Brooklyn-Jenin: Why didn’t the judges prevent the demolition in Lod?
Dec 19, 2010
As fifty children lose their homes under the auspices of the Supreme Court the question should be asked: Does the Supreme Court act in the service of a racist ideology in the spirit of Rabbi Eliyahu and his cohorts?
One morning, when the storm started shaking the treetops and the dogs howled in terror because of the thunders and the flashes of lightning, fifty children of different ages went out to school in the city of Lod, Israel. During the day most of them worked diligently on their studies, hoping the storm would abate so they could go back safely to the home where they were born and raised. To the sound of the bell announcing the end of the day they all set off running back home. The tempest intensified, and with it the will to find oneself in the warmth of one’s home; in the warmth of the seven homes of their extended family – the Abu Eid family.
But when they got home, the home was utterly destroyed. Fifty children stood shocked in front of their seven demolished homes, the uprooted palm tree and the water bursting out of the broken pipe; they stood frozen in front of the offhandedly thrown out furniture and the cries of their mothers facing the destructive power all by themselves. And who is it that had destroyed their home? It was not the tempest that wrecked the homes of the fifty children, nor was it the conflagration of forest fires; the culprits were demolition contractors of the Judeo-democratic State of Israel, backed by the Judeo-democratic Supreme Court, who utterly destroyed the children’s homes, accompanied by the gloating looks on the faces of their Jewish neighbors.
Could it be that the Court did not consider the welfare of the children, citizens of the state, only because of their Palestinian ethnicity? Now that the slogan for the Judaization of Lod is back, may we suspect the Supreme Court of once again taking an active part in the crimes of racism and in the renewing of the Nakba?
When hip hop band DAM’s Suhell Nafar and I arrived, everything was already in ruins: heaps of rubble in the heart of the neighborhood for all to see and beware. Suhell photographed the ruins. I wiped a tear. But rage is in order here, not pity. We must be strong and think of ways to struggle. Meanwhile, a protest tent and a shelter for the families have been set up nearby. The demolishers did not leave a house or two for the families to take refuge in, nor did they wait for the spring in order to alleviate the suffering. It seems they wanted the destruction to be as painful and humiliating as possible.
Thinking about Transfer
There are many forces in the Israeli politics which hope the Palestinians in Israel will rebel, and so in due course it should be possible to expel them from the country. They say they do not seek a final solution, as they oppose genocide; they are not barbarians. They only want to make sure the Arabs don’t multiply like rabbits on Israel’s holy land. That’s why there are loyalty laws; that’s why there is constant encroachment upon their living space; that’s why more and more actions that distance the Arab citizens of Israel from the state are taking place.
Destroying a home is a cruel action in any context, but it’s even crueler when it serves to emphasize who is allowed to stay in their home even without permission and who isn’t. The Supreme Court is aware of the neighboring Jewish neighborhood, Ganei Aviv, which was approved retrospectively. The Supreme Court is aware of the fact that for the Jewish neighborhood a bridge was built over the railroad tracks so that Jewish children would not be run over, while for the Arabs the railroad was laid inside the neighborhood without a single bridge. The Supreme Court is aware of the neighborhoods which are being built for the religious settlers in Lod instead of a luxurious neighborhood for these Arabs whose land the state covets.
The Supreme Court knows that in the mixed cities of Jaffa, Acre and Lod cruel creeping deprivation of Israeli citizens of Palestinian ethnicity of what is theirs is taking place.
The Court knows and collaborates. With my own eyes I saw Her Honor Dorit Beinisch de facto and retrospectively approving a blatantly illegal new settler neighborhood situated on the robbed land of Bil’in. One cannot but wonder why she won’t retroactively approve a neighborhood of Palestinians in Lod, where they’ve been living for decades.
I accuse the Supreme Court of the State of Israel of being a loyal servant of a racist ideology which does not differ much from the racism of the rabbis who have signed the manifesto of the Israeli Nuremberg Laws. Like the court in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, which bends the civil law in favor of the Christian ruler in order to harm Shylock the Jew, the Supreme Court in our reality has become a verbal whitewashing machine for occupation and plundering on a nationalist basis.
Does Judge Beinisch really believe that there is a fundamental difference between expulsion under the guise of democracy and expulsion under the guise of theocracy? Is there a difference between the Jewish National Fund, which forbids leasing lands to Arabs on nationalist grounds, and the fascist rabbi Eliyahu of Safed, who forbids it on religious grounds? For the Palestinian, they are both parts of the same well-oiled machine, which advances his banishment from the public space and preserves him as a stranger in his homeland.
Memories from Shakespeare
A month ago I saw Al Pacino playing the role of his life as Shylock on Broadway. Having deprived him of all his possessions, the enlightened people of Venice forced him to be baptized Christian. The director had added a shocking scene, which does not appear in Shakespeare’s play. In the scene we see the people of Venice baptizing the defeated Shylock. Al Pacino comes out of his baptism wet and humiliated, bent and helpless before the “mighty and merciful” ruler who had spared his life having taken his home, his faith and his dignity.
Despondently, Shylock picks up his fallen skullcap from the floor, puts it back on his head, and stares at the complacent people of Venice. The stare begins despondent and defeated, but it strengthens and sharpens and says: I, Shylock, adherent of the Mosaic faith, believe in a jealous and vengeful God; I shall return to take what’s lawfully mine.
On that cursed day of destruction, Mahmoud – one of the fifty children who left home in the morning and got back to heaps of rubble – lost his dog; it was shot. The look on his father’s face, seeing his son kneeling on the doorstep of his destroyed home, holding the body of his slain dog in his arms, was like Shylock’s despondent look, staring at the people of Venice, pleased with their ability to exploit the weak under their advanced constitution. And the look defies us and says: I am here for all eternity; I am a Palestinian.
This article is from Udi Aloni’s Brooklyn-Jenin column he is writing for the Israeli website Ynet about his experience living between New York City and the Jenin refugee camp, where he is teaching a film production class. You can read the entire Brooklyn-Jenin series here.
What slapdash H.R. 1765 reveals about the lobby and public awareness
Dec 19, 2010
As House Resolution 1765, formerly 1731 and 1734, passed in the House by a voice vote enjoining the Obama administration to oppose a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence, the peace camp looked disheveled and mystified. With every loss in the halls of Congress we reassure ourselves that the tide is changing, that soon members of Congress will see the right of Palestinians to statehood, that the next president will not succumb to the intransigence of Congress.
Today there are hundreds of organizations educating the American public about the facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They raise the public’s awareness about the plight of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip. Some organizations highlight the importance of resolving the refugee crisis and yet others underline Israel’s apartheid regime in the West Bank, undergirded by Jewish-only settlements and Jewish-only infrastructure.
Almost all existing organizations focused on a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are 501(c)(3) educational organizations. Many of these organizations address congressional representatives by asking their members to sign petitions or letters to Congress. However, what is lost on, or neglected by, these organizations is the fact that members of Congress are almost entirely beholden to a powerful pro-Israel lobby whose fabled success stems primarily from its ability to fund congressional campaigns.
