Archive | June 26th, 2011

NOVANEWS**NOVANEWS

The best portrait of Qadhdhafi that I have read is a chapter in Ghazi Al-Qusaybi’s Al-Wazir Al-Murafiq.  Qusaybi (who died recently) was a talented Saudi intellectual with great literary skills.  He received a PhD in sociology in the 1960s and then started a career of serving House of Saud.  He held several ministerial posts and felt strongly about Palestine.  He was mistreated by the royal family and yet he remained loyal.  When you server House of Saud (or any of those lousy governments) you squander your talents and then you lose them.

International Muslim Clerical Cooks 

Aljazeera is now hosting the secretary-general of the International `Ulama’ Union, which is a clerical organization headed and controlled by Yusuf Qaradawi, who in turn is controlled by Gulf gas and oil.

 


Yasin Hajj Salih: arrested 

Yasin Hajj Salih is a smart Syrian dissident: I am not a fan of his and he finds it convenient to express support for democracy in racist anti-Syrian (people) publications owned by Hariri family or Saudi royal family.  He was a leftist who became a liberal, but he has a good mind and is an original thinker.  The regime today arrested him and he can’t in any way be accused of being part of a fundamentalist Salafi conspiracy but the regime does not discriminate in its oppression.  I see no justification whatsoever for supporting this tyrannical and arrogant regime that is killing people to keep a nasty family in power.  The issue is not the Ba`th party (a mere tool of the ruling family), but about the Asad family.  

PS No, I learned that Hajj Salih has been in hiding for weeks now, but that his brother has been arrested.  (Salih wrote an op ed piece for the NYT early durign the Syrian uprising).


Aljazeera and Muslim Brotherhood 

Do you notice that when supporters of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood appear on Aljazeera, they always express gratitude for the news/gas station for its “support” for their cause.  I kid you not.  The anchorperson today said: we don’t support any side we just report.  This line may have been stomached 5 years ago, but now? Give me a break.

Aljazeera has lost it.  Yesterday, on the way from the airport, I tuned in to Aljazeera since I missed Arabic news while in London.  Instead, I got political speeches similar to the speeches delivered by Arab leaders.  I kid you not.  They start with Syria, and you hear Majid Abdul-Hadi (a great reporter/writer/narrator) reading a speech about Syria from the perspective of…NATO of course.  Then you hear a speech about Libya, from the perspective of…NATO.  20 minutes after the speeches began, they mentioned Israel.  I thought to myself: finally.  At least they still cover Israeli crimes.  Instead the Qatari gas station was reporting on the “anniversary” of the arrest of the Israeli terrorist occupation soldier in Gaza.  I kid you not.
Posted by As’ad AbuKhalil

 

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Zio-Nazi warns foreign journalists: Joining Gaza flotilla is illegal

NOVANEWS
t

Letter from head of Zio-Nazi regime Press Office warns that taking part in convoy of boats sailing to Gaza could result in being barred from IsraHell for 10 years.

Zio-Nazi regime Press Office issued a letter Sunday to foreign journalists, warning them that participating in the upcoming flotilla sailing to Gaza is illegal under Nazi law, and could result in anyone who joins the convoy being barred from IsraHell for up to 10 years.

The letter, signed by GPO director Zionist Oren Helman, states that the flotilla “is a dangerous provocation that is being organized by western and Islamic ‘extremist’ elements to aid Hamas.”

Helman asks editors to inform journalists that the Zio-Nazi Defense Forces have been ordered to stop the convoy of ships from reaching Gaza, given that “The flotilla intends to knowingly violate the blockade that has been declared legally and is in accordance with all treaties and international law.”

Furthermore, the letter says, “participation in the flotilla is an intentional violation of Israeli law and is liable to lead to participants being denied entry into the State of Israel for ten years, to the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions.” ??

Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass will be joining the flotilla, along with several dozen other journalists and several hundred activists from some 20 countries. Also joining the flotilla will be American writer Alice Walker, despite an American advisory that doing so could be a violation of U.S. law.

In May 2010, the Zio-Nazi Navy boarded six boats that comprised a similar aiming to break the Zionist naval blockade on the Strip; nine activists on board were killed during the ensuing violence.

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IsraHelli caught trying to smuggle in diamonds worth 2.5 million dollars

NOVANEWS

 

The man, a diamond dealer, to be brought to court on Sunday. Authorities also arrest man trying to smuggle 2,000 fake Viagra pills from India.

An Israhelli diamond dealer was caught in Ben Gurion International Airport on the weekend trying to smuggle into the country diamonds worth 2.5 million dollars. Haaretz has learned that he will be brought before a judge on Sunday.

The man was arrested by the airport’s customs unit, headed by Rafi Gabai. He had tried to go through the “green lane” without declaring goods as required by law. The diamonds were found after he was searched.

Meanwhile, a former head of a kindergarten for foreign children in Tel Aviv was caught trying to smuggle in 2,000 fake Viagra pills from India last week. The man, of Indian origin and who is in the process of converting to Judaism, had lost a large sum of money when the kindergarten failed to generate business. The fake pills were worth about 50,000 shekels.

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Christians, Muslims clash over new church in Egypt

NOVANEWS

 

 

A security official says Christians and Muslims have clashed in southern Egypt over the construction of a church.

A local security chief, Assem Hamza, says Muslim residents of the Awlad Khalaf village rallied Saturday outside Christian-owned land where construction of a church was under way.

Hamza said the construction was illegal. Security forces deployed as Muslim residents, including ultraconservative Salafis, moved in with bulldozers to try to bring down the construction.

Hamza said Christians fired gunshots and the two sides scuffled. Three Muslims were shot, including one in serious condition. A Christian has stab wounds.

Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population and complain of attacks by increasingly assertive Salafis.

 

Posted in Egypt1 Comment

NATO denies Libya claim raids kill more civilians

NOVANEWS

 

AFP

TRIPOLI (AFP) – NATO came under verbal fire again on Saturday from Moamer Kadhafi’s regime, which accused it of killing 15 more people in strikes on civilian sites in the eastern town of Brega, a claim promptly denied by the alliance.

Meanwhile, three powerful explosions struck the eastern Tripoli suburb of Tajura, where a number of military installations are located, and columns of smoke could be seen from the city centre, AFP correspondents said.

It was not known if the blasts were the result of an attack by NATO, which has repeatedly targeted the area in the past.

And in the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, a top official of the National Transitional Council (NTC) said rebels expect to receive an offer from Kadhafi “very soon” that could end the four-month-old war.

In the latest accusation against NATO, Libyan television said “the colonialist crusader Atlantic coalition bombed civilian sites, among them a bakery and a restaurant in Brega, creating 15 martyrs and more than 20 wounded, among them regular clients of those places.”

Following the claim, a NATO spokesman said the alliance “did target buildings in an abandoned area of Brega. These were legitimate military targets that were hit.

”We took a long time to watch the area and make sure. Meticulous planning went into this.”

A NATO official said that “since midnight (2200 GMT on Friday), we have not struck any targets in Brega,” a key refinery town some 800 kilometres (500 miles) east of Tripoli and 240 kilometres southwest of Benghazi.

Separately, Operation Unified Protector’s military spokesman Mike Bracken told AFP: “We take great care to avoid civilian casualties, and even at the last minute we will divert weapons to ensure civilians are not injured.”

In London, British military spokesman Nick Pope said the attacks followed “sustained and intensive surveillance which had confirmed the use of the various buildings by regime troops and the absence of normal civilian patterns of life in the surrounding areas.”

RAF Tornados had hit “a radar station, three command and control centres located in buildings which had been commandeered by the regime, and a warehouse complex used to stockpile military supplies,” he said.

In Benghazi, NTC vice chairman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga told AFP that intermediaries had indicated a proposal from the Libyan strongman was in the works and that the rebels would give it serious consideration if they received it.

”We expect to get an offer very soon; he is unable to breathe,” said Ghoga.

”We want to preserve life, so we want to end the war as soon as possible. We have always left him some room for an exit.”

Ghoga said the NTC understood through contacts with France and South Africa that a Kadhafi offer was being prepared.

”These are the countries chosen by the Kadhafi regime to present a proposal to the National Transitional Council, but we have not received anything to date.”

”We will take a serious look at it,” Ghoga said, while reiterating the NTC’s demands that any deal results in the removal of Kadhafi and his family from power and politics.

Rumours have been rife in recent days that Kadhafi may consider leaving Tripoli and that rebels could accept his internal exile to a remote location.

The rumours have been fuelled by a military deadlock on the ground and a steady trickle of defections from Kadhafi’s forces.

The rebels said Saturday that 38 Kadhafi officers — including six of high rank — fled to Tunisia a day earlier.

But it remains to be seen if such a deal is just wishful thinking. So far efforts to reach a diplomatic end to the conflict have come to nothing.

In other developments, 17 of Libya’s top footballers, including national team goalkeeper Juma Gtat, have defected to the rebels, Ghoga said.

“These 17 members were on their way to Mali when they declared their defection.”

The BBC earlier reported the defections, which also included three other national team players and the coach of Tripoli’s top club Al-Ahly, Adel bin Issa.

Gtat told the BBC: “I tell him (Kadhafi), leave us alone and leave the Libyan people (to) enjoy their life in new Libya, Libya for freedom.”

And Issa said he wanted “to send a message that Libya should be unified and free,” adding that he hoped “to wake up one morning to find that Kadhafi is no longer there.”

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Bolton Receives Warm Reception as He Tells Congress to Bomb Iran, Support MEK

NOVANEWS


niacouncil.org

 

“I’ve argued for [military strikes against Iran] for about three and a half years,” John Bolton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee today.  “Absent military action against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Iran will have weapons much sooner rather than later,” Bolton said.  “It’s a big mistake to conclude, as I believe the Administration has, that a nuclear Iran can be contained and deterred.”

Even as Bolton called for bombing Iran, President Bush’s controversial former Ambassador to the UN received a warm reception from Republicans and many Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  The Chairwoman of the committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, even went so far as to say “I love John Bolton.”

In addition to his calls for military action against Iran, Bolton made several bold assertions that went unchallenged by the committee.  He claimed that nuclear Iran could not be contained because of the religious beliefs of Iranian leaders, arguing that containment worked against the Soviet Union because its rulers were atheists.  Hence, he said, Moscow had valued life more than Tehran does because the Politburo did not believe in the afterlife.  “[Soviet leader Nikita] Kruschev was considerably saner than the Iranian regime,” Bolton said.

But numerous experts have contradicted Bolton’s argument about Iran’s strategic calculus.  The Pentagon concluded in a recently issued report that Tehran is motivated by a cost-benefit analysis and that its “first priority has consistently remained the survival of the regime.”

Bolton also claimed that Iran could enrich enough highly enriched uranium to make one bomb in one and a half months or four bombs in six months, estimates that are dramatically more alarmist than consensus estimates.

But Ollie Heinonen, a Senior Fellow at Harvard University and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s former chief of safeguards, who was largely overlooked at the hearing, disagreed with Bolton’s estimates.   Heinonen explained that that process could take anywhere from 6 to 12 months, but only if Iran kicked out international inspectors and made an all-out effort to enrich uranium to weapons grade.

The conversation also turned to terrorism.  Rep. Duncan (R-SC) claimed that there are extensive links between Iran and al-Qaeda and asked Bolton for his thoughts of the relationship.  Bolton responded, “I don’t think we know what the connection is, but I think it’s something to worry about.”  He then conceded there may be “no connection at all” but said that still, the U.S. should be fearful that al-Qaeda could get a nuclear weapon from Iran.

At the same time, Bolton and several members of Congress, including Reps. Sherman and Dana Rohrabacher expressed support for the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, which is designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization that operates as a cult.  Before the hearing started, Bolton’s aide approached a group of MEK supporters in attendance and told them that he supported their efforts.  Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen even made a point to greet the group and shake the hands of each of the MEK supporters.  Even as Bolton called for bombing Iran, he acknowledged doing so would likely ignite a broader regional war, but dismissed the costs as worth the effort.  “I think [Iran’s] most likely response would be to unleash Hezbollah and perhaps Hamas for rocket attacks against Israel,” Bolton said.  No follow up questions were asked on the matter.

Posted in USA1 Comment

Britain and France ‘using Qatar to arm Libyan rebels’

NOVANEWS

 


thetimes.co.uk

Gazing down from a huge billboard outside the Libyan rebel headquarters in Benghazi, the image of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, surveys the square.

Below him are the words: “Qatar, history will always remember your support for our cause.” The emirate was pivotal in securing Arab support for the Nato campaign to oust Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and its importance is growing as the war drags on.

The Times has learnt that Britain and France are using Qatar to bankroll the Libyan rebels, with Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron under increasing pressure to break the deadlock and bring down the regime. Nato airstrikes have so far failed to dislodge the Libyan leader while the rebels lack the firepower and military discipline to take advantage on the ground.

Mindful of the rising cost of the campaign but fearful of breaching their UN mandate by arming the rebels, Britain and France are relying on Doha in a bid to tip the balance, according to a senior western diplomat.

