages and interest is in turn informed by the imperial alliance. Absent that aid, political and materiel, it would be forced to conceive of its interests differently).

The relationship is institutionally embedded and not the simplistic puppet-puppeteer or puppeteer-puppet model that people wish to work with. Furthermore, geo-political interests are understood with reference to the profit drive. The Pentagon’s interests are not determined by the profit drive. The issue is how the profit drive remains the gravitational assumption that informs policy-planning. Or, as Jason Vest has pointed out with respect to JINSA, “Almost every retired officer who sits on JINSA’s board of advisers or has participated in its Israel trips or signed a JINSA letter works or has worked with military contractors who do business with the Pentagon and Israel.” The image of that revolving door is burned into the back of the minds of American and Israeli generals alike as they negotiate over “security” needs in the Middle East.

Still, it is usually the Pentagon that is first up at bat. The US government first conceives of its own interests, vis-à-vis arms sales to Arab states. It then tests those arms sales against Israeli concerns. For example, in a 2009 meeting, Israeli officials

Said that Israel understands U.S. policy intentions to arm moderate Arab states in the region to counter the Iranian threat, and prefers such sales originate from the United States instead of other countries like Russia or China.  However, Israel continues to stress the importance of identifying potential risks that may become future threats or adversaries, and for this reason maintains several objections as indicated in the official GOI response to the QME non-paper on potential U.S. arms sales to the region.

The governing assumptions are both dominance and the need for American military exports.

However, there is also something else that oddly goes unremarked-upon here, which is the Israeli preference for such sales to originate in the United States. This serves two purposes. The first is that when Israel also gets its arms from the United States, it can be sure that it will remain in possession of more advanced weapons from the same production lines. However, there’s something else, too. Israeli defense officials are tightly tied in with the Israeli defense industry. They know not only that the US is likely to “outsource” some of the weapons production to Israel, but that “Israeli” capital will benefit from arms construction in the United States. Why? Because Israeli capital and American capital are quite hard to distinguish at this point in the game.

Their military-industrial complexes are basically intertwined, with one very important caveat: the main production lines, for example for fighter jets, are kept within America, not Israel, so that America can try to maintain the domestic military industrial complex with which it attempts to dominate the world through force. Israeli officials, aware of these concerns and these facts, still try to get access to the documents on the qualitative military edge before it goes off to Congress, so they can review them against their own concerns:

GOI officials also expressed continued interest in reviewing the QME report prior to its submission to Congress.  A/S [Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew] Shapiro reiterated that the report was based on an assessment from the intelligence community, and therefore not releasable to the GOI…GOI interlocutors attempted to make the argument that moderate Arab countries could in the future become adversaries — and that this should be taken into account in the QME process.

Shapiro went on to say in another cable that the more important thing was not clearing all decisions with Israel [obviously] but “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.” Tell your ally what you are doing. Don’t ask your ally permission to do what you want to do.

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DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

Dear All,  

This evening you receive an overview of what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza, first the Today in Palestine compilation (from yesterday), and following the OCHA Protection of Citizens weekly report.  Just glancing through both gives you an overview of what is happening.  A few of the items I’ve distributed previously. 

My apologies for duplications.  

All the best,

Dorothy

December 10, 2010

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

Israel to Destroy Electric Infrastructure Near Hebron
Israeli officials ordered destruction of electricity infrastructure, on Thursday, in two Palestinian villages in the southern area of Hebron, local sources said.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60137

Barak: When I was PM we built much more in West Bank
During New York meeting, UN’s Ban expresses disappointment in Israel’s decision not to extend settlement moratorium, but Barak says construction not cause of stalemate in peace talks.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3997114,00.html 

Photostory: Construction of the Wall in Bil’in
Construction of the « concrete » wall in Bil’in, October—November 2010.  Photos by Hamde Abu Rahme and Oren Ziv (ActiveStills.org).  See also : Two sides of the Wall in Bil’in by Hamde Abu Rahme 
http://www.bilin-village.org/english/articles/testimonies/Photostory-Construction-of-the-Wall-in-Bilin

Suspicious real estate company distributes flyers in Silwan
Flyers have been distributed throughout Silwan encouraging residents to contact a previously unheard of real estate company, should they wish to sell their home. Residents state that the group, simply named “The Real Estate Company” is not known of in Silwan. Abu Radi, a Silwan native, expressed suspicion regarding the flyer and warned residents to be cautious in any dealings with The Real Estate Company. Abu Radi cited the long history of underhanded methods settler organizations operating in Silwan have employed to expropriate Palestinian property and expand the settlement enterprise in the region.
http://silwanic.net/?p=8994 

Defiant Jerusalem Palestinians say “we will remain here”
A huge Palestinian flag was carried up a steep hill in Issawiya on 3 December, passed hand-to-hand between the at least 200 Palestinians, Israelis and international activists taking part in the first-ever solidarity march and demonstration in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11667.shtml

Adnan Gaith, Secretary General of Fatah in Silwan
Israeli authorities have issued an injunction to Adnan Gaith, Secretary General of Fatah in Silwan, in an attempt to ban him from Jerusalem for a period of four months. The injunction was delivered by a high commander in the Israeli army, marking the first time that a military commander has issued such a decree to a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem. The order was issued on 28 November and, if successful, will allow Israeli forces to remove Gaith from Jerusalem and prevent him from re-entering the city of his work and residence for a four-month period. Gaith, known locally as Abu Odai, is a prominent figure in both Fatah and the Jerusalem community as a member of the Committee to Defend Silwan Lands. He champions the non-violent approach to resolving conflict and frequently acts as a mediator in community and societal disputes. While his work has earnt him much respect amongst Palestinians, it has made him a regular target of Israeli investigation. Israeli forces have carried out numerous raids on his family home in Silwan, severely impacting on the psychological wellbeing of his children. Gaith has served several lengthy sentences both in Israeli prisons and under house arrest.
http://silwanic.net/?p=8996 

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Two year old child among those injured during the weekly anti wall protests in W.B. villages
Bethlehem – PNN – On Friday  anti-wall protests took place in the southern West Bank village of al-Ma’ssara in addition to the villages of Bil’in, Nil’in and al Nabi Saleh, in the central West Bank.  Israeli and international supporters joined villagers at all four locations, this week protests marked the international day for human rights.  In the village of Nabi Saleh, in central West Bank, protesters headed towered lands taken from the village to built an illegal Israeli settlement, soldiers fired tear gas and forced people back to the village. Troops then stormed the village and fired tear gas at homes casing damage.  Two-year-old Lara Ramimi and her mother Zinab were injured by tear gas, in addition to Khitam al Tamimi who was hit with a tear gas bomb in the back. Witnesses said that the Israeli officer in charge gave the orders to his troops to fire tear gas at villagers’ homes. The protest ended after clashes between local youth and soldiers erupted.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9261&Itemid=59

A Message from Israeli Military Prison on Internaitonal Human Rights Day
My imprisoned husband Abdullah Abu Rahmah passed the fallowing message through his lawyer
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/majda-abu-rahmah/a-message-from-israeli-mi_b_794627.html 

Disobedient:  The leader of nonviolent protests in the West Bank—a potential Palestinian Gandhi—is in an Israeli jail
Abu Rahmah’s crime was organizing illegal demonstrations in a West Bank village where all demonstrations are by definition illegal. Abu Rahmah, 39, had long been involved in peaceful, multiethnic protests in the village of Bil’in, where Israel’s separation wall has cut Palestinians off from hundreds of acres of their land. Though barely covered in the American press, his conviction was protested by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, among others. “Israel’s attempt to crack down on this effective resistance movement by criminalizing peaceful protest is unacceptable and unjust,” saidDesmond Tutu, one of Abu Rahmah’s supporters.  American Jews often ask where the Palestinian Gandhi is. What few realize is that if such a man exists, he’s probably sitting in an Israeli military prison.
http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/52645/disobedient/

Bil’in Resident Urgently Needs Your Help, Joseph Dana
A tireless non-violent activist and resident of Bil’in, Rani Burnet, needs your help repairing his wheelchair. Rani was shot in the neck by IDF soldiers in 2000 and has since been in a wheelchair. I am posting a letter about his situation and hoping to raise money to fix his wheelchair problem. The non-violent joint struggle needs your help and this is a perfect place to start.
http://josephdana.com/2010/12/bilin-resident-urgently-needs-your-help/

#BDS: An Open letter from Besieged Gaza to Brothers for Brotherhood: No Brotherhood with Apartheid
We are writing to you from the Besieged Gaza Strip to express what your decision to perform in Israel means to us Palestinians, the victims of Israel’s racist segregation and war on our civilian population across the Middle East.  To begin with, two weeks from now marks the second anniversary of the 22-day Israeli genocidal war against the Palestinians in Gaza. These 22-days of intensive, indiscriminate land, sea and air bombardment by Apache helicopters, F16s, F15s, F35s, Merkava tanks, naval gunboats, and illegal White Phosphorous, resulted in the killing of 1434 civilians including 434 children and left around 5,300 injured, some permanently.
http://youthanormalization.blogspot.com/2010/12/bds-open-letter-from-besieged-gaza-to.html 

Let the government know what you think about the criminalization of peace activism, Daniel Kaplan
Over the course of this fall, being on the side of peace and justice has gradually meant living in a state of fear. Since September, the FBI has subpoenaed and raided the homes of 19 activists seeking and end to violence in Palestine and Columbia This rash of raids stems from a court ruling this summer that redefines the charge of “material witness to terrorism”. Before, material witness meant supplying support in the form of finances, weaponry, intelligence, or combat training to political bodies defined by the state department as “terrorist organizations”. Now “material witness to terrorism” includes vocal support for such organizations or even advocating open communication with them. For activists in my community, this means that anyone who advocates negotiations with the government in Gaza could be charged with “material witness to terrorism”, because Gaza is currently governed by Hamas. Essentially, it is now a crime to promote direct reconciliation between Palestinian/Gaza organizations and Israel/the United States. The government has criminalized opinions that are not in line with our government’s foreign policy, and it is for this reason that peace activists in Chicago, Minneapolis, and across the US have become targets of the FBI.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/
let-the-government-know-what-you-think-about-the-criminalization-of-peace-activism.html

Anti

Abu Sha’ar slams General Electric for supporting settlement expansion
Palestinian minister of religious affairs Dr. Taleb Abu Sha’ar strongly denounced the American company General Electric for supporting and participating in a settlement project in Abu Ghunaim Mount.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7 

Pro-Israel activists launch all-out war against Helen Thomas and American Arabs
It is all out war between Jews and Arabs. Make no mistake about it. American Jewish organizations have launched a vicious campaign to silence Helen Thomas, the 91 year old, 80 pound champion of Palestinian and Arab rights who fearlessly has chosen to take on one of the most powerful organizations in America. 
http://palestinenote.com/blogs/blogs/archive/2010/12/09/
pro-israel-activists-launch-all-out-war-against-helen-thomas-and-american-arabs.aspx

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

PCHR Weekly Report: Two resistance fighters killed; 6 civilians wounded this week
In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for the week of 02 – 08 December 2010, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that two Palestinian resistance were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. Another resistance fighter was wounded by Israeli forces in the central Gaza Strip.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60130

Gaza blockade over? Not according to the UN
The UN’s top representative in Gaza says building projects are being delayed because Israel is not allowing the free flow of construction materials into the territory.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/m8P8-CswEPE/
Gaza-blockade-over-Not-according-to-the-UN
 

Gaza facing ‘new electricity crisis’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Energy Authority in Gaza blamed the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for a reduction in fuel supplied to the Gaza power plant.  The authority said only 5,950 cubic meters of industrial grade fuel were delivered to the plant in November. Only one week this month did the plant operate with two generators.  In its statement, the authority held PA government in Ramallah “fully responsible for the suffering of Gaza residents for their falling short behind meeting residents electricity needs.”  “We are approaching a new crisis that began to appear with dropping temperatures and the increasingly cold weather which will the coming increase the demand for energy.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340653 

Gaza crossings closed for weekend
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza’s crossing points used for delivering products and raw materials will be closed on Friday and Saturday.  Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattuh said Israeli authorities informed him that the crossing will reopen Sunday.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340689

Hebron child drowns in wastewater pool
HEBRON (Ma’an) — A one-year-old girl named Bara Sami Makhamreh drowned in a pool of wastewater in the town of Yatta, south of Hebron Thursday, according to police.  Police told Ma’an the girl was dead when she arrived at a medical center in Yatta. She drowned while playing in the yard of her grandfather’s home, police also said.  The body was handed over to girl’s family for burial.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340607 

They call them martyrs
They call them martyrs, their fallen soldiers, their sons, brothers and fathers. Engraved on the walls of the refugee camp are their names and messages from their loved ones. Their faces painted on the alleyways, their eyes dark and alive.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11665.shtml

And what will Santa bring the kiddies of Gaza?, Stuart Littlewood
So what sort of Christmas is in store for their little ones this year while the criminals who inflicted such savagery and torment, and continue to deny them their human rights, have their snouts in the Yuletide trough and enjoy a warm bed? The UN says that imports are only at 36 per cent of pre-siege levels, thanks to Cameron’s friends, and exports are still not allowed (except a few strawberries), so the hardship must still be unimaginable.
http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2010/12/09/and-what-will-santa-bring-the-kiddies-of-gaza/

Racism and Discrimination

Jaffa: Neighborly noise dispute turns nasty
Hundreds of Jaffa Muslims, Christians to protest against complaints from neighbors over noisy churches and mosques. ‘It’s an integral part of city, these complaints reek of racism,’ protesters say.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3997077,00.html 

Arabs on rabbis’ letter: We are losing our humanity
Arab local council members in towns where Jews and Arab live side by side refuse to remain silent over ‘racist letter’ signed by dozens of municipal rabbis, demand criminal inquiry. ‘Rabbis receive salary from state’ they said and called for apology or dismissal.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3996965,00.html 

Amid uproar, two rabbis pull their names from letter forbidding rental of homes to Arabs
Rabbis remove their signatures after ultra-Orthodox leader denounces the religious ruling.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/amid-uproar-
two-rabbis-pull-their-names-from-letter-forbidding-rental-of-homes-to-arabs-1.329751

Israel’s legal establishment to examine rabbis’ letter forbidding rental of homes to Arabs
In response to a petition against the signatories of the rabbis’ letter, attorney general’s office says rabbis’ statements were ‘inappropriate for public officials.’
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israel-s-legal-
establishment-to-examine-rabbis-letter-forbidding-rental-of-homes-to-arabs-1.329734

Violence/Aggression

Report: Two Gaza teens killed playing with leftover IDF artillery
The two 16-year-olds were playing with the artillery east of Gaza City when it exploded. 
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/report-two-gaza-teens-killed-playing-with-leftover-idf-artillery-1.329913?localLinksEnabled=false

Two Palestinians wounded by IOF bullets in northern Gaza
Two Palestinians were wounded Friday morning to the north of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip when IOF troops opened fire towards cultivated lands in the area.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87

Israel Expects Next ‘Big’ War on Gaza
Israeli army chief has proclaimed that the next Israel’s offensive on Gaza will be ‘extensive’, a Press TV report said.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60139

Detainees (held by Israelis and the PA)

IOF kidnap 9 Palestinians in W. Bank
The Hebrew radio said that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped at dawn Thursday nine Palestinian citizens from different West Bank areas at the pretext they were wanted.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87 

Police: Israeli army detains 5 in Dura
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli soldiers seized five Palestinians from their homes during a raid in the West Bank town of Dura Friday, Palestinian Authority police said.  Police said soldiers entered dura firing tear gas and stun grenades. The soldiers burst into the homes of several residents, including the houses of Mariam Rajoub, Mahmoud Roub, and Ahmad Amer Jad Allah. Soldiers detained Majdi and Mohammad Rajoub, Nasser Al-Awawdah, Raefet Rajoub, and Amir Rajoub after searching their homes, police said.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340760

Witnesses: Israeli troops raid Kifl Hares, detain 1
SALFIT (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided the village of Kifl Hares, east of Salfit and detained a Palestinian man, witnesses said.  During house-to-house searches in the village, soldiers seized Jalal Abu Yacoub and took him to an unknown location, witnesses added.  Residents also said Israeli soldiers secured the village for a visit by a group of settlers, who went to a local religious site.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340739

Abbas’s militia kidnaps 28 Hamas supporters
PA security militia loyal to de facto president Mahmoud Abbas rounded up 28 Hamas supporters in the past 24 hours in the districts of Al-Khalil, Nablus, Bethlehem, Tulkarem, Salfit, and Jenin.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%

Hamas: PA detains 12 supporters
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority security forces arrested 12 Hamas affiliates in the West Bank Hamas movement said in a statement Friday.  The statement said the arrests took place in Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, Tulkarem, Qalqilia and Jenin.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340700

Israeli occupation releases prisoner four months after end of his sentence
Israeli occupation released on Thursday a Palestinian prisoner from the Gaza Strip four months after the end of his seven-year sentence.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k 

Sheikh Raed Salah to be released Sunday
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Sheikh Leader, a leader of the Palestinian community inside Israel, will be released from prison on Sunday after serving five months for allegedly assaulting a police officer, a charge he denies.  Salah’s attorney Zahi Nijiadat said a celebration will be held in the city of Umm Al-Fahm in honor of the release of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340696

Officials: No change to prisoner swap list
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Sources in the Palestinian armed factions holding an Israeli soldier captive denied rumors Friday that the factions had drawn up a new list of Hamas members to be freed in a potential prisoner exchange.  Officials in the factions said there was no change to the list of prisoners the captors are demanding released in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.  Rumors of a change to the list were spreading among Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Ma’an learned. Seeking confirmation of the reports, prisoners have been attempting to contact officials from Hamas and other factions on the phone, or through their lawyers and family members in recent days.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340781

Political Developments

“PA to Cancel all Security Commitments to Israel”
10/12/2010 “The Palestinian Authority will stop coordinating its security with Israel, in response to the US’s official announcement that peace talks have failed,” Al Quds al-Arabi reported on Friday.  Khana Amira, a PLO official, told the UK newspaper that the PA is also considering canceling its other commitments to Israel, including the Oslo Accords and the Road Map, which demand that resistance organizations will stop.  Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official and an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly plans to convene a meeting with the PLO and Fatah central committees on Friday afternoon, in order to make a new plan for the Palestinians.  Palestinian officials told Al Quds al-Arabi that they expect US President Barack Obama to attempt to restart “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinians. “Maybe the meeting will give the American government another chance,” an official told the paper.  The Palestinians are also considering seeking the UN Security Council’s recognition of a Palestinian state on all the Palestinian territories that were occupied by Israel in 1967.
http://almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=165291&language=en

PLO, Fatah meet on Israel talks
RAMALLAH (AFP) — Top Palestinian officials in the West Bank met on Friday about ways to revive stalled peace negotiations with Israel, officials said.  The meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Executive Committee and senior leaders of the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas comes after Washington failed to get Israel to stop building settlements.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340800

No clear successor should Abbas leave the stage (AP)
AP – Washington’s Mideast peace efforts are in trouble as it is, but an additional complication is often overlooked: Should 76-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a heavy smoker prone to threats of resignation, leave office, there’s no designated successor and no agreement on how to choose one.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101209/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_palestinians_after_abbas 

Is Israeli Decision to Have PA Supervise Exports Out of Gaza First Step in Plan Revealed by WikiLeaks?, Alex Kane
Israel yesterday announced an expansion of exports out of the blockaded Gaza Strip, a small but welcome stepin the ongoing efforts to break the crippling blockade.  But perhaps that’s not the most important news to come out of the announcement.  What could have more significance is that Palestinian Authority (PA) “inspectors will begin to work in the Kerem Shalom crossing, and oversee the collection of import taxes and the export of goods from Gaza to the West Bank,” according to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.  “This would mark the first return of Palestinian Authority officials to the Gaza Strip since the Hamas takeover in June 2007.”
http://alexbkane.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/is-israeli-decision-to-have-pa-supervise-exports-out-of-gaza-first-step-in-plan-revealed-by-wikileaks/

U.S. to push indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks following Mideast peace stalemate
Direct talks failed in late September after Netanyahu refused to discuss core final-status issues, particularly borders of future Palestinian state. 
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/
u-s-to-push-indirect-israeli-palestinian-talks-following-mideast-peace-stalemate-1.329771

State Department spokesman struggles to explain US settlement policy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPC3RuUx9j0&feature=player_embedded 

Democratic congressman slams Obama’s ME policy
Ackerman: Shift away from settlements creates an opportunity to focus on Iran’s proliferation threat.
http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?ID=198844&R=R1

US lawmaker hits move to recognize Palestinian state (AFP)
AFP – A senior US lawmaker on Thursday sharply condemned moves by Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to recognize an independent Palestinian state as “horrible” but ruled out diplomatic retaliation.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101209/pl_afp/palestinianmideastdiplomacyargentinauruguaybrazilus

Former European leaders call to confront Israel over settlement building
26 former top EU officials, including ex EU chief Solana and former German President Richard von Weizsacker, urge world powers to sanction Jerusalem for its refusal to obey international law.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/
former-european-leaders-call-to-confront-israel-over-settlement-building-1.329767

Assad blames ‘Israeli intransigence’ for failed peace talks
In Paris, Syrian leader says American initiative ‘has not worked,’ but adds, ‘Before we blame the sponsor, we should blame the sides themselves’.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3997026,00.html 

Barak: Palestinians didn’t mind settlement construction during past peace talks
Speaking after meeting with UN chief Ban, Defense Minister claims settlement activity was 4 time what it is today during negotiations with former PA President Arafat. 
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/barak-
palestinians-didn-t-mind-settlement-construction-during-past-peace-talks-1.329834

Israel says it’s urgent to resume Mideast talks (AP)
AP – Israel’s defense minister says “it’s an urgent necessity” for his country and the Palestinians to find a way to resume negotiations on core issues leading to a peace deal.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101209/ap_on_re_us/un_un_israel_palestinians

Turkey lauds ‘new page’ in ties with Israel, but still demands apology for Gaza flotilla raid
Deputy FM Ayalon says Israel must not apologize for killing 9 citizens during Gaza flotilla raid, as this would invite international lawsuits.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/turkey-lauds-
new-page-in-ties-with-israel-but-still-demands-apology-for-gaza-flotilla-raid-1.329877

Other News

Poll: Majority of Americans favor U.S. role in resolving Mideast dispute
Politico – A poll to be released Thursday at the Brookings Institution shows that two-thirds of Americans polled believe that the Arab-Israeli issue is among the top five American interests in the world, while one quarter believe it is one of top three American interests.   The findings “are really striking,” the poll’s coordinator, Shibley Telhami told POLITICO on Wednesday. “The American public thinks this is a big-time issue.”
http://palestinenote.com/blogs/news/archive/2010/12/09/
poll-majority-of-americans-favor-u-s-role-in-resolving-mideast-dispute.aspx
 

New Poll Underlines Gloom Shrouding ‘Peace Process’
Hope among both Jewish and Palestinian Israelis that a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians can ever be achieved appears to be fading, according to two major new polls released here Thursday. A solid majority of 63 percent of Palestinian Israelis and a plurality of 47 percent of Jewish Israelis say they don’t believe that peace between the two peoples “will ever happen”, according to the surveys, which were conducted separately in October and November. 
http://original.antiwar.com/lobe/2010/12/09/new-poll-underlines-gloom-shrouding-peace-process/ 

Poll: Half of Israeli Jews hold negative views of Obama
German Chancellor Angela Merkel the world leader most admired by Israeli Jews, according to a poll released by Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/
poll-half-of-israeli-jews-hold-negative-views-of-obama-1.329740

Israel’s unwanted citizens
Palestinian citizens of Israel are complaining about a string of policies, which they say are designed to drive them out of Israel. First, a bill requiring them to pledge allegiance to a Jewish state was passed by the Israeli cabinet. Now the Knesset is debating whether to stop Arab Israelis living in cities where there’s a Jewish majority. So who are Palestinian-Israelis and how did they become citizens of a State that doesn’t want them? Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpW409WOgwE&feature=youtube_gdata 

Poll: Israel’s Arabs don’t want to be part of Palestinian state
Saban Center survey shows 58% of Israeli-Arabs against annexation of Arab cities to future Palestinian state as part of territorial exchanges; 47% of Israel’s Jews believe peace will never be achieved.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3997051,00.html 

Over 10,000 march for human rights in Tel Aviv
TEL AVIV, December 10, 2010 (AFP) – Around 10,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Friday to protest against the rising tide of extremist sentiment in Israel that they warn is posing a growing threat to Israeli democracy.  The march, which organisers said included almost 1,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from Sudan, Somalia and other parts of Africa, was timed to coincide with International Human Rights Day.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340798

Speed guns replace AK-47s on the pacified streets of Jenin
Blue-shirted Palestinian police officers with a German-supplied radar gun were busy last week on a road in the northern city of Jenin. Until three years ago, when a law and order campaign was launched, Jenin was the most lawless city in the West Bank and no one then imagined it could become a venue for speed traps.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/
speed-guns-replace-ak47s-on-the-pacified-streets-of-jenin-2155855.html
 

Analysis/Op-ed

Obama’s Middle East Policy ‘Marked by Ridiculous Zigzagging’
The Middle East peace process has been left floundering after Washington admitted its efforts to get the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table have failed. German editorialists take a dim view of President Obama’s approach.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,733808,00.html 

The Netanyahu government got Obama to buckle on the settlements freeze. And now, Israel can look forward to a future of mounting isolation with no prospect for peace
Yasher Koach, Bibi, it looks like the White House has finally given up. For close to two years now, they’ve been hectoring you about a Palestinian state. First, they tried sticks: They worked to undermine you politically by letting Israelis know you didn’t have the president’s trust. Then they tried carrots: offering to double Israel’s stock of advanced jet fighters, veto any critical resolutions at the U.N. and give you carte blanche to build in the West Bank if only you’d freeze settlements for another three months and use that time to talk seriously about the borders of a Palestinian state. But you held your ground. You made it clear that you’d pocket the planes and conduct a three-month filibuster. No way were you going to be bullied into the kind of final-status negotiations undertaken by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. And so the Americans caved. They’ve dropped their demands for a settlement freeze. They’ve stopped trying to orchestrate direct talks. They’ve gone into a fetal position. Am Yisrael Chai!
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-12-08/
obama-buckles-on-settlements-freeze-but-israel-heading-for-greater-isolation/

Remembering to Forget Israel’s Nonexistent Settlement Freeze, Peter Hart
The big news in the U.S.-guided Israel/Palestine talks is that a renewal of a so-called “settlement freeze” in the West Bank is basically dead. Ethan Bronner has a post-mortem of sorts in the New York Times (12/9/10), where he describes the backdrop for the previous round of negotiations:
http://www.fair.org/blog/2010/12/09/remembering-to-forget-israels-nonexistent-settlement-freeze/ 

Jim Crow journalism, now in the LA Times, Philip Weiss
This is my new hobby horse, Jim Crow journalism. Journalists never call American Palestinians or Arabs, they call Jews. Paul Richter in the LA Times does a piece on the collapse of the Obama initiative in the Middle East and quotes:  Jeremy Ben-Ami,  David Makovsky.  No Palestinians or Arab-Americans or maybe even non-Zionist Jews.  [end]
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/jim-crow-journalism-now-in-the-la-times.html

U of Miami to host conference on Walt and Mearsheimer to which the authors are not invited, Philip Weiss
Proving once again that the Walt-Mearsheimer LRB paper/book was one of the most important ideas of the last ten years in the United States. But it couldn’t be published in the United States. Only $250 to register! Only Afrikaners allowed! 
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/u-of-miami-to-host-
conference-on-walt-and-mearsheimer-to-which-the-authors-are-not-invited.html

CWP Report: “All out War: Israel against democracy”
CWP published a new report today, titled “All-Out War: Israel Against Democracy.” This comprehensive report documents the increasing political persecution of peace and human rights organizations and activists, and describes the connections between the assaults led by Israeli government officials, security forces, courts, journalists, and extreme-right organizations in this well-orchestrated offensive on democracy.
http://theonlydemocracy.org/2010/12/cwp-report-all-out-war-israel-against-democracy/

The Mythical Power of the “Arab Lobby”, Stephen M. Walt
Keeping up with Jeffrey Goldberg’s errors is like trying to dam the Gulf Stream, and responding to his repeated smears is a mug’s game. I suppose I could quote a bunch of snarky comments about him too, and we could have a nasty blogosopheric food fight for the entertainment of our readers. But I prefer to focus on the issues, instead of the name-calling that is J.G.’s stock-in-trade.
http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/09/goldbergs_latest_silly_sally 

The returning issue of Palestine’s refugees | Saeb Erekat
It’s 62 years since the UN passed a resolution on the rights of Palestinian refugees – rights Israel must recognise for peace.  Before his murder in 1948, Lord Folke Bernadotte, the first UN mediator to the Arab-Israeli conflict,stated: “It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent [Palestinian] victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine.” Lord Bernadotte paid for his candour with his life as Jewish militants assassinated him under the direction of Yitzhak Shamir, the man who would later become prime minister of Israel.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/10/israel-palestine-refugee-rights

Fearing end of ‘Zionist dream,’ Cohen says donors shut down debate inside Jewish community, Philip Weiss
Things are changing in the Jewish community. At Rabbis for Human Rights conference the other day, Rabbi Brian Walt spoke to me about what an amazing moment was the heckling of Netanyahu by young Jews at the Jewish Federation meeting in New Orleans. “Electrifying,” he said– and the message had gone out to Jews across the country. Roger Cohen in the New York Times has gotten the news, and says the young people were starting an “important” conversation. Here’s his careful piece on the politics of Jewish identity and the end of the Zionist dream. He mentions the New Orleans hecklers, also a young man Ira Stup, 24, who has visited the occupation and come home disillusioned. You will see that Cohen understands the Jewish identity role in the Israel lobby, and talks about “donors.” 
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/fearing-end-of-zionist-dream-
cohen-says-donors-shut-down-debate-inside-jewish-community.html

What Is The Peres Center Up To?,  Palestine Monitor
Last month the winners of the Danish “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” quiz show donated their winnings to the The Peres Center For Peace in Israel. On the surface they appear a worthy beneficiary, but is the Peres Centre as innocent as it seems? Clive Granger thinks not.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article1645 

Daoud Kuttab: Now That the Carrot Has Not Worked Against Israel
If America joins the rest of the world in politically isolating Israel because of its refusal to adhere to international law, this will have a snowball effect that will most certainly lead to change in the Israeli political scene.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daoud-kuttab/now-that-the-carrot-has-n_b_794123.html 

Hussein Ibish And The Good Old Days, Ikhras
Hussein Ibish took a moment and less than 140 characters to reminisce about his past.  He didn’t want to concede he was thinking about a previous time when he was defending Palestinian rights so he mentioned it in reference to an article where his name appeared along with Ali Abunimah, writer, and founder of Electronic Intifada, and a pro-Palestine activist. 

That must have reminded Ibish of an earlier time and a different person than the one he now sees when he looks in the mirror.  In an obvious attempt to redefine the earlier version of Ibish and the basis of his previous collaboration with Abunimah he tweeted those were the “good old, long-lost, days when Ali Abunimah and I used to call out anti-Semites.”  Ibish has been reaching out to the pro-Israel lobby for a while and he now appears to have adopted the tactic of calling all anti-Zionist activists anti-Semites, which he clearly seems to be suggesting here.  Ibish’ newest associates and partners haven’t told him the anti-Semitic card lost its currency long before they became friends.Hussein Ibish took a moment and less than 140 characters to reminisce about his past. 

He didn’t want to concede he was thinking about a previous time when he was defending Palestinian rights so he mentioned it in reference to an article where his name appeared along with Ali Abunimah, writer, and founder of Electronic Intifada, and a pro-Palestine activist.  That must have reminded Ibish of an earlier time and a different person than the one he now sees when he looks in the mirror. 

In an obvious attempt to redefine the earlier version of Ibish and the basis of his previous collaboration with Abunimah he tweeted those were the “good old, long-lost, days when Ali Abunimah and I used to call out anti-Semites.”  Ibish has been reaching out to the pro-Israel lobby for a while and he now appears to have adopted the tactic of calling all anti-Zionist activists anti-Semites, which he clearly seems to be suggesting here.  Ibish’ newest associates and partners haven’t told him the anti-Semitic card lost its currency long before they became friends.

Hussein Ibish took a moment and less than 140 characters to reminisce about his past.  He didn’t want to concede he was thinking about a previous time when he was defending Palestinian rights so he mentioned it in reference to an article where his name appeared along with Ali Abunimah, writer, and founder of Electronic Intifada, and a pro-Palestine activist. 

That must have reminded Ibish of an earlier time and a different person than the one he now sees when he looks in the mirror.  In an obvious attempt to redefine the earlier version of Ibish and the basis of his previous collaboration with Abunimah he tweeted those were the “good old, long-lost, days when Ali Abunimah and I used to call out anti-Semites.”  Ibish has been reaching out to the pro-Israel lobby for a while and he now appears to have adopted the tactic of calling all anti-Zionist activists anti-Semites, which he clearly seems to be suggesting here.  Ibish’ newest associates and partners haven’t told him the anti-Semitic card lost its currency long before they became friends.

Hussein Ibish took a moment and less than 140 characters to reminisce about his past.  He didn’t want to concede he was thinking about a previous time when he was defending Palestinian rights so he mentioned it in reference to an article where his name appeared along with Ali Abunimah, writer, and founder of Electronic Intifada, and a pro-Palestine activist.  That must have reminded Ibish of an earlier time and a different person than the one he now sees when he looks in the mirror. 

In an obvious attempt to redefine the earlier version of Ibish and the basis of his previous collaboration with Abunimah he tweeted those were the “good old, long-lost, days when Ali Abunimah and I used to call out anti-Semites.”  Ibish has been reaching out to the pro-Israel lobby for a while and he now appears to have adopted the tactic of calling all anti-Zionist activists anti-Semites, which he clearly seems to be suggesting here.  Ibish’ newest associates and partners haven’t told him the anti-Semitic card lost its currency long before they became friends. Hussein Ibish took a moment and less than 140 characters to reminisce about his past. 

He didn’t want to concede he was thinking about a previous time when he was defending Palestinian rights so he mentioned it in reference to an article where his name appeared along with Ali Abunimah, writer, and founder of Electronic Intifada, and a pro-Palestine activist. 

That must have reminded Ibish of an earlier time and a different person than the one he now sees when he looks in the mirror.  In an obvious attempt to redefine the earlier version of Ibish and the basis of his previous collaboration with Abunimah he tweeted those were the “good old, long-lost, days when Ali Abunimah and I used to call out anti-Semites.”  Ibish has been reaching out to the pro-Israel lobby for a while and he now appears to have adopted the tactic of calling all anti-Zionist activists anti-Semites, which he clearly seems to be suggesting here.  Ibish’ newest associates and partners haven’t told him the anti-Semitic card lost its currency long before they became friends.http://ikhras.com/2010/12/hussein-ibish-and-the-good-old-days/

Fmr Israel ambassador Lubrani says using force against Iran would be giant mistake, Scott McConnell

I’m a sucker for the wisdom of old diplomats —  an establishment orientation I can never entirely  shake. So from one of the  Washington  centers of the neocon power yesterday morning—the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies conference on tightening the screws on Iran– it was a pleasure to hear a discordant voice. It  came from the former Israeli ambassador to Iran during the Shah’s reign, Uri Lubrani.  He is old now, white hair, nearly translucent skin.  In Israel, he is known as a sort of Mr. Iran. Later ambassador to Ethiopia, he helped to engineer the exodus airlift of Ethiopian Jews. 
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/fmr-israel-ambassador-lubrani-says-using-force-against-iran-would-be-giant-mistake.html

How many leaks does it take to become a threat to humanity? – By Stephen M. Walt
While the demonization of Julian Assange continues apace, the following thought occurred to me (it probably occurred to you already). Suppose a reporter like David Sanger of the New York Times or Helene Cooper of theWashington Post had been given a confidential diplomatic cable by a disgruntled government employee (or “unnamed senior official”). Suppose it was one of the juicier cables recently released by Wikileaks.  Suppose further that Sanger or Cooper had written a story based on that leaked information, and then put the text of the cable up on the Times or WaPo website so that readers could see for themselves that the story was based on accurate information. Would anyone be condemning them? I doubt it. Whoever actually leaked the cable might be prosecuted or condemned, but the journalists who published the material would probably be praised, and their colleagues would just be jealous that somebody else got a juicy scoop. 
http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/09/more_on_wikileaks

John Pilger: Why are wars not being reported honestly?
The public needs to know the truth about wars. So why have journalists colluded with governments to hoodwink us?  In the US Army manual on counterinsurgency, the American commander General David Petraeus describes Afghanistan as a “war of perception . . . conducted continuously using the news media”. What really matters is not so much the day-to-day battles against the Taliban as the way the adventure is sold in America where “the media directly influence the attitude of key audiences”. Reading this, I was reminded of the Venezuelan general who led a coup against the democratic government in 2002. “We had a secret weapon,” he boasted. “We had the media, especially TV. You got to have the media.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/10/war-media-propaganda-iraq-lies

FBI Spying on Muslims, WAJAHAT ALI
The recent arrest of the potential Christmas tree bomber is reflective of the FBI’s myopic strategy of using glitzy, expensive sting operations and dubious confidential informants to further erode Muslim American relations instead of concentrating on effective partnerships to combat radicalization. The FBI is promoting the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali-born teenager accused of attempting to detonate a car bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, as a triumph of effective law enforcement. Instead, the operation reeks of gratuitous self-adulation, requiring 6 months of time and precious expenditures to “uncover” a dummy terrorist plot wholly scripted and concocted by the FBI in the first place.
http://www.counterpunch.com/waj12092010.html

Lebanon

Al-Akhbar update
Al-Akkhbar is now in control of the website.  But the website will not be available until Saturday.  An investigation is under way. You may read Al-Akhbar here
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/al-akhbar-update.html

U.S. Defense Secretary: Gulf Arab states back Iran nuclear sanctions
Robert Gates says Iran’s neighbors are concerned about Teheran’s ‘aggressive behavior’ with respect to Hezbollah and Lebanon.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/
u-s-defense-secretary-gulf-arab-states-back-iran-nuclear-sanctions-1.329922

US diplomat accused France of succumbing to March 8 – cables
BEIRUT: The US blamed Paris for succumbing to “shameless fear-mongering” and empowering minority MPs during Lebanon’s 2007 presidential impasse, according to leaked diplomatic documents seen by The Daily Star.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=122385 

Murr: Try those who called me a traitor
BEIRUT: Defense Minister Elias Murr called Thursday for the trial of anyone who labeled him a traitor after he was implicated in WikiLeaks revelations. “Who will try those who are accusing other Lebanese of treason only because they hold a different opinion?”
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=122384 

The Story of Elias Murr, Saboteur,  RANNIE AMIRI
When Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers crossed into southern Lebanon and were caught snooping around the village of Ayta al-Shab on July 12, 2006, it was the pretext needed for Israel to launch a vicious 34-day land, sea and aerial assault on the country. The offensive’s principal objective—the destruction of Hezbollah—was not achieved. Two years after the war’s end we now learn, thanks to WikiLeaks, that Lebanese Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Elias Murr gave Israel strategic military advice on how to finish the job.
http://www.counterpunch.org/amiri12102010.html

He is fed up: An Arab fixer leaves his job and writes about his own experiences
This Arab fixer,  Moe Ali Nayel, is mad as hell. He wrote to me about his experiences and allowed me to cite from his letter and to even use his name:  “Last month I had a terrifying experience as journalism betrayed me for the first time in my four years of working as a fixer. When I first met freelance journalist Ruthie Ackerman in a cafe in Beirut in early September, I realized that she did not know anything about Lebanon. Ms. Ackerman had arrived in Beirut to do a story on social networking, but it quickly became apparent that this reporter had not done her homework. Ms. Ackerman did not know who Hassan Nassrallah was. Ms. Ackerman did not know that Saad Hariri was the name of the prime minister of the country who’s coffee she was then sipping.  When, later, I took her to see a Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut she asked, “Where are the tents?” Ruthie Ackerman’s ignorance of even the current status of a country she planned to write about was, in short, shameful.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/he-is-fed-up-arab-fixer-leaves-his-job.html 

Iraq

Unknown gunmen kill 2 Iraqi policemen
Unknown gunmen opened fire on Friday morning on a police checkpoint in Al Zohour District, central Tikrit, killing two policemen and wounding two others. A bombing in Al Ialam District in Baghdad wounded a police recruit. Police found the body of an unknown gunman in Al Mahmudiya District.
http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-57424-Unknown-gunmen-kill-2-Iraqi-policemen.html

Thursday: 6 Iraqis Killed, 6 Wounded
At least six Iraqis were killed and six more were wounded in light violence. Also, about 40 Christian families have reportedly left Basra for northern Iraq or Europe in the wake of anti-Christian attacks in Baghdad.
http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2010/12/09/thursday-6-iraqis-killed-6-wounded/ 

Iraq Christians mark 40 days since church carnage (AFP)
AFP – Dozens of Iraqi Christians overcame their fears and attended Baghdad’s Sayidat al-Nejat church on Thursday to begin prayers marking 40 days since Al-Qaeda militants carried out a deadly siege.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101209/wl_mideast_afp/iraqunrestreligionchristian

UN asks Iraq to abolish death penalty (AP)
AP – The top U.N. envoy in Iraq is calling on the country’s government to abolish the death penalty amid demands by Iraq’s interior minister for the swift execution of terror suspects.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101210/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq

U.S. and other world news

Senate hawks push Obama on Iran
Prominent American senators have warned President Barack Obama he must demand that Iran halt all uranium-enrichment activities as a pre-condition to a deal on its nuclear program, something Tehran will never accept. By drawing new lines in the sand, the senators reflect the diplomatic missteps that have dogged US-Iran relations for years.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LL11Ak01.html

Dems outraged as GOP blocks 9/11 responders’ health bill
May be end of the road for $7-billion aid package to heroes of 9/11 Senate Republicans on Thursday derailed a bill to aid people who got sick after exposure to dust from the World Trade Center’s collapse in the Sept. 11 attack.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/gop-blocks-911-responders-bill/ 

Julian Assange Extradition Faces Hurdles
LONDON — Some of the WikiLeaks critics who cheered founder Julian Assange’s arrest may want to think again. The prospect of Assange being sent to Sweden in a sex-crimes inquiry may make it less likely that he’ll wind up before an American judge, something politicians and pundits including Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut have called for.  That’s because Britain has one of the most U.S.-friendly extradition regimes in Europe. Sweden, with its tough media-protection laws, may not be so quick to hand the 39-year-old Australian over.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/09/julian-assange-extradition-hurdles_n_794754.html 

Fresh attacks in Wikileaks cyberwar
The cyber war between WikiLeaks supporters and companies refusing to do business with the whistle-blowing site intensified tonight, with fresh attacks threatened against Amazon and PayPal.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/fresh-attacks-in-wikileaks-cyberwar-2155367.html 

Letters: Support for Assange
We protest at the attacks on WikiLeaks and, in particular, on Julian Assange (Report, 9 December) The leaks have assisted democracy in revealing the real views of our governments over a range of issues which have been kept secret and are now irreversibly in the public domain. All we knew about the mass killing, torture and corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan has been confirmed. The world’s leaders can no longer hide the truth by simply lying to the public. The lies have been exposed. The actions of major corporations such as Amazon, the Swiss banks and the credit card companies in hindering WikiLeaks are shameful, bowing to US government pressure. The US government and its allies, and their friends in the media, have built up a campaign against Assange which now sees him in prison facing extradition on dubious charges, with the presumed eventual aim of ensuring his extradition to the US. We demand his immediate release, the dropping of all charges, and an end to the censorship of WikiLeaks.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/10/support-for-julian-assange-wikileaks 

Report: Assange accuser flees to Middle East, may not be cooperating with police
Sweden withholding documentation on Assange probe: lawyer One of the two Swedish women who have filed sex complaints against the founder of WikiLeaks has reportedly left Sweden and may no longer be cooperating with the criminal investigation.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/assange-accuser-stops-cooperating-police/ 

Assange accuser ‘postponed’ Palestine trip
YANOUN, West Bank (Ma’an) — One of two women whose sexual assault allegations led to the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange recently cancelled a trip to the occupied West Bank where she planned to volunteer for a Christian organization, members of the group said Friday.  The woman was part of a group of five new volunteers slated to join the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) in the West Bank village of Yanoun, but instead postponed her plans, said Sue Beardon, who works with the group in the village.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340759

Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: Julian Assange is Not a Terrorist
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will remain in a London prison until a British court takes up a Swedish request for extradition for questioning on sexual crime allegations. An international group of former intelligence officers and ex-government officials have released a statement in support of Assange. We speak to one of the signatories, Daniel Ellsberg, the famous whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War in 1971. “If I released the Pentagon Papers today, I would be called a terrorist,” Ellsberg says. “Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are no more terrorists than I am, and I am not.”
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/10/whistleblower_daniel_ellsberg_julian_assange_is

Hackers rally to support WikiLeaks: Top 5 recent attacks
In an effort nicknamed “Operation Payback,” a loose association of hackers called “Anonymous” has been targeting the websites of companies and organizations that have cut ties with WikiLeaks by overwhelming their sites with traffic, prompting them to shut down. Twitter and Facebook have blocked accounts for Anonymous, citing the illegality of their attacks as a terms-of-service violation. WikiLeaks’ Facebook and Twitter accounts remain up and running.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/PK1WaCdG6JQ/
Hackers-rally-to-support-WikiLeaks-Top-5-recent-attacks
 

UN human rights chief voices concern at reported ‘cyber war’ against WikiLeaks
The United Nations human rights chief voiced concern today over reported ‘cyber war’ pressure on private companies to sever links with the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, saying this could amount to attempted censorship in breach of international covenants.  “If WikiLeaks has committed any recognizable illegal act, then this should be handled through the legal system, and not through pressure and intimidation, including on third parties,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said of the reported pressure on banks, credit card companies and internet service providers to stop hosting and close down donation credit lines to the website that has released thousands of secret United States documents. 
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/MUMA-8BZ4D2?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P 

Russia’s Putin raps U.S. over leaked cables
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attacked the United States on Thursday over secret U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, saying the West had no right to preach to Russia about democracy.  When asked about cables which cast him as Russia’s “alpha-dog” ruler, Putin asked: “Do you think the American diplomatic service is a crystal clean source of information? Do you think so?”  He then criticized the West over the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who turned himself in to authorities in Britain this week after a warrant by a Swedish prosecutor who wants to question him about sexual misconduct accusations.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/russias-putin-raps-leaked-cables/ 

US embassy cables: Mubarak: Egypt’s president-for-life
1. (S/NF) Introduction: President Mubarak last visited Washington in April 2004, breaking a twenty year tradition of annual visits to the White House. Egyptians view President Mubarak’s upcoming meeting with the President as a new beginning to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship that will restore a sense of mutual respect that they believe diminished in recent years. President Mubarak has been encouraged by his initial interactions with the President, the Secretary, and Special Envoy Mitchell, and understands that the Administration wants to restore the sense of warmth that has traditionally characterized the U.S.-Egyptian partnership. The Egyptians want the visit to demonstrate that Egypt remains America’s “indispensible Arab ally,” and that bilateral tensions have abated. President Mubarak is the proud leader of a proud nation. He draws heavily from his own long experience in regional politics and governance as he assesses new proposals and recommendations for change.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/207723 

Saudi businessman and media mogul, Saleh Kamil on his links with Bin Laden
Pro-House of Saud, Saudi businessman Salih Kamil (who owns ART networks among other things) explicitlysaid on Al-Arabiyya TV (the station of King Fahd brother-in-law which is now run by Prince `Azzuz) that he has had “social and practical” relationship with Usamah Bin Ladin.  Those are the House of Saud and their friends.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/saudi-businessman-and-media-mogul-saleh.html

WikiLeaks Exposes US Attempt To Trade Sunken Gold for Nazi Loot
(Source: ARTINFO) MADRID– An underwater treasure. A looted Impressionist masterpiece. Diplomatic intrigue. Nazis. It all sounds like the plot of a Clive Cussler novel. But no, these are the components of the latest real-life revelation from the WikiLeaks cables. All these things collided in 2008, when diplomats were hunting for solutions to two very different cultural restitution cases and sought a clandestine compromise, according to thelatest of the leaked dispatches highlighted by the Guardian.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/09/wikileaks-exposes-us-atte_n_794750.html

Spanish town becomes first to ban face-covering veils
Lleida approves municipal ban on burqas, niqabs because they ‘attack equality between men and women and are against women’s dignity’.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3997081,00.html

Iran denies freeing condemned woman
Press TV denies reports that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning, has been freed by regime.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2010/12/201012106412230968.html


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P. O. Box 38712 East Jerusalem 91386 l tel +972 (0)2 582 9962 l fax +972 (0)2 582 5841 l ochaopt@un.org l 

www.ochaopt.org

 

UNITED NATIONS

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

occupied Palestinian territory

PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS

1-7 December 2010

West Bank

http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_protection_of_civilians_weekly_report_2010_12_7_English.pdf

 

http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_protection_of_civilians_weekly_report_2010_12_7_Hebrew.pdf

 

[The graphs and other elements are better via the link, but the copy below also gives you an idea of conditions in Gaza. Dorothy]

 

Four Palestinians injured by Israeli forces

During the week, Israeli forces injured four Palestinians, compared to eleven last week. Since the beginning of 2010, Israeli forces have injured 1,089 Palestinians, the majority of whom were wounded in East Jerusalem clashes (over 50 percent) and during weekly demonstrations in other areas of the West Bank (30 percent). In comparison, a total of 775 Palestinians were injured during the equivalent period in 2009.