When the time for a vote comes, whether it is a symbolic nonbinding resolution such as H. Res. 1765 or a crucial bill funding Israel’s occupation, the vast majority of members of Congress will invariably vote on the side of Israel. The reason is quite simple: a member of Congress cannot listen to pro-peace organizations as hard-line pro-Israel PACs (political action committees) fund their campaigns, no matter how sympathetic the member is to the Palestinian cause.
The exception to this scenario would be a broadly mobilized campaign of pro-Palestinian activists. However, if financial regulation and healthcare reform, which impact every American citizen, cannot garner enough public support to thwart opposing lobbies, the Palestinian cause will not mobilize a broad national movement in the foreseeable future. To most Americans uninformed on the issue, it is seemingly too remote, too inconsequential, and too tangential to American interests, although the realty couldn’t be further from the truth.
By abdicating our responsibility to lobby Congress and fund congressional campaigns, we have relegated ourselves to fighting a formidable opponent while blindfolded with both hands tied behind our collective back. Hard-line pro-Israel PACs not only help elect members of Congress but they indirectly appoint administration officials through Senate confirmation hearings, as was painfully evident during the Chas Freeman debacle. We have been effectively shut out from the halls of power in the United States with grave consequences for all involved.
Under Federal Election Commission rules, only a political action committee can fund the campaign of a member of Congress. As of last year, there was not a single political action committee funding members of Congress who support a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, until the establishment of New Policy PAC. I, along with other pro-peace activists (please view board members at www.newpolicy.org), founded New Policy PAC a year ago as an alternative source of funding for members of Congress who push for an end to Israel’s occupation and an American troops withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, while opposing any attack on Iran.
As educational organizations increase the pool of informed Americans, New Policy PAC is decidedly singing to the choir: informed, engaged Americans who are ready to fund the campaigns of elected officials. As educational organizations work to strengthen the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement, New Policy PAC works to establish a Congressional Peace Caucus.
Even as Israel’s most ardent apologists struggle to justify its actions and its position becomes increasingly untenable, members of Congress continue to endorse one-sided resolutions in support of a prolonged occupation. Sometimes to avert a public debate, slapdash resolutions, as in the case of 1765, are introduced, their names changed repeatedly confounding public tracking and their hurried passage is implemented by a voice vote.
While this may signal the tenuous moral and political grounds these resolutions stand upon and the embarrassment of Congress at their passage, it also highlights the power of the pro-Israel PACs. They are most likely to retain their firm grip on our Capitol until we provide an alternative source of funding.
Sama Adnan, Ph.D. is executive director of NewPolicy.org and New Policy PAC, an American lobby for Middle East peace.
Gaza’s Social Network: Gazan bloggers share the reality of the siege with the world
Dec 19, 2010
“People outside expect us all to be wrapped in keffiyehs … and to be stalwarts of the Palestinian cause every second of every day, and we feel we don’t want to disappoint them but we are human beings and sometimes we just want to blog about what’s on our mind”.
These words were spoken by a blogger from Gaza at a meeting in July which brought together 11 bloggers who use the Internet to tell readers all over the world about the reality of life in the Strip.
It seems that the Internet and its ability to cross borders are the exact opposite of life under closure in the Strip. In Gaza, residents cannot leave freely and are almost completely barred from traveling to the West Bank. The realities of the closure mean that the Internet and independent bloggers have become an important source of information about life in Gaza.
In recent years, many young men and women from Gaza have begun writing blogs, the number of which are hard to estimate. Most of them write in Arabic and address readers in Gaza, the West Bank and the Arab world at large, but a substantial number write in English to an international audience. They write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, local issues and the dispute between Hamas and Fatah or about personal issues. Blogger Mohammed Rabah Suliman, for example, says that he writes about his personal life and his daily experiences in order to show the human face of his hometown, Gaza City, which is usually described in terms of statistics instead of through the personal stories and experiences of people (ed note: Suliman has also posted on Mondoweiss).
Blogger Sameeha Elwan critiques the blind judgements about women’s lives in Gaza made by her local and international colleagues. Yasmeen El Khoudary writes about the blossoming of the rare flower “The Last Queen of the Night”, while the blogger Bashar describes his experiences in the Gaza Strip through unusual video art (video above).
Many bloggers from the Gaza Strip know each other and in the meeting they shared their experiences. According to Mohammed, even though many bloggers are friends in the “real” world, they are still a long way from cooperating on the Internet. Judging by the unusual and interesting collaboration between “Peaceman” and “Hopeman”, an Israeli from Sderot and a Palestinian from Gaza, who blogged together in 2008-2009, it seems that the Internet has great potential as a tool for understanding and border-crossing friendship.
This post originally appeared in Gisha’s Gaza Gateway, a website created to provide up-to-date information and commentary on the situation at the Gaza Strip border crossings.
Red carpet is rolled out for the Spine-weary
Dec 19, 2010
A friend whose guilty pleasure it is to read Marty Peretz’s blog, The Spine, told me that on Peretz’s last sagacious entry on the peace process, there are 130 comments and our website comes in for discussion, one reader calling it “execrable,” and rodubuloi, whom my friend respects, saying Well you have to come to terms with the ideas that are being discussed over there at Mondo. I welcome all readers of Peretz’s to join our conversation here…
How does it feel for a Jewish reporter to do a spirit of Christmas story?
Dec 19, 2010
Today’s my annual Christmas Tree post. I do it when I am putting the Christmas tree in my house and feeling guilty. Look, we have a menorah on the pie safe. But I live in a semi-Jewish neighborhood so I worry about what the neighbors will see and think…. Anyway, here’s an entry from Theodor Herzl’s diary:
December 24, 1895
I was just lighting the Christmas tree for my children when [head Vienna rabbi Moritz] Gudemann arrived. He seemed upset by the “Christian” custom. Well, I will not let myself be pressured! But I don’t mind if they call it the Hanukkah tree–or the winter solstice.
The prohibition that Herzl encountered is a living one. And: If I were a card-carrying member of the Jewish press, say at the Forward or Tablet, here’s the piece I would like to do:
I would call up alot of Jewish reporters and ask them how they feel about doing Christmas stories.
The other day I heard a Jewish anchor on NPR introducing a heartstrings Christmas story, invoking the spirit of Christmas. And on Chris Matthews, he called Howard Fineman a “grinch” the other night apropos of something, and Fineman laughed. I’m pretty sure he’s Jewish.
My Fineman moment is a stretch, true, but my question is a sincere one. As media people in American culture, we have a lot of responsibility, so we end up doing Christmas stories, presumably with some genuine feeling. Which isn’t all that different from putting a Christmas tree in your house. I wonder how it feels, if there’s any contradiction with one’s own practices/beliefs. If it doesn’t represent a form of assimilation (and by the way, Chris Matthews proselytizes the greatness of assimilation when he’s talking about Hispanics) or some reproof to the old Jewish faith in anti-semitism. How it impacts on one’s Jewish identity, or changes it… I’m curious.
quick sermon on irreligion
Dec 19, 2010
A friend sent me this interview with the late Israel Shahak the other day, the anti-religious chemistry scholar and author. It’s very good. Shahak puts anti-Semitism in the category of xenophobia, and puts anti-Christian activity in the same category. I like when Shahak does not dispute the flowering of Jewish genius across Europe in the 1800s. He says that it came about because Jews overthrew their religious authorities, the rabbis, who would give them 613 rules to live their lives by.
