Archive | May 27th, 2011

How did six Pakistan Taliban hold off 100 security forces for 16 hours?

NOVANEWS
Reuters

 

By Faisal Aziz

 

KARACHI, May 24 (Reuters) – A Pakistani Navy commando was the first to detect Taliban militants attacking a naval aviation base in the city of Karachi on Sunday night. He was dead within seconds.

The small group of militants, as few as six, who attacked the PNS Mehran naval aviation base in Karachi gave its defenders no time.

“You cannot imagine how quick they were,” said a Pakistani security official who asked not to be named. “When they entered, one of the Navy commandos saw them and tried to react.”

He never got the chance.

“It was a single shot in the darkness which took his arm off,” the official said. “You can imagine how good they were.”

The commando died on the spot.

It was about 10.30 p.m. (1730 GMT) when he died, and the violence didn't end until 16 hours later on Monday afternoon.

The al Qaeda-inspired militants bent on avenging Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. special forces on May 2 killed 10 Pakistani troops and wounded 20.

It took about 100 commandos, rangers and marines to kill four militants and recapture the base, further humiliating the military. Two militants are believed to have escaped.

In just three weeks, the military has been accused of incompetence in failing to stop the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden and complicity in hiding him.

The attack calls into question the military's ability to secure the country's borders and nuclear weapons.

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS

How did the militants get into one the country's most heavily guarded bases and hold off commandos and soldiers for so long?

Some security officials said it must have been an inside job because of the obstacles to entering. The attackers probably travelled along a dirt lane running beside cinder block shacks at the rear of the base.

In order to get in, they had to cross a long, thick sewage path, elude guards in towers, set up a ladder, scale a 12-foot wall, and cut through barbed wire.

The security official said the assailants were dressed in black with night-vision goggles and armed with Russian hand grenades, rocket launchers, assault rifles and suicide vests.

They fired rocket-propelled grenades at aircraft and fuel tanks, sending huge flames into the sky.

Within a short time, a rapid reaction force from the base tried to engage the raiders, but they retreated to a main building at the sprawling base where they would hole up for the rest of the siege.

Who were these militants?

The security official said the militants looked foreign, with fair complexions, perhaps Chechens or Uzbeks. Foreign militants tied to al Qaeda's international network are known to train in Pakistan's unruly tribal areas along the Afghan border. Many of them are allied with the Pakistani Taliban.

PROTECTING THEIR ASSETS

By 2.30 a.m. on Monday, the initial fighting had ebbed. As jet fuel burnt around them, both militants and the military were looking for a plan.

Commanders didn't want to launch a full-scale assault because they feared further damaging aircraft and infrastructure. Fires had already claimed hangars and damaged other aircraft.

“If we had tried to kill them quickly they might have blown themselves up near our assets and caused more damage. We did finally manage to push them away from our assets,” said an intelligence official.

The militants’ plan was direct: Kill, and be killed.

Pakistan officials say the main operation to retake the base was over by 9.30 a.m., followed by a search and clear operation lasting until the afternoon. There was scattered gunfire and occasional explosions throughout the day.

“Clearly there was a (security) breach,” said another security official. “In my personal view there had to be some help from the inside – to brief the militants about the area, and location.”

“Our forces should have done better. But at the end of the day, if there are suicide bombers who have already decided to die, I don't think you can stop them,” said Shabbir Hussain, a car dealer who lives behind the base.

The civilian government has called a defence committee meeting for Wednesday, two days after the assault, showing a surprising lack of urgency. The military has remained silent. But Pakistanis are more anxious than ever.

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on How did six Pakistan Taliban hold off 100 security forces for 16 hours?

Pakistan army’s next generation ‘anti-American, devout Muslims’

NOVANEWS

 

The Pakistan Army’s next generation of leaders are anti-American, devout Muslims who believe in wild conspiracy theories, a senior United States Army colonel told State Department officials in a cable released by WikiLeaks.

Colonel Michael Schleicher reported his impressions to officials at the U.S embassy in Islamabad, after attending a course at Pakistan’s National Defence University (NDU), the country’s equivalent of Sandhurst.

He found many students, mainly colonels and brigadiers, believed the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States were a “Jewish conspiracy” and that Britain’s BBC is controlled by the security service MI5.

Junior officers, colonels and lieutenant-colonels, believed Iraq was invaded for its oil and that the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency controls the American media.

His observations highlighted views which are widely held throughout Pakistani society and shared by some senior military figures, including former head of the Inter-Service Intelligence directorate Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul, who supports the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

Col. Schleicher’s report reinforced the concerns of Anne W. Patterson, Washington’s ambassador to Islamabad, who said she had received “astonishingly naive questions” from Pakistani officers when she addressed the NDU in 2007. More officers should be invited to training courses in the US to challenge “misconceptions” about America, especially among the “lost generation” of officers denied US training after General Musharraf’s 1999 coup. “The elite of this crop of colonels and brigadiers are receiving biased NDU training with no chance to hear alternative views of the U.S,” she warned.

According to Colonel Schleicher some of those misconceptions were perpetuated by instructors on the course. “One guest lecturer – who is a Pakistani one star general – claimed that the US National Security Agency actively trains correspondents for media organisations. Some students share these misconceptions despite having children who attended universities in the US or London,” he said.

“Students in the Junior Course shared many of the biases prevalent in the Muslim world, including a belief the US invaded Iraq for its oil and that 9/11 was a staged ‘Jewish conspiracy,’” he added.

He estimated one third of the elite officers were devout Muslims, while less religions and secular officers felt under pressure to appear more religious than they were.

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AIPAC’s Extremism

NOVANEWS

 

by Justin Raimondo, antiwar.com

 

Coverage of the recent AIPAC conference naturally gave the lion’s share of attention to President Obama’s speech, in which he did his best to placate the most powerful lobby in Washington. The speech, in itself, was a yawner, in that nothing really new was said: the news value was that the President felt compelled to make it. Far more interesting, in terms of content, however – and far less reported on – was AIPAC director Howard Kohr’s peroration, in which he gave the conference attendees what they came there for: red meat. Reddest of all – an argument against US evenhandedness in managing the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Outlining the principles that ought to govern US-Israeli relations, Kohr said the first is “trust and confidence between the leaders of Israel and the United States.” What’s interesting is how he defines this “trust.” According to Kohr

“If Israel’s foes come to believe that there is diplomatic daylight between the United States and Israel, they will have every incentive to try to exploit those differences and shun peace with the Jewish state. That is why it is so important that America and Israel work out whatever differences arise between them privately, and when tensions do arise, that the leaders work together to close those gaps.”

Translation: The President of United States must never ever criticize Israel in public, no matter what.

This “no criticism” injunction leads naturally to the second of Kohr’s principles governing US-Israeli relations:

“The second principle is for America to play its role as honest broker. And let us be clear: That should not be confused with even-handedness. Part of being an honest broker is being honest. One party in this process is our ally — with whom we share values and strategic interests.

“In a world which is demonstrably on the side of the Palestinians and Arabs — where Israel stands virtually alone — the United States has a special role to play. When the United States is even-handed, Israel is automatically at a disadvantage, tilting the diplomatic playing field overwhelmingly toward the Palestinians and Arabs.”

Aside from the illogic of such an argument – isn’t a “broker” supposed to be objective, by definition? – one has to stand back and admire the sheer extremism of this stance. Justice is irrelevant, as is America’s national interest: we must take Israel’s side no matter what. That’s being “honest,” which must never be confused with taking an “even-handed” approach.

The rationale for this lopsided worldview is that we live in “a world which is demonstrably on the side of the Palestinians and Arabs, where Israel stands virtually alone.”

It’s true that Israel stands virtually alone, and yet one has to ask: why is that? Is the whole world awash in a wave of virulent anti-Semitism, or do the policies of the current Israeli government have something to do with it? Like all extremists, Kohr believes alone-ness imbues his cause (in this case, Israel) with some special virtue: besieged by an uncomprehending, inherently hostile, and downright evil world, the extremist perceives his isolation as a badge of honor.

Kohr can’t permit himself to ask the obvious question of why Israel faces a future of growing isolation, for fear the answer would make his head explode:  the widespread recognition that the actions of the Israeli government are immoral and impermissible. In making his appeal for unconditional support of Israel, Kohr wisely avoids making any moral argument and instead invokes our formal relationship with Israel as an “ally,” along with some vague talk about shared “values and strategic interests.”

Yet there is nothing vague about the growing divergence of American and Israeli strategic interests, a process which started when the Berlin Wall fell and is still playing itself out. The US-Israeli “special relationship” took shape as a consequence of the worldwide face-off between the West and the Soviet bloc. During the cold war era, Israel was taken into the “Free World” camp after the Soviet Union’s initially friendly relationship with the Israelis turned sour and the Kremlin began to tilt toward the Arab states, such as Syria.

When the cold war ended, however, the entire framework of the “special relationship” crumbled, and there was nothing to replace it. Although the Israeli leadership has maintained the 9/11 terrorist attacks meant that Israel and the US must draw closer together – supposedly because we’re facing “the same enemy” – the strategic interests of the US dictate a quite different course. To give unconditional support to the Israelis means, in effect, ceding the entire Arab world to the likes of al-Qaeda, and making mortal enemies of a billion-plus Muslims.

If our strategic interests have diverged, so, also, have our values: Israeli society has undergone a radical change since the cold war era, both culturally and politically. The influx of immigrants, especially from Russia, has transformed what was formerly a European colony, with a strong democratic heritage, into a fundamentalist enclave that looks to an older and decidedly illiberal tradition. With the rise of openly racist demagogues of Avigdor Lieberman‘s ilk, even Israel’s most fervent defenders have to recognize that the change in Israel is not for the better. If present trends continue – if the Arab minority continues to grow, and the repression accelerates alongside this demographic time-bomb – then Israel cannot last much longer as a state that is both Jewish and a liberal democracy in the Western sense.

The irony – and tragedy – is that Kohr invokes our supposedly shared values just as they are vanishing in Israel. Kohr is blind to the growing extremism that dominates Israeli politics because he has become its chief spokesman in the US. The fanatic cannot see himself as others see him, and so what outsiders perceive as arrogance he sees as evidence of strength: what seems to the rest of us like a distorted and one-sided view is, to the extremist, a perfectly reasonable and even generous stance. This is how it is possible to believe that the US must subsidize Israel to the tune of $3 billion a year – and keep silent when our money is spent on illegal “settlements.” This is how one comes to equate being an “honest broker” with favoring one side over the other.

Amid some conditional and begrudging praise for the “Arab Spring,” Kohr complains that the demonstrations in the streets of Arab cities have taken the focus away from the real problem, the central problem of our times:

“In January and February, we had momentum when it came to Iran. Then the Arab demonstrations began — and the focus shifted. Nations everywhere began dealing with the very legitimate challenges and problems that the turmoil presented, and suddenly the world was not talking about Iran with the same sense of clarity and purpose.”

The monomania of the true fanatic brooks no rivals.

For decades, the Israelis have had an easy time of it: their propaganda in the US successfully created the image of an island of prosperity and democracy in a region where both are in short supply. Yet the page is turning on this happy illusion, and the Israelis, as well as their amen corner in the US, are all too aware of this shift in public perception. And make no mistake: for them, public perception is everything. As a settler colony, Israel is totally dependent on the outside world for its survival: a cut-off or even a substantial reduction in that aid would mean the end of the Jewish state in very short order.