“We need to reinforce military pressure. It has to bite on the ground. The Qataris are doing what needs to be done,” he said.

According to the diplomat, Mr Cameron and President Sarkozy discussed how to help the rebels on the ground last Friday. A security source in the Gulf also told The Times that British and French officials discussed selling arms to Qatar with a view to Doha passing them on to Benghazi.

“The issue was not whether to do it but how much [to send],” he said. “The Qataris are buying a lot of hardware from France and supplying the Libyans on the ground through Doha. France has denied it is engaged in such actions but we have good information that it is happening.”

Colonel Salah Badi, the commander of rebel forces in Misrata, said that British officials rejected their request for arms. He complained that the officials had acknowledged that rebel leaders were correct in claiming that Colonel Gaddafi was breaking the arms embargo with weapons supplied secretly across the Algerian border.

In a statement yesterday, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said: “None of all that is true. We are acting strictly within the framework of United Nations resolutions 1970 and 1973 and we are not supplying weapons to the Libyan insurgents.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “We are committed to fully implementing both UNSCR 1970 and 1973. We are not supplying arms to the National Transitional Council and we have no plans to do so.”

Qatar has so far declined to comment on what products it has delivered to Libya, but western and rebel sources say it is supplying the rebels with money, fuel and now arms. These are believed to include French-made anti-tank missiles.

Though its support is less publicised than that of Benghazi’s western allies, Qatar’s investment in the three-month-old revolution has been huge, and indicative of the major role that the affluent Gulf monarchy is taking in the region’s political affairs.

“Qatar is our biggest Arab donor,” said Othman Mohammed Rishi, of the revolution’s Ministry of Finance and Oil. “They have given us fuel, credited us millions of dollars, and paid the bills for imports we could not afford. We are very grateful to them.”

Though it was primarily Nato powers who saved the revolution from extinction at the hands of Colonel Gaddafi’s forces, the Qataris have stepped in to help eastern Libya stave off an economic collapse caused by the stalling of the country’s oil production.

“We have fuel requirements worth $270,000,000 (£169m) a month in the liberated areas,” Mr Rishi claimed. “$120,000,000 of that is required for diesel just to run our power plants.”

Rocket attacks by Gaddafi’s troops in March damaged electrical engines and pumps at the rebels’ key oilfields at Misla and Sarir, halting eastern Libya’s oil production and threatening to shut down Benghazi’s massive power plant.

Frozen financial assets have also caused a shortage of liquid cash in the rebel economy. Initially, rebel officials say they made a deal with the trading house Vitol to receive fuel in three stages of shipments — enough for their short-term power needs — in return for a guarantee of future trade in raw oil once the Misla and Serer fields are functioning.

The first Vitol shipment of diesel, benzine and gas was delivered to Benghazi on credit. But Libyan oil officials say that they could not afford to pay off the bill before the second shipment was delivered. So Qatar stepped in with another loan in May.

“Qatar paid off $90,000,000 for that first instalment,” Mr Rishi added. “They also gave us one tanker for free with 11,000 metric tons of diesel and 21,000 metric tons of gasoline.”

When the Libyan Contact Group, the anti-Gaddafi coalition that includes Britain, France and America, agreed in May to set up a fund to help the rebel economy, Qatar immediately pledged the largest sum — between $400-500 million.

Officials in Misrata said that Qatar had taken the leading role in supporting the besieged city’s fuel needs as well as providing medical supplies, milk and some food supplies. Qatar also supplied a shipment of gas, the first to reach the city since the start of the siege, and has promised a further shipment of fuel.

A British security source in Libya said that Qatar was also fronting a programme to provide trainers — hired through British security companies — to rebel forces. The trainers include specialists in close air support.

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Syria reinforces northern border as Turkey loses patience with Assad

NOVANEWS

 

 

Advance on Khirbet al-Jouz seen as a warning after Ankara seeks reforms and end to crackdown on Syrian protesters

guardian.co.uk

Syrian officials have ordered military units to step up patrolling near the Turkish border in a warning to its increasingly irate northern neighbour not to establish a buffer zone inside Syria.

Diplomats in Ankara and Beirut believe the Syrian advance on the border village of Khirbet al-Jouz, initially portrayed as a sweep against dissidents, was a veiled threat to Turkey, which is steadily turning on President Bashar al-Assad as his regime’s crackdown on dissent continues.

In the wake of Assad’s speech last week, Turkish officials gave him one week to start reforms and stop the violent suppression of protests, which is estimated to have killed more than 1,400 people in less than four months. At least 18 were killed and dozens more wounded during nationwide protests on Friday – a relatively low toll compared with the past few Fridays. But the pattern of activists being attacked by the security forces remains the same.

British government officials travelled during the week to the south of Turkey to interview Syrian refugees. A Foreign Office official told the Observer that diplomats are compiling accounts of what happened in Jisr al-Shughour and the villages around it during the first two weeks of this month, when the Syrian army mounted a series of raids, followed by an assault that led almost every resident of the 41,000-strong town to flee, first for the nearby hills, then to Turkey.

Among the allegations being investigated are claims that Iranian soldiers operated alongside Syrian units – especially the Fourth Division of the army, which is led by Assad’s brother Maher and has a reputation for ruthlessness.

The European Union last week adopted sanctions against three leading officers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, among them Qassem Suleimani, commander of the elite Al-Quds force, who is widely regarded as the leader of all the Iranian military’s clandestine missions abroad.

A senior diplomat in Beirut said on Friday that intelligence agencies had evidence that Iran sent weapons to Syria, but had not yet determined whether there had been an actual Iranian presence at demonstrations.

In a further sign of Turkish unease with Damascus, officials from the country’s Red Crescent who run the five refugee camps along the border no longer seem to be banned from talking to reporters. Embarrassment to Syria has clearly become less of a concern.

Refugee accounts are being used to compile a referral to the international criminal court, which will be asked to prosecute Assad and key regime officials for crimes against humanity. The referral is being prepared by several rights groups, including Insan, which is also compiling testimonies from defecting Syrian soldiers.

Turkey’s growing diplomatic anger at Syria has made Istanbul an attractive hub for the Syrian opposition movement, which has received scores of defectors in recent weeks. Beirut, which is less than three hours’ drive from Damascus and offers easy access to Syrian citizens, is now considered too dangerous for anti-regime dissidents. “It is a clearing house only,” said one Syrian activist who directs a network of dissidents across the border. “There are many ways that the regime can get to people here – they don’t even have to be here themselves. They just use their proxies.”

One Syrian journalist who fled to Beirut has told the rights group Avaaz of his capture by Lebanese military intelligence officers. The journalist says he was seized from a coffee shop in Jounieh, 25km north of Beirut. He said he was first asked by a stranger to step outside for a conversation, then seized and taken to a fetid barracks where he was interrogated for several days.

“During the days I spent in Beirut, some other Syrian activists were kidnapped and extradited to the Syrian security police,” he said. “The Lebanese authorities have also captured the few fugitive Syrian soldiers who had fled Syria through the borders, and then turned them in to Syria, claiming that it had to because of the security agreement signed between the two countries.”

At least 1,000 refugees crossed into Lebanon at the Wadi Khalled border point on Friday, including five men with gunshot wounds, after an assault on the Syrian city of Homs, according to Lebanese officials. A resident of the border village told the Observer that Syrian army units had opened fire towards the wounded as they attempted to enter Lebanon.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

Early and brief!  Both because this afternoon I will go to the Old City in Jerusalem to attend a photo and slideshow exhibition at the Austrian Hospice.  The exhibit is by Pat Westwater-Jong on ‘Courage and Compassion in the Holy Land.’ I accompanied Pat one day (perhaps 2?) to the Salfit area of the WB to meet and talk to some of my favorite friends.  They of course won’t be allowed to attend, being Palestinians and not residents of Jerusalem, but their pictures and stories will be there for others to see, along with many additional ones that Pat worked hard to acquire.

It irks me no end that my Palestinian friends cannot come to visit me or to attend an exhibit as this one.  Israel’s military occupation and colonization of Palestine is shitty and worse.  Excuse my language, but truly, were some country to do to Jews what Israel does to Palestinians, then we’d hear at least a ruckus.  True, that didn’t happen during WWII.  But neither did we hear then about others who suffered at the hands of the Nazis—Gypsies, for instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gays, for instance, and others—not until the end of the war.  Was that right?  No!  So why don’t governments cry out now for justice for Palestinians? Help me, please, get the message across!  Maybe if enough of us shout we’ll eventually get the message out.

Only 4 items today.

In item 1 Amira Hass tells us about preparations for the flotilla by those going on the Canadian ship (which she apparently is going to be on).  Amira lived many years in Gaza, and was on a previous boat (not flotilla, though) attempting to break the blockade.

In item 2 Philip Weiss records a Q and A between a reporter and a not very eloquent representative of the US State Department on the issue of the flotilla.  Would be amusing were it satire.  Unfortunately, it apparently is true, which, though, makes it no less satirical.

In item 3 Mazin Qumsiyeh relates today’s Theater of the Absurd.  Absurd, indeed.  Funny? No.

Item 4 is the compilation for June 25, 2011 of Today in Palestine.  Several of its items towards the end you received in my message yesterday.  So that means less reading for you.  Please do, however, scan the rest.

Thanks.

Dorothy

=============================================

1.  Haaretz,

June 26, 2011

Latest update 02:37 26.06.11

Fear and no clean clothing: Amira Hass preparing to sail for Gaza

Participants aboard the Canadian ship dubbed the Tahrir are gearing up to join the upcoming Gaza flotilla.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/fear-and-no-clean-clothing-amira-hass-preparing-to-sail-for-gaza-1.369611

By Amira Hass

Tags: Gaza flotilla Gaza Hosni Mubarak

Social activist Stephan Corriveau warned all of us due to set sail on the Canadian ship dubbed the Tahrir – one of the boats participating in the upcoming Gaza flotilla – that we would have no opportunity to bathe during the three-day journey to Gaza but would have drinking water. There was no point in bringing a change of clothes, the Montreal-based Corriveau noted, because there would be nowhere to change, encouraging us to take as little as possible. In the best case scenario, we will make it to Gaza and can buy some clothing there, he said.

There are about 50 of us, men and women, due to sail on the Tahrir, whose name is a reference to the Cairo square where protests earlier this year led to the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Several hundred other activists, from about 20 countries, and several dozen journalists are currently preparing to set sail for Gaza.

At several Mediterranean ports, ships await their participants for the upcoming flotilla. The vessels were acquired in a transatlantic fund-raising effort which began about a year ago, immediately after the Israeli Navy killed nine partcipants aboard a Gaza-bound flotilla ship, the Mavi Marmara, last May. The new flotilla has been organized by a coalition of organizations, all of which refuse to accept the Israeli argument that the Gaza Strip is no longer besieged and that if there is a siege, it is only because of the arms Hamas has been smuggling into the territory. The activists’ participation is designed to apply popular pressure on their own governments to stop cooperating with the Israeli policy.

Canadian activists raised about $350,000 over the past year for the operation, setting up an account in the name of a group called Turtle Island Humanitarian Aid. The Canadian government has announced it does not support the flotilla, viewing it as a provocation against Israel. Other governments have had a similar reaction to the effort in response to the participation of their nationals. Only the Irish government has called on Israel to refrain from violence in response to the flotilla.

Last Thursday, the Greek port authority announced it had received a claim contending that the the Amercian boat, whose delegates are mostly from the U.S. but some are Israelis, was not seaworthy and the ship’s departure would be delayed until the claim was investigated. Flotilla organizers say they believe the claim to be politically motivated. Their lawyer is currently negotiating with authorities over the issue but the plan is to set sail with the rest of the flotilla.

Although the Tahrir has been generally referred to as Canadian, it was purchased for about $500,000 with contributions that also came from Australia, Denmark and Belgium; nationals of all of these countries will be on board when it joins the flotilla. The donations came primarily from individuals and non-governmental organizations, said David Heap, a Canadian professor of linguistics and French who has a history of activism against apartheid in South Africa and on behalf of native peoples in North America.

Heap said he was not surprised by the Canadian government’s opposition to the flotilla, and claimed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been a founder of a think tank that supported South Africa during the apartheid regime and that opposed sanctions against the regime and the release of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

In advance of the departure of our ship, we – the particpants – sat in a Greek hotel, getting to know one another and rehearsing the prospect that the Israeli Navy would take control of the ships in the flotilla. In simulation drills over several hours, about 50 civilians – ranging in age from 20 to 69 – attempted to imagine themselves facing Israeli warships and M16 rifles with fighter helicopters hovering overhead, along with water cannon, tear gas and Taser stun guns. The participants also imagined verbal abuse along with physical blows, dogs, and masked commandos.

The activists concluded from the exercise that they should acknowledge their fears and learn as a group of people, mutually responsible for one anther, how to confront their fears.