I was reading Keith Richards’s beautiful autobiography this morning, penned by James Fox of White Mischief; and it begins as a social history of England during and after the war, and Richards says that his family was always irreligious. They never set foot in churches. Richards’s earthy spirit was in a renegade family tradition.
Organized religion is all around us; they were all against gay people, right? Islamic societies are sorely in need of reformation, the Vatican is full of shadows, and in Jewish life, the religious feelings around Israel are now formally shutting down the secular tradition of freethinkers. Because everyone must say that it is fine and dandy for religious zealots to burn a Palestinian shepherd’s flock alive. Oh, that can be explained! And the entire American Jewish establishment bites its tongue about it and breaks bread withfundamentalists. God help us.
So in this holiday season, I give thanks to irreligion. This site wouldn’t be here without it.
Hollywood dramatized ethnic cleansing in India and Pakistan, why not the other I/P?
Dec 18, 2010
Proof if any more is needed of the existence of a powerful Israel lobby in our country:
Tonight over dinner I watched the last 30 minutes of Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982) on Turner Classics. I was staggered to see the 1947 transfer of Muslim and Hindu refugees at the new border between India and Pakistan portrayed on the big screen. Pitiful streams of refugees. Then the anti-Muslim riots in Calcutta. And Gandhi’s fast as he tries to will the new nations to peaceful coexistence. “For god’s sake let us embrace like brothers,” Nehru says. Gandhi tells a repentant Hindu who has killed a Muslim boy to adopt an orphaned Muslim and raise him as a Muslim. Etc.
The Nakba took place a year after the ethnic cleansing at the border regions of India and Pakistan, and you have never seen the Nakba depicted on the big screen. You have not seen the exodus of refugees from Israel and Palestine portrayed with sympathy– no, only caricatured, as they were in Borat.
And as for Gandhi’s vision of coexistence– well who has done a picture about Judah Magnes or Ah’ad Ha’am or other cultural Zionists who did not want to build a Jewish state?
And when Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner teamed up to make Munich, a film about the cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine, they were denounced by pro-Israel voices.
How is this evidence of the lobby’s role in the American discourse? Because 30 years ago Hollywood saw fit to celebrate values of liberal democracy and anticolonialism and inter-faith co-existence in a movie about a 1947 Partition. And Gandhi won 8 Oscars, because it honored modern liberal American values; the same values that have been trashed repeatedly in Israel and Palestine. But these same themes (Partition/religion/borders/refugees) are off limits in the Israel context. All we get is Exodus, a Holocaust-tinged movie about Jews shedding shtetl ways in Palestine, and getting tough….
And what dramatic material is Zionist history. Jabotinsky dying in the Borscht Belt, helping to start the lobby. The murder of his rival Chaim Arlosoroff as he walks with his wife on the beach at Tel Aviv. The dynamiting of the King David Hotel. Partition; the radio crackles thru Jewish houses. George Marshall the secretary of State tells Truman he will not vote for him if he recognizes a Jewish state. Americans run guns for the Jews. The sacking of Jaffa– rolling barrels of dynamite down the roads toward Arab houses. Deir Yassin. Ethnic cleansing. The murder of Bernadotte. The young Begin. The young Shamir. Defense Secretary James V. Forrestal dies at Bethesda Hospital, harried by Walter Winchell and the other Zionists.
Ben-Gurion’s cloud of silver hair as he imagines a Jewish majority, to be achieved how? No you have never seen the Nakba on the big screen…
Obama’s failure has served to expose Israeli intransigence here and abroad
Dec 18, 2010
As the United States sends envoy George Mitchell to grasp at straws in hopes of restarting negotiations to create a Palestinian state after the Israeli government refused to curb settlement construction, Obama’s inability to entice Netanyahu’s coalition to comply with international law has frustrated many who wish for peace between Israel and Palestine. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that Obama’s specific failure and the now-seemingly inevitable collapse of negotiations in general constitute a tactical victory for Palestinians.
Firstly, Obama’s initial offering and its subsequent rejection have opened the door to mounting discontent among the American public, causing some to examine the United States’ special relationship with Israel more critically. The very contents of the proffered aid package began this process. In the midst of a prolonged recession the US offered Israel $3 billion worth of F-35 fighter jets among other incentives (such as a guarantee of U.S veto should the Palestinian Authority call upon United Nations Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state) at the same time that Bush tax cuts for the wealthy were extended for two years. To many Americans, politicians’ Israel-First attitude became glaringly obvious –and quite a few did not like what they saw.
Incidents such as this offer a powerful foundation for reexamining Israel’s special place in the United States’ pocketbook. The context of this offer, embedded in a time in which the state of the economy has facilitated the emergence of staunch movements against large government expenditures, could not be worse for Israel, which relies on US aid to sustain the occupation. Undermining this relationship has real consequences for Palestinians on the ground. On a political level, the generosity of the offer exposed the United States’ impartiality in the matter. America usually functions more as Israel’s lawyer than a third-party facilitator of negotiations. Illuminating Obama’s position and methodology gives observers a perfect example of such behavior.
Recognition of this reality is an integral component of its correction. Luckily, US taxpayers avoided further subsidizing Israel’s war crimes and in doing so escaped an unnecessary if not immoral burden. Obama’s failure also did more to expose the United States’ weakness in the face of Israeli obstinacy, calling into question exactly who is in control of this relationship. Palestine solidarity activists and impartial analysts have long argued that Israel “wags the dog” to American detriment. Israel’s refusal to cooperate with US demands is not new, yet this particular incident highlights the country’s arrogance in a startlingly demonstrative way. Each instance of recalcitrance works to undermine Israel’s position in American esteem, or at the very least stretches the bounds of what previously unconcerned Americans are willing to stand. Some believe that Obama’s offer was simply a pretext for items that Israel will inevitably receive irrespective of compliance with any US demands.
Various analysts have suggested this is the very reason Netanyahu was unable to convince his coalition to accept a partial moratorium –why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Yet the delinking of the package from the peace process again offers US citizens more grounds to question policy toward Israel. Apologists might be compelled to excuse the fiscal magnitude of Obama’s gift with the belief that peace is worth any price. What excuse can they offer if Israel still receives it regardless of intransigence? If receiving these items were inevitable, there are only three outcomes. 1) The US will be further exposed as putting Israel’s interests ahead of its own in even more explicit terms 2) Israel will have to actually pay for the jets or 3) The US will be forced to create another pretext for the gift. In any event, Palestinians win.
As for US Security Council veto, while many assume Israel needs no such guarantee as the US consistently veto’s “anti-Israel” legislation without precondition, Israel’s refusal to meet demands obviates 100% certainty on the subject. The current stall in and ultimate failure of negotiations also renders moot the weakness of any agreement that would have been reached, specifically the inability to enforce it due to Hamas’ absence in the process. As the ruling government of what will be the other half of a Palestinian state, Hamas’ cooperation with Fatah in implementing any promises made to Israel and acceptance of Israel’s pledges as sufficiently just are integral to the contract’s viability.