In two separate incidents, four Palestinians were injured in An Nabi Saleh village in the Ramallah area. One was injured when Israeli forces clashed with villagers attempting to prevent dozens of settlers from entering the village. The other three Palestinians were injured in a weekly demonstration that took place against the expansion of the Hallamish settlement in the area. A number of houses also sustained damage during the protest. Other weekly protests continued this week, with no injuries reported.

These included demonstrations against the construction of the Barrier (Bil’in and Ni’lin villages) in the Ramallah area, and against restrictions on access to land (Beit Ummar village) in the Hebron area.

Also this week, an Israeli security guard was injured near the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in the Jerusalem area when Palestinians threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israel‐plated vehicle driving on a nearby road.

Israeli forces conducted 83 search and arrest operations in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), compared to a weekly average of 90 such operations in 2010.

Since 8 December :

  • The Israeli Air force launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip early Thursday morning after a mortar shell

fired by an armed group wounded an Israeli man near the fence. No Palestinian casualties were

reported, but two schools and part of the Gaza Power Plant sustained damage. The schools are now temporarily closed and one turbine at the plant was damaged and forced to shut down.

  • The Government of Israel announced that it will allow the export of agricultural products, furniture and textiles from Gaza to the West Bank and foreign destinations, subject to security and logistical capacity.

  • The Israeli authorities demolished ten residential structures, 17 animal shelters and a school in Khirbet Tana village (Nablus governorate) due to the lack of building permits. Around 15 families, comprising 101 people, and 2000 sheep were affected. This is the third time since 2005 that this community suffers extensive demolitions.

  • Following five months of detention, the Israeli authorities forcibly transferred Palestinian Legislative Council member Mohammad Abu Tir from East Jerusalem, after an Israeli court ruled that he was not permitted to continue living in Jerusalem.

LATEST DEVELOPMENT

2 Protection of Civilians:

01 – 07 December 2010

UN OCHA oPt

Settler violence continues; some 150 olive trees burnt During the reporting period, OCHA documented three settler‐related incidents that resulted in damage to Palestinian property. Since the beginning of the year, OCHA has recorded a weekly average of six incidents resulting in injuries or damage to property, including the uprooting and burning of thousands of trees.

In two separate incidents, the village councils of Madama and Burqa villages in the Nablus area

reported that Israeli settlers from the settlements of Yitzhar and Homesh burnt 150 olive trees

belonging to the two villages. Since the beginning of the olive harvest in mid‐September, some 5,900 olive trees have been damaged or destroyed, and over 800 dunums of land have been torched, allegedly by settlers. In another incident, settlers from Asfar settlement in the Hebron area levelled land belonging to Sa’ir village over a period of two days. The work was halted due to a dispute over ownership of the land between the settlers and villagers in the area.

Also this week, a Palestinian boy, aged 11, was injured when a settler vehicle ran over him near the settlement of Kiryat ‘Arba’ in the Hebron area. A total of 19 Palestinians have been injured in similar incidents in 2010. Since the beginning of the year, one child was killed and 104 Palestinians injured during settler‐related incidents.

Demolitions and demolition and eviction orders in Area C of the West Bank

The Israeli authorities demolished a water‐well in the area of Ar Rashayida (Bethlehem governorate) in Area C of the West Bank, due to the lack of a permit. The well, recently rehabilitated by an international NGO, is used by five families (comprising 50 people) as a source of water for their livestock. 292 Palestinian‐owned structures have been demolished in Area C in 2010 (including ten structures demolished by their owners following demolition orders), 393 people have been displaced, and 1,200 individuals have been otherwise affected.

Also in Area C, the Israeli authorities issued stop work and demolition orders against five

Palestinian‐owned structures, including four houses (one under construction) and an animal shelter, in Nahhalin village (Bethlehem governorate). During the previous reporting period, stop work orders were issued against 26 structures, including 25 houses (three under construction) and an animal pen, in Qibiya village (Ramallah governorate). These are in addition to those reported last week. The orders affected 26 families comprising 134 persons, 83 of whom are children. In addition, the Israeli authorities issued an eviction order against 70 dunums of agricultural land planted with grape vines and almond trees, west of Dura town (Hebron governorate), belonging to three families of 21 persons. The order was issued on the grounds that it is ‘state land’..

Also this week, Israeli forces disassembled a tent and a fence, used to fence livestock, from the

Bedouin community of Um al ‘Obar (Jordan Valley). These items were confiscated, along with some fifteen feeding troughs. Most of the items had been provided by an international NGO after

structures were demolished in the same community in September 2010, on the grounds that they are located in an Israeli‐declared nature reserve. A total of 11 families comprising 60 persons, including 34 children, were affected.

Protection of Civilians:

01 – 07 December 2010 3

UN OCHA oPt

Gaza Strip

Two killed and six injured near the fence.This week, Israeli forces killed two alleged members of an armed group and injured six other Palestinians near the fence dividing Israel and the Gaza Strip. In 2010, 60 Palestinians (including 22 civilians) have been killed and 251 Palestinians (including 225 civilians) have been injured in the context of the Palestinian‐Israeli conflict in the Gaza Strip.

On 2 December, Israeli forces fired mortar shells and launched an air strike targeting and killing two allegedly armed Palestinians near the fence east of Jabaliya. The Palestinians were reportedly spotted approaching the fence. In a separate incident, Israeli forces positioned on the fence opened fire at a group of armed Palestinians, injuring one of them.

Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to areas located up to 1,500 metres (an area comprising 17 percent of the Gaza Strip’s territory) from the fence remain in place and continue to result in injuries. In four separate incidents, Israeli forces injured five Palestinian workers, including one child (aged 17), collecting scrap metal near the fence. So far this year, 74 Palestinian workers have been injured in similar incidents. On five occasions, Israeli forces launched incursions with their bulldozers and tanks a few hundred meters into the Gaza Strip and withdrew after conducting land leveling. In two of these incidents, Israeli forces fired mortar shells into open areas; no injuries were reported.

This week, Palestinian armed factions launched a number of rockets and mortar shells targeting

southern Israel, including military bases located along the border. Some of these rocket attacks

reportedly took place in response to the killing of the two armed Palestinians; no Israeli injuries or damage to property were reported.

Gaza court sentences four men to death. On 6 December, a military court in Gaza sentenced four Palestinian men to death, three for convictions of kidnapping and killing a man in 2007 and the other for collaborating with Israel. Only one of the men is held in prison in Gaza. According to the Palestinian Center for Human rights (PCHR), in 2010, 12 Palestinians have been sentenced to death in the Gaza Strip. PCHR reports that a total of 89 death sentences have been issued in the Gaza Strip since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.

Tunnels continue to claim lives. On 2 December, a Palestinian died when he was electrocuted while working inside a tunnel under the Gaza‐Egypt border in the Rafah area. In 2010, 46 Palestinians have been killed and 87 others have been injured in tunnel‐related incidents, including air strikes, tunnel collapses and other incidents of electrocution and the explosion of gas cylinders. Of these casualties, 17 deaths and 37 injuries occurred following the 20 June 2010 “easing” of the Israeli blockade. Tunnel activity has reportedly been on the decline since then

Gaza authorities suspend operations of youth forum.This week, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian Territory, Maxwell Gaylard, voiced his concern about the forced closure on 30 November by the Gaza

4 Protection of Civilians:

01 – 07 December 2010

UN OCHA oPt

authorities of all Gaza‐based offices of the non‐governmental organization Sharek Youth Forum. Mr. Gaylard noted that “Sharek’s work forms part of the many important activities carried out by civil society organizations in the occupied Palestinian Territory promoting development and the protection of human rights.“ According to the organization, it serves 65,000 Palestinian children and youth in Gaza on a monthly basis.

Limited exports continue; wheat reserves continue to decline During the reporting period (28 November‐4 December), a total of 1,056.5 truckloads entered the Gaza Strip compared to a weekly average of 933 truckloads entering since the Israeli announcement to ease the blockade on 20 June 2010. However, this week’s figure represents only 38 percent of the weekly average of imports recorded before the imposition of the blockade in June 2007. Food items made up 45 percent of imports, compared to less than 20 percent of total imports prior to the blockade.

This week, Gaza exports were allowed out for the second consecutive week. Since the beginning of the export season for strawberries and cut flowers on 28 November, 19 truckloads carrying

strawberries (32 tonnes) and cut flowers (142,000 stems) have left Gaza. These truckloads are the first to leave Gaza since 18 April 2010. According to the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC), an estimated 700 tonnes of strawberries and 30 million cut flower stems are due to leave Gaza during this year’s season. While Gaza is capable of exporting 2,300 tonnes of strawberries and 55 million flowers each season, during the 2009‐2010 season, only around 50 tonnes of strawberries and only one‐third of the 40 million cut flowers intended for export were allowed out, due to the ongoing restrictions on exports and the lack of necessary agricultural inputs. (see Latest Developments box for recent export‐related announcement).

Since the increased blockade restrictions on Gaza commenced in June 2007, only 690 truckloads of exports have left Gaza, all of which were strawberries and cut flowers. A monthly average of 1,086 exported truckloads left Gaza in the first five months of 2007 before the blockade.

Wheat reserves inside Gaza have continued to decline as low quantities of wheat are entering

through the conveyor belt at Karni Crossing. This week, the crossing was closed for a couple of hours on 6 December, following a shooting incident, where Israeli forces fired warning shots at a Palestinian near the crossing. This crossing operates only two days a week: one day is allocated for the transfer of wheat and animal feed; and the other for gravel for approved international projects. Prior to the 20 June “easing”, wheat and animal feed entered on both days. As a result, there has been a sharp decline in the volume of wheat grain allowed into Gaza. As of 5 December, there were some 1,630 tonnes of grain available at the six mills in the Gaza Strip and 106 tonnes of wheat flour at the local market, quantities that cover the population’s needs for less than three days. According to local sources, there are over 500 truckloads (19,540 tonnes) of wheat delayed and waiting to enter Gaza.

2,807

552

933 1,056.5

0

500

1,000

1,500

2,000

2,500

3,000

Jan-May 2007

(weekly average)

1 Jan-19 June 2010

(weekly average)

20 June-27 Nov 2010

(weekly average)

28 Nov-4 Dec 2010

Number of imported truckloads

Protection of Civilians:

01 – 07 December 2010 5

UN OCHA oPt

Power cuts remain close to 12 hours per day Imports of industrial fuel to operate the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) slightly increased this week compared to last week (1.23 vs. 1.16 million litres). The total provision of electricity throughout the Gaza Strip stands at about 40 percent below the estimated daily demand of 280 MW. Approximately 30 MW of power is produced by the GPP, as it continues to run one turbine only. 120 MW and 17 MW are purchased from Israel and Egypt respectively, providing Gaza with a total of less than 170 MW. This shortfall results in a daily average of power cuts of up to 12 hours throughout the Gaza Strip. On 7 December, three lines feeding electricity from Israel to northern Gaza and parts of Gaza

City malfunctioned. As a result, the affected areas experienced an almost complete blackout, which lasted for more than seven hours in northern Gaza until two of the lines were repaired. The third line, which supplies electricity to parts of Gaza City, could not be fixed due to access restrictions. The GPP compensated for the shortfall by using previously saved fuel, producing more electricity to supply the affected areas.

The ongoing power cuts affect daily life throughout the Gaza Strip, as well as the provision of

essential services, including water supply, sewage treatment and removal, and the functioning of health services. Access to running water also remains a daily challenge for the population due to power cuts. Ten percent of Gazans living in areas including Gaza City, Rafah and Jabaliya, have access to running water only once every four days (6 to 8 hours); 80 percent have access once every 2‐3 days (6‐8 hours); and ten percent receive running water once a day (6 to 8 hours).

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

SUPPORT POLITICAL INDIA PRISONERS WHO ARE ON AN HUNGER STRIKE

NOVANEWS    

Support and express solidarity with the Political Prisoners who are on an Indefinite Hunger Strike

December 11, 2010

ICAWPI

Support and express solidarity with the Political Prisoners who are on an Indefinite Hunger Strike in Medinipur Central Jail from 10th December(Human Rights Day) 2010

Nearly 150 political prisoners-mostly under trail–incarcerated in the Medinipur Central Jail-which the government calls ‘Correctional Home’-will start hunger strike from 10th December 2010 on the Human Rights Day for an indefinite period-true to the long tradition of hunger strikes organized by political prisoners in Medinipur as also other jails of West Bengal and outside in near and distant past. The prisoners include those arrested on the charge of having Maoist links, or becoming members of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) that spearheaded the Lalgarh movement from November 2008, or common villagers standing by the cause. Many of these prisoners have been languishing in jail for years together in abysmal conditions virtually without trial.

The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) express wholehearted support to the striking prisoners and urge all democratic forces throughout India and other parts of the world to raise their voice in support of their just demands.

The demands placed by the prisoners to the authorities are as follows:

  1. The joint forces should be withdrawn and the ‘Operation Green-hunt’ stopped immediately and the government should sit for a dialogue with the PCAPA without delay.
  2. Section 144 should be immediately withdrawn, and there should be unrestricted entry of all newspersons, intellectuals and other people.
  3. Legal steps should be taken against the CPI(M) hermads.
  4. Judicial enquiry should be initiated for the murder of all leaders, members and supporters of the People’s Committee including Lalmohan Tudu, Sidhu and Umakanto Mahato, and offenders should be brought to book.
  5. The cooked up charges against all the prisoners incarcerated in the jails of West Bengal on political grounds, including those arrested from Jungle Mahal should be withdrawn and the prisoners released unconditionally.
  6. Repeal all draconian acts including the UAPA and the AFSPA.
  7. Prisoners imprisoned on political grounds should be given the status of political prisoners and the government should have to bear the cost of maintaining their families.
  8. Prisoners should be given opportunity to meet the members of their families and receive necessary articles from them in Medinipur court.
  9. After arrest, no participant in a movement should be made to “disappear” illegally. Everyone should be produced in court within 24 hours.
  10. Nobody should be ‘shown arrested’ by tagging in one false case after another.
  11. Judicial enquiry should be initiated in all cases of rape including those in Sonamukhi and the offenders brought to book.
  12. Old men and women in the Jungle Mahal should be given adequate old-age pension and widows given widow-pension, and all in this connection should be paid off immediately.
  13. All surplus grain kept in the FCI go-downs should be immediately distributed among the poor people of Jungle Mahal, and not to be allowed to either to rot or be burnt.
  14. Stop biased investigation into the Jnaneswari Express sabotage and initiate neutral investigation; a neutral investigation team should be formed with people from cross-sections of society and actual culprits should be punished.
  15. Indian army in Kashmir should be immediately withdrawn. The hopes and aspirations of the people of the land should be honoured.
  16. Persons involved in the destruction of Babri Masjid and subsequent riots should be given exemplary punishment.
  17. Prisoners confined in the cells should be allowed to meet other prisoners. The illegal system that segregates one prisoner from another should be immediately stopped.
  18. Those among the life-convict prisoners who have already passed 14 years of incarceration should be set free immediately.
  19. Telephone service should be introduced inside jails and every prisoner be allowed to avail himself/herself of this opportunity.
  20. Instead of every prisoner being forced to have his beard cut with one common razor, each prisoner should be allowed to have a separate arrangement of his own.
  21. Arrangement should be made for the supply of water inside the cells for 24 hours and the inhuman custom of carrying water drums over shoulders should be stopped immediately.
  22. Arrangement should be made for political prisoners to take political classes inside prisons. No political literature can be seized by the jail authority.
  23. Political prisoners should be allowed to contact media persons outside and they should be allowed the right to have their political writings published in different newspapers.
  24. Intellectuals coming to meet political prisoners should be allowed to have table interview with them.
  25. The newly-proposed system of payment of daily wage@ Rs.100.00 to convicts should be implemented immediately; wages should not be kept due.
  26. Prisoners seeking a copy each of West Bengal Correctional Services Act and the Jail Code should be provided one copy each.
  27. Canteens should be introduced inside Medinipur Jail.
  28. Political prisoners should be provided with all the daily newspapers at government expense.
  29. Proper infrastructure for treatment in Medinipur Jail Hospital should be made and necessary machines installed.

Posted in WorldComments Off on SUPPORT POLITICAL INDIA PRISONERS WHO ARE ON AN HUNGER STRIKE

MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

12/11/2010

 

 

Reverse peristalsis moment

Dec 10, 2010

Philip Weiss

 

Palin’s going to Israel.
     

Two Gaza teens killed playing with leftover IDF artillery; 2 year old among injured during weekly anti-wall protests

Dec 10, 2010

Seham

 

and other news from Today in Palestine:

 

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

Israel to Destroy Electric Infrastructure Near Hebron
Israeli officials ordered destruction of electricity infrastructure, on Thursday, in two Palestinian villages in the southern area of Hebron, local sources said.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60137

Barak: When I was PM we built much more in West Bank
During New York meeting, UN’s Ban expresses disappointment in Israel’s decision not to extend settlement moratorium, but Barak says construction not cause of stalemate in peace talks.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3997114,00.html 

Photostory: Construction of the Wall in Bil’in
Construction of the « concrete » wall in Bil’in, October—November 2010.  Photos by Hamde Abu Rahme and Oren Ziv (ActiveStills.org).  See also : Two sides of the Wall in Bil’in by Hamde Abu Rahme 
http://www.bilin-village.org/english/articles/testimonies/Photostory-Construction-of-the-Wall-in-Bilin

Suspicious real estate company distributes flyers in Silwan
Flyers have been distributed throughout Silwan encouraging residents to contact a previously unheard of real estate company, should they wish to sell their home. Residents state that the group, simply named “The Real Estate Company” is not known of in Silwan. Abu Radi, a Silwan native, expressed suspicion regarding the flyer and warned residents to be cautious in any dealings with The Real Estate Company. Abu Radi cited the long history of underhanded methods settler organizations operating in Silwan have employed to expropriate Palestinian property and expand the settlement enterprise in the region.
http://silwanic.net/?p=8994 

Defiant Jerusalem Palestinians say “we will remain here”
A huge Palestinian flag was carried up a steep hill in Issawiya on 3 December, passed hand-to-hand between the at least 200 Palestinians, Israelis and international activists taking part in the first-ever solidarity march and demonstration in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11667.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+electronicIntifadaPalestine+%28Electronic+Intifada+%3A+Palestine+News%29

Adnan Gaith, Secretary General of Fatah in Silwan
Israeli authorities have issued an injunction to Adnan Gaith, Secretary General of Fatah in Silwan, in an attempt to ban him from Jerusalem for a period of four months. The injunction was delivered by a high commander in the Israeli army, marking the first time that a military commander has issued such a decree to a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem. The order was issued on 28 November and, if successful, will allow Israeli forces to remove Gaith from Jerusalem and prevent him from re-entering the city of his work and residence for a four-month period. Gaith, known locally as Abu Odai, is a prominent figure in both Fatah and the Jerusalem community as a member of the Committee to Defend Silwan Lands. He champions the non-violent approach to resolving conflict and frequently acts as a mediator in community and societal disputes. While his work has earnt him much respect amongst Palestinians, it has made him a regular target of Israeli investigation. Israeli forces have carried out numerous raids on his family home in Silwan, severely impacting on the psychological wellbeing of his children. Gaith has served several lengthy sentences both in Israeli prisons and under house arrest.
http://silwanic.net/?p=8996 

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Two year old child among those injured during the weekly anti wall protests in W.B. villages
Bethlehem – PNN – On Friday  anti-wall protests took place in the southern West Bank village of al-Ma’ssara in addition to the villages of Bil’in, Nil’in and al Nabi Saleh, in the central West Bank.  Israeli and international supporters joined villagers at all four locations, this week protests marked the international day for human rights.  In the village of Nabi Saleh, in central West Bank, protesters headed towered lands taken from the village to built an illegal Israeli settlement, soldiers fired tear gas and forced people back to the village. Troops then stormed the village and fired tear gas at homes casing damage.  Two-year-old Lara Ramimi and her mother Zinab were injured by tear gas, in addition to Khitam al Tamimi who was hit with a tear gas bomb in the back. Witnesses said that the Israeli officer in charge gave the orders to his troops to fire tear gas at villagers’ homes. The protest ended after clashes between local youth and soldiers erupted.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9261&Itemid=59

A Message from Israeli Military Prison on Internaitonal Human Rights Day
My imprisoned husband Abdullah Abu Rahmah passed the fallowing message through his lawyer
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/majda-abu-rahmah/a-message-from-israeli-mi_b_794627.html 

Disobedient:  The leader of nonviolent protests in the West Bank—a potential Palestinian Gandhi—is in an Israeli jail
Abu Rahmah’s crime was organizing illegal demonstrations in a West Bank village where all demonstrations are by definition illegal. Abu Rahmah, 39, had long been involved in peaceful, multiethnic protests in the village of Bil’in, where Israel’s separation wall has cut Palestinians off from hundreds of acres of their land. Though barely covered in the American press, his conviction was protestedby Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, among others. “Israel’s attempt to crack down on this effective resistance movement by criminalizing peaceful protest is unacceptable and unjust,”said Desmond Tutu, one of Abu Rahmah’s supporters.  American Jews often ask where the Palestinian Gandhi is. What few realize is that if such a man exists, he’s probably sitting in an Israeli military prison.
http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/52645/disobedient/

Bil’in Resident Urgently Needs Your Help, Joseph Dana
A tireless non-violent activist and resident of Bil’in, Rani Burnet, needs your help repairing his wheelchair. Rani was shot in the neck by IDF soldiers in 2000 and has since been in a wheelchair. I am posting a letter about his situation and hoping to raise money to fix his wheelchair problem. The non-violent joint struggle needs your help and this is a perfect place to start.
http://josephdana.com/2010/12/bilin-resident-urgently-needs-your-help/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bilin-resident-urgently-needs-your-help 

#BDS: An Open letter from Besieged Gaza to Brothers for Brotherhood: No Brotherhood with Apartheid
We are writing to you from the Besieged Gaza Strip to express what your decision to perform in Israel means to us Palestinians, the victims of Israel’s racist segregation and war on our civilian population across the Middle East.  To begin with, two weeks from now marks the second anniversary of the 22-day Israeli genocidal war against the Palestinians in Gaza. These 22-days of intensive, indiscriminate land, sea and air bombardment by Apache helicopters, F16s, F15s, F35s, Merkava tanks, naval gunboats, and illegal White Phosphorous, resulted in the killing of 1434 civilians including 434 children and left around 5,300 injured, some permanently.
http://youthanormalization.blogspot.com/2010/12/bds-open-letter-from-besieged-gaza-to.html 

Let the government know what you think about the criminalization of peace activism, Daniel Kaplan
Over the course of this fall, being on the side of peace and justice has gradually meant living in a state of fear. Since September, the FBI has subpoenaed and raided the homes of 19 activists seeking and end to violence in Palestine and Columbia This rash of raids stems from a court ruling this summer that redefines the charge of “material witness to terrorism”. Before, material witness meant supplying support in the form of finances, weaponry, intelligence, or combat training to political bodies defined by the state department as “terrorist organizations”. Now “material witness to terrorism” includes vocal support for such organizations or even advocating open communication with them. For activists in my community, this means that anyone who advocates negotiations with the government in Gaza could be charged with “material witness to terrorism”, because Gaza is currently governed by Hamas. Essentially, it is now a crime to promote direct reconciliation between Palestinian/Gaza organizations and Israel/the United States. The government has criminalized opinions that are not in line with our government’s foreign policy, and it is for this reason that peace activists in Chicago, Minneapolis, and across the US have become targets of the FBI.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/let-the-government-know-what-you-think-about-the-criminalization-of-peace-activism.html

Anti

Abu Sha’ar slams General Electric for supporting settlement expansion
Palestinian minister of religious affairs Dr. Taleb Abu Sha’ar strongly denounced the American company General Electric for supporting and participating in a settlement project in Abu Ghunaim Mount.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7 

Pro-Israel activists launch all-out war against Helen Thomas and American Arabs
It is all out war between Jews and Arabs. Make no mistake about it. American Jewish organizations have launched a vicious campaign to silence Helen Thomas, the 91 year old, 80 pound champion of Palestinian and Arab rights who fearlessly has chosen to take on one of the most powerful organizations in America. 
http://palestinenote.com/blogs/blogs/archive/2010/12/09/pro-israel-activists-launch-all-out-war-against-helen-thomas-and-american-arabs.aspx

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

PCHR Weekly Report: Two resistance fighters killed; 6 civilians wounded this week
In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for the week of 02 – 08 December 2010, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that two Palestinian resistance were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. Another resistance fighter was wounded by Israeli forces in the central Gaza Strip.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60130

Gaza blockade over? Not according to the UN
The UN’s top representative in Gaza says building projects are being delayed because Israel is not allowing the free flow of construction materials into the territory.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/m8P8-CswEPE/Gaza-blockade-over-Not-according-to-the-UN 

Gaza facing ‘new electricity crisis’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Energy Authority in Gaza blamed the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for a reduction in fuel supplied to the Gaza power plant.  The authority said only 5,950 cubic meters of industrial grade fuel were delivered to the plant in November. Only one week this month did the plant operate with two generators.  In its statement, the authority held PA government in Ramallah “fully responsible for the suffering of Gaza residents for their falling short behind meeting residents electricity needs.”  “We are approaching a new crisis that began to appear with dropping temperatures and the increasingly cold weather which will the coming increase the demand for energy.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340653 

Gaza crossings closed for weekend
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza’s crossing points used for delivering products and raw materials will be closed on Friday and Saturday.  Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattuh said Israeli authorities informed him that the crossing will reopen Sunday.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340689

Hebron child drowns in wastewater pool
HEBRON (Ma’an) — A one-year-old girl named Bara Sami Makhamreh drowned in a pool of wastewater in the town of Yatta, south of Hebron Thursday, according to police.  Police told Ma’an the girl was dead when she arrived at a medical center in Yatta. She drowned while playing in the yard of her grandfather’s home, police also said.  The body was handed over to girl’s family for burial.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340607 

They call them martyrs
They call them martyrs, their fallen soldiers, their sons, brothers and fathers. Engraved on the walls of the refugee camp are their names and messages from their loved ones. Their faces painted on the alleyways, their eyes dark and alive.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11665.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+electronicIntifadaPalestine+%28Electronic+Intifada+%3A+Palestine+News%29

And what will Santa bring the kiddies of Gaza?, Stuart Littlewood
So what sort of Christmas is in store for their little ones this year while the criminals who inflicted such savagery and torment, and continue to deny them their human rights, have their snouts in the Yuletide trough and enjoy a warm bed? The UN says that imports are only at 36 per cent of pre-siege levels, thanks to Cameron’s friends, and exports are still not allowed (except a few strawberries), so the hardship must still be unimaginable.
http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2010/12/09/and-what-will-santa-bring-the-kiddies-of-gaza/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SabbahsBlog+%28Sabbah+Report%29 

Racism and Discrimination

Jaffa: Neighborly noise dispute turns nasty
Hundreds of Jaffa Muslims, Christians to protest against complaints from neighbors over noisy churches and mosques. ‘It’s an integral part of city, these complaints reek of racism,’ protesters say.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3997077,00.html 

Arabs on rabbis’ letter: We are losing our humanity
Arab local council members in towns where Jews and Arab live side by side refuse to remain silent over ‘racist letter’ signed by dozens of municipal rabbis, demand criminal inquiry. ‘Rabbis receive salary from state’ they said and called for apology or dismissal.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3996965,00.html 

Amid uproar, two rabbis pull their names from letter forbidding rental of homes to Arabs
Rabbis remove their signatures after ultra-Orthodox leader denounces the religious ruling.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/amid-uproar-two-rabbis-pull-their-names-from-letter-forbidding-rental-of-homes-to-arabs-1.329751?localLinksEnabled=false

Israel’s legal establishment to examine rabbis’ letter forbidding rental of homes to Arabs
In response to a petition against the signatories of the rabbis’ letter, attorney general’s office says rabbis’ statements were ‘inappropriate for public officials.’
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israel-s-legal-establishment-to-examine-rabbis-letter-forbidding-rental-of-homes-to-arabs-1.329734?localLinksEnabled=false

Violence/Aggression

Report: Two Gaza teens killed playing with leftover IDF artillery
The two 16-year-olds were playing with the artillery east of Gaza City when it exploded. 
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/report-two-gaza-teens-killed-playing-with-leftover-idf-artillery-1.329913?localLinksEnabled=false

Two Palestinians wounded by IOF bullets in northern Gaza
Two Palestinians were wounded Friday morning to the north of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip when IOF troops opened fire towards cultivated lands in the area.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87

Israel Expects Next ‘Big’ War on Gaza
Israeli army chief has proclaimed that the next Israel’s offensive on Gaza will be ‘extensive’, a Press TV report said.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60139

Detainees (held by Israelis and the PA)

IOF kidnap 9 Palestinians in W. Bank
The Hebrew radio said that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped at dawn Thursday nine Palestinian citizens from different West Bank areas at the pretext they were wanted.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87 

Police: Israeli army detains 5 in Dura
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli soldiers seized five Palestinians from their homes during a raid in the West Bank town of Dura Friday, Palestinian Authority police said.  Police said soldiers entered dura firing tear gas and stun grenades. The soldiers burst into the homes of several residents, including the houses of Mariam Rajoub, Mahmoud Roub, and Ahmad Amer Jad Allah. Soldiers detained Majdi and Mohammad Rajoub, Nasser Al-Awawdah, Raefet Rajoub, and Amir Rajoub after searching their homes, police said.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340760

Witnesses: Israeli troops raid Kifl Hares, detain 1
SALFIT (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided the village of Kifl Hares, east of Salfit and detained a Palestinian man, witnesses said.  During house-to-house searches in the village, soldiers seized Jalal Abu Yacoub and took him to an unknown location, witnesses added.  Residents also said Israeli soldiers secured the village for a visit by a group of settlers, who went to a local religious site.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340739

Abbas’s militia kidnaps 28 Hamas supporters
PA security militia loyal to de facto president Mahmoud Abbas rounded up 28 Hamas supporters in the past 24 hours in the districts of Al-Khalil, Nablus, Bethlehem, Tulkarem, Salfit, and Jenin.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%

Hamas: PA detains 12 supporters
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority security forces arrested 12 Hamas affiliates in the West Bank Hamas movement said in a statement Friday.  The statement said the arrests took place in Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, Tulkarem, Qalqilia and Jenin.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340700

Israeli occupation releases prisoner four months after end of his sentence
Israeli occupation released on Thursday a Palestinian prisoner from the Gaza Strip four months after the end of his seven-year sentence.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k 

Sheikh Raed Salah to be released Sunday
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Sheikh Leader, a leader of the Palestinian community inside Israel, will be released from prison on Sunday after serving five months for allegedly assaulting a police officer, a charge he denies.  Salah’s attorney Zahi Nijiadat said a celebration will be held in the city of Umm Al-Fahm in honor of the release of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340696

Officials: No change to prisoner swap list
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Sources in the Palestinian armed factions holding an Israeli soldier captive denied rumors Friday that the factions had drawn up a new list of Hamas members to be freed in a potential prisoner exchange.  Officials in the factions said there was no change to the list of prisoners the captors are demanding released in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.  Rumors of a change to the list were spreading among Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Ma’an learned. Seeking confirmation of the reports, prisoners have been attempting to contact officials from Hamas and other factions on the phone, or through their lawyers and family members in recent days.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340781

Political Developments

“PA to Cancel all Security Commitments to Israel”
10/12/2010 “The Palestinian Authority will stop coordinating its security with Israel, in response to the US’s official announcement that peace talks have failed,” Al Quds al-Arabi reported on Friday.  Khana Amira, a PLO official, told the UK newspaper that the PA is also considering canceling its other commitments to Israel, including the Oslo Accords and the Road Map, which demand that resistance organizations will stop.  Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official and an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly plans to convene a meeting with the PLO and Fatah central committees on Friday afternoon, in order to make a new plan for the Palestinians.  Palestinian officials told Al Quds al-Arabi that they expect US President Barack Obama to attempt to restart “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinians. “Maybe the meeting will give the American government another chance,” an official told the paper.  The Palestinians are also considering seeking the UN Security Council’s recognition of a Palestinian state on all the Palestinian territories that were occupied by Israel in 1967.
http://almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=165291&language=en

PLO, Fatah meet on Israel talks
RAMALLAH (AFP) — Top Palestinian officials in the West Bank met on Friday about ways to revive stalled peace negotiations with Israel, officials said.  The meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Executive Committee and senior leaders of the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas comes after Washington failed to get Israel to stop building settlements.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340800

No clear successor should Abbas leave the stage (AP)
AP – Washington’s Mideast peace efforts are in trouble as it is, but an additional complication is often overlooked: Should 76-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a heavy smoker prone to threats of resignation, leave office, there’s no designated successor and no agreement on how to choose one.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101209/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_palestinians_after_abbas 

Is Israeli Decision to Have PA Supervise Exports Out of Gaza First Step in Plan Revealed by WikiLeaks?, Alex Kane
Israel yesterday announced an expansion of exports out of the blockaded Gaza Strip, a small but welcome step in the ongoing efforts to break the crippling blockade.  But perhaps that’s not the most important news to come out of the announcement.  What could have more significance is that Palestinian Authority (PA) “inspectors will begin to work in the Kerem Shalom crossing, and oversee the collection of import taxes and the export of goods from Gaza to the West Bank,” according to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.  “This would mark the first return of Palestinian Authority officials to the Gaza Strip since the Hamas takeover in June 2007.”
http://alexbkane.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/is-israeli-decision-to-have-pa-supervise-exports-out-of-gaza-first-step-in-plan-revealed-by-wikileaks/

U.S. to push indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks following Mideast peace stalemate
Direct talks failed in late September after Netanyahu refused to discuss core final-status issues, particularly borders of future Palestinian state. 
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/u-s-to-push-indirect-israeli-palestinian-talks-following-mideast-peace-stalemate-1.329771?localLinksEnabled=false 

State Department spokesman struggles to explain US settlement policy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPC3RuUx9j0&feature=player_embedded 

Democratic congressman slams Obama’s ME policy
Ackerman: Shift away from settlements creates an opportunity to focus on Iran’s proliferation threat.
http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?ID=198844&R=R1

US lawmaker hits move to recognize Palestinian state (AFP)
AFP – A senior US lawmaker on Thursday sharply condemned moves by Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to recognize an independent Palestinian state as “horrible” but ruled out diplomatic retaliation.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101209/pl_afp/palestinianmideastdiplomacyargentinauruguaybrazilus

Former European leaders call to confront Israel over settlement building
26 former top EU officials, including ex EU chief Solana and former German President Richard von Weizsacker, urge world powers to sanction Jerusalem for its refusal to obey international law.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/former-european-leaders-call-to-confront-israel-over-settlement-building-1.329767?localLinksEnabled=false

Assad blames ‘Israeli intransigence’ for failed peace talks
In Paris, Syrian leader says American initiative ‘has not worked,’ but adds, ‘Before we blame the sponsor, we should blame the sides themselves’.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3997026,00.html 

Barak: Palestinians didn’t mind settlement construction during past peace talks
Speaking after meeting with UN chief Ban, Defense Minister claims settlement activity was 4 time what it is today during negotiations with former PA President Arafat. 
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/barak-palestinians-didn-t-mind-settlement-construction-during-past-peace-talks-1.329834?localLinksEnabled=false

Israel says it’s urgent to resume Mideast talks (AP)
AP – Israel’s defense minister says “it’s an urgent necessity” for his country and the Palestinians to find a way to resume negotiations on core issues leading to a peace deal.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101209/ap_on_re_us/un_un_israel_palestinians

Turkey lauds ‘new page’ in ties with Israel, but still demands apology for Gaza flotilla raid
Deputy FM Ayalon says Israel must not apologize for killing 9 citizens during Gaza flotilla raid, as this would invite international lawsuits.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/turkey-lauds-new-page-in-ties-with-israel-but-still-demands-apology-for-gaza-flotilla-raid-1.329877?localLinksEnabled=false

Other News

Poll: Majority of Americans favor U.S. role in resolving Mideast dispute
Politico – A poll to be released Thursday at the Brookings Institution shows that two-thirds of Americans polled believe that the Arab-Israeli issue is among the top five American interests in the world, while one quarter believe it is one of top three American interests.   The findings “are really striking,” the poll’s coordinator, Shibley Telhami told POLITICO on Wednesday. “The American public thinks this is a big-time issue.”
http://palestinenote.com/blogs/news/archive/2010/12/09/poll-majority-of-americans-favor-u-s-role-in-resolving-mideast-dispute.aspx 

New Poll Underlines Gloom Shrouding ‘Peace Process’
Hope among both Jewish and Palestinian Israelis that a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians can ever be achieved appears to be fading, according to two major new polls released here Thursday. A solid majority of 63 percent of Palestinian Israelis and a plurality of 47 percent of Jewish Israelis say they don’t believe that peace between the two peoples “will ever happen”, according to the surveys, which were conducted separately in October and November. 
http://original.antiwar.com/lobe/2010/12/09/new-poll-underlines-gloom-shrouding-peace-process/ 

Poll: Half of Israeli Jews hold negative views of Obama
German Chancellor Angela Merkel the world leader most admired by Israeli Jews, according to a poll released by Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/poll-half-of-israeli-jews-hold-negative-views-of-obama-1.329740?localLinksEnabled=false

Israel’s unwanted citizens
Palestinian citizens of Israel are complaining about a string of policies, which they say are designed to drive them out of Israel. First, a bill requiring them to pledge allegiance to a Jewish state was passed by the Israeli cabinet. Now the Knesset is debating whether to stop Arab Israelis living in cities where there’s a Jewish majority. So who are Palestinian-Israelis and how did they become citizens of a State that doesn’t want them? Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpW409WOgwE&feature=youtube_gdata 