The Israeli lobby, reflecting the cultural and political changes in Israel, has become so unbalanced and extreme that its public pronouncements and actions have about them the air of parody. It’s true their political clout remains just as formidable as it ever was, but one can’t help wondering how long they’ll get to enjoy it. As America’s ability to determine the course of events in the Middle East begins to wane, and as our willingness to put up with constant Israeli demands begins to wear thin, the “special relationship” will either take on an entirely new cast, or else give way to open hostility and recriminations on both sides.

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Zio-Nazi Thug Knocks Camera Out of Hands of Alison Weir

NOVANEWS

 

 

Showing once again that the same Zionist interests constantly lecturing the rest of the non-Jewish world on the “evils of censorship” are absolute hypocrites when it comes to their own own ugliness and misdeeds being exposed.

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Activision’s Call of Duty Endowment and Hire Heroes USA Launch Memorial Day Campaign to Encourage More Jobs for Veterans

NOVANEWS

 

Facebook Campaign Will Honor Service-members and Ask the Public to Volunteer to Help Veterans

WASHINGTON – The Call of Duty Endowment announced today the launch of its second Memorial Day campaign to raise awareness for the issue of veterans’ unemployment and encourage the public to find more jobs for veterans.   The campaign will also provide a grant to Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA), an organization that provides job training programs to support veterans and finds job placement for veterans.

For every Call of Duty Endowment Facebook fan that volunteers to help veterans by donating their ‘status’ to honor a current military member or veteran, the Call of Duty Endowment will provide an extra dollar to HHUSA’s current $20,000 grant.  Fans have from Wednesday, May 25th until Monday, May 30th at 11:59 p.m. PDT to donate their status to try and earn HHUSA a grant of $50,000.

The grant awarded by the Call of Duty Endowment to HHUSA, will allow the organization to provide returning veterans with the necessary transitional training programs and essential tools necessary to gain 21st century careers, through their career workshops and job fairs.  HHUSA is dedicated to providing service members with post military career help with a personal approach to match career interests and skills to the needs of partnering companies.

Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) founded the Call of Duty Endowment to support veterans, and explained the reason to pair with HHUSA for a second time, “Last year’s Memorial Day campaign was a huge success and Hire Heroes USA has shown amazing results with their previous funding from the Call of Duty Endowment.  We believe that this campaign can be an easy way for the public to volunteer to help veterans, honor those who served, and guide more employers to hiring veterans.”

According to a March report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, male veterans between the ages of 18-24 struggle with an unemployment rate of nearly 22 percent, and women veterans in the same age range experience an unemployment rate of over 15 percent.

 

Brian Stann, UFC ®130 fighter and President of HHUSA, welcomed the additional funding to his organization noting, “Memorial Day is a time to remember all of our brave heroes who have defended this country and we are thrilled Activision’s Call of Duty Endowment chose us to help honor the men and women of the Armed Forces, and provide more career assistance to returning veterans.  As I enter the cage for my UFC® 130 fight in Las Vegas this weekend, I hope others will join in the fight to get more veterans post military career help.”

The Call of Duty Endowment is a non-profit, public benefit corporation, which was created by Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) in November 2009.  The organization seeks to help veterans transitioning to civilian life, find work and establish careers, and to assist other organizations that provide career training and job placement for veterans.

Since Activision Blizzard, Inc., the worldwide online and console video game publisher and producer of the Call of Duty® video game established the Call of Duty Endowment it has delivered more than $1,000,000 in grants and scholarships to assist returning veterans with post military career help.  This past November, Activision committed another $1 million to the Endowment and pledged to find 1,000 jobs for veterans.

About the Call of Duty Endowment:

The Call of Duty Endowment is a non-profit, public benefit corporation created by Activision Blizzard. The organization seeks to help soldiers transitioning to civilian life find work and establish careers and to assist organizations that provide job placement and training. For more information about The Call of Duty Endowment, please visit www.callofdutyendowment.org.

About Hire Heroes USA:

The Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) is an organization which focuses on providing transition assistance to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans, specializing in the career placement of those injured or with any level of disability. HHUSA serves veterans from all branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Reservists and Coast Guard. For more information about HHUSA, please visitwww.hireheroesusa.org.

RELATED LINKS
http://www.callofdutyendowment.org

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A.Loewenstein Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS 


It’s official; Australian government happy for Serco to do what it pleases

Posted: 25 May 2011

 

The glories of unaccountable privatisation in action (via New Matilda): 

Not only is the $1 billion contract awarded to detention centre operator Serco beyond the reach of public scrutiny, but Senate Estimates hearings today revealed that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship collects scant data on breaches and has limited knowledge and oversight of staff training levels.

In what was a stellar confirmation of the Greens’ reputation as Senate watchdogs, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young doggedly pressed DIAC assistant secretary Fiona Lynch-Magor over allegations that Serco has been posting untrained and inexperienced guards to Australia’s overcrowded detention centres, with surprising results.

When asked by Hanson-Young, the DIAC official was unable to list the number of times Serco had breached the “management and service” provision of the contract, relating to detention centre operations, because the contract “doesn’t record specific breaches per incident”, instead measuring Serco’s performance under a “series of abatements that apply to certain metrics”.

The abatements, issued as retrospective fines, have been occurring on Lynch-Magor’s admission “since the beginning of the contract”, but are “not recorded in a recordable number”. “Systemic” breaches trigger “continuous failure” under the contract, which has a multiplier effect on the abatement issued.

Senator Hanson-Young appeared increasingly frustrated with Lynch-Magor’s answers, which became more circuitous as the questioning continued. When asked whether a failure to train staff properly could be considered a breach, she replied that Serco was “required to undertake all the training we require them to do”, and listed Certificate 2 requirements for centre chefs and guards.

Lynch-Magor told the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that DIAC had requested Serco prove their staff were properly trained “earlier this week”, and had received an immediate response. When Senator Hanson-Young asked the number of staff who “were asked to leave”, she was told that wasn’t information the department usually requested from Serco.

“So the department doesn’t know how many untrained staff have been on the ground… as of earlier this week?” the Senator replied.

And more evidence this week of a culture in the Immigration Department which rather likes a system whereby private companies can allegedly take responsibility for vulnerable people and yet still stuff it up:

BARBARA MILLER: The report commissioned by the Department of Immigration found refugees were paying through the roof for accommodation that was in some cases wholly inadequate. The accommodation provider, Resolve FM, a subcontractor of Navitas, has been put on notice.

The findings came as no surprise to Sister Diana Santleben. She was one of a number of community members who raised allegations that refugees were being exploited and mistreated. Sister Diana says she constantly hears of and witnesses such cases.

DIANA SANTLEBEN: Daily, daily. I mean I have taken hundreds of tonnes of Navitas issue furniture to a rubbish tip and sourced from the people of Newcastle thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars worth in replacement furniture, all at our own expense.

You know I’m a pensioner, and we’ve done it voluntarily. Basically we’ve done Navitas’s job for them voluntarily for the past five years so that the refugees did not endure having no beds, for example, because the beds they were given only lasted a week or two.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you think this report goes far enough?

DIANA SANTLEBEN: No, no, no. The report basically is into Resolve FM and Resolve FM were a sub-contractor for Navitas. The report did not under its guidelines study the work of Navitas really.

BARBARA MILLER: So what do you think should happen?

DIANA SANTLEBEN: Well my personal opinion, if I had my way I would just dismiss Navitas.

AIPAC faithful hate Palestinians and believe in fairy tales

Posted: 25 May 2011

 

Max Blumenthal paints the bleak picture: 

On May 22, thousands of supporters of America’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, converged on Washington for the group’s annual conference. For two days they watched Democratic and Republican congressional leaders pledge their undivided loyalty to the state of Israel, and by extension, to AIPAC’s legislative agenda. Speeches by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the conference, with Obama attempting to clarify his statement demanding that 1967 borders be the “starting point” for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

I interviewed several AIPAC delegates in the streets outside the conference. While few, if any, were able to demonstrate any degree of sophistication in the understanding of the Israel-Palestine crisis, they had been briefed inside on how to respond to critics. No one I spoke to would concede that Israel occupied any part of Palestinian territory; none would concede that Israel had committed acts of indiscriminate violence or that it had transferred Palestinians by force; one interviewee could not distinguish Palestine from Pakistan. With considerable wealth and negligible knowledge — few had spent much time inside Israel — the delegates were easily melded by the cadre of neoconservative and Israeli “experts” appearing in AIPAC’s briefing sessions.

As the day wore on, many delegates waded into confrontations with members of Code Pink and Palestine solidarity demonstrators who had set up a protest camp across the street. With conflict intensifying on the sidewalk, Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin invited AIPAC delegates to express themselves from the protest stage. There, their most visceral feelings and deeply held views about Israel-Palestine crisis were revealed. See it for yourself.

Chinese prisoners forced to earn web game credits

Posted: 25 May 2011

A surreal environment in a country where human rights campaigning is an issue largely seen as a Western plot to undermine Beijing: 

As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells.

Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for “illegally petitioning” the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.

“Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” Liu told the Guardian. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turned off.”

Memories from his detention at Jixi re-education-through-labour camp in Heilongjiang province from 2004 still haunt Liu. As well as backbreaking mining toil, he carved chopsticks and toothpicks out of planks of wood until his hands were raw and assembled car seat covers that the prison exported to South Korea and Japan. He was also made to memorise communist literature to pay off his debt to society.

But it was the forced online gaming that was the most surreal part of his imprisonment. The hard slog may have been virtual, but the punishment for falling behind was real.

“If I couldn’t complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things,” he said.

It is known as “gold farming”, the practice of building up credits and online value through the monotonous repetition of basic tasks in online games such as World of Warcraft. The trade in virtual assets is very real, and outside the control of the games’ makers. Millions of gamers around the world are prepared to pay real money for such online credits, which they can use to progress in the online games.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A.Loewenstein Online Newsletter

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

Egypt plans to lift the blockade of Gaza

May 26, 2011

Kate

and other news from Today in Palestine:

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

Thirsting for justice
Pal Mon 25 May — As an occupying power in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israel is obligated under international humanitarian law to ensure the welfare of the civilian population. Not only does Israel violate this responsibility through military invasions, extrajudicial assassinations and regular violent assaults on peaceful protesters, but also by deprivation of the most fundamental human need: water. EWASH, the Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group, a coalition of 30 humanitarian organizations working in Occupied Palestine, has launched a campaign, Thirsting for Justice. The campaign aims to raise international awareness of Israel egregious violations of humanitarian law through its water policies in Palestine.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/?p=44

New Palestinian house building in the Jordan Valley
26 May –JVS is currently running a project of house building in Arab El Ka’abneh, in Al Awja village, southern Jordan Valley, funded by the Spanish cooperation and in partnership with Ma’an Development Centre. The aim of the project is to support this Palestinian Bedouin community to stay on its land. They are currently living under very harsh conditions, under metal shelters, very cold in the winter, and very hot in the summer. This community is surrounded by three settlements and a checkpoint and live under the shade of two big Jewish-only water reservoirs. They have no access to electricity and have to go to buy their drinking water to the Israeli water company, Mekorot, kilometers away with their tractor and mobile water tank.
http://www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=275:new-palestinian-house-building-in-the-jordan-valley&catid=15:2010&Itemid=21

MKs attend controversial settlement announcement
JERUSALEM (AFP) 26 May — The speaker of Israel’s parliament and two ministers attended the dedication on Wednesday of new Jewish settler homes in East Jerusalem in what an Israeli NGO called “a dangerous provocation.” … The ceremony, in which Israel’s Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also took part, came the day after Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel’s claim to all Jerusalem — half of which was occupied in 1967 and illegally annexed to Israel in the 1980s. East Jerusalem is not officially recognized as part of Israel’s capital … The new homes are in the Jewish-only enclave of Maaleh Zeitim, in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras Al-‘Amud, where another 50 settler apartments were completed in 2003. On the slopes of the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, it is close to the center of Palestinian East Jerusalem.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=391243