Leaving Hamas out only works to ensure that the entire process will be an exercise in futility, in which case Palestinians will (most likely) have given up much in exchange for nothing at all while Israel exploits Hamas’ non-cooperation to excuse its own inevitable shortcomings. If the peace process does not fall apart completely, at the very least stalling the resumption of negotiations will give Hamas and Fatah a chance to continue the next round of reconciliation talks between the two factions.
In most cases, Israel has sufficiently controlled popular discourse concerning all aspects of the conflict, whether they center on war history, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the level of existential threat the country faces, justifications for various human rights abuses or the disintegration of negotiations. The latest collapse serves as a marked departure from such control of the narrative. While Arabs were unfairly blamed for everything from their own ethnic cleansing (by not implementing the UN’s 1948 Partition Plan) to not accepting a state of their own when they were offered one (as Arafat rejected Camp David), the world has finally woken up to Israel’s role in perpetuating conflict.
Mainstream outlets’ coverage of negotiations plainly refers to Israel’s refusal to curb settlement construction as the reason for the stalemate. Couple this development with international backlash against Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and reactions to the flotilla massacre this past May and Palestinians just might be getting the sympathetic ear their cause deserves. People are looking at the conflict through a new paradigm, one which is more reflective of reality and consequently works to empower the Palestinian position. At the same time, the more radical elements of Netanyahu’s settler-controlled coalition are finally being exposed. The more racist legislation that passes through the Knesset, the more opportunities for peace that the coalition rejects, the more Israel will be treated like a rouge pariah state.
The political isolation that will ensue provides Israel with a compelling reason to fall in line with accepted international norms or will at minimum mount international support in defense of Palestinian rights. The international community has already begun to act in solidarity with Palestine as a result of Obama’s failure. The Palestinian Authority’s threat to appeal to the United Nations to facilitate the declaration of an independent state has been historically seen as an empty one, however as a result of the latest collapse Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay have formally recognized a Palestinian state along 1967 borders in the past weeks.
The European Union will discuss recognition in as soon as one year. Israel is losing its chance to impact the substance of a settlement. What’s more, the media are now openly discussing alternatives to solving the conflict, including a one-state solution. As Alex Kane reports, while the debate on a one-state solution has been discussed in reference to its allegedly disastrous consequences for Israel, any solution-oriented debate that utilizes the term “apartheid” is a step in the right direction to achieving justice for Palestinians both inside and outside Israel. Because the proposed settlement moratorium was admittedly partial (excluding East Jerusalem in contravention of international law) and temporary (only to last 90 days), Palestinians did not stand gain much tangibly.
In contrast, Israel’s rejection of Obama’s incentive package has provided myriad advantages to the Palestinian cause which would have proved difficult to attain in alternate iterations of events. While peace still seems elusive, it is fair to say that Palestinians have gained more than they have lost this week.
Maggie Sager is an American college student and activist. You can find her work at http://www.resistingoccupation.com
Palestinian farmer watches settlers burn 19 of his sheep, killing 12
Dec 18, 2010
and other news from Today in Palestine:
Settlers / Land, property, resource theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Farmer: Settlers burned my sheep alive
NABLUS 18 Dec — A farmer said he watched a group of settlers in the northern West Bank gather his sheep and set them on fire Saturday afternoon. When he returned to the area, he told officials, he found 12 sheep burned alive, five with severe burns and two others that were only lightly burned … Mayor of Aqraba, the village near where the attack took place, Jawdat Bani Jabir, identified the farmer as 40-year-old Samir Muhammad Bani Fadl.
Settlers accused of felling trees near Nablus
Nablus 18 Dec – Israeli settlers from Givat Gilad settlement were accused Saturday of entering the agricultural lands of two farmer and felling fruit trees in a small field. Reporting the incident was Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian Authority official charged with cataloging settler vandalism and violence, who said the farmland was next to the village of Tell, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank
Religious Jews make midnight pilgrimage into occupied village
17 Dec – Shortly before midnight on Friday morning residents of the Salfit-district village of Kifl Haris reported dozens of Israeli military vehicles and bus-loads of what were described by locals as “settlers” entering the area. Locals estimated some 3,000 “settlers” – religious Jews, many from settlements in the occupied West Bank – entered the area as protecting troops set up checkpoints and barricades around a small tomb in the village. Locals say the tomb belongs to a sheikh from the village, while religious Jews visiting the site say it is the final resting place of Joshua ben Nun, leader of early Jewish tribes.
‘Loyal to shahidim’ inscribed on historic site (Ynet)
Abusive inscriptions at Jewish tomb site: Worshippers who came to pray in the early hours of Friday morning at the Samaria site where according to tradition, Joshua ben Nun and Calev ben Yefuneh are buried, were in for an unpleasant surprise – abusive inscriptions in Arabic graffitied on the walls of the site … “We swear – we will stay faithful to the blood of the shahidim” [Really? Wouldn’t a real Arabic speaker use the Arabic plural of “shahid”: “shuhadaa'”?]
Forgotten territory: The political, economic and social impact of the Israeli occupation on the Golan Heights / A. Dillon
Part 2: The anatomy of occupation — Part 2 in this continuing series on the Golan Heights will begin examining the parallels between the Israeli government’s occupations of the Golan and the Palestinian Territories. The commonalities between these two military engagements stretch back to 1967, when both territories were first invaded and occupied by Israeli military forces during the Six Day War with Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. Since then, Israeli government practices within the two regions have been decidedly similar in some ways, and surprisingly different in others.
Former Egyptian official claims Israel is working to reoccupy Sinai
17 Dec – A former official in the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned of Israeli intentions and efforts to reoccupy the Sinai Peninsula. Ambassador Hassan Issa, the former Director of the Israel desk at the Ministry said, “Israel has worked and is still working towards achieving its goal of returning to Sinai, and Israelis speak openly about this.” According to Mr. Issa, “Israel won’t rest unless it reoccupies Sinai” because “there are strategic, economic and religious reasons for doing so, including Israeli tourism to Sinai, which has objectives related to the Torah”.
Gaza teen dead after Israel fires on fishing boat
17 Dec – GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Palestinian boy died Friday afternoon after Israeli gunboats opened fire on his fishing boat and flipped it over off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said 15-year-old Ziad Samir Al-Bardawil died after being treated for his injuries at the Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital.
IDF denies claim of responsibility for death in Gaza waters
18 Dec – The IDF early Saturday morning denied reports that an Israeli combat ship caused the death of a 15-year-old Palestinian working on a fishing boat, Army Radio reported. According to the report, “the Army does not recognize the event” in question that was mentioned in an earlier report by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.
Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Young man shot in the head by a tear gas projectile at the weekly demonstration in An Nabi Saleh
17 Dec (ISM) Friday, at the weekly demonstration held in the village of An Nabi Saleh, a young Palestinian was shot by a tear gas canister in the back of his head. Falling down, he was further injured on the front of his head. The military continued to shoot tear gas into the area, without regard for the people coming to help the young unconscious man. It took over 45 minutes before an ambulance arrived, as the army stopped it and prevented them from entering the village.