Poll: Israel’s Arabs don’t want to be part of Palestinian state
Saban Center survey shows 58% of Israeli-Arabs against annexation of Arab cities to future Palestinian state as part of territorial exchanges; 47% of Israel’s Jews believe peace will never be achieved.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3997051,00.html 

Over 10,000 march for human rights in Tel Aviv
TEL AVIV, December 10, 2010 (AFP) – Around 10,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Friday to protest against the rising tide of extremist sentiment in Israel that they warn is posing a growing threat to Israeli democracy.  The march, which organisers said included almost 1,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from Sudan, Somalia and other parts of Africa, was timed to coincide with International Human Rights Day.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340798

Speed guns replace AK-47s on the pacified streets of Jenin
Blue-shirted Palestinian police officers with a German-supplied radar gun were busy last week on a road in the northern city of Jenin. Until three years ago, when a law and order campaign was launched, Jenin was the most lawless city in the West Bank and no one then imagined it could become a venue for speed traps.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/speed-guns-replace-ak47s-on-the-pacified-streets-of-jenin-2155855.html 

Analysis/Op-ed

Obama’s Middle East Policy ‘Marked by Ridiculous Zigzagging’
The Middle East peace process has been left floundering after Washington admitted its efforts to get the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table have failed. German editorialists take a dim view of President Obama’s approach.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,733808,00.html 

The Netanyahu government got Obama to buckle on the settlements freeze. And now, Israel can look forward to a future of mounting isolation with no prospect for peace
Yasher Koach, Bibi, it looks like the White House has finally given up. For close to two years now, they’ve been hectoring you about a Palestinian state. First, they tried sticks: They worked to undermine you politically by letting Israelis know you didn’t have the president’s trust. Then they tried carrots: offering to double Israel’s stock of advanced jet fighters, veto any critical resolutions at the U.N. and give you carte blanche to build in the West Bank if only you’d freeze settlements for another three months and use that time to talk seriously about the borders of a Palestinian state. But you held your ground. You made it clear that you’d pocket the planes and conduct a three-month filibuster. No way were you going to be bullied into the kind of final-status negotiations undertaken by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. And so the Americans caved. They’ve dropped their demands for a settlement freeze. They’ve stopped trying to orchestrate direct talks. They’ve gone into a fetal position. Am Yisrael Chai!
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-12-08/obama-buckles-on-settlements-freeze-but-israel-heading-for-greater-isolation/

Remembering to Forget Israel’s Nonexistent Settlement Freeze, Peter Hart
The big news in the U.S.-guided Israel/Palestine talks is that a renewal of a so-called “settlement freeze” in the West Bank is basically dead. Ethan Bronner has a post-mortem of sorts in the New York Times (12/9/10), where he describes the backdrop for the previous round of negotiations:
http://www.fair.org/blog/2010/12/09/remembering-to-forget-israels-nonexistent-settlement-freeze/ 

Jim Crow journalism, now in the LA Times, Philip Weiss
This is my new hobby horse, Jim Crow journalism. Journalists never call American Palestinians or Arabs, they call Jews. Paul Richter inthe LA Times does a piece on the collapse of the Obama initiative in the Middle East and quotes:  Jeremy Ben-Ami,  David Makovsky.  No Palestinians or Arab-Americans or maybe even non-Zionist Jews.  [end]
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/jim-crow-journalism-now-in-the-la-times.html

U of Miami to host conference on Walt and Mearsheimer to which the authors are not invited, Philip Weiss
Proving once again that the Walt-Mearsheimer LRB paper/book was one of the most important ideas of the last ten years in the United States. But it couldn’t be published in the United States. Only $250 to register! Only Afrikaners allowed! 
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/u-of-miami-to-host-conference-on-walt-and-mearsheimer-to-which-the-authors-are-not-invited.html

CWP Report: “All out War: Israel against democracy”
CWP published a new report today, titled “All-Out War: Israel Against Democracy.” This comprehensive report documents the increasing political persecution of peace and human rights organizations and activists, and describes the connections between the assaults led by Israeli government officials, security forces, courts, journalists, and extreme-right organizations in this well-orchestrated offensive on democracy.
http://theonlydemocracy.org/2010/12/cwp-report-all-out-war-israel-against-democracy/

The Mythical Power of the “Arab Lobby”, Stephen M. Walt
Keeping up with Jeffrey Goldberg’s errors is like trying to dam the Gulf Stream, and responding to his repeated smears is a mug’s game. I suppose I could quote a bunch of snarky comments about him too, and we could have a nasty blogosopheric food fight for the entertainment of our readers. But I prefer to focus on the issues, instead of the name-calling that is J.G.’s stock-in-trade.
http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/09/goldbergs_latest_silly_sally 

The returning issue of Palestine’s refugees | Saeb Erekat
It’s 62 years since the UN passed a resolution on the rights of Palestinian refugees – rights Israel must recognise for peace.  Before his murder in 1948, Lord Folke Bernadotte, the first UN mediator to the Arab-Israeli conflict, stated: “It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent [Palestinian] victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine.” Lord Bernadotte paid for his candour with his life as Jewish militants assassinated himunder the direction of Yitzhak Shamir, the man who would later become prime minister of Israel.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/10/israel-palestine-refugee-rights

Fearing end of ‘Zionist dream,’ Cohen says donors shut down debate inside Jewish community, Philip Weiss
Things are changing in the Jewish community. At Rabbis for Human Rights conference the other day, Rabbi Brian Walt spoke to me about what an amazing moment was the heckling of Netanyahu by young Jews at the Jewish Federation meeting in New Orleans. “Electrifying,” he said– and the message had gone out to Jews across the country. Roger Cohen in the New York Times has gotten the news, and says the young people were starting an “important” conversation. Here’s his careful piece on the politics of Jewish identity and the end of the Zionist dream. He mentions the New Orleans hecklers, also a young man Ira Stup, 24, who has visited the occupation and come home disillusioned. You will see that Cohen understands the Jewish identity role in the Israel lobby, and talks about “donors.” 
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/fearing-end-of-zionist-dream-cohen-says-donors-shut-down-debate-inside-jewish-community.html

What Is The Peres Center Up To?,  Palestine Monitor
Last month the winners of the Danish “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” quiz show donated their winnings to the The Peres Center For Peace in Israel. On the surface they appear a worthy beneficiary, but is the Peres Centre as innocent as it seems? Clive Granger thinks not.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article1645 

Daoud Kuttab: Now That the Carrot Has Not Worked Against Israel
If America joins the rest of the world in politically isolating Israel because of its refusal to adhere to international law, this will have a snowball effect that will most certainly lead to change in the Israeli political scene.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daoud-kuttab/now-that-the-carrot-has-n_b_794123.html 

Hussein Ibish And The Good Old Days, Ikhras
Hussein Ibish took a moment and less than 140 characters to reminisce about his past.  He didn’t want to concede he was thinking about a previous time when he was defending Palestinian rights so he mentioned it in reference to an article where his name appeared along with Ali Abunimah, writer, and founder of Electronic Intifada, and a pro-Palestine activist.  That must have reminded Ibish of an earlier time and a different person than the one he now sees when he looks in the mirror.  In an obvious attempt to redefine the earlier version of Ibish and the basis of his previous collaboration with Abunimah he tweeted those were the “good old, long-lost, days when Ali Abunimah and I used to call out anti-Semites.”  Ibish has been reaching out to the pro-Israel lobby for a while and he now appears to have adopted the tactic of calling all anti-Zionist activists anti-Semites, which he clearly seems to be suggesting here.  Ibish’ newest associates and partners haven’t told him the anti-Semitic card lost its currency long before they became friends.
http://ikhras.com/2010/12/hussein-ibish-and-the-good-old-days/

Fmr Israel ambassador Lubrani says using force against Iran would be giant mistake, Scott McConnell
I’m a sucker for the wisdom of old diplomats —  an establishment orientation I can never entirely  shake. So from one of the  Washington  centers of the neocon power yesterday morning—the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies conference on tightening the screws on Iran– it was a pleasure to hear a discordant voice. It  came from the former Israeli ambassador to Iran during the Shah’s reign, Uri Lubrani.  He is old now, white hair, nearly translucent skin.  In Israel, he is known as a sort of Mr. Iran. Later ambassador to Ethiopia, he helped to engineer the exodus airlift of Ethiopian Jews. 
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/fmr-israel-ambassador-lubrani-says-using-force-against-iran-would-be-giant-mistake.html

How many leaks does it take to become a threat to humanity? – By Stephen M. Walt
While the demonization of Julian Assange continues apace, the following thought occurred to me (it probably occurred to you already). Suppose a reporter like David Sanger of the New York Times or Helene Cooper of the Washington Post had been given a confidential diplomatic cable by a disgruntled government employee (or “unnamed senior official”). Suppose it was one of the juicier cables recently released by Wikileaks.  Suppose further that Sanger or Cooper had written a story based on that leaked information, and then put the text of the cable up on the Times or WaPo website so that readers could see for themselves that the story was based on accurate information. Would anyone be condemning them? I doubt it. Whoever actually leaked the cable might be prosecuted or condemned, but the journalists who published the material would probably be praised, and their colleagues would just be jealous that somebody else got a juicy scoop. 
http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/09/more_on_wikileaks

John Pilger: Why are wars not being reported honestly?
The public needs to know the truth about wars. So why have journalists colluded with governments to hoodwink us?  In the US Army manual on counterinsurgency, the American commander General David Petraeus describes Afghanistan as a “war of perception . . . conducted continuously using the news media”. What really matters is not so much the day-to-day battles against the Taliban as the way the adventure is sold in America where “the media directly influence the attitude of key audiences”. Reading this, I was reminded of the Venezuelan general who led a coup against the democratic government in 2002. “We had a secret weapon,” he boasted. “We had the media, especially TV. You got to have the media.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/10/war-media-propaganda-iraq-lies

FBI Spying on Muslims, WAJAHAT ALI
The recent arrest of the potential Christmas tree bomber is reflective of the FBI’s myopic strategy of using glitzy, expensive sting operations and dubious confidential informants to further erode Muslim American relations instead of concentrating on effective partnerships to combat radicalization. The FBI is promoting the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali-born teenager accused of attempting to detonate a car bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, as a triumph of effective law enforcement. Instead, the operation reeks of gratuitous self-adulation, requiring 6 months of time and precious expenditures to “uncover” a dummy terrorist plot wholly scripted and concocted by the FBI in the first place.
http://www.counterpunch.com/waj12092010.html

Lebanon

Al-Akhbar update
Al-Akkhbar is now in control of the website.  But the website will not be available until Saturday.  An investigation is under way. You may read Al-Akhbar here
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/al-akhbar-update.html

U.S. Defense Secretary: Gulf Arab states back Iran nuclear sanctions
Robert Gates says Iran’s neighbors are concerned about Teheran’s ‘aggressive behavior’ with respect to Hezbollah and Lebanon.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/u-s-defense-secretary-gulf-arab-states-back-iran-nuclear-sanctions-1.329922?localLinksEnabled=false

US diplomat accused France of succumbing to March 8 – cables
BEIRUT: The US blamed Paris for succumbing to “shameless fear-mongering” and empowering minority MPs during Lebanon’s 2007 presidential impasse, according to leaked diplomatic documents seen by The Daily Star.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=122385 

Murr: Try those who called me a traitor
BEIRUT: Defense Minister Elias Murr called Thursday for the trial of anyone who labeled him a traitor after he was implicated in WikiLeaks revelations. “Who will try those who are accusing other Lebanese of treason only because they hold a different opinion?”
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=122384 

The Story of Elias Murr, Saboteur,  RANNIE AMIRI
When Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers crossed into southern Lebanon and were caught snooping around the village of Ayta al-Shab on July 12, 2006, it was the pretext needed for Israel to launch a vicious 34-day land, sea and aerial assault on the country. The offensive’s principal objective—the destruction of Hezbollah—was not achieved. Two years after the war’s end we now learn, thanks to WikiLeaks, that Lebanese Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Elias Murr gave Israel strategic military advice on how to finish the job.
http://www.counterpunch.org/amiri12102010.html

He is fed up: An Arab fixer leaves his job and writes about his own experiences
This Arab fixer,  Moe Ali Nayel, is mad as hell. He wrote to me about his experiences and allowed me to cite from his letter and to even use his name:  “Last month I had a terrifying experience as journalism betrayed me for the first time in my four years of working as a fixer. When I first met freelance journalist Ruthie Ackerman in a cafe in Beirut in early September, I realized that she did not know anything about Lebanon. Ms. Ackerman had arrived in Beirut to do a story on social networking, but it quickly became apparent that this reporter had not done her homework. Ms. Ackerman did not know who Hassan Nassrallah was. Ms. Ackerman did not know that Saad Hariri was the name of the prime minister of the country who’s coffee she was then sipping.  When, later, I took her to see a Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut she asked, “Where are the tents?” Ruthie Ackerman’s ignorance of even the current status of a country she planned to write about was, in short, shameful.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/he-is-fed-up-arab-fixer-leaves-his-job.html 

Iraq

Unknown gunmen kill 2 Iraqi policemen
Unknown gunmen opened fire on Friday morning on a police checkpoint in Al Zohour District, central Tikrit, killing two policemen and wounding two others. A bombing in Al Ialam District in Baghdad wounded a police recruit. Police found the body of an unknown gunman in Al Mahmudiya District.
http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-57424-Unknown-gunmen-kill-2-Iraqi-policemen.html

Thursday: 6 Iraqis Killed, 6 Wounded
At least six Iraqis were killed and six more were wounded in light violence. Also, about 40 Christian families have reportedly left Basra for northern Iraq or Europe in the wake of anti-Christian attacks in Baghdad.
http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2010/12/09/thursday-6-iraqis-killed-6-wounded/ 

Iraq Christians mark 40 days since church carnage (AFP)
AFP – Dozens of Iraqi Christians overcame their fears and attended Baghdad’s Sayidat al-Nejat church on Thursday to begin prayers marking 40 days since Al-Qaeda militants carried out a deadly siege.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/iraq/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101209/wl_mideast_afp/iraqunrestreligionchristian

UN asks Iraq to abolish death penalty (AP)
AP – The top U.N. envoy in Iraq is calling on the country’s government to abolish the death penalty amid demands by Iraq’s interior minister for the swift execution of terror suspects.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/iraq/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101210/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq

U.S. and other world news

Senate hawks push Obama on Iran
Prominent American senators have warned President Barack Obama he must demand that Iran halt all uranium-enrichment activities as a pre-condition to a deal on its nuclear program, something Tehran will never accept. By drawing new lines in the sand, the senators reflect the diplomatic missteps that have dogged US-Iran relations for years.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LL11Ak01.html

Dems outraged as GOP blocks 9/11 responders’ health bill
May be end of the road for $7-billion aid package to heroes of 9/11 Senate Republicans on Thursday derailed a bill to aid people who got sick after exposure to dust from the World Trade Center’s collapse in the Sept. 11 attack.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/gop-blocks-911-responders-bill/ 

Julian Assange Extradition Faces Hurdles
LONDON — Some of the WikiLeaks critics who cheered founder Julian Assange’s arrest may want to think again. The prospect of Assange being sent to Sweden in a sex-crimes inquiry may make it less likely that he’ll wind up before an American judge, something politicians and pundits including Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut have called for.  That’s because Britain has one of the most U.S.-friendly extradition regimes in Europe. Sweden, with its tough media-protection laws, may not be so quick to hand the 39-year-old Australian over.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/09/julian-assange-extradition-hurdles_n_794754.html 

Fresh attacks in Wikileaks cyberwar
The cyber war between WikiLeaks supporters and companies refusing to do business with the whistle-blowing site intensified tonight, with fresh attacks threatened against Amazon and PayPal.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/fresh-attacks-in-wikileaks-cyberwar-2155367.html 

Letters: Support for Assange
We protest at the attacks on WikiLeaks and, in particular, on Julian Assange (Report, 9 December) The leaks have assisted democracy in revealing the real views of our governments over a range of issues which have been kept secret and are now irreversibly in the public domain. All we knew about the mass killing, torture and corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan has been confirmed. The world’s leaders can no longer hide the truth by simply lying to the public. The lies have been exposed. The actions of major corporations such as Amazon, the Swiss banks and the credit card companies in hindering WikiLeaks are shameful, bowing to US government pressure. The US government and its allies, and their friends in the media, have built up a campaign against Assange which now sees him in prison facing extradition on dubious charges, with the presumed eventual aim of ensuring his extradition to the US. We demand his immediate release, the dropping of all charges, and an end to the censorship of WikiLeaks.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/10/support-for-julian-assange-wikileaks 

Report: Assange accuser flees to Middle East, may not be cooperating with police
Sweden withholding documentation on Assange probe: lawyer One of the two Swedish women who have filed sex complaints against the founder of WikiLeaks has reportedly left Sweden and may no longer be cooperating with the criminal investigation.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/assange-accuser-stops-cooperating-police/ 

Assange accuser ‘postponed’ Palestine trip
YANOUN, West Bank (Ma’an) — One of two women whose sexual assault allegations led to the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange recently cancelled a trip to the occupied West Bank where she planned to volunteer for a Christian organization, members of the group said Friday.  The woman was part of a group of five new volunteers slated to join the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) in the West Bank village of Yanoun, but instead postponed her plans, said Sue Beardon, who works with the group in the village.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340759

Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: Julian Assange is Not a Terrorist
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will remain in a London prison until a British court takes up a Swedish request for extradition for questioning on sexual crime allegations. An international group of former intelligence officers and ex-government officials have released a statement in support of Assange. We speak to one of the signatories, Daniel Ellsberg, the famous whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War in 1971. “If I released the Pentagon Papers today, I would be called a terrorist,” Ellsberg says. “Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are no more terrorists than I am, and I am not.”
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/10/whistleblower_daniel_ellsberg_julian_assange_is

Hackers rally to support WikiLeaks: Top 5 recent attacks
In an effort nicknamed “Operation Payback,” a loose association of hackers called “Anonymous” has been targeting the websites of companies and organizations that have cut ties with WikiLeaks by overwhelming their sites with traffic, prompting them to shut down. Twitter and Facebook have blocked accounts for Anonymous, citing the illegality of their attacks as a terms-of-service violation. WikiLeaks’ Facebook and Twitter accounts remain up and running.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/PK1WaCdG6JQ/Hackers-rally-to-support-WikiLeaks-Top-5-recent-attacks 

UN human rights chief voices concern at reported ‘cyber war’ against WikiLeaks
The United Nations human rights chief voiced concern today over reported ‘cyber war’ pressure on private companies to sever links with the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, saying this could amount to attempted censorship in breach of international covenants.  “If WikiLeaks has committed any recognizable illegal act, then this should be handled through the legal system, and not through pressure and intimidation, including on third parties,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said of the reported pressure on banks, credit card companies and internet service providers to stop hosting and close down donation credit lines to the website that has released thousands of secret United States documents. 
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/MUMA-8BZ4D2?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P 

Russia’s Putin raps U.S. over leaked cables
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attacked the United States on Thursday over secret U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, saying the West had no right to preach to Russia about democracy.  When asked about cables which cast him as Russia’s “alpha-dog” ruler, Putin asked: “Do you think the American diplomatic service is a crystal clean source of information? Do you think so?”  He then criticized the West over the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who turned himself in to authorities in Britain this week after a warrant by a Swedish prosecutor who wants to question him about sexual misconduct accusations.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/russias-putin-raps-leaked-cables/ 

US embassy cables: Mubarak: Egypt’s president-for-life
1. (S/NF) Introduction: President Mubarak last visited Washington in April 2004, breaking a twenty year tradition of annual visits to the White House. Egyptians view President Mubarak’s upcoming meeting with the President as a new beginning to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship that will restore a sense of mutual respect that they believe diminished in recent years. President Mubarak has been encouraged by his initial interactions with the President, the Secretary, and Special Envoy Mitchell, and understands that the Administration wants to restore the sense of warmth that has traditionally characterized the U.S.-Egyptian partnership. The Egyptians want the visit to demonstrate that Egypt remains America’s “indispensible Arab ally,” and that bilateral tensions have abated. President Mubarak is the proud leader of a proud nation. He draws heavily from his own long experience in regional politics and governance as he assesses new proposals and recommendations for change.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/207723 

Saudi businessman and media mogul, Saleh Kamil on his links with Bin Laden
Pro-House of Saud, Saudi businessman Salih Kamil (who owns ART networks among other things) explicitly said on Al-Arabiyya TV (the station of King Fahd brother-in-law which is now run by Prince `Azzuz) that he has had “social and practical” relationship with Usamah Bin Ladin.  Those are the House of Saud and their friends.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/saudi-businessman-and-media-mogul-saleh.html

WikiLeaks Exposes US Attempt To Trade Sunken Gold for Nazi Loot
(Source: ARTINFO) MADRID– An underwater treasure. A looted Impressionist masterpiece. Diplomatic intrigue. Nazis. It all sounds like the plot of a Clive Cussler novel. But no, these are the components of the latest real-life revelation from the WikiLeaks cables. All these things collided in 2008, when diplomats were hunting for solutions to two very different cultural restitution cases and sought a clandestine compromise, according to the latest of the leaked dispatches highlighted by the Guardian.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/09/wikileaks-exposes-us-atte_n_794750.html

Spanish town becomes first to ban face-covering veils
Lleida approves municipal ban on burqas, niqabs because they ‘attack equality between men and women and are against women’s dignity’.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3997081,00.html

Iran denies freeing condemned woman
Press TV denies reports that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning, has been freed by regime.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2010/12/201012106412230968.html

 www.TheHeadlines.org

 
     

Proportionality: ‘Human Rights Watch’ files report on Jordanian restaurant turning away Israeli Jews

Dec 10, 2010

Philip Weiss

 

I think this is genuine, though it reads almost like a parody. From Human Rights Watch:

(New York) – Jordanian authorities should fully investigate and publicly condemn the recent refusal by the owner of an Aqaba restaurant to serve Israeli Jews, Human Rights Watch said today.

The restaurant owner told Human Rights Watch that the people she turned away in late November 2010 had gone on to file a complaint with the police, but that the police told her they did not intend to pursue the incident. Jordan is bound by its international obligations to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in any place intended for use by the general public, such as a restaurant, Human Rights Watch said.

“When it comes to restaurants, there’s an obligation even on private businesses not to discriminate based on nationality or religion,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Yes it’s bad that a Jordanian restaurant discriminated in this manner. But this is a pressing HRW concern?  At Rabbis for Human Rights the other day we learned that 290,000 Palestinians are served by one mental health clinic in Jerusalem while 500,000 Jews are served by a dozen clinics. Palestinians can’t even get back to their homes or what’s left of them in Gaza.  I guess not getting a meal in one restaurant in Jordan is on the same level as the bombing of Gaza, the destruction of houses in Silwan, the wall and 500,000 settlers living on stolen land.

 
     

Today in Bil’in

Dec 10, 2010

Hamde Abu Rahme

 

Protester in Bil’in holds a Brazilian flag to mark the Brazilian government’s recognition of a Palestinian state. (All photos: Hamde Abu Rahme)

Tear gas (?) in Bil’in.

 

Former Israel ambassador Lubrani says using force against Iran would be giant mistake

 

Dec 10, 2010

Scott McConnell

 

I’m a sucker for the wisdom of old diplomats —  an establishment orientation I can never entirely  shake. So from one of the  Washington  centers of the neocon power yesterday morning—the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies conference on tightening the screws on Iran– it was a pleasure to hear a discordant voice. It  came from the former Israeli ambassador to Iran during the Shah’s reign, Uri Lubrani.  He is old now, white hair, nearly translucent skin.  In Israel, he is known as a sort of Mr. Iran. Later ambassador to Ethiopia, he helped to engineer the exodus airlift of Ethiopian Jews. 

He told the audience that three months before the demonstrations broke out in 1978 in Iran he predicted there was going to be a mind-boggling revolution and none of his fellow diplomats believed him.  Nor did his country’s top officials. He is no fan of the current  regime, and called Ahmadinejad a “son of a bitch”.  But he said unequivocally that the use of force would be self-defeating, and destroy the West’s greatest asset in the Muslim world–the affections of the Iranian people.  Cue  Lubrani: 

<<We have one great ally in Iran. The Iranian people. I don’t believe in military. I’m against it.  Of course Israelis have to have it on the table, always.  But it would be counterproductive.>>

 

He went on to say the West could do much more to “give heart” to Iranian dissidents.  Lubrani was applauded; he has stature, even in this group. Today the conference will bring in some warmongers and  their toadies in Congress.  You won’t hear Brad Sherman or Mark  Kirk allude to the counterproductiveness of military force–as they seek to legislate the United States on a glide path to war.  But Lubrani tried to set  at least a small  barrier in their way.  
Another thing about the conference–this I learned  from Senator  Kirk this morning– is that the big guns from the entire world capitalist economy are investing and trading with Iran. Kirk read a list of companies in violation of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996.  It was global and impressive.  It includes Total of France, ENI of Italy, Norsk Hydro of Norway, Gazprom of Russia, Lukoil of Russia, China National Petroleum Company, Impex of Jampan, Petrobas of Brazil. . . and went on  like this for about a page.  The idea that this (or any)  administration is going to “sanction” all these companies  is amusing. 

     

Debate over Peto thesis reaches the halls of government as Israel/Palestine proxy battle rages on in Canada

Dec 10, 2010

Avi Lewis

 

Check out this extraordinary exchange in Ontario’s legislature (Hoskins is the Liberal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the other two are Conservative members of the provincial parliament.) Here’s a portion:

Mr. Steve Clark: My question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Jewish groups are criticizing the University of Toronto for accepting a shockingly anti-Semitic master’s thesis. The Holocaust is a horrible chapter in human history that claimed the lives of six million Jews, yet this disgusting paper attacks educational programs working to ensure such evil is never repeated.

Minister, this House unanimously passed a resolution from the member from Thornhill condemning Israeli Apartheid Week. What are you doing as Minister of Citizenship to stop the rising tide of anti-Semitism?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I deeply appreciate the member opposite raising this. I too was greatly disturbed and, in fact, disgusted when I read the media reports. I want to say first and foremost that this government remains absolutely committed to fighting discrimination in all its forms. I want to add as well that the McGuinty government denounces all acts of anti-Semitism, which we believe are a particularly vile and pernicious form of discrimination, and we will continue our work to protect the human rights of our Jewish community and of all Ontarians.

I was proud that earlier this year, this Legislature in fact came together to condemn anti-Semitism on our university campuses, and we will continue our hard work on behalf of all Ontarians, including our Jewish community. . . .

Mr. Peter Shurman: I wish I could say that this hateful and poorly researched paper attacking programs that use the horrors of the Holocaust to somehow show the dangers of discrimination and racism by Jews was an isolated incident. Unfortunately, it’s only the latest example that we’ve seen. There are too many other cases, including this summer, where anti-Semitic material was found at the Scott Library, not to mention an attack on the Jewish student association. Minister, will you today speak up on behalf of Jewish groups who have been so deeply hurt by this piece of garbage and condemn it, not as an academic paper but for the hate it actually is?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Again, I appreciate the question from the member opposite. I join them in condemning this attack on Ontario’s Jewish community.

I want to reiterate that, as I mentioned, I was very proud earlier this year when the Legislature came together to condemn anti-Semitism on our campuses and in other fora.

What’s going on up in Canada? Is there a frightening new wave of anti-Semitism sweeping the land? I take on the debate over “the new anti-Semitism” in Canada in my latest documentary for Fault Lines on Al Jazeera English TV

One of the people I interview in the piece is Jenny Peto – the author of the Masters thesis cited above. She’s not a face-tattooed neo-Nazi pamphleteer, but a Jewish anti-Zionist, active in Canada’s Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid. Contrary to what those Ontario politicians suggested, she is not opposed to Holocaust education – she is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and deeply engaged with that history. However, her thesis is critical of a particular form of Holocaust education, namely the March of the Living, which, as Mondoweiss readers well know, are the subject of intense debate inside and outside academia.  In the midst of a mini media storm, Peto’s graduate work has become what is likely the only unpublished student paper ever to be debated on the floor of a Canadian legislature. 

 

What happened is that a right-wing blogger dug up her thesis, and wrote a shrill undergraduate-style hit piece about it, which was picked up by the comment site of Canada’s most right wing national newspaper. The story was followed up both in that paper, The National Post, and Canada’s most liberal daily, The Toronto Star, and voila – suddenly Ontario parliamentarians are falling over each other to denounce it, while at least one of them has admitted that he hasn’t even read it.

So what does this episode tell us about the “rising tide of anti-Semitism” in Canada?

Well, there is actually no such thing, according to the conservative Zionist who is the opinion editor of The National Post. Jonathan Kay, who couldn’t resist his own contribution to the Peto party, told me in an interview what he has written before – that “Canada is the least anti-Semitic country in the entire world, including Israel.” 

So I asked Scott Reid, Conservative politician and Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism if there is a spike in the kind of hate his Coalition was formed to address.  He said, “No, no, no. Absolutely not. It’s funny – I’ve heard people who have criticized us saying that we think this, but there is absolutely no spike in the kinds of anti-Semitic incidents that appall us.” 

Ok, so what exactly is going on here?  

Well, first of all, Canada has been ruled for the last five years by a hard right Conservative government that is now widely recognized as Israel’s most fervent supporter on the world stage. In the same period, the BDS movement has been growing stronger in Canada, along with Israeli Apartheid Week – which launched in Toronto in 2005 and is now in more than 60 cities around the world.  

Amir Gissin, Israel’s Consul General in Toronto, says in the documentary that Canada has emerged as “the most important arena in the world…for this new battlefield that on one hand has all those who want to delegitimize Israel and on the other all those who want to represent it in all its colors.” 

So Canada is the site of a vigorous proxy battle in the Israel-Palestine debate, the government of Israel is watching very closely, and the government of Canada has abandoned its traditional pretense of being neutral and is energetically backing one side – including slashing funding to organizations that are critical of Israeli policies, and hosting an international conference on combating anti-Semitism.

While the savvier players will not even attempt to argue that Canada is in the grips of a renaissance of Jew-hatred, a climate has been created in which growing criticism of Israel’s actions is easily conflated with anti-Semitism, and mainstream media outlets report enthusiastically about each supposed hatefest.  

Peto’s thesis is just the latest fuel for this fire. 

Avi Lewis is a documentary filmmaker and host of the Al Jazeera English show Fault Lines. Lewis is the former host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) current-affairs program On the Map.     

Let the government know what you think about the criminalization of peace activism

Dec 10, 2010

Daniel Kaplan

 

Over the course of this fall, being on the side of peace and justice has gradually meant living in a state of fear. Since September, the FBI has subpoenaed and raided the homes of 19 activists seeking and end to violence in Palestine and Columbia. This rash of raids stems from a court ruling this summer that redefines the charge of “material support to terrorism.” Before, material support meant supplying support in the form of finances, weaponry, intelligence, or combat training to political bodies defined by the state department as “terrorist organizations.” Now “material support to terrorism” includes vocal support for such organizations or even advocating open communication with them. For activists in my community, this means that anyone who advocates negotiations with the government in Gaza could be charged with “material support to terrorism,” because Gaza is currently governed by Hamas. Essentially, it is now a crime to promote direct reconciliation between Palestinian/Gaza organizations and Israel/the United States. The government has criminalized opinions that are not in line with our government’s foreign policy, and it is for this reason that peace activists in Chicago, Minneapolis, and across the US have become targets of the FBI.

The raids and subpoenas have been a terrifying new reality I have had to contend with this fall, but it wasn’t until last Friday that these FBI tactics affected me personally. Three members of the non-violence activism community — two Palestinian and one Jewish — were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury. What prompted these subpoenas? It had to do with a trip they took last summer to Israel and the West Bank. This trip was a delegation designed to bring to light realities of occupation and conflict for both Palestinians and Israelis.

 

I know these three very well. I call all of them my friends. I was shocked to hear they had been approached by the FBI. All three of them have been active members of the Chicago community to bring a human rights-based solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have never heard any of them espouse radical or harmful beliefs. They merely ask for Palestinians and Israelis to be held to the same rights and standards. The work they are doing is not even remotely close to advocating terrorism.

Please, help my friends! This charge is completely baseless, and they are at risk of having their lives ruined for promoting peace between Israel and Palestine. The best thing you can do is call US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald! Call 312-353-5300, dial 0 for operator, and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk (paralegal). Please don’t allow the FBI to get away with this. Tell them how you feel about the intimidation of activists.

Daniel Kaplan is an intern in the American Friends Service Committee’s Middle East program in Chicago. He is a recent graduate from Whitman College. In 2011, Daniel will be traveling to Jordan to study Arabic and volunteer in an NGO.
     

move over rover and let Europe take over

Dec 10, 2010

Philip Weiss

 

–European officials go to Ofer prison as the Israelis persecute the great nonviolent leader  Abdullah Abu Rahmah. Where are the Americans, nowhere…

–26 former European leaders, including some heads of state, call for sanctioning Israel for settlements and absolute restoration of ’67 lines, including annexed East Jerusalem, given up. From Akiva Eldar.

     

U of Miami to host conference on Walt and Mearsheimer to which the authors are not invited

Dec 10, 2010

Philip Weiss

 

Proving once again that the Walt-Mearsheimer LRB paper/book was one of the most important ideas of the last ten years in the United States. But it couldn’t be published in the United States, and the authors are never invited to these events to defend their ideas.

Only $250 to register! Only Afrikaners allowed!

Oh and doesn’t this help explain why University of Miami President Donna Shalala accepted her humiliation at Ben Gurion airport last summer, because she has an Arab last name. She knows where her bread is buttered, the Millers. Registration:

Registration is open for an international conference, titled “Fifty Years of the Special US-Israel Relationship (1962-2012): Walt-Mearsheimer in Perspective,” scheduled for January 16 to 18, 2011 in Miami. Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami will host the event at the Conrad Miami Hotel, 1395 Brickell Avenue. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Samuel Lewis, and Canadian Member of Parliament and past Justice Minister, the Honorable Irwin Cotler have been announced as headliners.

The focus will be on examining the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel over the last 50 years…

     

Jim Crow journalism, now in the LA Times

Dec 10, 2010

Philip Weiss

 

This is my new hobby horse, Jim Crow journalism. Journalists never call American Palestinians or Arabs for comment, they call Jews. Paul Richter in the LA Times does a piece on the collapse of the Obama initiative in the Middle East and quotes:

Jeremy Ben-Ami

David Makovsky

No Palestinians or Arab-Americans or maybe even non-Zionist Jews.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER

MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

12/10/2010

Support grows for Israeli rabbis’ racist letter

Dec 09, 2010

Seham

 

And other news from Today in Palestine:

 

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

Gilo Settlement to Expand by 130 Units; US Promises $200 Million for Israeli “Iron Dome”
Jerusalem – PNN – One day after American negotiators officially gave up their bid to press Israel for a settlement freeze in the West Bank, the Israeli District Planning and Building Committee authorized 130 new residential units in the settlement of Gilo, near Jerusalem.  The decision was approved last week for the settlement of 40,000, which lies on a hill north of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. The global community considers it illegal under international law.  In other news, the US Congress announced on Wednesday night that it would finance $205 million for the “Iron Dome” security system for Israel. The system is designed to stop short-range missile and rocket fire from Gaza and Lebanon. 
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9251&Itemid=62

Settlement waste water floods high school
QALQILIYA (Ma’an) — Village council officials from the northern West Bank region of Azzun Atma announced Wednesday that recent rains had caused large amounts of waste water to flood from the nearby settlement of Sha’are Tiqwa.  The majority of the sewage, secretary of the village council Abed Al-Karim Ayyoub said, had pooled in the yards of the Azzun Atma- Beit Amin boy’s high school.  The foul-smelling pool was breeding bugs, the official said, and made opening windows of the building impossible. 
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=339894 

Israel to demolish electric infrastructure near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities delivered demolition orders Thursday for electric transformers and powerlines in a Palestinian community south of Hebron, a local official said.  Local Popular Committee chairman Azmi Ash-Sheiyukhi said Israeli officials handed the orders to Muhammad Al-Adrah, the head of the village council of Rifaya and Ad-Deirat.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340600

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Weekly Repression Update 29 November – 6 December: Latest news, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Dec 7, 2010
http://stopthewall.org/latestnews/2413.shtml 

#BDS: For Peace in the Middle East, Stop AIPAC!
December 13th, Oakland Marriot, starting at 5pm
Protest the annual AIPAC membership event in Oakland. 
Oakland Marriot Hotel: 1001 Broadway, near 12th Street BART
http://youthanormalization.blogspot.com/2010/12/bds-for-peace-in-middle-east-stop-aipac.html?spref=tw 

Urgent Appeal To First Lady Michelle Obama – Free the Children of Palestine!
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition calls on all its members, supporters and people of conscience to write to First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama to request that she intervene to help stop the systematic and institutionalized abuse of Palestinian Children.
http://al-awda.org/alert-children3.html 

#BDS: Don’t Buy Israeli Apartheid for Christmas – Melbourne 3 Dec 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pUM1tNXD2jI#%21 

VIDEO: Tell Costco No Ahava, no to occupation profiteering. www.stolenbeauty.org #bds #austin
 A supporter from Austin, Texas made this short video–just over a minute–in Costco where she found Ahava “Beauty in a bag” on sale. Late last year some boycott suporters started a Facebook group called Ask Costco to Stop Selling Ahava and after dozens of calls and letters a Costco representative responded with a note saying they wouldn’t be stocking Ahava products. Maybe it was a seasonal thing, because Ahava has popped up again in Costco’s inventory. If you are a Costco member contact the company to say: No Ahava, no to Stolen Beauty. 
http://youthanormalization.blogspot.com/2010/12/bds-tell-costco-no-ahava-no-to.html

A gesture of solidarity with people of Palestine, Dr Sandeep Pandey 
CNS, An Asia to Gaza caravan is being planned from New Delhi to Gaza during the month of December, 2010, as part of the international effort to break the three year old blockade of Gaza by Israeli forces., This is probably the first time such an ambitious caravan, through land route, has been planned to express solidarity with the Palestinian cause. It is to travel through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Egypt. On the way a part of the caravan will also visit Jordan and Lebanon. Meetings will be organized along the route to mobilize public opinion against the blockade of Gaza by Israel, the anniversary of which falls on 27th December. If everything goes alright the caravan will reach Gaza to coincide with this date.
http://ht.ly/3m8Sy 

Heading To Gaza, Asian Aid Convoy Arrives in Tehran
A ship organized by The Asian People’s Solidarity for Palestine, carrying 55 activists and humanitarian aid supplies arrived in Tehran while on its way to impoverished and besieged Gaza Strip.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60127

Israeli Apartheid Short Film Showing in Al Bireh
Stop the Wall and ItIsApartheid.org invite you to the screening of The Israeli Apartheid Short Film Contest.  Join us to see the top ten short films of the contest and vote for your favorites.  MONDAY, December 13th, 7:00-8:30  at the Popular Art Center, Al-Bireh
http://stopthewall.org/latestnews/2414.shtml

A great video to show to anyone you know that knows very little about the I/P conflict:  Palestine on the map?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9r9ACkpFVk 

Anti

#BDS: National Lawyers Guild Demands an End to Persecution of French BDS Activists
In 2007, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) adopted a resolution that, among other determinations, urged divestment from Israel and boycott of all Israeli products, commercial services and travel to Israel except travel to engage in human rights or other solidarity work, fact-finding, and solidarity delegations. The NLG has been working actively to implement its 2007 resolution. We take this occasion not only to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in its struggle for self determination, justice and equality, but also to express our solidarity with the French Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists who are currently facing criminal prosecution on charges of “incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence.” The prosecution of activists promoting the boycott of Israeli products is a cynical attempt by the French government to confuse opposition to the policies of Israel, a state practicing occupation and apartheid, with “hate” and “discrimination” against an ethnic or religious group. The global BDS movement, and the 2005 Palestinian call for BDS, are unambiguously opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Their shared goals include ending Israel’s occupation and legalized racial discrimination.
http://www.nlginternational.org/news/article.php?nid=361

Sustainable tourism or sustaining Israel’s occupation?
While the goal of developing tourism, in particular rural tourism, may have at its origins socially benevolent intentions, it cannot transcend the same economic barriers that the Israeli occupation creates for all aspects of the Palestinian economy. Charlotte Silver analyzes for The Electronic Intifada.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11663.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+electronicIntifadaPalestine+%28Electronic+Intifada+%3A+Palestine+News%29

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (02 – 08 December 2010)
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/JALR-8BYJH7?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P

Settler visit closes Salit village overnight
SALFIT (Ma’an) — Residents of the northern West Bank town of Kilf Haris were ordered to close their shops early Wednesday as Israeli soldiers evacuated the area ahead of a visit by religious Israelis to a nearby tomb.  Locals said they believed the military escort of at least 10 armored vehicles was for a group of settler rabbis heading to a shrine in the village.  During the visit, witnesses said, a series of checkpoints and guard posts were erected and remained in place until the group withdrew.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340004 

Israel fires on Gaza as it claims to “ease” siege
Israeli tanks opened fire east of Gaza City today, injuring three Palestinians near the so-called “buffer zone.” A few hours earlier Israeli fighter jets launched two airstrikes in southern Gaza, where another man was wounded.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11664.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+electronicIntifadaPalestine+%28Electronic+Intifada+%3A+Palestine+News%29

The Impact of Poverty on Nutrition and Health Status in the Bethlehem Governorate – A Case Study
The total population of the Bethlehem Governorate in 2007 was 176,235, forming about 7.5% of the total population of the West Bank; almost 22% of the population has increased since the year 1997. Population density is high in geopolitical Area A, reaching up to 1,758 persons/km2. Bethlehem City alone forms 14.3% of the total population in the governorate.
http://www.thisweekinpalestine.com/details.php?id=3279&ed=189&edid=189 

20 new cars allowed into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities decided to partially open the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow aid into Gaza, officials said.  Raed Fattouh, Palestinian liaison official, said approximately 160 to 170 truckloads of goods for the commercial and agricultural sections will be allowed into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. The authorities also allowed 20 new cars into Gaza.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340325

Racism and Discrimination

Support grows for Israeli rabbis’ ‘racist’ letter
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Dozens more Israeli rabbis have added their names to a document calling on Jews to avoid renting or selling property to non-Jews, despite an outpouring of criticism, local media reported Thursday.  Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot reported that some 300 religious figures had signed the public statement, which warns that “it is forbidden in the Torah to sell a house or a field in the land of Israel to a foreigner.”  The document first emerged Tuesday and was swiftly condemned in most corners of Israeli society, from rabbinical groups and rights organisations to politicians including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340507

Israel’s legal establishment silent amid uproar over ‘racist’ rabbis
A group of public figures, intellectuals and academics have asked Justice Ministry to suspend any signatories to religious ruling calling for people not to rent homes to non-Jews.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israel-s-legal-establishment-silent-amid-uproar-over-racist-rabbis-1.329675?localLinksEnabled=false

Knesset Speaker: Racist Rabbi’s letter shames the Jewish people
Reuven Rivlin: “I see this general statement as another nail in the coffin of Israeli democracy.”
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/knesset-speaker-racist-rabbi-s-letter-shames-the-jewish-people-1.329625?localLinksEnabled=false

Survivors to rabbis: Nazis wouldn’t rent to Jews
Chairman of Holocaust survivors’ association condemns letter signed by rabbis, which prohibits rental, sale of property to non-Jews. ‘I remember Nazis throwing Jews out of apartments to create ghettos,’ he says.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3996738,00.html

Petition to Call “Racist” Rabbis to Account Falls on Deaf Ears
Tel Aviv – PNN – A group of Israeli intellectuals and academics called on the Justice Ministry to bring legal action against the 18 publicly funded rabbis who made headlines earlier this week by calling on Jews to forbid home rentals to Arabs, but their petition has so far fallen on deaf ears.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9256&Itemid=72

