Archive | June 4th, 2011

Pakistan to expel US military advisor

NOVANEWS

 

 

 

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen

US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen says Pakistan is to reduce sharply the number of US military trainers stationed in the country.

Mullen, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to offer figures on plans to cut the military mission, but said he saw “a very significant cutback.”

He also acknowledged that ties between Washington and Islamabad reached a new low after the alleged killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US forces on Pakistani soil.

“There clearly is an ongoing contraction of that support and it is tied to the difficult time we are going through,” Mullen told defense reporters in Washington.

“We’re going through a pretty tough time right now and that’s going to continue,” he said.

The administration of US President Barack Obama is divided over the future of its relations with Pakistan.

Obama claimed that bin Laden was killed by US forces on May 1 in a hiding compound in Pakistan.

Some White House officials suggest that Islamabad was aware of bin Laden’s location, demanding a strong response.

Others, however, believe any retaliatory measure will jeopardize Pakistan’s help which they describe as crucial to the US military operations in Afghanistan.

Pakistani lawmakers have recently passed a resolution condemning the US raid inside Pakistan that allegedly killed bin Laden, demanding a review of ties with the US and other Western countries.

The resolution also called for an independent probe into the raid, which the Parliament called a unilateral action and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

It warned that the repetition of such attacks could have dire consequences for peace and security in the region and the world.

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Gazans storm Rafah after Egypt closes border crossing

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Egyptian authorities later reopened the Rafah crossing following angry protests by Palestinians at the site; the temporary closure was the first since the crossing reopened last month.

Egypt shut its border crossing with Gaza on Saturday for the first time since opening it on a routine basis last month, and angry Palestinians stormed the gates in protest, Hamas officials and witnesses said.

Egyptian authorities later reopened the Rafah border crossing following the temporary closure that had triggered the protests at the site, witnesses said.

Palestinian border officials said three buses filled with 180 passengers had waited several hours to cross the border at Rafah, the Hamas Islamist-ruled territory’s gateway to Egypt, and some of those waiting responded by forcing the gate open.

“We have not been notified of any reason for the closure, passengers are angry,” one of the officials told Reuters.

Hamas police escorted the protesters back across the border a short time later, after Egyptian soldiers ordered them to leave. There were no reports of any violence or arrests.

An Egyptian security source said the terminal at Rafah, Gaza’s only gateway not controlled by Israel, had been shut for maintenance. Officials in Gaza said they had not been notified beforehand.

Egypt had reopened the crossing on a routine basis on May 28, a step that eased conditions for the coastal territory blockaded on its other borders by Israel, which says it needs to ensure Hamas doesn’t smuggle in weapons.

But tensions over conditions at the Rafah terminal have been building since Hamas accused Egypt this week of placing limits on the number of people allowed through.

Border officials of Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, said Egypt had set a maximum of 350 Gaza residents to be granted entry each day, though a senior Egyptian security official denied any quota had been imposed.

Egypt, whose interim military rulers had seemed keen to improve ties with the Palestinians, was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, in a treaty signed in 1979.

Israel has tightened a blockade of Gaza since Hamas, a group that refuses to recognize Israel, seized control there in 2007.

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Ahmadinajhad–”No tranquility in Mideast as long as IsraHell exists”

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AFP

 

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday repeated his assertion that there will be no tranquillity in the Middle East as long as Tehran’s archfoe, IsraHell, continues to exist.

”As long as the Zionist regime exists, if only on a small piece of land in Palestine, the region will not see tranquillity” he said to a crowd gathered at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on the eve of the 22nd anniversary of the revolutionary leader’s death.

”So all the people of the region shall move towards the disappearance of American domination in the region and the disappearance of the Zionist regime,” Ahmadinejad said in the speech, which was broadcast live on state radio.

The hardliner has drawn international condemnation for his vitriolic attacks on the Jewish state and his dismissal of the Holocaust as a “myth.”

Iran has not recognised IsraHell since the 1979 Islamic revolution and backs Palestinian and Lebanese militant groups fighting against the Jewish state.

Ahmadinejad in late May reacted to President Barack Obama’s landmark speech on the Middle East, dubbing the idea of the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as a “satanic plan” doomed to “fail.”

Obama said in the speech in mid-May that the borders of IsraHell and Palestine “should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognised borders are established for both states.”

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Zio-Nazi accused after Palestinian boys burned by mystery canister

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Military experts say unidentified devices found in West Bank may have contained outlawed white phosphorus

A second canister, discovered nearby less than a week later, was destroyed by the army in a controlled explosion

Zio-Nazi army does not deny leaving the devices, but would not identify them and suggested they were left over after training exercises. But the area where they were found does not feature on an army map of designated training areas and the canisters appeared new and unweathered.

Eid Da’ajani, 15, found the canister on 20 February, around 100 metres from his home in the village of Buweib, south of Hebron. The device, around 20cm (7.9 ins) long and 5cm in diameter, was lying in a scrubland where the boys were watching the family’s goats.
A metal canister found by Mohammed and Eid Da’ajani near their home. Photograph: Conal Urquhart for the Guardian. Eid showed it to his cousin, Mohammed, also 15, who said that it might be a bomb, but Eid picked at the tube’s foil-like covering, causing it to emit dense white fumes. The boys ran away but the gas clung to them and burnt their clothes, melting their shoes and burning their skin.

“The moment the smoke came. I dropped it, but the smoke followed us. When we escaped that’s when the pain started, ” said Eid.

Military experts consulted by the Guardian said the effect of the smoke was similar to that caused by white phosphorous but could not speculate on the nature of the devices from photographs alone.

One suggested that it could be chaff – projectiles fired from an aircraft to decoy enemy missiles – which had not ignited.

The use of white phosphorous in civilian areas is banned by the Geneva conventions yet it is often used by armies for marking and creating smoke screens. Zio-Nazi used white phosphorous in civilian areas during the Gaza war in 2008-2009 but stopped after international criticism.

Khalid Da’ajani, the boys’ grandfather said that 10 people in the area had been killed by discarded army bombs. “We knew it was the army [which left the cannister] but we had never seen anything like this. The burns seemed to spread along their bodies and all we could do was pour water on them which didn’t seem to help,” he said.

Both boys were taken to the local hospital in Yatta, but when contacted by Eid’s father the Israeli army showed little interest until told that there had been an explosion. Soldiers then questioned the boys and doctors eventually gave them an intravenous transfusion which eased their pain. The family’s request to receive treatment in an IsraHelli hospital was denied, but two days later, the boys were taken to hospital in Hebron where a team of visiting Italian doctors spent three hours cleaning their wounds.

The hospital report states that boys suffered first to second degree burns to their faces, hands, ankles and legs due to “the explosion of a foreign body”. They were then referred to a burns unit in Nablus, around 60 miles from their home, rather than to an Israeli hospital less than half the distance away.

But last week, Lo’ai, Mohammed’s younger brother discovered an identical canister not far from where the first was found.

He ran away and his family contacted the army. After inspecting the device, troops piled rocks and explosives around it before blowing it up.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Nazi army said: “The area under discussion served in the past as a training field and is no longer in use. The young men were treated on site by a military medical team. Because their injuries were light, they did not require evacuation to an Israeli hospital, and they were evacuated by the Red Crescent.”