Beit Ummar rally sees internationals detained
HEBRON 18 Dec – Four international peace activists were detained, one soldier lightly injured and the roof of a home taken over in Beit Ummar during a weekly protest held at the edge of the town, where demonstrators decried the confiscation of Palestinian lands for the Karmi Ztur settlement.
Demonstrators scale the separation wall in Ni`lin
(with photos) Roughly thirty demonstrators including Israeli and international supporters marched peacefully to the Separation Wall as part of the weekly unarmed protest in Ni’ilin. Protesters were attacked with tear gas and soldiers entered Ni’ilin’s agricultural lands, chasing the demonstration back to the village … As soldiers entered the agricultural land they used tear gas projectiles as large bullets, firing them directly at demonstrators. This is an illegal method of crowd control and breaks Israeli army rules of conduct in crowd control situations.
Demonstrations across the West Bank
18 Dec – Dozens of demonstrators inhaled tear gas which was fired at them by Israeli forces during peaceful marches around the West Bank on Friday, onlookers said.
Emily Henochowitz is looking for work
1 Dec – Emily Henochowicz is of course the New York art student who lost her left eye to Israeli arms during a demonstration in the occupied territories against the flotilla attack on May 31. Henochowicz is a wonderful illustrator and animation artist and she needs work, also seeks a connection to animator Bill Plympton….
Video: Italy prepares second aid flotilla to Gaza
Milan, 17 Dec – Italy’s Palestine Forum group is at the heart of the efforts to provide aid and support to the Palestinians and is now planning a second convoy of aid to Gaza and the West Bank.
Asia convoy seeks to break Gaza siege
18 Dec – An Asian aid convoy comprising of politicians and activists from 18 countries, including Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates is on its way to Gaza in an attempt to break Israel’s four year siege on the Strip. The “Asia to Gaza Solidarity Caravan” departed from New Delhi earlier this month and arrived in Turkey yesterday where it will hold a meeting in the Kurdish city of Diyar Bakr Saturday. The convoy’s activists include Muslims, Christians, Jews and Buddhists.
This holiday season, give a gift to Gaza
15 Dec – Dear Friend of the Canadian Boat to Gaza Project, What if you could bring real tidings of comfort and joy to the people of Palestine? And what if you could do it with the click of a button? … This holiday season, will you consider giving the gift of justice? Rather than buying a gift at a store, please consider making a donation to the Canadian Boat to Gaza in a loved one’s name. Simply go to http://canadaboatgaza.org/cms/sites/cbg/en/donations.aspx and use our easy PayPal button. Then print off a gift card for your recipient.
Memorial for victims of Mavi Marmara erected in Spain
18 Dec – A monument was unveiled in the Spanish capital Madrid to commemorate nine Turkish activists killed by Israeli commandos in the May 31 raid on Gaza-Bound aid ship Mavi Marmara. The monument, designed by sculptors Roxanne Robinson and Arevalo Beteta, was erected at the Palestine Park in Leganes near Madrid at the initiatives of three Spanish activists supported by several non-governmental organizations.
Unmanned Mexican drone crashes near El Paso, Texas
16 Dec – A remote-control drone operated by the Mexican government crashed in the United States near El Paso, Texas, this week, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency confirms to TPM … A Google search turns up a drone called a Orbiter Mini UAV made by Aeronautics Defense Systems, an Israeli company (check out the brochure and a video of the Orbiter in action here and here).
Siege / Restriction on movement / Other rights violations
An elderly woman allowed to return to Gaza after 62 years of exile
GAZA, (PIC) 17 Dec — Egyptian authorities allowed an elderly Palestinian woman to return to the Gaza Strip after she spent 62 years in exile in Jordan apart from her husband and children. Ne’mah Mattar Khamees, in her eighties, was exiled in 1948 by the Israeli occupation to Jordan … One of her daughters and one of her sons died without her having a chance of seeing them and she lived alone in Amman where she survived on charity and neighbours’ help.
Egypt intensifies clampdown on smuggling tunnels, say Palestinian sources (dpa)
18 Dec – Egyptian authorities have intensified their crackdown on smugglers’ tunnels to Gaza over the past few days, according to Palestinian sources. They said the authorities have discovered new tunnels, destroyed several and confiscated large quantities of goods that were on their way to Gaza. Tunnel owners said the crackdown focused on districts where there is a larger number of tunnels, adding that increased numbers of policemen have been deployed on the border during the campaign.
Gaza crossings closed; exports remain limited
17 Dec – Crossing terminals for the transfer of aid and commercial goods into Gaza were closed by Israeli officials on Friday, cutting short the planned transport week by one day, Palestinian liaison officers said. During the previous week of crossings activity, the bulk goods terminal was remarkably open three days in a row, expanding operations by one full day amid concerns of dwindling wheat and animal feed reserves … Despite the increase in operations, however, a report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said wheat reserves inside Gaza “remain extremely low, due to the limited operation of the conveyor belt at Karni Crossing.”
Waiting for H: 8 hours with no passport at TLV airport / Yuval Ben-Ami
16 Dec – My friend H is arriving from Sweden for a conference in Jerusalem. Though Palestinian by roots and Arab by name, H is a Swedish national and a proud subject to the three crowns. The conference deals with world history and its effects on the region. It features a three day seminar at the Yad Vashem Holocaust history institute. H chose to arrive a few days earlier and enjoy our mild winter. I’ve known her for years through Swedish friends and offered to put her up … H was due to land last night at 2:30. At 3:00 she texted to let us know that she has arrived and is kept at the “Arab room in Ben-Gurion”. It is now 10:00 in the morning, and nothing has changed since
Report details hopeless conditions in Gaza
17 Dec – LONDON (ABP) — Residents of Gaza see no hope for a brighter future — and that’s one of the most distressing aspects of the situation in the Middle East, according to an international Christian aid-and-development group’s advocacy officer for the region. Hanan Elmasu of the United Kingdom-based organization Christian Aid worked on a new briefing detailing the impact of Israel’s measures to ease the blockade of Gaza after six months.
Broken lives / Ilana Hammerman
The process of freeing a Palestinian who is desperate to support his family and was caught working illegally inside the Green Line is prolonged, painful and fraught with red tape … It follows from these data that refusal of entry is imposed sweepingly and arbitrarily on tens of thousands of Palestinians who want to work, and is not in fact based on concrete security considerations. Human rights organizations – which are unable to say who came up with it – say the policy of turning a blind eye to tens of thousands of people crossing into Israel in search of work derives from the fact that the closure of the territories is simply irreconcilable with the needs of the public: In Israel there is work and a huge demand for workers; in the territories, there is less need for them. But they want to and must work in order to exist.
Mr. President, answer Matthew Lee of the AP: ‘Why is it beneath the United States to come out and say something about this practitioner of nonviolence?’ / Philip Weiss
17 Dec – Please just watch this. If you don’t do anything else today, watch this. Promise me. Then send it to your friends. Words escape me this is so brilliant. It breaks my heart with moral urgency and sorrow. Awake America. Matthew Lee of the Associated Press stands up for days on end for imprisoned Palestinian civil disobedience leader Abdallah Abu Rahmah, at the State Department.