Israel’s Racist Rabbis, Jonathan Cook
Jews must not rent homes to “gentiles”. That was the religious decree issued this week by at least 50 of Israel’s leading rabbis, many of them employed by the state as municipal religious leaders. Jews should first warn, then “ostracise” fellow Jews who fail to heed the directive, the rabbis declared.  In October, Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, delivered a ruling, signed by 17 other rabbis in the city, telling Jewish residents not to sell or rent property to members of the country’s Palestinian Arab minority, who make up a fifth of the population.
http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/12/israel%e2%80%99s-racist-rabbis/

Israeli rabbis` racist decree strikes at the soul of Judaism, Mya Guarnieri
The latest move, first publicised on Tuesday on Ynet`s Hebrew site, is the largest step that Israel`s religious community has taken against non-Jews. And it is, perhaps, the most alarming. Rabbis from all over the country signed the proclamation. And they didn`t try to hide their intentions. “We don`t need to help Arabs set down roots in Israel,” one remarked to Haaretz. “Racism originated in the Torah,” another said.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/08/israeli-rabbis-houses-arabs-judaism

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s perverted stance on ‘tolerance’, Martha Reese
Why does the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) have nothing to say about the rabbinical edict circulating in Israel—currently signed by more than four dozen rabbis—forbidding the sale or rental of homes to non-Jews?  Or, why has the Center not applauded the dissenting view of Israel’s leading Haredi rabbi, Aaron Leib Steinman, who said, “there are things that should not be done; what if there would be a similar call in Berlin against renting properties to Jews? Where is the public conscience?”
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/the-simon-wiesenthal-center%e2%80%99s-perverted-stance-on-tolerance.html

Violence/Aggression

Airstrikes on Gaza overnight
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli warplanes launched air strikes on three separate targets in Gaza. There were no injuries reported.  Palestinian sources said the airstrikes targeted two areas in the middle of Gaza. The first, the Al-Qassam area near the electricity company while the other was around the police headquarters in the village.  The third target was the Tunis school east of the Az-Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City. The school canceled classes for the day.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340331

Two brothers wounded in IOF shooting
Two Palestinian brothers were wounded on Thursday morning while collecting gravel in northern Gaza Strip after Israeli occupation forces (IOF) fired at them, medical sources reported.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k

Report: Army using banned tear gas again
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — The Israeli armed forces have recently resumed the use of prohibited tear gas canisters to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank, an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.  These tear gas grenades, which are in effect 40 mm rounds with a range of 250 meters, were responsible for numerous serious injuries and at least one death, Haaretz reported.  The resumption of using the types of ammunition comes after use of the extended-range tear gas canister was banned by the army and stocks were removed from weapons depots, according to the report.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340373

Detainees (held by Israelis and the PA)

Israeli forces detain 3 students near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained three students overnight Thursday north of Hebron.  Palestine Solidarity Project spokesman Muhammad Ayyad Awad said soldiers raided Beit Ummar and searched houses near the northern entrance to the village.  Soldiers detained three students who were identified as Adel Issa Abdul Khaleq Suleiman, 15, Khader Bassem Khader Al-Allamy, 15, and university student Safwat Adel Rasheed Arrar, 20, the official said.  An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that three Palestinians were arrested in Beit Ummar and nine in total across the West Bank during the regular overnight raids.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340491

Israeli Troops Arrest Four in Hebron and Two Boys in Jenin, 15 and 16
Bethlehem – PNN – In a series of overnight raids across the West Bank, Israeli military forces arrested four Palestinians in Hebron and two boys in Jenin, aged 15 and 16 years.  Troops arrived in the village of Dura, southwest of Hebron, on Thursday morning to arrest an engineer named Isma’il Hassan Awawda after raiding his home and searching his belongings. 
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9252&Itemid=64

7 Palestinians detained in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces arrested seven Palestinians during raids in the occupied West Bank overnight, the army said.  The detainees were taken for security questioning, the army said. They were not identified and it was not clear why they were being held.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=339933 

3 reported detained in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli military forces detained three Hebron residents including one minor during home raids on Tuesday morning, the head of the city’s prisoner association reported.  A husband and wife, identified as Hanadi Al-Juneidi, 28, and Baha Abu Mayyala, 27, were detained in the city center, the official said, noting the wife was transferred to Israel’s Russian Compound investigation center for questioning.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340022 

Hamas: 28 detained in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority security services on Thursday detained 28 party supporters in the West Bank, Hamas said.  The Islamist movement said that the detentions occurred in Nablus, Jenin, Qalqiliya, Salfit, Bethlehem, and Hebron.  Also, PA security forces recently detained seven Hamas members in the West Bank, the party said Wednesday. Hamas said in a statement that PA forces made those arrests in Nablus, Tulkarem, and Salfit.  And on Tuesday, Hamas officials in the West Bank accused the PA of detaining 21 others.  That statement explained those detainees were from the Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarem districts in the northern West Bank as well as Hebron and Bethlehem in the south.  Hamas officials said they believed the detentions were politically motivated.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340365

Prisoner marks 24 years in jail
GAZA (Ma’an) — The prisoners center in Gaza announced Thursday that Muhammad Daoud, 46, from the city of Qalqiliya in the West Bank, marked his 24th year in Israeli prisons.  According to the organization, Daoud was arrested in 1987 and sentenced to a life term. His mother and father while he was still in prison, and he was not permitted to see them before their deaths. Only his younger brother has been permitted to see him.  Another detainee, Abdul Hailm Al-Balbisi, from Gaza, marked his 16th year in Israeli prison, the center said.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340472

Ministry: Prison guards deny medical treatment to detainee
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners Affairs reported Thursday that a detainee in Israel’s Meggido prison is losing his sight because of alleged ill-treatment in the facility.  Rami Ad-Dik, 28, is serving an eight-year sentence in the prison. The ministry said the prison administration is denying him sufficient medical treatment.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340408

Palestinian female prisoner on seventh day of hunger strike
Palestinian prisoner Linan Abu Ghulma has entered her seventh day of hunger strike on Thursday demanding transfer from the Israeli Hasharon jail to that of Sharon to join her sister.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd

Court rescinds order to free Hebron mother
HEBRON (Ma’an) — An Israeli military court quickly rescinded Wednesday a ruling to release a Hebron native from prison, her lawyer said.  srael’s Ofer court determined that Shahira Barqan, a mother of four detainees, would remain in prison.  It was not immediately clear why, but her lawyer said in a statement that the court cited administrative issues.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340385

War Criminals

The deputy assassin
In the second piece below, Israeli activist Nurit Peled-Elhanan comments on the recent appointment of a new Deputy Chief of Staff, Yair Naveh, who orchestrated (at least some of) Israel’s summary executions widely wordwashed as “targeted assassinations.” Peled-Elhanan claims the appointment is, in fact, apt and fitting to the deeds and spirit of Israel’s army. In response to these and to the appointment, she says, it is the parents and educators of Israel who bear responsibility for taking action.
http://theonlydemocracy.org/2010/12/the-deputy-assassin/ 

Israel offers compensation for Gaza flotilla deaths
Israel offers £63,000 each to families of men killed on Mavi Marmara in exchange for Turkey’s help in indemnifying navy against lawsuits.  Israel has proposed paying compensation to relatives of Turks it killed during a raid on a Gaza-bound ship, in exchange for Ankara’s help in indemnifying the Israeli navy against lawsuits, officials said today.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/israel-offers-compensation-gaza-flotilla-deaths

Ayalon: Israel doesn’t need to apologize to Turkey
Official say Israel proposed paying $100,000 each to families of Turks killed during raid on Gaza-bound ship and asked Ankara ‘to do what needs to be done to address our legal concerns.’ Turkish FM: Our demand for apology has not changed.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3996960,00.html

Reprisals

Palestinian mortar fire into Israel injures one
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Palestinian militants fired several mortars into southern Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Wednesday, wounding one person, the military said.  “There were four or five mortars that landed near Kerem Shalom,” an army spokeswoman said, adding that one Israeli was moderately wounded.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340305

Political Developments

Hamas: US stance encourages Israeli crimes
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A statement from Hamas released on Wednesday condemned the American position following that nation’s announcement of the failure of mediators to secure a deal with Israel to halt settlement constructions, resulting in an apparent end to peace talks.  Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the announcement of failure by the US was a “grave retraction” that would “encourage Israel to commit more crimes against the Palestinian people.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340218 
    
Hamas delegation meets with Qatar Prince
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Prince of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifah Ath-Thani received on Wednesday the head of Hamas political bureau Khaled Mash’al and a Hamas delegation in the emerati capital of Doha.  In a statement received by Ma’an, Hamas officials said the delegation gave updates to the Gulf leader on unity talks and the party’s stance on the current status of peace talks under President Mahmoud Abbas.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340285 

Haneyya receives American, Kuwaiti delegations
Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya received on Wednesday an unofficial American delegation led by former U.S. ambassador Mark Hambly for a discussion of a number of important political topics.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2

Why Argentina and Brazil have recognized a Palestinian state (The Christian Science Monitor)
The Christian Science Monitor – Brazil and Argentina have recognized a “free and independent” Palestine, handing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a symbolic victory amid stalled negotiations with Israel.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20101207/wl_csm/348070 

Brazil and Argentina Support Dr. Barghouthi’s Demands for Recognition of Palestinian Independence, Palestine Monitor
Two months ago Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) called for an independent declaration of Palestinian statehood. This week Argentina and Brazil, South America’s two greatest powers, threw their support behind the proposal.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article1644 

Palestinians reject talks without settlement halt (AP)
AP – The Palestinian president is sticking to his refusal to resume peace talks with Israel unless it freezes all construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101209/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_mideast_talks

Palestinians aim for US recognition of state
CAIRO (AFP) – The Palestinians are hoping for US recognition of an independent Palestinian state in response to Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement building, chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said on Wednesday.  “We hope that the American administration would recognize the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders as a response to Israel’s settlement diktats and other unilateral measures,” Erakat said in Cairo.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340283 

France not recognizing Palestine
French officials are calling highly inaccurate a report from Iran’s Press TV that France will join several South American countries in recognizing Palestine as an independent country. “Bernard Valero, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Paris agrees with the formation of a Palestinian state based on the exchange of land between Israel and the Palestinians,” Press TV reported.   But a French official told POLITICO Wednesday that the spokesman was simply pointing to a March 1999 European Council declaration which defined the European Union position on the issue. 
http://www.politico.com/blogs/laurarozen/1210/France_not_recognizing_Palestine.html# 

Abbas: Middle East talks in crisis
Palestinian president urges EU to get involved after US fails to secure an Israeli freeze on settlement building.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2010/12/201012814352309567.html

Abbas: 6 options if talks fail
ANKARA, Turkey (Ma’an) — Palestinians will not resume talks with Israel if that country fails to stop settlement construction on lands occupied in 1967, President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated Tuesday during a visit to the Turkish capital of Ankara.  The comment came amidst reports from the United States that mediators were unable to reach an agreement with Israel, which American officials had offered incentives to secure without success. 
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340202 

UN chief upset Israel will not extend settlement freeze
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon disappointed, but hopeful that U.S. can still facilitate Israeli-Palestinian talks.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/un-chief-upset-israel-will-not-extend-settlement-freeze-1.329585

US opposes Israel settlements: spokesman (AFP)
AFP – The United States continues to oppose Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but is holding out hope for a Mideast peace deal next year despite a continued impasse over building there, a State Department spokesman said Wednesday.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101208/pl_afp/israelpalestinianspeacesettlerus 

Erakat to hold talks with Clinton (AFP)
AFP – Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat is to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington within “the next 48 hours,” Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101208/pl_afp/israelpalestinianspeaceustalks

U.S. peace envoy back to Mideast after talks setback (Reuters)
Reuters – U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will head back to the region next week after Obama administration officials vowed on Wednesday to continue the push for peace despite a breakdown in direct negotiations.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101208/wl_nm/us_palestinians_israel_mitchell 

Arab FMs to review peace prospects (AFP)
AFP – Arab foreign ministers will meet in Cairo on the weekend after the United States failed to persuade Israel to freeze settlements, Arab League chief Amr Mussa said on Wednesday.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101208/wl_mideast_afp/israelpalestinianspeaceusarab 

Israel FM favors direct talks with the Palestinians
SOFIA (AFP) — Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said here Thursday he still favoured direct peace talks with the Palestinians, even if prospects for resuming them grew feebler this week.  “It is very important that the dialogue between us and the Palestinians continues,” Lieberman said after talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolay Mladenov.  “Nothing can replace direct negotiations. We believe in direct negotiations,” he added.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340508

Netanyahu Forces an Obama Mideast Retreat (Time.com)
Time.com – The Administration has dropped calls for a settlement freeze, vowing to find alternate routes to press the peace process.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20101209/wl_time/08599203604300 

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators fault US focus on settlements (The Christian Science Monitor)
The Christian Science Monitor – The US decision to give up on securing an Israeli settlement freeze has left Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas disappointed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a momentary victory, and observers criticizing the Obama administration’s peacemaking strategy.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20101208/wl_csm/348334 

Asharq Al-Awsat Talks to Fatah’s Mohammed Dahlan 
Dahlan called for peaceful and creative steps to be taken in order to strengthen the perseverance of the Palestinian people, whilst he also predicted the outbreak of a third Intifada should the peace process remain stalled.  CAIRO, Asharq Al-Awsat – Fatah Commissioner of Information, Mohammed Dahlan confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “members of the Fatah Central Committee are united behind President Mahmoud Abbas.” He also revealed that “informers” had poisoned his relationship with Abbas, although this has not reached the level of a “dispute.”
http://www.aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=3&id=23318 

Other News

U.S. allocates $205 million for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system
Funds come atop another $200 million designated for joint U.S.-Israel anti-missile projects, David’s Sling and Arrow.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-allocates-205-million-for-israel-s-iron-dome-anti-rocket-system-1.329668?localLinksEnabled=false

Palestine Swears in First Female Magistrate on Judicial Council
Ramallah – PNN – On Thursday, Samoud Dhamiri al-Yameen was sworn in as the first female magistrate on the Islamic Judicial Council of Palestine.  She will join Supreme Justice Sheikh Yusef al-Da’is of the Supreme Council for Islamic Courts and Major General Adnan Dhamiri, Commissar-General and spokesman for the security establishment.  In a brief statement, Justice Da’is praised the role of Palestinian women and their many responsibilities and celebrated the first female magistrate on the council.  Da’is said the inauguration of Dhamiri would bring greater justice for women who file suit with marital problems and explained Dhamiri would take a leadership role in these kinds of cases. He said women were “an important element” in the development and maintenance of society as they looked after “the other half.”
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9257&Itemid=72

In photos: Checkpoint stalls Palestinian firefighters
Palestinian firefighters wait to cross into Israel from the West Bank city of Jenin at the Al-Jalameh checkpoint, 5 Dec. 2010, under orders to help extinguish a fire in northern Israel that killed more than 40 people and burned acres of woodland.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340039 

Poll: 88% view Israeli politicians as corrupt
Majority of Israelis distrust elected leadership; 82% call government fight against fraud ineffective.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3996642,00.html

Study: Bribery rampant in Palestinian territories
BERLIN (AFP) — One person in four worldwide paid a bribe during the past year, according to a study released Thursday to mark International Anti-Corruption Day.  The study, by the Berlin-based non-governmental agency Transparency International, focuses on small-scale bribery and was put together from polls conducted among more than 91,000 people in 86 countries and territories.  In the past 12 months, one in four paid a bribe to one of nine institutions, such as health, education or tax authorities, according to the 2010 Global Corruption Barometer.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340368

Beit Sahour NGO Offers Water-Efficient Fish Farms in Irrigation Cisterns
Bethlehem – PNN – Bustan Qaraaqa, an NGO based in the southern West Bank town of Beit Sahour, has implemented an exciting new project in the nearby village of Artas – developing small fish farms in the irrigation cisterns for water-efficient food production.  Bustan Qaraaqa started this project, led by new staff members Philip and Lorena, in early October. The project aims to enable farmers to sustainably grow fish on a domestic scale in their irrigation birs.  Currently working with six Artas farmers, each receiving between 50 and 130 fish, the project utilized the help of Dor Research Institute near Haifa to supply a population of Common Carp. “At present, there are no reliable sources for fish fingerlings [babies] in the West Bank,” says Lorena, “so we had to go into Israel to obtain the initial population. But we hope to have funding to start a breeding program in Artas this spring.”
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9250&Itemid=1 

Analysis/Op-ed

Disband the PA, Lamis Andoni
In interviews and statements, as well as in private meetings, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has said that he is presiding over an authority without any authority and that the very existence of the Palestinian Authority has made Israel’s occupation “the cheapest ever”.  Abbas is simply reaching the same conclusion that many Palestinians have long understood: negotiations, under the prevailing conditions, will not lead to the end of the Israeli occupation, let alone the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=339985 

Barghouthi: US announced death of peace process
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The US’ decision to drop its demand for Israel to freeze construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank is an announcement of the death of the peace process, independent Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi said Thursday.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340351

‘The Palestine Cables’: WikiLeaks expose European chill on Israel after Cast Lead, and Lebanese advice on defeating Hezbollah, Alex Kane
WikiLeaks has gone from a drip to a torrent, and we need a way to keep up. With this post we inaugurate a new feature at this site. “The Palestine Cables” will be a weekly chronicle/analysis of important revelations bearing on Israel/Palestine that are contained in the ongoing dump of hundreds of thousands of U.S. State Department cables. Alex Kane will be preparing these reports (when he is not in Israel/Palestine himself). Without further ado, Part I, The Palestine Cables…
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/the-palestine-cables-wikileaks-expose-european-chill-on-israel-after-cast-lead-and-lebanese-advice-on-defeating-hezbollah.html 

What’s Plan B in the Middle East? Or Maybe It’s Plan C … D …. E ….?, Stephen M. Walt
The good news is that the Obama administration has withdrawn its humiliating attempt to bribe Israel into accepting a 90-day extension of the (partial) settlement freeze. Not only was this negotiating ploy one of the more degrading moments in the annals of U.S. diplomacy, it also had scant chance of success. To their credit, Obama’s Middle East teams finally figured this out — a few weeks later than most observers — and pulled the plug on the deal. 
http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/08/what_s_plan_b_in_the_middle_east_or_maybe_it_s_plan_c

No, America, You Can’t
In America, the people take great pride in their ability and the ability of their nation. There is a can-do attitude in society; one that perseveres and shuns those who say (fill in significant feat here ________) can’t be done. Recently, the United States elected its first African-American President, Barack Obama, in an election that inspired hope in an entire generation of Americans. The slogan he ran on, which resonated with the masses was, “Yes We Can.” These people are, after all, Ameri-cans not Ameri-can’ts.  But this attitude can be problematic at times. When taken too seriously, it can blind. Suddenly, the ability to asses capabilities and obstacles becomes unimportant, and on a policy level this can lead to dangerous things. Take for example, the dangerous belief that a land war in Afghanistan can be won, or that an invasion of Iraq could be a “cakewalk.”
http://blog.thejerusalemfund.org/2010/12/no-america-you-cant.html 

While the US stumbles with Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, others are taking the lead, Audrey Farber
Yesterday brought us the news that the Obama administration is giving up on pressuring Netanyahu on settlements.  Are they giving up, or are they just losing their edge? Apparently, “U.S. officials said they were not abandoning the peace effort altogether, just changing tactics.” Unfortunately, “it was not immediately clear what other proposals the Obama administration might put forward.” So is there something better up their sleeve? Such a change – after all, the American focus in Israel has been dedicated to settlement freezes for almost the entirety of Obama’s reign – could indicate its abdication of the role of mediator, the recognition of the futility of the “peace process”, and the first steps towards recognizing Palestine. Or more likely, it indicates that the Israeli government has a worse stranglehold on the US than we previously thought and ever dared dream. Obviously the Obama administration realizes the futility of the process, though it’s a shame they’re handing Netanyahu this victory on a silver platter.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/while-the-us-stumbles-with-israeli-palestinian-negotiations-others-are-taking-the-lead.html

US’s greatest contribution to the peace process has been to reveal Israeli intransigence, Léa Park
In light of the US failure to broker an Israeli settlement freeze, it’s clear to me now that the single most valuable contribution the United States has made to the cause of Middle East peace over the last two years was taking on the issue of settlements. If it had “won”, direct talks would now be going forward. But losing has its own rewards.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/uss-greatest-contribution-to-the-peace-process-has-been-to-reveal-israeli-intransigence.html 

What next after Obama gave up?
Last month US voters expressed their misgivings about the Barack Obama presidency, and now the Palestinians and entire Arab world are questioning the capability and credibility of the Obama administration to forge a comprehensive agreement to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  The two setbacks are related; Arabs, like many US citizens, were relying on Obama to fulfill his outsize promises of hope, change and peace. After the midterm US elections, Obama finds himself with an entirely different House of Representatives – and one that looks conspicuously more pro-Israel.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=17&article_id=122314#axzz17Z5oP3uy 

Neo-con narrative sidelines Palestinians, Eli Clifton and Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON – Gleeful Israeli leaders and their neo-conservative supporters here have spent much of the past week insisting that the United States State Department cables published by WikiLeaks prove that Sunni Arab leaders in the Middle East are far more preoccupied with the threat posed by an ascendant and possibly nuclear Iran than with a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  But a closer look at the relevant cables shows a far more consistent message to Washington coming from its Arab allies: that curbing Iran and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are inextricably linked and that the most effective way of achieving the former is make tangible progress on the latter. 
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LL10Ak01.html

All-Out War: Israel Against Democracy
Coalition of Women for Peace – This comprehensive report documents the increasing political persecution of peace and human rights organizations and activists, and describes the connections between the assaults led by Israeli government officials, security forces, courts, journalists, and extreme-right organizations in this well-orchestrated offensive on democracy.
http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english/articles/Political_Persecution_Report/AllOutWar-internet-ENG.pdf 

Inconceivable– the MSM once reflected an Arab perspective
Muzzlewatch alerts us to this incredible find by Pulse media. This in none other than Time magazine circa ’52:  “The word ‘American’ no longer has a good sound in that part of the world [the Middle East]. To catch the Jewish vote in the U.S., President Truman in 1946 demanded that the British admit 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine, in violation of British promises to the Arabs. Since then, the Arab nations surrounding Israel have regarded that state as a U.S. creation, and the U.S., therefore, as an enemy. The Israeli-Arab war created nearly a million Arab refugees, who have been huddled for three years in wretched camps. These refugees, for whom neither the U.S. nor Israel will take the slightest responsibility, keep alive the hatred of U.S. perfidy.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/inconceivable-the-msm-once-reflected-an-arab-perspective.html

More on the Jewish presence in the establishment, Philip Weiss
Last weekend we ran two posts about the Jewish presence in the Establishment. Scott McConnell wrote a piece saying that it is fitting that the Atlantic Magazine site runs articles about the Jewish National Fund in Israel because the Eastern seaboard elite is now more Jewish than it is any other religious flavor. And I wrote a piece saying that American Jews tend to maintain a false consciousness about the endurance of anti-Semitism; in fact Jews are incredibly empowered in our society.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/more-on-the-jewish-presence-in-the-establishment.html

Palestine 2011: The Breaking Point, Jeff Halper
Struggling as I have for the past decades to grasp the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and find ways to get out of this interminable and absolutely superfluous conflict, I have been two-thirds successful. After many years of activism and analysis, I think I have put my finger on the first third of the equation: What is the problem? My answer, which has withstood the test of time and today is so evident that it elicits the response… “duh” … is that all Israeli governments are unwaveringly determined to maintain complete control of Palestine/Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, frustrating any just and workable solution based on Palestinian claims to self-determination. There will be no negotiated settlement, period.
http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16472 

Dipping into Hummus Again, George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C. 
Here we go again. Hummus is back in the news, and almost on the front pages of American newspapers. My column, titled ‘The Undeclared War on Arab Cuisine’ and written more than two years ago, had received more letters than most columns I have written. This is probably because I challenged the claims of Israelis or their friends that this popular dip and Couscous, among others, were misidentified as Israeli, another of the many unfounded claims of Israelis.
http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16471 

CAIR, ADC Condemn FBI’s Fueling Animosity Towards Muslims
CAIR and ADC have joint forces to issue a strongly worded condemnation of FBI for its continued fueling of animosity towards Arabs and Muslims through the entrapment of their teens into committing acts of terrorism, according to a pre-publication memo leaked to KABOBfest Special Investigative reporter, Chaim Sugarman.
http://www.kabobfest.com/2010/12/cair-adc-condemns-fbi%E2%80%99s-fueling-animosity-towards-american-muslims.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kabobfest%2FGrillMe+%28KABOBfest%29 

Why is the White House sending its Iran negotiator to a neocon conference in D.C.?, Philip Weiss
Well because that’s where the power is. The permanent Establishment in D.C. has a neoconservative flavor right now, Obama has to truckle to those folks. (Ask me why later.) The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a neoconservative shop. It takes a hawkish stance on confronting Iran. The Obama aide is Gary Samore. The press release below. Two Israelis are confirmed speakers. Where’s the American realist? Where’s Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council?
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/why-is-the-white-house-sending-its-iran-negotiator-to-a-neocon-conference-in-d-c.html

Most Americans “Are Ignorant”: Zbigniew Brzezinski
I am very worried that most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition in a country in which foreign policy has to be endorsed by the people if it is to be pursued.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27030.htm 

Lebanon

Hizbullah says Tribunal lacks legal basis
BEIRUT: Hizbullah’s top MP, Mohammad Raad, said Wednesday that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was founded on unconstitutional basis, but he held out hope for Syrian-Saudi efforts to resolve the political deadlock paralyzing the country.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=122337 
    
Hezbollah Categorically Rejects Forged STL Indictment
08/12/2010 Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem stressed Hezbollah categorically rejects the indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  Speaking Tuesday night at the Sayyed Shouhada compound during the second night of the ten-night ceremony marking Ashoura, Sheikh Qassem said that Hezbollah hoped that “political rivals would have learned by now from their experience with the US.”  “It is clear that the indictment will accuse Hezbollah members, which means the party itself. This indictment is categorically rejected because it has been forged from the very beginning. We will not wait for its issuance to take a stance; our position is that we reject it because it puts Lebanon in the crosshairs,” the deputy S.G. said.
http://almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=164912&language=en 

‘Hezbollah Very Close to Moment of Decisive Position’
08/12/2010 The head of Hezbollah Executive Council Sayyed Hashem Safieddine said that Hezbollah was very close to the moment when it will take its decisive position.  In a speech he delivered during a religious ceremony marking Ashura in Beirut’s southern suburb, Sayyed Safieddine said that the Resistance has fully explained the situation to the whole world, stressing that the Resistance will be ready to defend Lebanon as it has always done.  “If some sides insist on serving the American project to target the country and the Resistance, then we will also be ready to defend Lebanon,” Sayyed Safieddine said. “We will never accept that the country be targeted by Israeli and the US,” his eminence added.  While calling on all parties to assume their responsibilities, Sayyed Safieddine said that the Resistance was not worried at all, stressing that it would be ready to assume its responsibilities. “Whoever thinks of getting rid of this Resistance is mistaken.”
http://almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=165043&language=en 

UN: Hariri indictments will stay sealed for weeks
Tribunal spokesman says content of expected indictments following probe into 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM to remain confidential until confirmed by pretrial judge.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3996477,00.html 

‘State Unable to Put False Witnesses on Trial Is Not A State’
08/12/2010 The head of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc MP Michel Aoun stated on Wednesday that a state that cannot put false witnesses on trial is a not a real state, wondering whether the false witnesses’ interests should be achieved at the expense of the interests of all citizens.  “Solving the false witnesses file lies in changing the government, its policy and approach,” Aoun told reporters following his parliamentary bloc’s weekly meeting.  Addressing the Internal Security Forces’ structure, the Free Patriotic Movement leader emphasized that it has been built on mistakes and it suffers from a major flaw. “We have started to discover the parliamentary majority’s mafia members at the ISF,” he added.  Turning to ISF chief Ashraf Rifi, Aoun stated: “He should understand that his position has been granted by the law, and he should abide by it the most otherwise he will be labeled as a gangster.” 
http://almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=165039&language=en 

‘Israel Scared of Hezbollah Reaction to Moghniyyeh Assassination’
09/12/2010 Day after another, the WikiLeaks scandalous cables continue to make the headlines in Lebanon and the region…  The mentioned cables have actually shown how Israel was scared of Hezbollah retaliation to the assassination of its top military commander Imad Moghniyyeh (Hajj Redwan), revealing that the Israeli have expressed to United Nations officials big worries of Hezbollah potential reaction to Hajj Redwan’s martyrdom. The worries pushed the Israeli officials to accuse Hezbollah of standing behind the attack on an Israeli diplomatic convoy in Jordan.  According to leaked US cables also published by Israeli daily Haaretz, Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told the United Nations’ envoy to Lebanon Michael Williams in January that Israel holds information pointing to Hezbollah involvement in the attack on an Israeli diplomatic convoy in Jordan. The Israelis believed the mentioned attack was apparently part of a Hezbollah response to the assassination of Hajj Redwan who was martyred in Damascus in 2008.
http://almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=165211&language=en 

General Rifi is a violator of the law, says Aoun
BEIRUT: Head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MP Michel Aoun slammed Wednesday the Director General of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) Major General Ashraf Rifi as a violator of the law. “Major General Rifi classifies one of the detainees as a collaborator with Israel although the indictment in his case had not been issued yet,” Aoun said. Aoun was referring to former General Fayez Karam, a senior FPM official who was arrested by the ISF in August on suspicions of collaborating with Israel. “He [Rifi] should understand that he is in his post in line with the law and that he should be committed to this law or else he will be behaving as a member of a gang,” Aoun told reporters after chairing the weekly meeting of his Change and Reform bloc. Aoun said the way in which Karam was interrogated, which included torturing, invalidated the whole interrogation process. – The Daily Star
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=1&article_id=122331#axzz17Z3KnwTg 

Can an “Arab force” save Lebanon? (Hint: No).
The outcome of the 1976 force hints at the problem with reviving the idea of an “Arab force” today. Syria was only able to establish its preeminence in Lebanon after another 14 years of fighting and thousands of casualties. Today, none of the Arab states that would contribute troops to limit Hezbollah’s power — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan — are conceivably in a position to make a similar sacrifice. Hezbollah fought the vastly superior Israel Defense Forces to a standstill for more than a month in 2006; the militant group would be an ever harder nut to crack for Washington’s Arab allies. 
http://wikileaks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/08/can_an_arab_force_save_lebanon_hint_no

Iraq

Wednesday: 4 Iraqis Killed; 23 Iraqis, 7 Iranians Wounded
At least four Iraqis were killed and 23 more were wounded in the latest violence. Seven Iranian pilgrims were also wounded in an attack while on their way to Karbala for Ashuraa observances. That holiday, which unintentionally marks the schism between Shi’ite and Sunni Islam, culminates next week and could mean an increase in violence, particularly for Iranian pilgrims. Also, a U.S. soldier was wounded in a sniper attack.
http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2010/12/08/wednesday-4-iraqis-killed-23-iraqis-7-iranians-wounded/ 

Al Sadr Front gets Iraq deputy PM position
The National Alliance decided to allocate Al Sadr Front the position of Deputy Prime Minister following election results, Al Sadr Front senior official Bahaa Al Aaraji told Alsumaria News.
http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-57394-Al-Sadr-Front-gets-Iraq-deputy-PM-position.html

Iraq zooms ahead with new driving permits (AFP)
AFP – Dawood Salman clutches the steering wheel and stares ahead as he nervously accelerates toward something only a few Iraqis have: a valid driving licence.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/iraq/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101209/wl_mideast_afp/iraqtransportdrivinglicence

U.S. and other world news

Extreme world: Is Sweden as clean as it seems?
The world is considered a more corrupt place now than it was three years ago, a poll suggests.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-11949956

Top human rights lawyer to defend Assange
Robertson, a barrister who has dual British and Australian nationality, has participated in some of the highest-profile freedom of speech trials in British history.
http://www.thelocal.se/30706/20101208/ 

Sex accusers boasted about their ‘conquest’ of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

The two Swedish women who have brought sex charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange boasted about their relationship with him days before going to police. 
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Sex-accusers-boasted-about-their-conquest-of-WikiLeaks-founder-Julian-Assange/articleshow/7068149.cms#ixzz17aOMcOCn

Gitmo may be WikiLeaks’ next target
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has reportedly told media contacts that he has a large cache of files on the US’s detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.  Reuters quotes an unnamed “contact” who says Assange has “got the personal files of every prisoner in Gitmo.”
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/gitmo-wikileaks-target/ 

US House votes to scrap Guantanamo closure
US lawmakers voted Wednesday to kill efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for suspected terrorists in 2011 or try the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on US soil.  The House of Representatives voted 212-206 for a catch-all spending bill covering government expenses in the fiscal year that began October 1, a measure that included the restrictions affecting Guantanamo and its detainees.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/house-votes-scrap-guantanamo-closure/

Wikileaks Mirrors:  Wikileaks is currently mirrored on 1334 sites. Click to view list.
http://wikileaks.ch/mirrors.html 

Russia official: WikiLeaks founder should get Nobel Prize
Comment by Kermlin source comes amid harsh U.S. criticism over the whistle-blowing site’s recent release of over 250,000 classified diplomatic cables.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/russia-official-wikileaks-founder-should-get-nobel-prize-1.329555?localLinksEnabled=false 

Exclusive: Key FBI whistleblower: Had WikiLeaks existed, 9/11, Iraq war ‘could have been prevented’
A member of a group of former intelligence professionals that has rallied behind WikiLeaks suggested in a recent interview with Raw Story that the world would be a different and better place had the online secrets outlet come into existence years sooner.  “If there had been a mechanism like Wikileaks, 9/11 could have been prevented,” Coleen Rowley, a former special agent/legal counsel at the FBI’s Minneapolis division, told Raw Story in an exclusive interview.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/exclusive-wikileaks-benefits-public-intelligence-officers/

John Pilger backs Wikileaks rally in Sydney
Renowned independent journalist and filmmaker John Pilger has offered his support for the protest organised by supporters of Wikileaks on Friday, December 10 at 1pm at Sydney Town Hall. Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon and NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge are the latest confirmed speakers to address the protest. Shoebridge is also the lead candidate on the NSW Greens Upper House ticket for the 2011 state elections.
http://antonyloewenstein.com/2010/12/09/john-pilger-backs-wikileaks-rally-in-sydney/ 

State Department: We did not ask PayPal to cut off WikiLeaks, Josh Rogin
The State Department denied a report today that it contacted the online money transfer service PayPal and asked them to cut ties with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, who remains behind bars in the United Kingdom.  “It is not true,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told The Cable. “We have not been in touch with PayPal.”
http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/08/state_department_we_did_not_ask_paypal_to_cut_off_wikileaks 

Hackers seek to ‘avenge’ WikiLeaks
Websites of Mastercard, a Swiss bank and Swedish prosecutor shut down in response to latest action against WikiLeaks.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/europe/2010/12/2010128133639866230.html 

Cyberwar erupts over WikiLeaks
A cyberwar is being waged over WikiLeaks. It began after MasterCard, PayPal and Visa refused to take payments for WikiLeaks, which runs on donations. In retaliation, a hacker group calling itself “Anonymous”, launched Operation Payback: targeting the credit card companies, with what are called “Denial of Service” attacks. They managed to temporarily take down Visa and MasterCard’s main websites. But the companies say transactions were not affected. Now, Twitter and Facebook have suspended the accounts of the “Anonymous” group. Twitter was being seen as a rallying point for the so-called “hacktivists”. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Kevin Anderson, a technology journalist and a specialist in New Media, shares his views on the cat-and-mouse game being played out on the internet.

Exclusive: Sarah Palin Under Cyber-Attack from Wikileaks Supporters in ‘Operation Payback’
The website and personal credit card information of former Gov. Sarah Palin were cyber-attacked today by Wikileaks supporters, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate tells ABC News in an email.  Hackers in London apparently affiliated with “Operation Payback” – a group of supporters of Julian Assange and Wikileaks – have tried to shut down SarahPac and have disrupted Sarah and Todd Palin’s personal credit card accounts.
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2010/12/exclusive-palin-under-cyber-attack-from-wikileaks-supporters-in-operation-payback.html

Visa DOWN: WikiLeaks Supporters Take Down Site As ‘Payback’
Just hours after MasterCard’s website was disabled by WikiLeaks supporters, Visa.com is now down as well.  Via its Twitter account (@Anon_Operation), Anonymous, an activist hacker group, claimed responsibility for the denial of service attack–part of “Operation Payback”–that brought down Visa.com.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/visa-down-wikileaks-suppo_n_794039.html 

Riz Khan – The WikiLeaks War
As the whistle-blowing website exposes the seamier side of international diplomacy, we ask has the mainstream media become irrelevant?

Official: Two Afghan soldiers mistakenly killed
A NATO airstrike mistakenly killed two Afghan soldiers and injured seven others on Wednesday, a provincial official told CNN.
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/12/08/afghan.nato.strike/index.html

US embassy cables: Afghan government asks US to quash ‘dancing boys’ scandal
Atmar said he insisted the journalist be told that publication would endanger lives. His request was that the U.S. quash the article and release of the video. Amb Mussomeli responded that going to the journalist would give her the sense that there is a more terrible story to report. Atmar then disclosed the arrest of two Afghan National Police (ANP) and nine other Afghans (including RTC language assistants) as part of an MoI investigation into Afghan “facilitators” of the event. The crime he was pursuing was “purchasing a service from a child,” which in Afghanistan is illegal under both Sharia law and the civil code, and against the ANP Code of Conduct for police officers who might be involved. He said he would use the civil code and that, in this case, the institution of the ANP will be protected, but he worried about the image of foreign mentors. Atmar said that President Karzai had told him that his (Atmar’s) “prestige” was in play in management of the Kunduz DynCorp matter and another recent event in which Blackwater contractors mistakenly killed several Afghan citizens. The President had asked him “Where is the justice?”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/213720

US contractor bought Afghan policemen drugs, little boys, cable reveals
The Afghanistan interior minister was so concerned about an incident where DynCorp, a US contractor charged with training Afghan police, bought drugs and paid for young “dancing boys” that he asked the US embassy to work to “quash” the story, a secret US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks indicates.  In Afghan society, “dancing boys” are little boys dressed as girls, commonly abused and kept by some men as possessions.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/contractor-bought-afghan-policemen-drugs-boys-cable-reveals/ 

US Cables: Texas Company Helped Pimp Little Boys To Stoned Afghan Cops
If one of the diplomatic cables from the WikiLeaks archive is to be believed, boy howdy, are their doings in Afghanistan shady.
http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2010/12/wikileaks_texas_company_helped.php 

WikiLeaks Archive – Arab States and Terror Funds
American officials say that millions of dollars are going to extremist groups and that some Middle East allies are not helping to stop it.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/06/world/middleeast/06wikileaks-financing.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

What House of Saud does not want you to read: ما لا يريد آل سعود ان تقرأوه
“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.” 
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/what-house-of-saud-does-not-want-you-to_09.html

Crime and Sleaze in Saudi media
“In a meeting at his XXXXXXXXXXXX office XXXXXXXXXXXX with Consulate and Embassy press officers, XXXXXXXXXXXX because of the SAG’s concern that young Saudis were particularly vulnerable to the calls of extremists, and that the station now targets its moderate news broadcasts to the 14-18 year old demographic in short presentations of three minutes or less. He also said that the stations website, Arabiya Net, appeals to a pan-Arab audience and gets about 100,000 visitors per day. Al Arabiya and other MBC channels, he said, present programming that they hope counters the influence of al-Jazeera and fosters moderate‌ perspectives among the country’s youth.”  Eh, yes. Al-Arabiyya net may get some visitors but not due to “promotion of democracy” but to crime and sleaze stories.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/crime-and-sleaze-in-saudi-media.html


This is hilarious analysis
“When this rather more dynamic editorial environment at al-Hayat‌ was noted to XXXXXXXXXXXX he told us that Khaled bin-Sultan actually does not involve himself in the workings of the paper, provided it never criticizes the royal family or SAG policy. Al-Hayat, he explained, has more credibility in the Arab world than rival Al-Sharq al-Awsat, and had to be more daring than other Saudi print media. Besides,he‌ said XXXXXXXXXXXX, “information is power for the al-Saud, and owning Al-Hayat gives Khaled bin Sultan more influence in the family..  Let me get this dumb point straight: so Al-Hayat has more credibility because Khalid Bin Sultan has more credibility than Prince Salman?  This is like saying as a revolutionary, Muhammad Dahlan has more credibility than Salam Fayyad.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/this-is-hilarious-analysis.html

“We built ARAMCO together, we must protect it together”
“In a private meeting between MBN and the Charge, MBN conveyed the SAG’s, and his personal, sense of urgency to move forward as quickly as possible to enhance the protection of Saudi Arabia’s critical infrastructure with the priority being its energy production sites. MBN related how his grandfather, King Abdulaziz, had the vision of forming a lasting strategic partnership with the United States. MBN stressed he shared this vision, and wants the USG’s help to protect Saudi critical infrastructure. He commented that neither the Kingdom nor the U.S. would be comfortable with the French or Russians‌ involved in protecting Saudi oil facilities. We built ARAMCO together, we must protect it together.” 
PS Someone should send this to Bob Vitalis.
PPS Read Vitalis’ America’s Kingdom to understand this context here.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/we-built-aramco-together-we-must.html

ElBaradei calls for Egypt presidential vote boycott
Egyptian opposition activist Mohamed ElBaradei slams parliamentary elections, warns of violence if authorities impede reform rallies.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3996895,00.html

Jailed Kuwaiti writer undergoes heart surgery
KUWAIT CITY: A Kuwaiti writer serving a one-year jail term for allegedly slandering the prime minister underwent heart surgery Wednesday and his family was allowed to see him, his daughter said.  “They found three arteries blocked and the surgery was successful,” Sumaya al-Jassem said, as she and other family members were allowed to see her father at a public hospital.
Mohammad Abdulqader al-Jassem, 54, a heart patient who has undergone about nine operations in the past, was rushed to the hospital late Tuesday.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=122305#axzz17Z5D6xc6

Kuwaiti MPs accuse PM over violence
Opposition MPs say they hold PM responsible for a police crackdown at a public rally that left several people injured.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/12/2010129756368534.html

Jordanian kills teen sister over ‘bad behavior’ – police report
AMMAN: A Jordanian was charged Wednesday with killing his 16-year-old sister because he suspected she had “bad behavior,” police said.  “The 17-year-old strangled his sister last week because he claimed she had bad behavior,” in the southern city of Maan, a police spokesman told AFP.  “Her family forced her to get married a few months ago but she was divorced more than a month ago. After she returned to her family, she escaped but police sent her back.”
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=122307#axzz17Z5MaWn1

www.TheHeadlines.org

Inconceivable– the MSM once reflected an Arab perspective

Dec 09, 2010

annie

 

Muzzlewatch alerts us to this incredible find by Pulse media. This in none other than Time magazine circa ’52:

“The word ‘American’ no longer has a good sound in that part of the world [the Middle East]. To catch the Jewish vote in the U.S., President Truman in 1946 demanded that the British admit 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine, in violation of British promises to the Arabs. Since then, the Arab nations surrounding Israel have regarded that state as a U.S. creation, and the U.S., therefore, as an enemy. The Israeli-Arab war created nearly a million Arab refugees, who have been huddled for three years in wretched camps. These refugees, for whom neither the U.S. nor Israel will take the slightest responsibility, keep alive the hatred of U.S. perfidy.