Almost two weeks after the event the boys have stopped vomiting and suffering from headaches. Large parts of their skin remain bleached white and blistered. Both seem to be recovering but still find it hard to walk.

A spokesman for Physicians for Human Rights and  non-governmental organisation said that the incident represented a violation of the Palestinians’ right to the health by the Zionist army.

“Leaving bombs unattended on the lands of Palestinians where children and others spend most of their time is a violation of human rights. Worse, is the fact that the army denied these children a better treatment in Israeli hospitals despite the fact that they admitted it was a bomb they had left in the field,” the spokesman said.

Physicians for Human Rights have said that they have written to ask the army for answers about the incident and will take legal action with the family if the army does not explain how two of these dangerous devices appeared in village lands that are regularly frequented by children, adults and animals.

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Circumcision ban comic book shows ‘grotesque anti-Semitic imagery,’ ADL says

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‘Monster Mohel’ comic book is one of two titles in the ‘Foreskin Man’ comic book series created by the Male Genital Mutilation Bill group pushing to make male circumcision illegal in San Francisco.

Haaretz

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Friday strongly condemned a comic book created by supporters of an anti-circumcision movement in San Francisco, saying it contained “grotesque anti-Semitic imagery and themes.”

The “Monster Mohel” comic book is one of two titles in the “Foreskin Man” comic book series – which was created by the president of the Male Genital Mutilation Bill group and one of the leaders of the anti-circumcision legislation movement, which has succeeded in getting their controversial measure on the November ballot.

Nancy J. Appel, ADL Associate Regional Director said the book, which features identifiably Orthodox Jewish characters as evil villains, was “disrespectful and deeply offensive.”

“This is a sensitive, serious issue where good people can disagree and which the Jewish community feels is an assault on its values and traditions going back thousands of years and centered in the Hebrew Bible,” Appel said in a statement.

“It is one thing to debate it, is another thing to degrade it. ‘Foreskin Man,’ with its grotesque anti-Semitic imagery and themes, reaches a new low and is disrespectful and deeply offensive,” she said, adding that ” Some of the imagery calls to mind age-old anti-Semitic canards such as the blood libel, the accusation that Jews ritually murder Christian children.”

Mohels are those who are specially trained to perform the traditional Jewish male circumcision ceremony.

Supporters of the ban say male circumcision is a form of genital mutilation that is unnecessary, extremely painful and even dangerous. They say parents should not be able to force the decision on their young child.

If the measure passes in November, circumcision would be prohibited among males under the age of 18. The practice would become a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. There would be no religious exemptions.

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Gates: Even After Iraq & Afghanistan, U.S. Military Will Find Plenty to Do

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antiwar.com

Speaking today on National Public Radio (NPR), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates addressed soaring costs for the military, saying it is vital for them to get health care and other costs “under control” so they can continue to grow in the future.

Gates also said that even though he “hopes” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will eventually wind down, the US military “has never been at a loss in being told to find things to do,” seeing a number of potential conflicts on the horizon.

To that end Gates tapped three nations is likely targets for the ominous “things to do” list. Two were predictably Iran and North Korea, two nations he has often discussed attacking in public comments. The other was China.

Gates cited a “very aggressive weapons building program in China” as something for the military to address. Though officials have often presented China as an upcoming threat, it does not appear to be based on anything practical, and indeed the US military budget is still many times what their Chinese counterparts are.

 

Gates says war weariness, debt won’t deter US from widening military presence in Pacific Rim

AP

In a parting pitch to Asian allies, retiring U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon is considering steps to widen its military presence across the Pacific Rim. He said budget woes won’t interfere.

“America is, as the expression goes, putting ‘our money where our mouth is’ with respect to this part of the world – and will continue to do so,” he told Asia’s premier security conference, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, on Saturday.

On his final overseas trip before stepping down June 30 — and his seventh to Asia in the last 18 months — Gates insisted that Americans’ war weariness and debt worries should not be seen as setting the stage for a shrinking of U.S. commitments in Asia. On the leading sources of U.S. security concerns in Asia — North Korea and China — he made only brief mention.

But he did highlight a Pentagon commitment to developing ways of countering “anti-access” technologies of the kind that the U.S. says China is working on — advanced anti-ship missiles, for example, that could make it harder for U.S. aircraft carriers and other warships to operate in Asia seas.

On Friday evening, Gates met with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Liang Guanglie. Gates told Liang that he believes the military-to-military relationship is “on a positive trajectory,” after a series of setbacks in recent years.

.Liang said he agreed that defense ties are getting better and that they deserve still more attention.

The main elements of friction remain, however. China still claims control of waters the U.S. considers international. Chinese ambition for influence in Southeast Asia and elsewhere still makes smaller nations uneasy, while Beijing dislikes the heavy U.S. naval presence in Asian waters and builds up its military with weaponry only logically intended for use against the U.S.

A new irritant was introduced this week, with allegations that computer hackers in China had compromised the personal Gmail accounts of several hundred people, including U.S. government officials, military personnel and political activists.

The Chinese military tried to direct the spotlight off those allegations Friday, with accusations that the U.S. is launching a global “Internet war” to bring down Arab and other governments.

The FBI said it was investigating Google’s allegations, but no official government email accounts have been compromised. Google said all the hacking victims have been notified and their accounts have been secured.

U.S. officials said the Google matter did not arise in Gates’ meeting with Liang Friday.

In his speech Saturday, Gates said friends and foes gauging U.S. intentions should monitor more than the number of U.S. troops on the ground in Asia.

“In the coming years, the United States military is also going to be increasing its port calls, naval engagements and multilateral training efforts with multiple countries throughout the region,” he said. “These types of activities not only broaden and deepen our relationship with friends and allies, but help build partner capacity to address regional challenges.”

Gates offered two examples. He said the U.S. is considering a range of actions to strengthen military ties to Australia and the city-state of Singapore.

These include increasing the combined U.S.-Australian naval presence in the region to be able to respond more quickly to humanitarian disasters and expanding joint training with Singapore’s forces to help prepare for the “challenges both militaries face operating in the Pacific,” he said.

Gates also said the U.S. would deploy to Singapore a newly developed warship known as the littoral combat ship, which is a smaller combat vessel designed to operate close to shorelines rather than in the open ocean. They will not be home ported in Singapore but will operate there on occasion, according to a senior U.S. defense official who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity in advance of Gates’ speech.

“These programs are on track to grow and evolve further in the future, even in the face of new threats abroad and fiscal challenges at home, ensuring that that we will continue to meet our commitments as a 21st century Asia-Pacific nation – with appropriate forces, posture, and presence,” Gates said.

President Barack Obama on April 13 announced a plan to reduce defense spending by $400 billion over the next 12 years, and some in Congress — as well as some independent analysts — are calling for far deeper reductions. With an end in sight for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense savings are central to a broader effort to shrink government deficits.

Gates acknowledged a perception that the U.S. could turn more inward-looking as it grapples with budget deficits and other domestic problems.

“No doubt, fighting two protracted and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has strained the U.S. military’s ground forces and worn out the patience and appetite of the American public for similar interventions in the future,” he said. “On the domestic front, the United States is emerging from a serious recession with huge budget deficits and growing debt that is putting new scrutiny and downward pressure on the U.S. defense budget.”

