Archive | June 24th, 2011

Report: Naziyahu adviser in Egypt to discuss suspected Zio-Nazi spy



French media reports Netanyahu adviser Isaac Molho will meet Egypt’s FM in order to discuss Gilad Shalit as well as Ilan Grapel, the American-Zionist  spy.


French media reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s adviser Isaac Molho had arrived in Cairo for talks with senior officials about Gilad Shalit and about the accused Israeli spy being held in Egypt.

According to the reports, Molho is meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi and other senior officials to discuss the case of Ilan Grapel, the American-Israeli who stands accused of spying in Egypt on behalf of Israel, a claim which Israel denies.

The prime minister’s office has refused to respond to the reports.

Since details about Grapel’s detainment and identity were first leaked, Arab media has reported widely varying stories, including one saying that Grapel had intended to get to Libya after stopping in Egypt.

Last week, diplomats from the Israeli embassy in Cairo met with Grapel and with officials from Egypt’s public prosecutor, in order to get more information on the status of Grapel’s detainment.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that Grapel is in good condition and that Israel will continue to work for his immediate release.

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Zionist Apple removes ‘Third Palestinian Intifada’ app at Zio-Nazi request



Zionist minister demanded computer giant cancel application alerting users of upcoming events and features pictures of martyrs.


Computer giant Apple removed an application called the “The Third Palestinian Intifada” from its App Store for iPads and iPhones, CNN reported Thursday.

Earlier this week the company had authorized an application, which updates users on upcoming protests, features articles critical of Israel and pictures of martyrs.

“We removed this app from the App Store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people,” Apple spokesman was quoted in a statement.

The Arabic-language application, developed by a Dubai-based company, was released on June 15, and was still available Wednesday for free download from iTunes.

Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Public Affairs and the Diaspora, who recently successfully lobbied to remove a Facebook page of the same name, sent a letter to Apple founder Steve Jobs called on Apple to carry out the “immediate removal” of the application, “and thus continue the tradition of Apple applications dedicated to purely entertainment and informative purposes and not serve as an instrument for incitement to violence.”

“From browsing through the articles, stories and photographs that appear in the app, it is clear that this is an anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist application that in fact, as its name suggests, calls for an uprising against Israel,” Edelstein wrote.

Edelstein went on to describe the Facebook page that he said was created by the same group behind the new application. “The Facebook page called for an uprising against Israel through a violent struggle, and included severe incitement.”

Gal Ilan, a spokesman for the Public Affairs Ministry which sent the letter Tuesday, said Wednesday that the ministry believed the letter would have the desired effect.

Facebook confirmed last March it removed the “Third Intifada” page. The company’s European and Middle Eastern policy director wrote Edelstein that it was Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg who asked him to take down the page.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



Courageous Alice Walker to take part in flotilla in face of thuggish State Department warning

Jun 23, 2011


and other news from Today in Palestine:

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

Israel calls demolition report ‘incorrect’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — Israel’s Civil Administration lashed out Wednesday night, calling a rights group report “incorrect and misleading,” in its claim that home demolitions had spiked alarmingly in 2011. Israeli rights group B’Tselem had published a document saying more homes had been demolished in the first six months of 2011 than in the 12 months of the year before.
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IOA orders destruction of Jerusalem home
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 23 June — An Israeli court issued a ruling Wednesday in favor of destroying the home of Wael al-Razem in the Wadi Yasul neighborhood of Jerusalem’s Silwan district, claiming the home was built without license. The family of eight, most of whom are children, was given until the middle of July to evacuate.
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Israeli soldiers shoot, severely beat Palestinian
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 June — Israeli police are detaining Palestinian man Ahmed Ali Mahmoud, 36, in Shaare Zedek hospital west of Jerusalem, despite his injury with live bullets and bruises to his head after an assault by Israeli soldiers yesterday in Al-Issawiya town in Jerusalem. Mahmoud’s family said his condition is stable after he  was shot with a live bullet in his leg, and that he is suffering from wounds and bruises to his face, yet Israeli police continue to bind his hands and feet.
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Jerusalem Arab housing plan blocked by political right
IMEMC 23 June — A plan to build 2,500 Arab housing units in East Jerusalem was stopped by right-wing pressure groups and Haredi city council members on the grounds that it was “politically dangerous” and “poorly conceived.” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had proposed a construction plan for 2,500 houses on private land in southern East Jerusalem. The vote was canceled on Monday because it was clear that it had no chance of passing.
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High Court rules Be’er Sheva mosque to be used as Islamic museum
Haaretz 23 June — Court rules that the mosque won’t be able to be used for prayer, but rejects Be’er Sheva municipality request to turn it into a [general] museum. A petition on the issue was submitted to the court by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel in 2002. The petition requests that the mosque be once again used as a house of worship, which it was until the War of Independence in 1948 … The struggle to have the mosque used for prayer has been going on since the ’70s, but the municipality has continuously refused the request — announcing instead their intention to turn it into a museum. Muslim residents of Be’er Sheva as well as Bedouin living nearby have been prevented from praying in the mosque, despite repeated requests to do so.
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Jordan Valley families left homeless
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 23 June — “The big soldier wouldn’t speak to me. He just said ‘This is my job, sit down and shut up’,” the newly homeless Ralia Darraghmeh, a diabetes sufferer in her sixties, said of the one of the crew who had come to demolish her home Tuesday morning.  She was sitting alone, crying, in Khirbet Yarza, a tiny Bedouin hamlet, as her tin home was taken down by order of Israel’s Civil Administration, which governs planning and permit issuing in the 60 percent of the West Bank categorized as Area C under the 1993 Oslo Accords.
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Activism / Solidarity

IDF takes down Bil‘in fence
Ynet 22 June — Three and a half years after Supreme Court ruled fence was illegal, IDF begins to take down controversial barrier … The length of fence set to be removed from Bil‘in is 2.7 kilometers long. The new route which is set to replace the existing fence is 3.2 kilometers long, mostly a cement wall, due to the proximity to Modiin Elite and fears of gunfire from the Palestinian side at Israel. The new route will mean that 700 dunums of land will be given back to the Palestinians, but the fact that 60% of the lands were expropriated to begin with means that the conflict still stands.
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Video: Israeli army begins dismantling the Wall in Bil‘in
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Israeli court sentences Palestinian teen to 6 months
WAFA 23 June — An Israeli court in Ofer military camp near Ramallah Monday sentenced Amjad Abu Rahmeh, 15, from the village of Bil‘in to six months in prison after it found him guilty of participation in the weekly village demonstration. Abu Rahmeh had been in detention for four months before the court had passed its sentence.
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Soldiers attack nonviolent protest near Ramallah
Ramallah – Ghassan Bannoura – PNN Exclusive 22 June — Israeli soldiers attacked on Wednesday a non-violent protest organized by the villagers of Deir Qadis, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah … Nilli settlement was constructed in 1984 by the State of Israel, on land that belongs to local farmers from Deir Qadis. Recently, the Israeli state decided to confiscate 125 acres of land from local farmers to expand Nilli. Today, protesters managed to stop bulldozers from working, at which point a private security guard fired live rounds at them while Israeli soldiers fired tear gas. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation, while tear gas bombs caused a fire that damaged nearby olive crops and farmlands … Yesterday, villagers of Deir Qadis held a similar protest at the same location which the Israeli troops attacked with tear gas, causing fires that almost reached people’s homes.
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Netanyahu: Israel to toughen conditions of Palestinian prisoners
Haaretz 23 June — Prime minister announces that Israel will stop giving benefits to terrorists such as enrollment in academic studies, says ‘the celebration is over.’
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Rights group: Israel’s minor prisoners must be given broader attention
RAMALLAH, (PIC) 23 June — The inhumane conditions of Palestinian minors held in Israeli prisons must be given broader attention, said the Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights. This came in a report the rights center issued on Wednesday after it dispatched its legal expert for a visit to Israel’s Rimonim prison where she met with several minors. During the interview, the minors expressed strong discontent of the length of delays in court hearings, particularly those who expected to receive light sentences.
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8 detained by Israeli in overnight raids
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 June — A young Palestinian from Madama village south of Nablus was one of eight detained during overnight raids Thursday morning, the Israeli military said. Head of the Madama village council Ihab Al-Qit said soldiers detained Asadallah Wajih Al-Qit, 21, after raiding his house in the village. The other seven have not yet been identified.
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Red lights across district in memory of prisoners
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June — Traffic will grind to a halt as traffic lights switch to red for five minutes at noon on Thursday across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to a call by the Prisoners Center for Studies. The action is in support of all ill and aging Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, and is part of an effort to promote the issue among leaders from a popular level. Center director Ra‘fat Hamdoona said more creativity must be channeled to raising awareness of the situation of prisoners, as weekly protests in front of the Red Cross headquarters have become a “routine that needs to be changed.”
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Hamas rejects Red Cross demand to prove Shalit is alive
Reuters 23 June — Hamas spokesman says the aid group should focus on ending the suffering of Palestinian prisoners instead of getting ‘involved in Israeli security games’ to reach the captured IDF soldier.
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Gaza’s children march against child labour
[photos] MEMO 23 June — On Wednesday, children marched in the streets of Gaza to draw attention to their internationally recognised rights which are being violated with the on-going siege. They demanded recognition of their right to education, to live without fear for their lives and to have a decent standard of living enjoyed by children elsewhere. A large number of Palestinian children in Gaza drop out of school due to hardships brought on by the five-year blockade of the territory. Many have been forced to enter the job market in factories because of the high cost of living and loss of family members who had been the main breadwinners.
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Israeli navy targets Gazan fishing boats
Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph) 23 June -Israeli occupation navy opened massive fire yesterday at Palestinian fishing boats off the shore of Rafah city in the south of Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported. Local sources said that Israeli navy opened fire at Palestinian boats near Rafah shore forcing many fishermen to leave the sea. There are nearly 3500 Palestinian fishermen who are exposed to daily attacks and harassments from Israeli gunboats
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The first government school for the deaf opens in Palestine
Gaza – Osama Awad – PNN Exclusive 22 June — The first government school for deaf people was opened in Gaza today … In a phone call with PNN Abu Shaqer said that the ministry has been looking for years to build this school, adding that this is the first high school that will enable deaf people to finish their basic education rather than leaving school after the 9th grade, as conditions were previously.
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300 loads of goods set to enter Gaza via Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June — Israeli crossings officials said they would permit 300 truckloads of commercial goods, humanitarian aid and limited construction materials into the Gaza Strip on Thursday.
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Hamas: Israel will not end siege; flotilla should sail
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June — Hamas urged organizers of the Freedom Flotilla II to push ahead with plans to sail to Gaza and break Israel’s siege “despite threats,” a statement from the party’s spokesman said Thursday. The party gave its endorsement to the convoy of 10 international ships, saying it considered them as acting within the law in their attempt to break a siege that international rights groups and UN missions have called illegal. Speaking for the party, spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the flotilla – which plans to sail during the last week of June with a cargo of aid and activists – was essential, since Israel had demonstrated that “it never keeps its promises regarding the lifting or easing of the blockade” on Gaza.
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US: Don’t go to Gaza by sea
Ynet 23 June — The United States updated a travel warning urging Americans to refrain from traveling to the Gaza Strip by sea and emphasizing risks, including a possible 10-year travel ban to Israel.
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UN envoy says Israel ready to intercept Gaza-bound flotilla
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 23 June — Israel is prepared to intercept a flotilla seeking to breach Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, the country’s UN ambassador warned Thursday. “Israel is determined to stop the flotilla,” UN envoy Ron Prosor said, as preparations were underway for about 10 ships to embark later this month to Gaza to protest the longstanding Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.
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Author Alice Walker to take part in Gaza flotilla despite US warning
Haaretz 23 June — The celebrated poet and novelist wrote a special piece for CNN, outlining her intention to bring letters to the people of Gaza ‘expressing solidarity and love.’ … Her letter goes on to talk about the brave “followers of Gandhi,” and the “Jewish civil rights activists” who stood side by side with blacks in America’s South and places her current “mission” within this context. . 
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German Left Party bars MPs from joining Gaza flotilla
BERLIN (JPost) 23 June — The German Left Party earlier this month issued a resolution prohibiting its Bundestag deputies from participating in the Gaza Flotilla slated for late June and intended to break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Billed as a resolution that would end the criticism that the Left Party is fundamentally anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, the resolution failed to impress the head of Germany’s Jewish community
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Knesset: Zoabi sanctions proportional
Ynet 22 June — Measures aim to stop Arab MK from participating in ‘illegitimate’ activities, Knesset legal advisor says … The Knesset decided in July to take away Zoabi’s diplomatic passport, restrict her travel abroad and stop covering her legal fees. The measures came in response to the Knesset member’s participation in the Gaza-bound flotilla in May of last year, and her trip to Libya.
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Racism / Discrimination

TA kindergarten to reject migrant kids
Ynet 23 June —  A new kindergarten in Hatikva neighborhood in Tel Aviv has declared that it will have at least one classroom that will not accept foreign workers’ children, municipality sources said. The move is unprecedented in Israel. Residents were pleased, as was Gal Sharabi, chairman of the neighborhood committee.
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Israel policy myth #2: Separation between Arabs and Jews is not racist / Roi Maor
972mag 23 June — …Outright racism against Palestinians and Arabs is quite common and widespread in Israel, and it goes beyond animosity generated by the century-long conflict between the two groups. Three-quarters of Israeli Jewish high school students believe that Arabs are not cultured, uneducated, unclean and violent. 69 percent believe they are not smart. Sadly, these beliefs are at least tolerated by the Israeli Jewish establishment. Racist comments by public officials may be condemned by prominent figures, but the racists remain on the state payroll. These attitudes have not resulted in separate lunch counters or water fountains … Nonetheless, Palestinians and Jews in the territories under Israel’s control live largely separate lives, this separation is maintained through official polices, it is invariably discriminatory towards Palestinians (usually grossly so) and in many cases, feeble excuses notwithstanding, their motivation and intent is clearly racist.
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Jerusalem mayor’s choice of woman deputy could mean clash with Orthodox coalition
Haaretz 22 June — …Over the last few days, the threats and counter-threats being hurled by both sides have been escalating. According to city council members, Barkat said he would fire any existing deputy mayor who votes against the appointment. The Haredim, for their part, have threatened to dismantle the municipal coalition.
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International abduction

Wife of kidnapped Palestinian sues Ukrainian president
KIEV (MEO) 23 June — The wife of a Palestinian who mysteriously vanished from a Ukrainian night train and resurfaced in an Israeli jail has begun legal action against the Ukrainian president, her lawyer said Thursday. Veronika Abu Sisi filed a suit at a Kiev court on Wednesday accusing President Viktor Yanukovych of inaction in the case of her husband, Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi, who is accused of terrorism in Israel, her lawyer said
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Political / Diplomatic / International news