“No enmity for the Arabs, no selfish national design motivated the clumsy U.S. support of Israel. The American crime was not to help the Jews, but to help them at the expense of the Arabs. Today, the Arab world fears and expects a further Israeli expansion. The Arabs are well aware that Alben Barkley, Vice President of the U.S., tours his country making speeches for the half-billion-dollar Israeli bond issue, the largest ever offered to the U.S. public. Nobody, they note bitterly, is raising that kind of money for them.”

I recommend reading the commentary on both Muzzlewatch (includes remarkable Ben Gurion quote I’d never read before) and Pulse. Here’s a taste from Pulse:

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Such journalistic candor was not good for Israel. The major Jewish organizations soon flexed their muscle: they organized to police what the US media could write or say about Israel. Their success was devastating. Israeli lies soon commanded unalloyed allegiance of every segment of American media.

Muzzlewatch:

This sobering analysis is striking because of the way in which it speaks from the perspective of Arabs. It’s exactly the kind of analysis we simply don’t see anymore in the MSM (mainstream media) here in the United States

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s perverted stance on ‘tolerance’

Dec 09, 2010

Martha Reese

 

Why does the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) have nothing to say about the rabbinical edict circulating in Israel—currently signed by more than four dozen rabbis—forbidding the sale or rental of homes to non-Jews?

Or, why has the Center not applauded the dissenting view of Israel’s leading Haredi rabbi, Aaron Leib Steinman, who said, “there are things that should not be done; what if there would be a similar call in Berlin against renting properties to Jews? Where is the public conscience?”

Israel is lurching toward ever-more extreme expressions of religious-nationalism, electing leaders who publicly profess anti-Arab and anti-immigrant views—and legislate accordingly. Israelis increasingly favor gagging their own country’s human rights organizations, journalists, and activists. This swelling anti-democratic impulse is directed toward non-Jews—whose status is necessarily ambiguous in the “Jewish state”—but even toward some who self-identify as Jews.

Meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is in “business-as-usual” mode, issuing stern rebukes to those it deems anti-Semites—i.e., those who criticize Israeli policy and advocate equality for all who inhabit the borderless space of Israel/Palestine.

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Last week, SWC Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper took the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to task in an over-the-top op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. A sharp correction to Rabbis Hier and Cooper came in a statement issued by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PC(USA), which noted that “this is not the first time [SWC rabbis] have wrongly accused Christian traditions that are committed to overcoming injustice in the Holy Land of demonizing the Jewish people.”

So, while ignoring the fact that many of Israel’s religious and secular leaders are fomenting rabid, tribal attitudes, what does the Simon Wiesenthal Center deem worth of attention in its quest for “tolerance”? A visit to the organization’s website lists their current preoccupations:

• Slamming UNESCO for its declaration that the “Haram al-Ibrahim/the Cave of the Patriarchs and Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb” are “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories” and “that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law.” Despite the location of these sites in Hebron/Al Khalil, deep within the Palestinian occupied territories, the Simon Wiesenthal Center characterizes UNESCO’s statement as a move to “steal from the Jewish people one of its most sacred religious sites.” [No mention on the Center’s site of Israel’s state-sponsored stealing from the Palestinian people in establishing settlements for half a million Israelis on occupied and expropriated Palestinian land, in Hebron and elsewhere, in violation of international law.]

• Calling on the Japanese discount retail chain, Don Quixote, to remove a “Nazi” uniform adult costume from its stores throughout Japan and Hawaii.

• Slamming as “anti-Semitic scapegoating” an event in Dublin, Ireland, featuring David Cronin, author of a new book titled Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation.

Meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is moving ahead on the planning phase of a “Museum of Tolerance” in Jerusalem, incredibly situated atop a Muslim cemetery. The project, a “partnership with the Jerusalem municipality and the Israeli government,” has been condemned by numerous entities, including an Israeli Jewish-Muslim initiativeAmericans for Peace Now, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and, of course, descendents of the Palestinians buried there.

In its scorched-earth campaign to deflect appropriate criticism of Israeli policy by smearing advocates of equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians, the Simon Wiesenthal Center fails abjectly in key elements of its stated agenda: to “promote human rights and dignity” and “confront bigotry and racism.” It’s a patent double standard: the Wiesenthal Center’s misguided notion of what it means to “stand with Israel” trumps universal human rights regardless of religion and ethnicity.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has amassed a substantial track-record of self-righteous finger-pointing. It’s time to point the finger back.

Martha Reese is a steering committee member of the Chicago-based Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine (CJPIP). For information about CJPIP’s new “Be on our side” campaign, visit:  www.TwoPeoplesOneFuture.org

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NOVANEWS

12/09/2010

 

‘The Palestine Cables’: WikiLeaks expose European chill on Israel after Cast Lead, and Lebanese advice on defeating Hezbollah

Dec 08, 2010

Alex Kane

 

WikiLeaks has gone from a drip to a torrent, and we need a way to keep up. With this post we inaugurate a new feature at this site. “The Palestine Cables” will bea weekly chronicle/analysis of important revelations bearing on Israel/Palestine that are contained in the ongoing dump of hundreds of thousands of U.S. State Department cables. Alex Kane will be preparing these reports (when he is not in Israel/Palestine himself). Without further ado, Part I, The Palestine Cables…

The revelations from the classified State Department cables being published by WikiLeaks and news organizations keep coming, and there’s no shortage of items concerning Israel/Palestine.

The cables have included interesting revelations about European countries’ relations with Israel–and how much the Goldstone report has mattered, thought not enough–as well as what seems to be a Lebanese official passing on advice to the Israeli government on how to defeat Hezbollah in a new conflict.

One cable, dated September 5, 2006 and sent from the U.S. embassy in Dublin, reports that the Irish government “has informally begun to place constraints on U.S. operations at the facility, mainly in response to public sensitivities 
over U.S. actions in the Middle East.”  Specifically, the cable states that the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs decided to “forbid U.S. military transits carrying munitions to Israel” because of “the Irish public’s overwhelming opposition to Israeli military actions in Lebanon.”

Another cable dated October 29, 2009 from the U.S. embassy in France reports that, days before France and Israel were set to hold a “strategic dialogue,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and suggested that Israel “establish an independent investigation into the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces in the Gaza conflict.”  Sarkozy said that “such a step would decrease pressure on Israel and its allies stemming from the Goldstone Report, but Netanyahu responded briskly: ‘No way.'”  In addition, the cable notes that “European countries stopped selling Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) parts to Israel” after the 2008-09 assault on Gaza, although France had continued to sell UAV parts to Israel. 

There was also the November 10, 2009 suggestion–two weeks out from when Israel first “froze” settlements–from Germany that the U.S. force Israel to agree to a settlement freeze or else risk the U.S. withdrawing pledges to block U.N. Security Council votes on the Goldstone report.  The U.S. said no, calling the proposal “counterproductive.” 

Compared to the U.S.’s routine practice of groveling before Israel, the European countries’ attitude towards Israel seems remarkable.  But that’s not the full story–Europe remains deeply complicit in the Israeli occupation.

I reached out to David Cronin, the author of the soon-to-be-released book Europe’s Alliance with Israel:  Aiding the Occupation, to get his reaction to the WikiLeaks revelations about Europe-Israel relations:

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It is correct that the Dublin government has felt an obligation to respond to the widespread public revulsion in Ireland at Israel’s barbaric treatment of the Palestinian people, as well as Israel’s 2006 war against Lebanon. It is also true that Micheal Martin, the Irish foreign minister, has been more critical of Israel than any of his counterparts in the EU.

Yet his criticisms have been largely tokenistic. When evidence emerged that Mossad, the Israeli secret service, had used counterfeit passports so that its agents could pose as Irish citizens when assassinating a leading member of Hamas in January, Ireland expelled an Israeli diplomat from the country. The Irish government had an opportunity to make its displeasure known in more strident terms in May, when Israel’s application to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was under discussion. Yet Ireland took no concrete steps to block Israel’s membership of this elite capitalist club, a move that was rightly seen as a major diplomatic and political victory for the Israeli government…

France and Germany both have governments that have acted as an apologist for Israel on many occasions in recent years. Indications or reports that they have been unhappy with some aspects of the occupation do not alter this general picture. Neither France nor was prepared to support the Goldstone report, which documented how Israel had committed crimes against humanity in Gaza in 2008 and 2009. (Germany voted against the report at the United Nations last year, while France abstained).

To a significant degree, the EU’s foreign policy is determined by its largest member states. All four of its largest countries – France, Germany, Britain and Italy – have right-leaning governments that consistently defend Israel, albeit with the occasional expression of concern when Israel is perceived to have gone “too far” (e.g. with the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla). It is almost as if these governments are competing with each other to see which one can be the most pro-Israel.

In Lebanon, the WikiLeaks State Dept. cables are fueling tensions.  A March 2008 conversation revealed that “Lebanon’s Defense Minister Elias Murr told Americans the army would stay out of the way if Israel tried to wipe out Hezbollah,” according to a Los Angeles Times report.  The cables were published by the left-wing Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

In an e-mail, As’ad Abu Khalil, a Middle East analyst who blogs at the Angry Arab, commented that “Al-Murr was basically (like other Arab leaders–although he is no leader) trying to get close to the US by showing his goodwill toward Israel.”

These cables from WikiLeaks follow a growing sense of unease in Lebanon ahead of the expected indictments of Hezbollah members for the 2005 killing of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and Hezbollah’s vows to resist the indictments.

For more news and analysis on the WikiLeaks State Dept. cables and Israel/Palestine, see:

Josh Ruebner, the Huffington Post: WikiLeaks: Israel’s Security Concerns Often Clash With U.S. Interests 

Ian Black, the Guardian:  WikiLeaks cables: Sudan warned to block Iranian arms bound for Gaza

Ewen MacAskill, the Guardian:  WikiLeaks cables: Saudis proposed Arab force to invade Lebanon

Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy:  What the WikiLeaks cables really say about Arabs and Iran

Yousef Munayyer, the Palestine Center’s Permission to Narrate blog:  Top 10 Wikileaks Palestine Nuggets

Yousef Munayyer, the Palestine Center’s Permission to Narrate blog:  Who Remembered Gaza in Wikileaks?

Stuart Littlewood, the Palestine Chronicle:  Wikileaks: Did Abbas Know about the War on Gaza?

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and blogger based in New York City.  He blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the United States atalexbkane.wordpress.com.  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane    

Why is the White House sending its Iran negotiator to a neocon conference in D.C.?

Dec 08, 2010

Philip Weiss

 

Well because that’s where the power is. The permanent Establishment in D.C. has a neoconservative flavor right now, Obama has to truckle to those folks. (Ask me why later.) The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a neoconservative shop. It takes a hawkish stance on confronting Iran. The Obama aide is Gary Samore. The press release below. Two Israelis are confirmed speakers. Where’s the American realist? Where’s Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council?

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Washington, D.C. (December 8, 2010)- On Monday, December 6th, Iran refused to discuss its nuclear program in its latest round of negotiations with Western powers. As in past talks that failed to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear program, U.S. and European leaders are once again facing long odds. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, FDD will devote its annual Washington Forum, which takes place December 8-10 in Washington, D.C., to Countering the Iranian Threat. U.S., European, and Israeli diplomats, members of Congress, intelligence specialists, military officials, and proliferation experts will explore the nature of the Iranian regime, and the policy options available to confront it.Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dr. Gary Samore, White House Coordinator of weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), Counter-terrorism and Arms Control

  • Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

  • Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL), Member, Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Judiciary

  • Ambassador Uri Lubrani, Iran Advisor to Israel’s Ministry of Defense and Israeli Ambassador to Iran before the 1979 Revolution

  • Major General Yaakov Amidror, Former Head of the Israel Defense Force’s Research and Assessment Division, charged with preparing its National Intelligence Assessment

     

US’s greatest contribution to the peace process has been to reveal Israeli intransigence

Dec 08, 2010

Léa Park

 

In light of the US failure to broker an Israeli settlement freeze, it’s clear to me now that the single most valuable contribution the United States has made to the cause of Middle East peace over the last two years was taking on the issue of settlements. If it had “won”, direct talks would now be going forward. But losing has its own rewards.

Who in their right mind can argue any longer that settling 500,000 people (and counting) on land that is “disputed”, “occupied”, “stolen” – take your pick, it doesn’t matter– makes any sense at all, or ever did . By insisting on a settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with full knowledge that he couldn’t single-handedly reverse decades of American policy, President Obama did us all, including those who want a safe home for Israelis, an enormous favor. For by allowing the politics of his insistence to be played out for all to see, what the present Israeli government wants, a status-quo bent on preserving settlement, the apartheid measures that settlement requires, as well as an emasculated statehood for Palestinians, has been demonstrated to be not only the moral and legal abomination that it is, but a political dead-end as well.

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Now Palestine, miraculously enough, appears to be taking the diplomatic initiative. Meanwhile, the present government of Israeli thinks it has put Israel’s major ally in its place. It’s likely that’s where the United States will be content stay for a while, as the action shifts elsewhere.

     

White the US stumbles with Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, others are taking the lead

Dec 08, 2010

Audrey Farber

 

Yesterday brought us the news that the Obama administration is giving up on pressuring Netanyahu on settlements.

Are they giving up, or are they just losing their edge? Apparently, “U.S. officials said they were not abandoning the peace effort altogether, just changing tactics.” Unfortunately, “it was not immediately clear what other proposals the Obama administration might put forward.” So is there something better up their sleeve? Such a change – after all, the American focus in Israel has been dedicated to settlement freezes for almost the entirety of Obama’s reign – could indicate its abdication of the role of mediator, the recognition of the futility of the “peace process”, and the first steps towards recognizing Palestine. Or more likely, it indicates that the Israeli government has a worse stranglehold on the US than we previously thought and ever dared dream. Obviously the Obama administration realizes the futility of the process, though it’s a shame they’re handing Netanyahu this victory on a silver platter.

This settlement freeze failure is making the US administration the laughing stock of Israel and Palestine alike. Ehud Barak claimed “talks with U.S. officials over a settlement freeze had stopped because Washington was distracted by the WikiLeaks controversy and its need to focus on the confrontation with North Korea.” You’d think they’d be able to multi-task, but I guess asking one small thing from Netanyahu on top of all these other concerns was just too much. From another side, aide to Abbas, Yasser Abed Rabbo, criticized this newfound weakness of the American role in negotiations. If the US is “the one who couldn’t make Israel limit its settlement activities in order to conduct serious negotiations, how can he be able to make Israel accept a fair solution?…This is the big question now.” The illusion of America’s role as team leader in this “peace process” has been shattered, and we see now that when it comes to Israel and Palestine, as far as the US is concerned, the Israelis will get what they want.

As this is just further proof that the Netanyahu-Lieberman military-industrial complex has us exactly where they want us and we’re a fairly useless ally for peace and justice, it’s time for someone else to step up to the plate and have a go at this perennial intractability. Indeed, both Israel and Palestine are prepared for this eventuality. Barak sees Barack’s withdrawal as putting Israel in “danger of becoming increasingly isolated internationally. Israel is concerned with the success of one Palestinian tactic: persuading countries to recognize an independent Palestinian state within borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East War.”

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This week we saw two members of the international community doing just this. I have to congratulate Brazil and Argentina for recognizing an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 Green Line. They’re filling a void left by the collapsing American hegemony in questions of Israel-Palestine, where previously the international community would never have had the guts to do this without North American initiative. Now that the US is effectively emasculated, Brazil and Argentina, along with Costa Rica, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, are coming out in vocal support of the Palestinian right to statehood, representing the popular yet silent voice of the rest of the world.

That it is these countries who recognize Palestinian statehood is indicative of a split that we’ve known about for a while: between the “European” world — Europe and South America — in their sympathy for the Palestinian cause; and the “American” world in their undying sympathy for the plight of Israel. European, especially southern, and Latin and South American sentiment is pro-Palestinian, often to the extent of being uninformed, taking the progressive/leftist line as a way to stick it to the man. And example: when I was in Greece two months ago, I was talking to an old man and said I was living and working in Israel. “You are a bad bad girl,” he told me. I explained to him that I was working for a Palestinian organization and I was working for civil rights within Israel, and he acquiesced. “Okay, you are good girl, but Israel is a bad bad country.” He is not alone in feeling this way. You only have to look at the myriad of European expats and European-funded aid projects in the West Bank to see that the prevailing popular sentiment in Europe is decidedly pro-Palestinian (whatever that means anymore). Juxtapose this with the prevailing American and Canadian official and public sentiments which tend to lean (understatement) towards Israel, and with their pursuit of these futile peace processes as the only option.

Though I’m no expert on South America, I find it completely unsurprising that these recognitions are coming from our southerly neighbors. These are countries whose popular opinion seems to shy away from the hegemony of the United States, more European than American. As influential countries on their own continent, part of me hopes this is the beginning of a massive trend which could overturn the predominance of the US-Israel(-Canada) powerhouse. I’m specifically thinking of Venezuela here, which everyone knows is not exactly the US’s best friend. What a way to stick it to the US and Israel. Brilliant. So here we have South America circumventing the process altogether, playing the game by their own rules.

A version of this post appears on a blog I run with friends, midthoughtblog.com.

     

Twelve homes in East Jerusalem razed in one week, West Bank village Tana razed, school in Nablus razed . . .

Dec 08, 2010

Seham

 

And other news from Today in Palestine:

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Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Israeli army demolishes 12 West Bank homes, strikes on Gaza
RAMALLAH / GAZA, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) — The Israeli army Wednesday demolished 12 Palestinian houses and a school in a village near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, residents and security sources said.  The residents said that the Israeli army bulldozers demolished 12 Palestinian-owned houses in the village of Kherbet Tana, allegedly saying the constructions were illegally built.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-12/08/c_13640760.htm

OCHA: Israel razed 12 homes in O. Jerusalem during one week
The UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs said that Israel demolished 12 Palestinian homes in occupied Jerusalem from 24 to 30 November at the pretext of unlicensed construction.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Q

2 Dec. ’10: New settler enclaves in East Jerusalem
On 23 and 24 November 2010, settler organizations took control of two houses in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. In the first case, the Qara’in family, 14 persons, were evicted from their home, which is located next to the UN compound in Jabal Mukabber. The eviction was carried out in accordance with court order and with police assistance. The building had been purchased by a foreign company that is registered in the Cocos Islands and is represented in Israel by David Be’eri, one of the heads of the Elad settlers’ organization, even though some of the owners of the property contend that the transaction was made without their knowledge and approval. Settlers have taken over another house in the village.
http://www.btselem.org/English/Jerusalem/20101202_Settlers_takeover_apartmenets_in_East_JM.asp

Israeli Army Razes West Bank Village
The Israeli military bulldozed Tana village early on Wednesday near the city of Hebron, Press TV reported.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60121

Israeli forces demolish school near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces demolished a number Palestinian buildings near the West Bank city of Nablus Wednesday, including a Palestinian Authority school, officials said.  Ghassan Doughlas, the official in charge of monitoring settlements in the northern West Bank, said Israeli military vehicles raided Tana area, seven kilometers from the village of Beit Furik and declared it a closed military zone before demolishing buildings, including an under-construction three classroom school.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=339909

Israel carries out demolitions in village east of Nablus
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) demolished Wednesday morning agricultural buildings and a school under construction and removed tents in Tana village, east of Nablus city.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Q

3 Bethlehem homes threatened with demolition
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces handed three stop-work orders to residents of Bethlehem on Tuesday, local officials said.  Usama Shakarneh, deputy mayor of Nahalin village, said authorities handed notifications claiming three homes lacked licenses.  The mayor said the homes belonged to three local families.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=339868

IOA deports MP Abu Tir to the West Bank
An Israeli court decided on Wednesday to deport Jerusalemite MP Mohammed Abu Tir from his native hometown of occupied Jerusalem to the West Bank.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2

Occupied Palestinian Territory: Demolitions in East Jerusalem in 2010 – as of October 2010
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/RKRR-8BWLUT?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P 

US fails in settlements freeze bid
The US suspends efforts to persuade Israel on settlement building freeze.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2010/12/201012723481460146.html 

Israel’s east Jerusalem policy threatens peace: EU (AFP)
AFP – Israel’s policies in occupied east Jerusalem are harming the prospect of the Palestinians having their future capital there, which “seriously endangers” a two-state solution, the EU said on Tuesday.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101207/wl_mideast_afp/israelpalestiniansjerusalemeu 

Military presence prolongs state of tension in Silwan
 The Wadi Hilweh district of Silwan has witnessed a heightened and sustained presence of both Israeli police and settler guards, creating an atmosphere of tension and state of alert in the East Jerusalem village. Such circumstances have been ongoing since the murder of Silwan resident Samer Sarhan on 22 September 2010, who was shot dead by a settler guard in the village. The ensuing clashes triggered a Israeli crackdown on local resistance, highlighting the clear collusion between the armed guards of Israeli settlements in Silwan and the Israeli police and military. Sarhan’s death was not the only crime committed by settler guards in Silwan in recent months. Resident Mazen Ouda was shot in the foot with live ammunition by a settler guard on 2 June this year during clashes in the village.
http://silwanic.net/?p=8978 

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Hearing begins in case of Palestinian non-violent protest organizer
Abdullah Abu Rahme was brought to an Israeli court Monday, after completing a one year prison sentence for ‘incitement’ due to his role organizing non-violent weekly demonstrations against the Wall. Israeli authorities are attempting to extend his sentence indefinitely without charges, a policy known as ‘administrative detention’, which is considered a violation of international law, but is common practice by Israeli military courts.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60112 

Only 48 Hours Until Country-Wide BDS Day of Action!
This year, what better way to honor International Human Rights Day than to join with others around the country to say NO to investment in Occupation & Apartheid!   If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to join this initiative by Jewish Voice for Peace to tell financial company TIAA-CREF to divest fromCaterpillarMotorola, and other companies profiting from Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.  Organizers in more than 20 cities around the country are mobilizing to bring their voices to local TIAA-CREF offices in the form of petitions, face-to-face meetings, and demonstrations. If you haven’t already, register here to join with others in your area already taking part.  You can find more general information about the campaign, a step-by-step guide, and a sample petition here.  This Friday, join the chorus of voices telling TIAA-CREF we will not stand for profiting from Occupation & Apartheid!
http://endtheoccupationblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/only-48-hours-until-country-wide-bds.html

Beit Ommar returns to its roots
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank village of Beit Ommar are returning to older models of organizing against the Israeli occupation. These organizers are employing strategies of resistance made famous during the first intifada in order to overcome stagnation and division within Palestinian society. Mousa Abu Maria of the Palestine Solidarity Project analyzes.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11659.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+electronicIntifadaPalestine+%28Electronic+Intifada+%3A+Palestine+News%29 

Holiday Caroling Protest in Front of Lev Leviev’s New York Store
Sing parody carols to boycott Israeli apartheid,  Saturday, December 18th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm @ LEVIEV Jewelry Store: 700 Madison Avenue, between 62nd and 63rd.  The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel continues to grow and achieve successes. Following a global boycott campaign, Leviev’s company Africa Israel made an ambiguous statement that it had no plans to build more settlements. But another Leviev company, Leader, continues to build the Zufim settlement on Jayyous’ land, and Leviev’s support for human rights abuses in the diamond industry in Angola continues.
http://endtheoccupationblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/holiday-caroling-protest-in-front-of.html 

#BDS: Palestinian protest disrupts fencing event in Spain
Pro-Palestinian protestors interrupt junior fencing competition in Burgos, chanting anti-Israeli slogans. ‘I was shaking the whole competition, it was very scary,’ Israeli teen athlete Irina Levin says.  The Junior Fencing World Cup in Burgos, Spain turned into a political arena this past weekend when 12 pro-Palestinian protestors stormed the bleachers during a match between Israeland Spain, shouting anti-Israeli slogans and wielding anti-Israel signs.  The protestors yelled “Killers of Palestinians” at the young fencers, and their signs called for a boycott of Israel.
http://youthanormalization.blogspot.com/2010/12/bds-palestinian-protest-disrupts.html

‘End Military Aid to Israel’ campaign comes to BART,  Henry Norr
Two months after ads calling for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel went up in Chicago Transit Authority stations, a similar campaign began this week in the Bay Area.  Inspired by the work of the Chicago-area Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine (CJPIP), the Bay Area initiative was launched by the Northern California Friends of Sabeel, the local branch of a national group that supports the Palestinian Christian liberation theology movement. The Bay Area chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace and American Muslims for Palestine quickly signed on as co-sponsors.  The ads, currently posted in three heavily trafficked stations – 12th Street Oakland, Downtown Berkeley, and San Francisco Civic Center – are virtually identical to those the CJPIP ran in Chicago, and they refer commuters to the same website: www.TwoPeoplesOneFuture.org. The sponsors hope to launch a broader campaign to bring the message to more Bay Area commuters in the coming year. Donate to support expansion of the campaign here.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/%e2%80%98end-military-aid-to-israel%e2%80%99-campaign-comes-to-bart.html

Another silent walk-out in protest of Israel’s PR campaign, Christopher Clark
On December 2nd, an event entitled “Overcoming Terror: A True Story” was set to  take place on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst, Massachusetts. It was sponsored by the Student Alliance for Israel (SAFI) and the University of Massachusetts Hillel House. IDF Sergeant Kenny Sachs was the orator, an on-call speaker for Israeli propaganda groups Upstart Activist and Divestment Watch. Though the topic of discussion happened in Gaza, the event description never named Palestinians. Instead, “terrorists”  was the term used to describe those who “attacked” Sergeant Sachs at the Erez checkpoint in northern Gaza. The rest of the description being a muddled account of a shootout between Sachs and aforementioned “terrorists” in an attempt to create the center periphery story of Sachs losing his ability to play basketball after being shot in the leg. He said, “That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever heard.”
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/another-silent-walk-out-in-protest-of-israels-pr-campaign.html

Halfway there! Please help us meet our matching fund goal in December.. Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz
We are halfway to our goal in our current fund raising drive. Thank you! It only took us five days to raise the first $10,000 – by far our best start ever.  We’re hoping to raise another $10,000 in order to meet the $20,000 matching fund challenge presented to us by a very generous donor. Please help us reach our goal and give today!
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/halfway-there-please-help-us-meet-our-matching-fund-goal-in-december.html

The Electronic Intifada Campaign: Help keep our reporting strong in 2011
To remain a strong, independent publication and an educational resource for the Palestine solidarity and justice movement, The Electronic Intifada needs the support of its readers and friends. Please make a contribution today.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11662.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+electronicIntifadaPalestine+%28Electronic+Intifada+%3A+Palestine+News%29

#BDS: My Experience at Oasis Food Market, Oakland CA: What a Pleasant Surprise!
When asked that question, the store manager, an Arab from Yemen, explained that the only products in the store imported through “Israel” are those manufactured in 1948 Palestine. Not only that, the store is keen on labeling those products with a sign that says: “Products of Palestine” as shown below…
http://youthanormalization.blogspot.com/2010/12/bds-my-experience-at-oasis-food-market.html 

As a lame duck, Grayson, do you think you could just quack once for Corrie, Henochowicz and Dogan?, Susie Kneedler
YesterdaySeham posted about an appeal by Florida Congressman Alan Grayson at Huffpo to hear from the grassroots so as to reinvigorate the Democratic Party. Susie Kneedler sent Grayson, who was defeated last month, a letter.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/as-a-lame-duck-grayson-do-you-think-you-could-just-quack-once-for-corrie-henochowicz-and-dogan.html

Mavi Marmara Returns to Istanbul Ahead of Leading New Gaza Flotilla
The Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara, on which nine activists were killed on the May 31 Flotilla Massacre, is returning to Istanbul on the anniversary of ‘Operation Cast Lead’. In a ceremony organised by the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), politicians, activists and survivors will gather to mourn the losses on the flotilla and in Gaza, while reiterating their commitment to ending Israel’s illegal policies.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article1643

Anti

Abuse of Palestinian Children

Voices from the Occupation
Belal (16) was shot in his left leg whilst collecting building material in the Gaza Strip, about 600 metres from the border fence with Israel.
http://www.dci-pal.org/english/doc/press/Voices_2010-12-08_gravel.pdf

On the hunting of Palestinian children and re-education at the Ofer prison,  Ofra Ben Artzi
On 15 November 2010 the IDF spokesman issued the following news flash: “During the night IDF forces in the Judea and Samaria area and in the Jordan Valley arrested 11 wanted persons.” A routine announcement that is published nearly every morning, but it does not receive much attention, because whom does it interest? And if among those 11 wanted persons there were some children who were pulled from their beds in the middle of their dreams at midnight, seized by soldiers of an elite brigade in front of their terrified parents; handcuffed, blindfolded and then put into a military vehicle that took them to an ISA (Shin Bet) interrogation facility, does anybody really care?
http://uruknet.info/?p=m72575&hd=&size=1&l=e

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

EU parliament delegation expresses shock over conditions in Gaza
BRUSSELS, Dec 7 (KUNA) — A delegation from the European Parliament which recently visited the Palestinian territories has expressed its shock over ongoing deprivations suffered by the people in Gaza.  750,000 people continue to need food aid from UNRWA; 300,000 of them are in abject poverty. Schools are still denied building material, the 8-member EP delegation said in a statement here Tuesday.  The EU parliamentarians said that in order for the living conditions of people in Gaza to improve, the Israeli siege must be lifted, and normal economic and business activities must be allowed to start again, with no restrictions on exports and imports. 
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/KHII-8BX5PM?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P 

Erdogan: Israeli siege on Gaza must end
Recep Tayyep Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, has urged Tuesday the Zionist entity to lift the five-year old siege on Gaza, reiterating his governments conditions.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bc

Occupied Palestinian Territory: Gaza Strip – Areas Restricted for Palestinian Access – as of Oct 010
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/RKRR-8BWMUH?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P 

Industrial Fuel – Needs Vs. Supply – Nov 7 – Dec 4
http://www.gazagateway.org/2010/12/industrial-fuel-%e2%80%93-needs-vs-supply-%e2%80%93-nov-7-%e2%80%93-dec-4/

Israel Reduces Wheat Supply to the Gaza Strip
The Israeli authorities have reduced the amounts of wheat allowed into the Gaza Strip. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), lower quantities of wheat grain and animal feed have been allowed to enter Gaza during the past few months. Between January and May 2010 the 64,237 tons were allowed to enter Gaza through a special conveyer belt at Karni Crossing. Since June 2010, the Israeli authorities allowed only 48,609 tons into Gaza.
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/MUMA-8BWW4R?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P 

Israel allows more exports from Gaza to West Bank and abroad
Security cabinet approves move in bid to ease the lives of the population in Gaza; government believes ‘steps will have positive impact on Israel’s international stance.’
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-allows-more-exports-from-gaza-to-west-bank-and-abroad-1.329500?localLinksEnabled=false

Hamas: Increasing Gaza’s export won’t change facts on ground
GAZA, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) — Islamic Hamas movement on Wednesday said Israel’s decision to expand export from Gaza doesn’t change the situation on the ground.  “This is an attempt to cover the real continuation of the blockade,” Ayman Taha, a spokesman for Hamas, told Xinhua, minutes after the Israeli Security Cabinet approved to let more goods go out from the Hamas-controlled territory.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-12/08/c_13640847.htm

Al Jazeera Children’s Channel and UNRWA sign groundbreaking online learning agreement
Al Jazeera Children’s Channel today concluded an agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) that will give unique learning opportunities to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children across the Middle East. 
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/EGUA-8BWUEX?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P

Racism and Discrimination

MK Tibi: Skinhead rabbis vs. Arabs
During Knesset session, Arab lawmakers slam ruling against selling or renting apartments to non-Jews. MK El Sana calls rabbis ‘scum of the earth.’ President Peres: Ban ‘an ethical crisis’.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3996190,00.html

Yediot’s legal editor cites Nuremberg Laws, Eichmann trial, in critique of new Rabbinical ruling
In 1834, a clothes salesman in London refused to sell an article of clothing to a customer.  The refusal stemmed from the fact that the buyer was “just a Jew.”The Jewish buyer sued the salesman, but the court in the Timothy case supported the salesman.  It was not a just trial, but the judge employed a sacred principle, the freedom of contracts, according to which a person can choose with whom he wants to enter into a contract and whom he does not.  This sanctity was a disgrace and a refuge for ugly prejudice.  The court’s non-intervention only supplied ammunition to the strong and violent versus the human and the weak, and the usual outcome of giving “freedom to wolves,” as Prof. Isaiah Berlin put it, is “death for sheep.”  Since then, the sanctity of the freedom of contracts has been made subject to the demand of good faith.  It can no longer serve as a refuge for racists.  In the Israeli ruling in the case of Naamne vs. Kibbutz Kalia, Judge Miriam Mizrahi ruled that one cannot rely on freedom of contracts to prevent Arabs from entering a water park.
http://coteret.com/2010/12/08/yediots-legal-editor-cites-nuremberg-laws-eichmann-trial-in-critique-of-new-rabbinical-ruling/

Violence/Aggression

Report: “Three Killed, 35 Wounded, By Army Fire In November”
A report on Israeli attacks against the Palestinians in November revealed that soldiers killed three Palestinians, and wounded 35, amidst ongoing soldier and settler violations against the Palestinians in the occupied territories.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60113

Israeli warplanes blast targets in southern Gaza
Israeli warplanes launched two raids on Khan Younis and Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, at dawn Wednesday inflicting material damage and wounding a youth, local sources reported.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcO

Medics: 3 injured by Israeli shelling in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli tank shelling injured three Palestinians Wednesday east of Gaza City, medics said.  The three hurt in the incident, near the Karni crossing, were not identified.  An Israeli military spokesman said that “an IDF force fired tank rounds toward a number of suspicious individuals who approached the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340032

IDF resumes use of prohibited tear gas canisters
The canisters, which are used to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank, have been responsible for serious injuries and at least one death
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/idf-resumes-use-of-prohibited-tear-gas-canisters-1.329414?localLinksEnabled=false

Supplement to Haaretz Expose on High-Velocity Tear Gas Projectiles, Joseph Dana
Haaretz is reporting today something which has been known for weeks, the IDF has illegally reintroduced high-velocity tear gas canisters to their arsenal of weapons used to crush weekly Palestinian non-violent demonstrations in the West Bank. This is in violation of the IDF’s own directives that such tear gas canisters should not be used in West Bank demonstrations. Manufactured and sold to the Israeli military by Combined Systems Inc., a United States company based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, the tear gas projectiles have been responsible for countless injuriesdestruction of property and one death. According to the company’s subsidiary website, the projectiles are not meant for use in open-air crowd control situations, but rather as indoor barricade penetrators. On April 17th, 2009, Bil’in resident Bassem Abu Rahmah was killed as a result of being hit in the chest with a high velocity tear-gas projectile. On March 13th, 2009, American citizen Tristan Anderson suffered numerous condensed fractures to the skull above the right eye socket after being struck with a high velocity tear-gas projectile during a demonstration in Ni’ilin. He suffered extensive brain tissue damage and is now paralyzed for life.
http://josephdana.com/2010/12/supplement-to-haaretz-expose-on-high-velocity-tear-gas-projectiles/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=supplement-to-haaretz-expose-on-high-velocity-tear-gas-projectiles

Detainees (held by Israelis and the PA)

PFLP member detained in raid on Nablus village
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces arrested a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after raiding his home in Beit Furik, east of the West Bank city of Nablus, on Wednesday.  Locals told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers arrested Hakim Abed Al-Baset Hanani, after raiding his home. Soldiers entered the house at 2 a.m. and searched it before arresting Hanini, they said.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=339936

Israeli police detain Palestinian fleeing checkpoint
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli police detained a Palestinian driver Wednesday after he sped through a checkpoint and they opened fire toward his vehicle near Hebron in the occupied West Bank, officials said.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340006

Hamas: PA detains 7 party members
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian security forces recently detained seven Hamas members in the West Bank, the party said Wednesday.  Hamas said in a statement that Palestinian Authority forces made the arrests in Nablus, Tulkarem, and Salfit.  Hamas officials in the West Bank accused the PA security services of detaining 21 of the movement’s supporters, a separate statement released Tuesday said.  The statement explained that those detainees were from the Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarem districts in the northern West Bank as well as Hebron and Bethlehem in the south.  Hamas officials said they believed the detentions were politically motivated.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=339912

Political Developments

Israeli-Palestinian talks hit a new wall, sparking calls for a US peace plan
Argentina and Brazil have formally recognized a Palestinian state, and the US has given up on securing a new settlement freeze to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/hjQPk02LtLI/Israeli-Palestinian-talks-hit-a-new-wall-sparking-calls-for-a-US-peace-plan

US opposes S. American moves to recognize Palestinian state (AFP)
AFP – The United States on Tuesday opposed moves by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay to recognize an independent Palestinian state, saying such recognition is “counter-productive” to achieving Middle East peace.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101207/pl_afp/palestinianmideastdiplomacyargentinauruguaybrazilus

Abbas: Turkey Will Broker More International Recognitions
Ankara – PNN – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) requested help from Turkey in getting recognition from other countries for an independent state along the 1967 boundaries.  Earlier on Monday, Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced her country’s official recognition of independent Palestine along the ’67 borders, following on the heels of a similar announcement by Brazil. Uruguay said it would follow suit in 2011.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9237 

France, First in Europe to Recognize Independent Palestine
France declared it will recognize a free and independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, a Press TV report said.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60122

Gulf Leaders Support P.A. Position On Settlements
Leaders of the Arab Gulf stated that they support the stance of the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank regarding not holding talks with Israel until it halts its settlement activities in the occupied territories.
http://www.imemc.org/article/60115

Palestinians seek unilateral statehood recognition (AP)
AP – The Palestinians’ Plan B — an alternative to the elusive peace deal with Israel — is gradually taking shape: convince as many countries as possible to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, and use that to lobby the United States not to veto recognition by the U.N. Security Council.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101207/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_palestinians_pursuing_recognition 

Palestinians question U.S. ability to forge Middle East peace
Top Abbas aide Abed Rabbo: How can the U.S. make Israel accept a fair peace solution when it couldn’t even make Israel limit its settlement activities?
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/palestinians-question-u-s-ability-to-forge-middle-east-peace-1.329503?localLinksEnabled=false

PLO: US failed, we’ll turn to UN
Palestinians enraged by announcement on failure of talks aimed at resuming settlement construction freeze, alongside promise to resume indirect negotiations. ‘Instead of declaring Israel responsible, the Americans are giving the Israelis an opportunity to waste more time,’ says Yasser Abed Rabbo.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3996057,00.html

Egypt: World should push toward establishment of Palestinian state
Egyptian FM Ahmed Aboul Gheit says discussions should shift to an ‘endgame’ for Palestinian settlement due to the failure of U.S.-brokered talks.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/egypt-world-should-push-toward-establishment-of-palestinian-state-1.329519?localLinksEnabled=false

Kadima MK Mofaz: Israel should seek an interim agreement with the Palestinians
Mofaz began his tenure as chairman of Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee after previously serving as IDF chief of staff and defense minister.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/kadima-mk-mofaz-israel-should-seek-an-interim-agreement-with-the-palestinians-1.329434?localLinksEnabled=false

Former ambassador: US must talk to Hamas
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A former US official met with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza Wednesday, after calling on America to end its policy of refusing to speak with the Islamist Hamas movement.  Mark Hambley, the former US ambassador to Qatar and Lebanon, told a group of journalists before his meeting with Haniyeh: “We should have been talking to Hamas for the past three years. The difficulty is that we’ve put Hamas in the same category as groups that we have grievances against.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=340005

Lieberman associate: Turkey should compensate Israel
Defiant message: Apologizing to Turkey over flotilla incident would mark capitulation to terror, close associate of Foreign Minister Lieberman says; Turkey is the one that should apologize, pay compensation, he says.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3995947,00.html 

Israel to Turkey: Admit IDF raid on Gaza flotilla had no malicious intent
Request is part of the latest Israeli-Turkish discussions aimed at ending their diplomatic crisis, which focus on an Israeli apology in exchange for return of Turkish envoy to Tel Aviv.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-to-turkey-admit-idf-raid-on-gaza-flotilla-had-no-malicious-intent-1.329373?localLinksEnabled=false

Lieberman’s aides: Apologizing to Turkey means surrendering to terror
Officials close to the foreign minister slam Netanyahu’s push for an agreement with Turkey that would end the diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/lieberman-s-aides-apologizing-to-turkey-means-surrendering-to-terror-1.329390?localLinksEnabled=false

Other News

ADL: Rescind all Helen Thomas honors
Jewish group calls on journalism schools, professional organizations to no longer recognize former White House correspondent after she ‘clearly, unequivocally revealed herself as a vulgar anti-Semite’ in remarks to Arab American group.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3994812,00.html

Palestinians back regional firefighting force (AFP)
AFP – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday said he supported proposals for a regional firefighting unit after 42 people died in Israel’s worst-ever blaze last week.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101208/wl_mideast_afp/israelpalestiniansfirediplomacygreeceenvironment

Analysis/Op-ed

The Charade of Israeli-Palestinian Talks, Noam Chomsky
The focus on settlement expansion, and Washington’s groveling, are not the only farcical elements of the current negotiations. The very structure is a charade.
http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20101206.htm 

Giving Up On Israel?, Andrew Sullivan
It appears the Obama administration has thrown in the towel in trying to get Netanyahu to agree to a new moratorium on settlements in the West Bank. That presumably means none of the promised goodies either. Now what? Clinton is due to speak at Brookings on Friday, when the next step may be announced.  I favor an end to aid for Israel because a) Israel doesn’t need it and b) we need the money and c) it doesn’t seem sensible to me to keep rewarding an ally that refuses to offer minimal cooperation. I also favor the US laying out its own preferred solution, perhaps as a way to recognize a Palestinian state in the UN, whatever Netanyahu wants. He has had his chance to frame a deal. Now it’s time for the US to assert its own interests and goals.
http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/12/giving-up-on-israel.html

Jim-Crow Journalism: Were there really no Palestinian analysts available for latest NYT article?, Philip Weiss
Earlier today I posted Noam Chomsky’s insight that American intellectual culture has complete contempt for Arab public opinion. Well, the New York Times’s Mark Landler interviewed Dan Kurtzer, Yigal Palmor, Dan Levy, David Makovsky about their opinions on the Obama administration’s failure to get anything from Netanyahu on the so-called settlement freeze.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/jim-crow-journalism-were-there-really-no-palestinian-analysts-available-for-latest-nyt-article.html

Israel First: Discrediting Rule of Law in Britain, Stuart Littlewood – London 
Professor Richard Falk put it most eloquently: ‘The idea of Nuremberg after World War Two was that crimes against the peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes are also offences against the whole of international society…’ The law that was applied to surviving German criminals of World War Two would not be respected unless those who sat in judgment upheld it in relation to their own behaviour.  The UN Special Rapporteur was speaking in London at a parliamentary briefing on Universal Jurisdiction, the principles of which the British government intends to undermine for the benefit of its Israeli friends.
http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16469 

The Palestinian People Have Rights too, Dr. Abdel-Qader Yassine
If there is one thing a Palestinian cannot understand, or If he did understand cannot forgive, it is the apathy and hypocrisy with which governments in the ‘Free World’, especially in the United States, react towards issues of right and wrong in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Indeed, questions of morals and of justice seem to have no relevance, and policy appears in most cases to be determined solely by considerations of what one party only to the conflict might agree to, or at least not protest about.
http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16470 

Where Exactly can we Live?, Joharah Baker for MIFTAH
Let’s presume the majority of Israel’s government and people are not of the opinion of some other more radical elements in that society who call for the transfer of Palestinians outside the country [preferably to Jordan]. Let’s say the majority of Israelis still believe in “peace” – and I use this word loosely, and a settlement – even more loosely – with the Palestinians. If this majority believes the Palestinians should be able to live on land it can call its own, then the question that arises in light of circumstances that point to the contrary, is where exactly are these Palestinians allowed to live? 
http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=22893&CategoryId=13