And he said there are “still some myopic souls” who will argue that the U.S. cannot sustain its role in the Asia-Pacific area, given other high-priority security challenges such as uncertain democracy moves in the Middle East and North Africa, instability in Pakistan and global terrorist threats.

During a question-and-answer session with members of his audience after the speech, Gates said the U.S. and its allies fighting in Afghanistan will have to keep up military pressure on the Taliban in order to eventually reach a peace deal.

“The Taliban are probably a part of the political fabric of Afghanistan at this point,” he said, so they could have a political role in the future. But to get to the point of a possible negotiated settlement, the Taliban will have to “begin to conclude that they cannot win militarily, he said.

As a Pentagon chief and former CIA director who has served in government for four decades under eight presidents, Gates’ spoke with historical sweep of the ups and downs of America’s security policy in Asia.

“History’s dustbin is littered with dictators and aggressors who underestimated America’s resilience, will and underlying power,” he said. This fits a theme Gates has stressed in a series of speeches over the past several weeks as he prepares to give way to a new Pentagon chief, Leon Panetta, who is scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing June 9.

Gates, 67, recalled the searing failure of U.S. military intervention in Vietnam in the early years of his career, which began in the CIA in 1966. What happened in the years that followed offer a lesson in U.S. staying power, he said.

“Despite predictions to the contrary, America’s setback in Vietnam did not spell the end of our engagement in Asia – in fact, as I mentioned earlier, we pursued a new relationship in China and have been expanding our defense partnerships in the region, including Vietnam, ever since,” he said.

He predicted that the U.S. and Asia will only become more closely linked over the course of this century.

“Indeed, one of the most striking – and surprising – changes I’ve observed during my travels to Asia is the widespread desire across the region for stronger military-to-military relationships with the United States – much more so than during my last time in government 20 years ago.”

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NATO uses attack helicopters for first time in Libya air assault

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CNN

 

NATO used attack helicopters for the first time Saturday as part of its military operation aimed at increasing pressure on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

“The use of attack helicopters provides the NATO operation with additional flexibility to track and engage pro-Gadhafi forces who deliberately target civilians and attempt to hide in populated areas,” NATO said in a statement.

Military vehicles and equipment were among the targets struck by the helicopters. NATO did not disclose where the strikes took place.

On Friday, fighting continued in the western town of Yefren, where NATO-allied aircraft destroyed government tanks and personnel carriers, officials said.

NATO warplanes belonging to the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force fired Paveway guided bombs and destroyed two main battle tanks and two armored personnel carriers belonging to Libya’s military, said Maj. Gen. John Lorimer, strategic communication officer for the chief of the defense staff. The airstrikes occurred Thursday, he said.

NATO reported that government forces were continuing “to attack the peoples of the western highlands,” Lorimer said.

Meanwhile, rebels claimed to liberate Yefren and the nearby town of Kikla, both of which are about 25 miles east of their stronghold in Zintan, one rebel fighter said.

Talhat al-Jiwayli, a rebel on the front lines in Zintan, also said that anti-Gadhafi forces were surrounding the town of al-Rayyana, more than 7 miles northeast of Zintan.

Al-Jiwayli added that the situation on the ground was still tense, and the troops of Gadhafi were still firing daily barrages of Grad rockets on Zintan and surrounding villages.

In other measures against Gadhafi’s forces Thursday, NATO airstrikes hit four surface-to-air missile launchers near Tripoli; a tank, two armored personnel carriers and an ammunition storage facility near Mizdah; more ammunition storage facilities near Hun and Qaryat; two armored fighting vehicles near Sirte; and a command and control node in Brega and nearby radar, according to NATO.

The latest NATO strikes occurred two days after the alliance announced its decision to extend its mission in Libya by 90 days, continuing a campaign that began in March.

The resolution approved by the U.N. Security Council in March authorized member states “to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.”

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Iran not a nuclear threat, says Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh

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Rawstory.com

 

In an interview with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh warned that the United States’ “aggressive” sanction policy against Iran was aimed at halting a nuclear weapons program that does not exist.

“Clearly the sanction policy is aimed at trying to force Iran to change its foreign policy — not regime change, that’s not going to happen,” he said. “Bush might have been interested in regime change, Obama is not.”

Classified U.S. intelligence assessments and numerous other sources suggest that Iran’s nuclear program has been greatly exaggerated, according to Hersh. He noted that the two most recent National Intelligence Estimates on Iran’s nuclear program have not found any conclusive evidence that the country has pursued nuclear weapons since 2003.

“There is no evidence at all that they’ve done anything to weaponize,” Hersh said. “They are enriching, they are working on missiles, yes, but they have not done anything” to create an atomic bomb.

Hersh has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, five George Polk Awards, two National Magazine Awards, and a number of other prizes for his investigative reporting. In an article to be published by The New Yorker on June 6, he details his investigation into Iran’s nuclear program.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter

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Hi everyone,

Am not sure that I’ll have time to send more today, as there is to be a large (hopefully) demonstration this evening in favor of two states.  While I decidedly support the one-secular state for all, the implication of not participating this evening is agreement with maintaining the present situation, more colonization, land theft, and ethnic cleansing.

Hopefully the scene depicted below will not repeat itself in the West Bank.  It can’t in Gaza.  Due to Israel’s blockade of Gaza the people have no place to escape to.

Still hoping for better days.  Please keep up the good work that will help bring that into being.

Dorothy

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Haaretz ,

June 3. 2011


Port in a storm

The mass flight of Haifa’s Arabs remains one of the most contested events of the 1948 war. Yet despite strong evidence to support Arab claims, Israeli historians remain economical with the truth. Here’s the story they don’t want you to know.

http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/port-in-a-storm-1.365729

By Shay Fogelman

Two months ago, the Knesset passed the Budget Principles Law (Amendment 39 ), more popularly known as the “Nakba Law.” The ostensibly procedural clause is intended to prevent institutions that receive state funding from marking the “day of the catastrophe” – which is how the Palestinians refer to May 15, 1948, the day the British Mandate in Palestine came to an end.

Paradoxically, it is the determined attempt to erase the day from the Israeli-Jewish consciousness that has increased awareness of the Nakba among Jews. Recent months saw a surge in Internet searches for the word “Nakba,” according to Google Trends (which shows word-search patterns on the Web ). The index shows the usual yearly leap in English and Arabic ahead of May, but indicates an unprecedentedly huge increase in Hebrew this year. Clearly, the unusually large scope of events on Nakba Day last month contributed to the growing public interest and heightened the emotional content of the term – sometimes absurdly so. Two weeks ago, for example, MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union ) objected to the decision to hang a painting titled “The Citrus Grower” in the Knesset building. According to Eldad, the work is a “Nakba painting.” The painting, by Eliyahu Arik Bokobza, is based on a pastoral photograph taken in 1939, showing a rural Arab family dressed in traditional garb, with orange trees in the background. In his complaint to the Knesset speaker, Eldad wrote, “Why do you want to add an artistic expression by an Israeli artist with a twisted mind and afflicted by self-hate, who is calling the Arab lie the truth and thereby rejecting our truth?”