Protesters: Ras Al ‘Amoud not Maale Zetim
[good photos] Pal Mon 26 May — “He just said we should all be dead,” said an Israeli activist, grinning wide and nodding towards a kippah-capped settler. The latter had stopped pushing his occupied baby stroller before a swarm of police, protesters and settlers outside the Maale Zetim settlement in East Jerusalem. The two argued in Hebrew as activists pounded drums and chanted into megaphones, police and soldiers stood at the ready, and settlers stared down at the tumult from atop their concrete enclave.”“I shout apartheid, you shout fight back,” said an Israeli woman on the bullhorn. “Apartheid.” “Fight back!” bellowed the crowd. About forty Jewish and Arab Israeli and other activists stood before the Maale Zetim settlement last night to protest the continual expansion of the Judaization of East Jerusalem. The mayor of Jerusalem, the Speaker of Knesset and the Minister of Education was attending an inauguration ceremony for Maale Zetim’s neighbors at Maale David.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/?p=291

Upcoming events in East Jerusalem
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) — Here are some of the upcoming dates and events in East Jerusalem [simplified]: *Thursday 26/5/11, 9:00 am, Jerusalem Hashalom Court — hearing — the eviction case of the settlers against the Sabbah family of Sheikh Jarrah; *Thursday 26/5/11, 10:30 am, Jerusalem Hashalom Court — hearing — the eviction case of the settlers against the Hamdallah family of Ras El-Amud; *Thursday 26/5/11, 1:00 pm, Jerusalem District Court — hearing — the Parking Lots Case that the Jerusalem Municipality wants to seize from the Palestinian owners in Wadi Hilweh Silwan; *Sunday, 29/5/11, 1:00 pm, The Regional Planning Committee — discussion (approval or rejection) of a plan to legalize a house in the Bustan neighborhood that got a demolition order; *Monday 30/5/11, 6:30 pm, The ‘City of David’ site in Wadi Hilweh — the Moskowitz Prize ceremony — hundreds of settlers supporters expected in the event….
http://silwanic.net/?p=17125

Right ‘ambivalent’ on PM’s speech
Ynet 26 May — Heads of settlement movement largely support PM Netanyahu’s Washington statements but say time has come to speed up construction in east Jerusalem, West Bank. ‘New neighborhood in east J’lem is tip of the iceberg’ says rightist element
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4074130,00.html

Israeli military

Keeping our eyes on Awarta
Pal Mon 26 May — …On 17 April 2011, the Israeli army announced it had extracted two confessions for the murder of five on 11 March 2011. Two Palestinian teenagers from Awarta allegedly confessed to the killing of five members of the Fogel family. The confessions followed hours of interrogation of the two boys and over a month of systematic collective punishment of the village. As of today, there is no further evidence that points to the guilt of either suspect … Now, the army is reported to be seeking the death penalty … [which] has only once been applied by an Israeli court, in the case of Nazi war criminal, Adolph Eichmann in 1962. While Israeli courts require that further corroborating evidence than a confession be present in order to sentence someone to capital punishment, it is highly unlikely that the boys will see justice in their military trials: 99.7% of all cases result in conviction.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/?p=175

Disabled man shaken after military assault
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 May — …The day before, 23-year-old Ashraf Muhammad Suleiman Mousa, who lives with a developmental disability and has the cognitive ability of a four-year-old, was assaulted by Israeli forces apparently searching for stone throwers on Tuesday evening, witnesses said … Ashraf’s mother, 42-year-old Karima, said that when her son arrived at the door to the home the soldiers ran up on foot behind him. “They grabbed him, tackled him to the ground and started beating him mercilessly. They trod him with their military shoes. I tried by all means to tell them he was disabled. I tried to speak to them in English, but all they did was order me to go inside. Then they cuffed Ashraf’s hands and legs, blindfolded him and took him to the jeep. I brought a medical report to show it to the soldiers, but they did not even look at it.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=391012

Israeli intelligence, backed by military, threatens villagers in At-Tuwani
Christian Peacemaker Teams 24 May — On Monday May 23, Israeli intelligence entered At-Tuwani, escorted by about fifteen soldiers … At around 7 pm, two military vehicles and about fifteen soldiers on foot entered the village. Soldiers first invaded the house of one of the community`s nonviolent resistance leaders. Soldiers searched rooms and the surroundings at gunpoint. At the same time four men in civilian clothes, but with military gear and assault rifles, systematically approached local adult men and began questioning them. The four men, later identified as intelligence agents, asked for addresses, phone numbers, places of employments and other personal details. Intelligence personnel also interrogated villagers about recent demonstrations and direct actions carried out by the community, and demanded that Palestinians cease their nonviolent resistance.”Do you want to become the father of a martyr?” they asked one of the village leaders, hinting that the occupation forces might retaliate on his children.
http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=46810

Israeli forces storm Madaa Center for Children in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 26 May – Israeli forces Thursday stormed Madaa Silwan creative center in Wadi Hilwah, a neighborhood in Silwan, near Al-Aqsa Mosque, while the children were there, according to witnesses. Witnesses told WAFA that the Israeli soldiers terrorized the children while they were looking for the head of the Center, Jawad Siyam.
They interrogated Siyam’s wife who was at the center, and handed her a summons for her husband to be interrogated in the interrogation center in Jerusalem. They also raided Siyam’s house looking for him, witnesses added.
http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/israeli-forces-storms-madda-center-for-children-in-jerusalem/

Two Palestinian children injured by dud bomb in South Hebron Hills
AIC Ta‘ayush 26 May — Last Friday, 20 May, two Palestinian children were injured from a dud left by the occupation army on the lands of Buweb. The village of Buweb is located in the South Hebron Hills, East of the Dirath village. It appears that the dud was a lightning bomb [‘used to illuminate the sky and area below’] that the children found. The dud exploded in the children’s hands and they sustained burns all over their body. The children were taken to a hospital in Hebron, and will require long-term and extensive treatments. On Sunday (22 May) an addition dud was located some 100 metres from where the children were injured. The principal of the Buweb village school immediately called the police, notifying them of the danger. On Monday, after the police had done nothing to remove the dangerous dud, the principal contacted Ta‘ayush.
http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/hebron/3618-two-palestinian-children-injured-from-dud-bomb-in-south-hebron-hills-

Detention

Israeli military asks Palestinian detainee to pay for own surgery
Jerusalem (PNN) 26 May — The Palestinian detainees and ex-detainees society announced on Thursday that the Israeli military prison administration has asked Ahmed Assofor to pay the expenses of a surgery he needs. Assofor was arrested on Nov. 24, 2009 as he was leaving the Gaza Strip to get medical treatment in Jerusalem. He was injured during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip that happened from December 2008 to January 2009 … Human Rights groups have started a campaign to put pressure on the Israeli military to release Assofor from detention as he is in desperate need of a pancreas transplant and the reconstruction of his elbows.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10108&Itemid=56

Israeli troops arrest 7 civilians from Ramallah
Ramallah (PNN) 26 May — Palestinian sources reported on Thursday that Israeli troops arrested seven men from Ramallah area in central West Bank. Sources said that seven men were taken away by troops that invaded a number of villages and towns around Ramallah city. The Israeli army radio announced that those arrested are on its wanted list
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10109&Itemid=64

Families sit in for Hamas detainees held by PA
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 26 May — Families of Hamas-affiliated prisoners in a Palestinian Authority jail in Nablus held a sit-in outside the facility Thursday, demanding their relatives be released following the unity deal between former rival factions Fatah and Hamas. Relatives carried slogans calling for all 140 prisoners to be released outside the Juneid prison in the northern West Bank city … Khalil A’saf, representative of the group of independent politicians, told Ma‘an that “independent figures are making efforts with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority so as not to inflame the issue between the two parties, as the subject of prisoners is a sensitive one.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=391368

FPJS condemns IOF for raiding house of Palestinian journalist Alaa al-Titi
GAZA, (PIC)– The Forum of Palestinian Journalists has condemned the Israeli occupation forces for raiding the home of Palestinian journalist Alaa al-Titi from the Al-Arub refugee camp in Al-Khalil and the arrest of his brother Hisham Jabr al-Titi, 17, who is a high school student … A force of 20 soldiers raided Titi’s home at around 2:30am and locked all the people living in the house in one room while they searched the three-story home for more than an hour.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bc

IDF: Fogel family murderers planned another attack
Haaretz 26 May — Two suspects in the killing of the five family members last March in Itamar retracted their confession, but prosecution says it has solid forensic evidence — The two suspects in the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar last March were planning to carry out another attack, the military prosecution said Thursday. These details were revealed as a military court ruled to extend the suspects’ remand by 11 days. 
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/idf-fogel-family-murderers-planned-another-attack-1.364273

Gaza

Eager anticipation for Rafah border opening
RAFAH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 26 May — The siege on the Gaza Strip, maintained by Israel and Egypt for the past four years, will soon be significantly relaxed for would-be travelers, a decision that has Palestinians on both sides of the border waiting anxiously. From students to tunnel smugglers, opening Gaza will transform lives drastically impacted by years of isolation … “The siege has separated me from my family, the friends I grew up with, and it is very frustrating because they are only a few hours away and I cannot go and they cannot come,” says Khalil Abu Samhadana, 22, a Palestinian student living in Cairo. Khalil has not visited his family in Gaza in two and a half years for fear of getting stuck on his return, a misfortune not uncommon here.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=390723

Hamas, EU hail Egypt plan to open Rafah border
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 26 May — Gaza’s Hamas rulers and the European Union on Thursday welcomed an Egyptian decision to permanently open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Palestinian enclave. The Islamist movement hailed the move as “a courageous and responsible decision which falls in line with Palestinian and Egyptian public opinion,” spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement … The European Union also praised the move and said it was in consultations with Egypt, the Palestinians and Israel about returning its team of advisers to monitor activity along the frontier. But Israel expressed concern, with Home Front Defence Minister Matan Vilnai telling public radio it would create “a very problematic situation.”
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110526/wl_mideast_afp/egyptisraelpalestiniansgazaborder

Gisha: If Israel wants a say in passage via Rafah, it should permit passage to West Bank
Tel Aviv (PNN) 26 May — The Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement – Gisha – issued a press statement on Thursday welcoming Egypt’s decision to open the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip. According to Gisha, the announcement that Egypt will expand the ability of Gaza residents to travel abroad via Rafah Crossing, which has become Gaza’s gateway to the world, in light of Israel’s closure of Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters and restrictions on travel via Erez Crossing. Gisha also noted the need  to permit passage of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank, recognized by Israel as a single territorial unit whose integrity is the basis for a two-state solution.
According to Gisha, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comment before the U.S. Congress that in Rafah, “the European observers evaporated overnight” failed to note that the “evaporation” was ordered by Israel, which refused to allow the EU border mission observers to reach their post and has objected to the implementation of the agreement ever since. The EU observers have been waiting in their hotel in Ashkelon for the last five years, waiting for Israeli permission to return to Rafah.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10101&Itemid=63

European observers: No request to return to Gaza border crossing
dpa 26 May — The inoperative mission of European observers, who under a 2005 agreement should be monitoring the Gaza-Egypt border crossing, said Thursday they had not received a request to return – this despite the crossing’s imminent opening. Benoit Cusin, the spokesman for the European Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) expressed concern that without the European monitors, international standards for security checks and passengers’ rights may not be upheld. [and why should there be European monitors for a border between two Arab lands?]
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/european-observers-no-request-to-return-to-gaza-border-crossing-1.364214