Israel PM agrees to return to 1967 borders
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to peace talks based on 1967 borders on the condition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and solve the Palestinian refugee issue outside of Israel’s borders, Israeli daily Maariv reported today. Netanyahu announced the position to US presidential Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, and acting envoy for the Middle East David Hale, both of whom Netanyahu met with last week, the Israeli paper said.
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Israel surveys support for Palestinian state
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — Israel’s foreign ministry estimates under two-thirds of UN member states will recognize a Palestinian state declared in September, and is launching a campaign to keep the number down, Israel Radio reported Thursday. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed his department to survey the 192 countries in the United Nations, and send Israeli parliamentarians to nations who are yet undecided, the broadcast noted. The study said 118 nations would support the bid. On Wednesday, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon denied that there was any Israeli move to undermine Palestinian diplomatic efforts to gain recognition, in an interview with Ma’an television. However, Ayalon told Israel Radio on Wednesday that trends of mass diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state had been stemmed.
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Ashton: Lieberman not able to undo Oslo Accords
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said Israel’s foreign minister could not undo the Oslo Accords in response to a Palestinian statehood bid at the UN, in an interview with Israeli daily Haaretz published Thursday. “I’m not sure that it’s up to him to declare that Oslo is void really,” Ashton said, adding, “I don’t accept that Oslo is void, [if] so, it would be a different world.” … Referring to the Palestinian UN bid for statehood, she mentioned in [the interview] that “it will depend very much on what the resolution says as to how the international community in general, and the EU in particular, votes…”
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Palestinians easing demands for settlement freeze
(AP) 23 June — A senior Palestinian official said the Palestinians [the PA?] are ready to drop their demand for a complete settlement freeze to get peace talks with Israel back on track …  He spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decisions have been made.
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Hamas candidate: Palestine more important than PM
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June — Independent lawmaker in the Palestinian Legislative Council Jamal Khudari, told Ma‘an Thursday that he is not seeking a political post and will be the first one to congratulate any Palestinian prime minister chosen by consensus … “Personification of the Prime Minister issue is a dangerous matter and is rejected and harms the national conciliation” he told Ma‘an.
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Fatah: Hamas violating unity deal
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 June — A Fatah spokesman accused Hamas Thursday of being responsible for the current stall in the unity agreement process, and said the Islamist party’s preferred candidate was chosen for “factional reasons.”  Speaking for Fatah, Ahmad Assaf said the candidate Hamas was supporting for the role of prime minister in the new unity government was “away from the interests of the Palestinian people.” … “Jamal Al-Khudari is from Gaza and part of the Muslim Brotherhood which means he is with Hamas” and not an independent candidate as mandated under the Egyptian brokered deal.
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Council of Europe Assembly head: Palestine may be partner
STRASBOURG, France (AFP) 22 June — The Palestinian National Council could this year gain “partner for democracy” status at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Strasbourg-based body said Wednesday. The assembly’s Turkish head, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, speaking as Morocco gained the same status, said he hoped that “during our next session (in October) we shall also be able to grant the Partner for Democracy status to Palestine and that other countries will soon apply”. The Council introduced the new status last year to strengthen cooperation with parliaments of non-member states that wish to participate in debates that transcend European borders.
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Sha‘ath: Armenia supports Palestinian state
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 June — Armenia will be supportive to the Palestinian people’s demands of freedom, independence and statehood, says Nabil Sha‘ath, member of Fatah’s central committee. In a statement following a three-day visit to Armenia where he met with the Caucasian country’s minister of defense Edward Nalbandian and other officials, Sha‘ath said he discussed the Palestinian plan to gain UN support for statehood.
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Sources claim Hezbollah prepared to open front with Israel to relieve pressure on Syrian president
IMEMC 23 June — Israeli newspapers Haaretz and JPost are claiming that the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah are gearing up for possible action against Israel in the case that Syrian leader Bashar al Assad’s position comes under significant threat, according to sources close to the movement.
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Other news

Apple pulls ‘3rd Intifada’ app
Ynet 23 June — Apple Inc announced that it has removed an application called the “The Third Intifada” from its iPads and iPhones App Store. “We removed this app from the App Store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people,” an Apple spokesman said in a statement.
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Palestine one goal away from making history
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 June — The Palestinian Olympic Team hosts its Bahraini counterpart Thursday in a first ever World Cup qualifying match on Palestinian land, in Faisal al-Husseini stadium in Jerusalem. The game comes in the second leg qualifications for the 2012 London Olympic cup. The match is a historic one for Palestinians as it is the first to be held in Palestine after its recognition by FIFA as a home state. The Palestinian Olympic team has worked hard to secure a win which would enable it to qualify for the third leg of the Olympic cup.
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US Consulate General welcomes Al Kamandjati’s ‘Orchestra Ramallah’ for Jerusalem concert
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 June – Forty young musicians from refugee camps, villages, and cities throughout the West Bank traveled to Jerusalem on June 22, 2011, for a special concert performance sponsored by the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem. Al Kamandjati Association’s “Orchestra Ramallah” performed at Al Hakawati Theater in East Jerusalem as a part of its annual Music Days Festival. The youth orchestra consists of young Palestinians whose love of music inspires them to participate in Al Kamandjati’s rigorous after-school and intensive summer musical training program in Ramallah and throughout the West Bank.
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‘Traitor’ sprayed on left-wing activist’s car
Ynet 23 June — Unknown elements vandalized a car belonging to Hadar Alexander, 31, a left wing activist, in Jerusalem on Thursday. The car’s windows were smashed, its tires punctured and the word “traitor” was sprayed on the hood.
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Minister Dan Meridor, why are you appealing a bill to include protest activity in the definition of terror?
Haaretz 23 June — ‘We in Israel have created many beautiful things, but one of the most successful systems, in the face of which most of the world stands dumbfounded, is the Israeli judicial system.’
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Israel proves that Flotillas work

Jun 23, 2011

The Free Gaza Movement

Israel’s announcement of authorization for construction materials for 1,200 homes and 18 schools in Gaza is the latest achievement by the Freedom Flotilla, scheduled to sail next week.

In the weeks leading up to the flotilla, Israel has taken a number of steps to try to address the concerns raised in the public eye by the Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human initiative. However organizers say that these steps are symbolic at best, fall far short of Israel’s obligations under international law, are insufficient to meet the needs of Palestinians in Gaza, and are fundamentally designed to maintain the occupation and system of control that Israel exerts over Palestinian lives. Ultimately, these measures fall short of the greatest test – that of freedom for Palestinians.

In addition to the authorization of a limited amount of construction materials, Israel has also recently permitted 19 trucks of medicine to be delivered by Palestinian sources from the West Bank to Gaza. This was in response to an emergency announcement from health authorities in Gaza that crucial medicines had run out due to Israel’s illegal blockade. Prior to that, Israel increased the number of aid trucks entering Gaza to between 210 and 220 per day. However, this still falls 35% short of what is required by Gaza Strip residents.

The pattern developing shows that as the sailing date of the Flotilla nears, Israel is increasing efforts to allow humanitarian goods into Gaza, including previously banned reconstruction materials. This proves three important things: (1) the Flotilla is effective in generating changes, even if they are insufficient, on the ground; (2) the ‘normal channels’ for delivering aid exist, but are useless without pressure on Israel to allow them to function; and (3) Israel’s standard excuse for preventing reconstruction material into Gaza is rendered baseless, given the approval to allow 1,200 homes and 18 schools to be constructed.

Even as the Freedom Flotilla welcomes this latest achievement and proof of the necessity and effectiveness of the Flotilla tactic, we also reiterate that our effort is not simply about delivering humanitarian aid. The goal of the Flotilla is not aid; it is freedom for Palestinians in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. As such, there are no ‘established channels’ for freedom – there is only one – an end to the Israeli occupation.

Flotilla preparations continue apace, buoyed by the support of people around the world. Next week Freedom Flotilla 2: Stay Human sails for Gaza; our destination is freedom.

Learn more about The Free Gaza Movement here.

Miko Peled, the General’s son

Jun 23, 2011


Miko Peled’s grandfather was a signer on Israel’s Declaration of Independence, and his father was General Matti Peled, one of the Zionists who planned and executed Israel’s most definitive military victories in 1948 and 1967. In the following interview with Alternate Focus Peled talks about his book The General’s Son, from his evolution as an Israeli that was raised on the Zionist ideal of a Jewish state to his reality today. Miko’s words speak truth to empower.

I know how hard it is for many Jews and Palestinians to let go of the dream of having a state that is exclusively “our own.”  ..For the good of both nations, the Separation Wall must come down, the Israeli control over the lives of Palestinians must be defied so that a secular democracy where all Israelis and Palestinian live as equals be established in our shared homeland.

This is a powerful interview. View it, share it. And for those of you with hardcore Zionist relatives please pass it on.

(At a meeting of the General Staff after the Six Day War, Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin was beaming with the glory of victory. But when the meeting was nearing its end, my father raised his hand. He was called on, and he spoke of the unique chance the victory offered—to solve the Palestinian problem once and for all. For the first time in Israel’s history, we were face to face with the Palestinians, without other Arabs between us. Now we had a chance to offer them a state of their own in the West Bank and Gaza. He claimed with certainty that holding on to the West Bank and the people who lived in it was contrary to Israel’s long-term strategy. Popular resistance to the occupation was sure to arise, and Israel’s army would be used to quell that resistance, with disastrous and demoralizing results. It would turn the Jewish state into an increasingly brutal occupying power and eventually into a bi-national state. This was nothing short of prophetic as today we live this exact reality. As he was saying this, the future leaders of the Intifada (the Palestinian uprising) were still lying in their cradles.)

His words were ignored, his claims brushed aside and instead, blinded by their newly gained access to places with mythical/biblical names like Hebron and Bethlehem, Shilo and Shcem Israeli leaders began a massive settlement project to settle Jews in the newly conquered land. A few years later my father called on Israel to negotiate with the PLO: The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). He claimed that Israel needed to talk with whoever represented the Palestinian people, the people with whom we shared this land. He believed only peace with the Palestinians could ensure our continued existence as a state that was both Jewish and democratic.) Now, all these years later people talk of creating a Palestinian state in the WB but that option no longer exists.


Arab LGBT Movement: “We are not victims in need of a white male savior working in London…”

Jun 23, 2011


Arab queer activists have a voice and they will not water down their political voice to appease Western LGBT movements.  What I learned from the “Amina” hoax is that Western audiences will only embrace Arab gay movements if those movements attempt to mimic Western gay movements.  “Amina” was popular because her writing appealed to white audiences, she dabbled in erotica, she wanted to bring the Castro to Damascus and she was at best lukewarm on Israeli apartheid.  While that may be good for pieces of fiction, I prefer the real voices of real Arab queers–who are not on the radar of the mainstream media and who’s real issues will never focus prominently on NPR or anywhere else.

Thanks to Benjamin Doherty from Electronic Intifada for bringing to my attention a piece by Mideast Youth on (which Scott Long also critiqued in his recent piece in Mondoweiss). The statement below takes to task for their pinkwashing of Israeli apartheid, rejection of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and their refusal to take a stand on the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

Que(e)rying the Israel-linked a statement by Arab queers

Part I – Delineating Differences

As queer Arab activists working on the ground in several countries in the Middle East, our initial disagreements with were political in nature. But rather than respond to them or engage in dialogue with us, resorted to playing the victim and shrugging off those concerns.’s disingenuous response to what it sees as a “smear campaign” against it not only obfuscates the legitimate reasons many queer Arab activists take issue with its work, but also presents lies so blatant that a simple Google search is enough uncover the truth. It is duplicitous to claim that pointing out’s extensive ties to Israel is more dangerous than those ties themselves and its lack of transparency about them.

In its response, claims that the campaign against them began after they voiced skepticism over the disappearance of Amina Arraf, when in fact the tense history between and local activists existed long before that and centered around four issues:


LGBT organizations and activists in the Arab region have always approached requesting foreign intervention very carefully, and it has been the topic of much debate both within activist communities and between them and international organizations that have come to understand the complexities involved and possible backlash that such action would entail.

Meanwhile, seems to have an open door with the UK Foreign Office and do not think twice about asking them to intervene at any given opportunity. These issues were raised with by several people, but they refused to engage.

Co-option of queer Arab voices

While perhaps not as vile as Tom MacMaster, operates on the same principle: White men speaking on behalf of queer Arabs and white men as gatekeepers of queer Arab voices. We are not victims in need of a white male savior working in London, nor do we need a conduit for our poor brown oppressed voices to be heard in the West, which seems to be’s intended audience.

Over the past few years the region has seen an enormous upsurge of progressive queer activism, from North Africa to the Levant and the Arab Gulf. Much of this work is being done quietly on the ground, from lobbying parliamentarians to organizing support groups, establishing solidarity networks, working with local civil society organizations, and publishing in various forums both online and off.

MacMaster’s deception brought many issues to the fore, and the least interesting are the stories has been plugging about how, contrary to what MacMaster has portrayed, gays are actually really oppressed. Perhaps more relevant in this context is an honest discussion about how to do solidarity work in a way that is respectful of people’s lived realities. That includes knowing what the limits of solidarity are, especially when you are outside the community you claim to care about, and when you occupy a position of privilege.

Both MacMaster and Littauer have chosen the wrong path; they have both put themselves front and center, the former by actually deceptively adopting the persona of a queer Arab woman, and the latter by acting as a spokesperson and gatekeeper for queer Arab voices with a direct line to the Western media.

It is unnerving that has one white name, one white face, and a handful of nameless, faceless Arab queers behind it. One of the articles listed by as being part of a “smear campaign” is actually a discussion about the depoliticization and orientalist tropes evident in much western (and Israeli) gay activism, including’s. Disagreement and critique for are tantamount to smears, which in itself says a lot.


Pinkwashing aims to sell Israeli racism, colonialism and apartheid as democratic and gay-friendly. This happens through bifurcation: On one hand, Israel, and especially Tel Aviv, are represented as cosmopolitan and LGBT, queer and trans-friendly places. At the same time, war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories and racist discrimination against Palestinians living in Israel are being euphemized and “pinkwashed”.

The use of LGBT rights in particular is not a coincidence: separating “gayness” from other forms of oppression and hiding behind claims of being apolitical serves this function perfectly. Ideology almost always calls itself non-ideological. Issues of racism within LGBT organizing have long been a source of tension between activists in the Global North and South, particularly as activism becomes more and more transnational and networks of solidarity are built across borders.

The idea that LGBT rights take precedence over other rights need not be stated outright: by claiming that LGBT rights and activism are apolitical, and by refusing to address these issues head on and recognizing that they are interconnected, that principle is made apparent.’s particular pinkwashing was first addressed here. If is indeed against pinkwashing as they claim they are, then it would have paid attention when Arab and Palestinian queers took issue with their supposedly “neutral” manner of reporting. Instead, it chose to ignore the questions raised completely. And again, they were characterized as “smears”.

Violations of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign against Israel claims that it does not have a position on any particular solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fair enough – no one has ever asked it to comment on the right of return, the settlements, Jerusalem, or two-states vs. one state, and no one has held it to task for that. What was criticized for was its rejection and violation of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign to end the Israeli occupation.

As a “fair”, “honest”, and “apolitical” reporter on news in the Middle East, why did not even report on the very loud global call to boycott Jerusalem World Pride in 2006? If they are simply an apolitical news site, this would at the very least qualify as news. have failed to report all subsequent queer call to boycott or news related to it such as the disinvitation of the official Israeli delegation to the Madrid pride parade – one of the largest in Europe –  following Israel’s attack on the Gaza flotilla. They did however report on everything else surrounding Pride in Israel.

Far from being “neutral” and “apolitical”, have taken very clear political stands – ones that privilege gay rights over Palestinian rights. has also patted itself on the back forsponsoring “Arabs of neighboring countries to participate in the march” in Tel Aviv, a clear and blatant violation of BDS. What is even more upsetting about the political stands that has taken is its refusal to admit that it has taken them.

That is the background of the problematic relationship between and many queer Arab activists, which it is very aware of and chose to completely bypass in its response. Far from being “smears”, these are legitimate political issues taken up by many activists in the Global South.

However, ignoring these critiques is not even what is most disturbing about’s response: the very blatant and sloppy lies it has presented about its extensive ties to Israel is cause for much concern. Being Israeli itself is not a crime, yet have gone to great lengths to deny these ties precisely because it knows that what it is doing, and has been doing since its inception, is dangerous.

Continue reading here.

J.J. Goldberg uses Bob Dylan to make a perfect argument for the cultural boycott of Israel

Jun 23, 2011

Yaniv Reich

A series of recent discussions in my life (with very well intentioned people) have focused on whether cultural boycott of Israel is perhaps a bit too extreme of a position. Doesn’t it just run the risk of alienating Israelis and making them less likely to make sacrifices for peace and justice?

The problem with this question is its framing. In my reading, Israelis are far too comfortable with the status quo and will never make any sacrifice or question their tribalist and commonly racist ideology without increased incentives to do so. And one of the primary ways Israelis are made to feel comfortable is by their (largely erroneous) self-image as a modern “Western” democracy, which includes, among other things, gay pride parades and visits from prestigious internationals.

Today, JJ Goldberg captures this argument about normalization to an immaculate degree today in The Forward. It really is one of the finest arguments forcultural boycott I have ever heard:

If you’re one of those people who tries to follow the news out of Israel, late June probably found you feeling anxious about the impending launch of the next Gaza protest flotilla. You’re worried about a repeat of the May 2010 fiasco, when the Israeli navy boarded a Turkish protest ship to enforce Israel’s Gaza blockade and ended up killing nine Turkish citizens. You’re saddened and angry about Israel’s growing isolation, and hoping its navy gets it right this time.