Edward Said Memorial Lecture
Sixth Annual Edward Said Memorial Lecture organized by the Dept. of English and Comparative Literature
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLgIXtaF6OA&feature=player_embedded

Climate Change Threatens To Eliminate Half Of Israel’s Allies
Marshall Islands is one of the four reliable “No” votes usually registered against UN resolutions condemning Israeli human rights violations. Along with the United States, Micronesia, and Solomon Islands, the latter two expected to be flooded at later stages in the firs half of this century.
http://www.kabobfest.com/2010/12/climate-change-threatens-to-elim 

Sidetracked in the West Bank, Joseph Dana
A couple of hours before Shabbat descended upon the rugged hills of the West Bank a group of Israelis were hiking in a small patch of trees near Ramalah. They hiked quickly and barely stopped to discuss the beauty of the surrounding nature. Occasionally, their unofficial leader (the one who know the trail) would stop and point out a beautiful vista or note how the hill tops formed perfect concentric circles.The smell of wild growing herbs filled their noses as they moved closer to their destination.  They reached a road separating a small group of Palestinian tents and the village of Nabi Saleh. The Israelis were on their way to join Nabi Saleh’s weekly demonstration against the confiscation of its agricultural lands by the Jewish settlement of Halamish. The demonstration had started a few hours before their arrival and the Israeli army had sealed the village. This was done to keep Israelis from joining the demonstration which would offset the army’s ability to use force against the unarmed civilians demonstrating. Despite the checkpoints at all entrances, this group of activists were able to join the demonstration because of their knowledge of the patterns of army behaviour in these demonstrations.
http://josephdana.com/2010/12/sidetracked-in-the-west-bank-hills/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sidetracked-in-the-west-bank-hills

Gaza quiz
Check out this Gaza quiz presented by the UK’s Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU).  The site keeps getting “suspended” for some reason but it was sound at the time I typed this.
http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2010/12/gaza-quiz.html

The Art of Glass-Blowing in Hebron, Palestine Monitor
Once upon a time, Hebron was a busy town for glass-blowers. In the old city’s Al-Kazazin quarter (Kazazin meaning ‘people who make glass’), three families operated 14 glass factories. Today, there are only two of them left, run by the Natsheh family. The first Intifada, combined with the affluence of cheap goods from China and the rise in oil prices forced the majority of glass shop owners out of business. Both remaining factories have relocated to the entrance of the city, because tourists are sometimes fearful to go too deep into the old city.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article1642 

Julian Assange in the Honey Trap,  How they snared him, Justin Raimondo
Anyone who doubts the unmitigated evil of the US government and its international enablers has only to look at the disgraceful persecution of Julian Assange to see Washington’s brazen malevolence in full flower. As the WikiLeaks web site continues to release daily examples of US incompetence,bullyingvenality, and corruption, the response from the Imperial City has been a coordinated campaign of lies, smears, and what can only be described as utter filth. 
http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2010/12/07/julian-assange-in-the-honey-trap/

Lebanon

WikiLeaks cables: Saudis proposed Arab force to invade Lebanon
Foreign minister wanted US, Nato and UN backing for offensive to end Iranian-backed Hezbollah’s siege of government.  Saudi Arabia proposed creating an Arab force backed by US and Nato air and sea power to intervene in Lebanon two years ago and destroy Iranian-backed Hezbollah, according to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.  The plan would have sparked a proxy battle between the US and its allies against Iran, fought in one of the most volatile regions of the world.  The Saudi plan was never enacted but reflects the anxiety of Saudi Arabia – as well as the US – about growing Iranian influence in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/07/wikileaks-saudi-arab-invasion-lebanon 

Sanyruah has thus far supported two invasions of Lebanon (one that took place in 2006 and another that never materialized)
“Satterfield asked what support this concept had from Siniora and from other Arab states. Saud responded that “Siniora strongly supports,” but that only Jordan and Egypt “as well as Arab League SYG Moussa” were aware of the proposal, lest premature surfacing result in its demise.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/sanyruah-has-thus-far-supported-two.html

Walid Jumblat on Wikileaks
Walid Jumblat confirmed the authenticity of Wikileaks.  In fact, I can report to you that Hizbullah–hoping to spare its new lousy ally embarrassment–asked him last week to issue denials of his statements in Wikileaks and he refused (telling Hizbullah privately that “we had said even worse things”).  He told As-Safir today:  “I won’t deny what was attributed to me personally (in Wikileaks) because I was in [a state of] alienation that made me use expressions or comments that are contrary to the national and patriotic heritage and now I have returned to my real, natural and historic position.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/walid-jumblat-on-wikileaks.html 

Arrests over Hariri’s killing against the law: cables
Four Lebanese generals who were held in prison over the killing of Rafik Hariri were detained without a legal basis, according to a report given by U.N. investigator to U.S. diplomats three years before they were freed, a Lebanon-based newspaper reported on Monday.
http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/12/07/128826.html

Karma Khayyat’s report
New TV aired a report on the Hariri assassination by Karma Khayyat, who has been following the Hariri investigation and has followed many ignored leads in the case.  Her last documentary from a few days ago, included an important detailed refutation of the telecommunication theory that would implicate Hizbullah.  Khayyat wondered sarcastically why Hizbullah–so obsessed with secrecy–would ask the ostensible assassins to register the cellphones with their own names.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/karma-khayyats-report.html 

About the so-called “independent” Hariri tribunal
“Rizk said the U.S. can help by directing Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to ask the UN SYG to impress upon Bellemare the importance of his role as prosecutor for the Tribunal. (C) Rizk pointed out that Bellemare should not be disassociating UNIIIC from the detention of the four generals suspected of involvement in Rafiq Hariri’s assassination because the blame then falls squarely on XXXXXXXXXXXX”   PS Could xxxxxxxx be Israel?
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/about-so-called-independent-hariri.html

IDF chief reported: Hezbollah was involved in attack on Israeli convoy in Jordan
WikiLeaks cables reveal that Israel had information that Hezbollah was involved in attack as a response to the assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/idf-chief-reported-hezbollah-was-involved-in-attack-on-israeli-convoy-in-jordan-1.329486?localLinksEnabled=false

Typical ignorance of Arabic and the Middle East in the New York Times
“a billboard promoting Hezbollah“.  In fact, the billboard is promoting Saraya Al-Muqawamah which is a brigade of volunteers in the Lebanese resistance against Israel who are NOT members of Hizbullah.  
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/typical-ignorance-of-arabic-and-middle.html

Iraq

Tuesday: 3 Iraqis Killed, 18 Wounded
At least three Iraqis were killed and 18 more were wounded in violence that mostly occurred in the capital. Meanwhile, Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi warned that “power sharing is not happening” and threatened to quit the new government unless meaningful change happens.
http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2010/12/07/tuesday-3-iraqis-killed-18-wounded/ 

Bombs kill 3 Iraqis, wound 7 Iranians near Baghdad (AP)
AP – A car bomb outside a restaurant killed three people north of Baghdad on Wednesday, while a roadside bomb wounded seven Iranian pilgrims on a bus traveling to an important Shiite religious festival, officials said.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/iraq/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101208/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq

More than 80 Christian families displaced from Baghdad
Iraq’s Immigration and Displaced Directorate in Dahuk Province announced that it has received more than 80 Christian families displaced from Baghdad and Mosul in fear of armed attacks. The Directorate expects more families to move soon.
http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-57359-More-than-80-Christian-families-displaced-from-Baghdad.html

No safe haven for displaced Iraqis
More than seven years after the United States and United Kingdom-led invasion of Iraq, millions of displaced Iraqis have nowhere to go. For the overwhelming majority of refugees and internally displaced persons, displacement is not a one-off trauma. Rather, it is a continuous state of flight for most uprooted Iraqis.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11660.shtml?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+electronicIntifadaPalestine+%28Electronic+Intifada+%3A+Palestine+News%29 

Iraq’s education ministry bans theatre & music classes
The Iraqi Ministry of Education has banned theatre and music classes in Baghdad’s Fine Arts Institute, and ordered the removal of statues showcased at the entrance of the institute without explaining the move, but some of the students mull religious reasons as the real motive.  “Prohibiting theatre and music in the institute for its so called “violation” of religion is only an individual opinion touted by some people hailing from religious parties, but it is contradictory to the opinion of most religious clerics and scholars,” said Dhaya al-Shakarchi, a writer and a politicians, told Alarabiya.net. 
http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/12/07/128836.html

Iraqi maqam emerges as casualty of modernity and war (AFP)
AFP – Performing before a half-empty room at Baghdad’s Alwiyah Club, Taha Gharib is conscious that the music he has passionately played for decades — traditional Iraqi maqam — is dying.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/iraq/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101207/wl_mideast_afp/lifestyleiraqcultureheritagemusic 

U.S. and other world news

US judge blocks Awlaki killing case
Judge dismisses lawsuit to prevent US from targeting Anwar al-Awlaki, the US-born, Yemen-based cleric linked to plots.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/12/2010127165827901285.html 

U.S. may seek extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Assange could face espionage and other charges, but prosecutors would face a 1st Amendment test.  Angry over the bombardment of leaks of classified material, top Obama administration officials are considering filing an extradition request to have WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange face criminal charges, possibly for espionage.
http://feeds.latimes.com/%7Er/latimes/middleeast/%7E3/qhz-qi6bZDM/la-fg-assange-legal-20101208,0,2435271.story

WikiLeaks founder denied bail in UK
Julian Assange is remanded in custody after appearing in a London court on an extradition warrant.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2010/12/2010127151439124591.html 

Attorney: WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Endangered by Bail Denial in London; Still No Charges Filed in Sweden
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will remain in custody until at least December 14th, when a British court will take up a Swedish request for extradition. Assange hasn’t been charged with a crime but is wanted for questioning in Sweden on allegations of unlawful sexual contact with two women. Assange has maintained his innocence and called the case a political witch-hunt that has intensified with WikiLeaks’ release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables. We speak with his attorney, Jennifer Robinson.
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/8/attorney_for_wikileaks_founder_julian_assange

Don’t shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths, Julian Assange
WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks. 
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/wikileaks/dont-shoot-messenger-for-revealing-uncomfortable-truths/story-fn775xjq-1225967241332

Australia vows to back Assange
SYDNEY — Australian diplomats will support detained WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd vowed Wednesday, even after Assange accused Canberra of “disgraceful pandering” to his foes.  Australia’s consul-general to Britain has already spoken to Assange, arrested in London Tuesday on a warrant seeking his extradition to Sweden on sex assault charges, while diplomats attended his court hearing, officials said.  “We have confirmed that we’ll provide (consular support), as we’d do for all Australian citizens,” Rudd said a day after his boss Prime Minister Julia Gillard branded WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked diplomatic cables “grossly irresponsible.”
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/australia-vows-assange/ 

Lieberman suggests media outlets could be prosecuted over WikiLeaks stories
Can the US government prosecute media outlets that reported on the WikiLeaks cables? According to Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the answer is maybe. Following the release of thousands of documents by government watchdog WikiLeaks, Lieberman told the The New York Times that he wanted to use “all legal means” against the website.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/lieberman-suggests-ny-times-prosecuted-wikileaks/ 

State to host celebration of digital information openness
Before the WikiLeaks crisis, the State Department began a new initiative called “21st Century Statecraft“, which includes a drive to expand openness and combat government censorship in cyberspace.  As part of that initiative, the State Department announced on Tuesday that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, meant to champion the free flow of information on the Internet. The event will be held at the Newseum in Washington from May 1 to 3, and the theme will be “21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers.” 
http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/07/state_to_host_celebration_of_digital_information_openness

U.S. to Host World Press Freedom Day in 2011
New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression.
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/12/152465.htm 

MasterCard, Visa shut down electronic donations to WikiLeaks
EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Mobile payments firm Xipwire, Inc. steps up to aid WikiLeaks The Philadelphia, PA-based mobile payments firm Xipwire, Inc. said Tuesday that it would act as an intermediary for WikiLeaks after the world’s largest credit card providers halted all electronic donations to the non-profit media outlet.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/mastercard-shuts-donations-wikileaks-calling-site-illegal/

MasterCard site partially frozen by hackers in WikiLeaks ‘revenge’
‘Operation: Payback’ hacks into MasterCard site over payment network’s decision to cease taking donations to WikiLeaks
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/08/mastercard-hackers-wikileaks-revenge

Chomsky, Singer declare support for WikiLeaks’ Assange
Two distinguished scholars and activists, Noam Chomsky and Peter Singer, signed an open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia on Tuesday, urging the government to condemn calls for Australian citizen and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be assassinated.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/chomsky-peter-singer-wikileaks-assange/ 

US embassy cables: Strains show in Iran-Syria ties
The successive visits of three high-level Iranian officials to Damascus in early December appear at first glance to reaffirm strong Iranian-Syrian security ties and other forms of bilateral cooperation, but they may, in fact, mask deepening rifts over Iraq, Yemen, and the possibility of war with Israel. Syrian observers suggest the a shifting balance of power between Iran and Syria. The Iranian government, challenged domestically by anti-regime protests and abroad by building pressure over its nuclear program, has sought Syria’s help just when Syria has begun to enjoy other strategic options, such as its relations with Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Asad’s government proved willing to host the visits, sign a defense MOU, and allow Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Meshaal to visit Tehran, all the while continuing close cooperation with Iranian security services and Hizballah operatives. But Asad reportedly resisted Iranian arguments for closer bilateral coordination in Iraq and Yemen and flatly rejected being drawn into a war between Iran and Israel. End Summary.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/241053

Iran’s negotiator speaks with Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri speaks with Saeed Jalili, Iran’s leading negotiator, who explains his country’s refusal to talk about stopping its enrichment of uranium at the January meeting on its nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad: lift sanctions to boost Iran nuclear talks
The first round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program in 14 months yielded defiance from Tehran, frustration from the P5+1 countries, and an agreement to meet again in Istanbul in January.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/EuS86JaGI5I/Ahmadinejad-lift-sanctions-to-boost-Iran-nuclear-talks

I am sure that Iran is nervous“
Egypt had sent a clear message to Iran that if they interfere in Egypt, Egypt will interfere in Iran,” noted the cable, adding that the Egyptian official said his country had trained agents for that purpose.”  Wow. I am sure that would stir trouble.  I am sure it would be so easy for Egypt to interfere in other countries’ affairs. You see Husni Mubarak is so popular in the region, and his policies–especially his alliance with Netanyahu–are so popular that citizens of countries in the region are way too eager to do the bidding of Husni and Jamal Mubarak.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/i-am-sure-that-iran-is-nervous.html 

US embassy cables: Saudi youth ‘frolic under princely protection’
Summary: Behind the facade of Wahabi conservatism in the streets, the underground nightlife for Jeddah’s elite youth is thriving and throbbing. The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available — alcohol, drugs, sex — but strictly behind closed doors. This freedom to indulge carnal pursuits is possible merely because the religious police keep their distance when parties include the presence or patronage of a Saudi royal and his circle of loyal attendants, such as a Halloween event attended by ConGenOffs on October 29. Over the past few years, the increased conservatism of Saudi Arabia’s external society has pushed the nightlife and party scene in Jeddah even further underground. End summary.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/235420 

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex
Royals flout puritanical laws to throw parties for young elite while religious police are forced to turn a blind eye.  In what may prove a particularly incendiary cable, US diplomats describe a world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll behind the official pieties of Saudi Arabian royalty.  Jeddah consulate officials described an underground Halloween party, thrown last year by a member of the royal family, which broke all the country’s Islamic taboos. Liquor and prostitutes were present in abundance, according to leaked dispatches, behind the heavily-guarded villa gates.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/07/wikileaks-cables-saudi-princes-parties 

Prince `Azzuz (who spent millions trying to get the attention of Yasmeen Bleeth)
“During a visit to the US Embassy in November for a visa in preparation for the King’s UNGA and White House summit meetings, XXXXXXXXXXXX told press officer that while MBC is owned by King Fahd’s brother-in-law (the non-royal Waleed bin Ibrahim al-Ibrahim), fifty percent of the profits of the MBC empire go to King Fahd’s youngest son (and al-Ibrahim’s maternal nephew) Abdulaziz bin Fahd. XXXXXXXXXXXX on issues relating to al-Arabiya and other MBC channels. When asked if the thirty-something prince was interested only in the profits of the station, or if he also took an active role in the ideological direction of al-Arabiya, XXXXXXXXXXXX whispered with a grimace, Both.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/prince-azzuz-who-spent-millions-trying.html

Robert Fisk: Qatar’s the star – and washington is worried
Despite the leaked US diplomatic reports on Qatar and their claim that it is a major source of “terrorist” funding, Washington would do well not to mess with the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-qatars-the-star-ndash-and-washington-is-worried-2153974.html

WikiLeaks cables: Tunisia blocks site reporting ‘hatred’ of first lady
US embassy warns Tunisian anger over corruption and unemployment, as well as ‘intense dislike’ for president’s wife, threaten country’s stability Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and his wife, Leila Trabelsi.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/07/wikileaks-tunisia-first-lady 

‘Syria refused to join war against Israel’
According to diplomatic cable, Iranian officials asked Damascus to help them fight Jewish state in case of war but were turned down.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3995997,00.html

Redaction in Wikileaks
Amer wrote me this (I cite with his permission):  “Wikileaks does not always hide the sources and names well, here, they removed the name of the US informant in Syria, but at one place, they forget to cover his name “h…” (a.. h..?). Lucky for him Syrian Mukhabarat are not competent, otherwise, someone called H…would have died in Damascus tonight. I’ve seen that problem with other documents.”  PS I can report to you that Al-Akhbar has worked very hard in redaction to protect individuals mentioned in documents (they for example redacted names of Iraqi translators with US troops whose names appeared in requests for immigration visas and such).
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/12/redaction-in-wikileaks.html

US role in Palestine is ‘perfect symbol’ for recruiting Islamic terrorists –US Embassy in Algeria, Philip Weiss
“After the latest Algiers bombings”  is the title of a December 2007 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Algeria following two December 11 bombings of government and U.N. buildings in Algiers that killed dozens and shook the government. AQIM is Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. I picked this up from Justin Elliott. Excerpt:  The Al-Qaida in Iraq network, which already has ties to jihadi groups in Algeria, has strong influence on AQIM elements. … The AQIM videos strongly resemble videos from Iraq in terms of the music, Quranic citations and filming of hits on enemy targets they show. They strongly pitch the alleged American wrongdoings in Iraq and Palestine to recruit men to join AQIM….
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/us-role-in-palestine-is-perfect-symbol-for-recruiting-islamic-terrorists-us-embassy-in-algeria.html

Bahrain: End Harassment of Prominent Rights Defender
(Washington, DC) – The Bahraini government should order security forces to stop harassing Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and return any information illegally copied from his laptop computer and mobile phone, Human Rights Watch said today.
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/12/07/bahrain-end-harassment-prominent-rights-defender 

Two-third Afghans want Taliban’s return: Poll
The poll released Monday also shows that Afghan confidence in US military operations to secure the country is dropping while Afghan support for the insurgency is rising.
http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/07-Dec-2010/Twothird-Afghans-want-Talibans-return-Poll

Poll paints a bleak picture for the West in Afghanistan
Big majorities want Hamid Karzai’s government to negotiate with the Taliban, regard corruption as endemic and believe Afghan government officials are pocketing much of the billions earmarked for aid and development.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/asia-pacific/sharp-rise-in-afghans-who-say-insurgent-attacks-on-us-forces-justified-poll/article1826628/

Species at Yemen island face threat
Climate change talks in Mexico seem to be heading nowhere, with a legally binding deal on reducing carbon emissions, looking highly unlikely. It’s disappointing news for scientists trying to save some of the world’s rarest flora and fauna. Like this one: the dragon’s blood tree. It’s home is an isolated island. Part of the Yemeni territory, Socotra is described as the most alien-looking place on earth. Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra explains why its indigenous species are now in danger of being wiped out.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbFqtDwUGGY&feature=youtube_gdata

www.TheHeadlines.org
     

Halfway there! Please help us meet our matching fund goal in December.

Dec 08, 2010

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz

 

We are halfway to our goal in our current fund raising drive. Thank you! It only took us five days to raise the first $10,000 – by far our best start ever.

We’re hoping to raise another $10,000 in order to meet the $20,000 matching fund challenge presented to us by a very generous donor. Please help us reach our goal and give today!

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Just as a reminder, we’ve decided to send two thank you gifts to anyone who can make a donation of $100 or higher to our matching fund:

If you’d like your gifts sent to someone else just let us know.

We also realize that a $100 donation is more than some people can afford, so we would also like to offer a Mondoweiss t-shirt to anyone who donates over $60.

Thanks again for your support!

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to Mondoweiss through the Nation Institute.

 

(While simpler, the Paypal donations are not tax-deductible.)

The address you fill in on the Groundspring site will be the address to which we send your t-shirt and book. For Paypal donations over $100, we will email you with a mailing address request.

     

The US has failed in the peace process, bring in the international community

Dec 08, 2010

Adam Horowitz

 

As the US admits its failure to secure an Israeli settlement freeze, questions are being raised (most notably in Palestine) as to whether the US is fit to continue to facilitate the peace process. Writing in the the bitterlemons series, Ramallah-based Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour has an alternative suggestion in his piece US mediation monopoly collapsing:

The US is fully aware of its failed attempts at mediation, especially over the past 20 years, and thus moved to create the so-called “Quartet”. In essence, the Quartet attempted to camouflage the dominating US role in the conflict with the inclusion of the European Union, Russian Federation and United Nations. This fuzzy, ineffective diplomatic mechanism, which self-proclaims a mandate of mediating the conflict, falls short of having any real international legitimacy. Over the past years, the Quartet, currently represented by Tony Blair, quietly observed unprecedented Israeli aggression against Palestinians and a collapse of the peace process while doing little more than deciding how high to jump after being ordered to do so by the US.

An alternative to the Quartet would be to create a properly mandated UN Security Council mediation team in which no member would be allowed to exercise veto power. The team would be equipped with the necessary resources to bring Israel (the occupier) and the Palestinians (the occupied) to the table with the agenda of ending the 43-year Israeli military occupation of Palestinians. The basis for an end to the occupation would be dictated as prescribed in international and humanitarian law. This mediation team would have the authority to deploy a specified number of multinational peacekeeping forces should they be required.

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The wild card actually blocking such a serious approach to mediation is the US. Why would the US accept a mediation arrangement that would definitely drive a wedge between the US and Israel? There are 101 reasons for the US to take a backseat in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, not the least being the quagmire that it created for itself in Iraq and Afghanistan or the constantly increasing costs that Israel is inflicting upon the US, both financially and politically. Sooner or later, the US must take action to remove Israel from dominating its domestic agenda. With President Barack Obama past the mid-term elections, despite recovering from a setback, he should be able to breathe a little easier and spend serious political capital to repair some of the damage that was done to his presidency when he was forced to retreat from the showdown with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over continued illegal Israeli settlement building.

However, betting on the US or Obama to make a historic unilateral about-face is most likely a losing bet. The international community needs to urgently step up to the plate.

Jim-Crow Journalism: Were there really no Palestinian analysts available for latest NYT article?

Dec 08, 2010

Philip Weiss

 

Earlier today I posted Noam Chomsky’s insight that American intellectual culture has complete contempt for Arab public opinion. Well, the New York Times’s Mark Landler interviewed Dan Kurtzer, Yigal Palmor, Dan Levy, David Makovsky about their opinions on the Obama administration’s failure to get anything from Netanyahu on the so-called settlement freeze.

Not a single Palestinian, and they’re the ones directly affected!

And it was less than a month ago that Helene Cooper wrote in the Times about ethnic profiling at Ben Gurion  without bothering to interview a single Palestinian.

And remember Andrew Sullivan nailing Ben Smith of Politico for writing a piece on the settlement freeze charade and quoting a dozen neocons. “There is not a single quote from a single Palestinian in the entire piece,” Sullivan writes. Actually there may have been one. Bupkus. I don’t understand why this isn’t a scandal.
     

Another silent walk-out in protest of Israel’s PR campaign

Dec 08, 2010

Christopher Clark

 

On December 2nd, an event entitled “Overcoming Terror: A True Story” was set to take place on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst, Massachusetts.
It was sponsored by the Student Alliance for Israel (SAFI) and the University of Massachusetts Hillel House. IDF Sergeant Kenny Sachs was the orator, an on-call speaker for Israeli propaganda groups Upstart Activist and Divestment Watch. Though the topic of discussion happened in Gaza, the event description never named Palestinians. Instead, “terrorists”  was the term used to describe those who “attacked” Sergeant Sachs at the Erez checkpoint in northern Gaza. The rest of the description being a muddled account of a shootout between Sachs and aforementioned “terrorists” in an attempt to create the center periphery story of Sachs losing his ability to play basketball after being shot in the leg. He said, “That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever heard.”

The Western Massachusetts Coalition for Palestine organized this protest in solidarity with the Palestinians silenced by the illegal Israeli occupation. Vis-á-vis the silent walk-out protests at Arizona State University and Michigan State University, we taped the children’s names of those murdered in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead to our shirts. By being intentional in using silence as a means of non-violent protest, we were invoking the silencing effect of the IDF in Palestine – of the military occupation, the separation wall, of the staggering number of Palestinians killed. Kenny Sachs served in the IDF until 2003 in Jenin, Gaza, Lebanon, and Tulkarem. There are voices who will never be able to give their account of this military occupation, effectively silenced without their story being able to echo throughout history. This video is an attempt to provide the rudimentary means to bring life into those who have been killed and can no longer voice their abstention to the forceful annexation of Palestinian land by insidious Zionist policies.

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Israel has been making attempts to rebrand itself in the United States by sending soldiers to humanize the occupation, to reverse the roles of a violent occupier into passive victims of “terrorist” attacks, using the soldier’s inability to play basketball for instance as the pivotal point of this narrative. This, of course, leaves out the option for Palestinians to illuminate the occupation and the struggle for justice – recanting here the brutal histories of Gaza, Jenin, and Lebanon. By emphasizing the personal
nature of this lecture, Student Alliance For Israel again denies the legitimacy of their claim that they want to encourage all opinions, create constructive dialogues, or foster pathways to peaceful co-existence for all peoples. As a coalition, we disregard this notion of co-existence and peaceful dialogue so long as Israel continues the ethnic cleansing in Palestine. As activists interested in justice, we refuse to acknowledge the shallow attempt to depoliticise this event. Despite multiple opportunities, Student Alliance For Israel has declined any sort of academic, public, moderated debate.

In doing this action, we are also in accordance with the call for a boycott, divest, and sanctions movement against Israel. Until Israel is held responsible for their crimes against humanity, until they remove all troops from occupied territories, until they accept the right of return, and abandon the systematic policy of carving up the land – we will continue to boycott Israel to the fullest extent. Israel is a colonizer-settler state which has forcibly expelled the indigenous people from their land for decades. Despite condemning international accounts of their domestic policies, Israel is still being financed by economically powerful companies and countries. As a form of non-violent resistance, the boycott movement as a necessity needs to swell and multiply. We see hope on the horizon, and as a coalition, we are attempting to foster ways to reach those ends until Palestine is free, imbued with joyfulness and sovereignty.

Christopher Clark is a third-year student at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. He is studying resistance communities and the Middle East. He is a member of  Students for Justice in Palestine as well as the Western Massachusetts for Palestine.
     

Contempt for democracy: Chomsky says Arab public opinion counts for nothing in US intellectual culture

Dec 08, 2010

Philip Weiss

 

Noam Chomsky was on Law and Disorder Radio, interviewed by Michael Ratner and Michael Smith. The exchange begins at minute 32 or so. Chomsky is asked about his new Gaza book and says,

“Just to be timely, let’s start with WikiLeaks. There’s not very much of interest in it. But one of the interesting cables… is to Clinton and it discusses… the attack on Gaza, that’s what it’s about, and it tells her that Israel had to attack in December 2008 in self defense because Hamas had violated the truce. Now there are only two possibilities. Either the US Embassy in Israel is so clueless that nobody even reads the press, or else they’re just lying flat out. Because the facts are clear and uncontroversial. In December 2008 Hamas was calling for a renewal of the truce that Israel had broken… Hamas lived up to [the June truce] scrupulously… Israel recognizes officially that there was not a single Hamas rocket until November 4.”

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Here’s the cable, actually from Cairo (thanks to Alex Kane):

“the Egyptians, under the leadership of intelligence chief Omar Soliman (the de facto national security advisor with direct responsibility for the Israeli-Palestinian account) have shifted their focus to intra-Palestinian reconciliation and establishment of the Hamas-Israel ceasefire. Soliman brokered a half-year-long truce last year, which Hamas broke in December, leading to the Israeli invasion of Gaza.”

Chomsky goes on, “The fact that this can pass without comment says quite a lot… The most remarkable fact in the whole episode is the absolute contempt for democracy that’s revealed by the embassies, by the State Department, and by the commentators.”

He moves on to the headline, that Arabs want us to bomb Iran.

“They’re of course just citing the Arab dictators, and we don’t know what they really think, how much the embassy officials invented or wanted to hear. What about the Arab population? Now again either they are clueless and don’t know a thing about the Middle East, or else they’re lying. We have good studies of Arab public opinion from mainstream very respectable sources. Arabs do perceive a threat– 88 percent say the main threat is Israel, 77 percent see it as the U.S., Iran is mentioned, way at the bottom, 10 percent.

“For our intellectual culture, what the population thinks is irrelevant. What we care about is what the dictators think… This is pretty striking. I haven’t seen a word about this.”

Re Goldstone:

He did a very good job. As well as you can do to a past war… where the access has been blocked… So he did a pretty good job.

Michael Smith says Israel has long been part of our lives. “It grows increasingly dismaying.” What are the solutions? One state, two states…

All of them. I’d even go on and prefer a no-state solution…. Supporting all of these proposals makes perfectly good sense, so long as we have a way to get there…

Chomsky goes on to say that there is international consensus for two-state settlement. “And then once it’s in force, people would understand that the borders would erode naturally, in natural ways, and then you could move toward a binational federation. Away from imperial borders, integrate with Lebanon.”

Israel lobby stuff too. Chomsky diminishes it. The Chamber of Commerce could put the lobby out of business in no time if it were truly against U.S. business interests. Ah, materialism; if only that is what drove human action.

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Wikileaks, the Australian angle

Posted: 10 Dec 2010 07:26 AM PST

Philip Dorling scored the exclusive Australian Wikileaks cables. He explains today how he did it:

Getting to WikiLeaks’s secret headquarters took quite some time and was not without complications.

This year a careful reading of statements by the WikiLeaks co-founder, Julian Assange, led me to conclude his small organisation had landed what could be the biggest leak of classified information – a vast trove of US documents that, among other things, would provide deep insight into the realities of Australia’s relationship with our most important ally, the US.

As a journalist I thought this was a story worth going for. Curiously few, if any others, thought likewise. Consistent with the old journalistic maxim that ”Noah is a better story than flood control”, most media interest was focused on Assange himself, admittedly an elusive and intensely interesting figure, rather than what he might be about to release through the WikiLeaks website.

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Six months of emails, clandestine meetings and confidential exchanges followed before arrangements for a visit to Britain were locked in.

WikiLeaks takes security very seriously, and it is right to do so. After all, it’s not paranoia when the vast intelligence and security apparatus of the US is arrayed against you. Consequently I flew out from Australia last month without a specific destination, only an instruction on arrival at Heathrow Airport to go to a certain railway station, taking precautions to see whether I was followed.

There, using a public telephone, I phoned a number that had been provided earlier through a secure channel. A voice on the other end gave a single-word reply to my call – the name of a railway station outside London.

I bought a ticket and some hours later arrived on a windswept, rain-splattered railway platform in rural England.

Only a couple of other passengers got off and the platform was quickly deserted. I wondered what the next step would be.

But after a moment a figure emerged from the early evening shadows, with cap pulled down over his head and coat collar turned up, perhaps to make identification difficult but more likely to protect against the bitter wind and sleet.

There was a quick greeting, then a long drive through the countryside to WikiLeaks’s temporary headquarters, made available by a benefactor.

I was greeted by the man himself: modest, unassuming, in T-shirt, tracksuit pants and socks with holes in them.

Assange doesn’t stand on ceremony and is always focused on the task. We got straight down to business – the imminent release, in conjunction with some of the world’s leading newspapers, of a torrent of highly sensitive US diplomatic secrets.

The setting was utterly incongruous. The home was a marvellous example of Georgian elegance, a relic of the pre-industrial age carefully preserved but demonstrating the challenges of maintaining buildings that are close to 300 years old.

On the walls of the drawing room, in effect WikiLeaks operations room, paintings of long-dead defenders of the empire, most in the scarlet uniforms, looked down on a tangle of laptops, printers, wires and power cables and other equipment.

It is said the security-conscious Assange changes mobile phones as often as most people change shirts. This is an understatement. Tables were covered with mobile phones and SIM cards were strewn around like confetti. Resting in one corner was Assange’s backpack, carrying all his worldly goods.

In the morning the countryside reverberated to the sounds of gunfire as the English upper class indulged its passion for bird shooting. Occasionally low-flying air force jets would rattle the windows, prompting jokes about a possible air strike.

For a tiny organisation under immense pressure the atmosphere in temporary WikiLeaks HQ was remarkably calm and relaxed. On the eve of its biggest documents release, the main work area was often silent apart from the sound of typing as documents were formatted and last-minute communications made with the newspapers partnered in the release.

Although WikiLeaks has a big pool of volunteers, the inner core is a small, highly committed group, all working on the basis of only expenses being reimbursed, with remarkably diverse skills ranging from computer programming and language translation to journalism and media liaison.

It is a truly multinational enterprise, with accents from around the globe heard across the breakfast table. Not that everyone appears at breakfast. WikiLeaks runs on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis so a good proportion of the key personnel are essentially nocturnal.

As for Assange, he is an impressive figure. Highly intelligent, articulate and deeply committed to his cause. And he certainly isn’t in it for the money. For someone under immense pressure he was remarkably calm, focused and measured.

Contrary to reports that he is an eccentric egomaniac, he gave every appearance of being good-tempered and humoured, ready to discuss issues and carefully consider advice.

He is certainly a strategic thinker with a fair amount of political and media nous that has turned his organisation into a global phenomenon.

Having entered into talks on the basis of confidentiality, I will not repeat his observations but I found him a highly engaging, thoughtful conversationalist.

He pays close attention to political developments in Australia and has a keen sense of the importance of encouraging more openness.

A frequent theme is the need to cut through the hypocrisy and cant that fills so much of political discourse by enabling citizens to see and hear directly what their leaders think and say in private.

Assange has well and truly kicked the hornets’ nest. He is now in an English prison awaiting extradition proceedings that could mean he will be taken to Sweden to be questioned about sexual misconduct allegations, but which could also open the door for him to be sent to face the wrath of the US government.

It is reported that he is in good spirits and as a highly self-contained person he probably has the inner resources to cope with his difficult circumstances.

Whatever the outcome of these proceedings, one thing was clear. He has given much thought to how WikiLeaks might defend itself from sustained attacks and how it might function without him. The frenzy about WikiLeaks is likely to continue. There will be twists and turns but it looks like WikiLeaks is here to stay and governments will have to get used to that.

Philip Dorling is a Canberra writer and Fairfax contributor.

 

Guess which two countries are most angry towards Wikileaks?

Posted: 09 Dec 2010 11:23 PM PST

Watch the world laugh at American reactions to Wikileaks (and Australia is of course following our Washington masters step by step):

For many Europeans, Washington’s fierce reaction to the flood of secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks displays imperial arrogance and hypocrisy, indicating a post-9/11 obsession with secrecy that contradicts American principles.

While the Obama administration has done nothing in the courts to block the publication of any of the leaked documents, or even, as of yet, tried to indict the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, for any crime, American officials and politicians have been widely condemned in the European news media for calling the leaks everything from “terrorism” (Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York) to “an attack against the international community” (Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton). Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates called the arrest of Mr. Assange on separate rape charges “good news.” Sarah Palin called for him to be hunted as an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands,” and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, said that whoever leaked the cables should be executed.

For Seumas Milne of The Guardian in London, which like The New York Times has published the latest WikiLeaks trove, the official American reaction “is tipping over toward derangement.” Most of the leaks are of low-level diplomatic cables, he noted, while concluding: “Not much truck with freedom of information, then, in the land of the free.”

John Naughton, writing in the same British paper, deplored the attack on the openness of the Internet and the pressure on companies like Amazon and eBay to evict the WikiLeaks site. “The response has been vicious, coordinated and potentially comprehensive,” he said, and presents a “delicious irony” that “it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamoring to shut WikiLeaks down.”

A year ago, he noted, Mrs. Clinton made a major speech about Internet freedom, interpreted as a rebuke to China’s cyberattack on Google. “Even in authoritarian countries,” she said, “information networks are helping people to discover new facts and making governments more accountable.” To Mr. Naughton now, “that Clinton speech reads like a satirical masterpiece.”

 

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on big Sydney Wikileaks rally

Posted: 09 Dec 2010 11:01 PM PST

Today’s big rally for Wikileaks in Sydney (I think around 2000 people were there) saw a wide cross section of people outraged with the intimidation of Wikileaks and Julian Assange and the Gillard government’s capitulation to American demands. I spoke and chaired the event. This story appears in the Daily Telegraph:

Protestors today converged on Sydney’s town hall demanding that the Gillard government protect Australian-born Wikileaks frontman Julian Assange in the first offline mass action in the country since “cablegate” broke.

The message from the handful of speakers to the 1200-strong crowd, from Greens MPs through to an American businessman, was simple: the Australian government needs to do a better job in protecting citizens abroad and Wikileaks is critical for the democracy both here and internationally.

Independent journalist and author Antony Loewenstein said Prime Minister Julia Gillard had to condemn the death threats on Mr Assange’s life and should support the besieged whistleblower with as much government assistance as possible.

“We should not make the mistakes that we made with David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib,” Mr Loewenstein said today.

And he questioned just how much the Australian government is independent of the US after leaks this week revealed that Labor senator Mark Arbib was an American informant.

“Are we independent or are we a client state of the US?” he said to the cheers of the crowd.

Get Up’s Sam Mclean, one of a number of political groups represented in the crowd, said that in just 12 hours close to 50,000 people had donated a total of almost $250,000 to buy advertisements in the New York Times supporting Mr Assange.

“We want to make a statement to our allies in the States that the Australian people support Wikileaks,” Mr Mclean said.

“We are buying full-page ads in the New York Times because our government has failed to represent us.”

Former Get Up CEO Brett Solomon will appear on the Bill O’Reilly show today in the US taking Get Up’s message to conservative America, Mr Mclean said.

Greens senate-elect Lee Rhiannon said: “Right now our government should be celebrating the work of Julian Assange.”

But Ms Rhiannon said the government had instead engaged in sycophantic behaviour in claiming that Wikileaks had broken the law but could not say which laws had been broken.

“The government is big on sharing information on MySchool and MyHospital but not on My Government,” she said.

Melbourne-run website WL Central moderator Asher Wolf said recently the site had received 1.9 million hits per day as interest in the diplomatic cables had spiked.

However, she said that US government talk of listing Mr Assange and Wikileaks associates as terrorists was effectively a death threat against her and her colleagues.

During the speeches an elderly man made his way onto the town hall’s steps and held up a series of signs in support of free speech.

However, he drifted off topic with one anti-gay sign sparking an angry response from one member of the crowd who tore the placard off him and tore it up.

 

 

Wikileaks exposes the bromance between journalists and politics

Posted: 09 Dec 2010 10:03 PM PST

My following article appears on ABC Unleashed today:

Who can now say that the WikiLeaks cables detail no new information?

It was only last week that ABC TV’s 7.30 Report featured a story with supposed foreign affairs experts, including the Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove, who largely dismissed the significance of the document dump. Within a few days these men were all proven wrong.

Now we know Labor powerbroker Mark Arbib sends confidential information to the Americans. He’s not alone.

Crucially, however, our media class aren’t asking the next obvious questions.

The Australian’s Paul Maley argues that communication between politicians, journalists and diplomats is part of the daily job.

“It is no surprise the Americans were talking to Arbib,” he writes, “They talk to everyone.”

And yet the senior Murdoch journalist doesn’t understand that the general public are rarely told about such meetings. What is discussed? What are the agendas? Is there transparency in such dealings? And who is telling what information to whom? Who benefits and what stories are not being told to avoid embarrassing somebody?

The cosiness between these players is exactly what WikiLeaks is aiming to challenge. Why shouldn’t the voting public be privy to whims and wishes of the American government and their relationships with key government ministers, individuals voted in by all of us? If Arbib was warning the Americans he thought Rudd may fall, why wasn’t he telling his constituents, the ones who put him in office?

The fact that the US had followed the rise of Julia Gillard and approved her views on the American alliance, Afghanistan and Israeli aggression is worrying though unsurprising.

It’s extremely rare that a leader rises who hasn’t received American approval or extensive years of obedience grooming. Former Labor leader Mark Latham was loathed by the US because he publicly expressed scepticism about the US alliance, the war in Iraq and then-president George W Bush.

It’s worth recalling that Latham called former prime minister John Howard an “arselicker” of the Bush administration and described a delegation of Liberal party politicians going to Washington as “a conga line of suckholes”.

Latham would undoubtedly use equally colourful language to describe Arbib and Kevin Rudd. So why did ABC TV’s 7.30 Report feel the need to mitigate the damage to Rudd and Australia with the latest release of cables this week by featuring a soft-ball interview with assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell?

Host Kerry O’Brien didn’t even blush when he acknowledged that, “he [Campbell] asked to come on the program to counter the damage from today’s exposure in Fairfax newspapers of the US embassy cables”. Since when is the ABC designed to offer air-time to a senior US official with a clear agenda to kiss and make up with Canberra? Moreover, viewers were expected to believe that Rudd was one of Barack Obama’s “best mates”?

The interview was symptomatic of the greater media malaise in this massive story; journalistic jealousy and closeness to state power.

The latest leaks that show profound Australian Government doubts over the Afghan mission are damning. Ministers are complicit but what about the journalists who visit Afghanistan, embed with our troops and paint an overly rose picture of brave men and women in a winnable war? Scepticism is often in short supply when reporting from the front lines.

When Hillary Clinton recently visited Australia, she was treated to a light interview with ABC’s Leigh Sales (who even Tweeted a grinning photo of the two). There were no challenging questions, just friendly banter and space for the Secretary of State to spin lines about loving Australia and its hospitality.

To learn a few weeks later, via WikiLeaks, that Clinton directed US officials across the world to spy on unsuspecting governments and UN officials should elicit outrage from a media fraternity that recently offered little more than obsequiousness before American power. There’s been not a peep.

Such obedience doesn’t come naturally; it takes years of practice. Annual events such as the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue – a secret gathering of politicians, journalists and opinion-makers – consolidate the unhealthy, uncritical relationship between Australia and America. Many corporate journalists have attended, including the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher and former Labor MP and ABC reporter Maxine McKew. It aims to consolidate American hegemony rather than challenging it.

It’s largely a one-way street. Australians display loyalty to an agenda and the Americans are allegedly thankful. As US participant Steve Clemons wrote in 2007:

Phil Scanlan, founder of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue, is proud of the fact that in 15 years, no-one has leaked any of the internal conversations of the conference. I won’t either… unless I get permission from one of the speakers or commentators to do so which is allowed by the rules.”

The Australia-Israel Leadership Dialogue, inspired by the American one, is once again about to head to Israel for a short burst of Zionist propaganda. Journalists and politicians invariably return with the required Israeli talking points (let me guess this year; Iran is the greatest threat to the Middle East and the world?).