Activists refuse to send Gaza aid via Israel
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) 26 May — Activists on a Malaysian aid ship that had been bound for Gaza refused to hand their cargo to Egypt on Thursday, saying they feared it would end up in Israel. They had tried to land in Gaza last week but changed course when the Israeli navy fired warning shots. Matthias Chang, who is heading the mission for the Perdana Global Peace Foundation, told AFP the group was not consulted when the Malaysian and Egyptian governments worked out a deal to end the impasse. Chang said Egypt had insisted the cargo be discharged and transported via Kerem Shalom, at the Israeli border in Gaza.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=391443

$1 billion investment fund for Gaza unveiled
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 May — Muhammad Mustafa, the Palestine Investment Fund president, announced Thursday the establishment of a $1 billion investment fund for the reconstruction of Gaza. The rumored top candidate for the role of prime minister in the new technocrat government arrived in Gaza on Wednesday, to coordinate reconstruction efforts and meet with prominent contractors and businesspeople.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=391188

American Friends of UNRWA – online deal
Join G-Team and donate $6 to help American Friends of UNRWA provide children in Gaza with the necessary attire to participate in the Summer Games program. If G-Team members raise $300, American Friends of UNRWA will be able to outfit 50 children with caps, shirts, and sneakers. Each additional $6 raised will provide attire for another child. An anonymous donor has agreed to match each donation up to a total of $5,000.
http://www.groupon.com/deals/american-friends-of-unrwa/

Racism / Discrimination

‘Disgruntled Ethiopians could be next Black Panthers’
JPost 26 May — Israel must improve the living conditions of Ethiopian immigrants, or it could face radical protests from within that community, a former minister of immigrant absorption said on Wednesday. Former Meretz MK Yair Tsaban said that if such improvements aren’t made, “we will see Black Panthers in the same style that they had in the US.” Tsaban added Israel must strengthen its welfare state and “the struggle against racism in every way.
http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=222255&R=R2

Israeli universities to award academic credit for military reserve duty
AIC 24 May — Israel’s Council for Higher Education plans to approve for the coming academic year the provision of two academic credits for those who serve in military reserve duty. According to the Hebrew language online news site Walla, this decision of the Council will be brought for final approval in the near future … Palestinian citizens of Israel would obviously be excluded from this, as would the vast majority of women in Israel, who either do not serve in reserve duty or serve extremely short periods.
http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/israeli-society/3617-israeli-universities-to-award-academic-credit-for-military-reserve-duty-

Video — Orwell, 2011: ‘These weren’t child arrests’ / Dimi Reider
972mag 26 May — The headline comes from a response issued by the Interior Ministry in Israel to baseless accusations by self-hating activists, who brazenly claimed ministry officials yesterday swooped on the homes of 9 migrant families and arrested 9 mothers with their children, aged 18 months to three years, to begin processing them for deportation. In line with the ministry’s statement, I would like to ask you not to watch the video below. It plainly shows members of the Ministry’s “Oz” Unit not taking a young Philippine  mother down the stairs of her home, with her three-year-old daughter not toddling beside her. It then proceeds not to show the sizable force not dispatched to not detain this dangerous pair not forcing them to get into a car, not preventing them from even saying goodbye to neighbors.
http://972mag.com/these-werent-child-arrests/

Political / Diplomatic / International news

PA consent on opening Gaza crossing led to Hamas reconciliation
Haaretz 26 May — …Under the Mubarak regime, Egypt vehemently opposed using Hamas guards at Rafah and demanded that the crossing point remain closed until Palestinian Authority personnel were deployed at the venue. Haaretz has learned that the decision to reopen Rafah was taken in recent weeks and discussed at the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation meetings. It was the Palestinian Authority’s consent to opening Rafah that was one of the incentives used to persuade Hamas leaders to sign the reconciliation accord.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/pa-consent-on-opening-gaza-crossing-led-to-hamas-reconciliation-1.364074

Top Fatah official arrives in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 May — A top Fatah official arrived in Gaza on Thursday, to discuss with Hamas leaders, factions and other figures a response to the Israeli prime minister’s speech and implement a reconciliation agreement. Nabil Sha‘ath’s visit was also intended to move forward on a bid to achieve recognition of statehood from the United Nations in September.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=391400

Report: former Mossad chief supports Palestinian UN bid
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 26 May — Former Mossad Director Meir Dagan came out against Israel’s prime minister on Tuesday, in a speech saying he was against blocking a Palestinian move to bring the issue of statehood to the UN. The speech, reported by the daily Ma’ariv, was delivered during a closed forum at Tel Aviv’s Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center … “Recognition of a state is inevitable,” the former director was reported to have said, recommending that Israel impose its own conditions on statehood rather than allowing the UN to sanction the Palestinian vision. Dagan said Israeli acceptance of the move could actually minimize “any damage.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=391245

Haaretz poll: Netanyahu’s popularity soaring following Washington trip
26 May — Despite tensions in Washington during PM’s visit, Israelis generally don’t believe Obama is hostile to Israel or that U.S.-Israel relations have been harmed, indicating that the public seems to be turning a deaf ear to analysts who criticized Netanyahu’s address to Congress.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/haaretz-poll-netanyahu-s-popularity-soaring-following-washington-trip-1.364068?localLinksEnabled=false

Sarkozy: Palestinian unity agreement is good news
Haaretz 26 May — French president to send foreign minister to region next week to convince sides to return to the negotiating table.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/sarkozy-palestinian-unity-agreement-is-good-news-1.364281

Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair: Obama anxious about Israel’s fate
AP 26 May — Former U.K. prime minister says Obama offered new Mideast peace initiative since he sees the current situation as “particularly dangerous” ahead of a Palestinian state vote in September.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/mideast-quartet-envoy-tony-blair-obama-anxious-about-israel-s-fate-1.364203

Other news

US to help Israel buy four more Iron Dome anti-missile systems
Reuters 26 May — U.S. army official says anti-rocket system ‘highly effective’ in combat; funds come from $200 million-plus Obama initiative.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-to-help-israel-buy-four-more-iron-dome-anti-missile-systems-1.364065

Israeli killed by Palestinian police in Joseph’s Tomb officially recognized as terror victim
The Defense Ministry announced Thursday that the nephew of Science and Culture Minister Limor Livnat, killed by Palestinian policemen in the West Bank, will be officially recognized as a terror victim, Army Radio reported. Ben-Joseph Livnat, a 25-year-old father of four, was killed by Palestinian security forces last month when they opened fire on three cars carrying Israeli passengers who entered Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus without permission … The incident, however, has still not been classified as a terror attack … Since the lethal incident a month ago dozens of right-wing activists and settlers have visited the holy site, situated in the heart of the Palestinian city. Some of the visits were approved by security forces while some of the cases were infiltrations.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israeli-killed-by-palestinian-police-in-joseph-s-tomb-officially-recognized-as-terror-victim-1.364254

Amnesty to IDF: Rescind death penalty demand for Fogel family murderers
The Israel Defense Forces should rescind its reported demand that the suspects in the Itamar stabbing attacks be given the death penalty, Amnesty International said in a statement on Thursday. Last week, Haaretz reported that the army intended to seek the death penalty for the suspected murderers of five members of the Fogel family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar in March, which would mark the first time it has sought a sentence of death since the mid-1990s.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/amnesty-to-idf-rescind-death-penalty-demand-for-fogel-family-murderers-1.364182

Analysis / Opinion / Interviews

Nakba denials must be condemned / Yousef Munayyer
DB 25 May — Often, the events of this period are recited like this in mainstream media: After Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, armies from neighboring Arab states attacked the new nation; during the war that followed, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes by Israeli forces. As a student of history and the grandchild of Nakba survivors, I find it not only inaccurate to suggest Palestinian refugees are merely the unintended consequence of war, but also offensive and disgusting. That sequence of events, from a recent New York Times article, was repeated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his meeting with President Obama last week. Both describe the refugees as a result of the “Arab attack” in 1948. But even a cursory look at history reveals how flawed this is. Before a single Arab soldier crossed into Palestine on May 15, 1948, more than half the total refugees were created. Arab mobilization then became a reaction to massive refugee flows and not the cause of it.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-25/nakba-denials-must-be-condemned/?cid=hp:beastoriginalsR6#

Bibi and the Yo-Yos / Uri Avnery
Gush Shalom 25 May — IT WAS all rather disgusting. There they were, the members of the highest legislative bodies of the world’s only superpower, flying up and down like so many yo-yos, applauding wildly, every few minutes or seconds, the most outrageous lies and distortions of Binyamin Netanyahu.
http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1306359471/

Netanyahu relegated himself to the footnotes of history / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 26 May — …Now it is certain: Netanyahu will go down in the history of Israel and of the world as a forgotten footnote. What did he do? What did he coin? That we live in “the land of our forefathers” and the settlers are not occupiers. Good job, Bibi. That he is prepared to be “generous,” without understanding that we are the occupiers and occupiers, just like robbers, can never be “generous.” Rather, what we have to be is just. We are not “giving up” anything; we can only restore what we have stolen to its rightful owners and restore justice. Who is going to buy the tiny crumbs he has thrown to the Palestinians and to the world?
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/netanyahu-relegated-himself-to-the-footnotes-of-history-1.364110

Nakba denials must be condemned / Yousef Munayyer
DB 25 May — Often, the events of this period are recited like this in mainstream media: After Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, armies from neighboring Arab states attacked the new nation; during the war that followed, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes by Israeli forces. As a student of history and the grandchild of Nakba survivors, I find it not only inaccurate to suggest Palestinian refugees are merely the unintended consequence of war, but also offensive and disgusting. That sequence of events, from a recent New York Times article, was repeated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his meeting with President Obama last week. Both describe the refugees as a result of the “Arab attack” in 1948. But even a cursory look at history reveals how flawed this is. Before a single Arab soldier crossed into Palestine on May 15, 1948 more than half the total refugees were created. Arab mobilization then became a reaction to massive refugee flows and not the cause of it.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-25/nakba-denials-must-be-condemned/?cid=hp:beastoriginalsR6#

Arabeh Mayor Omar Nasser – Do you agree with Netanyahu that Arabs live better here than elsewhere?
Haaretz 26 May — …Were you surprised when the prime minister spoke about the rights of Israeli Arabs and how they enjoy democracy more than Arabs in any other country? It was unbearable hypocrisy. The prime minister is mistaken and misleading, and it’s a disgrace that members of Congress applauded him. The prime minister chose to compare democracy in Israel to the Arab world. But if he is so proud of democracy in Israel, then why doesn’t he compare it to democracy in Canada or in Sweden or in Switzerland? Yet, if you were the mayor of a town in an Arab country, you wouldn’t dare attack a prime minister in this way? True. But again, don’t compare me to Libya and Sudan; compare me to Switzerland and Canada, where no one questions the right of someone else to voice an opinion
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/head-to-head-arabeh-mayor-omar-nasser-do-you-agree-with-netanyahu-that-arabs-live-better-here-than-elsewhere-1.364104

www.theheadlines.org (archives)
groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi (listserv)

Why did I disrupt?

May 26, 2011

Rae Abileah

Do you know that our Congress gave 29 standing ovations to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke in the Capital on Tuesday, May 24? I couldn’t watch this hero’s welcome for a man who supports the continued building of illegal settlements, won’t lift the siege of Gaza, and refuses to negotiate with the new Palestinian unity government. During the talk, when Netanyahu was praising young people rising up for democracy in the Middle East, and I took my cue to stand up from my seat in the Capitol Gallery, unfurl a banner, and shout, “No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!”
Immediately, I was tackled, gagged and violently shoved to the floor by other members of the audience, many of whom were still wearing their badges from the AIPAC conference this past weekend. Police dragged me out of the Capitol gallery, and an ambulance whisked me to the hospital, where I was treated for neck and shoulder injuries and put under arrest for disrupting Congress. After I disrupted, Netanyahu said to his Congressional audience, “You can’t have these protests in Tehran; this is real democracy.”