===================

2.  Tell them to let our people go

http://mondoweiss.net/2011/06/reporters-hector-state-is-the-blockade-legal-what-right-does-israel-have-to-defend-itself-from-humanitarian-aid.html

To all: By now you’ve no doubt heard the news about Hillary’s people defining the about to take off Gaza flotilla as a “provacative act”! Could Obama be getting a bit nervous that he might have to take a stand? He may be nervous but not as much as the Israeli government that is throwing everything in the book at them to prevent them from even leaving the shores. Below is a partial dialogue from the State Dept. press conference where Matt Lee of the AP was a bit persistent in his questioning. I’m sure he’ll pay for it in some way but good on him as Molly used to say.

Reporters hector State: Is the blockade legal? What right does Israel have to ‘defend itself’ from humanitarian aid?
by Philip Weiss on June 25, 2011

Matt Lee of AP is on fire. Be like Matt Lee, you docile bovine seven-stomached beasts of the mainstream media, grow a pair. And it looks like other State Department reporters are emulating him. Here’s the video . And here’s an extended excerpt from the briefing, below. Gaza is just about the first order of business. And listen to Lee’s genius question toward the end about Saudi Arabian women driving and breaking the law. “It seems to me that’s a pretty provocative act,” too, but Hillary Clinton defends them. I have to believe stuff is shaking. Oh brave flotilla, be safe and make it to Gaza!!!!

QUESTION: This morning, Victoria, you put out a statement – or a statement went out in your name – about the flotilla. This is the  third warning in three days from this building or people in this  building about this. What is the big concern here? Are you – is there a  worry that this is going – that this may upend your efforts to get the  peace talks restarted?

MS. [Victoria] NULAND: I think this just continues a year of diplomacy  and public statements that we’ve had making clear that we don’t want to  see a repeat of the very dangerous situation that occurred last year. So  we thought it was timely to put out all in one place our views on this  issue, and I do commend to all of you the very detailed statement that  we put out earlier in the day.

QUESTION: Right. But is there a concern that this may have  broader – if it goes ahead, that there may be broader implications for  the effort?

MS. NULAND: We have seen some warming in relations between Turkey  and Israel, as we talked about I think it was on Tuesday. We want to  see that effort continue. We want to see those who want to aid  humanitarian situation in Gaza use the appropriate channels. There has  been some progress, as the statement makes clear, in opening the way for  more humanitarian aid. More humanitarian aid is getting in through  legitimate channels. So we’d like to see that process continue and not  have a repeat of the dangerous situation we had last summer.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, one of the things that the Secretary  said yesterday in – when – in her comments to this was that attempts to  go into Israeli waters were provocative and irresponsible. And it’s my  understanding that the flotilla organizers do not intend to go into  Israeli waters but in – they will stay in international waters. Is that  your understanding or is that not your understanding per what the  Secretary said yesterday?

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to the intentions of those involved  in the flotilla. I think the Secretary was clear it was in response to a question yesterday —

QUESTION: Correct.

MS. NULAND: — as you remember, so that also speaks to the  fact that publicly this issue is out there, that we do not want to see  the bad situation of last year repeated. We do believe that channels  exist for providing humanitarian aid to Gaza in a safe and secure way  and that that situation is improving. And we urge all NGOs who want to  participate in that to use those channels.

QUESTION: But does a flotilla sitting in international waters off the Gaza – off the coast of Gaza, is that a problem for the U.S.?

MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t want to get into the Law of the Sea issues here. I simply want to say that we don’t want to see a conflict at sea, on land. We want to see appropriate legitimate channels used for  the —

QUESTION: I understand, but in the briefing that just preceded this —

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: — you talked about wanting to – in another  instance, in the South China Sea, the U.S. has been very concerned about the freedom of navigation.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: And so I’m not quite sure what the U.S. problem  would be with a flotilla that stays in international waters, whether  it’s off the coast of Gaza or off the coast of the Philippines.

MS. NULAND: I think we’re not talking about a freedom of  navigation issue. We’re talking about appropriate and safe and agreed  mechanisms for delivering aid to the people of Gaza.

QUESTION: So it’s —

MS. NULAND: So I think the statement speaks for it —

QUESTION: Well, but you believe that Israel is within its  rights to defend itself to take on or to prevent ships from going into  international waters?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speak to international  waters, territorial waters. I’m simply saying that we are encouraging  those who want to aid the people of Gaza to use the channels that have  been established.

QUESTION: All right. And then was – on the flotilla – this is  on the Middle East – I just want to know, wondering if there’s any  update on the Quartet meeting in Brussels?

MS. NULAND: Simply that they had a good meeting today, they  did begin a conversation about when they’re going to meet next, and  they’re looking to do that in the next few weeks. But I don’t have any  specific announcements out of the Quartet today.

QUESTION: Is there – is the thought that the next meeting  would be at the principals level or is it going to be, again, at the –  at an envoy level?

MS. NULAND: I think decisions have not been made on that subject.

Yes.

QUESTION: To follow up on —

QUESTION: Just to – this is a follow-up.

MS. NULAND: Are we on flotilla too or are we —

QUESTION: We’re on flotilla. Just to make sure, does the U.S. consider that blockade legal?

MS. NULAND: I think the main point that we were trying to make in the statement was that we’ve got to use the channels that are safe, the channels that are going to guarantee that the aid get where it needs  to go to the people it’s intended for, and to discourage, in strongest  terms, any actions on the high seas that could result in a conflict.

QUESTION: Right, but again, that doesn’t answer the question  of the legality or the – whether the U.S. perceives that blockade as  legal or not.

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything for you on legality here. We can take a stronger look at that if you’d like, but again, the reason  that the Secretary spoke to this yesterday when she was asked, the  reason that we’ve put out this very fulsome statement that points people in the correct direction, is because we want to avoid the problems of  last year, and we do believe that there are good and reliable channels  for getting assistance to the people of Gaza.

QUESTION: And just one more. I’m sorry. The people who are  putting this together have a rather elaborate website, and they say that – on that that the U.S. should be protecting the rights of American  citizens, protecting their safety abroad. So that is the argument that  they are making. They’re very disappointed and shocked that the State  Department would be warning people off. What do you say to that?

MS. NULAND: It is in the interest of protecting both Americans and other citizens from around the world who might be thinking about  engaging in provocative moves like this that we were putting out these  warnings so strongly in the same season where we had this problem last  year. We don’t want to see a repeat, and we do believe that those who  want to aid Gaza can do so and need to do so in the correct manner.

Please.

QUESTION: You kept repeating that they have available to them —

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: — proper channels and so on. What – could you share with us some of these proper channels?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Rafah Crossing, as you know, is open  again, and we have seen an uptick in the humanitarian aid that is going  through there. There are also channels through Israel, and we’ve been  relatively encouraged that the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza  through these appropriate channels is improving.

QUESTION: But the Rafah Crossing was only recently opened. I  mean, until then, it was completely closed. So that’s one issue. And  another: Could you clarify for us whether, in fact, the Gaza waters or  crossing through the Gaza waters, is that legal or illegal under the  Laws of the Seas and so on? Could you clarify that, please?

MS. NULAND: I think that’s the same question that Jill was  asking. And I will admit to you I’m not a Law of the Sea expert here,  but let me take the question.

QUESTION: Okay. And a quick follow-up on the Quartet: You said that it was a good meeting. Now what constitutes a good meeting? How  was the, let’s say, the meeting today different or improved the  situation from, let’s say, 24 hours ago?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you saw and as we’ve been discussing here for the course of the last week, David Hale has been involved very  intensively with the parties, with the regional states. For the members  of the Quartet, I think it was a chance to compare notes on diplomacy  that we’ve been doing, on diplomacy that other members of the Quartet  have been doing in our shared effort to get these parties back to the  table. So, from that perspective, there was a lot to discuss and then to take stock of where to go next.

Please.

QUESTION: Can I do a follow-up on the flotilla?

MS. NULAND: Please, yeah.

QUESTION: My understanding is that there were a number of the  Americans who planned to participate and went into your – I believe in  your Embassy in Athens and sought some advice. Can you tell us what the message to them in person was today?

MS. NULAND: I’m sure that the message to them in person was  identical to the statement that we’ve put out today, that we would ask  them to use established and reliable channels and to refrain from action that could lead to the kind of difficulty that we saw last year.

QUESTION: When you say that you want – you don’t want a repeat of last year, you want people to refrain from action that could lead to  the kind of difficulty that you saw last year, does that only apply to  the flotilla organizers or does that also apply to Israel?

MS. NULAND: We’ve been urging all sides, whether it’s the NGOs or whether it’s governments involved, that we not have a repeat of what  happened last year.

QUESTION: Right. Well —

MS. NULAND: And I think this speaks to the fact that the  neighboring states that – to Gaza have worked hard to establish  legitimate mechanisms, efficient mechanisms to get aid in so that people have a way to do this other than to risk provocative action.

Please, Jill.

QUESTION: Another subject?

MS. NULAND: Anybody – anything else on this? Lachlan?

QUESTION: Just one more on this. Yeah. I don’t think you said  it, but people at the State Department have said Israel has a right to  defend itself against these flotillas. What exactly would it be  defending against, though? That’s what’s not clear to me.

MS. NULAND: Like all states, Israel has a right of national  self-defense. Again, I don’t want to get into where the boat might be  and Law of the Sea and all this kind of stuff. We are simply saying this is the wrong way to get aid to Gaza. The correct way to get aid to Gaza  is through the established mechanisms which are improving, which are  open, and which can get aid to the people that it’s intended for.

QUESTION: But it’s just humanitarian aid, so I don’t see why  it would be – Israel would have to defend itself if it’s just  humanitarian aid coming in.

MS. NULAND: It’s the matter of all states to provide coastal  defense, but I’m – again, I’m not going to get into the Law of the Sea  issues here. We’re simply trying to make the point that we want this  done in a way that not only is going to get the aid where it’s intended, but is going to ensure that we don’t have dangerous incidents.

QUESTION: In general, would you say that the Administration, the U.S. Government, is – would advise anyone against provocative acts?

MS. NULAND: I think that’s a fair point.

QUESTION: It is. Okay. So you don’t see, when the Secretary  comes out in support of women who want to drive in Saudi Arabia,  deliberately violating Saudi laws and regulations, that – her support of that is – doesn’t mean that you’re not – I mean, I don’t understand  where you – if you’re coming out against all provocative acts, it seems  to me that that’s a pretty provocative act, and yet she’s supporting  that.

MS. NULAND: The Secretary was supporting the right of not only Saudi women, women around the world, to live as men do. She wasn’t  encouraging any particular course of action one way or the other. She  was simply making a strong public statement of empathy and support for  the campaign that these women are on to have these laws changed.

QUESTION: Okay. So a provocative act in support of the Palestinians in Gaza is not okay, though?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think we are supporting provocative acts  of any kind. I think you can’t equate these two issues. The Secretary  was simply speaking to the aspirations of Saudi women to have the laws  of their country changed. She wasn’t encouraging any particular course  of action for that.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me try and put it a different way, then.  You believe that because there are established – already established  means, the Israeli port where things are inspected and the Rafah  Crossing, that in this case, being provocative is unnecessary and unwise because it’s just not needed; there are other ways to do it? Is that – that’s the bottom line?

MS. NULAND: That’s certainly the case, and we don’t want further incidents. It’s not in anybody’s interest.

QUESTION: Is the regular blockade a provocative act?

MS. NULAND: I think we’ve gone as far as we’re going to go on this subject.

QUESTION: I’ll ask again. Is the naval blockade a provocative action?

MS. NULAND: We would consider it provocative and it would be dangerous to have a repeat of the situation that we saw last year.

QUESTION: But the current existing blockade, the naval blockade of Gaza, is that provocative action or is it not?

MS. NULAND: As I said, we believe that there are legitimate  and efficient ways to get assistance into Gaza and that those mechanisms are working and that we’re seeing, as a result of them, an improvement in the humanitarian situation.

Jill, are we moving on now? Yeah. Thanks. Please, go ahead.


Greta Berlin, Co-Founder
+33 607 374 512
witnessgaza.com
www.freegaza.org
http://www.flickr.com/photos/freegaza

==============================

3.  From: Mazin Qumsiyeh <mazin@qumsiyeh.org>

Jun 25, 2011


Subject: [HumanRights] Theater of the absurd

Theater of the absurd
http://popular-resistance.blogspot.com/2011/06/theater-of-absurd.html

The theater of the criminal and absurd continue.  Merril Lynch reported that Israeli millionaires’ net assets rose from $43 billion to $52 billion in
2010. Apartheid Prime minister Netanyahu announced that he will strip
Political prisoners held by Israel of basic rights like the right to
continue their education.  It is believed this announcement came in response to his unwillingness to exchange prisoners with Hamas (sad note: leaked documents showed that Abbas authorities lobbied hard against any release of prisoners in exchange for a captured apartheid soldier). Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) also invaded several Palestinian communities in the past few days including setting up flying checkpoints in the middle of area A (Palestinian “security forces” withdrew upon orders from Israeli
commanders).  This also happened in my village of Beit Sahour (one young man was kidnapped by the invading IOF criminals) the same day that our mayor had departed town to Jordan. Syrian troops killed 15 demonstrators Friday.  Bil’in residents tried to bring down the apartheid wall separating them from their land.  NATO forces killed a Palestinian family in their raids in Libya “Palestinian ambassador to Libya Atif Udah told Ma’an radio the family was in a three-story building targeted by a NATO air attack. He identified the victims as Abdullah Muhammad Ash-Shihab, his wife Karima and his 6-month-old twins Khalid and Jumanah.”  And Fatah and Hamas seem to have backed down on their promises to the Palestinian people about forming a technocrat government and to allow for a representative PNC of the PLO.