The Age’s Michelle Grattan tweeted this week of the post-WikiLeaks reality of the tour:

“All those pollies travelling to the Aust-Israel dialogue might be a bit more inclined to zip their lips in private.”

But why are such gatherings so secret? Why do journalists allow themselves to be romanced without revealing the kinds of agendas they’re pushing? It’s obvious why; being close to top officials and politicians makes them feel connected and important. Being an insider is many reporters’ ideal position. Independence is secondary to receiving sanctioned links and elevated status in a globalised world.

The WikiLeaks documents challenge the entire corrupted relationship between media and political elites. Founder Julian Assange is an outsider and doesn’t attend exclusive and secret meetings where the furthering of US foreign policy goals are on the cards. He aims to disrupt that dynamic. Many in the media resent not being leaked the information themselves and are jealous. Others simply dislike a lone-wolf citizen with remarkable tech-savvy to challenge their viability.

One can dismiss The Australian’s bragging of knowing virtually everything in the WikiLeaks cables before they were released – if only they more deeply scrutinised the effect of war policies they backed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and beyond – because the key point here isn’t merely covering disillusionment over Rudd or Gillard or anyone else. It’s something far bigger; a fundamental re-writing of the relationship between journalists and governments.

The WikiLeaks cable dumps have revealed a chasm between establishment attitudes towards truth-telling and furious attempts to protect the embarrassed. The sign of any healthy democracy is the ways in which it deals with the most sensitive of information. Senior media figures and government authorities are often remarkably consistent in their messaging. They move in similar worlds and they often rely on each other for sourcing.

It’s this kind of dangerous, mutual sycophancy that WikiLeaks could break.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney journalist, author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution and currently working on a book about disaster capitalism

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NOVANEWS**NOVANEWS

NOVANEWS

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: White House Cabinet Member Suggested Killing an American Service Man to Justify War on Iraq

On Monday, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton told told Jon Stewart that a Clinton cabinet member proposed letting Saddam kill an American pilot as a pretext for war in Iraq:

This might seem, at first glance, like just an odd, one-off suggestion.

However, as Reported by the New York Times and other newspapers, George W. Bush also suggested to Tony Blair that a U.S. plane be painted in United Nations colors so that – if Saddam shot it down – it would create a casus belli. As the Times wrote in 2006:

The memo [confirmed by two senior British officials as being authentic] also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire ….

And it’s not just the current war in Iraq. As I’ve previously pointed out, war is always sold to it’s people by artificially demonizing the enemy:

Countries need to lie about their enemies in order to demonize them sufficiently so that the people will support the war.

That is why intelligence “failures” – such as the following – are so common:

The U.S. Navy’s own historians now say that the sinking of the USS Maine — the justification for America’s entry into the Spanish-American War — was probably caused by an internal explosion of coal, rather than an attack by the Spanish.

It is also now well-accepted that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which led to the Vietnam war was a fiction (confirmed here).
And two lies were used to justify the 1991 Gulf War: the statement that Iraqis murdered Kuwaiti babies and the statement that a quarter of a million Iraqi troops were massed on the border with Saudi Arabia (see also this article)(technically, the statement about Kuwaiti babies did not come from the U.S. government, but from a public relations firm hired by the government).

And governments from around the world have admitted that – for many years – they have used false flag incidents to sell their people on the wars they wish to launch.

For example:

A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland. Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson

The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950’s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister

Israel admits that an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind “evidence” implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this)

The former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligence admit that NATO, with the help of the Pentagon and CIA, carried out terror bombings in Italy and other European countries in the 1950s and blamed the communists, in order to rally people’s support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism. As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: “You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security” (and see this)(Italy and other European countries subject to the terror campaign had joined NATO before the bombings occurred)

As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in the 1960’s, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. Official State Department documents show that – only nine months before – the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other high-level officials discussed blowing up a consulate in the Dominican Republic in order to justify an invasion of that country. (While the Joint Chiefs of Staff pushed as a serious proposal for Operation Northwoods to be carried out, cooler heads fortunately prevailed; President Kennedy or his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara apparently vetoed the plan)

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Council found that, in 1989, the Civil Cooperation Bureau (a covert branch of the South African Defense Force) approached an explosives expert and asked him “to participate in an operation aimed at discrediting the ANC [the African National Congress] by bombing the police vehicle of the investigating officer into the murder incident”, thus framing the ANC for the bombing

An Algerian diplomat and several officers in the Algerian army admit that, in the 1990s, the Algerian army frequently massacred Algerian civilians and then blamed Islamic militants for the killings (and see this video; and Agence France-Presse, 9/27/2002, French Court Dismisses Algerian Defamation Suit Against Author)

According to the Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military killed American teachers in Papua in 2002 and blamed the murders on a Papuan separatist group in order to get that group listed as a terrorist organization.

The well-respected former Indonesian president also admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings

As reported by BBC, the New York Times, and Associated Press, Macedonian officials admit that the government murdered 7 innocent immigrants in cold blood and pretended that they were Al Qaeda soldiers attempting to assassinate Macedonian police, in order to join the “war on terror”.

Former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having “our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda’s ranks, causing operatives to doubt others’ identities and to question the validity of communications.”
United Press International reported in June 2005:

U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers
At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence.

There are many other instances of false flag attacks used throughout history proven by the historical evidence. See this, this and this. The above are only some examples of governments admitting to using false flag terror.

 

Two Children Killed In Gaza, Several Palestinians Wounded In israeli Attacks

 

Saed Bannoura

Medical sources in the Gaza Strip that the number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip on Friday morning arrived at two after a wounded resident died of his wounds

The two were killed after an explosive left by the Israeli army detonated near them. The sources added that Mo’men Hallas, 16, dies of his wounds at the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza city, shortly after suffering serious injuries.

The first child, Montaser al-Batteekhy, 16, was immediately killed when the explosive went off.

Several Palestinians were wounded in a number of Israeli military attacks in the Gaza Strip on Friday morning.

Palestinian medical sources reported Friday morning that a Palestinian child was killed in al-Shujaeyya, east of Gaza City, and another resident was seriously injured, when an explosive, left by the army during an earlier invasion, detonated near them east of Gaza City, the Arabs 48 News reported.

Adham Abu Salmiyya, spokesperson of the Emergency Unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza in Gaza, reported that the body of Montaser al-Batteekhy, 16, was moved to Dar al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Abu Salmiyya added that the wounded resident was moved to the Intensive Care Unit due to the seriousness of his condition.

Also on Friday, three Palestinians were wounded by army fire in northern and southern Gaza.

Two of them were wounded while collecting wood north of Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, a 16-year-old child, from Khuza’a in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, was shot and wounded while working in his family’s land near the border.

Israeli troops frequently attack farmers and laborers who work in Palestinian lands located near the border fence.

Soldiers do not allow the Palestinians to approach the border fence under claims of preventing infiltrations into Israel or into nearby military camps.

 
 

Leaks Suggest Iran Is Now Winning in the Middle East

 

By Juan Cole

December 07, 2010 “Truthdig” — Iran is winning and Israel is losing. That is the startling conclusion we reach if we consider how things have changed in the Middle East in the two years since most of the WikiLeaks State Department cables about Iran’s regional difficulties were written. Lebanon’s Sunni prime minister, once a virulent critic, quietly made his pilgrimage to the Iranian capital last week. Israeli hopes of separating Syria from Iran have been dashed. Turkey, once a strong ally of Israel, is now seeking better relations with Iran and with Lebanon’s Shiites.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s visit to Iran was in part an attempt to reach out to a major foreign patron of his country’s Shiite Hezbollah Party. Hariri’s father, Rafiq, was mysteriously blown to kingdom come in 2005, and a United Nations tribunal is now rumored to be leaning toward implicating Hezbollah. Many Lebanese are terrified that the tribunal’s findings might set Kalashnikovs clattering again in Beirut, given that the Hariris are Sunni Muslims linked to Saudi Arabia, and their followers could attack Lebanese Shiites in reprisal. Lebanon, a small country of 4 million, is more than a third Shiite, but Christians and Sunni Muslims have formed the political elite for two centuries.

Hariri’s consultations with the ayatollahs in Tehran were an attempt to seek Iranian help in keeping Hezbollah militiamen in check (many Lebanese Shiites look to Iran as their external patron, just as many Sunnis look to Saudi Arabia and Christians to France and the U.S.). The talks also aimed at reconfirming Iranian pledges of economic aid to Beirut. In return, according to one anonymous Iranian source who spoke to Agence France-Presse, Hariri would throw his support behind Iran’s “development of nuclear capabilities for civilian and peaceful purposes.”

If true, it is a 180 degree turn. According to The New York Times, an August 2006 cable reports that Saad Hariri had said that “Iraq was unnecessary” but “Iran is necessary,” and that the U.S. “must be willing to go all the way if need be” to halt Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, should negotiations prove fruitless. As late as March 2008, according to another leaked cable published on the Al-Akhbar newspaper website, Lebanon’s Minister of Defense Elias Murr, a Christian, passed along advice on how the Israelis could effectively fight Hezbollah without alienating the Christian Lebanese, as Tel Aviv had with its bombing of the Christian north in 2006. (Murr now disputes the account in the cable.)

Not only has Hariri radically altered his discourse about Iran, but he has made an even more incredible turnaround regarding Iran’s best friend, Syria. In the past two years, President Michel Sleiman and Hariri have energetically sought a rapprochement with Syria, one of Hezbollah’s patrons. They sought to repair ties with Damascus that had been badly damaged by Beirut’s accusations that Syria backed the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, which had led to massive anti-Syrian demonstrations and the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. Hariri now says he was wrong to accuse Damascus. The growing influence in Lebanon of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad has alarmed the Obama administration.

Likewise, during the past two years, Turkey has increasingly offered Lebanon its coat strings as a rising Middle Eastern regional power. Ankara and Beirut have concluded a treaty creating a free trade zone between the two countries, which Turkey hopes to expand to Syria and Jordan. In sharp contrast to the ambivalence of Lebanon’s own Sunnis and Christians, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to Beirut on Nov. 23 and warned Israel, “If you invade Lebanon and Gaza using the most modern tanks and you destroy schools and hospitals, don’t expect us to be silent about it. We will not be silent, but will support what is right.” Erdogan also defended Hezbollah from rumors that it had itself been implicated in the elder Hariri’s assassination, saying that “no one could imagine” that the organization, which called itself Lebanon’s “spirit of resistance,” had been involved in the killing.  
 

Turkey’s defense of Hezbollah tracked with Ankara’s improved relations with Iran itself. Turkey attempted to run interference at the United Nations Security Council for Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. When the council voted to ratchet up economic sanctions on Iran on June 9, Turkey and Brazil voted against the measure, while Lebanon abstained. 

From 2005 through 2006, Iran appeared to be on the retreat in the eastern Mediterranean. Pro-Western Sunnis and Christians took over in Beirut. Syria was expelled from Lebanon and there was talk of detaching it from Iran. The powerful generals of Turkey, a NATO member and ally of Israel, were reliably anti-Iranian. Now, Hariri is a supplicant in Tehran, Syria is again influential in Beirut, and a Turkey newly comfortable with Islam has emerged as a regional power and a force for economic and diplomatic integration of Iran and Syria into the Middle East. Iran’s political breakthroughs in the region have dealt a perhaps irreparable blow to the hopes of the United States and Israel for a new anti-Iranian axis in the region that would align Iran’s Arab and other neighbors with Tel Aviv.

Juan Cole, the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan, maintains the blog Informed Comment. His most recent book, just out in paperback, is “Engaging the Muslim World.”

 

Most Americans “Are Ignorant”: Zbigniew Brzezinski

 

December 08, 2010 “Spiegel” — Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski says that US diplomacy will continue as before despite the leak of diplomatic dispatches by WikiLeaks. He spoke with SPIEGEL about how US President Obama should react and how the American right sees the world.
SPIEGEL: Will American foreign policy ever be the same after this embarrassing leak of US diplomatic dispatches?

Brzezinski: Absolutely. There was a saying once in Vienna during the good old days of the Habsburg Empire that when things went wrong and people were asked for comment, the comment usually was: “Well, it’s catastrophic but not serious.” And that’s the way this is.

SPIEGEL: The US government sounds more alarmed.

Brzezinski: Most of the cables revealed consistency with what the United States said publicly. There may be some embarrassing things, but basically, business will go on as usual. Our cables aren’t very different from the cables the German ambassadors send or Russian ambassadors or Chinese or French.

SPIEGEL: These nations are deeply offended by the indiscretions, though. Could the Americans recall ambassadors to mend fences?

Brzezinski: I would think not, unless there is something in the cables that an ambassador has said about a senior statesman of the country to which he’s assigned, which would preclude any degree of personal relationship between the ambassador and that senior statesman.

SPIEGEL: The US Ambassador in Berlin, Philip Murphy, wrote a very unflattering report on German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. He called him “arrogant” and “opportunistic” and concluded: He is no Genscher.

Brzezinski: That may make it more difficult, although Murphy probably deals more seriously with the chancellor than the foreign minister, given the nature of the German arrangements.

SPIEGEL: So it will return to business as usual? Really?

Brzezinski: There are slightly mystifying aspects to this whole operation. I do see some strange degree of emphasis on some issues.

SPIEGEL: For example?

Brzezinski: Just look at the degree of emphasis that has been put in the initial wave of revelations on discrediting several pro-American Arab governments by highlighting their demands for military action against Iran. That could be very troublesome within some Arab countries. It’s also interesting that so much emphasis is put on leaks that could be calculated deliberately to damage American-Turkish relations.

SPIEGEL: In any case, the overall picture that emerges is that of a disoriented world power. Nowadays, America has to rely on very unreliable partners in important regions of the world. It knows next to nothing about dangerous foes like North Korea. And it is extremely wary of an ever stronger China.

Brzezinski: Is any of that news? America has relied on unstable partners throughout its history. And it is clear that China is historically self-confident while we feel the historical forces are against us.

SPIEGEL: US officials say the leaks might endanger the effort to improve relations with Russia. Is that a serious concern?

Brzezinski: Not to me at this stage, unless someone shows me things which I should consider in that light.

SPIEGEL: A Georgian ambassador has charged Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with corruption. Some reports describe Russia as a modern mafia state.

Brzezinski: Everyone knows that there are allegations that he is extremely rich. Then the question is how you become rich when you are a public servant, and, of course, there is a well-known answer to that.

SPIEGEL: Also, Putin is described as an alpha male while President Dmitri Medvedev is perceived as somewhat of a weakling. Would you agree?

Brzezinski: There is some reason to share that view. After all, Medvedev was hand-picked by Putin. But it is also a fact that Medvedev is now beginning to surface much more as a serious player. I had an opportunity to participate in a meeting with him in Moscow four weeks ago, and he struck me as a very self-confident person with his own individual views on foreign policy. We will know within a year or so whether Medvedev now has genuinely independent support.

SPIEGEL: The dispatches show how European leaders are clamoring for access in Washington and the US coolly plays them against each other.

Brzezinski: Interrelationships between people are affected by respective hierarchies, who is on top, who is less on top. Anyone familiar with royal courts knows that. And the US descriptions of Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel or Silvio Berlusconi basically fit thousands of cartoons that have appeared about them.

SPIEGEL: As National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, you tried to prepare Americans for a more multipolar world — one with a stronger China and a weaker US. Americans did not like that idea and Carter was voted out of office after one term.

Brzezinski: That concept is now very much a reality when you look at the rise of countries like China and India.

SPIEGEL: And the American decline. Are Americans aware of that trend or does the fate of Carter await President Barak Obama should he openly address the issue?

Brzezinski: I am very worried that most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition in a country in which foreign policy has to be endorsed by the people if it is to be pursued. And it makes it much more difficult for any president to pursue an intelligent policy that does justice to the complexity of the world.

SPIEGEL: Yet the American right is still convinced of American exceptionalism.

Brzezinski: That is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.

SPIEGEL: If you were still national security advisor, how would you tell President Barack Obama to react to WikiLeaks?

Brzezinski: To relax and to carry on. His basic instincts on the large issues of foreign policy are fundamentally correct and in tune with history,

SPIEGEL: Just his instincts? Not his policies?

Brzezinski: There is a lack of strategic implementation. Look at the standstill in the Middle East. The hesitation on Iran is another, and the absence of a kind of shared strategic perspective with the Europeans on Russia. To tackle this, it will require more of an effort to correct than if he had been more energetic and more committed to push forward with his world view shortly after the assumption of office.

Interview conducted by Gregor Peter Schmitz for Der Spiegel

 

 US strike kills three Afghan women

 

image

Three women have been killed when a US remote-controlled drone fired a rocket at a car in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province.

The spokesman for the Helmand governor’s office, Dawood Ahmadi, said that the incident took place late on Wednesday in Nad Ali district of the province.

The target of the air strike was an alleged Taliban commander. The three women were said to be the commander’s wife, sister and mother-in-law. The alleged militant was also killed in the attack.

Taliban have concentrated their nine-year fight against the US-led forces in Afghanistan’s southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.

NATO and the United States have close to 150,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 30,000 deployed in Helmand.

The Western public opinion is growing increasingly tired of the war. Deaths of civilians in NATO and US attacks have also fueled tensions between President Hamid Karzai and his Western allies.

A total of 683 foreign soldiers have been killed in the Afghan war so far this year, eclipsing the previous record of 521 in 2009.

The number of fatalities among foreign troops in war-ravaged Afghanistan stands at 13 in December. June remains the worst month for foreign military casualties with a death toll of 103.

The American army has lost 1,423 soldiers since October 2001 when Washington unleashed the US-led invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow Taliban militants. Thousands of civilians have died and many others sustained injuries in US-led operations in Afghanistan.

Roadside bombs, or Improvised Explosive Device, (IEDs) are by far the most lethal weapon Taliban militants have used against foreign troops, Afghan forces as well as civilians.

 

WikiLeaks Cables Show Deeper U.S. Military Role in Muslim World

By SHASHANK BENGALI
McClatchy Newspapers

December 10, 2010 “Miami Herald” – – From the Saudi-Yemen border to lawless Somalia and the north-central African desert, the U.S. military is more engaged in armed conflicts in the Muslim world than the U.S. government openly acknowledges, according to cables released by the WikiLeaks website.

U.S. officials have struck relationships with regimes that generally aren’t considered allies in the war against terrorism, and while the cables show U.S. diplomats admonishing the regimes to respect the laws of war, they also underscore the perils of using advanced military technologies in complex, remote battlefields with sometimes shifty friends.

Cables released this week indicate that the United States:

-Provided Saudi Arabia with satellite imagery to help direct airstrikes against Shiite rebels after earlier strikes resulted in civilian casualties.

-Collaborated with Algerian forces in 2006 and 2007 to capture militants allegedly bound for Iraq and, more recently, obtained permission to fly U.S. surveillance planes through Algerian airspace to hunt suspected al-Qaida members.

-Killed a militant Islamist leader in a 2008 airstrike in Somalia and, later, fielded requests from Somali officials to “take out” more suspected militants.

Experts said that the revelations of secretive American operations in Muslim countries could offer fodder to Islamist militants who accuse the United States of aggression against Muslims and of siding with authoritarian and unpopular regimes.

“This kind of feeds the al-Qaida narrative, that we’re doing it everywhere,” said Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington and a former Pentagon official in the Reagan administration.

The Pentagon hasn’t acknowledged its role in Saudi Arabia’s sporadic fight against a Yemeni Shiite group known as the Houthi.

But a cable from the U.S. embassy in Riyadh says that in February, a senior Saudi defense official asked the U.S. for satellite maps of its border with Yemen to help the underequipped Saudi air force target the rebels, and the U.S. ambassador, James B. Smith, agreed.

A previous Saudi airstrike had hit a medical clinic, while another bombing run turned back when pilots learned that the target – selected by the Yemeni government – wasn’t a rebel site but instead the headquarters of a political opponent of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The strikes “were necessarily being conducted without the desired degree of precision,” said the Saudi official, Prince Khaled bin Sultan. When Smith produced a satellite image of the bomb-damaged clinic, bin Sultan suggested that his air force needed more advanced aircraft.

“If we had the Predator, maybe we would not have this problem,” he said, referring to a drone aircraft the U.S. has used extensively in strikes on suspected terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere.

The cable said that Smith agreed to furnish the Saudis with the satellite imagery because, while the Houthi clashes appeared to be dying down, the imagery would help Saudi forces keep a better eye on suspected al-Qaida activity in that area.

In the meeting, however, bin Sultan said that the more immediate priority for his government was reaching a cease-fire with Yemen and the Houthi.

“Then,” the prince said, “we can concentrate on al-Qaida.”

Peter Singer, the director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the center-left Brookings Institution in Washington, said the exchange illustrates the dangers of U.S. forces relying on local allies who have other objectives.

“There are no guarantees that our ally might not also use the tools against another of their enemies – indeed, they would be almost remiss not to,” Singer said. “The end result is that you may get the action you may have wanted, but you also incur all sorts of unexpected side effects, including in these cases being drawn into local disputes that aren’t fully in our strategic interests.”

Cables also show that the U.S. military has established a partnership with Algeria to combat al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, one of the terrorist organization’s most fearsome franchises.

In February 2008, U.S. officials in Algiers reported that they’d worked with Algerian military intelligence – a “prickly, paranoid group,” according to a cable – to root out networks funneling dozens of militants to Iraq. However, the cable noted that Algerian authorities “do not like to discuss our cooperation” publicly, and that while the FBI had opened an office at the U.S. Embassy, “the Algerians are not rushing to cooperate.”

Late last year, U.S. officials asked – and promptly received – permission to fly EP-3 surveillance aircraft through Algerian airspace to hunt militants. However, two months earlier, senior Algerian defense officials complained to a visiting U.S. diplomat that the U.S. military hadn’t shared information from previous surveillance flights.

In Somalia, the Pentagon acknowledged at the time that a 2008 U.S. airstrike killed Aden Hashi Ayro, an Afghanistan-trained jihadist who U.S. officials thought was al-Qaida’s “point man” in the East African nation. It remained unclear, however, whether the U.S. military was coordinating with Somalia’s weak and unpopular transitional government, which has been battling al-Shabaab, the Islamist militia that Ayro led, since 2007.

A May 2009 account of a meeting between U.S. officials and the Somali prime minister didn’t specifically refer to the Ayro strike, but it said that the Somali government thought such strikes were “necessary” and discussed a phone call two weeks earlier in which the country’s prime minister had asked the U.S. to “take out” insurgents that Somali officials had learned were meeting in a remote southern town.

The cable was the result of a brief meeting between U.S. officials from the embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Somali prime minister, Omar Sharmarke, who’d stopped over at Nairobi’s airport on his way from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, to a meeting in Libya. The U.S. has no diplomats in Somalia.

During the meeting, Sharmarke mentioned that his May 16 phone call to U.S. military officials in Kenya asking for actions against the militants had been made with the consent of Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif.

Such strikes had angered the Somali population previously, however, and U.S. officials asked Sharmarke whether his government could withstand fallout from additional strikes “and their potential collateral damage.”

The prime minister, the cable recounted, “without hesitation, said ‘Yes.’ “

© 2010 Miami Herald Media Company.

 

Israel denies Vanunu travel permission

 

Mordechai VanunuIsrael has prevented a former nuclear whistleblower from receiving an international prize in Germany for work towards promoting disarmament.

Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed details of Israel’s secret weapons program 24 years ago, was to be awarded the Carl von Ossietsky Prize in Berlin on Sunday.

According to a spokesman for the International League for Human Rights, the group has now decided to cancel the ceremony and hold a protest rally on behalf of the former nuclear technician instead, AFP reported.

The League had previously called on Tel Aviv to allow Vanunu to participate in the ceremony and Vanunu’s attorney Michael Sfard had assured Israeli officials that the 56-year old atomic technician was willing to commit himself to returning to Israel following the ceremony in Berlin.

Vanunu was convicted of treason and spent 18 years in jail after disclosing the inner workings of Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant to the Sunday Times newspaper in 1986 backed up by two rolls of film he had taken of the plant.

He was released in 2004 but was banned from travel and giving interviews to foreign media without prior permission.

Estimated to have more than 200 nuclear warheads, Israel still refuses to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and does not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to visit its nuclear sites.

 

Israeli drone flies over south Lebanon

 

An Israeli long-range Heron drone, file photoAn Israeli reconnaissance aircraft has penetrated the Lebanese airspace and flown over parts of the country in flagrant violation of a UN Security Council resolution.

The Israeli aircraft crossed into Lebanese airspace at 7:10 a.m. local time (0410 GMT) on Wednesday and conducted several unwarranted flights over areas in southern Lebanon, including Alma al-Shaab town, a statement released by the Lebanese military said Friday.

The remote-controlled drone left at 18:05 p.m. local time (1505 GMT) while flying over the village of al-Naqoura, located 91 km (57 miles) south of the capital Beirut.

Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming they serve surveillance purposes.

Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, have repeatedly cited Israel’s air surveillance flights over Lebanon as a clear violation of UN resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the war Israel launched against Lebanon in the summer of 2006, calls on Israel to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In 2009, Beirut complained to the United Nations about Israeli aircraft violating its airspace over the south of the country.

‘Turkish officials say Barak preventing flotilla apology’

Ankara says defense minister and IDF don’t have problem with compensation to families, but refuse to apologize, ‘Zaman’ reports.

A senior Turkish official on Saturday told Turkish paper Today’s Zaman that domestic Israeli political considerations may be preventing a return to normal relations between the two countries. He said that the Turkish government supports the talks between the two countries that began in Geneva following Ankara’s firefighting aid to Israel during the Carmel fires last week.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek told Today’s Zaman that although he hopes “Israel continues to display a constructive approach… it seems difficult for Israel to accept those conditions because of domestic politics.” In what may have been an attempt to lower expectations of the talks, he added, “It is unlikely that the relations will develop positively in the short term.”

RELATED:
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‘Israel and Turkey meet to reduce tensions’

The report quoted a senior Turkish government official saying that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was seeking to repair diplomatic relations between the two Mediterranean states but that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are opposed to some of the central Turkish demands by Turkey for reconciliation.

The Turkish Cabinet source told Zaman that Barak sees the value in repairing relations between Turkey and Israel. He added that Barak and IDF officials do not even object to paying compensation to the families of those killed on the Mavi Marmara during a deadly March raid on the Turkish ship that was attempting to break Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip. The defense minister and military officials, however, are opposed to Jerusalem issuing an apology, according to the report.

Turkish representative to the UN flotilla inquiry panel Ozdem Sanberk said that the central point of contention between diplomats of the two countries is the word “apology,” according to Zaman. Sanberk added, “As far as it concerns the Turkish side, it has never negotiated a word other than the word ‘apology’.”

No new meetings between Israel and Turkey were currently scheduled, a Turkish Foreign Ministery spokesman said, but backed away from the implication that talks were stalled, saying, “Contacts [with Israeli officials] will continue,” according to the report.

It was reported earlier that Israel had offered to pay the families of those killed on the Mavi Marmara $100,000 each, but according to Zaman, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu denied that an offer had been made.

 

Madoff son found dead in New York apartment

 

Mark Madoff, under investigation but not charged with crimes, appears to have committed suicide.

A law enforcement official has informed The Associated Press that a son of jailed financier Bernard Madoff has been found dead in New York City of an apparent suicide.

The official says Mark Madoff was found hanged in his Manhattan apartment. A family member notified police around 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

Bernard Madoff

Bernard Madoff is serving a 150-year prison term for defrauding investors of $65 billion.

Photo by: Bloomberg News

The official spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to speak publicly about the case.

Mark Madoff and his brother, Andrew, were under investigation but hadn’t faced any criminal charges in the massive Ponzi scheme that led to their father’s jailing.

Bernard Madoff swindled a long list of investors out of billions of dollars and is serving a 150-year prison term.

 

Jewish leaders ask Pope Benedict to combat delegitimization of Israel

World Jewish Congress leaders meet with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, call on the Catholic Church take a leading role in fighting the delegitimization of Israel.

A delegation of leaders of the World Jewish Congress met with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican on Friday and asked the pontiff to speak out against the “delegitimization” of Israel.

“We discussed critical issues affecting world Jewry,” said WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement. “[We] expressed to the Pope how much we value the close relationship we have enjoyed with the Vatican over many years in our quest for a secure Israel and a safer future for Jews everywhere.”

Pope Benedict XVI- AP- Oct. 10, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI

Photo by: AP

Lauder requested that the pope speak out against the “delegitimization” of Israel, particularly the denial of Jewish links to holy sites such as the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, as well as Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem – a site that is holy to both Jews and Christians.

According to the WJC statement, the pope emphasized the need to continue to combat anti-Semitism in the Christian world, which he characterized as unacceptable. The pope talked about the importance of Jews and Catholics working together to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms, noting Judaism’s patrimony to Christianity.

WJC Secretary General Designate Dan Diker asked that the Catholic Church take a leading role in the fight against the “delegitimization” of Israel, which he called a new “politically correct” form of anti-Semitism.

Pope Benedict is said to have responded, saying that the Catholic Church recognizes the deep and historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and expressed his commitment to help bolster better understanding of that connection among people throughout the world.

 

Palestinians: Clinton should have blamed Israel for failure of Mideast talks

 

In speech on Friday, U.S. secretary of state said both Israel and the Palestinians bear responsibility for the failure of the recent direct peace talks.

Palestinian officials said that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton should have blamed Israel for the failure of the latest Mideast efforts.

The officials reacted on Saturday to a Clinton speech before Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy’s seventh annual forum in Washington, in which she said Israelis and Palestinians both bear responsibility for the failure of the direct talks that took place in September.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton REUTERS Dec 10

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy’s seventh annual forum in Washington, Dec. 10, 2010.

Photo by: Reuters

In her speech on Friday, Clinton criticized the leadership of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, saying they had “not yet made the difficult decisions that peace requires. Like many of you, I regret that we have not gotten farther, faster.”

“Israeli and Palestinian leaders should stop trying to assign blame for the next failure and focus instead on what they need to do to make these efforts succeed,” she said.

The Obama administration said earlier this week that it stopped trying to get Israel to renew a freeze on West Bank settlement construction for three months, after a 10-month freeze expired on September 26. The U.S. now wants to return to indirect talks.

The Palestinians have said they won’t resume negotiations without a full settlement construction freeze. Despite their disappointment with Washington’s performance, the Palestinians are likely to participate in indirect talks. They said they’ll make a final decision within a week.

In her speech, Clinton said that a Palestinian state achieved through negotiation is inevitable.

Clinton said that the United States is serious about pushing forward a peace agreement and laying the foundations for a future Palestinian state.

“We will deepen our support of the Palestinians’ state-building efforts, because we recognize that a Palestinian state, achieved through negotiations, is inevitable,” Clinton said, adding that “the long-term population trends that result from the occupation are endangering the Zionist vision of a Jewish and democratic state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people.”

U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will head back to the region next week, and Clinton said diplomacy would now concentrate on a range of “core issues” – all of which have proved difficult to resolve.

These include borders and security, settlements, water, refugees, and Jerusalem itself, which Israel says is its capital but which the Palestinians also hope will serve as the capital of their future independent state.

US to Test Iran’s ‘Pain Threshold’ Over Nuclear Plans

 

Claims Iran’s Agreement to Talks a ‘Ploy’

by Jason Ditz,

www.antiwar.com

Top Obama aide Gary Samore today condemned Iran’s willingness to engage in diplomacy with the United States as a “ploy” and said that the United States is going to respond with a series of retaliatory sanctions to punish them for it and to test Iran’s “pain threshold.”

A previous series of talks held earlier this week ended with no actual deal, but an agreement to hold further meetings next month in Turkey. At the time officials lauded the agreement for additional talks as great success.

Now, however, it seems that having won a second round of talks is itself enough of a slight that the Obama Administration is up in arms and moving for more sanctions. This may be difficult at this point, however, as the US has already sanctioned so much of the Iranian economy that little of any meaning is left untouched.

It does suggest that the next round of talks will be met with considerably more hostility than the last one, and a third round will likely not be approved, lest it be spun as more proof of an Iranian scheme.

US Warns Against Recognitions of Independent Palestine

Argentine FM Says Recognition None of US Business

by Jason Ditz,

www.antiwar.com

Speaking today in Santiago, Chile, Undersecretary of State William Burns condemned the moves by multiple South American nations to recognize Palestine as an independent nation, calling the moves “premature” and insisting such recognitions were unacceptable until Israel agreed to a two-state solution.

William Burns

The comment was not well greeted by Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who expressed annoyance that “once again the United States has publicly expressed an opinion about sovereign actions taken by the Argentine Republic.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted in separate comments today that she believes Palestinian statehood is “inevitable” but will come as a result of the Obama Administration’s negotiations and that the continued occupation of the West Bank was a threat to the “Zionist vision.”

But Palestinians are increasingly doubting the viability of those US talks, particularly as the Obama Administration has abandoned efforts to secure a settlement freeze, meaning the talks will likely remain stalled for the forseeable future. This has led the Palestinian Authority to mull attempts to get unilateral recognition of its existence, and threats from PA head Mahmoud Abbas that he may dissolve the authority if this is not successful.

House Approves Major Increase in Israeli Military Aid

 

Increase Comes to $3 Billion in 2011 Aid, Plus $205 Million in Missile Funding

by Jason Ditz,

www.antiwar.com

The House of Representatives earlier this week approved a significant increase in the level of military aid to Israel, pushing the level to $3 billion in flat military aid, with an additional $205 million set aside for a short range rocket system.

Both of the increases were already planned as part of a memorandum of understanding between the United States and Israel, but were formally approved as part of the 212-206 vote in the House on Wednesday.

Rep. Steve Rothman (D – NJ) said the increase in aid to Israel “sends a strong message to both our enemies and allies,” but also comes at a time when the US has only just abandoned the Israeli peace process over its inability to convince Israel to agree to even a short term freeze.

The failure of the peace talks has led a number of Western nations to react negatively to Israel’s settlement expansions, but it appears that, for the US, the peace process was never more than a side story and remains irrelevant to the question of heavily arming the nation.

 

Disappointing Poll: Americans Largely Supportive of Censoring WikiLeaks

 

Strong Majority Opposes Freedom of Press

by Jason Ditz,

www.antiwar.com

A new Marist-McClatchy poll has revealed a disappointingly strong opposition to the notion of a free press in the United States. The poll showed strong support for the notion of censoring WikiLeaks and prosecuting anyone involved in the publication of classified data.

In 1971 the US Supreme Court vindicated the right to publish classified data in the public interest as part of the furor surrounding the release of the Pentagon Papers. Some forty years later, the poll points to a public in no mood for arguments related to its own right to know.

Only 22 percent of Americans thought the releases were a good thing, while some 59 percent believed that anyone involved ought to be prosecuted. Though there is no immediate indication that this is the case, one can hope the methodology of the polling somehow skewed the results. However it must also be considered that the American public has simply changed its mind about the historical notion of a free press and is now firmly in favor of broad censorship on national security grounds.

The poll will likely fuel the growing befuddlement of the rest of the world at the Obama Administration’s lip service for a free press (and the State Department’s announcement of a May event honoring the notion) even as they look to prosecute people on the basis of embarrassing publications and as Congress meets with the sole determination to change the law to restrict the right to publish such material even further.

If there is one silver lining to what must indeed be a very dark cloud, it is that the poll showed narrow support among Americans between the age of 18 and 29, suggesting that the younger generation are growing more supportive of the idea of free speech, even as the older generations have, according to the data, angrily dismissed the idea.

 

 

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Russia official: WikiLeaks founder should get Nobel Prize

Comment by Kermlin source comes amid harsh U.S. criticism over the whistle-blowing site’s recent release of over 250,000 classified diplomatic cables.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been at the center of a world-wide media storm over the massive leak of U.S. diplomatic cables last week, should received the Nobel Prize, a top Russian source told country’s state news agency RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange AP

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he speaks about the United States and the human rights during a press conference at the Geneva press club in Geneva, Switzerland. Nov. 4, 2010

Photo by: AP

Last week, the whistle-blowing website went disclosed more than 250,000 classified diplomatic communiqués, covering issues such as Iran’s nuclear program, Syria’s back of Hezbollah, as well as relations between the United States and its European allies.

In response to the massive disclosure, the White Hose Press Secretary issued a statement, saying that “such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government.”

The White House went on to say that U.S. President Barack Obama supported “responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal.”

However, sources in the Kermlin Wednesday, referring to WikiLeaks founder Assange, told RIA Novosti that “non-governmental and governmental organizations should think of ways to help him. Perhaps he could be awarded a Nobel prize.”

The comments by the Russian official came as a British judge denied Assange bail on Tuesday after the WikiLeaks founder told a London court he would fight efforts to extradite him to Sweden to face a sex-crimes investigation.

At a hearing Tuesday afternoon in front of City of London magistrates, Assange, accompanied by officials from the Australian high commission, was refused bail — and so will remain in custody until December 14.

Assange, who gave his address as “PO Box 4080,” told the court he would fight extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for alleged sex offences, which means this is expected to be a long legal battle.

 

Assad blames ‘Israeli intransigence’ for failed peace talks

 

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Syrian President Bashar Assad said ‘intransigent Israel’, not the US, was responsible for the failure of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

State Department spokesman says attempts to persuade Israel to stop settlement construction dropped because issue ‘became an end in itself rather than means to an end,’ adding that administration will ‘try to begin to make progress on core issues themselves’

Speaking to reporters in Paris after a two-hour meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday, the Syrian leader said American efforts to persuade Israel to impose another construction moratorium in the West Bank’s Jewish settlements “have not worked,” but added, “Why are we blaming the godfather? Before we blame the sponsor, we should blame the sides themselves. Again we see that Israel is not a partner for peace.”

Assad continued to say that peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians shouldn’t focus on the settlements issue. “We are against putting settlements at the center of peace talks,” he said. “If we want to talk about peace, we have to talk about legal rights, about territorial restitution and not talk about the settlements.”

Also Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that he would not engage in peace talks with Israel while it continued to build in West Bank settlements.

“Israel has brought this process into a deep crisis,” he said in Cairo, adding that there would be no secret meetings with the Israelis.

Olmert, Ayalon: Israel doesn’t need to apologize to Turkey
Official say Israel proposed paying $100,000 each to families of Turks killed during raid on Gaza-bound ship and asked Ankara ‘to do what needs to be done to address our legal concerns.’ Turkish FM: Our demand for apology has not changed

Speaking at a conference at the Foreign Ministry on EU members’ funding of NGOs which support terror on Thursday, Ayalon said,

“Negotiations and contacts between Israel’s representative and his Turkish counterpart have not yet been discontinued, so further reference to this issue will not help.”

Hurriyet quotes sources as saying further talks possible in bid to resolve crisis over Gaza flotilla raid; Israeli source says reconciliation possible if different word for ‘apology’ can be found

Israel has proposed paying compensation to relatives of the Turks who were killed during the raid, in exchange for Ankara’s help in indemnifying the Israeli navy against lawsuits, officials said on Thursday.

The offer, broached by envoys in Geneva over the weekend, included measures for patching up ties but appeared to have fallen short of Turkey’s demand that Israel formally apologize for the deaths of the nine pro-Palestinian activists in May.

Ehud Olmert criticized Israel’s willingness to compensate the Turks. Speaking at a Calcalist conference Thursday, the former prime minister said,

“Six months ago everyone said, justifiably, that no one would break the blockade on Gaza. We were very confident in our position, and now we are thinking of how to compensate and apologize.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose delegate to a UN probe of the bloodshed attended the rapprochement talks, also faces opposition to such a deal from his hawkish foreign minister and government coalition partner, Avigdor Lieberman.

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Turkish ship that was raided by IDF

“We made a compensation offer, and asked the Turks to do what needs to be done to address our legal concerns. We also want to see them return their ambassador and allow us to appoint a new ambassador in Ankara,” an Israeli official said.

“For now, however, there are still big obstacles.”

The draft offers Turkey some $100,000 each to families of the men shot dead by Israeli marines during brawls aboard the converted cruise ship Mavi Marmara, and an Israeli expression of “regret” over the incident, Israeli diplomatic sources said.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described the reports of an Israeli offer as “speculative” and said on Thursday his government’s demands had not changed.

“We don’t think it is right to cite figures, or discussions of apology or regret,” Davutoglu said during a joint news conference with the visiting Syrian foreign minister.

“The citing of figures or the matter of regret did not come onto the agenda.”

‘They must accept their guilt’

On Wednesday, Netanyahu adviser Ron Dermer said Israel and Turkey were discussing “the phrasing of a compromise that both sides can live with … (and) that will get our relations with Turkey back on track and remove the whole affair from the international agenda”.

“We must remember that there are those at the United Nations, there are forces which would like to see our personnel arrested,” Dermer told Israel Radio.

“What is important to the prime minister is to protect the marines and commanders. We have said at every discussion, at every meeting, that the troops acted in self-defense — there’s no question about it — and not out of malice.”

Rattled over private war-crimes suits filed abroad against its military brass and politicians by pro-Palestinian groups, Israel has tried to stave off any similar Turkish actions in global forums by quickly setting up two internal investigations whose findings will become its submission to the UN inquest.

Turkey has dismissed the Israeli probes as insufficient.

The rapprochement talks followed Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s dispatch of planes to help Israel battle a forest fire that raged out of control last week. Netanyahu had pledged to “find ways to express our appreciation” to the Turks.

But Erdogan, leader of the Islamist-rooted AK Party and a frequent scolder of Israel’s Palestinian policies, on Tuesday signaled no flexibility in Turkey’s terms. He even added an older demand that Hamas-ruled Gaza’s borders be opened.

“If there are those who want to start a new period, I repeat: They must accept their guilt, apologize and pay compensation. I say too that the embargoes, which have been eased but not enough, should be lifted,” he told AK lawmakers.

The Mavi Marmara led an aid-ferrying flotilla that tried to breach Israel’s Gaza blockade, imposed with the declared aim of keeping arms from Islamist Hamas cadres. A world outcry at the high seas seizure prompted Israel to allow more goods to reach Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians by land, but not by sea.

Among the most vocal champions of the blockade is Lieberman, who leads the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party in alliance with Netanyahu’s rightist Likud. Political sources say Lieberman is often excluded from Israel’s more sensitive diplomatic contacts.

Noting that several marines were injured in the Mavi Marmara raid, a Lieberman confidant told Reuters: “It’s the Turks who should be paying us compensation, and not the other way around.”

That foreshadowed a possible showdown in Netanyahu’s cabinet should the proposed rapprochement deal be brought for approval.

 

U.S. hurting peace chances by giving up on Israeli settlement freeze, analysts say

 

JERUSALEM – The Obama administration’s decision to stop seeking a new Israeli settlement freeze as a way back into talks with the Palestinians has diminished prospects of achieving a peace accord within a year and eroded U.S. credibility in the region, analysts said Wednesday.

The decision also represented a belated recognition that even if they had persuaded Israel to renew a construction moratorium in the West Bank for three months, U.S. officials would have faced an even more difficult problem after that expired.

President Obama understood “that after three months of a second settlement freeze, he would have found himself without any kind of agreement and facing repeated demands to extend the freeze again, necessitating another exhausting bargaining session with [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu,” Haaretz newspaper political commentator Akiva Eldar wrote Wednesday.

Israelis and Palestinians traded blame Wednesday over who was responsible for the U.S. decision, which has left both sides perplexed about the way forward and hoping for clarity from a speech on the Middle East that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will deliver in Washington on Friday.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the U.S. decision would have “grave consequences in the region.”

“If you cannot have him stop settlements for a few months, what do you expect get out of him on Jerusalem or the 1967 borders,” Erekat said of Netanyahu in an interview Wednesday. “I think Mr. Netanyahu knows the consequences for the American administration’s credibility in the region.”