If you actually live in Israel, on the other hand, there’s a pretty good chance your thoughts were focused on Bob Dylan. You might be one of the 25,000 people who paid to hear him June 20 at Ramat Gan stadium outside Tel Aviv and left feeling confused, annoyed, cheated and perhaps wondering why, after the fiasco of his last appearance in 1993, he couldn’t get it right this time. And, yes, saddened and angry about Israel’s isolation. Fans expected Dylan, the maverick moral voice, spiritual seeker and sometime Chabadnik, to show some sign of love. What he gave was a flat, mechanical performance, 15 songs and then back to the airport without so much as a hello or goodbye, leaving Israelis as alone as before.

Mind you, there’s a part of Israel that revels in isolation, believing it is meant to be, in the Torah’s words, “a nation that dwelleth apart.” For most Israelis, though, it’s a source of mounting dismay. Most Israelis believe their country is unfairly blamed for a conflict that isn’t their fault. They pack their sons off in uniform, worry about rockets and bus bombs and then read that their leaders have been indicted for war crimes and international rock stars are canceling local appearances in protest. Sometimes it feels as though the very walls are closing in.

When celebrities do show up to perform, therefore, it’s more than just a night out. It’s an affirmation that Israel is still part of the world.

Obviously, JJ Goldberg thinks this a fine thing. But for anyone concerned with Israel’s reckless, continuous program of ethnic cleansing and apartheid in service of 19th century ideals of ethnic purity, then this statement is one of the best arguments for cultural boycott you are likely to find.

This post originally appeared on Yaniv Reich’s blog Hybrid States.

‘We recognize neither the legality, nor the morality, nor the wisdom of the walls between us’: Israeli academics endorse civil disobedience campaign against Israeli entry laws

Jun 23, 2011

Adam Horowitz

The following press release offers an update on the Israeli civil disobedience campaign to illegally transport Palestinian women and children into Israel to enjoy the beach. Although many Palestinians living under occupation live just miles from the Mediterranean, Israeli law prevents them from traveling freely. These actions were inspired byreporter Ilana Hammerman who planned the first of such trips and wrote about it in Ha’aretz. The press release follows:

300 Academics Join 40 “Civil Disobedience” Women Willing to Break Israel’s Entry Laws

About 300 lecturers and teachers from institutes of higher education throughout Israel have signed a public advertisement in support of civil disobedience actions of a group of women who openly infringe the law of entry to Israel. The academics put their full names in an advertisement which was published in Ha’aretz newspaper last Friday, 17 June 2011, next to an advertisement – the third in recent months – published by the women’s group called “Civil Disobedience”. (For the advertisement itself, see attachment.) The women, who have all been investigated by Jerusalem police and who now have official criminal records, called for the Israeli public to join them in their protest activity which consists of driving Palestinian women and children for a day at Israeli recreational sites and the beach. These actions come in the wake of writer and translator Ilana Hammerman’s initiative, who started publicizing such activities last year.

“We recognize neither the legality, nor the morality, nor the wisdom of the walls between us and our neighbors which have been erected with brute force,” stated the group in its advertisement.

Alongside the women’s statement, a support letter from the academics appeared, including the following words:

We, the undersigned women and men, state that we are willing to collaborate with the actions of the “Civil Disobedience” women. In these dark hours, we are willing to drive their guests, Palestinian women and children, to hide them and to support their challenge in any other way, whether in deeds or in words. The action of these women shows the right way for any Israeli citizen who truly supports a democracy respectful of human rights. Should Israel’s legal system find it appropriate to prosecute and penalize these women we shall be willing to support them, to join them and to be tried alongside them.

Seeing Fateh’s flag, and the Palestinian flag, in the Gaza Strip

Jun 23, 2011

Philip Weiss

Helena Cobban has a long, moving account of her visit to Gaza at her site, Just World News. An excerpt:

One first fruit of the May 3 [unity] agreement: As you drive along the Strip, within or through the sprawling cities, towns, and heavily built-up refugee camps that cover most of its surface, you often see Fateh’s distinctive, bright yellow pennants raised high over residential blocks. Yes, Hamas’s green flags still strongly out-number them. But the green flags have been flying longer and many now have a slightly grungy look to them.

The choice of flags has been a key decision made within all the popular uprisings that have made up the Arab Spring. In both Tunisia and Egypt, participants in the mass demonstrations made a point of carrying only their respective national flags on the demonstrations, leaving their party affiliations at home. Back in late February, after Mubarak’s toppling, young social activists in Palestine decided that they wanted to organize a mass popular action. Their main slogan was “The people want an end to the division.” Not surprisingly, as they organized for what they designated their #mar15 action in both the West Bank and Gaza, they argued strongly that participants should carry only the Palestinian flag.

In both Gaza and the West Bank, the status quo powers viewed the young people’s activism as posing a worrying challenge to their own control, and the ruling powers in both territories moved swiftly to co-opt and dominate the movement.

Brilliant young Palestinian blogger Sameeha Elwan, a recent graduate of the Islamic University of Gaza’s English-language program, blogged movingly about the dismay she felt when she saw many participants in the Gaza City march carrying Hamas flags as well as Palestine’s four-color emblem.

She wrote,

    I could see nothing but the Palestinian flag, hear nothing but Palestine’s name, I could not but be totally involved as everyone else who like me were chanting, walking proud, holding up their Palestinian flag, their voice at its highest, their hearts hopeful for a unity that this demonstration proved every Palestinian, regardless of his favourite colour, is eager to have back… 

    Amidst the beauty of the scene rose that unusual green flag tied to the Palestinian… [H]onestly, I think of it as an absurd attempt to prove the Hamas presence while none has denied them the right to. The demonstration was aimed at calling to end division. It aimed not at ending the presence of any party.

In Gaza, Hamas’s well coordinated mass organizations easily outnumbered the intentionally non-partisan demonstrators on March 15. Prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas luminaries came to the city center’s Square of the Unkown Soldier to address them. The independents moved elsewhere to continue holding their notably smaller demonstration.

In the West Bank, meanwhile, the pro-Fateh security forces succeeded in limiting access to Ramallah’s Manara Square to only a small proportion of the would-be demonstrators. A low-level Fateh official addressed the crowd, coming hand-in-hand with a Hamas official. But soon after the speeches the Palestinian gendarmerie cleared the square, fearing that if the protesters stayed too long their movement might, as in Tahrir Square, gain momentum.

Since March 15, there have been few signs of the Palestinian “youth” movement undertaking any further similar demonstrations. But the leaders of Hamas and Fateh had both gotten some important messages: from the March 15 action; from the pro-reconciliation diplomatic activism of Egypt’s new government; and also– in the case of Fateh, whose leaders have long pinned all their hopes on getting some real from Washington in pushing for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian lands– from the evident failure of that strategy, including the derailing of that previously long-running (but never arriving) roadshow, the “peace process.”

Amb. Michael Oren dishes out anti-fotilla ‘marching orders’ in private Jewish Federation call

Jun 23, 2011

Max Blumenthal

On June 22, the Jewish Federation of America’s new, multi-million dollar “Israel Action Network” hosted a conference call with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. The call was an urgent response to the flotilla preparing to cruise towards Gaza in order to challenge Israel’s maritime blockade of the destitute coastal strip. David Sherman, the vice chair of the Federation’s board of trustees, introduced the new initiative and Oren’s involvement in it as a key to combating Israel’s “delegitimization.”

Throughout the call, Oren seemed more concerned about the Arab Spring, Israel’s relations with Turkey, and the Palestinian unity arrangement than the upcoming flotilla. He opened his remarks by launching into a fast paced survey of the myriad regional threats Israel supposedly faced, then explained how the state would tamp down on each one:

Egypt – Oren was convinced that the only parties that are poised to win upcoming elections are “well funded, well led extremist movements.” Presumably he meant the Muslim Brotherhood. But the Egyptian army’s stance reassured Israel. “The army has been telling us that they have every intention of maintaining Camp David and that there will be no substantive change in Egypt’s foreign policy,” Oren said. Israel’s biggest concern at the present moment was attacks on gas pipelines in the Sinai Desert, which Oren claimed were being carried out by Bedouins to extort protection money. He said that Israel’s gas supply was only at 2/3 capacity, forcing it to import environmentally hazardous coal.

Syria — Oren expressed frustration with rumors that Israel was urging a “go slow” approach to the Syrian revolt against the Assad regime. He referred indirectly toan article by Jerusalem Post military correspondent Yaakov Katz (he did not cite Katz by name, but was clearly pointing in his direction) claiming Israel’s military and political establishment would quietly support Assad because he was “the devil we know.” Complaining about Assad’s recent failures to keep the Israeli occupied Golan frontier quiet (Oren misleadingly described it as “Israel’s border”), Oren claimed that “no one in Israel will shed a tear” if Assad is gone.

Iran — Oren claimed Israel possessed intelligence showing that Iran had enriched uranium past the 20 percent level. “The 90 percent dial where they can develop nuclear grade material is a short leap,” he said. He went on: “We are in communication with the Obama administration about another round of sanctions. They are effective; they have taken a major chunk out of Iran’s economy, resulted in high inflation and high unemployment. This is a direct result of sanctions, but they have not had a big impact on nuclear program — we haven’t seen that yet. So in the next round the administration will announce various designations this week that will impair [Iran’s] ability to import and export oil; that will hurt transportation and the airlines of Iran. It promises to be quite painful. Throughout, the policy of the State of Israel and America remains that all options are on the table to prevent Iran from developing nukes, the policymakers in Iran believe us when we say that. Look at Gaddafi: he was convinced by a credible military threat from the United States to stop developing nuclear weapons.”

Turkey — Israel’s greatest source of friction with Turkey, according to Oren, was Turkey’s demand that Israel formally apologize for killing several of its citizens on board the Mavi Marmara last year. “We’re trying to find some language to satisfy them that holds up to the unwritten constitution of the democratic state of Israel,” he remarked. He said Netanyahu had congratulated Erdogan for preventing the Mavi Marmara from sailing with the new flotilla. “The Marmara was too large and we couldn’t stop it with technical means,” said Oren, suggesting that the cruise boat’s exclusion from the upcoming fleet to Gaza was a source of great relief to both Israel’s military and diplomatic corps.

The new flotilla — Oren attacked the organizers of the flotilla as “radical anti-Israel organizations…known also for anti-American activities.” He cited statements by the US State Department and UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon criticizing or condemning their actions. Then Oren claimed that the flotilla could simply deliver its aid through a “responsible organization” like UNRWA, or bring their materials through El Arish and allow Israel to offload it. “It’s not a fight between us and the people of Gaza,” Oren claimed. “It’s between us and the group Hamas which is determined to destroy the state of Israel.” (Never mind this Israeli government document). He went on to claim that Israel’s maritime blockade was “in full accord with international law,” though he did not explain how besieging a civilian population that was not actively engaged in a full-scale war against Israel comported with the 4th Geneva Convention or the San Remo Accords.

Next, Oren proudly announced that Israel had tentatively authorized an aid shipment to Gaza containing construction materials for 1200 new buildings and 18 new schools (UNRWA officials were skeptical that the aid would actually arrive as Israel said). The timing of the shipment and Oren’s promotion of it suggested that the flotilla had already made an impact. Would Israeli authorities have authorized the aid in without outside pressure? Whether or not they would have, Israel was seeking to extract as much propaganda value as it could from its agreement.

The Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood — The ambassador seemed far more troubled about the Palestinian Authority’s plan to introduce a statehood resolution at the United Nations General Assembly in September than about any other issue. Oren suggested that Israel would attempt to force the Palestinians back to the negotiating table in order to keep them away from the UN. In other words, the peace process would be Israel’s tool for blocking Palestine from winning statehood on a unilateral basis. In this effort, Oren described Dennis Ross, the White House special advisor on Middle East affairs, as Israel’s ally.

“We are working closely with the Obama Administration in trying to find a common framework that would enable the European Union to support negotiations in the framework to get them back to negotiations and keep them away from General Assembly,” Oren commented. “Dennis Ross is in Israel today conducting negotiations so we have reasons for some optimism. But we have to prepare for the worst. [With the statehood resolution] we are preparing for various scenarios of unrest in the West Bank, further attempts by the P.A. to use their improved status to delegitimize israel a la Goldstone type initiatives. Netanyahu has been meeting with the Italian government about this, and they are working tirelessly. And he is working closely with the Canadians who are very supportive.”

When Oren finished his remarks, the administrators of the call allowed time for a few questions. One caller asked Oren what Jews in the United States could do about the flotilla. “Stress that there’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the border is open for all materials, there is no shortage of food or medicine, and that our maritime blockade is upheld by the United States as completely legal and necessary for Israel’s defense,” Oren said.

Before I could ask a question about the legality of Israel’s siege of Gaza, Martin Raffel, the director of the Israel Action Network, came on the line to conclude the call. “I want to echo [what Oren said],” Raffel remarked. “Our role is not to be passive observers. We have to shake the public discourse so we’re sending message points and program guidance to everyone involved. And we hope you have some marching orders for when you go back to your communities.”

This post originally appeared on Max Blumenthal’s bloghere.

Israel’s future weapons unveiled in Paris

Jun 23, 2011

David Cronin

For the past few years, Ehud Barak has generally visited arms fairs in Paris during June to help drum up business for Israel’s weapons-makers. The exception was 2010, when the international outcry over the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla prompted the defense minister to cancel his trip.

Barak’s annual routine has now been restored. He was in France once again this week to cut the opening ribbon for the Israeli pavilion at this year’s Paris Air Show. His trip follows the announcement that Israel’s weapons exports were worth $7.2 billion in 2010, a growth of $300 million over the previous year.

Predictably, hacks working for the business and “defense” press were happy to regurgitate the promotional material pumped out by Israeli exhibitors in Paris.

Rafael, a Haifa-based firm, must be especially pleased with the attention devoted to it. In a fawning feature published by Aviation International News, Rafael signalled it is adapting well to these times of austerity. Ilan Biran, the Rafael chairman, said he is running a “boutique” firm, which is hoping to benefit from the increased willingness of countries to share military technology, rather than to rely on domestic suppliers, in order to lower their defense spending.

Like the state of Israel itself, Biran has been able to depict his firm as both tiny and terrifying. The “boutique” Rafael has teamed up with the American behemoth Raytheon to develop David’s Sling. This “air defense missile system” – likely to replace Hawk missiles already in Israel’s arsenal – is making its debut in Paris. Rafael is also being lauded as the innovator of the Iron Dome system. Reportedly capable of intercepting rockets such as those fired by Hamas into southern Israel, Iron Dome has become a useful tool in Israel’s never-ending propaganda war.

Another big draw in Paris is the new medium-weight laser-guided bomb (MLGB) from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Though only 253 pounds in weight, these sound obese compared to the  22 pound nano-satellites that IAI is working on.

It is surely obscene that the display of weapons that may well be used to kill Palestinians and attack other countries in the future elicits no criticism in the press. How can journalists specialising in “defense” really know so little about the realities of war that they faithfully regurgitate the canard that Israel’s weapons are designed to minimise “collateral damage”? When was avoiding harm to civilians ever on Israel’s agenda?

David Cronin’s book Europe’s Alliance With Israel: Aiding the Occupation is published by Pluto Press.

Site news: Introducing Mondoweiss’s new home

Jun 23, 2011

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz

logoWe have great news: As of today Mondoweiss is a project of the Center for Economic Research and Social Change. CERSC is a great fit for us because the Center is fearlessly dedicated to ideas that are outside the mainstream. With the help of Anthony Arnove, it is best known for its pathbreaking publishing arm, Haymarket Books, which has published Omar Barghouti, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Wallace Shawn, Amy Goodman, Dennis Brutus, Amira Hass, and Ilan Pappe, among others.

The CERSC partnership ends our two-year relationship with the Nation Institute. We are grateful to the Institute for helping us to establish ourselves and grow in the years after the Gaza conflict, and for helping to publish our book on the Goldstone Report. We are especially thankful to Hamilton Fish, the former director of the Nation Institute, for his vision and bravery in bringing us in.

We expect great things of this partnership. CERSC has intellectual courage, it is used to daring thinking, and it will help us to get to the next level, both in substance and influence. This is a day of celebration for us because we are gaining an enthusiastic partner, with whom we hope to grow and learn. Soon we’ll announce a fundraiser to launch the relationship– today we’re popping corks.