It is difficult to know though what is happening behind the scenes: my
feeling is that the growing civil society participation and pressure on all
these governments and quasi-governments is putting them in a very difficult spot. But more needs to be done by us to tip the balance and authorities still resist doing what is right. Perhaps that is why the US government, instead of demanding Israel comply with international humanitarian law, had to send three outwardly threatening statements to its own citizen about joining the freedom flotilla (see below). The European Union meanwhile, while visibly showing no sign of weakening its complicity in war crimes, is working feverishly behind the scenes to respond to the changing political landscape.  A high level official told me privately that what we are doing at the grassroots level is getting lots of attention behind closed doors and at the highest levels of Western capitals. I always reiterate that silence is complicity especially at this extremely sensitive period in our history.

For us here in Palestine and abroad, activists are focusing on the flotilla
(
http://www.freedomflotilla.eu/) and on the July 8-16 initiative
(
http://palestinejn.org ).  We hope you will give your support. Many
volunteers are needed especially to disseminate information via the internet
and increase pressure on mainstream media and politicians to finally make
the right choices and end the last remaining apartheid system on earth (as
defined by the UN Convention on the Suppression of the Crime of Apartheid and Racial Discrimination).

Famous novelist Alice Walker writes in CNN: Why I’m sailing to Gaza
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/06/21/alice.walker.gaza/
An American Jew writes in Haaretz why he is joining the freedom flotilla
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/a-moment-before-boarding-the-next-flotilla-1.369336
An ex Jew (now Pagan) Starhawk writes brilliantly on the Gaza flotilla
http://starhawksblog.org/?p=546
State Department Made a Travel Warning: If You Try To Sail To Gaza, Israel May Kill You
http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/06/22/251355/state-travel-warning-israel/
ACT NOW: Call the state Department (202-647-5291 and press 1 to leave
comment) then call the white house 202 456 1111 (I did it and it takes just
a few minutes and I talked to a real person)

Brilliant letter from “Boycott from within” Israeli citizens asking for
boycotts
http://boycottisrael.info/content/israeli-citizens-armin-van-buuren-please-d
ont-play-apartheid-eilat-israel

A good cause to donate to? Here are three examples
http://pal-youth.org/donate_to_support_PYN
http://pcr.ps/read/donate-pcr
http://www.alrowwad-acts.ps/etemplate.php?id=136

Great song released: Freedom for Palestine – OneWorld
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V28HnPTYz-I

The arc of the moral universe is long, But it bends toward justice.
-Abolitionist Theodore Parker, c. 1850’s

The choice: A poem (I am not a poet so bear with me!)

Our choice is not between
Israelis vs Palestinians
Afghans vs Americans
Muslims vs Christians
seculars vs religious
collaborators vs rebelious

Our choice crystalizes when facing
A child who lost a leg ..moaning
A mother who lost a son.. grieving
A father jailed. yearning
An uprooted tree.. wilting
A Refugee . longing

in pained eyes, we look or stay away
the balance of where we sway
Between ignorance and compassion
Between love and hateful obsession
Between Justice and repression
Between might makes right
.and right makes might

Children not of “our tribe” wait silently
We must kneel to look at their faces intently
in those dark troubled eyes,
in the fleeting brief smiles
We see our reflection, our bonding
But we need to do the deciding
To find our inner voice
To finally make the choice
For dignified life not criminal apathy
To shun death and gain empathy
To shed paralyzing fears
To taste joyful tears
Now that our hearts get uncovered
Alas.love and humanity are (re)discovered

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
http://qumsiyeh.org

Data & daily updated occupation related reading :

http://www.btselem.org
http://www.ochaopt.org
http://www.kibush.co.il

===========================

4.  Today in Palestine

June 25, 2011

http://www.theheadlines.org/11/25-06-11.shtml


Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Last minute complaint regarding the ‘sea worthiness’ of the Audacity of Hope puts the US Boat to Gaza in jeopardy

Jun 25, 2011

annie

Joseph Dana has been in Greece over the last few daysdiligently reporting on the progression of the American boat to Gaza The Audacity of Hope. Unsurprisingly pressure is rising. He’s filed his latest report at +972:Israeli assault on the Flotilla is well underway:

Early this morning, I discovered that a ‘private complaint’ had been filed against the US boat to Gaza. The complaint, it is still unclear who filed it, stated that the US boat to Gaza is not ’sea worthy’ and requires a detailed inspection. The harbor master where the boat is in port has declared that until the compliant is resolved the boat is not permitted to leave. Currently, lawyers representing the US boat are looking into the origins of the complaint and weather it was filed as a result of Israeli economic or diplomatic pressure on the Greek government. The boat is US flagged and registered in the United States.

Given the fact that the Greek government is fighting for its political survival, it is unlikely that Greece would bend to Israeli diplomatic pressure. However, it is more probable that Greece would bend to direct Israeli economic pressure. Israel and Greece have a strong economic relationship which includes a joint gas pipeline project in the Eastern Mediterranean.

If substantiated, rumors that Israel is threatening the Israeli-Greek trade relationship could have profound effects on the economy of Greece which, in turn, would make implementing upcoming austerity measure much more difficult. Right now, these sentiments are merely rumors and the Greek government is maintaining silence on economic relations with Israel in connection with the Flotilla. What is clear is that Flotilla ships are being targeted in Greek ports and might not sail.

More at +972 plus video report. Also see this report from Mya Guarnieri for Ma’an on the administrative complaint against the US Boat to Gaza.

Gaza Summer Games kick off with Olympic-style torch festival

Jun 25, 2011

annie

The 2011 Gaza Summer Games opened on Thursday with an Olympic-style torch relay through the Strip. 57 kids carried the flame thru Gaza and finished the marathon with a ceremony lighting a huge torch placed on the top of UNRWA’s Headquarters, ushering in six weeks of sports, swimming, arts and drama. The flame inside my heart for Gaza grows brighter everyday, I wish I could have attended!

250,000 Gazan students participate in the summer program now in its 5th year.

For the past two years, children in Summer Games have proved they can be the best in the world by breaking three Guinness World Records – in kite flying and basketball bouncing.

This year, they will be attempting to break four Guinness World Records:

30 June: Most playing parachute games. 3,500 children (current record 1,547 children)

14 July: Most dribbling a football. 2,024 children (no current record)

21 July: Largest handprint painting. 5,400 square metres (current record 4,355.85 square metres)

28 July: Most flying kites simultaneously. 9,000 children (current record 6,198 UNRWA 2010)

Another sign of int’l isolation

Jun 25, 2011

Philip Weiss

This (says Mark Wauck) looks like a kind of desperate attempt to break out of the increasing isolation…Reuters:

A leading Israeli official has praised Pope Pius XII for saving Jews during the Nazi occupation of Rome, a surprise twist in a long-standing controversy over the pontiff’s wartime role.

The comments by Mordechay Lewy, the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, were some of the warmest ever made by a Jewish official about Pius. Most have been very critical of his record.

Not my President

Jun 25, 2011

Seham

  • Yesterday the State Department warned that if Israel chose to attack, kill or imprison American citizens this country would do nothing about it.

  • Earlier today Hillary Clinton said the brave Americans wanting to break the siege on Gaza were provocateurs and that Israel knows best on how to make sure goods get into Gaza.

  • Now the White House says that American activists are breaking the law because they are providing support to a terrorist organization–the people of Gaza are a terrorist organization–and will be subject to fines and jail.

Such shameful statements by the State Department, when will Americans question whose interest their elected officials are working in?  Political parties, skin color and gender apparently play no role when Israel is concerned.

Reporters hector State: Is the blockade legal? What right does Israel have to ‘defend itself’ from humanitarian aid?

Jun 25, 2011

Philip Weiss

Matt Lee of AP is on fire. Be like Matt Lee, you docile bovine seven-stomached beasts of the mainstream media, grow a pair. And it looks like other State Department reporters are emulating him. Here’s the video. And here’s an extended excerpt from the briefing, below. Gaza is just about the first order of business. Watch State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland squirm. She’s the wife of Robert Kagan, former Principal Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Cheney, July 2003-May 2005. And she’s in the Obama administration? What does she know, when did she know it?

Be sure to listen to Lee’s genius question toward the end about Saudi Arabian women driving and breaking the law. “It seems to me that’s a pretty provocative act,” too, but Hillary Clinton defends them. I have to believe stuff is shaking. Oh brave flotilla, be safe and make it to Gaza!!!!

QUESTION: This morning, Victoria, you put out a statement – or a statement went out in your name – about the flotilla. This is the third warning in three days from this building or people in this building about this. What is the big concern here? Are you – is there a worry that this is going – that this may upend your efforts to get the peace talks restarted?

MS. [Victoria] NULAND: I think this just continues a year of diplomacy and public statements that we’ve had making clear that we don’t want to see a repeat of the very dangerous situation that occurred last year. So we thought it was timely to put out all in one place our views on this issue, and I do commend to all of you the very detailed statement that we put out earlier in the day.

QUESTION: Right. But is there a concern that this may have broader – if it goes ahead, that there may be broader implications for the effort?

MS. NULAND: We have seen some warming in relations between Turkey and Israel, as we talked about I think it was on Tuesday. We want to see that effort continue. We want to see those who want to aid humanitarian situation in Gaza use the appropriate channels. There has been some progress, as the statement makes clear, in opening the way for more humanitarian aid. More humanitarian aid is getting in through legitimate channels. So we’d like to see that process continue and not have a repeat of the dangerous situation we had last summer.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, one of the things that the Secretary said yesterday in – when – in her comments to this was that attempts to go into Israeli waters were provocative and irresponsible. And it’s my understanding that the flotilla organizers do not intend to go into Israeli waters but in – they will stay in international waters. Is that your understanding or is that not your understanding per what the Secretary said yesterday?

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to the intentions of those involved in the flotilla. I think the Secretary was clear it was in response to a question yesterday —

QUESTION: Correct.

MS. NULAND: — as you remember, so that also speaks to the fact that publicly this issue is out there, that we do not want to see the bad situation of last year repeated. We do believe that channels exist for providing humanitarian aid to Gaza in a safe and secure way and that that situation is improving. And we urge all NGOs who want to participate in that to use those channels.

QUESTION: But does a flotilla sitting in international waters off the Gaza – off the coast of Gaza, is that a problem for the U.S.?

MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t want to get into the Law of the Sea issues here. I simply want to say that we don’t want to see a conflict at sea, on land. We want to see appropriate legitimate channels used for the —

QUESTION: I understand, but in the briefing that just preceded this —

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: — you talked about wanting to – in another instance, in the South China Sea, the U.S. has been very concerned about the freedom of navigation.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: And so I’m not quite sure what the U.S. problem would be with a flotilla that stays in international waters, whether it’s off the coast of Gaza or off the coast of the Philippines.

MS. NULAND: I think we’re not talking about a freedom of navigation issue. We’re talking about appropriate and safe and agreed mechanisms for delivering aid to the people of Gaza.

QUESTION: So it’s —

MS. NULAND: So I think the statement speaks for it —

QUESTION: Well, but you believe that Israel is within its rights to defend itself to take on or to prevent ships from going into international waters?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speak to international waters, territorial waters. I’m simply saying that we are encouraging those who want to aid the people of Gaza to use the channels that have been established.

QUESTION: All right. And then was – on the flotilla – this is on the Middle East – I just want to know, wondering if there’s any update on the Quartet meeting in Brussels?

MS. NULAND: Simply that they had a good meeting today, they did begin a conversation about when they’re going to meet next, and they’re looking to do that in the next few weeks. But I don’t have any specific announcements out of the Quartet today.

QUESTION: Is there – is the thought that the next meeting would be at the principals level or is it going to be, again, at the – at an envoy level?

MS. NULAND: I think decisions have not been made on that subject.

Yes.

QUESTION: To follow up on —

QUESTION: Just to – this is a follow-up.

MS. NULAND: Are we on flotilla too or are we —

QUESTION: We’re on flotilla. Just to make sure, does the U.S. consider that blockade legal?

MS. NULAND: I think the main point that we were trying to make in the statement was that we’ve got to use the channels that are safe, the channels that are going to guarantee that the aid get where it needs to go to the people it’s intended for, and to discourage, in strongest terms, any actions on the high seas that could result in a conflict.

QUESTION: Right, but again, that doesn’t answer the question of the legality or the – whether the U.S. perceives that blockade as legal or not.

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything for you on legality here. We can take a stronger look at that if you’d like, but again, the reason that the Secretary spoke to this yesterday when she was asked, the reason that we’ve put out this very fulsome statement that points people in the correct direction, is because we want to avoid the problems of last year, and we do believe that there are good and reliable channels for getting assistance to the people of Gaza.