Is it? What kind of a democracy do we live in when free speech is met with brutality and arrest? In a real democracy, our representatives would be looking out for our best interests, not the interests of a foreign government, ie, Israel. I want my government to take an even-handed approach that respects the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. But in our so-called democracy, special interest lobby groups like AIPAC have enormous power because of their ability to direct campaign contributions.

So we have a very skewed policy that ignores the rights of the Palestinians, allows repeated Israeli violations of international law, sullies the U.S. reputation internationally, and gives $3 billion a year of our tax dollars to the Israel military when we need this money here at home. Before we go preaching democracy abroad, we should make our own democracy more responsive to the public good, not the wishes of wealthy lobbyists.

On Monday night, May 23, five brave activists disrupted Netanyahu’s speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Gala and were also met with assaults. The young women who had spoken out were subjected not only to assault, but to sexual groping by male AIPAC attendees. But these activists felt compelled to speak out against Netanyahu’s claim that returning to the 1967 borders would be “indefensible,” when it is Israeli policies that are really indefensible: starving Gaza, occupying and stealing land, bulldozing homes, silencing dissent. (see videos here). The same day, at a press conference at the National Press Club about military aid to Israel and the dangerous role of the Israel Lobby, activist Allison Weir had her phone slugged out of her hand by an angry Zionist. This sounds eerily similar to the alleged democracy in Israel, where Palestinians and Israelis are routinely assaulted, arrested and jailed for speaking out against the Israeli occupation.

For the Palestinian people who live under Israel’s 44-year-old military occupation, violence dominates everyday life. Zinad Samouni of Gaza is a living testament to this oppressive reality. She lost 48 family members during Israel’s December 2008 bombardment of Gaza, and hers became yet another tragic story in a long history of home demolitions, land confiscation, and systematic violation of the Palestinians’ basic human rights. After the massacre of the Samouni family, Israeli soldiers left behind racist graffiti such as “Arabs need 2 die” and “1 is DOWN 999,999 TO GO.”

Young Jews like me hear stories like Samouni’s, and we see clearly that Israel’s actions do not embody our deepest Jewish and humanistic values, which have taught us to love our neighbors and work for justice. We read in the Torah (Leviticus 24:22), “You shall have one standard (mishpat ehad) for stranger and citizen alike. . .”  We also read in the Israeli equivalent of the Declaration of Independence, the Megillat ha-Atzmaut, that “[the State of Israel] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex. . .”  This rich and long Jewish commitment to social justice and equality bears no relation to Zinad Samouni’s experience of living under a crippling blockade and losing her loved ones to a brutal military onslaught that made no distinction between civilians and combatants.

It was this schism that we sought to expose during disruptions of Netanyahu’s speeches at the AIPAC conference and in Congress. Some decried our actions as “rude”, and “inappropriate.” But after countless fruitless attempts to petition lawmakers through traditional channels, we felt the time was ripe for a nonviolent direct action that would speak truth to this head of state. Netanyahu is, after all, responsible for the violation of Palestinians’ lives and human rights.

My neck pain is a small price to pay compared with the sacrifices made by numerous Palestinian, Israeli, and international nonviolent protesters who’ve risked their bodies and lives to defend the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. For example, recently the Israeli army arrested brothers Bassem and Naji Tamimi, who have organized unarmed protests in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, and they are currently imprisoned without trial. Israel sent Palestinian Abdallah Abu Rahmah of Bil’in to prison for his role in organizing nonviolent protests against Israel’s illegal, land-confiscating wall. In March 2003, the Israeli Army bulldozed 23-year-old American Rachel Corrie to death when she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza. In March 2009, the army shot 38-year-old Tristan Anderson of Oakland, Calif., who was participating in a nonviolent anti-wall demonstration in the West Bank, with a high-velocity tear gas canister, causing a near-fatal head wound and brain injuries. These are only some of most egregious and visible examples of the daily violence faced by Palestinians and their supporters in their struggle to uphold human rights and international law.

What’s more, despite the growing nonviolent movement in the West Bank and Gaza, and the recent Palestinian Unity Agreement, in his speech to Congress, Netanyahu made it clear that the Palestinians have no partner for peace, and Congress would back his outrageous claims. In referring to the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank, he said, “And you have to understand this: In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers.” Someone should inform Mr. Netanyahu that his own Supreme Court has written that the West Bank is “held in belligerent occupation.”

The worst part of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was not what he said, but the appalling spectacle of watching our elected officials who literally applauded this bald-faced lie about the West Bank and the other outrageous statements Netanyahu made. It occurred to me that right now when it comes to this issue our Congress is more an outpost of the Israeli Knesset than a representative body of the United States.

With Obama and our Congress pandering to Netanyahu and AIPAC, what hope do we have? AIPAC, while claiming to represent the interests of both the United States and Israel, is mobilizing fear, escalating hate, and controlling our elected officials through enormous campaign contributions.

President Obama, in his speech to AIPAC this past weekend, said, “You also see our commitment to Israel’s security in our steadfast opposition to any attempt to de-legitimize the State of Israel.” This reference to “delegitimization” is code for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), a Palestinian-initiated effort to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. But the BDS movement is not delegitimizing Israel. Israeli policies, supported by AIPAC, that deprive Palestinians of basic human rights by stealing their land, demolishing their homes, stripping them of residency permits for Jerusalem, and that blockade and starve the entire population of the Gaza strip —  these are the things that delegitimize Israel.

The BDS Movement gives me hope about the future for Israelis and Palestinians. Our elected officials will not lead; they will not stand up to AIPAC, and they will not challenge these terrible Israeli government policies. So it is up to us to take the lead. By joining the BDS Movement, whether it is CODEPINK’s own Stolen Beauty campaign against occupation profiteer Ahava cosmetics, Jewish Voice for Peace’s TIAA-CREF Divestment Campaign, The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s many initiatives, or other campaigns that are happening in your community, you can take action to support human rights and a just peace for Palestinians.

It’s not every day that we have an opportunity to confront a war criminal like Netanyahu in person, but the boycott and divestment campaigns allows conscientious people to take a stand and to put our money where our values are — as was the case with the boycott of and divestment from businesses cooperating with apartheid South Africa, and the boycott of businesses in the Jim Crow South. Such campaigns provide an opportunity to those who profit from violence to turn aside, to nonviolently push for international law and accountability, and to follow the teachings of our faith. And I predict that these campaigns will continue to grow and rack up further victories, as long as entrenched injustices remain unaddressed.

In a few weeks, a courageous group of internationals, including many Americans, will have another chance to stand up for justice. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla will set sail from Europe in June with the goal of reaching Gaza, breaking through Israel’s inhumane siege. Last year, the Israeli military violently intercepted the flotilla in international waters, killing nine activists. This year, let’s do everything we can to ensure that the flotilla is not met with violence.Please send the members of the flotilla your support.

You can also write a letter to the folks in Gaza who are living under siege. The “Audacity of Hope,” which is the name of the U.S. boat on the flotilla, will deliver your letters when they set sail next month. Send your written letters to: LETTERS TO GAZA, 119 West 72nd Street #158, New York, New York 10023 or email to letterstogaza@gmail.com.

The outpouring of support I have been receiving from all over the world has been astounding. A woman in Iraq said she was moved to tears seeing a Jewish-American speaking out. A man in Gaza wished me a speedy recovery and quoted the civil rights song “We Shall Overcome.” I even got a message of gratitude from Brad Pitt!

We have also had a great response to the protests, summit and other creative actions we organized this weekend opposing AIPAC, the powerful Israel lobby that has a stranglehold on Congress (see MoveOverAIPAC.org). During Move Over AIPAC, we heard from excellent speakers at our summit; we coordinated a flashmob (that’s been seen by over 30,000 people); we created a people-powered flotilla; we had a dialogue booth, a mock-settlement expansion, and a street theater-style checkpoint. The creativity and dedication of this movement inspires me to believe that justice will prevail, and is within our reach, if we all work together.

People are thrilled to see Americans standing up to our government’s unconditional support for the crimes Israel commits with our tax dollars and we have received hundreds of emails and calls from people in all corners of the world.
My tradition teaches that, “Justice, justice you shall pursue,” (Deuteronomy 16:20) And I will keep continue pursuing justice, and justice will eventually prevail. Israelis and Palestinians will one day live together in true equality.

Rae Abileah is a national organizer with CODEPINK Women for Peace and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. She lives in San Francisco, CA and can be reached at:

rae@codepink.org.

Settlers fabricate non-existent “eternal rights”

May 26, 2011

annie

Yossi Gurvitz over @ +972 informs us a bunch of nutjob settlers are threatening to sue the UN over the insulting verbiage used to describe the West Bank as occupied territory. I kid you not! And that’s only the beginning…

Well, the NRG article breathlessly informs that Moon’s statements contradict Article 80 of the UN Charter of 1945, known colloquially as the “Eretz Israel article”, which, claim the settlers, lays down the “judicial rights of the Jewish people for Eretz Israel as eternal rights, which cannot be abrogated without the agreement of the Jewish people”.

…………………..

So I decided to look up this mysterious Article 80 of the UN Charter. Now, it’s rather complicated, even twisted – make up your own minds – but even Rashi, that great fabulist, wouldn’t have managed to find “Eretz Israel”, let alone “eternal rights, which cannot be abrogated without the agreement of the Jewish people”. That is, the NRG piece lies about several critical points. It is not at all an accident of fate that the reporter who wrote it (and did not even bother looking up Article 80, if only for the sake of his own credibility) is Amikhay Ath’eli, NRG’s settler-affairs reporter. There is a myth that the Israeli press is leftist; Ath’eli used false propaganda, hot off the press, and printed it as news. One wonders what happened to the editors of NRG; they used to have some.

So what does Article 80 actually say? It says that until issues regarding territories held under trusteeship, mandates included, are resolved, the UN charter ought not be considered prejudicial to the right of the people under trusteeship or of the nations running them. And if that’s Jabberwocky to you, that’s because you don’t know that the merry band of settler fabricators wants to bring back the San Remo resolution of 1920, which was the basis for the British mandate over Palestine.

Why would they want to bring up, zombie-like, that old piece of paper? Because the UN 181 resolution, which created Israel, specifically speaks of partition, and the San Remo contains no partition, and in fact considers Jordan to be part of Palestine.

(my bold)

Maybe the settlers are trying to compete for attention with Palestinians over the showdown coming up in September at the UN. I have no idea but if you think it ends here follow the link, there’s more. Gurvitz thinks they’re nothing but a bunch of liars “conning Israelis into believing in an “Eretz Israel article”.

I think it’s a possibility they are logic impaired, merely delusional thieves.

What’s your take?