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Of course the war against Libya is about securing oil

Posted: 23 Jun 2011

And yet most in the corporate press prattle about human rights and “humanitarian intervention”.

Yes, Gaddafi is a brute but that’s nothing new. “Saving civilians” is the catch-cry of those backing NATO action.

But a close examination of Wikileaks documents and more honest reporting shows that Libyan oil nationalism was deeply worrying Western governments and multinational oil companies.

Hence, a bombing was justified on spurious groundsMedialens examines the evidence.

Israel struggling with that narrative thing

Posted: 23 Jun 2011

Joseph Dana in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian:

In the wake of the Arab Spring, Israel is starting to lose its edge in convincing the international community that the conflict is simply about peace and not rights. Palestinian demonstrations on Israel’s borders and checkpoints have highlighted the sea change taking place.

US official; we love the internet (as long as views approved by State Dept)

Posted: 23 Jun 2011

Let me get this straight. A web evangelist, working for the US government, admires the ability of the internet to assist Arab revolutions and compares its power to Che Guevera, a man the establishment regards as a terrorist.

I guess backing real freedom in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is a bridge too far for this real lover of democracy:

Hillary Clinton‘s senior adviser for innovation at the US state department has lauded the way the internet has become “the Che Guevara of the 21st century” in the Arab Spring uprisings.

Speaking at the Guardian’s Activate summit in London on Wednesday, Alec Ross said “dictatorships are now more vulnerable than ever” as disaffected citizens organise influential protest movements on Facebook and Twitter.

The US has pledged to back the pro-democracy movements that have swept the Middle East and north Africa since January. Ross welcomed the “redistribution of power” from autocratic regimes to individuals, describing the internet as “wildly disruptive” during the protests in Egypt and Tunisia.

“Dictatorships are now more vulnerable than they have ever been before, in part – but not entirely – because of the devolution of power from the nation state to the individual,” he said.

“One thesis statement I want to emphasise is how networks disrupt the exercise of power. They devolve power from the nation state – from governments and large institutions – to individuals and small institutions. The overarching pattern is the redistribution of power from governments and large institutions to people and small institutions.”

Ross said that the internet had “acted as an accelerant” in the Arab spring uprisings, pointing to the dislodging of former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in little over a month. The internet had facilitated leaderless movements, Ross added, describing it as the “Che Guevara of the 21st century”.

However, he said it was a “bridge too far” to describe the Egyptian uprising as a “Facebook revolution”.

Should society be promoting privatised education?

Posted: 23 Jun 2011

In my view, no damn way. Making a huge profit from rich students who buy their way into a system where learning comes second to scoring that corporate job after completion is troubling. Of course, many publicly run universities are sadly moving in a similar direction these days:

A private, run-for-profit university has launched an aggressive expansion plan to jointly run at least 10 of its publicly funded counterparts, the Guardian can reveal.

BPP, which offers undergraduate and postgraduate business and law degrees at 14 UK study centres, said it was in talks about managing the business side of the universities’ campuses. Talks with three are at a “serious stage”, but commercial negotiations are yet to begin.

Under the model, universities would control all academic decisions, while BPP would be responsible for managing the campus estate, IT support, the buying of goods and services and other “back office” roles. BPP would not hold equity in the universities.

Chief executive Carl Lygo said his firm stood to make tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds from working with each institution, but that it would be “too radical at the moment” to bid to take over a university. “The partnership model is more palatable in the UK … we have a long tradition of higher education being publicly funded, rather than run for profit.”

Ethnic cleansing by another name

Posted: 22 Jun 2011


There has been a sharp rise in the number of Palestinian structures razed by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank this year, with over 700 people left homeless, rights groups said on Wednesday.

So far, Israeli forces have demolished “103 residential structures … most of them tents, huts, and tin shacks, in which 706 persons lived,” Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said in a statement.

This was up from 86 structures in 2010 and 28 in 2009, B’Tselem said.

The Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank could not immediately be reached, but in the past Israel has said that it only demolishes structures built without permits.

B’Tselem said the Palestinians had no choice but to build illegally because Israel, which controls the occupied West Bank, rarely gives Palestinians permits to build.

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America’s drone wars are wonderful earner for conflict addicts

Posted: 21 Jun 2011


Disturbing New York Times feature which barely touches on the ethical question of killing “terrorists” (and more often innocent civilians) from a great height thousands of miles away. Murder is still murder:

Two miles from the cow pasture where the Wright Brothers learned to fly the first airplanes, military researchers are at work on another revolution in the air: shrinking unmanned drones, the kind that fire missiles into Pakistan and spy on insurgents in Afghanistan, to the size of insects and birds.

The base’s indoor flight lab is called the “microaviary,” and for good reason. The drones in development here are designed to replicate the flight mechanics of moths, hawks and other inhabitants of the natural world. “We’re looking at how you hide in plain sight,” said Greg Parker, an aerospace engineer, as he held up a prototype of a mechanical hawk that in the future might carry out espionage or kill.

Half a world away in Afghanistan, Marines marvel at one of the new blimplike spy balloons that float from a tether 15,000 feet above one of the bloodiest outposts of the war, Sangin in Helmand Province. The balloon, called an aerostat, can transmit live video — from as far as 20 miles away — of insurgents planting homemade bombs. “It’s been a game-changer for me,” Capt. Nickoli Johnson said in Sangin this spring. “I want a bunch more put in.”

From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars. Predator drones, the Cessna-sized workhorses that have dominated unmanned flight since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, are by now a brand name, known and feared around the world. But far less widely known are the sheer size, variety and audaciousness of a rapidly expanding drone universe, along with the dilemmas that come with it.

The Pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones, compared with fewer than 50 a decade ago. Within the next decade the Air Force anticipates a decrease in manned aircraft but expects its number of “multirole” aerial drones like the Reaper — the ones that spy as well as strike — to nearly quadruple, to 536. Already the Air Force is training more remote pilots, 350 this year alone, than fighter and bomber pilots combined.

“It’s a growth market,” said Ashton B. Carter, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.

What Murdoch offers; Afghans don’t care about living poor lives

Posted: 21 Jun 2011


Of course politics and sports mix over Colombo’s crimes

Posted: 21 Jun 2011


Good piece in the Guardian on why the sporting community need to take a strong stand against a regime, Sri Lanka, that murders civilians with impunity. It’s just not cricket, sports fans:

Disgrace. What a tediously familiar word; stripped of significance by its overuse, shorn of force by its frequent repetition. Read it again. Roll it around your tongue. Feel its heat and taste its weight, because I am about to use it and I do not want to do so lightly. In the next seven days England are due to play two games against Sri Lanka which will be used as valedictory matches for Sanath Jayasuriya, who has been recalled to the squad at the age of 41. Jayasuriya’s selection is a disgrace and the idea of playing cricket against a team that includes him is a disgrace.

The Test series between Sri Lanka and England was played out to the sound of protests from London’s expatriate Tamil community. During the Saturday of the Lord’s Test they picketed the ground. Nothing epitomised the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil attitude of the cricket community so well as the fact that the protestors were hemmed in behind metal barricades on the far side of the main road, shouting their slogans at a 10-foot tall red brick wall. On the other side business at Lord’s went on as usual, with the brass bands blaring away in Harris Garden all but drowning out the distant catcalls.

Only a fool thinks that sport and politics do not mix. But I can understand the desire to try and keep the two things separate, to stick your fingers in your ears and insist that the worries of the real world should not intrude of the field of play. Sport is supposed to be escapism, after all. But Jayasuriya is not a sportsman any more, he is a politician. His selection is an intrusion of a politics into sport, and means that isolation of the two is not an option.

In April 2010 Jayasuriya was elected as the MP for Matara in southern Sri Lanka. He represents the United People’s Freedom Alliance, the party of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Jayasuriya’s recall was ordered by Rajapaksa’s government. It is an overtly political decision. Kumar Sangakkara’s recent comments on the unique difficulties of captaining Sri Lanka – “it is a job that ages you very quickly” – were a thinly veiled reference to this kind of political interference in team selection. It was a sentiment echoed by stand-in coach Stuart Law in the wake of the last Test, when he said he was learning that the job was about “more than just cricket matters”.

There is no convincing case to be made for recalling Jayasuriya. It has been two-and-a-half years since he scored a century in any kind of cricket, and the fact that he has said he will play only in the first of the five ODIs against England is testament in itself that he is not coming back because he has the interests of the team at heart.

But even if there was any cricketing logic to his inclusion, his selection would still be unacceptable. Jayasuriya is an elected representative of a government who, according to a United Nations report published this April, could be responsible for the deaths of 40,000 Tamil citizens during the final campaign of the civil war in late 2008 and early 2009.

“The number [7,721] calculated by the United Nations Country Team provides a starting point, but is likely to be too low,” the report states. “A number of credible sources have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths.”

Last Tuesday Channel 4 broadcast the documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, a film which detailed the crimes committed against the civilian Tamil population by the Sri Lankan army in excruciating detail. It used nauseating mobile phone footage shot on the ground to substantiate allegations of the systematic rape and murder of Tamils and the direct targeting of civilian hospitals and medical facilities in no-fire zones. Gordon Weiss, a former UN spokesman in Sri Lanka, reported that by May 2009 there had been “roughly 65 attacks on medical facilities that were treating civilians” and that “the no fire zone was taking significant amounts of shelling from the government and it was killing civilians.”

This is an extremely emotive issue. When I wrote about the Tamil protest at Lord’s, I was emailed by one reader demanding to know whether I had “asked the protestors for their opinion of the use of child soldiers, suicide bombings and human shields by the Tamil Tigers?” The UN report confirms that atrocities were committed by both sides on the civilian population, who were ushered into supposedly-safe ‘no fire zones’ by the army and then held there at gunpoint by the Tigers. In the words of Weiss, the army “systematically denied humanitarian aid in the form of food and medical supplies”.

In a recent interview with the BBC’s Sinhalese service, Jayasuriya explained that “the world should realise that the Sri Lankan government has stopped one of the worst terrorist organisations in the world. I am 41 years old. Thirty years of my life, we went through a terrible time in Sri Lanka. Anybody can come into my country now and walk anywhere without fear,” Jayasuriya continued. He added that the world should be “happy” at what the government had achieved.

David Cameron has called for an independent investigation into what happened in Sri Lanka, something Rajapaksa’s government, Jayasuriya’s government, has refused to allow. According to the UN report, there are “reasonable grounds to believe that the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible”.

The English players once blanched at being made to shake hands with Robert Mugabe. This Saturday they will be expected to play against a man who is a direct representative of a government accused of war crimes on a horrific scale by the United Nations. The politics of the matter is not outside the ground or behind a metal fence any more. It is right there in the middle of the pitch and it cannot be ignored.

Flashmob in Paris to remember oppression in Iran

Posted: 21 Jun 2011

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


12 times in the last year Israel has shot and wounded Palestinians working to collect scrap near fence in Gaza– 12 times

Jun 22, 2011


and other news from Today in Palestine:

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


Israeli settlers attempt takeover of Jerusalem home
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 June — A Beit Safafa family said several members were brutally beaten by Israeli settlers on Wednesday morning, in an attack that was said to have lasted four hours starting just after midnight. The Zawahra family lives adjacent to an Israeli settler outpost known as Giv’at Hamtous, located in a Palestinian home confiscated through a court process which observers said used spurious documents showing ownership. Akram Zawahra told Ma‘an that shortly after midnight a group of settlers from the home forcibly entered the Zawahra building in what he described as an attempt to take over the home and expand the settlement. The man’s 27-year-old brother was stabbed and later run over by the settlers, causing severe bleeding and a break to his right leg. He was taken to the Makassed Hospital and then was transferred to the Hadassah Hospital for surgery, his brother said. Three other members of the family, including Akram, his wife Alaa and son Farouq were also injured, he said, noting the home sustained damages during the family’s attempt to keep he settlers out. Police arrived at the home hours after the attack began, Akram said, detaining him and three sons, who were all taken to the local police station and interrogated he said. An Israeli police spokesman said he had no knowledge of the incident. Akram said police remain in the home, which is being held pending a review by officers and border police. The neighborhood of Beit Safafa is located within the West Bank, on the eastern side of the 1967 borders, but was illegally annexed as part of Israel’s municipality of Jerusalem in the 1980s.
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Video: Children without Jerusalem ID
AIC 22 June — The application for a Jerusalem identification card for seven-month-old Silwan resident Nouralden Abbassi was recently rejected by the Israeli Ministry of Interior. The Ministry argued that because Nouralden’s father Issa is in jail — and he is the only parent who hold Jerusalem residency rights, as Nouralden’s mother has a West Bank only ID — the family should wait until Issa is released (10 years from now) to apply for an ID card. Without an ID card, Nouralden will be unable to go to public school in Jerusalem, receive health insurance and services, and travel freely.
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Jerusalem baby denied rights by Israeli apartheid / Jillian Kestler-D-Amours
EI 22 June — Smiling and wide-eyed, seven-month-old Nouralden Issa Abbassi is happily getting passed between the arms of his mother, grandmother and uncle in the living room of the Abbassi family home in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. But while the family appears carefree, the reality is that Israel’s decision to deny Nouralden a Jerusalem identification card — and by extension block his right to access public health services and education — has left everyone anxious and concerned for the future.
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Jerusalemite MP Attoun: We will stay in Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 22 June– Jerusalemite MP Ahmed Attoun has said that the Israeli decision to revoke their residence in Jerusalem and to exile them from their native city was a political decision par excellence with no legal justification. Attoun told the PIC in an interview on Wednesday that he along with MP Mohammed Totah and former Jerusalem minister Khaled Abu Arafa chose to stage a sit-in at the Red Cross headquarters in Jerusalem to abort the Israeli policy of banishing Palestinian national leaders and cadres. He said that the Israeli occupation authority was planning to banish 315 Jerusalemite figures from the holy city but delayed the step following their sit-in.
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Night clashes in Silwan
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 22 June — Israeli occupation forces fired rubber bullets and gas canisters at Palestinian young men in Silwan town, south of the Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, who responded throwing stones at the soldiers. The clashes on Tuesday night started when an Israeli patrol got near to the sit-in tent in the Bustan suburb and the young men threw stones and empty bottles on it, local sources said, adding that the soldiers summoned reinforcements and fired stun grenades and gas bombs at the youth. The sources said that an Israeli special unit tried to sneak into the Bustan suburb through the northern entrance but was forced to retreat because of the violent confrontations.
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10 wood-coal workshops demolished near Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) 22 June — Israeli bulldozers began to remove Wednesday several wood-coal workshops in the Jenin-area town of Barta‘a Ash-Sharqiya, located inside the Green Line but separated from its neighbors by Israel’s separation wall. Along with the destruction of the workshops, Israeli forces confiscated a number of the heavy machinery and industrial equipment on the site, owners said … “They were taken down under pretext that the smoke affects the nearby settlement and that those workshops are not licensed,” Qabha said, estimating damages in the tens of millions of shekels … The demolitions caused fires to break out on some of the properties, Qabaha said and blazed for hours before Palestinian fire crews were permitted access to the area. He added that the tractors of workshop owners Jamal Sharif Amarnah and Yasser Uthman Qabha were confiscated without cause.
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Roadblock in Al Jab‘a replaced by gate; Palestinians still shut out
PSP 21 June — In 2002, Israeli military created the illegal roadblock to prevent the villagers of Surif and the villagers of Al Jab‘a to commute back and forth by car. The roadblock consisted of dirt, large stones, at least five massive boulders, and more than nine 2-5 ton concrete slabs and blocks. Presently, Palestinians seeking to reach their village from the neighboring village are forced to approach the barrier by car, unload their goods and crops over the roadblock, and repack them into a car located on the other side of the barrier. While this restriction is extremely difficult to navigate, there are multiple other problems. The barrier is built at the junction of a Palestinian road and a settler-only road leading towards the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, and in the opposite direction towards Bethlehem, Hebron or Jerusalem. This road leads towards many settlements, and it is partially for this reason that Palestinians are prevented from crossing it via car.
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Artas: Roof destroyed on Palestinian farmer’s summer home
CPTnet 20 June — On 17 May 2011, vandals, whom local Palestinians assumed to be settlers from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, destroyed the roof on an agricultural home belonging to the family of Mohammed Saleh Abu Swai.  In the summer, Palestinian farmers often sleep in stone houses out in their fields.  Abu Swai had come out to his olive orchard two days earlier to fertilize his trees and put the roof on the house.  When he returned, he saw that the planks he had laid across his house were broken and up-ended. … Mohammed’s entire family of eleven often stays in his small home located in the middle of the olive orchard.  Before this latest destruction of the roof, the military had confiscated much of Mohammed’s land, declaring it state land.
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Negev land reform to be reviewed
Ynet 22 June — The Negev land reform, which would have seen the Bedouins   receive hundreds of thousands of acres of land, will undergo another review and may even be pulled altogether, Ynet learned Wednesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Yaakov Amidror, head of the National Security Council to reexamine the issue
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The truth behind another Israeli expulsion trick / Amira Hass
Haaretz 22 June — The artificial division between Areas A, B and C was supposed to be erased from the map, and dropped from the discourse, in 1999. Instead, Israel has sanctified and perpetuated it … what about Area B? Why does Israel insist that drug and weapons trafficking should flourish in an area several dozen meters away from Ma’aleh Adumim and some three kilometers from the Judea and Samaria District police headquarters – both of which sites, as is often forgotten, are violating international law due to their location on the land reserves of Palestinian villages? … Some say the drugs and weapons dealers are collaborators, or potential collaborators, with Israel. This is why the Shin Bet and IDF are not allowing the Palestinian police to take action against them and why, according to them, Israeli security forces immediately find out about any Palestinian attempt to capture them. Some find here a strategic goal: The worse this intolerable situation gets in neighborhoods that are so close to the annexed Jerusalem, the greater the likelihood that the residents will leave and head over to Area A. In other words, it’s just another expulsion trick. Listen to the Palestinians. The subjugated excel at analyzing the implications of their ruler’s actions. And if the Palestinians are wrong, then why will the IDF not let the Palestinian police operate freely?
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B’Tselem: Sharp increase in home demolitions
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 June — In the first six months of 2011, a report from the Israeli rights group B’Tselem said Wednesday, Israeli forces have demolished more homes than in the 12 months of the year before. “Last week alone, 33 residential structures were demolished in the Jordan Valley and southern Hebron hills,” the report said, and cataloged the displacement of 706 individuals, including 341 minors. The report noted that the figures released included only residential structures, and not the dozens of animal shelters, water wells, storage and business structures that were also forcibly taken down.
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Human Rights Watch – Israel: Halt home demolitions
Jerusalem 21 June —  Israel should end discriminatory policies that have forcibly displaced hundreds of West Bank Palestinian residents from their homes, Human Rights Watch said today. In demolition operations on June 14 and 21, 2011, Israeli authorities displaced more than a hundred residents of three West Bank communities, including women and children, destroying their homes and other structures. Israeli authorities should compensate the residents and provide them with housing, Human Rights Watch said… [see also HRW’s extensive documentation in the report Separate and Unequal ]
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Ben Gurion University invites NGO to enter classrooms, promote Jewish-only settlement in Galilee, Negev
AIC 22 June — Ben Gurion University gave permission to Ayalim, a Zionist and Jewish-only association, to appear before classes in order to encourage Jewish students to settle in the Naqab (Negev) and Galilee, areas with substantial Palestinian and Bedouin-Palestinian populations. University lecturers protest racism
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Bil‘in demonstrators to take down the Wall
BPC 22 June — After nearly six years of weekly protests, the army began dismantling the Wall in Bil‘in this week … The Bil‘in Popular Committee has declared Friday the 24th to be the last day of the old path of the Barrier on village’s lands, and the beginning of the struggle against the new path.  A mass demonstration will march on the Barrier to dismantle it and access the lands sequestered behind it.