QUESTION: And just one more. I’m sorry. The people who are putting this together have a rather elaborate website, and they say that – on that that the U.S. should be protecting the rights of American citizens, protecting their safety abroad. So that is the argument that they are making. They’re very disappointed and shocked that the State Department would be warning people off. What do you say to that?

MS. NULAND: It is in the interest of protecting both Americans and other citizens from around the world who might be thinking about engaging in provocative moves like this that we were putting out these warnings so strongly in the same season where we had this problem last year. We don’t want to see a repeat, and we do believe that those who want to aid Gaza can do so and need to do so in the correct manner.

Please.

QUESTION: You kept repeating that they have available to them —

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: — proper channels and so on. What – could you share with us some of these proper channels?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Rafah Crossing, as you know, is open again, and we have seen an uptick in the humanitarian aid that is going through there. There are also channels through Israel, and we’ve been relatively encouraged that the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza through these appropriate channels is improving.

QUESTION: But the Rafah Crossing was only recently opened. I mean, until then, it was completely closed. So that’s one issue. And another: Could you clarify for us whether, in fact, the Gaza waters or crossing through the Gaza waters, is that legal or illegal under the Laws of the Seas and so on? Could you clarify that, please?

MS. NULAND: I think that’s the same question that Jill was asking. And I will admit to you I’m not a Law of the Sea expert here, but let me take the question.

QUESTION: Okay. And a quick follow-up on the Quartet: You said that it was a good meeting. Now what constitutes a good meeting? How was the, let’s say, the meeting today different or improved the situation from, let’s say, 24 hours ago?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you saw and as we’ve been discussing here for the course of the last week, David Hale has been involved very intensively with the parties, with the regional states. For the members of the Quartet, I think it was a chance to compare notes on diplomacy that we’ve been doing, on diplomacy that other members of the Quartet have been doing in our shared effort to get these parties back to the table. So, from that perspective, there was a lot to discuss and then to take stock of where to go next.

Please.

QUESTION: Can I do a follow-up on the flotilla?

MS. NULAND: Please, yeah.

QUESTION: My understanding is that there were a number of the Americans who planned to participate and went into your – I believe in your Embassy in Athens and sought some advice. Can you tell us what the message to them in person was today?

MS. NULAND: I’m sure that the message to them in person was identical to the statement that we’ve put out today, that we would ask them to use established and reliable channels and to refrain from action that could lead to the kind of difficulty that we saw last year.

QUESTION: When you say that you want – you don’t want a repeat of last year, you want people to refrain from action that could lead to the kind of difficulty that you saw last year, does that only apply to the flotilla organizers or does that also apply to Israel?

MS. NULAND: We’ve been urging all sides, whether it’s the NGOs or whether it’s governments involved, that we not have a repeat of what happened last year.

QUESTION: Right. Well —

MS. NULAND: And I think this speaks to the fact that the neighboring states that – to Gaza have worked hard to establish legitimate mechanisms, efficient mechanisms to get aid in so that people have a way to do this other than to risk provocative action.

Please, Jill.

QUESTION: Another subject?

MS. NULAND: Anybody – anything else on this? Lachlan?

QUESTION: Just one more on this. Yeah. I don’t think you said it, but people at the State Department have said Israel has a right to defend itself against these flotillas. What exactly would it be defending against, though? That’s what’s not clear to me.

MS. NULAND: Like all states, Israel has a right of national self-defense. Again, I don’t want to get into where the boat might be and Law of the Sea and all this kind of stuff. We are simply saying this is the wrong way to get aid to Gaza. The correct way to get aid to Gaza is through the established mechanisms which are improving, which are open, and which can get aid to the people that it’s intended for.

QUESTION: But it’s just humanitarian aid, so I don’t see why it would be – Israel would have to defend itself if it’s just humanitarian aid coming in.

MS. NULAND: It’s the matter of all states to provide coastal defense, but I’m – again, I’m not going to get into the Law of the Sea issues here. We’re simply trying to make the point that we want this done in a way that not only is going to get the aid where it’s intended, but is going to ensure that we don’t have dangerous incidents.

QUESTION: In general, would you say that the Administration, the U.S. Government, is – would advise anyone against provocative acts?

MS. NULAND: I think that’s a fair point.

QUESTION: It is. Okay. So you don’t see, when the Secretary comes out in support of women who want to drive in Saudi Arabia, deliberately violating Saudi laws and regulations, that – her support of that is – doesn’t mean that you’re not – I mean, I don’t understand where you – if you’re coming out against all provocative acts, it seems to me that that’s a pretty provocative act, and yet she’s supporting that.

MS. NULAND: The Secretary was supporting the right of not only Saudi women, women around the world, to live as men do. She wasn’t encouraging any particular course of action one way or the other. She was simply making a strong public statement of empathy and support for the campaign that these women are on to have these laws changed.

QUESTION: Okay. So a provocative act in support of the Palestinians in Gaza is not okay, though?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think we are supporting provocative acts of any kind. I think you can’t equate these two issues. The Secretary was simply speaking to the aspirations of Saudi women to have the laws of their country changed. She wasn’t encouraging any particular course of action for that.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me try and put it a different way, then. You believe that because there are established – already established means, the Israeli port where things are inspected and the Rafah Crossing, that in this case, being provocative is unnecessary and unwise because it’s just not needed; there are other ways to do it? Is that – that’s the bottom line?

MS. NULAND: That’s certainly the case, and we don’t want further incidents. It’s not in anybody’s interest.

QUESTION: Is the regular blockade a provocative act?

MS. NULAND: I think we’ve gone as far as we’re going to go on this subject.

QUESTION: I’ll ask again. Is the naval blockade a provocative action?

MS. NULAND: We would consider it provocative and it would be dangerous to have a repeat of the situation that we saw last year.

QUESTION: But the current existing blockade, the naval blockade of Gaza, is that provocative action or is it not?

MS. NULAND: As I said, we believe that there are legitimate and efficient ways to get assistance into Gaza and that those mechanisms are working and that we’re seeing, as a result of them, an improvement in the humanitarian situation.

Jill, are we moving on now? Yeah. Thanks. Please, go ahead.

Feldman: ‘Israel’s out of control downward spiral will help bring about alienation in Birthright alumni’

Jun 25, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Last week the Nation ran a wonderful piece by Kiera Feldman taking a critical look at Birthright Israel. She also recorded a fascinating (although somewhat cringe inducing) podcast to accompany the piece which is definitely worth listening to as well. Over the past few days I’ve interviewed Feldman over email about the piece and some of the broader implications of her reporting on the state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the American Jewish community.

Adam Horowitz: Something that you don’t delve into in the article, but I found myself thinking about, is the demographic hysteria in Israel today and how that’s connected to the overarching concern behind Birthright – “continuity” in the American Jewish community (i.e. Jews marrying Jews and having Jewish babies). You say in your piece that “early Zionism, too, was marked by alarm over intermarriage and demographic decline,” but I think I would take out “early.” My gut feeling is that this has been a focus since the beginning and is most likely a hallmark of all early 20th century nationalisms. I think it’s an interesting connection to think about – the obsession with demography whether in the context of a state building project, or communal longevity in the US. It feels all connected, but I’m not exactly seeing it.

Kiera Feldman: It is easy to laugh off the American Jewish community’s obsession with “continuity” as mere titillation: Jewish babymaking as punch line. But in Israel, Jewish demographic fear achieves its full expression.

In Eros and the Jews, historian David Biale notes early Zionism’s demographic obsession was no different than other late 19th century European nationalisms. As for today, I also struggle to properly connect the dots between diaspora Jewish demographic fear and the “demographic threat” in the Jewish state, where the very bodies of non-Jews are seen as endangering the national Jewish body. The “Judaization” of East Jerusalem, the Galilee, and the Negev—that’s “continuity” in action. Looking eastward helps remind us that blood purity drives “continuity” concerns. The logical extension of this tribal fear is a policy of separation, containment and state violence against minority populations.

Take the Bedouin village of Al Araqib: In March, the Israeli military destroyed the village for the 21st time. Al Araquib was slated to be “Judaized” with a Jewish National Fund forest; official Israeli land settlement policy in the Negev is to concentrate Bedouins in state-constructed Bedouin ghettos.

AH: I came away from your piece thinking the Birthright is very successful for what it seeks to do. How do you think this squares with Peter Beinart’s thesis about the alienation young people are feeling from Israel and the community? Does the “Birthright effect” wear off after 6 months, or does Bronfman just need to get more young people on Birthright to turn the tide?

KF: Over the last week, much of the Jewish Internet’s collective shitstorm energies were devoted to “Life After Zionist Summer Camp,” a piece in The Awl by Allison Benedikt. Her non-Zionist conversion narrative so enraged Jeffrey Goldberg that he declared her “anti-Israel” and “un-Jewish.” Nothing riles up True Believers like an apostate. The anger is magnified, I think, by the knowledge that Benedikt’s story is increasingly common among American Jews. A great sea change is underway, but I fear Birthright is a force to be reckoned with.

Thinking specifically about my trip, my busmates seemed united in feeling “more Jewish,” along with possessing a newfound connection to Israel. Our unusually candid guide’s explanations of the legal inequalities in a Jewish state, of the brutality of its military policy, did not induce alienation. Much to my surprise, young Jews on my trip quite readily “checked their liberalism at Zionism’s door” for ten days. Fun bound us together—and to the land where it all went down.

As for the long-term impact of Birthright, that’s the million-dollar question to ask of the demi-billion-dollar program. The sociological data out of Brandeis’ Steinhardt Social Research Institute suggests Birthright “works” over the long haul in shoring up Jewish identity and connection to Israel. But I’m a bit skeptical given that (the eponymous) Michael Steinhardt is the co-founder of Birthright, and such studies conveniently help assure funders and potential funders that their investment in “Jewish continuity” passes the kind of effectiveness evaluations they expect from the corporate world.

I am not sure if it’s a gut feeling or a hope that Israel’s Amy Winehouse-style out of control downward spiral will help bring about alienation in Birthright alumni; I don’t see anything wrong in a bit of alienated “what the fuck.” On Facebook, a non-Jewish friend of afriend recently noted that she’d known Jews who returned from Birthright “with very different ideas than when they left (some which are a bit scary), but it seems to fade over time.”

Then again, for many Birthrighters the “magic” of Israel (to use co-founder Charles Bronfman’s terminology) is real and lasting. One liberal twenty-something half-Jewish Manhattanite from my February 2010 trip still has Theodor Herlz’s famous Zionist slogan on her Facebook profile: “If you will it, it is no dream.” We have to account for the fact that Jewish nationalism is profoundly appealing for the young and adrift. It says, “You’re part of something bigger than yourself. Your life has meaning and purpose. There’s this land where experience is richer than the tedium of daily life. You have been persecuted for all of eternity, and here you can be safe. Except: waitpaniccrisis!! It’s all under threat and must be protected at any cost.”

To be less of a bummer, I’ll note that the trip can work in unexpected ways: one source in the piece, Max Geller, was really radicalized by the anti-Arab virulence of his Birthright experience and became a tireless justice in Palestine activist. For me, going on Birthright as a reporter gave me the opportunity to “birth left” in the West Bank post-trip. (My impression is that most Birthright buses have a couple travelers who go on to do heterodox tourism afterward.) Staying ten days in Bil’in, going to the Nil’in demo, coming to see Palestinian and Israeli anti-wall activists as “my people”—Birthright shored up my identity as a Jewish morally engaged journalist.

AH: You make the point several times in the article and the podcast that most the trip participants viewed themselves as liberal. You also point out that the trip guide was unusually explicit about the meaning of the Jewish state. One example:

Driving through northern Israel, Shachar gave a lesson in “Judaization,” the government’s term for settlement policy. Passing through an Israeli-Arab town, he called our attention to a litter-strewn road (perhaps the result of inequities in municipal funding, which escaped mention) and then pointed to a neat ring of state-subsidized Jewish towns. “Judaization,” he explained, was necessary “to keep them from spreading.”

How would you say the trip participants rationalized “checking their liberalism at Zionism’s door?” Would you say this effected their view of Israel, prompted them to reconsider their liberalism, or left them willing to live with the contradiction?

KF: Responses were necessarily myriad, but the latter seemed to be the predominant sentiment among my busmates. To be sure, two Birthrighters and I bonded over a shared horror and rejection of the realities of the so-called “Jewish and democratic” state (one of whom, naturally, I went on to date). There were a number of people who were deeply troubled by the Israel they saw on Birthright and did not hesitate to use words like “apartheid” and “segregation”—including two political conservatives–but no one began clamoring for a multinational state. One woman told me she’d never considered what “Jewish and democratic” meant, but the trip helped crystallize that “it’s just not happening here.”

I am unsure whether Birthrighters’ reactions illustrate the failings and limitations of Jewish American youth culture—or of liberalism. After I returned from the trip, I remember a conversation in which you and I wondered if Birthright realizes another American desire: a release from the demands of liberal values. In this dark sense, perhaps Zionism is Jewish emancipation.