This year, the primal fear of the Nakba spurred an “appropriate Zionist response.” Since Independence Day, members of Im Tirtzu – an ultra-nationalist group – have been distributing a pamphlet called “Nakba Nonsense – The Pamphlet that Fights for the Truth.” In the course of 70 pages, the authors – journalist Erel Segal and Im Tirtzu co-founder Erez Tadmor – try to persuade readers that the Arabs, who view themselves as victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are actually the aggressors. It therefore follows that Israel, which is generally perceived as the aggressor, is actually the victim. In their words, the pamphlet “tries to fight the lies, and it prosecutes a war against the terrible falsehoods in whose name our enemies seek to undermine the just path of Zionism and prepare the ground for the destruction of the Jewish state.” The authors refer to the succession of lies they say they are refuting as “the myth of the Nakba.”

In the pamphlet’s second chapter, titled “The Abandonment – Haifa as a Case in Point,” the authors discuss what they call the lie of the “deliberate expulsion.” Drawing on the book “Fabricating Israeli History” by Prof. Efraim Karsh, they proceed to take issue with the so-called “new historians” – academics who question the conventionally-held Arab-Israeli narrative. According to the pamphlet, these academics are out “to spread the libel that the Jewish fighting forces perpetrated a series of brutal massacres in the service of a deliberate policy of expulsion and ethnic cleansing.” The authors conclude the chapter by describing the conquest of Haifa in the War of Independence as evidence that the Israeli side did not pursue any such policy and that “the Arab leadership bears responsibility for the results of the war and the refugee problem.”

It is not by chance that the authors chose the example of Haifa’s capture in April 1948 by the Haganah (the pre-independence army of Palestine’s Jews ), to rest their case. The events in Haifa are considered perhaps the most treacherous minefield in the history of the Nakba. Nearly every historian who has researched the period, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has tried to navigate his way through this field. Few have succeeded in reaching a firm conclusion without stumbling on one of the mines of mistaken interpretation. Many scholars have claimed that their predecessors failed to make it through. Despite a plethora of testimonies, documents and studies, the historical controversy has yet to be decided, and in the public debate each side often resorts to the case of Haifa to strengthen its case.

The facts and testimonies that Segal and Tadmor cite in their pamphlet are not new, nor do they contradict facts and data that have appeared in earlier works on the subject. But in the best tradition of political pamphleteering, they are presented selectively and one-sidedly, in order to support a predetermined narrative. Neither the pamphlet nor, still less, the chapter on Haifa, offer a true discussion or a balanced presentation of facts.

Segal and Tadmor traverse the Haifa Nakba minefield by means of leaps and bounds, refraining from dealing with facts or testimonies that might undermine the thesis they are propounding. In an era dominated by “narratives,” in which “truth” is considered relative, the method used by the authors to choose their sources might even be considered legitimate; in the Israel of 2011, it is certainly also legal.

“Even though the pamphlet is not an academic study, I consulted with many academics while working on it,” Tadmor says, in a telephone interview. “I chose to present the findings of Prof. Karsh and of other historians, such as Benny Morris, because they seemed to me to be reliable.” Segal too maintains that the pamphlet “does not purport to be an academic study. Each side is able to choose the studies it finds suitable. In the same way that Palestinian propaganda chooses to relate certain things it finds convenient, we chose to tell our truth. I accept Prof. Karsh’s study as scientific and reliable.”

The flight from Haifa

History cannot be treated as propaganda in the old-timer’s club in Haifa’s Wadi Nisnas neighborhood. For the dozens of local Arab residents who visit the club every day, the Nakba is a chapter in their personal biography. One of them remembers how Jewish troops expelled his neighbors at gunpoint; another describes how Haganah snipers shot at his father as he returned home from work; a third recalls the small bundle he carried while fleeing. All of them remember the fear they felt as helpless civilians, caught in the storm of war.

The stories they tell are on a minor scale. They describe small moments: Looks they encountered, experiences of defeat, humiliation and, occasionally, arbitrary abuse by Haganah fighters. Some of them spice their personal tragedy with humor, though the sadness in their eyes remains constant. The years have blunted the memory of all of them. In some cases the stories get mixed up and details from later periods are added.

By most estimates, 62,500 Arabs called Haifa their home before the War of Independence. Under the United Nations partition plan, they were to live in a mixed city as citizens of the Jewish state after the expiry of the British Mandate. However, rising tensions between the sides and a series of mutual acts of hostility prompted many Arabs to leave the city in the weeks before the British departed. Most of the leavers were affluent and many of them were Christians who were given aid and shelter by churches in the Galilee. By mid-April 1948, fewer than 20,000 Arabs remained in the city.

Like the Jewish residents, they too waited to see how things would develop. In the meantime they tried to maintain as normal a life as possible amid the violence. “Life in the city became intolerable at that time,” recalls Jamal Jaris, 90, in the Wadi Nisnas club, as he tries to explain why he fled the city a few days before it fell to the Jewish forces. “There were shots and bombs every day. No distinction was made between civilians and armed combatants. In certain parts of the city, especially in the Arab neighborhoods, everyone who walked in the street was exposed to snipers and machine guns.”

On April 21, the commander of the British forces in Haifa informed both sides that his troops were evacuating the city immediately, apart from the harbor and a few key roads that the army would need during the organized withdrawal in mid-May. That same night the Haganah launched an attack on the Arab neighborhoods. The Carmeli Brigade, which spearheaded the assault, enjoyed numerical and topographical superiority. Its troops were also better trained and better equipped and fought in a far more organized manner than the Arab forces. In less than a day, all of Haifa fell to the Haganah.

Indiscriminate shooting

It was a short battle and a crushing victory, in which the Jewish side sustained relatively few casualties. The Arabs put up only minor resistance. Haganah troops who searched the Arab neighborhoods after the battle were surprised to find so few weapons. A week later, the Haganah journal Ma’arakhot (Campaigns ) wrote, “The battle of Haifa will perhaps not be counted among the great city battles in military history.”

However, the Jewish victory spurred the panicky flight of most of the city’s remaining residents. “Haifa, third largest city of Palestine and evacuation port of the British Army, became a virtual Jewish stronghold tonight after a series of savage thrusts by Haganah, the Jewish army, won control of most of the city’s Arab areas and provoked a mass Arab exodus by sea,” the New York Herald Tribune reported. On April 23 the New York Times wrote: “Tens of thousands of Arab men, women and children fled toward the eastern outskirts of the city in cars, trucks, carts and afoot, in a desperate attempt to reach Arab territory until the Jews captured Rushmiya Bridge toward Samaria and Northern Palestine and cut them off. Thousands rushed every available craft, even rowboats, along the waterfront, to escape by sea toward Acre.”

The Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv wrote, “British harbor officials estimate that 12,000 to 14,000 Arabs left by sea and 2,000 to 4,000 by land. The Jewish and Arab numbers contradict one another. The Jews are trying to reduce the scale of the exodus. An official Jewish spokesman said that no more than 5,000 Arabs left. However, Arab leaders said that at least 20,000 left.”