State Department says it has ‘raised’ Rahmah case with Israelis / Philip Weiss
17 Dec – We have just learned that Matthew Lee of AP again raised the Abdallah Abu Rahmah case this afternoon at the State Department, and the following dialogue ensued, with Ass’t Sec’y P.J.
Israeli educators press leaders on arrest of minors
17 Dec – Sixty Israeli educators wrote to the country’s leaders urging them to adhere to the law when arresting and interrogating Palestinian minors in eastern Jerusalem. The letter organized by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel outlines reports of arrests of children as young as 8, some occurring late at night, and interrogations lacking the presence of a parent—all violations of Israeli law governing the treatment of suspects under 12.
Israel extends detention of Sheikh Jarrah teen
17 Dec – Israeli police extended by one day the detention of Ayman Al-Ghawi, 19, from the East Jerusalem of Shiekh Jarrah, his family reported Thursday. Al-Ghawi was detained while he was with his mother in the nearby Wadi Aj-Joz neighborhood after an Israeli settler living in the occupied area filed a complaint against the boy, when he hit the settler’s dog with his backpack.
Palestinian captives in Hawwara complain of harsh conditions
NABLUS, (PIC) 17 Dec — Palestinian captives at the Hawwara detention centre near the northern West Bank city of Nablus … complained during lawyer visits that the conditions at the detention centre are extremely harsh and the captives do not know what to do to protect themselves against the cold weather because of the lack of blankets, any heating means and the fact that the detention centre is semi open space.
Hamas: PA detained 18 supporters across West Bank
NABLUS 18 Dec – The arrests, which could not be confirmed by Ma’an, were carried out in the northern districts of Nablus, Salfit, Qalqiliya, Jenin, Tulkarem, and Tubas as well as southern districts of Hebron and Bethlehem, the statement said. Noting a trend of continued politically motivated detentions, the statement said some 40 Hamas-affiliated students and teachers at An-Najah National University in Nablus marked their 100th day in detention on Friday.
Police detain ‘escaped collaborator’
RAMALLAH 17 Dec — Palestinian police detained on Friday an escaped prisoner in Ramallah who was sentenced to life in jail for collaboration with the enemy … Police said he would be placed in a rehabilitation center to serve his sentence. The public prosecution said the fugitive escaped from Jericho’s prison in 2006.
Racism / Discrimination
In Israel, a rabbi who argues that anti-Arab measures are un-Jewish
17 Dec – Jerusalem — At first glance, Arik Ascherman seems more like a soft-spoken university lecturer than a combative crusader for the rights of the “other,” be they Palestinian or African refugee. Yet the American-born rabbi is embroiled in two of Israel’s main conflicts today: the struggle with Palestinians over the West Bank and, within Israel, a rising tide of anti-Arab and anti-foreigner sentiment.
Abbas summons rival Qaddumi for Fatah reconciliation
AMMAN, Jordan 18 Dec — A former top Fatah leader who fell out with current leader Mahmoud Abbas during the lead-up to the last Fatah conference was summoned to Amman by his rival on Thursday for what sources said was a reconciliation effort.
Hamas: Fatah asks for unity meeting amid internal row
RAMALLAH 18 Dec — Hamas officials are mulling dates for what Fatah leaders have called the “final round” of unity talks, a report from the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center said Saturday. Citing informed Palestinian sources, the news site said the invitation was extended following an internal Fatah argument, with members disagreeing over whether to invite Hamas officials for continued talks.
PLC head calls for releasing political prisoners
18 Dec – Head of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLS), Dr. Aziz Dweik of the Hamas movement, called on the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank to release all political prisoners in order to create a positive atmosphere for internal unity and reconciliation talks.
Palestinian PM: Plan for statehood by 2011 remains on track
18 Dec – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Saturday that his plan to establish a Palestinian state by August 2011 remains on course. In an interview with Channel 2, Fayyad denied that the Palestinians aim to seek unilateral recognition or any other alternative to a two-state solution.
Israeli MK: Unilateral statehood not the answer
TEL AVIV, Israel 18 Dec — Israeli minister with the centrist Likud party, Yossi Peled said Saturday said that a solution imposed by the world in the form of a recognized unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would be “without benefit,” Radio Israel reported.
Ban Ki-Moon names settlement freeze a top UN goal for 2011
18 Dec – The United Nations named improving the living conditions in the Gaza Strip and ending Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as part of its goals for 2011, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday.
Et tu Canberra? / Philip Weiss
…the hypocrisy of continuing to allow Israel to have a nuclear monopoly while gearing up for war against Iran because it seeks to join the club is becoming unsupportable among western/downunder democracies (so naturally some of them are going to seek the deproliferation of the Middle East).
Landowners angered over new West Bank road plan
BETHLEHEM 18 Dec – A plan to construct a more direct road connecting the south and central West Bank has been protested by government officials, but land owners angered by what would be a forced sale said Saturday that they intend to have the plan struck down. With Israel’s separation wall cutting off access to direct routes to the northern West Bank via Jerusalem, the treacherous valley route running through Wadi Nar (Fire Valley) was developed over the years to what is now a small highway snaking around 90 degree turns and up steep inclines. The proposal, Mayor of Al-Ubeidiya Suleiman Al-Asa said, would have lands of village residents effectively confiscated to divert the road north before it descended into Wadi Nar.
Latin Patriarch: The message of Christmas remains peace
BETHLEHEM 18 Dec — “We are running after peace, but it keeps evading us,” Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Tawwal told Palestinians on Saturday … As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, Tawwal sent a message to the global community. “Christians are not an island in the Holy Land, what happens to the Palestinians also happens to Palestinian Christians,” he said.
Hyena population growing ‘out of control’ near Hebron
17 Dec – Police in Hebron recently told residents they would be unable to assist with a recent expansion of the hyena population because they have to seek authorization from Israeli officials first. The increase in the number of wild animals around the town of Halhoul, midway between Bethlehem and Hebron, has resulted in what residents say is an increase in incidents threatening dogs, livestock and children.
Israeli companies outsourcing to Palestinians (AP)
17 Dec – …Many Israeli tech firms send work offshore to eastern Europe, India or China. In the past three years, however, some have turned to Palestinian engineers and programmers. They are cheaper, ambitious, work in the same time zone, and – surprisingly to many Israelis – are remarkably similar to them … If there is hesitation, it’s in marketing Israeli products under a Palestinian name to tap into larger Arab markets off-limits to them.
Beneath Dead Sea, scientists are drilling for natural history
17 Dec – Scientists are extracting a record of climate change and earthquake history, and their early findings are “changing everything we thought we knew.”
Cyprus, Israel define sea border for energy search (AFP)
NICOSIA 17 Dec — Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement Friday that defines their sea border and allows the neighbours to forge ahead in the search for energy sources in the eastern Mediterranean. This is seen as another step in Cyprus’ search for undersea oil and gas deposits. The island has already signed similar agreements with Egypt and Lebanon. [and what about the oil and gas off the Gaza coast?]
Mobile phones for women: a new approach for social welfare in the developing world
17 Dec – Enas Salameh, a 24-year-old college graduate living in the Palestinian West Bank city of Jenin, needed a job this summer. But her family finds it unacceptable for a woman to venture alone into the city without a male companion or an appointment. Fortunately, it’s fine to use a mobile phone. In fact, although only 16 percent of Palestinian households have Internet access, 81 percent have a cell phone, according to a 2009 United Nations report.