Unlike in Israel, Americans are generally weaned on an anti-racist discourse, and so Birthrighters were able to know racism when they saw it. But what happens after recognition? The funbus drove on.

AH: Finally, in the podcast was struck by the “domesticated house cat Jews” (American Jews) vs “wild feral Jews” (Israeli Jews) dichotomy that one trip participant makes. It does seem that that is one of the goals of the trip is to get the North American house cat Jews to understand, if not, emulate their feral co-religionists. Part of this seems to be enjoying the empowered triumphalism that I’ve frequently seen from Israeli Jews when I’ve been in Israel. I cringed listening to the podcast in several parts, especially on the kibbutz. Has anyone from the trip responded to the article?  Do you think any of them would be embarrassed or ashamed to listen to this?

KF: The Birthright Boyfriend loved it! Otherwise, I’m not sure anyone else has read it yet.

While I was reporting the remainder of the story this past winter, I tried (unsuccessfully) to follow-up with a few of the participants who were most transformed on the trip. I didn’t hear back from them but I should have been more persistent. My guess now is that many of my tour mates would challenge my “cherry picking” of quotes and want to focus on their happy memories of the trip. Everyone seemed to agree the guide was “badass” and “hella funny,” and I doubt anyone would revise that assessment. The men on my trip were especially impressed by the “New Jew” in Israel—the hyper-masculine creation that bills itself as the answer to Jewish victimhood in the Holocaust and weakness in the diaspora. Glorification of Israeli militarism runs deep in American Jewish culture, which continues to harbor a deep self-deprecating shame of the figure of the sniveling nebbish. This week, Sarah Silvermanjoined Shakira in Jerusalem for the Israeli Presidential Conference. Silverman tweeted—with an RT from Jeffrey Goldberg, naturally—“Israel is this bizarro world where Jews r gorgeous & kick-assy instead of sneezy & shirt-stainy.”

On the final night of my Birthright trip, we all sat drinking on Tel Aviv’s banana beach. A high school year book-style vote took place. Everyone had nicknames on the trip, and mine was “Dear Diary” thanks to the constant notebook scribbling. I was voted “Most Likely to Take Down Birthright.”

Now, a year later, this seems unlikely–and wasn’t my goal anyway. But here’s to hoping for critical engagement. For a program that operates on the emotional level, in a country where policy is determined by gut fear and hysteria, cutting through the “magic” of ethnonationalism is the cerebral task at hand. Much to my dismay, after reading Alison Benedikt’s piece in conjunction with mine, Haaretz’s Bradley Burston wrote in the emotional register, of a renewed “ache” about how “people need a home” (aligning Jewish nationalism with Palestinian national liberation). Burston continued, “Zionist summer camps and, for that matter, Birthright, were created specifically to address that ache.” What followed was the classic liberal Zionist’s lament: good idea, bad implementation.

If anything, my Birthright reporting should help illustrate Zionism’s bankrupt core. What’s more, even the most dovish members of Birthright’s brain trust would not imagine it differently. “It is not a trip to Palestine and to Israel,” said Yossi Beilin, the elder statesman of liberal Zionism and the originator of the Birthright idea, when asked his thoughts on Birthright buses patronizing the West Bank settlement-based Ahava factory. “You hear one narrative, not two.” I wondered if perhaps a settlement might be complemented with a stop at a Palestinian village. Beilin reiterated, “It is not a visit to the Israeli-Arab conflict. It’s a visit to Israel.”

Zionists tend to lament the ethnic cleansing of 1948: if only things had been done differently—as if a Jewish majority state could have been produced any other way. But why the urge to rehabilitate ethnonationalism? There are other things to believe in besides Jewish peoplehood and its attendant blood-soil claims that resist intellectualization, inducing a singular feeling: “home.” Going forward, perhaps to a certain extent Jews need to check our emotions at Israel’s door. For me, a baptized daughter of intermarriage, it comes easily.

A tribute to EM Broner

Jun 25, 2011

Lizzy Ratner

The first time I met the writer, feminist, and modern-day matriarch E.M. Broner – better known to her friends as Esther – she was wielding a wand. It had been a sad occasion, the first anniversary of the death of the late, great book critic John Leonard, and a few of us were gathered at the house John had shared with his wife Sue, a brilliant teacher, radical spirit, and one of the first women to teach me about feminism. We were just digging into a mound of oversized, drown-your-sorrows desserts when Broner walked in – or floated, more accurately – an 81-year-old fairy with leaping eyes, a delighted cackle, and unapologetically frizzy brown hair. She seemed ancient and ageless all at once, and she was waving one of those glittery star-shaped wands that are so popular with the under-eight set. There aren’t many people who can pull off a wand, with or without glitter, but Broner wore it like a particularly graceful limb. When she waved it over us, the lights – I am certain of this – buzzed 50 watts brighter.

Three days ago, on June 21st, this exquisite woman died, just a few weeks shy of her 83rd birthday and long, long before she or the world she inhabited was ready. While I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Broner well, she was the kind of person I adored instantly, enjoyed tremendously, and admired endlessly. She wrote books – lilting, sensuous, form-bending books like A Weave of Women and The Red Squad; she taught writing, literature, and life; she invented rituals; she organized and protested; she helped midwife the movement for Jewish feminism – once, perhaps, thought to be an oxymoron – and helped refashion a religion in the process.

Mostly, though, she cast spells.

You see, Broner was one of the women who came before, part of that group and generation of lady warriors who made my world possible. She slew the dragons so my friends and I didn’t have to, but she slew them with such charm and wit and eloquent determination that it might be more accurate to say that she didn’t kill them so much as de-fang them, ensorcell them with her incantations and imagination.

“She gives such a twinkle to the phrase earth mother, because that’s what she was. Every single cell of her being was feminist, and that radiated outward in any circumstance, in any situation,” our shared friend Sue Leonard said. “And other people might have a different interpretation, but I think it was her feminism that made her such a humanist about anybody anywhere who was being in any way downtrodden.”

It was this feminist humanism, or humanist feminism, that inspired Broner to hold high the banner of so many righteous struggles: antiwar, labor, civil rights, Palestinian rights, and, of course, women’s struggles both near and far. She held vigil with Women in Black, she protested police brutality – indeed, she got arrested when she was past 70 for protesting the brutal 41-bullet execution of Amadou Diallo.

“She was just tuned in, passionate, and willing to put her body on the line,” her close friend, the writer and feminist Letty Cottin Pogrebin, said.

Still her most lasting legacy will almost certainly be the way she helped remake Judaism for so many women, remake it in their image. This is hardly a small feat given that the religion in question – like so many of the really big ones, frankly – has excelled for some three millennia at writing women into subservience when it wasn’t simply writing them off. But Broner helped reclaim a place and a history for the second sex by both forcing her way into male-dominated rituals – witness her year-long struggle to say kaddish for her dad at an orthodox synagogue, which she chronicled in Mornings and Mourning: a Kaddish Journal – and by inventing new ones. Hence the wands. And feathers. And sacred shmatte. Hence also the coven that include Gloria Steinem, Marilyn French, and Carol Jenkins. And henceThe Women’s Haggadah she co-authored in 1977 and the legendary women’s seder she conjured a year earlier, an act of religious reinvention that became a New York tradition celebrated each year alongside such sisterly powerhouses as Grace Paley, Bella Abzug, Steinem, Pogrebin and others.

“There is no way to calculate the enormous impact she’s had,” said Pogrebin, who credits Broner with drawing her back toward Judaism – an enlightened feminist Judaism – after years of disenchantment. “She was able to rename what mattered in women’s lives, and to sacralize it, to make sacred, the way men throughout time were able to name the sacred, and she did it with this whispery voice and rosy cheeks and glittering eyes.”

What does all of this renaming and sacralizing, reinventing and reshaping have to do with everyone else? Quite a bit actually since what Broner offers, among so many other things, is a beautiful example of exploding a tradition to save it, transforming something that had oppressed her into something that might liberate her.

As I write this, I can’t help but think back to a tribute paid recently to another righteous soul who was yanked away far too soon. Several weeks ago, during an impromptu eulogy for the Jenin Freedom Theater fighter Juliano Mer-Khamis, the filmmaker Udi Aloni compared his friend to the great trickster figure in literature. The trickster is the great subverter, the irreverent, irrepressible boundary breaker. He is Puck and Huck, Eshu and Anansi, The Little Tramp, Hermes – any number of protean beings who are at once inside and outside, here and there, bending norms, meaning, and the laws of reality.

Broner wasn’t exactly a trickster – tricksters historically haven’t been women, and it wasn’t really her style either. But she was both inside and outside, bending norms, hovering at the door between tradition and equality, turning stasis into possibility. All of which makes her something quite rare indeed: the woman with the wand.

‘European audiences voice their anguish openly– what has happened to Israel?’

Jun 25, 2011

Kate

and other news from Today in Palestine:

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

Film trailer: Roadmap to Apartheid
There are many lessons to draw from the South African experience of Apartheid relevant to conflicts all over the world. Roadmap to Apartheid explores in detail the apartheid comparison as it is used in the enduring Israel-Palestine conflict. As much an historical document of the rise and fall of apartheid, the film shows us why many Palestinians feel they are living in an apartheid system today, and why an increasing number of people around the world agree with them. Featuring interviews with South Africans, Israelis and Palestinians, Roadmap to Apartheid winds its way through the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside Israel moving from town to town and issue to issue to show why the apartheid analogy is being used with increasing potency.
http://roadmaptoapartheid.org/

Academics support Israel’s ‘Civil Disobedience Women’ willing to break Israel’s entry laws
AIC 23 June — 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 women’s group which openly infringes the law of entry to Israel … 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 … “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.
link to www.alternativenews.org

Palestinian arrested after being hit by jeep in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian from Silwan after hitting him with a military Jeep. Local witnesses said the Israeli military detained Ali Sabri Abu Diab, 15, from Silwan, for unknown reasons. Israeli forces also raided a solidarity sit-in tent in Silwan after Friday afternoon prayers which lead to confrontations between the police and citizens, locals said. No Israeli spokesperson was available for comment. The tent is part of the popular struggle against house demolitions and forced displacement in East Jerusalem.
link to www.maannews.net

‘Now it’s all gone’: Women cope with siege in Jordan Valley / Nora Barrows-Friedman
EI 24 June — …The demolitions in al-Hadidya and Khirbet Yerza come on the heels of a massive demolition inside the village of Fasayil on 14 June. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) states in a report that more than 100 persons — including 64 children — were left homeless after Israeli forces destroyed 21 structures, including 18 homes (Jordan Valley homes demolished, 103 left homeless 15 June 2011). ICAHD co-director Itay Epshtain says in the report that the latest demolition of Fasayil “is part of an ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Jordan Valley … It is Israel’s overt policy to demolish Palestinians’ homes in the Jordan Valley to allow for land expropriation and for neighboring settlements to encroach on Palestinian land.”
link to electronicintifada.net

ICAHD launches Jordan Valley tours
19 June — ICAHD is launching new tours to the Jordan Valley, and welcome your participation. Our tours are based on engagement with local activists and the Palestinian community in the area, as well as on research conducted by ICAHD Co- Director, Itay Epshtain. Having provided thousands of people from around the world with top-quality tours for over twelve years, ICAHD is known for its knowledgeable tour guides and multi-faceted approach to examining the complexities of life in East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. From meeting with Palestinian families suffering under Israeli policies of separation and home demolitions, to seeing the Israeli settlement project’s implementation on the ground, ICAHD prioritizes first-hand learning and encourages questions and debate.
link to www.icahd.org

Amnesty International call for urgent action against demolitions in Hadidiya
JVS 23 June — URGENT ACTION: FAMILIES WITHOUT HOMES FOLLOWING DEMOLITION The Israeli army have destroyed 29 homes and other properties in the Bedouin hamlet of Hadidiya in the Jordan Valley, leaving 11 children and 16 adults without homes. The families are planning to rebuild structures to live in, but these will also be at immediate risk of demolition by the authorities … PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English, Hebrew or your own language: *Condemning the demolition of the homes and other structures in Hadidiya and urging all demolition and eviction orders against Palestinians in Hadidiya and the Jordan Valley to be cancelled immediately; …
link to www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org

Amidror to oversee Beduins’ settlement
JPost 22 June — Following controversy surrounding Public Policy Department head Ehud Prower’s program for resettling the Beduin in the Negev, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has transferred responsibility for solving the Beduin issue to National Security Council chief Ya’acov Amidror. Beduin groups expressed skepticism over the appointment, fearing Amidror’s purported right-wing views, Israel Radio reported.
link to www.jpost.com