Reality imitates the dream in the Rachel Corrie case in Haifa

May 26, 2011

Hatim Kanaaneh

The stage was set for the strangest of dreams but my dreams revolved around what was actually happening: I had arrived back on a night flight from a two-week pleasure tour of Andalucía and taken the train to arrive in Haifa at six in the morning. I got off at the central train station by the port and proceeded to walk around aimlessly till the district court opened its gates. I hadn’t wandered around these parts since my high school days when I used to tour the racy port area of Haifa with some local friends. At the time our inexperience and lack of funds limited the extent of our engagement in the area’s burgeoning sex enterprises to ogling the skimpily dressed professionals out on their hunt. Sadly, all that is but a vague memory now. Not a single hooker accosted me on this occasion. I wondered if it was my age, the hour of the day or the area’s dismal failure in terms of business, all thriving shops having moved up to the fancier sections of the Carmel Mount in recent times. I stopped at the one café that was open at this early hour. The host welcomed me in the best of local Galilee Arabic dialects but was equally proficient in Hebrew, English and German with other customers; he seemed to figure out people’s language preference by their looks. I sipped my coffee slowly over the next hour, paid my bill, answered the host’s questions about where I was from and what I did, and headed to the court just as the guards were setting up their security check apparatus and opening the doors. I directed my steps to the coffee shop for a second cup of coffee in the hope of keeping awake in court.

The Corries arrived and then their lawyers and the regular small crowd of correspondents, translators, American embassy staff and sundry Israeli leftists. As I chatted with Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, I discovered to my absolute surprise that not everyone in the world is fully aware of the glorious history of the Arab rule in Spain. Who in the world but Arabs is to be credited with the original contribution of the Arabesque designs one finds in all kinds of Spanish-made tiles I wondered. In another millennium or two, when the whole Middle East is awash with the Star of David, will it be credited to Saudi Arabia for instance and not to Israel? Or would Saudi young women dancing the Hora take full credit for it? Why then doesn’t the world credit the Arabs with evolving the Flamenco? I was on the verge of launching an exposé of the Arabs’ salubrious contributions to Europe’s renaissance and enlightenment for Cindy’s benefit. Alas, others arrived and interrupted our conversation. It occurred to me that, with a little stretch of the imagination, I could personally lay claim to having contributed, through my ancestors in Andalucía, to so many valued underpinnings of science, the arts and American culture from the invention of the zero and the introduction of the guitar all the way to the very name of such familiar landmarks as Guadalajara in neighboring Mexico. And what did we get in return through this incontrovertible romantic chain of historic events? The tobacco weed and Israel!

In the courtroom at the top floor of the modern building, the setting was dreamlike: The morning sunrays shone through the tall windows on either side of the judge’s elevated platform rendering his seat not unlike what I imagined King Solomon’s throne would have looked like. The session started with a faux pas by the Corrie’s lawyer that left its damaging effect on the entire uninterrupted four-and-a-half-hour session: When the judge was finished with a minor procedural issue in an unrelated case he called for Hussein Abu-Hussein but was informed that the lawyer had gone to answer the call of nature. The Judge was visibly upset and stormed out to his adjacent private quarters. When he came back, the stenographer, who with the advent of the electronic recording equipment apparently has taken on the added task of modulating the judge’s mood, seemed to attempt to assuage his anger with one teacup after another till he returned to his usual level of tense normality. The session then proceeded with repeated angry outbursts at Abu-Hussein for not comprehending the witness’s answers the right way. I was not fully convinced that this all was because of the faulty start and theorized to myself between nodding in and out of light sleep about an alternative explanation. The judge had a ruddy tan and I hit on the explanation that he must have spent his Passover vacation in some resort on the Red Sea and was aggravated by the Egyptians’ new-found sense of dignity after their Spring uprising. The judge missed Mubarak, I figured.

The witness was none other than the spokeswoman of the IDF at the time of the Rachel Corrie ‘incident.’ I was disappointed. I had imagined such a high-ranking officer, the woman once charged with justifying the nation’s entire struggle to implement the dream of greater Israel on grounds of security needs, to be armed to the teeth. And I imagined her to be a big fierce hussy of Germanic stock, trained in martial arts, dressed in military uniform, and ready to shoot me at first sight, plant the extra handgun she always carries on my corpse and issue a statement to the press regarding her action in self-defense. None of this! In fact the woman was a diminutive but spry middle-aged run-of-the-mill oriental civilian with salt-and-pepper shoulder-length hair ending in a breezy curl. The magic morning sunlight streaming from the windows framed her in profile from where I sat rendering her rather attractive. I was impressed by her apparent charm and self-confidence. She fit my mental image of queen Sheba of old.

Alas, the changing play of natural light and the constant chipping of Abu-Hussein at her display of self-confidence blemished her image despite the judge repeatedly coming to her aid. By noon she was diminished in my eyes to a mere shadow of her former charming self. The midday sun now emphasized her actual features revealing a dour menopausal white-haired damsel in considerable distress under the focused questioning of the bullying Palestinian lawyer trying to cast doubt on her former role and current credibility. Amazingly, in the process of dragging her through the mud of the IDF record of human rights violations, Abu-Hussein caused even the cute upturn at the neck of her initially fancily styled hair to slacken to a frizzle. He kept quoting to her from various press resources, managing in the process to call her ‘a liar,’ ‘Israel’s Goebbels,’ and more. The poor woman had to resort to some terrible means of verbal self-defense despite the judge’s obvious sympathy. At one point, when her opinion was asked regarding a statement to the effect that the IDF has a tradition of lying and manufacturing misleading information, she spit out the same venomous charges against the Palestinians.

By this time I had nodded off again to the domain of light sleep. In my dream I saw the women entertaining the troops battling at the borders of Greater Israel. She danced a wild Flamenco while holding a tray with Mahmud Abbass’s head on it over her head. I woke from the hilarious dream to find the woman still talking away at a-mile-a-minute speed about the antics of the Palestinian National Authority. A couple of times she stuck out her tongue in midsentence with a ghastly effect. As I dozed off again the image I visualized changed from a crow to a snake. I ran away in panic and the person next to me found it necessary to wake me up with a jab in the ribs. The judge was at it again admonishing the translators to lower their voices. “I am not sure in the USA they would extend the privilege of translating for the audience like I do for you,” he scolded. At this stage I dozed off again but this time into deeper sleep. My friend was there. She kept sticking her tongue at me. Except that it was definitely forked. It must come with the job description, I figured.

This post originally appeared yesterday on Hatim Kanaaneh’s blog, a Doctor in Galilee.

In ‘The American Interest,’ minister’s kid Mead says God favors and protects Israel like he protects the U.S.

May 26, 2011

Mark Wauck

Here’s a piece called “The Dreamer goes down for the count,” Walter Russell Mead writing about Obama and Israel in The American Interest.

You can safely ignore the first half of this.  But starting at: “The President is now wandering across Europe…” Mead sketches a portrait of America’s soul that shows how events are unfolding with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy.  America has dithered for decades, and now events are moving and we’re trying to play catch up with the cards stacked against us, boxed in by a Congress that is beholden to the Israel lobby to such an extent that every President has his hands tied by the blind fanaticism not only of the Lobby and the Christian Zionists but also by the stubborn ideological and spiritual bankruptcy of Protestant America.

I say “Protestant America” because America is still a Protestant country, as Huntington famously maintained shortly before his death.  To save you time, I’ll paste in the second half of the article.  The harsh blame of Obama is, of course, largely undeserved–what president any longer has the ability to “control” the relationship with Israel?

The President is now wandering across Europe seeking to mend fences with allies (Britain, France, Poland) he had earlier neglected and/or offended; at home, his authority and credibility have been holed below the waterline.  Everyone who followed the events of the last week knows that the President has lost control of the American-Israeli relationship and that he has no near-term prospects of rescuing the peace process.  The Israelis, the Palestinians and the US Congress have all rejected his leadership.  Peace processes are generally good things even if they seldom bring peace; one hopes the President can find a way to relaunch American diplomacy on this issue but for now he seems to have reached a dead end — and to have allowd himself to be fatally tagged as too pro-Israel to win the affection of the Europeans and Arabs, and too pro-Palestinian to be trusted either by Israel or by many of the Americans who support it.

Internationally, this matters a great deal; domestically it matters even more.  The President has significantly less capacity to act than he did a week ago.  The Bin Laden dividend, already cruelly diminished by what The Daily Caller said was the administration’s “victory lap in a clown car”, is now history.  The GOP, in trouble recently as voters recoil from what many see as Republican extremism on issues like Medicare and public unions, will be able to use the national security card in new and potent ways.

As the stunning and overwhelming response to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Congress showed, Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth.  Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul.  The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism.  The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America.

It means more.  The existence of Israel means that the God of the Bible is still watching out for the well-being of the human race.  For many American Christians who are nothing like fundamentalists, the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land and their creation of a successful, democratic state after two thousand years of oppression and exile is a clear sign that the religion of the Bible can be trusted.

Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-America and pro-faith.  Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians who don’t ‘get’ Israel also don’t ‘get’ America and don’t ‘get’ God.  Obama’s political isolation on this issue, and the haste with which liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi left the embattled President to take the heat alone, testify to the pervasive sense in American politics that Israel is an American value.  Said the Minority Leader to the Prime Minister: “I think it’s clear that both sides of the Capitol believe you advance the cause of peace.”

President Obama probably understands this intellectually; he understands many things intellectually.  But what he can’t seem to do is to incorporate that knowledge into a politically sustainable line of policy.  The deep American sense of connection to and, yes, love of Israel limits the flexibility of any administration.  Again, the President seems to know that with his head.  But he clearly had no idea what he was up against when Bibi Netanyahu came to town.

As a result, he’s taking another ride in the clown car, and this time it isn’t a victory lap.  I hope I’m wrong, but I think the next intifada got a lot closer this week.

Mark Wauck blogs at meaninginhistory.

On the strict American requirement of being ‘sufficiently pro-Israel’

May 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

Alan Levine is a NY lawyer who brought Debbie Almontaser’s lawsuit against the NY Dept of Education because of her dismissal from the Kahlil Gibran International Academy [KGIA]. Here he is in Haaretz, writing about the recent Tony Kushner honorary degree flap at the City University of New York, and saying that Jews are “dishonored” by a blind defense of Israel. Excerpt:

CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, who led the opposition to the Kushner award, was an overwrought opponent of KGIA as well. When a KGIA supporter, a rabbi, angrily differed with him at a public rally, Wiesenfeld suggested that the rabbi “get yourself a suicide bomb and go blow yourself up.” So much for the man who thought Tony Kushner’s views on Israel were not rational.

Then earlier this year there was the case of Kristofer Petersen-Overton, a Brooklyn College adjunct professor hired by the political science department to teach a course on the Middle East. Although the department had approved Petersen-Overton’s credentials and the proposed course, NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind wrote the college that Petersen-Overton was “an overt supporter of terrorism.” The college promptly canceled the course. After letters of protest poured in from around the world, it was reinstated. Although the college’s capitulation to Hikind represented a serious assault on academic freedom in the name of pro-Israel orthodoxy, not a single mainstream Jewish organization spoke out.

And now Tony Kushner’s honorary degree. The CUNY trustees, after a firestorm of criticism, have admitted error. But how did it happen in the first place? Wiesenfeld is only one vote. What accounts for the initial acquiescence of Benno Schmidt, CUNY’s board chair, who, as a former president of Yale and a First Amendment scholar, knows the stifling impact on academic freedom when universities capitulate to demands of political orthodoxy?

There is a clue in his statement calling for the reinstatement of Kushner’s honorary degree. While acknowledging that a candidate’s political views are irrelevant to the awarding of honorary degrees, Schmidt gratuitously added, “If it were appropriate for us to take politics into account in deciding whether to approve an honorary degree, I might agree with Trustee Wiesenfeld, whose political views on the matters in controversy are not far distant from my own.” Having said that Wiesenfeld’s extremist political views are irrelevant, he proceeded to establish his own pro-Israel orthodoxy. That the board chair of a distinguished university is compelled to establish that he is “sufficiently pro-Israel” says that something is terribly wrong with the current climate of discourse about Israel and its policies.