Opinion / Analysis
The devil’s in the discourse / Nadia Hijab
17 Dec – …The U.S. is now on the wrong side of the discourse in more ways than one. The letter sent this month by 26 former European Union leaders to top EU officials and member states challenged the open-ended nature of the U.S. peace process — and America’s monopoly over the Middle East — by proposing a deadline of April 2011 to refer the conflict to the international community if there is no progress.
Blowback: Israel leaves us no choice but to boycott / Ali Abunimah
17 Dec – Palestinians have already given up so much since 1948. It’s up to Israel to end its campaign of ethnic cleansing for the peace process to move forward.
Ship of Fools 2 / Uri Avnery
…“SHIP OF FOOLS 1” went down on Yom Kippur. 2600 young Israelis, the flower of a generation, drowned with it. The “incapable” Egyptians crossed the Suez Canal, and the glorious Bar-Lev Line, the pride of the Israeli army, collapsed … “Ship of Fools 2” will also founder. We cannot foresee how. Will it be a war that will lay waste to our towns and villages? Will it be an Islamic revolution in the Arab countries? Will world politics change dramatically? There is one important difference between Ship 1 and Ship 2: then the whole world loved us, now many around the world detest us.
Israeli rabbis commit atrocity against Jewish history / Yoram Kaniuk
Renowned Israeli author Yoram Kaniuk on the Rabbi’s letter forbidding rental of apartments to Arabs — When settlers and Rabbis called the policemen and soldiers of Israel “Nazis”, hardly anyone spoke out. When I voiced criticism over this, I received phone threats. Then, last week, when MK and MD Professor Aryeh Eldad sided with rabbis who warned their flock not to rent or sell property to non-Jews, I remembered that in Nazi Germany many physicians also identified with Hitler. The term “Nazi” now lingers once more in the air, but on the opposite side to that of settlers who swore at soldiers. The word “Nazi” now lingers because the Rabbis who signed the racist declaration committed an atrocity against Jewish history.
France gives Lebanon anti-tank missiles (AFP)
BEIRUT 17 Dec — France will give Lebanon 100 anti-tank missiles, a government official said on Friday, confirming a deal that raised concerns in Israel and the United States earlier this year. “Prime Minister Saad Hariri was informed on Wednesday of the French decision to supply the army with 100 … HOT missiles that will be used by the military’s Gazelle helicopters,” the official told AFP. “The missiles will be delivered before the end of February and are being given with no conditions attached,” the official added.
Lebanon submits official complaint to UN over Israeli ‘spy devices’
18 Dec – Spy devices bearing Hebrew lettering found in Lebanon last week; Lebanese radio attributes Wednesday’s explosion to IAF covering up espionage — Lebanon submitted an official complaint to the United Nations Security Council over spy installations, allegedly from Israel, which were found in two separate areas near Beirut, Kuwaiti media reported on Saturday.
Friday: 8 Iraqis wounded / Margaret Griffis
At least eight Iraqis were wounded during the latest attacks. Although Ashuraa observances have ended, pilgrims on their way home are targets for new violence. Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that authorizes $160 billion towards wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, the U.N.’s High Commission for Refugees criticized Sweden for repatriating five Iraqi Christians who failed to win asylum.
BBC Video: Living with the ‘scars’ of sectarian violence in Iraq
17 Dec – Dozens of suspected militants have been arrested in Iraq, for plotting violent attacks on Shiite pilgrims who have been commemorating the most important day of their religious calendar. The once shockingly high levels of sectarian violence are falling but as Gabriel Gatehouse reports some Iraqis are still living in fear.
Iraqi Christians flee Baghdad after cathedral massacre / Martin Chulov in Baghdad
17 Dec – Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee in seeking refuge from militant attacks after the siege at a Catholic cathedral in October, the United Nations said today. The UN High Commission For Refugees said at least 1,000 families had fled Baghdad and Mosul since 1 September for the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. A further 133 families had registered with the organisation in Syria, as had 109 individuals in Jordan.
Iraqi refugees match Californians in obesity rates (Reuters)
LOS ANGELES, Dec 17 – Iraqi refugees newly arrived in the United States are exhibiting high rates of chronic health conditions, including the same prevalence of obesity as Californians, government researchers reported. Iraqis represent the largest group of refugees resettling in the United States, accounting for 28,000 arrivals during the past two years — or 21 percent of the total — with nearly a quarter going to California, the most for any other state.
Allawi says will join Iraq govt if given real power (Reuters)
BAGHDAD 17 Dec – Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Friday he will join a new Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki if the premier follows through on promises and makes him a genuine partner.
Video: Amid the chaos, Iraqis turn to TV, Web to be heard
BAGHDAD 17 Dec – Amid political gridlock, endemic corruption, infrastructure breakdowns and persistent violence, ordinary Iraqis often feel that the chaos drowns out their voices. On television and online, however, there’s plenty of space to be heard. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/12/17/105488/amid-the-chaos-iraqis-turn-to.html
Iraq’s troubled media / Hiwa Osman
17 Dec – How would you assess the Iraqi news media’s coverage of politics this year, and how would you compare it with coverage of the parliamentary election in January 2005? I would say that the coverage was a reflection of politics itself. The media is split along the same political lines that exist in today’s Iraq: sectarian, ethnic, pro- and anti-government. Most media outlets are backed by political parties, and covered events from their own perspective.
Saudi Shiites and Sunnis scuffle on Shiite feast (Reuters)
RIYADH, 17 Dec – Saudi security forces dispersed crowds of Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims after scuffles broke out in the city of Medina during the Shi’ite mourning holiday of Ashura late on Thursday, Shi’ite sources and a local journalist said. Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia applies an austere version of Sunni Islam called Wahhabism, and minority Shi’ites say that, while their situation has improved slightly under reforms launched by King Abdullah, they still face many restrictions and discrimination. The government denies these charges.
Qaddafi son’s charity to stop championing reform (AP)
18 Dec – CAIRO: A charitable foundation led by the son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi says it wants to avoid political activities and focus on humanitarian work … “The Qaddafi Foundation received some negative criticism because of perceived political overtones after an incident involving the supply of humanitarian aid to the citizens of Gaza,” it said, quoting board member Richard J. Roberts, British biochemist and a 1993 Nobel laureate … The statement didn’t make clear what the foundation would do with ongoing projects in Gaza, such as the $50 million allocated to new housing in the Hamas-run Palestinian strip and small-scale projects for 800 families, or a health clinic in the West Bank.
Pakistan / Afghanistan
Pakistani officials: US drone strike kills 54 in Khyber / Jason Ditz
17 Dec – Last night’s US drone strikes against the Khyber Agency, which killed seven suspects, appeared to be only the tip of the iceberg, as Pakistani officials now report that the United States has launched a salvo of missiles against the agency, killing at least 54. The major strikes hit in the Spin Darang village, and were said to be targeting a meeting among suspected Lashkar-e Islam members, a group with a strong presence in Khyber which, like virtually every other faction of Pashtuns in the tribal areas, is often referred to as a “Pakistani Taliban” faction.