Settlers

Settlers intensify their tours of West Bank mountains
RAMALLAH (PIC) 24 June — Acquainted sources said that Zionist usurpers have lately intensified exploratory tours to the mountains of the West Bank. A number of farmers from different areas in the West Bank said that groups of settlers, ranging in number between ten and forty settlers were seen on group tours of the mountains and valleys of the West Bank.  The farmers added that the settlers are focusing in their tours on the springs and archaeological sites, and they are in possession of maps of the places they visit sometimes leaving marks in those places. Palestinians fear that these tours are a prelude to theft and control of those places by the settlers in the absence of any resistance in the West Bank.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Teenage girls indicted for Price Tag acts
Ynet 24 June — Two underage teenage girls from Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh have been indicted for torching a Palestinian car in Hebron a few weeks ago, as part of Price Tag retaliation acts. The two were brought before the court on Friday and indicted for arson and conspiracy to commit a crime … after their arrest, the two used cigarette ashes to write abusive slogans on the walls of their holding cell, including ‘We will be back for vengeance’, ‘Death to Arabs’, and ‘Prisoners of Zion’.
link to www.ynetnews.com

IDF soldiers punished for wearing shirts declaring ‘Golani fights  enemies and does not evict Jews’
Haaretz 24 June — Four Golani Brigade soldiers were sentenced on Friday to 20 days in military prison for provocative behavior at a beret ceremony held a day earlier … An initial investigation has found that the incident was planned in advance by the family of a soldier from the Alon Shvut settlement in the West Bank as well as an activist from the movement to reestablish the evacuated Homesh settlement.
link to www.haaretz.com

Settlers launch anti-withdrawal computer game
JPost 21 June — You can help two masked terrorists launch a virtual missile against the city of Kfar Saba, located in the center of the country, with the click of a computer mouse.
Or if that feels like too tame a target, you can set your sights on Ben-Gurion Airport. Welcome to a new kind of political advertisement in the form of a mini-computer game, “Evacuation, Explosion,” which the Samaria Citizens Committee posted on its website in advance the Home Front Command’s missile drill on Wednesday.
link to www.jpost.com

Activism / Solidarity

Seven injured by troops’ gunfire as Bil‘in celebrates the removal of the old Wall
Ghassan Bannoura/PNN Exclusive 24 June — Seven people were injured on Friday as Bil‘in villagers in central West Bank celebrated the removal of the old Israeli wall built on their lands. The six locals and one French activist sustained moderate wounds as they were  hit in the arms and legs by gas bombs fired by Israeli soldiers. Villages all over the West Bank followed Bil‘in’s steps in conducting weekly protests against the Israeli built wall on their lands. Today protests were reported in Ni‘lin and Nabi Saleh in central west Bank and al Ma‘ssara village in the south. In Nabi Saleh troops injured a nine year old girl and arrested one international activist.
link to english.pnn.ps

Video: Palestinian PM attends Bil‘in protest
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad participated Friday at an anti-security fence protest staged in the village of Bil‘in, west of the city of Ramallah. Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh was also present. Palestinian sources said that the protesters brought a bulldozer to the site in order to dismantle the fence, and were actually successful in removing part of it. Live ammunition was reportedly fired toward the bulldozer’s wheels and teargas grenades were hurled at the protesters. The driver of the bulldozer fled the area and escaped arrest.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Colorful day in Nabi Saleh
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — The children of An-Nabi Saleh set off with kites and painted faces to the village’s hill shortly after noon on Friday. An hour later, they were sheltering in a village house, while five Israeli military jeeps surrounded the location and fired tear gas towards them, according to eyewitness accounts. Activists made sure the children were distracted by switching on cartoons, and while they recovered from tear gas inhalation, they reflected on an afternoon in which Israel’s military faced down clowns and a boy painted as Spiderman, arresting one Israeli activist. Activists had planned a day of colorful dress, balloons, face masks, face paints and kite-flying. A Facebook group urged volunteers to “Bring Your colourful smile and join us in our struggle for freedom!!” “Let’s make our freedom colourful,” the page said. After a morning painting faces and making kites, between 20 and 30 children and 40 volunteers headed to a village mountain to fly paper kites.
link to www.maannews.net

Witnesses: Israeli fire torches Nabi Saleh olive trees
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israeli troops fired tear gas in An-Nabi Saleh village on Thursday, setting fire to olive trees, witnesses said. Locals told Ma’an that troops entered the village and fired on houses, breaking into some of the homes and deploying on their rooftops. Teargas canisters set the trees alight, the witnesses said, adding that villagers threw stones at the Israeli troops’ vehicles. An Israeli military spokeswoman said “violent and illegal riots took place near Nabi Saleh. Rioters hurled rocks towards security forces, who responded with riot dispersal means. “The gathering was dispersed without injuries or damage. Reported claims of live fire being used and the burning of olive trees, are baseless and have no merit.”
link to www.maannews.net

Ni‘lin demonstrates against the Apartheid Wall
ISM 24 June — A weekly Ni‘ilin demonstration was met with the intense tear gas attack, leaving dozens suffering from the consequence of inhaling the gas. Demonstration, organized by the Ni‘ilin Popular Committee and joined by Israeli and international peace activists was held in solidarity with the political prisoners from the village held in Israeli prisons. The prisoners from the village, detained 17 months ago and sentenced on false charges, were moved from Ofer to Negev military prison. Once the demonstration reached a gate in the apartheid wall, protesters started to knock on the door and demand that they are allowed to access their stolen land, which they have not seen for last three years. The soldiers reacted by attacking the peaceful demonstration with tear gas grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and sound grenades. One of the protesters was shot and dozens suffered from suffocation after inhaling tear gas.
link to palsolidarity.org

Video: Coalition member organization works permanently in occupied Palestinian territory, steps in the way of violence
23 June — Christian Peacemaker Teams, a coalition member of the US Campaign, is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, nonviolent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By “getting in the way” of violence and educating in our home communities, we help create a space for justice and peace. We maintain two project sites in Palestine, one in the Palestinian city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) in the southern West Bank and the other is located 25 kilometers (15 miles) further south in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani. Follow our work on Facebook and Twitter.
link to endtheoccupationblog.blogspot.com

Weekly human rights report

PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt, 16-22 June
IMEMC 24 June — …a Palestinian was wounded and abducted by Israeli forces in Qalqilia, and 4 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in non-violent anti-Wall demonstrations, and 12 Palestinian civilians. In addition, Israeli warplanes bombarded a chicken farm in the central Gaza Strip, killing 3,500 chicks. In the West Bank, Israeli forces abducted 6 international human rights defenders from non-violent demonstrations. Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip. Two fishing boats were damaged … Israeli forces conducted 38 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank this week, during which they abducted 14 Palestinian civilians, including two children — twelve in nighttime raids of their homes, and two at checkpoints … Israeli forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians … Israeli forces have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. Full PCHR report here
link to www.imemc.org

Detention / Summonses / Court actions

Hamas: Israel’s decision to toughen prison conditions violates international law
Haaretz 24 June — Hamas spokesman says PM Netanyahu is attempting to cover up his government’s failure to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit
link to www.haaretz.com

Israeli troops hand interrogation orders to Jenin villagers
JENIN (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israeli forces raided Raba village, southeast of Jenin, on Friday breaking into several houses and handing out orders for villagers to report for questioning, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli troops handed warnings to six residents from the village, ordering them to attend questioning with Israeli police. An Israeli spokeswoman said the villagers were to be questioned for security reasons. No detentions were reported.
link to www.maannews.net

Israel releases village council leader
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israel on Monday released Qibya village council leader Abdul Hafeth Gheithan after detaining him for almost two years without a trial, a detainees’ center reported. Israel’s Ofer military court had refused to release the local official since his detention in 2010. He was never charged with any offense, the center added.
link to www.maannews.net

Israeli High Court of Justice vacates verdict in Cast Lead case
PCHR 23 June — On Wednesday, 15 June 2011, the Israeli High Court of Justice vacated (cancelled) a previous judgment dismissing a case brought by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and litigated by Advocates Michael Sfard and Carmel Pomerantz, on behalf of 1,046 victims of Operation ‘Cast Lead’. The case had been illegitimately dismissed in April 2011 when the Court issued its decision solely on the basis of the State’s submission, effectively denying PCHR’s ‘right of reply’. This procedural irregularity was challenged, resulting in the successful decision of 15 June 2011. A new panel of judges will now be appointed, and the case can proceed.
link to www.pchrgaza.org

Gaza

Medicines for Gaza stuck at Israeli crossing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — Gaza’s medicine shortage has reached “alarming proportions,” international aid group Oxfam said Friday, quoting medical officials saying that drugs were held up at Israel’s crossing into Gaza. Shifa Hospital in Gaza City has only five vials left to dissolve blood clots, the director of Gaza’s Central Drug Store told Oxfam, and kidney transplant patients are at risk of rejected organs due to drug shortages, a release from the international organization said. “Can you imagine after going through all the hardships to find a compatible kidney, having it rejected because drugs did not enter Gaza?” Dr Mohammed Zamili said, noting that deliveries from the Ministry of Health in Ramallah were not meeting the huge shortage of medicines.
link to www.maannews.net

New Rafah travel mechanisms from next week
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 June — New travel mechanisms will be implemented at the Rafah crossing at the start of the week, Gaza Cabinet head Mohammad A‘zqul said Thursday. The Ministerial Council secretary did not elaborate on the new procedures approved by the government in Gaza, but said that they would give priority to patients seeking treatment abroad, students enrolled at universities abroad, residents with passports of residency status in foreign countries and emergency travelers. The official announced the establishment of an internal monitoring committee to regulate the operations of the terminal on Gaza’s southern border,
link to www.maannews.net

Blogging Gaza: border opening fails to soften siege / Eva Bartlett
23 June …A year on, in this enclosed 40-something km strip of land flanked by the Mediterranean sea, I notice some things have changed, but the big picture hasn’t. The water is still contaminated from untreated sewage pumped into the sea for want of treatment facilities. By World Health Organization standards, roughly 95 per cent of Gaza’s water is not safe to drink. Diesel-fueled generators sputter into action, polluting the air and silence, when the power cuts out, day or night. Unemployment has reached 45 per cent, one of the highest rates in the world. Fishermen are still shot at, shelled and arrested by the Israeli navy inside Palestine’s waters — even as close as three miles from the coast. And farmers continue to be pushed off their land near the border by Israeli shootings and shelling. The few changes I see are superficial.
link to www.newint.org

Israel closes Gaza crossing over weekend
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israel closed the sole goods crossing into Gaza on Friday for two days, Palestinian officials said.  Liaison official Raed Fattouh said Israel would reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing on Sunday.
link to www.maannews.net

European Campaign: Israeli excuses for besieging Gaza null and void
GAZA (PIC) 24 June — The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) has utterly rejected the Israeli excuses for besieging the Gaza Strip, stressing that life of Israelis couldn’t be built or protected at the expense of the lives of 1.7 million Palestinians cordoned there. The Israeli occupation ambassador to Washington, Michel Oren, had defended the siege on Gaza over the past five years saying that it was “a matter of life and death” to the Israelis … “It is simply wrong to deny 1.7 million individuals the simplest human rights, including food and fuel that are considered as basic needs for people. There are no articles in international law that allow the blockade as the IOA alleges,” the organization said in a statement it issued in this concern on Thursday.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Flotillas

White House: Gaza flotilla activists may be breaking US law
AP/Haaretz 24 June — U.S. State Department says Gaza is run by U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization Hamas and Americans providing support to it are subject to fines and jail.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israeli assault on the Flotilla is well underway / Joseph Dana
24 June — …Early this morning, I discovered that a ‘private complaint’ had been filed against the US boat to Gaza. The complaint, it is still unclear who filed it, stated that the US boat to Gaza is not ’sea worthy’ and requires a detailed inspection. The harbor master where the boat is in port has declared that until the complaint is resolved the boat is not permitted to leave. Currently, lawyers representing the US boat are looking into the origins of the complaint and whether it was filed as a result of Israeli economic or diplomatic pressure on the Greek government. The boat is US-flagged and registered in the United States.
link to 972mag.com

Israel escalated pressure, threats against flotilla / Bego Astigarraga
BILBAO, Spain (IPS) 23 June — As the second Gaza Freedom Flotilla, made up of some 10 ships carrying 1,000 activists from 20 countries, gets ready to sail for the besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli authorities are stepping up their threats … Spanish government under pressureThe boat that will carry fifty persons from Spain — including this reporter — was named Gernika and will carry to Gaza a loose interpretation by Basque Country artists of the famous painting that Pablo Picasso painted in 1937 after German and Italian forces bombed the Basque village of Gernika (or Guernica) in northern Spain. The Spanish government has avoided making statements on the issue. But Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said the best way to help Gaza is by means of diplomatic pressure, not flotillas.
link to electronicintifada.net

Clinton: Flotilla a bid to provoke Israel
AP 24 June — …A day after the State Department warned Americans against participating in the planned flotilla, Clinton said the flotilla, which Israel has said it will thwart, is not helpful and will only increase tensions. She noted that Israeli authorities had this week approved new shipments of housing construction material to enter Gaza legally and that the aim of the organizers appeared to be to merely provoke Israel into using its right to defend itself.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Flotilla organizers say Israel pressuring Greek govt / Mya Guarnieri
ATHENS, Greece (Ma‘an) 24 June — Organizers of the US Boat to Gaza say that the Greek government has come under intense pressure from Israel. The Israeli government is allegedly using trade agreements with the Greeks as leverage.
link to www.maannews.net