“We were afraid.” That is the sole explanation – offered by another frequenter of the old-timers’ club, 85-year-old Chana Mur – for the flight of the city’s Arab residents. On the day the city was conquered, he says, he went to work as usual in the port’s customs division: “For hours we heard explosions and gunfire from the direction of the Arab neighborhoods. The Jews shot at the houses and sniped at people in the streets. There was a huge panic. I remember people saying they felt the world was turning upside down. The port remained the only safe place for Arabs. They were protected there by the British soldiers. Whoever was able collected a few things in a blanket or a knapsack and fled to the port. Our feeling was that we were running for our lives.

“I remember a young couple who, in the panic of fleeing, forgot their little daughter at home,” Mur continues. “They probably took some other bundle instead of her. She was found by the neighbor on the second floor. He heard her crying when he fled and took her with his family. Her parents eventually reached a refugee camp in Lebanon, and the girl was raised at [the neighbor’s] home in Acre. I later met her; she now lives in the village of Kababir in Haifa.”

Several history books published in Israel in recent years describe the flight of thousands of Haifa Arabs to the port on the day of the city’s conquest, and their departure by sea to Acre and Lebanon. The event assumes greater import and significance in the newspapers of the time and in various archives. Segal and Tadmor write: “On April 22, as Haganah forces moved toward the market, a mass flight of thousands was recorded.” They do not say what happened in the market, preferring instead to draw on Prof. Karsh’s thesis. “The Arab leadership,” they write, “urged the members of their nation to evacuate their homes, whether to clear the territory for the Arab forces or for propaganda purposes aimed at negating the legitimacy of the Jewish state.”

Another source the authors cite for their chapter conclusions is the book by historian Benny Morris, “1948,” (published in English in 2008 and two years later in Hebrew ). They write that Morris used to be a new historian “until he recanted,” and add that he is the most respected and serious member of the group. Morris has written about the Haifa conquest and mentioned the flight of the Arab residents to the port in several studies. In “1948,” he describes the events of April 22 as follows: “The constant mortar and machine gun fire, as well as the collapse of the militias and local government and the Haganah’s conquests, precipitated mass flight toward the British-held port area. By 1:00 P.M. some 6,000 people had reportedly passed through the harbor and boarded boats for Acre and points north.”

Morris sums up the reasons for the flight with these words: “The majority had left for a variety of reasons, the main one being the shock of battle (especially the Haganah mortaring of the Lower City ) and Jewish conquest and the prospect of life as a minority under Jewish rule.” However, in his first book, “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” (first English-language edition, 1987 ), which was written well before his “recantation,” Morris described the course of events in greater detail and shed a different light on them, quoting from a book by an Israeli historian: “The three-inch mortars ‘opened up on the market square [where there was] a great crowd … a great panic took hold. The multitude burst into the port, pushed aside the policemen, stormed the boats and began fleeing the town.'”

But this, too, is very much a partial description. Morris actually quotes from a book by Zadok Eshel, “Haganah Battles in Haifa,” published in 1978 (in Hebrew ) by the Defense Ministry. Eshel was a member of the Haganah and offers first-hand descriptions of many of the unfolding events in Haifa. Here is his account of the events of April 22 (note the words which Morris omitted and replaced by an ellipsis ): “Early in the morning, Maxy Cohen informed the brigade’s headquarters that the Arabs were using a loudspeaker and calling on everyone to gather in the market square, ‘because the Jews have conquered Stanton Street and are continuing to make their way downtown.’ Upon receiving the report, an order was given to the commander of the auxiliary weapons company, Ehud Almog, to make use of the three-inch mortars, which were situated next to Rothschild Hospital, and they opened up on the market square [where there was] a great crowd. When the shelling started and shells fell into it [the crowd], a great panic took hold. The multitude burst into the port, pushed aside the policemen, stormed the boats and began fleeing the town. Throughout the day the mortars continued to shell the city alternately, and the panic that seized the enemy became a rout.”

“That is a mistake,” retorts Ehud Almog, who was the commander of the auxiliary unit in the Carmeli Brigade’s 22nd Battalion. “It was not a three-inch mortar. They were Davidka shells” – referring to homemade shells which were renowned for the loud noise they made. Of the other details he says, “The historical description is correct. Absolutely true. I remember the events vividly. We were ordered to shell the market when there was a large crowd there. There were tremendous noises of explosions which were heard across 200 meters.” Almog adds that the shelling, which took place in the early afternoon, was short “but very effective.”

Like Eshel, Almog also says the mortars fired by his unit spurred a flight of civilians to the port. Although not an eyewitness to the flight, officers from Shai (the Haganah’s intelligence unit ) who were stationed near the port’s gates gave him a real-time account of events. Another testimony (quoted by Morris in “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” ) comes from a British soldier who was stationed in the port: “During the morning they [the Haganah] were continually shooting down on all Arabs who moved both in Wadi Nisnas and in the Old City. This included completely indiscriminate and revolting machine gun fire and sniping on women and children – attempting to get out of Haifa through the gates into the docks. There was considerable congestion outside the East Gate [of the port] of hysterical and terrified Arab women and children and old people on whom the Jews opened up mercilessly with fire.” (A truncated version of this quote also appears in “1948” – reduced to “completely indiscriminate and revolting … fire,” the ellipsis replacing the words “machine gun.” )

Beyond the moral issues that arise from firing into a crowded market, the testimony of Zadok Eshel, which is backed up by that of Ehud Almog, indicates that the attack was carried out by order of senior Haganah officers. How senior they were is not known. Not all the Israel Defense Forces archival material about this period is accessible to the public. It is therefore impossible to determine whether the shelling was part of a general policy aimed at expelling the Arabs, or one of several similar instances that were documented during the war.

Bodies in the streets

The shelling took place as Arab representatives were holding negotiations with Haifa’s Jewish leaders on the terms for a ceasefire. Most of the testimonies from the time suggest that the city’s mayor, Shabtai Levy, believed in coexistence. Many studies note that he urged the Arabs to capitulate and remain in the city. At certain moments this actually seemed possible. A correspondent for United Press Associations (UP) reported that, even though nothing official had been said, it appeared certain that the conditions laid down by the Jews had been accepted by the Arabs, at least in the main. Reportedly, the Arab Legion and the Iraqi volunteers had already begun to leave the city.

However, Haganah headquarters operated independently; even as senior officers kept abreast of the progress of the ceasefire talks, their forces continued to fire on Arab neighborhoods. A cable from Carmeli Brigade to Haganah headquarters at 2:30 P.M. on the day of the battle stated, “Arabs in Haifa approached the general, the mayor, seeking a mediator between them and the Haganah, to accept the ceasefire terms.” A copy of the agreement in English, as drawn up by the Haganah, was appended to the cable. The cable concluded, “Panic, flight among the Arabs. Resistance very feeble.”

The Haganah mortars harassed the fleeing Arabs. According to the Jewish force’s daily events sheet, the duty officer announced at 2:40 P.M.: “Three shells landed next to the gate of Port No.3. The shells are coming from the direction of the city’s Hadar Carmel section [i.e. from higher ground, on Mount Carmel]. Similar case occurred this morning and the [British] Army is threatening to attack Hadar with artillery if this does not stop.” In other cases, the British Army opened fire and scored hits on Haganah soldiers who had shot at Arab civilians.