Two Jews, three opinions, is the old adage. On “everything but Israel,” is the present reality. Despite its belief to the contrary, neither the Jewish community nor Israel is well-served by that reality. Mainstream Jewry is dishonored by having the likes of Wiesenfeld and Hikind be its public voice on such matters, and by insisting that unquestioning and irrational loyalty to Israel substitute for rational debate and a commitment to what is just.

Mearsheimer on dual loyalty and William Safire

May 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

I misplaced my taperecorder after the MoveonAipac.org hoedown in D.C., I’m still looking for it but in the meantime I need to convey from my notes three things that John Mearsheimer said in his appearance at the conference.

1. Someone asked about the USS Liberty attack in 67 that killed 30-some Americans and was never investigated. Mearsheimer said, “I think about Rachel Corrie [American killed in Gaza in 2003 by Israel]…. Nothing was done about that. I think about Furkan Dogan [the American killed on the Mavi Marmara].” And Mearsheimer said that if he went to Israel and was shot and killed, nothing would be done about it. This shows “how remarkably powerful” the Israeli government is in Washington, and that’s the simple explanation for why there’s never been an investigation of the Liberty attack.

2. There was a dual loyalty question. Mearsheimer said that in America, we’re allowed to have dual loyalty. You can be a citizen of another country, fight in their army. But the real question is, what happens when the “interests of the two countries come into conflict. The question is who will you side with? For most of Israel’s supporters they will side with Israel, and they don’t view that as a conflict of interest.” On nukes, it is not in America’s interest that Israel have nuclear weapons, for instance. But the lobby invariably sides with Israel and Netanyahu not Obama. And this, he said, is a “potentially dangerous situation for reasons I don’t have to spell out to you.” Wow I love this answer. P.S. At Columbia 3 weeks back, Peter Weiss of the Center for Constitutional Rights said he had written an article for the Palestine Israel Journal calling for legal action against Israeli nukes. Have to catch up to this.

3. William Safire. Mearsheimer liked the columnist William Safire, but he always wondered why he was for a Kurdish state. Well years after Safire died, Mearsheimer figured it out. Forming a Kurdish state would involve breaking up Syria, Iraq and Iran, “Israel’s three principal adversaries.” So Mearsheimer was saying that Safire was driven by love of Israel in his policy prescriptions. Don’t you wonder about a lotta folks the same way? I do.

Israel planning to steal more land from Palestinians

May 26, 2011

annie

IMEMC:

The Palestinian News and Informational Agency has reported that Israeli officials plan to confiscate 2,000 dunums worth of land in the Salfit area in the Northern West Bank near the city of Nablus.

The confiscated land will go to expanding two settlements in the area, Kiryat Netafim and Revava, according to Abdul Karim Rayyan, the head of Bani Hassan local council.

Rayyan claims that up to 40 Palestinian families have documents proving their ownership of the land and intend on challenging the confiscation of the land in Israeli courts.

The news comes on the back of announcements by the Israeli planning bodies that 1,500 new Jewish only housing units would be built in occupied East Jerusalem.
The families are appealing for international pressure to prevent the confiscation.

Zuckerberg soulless

May 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

Jerusalem Post on the facebook king. My tipster: “Here’s this twit reassuring the Mossad re facebook.”

Speaking at the e-G8 Internet Forum in Paris, Zuckerberg downplayed Facebook’s role in places like Cairo, Homs and Tunis. “It’s not a Facebook thing, it’s an Internet thing,” he said when asked the Middle East’s popular uprisings. “I think Facebook was neither necessary nor sufficient for any of those things to happen.”

Now you tell me: Peretz was Stuart Levey’s thesis adviser

May 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

Harvard Crimson piece on Marty Peretz’s “dual legacy” includes the fact that he was thesis adviser to Stuart A. Levey. Levey was formerly the deputy under secretary of Treasury who lingered from Bush administration to Obama administration because he had the Iran portfolio, only to be replaced by his former law partner, David Cohen.

You connect the dots, I’m tired. But:

Peretz is an ultra-Zionist. And he dandled Levey in his lap. And Levey has a political appointment in the Bush administration that continues unbroken into the Obama administration, because he represents a constituency: the Israel lobby. I’ve been reading Lincoln on the Dred Scott decision, undertaken in concert by the Supreme Court with the presidential election of ’56 and Congressional actions of ’56, in a rancid conspiracy. Conspiracy was Lincoln’s word. The Israel lobby is all over our politics like white on rice. Will someone dig up this cat’s thesis?

Levey, who wrote his thesis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, remembers Peretz as a “warm” adviser who encouraged his personal interest in the region.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

Bibi, Obama and IsraHell’s A-Historical View of Itself

NOVANEWS

 

“It’s time to recognize this basic truth: Israel is not what’s wrong about

the Middle East. Israel is what’s right about the Middle East.”

I’m guessing this Bibi gem won one of those 29 Congressional standing ovations

on Tuesday.

Probably a facepalm – or laugh-out-loud – moment for many Israelis. Here’s our

PM in plain view of the entire world, demonstrating in first person what is dome-

stically known as the Ugly Israeli: a ridiculously arrogant, pushy, free-riding,

zero-self-awareness caricature of a person. (For Americans, think about that rude

sloppily dressed Yankee tourist barging into a vegetarian restaurant in India and

demanding a hamburger.)

Or as Carly Simon would put it: “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is

about YOU.”

But seriously. Leaving aside the pitiful circus that Congress becomes when they do

Israel, and also leaving aside Bibi’s bad personal taste, most Israeli Jews would agree

with some version of his statement, and a majority is suspicious or outright hostile

towards Obama’s gentle attempts to nudge us towards acknowledging reality.

How can we be so collectively blind? What follows below is not a polemic, but rather

an attempt to provide some insight to a nation that sees itself, in some ways, as sitting

outside history and not subject to its laws.

What is this History that we are Ignoring?

One problem when discussing Israel-Palestine, that the first thing to go down the

drain is that simple beautiful principle: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but

not to your own facts.”

To try and mitigate this problem, below is a simple (incomplete, time permitting)

list of major, glaring, important existential facts that most Israelis nowadays either

completely ignore, or brazenly defy that they have any practical implications.

A friendly tip: this can be used a self-selection list. If you find most of the facts in the

list unbearably false, twisted, maliciously selective or unfair, just save yourself the

time and go elsewhere.

But before you do so, consider this: the point in this diary is not to claim who’s morally

“right” or “wrong” (my stand on the matter is well-known, and although it is not 180-

degree opposed to Bibi’s, it is certainly well over 90-degrees away from him).

The point is to demonstrate that from a practical standpoint, Israel is now facing a

multi-dimensional historical train wreck, mostly of its own making. Yet it is precisely

this train wreck that the Israeli mainstream – whether in its brazen Bibi version, or

in its more savvy Olmert-Livni-Barak version – is still ignoring.

And the diary further tries to explain why this deliberate blindness to history, from

an Israeli insider’s perspective.

Here goes:

1948


– Historically, for centuries Jews in Palestine were a small minority with no

national aspirations until near the end of the 19th Century;

– The trickle of national-minded Jewish immigrants to Palestine (later known as

Zionists) received a major boost when they became officially sponsored by the

British colonial power that took control of the country in 1918;

– Around 1950, following the Holocaust, a local war and Nakba, Jews became a

majorityin the land and a 90% majority within the new State of Israel, largely

emptied of its Palestinian population.

– World powers (which earlier pushed a Jewish state down the region’s throat via

the UN) were lightning-quick to recognize and integrate Israel into the world

community, even though in 1950 it was little more than a huge refugee camp for

people sharing little in common except a religious heritage and nowhere else to go.

The West went on to bankroll Israel’s economic stabilization, and to abandon and

punt towards the future the teeny side problem that the majority of Palestinians in

the land have, virtually overnight, become penniless refugees.

– Fast-forward 57 years: in 2007, Jews once again stopped being a majority in Israel-

Palestine (due to “demographic realities” – genuine ones, not the fabricated one of

settlement-building). They are now still a plurality, but are scheduled to be outnu-

mbered by Palestinians sometime over the coming decade AFAIK. Outside Israel,

Jewish demographics are stagnating at around 5-7 million worldwide, and most of

the young generation lives an affluent secular life, tends towards mixed marriages

and is not expected to generate a mass immigration wave to Israel in any foreseeable

future.

 

– Last but not least: the less than 6 million Jews now living in Israel are surrounded

by over 150 million Arabs, who unlike them are quite aware of this history, roughly

in the context in which I presented it – and whatever spins Bibi or “moderates” like

Thomas Friedman might spin about the Arab Spring, the issue of injustice to Palest-

inians still matters very much to citizens across the Arab world, and ranks very high

on their to-do lists for their governments. Yes, those would be the same citizens who

just rebelled against their leaders and are installing popularly-based governments.

In short, your average Middle Easterner might disagree that Israel meets the definit-

ion of “What’s right about the Middle East.” But as we sadly know, 1948 is not the end

of the story.

1967

I don’t want to add 50 bullet-points here and lose the audience. So let’s summarize

in a paragraph: even though the initial economic integration and exploitation of the

Occupied Territories and their residents had generated for Israel what is to this date

still the greatest economic boom in Israeli history, in 1967-1973 (don’t believe? check

it out on gapminder.org). – despite this, continuing to stick with Occupation has exac-

ted an increasing toll upon Israel in every conceivable way. Moreover, no country –

not even the US – has recognized Israel’s claim to control any of these territories by

right (as opposed to as a “temporary measure”).

Are We Really Ignoring This?

In one word: yes. Consider for example the single biggest cost, in my opinion of

Israel’s Occupation: the loss of its democracy. Any typical Israeli, not just wingnuts

like Bibi, will argue with you blue in the face that Israel is a democracy, and that the

Occupied Territories have “nothing to do with it”, are “irrelevant” or whatever. Forget

for a moment the West Bank; bring up the issue of what the regime is in Israel’scapital,

Jerusalem, and they’ll say “East Jerusalem Palestinians are all citizens.” Wrong, of

course; they are only residents; the Shin Bet secret police keeps a close tab on them;

their rights to residency, property ownership and travel abroad are far more limited;

and most saliently – if they linger abroad too long, they lose their residency rights

automatically and simply cannot return except as “tourists”.

Most Israelis – including, to my astonishment, my own mother who is progressive,

well-educated, has mostly “lefty” offspring and has lived in Jerusalem for most of the

past 40 years – did not know that simple fact, that the Palestinians who live in her

city have to live under a structurally inferior citizenship status. Heck, most Israelis

don’t know anymore where the 1967 lines pass on the ground, because the settlements

and “Israel proper” have been so thoroughly integrated in so many places. But tell

Israelis that the integration of our flagrantly undemocratic control of the West Bank,

with the supposedly pure democracy of “Israel Proper”, means that Israel is not a

democracy anymore – and they will throw a hissy fit and see you as a lunatic self-

hater (if you are Jewish) or an anti-Israel type (if you’re not).

Moreover, tell Israeli Jews that we must, must, must end the Occupation or Israel

might simply implode or explode – and they will shrug “what’s the rush?” Most will

add some lip-service saying that the “settlements” (which – see above – they cannot

really identify; what they mean is places with people who look like settlers, Orthodox

and crazy) – the “settlements” are wrong of course, Palestinians need their state of

course – but, but – the punch line will be some currently-fashionable version of

“there’s no one to talk with on the other side.” Which really boils down to the immo-

rtal Bibi phrase opening this diary: the rest of the Middle East, esp. the Palestinians,

is just innately wrong, and we – the innately right ones, will just have to stiffen our

upper lip and hang tough until they become more civilized.