We will not be uprooted — tree planting in Fasayel, occupied Jordan Valley
JVS 22 June — The community of Fasayal invites you to join them this coming Saturday at 5pm as they put down new roots in the wake of last week’s brutal attempts to ethnically cleanse them from their village. As many of you know, the Israeli Occupation Forces came to the village of Fasayel last Tuesday and demolished 18 homes and 6 other structures. Families in Fasayal have been without shelter, electricity or other basic amenities for nearly a week now, and have received no meaningful support … NGOs with the capacity to provide immediate relief for these families have failed to do so.
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Israeli forces

Airstrike hits central Gaza overnight
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 22 June — The Israeli military reported Wednesday morning the launch of an airstrike on the central Gaza Strip overnight. The air force targeted a “terror tunnel,” which it said could have been used “to infiltrate into Israel and execute terror attacks.”  Medics have not reported injuries. The military said that the strike, the first since early April, was “in response to two Qassam rockets that hit the Eshkol regional council” overnight. Eshkol borders Gaza from the center to the south. The military did not specify where the projectiles landed, and no group in Gaza has claimed to have launched any attack against Israel as of press time.
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Israeli army invades multiple towns in the West Bank, resulting in one arrest
IMEMC 22 June — …On Wednesday morning four Palestinian towns: Beit Sahour, Hebron, Jenin and Nablus were invaded by the Israeli military. In Beit Sahour two flying checkpoints were set up, stopping cars and checking IDs. Three armed Israeli military vehicles surrounded Al-Quds Open University, but left without making any arrests. Israeli military forces prevented a Palestinian journalist from taking photographs during the raid.
Israeli forces executed similar military operations in Hebron, searching homes and abducting one civilian. Israeli military forces also performed several paratrooper drills near Doura. Further north, they invaded Nablus and Jenin; however, there were no arrests reported in those areas. An Israeli military spokesman described Wednesday’s military actions as ‘routine’. [‘Cutting the grass’, as Ethan Bronner quoted an Israeli commander as calling them in 2009]
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Israeli forces set up flying checkpoints in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 June — Two flying checkpoints were installed by Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem on Wednesday morning, stopping cars and checking ID cards of drivers two kilometers south of the Nativity Church. An Israeli military spokesman said the checkpoints were “routine military activity,” despite a 2009 decision which handed total civil and security control to Palestinian forces in Bethlehem, Nablus and Qalqiliya.
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Gaza adjusts to new crossing rules
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 June — Crossings officials at Rafah announced that Gaza residents who signed up for travel via the terminal during the second week of June could expect to travel Wednesday, appealing to residents to respect the crossings rules. Head of police department on the crossing Salamah Barakah said that the regular crossing schedule was resuming after a pause Tuesday, which was set aside as a day for pilgrims crossing en route to Saudi Arabia to perform the ‘Umrah pilgrimage. Registration for crossings, the official added, had been closed temporarily, as the thousands applying for passage were processed and allowed through Rafah into Egypt. The ministry said Tuesday that numbers were being curtailed because of Egyptian caps set for maximum daily travelers. He said the interior ministry would announce when the registration process was re-initiated. Once names were being accepted for registration, the official added, the ministry would likely open offices in several districts of Gaza to facilitate the process. Registration offices are expected in Rafah, Khan Younis, as well as in Gaza City and a second office in the north.
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Gaza children stage sit-in at Rafah crossing demanding its permanent opening
RAFAH (PIC) 22 June — Dozens of Palestinian children hoisting Egyptian and national flags rallied in front of the Rafah border crossing on Tuesday demanding its permanent opening. They carried placards asking the Egyptian ruling military council and foreign ministry to live up to promises and open the terminal without further delay. The children also carried flowers and gave them to Egyptian soldiers manning the border point.
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Gazan Formula student team denied UK visas
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 June – The British embassy in Amman, Jordan denied Palestinian students visas to UK to compete in the 2011 Formula Student in London. Sources told Ma‘an the denial was due to the fact that the Palestinian Formula Student team did not have an official financer during its stay in London. Formula Student is a student engineering competition to be held in London July 14-17. The contest challenges youngsters from around the world to design, build and race a single-seat racing car from scratch. The source, who spoke to Ma‘an without revealing identity, said the students were shocked especially that they have spent a whole year designing the Formula 1-style car despite all hardships. Students in an UNRWA-run school in the Gaza Strip have built a Formula 1-style race car from mainly recycled parts.
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Gaza family exiled to Syria and Libya looks back / Rami Almeghari
EI 21 June — Abdelhai al-Khaldi, known as Abu Mahmoud, and his wife Umm Mahmoud are an elderly Palestinian couple who live in a rented apartment in the northern Gaza Strip neighborhood of al-Saftawi. The two had lived in Libya for about 28 years, before returning to Gaza in 1995 along with their eight now adult children … Soon after the [1967] war, al-Khaldi told The Electronic Intifada at his home, “I decided to head for Jordan to complete my education. Upon arriving at the Allenby Bridge between the West Bank and east Jordan, the Israeli authorities seized my [Egyptian-issued] Palestinian ID card along with those of three bus loads of others.” From 1967 and up until the early 1990s, it was relatively easy for Palestinians to travel from Gaza to other parts of Palestine, including the West Bank, a freedom that is unimaginable today as Gaza remains under tight siege. But for the many thousands whose IDs were confiscated by the Israeli authorities, returning home once they had left became all but impossible.
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Video: Making sand out of ruins
B’Tselem June — Over the past year, B’Tselem has documented eleven cases in which soldiers fired at and wounded Palestinian civilians working in areas near the perimeter fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. In these eleven cases, the gunfire struck civilians who, because of the lack of jobs in the Strip, were compelled to earn a living by collecting building materials for recycling.
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340 truckloads of goods to enter Gaza via Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 June — Israeli authorities gave permission for 340 truckloads of goods to enter the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, after inspecting the pack lists and determining the type and quantity of goods were in line with the Israeli policy of siege on the area. Raed Fattouh, Palestinian liaison official at the crossings, said the goods included eight truckloads of iron pipes for German Development Agency projects, 18 truckloads of cement for various international organizations and 50 truckloads of aggregate for UNRWA-funded projects. [maybe this will fool the world into thinking the flotilla is unnecessary, or so Israel hopes]
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Saudis give $70m for Palestinian housing in Gaza
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) 22 June — A U.N. agency aiding Palestinian refugees said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia is contributing $70 million for new housing units in the Gaza Strip. Israel has authorized construction of the 1,200 new homes and 18 badly needed schools in Gaza, in what would be one of the largest housing projects in the seaside territory in years.
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Savvy flotilla prep in full swing at Athens / Mya Guarnieri
ATHENS, Greece (Ma‘an) 22 June — Non-violence training and anti-sabotage measures are in place for the volunteers, activists and media arriving in Athens as the Freedom Flotilla II prepares to sail to Gaza. In hopes of preventing sabotage which organizers said docked two boats from the 2010 flotilla, the ships for the June voyage have been moored in undisclosed locations, and press members have been asked not to release photographs of the vessels. Upon arrival, those registered to sail to Gaza and attempt to break the Israeli blockade will participate in seminars designed by flotilla organizers on how to handle expected confrontations with Israeli forces when the boats approach the Gaza shore.
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Israel’s UN ambassador warns UN chief over planned Gaza flotilla
Haaretz 22 June — Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor calls on international community to do ‘everything in their ability’ to prevent the upcoming Gaza aid flotilla, which is set to sail later this month.
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Israeli forces detain Abu Asab
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 June — Israeli forces detained on Tuesday morning the head of Jerusalem detainees’ committee Amjad Abu Asab from Al-Suwaneh in Jerusalem and took him to Al-Maskubieh military camp. In a statement received by Ma‘an the detainees’ center said that the troops detained Abu Asab after raiding his house and taking his computer and cell phone. A detainees’ center lawyer said that Abu Asab is banned from seeing any lawyer until next Thursday.
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Former child prisoners from Holy Land visit London schools
ICN 22 June — A group of Palestinian schoolchildren are currently on an exchange visit to London. Several of the young teenagers have experienced being in prison, and having their homes broken into by the Israeli Army. La Sainte Union and Maria Fidelis are among the nine schools hosting the visit … Last night three young people (pictured) spoke at a meeting in Kentish Town library about their experiences of having their homes broken into in the early hours of the morning and being arrested themselves, or seeing their brothers, as young as 13, being handcuffed, blindfolded and taken away for interrogation. In each case the boys report being repeatedly beaten and kept awake for hours under bright lights.
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4 on hunger strike in Israel’s Ramon prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 June — The Ramallah Prisoners Society said Wednesday that four Palestinians detained in Israel’s Ramon prison had begun a hunger strike earlier in the week, demanding to be let out of their cells. The strike, which was said to have begun Saturday, was initiated after prison guards in Ramon had refused to allow the men out of their cells for showers, exercise or sunlight from the time they were transferred to the institution on June 13.
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Palestinian girl seeks father’s release from Israeli jail
RAMALLAH (Arab News) 22 June: The daughter of jailed Palestinian prisoner Atif Wraidat on Tuesday urged the international human rights organizations to pressure Israel to release her father. “My father is dying and we are dying with him every day,” the nine-year-old Karin said during a joint press conference with Palestinian Minister of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Issa Qaraqi‘ and the head of Palestinian Prisoners Club (Nadi Al-Asir) Qaddoura Faris in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Wraidat’s hunger strike entered the 11th day on Tuesday. He went on hunger strike to protest his solitary confinement in the Israeli prison of Asqalan (Shikma). Karin said her father has been “suffering from several diseases,” adding that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) “barred him from receiving proper medical treatment.”
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Detainee marks 32 years in Israeli prison
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 June — The Ministry of Prisoners Affairs in Gaza marked Wednesday the 32nd year in prison of a Ramallah native, commenting in a statement that Fakhri Asfour Al-Barghouti, at 57, is the second oldest Palestinian in Israeli custody. Al-Barghoughi was detained in 1978 and sentenced to a life term in prison, on charges of assisting in the organization of the killing of an Israeli soldier. He has two children, who the ministry said he got to know in prison, after they were detained by Israeli forces after the millennium.
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Fatah, Hamas exchange names of political appointees
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) — Ashraf Jom‘a, member of the Fatah delegation in Cairo, said Wednesday that Hamas and Fatah exchanged lists of names of affiliates they consider to be political detainees, during a meeting one week earlier. The official said that the exchange was progress on the unity agreement, which stipulated that a committee be formed to deal with the lists, and determine in a fair manner which individuals were held for political reasons and should be released.
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Political / Diplomatic / International

EU convenes Quartet over peace process
BELGIUM, Brussels (Ma‘an) 22 June — The Middle East Quartet will meet under EU chairmanship Friday, and will be asked to formulate a framework agreement for peace talks, which will persuade Israeli and Palestinian negotiators back to the table.
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US envoy Ross: Bold steps must be taken to keep Israel Jewish and democratic
Haaretz 22 June …Speaking at the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, Ross said the greatest danger Israel faces today is sitting aside and waiting for something to happen. In order to stop the delegitimization of Israel in the world, Ross said that Israel must return to the negotiating table.
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Palestinian official: Violent uprising not planned
SFEX 22 June — …”Israel was established by a U.N. resolution in 1947. I think our right is to go to the U.N. and ask them to implement the other birth certificate for the other state,” said Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub.  Rajoub, a former head of Palestinian security, indicated to the Israeli audience that the Palestinians will not insist on a physical right of return for refugees and their descendants from the war that followed Israel’s creation — millions of people — and will not seek a violent third uprising. He said violence was “not on our schedule.” … “We are not looking to make a drastic demographic change in the society of the state of Israel,” Rajoub said.
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GOP senators urge suspending aid to PA
JJ 2 June — Republican senators urged President Obama to suspend U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas recognizes Israel and renounces terrorism. Republican Sens. John Boozman (Ark.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.), in association with the Zionist Organization of America, organized a letter to the president signed by 16 U.S. senators.
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Loh: Abbas, Mash‘al to meet within days
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 June — President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader-in-exile Khalid Mash‘al will meet in the next few days, Fatah national relations official Diab Al-Loh announced. Postponing the meeting was because of some changes that occurred on the president’s agenda, Al-Loh said Tuesday.
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Mishaal confers with Turkish FM, other officials
ISTANBUL (PIC) 22 June — Hamas political bureau chairman Khaled Mishaal conferred in Istanbul on Wednesday with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and other officials soon after his arrival. A senior diplomat told the AFP that Mishaal discussed with the Turkish officials the Palestinian reconciliation agreement and Palestinian and regional developments. He said that the Hamas leader would leave Turkey later today. The NTV station said that Mishaal’s visit coincides with that of PA chief and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to Turkey. However, there is no scheduled meeting between the two, it added.
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Fayyad: I will not obstruct unity deal
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 June — Prime Minister in Ramallah Salam Fayyad assured Tuesday evening that he “can’t and won’t be an obstacle to Palestinian reconciliation.” Following speculation he would publicly refuse the post of prime minister in the new transitional unity government being negotiated by Hamas and Fatah, his words fell short of the declaration, saying “I shall support to the best of my abilities any candidate Palestinian parties agree upon.”
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Iran likely opening of embassy in Gaza, lawful
ABNA 22 June — Dean of the Faculty of Law in Tehran University welcomed the idea of Iran’s establishing a diplomatic office in Gaza, saying that it was fully legal for Iran to establish an embassy in Gaza … He noted however that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were under Israeli siege, making it difficult for Iran to establish a diplomatic office there.
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Other news