At 3 P.M. the text of the agreement was resent, with several corrections inserted by the English general. Moshe Carmel, the brigade commander, reported to Haganah headquarters, “A joint meeting of Jews, English and Arabs will be held at 4 P.M. [today] to discuss the terms. We can assume that the Arabs will not accept them, because technically there is no possibility of an organized surrender.” Haganah headquarters responded, “As long as it is not certain the terms will be met, you must go on attacking.” The message concluded: “Be especially careful of a trap, in case the negotiations are [intended] to gain time.”

At 4 P.M., under the mediation of British officers, the two sides began to discuss the surrender and ceasefire terms. The Arabs requested more time for consultations. The sides met again at 7:15 P.M. The Haganah report stated, “The Arabs claimed they cannot fulfill the terms. Because the Arabs will not obey them [sic], they prefer to evacuate the city of Haifa completely of its Arab residents.” A Haganah intelligence report from the day of the battle relates, “There are signs that the Arab command in the city is falling apart. Arab headquarters have been abandoned. No one is answering the phone and there are reports that the commanders and their staff have abandoned Haifa. Exact numbers of enemy losses are unknown. The Arab hospitals are known to be filled with dead and wounded. Bodies of the dead lie in the streets, along with the wounded, and are not being collected because of disorganization and lack of hygienic means. There is great panic among the Arabs. They are waiting for an armistice to be signed and for the Jews to take over as a good development which will be their salvation. In the meantime, a report was received from an Arab source that they have accepted our armistice terms.”

Silence of the historians

In the Palestinians’ consciousness, the shelling of the crowded market in Haifa occupies a significant place in the history of the Nakba in the city. Sitting in the old-timers’ club in Wadi Nisnas, Awda al-Shehab, 87, says the shelling “had a great influence on the flight to the port. People gathered in the market to discuss the situation and the terms being proposed for a ceasefire. Historians tell us now that the [Jewish] mayor wanted the Arabs to stay and that after the war the Haganah did all it could to prevent the departure, but acts are far more weighty than words. And when the mortar shells landed in the heart of the market, the Arabs took this as the Jewish response to the ceasefire proposal.”

Similar claims were made 63 years ago. According to a UP report which appeared in Davar (the newspaper of the Histadrut labor federation ), the Arabs maintained that Jews had “violated the armistice in Haifa” and had created a “new wave of panic among thousands of Arabs” who were rushing to leave the city. Privately, the report continued, Jews admitted that during the battle and for some time afterward people lost their heads and there was some looting and shooting at civilians.

Over the years, some Israeli researchers tried to play down the significance of the shelling of the market. In his 2006 book “Palestine 1948: War, Escape and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Problem,” Prof. Yoav Gelber writes, “After several mortar shells fell in the vicinity of the market, where large numbers of Arabs had gathered, masses of people stormed the port, driven by fear of the gunfire and shelling.” However, Zadok Eshel says explicitly that the shells landed within the crowd. Gelber does not explain how he arrived at the conclusion that the shells struck only “the vicinity of the market.”

Gelber also ignores the testimonies of dozens of wounded Arabs who remained in the market after the mass flight. Most of the Palestinian researchers estimate that “several dozen were killed.” Haaretz reported after the battle that “a member of the Arab National Committee said that the Jews had killed a large number of women and children who had tried to flee to the Old City, to the British security zone in the port … Although the Jews denied the reports of heavy losses supposedly inflicted on Arab civilians, the Haganah spokesman said, ‘Even if that is what happened, we are not to blame, as we broadcast over the radio and over loudspeakers 48 hours before our attack a warning in Arabic, which we also distributed via leaflets, calling on the Arabs to evacuate the women and children and send everyone who is not from Haifa out of the city. We repeated that this would be our final warning.”

“An appalling and fantastic sight,” David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary after visiting the city’s abandoned Arab neighborhoods on May 1. “A dead city, a carcass city … without a living soul, apart from stray cats.” The empty streets were strewn with dozens of bodies of Arab civilians. Red Crescent units that collected them initially estimated their number at more than 150; three days later, they revised the estimate downward to 80 Arabs who were killed in the battles and several hundred wounded. According to the Red Crescent, only six of those killed were combatants and the majority of the bodies were of women and children.

Many bodies remained in the area of the shelled market. A Haganah intelligence report relates that at least ten bodies were found in the Ajami Cafe there. They were removed only after all the unexploded shells in the area were neutralized. The report added: “It is hard to know the number of losses as a result of the explosion on Nazareth Street in the house of Abu Madi, as not all the bodies have as yet been removed from the rubble. The house was packed with families who moved there from outlying areas.”

A few dozen Arab refugees remained in the port, waiting on the docks for boats to rescue them, fearful of returning to their homes. “The scenes in the port were pitiful,” Davar reported. “Women and children were without food and water for the past two days. The British say they cannot help very much, while the Arabs maintain that this is a deliberate step by the British in order to force the Arabs to return to their homes.”

In our conversation, the Arab old-timers in the Wadi Nisnas club often mention “coexistence” and “a state for two nations.” They take great pride in the deep, friendly relations they maintain with their Jewish neighbors; a few of them say they have been involved over the years in attempts to draw Jews and Arabs closer together. From their viewpoint, the Nakba is a historical fact which needs no confirmation or legislation. Nor, in their view, need it frighten or threaten the Jewish presence in the country. As Awda al-Shehab says, “Only after we recognize mutually the suffering that was endured by the two peoples will we be able to create a common future. That is the true key to coexistence. Without it, each side will continue to live in the past.”

When Golda cried

The commander of the Haganah in Haifa, Yaakov Lubliani, gave the following account of a visit to the city by Golda Meir, who at the time was a senior official in the Jewish Agency’s Political Department: “I suggested to her that we visit the Old City. She told me she did not want to see the ruins and the desolation. She wanted to visit an area where there were still Arabs. I took her to the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood. We came to Muchlis Street. We walked up some stairs. The apartments on the first two floors were abandoned. When we reached the third floor, an old Arab woman approached us, carrying some bundles. When she saw Golda she stopped and burst into tears. Golda stopped, looked at her, and tears streamed down her face. The two women stood there and cried. I looked at the weeping Golda and was angry at her. Although I did not dare chastise her, inwardly I thought: We are enthusiastic and happy because we have the upper hand, we eradicated the Arabs and you can walk around the city without thinking about gunfire and attacks, and she stands there, crying.” From “Haganah Battles in Haifa” ‏(1978‏) by Zadok Eshe

The importance of Haifa

On the day of Haifa’s conquest, the editor-in-chief of the Ma’ariv newspaper, Dr. Ezriel Carlebach, published an article explaining the city’s importance: “At this moment we are fighting for Haifa, which means we are fighting for the state. If we control Tel Aviv and the cities of the coastal plain we will still be only a canton, an autonomous area, a ghetto. If Haifa is ours, we will be a state.

“Everyone knows this. [Jordanian King] Abdullah knows that if Haifa is in our hands, he and Iraq have no outlet to the sea, and everything he will conquer from the western part of the land will be only an adjunct to the desert, not a gateway to the world. The English also know that if Haifa is in our hands, both the oil magnates and the naval strategists, both Whitehall and Wall Street and also Washington will have to take us into account, too, and not only the Arab oil kings. If Haifa is ours, the entire political and military picture will change. The whole fate of our state now hangs in the balance.” Taken from Ma’ariv, April 22, 1948

A ‘positive’ byproduct

A post-battle article in Davar headlined “The meaning of the victory in Haifa” stated: “We must also emphasize a byproduct. The thousands of Arab refugees who will arrive in a panicky flight in the Arab towns and villages are also a positive military element for us. Let us remember the millions of refugees in France and Poland during the German blitz, who blocked the advance of the army and sowed the seeds of defeatism and panic among their people and caused their everlasting defeat.”