CIA chief pulled from Pakistan; drones kill 54 (AP)
ISLAMABAD 17 Dec – The CIA yanked its top spy out of Pakistan after his cover was blown and his life threatened, and 54 suspected militants were killed in a U.S. drone missile attack Friday in stark new signs of the troubled relationship between mistrustful allies locked in a war on terror groups … The drone attacks Friday took place in the Khyber tribal region, which has been rarely struck by American missiles over the past three years. That could indicate an expansion of the CIA-led covert campaign of drone strikes inside Pakistan. Most of the more than 100 missile attacks this year inside Pakistan have taken place in North Waziristan
Why night raids may doom US prospects in Afghanistan (TIME)
16 Dec – Night-time raids by Special Forces have become a mainstay of the U.S.-led war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, but they have turned much of the local population in the war zone against the Western presence. The conflicting narratives over what transpired in an Oct. 3 raid in the rugged farming hamlet of Loyi Rud, near the Pakistan border, is typical of the disconnect between the NATO mission and many of those it purports to protect.
Gains in Kandahar came with more brutal US tactics / Gareth Porter
18 Dec – …The military offensive in Kandahar, which had been opposed clearly and vocally by the local leadership in the province, was accompanied by an array of military tactics marked by increased brutality. The most prominent of those tactics was a large-scale demolition of homes that has left widespread bitterness among the civilians who had remained in their villages when the U.S.-NATO offensive was launched, as well as those who had fled before the offensive.
We want you out: an open letter from the Afghan Youth Peace volunteers and Afghans for Peace
17 Dec – We will listen to the People on December 19th, on the Global Day of Listening to Afghans, and we invite every one of you to pick up your phone to call us, to share one another’s pain, and to call our world to urgent reconciliation. We invite the world public opinion to overwhelm us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a call.
Kabul silent over Obama’s Afghan war review (Reuters)
KABUL 17 Dec – Afghanistan’s leaders, overlooked in the summary of a “brutally honest” U.S. war strategy review, did not offer any response to the long-awaited report on Friday in a sign of the often uneasy ties between Kabul and Washington.
Afghan war not worth it, say most Americans
US public support for the war in Afghanistan has reached a record low, overshadowing a major review that has revealed modest progress in the conflict. Sixty per cent of Americans now say the war has not been ”worth fighting”, with 43 per cent ”strongly” of that opinion.
U.S. and other world news
Canada: Promoting Jewish victimhood as guise for victimizing Palestinians / Yves Engler
17 Dec – Last week the House of Commons unanimously passed a private member’s bill to establish a national Holocaust monument. While it is a good thing to commemorate the suffering of Jews in Europe, it is important to point out that uncritical support for Israel is part of the backdrop … Alongside its ardent support for Israel, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has promoted the commemoration of Nazi crimes and the idea that anti-Semitism is worse than other forms of oppression. Concurrently, they’ve repeatedly conflated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
US, last holdout on native rights declaration, reverses stand / Matthew O. Berger
WASHINGTON 17 Dec – U.S. President Barack Obama announced Thursday he was reversing the U.S.’s position and endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples … In making the announcement toward the end of a speech opening the second annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, Obama’s words were followed by the applause of the some 300-plus representatives of federally recognised tribes and others in attendance … Obama noted that “by virtue of the longstanding failure to tackle wrenching problems in Indian Country, it seemed as though you had to either abandon your heritage or accept a lesser lot in life; that there was no way to be a successful part of America and a proud Native American.”
US backing for indigenous rights treaty hailed at UN
18 Dec – The announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama that the United States supports the landmark United Nations treaty outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous peoples was hailed on Friday at the world body. [Would the US consider the Palestinians ‘indigenous’? Unlikely.]
Former Guantanamo detainee urges judge to clear him (Reuters)
NEW YORK (17 Dec) – Lawyers for the first Guantanamo detainee to have faced a U.S. civilian trial have asked the judge either to clear the Tanzanian terrorism suspect or grant him another trial. A U.S. jury found Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, 36, not guilty of all but one charge in November following a five-week trial.
The Republican congressman who supported terrorism / Justin Elliott
17 Dec – Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is set to assume the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee in January, and today comes the news that he intends to launch an investigation of “radicalization” among American Muslims. In some perverse sense, King, who has represented part of Long Island in Congress since 1993, may be just the man for the job: He spent years openly supporting the terrorist Irish Republican Army.
Shirin Sadeghi: Obama isn’t doing enough to scare America
17 Dec – The Christian Science Monitor’s entire Editorial Board this week appears to have made a public plea for President Obama to undertake propaganda techniques to brainwash the American public into the levels of fear that allowed the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq to be undertaken in the first place.
WikiLeaks cables lay bare US hostility to international criminal court
17 Dec – US embassy dispatches reveal American preoccupation with discerning court’s views on Iraq
Spielberg movies banned by Arab League, WikiLeaks cable reveals
17 Dec – Leaked dispatch reveals diplomats from 14 Arab states voted to ban the director’s films in response to his donation to Israel
Larry Flynt: Why I am donating $50,000 to WikiLeaks’ defense fund
Let’s get something straight: Julian Assange is a journalist. You can argue that he is not practicing journalism the way you think it should be practiced — releasing classified U.S. State Department documents — but he’s a journalist nonetheless. And for many of us he’s a hero … WikiLeaks had existed in 2003 when George W. Bush was ginning up the war in Iraq, America might not be in the horrendous situation it is today, with our troops fighting in three countries (counting Pakistan) and the consequent cost in blood and dollars.
WikiLeaks: Australia law not broken, says Prime Minister Julia Gillard
SYDNEY 16 Dec – Police in Australia have concluded that WikiLeaks and its Australian-born founder Julian Assange have not broken any laws in his home country by publishing classified U.S. documents, the government said Friday.
Julian Assange: WikiLeaks faces ‘very aggressive’ investigation by US
17 Dec – Organisation’s founder says he is reliant on public opinion to rein in ‘superpower that does not appear to be following rule of law’ — WikiLeaks faces a “very aggressive” and secretive investigation by US authorities stung by a perceived loss of face following the release of thousands of secret American diplomatic cables, the organisation’s founder, Julian Assange, said today.
Dec 18, 2010
“You are standing on the wrong side of history. That’s why the ground feels shaky beneath your support of Israel. You are standing on the side of a military occupation that daily strips people of their belongings, of their livelihoods, of their dignity and cuts off the very food they eat, the water they drink. You are on the other side of Nelson Mandela’s legacy. The other side of every native people’s struggle for self-determination, for human rights and for basic human dignity. It is not for me that you educate yourself. It is for your own soul. For your own conscience. I am comfortable on solid ground. It is physically defenseless, but morally impenetrable ground. Whatever research you chose to do and what you choose to learn is for you and only for you.
My correspondence was with you, as a woman I thought I could be friends with. I was not asking for your help. But one day you will be asked for something else. Perhaps your children or grandchildren will want you to explain what you did when Palestinians were being wiped off the map so you and every Jew around the world could have dual citizenship, a summer home, if you will, on top of my grandparent’s graves.