Egypt-Israel gas deal exposed
Al Jazeera 22 June — An Egyptian government document obtained by Al Jazeera shows the origins of the controversial natural gas deal between Egypt and Israel. The document (pdf) is printed on Egyptian petroleum ministry letterhead and dated January 26, 2004. It empowers East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) to export Egyptian gas “in the Mediterranean region and Europe.” It specifically mentions the Israeli Electric Company as a customer.
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MKs to Pollard: We’re sorry
Ynet 22 June — Knesset members send letter to Jonathan Pollard to express condolences over his father’s death, apologize for failure to secure his release … Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Pollard affair in a video posted on YouTube where he replied to questions from Israeli citizens. “What happened with Pollard is a tragedy. The State of Israel erred and should not have used agents in the US,” Netanyahu said.
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Nationwide emergency drill peaks
Ynet 22 June — Week-long Home Front Command emergency exercise to reach pinnacle point with two nationwide air raid sirens, drills simulating simultaneous mass-casualty events
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Erez Efrati says mistook his victim for ‘terrorist’
Ynet 22 June — Former IDF chief bodyguard convicted of attempted sodomy spins yet another story, claims he thought woman he attacked was a ‘terrorist’ causing him to ‘revert to military mode’ [Oh, so that’s what he did in the army?]
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US takes on illegal Israeli kiosk workers
US authorities have decided to take a stand against the popular phenomenon of foreigners, mostly Israelis, working illegally in kiosks and stands located in American shopping malls. The US Consulate in Tel Aviv published a YouTube video to discourage young Israelis fresh out of their army service from coming to work illegally across America by telling the tales of those captured by US authorities, questioned and deported from country.
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Analysis / Opinion

Political art at its worst / Sam Bahour
PalChron 21 June — For anyone closely following the Palestinian-Israeli issue, nothing is more insulting than the world’s political players peddling another peace initiative, crusaded as the ultimate formula to extract the conflict from its current abyss … The collective global memory seems to be in deep amnesia. We have been here before — at a point where half-baked initiatives and resolutions, non-compliant with international law and absent of any sense of historical justice, were touted as “the right formula.”
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Palestinian Gandhis Part III: Activism begins at home / Yousef Munayyer
22 June — The third installment in our “Palestinian Gandhi” series highlights the work of longtime Palestinian activist Mona Al-Farra. Al-Farra, a life-long Gaza resident, is interviewed below. Pam Bailey provides this introduction: …A physician by training and a human and women’s rights activist by practice, she is a native Gazan, born in Khan Younis, in the southern stretch of the Strip. Mona was transformed into an activist at the young age of 13, during the 1967 (“Six Day”) war. She and her family hid in the basement of their home for about five days, then came face to face with Israelis for the first time – but as occupiers. From that day on, she joined the demonstrations protesting the occupation. The war had another effect – it decided her career. Mona decided to go to medical school because of what she saw during the war
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U.S. State Dep’t to American flotilla passengers: Drop dead

Jun 22, 2011

Philip Weiss

The State Department has issued a new travel advisory for Gaza warning Americans not to go there by sea because Israel might try and kill them. With impunity.

Three dozen Americans are now preparing to travel to Gaza by sea on the flotilla. But the State Department warning says:

The security environment within Gaza, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel… On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one U.S. citizen, in such an attempt.

That U.S. citizen was of course Furkan Doğan, a 19 year old permanent resident of Turkey who witnesses said was shot repeatedly as he attempted to photograph the commandos on the Mavi Marmara.

Ali Gharib says, “if you try to travel to Gaza, Israel might kill you.” And:

During his recent visit to Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked that “America has no better friend than Israel.” As Matthew Yglesiaspointed out , the statement is “absurd.” This seems borne out by a travel warning that tells citizens not to try to get to Gaza by sea so that they don’t risk getting shot by their country’s “best friend.”

Oh and here’s Tablet echoing the State Department: “Supporters of the blockade should be untroubled by the prospect of Israel enforcing it with precision and compassion.” Huh?

“As long as the Za’atar remains. . .”

Jun 22, 2011

Jeff Klein

Sometimes a food is more than just something you eat. The herbal condiment za’atar, a mixture of dried thyme, sumac and sesame seed commonly eaten with olive oil and bread, has become well known in recent years outside the Middle East, especially among visitors and solidarity activists. In Palestine, it is a powerful cultural symbol.

Actually “za’atar” is the name of the thyme plant, which grows wild in the hills and fields around the Arab lands of the Eastern Mediterranean. People look forward to collecting the first Zaatar in the spring, and in Palestine “making za’atar” refers to baking an oiled flat bread stuffed with newly gathered fresh thyme and green onions. For many Palestinians it is a seasonal rite as well as a communal cooking project, usually in an outdoor oven.

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“Making za’atar” in a Palestinian town within ’48 Israel

Lately, Palestinians in 1948 Israel have had to buy cultivated thyme rather than collect it wild, as was the tradition. The Israeli authorities have declared za’atar a “protected plant” and forbidden its harvesting on “state land.” Whether this is a sincere conservation measure, rather than a form of cultural repression, may be doubted. Cutting the wild thyme leaves allows the roots to remain intact and grow a new crop within a short time. And, of course, what the Israeli government calls “state land” was originally the expropriated collective property of the native Palestinians.

Zionist concern for the pristine natural environment is highly selective, in any case. Altering the original landscape and destroying the indigenous flora for agricultural development – or more likely in recent years for real estate speculation – has been a relentless practice since the earliest days of Jewish colonization in Palestine. Of course, most of the country was never a “desert” and the Zionists did not make it bloom.

The obsession with “tree planting” has long been a means to lay claim to the land and remove the original inhabitants of Palestine. Pennies collected by the children of Diaspora Jews for the Jewish National Fund more often than not went to plant fast-growing pine or eucalyptus trees over the ruins of Arab villages or to forest hillsides with non-native species in a manner that did violence to the indigenous eco-systems but “redeemed” the landscape for the Zionist colonizers. One result was the devastating series of forest fires that scorched thousands of square kilometers in the Galilee last year.

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Two refugees, a brother and sister, from the destroyed village of Miske, near Kfar Sava,
with the ruins hidden by Eucalyptus trees in the background.

The process of Zionist “conquering the land” never ceased within 1948 Israel and continues to this day on both sides of the Green Line. In the northern Negev/Naqab traditional Bedouin towns are struggling to survive as ”unrecognized villages,” deprived of public services, utilities, schools and roads — while under constant threat of expropriation and removal. One of these, Al-Araqib, a village of 400 people north of Beersheba, has been flattened by Israeli bulldozers more than once, supposedly to make way for a tree planting scheme partially underwritten by US Christian fundamentalists. The Arabs are being driven off their land to make way for a million trees called “The God Forest.” (On the struggle of the Bedouins to stay on their land, see this report.)

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Bedouin protest at Al-Araqib, near Beersheba/Bir Sebaa

Every Sunday the villagers of Al-Araqib, some now living in tents at the site of their destroyed homes — along with many children who have been forced to move in with relatives away from the town — gather to demonstrate at a nearby highway junction for the return of their land. One of their chants goes:

Samidoun, Samidoun,
Ma baqiyye Za’atar wa Zeitoun

We are staying, we are staying
As long as the Za’atar and the Olive remain

Open letter to Gaddafi supporter Cynthia McKinney from disappointed Palestinians

Jun 22, 2011


Palestinians in Bil’in, West Bank protesting in support of the Libyan opposition movement

Dearest Cynthia McKinney,

Two years ago, you spoke out against Israel’s human rights abuses in Palestine. You were even put in an Israeli prison after your attempts to help deliver medical supplies and humanitarian aid on a ship to Gaza in 2009. For your sacrifices, you gained respect from many Palestinians all over the world.

However, we can’t help but be irked by your recent stance on Libya. It’s fine to be against NATO intervention in Libya. You’re entitled to your own opinion. But to praise Libyan dictator Muammer Gaddafi is completely unacceptable. Anti-intervention shouldn’t equate to whitewashing Gaddafi’s crimes.

Last month, you appeared on Libya State TV, a propaganda organ of the Gaddafi regime. In an interview, you said that the “last thing we need to do is spend money on death, destruction and war… I want to say categorically and very clearly that these policies of war…are not what the people of the United States stand for and it’s not what African-Americans stand for.”

Maybe you could have garnered some legitimacy with that statement if you weren’t speaking on a station run by Gaddafi. Or even better, if you at least offered some recognition that Gaddafi is guilty of perpetrating “death, destruction and war” on his own people.

In the interview, you also claimed you were in Libya on a “fact-finding mission” to “understand the truth.” But Ms. McKinney, you were only in Tripoli, a city under Gaddafi’s control. If you were really on a trip to Libya to see the truth for yourself, why didn’t you go to Benghazi and speak to the opposition movement as well?

Not only that, you praise Gaddafi in the interview, asserting that his Green Book advocates “direct democracy.” You also declare on your Facebook page that Gaddafi was “democratically elected.” Umm, you obviously haven’t met any Libyans before your trip to Tripoli. If you did, you’d know how the majority of Libyans feel about him. And if anything, someone ruling over a country for 42 years should be a hint that they aren’t democratically elected. Claiming that Libyans wanted Gaddafi as a leader is like saying Palestinians asked for Israel to occupy them. It just doesn’t make sense.

Now, you’re on a nationwide speaking tour, Eyewitness Libya: Cynthia McKinney reports back on the Massive Bombing of Tripoli. Also speaking on the tour will be Akbar Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition.

First of all, why aren’t there any Libyans speaking on this tour? Secondly, Nation of Islam? Really? The Nation of Islam has defended Gaddafi since the beginning of the Libyan pro-democracy protests in February. Of course, this is probably because the Libyan government has given the Nation millions of dollars over the years.

Not only are Libyans not invited to speak on your tour about Libya, but in Los Angeles, Libyans have been denied entry into the event itself.

Ms. McKinney, this is truly a disappointment. You support the Palestinians, but you are not supporting the Libyan people in their fight for freedom and dignity. What exactly is your motive? A charitable explanation is that you are just completely naïve to Gaddafi’s atrocities. Another reason is that you might support Gaddafi for ideological reasons, like Chavez or Castro. Or, worst case scenario, you could just be another tool on Gaddafi’s payroll. Whatever the case may be, we are extremely disheartened.

The Palestinian and Libyan peoples are connected, both struggling against state-sponsored brutality and political repression. Palestinians stand in solidarity with our Libyan brothers and sisters in their revolution against Gaddafi, as well as others rising up against oppressive dictatorships in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. The Palestinian movement for human rights, civil rights and equality has been invigorated and inspired by these pro-democratic movements.

Ms. McKinney, your pro-Gaddafi stance is completely hypocritical and contradictory to your support for the Palestinians.  Unless you retract your statements supporting Gaddafi, we don’t think you have any business sailing to Gaza again. We refuse to accept opportunistic support from people who advocate for murderers.


A Group of (Severely) Disappointed Palestinians from Gaza, West Bank, and the US

This open letter originally appeared on the blog Yansoon. The authors of this piece are a group of 5 Palestinian youth in the US, Gaza and the West Bank who became connected through social networking sites. They chose not to name themselves because they have been targets of harassment by the FBI and Israeli security personnel for their activism.

The regional implications of the planned US-Israeli missile defense command-and-control center

Jun 22, 2011

Jimmy Johnson

The Israeli Ministry of Defense is in the process of integrating four “of the anti-missile defense systems developed in the country [plus the US’s Patriot system] into a national command and control center for the interception of enemy missiles.” Defense News quotes a US official as saying the effort will not only aid Israeli defense but that of “US allies that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.”

The faulty logic of relying upon such missile defense systems has both left- and right-wingcritics. To this we can add another problem, the forward deployment of a US missile defense network over its protectorates in the Middle East (Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, etc.). Many governments in the region are wary of Iran’s drive to regional hegemony (given the authoritarian structure of a most regional governments, popular opinion is less important to policy, but public opinion is mixed on the matter 12 for example) as are, most vocally, the US and Israel. This regional missile defense system produces further dependency on the US to counter Iranian hegemony. Importantly, the dependency is not just on the US, but on the US-Israeli relationship.

The US alone developed the Patriot (Raytheon) missile system, one of the five to be integrated into the new command-and-control system. The US and Israel jointly developed the Arrow 2, Arrow 3 (Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing for both Arrow models), and David’s Sling (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems & Raytheon) systems. And the US is helping to fund the Iron Dome (Rafael) system. The absence of official diplomatic relations between nations potentially covered by the system and Israel is irrelevant to the power dynamic being developed. The US-Israeli missile defense system facilitates regional bellicosity towards Iran by removing the perceived need for other nations to be neighborly and it applies only to those nations who are friendly to the US (and perhaps, not entirely unfriendly to Israel).

That no serious military analysis offers a likely situation of Iranian attack is also irrelevant. The threat Iran poses has never been a military one. It had and continues to offer a strictly defensive military posture [PDF]. Instead the threat is a political one. Iran’s differences with the US are often hard to find when it comes to economic policy and political and civil freedoms in the region (a point all too often glossed over by many activists who pose a US-Iran binary with one good and one bad when they both offer generally terrible and surprisingly similar regional programs). But the nation has been deeply opposed to US regional designs since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. This is especially threatening to those nations aligned with the US that have disenfranchised Shia populations (Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are the most prominent examples).

Iran’s important offensive capabilities are almost exclusively its ballistic missile program. The US-Israeli anti-missile program thus gives license to take a more aggressive posture towards Iran with less concern about infringing upon Iranian interests (valid or not). It is a step towards creating further dependency by Persian Gulf governments on the US-Israeli military posture towards Iran and the US-Israeli relationship itself. And it’s an example of how the US-Israeli arms trade and military diplomacy has profound and deeply problematic impacts at a regional level.

This post originally appeared in Neged Neshek, a website for news, data and analysis focusing on Israel’s arms industry with a secondary focus on militarism in Israeli culture, society and politics.

Hafrada today, hafrada tomorrow, hafrada forever! (Party like it’s 1963)

Jun 22, 2011

Michael Levin

(Image: Michael Levin)

From the Haaretz article “Netanyahu: Israel needs to separate from the Palestinians

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprised many of the participants in the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday when he embarked on a monologue praising the idea of parting from the Palestinians and in relinquishing portions of the West Bank. Netanyahu said the number of Palestinians and Jews between the Jordan River and the sea “is irrelevant” and that it’s more important to “preserve a solid Jewish majority inside the State of Israel.”

The PM made these statements during a discussion on a report by the Jewish People Policy Institute on demographic changes among Jews and Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank . . .

“The debate over how many Jews and how many Palestinians will be between the Jordan and the sea is irrelevant,” Netanyahu said. “It does not matter to me whether there are half a million more Palestinians or less because I have no wish to annex them into Israel. I want to separate from them so that they will not be Israeli citizens. I am interested that there be a solid Jewish majority inside the State of Israel. Inside its borders, as these will be defined,” Netanyahu explained.

Hafrada is the Hebrew word for “separation.”

Human rights delegation investigates Western complicity in crimes of Ben Ali regime

Jun 22, 2011

Corinna Mullin and Azadeh Shahshahani

Mohammed Bouazizi’s desperate act of self-immolation on 17 December 2010 brought down the corrupt and brutal Tunisian despot, Ben Ali, and unwittingly sparked the conflagration that today is still spreading throughout North Africa and the Middle East. As in Tunisia, elsewhere in the region people are bravely tearing down the walls of fear so carefully erected over the years by kelptocratic regimes, often with the support of Western governments.