Article in Davar,

April 25, 1948

The Arabs’ dilemma

Two Haganah intelligence reports about the situation in Haifa’s Arab neighborhoods were drawn up a week after the city’s conquest. An excerpt from the first report said: “Spoke today with a number of Muslims and Christians who remained in the city. They are extremely worried about May 15. On the one hand, they do not believe in the possibilities of an invasion of an Arab army from the neighboring countries; on the other hand, they are apprehensive that in the event of an invasion they will be in dire straits, as they have been informed that everyone who did not leave Haifa is viewed as a traitor and as having ties with the Jews. The situation has reached such a pitch that many who had thought to stay are now planning to leave the city during the week.”

The second report related: “Mr. Taharuna, the director general of the Spinni Company, said that all the Arab workers had left Haifa. They did not want to go, but apparently received an order from above. The workers said they would be back in another six to eight weeks.” Elsewhere, the report states: “The Arabs now in Haifa are desperate and do not know what to do − to go or stay? Most of those who are here are waiting to get their wages from the [British] government and then to leave, as every Arab who remains in Haifa is considered by the public to be a traitor to his people.”l

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State Department kicks can down the road on Israel’s crippling of Munib Masri

Jun 03, 2011

Philip Weiss

A case we’re following. Matt Lee of the AP again brought up Israel’s shooting of American citizen Munib Masri at the State Department yesterday, and Mark Toner said they’re aware of the case. Yes and the family is begging for American action. Where’s the action Jackson?

QUESTION: Did you – yesterday, I asked about this American —

MR. TONER: Yes.

QUESTION: — who was shot.  Do you have – have you managed to find anything out about him?

MR. TONER: Yeah.  We’re obviously aware of his case.  He doesn’t have – and you’re going to be thrilled at this.   He does not – he’s not signed a Privacy Act waiver, so we’re limited to what we can say.  But the consular personnel in Beirut are providing assistance in his case.  And obviously in any case of an injured U.S. citizen abroad, we’ll work to ensure that the individual in question receives appropriate medical care.

QUESTION: Can you tell me when he was given the opportunity to sign a Privacy Act waiver?

MR. TONER: Normally, in the first meeting, they would offer him the opportunity to sign.

QUESTION: Well, normally, but in this case?

MR. TONER: I don’t know in this case.  I haven’t talked to the people in Beirut.

White Shirts in Jerusalem cry ‘Butcher the Arabs’

Jun 03, 2011

Phil Weiss and Annie

What has Zionism done to Jewish identity? I ask that question a million times a day, but this video of Jerusalem day, June 1, is particularly poignant.

Celebrating the reunion of Jerusalem following the ’67 War, the demonstration is reminiscent of Freud’s father telling him about being attacked during the Hep-hep pogroms in 1819. Look at all these boys in their white shirts. Hear them shouting Muhammad is Dead! And spitting at a Palestinian compound. Giving the finger. And “butcher the Arabs… death to Arabs… May your village burn…” I’m trusting the translations. How deep in any people is the spirit of ethnic cleansing– and what licenses that spirit? How intractable is this conflict, and what can Americans be doing to wind these screwballs down? Thanks to Elly K.

Oh and Annie was on this last night. Her report:

Ynet reports the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement filmed right-wing activists chanting and singing inflammatory songs and slogans including “Muhammad is dead,” “May your village burn,” “Death to leftists,” and “Butcher the Arabs” while marching through East Jerusalem yesterday. English subtitles added to video.

Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan

Israeli extremists staged a racist march in honor of Jerusalem Day today, from the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The streets of East Jerusalem stood empty, save for the thousands of Israeli marchers, supported by Israeli troops, who chanted slogans against Arabs, Muslims and Christians. Phrases such as “death to Arabs” rung out. Right-wing extremists attacked a group of left-wing Israeli counter-protesters before Israeli police eyes, who did nothing to impede the assault. Three left-wing Israelis and one American protester were arrested by police. The American citizen remains in police custody.

(photos and captions provided by Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan)

Extremists in the streets of Jerusalem

Jerusalem streets empty save for marchers and military back-up

The march ends in front of the Wailing Wall

UPDATE: misquoted earlier post on Hep-Hep riots. Thanks to Joachim for correction.

Where is Congress/Obama on Israel’s crippling of American citizen Munib Masri?

Jun 03, 2011

Philip Weiss

I’m late on everything, including a report from the Nakba Day protests in Lebanon on March 15th that one of those struck by Israeli bullets– and maimed– is an American member of a prominent Palestinian family, Munib Masri, 22. Apparently he was paralyzed. And again I wonder, what are the consequences when Israelis strike American citizens who are protesting nonviolently? Nothing. Ask Emily Chloe Henochowicz.

Matt Lee of AP (I think that’s him) asks State Department spokesman Mark Toner about the case on June 1:

QUESTION: Just one briefly on the Middle East. Are you aware of the case of an American citizen named Munib Rashid Masri who was shot – allegedly shot in the back by Israeli troops during the Nakba?

MR. TONER: I’m not.

QUESTION: Okay. Apparently, he’s paralyzed now. He’s in a hospital in Beirut. His family has spoken to —

MR. TONER: When did this happen? I’m sorry.

QUESTION: It happened during the – two weeks ago during the Nakba day protests.

MR. TONER: Right.

QUESTION: Apparently, they’ve been in touch with the American Embassy in Beirut and have not gotten – not been happy with what they have heard —

MR. TONER: And just to clarify, he’s an American citizen?

QUESTION: I wouldn’t be raising it if he wasn’t.

MR. TONER: Okay. I’m sorry, I just didn’t hear that.

QUESTION: Yes, he is. So —

MR. TONER: I’ll look into it.

QUESTION: — if you don’t know, can you ask around on that?

MR. TONER: Yeah. I’ll look into it, Matt.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. TONER: Sure. Okay. Is that it?

His family describes the ordeal here. And here is young Masri’s facebook page. Here is Robert Fisk reporting on a visit to Masri in his hospital bed:

“I was angry, mad — I’d just seen a small child hit by the Israelis,” Munib said to me. “I walked nearer the border fence. The Israelis were shooting so many people. When I got hit, I was paralyzed. My legs gave way. Then I realized what had happened. My friends carried me away.” I asked Munib if he thought he was part of the Arab Spring. No, he said, he was just protesting at the loss of his land. “I liked what happened to Egypt and Tunisia. I am glad I went to the Lebanese border, but I also regret it.” …

He is, of course, lucky to be alive.

And I guess lucky to be an American citizen, much good did it do him. The U.S. embassy sent a female diplomat to see his parents at the hospital, Munib’s mother Mouna told me. “I am devastated, sad, angry — and I don’t wish this to happen to any Israeli mother. The American diplomats came here to the hospital and I explained the situation of Munib. I said: ‘I would like you to give a message to your government — to put pressure on them to change their policies here. If this had happened to an Israeli mother, the world would have gone upside down.’ But she said to me: ‘I’m not here to discuss politics. We’re here for social support, to evacuate you if you want, to help with payments.’ I said that I don’t need any of these things — I need you to explain the situation.”