Israeli officials, who always were cool to extending a settlement freeze as a precursor to talks, said the Palestinians were to blame for insisting on including Jerusalem in the freeze. Still, the officials portrayed the change in American tactic as an opportunity for progress.
 

“That mechanism proved not to be effective and now we have to find an alternative mechanism to move this process forward,” said an Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. “As we go into this next stage of the peace process, we think the chances of it succeeding are even greater because of the close coordination with the United States.”

The administration, which in September set a one-year deadline for negotiations, expended enormous political capital over nearly two years by making a settlement freeze a priority. The effort rankled relations with Israel and inflated hopes in the Arab world that the United States could persuade Israel to halt construction in the West Bank and win further Israeli concessions down the road. Instead, the U.S. ended up spending more time haggling with Israel over a settlement freeze than negotiating between Israelis and Palestinians over the core issues that divide them, analysts said.

“Trying to get a freeze . . . was always the wrong focus,” said Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. peace negotiator. “It forced the Obama team to either pummel the Israelis into one or bribe them. Neither worked. And now 20 months in, we have no freeze, no direct talks, no process, and no prospect of a quick agreement. Plus, our street credibility is now much diminished and our options are bad.”

After the 10-month Israeli partial moratorium expired in September, the Obama administration developed a package of incentives, including billions of dollars’ worth advanced fighter jets, to entice Israel into extending the freeze for three more months. But talks on the extension collapsed, including over whether the United States would accept Israeli construction in parts of East Jerusalem that Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

“The significance of the U.S. decision to stop pushing for a moratorium . . . is that Obama is refusing to give Netanyahu a seal of approval to build in Jerusalem,” Eldar wrote.

A Palestinian delegation, which was invited to Washington, won’t travel there before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas consults in the coming days with the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee and Abbas’s Fatah Party’s central committee, Erekat said.

Erekat also said in light of the breakdown and decisions by Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay this week to unilaterally recognize Palestine as an independent state , the Palestinians would formally appeal to the U.S. to do the same.

As for West Bank construction, the Israeli official said Israel will continue to build in existing settlements in the West Bank but will not expropriate more land for new settlements.

Israel’s security cabinet on Wednesday also decided to allow for expanded exports out of the Gaza Strip. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, said the policy would be fleshed out in the coming days, but that in principle, exports of agricultural produce, textiles and manufactured furniture would be among the items that Palestinians in Gaza would be permitted to export abroad or to the West Bank.

Israel has limited Gaza’s exports as part of a blockade of the Gaza Strip that is designed in part to put pressure on the Hamas-led government that seized power there in 2007. The international community has pressured Israel to allow the resumption of exports.

Israel draws international rebuke over refusal to freeze settlement construction

 

The EU, UN and Arab League criticize Israel on its failure to renew freeze on West Bank settlement construction, which expired in late September, leading to the halt of direct Israel-PA peace talks.

The European Union, the United Nations and the Arab League have rebuked Israel after its refusal to halt settlement construction forced Washington to drop efforts to relaunch Mideast peace talks.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday stuck to his position that he won’t negotiate without a freeze of Jewish settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – lands captured by Israel in the Six Day War in 1967 and sought by the Palestinians for their state. He spoke after meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

An Israeli settlement in the West Bank

An Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

Photo by: Daniel Bar-On

“Without halt of settlements, there will be no talks,” Abbas said.

With the path to direct talks effectively blocked, it is not clear what the Obama administration will do next.

Israeli and Palestinian envoys were summoned to Washington for meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton before the weekend. Clinton could provide a glimpse, at least in general terms, of a possible new U.S. approach in a speech late Friday.

Israel and the Palestinians had launched the latest round of peace talks on Sept. 2 at a White House ceremony. But less than a month later, negotiations broke down after Israel refused to extend a 10-month-old freeze on West Bank housing starts that ended at the end of September.

In recent weeks, the U.S. had tried to persuade Israel to extend a limited West Bank settlement freeze for 90 days, offering a series of security and diplomatic incentives. However, the negotiations over an extension broke down, and U.S. officials announced earlier this week they had abandoned that approach.

Washington did not cast blame. But other members of the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators, which also includes the EU, the UN and Russia, sharply criticized Israel.

“I note with regret that Israel has not been in a position to accept an extension of the (settlement) moratorium, as requested by the U.S., the EU and the Quartet,” Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, said Thursday.

“The EU position on settlements is clear: They are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. Recent settlement-related developments, including in east Jerusalem, contradict efforts by the international community for successful negotiations,” she said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed regret “that Israel will not heed the united call of the international community, as reflected by the Quartet, to extend the settlement restraint policy,” U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

“In spite of this setback, the secretary-general believes it is more important than ever to promote a negotiated endgame for a two-state solution,” Nesirky said.

The Quartet’s Mideast envoy, Tony Blair, avoided casting blame. He only said the U.S. move to pursue a settlement freeze was a “sensible decision in light of the impasse that we reached.”

Israeli officials declined comment on the international criticism.

In a meeting with Blair on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said efforts would continue to reach a “historic peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, two states for two peoples.” However, he did not give specifics.

Netanyahu also said he would work with Blair and the Palestinians “to have concrete developments in the field.” In the past, Israel offered to remove additional West Bank checkpoints and unfreeze long-stalled development projects if the Palestinians agree to talks without a settlement freeze. It was not clear whether Netanyahu would now take such steps unconditionally, to improve the atmosphere.

However, there are now signs that Arab countries that have supported U.S. efforts are getting restless.

On Wednesday, Arab League Chief Amr Moussa said resuming direct talks under current conditions is out of the question. The Egyptian diplomat also questioned the intentions of the U.S. and Israel.

“Direct talks … means what is being sold to us is the imposition of the occupation’s condition, which is absolutely unacceptable for all of us,” he said. “It is clear that the American administration couldn’t reach a halt of settlement (activity), which makes negotiations useless.”

“This makes negotiations a facade or may be a cover to enable the occupation to go on with this policy,” he added.

The Arab League’s committee dealing with the negotiations, which gives guidance and support to the Palestinians, is to meet next week.

In wake of WikiLeaks scandal, Arab leaders are cautious on Iran censure

 

GCC Nahyan

Arabian peninsula states have adopted a conciliatory tone on Iran a little over a week after U.S. diplomatic cables released by the watchdog site WikiLeaks appeared to show serious anxiety among Arab leaders over Tehran’s growing power, and even enthusiasm in some corners (and at certain points) for a military attack on its controversial nuclear program.

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Atiyyah stopped short of an outright repudiation, but he described the content of the leaked cables as “guesses or analyses that can hit or miss” and that “generated misunderstandings,” according to the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper.

The council wrapped up a two-day summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday, gently calling on Iran to cooperate with the international community over its nuclear program in order to end sanctions against Tehran. The closing statement also reiterated Arab support for Iran’s right to a peaceful nuclear program.

The council includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as member states.

Its official stance on Iran stands in sharp contrast to comments made by Arab leaders in the secret documents leaked a little over a week ago, in which the heads of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain were among those who lobbied the United States to strike at Iranian nuclear facilities.

The council did, however, declare its support for Emirati claims to the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Moussa, three disputed islands that lie between Iran and the Emirates and are currently under Iranian control.

The statement also called on Iran to promote “good neighborliness” by not interfering in Arab states’ affairs. Tehran has been accused by some Arab leaders of infiltrating national intelligence agencies, supporting Shiite opposition groups in the Arab world and using the UAE to launder money and evade sanctions.

The London-based Arabic newspaper Elaph published a rundown of Arab-Iranian relations by country (Arabic link).

According to the report:

— Tehran has dismayed Saudi Arabia with its stances on Iraqi, Lebanese and Palestinian issues, which exacerbated existing suspicions over the nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

— Kuwait and Iran have a history of open hostilities, but recent years have seen a superficial improvement in relations, with the exchange of high-profile visits and cordial public statements. Tensions persist, however, and Kuwait continues to accuse Iran of penetrating its security and intelligence agencies.

— Bahrain comes up against Iranian “sabotage networks and security penetrations” on a “nearly daily basis,” but rarely makes public accusations for fear of escalating political tensions.

— Although Qatar has made public overtures of openness toward Iran, Tehran continues to be suspicious of Doha’s close political ties with the United States and its thriving trade with Israel.

— The UAE has little love for the Islamic Republic, despite strong trade relations between the two countries and the fact that Iranian business elite play a significant role in the Emirates’ commercial life.

— Oman is the only Arabian peninsula country that continues to maintain friendly relations with Iran, despite tensions between Tehran and Oman’s Arab neighbors.

 

Iranian movie on U.S. in Iraq entered for Oscars

 

Iranian movie director Mehdi Naderi in an interview in Tehran November 23, 2010. A movie depicting a nervous U.S. soldier accidentally shooting a little girl during a night raid on her home in Iraq might not be every American's idea of a possible Oscar winner. The fact that it was written and directed by an Iranian makes "Farewell Baghdad", the gritty story of Americans in Iraq, even more controversial. Despite, or perhaps because of that, it is Iran's official entry for the 2011 Academy Awards, something its 37-year-old director says is the subject of "misunderstanding".

TEHRAN – A movie depicting a nervous U.S. soldier accidentally shooting a little girl during a night raid on her home in Iraq might not be every American’s idea of a possible Oscar winner.

The fact that it was written and directed by an Iranian makes “Farewell Baghdad”, the gritty story of Americans in Iraq, even more controversial.

Despite, or perhaps because of that, it is Iran’s official entry for the 2011 Academy Awards, something its 37-year-old director says is the subject of “misunderstanding”.

“There are people who think I have been paid a lot of money to make this movie for the Iranian government. It’s clear to me that those people have not watched the film,” Mehdi Naderi said.

Far from being state propaganda, Naderi says his film, which explores the motivation and doubts of both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi insurgents, was made in the face of unhelpful pressure from the authorities and on a shoestring budget.

“The budget for Farewell Baghdad can be compared to what Sean Penn spends on his cigarettes or what Nicole Kidman spends for a small part of her make-up,” he told Reuters in an interview in a Tehran coffee shop.

The movie follows Polish-American Daniel, a failed boxer who signs up to the army and finds himself on tense foot patrols in Iraq. After a comrade accidentally shoots a little girl in her home, both men leave their base and take off into the desert.

Daniel’s life is eventually saved by Saleh, a would-be suicide bomber who hates Americans but reluctantly feels compelled to help another lost soul.

SOFT WAR

Given Iran’s 30-year enmity with the United States, which is often referred to as the “Great Satan”, a movie from here about Washington’s long and painful engagement in neighbouring Iraq might be assumed to portray Americans as the villains, oppressing a fellow Muslim nation.

But Farewell Baghdad does not paint a simplistic picture of Americans as the bad guys. Daniel is shown as a regular guy struggling to come to terms with the violent, alien environment in which he finds himself.

“I don’t want my film to be seen as a tool of soft war against the West,” Naderi said, urging viewers to look beyond the politics and see the human story where both sides, Iraqis and Americans, can learn to be friends, even in extreme circumstances.

Filmmaking is a tricky business in Iran where the government keeps a close eye on political content and checks to ensure Islamic norms, such as women’s dress code, are respected.

The state has increased its pressure on filmmakers since last year’s disputed presidential election which was followed by the biggest street protests since the 1979 revolution which ushered in the world’s first Islamic Republic.

“It took six years to get the permission to make this film and we changed the script about 18 times to satisfy officials,” Naderi said. “I want to show how an Iranian filmmaker can make a movie without any financial support in less than two months from a country with lots of rules and censorships”.

One Iranian movie industry official said Farewell Baghdad’s “anti-American content” might help its chances of winning an Oscar.

“The Oscars set a new policy every year and usually other countries are not aware of these policies,” Shafi Agha Mohammadian, head of a state body which promotes documentaries, said in an interview with Mardomsalari newspaper.

“We believe there is currently a policy of opposing the deployment of U.S. military forces around the world — a sentiment also shared by Hollywood.” JAIL

Jafar Panahi, one of Iran’s best known directors and winner of several international awards, is standing trial for making a film without government permission.

“My case is a perfect example of being punished before committing a crime. You are putting me on trial for making a film that, at the time of our arrest, was only 30 per cent shot,” he said in a statement to the court, which he released publicly.

Panahi’s supporters believe his sympathies for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election rival, opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, drew the ire of the hardline authorities. He was arrested in March and spent 88 days in jail, during which he went on hunger strike.

Panahi’s case received wide international coverage after he was blocked from leaving Iran to attend the Venice film festival in September. U.S. director Steven Spielberg and French actress Juliette Binoche were among the movie luminaries who spoke up for him.

Naderi’s film is unlikely to garner so much attention in Hollywood.

Prior to Farewell Baghdad, another Iranian movie about Iraq, “Turtles can Fly” was entered as Iran’s candidate for the 2004 Foreign Language Oscar. It focused on Kurdish victims of the Saddam Hussein regime and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It was not shortlisted.

The Islamic Republic has entered more than a dozen films for the Oscars since 1994 when it first started participating, including Panahi’s acclaimed “The White Balloon”. But among all the entries, only “Children of Heaven” by Majid Majidi was nominated, in 1998.

“Farewell Baghdad” is one of 65 films entered for the award this year. Only five of them will receive an official nomination for the golden statuette.

But, with or without a prize, Naderi is proud to have completed his film which he says is a plea for peace, something sorely lacking in the Middle East.

“If Marco Polo were to begin his world tour in the present epoch, he would not have succeeded as he would probably be killed before arriving in Baghdad.”

US: Decision to halt freeze talks recognition of reality

 

State Department spokesman says attempts to persuade Israel to stop settlement construction dropped because issue ‘became an end in itself rather than means to an end,’ adding that administration will ‘try to begin to make progress on core issues themselves’

US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will head back to the region next week after Obama administration officials vowed on Wednesday to continue the push for peace despite a breakdown in direct negotiations.

“Senator Mitchell will go back to the region next week to consult,” State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said.

US diplomacy would continue despite Tuesday’s decision to give up efforts to halt Jewish settlements, effectively ending a bid to revive direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, he said.

Crowley said the US believed that direct negotiations will still be necessary to resolve the Mideast conflict, and would discuss with both sides what the best way might be to bring them to the table.

“I would describe this as a change in tactics, not a change in strategy,” Crowley said.

US officials said on Tuesday they had dropped efforts to persuade Israel to stop settlement construction on captured land that Palestinians seek for a state. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said this was crucial for direct talks to resume.

The decision was a setback for President Barack Obama, who launched direct talks between the two in September, who saw them quickly run aground over the settlement issue.

Crowley said the US decision on settlements marked a recognition of reality.

“We thought that this had in a sense become an end in itself rather than become a means to an end,” Crowley said.

“We’re going to focus on the substance and try to begin to make progress on the core issues themselves, and we think that will create the kind of momentum that we need to see to get to sustained negotiations.”

Crowley had no immediate details on Mitchell’s itinerary, which appeared to signal a return to the indirect “shuttle” diplomacy that has long marked the Mideast peace process.

“I’m not anticipating that we would have Israelis and Palestinians in the same room at this time,” Crowley said.

Crowley said the US continued to view further Israeli settlement activity as illegitimate. He said the impasse over settlements had also halted separate US discussions of a possible security package for Israel which Washington had hoped might help Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sell a settlement deal politically.

“At this time we are not pursuing a settlement moratorium and we’re not pursuing that kind of discussion with the Israelis,” Crowley said.

US officials said on Tuesday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators would visit Washington next week for further consultations, and Crowley said these may take place in parallel with Mitchell’s talks in the region.

“We expect to have discussions with senior representatives on both sides, we are still working to set those up,” Crowley said.

Mullah Omar Confirms: Aim Is to Keep US Fighting

Taliban Chief Says Escalation Only Resulting in More Deaths

 

by Jason Ditz,

www.antiwar.com

In a rare moment of frankness, Taliban leader Mullah Omar has issued a public message saying that keeping the United States in “the arduous war” in Afghanistan is a specific goal for his insurgency, and in that regard he seems to be having no small amount of success, as US officials openly discuss staying in the nation through 2015 and beyond.

Omar added that the Obama Administration’s December 2009 escalation has only increased the number of troops being killed in Afghanistan. It is hard to dispute this fact either, as the 2010 death toll is by far the worst of the war.

At the same time, Mullah Omar’s strategy shows a decided lack of an end game, as he seems every bit as contented to keep fighting the NATO occupation as NATO does to keep occupying the nation.

And Mullah Omar, like US officials before him, has claimed the other side’s willingness to give lip-service to peace talks proves his side is really winning. But it seems neither side is all that sincere in this willingness, and a peace deal seems as far off as ever. For the Afghans stuck in the middle of this endless war, it means yet more disastrous fighting.

Gates Insists Afghan War Going Really Well

Endorsement Will Keep Strategy From Changing

 

by Jason Ditz,

www.antiwar.com

Record death tolls and a really pessimistic Pentagon report delivered to Congress just days ago are old news, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who insisted that the war in Afghanistan is going really well and indeed “exceeded my expectations.”

Those expectations have been pretty high, as officials are constantly insisting that a major momentum shift is just about to happen, but the proclamation is particularly convenient now as it will keep the current strategy going through the official “review” of the war.

And even though bombings are on the rise and by all accounts the war is getting worse, not better, it is a very good time to make false claims of progress, as snowfall will soon make Afghanistan virtually impassable for several months, keeping the lies from being obvious for quite awhile.

At the same time one can’t help but wish the US was spinning the false claims of progress the way British Prime Minister David Cameron is, as an excuse to get out of Afghanistan soon. For the US claims of progress seem to be as good a reason to stay this year as lack of progress has been for the last nine years.

 

Leaks and Leakers

 

by Philip Giraldi,

December 09, 2010

Call me Saul on the road to Damascus.  I have seen the light.  As a former intelligence officer, I was initially appalled at the leak of a quarter of a million classified documents by someone who had responsibility for protecting them.  I was highly skeptical of the entire WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning saga but following the leaks has convinced me that there is a lot of material that deserves a public airing to demonstrate to the American people how Washington is pursuing a senseless policy almost everywhere in the world.  I have been particularly mortified in reading the accounts of meetings of US Ambassadors and Undersecretaries of State with their foreign counterparts, encounters revealing an unbelievable arrogance derived from the Bush Administration dictum “you are either with us or against us.” Persian King of Kings Darius addressing his satraps could not do it any better.

The WikiLeaks plus Manning story has truly revealed that the US government will do anything necessary to silence its critics, legally or illegally.  The way in which it is orchestrating a highly questionable international effort against both WikiLeaks and Julian Assange is despicable.  There exists a sharp divide between those who believe government secrets should always be protected at all costs and those who believe that secrecy in government exists only to conceal official misbehavior.  Obviously there is a middle ground hidden somewhere between the two, but those who favor the narrative that accepts that there is a nefarious government in Washington ruthlessly manipulating a world empire have pretty much gotten it right.  The documents and the Obama Administration behavior together tell the tale.

There is an enormous amount of hypocrisy in those who are defending the government’s right to over-classify and deny access to the information that has been used to justify going to war, among other crimes.  Insiders in government have no qualms about abusing classified information as long as it suits their purposes.  Dick Cheney used insider secret information to “out” CIA officer Valerie Plame to punish her husband.  The White House leaked intelligence that turned out to be bogus to Judith Miller at the New York Times to make the case for going to war against Iraq.  George Tenet, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, wrote a book called In the Eye of the Storm, which earned him in excess of $4 million.  He worked in a SCIF (which stands for sensitive compartmented information facility) run by the defense and intelligence contractor SAIC and had access to all of his classified “papers” to help him write the book.  Bear in mind that he was retired, with no official status at the time, was writing something for profit, and was using freely provided government resources to turn a buck.  There was apparently no problem in his using classified material.

Unauthorized release of classified information and what becomes of it was also the focus in the trial that was terminated in May 2009 of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, AIPAC employees who passed sensitive intelligence to Israeli government officials and to Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post.  The very same people at the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard who are now calling on the federal government to declare war on WikiLeaks and to summarily execute Julian Assange were at that time complaining about the fact that Rosen and Weissman had been charged with a crime because “everyone” passes around classified information in Washington.  Particularly to Israel, which is okay because it is an ally (which, in fact, it is not).  Apparently the talking heads at the Wall Street Journal believe it is all right to trust classified information to the kleptocrats in Tel Aviv but not to the American public, which has been footing the outrageous bill for the bloated and ineffective intelligence and diplomatic communities during the past ten years.  Newt Gingrich meanwhile is calling Assange, who has threatened no one, a “terrorist.” By that standard what should he call former officials like Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz who started a war that has killed hundreds of thousands?

Specialist Manning is undeniably a whistleblower, though the government will try to portray him as someone engaged in espionage.  Whistleblowers should be encouraged as a check on irresponsible government and should be protected by law when they reveal something that is either illegal or unconstitutional.  Government is intrinsically opposed to such transparency, recently and increasingly using the states secret privilege to deny whistleblowers their day in court.  Daniel Ellsberg did the right thing when he published the Pentagon Papers about Vietnam.  Sibel Edmonds did likewise when she revealed details of foreign espionage and influence buying in the United States.  Stories about CIA torture, renditions, and secret prisons as well as accounts of Army thrill killings and the goings on at Abu Ghraib all originated as leaks and were needed to reveal the war crimes being committed by the US government in its hideous “global war on terror.”

Contrary to the message emanating from the chattering media, WikiLeaks has embarrassed many but it has neither killed nor endangered anyone.  Washington’s relationships with most foreign nations are based on mutual interests and they will continue in spite of concerns expressed by Hillary Clinton and others.  And the positive far outweighs any potential negatives.  When WikiLeaks revealed how US helicopter crews had recklessly targeted and killed civilians in Iraq, a story originating with Manning, it was a good leak, showing just how dirty and amoral the American initiated war in Iraq had become. Likewise, its release of bundles of documents relating to the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan served a good purpose in revealing that the US government was lying about both wars and ignoring its own intelligence analysis to continue to blunder around like a blind elephant in a small room.  As the documents continue to appear they tell a tale of how the American empire is run and how, like an iceberg, most of it is concealed beneath the surface, hidden from public view.  Manning took it upon himself to release the hundreds of thousands of secret papers, reportedly because of his belief that the diplomatic documents expose “almost criminal political back dealings” and explain “how the first world exploits the third, in detail.”  He was right to do so.  The American juggernaut must be stopped and the transparency provided by Manning and other whistleblowers is the best weapon to accomplish that.

My only remaining concern continues to be the possibility that WikiLeaks itself has an agenda beyond exposing the machinations of an essentially duplicitous government.  If it does that will presumably emerge eventually, but for the present WikiLeaks is providing a necessary service. I do not know if Julian Assange is working for any intelligence service, as has been alleged in some circles.  It does seem to me that the release of documents so far has been selective, but perhaps as more of them surface that impression will vanish.  I have heard that the newly formed US cyber command aided by the Israelis is behind the hacking campaign directed against WikiLeaks and its servers, particularly ironic as President Barack Obama has several times extolled the freedom of the internet. Apparently that is only true if it is hosting criticism of Iran or China.

The United States should not be mounting a huge international campaign to silence WikiLeaks, nor will it be successful.   Nor should it attempt to “regulate” the internet, which is the inevitable next step.  And the attempts to personally punish Assange, which might succeed, are a measure of how low America and its allies in Europe and Australia have sunk. He has broken no law even in an age of Patriot Acts and Military Commissions and the charges against him in Sweden appear to be a set-up.  Once upon a time there was a rule of law in the United States and a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, but no longer.  Ultimately WikiLeaks will rise and fall based on its credibility and its ability to tell stories that are being suppressed elsewhere and that the public believes should be heard.  WikiLeaks must be allowed to speak.

 

Egypt: World should push toward establishment of Palestinian state

Egyptian FM Ahmed Aboul Gheit says discussions should shift to an ‘endgame’ for Palestinian settlement due to the failure of U.S.-brokered talks.

Major powers should push Israel and the Palestinians to agree a deadline for establishing an independent Palestinian state before a two-state solution becomes impossible to achieve, Egypt said on Wednesday.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit

Photo by: AP

Israelis and Palestinians held three rounds of U.S.-backed talks in September. Palestinians pulled out when a 10-month freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem ended on Sept. 26.

In some of Egypt’s strongest language since the talks ended, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said discussions should shift to an “end-game for a Palestinian settlement” after Washington had failed to push Israel to halt building work.

“The Americans have been informing all of us that their efforts did not succeed. They wanted to reach a moratorium on settlement activities with Israel. That came to an end now.”

He said Egypt’s concern was that “we continue haggling without (making) any breakthrough, then in few years there would not be a possibility of two states living side by side.”

The Palestinians on Wednesday said “Israeli obstinacy” made Washington give up on efforts to freeze Jewish settlements and questioned whether the United States could ever help them attain independence.

Egypt became the first Arab state to reach peace with Israel when it signed a deal in 1979.

“You have a bi-national state or you have occupation or apartheid. The … option which we are all preferring is to have two states instead of one state based on apartheid,” Aboul Gheit said at a briefing during a visit to Bulgaria.

He said the quartet of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russian Federation should devise a framework agreement that fixes a Palestinian state’s borders and the status of East Jerusalem while ensuring Israel’s security.

“If there would be an exchange of territories it has to be minimal,” the minister said.

He said the agreement “can be drafted by the Americans, by the quartet, by a group of experts, two or three pages of a grand understanding to be offered by the international community to both parties” with a specific time for a deal to be reached.

 

BUSTED – WIKILEAKS WORKING FOR ISRAEL

 

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

Reports have come in today, tying Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, directly to Israeli intelligence and “Israel friendly” media outlets.  We are told Assange, while at a Geneva meeting, agreed to allow Israel to select or censor all Wikileak output.

Despite the dramatic arrest of Julian Assange for rape, a story long hyped by the media, Assange “the martyr” now appears to be Assange “the Israeli spy.”  Reports from inside Wikileaks differ greatly from the image presented by the press, an Assange tied to ultra-nationalist Israeli groups, an Assange with an extremist agenda, an Assange who sees himself as a geopolitical player, willing to censor, willing to fabricate and willing to betray.

The new Assange, as recent revelations reveal, may very well be capable, with help from Israel and powerful media friends,  of  staging a phony arrest.  The new Assange may also be absolutely guilty of real sex crimes, and not a martyr at all.

The look “behind the curtain” at Wikileaks we have been given shows us a Julian Assange capable of anything, now labeled a paid Israeli agent by multiple press sources around the world.

NEOCON THREATS ON FOX NEWS “PART OF THE ACT”

The latest pro-Israel “Neocon” to attack Assange on the very pro-Israel Fox network is Newt Gingrich.

When I saw Newt Gingrich, Neocon hardliner with a closet full of skeletons, on Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, something was terribly wrong.  Gingrich was threatening Julian Assange, who had, only that day, praised Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News and long time patron of Gingrich.

I immediately smelled a setup.

There is a problem with all this.  Both Assange and Gingrich are virtual “stepchildren” of Rupert Murdoch, his followers, his acolytes, and, despite the “bad boy” Assange persona, political twins.  Assange, at heart, is everything but progressive and open.  Assange, as described by those around him, is a dictator, manipulator and allied to wealth and power.

Newt Gingrich was on a mission, he and other Neocons along with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, all pouring threats at Assange to build “his” credibility on the basis of the total lack of theirs.

THEN THE SHOE DROPS ON ASSANGE

Today we learn that Assange is also a creature of Israel, bankrolled by spies, running a disinformation site with help from Fox News, the New York Times and other media giants.  A confirmed news story from the “IndyPress”has Assange in bed with Israeli intelligence;

“Assange met with Israeli officials in Geneva earlier this year and struck the secret deal. The Israel government, it seems, had somehow found out or expected that the documents to be leaked contained a large number of documents about the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008-9 respectively. These documents, which are said to have originated mainly from the Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv and Beirut, where removed and possibly destroyed by Assange, who is the only person who knows the password that can open these documents, the sources added.”

ASSANGE AND 9/11

More importantly, Wikileaks has never had a document mentioning the 9/11 investigation, the controversy over the “9/12″ secret flight to Israel or the “dancing Israeli’s,” the 5 Mossad agents arrested on the George Washington bridge on 9/11 in a van with 2,000 pounds of explosives.  This group, admittedly “documenting” the 9/11 attack for the Israeli government was kept in custody for 10 months and only released after diplomatic wrangling and a major lobbying effort.

Hundreds of cables were generated by this issue and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, tied to 9/11.  All magically disappeared at the hands of Julian Assange whose public statements on 9/11 now make him suspect.

THE WIKILEAKS DICTATORSHIP

Inside the Wikileaks organization, Assange’s secret deals are seen as a betrayal.  Assange is described as dictatorial and secretive, with a lot to be secret about.

“In a recent interview with the German daily Die Tageszeitung, former WikiLeaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg said he and other WikiLeaks dissidents are planning to launch their own whistleblowers’ platform to fulfill WikiLeaks’s original aim of “limitless file sharing.”

Mr. Domscheit-Berg, who is about to publish a book about his days ‘Inside WikiLeaks’, accuses Assange of acting as a “king” against the will of others in the organisation by “making deals” with media organisations that are meant to create an explosive effect, which others in WikiLeaks either know little or nothing about.”

WIKILEAKS AND TEL AVIV

Payoffs by Israel to Assange had, until today, been an issue of debate among journalists.

Following the leak (and even before), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference that Israel had “worked in advance” to limit any damage from leaks, adding that “no classified Israeli material was exposed by WikiLeaks.”  In an interview with the Time magazine around the same time, Assange praised Netanyahu as a hero of transparency and openness!

As for personal ethnics, I give it to Assange, hands down, he is the cleaner of the two, no question about that, and far more valuable to Rupert Murdoch and his media empire, the virtual voice of the State of Israel.

ASSANGE, “THE CARDBOARD LOTHARIO”

Yesterday, something odd happened in Britain.  Julian Assange was arrested on charges that seem bizarre, under circumstances that discredit the legal system of Sweden.  The alleged victims have been cited by the world press as CIA agents in more than one story and the case itself shows obvious signs of tampering, maybe to harass Assange or maybe, based on bizarre timing, to help sell Wikileak data that is increasingly looking like an Israeli intelligence scam.

Today, Julian Assange, “bad boy,” hacker, accused rapist, threatened by American neo-cons with contract killing, authors and op-ed for The Australian, Rupert Murdoch’s flagship publication in Australia.

His article cites Murdoch as his inspiration.  A day later, we learn that Assange was working, not just for Israeli ultranationalist Murdoch but for the Israel government as well.

AN ISRAELI PSY-OP?

All three, Gingrich, Assange and Murdoch have several things in common.  All are avid Zionists, supporters of Israel’s expansion.  Murdoch, Australian born of a Jewish mother, is an Israeli citizen and the powerful guiding force behind the ultranationalist Likudist Party, the hardliners pushing to dispossess Palestine’s non-Jewish population, Israel’s anti-American political wing.

Assange, we know nothing of him other than the rumors and myths, now all brought into serious question.

Gingrich’s move to “the darkside” traces back to the beginnings of his political career.

A GINGRICH PATH..

In 1994, Gingrich’s wife, Marianne, was hired by the Israel Export Development Company.  This was while her husband, Congressman Newt Gingrich had just announced support for that company’s free trade zone in Israel.  Gingrich had already established himself as “fair game” after a series of ethics and IRS investigations involving the GOPAC organization and its questionable financial practices.

SOURCES:

(“Gingrich Aided Export Firm That Employed His Wife”, NY Times News Service, San Francisco Chronicle, February 7, 1995 pA7)

(“Gingrich, Critic of ‘Business as Usual,’ Helps Out Special Interests Like ‘Any Member of Congress’”, Phil Kuntz, Wall Street Journal, April 3, 1995 pA16)

Both articles, exposing the Gingrich/Israel connection were in the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper later purchased by Murdoch, a paper unlikely to carry such as story ever again.

Soon afterward, Newt was called on to aid Murdoch in an FCC complaint made by NBC.  They contended that foreign ownership of Fox, Murdoch was not an American, was illegal.  Murdoch then gave Gingrich $4.5 million through his publishing company, Harper Collins, to write a book.  Murdoch had offered similar deals to Margaret Thatcher and other politicians where Murdoch had regulatory problems.  This time, when Newt was found to be meeting with Murdoch’s lobbyists, it all blew up in his face and he was forced to give the money back.

When it came down to “splainin’  time,” Newt and Murdoch denied it all, then it came out that they met secretly on a park bench.  Then they claimed Murdoch’s agent, Lynn Chu and Gingrich’s “associate” Jeff Eisenach had cut the deal and forgot to tell them about it.  Rupert Murdoch got to keep Fox News and the Neocons gained control of content, making Fox the unofficial voice of Israel, the Republican Party and the military/industrial complex.

Thus began the Gingrich/Murdoch partnership which continues to this day.

THE NEOCON CHARADE

Separating myth from reality, real “Wikileaks” from the “Franken-Wikileaks” of Israel and Julian Assange, is going to be difficult.

Where the Swedish government may really be after Assange, it is obvious that the parade of Neocon politicians and media pundits, all “creatures” of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, are not.

The same media that worked with Assange to censor and manipulate Wikileaks for the Netanyahu government in Israel is the same media, the same outlets, the same ownership, the same management that are now pouring out threats, demands for “hanging.”

Seldom is such a scenario successfully exposed, particularly of such complexity.  First Wikileaks source is tied to AIPAC, the Israeli lobby in the United States, through information leaked in a private lawsuit.

Then we learn Assange is, not only working directly for Israel, but is closely aligned with the Murdoch media empire that is managing the most violent criticism of Wikileaks.

Will there be an end to this, a “not so innocent” side show that may well have been put together to push the world into its last war?

Wikileaks once had much promise.  It can again.

Filed under 9/11 – War on Terror, Wars · Tagged with 9/11, Australia, fox news, geneva, gordon duff, israel, judge napolitano, Julian Assange, Likud Party, mossad, Newt Gingrich, rupert murdoch, ultranationalists, Wikileaks

Gordon Duff is a Marine Vietnam veteran, and Senior Editor at Veterans Today. His career has included extensive experience in international banking along with such diverse areas as consulting on counter insurgency, defense technologies or acting as diplomatic officer of UN humanitarian groups. Gordon Duff’s articles are published around the world and translated into a number of languages. He is regularly on TV and radio, a popular and sometimes controversial guest.

  

nomorewarsforisrael@gmail.com
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A GENERAL OVERHAUL

Uri Avnery

December 11, 2010

 

THE JUDGE: “You are accused of murdering your wife and two children. How do you plead: Guilty or not guilty?”

 

The accused: “Your honor, I do not deal with the past. I think about the future!”

 

No, not a scene from a comedy. Something very similar really happened. That is how Eli Yishai, the Minister of the Interior, Binyamin Netanyahu and the other nincompoops responded this week to the accusations of gross negligence which resulted in the unprecedented giant firestorm that ravaged large parts of Mount Carmel and caused the deaths of 42 people.

 

 

THE EPITOME of chutzpah was reached by Eli Yishai (Shas). In bygone days, a Japanese minister would have committed harakiri on the very first day of the conflagration. But Yishai addressed the public on the last day and claimed that he was the victim of a lynching because he is “Orthodox and Sephardi”.

 

But even if he had been a blue-eyed secular Ashkenazi, he should have been thrown down the government stairs. And not only because of his “ministerial responsibility”, as the State Comptroller politely phrased it.

 

If Yishai had faced the judge mentioned above, he would have answered: “Your honor, all my predecessors also murdered their wives and children. So why do you single me out? Only because I am Orthodox and Sephardi?”

 

One shocking piece of evidence suffices to attach personal blame to this individual. When the fire broke out, Haifa airport, where the fire-fighting planes were stationed, did not stock a single kilo of fire-retardant material. The stock in the entire country was enough for the first 20 minutes only. Israel had to send SOS messages to all the countries throughout the world, including some smaller and poorer than us, to beg for the material.

 

Was that the responsibility of his predecessors in the 50s or the 90s?

 

Lately, Yishai has stood out as the compulsive persecutor of refugee children, in order to save the “Jewish” state. If he had invested in the fire-fighting services a fraction of the energy and enthusiasm which he invested in promoting the man-hunters of the “Oz” immigration unit, the fire would have been conquered within an hour, instead of blazing in unabated fury for three days. Not to mention his threats to break up the government coalition if the subsidies of the Orthodox were reduced.

 

In Yishai, some of the main traits that caused the disaster are concentrated: a blown-up ego, total devotion to the interests of his party, and complete indifference for the government tasks entrusted to him.

 

But, he asserted, he “warned”. All of the politicians “warned”. Every one of them keeps in the back pocket of his trousers a bunch of letters he has written in the last few years to cover his ass. But the duty of a minister is not to “warn”. His duty is to act, and if he can’t – to resign.

 

 

THE MAIN responsibility, however, does not rest with Eli Yishai, but with Binyamin Netanyahu. It is he who appointed this good-for-nothing to this job, just as he appointed Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister and Limor Livnat as Minister for Culture. And all the other ministers, almost all whom are quite unsuited for their tasks 

 

Netanyahu’s own conduct during the crisis, in which the entire country was glued to the TV screens for days, every hour of each day, bordered on farce. While the fire-fighters were busy trying to extinguish the fire, he was equally busy trying to extinguish the growing criticism of himself. He hurried from place to place, surrounded not only by a ring of bodyguards but by an even larger ring of photographers. He immortalized himself in every possible pose, each one expertly staged, following the example of the President of Chile during the rescue of the miners. He talked and talked, and from every word arose a strong smell of phoniness.

 

Nothing was spontaneous, nothing came from the heart. Everything a pose, everything unserious. One moment he entrusted Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch with the responsibility for the entire operation, the next moment he forgot all about him, as if he had never existed. The height of comedy was attained when he appointed the mayor of Netanya, appropriately named Miriam Feirberg (“ Mountain of Fire ”) as special commissioner for compensation. It was a moment’s flash of inspiration, without consulting anyone, without any staff work (there was no staff, anyhow). Even his closest advisers were surprised. Two days later he accepted her resignation.

 

Netanyahu also invented a substitute for a Commission of Inquiry: a press conference.

 

But it appears that Netanyahu knows his people. The polls show that a large part of the public has been profoundly impressed by his dynamic leadership.

 

 

BUT BEYOND the failings of individual politicians who pose as leaders, a frightening picture of the entire ruling establishment has been revealed.

 

For a moment, the curtain of the media flatterers, PR experts and assorted ass-lickers, who create an artificial reality, has been raised. The picture that has emerged is of total chaos. The flames shed light on only one accidental part – the fire-fighting services – but there is no doubt that a similar situation exists in almost all other departments of the government, from the defense ministry to the education system.

 

Until now, we surmised. Now we know for sure.

 

What was revealed this week for all to see was a shocking landscape of incompetence and inability, irresponsibility and ass-covering, lack of planning and lack of foresight, lack of “staff work” and lack of coordination between the various government offices. Many years of party corruption have led to a situation where at every crucial point the wrong person occupies the wrong position. The crime of “political appointments” has crippled the civil service.

 

The lack of an efficient fire-fighting service, as described this week by the State Comptroller, is only a symptom of the disease. It was not discovered this week, and not this year. Already 42 years ago, on June 10, 1968, I warned the Knesset about this situation and demanded the setting up of a national fire-fighting force, like the national police force, with a single commander and a standing general staff. The establishment ignored the proposal. So did the media. Nothing was burning – until Mount Carmel turned into a flaming inferno.

 

We know already that the same situation prevails in the education system, which is producing a generation of ignoramuses, as was revealed this week by PISA , an authoritative international study. The pupils of the “Jewish State”, the sons and daughters of the People of the Book which always prided itself on its superior intellectual level, are now well below the average of the developed countries.

 

We do not know what is really happening in the army, whose officers are protected by a defensive ring of army spokesmen and army liars, censors and fawning journalists called “military correspondents”. Lebanon War II revealed a picture of a military not much better than the fire-fighting service this week. It is known that the present Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, “has rehabilitated the army”. Everybody knows. How do they know? Anyone from the outside checked?

 

In order to turn Israel into a modern state, we need a thorough change in the entire establishment. Instead of busying ourselves with empty slogans, like “a Jewish and democratic state”, we should see to it that Israel becomes, first of all, a state capable of safeguarding the security and well-being of its citizens – all of them.

 

 

THAT BRINGS us straight to the overturned hubble-bubble (Nargileh in Palestinian Arabic).

 

From the first moment on, I was worried that the fire would ignite a huge conflagration of racist flames. After all, the fire did break out near an Arab locality (Yes, the Druze are Arabs, too). I asked myself: how long will it take until the racists are falling over themselves fighting to exploit this opportunity?

 

At first I was pleasantly surprised. In many ways, the disaster brought out the most positive sides of Israeli society, which are hidden in normal times. In this area, too, an unusual self-restraint prevailed this time. Common sense said that even the wildest terrorist would not start a fire next to his own home.

 

But the police – who are deeply stained by anti-Arab discrimination – could not restrain themselves for two whole days. Thus, at the height of the disaster, when the public was glued to the TV screen and emotions were running as high as the flames in the forest, the police released a sensational piece of news: they had caught two Arab boys, aged 14 and 16, who were guilty of starting the whole thing.

 

Even if this news had any foundation, it could have quietly waited for two or three days, until the flames were put out. But the police were all aflame.

 

They announced at the top of their voices that the two brothers were having a picnic and their nargileh had overturned. That is a doubtful story to start with. But even if the boys had inadvertently caused the fire by their negligence, was there a need to treat them like hardened criminals, drag them brutally from their home in the middle of their family lunch, interrogate them harshly and try to get them to incriminate each other? In the end they were released and the police grabbed another boy of 16. All this was very different from the behavior of the police some time ago, when a group of Yeshiva students inadvertently started a large fire on the Golan Heights .

 

 

THE EVENT did actually have a racist face, but from a quite different perspective. Racism played a major role in it.

 

The fire started near Ussafiyeh. In this Druze locality, with its 10,000 inhabitants, there was no fire station. Nor was there any is the neighboring Druze locality of Daliyat al-Carmel, which has 15,000 inhabitants. The Arab local councils, which are discriminated against in most spheres, are disadvantaged in this sphere, too.

 

This week, racism revenged itself. If there had been fire stations in the Druze localities, the fire could have been put out in short order, even with the East wind and the dry trees, before it could develop into a disaster. The Ussafiyeh station could have safeguarded the whole Carmel area, which is   always liable to burn. Look at the episode of the prophet Eliah and the prophets of Baal on the Carmel (1 Kings 18:38): “then the fire of the Lord fell…” But perhaps Eli Yishai and his folks don’t read the Bible as frequently as this atheist.

 

The neglect of the Druze localities had a dramatic effect on our ability to extinguish a fire on the Carmel . The 42 victims paid with their lives for this racism.

 

 

THE FIRE was a kind of dress rehearsal. In Israel , people don’t say “If a war breaks out” but rather “When the next war breaks out”. It is quite certain that if another war breaks out, it will dwarf the Carmel fire. Thousands of missiles will fall on all parts of Israel , causing many fires simultaneously.

 

No one is ready for that. The same government that is sabotaging all peace efforts and is leading us towards war – is not ready for war on any level.

 

Even without this danger, it is clear that the political establishment is in need of a general overhaul, nothing less. That is impossible with types like Eli Yishai and his master, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who proclaimed this week that the courageous female police officer, Ahuva Tomer, and the 41 cadets who were killed by the fire died because they broke the sabbath. Neither with types like Binyamin Netanyahu and his cabinet, nor with the so-called “opposition”.

 

What is needed now is nothing less than an awakening of the “silent majority”. They must understand that by their indifference, they are no less guilty than the politicians who were, after all, elected by them. Nothing will move unless the passive public becomes active. Mass protests, big demonstrations, joint action by intellectuals and others. Only thus can civil society assert itself and bring about the total overhaul that has become a burning necessity.

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