Though the dramatic events of the last few months have provided much cause for hope in Tunisia, many obstacles remain along the path to constructing a new polity capable of addressing not only Tunisians’ political and individual grievances, but their socio-economic and collective grievances as well.

Much of the attention on the causes of the revolution have focused on longstanding structural issues, including the government’s distorted budget priorities, with too much money invested in repressive security apparatuses and too little in infrastructure and social goods such as healthcare, education, training, job creation, etc. There were also the restrictive labour policies, suffocated public sphere, distortive wealth concentration, and the developmental gap between coastal areas and the interior.

Many Tunisians, especially those on the receiving end of Tunisia’s ‘justice’ system, including trade unionists, leftists, and, in  particular over the last ten years, those with Islamist leanings, expressed anger about the lack of due process, absence of the rule of law, widespread use of torture, and generally dismal prison conditions in Tunisia.

Often overlooked in the western press have been the collective, or one could say nationalist, grievances of the Tunisian people, expressed as frustration at Tunisia’s lack of real sovereignty in a global order enforced by international institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, and under the guise of ‘economic modernization’, ‘democratization’, and, most recently, and perhaps for Tunisians most damaging, the ‘war on terror’.

It was to study these latter grievances that from March 12 to 19, 2011, we joined a group of lawyers, human rights activists, and academics, based in the US, UK and Turkey to visit Tunisia at the invitation of the Tunisian National Bar Association. The report that came out of this visit, ‘Promises and Challenges:  The Tunisian Revolution of 2010-2011,’ discusses Tunisia’s history under the disgraced Ben Ali regime and the conditions and events which led to its downfall in January 2011. In particular, the delegation was interested in understanding the role of the US and EU states in supporting the Ben Ali regime, despite knowledge of its numerous and persistent human rights violations.

Our delegation met with various organizations and individuals including those that had been on the receiving end of Ben Ali’s most brutal and undemocratic policies and practices, those that had been instrumental in contesting and resisting the gross human rights violations of the ancien regime, as well as those, including many from the former two categories, that had been instrumental in bringing down the Ben Ali government. These included heads of NGOs, labour leaders, leaders of oppositional political parties, journalists and bloggers, as well as many former political prisoners and torture victims of the deposed regime.

One grievance that was expressed repeatedly by these various political actors was the perception that western governments had been complicit in the crimes committed by the Ben Ali regime, through their provision over the years of copious amounts of diplomatic, military, and economic support, in particular in the past ten years, in the context of the ‘war on terror’. Not only did many feel that western governments had too often turned a blind eye to the depravities of their Tunisian allies in order to secure their own economic and geo-strategic interests in the region, but, even worse, many felt some of Ben Ali’s most heinous crimes were committed at the behest of these governments.

Tunisia was among several Middle East and North African states that declared its support for the ‘war on terror’ and offered substantial intelligence and strategic cooperation shortly after George W. Bush’s infamous speech of 20 September 2001, in which he warned:  ‘Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbour or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.’

In return for its cooperation in the ‘war on terror’, the US was willing to overlook the well-documented human rights violations of the Ben Ali regime, and indeed, political repression actually increased during this period.

In addition to increased security and intelligence cooperation, many of the lawyers, activists, and former political prisoners we met asserted their belief that the 2003 Anti-Terrorism Law was enacted to curry favour with the US.  Although it is unclear what precise role the US played in the wording or timing of the legislation, it is clear the Bush Administration was happy with its passage. The US State Department called it ‘a comprehensive law to “support the international effort to combat terrorism and money laundering.”’

Yet critics, both domestic and international, claimed that the law heavily violated Tunisians’ civil liberties. According to a December 2010 Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Tunisian legislation is based on a definition of terrorism that ‘is vague and broad, hence deviating from the principle of legality and allowing for wide usage of counter-terrorism measures in practice.’ The law resulted in the arrest and often torture of thousands of innocent men, solely because of their religious and/or political beliefs and practices.

According to former Tunisian Judge Mokhtar Yahyaoui, founding member of the Association for Support of Political Prisoners who was pushed out of his job due to his vocal opposition to judicial interference, the 2003 Anti-Terrorism Law was a direct result of US pressure for greater Tunisian cooperation in the ‘war on terror’. Judge Yahyaoui stated his belief that US military assistance to the Tunisian government was conditioned upon Tunisia’s counter-terror cooperation and accused the Ben Ali regime of ‘selling our sons to the Americans’ as part of this effort.

Though US president Barak Obama has now become a vocal cheerleader for the ‘Arab Spring’, it will be difficult for Tunisians to forget the many years in which successive US administrations, including Obama’s, maintained close relations with the Ben Ali regime despite their knowledge, as documented in numerous State Department Annual Human Rights Reports and confirmed by Wikileaks’ release of statements from the US ambassador to Tunisia, that it was patently corrupt and repressive.

From recent statements made by Obama it is unclear whether any lessons have been learned about the causes of the Tunisian revolution. Particularly worrying were statements made inObama’s May 24 speech to the British parliament. Despite expressing US support for democratic change in the region, he claimed that Americans ‘must squarely acknowledge that we have enduring interests in the region: to fight terror with partners who may not always be perfect.’ It seems from this statement and others that Obama has either failed to grasp, or has chosen to ignore, the collective grievances expressed by Tunisians, and others in the region, that the repression they experienced for so many years at the hands of brutal tyrants was facilitated, if not enabled, by US/western support.

It is clear that a significant gap exists between the perceptions of US government officials, who believe they were strong critics of the corruption and human rights abuses of the Ben Ali regime, and the Tunisian people, who perceived the US as supporters of that regime, complicit in its human rights abuses.  It is the conclusion of our delegation’s report that the US will fail to gain respect and credibility in this dramatically transformed region unless it recognizes this gap and honestly explores the reasons behind it. Ultimately, it is in the best interests of both Western and North African/Arab states that lessons learned from this exercise inform future relations, based on the strong foundations of equality and mutual respect.

Corinna Mullin is a lecturer in the Politics of the Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, and Azadeh Shahshahani is a US human rights lawyer who is the Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project and serves as Executive Vice President and International Committee Co-Chair for the National Lawyers Guild.

Non-Jewish influence (played important role in Allison Benedikt’s awakening)

Jun 22, 2011

Philip Weiss

Allison Benedikt’s memoir that might have been titled, Beginning to turn against Israel, at the Awl, is one of the most important interventions in months. It crystallizes the Jewish moment. Beautifully and sincerely written, with wrenching confessions about her family’s blindness and the important influence of her non-Jewish husband (yes just as my mother-in-law who smuggled sheets into a Bethlehem hospital gave me a path on the issue), it signifies a crisis inside American Jewish consciousness that Peter Beinart and J Street and the New York Review of Books are going to have trouble catching up with.

The lies are starting to slide off the table, in a hurry, American Jews are waking up. The importance of the Benedikt piece is signalled by Jeffrey Goldberg’s pugilism. Goldberg sees his own worldview becoming marginalized, and he has launched a vituperative battle with Benedikt and her husband, John Cook. But to his credit, Goldberg has run Benedikt’s response to his own criticisms of the piece. This is Jewish history unfolding, with the help of our non-Jewish brothers and sisters. Excerpts of Benedikt’s letter. And note, about halfway down a landmark revelation of Benedikt’s that I have bolded: the revelation that Israel is not my problem….

Hi Jeffrey,

Wow, you really hated my piece on The Awl. Don’t get why such a personal, angry attack of a response, but… hey, it’s your blog.

To defend my husband, who needs no defending… John was not accepted by my parents or my sister for being a non-Jew long before they ever heard his opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. They didn’t want me to date him let alone marry him because he wasn’t Jewish. (I know, you’re shocked!) He handled a lot of that with grace, not to mention being a wonderful and active partner now in raising our boys as Jews–mostly if not entirely because of how important he knows it is to me. Coming up against John’s opinions on Israel was, in a way, as shocking for me as it was for him to get close to a family whose members all believed what he did on pretty much every major political issue of the day, except for this weird thing about Israel. Good, strong liberals except for this one weird thing where, oh well, if being a real democracy means not being a Jewish state, then forget democracy.

As for your questions:

…Does she wonder why her husband hates Israel with such ferocity? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes I hate it as much as he does. (Though “hate” is the wrong word. Feel rage toward?) Sometimes I think he can’t “get it” because he has no ethnic identity. Other times I think his remove from the situation gives him clarity. Mostly, I think he is so angry, as I am (and I believe you too?), because if Israel is to claim itself a Western democracy, it should live up to certain ideals that it does not.

Does she ever try to answer for herself why Israel exists? Why it was founded or why it continues to exist? Actually, yes, on both counts. And I read about it too. None of this has led me anywhere but toward disillusionment.

Or is she happy to subcontract out her thinking about the most important questions facing Jews first to her camp counselors, and then to her husband? Happy to? No. Have I done this at times? Yes. But just on the way to figuring out what the hell I think for myself. I’m still not there, but I’m working on it! (Which is, coincidentally, what my essay is about.)

Does she ask herself whether she has a responsibility to make Israel a better, more humane, place? I don’t believe that I have that specific responsibility, no. But I have thought about it. And I think that’s a lot of the reason my sister is there, for which I give her credit (in my mind if not in my piece–because frankly her politics are her own to discuss). Of course, I do think we all have a responsibility to make the world better–but specifically Israel, because I am Jewish? No.

Does she question herself about the consequences of abandoning Israel? I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve abandoned Israel (did you read the essay?), but if you mean have I thought about what it would mean for there to be no such thing as a Jewish state? I have thought about this plenty of course! Who that takes this stuff seriously hasn’t? (I guess you don’t think I take it seriously, but you’re wrong.) I bet I land, uncomfortably, about where you land: If the decision comes down to brutal occupation forever to maintain the Jewishness of the state OR true democracy, which would mean no Jewish state, I would have to choose the latter–but there is nothing easy or wishful in me writing that, and I hope it never comes to that (though more and more it seems like it will).

Does she think about the sin of the wicked son in the Passover story, and how that sin might echo in her own life? This is not meant to be snide, but John and I lead a seder every year and I’ve taken to making my own Haggadah because I’m not comfortable with many of the traditional stories and blessings. The wicked child bit is something I’ve deleted. But anyway, to you, aren’t I the one who doesn’t know how to ask?

The rise and fall and vindication of Jewish anti-Zionism

Jun 22, 2011

Jack Ross

Editor: Jack Ross’s new biography of the anti-Zionist rabbi Elmer Berger, Rabbi Outcast, performs two hugely-important tasks: It painstakingly recovers a noble tradition of anti-Zionist thought inside American Jewish life that few of us know anything about, and it situates that tradition religiously, as a fulfillment of prophetic Judaism, a mode that Ross himself adopts in predicting the near-times collapse of the Israel lobby. We’ll be running a review of the book soon. Meantime, Ross is flogging his book, and here is the “stump speech” that he will be taking to bookstores, shuls, bookfairs, you name it, in the coming weeks.

What do American Jews believe? This is the question that set me on the path to write this book. Old clichés speak of two Jews having three opinions, and stereotype has it that American Jews are among the most avowedly secular of all Americans. Yet beneath the surface, probably a majority of American Jews do believe, in Maimonides’ phrase, with a perfect faith in something called “Jewish peoplehood”, really a more benign term for Jewish nationalism or Zionism. A sacred story has emerged equal to if not greater than any biblical narrative, of the exile culminating in the Holocaust followed by literal redemption in the founding of the State of Israel. It was Will Herberg, the earliest and most thorough interpreter of Martin Buber, who first compared this to the doctrine of Charles Maurras, the French fascist intellectual who called for an avowedly atheist Catholic traditionalism.

It is not only American Jews who are enrapt to this set of beliefs. For the sacred story of Jewish nationalism is also the sacred story of American nationalism. The State of Israel is, to America, the ultimate symbol of itself as a force for good in the world, representing the salvation of the Jews as the heroic outcome of the Second World War, the founding myth of the American empire. Having come of age in the wake of the September 11 attacks and all they wrought, the question nagged at me for years – can one have an affirmative American Jewish identity while being unambiguously on the side of peace and non-intervention?

Thus was the discovery of the history of Reform Jewish anti-Zionism a revelation. As the definitive statement of belief by the founders of the American Reform movement put it – “We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore, expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any laws concerning the Jewish state.” Just before his death in 1900, the father of American Reform Judaism, Isaac Mayer Wise, denounced the nascent Zionist movement as “a prostitution of Israel’s holy cause to a madman’s dance of unsound politicians” – a more perfect description of the modern Israel lobby there never could be.

Zionists began to make their presence known in the Reform rabbinate by the 1920s, after the issuance of the Balfour Declaration by America’s wartime ally made the establishment of a Jewish state official policy for the western democracies. The changing politics of American Jewish identity were therefore inextricably linked to America’s rise as a world power.

At the same time, Reform Zionists such as Stephen Wise were pushing for the establishment of an official governing body of American Jewry. This was looked upon by Classical Reform with horror, seeing in it the rabbinical despotism backed up by princes of the old order which Reform Judaism had been founded in rebellion against.

The American Council for Judaism was founded over several months in 1942, after several Reform rabbis dissented from their movement’s endorsement of the Zionist scheme to raise an army of “Palestinian and stateless Jews” to be granted the status of the Free French and Belgian forces. The following year, there was held an elaborate “American Jewish Conference” that codified the existence of an “official” Jewish community constitutionally committed to Zionism. It was in response to this that the American Council for Judaism released its official platform, with its vision for a future Middle East that should be heeded now more than ever – “a democratic government in which our fellow Jews shall be free Palestinians whose religion is Judaism, even as we are Americans whose religion is Judaism.”

Elmer Berger, the ostensible subject of my book, was hired as the Executive Director of the American Council for Judaism upon its founding, having spent the preceding decade as a humble congregational rabbi in Michigan. He had been mentored by his boyhood rabbi, Louis Wolsey, who had been the driving force behind the founding of the ACJ. Berger initially became opposed to Zionism after being put off to the aggressiveness and duplicity of the major Zionist fundraising apparatus, the United Jewish Appeal, which beginning in the late 1930s came to completely dominate all American Jewish philanthropy and direct it toward a Zionist agenda. It was also the heavy-handedness of the UJA which produced the most important lay leader of the American Council for Judaism, the philanthropist Lessing Rosenwald.

Before there was AIPAC, there was the United Jewish Appeal, established when the older United Palestine Appeal was able, in the panic of the onset of the Second World War, to absorb into itself the philanthropic arm of the American Jewish Committee, known as the Joint Distribution Committee. After the founding of the State of Israel, the ACJ soldiered on in great measure because the UJA would not separate its Zionist funds from general philanthropic funds. Not only did this arrangement facilitate the complete Zionist takeover of all Jewish organizational life in America, confirming the ACJ’s worst fears, but for a whole generation after the founding of the State of Israel, a religious devotion to fulfilling the quotas of the UJA was rigorously enforced.

A viewer of the modern sensibility could be forgiven for mistaking this phenomenon for the transparent money-making rituals of certain religious cults. Indeed, in 1956, when the Reform movement finally issued what effectively amounted to a herem or writ of excommunication against the ACJ, the first and foremost charge listed was “impairing the vital work of the United Jewish Appeal in a time of dire emergency.” Earlier banishments had occurred even before the founding of the State of Israel, when the ACJ, led by Lessing Rosenwald, insisted that the idea that the Jews had to be settled into a state of their own after World War II was an insult to all the war had been fought to achieve. The successor to the American Jewish Conference, the National Community Relations Advisory Council and today the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, issued its herem in 1950 after Rosenwald and the ACJ had spoken out for the Palestinian refugees.

Even before the end of World War II, Elmer Berger was the face of the ACJ and all it represented in the Zionist imagination. Though all but forgotten today, there was a time when the very mention of his name could be expected to elicit hysteria. Berger was not the most intellectually impressive of his anti-Zionist colleagues, nor the most charismatic or accessible. A three-times-married heavy smoker and drinker, and reluctant to enter the limelight, he was not a natural candidate for the mantle of prophet. What made Elmer Berger stand out was the simple moral force of his speaking the truth as he saw it, consequences be damned. The title he gave to a published book of his travel letters from the Middle East in 1955 says it all – “who knows better must say so.”