Any U.S. diplomat is free to pass on a citizen’s views to the American government but this woman’s response was all too familiar. Munib, though an American, had been hit by the wrong sort of bullet. Not a Syrian bullet or an Egyptian bullet but an Israeli bullet, a bad kind to discuss, certainly the wrong kind to persuade an American diplomat to do anything about it. After all, when Benjamin Netanyahu gets 55 ovations in Congress… why should Munib’s government care about him?

Angry Arab is on the story, with an angle about the American University of Beirut:

An inside source at AUB tells me about a brewing political scandal.  Here is the story from my source:  “Munib Masri Jr., 22, grandson of Munib Masri, was shot in Maroon El Rass, lost his spleen and left kidney and injured his spine which might render him paralyzed for all his life! Prior to the incident, he was suspended for one year at AUB because of an incident that took place on campus. A few days ago, AUB President proposed to the University Disciplinary Committee  to cut down on the one year suspension and to readmit him if he will soon recover from his serious wounds. One of the committee members, P. Lewtas (my guess is that he is…), sent the email below to the Committee members including the President and Provost. It is nauseating and the strange thing, no one to my knowledge has responded to his email!”

Glasnost– Clemons to ‘Atlantic,’ Goldberg from ‘Atlantic’ to ‘Tablet’

Jun 03, 2011

Philip Weiss

This is interesting, Steve Clemons of New America Foundation has a big new media job at the Atlantic. And Jeffrey Goldberg is leaving that shop.

Atlantic Media Company president Justin Smith announced today that Steve Clemons has joined The Atlantic as Editor-in-Chief of AtlanticLIVE [this seemslike their thinktank] and Washington Editor-At-Large for The Atlantic.

Clemons is notable lately for helping to organize a letter to Obama from 50 f.p. notables, including Andrew Sullivan, Peter Beinart, a lot of realists and Walt and Mearsheimer and Mike Desch, urging him not to veto the UN Security Council resolution opposing settlements. Futile gesture. But resonant.

Goldberg is taking his column to Tablet, the Jewish site. Kinda like where he started, the Forward. A coup for Tablet. Writes Goldberg today, with insight:

I think we’re entering a period of huge disruption in the relationship between America and Israel, and between American Jews and Israelis, and I want to be able to focus on these conflicts in an intensely granular way, inside the Jewish community. Tablet is the most exciting Jewish publication I’ve seen since I worked, in the previous century, at the Seth Lipsky-led Forward, and it is becoming the hub of the worldwide Jewish conversation.

Oh by the way here is Desch on Sarah Palin’s bling: “She looks like a Zionist Run DMC, who used to wear an oversized Mercedes hood ornament.”

Dagan says, grab the Saudi initiative (of how many years ago?)

Jun 03, 2011

Philip Weiss

There’s that line that history is like a horse running by the window and you have to jump out on to it when you have the chance. Well the Saudi Peace Plan is some years old, some of the dictators are gone; also it was said that Arafat was the last Palestinian leader who could actually have summoned his people to a two-state solution. Not to be a rejectionist. But who in Israeli society would accept this, and who in the Israel lobby?Sydney Morning Herald, from the guy who said Israel had decided long ago not to go after Iran:

JERUSALEM: A former chief of Israeli intelligence, Meir Dagan, has urged political leaders to embrace the so-called Saudi peace initiative under which Israel would withdraw to its 1967 borders and give East Jerusalem back to the Palestinians.

In a forthright contradiction of the position of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that a withdrawal to 1967 borders posed an unacceptable security risk, Mr Dagan said Israel ”must present an initiative to the Palestinians”.

Obama is driving a wedge with settlements, in the American polity

Jun 03, 2011

Philip Weiss

More evidence of my theory that Obama is trying to drive a wedge with the Netanyahu/1967 line talk and that he thinks he can keep the Democratic base even as he alienates Netanyahu; here is Gene Lyons, a Democratic partisan if ever there was one, saying at Salon that Obama has outflanked Netanyahu politically. Not that this will make any difference in the end, not that Obama’s parameters are meaningful; but the politics are interesting.

President Obama got a big laugh when he addressed AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) three days later. “Since questions have been raised,” he said, “let me repeat what I actually said on Thursday — not what I was reported to have said.”

Obama didn’t have to say by whom. Everybody understood. Interrupted by frequent applause, he repeated America’s commitment to Israel’s security and to the peace process. Netanyahu wound up looking like a chump. Regardless of the reaction in Tel Aviv, his cheap grandstanding play didn’t hurt Obama at all with American supporters, while marking Netanyahu as a clumsy opportunist not to be trusted.

You’d think they’d learn.

Arabopedophobia (Massad on Obama’s views of Arab children)

Jun 03, 2011

Philip Weiss

Joseph Massad at Al Jazeer (h/t Samel):

The number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers in the first intifada (1987-1993) was 213, not counting the hundreds of induced miscarriages from tear gas grenades thrown inside closed areas targeting pregnant women, and aside from the number of the injured. The Swedish branch ofSave the Children estimated that “23,600 to 29,900 children required medical treatment for their beating injuries in the first two years of the intifada”, one third of whom were children under the age of ten years old. In the same period, Palestinian attacks resulted in the death of five Israeli children. In the second intifada (2000-2004), Israeli soldiers killed more than 500 children with at least 10,000 injured, and 2,200 children arrested. The televisedmurder of the Palestinian child Muhammad al-Durra shook the world – but not Israeli Jews, whose government concocted the most outrageous and criminal of stories to exonerate Israel. In the Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008, 1,400 Palestinians were killed, of whom 313 were children.

This exhibition of atrocity is not simply about regurgitating the history and present of Israel’s murder of Arab children for the past six decades and beyond – a history well-known across the Arab world – but to demonstrate how obscene Obama’s references to Jewish children are when he insists to Arabs that they must show sympathy with Jewish children, without ever enjoining Jews to show sympathy with the far larger number of Arab children killed by Jews. But Obama himself shows no sympathy with Arab children. Had he attempted to mourn the Arab children who fell and fall victim to Israeli violence at the rate of hundreds, if not thousands, of Arab children to one Jewish child, Arabs might have forgiven him this indiscretion…

In his speech to Congress, Prime Minister Netanyahu correctly diagnosed the situation on the ground. He declared: “Our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state.” It is the establishment of a Jewish settler colony that the Palestinians must accept to ensure a future for Jewish children and terminate a future for Palestinian children. Indeed it is precisely the refusal of Arabs to adopt Arabopedophobia that is the biggest impediment to peace in the region. Obama hopes that a Palestinian bantustan could limit the threat that Palestinian children constitute to the nightmare that is “the Jewish and democratic state”. He recognises that the world can no longer claim to support universalism while endorsing Israel’s right to discriminate against non-Jews. In his AIPAC speech, he said as much when he told Israel’s lobby that the entire world, including Asia, Latin America, Europe (and he could have added Africa, which he inexplicably excluded) and the Arab World can no longer tolerate Israel’s institutionalised racism; that America in fact stands alone with Israel today.

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