This is what some 80%-90% of Israeli Jews think nowadays. Everything else is

semantic decoration.

So Why This Blindness?

I mean, ok, you don’t have to like or even respect your neighbors, esp. considering

all the bad blood. But where’s the pragmatism? I mean, 6 million and 150 million,

loss of majority in the country itself, erosion of popular support across the entire

world, the refusal of any country even our friends (upon whom we rely like air to

breathe) to recognize any part of the Occupation, etc. etc.?

Here’s the deal. Any person, any group, any nation has their share of exceptionalism

– some irrational level of hubris and unwillingness to acknowledge their true nature.

But in Israel this is taken to the absolute extreme: we honestly think that history, and

the laws of nature in general, do not apply to us.

There are very good reasons for this. It is easy to forget, especially in the US (where

nearly all 535 members of Congress are thoroughly trained to forget it). But Israel

itself is neither a natural, nor even a likely, phenomenon. The Jewish national project

in Palestine was spearheaded by a band of misfits with various extreme ideologies; it

had taken 50 years – against immense odds – for it to even reach the mainstream of

the Jewish world.

But what the leaders of soon-to-become Israel have demonstrated at nearly every turn

is an uncanny ability to leverage and surf the huge historical upheavals of the 20th

Century, and to take advantage of every lucky break. Time after time has the Zionist

train seemed to head into a brick wall – and time after time the wall miraculously

crumbled at the last moment, or a side-spur materialized out of thin air, and Zionism –

later Israel – emerged not only unscathed but actually empowered.

I am not giving specific examples. If you know any of the history, you will find them

yourself.

Moreover, another tendency that Zionism and Israel have demonstrated, is a brazen

willingness to experiment on itself. The Hebrew language which seems so natural on

the lips of millions of Israelis (including myself) is really known to linguists as “modern

Hebrew” (opposed to Biblical Hebrew). As recently as 1900, according to accepted ling-

ustic definitions, it simply did not exist. It was created by thousands of those crazy initial

pioneers forcing themselves to talk with their children not in their native languages

(mostly Yiddish), but in a language they were inventing on the fly based on the ancient

Biblical structures. It worked; in my opinion, modern Hebrew is Zionism’s greatest

unqualified success. A more famous social experiment – the Kibbutz movement –

while posting great achievements, is now largely seen as a failure with generations

growing up in kibbutzim mostly deserting them with deep psychological scars, and

others not taking their place.

But a far greater experiment is the Occupation itself. The mere willingness of a nation

to tamper with its own regime and shatter its own laws in order to achieve some limited

practical outcome (in this case, de-facto expansion of borders without acknowledging

the expansion) – is so unimaginable to people outside Israel, that foreign leaders and

even experts continue to misunderstand what has actually transpired on the ground

post-1967.

But in Israel this tinkering is taken for granted and seen as natural. We can fly through

walls. We can jump off buildings. If we say we are a “democracy”, we can re-define the

term as we wish so that we still fall under it – or simply stare at our non-democracy in

the face and ignore its true nature. We can subjugate our entire society to a huge and

corrupt military, and still claim that it does nothing to us, that we are in fact a vibrant

life-loving civil society.

Instead of counting our blessings, being grateful for the immense, truly generous

breaks history has afforded us over 63 years, and moving off the fast lane – we Israelis

delude ourselves that these astounding privileges and being bailed out for failure after

failure are our God-given right, and are insulted to the point of hysteria whenever reality

manages to bite us. Like the famous quote from George W. Bush’s inner circle, Israel

believes in making up its own world, its own reality, its own rules.

It is this deep self-conviction with which most Israeli Jews communicate their delusional

and a-historical view of their nation, that fools many outside observers, most of all Diaspora

Jews with longtanding ties of friendship and family. These “friends of Israel” then go on to

promote the delusions as if they were the Gospel Truth, and thus help Israel continue

running away from itself and gamble the entire nation away – straight into the increasingly

unavoidable abyss.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Bibi, Obama and IsraHell’s A-Historical View of Itself

Pro-Zionist Egyptian regime to open Rafah crossing permanently

NOVANEWS

 


 

Egypt’s decision Wednesday to end its blockade of Gaza by opening the only crossing to the Palestinian territory this weekend could ease the isolation of 1.4 million Palestinians there. It also puts the Egyptian regime at odds with Zio-Nazi’s, which insists on careful monitoring of people and goods entering Gaza for security reasons.

The Rafah crossing will be open permanently starting Saturday, Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency announced. That would provide Gaza Palestinians their first open border to the world in four years, since Zionist Mu-Barak and his Nazi friends  slammed their crossings shut Gaza Strip in 2007.

During the closure, Zionist Mu-Barak sometimes opened the border. But with Zio-Nazi  severely restricting movement of Palestinians through its Erez crossing in northern Gaza, residents there were virtual prisoners.

MENA’s statement said the old rules will be reinstated, allowing Palestinians with passports to cross into Egypt every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. except for Fridays and holidays.

Entry into Gaza was more complicated. Palestinians ran their side of the crossing. European monitors had a role at the crossing, and they have been waiting to resume that function. Also, Zio-Nazi was supposed to have a monitoring role from afar.

Mohammed Awad, the Hamas minister of foreign affairs, said he “highly appreciates the decision by the Egyptian brothers to ease the process of travel at Rafah terminal. This reflects the deep relation between us and Egypt, and it will contribute to ease the lives of the Palestinians in Gaza.”

Col. Ayoub Abu Shaer, Gaza director of the Rafah terminal, said the two sides have been discussing the changes in recent weeks. Under the proposal, women would be able to leave Gaza without restrictions, while men between the ages of 18 and 40 would have to obtain visas for Egypt at the border.

Zio-Nazi Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor refused to comment.

Benoit Cusin, a representative of the European observers, said they have not received instructions from the Zionist regime or the Palestinians. “We are ready when they are,” he said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the crossing was already open some of the time. “The U.S. supports efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” he told The Associated Press. “Efforts should also ensure that the transfer of weapons or other materiel and financial support for terrorism is blocked.”

The decision reflected a change in Egypt’s attitude toward the Zionist regime  since the fall of Puppet Zionist Hosni Mu-Barak in February.

The military council running the country until parliamentary and presidential elections is less concerned about its relations with Zionism and has shown more interest in the Palestinians.

Last month, the Egyptian regime successfully brokered a reconciliation between Hamas and rival Fatah, which runs the West Bank government. The two had been at odds since the brief 2007.

MENA said the decision to open the Rafah crossing was part of efforts “to end the status of the Palestinian division and achieve national reconciliation.” Before the Gaza conflict, the Palestinian Authority under American Puppet Mahmoud Ab-A$$ ran the Palestinian side of the Gaza crossing, and Zionist always objected to Hamas having a role there.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby told the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera last month that the closure of Rafah crossing was about to end, calling the decision to close it “a disgusting matter.”

Egypt was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Zio-Nazi regime in 1979. There have been polls that indicate many Egyptians would favor canceling the treaty. But that subject is not high on the agenda of Egypt’s new rulers who are concerned with internal crises, including unemployment and weeding out corruption.

Besides trapping more than a million Palestinians in Gaza, the Rafah border closure has been largely ineffective.

Gazans have circumvented the blockade by operating hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the nine-mile (15-kilometer) Gaza-Egypt border. The tunnels have been used to bring in all manner of products, as well as people. Israel charges Hamas has used the tunnels to import weapons, including rockets that can reach main population centers in Israel’s center.

The tunnel industry is a semi-official Gaza enterprise, with Hamas collecting taxes on goods smuggled in.

Over the past year, the tunnels – and the blockade itself – have lessened in significance as Israel eased its import restrictions, banning weapons and materials it feels could be used for military purposes by Hamas, including many types of construction materials. Nazi’s cut back on its restrictions following world outcry from Zionist’s violent interception of a flotilla heading for Gaza on May 31, 2010, when nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed.

In recent months, Palestinian in Gaza have fired rockets at Occupied Palestinian 1948  cities, indicating that that have graduated from the homemade, wobbly short-range projectiles to factory-made, longer-range rockets. Zio-Nazi charges that Iran is among the suppliers, and weapons merchants have been secreting the rockets and other ordnance through Egypt’s Sinai desert to the tunnels, and then into Gaza.

Rafah is impractical as a cargo crossing, however, because goods would have to be transported across the 130 mile- (210 kilometer-) wide Sinai desert in Egypt. It also means a long, hot bus trip for Palestinians crossing into Egypt through Rafah.

 

Posted in Egypt1 Comment

Male nurse convicted of raping unconscious patients sentenced to five years

NOVANEWS

 

Moshe Yeshua, who worked at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, was convicted of raping patients following surgery while they were under anesthesia.

Haaretz

A Jerusalem court sentenced a male nurse convicted of raping patients while they were under post-surgery anesthesia to five years in prison on Thursday.

The nurse, Moshe Yeshua, worked at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

In the court ruling, the judges stated that Yeshua had penetrated a patient’s genitals with his fingers in once incident, and in another, Yeshua had sexually assaulted a patient.

The judge writing the verdict described the severity of the crime, as it was perpetrated on victims whose “lives were completely dependent on medical staff.”

“The ability of the convicted to carry out rape on a person who has undergone surgery, who is unconscious, illustrates immorality without border,” the judge wrote.

In addition to his sentence of five years, the judges also gave Yeshua three years of probation and ordered him to compensate each of his victims NIS 10,000.

And while we are on the subject of Jewish peverts, lest we forget–

Hasid Who Allegedly Molested Elderly Man In Hospital Asks Victim, “Are You Jewish?” Before Molesting Him

The NY Daily News

A Torah scholar accused of fondling an elderly man lying in a Manhattan hospital bed first asked his frail victim whether he was Jewish before grabbing his genitals, prosecutors said Thursday.

When the 72-year-old senior replied that he was an atheist, Yakov Kramer allegedly lifted the man’s gown and molested him Wednesday afternoon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia, prosecutors said.

The 27-year-old was arraigned Thursday at Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of sexual abuse and burglary as a sexually motivated felony. He posted a $50,000 bond, and is due back in court Tuesday.

After the hearing, Kramer’s lawyer Israel Fried told The Daily News that the biblical expert was merely trying to help the old man after hearing his pleas for help.

“There was a person in pain. He saw him. Assisted him. And when his assistance was done. He left,” Fried said.

Although Kramer is from Spring Valley in Rockland County, his family, part of the Skver Hasidic sect, still lives in Williamsburg.

Neighbors on quiet Morton Street, home to Kramer’s father, Jeremias, were tight-lipped about the family’s whereabouts. But the news of the outrageous crime was the talk of the insular community Thursday afternoon.

Religious leaders defended Kramer, calling him a brainiac with a passion for writing about God.

“He is an author of religious books,” said Rabbi Leib Glanz, executive vice president of United Jewish Care in Williamsburg. “He is a Torah scholar.”

“His wife is expecting a baby. That is why he was in the hospital,” said Glanz.

Kramer’s lawyer said his client took his pregnant wife to the hospital for a routine check-up Wednesday.

He left his spouse to head to the hospitality room intended for Jewish patients and their guests, and picked up a book.

But the cries of the old man stopped Kramer, his lawyer said.

The senior “lifted his gown to indicate where he was in pain,” Fried said in court.

After checking on the man, Kramer returned to his wife, Fried said.

A nurse later caught Kramer in the old man’s room, during Kamer’s second visit, and alerted authorities.

“Abuse is a real problem,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, (D-Brooklyn).

Hikind called the Kramer case “depressing.”

“It is horrible,” he said.

Posted in USAComments Off on Male nurse convicted of raping unconscious patients sentenced to five years

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