Yet, it must be said, in his preferred policy prescriptions for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Elmer Berger was remarkably moderate. His views essentially remained throughout his life those which had been the official policies he even personally had a hand in helping craft during the early years of the Eisenhower Administration. This was simply that Israel offer a reasonable settlement of the refugee problem in exchange for Arab recognition within the borders of the 1949 armistice, and that Israel become integrated into an anticommunist regional bloc anchored in Saudi Arabia. In fact, one of Berger’s closest friends in the U.S. government was Kermit Roosevelt, who achieved certain infamy in recent years as the CIA architect of the restoration of the Shah of Iran in 1953. These policies thus bear at least as much responsibility as Israel for the crisis which began with the September 11 attacks.

The true heresy of Elmer Berger was his rejection of Zionism’s first principles, that is, that the essence of Judaism should be the political imperatives of a transnational entity called “the Jewish people”. As American Jewish life became dominated in the postwar era by institutions committed to putting that principle into practice, Berger and his colleagues became objects of unmitigated hysteria in the Zionist imagination because, believing as it does in an idealized “Jewish collective”, any individual Jewish opposition to that collective is viewed as a mortal threat. The legacy of this pathology in the controversies roiling American Jewry today is unmistakable. While the hysteria of the American Jewish establishment is most often directed toward those such as J Street, who believe in and desperately want to save Zionism and the “Jewish collective”, the greater number of progressive rabbis and Jewish youth are joining groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, which seriously question, if not flatly reject, the first principles of Zionism and the American Jewish establishment.

For history has rarely presented such an unambiguous example of prophetic dissenters who were viciously attacked and reviled in their time, only to be completely vindicated in their warnings a generation after they passed away, as Elmer Berger and his colleagues in the American Council for Judaism. Few now deny that at the heart of both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the twin crisis of American Jewry is the persistent belief, with a perfect faith, in “Jewish peoplehood”, brilliantly described by the late Tony Judt as “a characteristically late-19th century separatist project in a world that has moved on.” Indeed, this is self-evident in the increasingly erratic demand of the current Israeli government, that both the Palestinians and the world at large recognize it as “the national home of the Jewish people”, and that the threat to “the world” of such countries as Iran be viewed through this prism.

An extraordinary series of events over the last decade has served to vindicate the life’s work of Elmer Berger, but perhaps none stands out more than the publication in 2009 of Shlomo Sand’s groundbreaking work The Invention of the Jewish People. Comprehensively deconstructing Jewish nationalism with both contemporary theories of nationalism and sources with which Berger would have been very much familiar, it is probably a book that Berger himself wished he had written at the end of his life. Yet it may also be a book that shows the way forward. Before he was seized by the controversy of Zionism, the great youthful aspiration of Elmer Berger had been to use the sources on antiquity cited by Sand to prove the empirical validity of the anti-nationalist narrative of Judaism which the Classical Reform movement had trained him in.

Berger would have been stunned enough to see there has yet emerged at this late hour a progressive alternative of Jewish religion to that of the American Jewish establishment. To continue building this alternative with the knowledge of history provided by Sand, and its corollary in American Jewish history I hope to have provided with my humble book, is the most fitting tribute that can be paid to the legacy of Elmer Berger and the American Council for Judaism.

Job description

Jun 22, 2011

Philip Weiss

Remember that Abe Foxman recently said that Dennis Ross was Israel’s “advocate”– a guy who is making Middle East policy? Well here is another story about What it takes to make Middle East policy, or to get a job doing so.

Jim Zogby need not apply, Rashid Khalidi, Steve Walt, et al. How many dots do I have to connect this morning? Cynical-making. Or something-making, I fear what. From the Jerusalem Post, on Obama’s new NSC director for the Middle East…

When Steven Simon, the new US National Security Council senior director for the Middle East and North Africa, kicked off his introductory phone call with leaders of the Jewish community recently, he… mentioned having traveled to Israel several times, not only professionally but personally as well.

“Clearly he did that to establish some kind of Jewish rapport,” said one Washington Jewish official on the off-record call, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “People didn’t really know” about his experience with Israel.

The official said making such a connection was important because as opposed to the figures who preceded him in the role – Dan Shapiro, who was recently appointed US ambassador to Israel, and Elliott Abrams, who served in the Bush White House – who were familiar to the Jewish community, Simon is a relative unknown.

“Their being Jewish and Jewishly active and known commodities within the Jewish community played a role in their selection,” he said of Shapiro and Abrams. “Steven Simon is Jewish and has some Jewish contacts, but it’s on a very different level.”

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Number of Zionist millionaires up by 20.6% in 2010, report reveals


According to the latest annual Merrill Lynch-Capgemini World Wealth report, 10,153 people in Zionist own together more than $ 52 billion in liquid funds.


The number of millionaires in Israel rose in 2010 by more than 20.6 percent to 10,153, according to the latest annual Merrill Lynch-Capgemini World Wealth Report released on Wednesday.

The report found that the gross amount of capital of Israeli millionaires in 2010 came to $ 52 billion, relative to $ 43 billion from the previous year.

The climb was in line with the global trend, which rose by 8.3 percent, hitting an all-time high of 10.9 million people in the world who are considered to be millionaires by the report’s standards.

A millionaire according to Merrill Lynch-Capgemini is one who owns at least one million dollars in liquid funds, excluding their primary residence. The firm considers a multi-millionaire one who owns capital of at least $ 30 million.

The ultra-rich — people with more than $30 million to invest — did even better than their regular-rich peers last year. Their ranks grew by 10 percent to 103,000, while their combined wealth rose 11.5 percent to roughly $15 trillion.

According to the report, the ranks of millionaires in Asia for the first time surpassed Europe and in a few years are expected to overtake the United States.

Powered by fast-growing China and India, the Asia-Pacific region’s millionaire ranks rose 10 percent to 3.3 million, second only to the 3.4 million residing in North America and inching ahead of Europe, which had 3.1 million.

Asia’s combined wealth, up 12 percent to $10.8 trillion last year, surpassed Europe and threatens to overtake the United States and Canada, where wealth rose 9 percent to $11.6 trillion.

“Their capital markets may be emerging, but their economies have clearly arrived,” John Thiel, head of Merrill’s private banking group and its “Thundering Herd” of 15,700 U.S. brokers, told Reuters. “They’re not ‘emerging’ anymore.”

More than half of the world’s millionaires are still found in the United States, Japan and Germany, but that the wealthy are spread among more countries, according to Merrill and global consulting firm Capgemini.

Assets held by millionaires worldwide rose by 9.7 percent to a record $42.7 trillion — surpassing the previous high-water mark set in 2007.

Some of that growth came as manufacturing, exports and domestic growth helped places like Hong Kong, Singapore and India create legions of members for the millionaires’ club.

The findings echo a PricewaterhouseCoopers report published Monday, which found that Singapore and Hong Kong could surpass London and Switzerland as the world’s top wealth management hub by 2013.

Investable assets held by the very rich grew as stocks and other financial markets continued to climb from the depths of the 2008 financial crisis. Asia-Pacific millionaires, the survey found, were more heavily invested in local real estate.

Faith in equity markets is slowly returning, thanks to two strong years of gains since the panic of March 2009. Global equity holdings rose 4 percentage points last year to 33 percent of financial assets, back to the pre-crisis levels.

That said, the world’s rich still placed a premium on liquidity, or how easily investments can be sold.

Thiel noted that investors in developed nations are still reacting to the fallout of the financial crisis, including Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, the massive U.S. budget deficit and a real estate slump.

“Our clients are still a little risk-averse about increasing that exposure. There’s still plenty of things to worry about domestically and internationally,” Thiel said.

Investors’ trust in wealth management firms also has recovered since 2008, when credit losses and market panic knocked out Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and forced Merrill Lynch into a shotgun marriage with Bank of America Corp.

In 2008, half of the millionaires surveyed by Merrill and Capgemini said they were losing trust in their advisers and their banks. Confidence in firms has rebounded to 88 percent, though fewer than half of millionaires say they have much faith in regulators.

Merrill’s report does not measure total wealth across all demographics, but indicates that the gap between the very wealthy and the rest of the world continues to widen.

Even among millionaires, wealth grew more concentrated: The super-rich represented fewer than 1 percent of millionaires, yet held more than a third of that elite group’s wealth.

For the firms that make a living by managing their wealth, though, these are encouraging trends.

“Clearly it’s a good environment to be in the wealth management industry,” Thiel said. “We’re hiring more people and expanding our advisory force.”

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Nuclear experts killed in Russia plane crash helped design Iran facility



The five Russian scientists were among 44 killed earlier this week; no official investigation of foul play has been opened, though Iranian nuclear experts have in the past been involved in similar accidents.


The five nuclear experts killed in a plane crash in northern Russia earlier this week had assisted in the design of an Iranian atomic facility, security sources in Russia said on Thursday.

The five Russian experts were among the 44 passengers killed when the Tupolev-134 plane broke up and caught fire on landing outside the northern city of Petrozavodsk on Monday.

The experts – who included lead designers Sergei Rizhov, Gennadi Benyok, Nicolai Tronov and Russia’s top nuclear technological experts, Andrei Tropinov – worked at Bushehr after the contract for the plant’s construction passed from the German Siemens company to Russian hands.

The five were employed at the Hydropress factory, a member of Russia’s state nuclear corporation, and one of the main companies to contracted for the Bushehr construction.

The sources said that the death of the scientists is a great blow to the Russian nuclear industry.

The experts were tasked with completing construction of the plant and for ensuring that it would be able to survive an earthquake.

According to the sources, although Iranian nuclear scientists have in the past been involved in unexplained accidents and plane crashes, there is no official suspicion of foul play. Investigators are investigating human error and technical malfunction as the causes of the crash.

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Egypt sentences three to jail for spying for Zio-Nazi IsraHell



Businessman Tarkey Abdel Rezek Hussein accused of accepting $37,000 to provide Zio-Nazi’s with information about potential telecommunications spies; names of two Zionist ‘accomplices’ not released.


A court sentenced an Egyptian businessman, as well as two Israelis tried in absentia, to life in prison on Thursday for spying on behalf of Israel, a judicial source said.

Egypt arrested businessman Tarek Abdel Rezek Hussein, 37, an owner of an import-export firm, in August. Two Israelis, who have not been arrested, were also sentenced by the emergency state security court.

Hussein was accused of accepting $37,000 to provide Israel with information about Egyptians working in telecommunications companies who could be recruited to spy in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

The case is separate to one involving Ilan Grapel, 27, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen detained on suspicion of spying.

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Decline of Jews On Capitol Hill Could Mean a Loss of Power


Washington — One of the possible consequences of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter-gate affair is another decline in the number of Jewish representatives in Congress.

The massive overrepresentation of Jews on Capitol Hill, long a source of pride for the community, has been shrinking in recent years and could drop in the coming election cycle from 41 to the mid 30s, a level last seen 15 years ago.

Analysts differ over whether this reduction heralds a significant decline in Jewish power or, instead, simply reflects short-term individual circumstances.

“I don’t see it as a trend,” said Sandy Maisel, director of Colby college’s Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement. “In most cases, we are seeing individual reasons.” Maisel, co-editor of the 2001 book “Jews in American Politics,” said that the reason for disproportionate Jewish representation in the halls of power, namely the community’s upward mobility and the country’s relative absence of anti-Semitism, still holds.

But Jacques Berlinerblau, director of Georgetown University’s Jewish civilization program, sees a meaningful shift taking place. “It is the drawing down of a generation that believed in civil service,” he said. Berlinerblau pointed to the cohort of American Jews who, from the post-World War II era until the end of the century, saw special value in entering public service and also in reaching beyond the interests of their own community.

Berlinerblau believes that this decline is also related to shifts within the Jewish community. Recent years have seen the Orthodox community emerge as a main source of energy within the Jewish world, argued Berlinerblau, who said that the Orthodox, in general, tend not to be as involved in national politics beyond the needs of their community.

But even if the decline in representation continues, experts believe its impact on the Jewish community would be marginal. “At the end of the day, it won’t matter much in terms of the Jewish agenda,” said Kurt Stone, political science professor at Florida Atlantic University and author of two books on Jews in Congress. On the issue of Israel, Stone explained, there is almost a wall-to-wall consensus in Congress. On social issues that are dear to the community, much depends on the broader makeup of Congress, since Jewish priorities on domestic issues are largely aligned with those of the Democratic Party. Still, Berlinerblau believes that it is important to have “at least some Jews on the Hill” in order to make sure the community’s voice is heard. He points to the case of atheists, who make up the same portion of American society as do Jews, but have no representation in Congress. Their interests, he argued, are barely heard.

The 112th Congress, which began in January, started off with 13 Jews in the Senate and 28 in the House of Representatives. This number has already dropped by two, with Weiner’s resignation following a lewd photos affair and with the retirement of California Democrat Jane Harman, a veteran pro-Israel representative who left for a post as head of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Congressional Portrait

But even before Harman and Weiner’s departure, the current Congress had seen the number of Jewish lawmakers shrink. In the 2010 election cycle, seven Jewish lawmakers lost their seats (Senators Russ Feingold and Arlen Specter of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, respectively, and Democratic House members John Adler of New Jersey, Alan Grayson of Florida, Paul Hodes of New Hampshire, Steve Kagen of Wisconsin and Ron Klein of Florida). Meanwhile, only two seats were gained: Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal in the Senate, and Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline in the House. The total number of Jewish representatives dropped to 40 from 45.

The hit taken in 2010 is largely viewed as part of the broader anti-Democratic atmosphere that caused massive losses for the party and led to a Republican takeover of the House.

“I wasn’t surprised,” said Jonathan Sarna of Brandeis University, who explained that the fate of Jewish political representation is tied closely to that of the Democratic Party. “It tends to rise when the Democrats are on the rise, and fall when they fall,” Sarna said. He described the ups and downs in the numbers of Jewish lawmakers as a “natural cycle.”

Nevertheless, the downward trend now seems likely to carry over into the 2012 election cycle.

Democratic activists who have been doing the math point to a potential loss of another four to six Jewish seats: Apart from Weiner and Harman, both already departed, Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman and Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl have announced that they will not seek re-election to the Senate. Another possible loss comes from California, where Jewish House members Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, both Democrats, could be forced to fight each other because of the redrawing of congressional districts following the 2010 census.

Uncertainty also clouds the political future of Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, who is recuperating from a January 8 assassination attempt. Giffords’s aides have said it is still not clear whether she will seek re-election to the House, but experts say that if she decides to run, she is sure to win. Some have even suggested that Giffords run for the vacant Arizona Senate seat.

Beyond that, not all prospects are gloomy for Jewish representation in Congress after the 2012 elections. With several Jewish candidates eyeing Weiner’s congressional seat, there could be a new Jewish member stepping in to replace him. And in Wisconsin, some are urging former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, who lost his seat in 2010, to run for the state’s other Senate seat, now being vacated by Kohl. In Nevada, there are political rumors that Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley could join the race for the Senate seat that has opened up with the scandal-related departure in May of Republican John Ensign.

Over recent years, the number of Jewish members in Congress has risen and fallen in nonlinear patterns. A bump in the late 1980s pushed Jewish representation in both chambers to more than 30 members, and another in 2006 brought about a new record with 43 Jewish members. This record was, in turn, broken in 2008, the next election cycle, with 45 Jewish members entering Congress. Since then, the numbers have been declining, and 2012 could see as few as 33 to 35 Jewish senators and representatives.

While experts disagree on the short-term significance of shifts in Jewish political representation, all point to the likelihood of a long-term decline. Growth in Jewish population is stagnant and composes an increasingly smaller portion of the population in general. Berman and Sherman are already feeling the impact of this shift with their districts being redrawn.

Over the years, Episcopalian Christians have experienced a steady decline in their representation in Congress as their portion in the general population has shrunk. “It is possible that the number of Jewish representatives will also decline, but even if that does happen, it will only be in the long run,” Sarna said.

But the Jewish community could be making up for the seats lost by seeing more of its members reach top political leadership positions.

On the Republican side, majority leader Eric Cantor holds the highest position ever held by a Jewish member of Congress. The Democrats, meanwhile, boast a number of high-level Jewish politicians: Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who ranks third in the Senate leadership; Florida Democratic House member Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was recently elected chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Steve Israel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the upcoming elections.

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