A moment before boarding the next flotilla / Gabriel Matthew Schivone
Haaretz 24 June — You might wonder what would motivate a Jewish American college student to participate in what may be the most celebrated – and controversial – sea voyage of the 21st century, one that aims to nonviolently challenge U.S.-supported Israeli military power in the occupied territories. I simply cannot sit idle while my country aids and abets Israel’s siege, occupation and repression of the Palestinians. I would rather use my personal influence and power, in concert with other members of American civil society, to actively and nonviolently resist policies that I consider abominable.
link to www.haaretz.com

Mini Gaza freedom flotilla to set sail on Sunday
Utrecht (PNN) 24 June — A Number of Dutch human rights and solidarity groups are organizing a mini flotilla in the canals of Utrecht, in the center of the country, to show support for the humanitarian aid Freedom Flotilla to set sail to Gaza later this month.
link to english.pnn.ps

Ya’alon: Israel won’t apologize for flotilla raid
Ynet 24 June — Minister Ya’alon met Turkish foreign ministry officials last week as part of attempts to solve crisis with Ankara; stressed Israel won’t apologize for [May 2010] actions but will compensate victims’ families
link to www.ynetnews.com

Hasbara

Pinkwashing: ‘Mother Teresa with a keffiyeh’ by marc3pax / Benjamin Doherty
EI blog 23 June —  ‘Marc’, a previously unknown ‘gay activist’, has released his first ever video on YouTube. It’s a perfectly edited, slickly produced, funny but alsovery sincere inquiry into the Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2. This personal video blog is badly executed and counterfeit. There is no reason to indicate that anything this actor says is true. He has no history on the internet, no other videos, and no real story. Where did he attend college? What is his last name? Which group did he write to? What exactly did they say? … This is pinkwashing. This is a transparent effort to justify the oppressive and criminal siege of Gaza — and possible violent Israeli attack on the upcoming Flotilla — by describing Palestinians as dangerous, violent homophobes and misogynists. Pinkwashing is a tactic that pro-Israel groups and the Israeli government have been consciously using to try to divide and co-opt the Palestine solidarity movement and its connection to other movements around the world.
link to electronicintifada.net

Political / Diplomatic / International news

PA to pursue UN bid regardless of talks
Ynet 24 June — Palestinian delegate to UN says PA will not drop September bid even if negotiations with Israel are successfully reignited … Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, said the Palestinians were working on three independent tracks: restarting negotiations, building institutions for an independent state and gaining recognition for statehood.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Erekat: Turkey to aid statehood bid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — PLO official Saeb Erekat said Friday that Turkey had pledged to enlist more nations to recognize Palestine as an independent state at the UN in September. Speaking with Ma‘an from Turkey, where he is with President Mahmoud Abbas for meetings with the Turkish leadership, Erekat said they had a made a number of requests of Turkey which were all agreed, without giving further details.
link to www.maannews.net

Haniyeh: Government will be through consensus
GAZA (Ma‘an) 24 June — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that the coming unity government will be made through consensus, saying that the “reconciliation ship has left the port and will reach a safe shore with God’s will.”
link to www.maannews.net

Abbas: No turning back from Palestinian unity efforts
ANKARA, Turkey (AFP) 24 June — President Mahmoud Abbas vowed Friday to press ahead with efforts for a unity government, as disagreements with Hamas continue to delay the process. “We are continuing on the path of reconciliation and there will be no turning back,” Abbas said after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that marked the end of his four day visit to Ankara.
link to www.maannews.net

PA sacks six teachers for their political affiliation
JENIN (PIC) 24 June — The Palestinian Authority security agencies sacked six teachers in the northern West Bank city of Jenin because they are affiliated with Hamas, despite the reconciliation agreement which was signed between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo recently. A Hamas source said that the Education department local office in Jenin received the decision from Ramallah to sack four male teachers and two female teachers … The salaries of a number of other teachers were stopped in preparation for their sacking, the PIC will not publish their names as they have not been officially informed of being sacked.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Fayyad to Israel: Give Palestinians freedom or right to vote
Ramallah (Ma‘an) 24 June — …Attending the weekly anti-wall rally in the village [Bil‘in], Fayyad demanded either freedom or civil rights and said Israel was no longer able to defend its illegal occupation of Palestinian land, which had become an “ethical burden.”
link to www.maannews.net

French Mideast conference plan sows confusion
BRUSSELS (AFP) 24 June — Europe’s leaders Friday backed a French plan for a Palestinian donor conference as President Nicolas Sarkozy insisted it had a wider goal of gathering Palestinians and Israelis together for peace talks. Confusion surfaced when EU leaders issued a summit statement backing “a conference in Paris to provide economic support for the construction of the Palestinian state in the framework of a re-launched peace process.”
link to www.maannews.net

Israel names new military attaché to Turkey
Ynet 24 June — IDF hopes appointment of Colonel Moshe Levy would further aid to thaw relations between Jerusalem, Ankara … The tensions between Jerusalem and Ankara have rendered the once-desirable post less so, and according to the newspaper, it took considerable persuasion, including by Major-General Eitan Dangot, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, to convince Levy to agree to the post.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Ayalon to Turkey: I never intended to humiliate your ambassador
Ynet 24 June — Nearly two years after Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon publicly humiliated Turkey’s ambassador to Israel by seating him in a lower chair than his during a televised meeting, Ayalon on Thursday sat with a group of seven Turkish journalists in an attempt to explain the incident, which marked a climax in the diplomatic tear between the two countries.
link to www.haaretz.com

Other news

Palestinian theatre stages first play without director Juliano Mer Khamis
Guardian 22 June — A pioneering community theatre that aimed to replace violence with drama in one of the most battle-scarred Palestinian towns has hosted its first performance since the murder of its director. Israeli and Palestinian police have not identified the gunman who shot and killed Juliano Mer Khamis in April, but on Tuesday students from Jenin’s Freedom Theatre performed Shu Kamam, or What Else, as a defiant message that they will continue his work.
link to www.guardian.co.uk

Palestine fight bravely but fall foul to away goals
Ramallah (PNN) 24 June – The Palestinian Olympic Football Team were defeated 2:1 by Bahrain in Ramallah last night, losing 2:2 on aggregate, thus missing out on progressing to the third round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2012 Olympics on the away goals rule. [note to US readers: in British English, a country name used with a plural verb refers to that country’s team.]
link to english.pnn.ps

Econ C’tee recommends mining freeze at Samar sand dunes
JPost 24 June — Green groups pleased with committee’s decision to seek alternatives, preserve region’s wildlife…  The Samar sands, viewed as the last dunes in the Arava Desert, are thought to be a continuation of the Sahara. The desert is home to animals whose genetic makeups are closer to their counterparts in Mali and Mauritania than to animals in nearby areas in Israel, according to Dr. Uri Shanes. 
link to www.jpost.com

International Refugee Day event canceled
Ynet 24 June — Organizers say police intentionally altered security regulations at last moment to sabotage mass Tel Aviv event scheduled for Friday
link to www.ynetnews.com

Foreign Ministry doesn’t want Left donations limited
Ynet 24 June — Ministry review of pending Likud MK bill says it would only increase Israel’s delegitimization — In what has been described as a rare move, the Foreign Ministry submitted a brief to the government opposing a bill presented by MK Ofir Akunis (Likud), which calls for the State to limit donor funds to leftist organizations.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Israel praises Apple for removing ‘intifada’ application
JPost 24 June — The computer giant Apple’s decision to remove an application from its online store called “3rd intifada” is an additional step in “preventing hostile elements — which are frequently tainted by anti-Semitism — from spreading incitement via the new media,” Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said Thursday.
link to www.jpost.com

Hamas official: Army Radio gives me free speech
JPost 21 June — MKs and journalists received a call on Tuesday purportedly from Hamas spokesman Ribhi Rantisi, telling them that Army Radio should not be closed, out of concern for free speech. The call was actually pre-recorded by My Israel, an organization that, among other things, advocates closing the IDF’s radio station, because its hosts interview Hamas members. A member of the NGO telephoned Rantisi, claiming he was a representative of Army Radio, and asked him to pledge his support for the station.
link to www.jpost.com

Analysis / Opinion

Video: Selling Israeli militarism like toothpaste
From children’s shows to national war drills, a discussion on militarism in Israeli society and gender equality in the army… “50% of Israel’s land within the Green Line is controlled and used by security organizations” – Rela Masali, founder, New Profile; conscientious objectors; others
link to therealnews.com

The diamond industry’s double standard on Israel / Seán Clinton
EI 23 June — All too aware of how bad association with war crimes is for business, the diamond industry has taken pains to evade questions about its connections with Israel’s human rights abuses — and so far has escaped scrutiny from watchdog organizations … Diamonds are Israel’s number one export commodity, accounting for between one quarter and one third of Israeli exports. In 2008, diamond exports were valued at $19.4 billion with a net value of approximately $10 billion — far exceeding even the gross value of electronic or pharmaceutical exports. The diamond industry in Israel adds 5 percent to the GDP and is a significant source of the revenue needed to sustain Israel’s occupations, siege on Gaza and illegal settlements.
link to electronicintifada.net

Christians will not apply for permits anymore / Yusuf Daher
23 June — Elderly women seeking treatment, teachers trying to access an under-staffed school system, worshipers trying to get to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, why must they all humiliate themselves by asking an occupying force for permission to travel into Jerusalem? Even with a permit, these people require a military check through metal detectors, turnstiles and magnetic cards registering their fingerprints. During Easter, parish priests in Bethlehem applied for thousands of permits for their congregations, and secured only a fraction of those requested … This system is totally unlawful and discriminating. We, as a community and Churches, should not abide by it.
link to www.maannews.net

Are Begin and Shamir also considered terrorists? / Yossi Sarid
Haaretz 24 June — From the end of 1937 until the middle of 1939, in less than two years, the terrorist activities of the Irgun and Lehi claimed 232 victims with another 370 wounded – men, women and children … Many people who headed movements of national liberation adopted violent and indiscriminate methods of resistance that brought death and injury to the innocent and the wicked alike, to civilians as well as soldiers, and which deliberately sowed panic among the public. We have to be sorry but not to deny this, and those who do the rewriting should not be hopeful. Later on, the terrorists became legitimate leaders, presidents and prime ministers; and Begin and Shamir are among these.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israel is tearing apart the Jewish people / Carlo Strenger
Haaretz 24 June — After all that has happened to us, we Jews must never, ever allow violation of universal human rights — In June last year, Peter Beinart published an article in the New York Review of Books that created quite a storm by pointing out the deep estrangement between the young generation of American Jews and Israel. A year later, it is time to take stock. Unfortunately, the situation has only grown a lot worse. In my travels to Europe I speak to predominantly Jewish audiences, but also to non-Jews who care deeply about Israel. They voice their pain and anguish openly: They want to understand what has happened to Israel. They desperately want to stand by it, but they are, increasingly, at a loss of knowing how to do so … Israel has never had a government that so blatantly violates the core values of liberal democracy. Never has a Knesset passed laws that are as manifestly racist as the current one.
link to www.haaretz.com

Netanyahu is the one ‘delegitimizing’ Israel / MJ Rosenberg
HuffPost 23 June — The “pro-Israel” lobby’s latest hobbyhorse is “delegitimization.” Those who criticize Israeli policies are accused of trying to “delegitimize” Israel, which supposedly means denying Israel’s right to exist. Even President Obama has gotten into the act,stating in his May 19 speech that “for the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure.” … So what is the lobby talking about? Israel achieved its “legitimacy” when the United Nations recognized it 63 years ago. It has one of the strongest economies in the world. Its military is the most powerful in the region. It has a nuclear arsenal of some 200 bombs, with the ability to launch them from land, sea, and air. In that context, the whole idea of “delegitimizing” Israel sounds silly. Israel can’t be delegitimized … The answer is simple: It is talking about the intensifying opposition to the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza which, by almost any standard, is illegitimate. It is talking about opposition to the settlements, which are not only illegitimate but illegal under international law. It is talking about calls for Israel to grant Palestinians equal rights. The lobby’s determination to change the subject from the existence of the occupation to the existence of Israel makes sense strategically.
link to www.huffingtonpost.com

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

US flotilla passengers are scared, but they will not be stopped

Jun 25, 2011

Joseph Dana

Joseph Dana is reporting for the Nation from the Audacity of Hope, the US boat to Gaza. He’s in Athens. Read his whole account for an account of the Turkish withdrawal from the flotilla and other scenes from Athens. Excerpt:

The American boat, and perhaps some of the others, will be outfitted with advanced satellite communications systems that—if Israel does not jam them—will allow passengers to use social media platforms such as Twitter directly from the boat.

Despite the presence of former State Department official [Col. Ann] Wright and former CIA officer Ray McGovern, the US government has largely bowed to Israeli pressure over the flotilla. Issuing a rare maritime warning this week to American vessels traveling near Gaza, Washington has effectively distanced itself from offering protection to its citizens if they are attacked by Israel on the open sea. The import of the message is, “We warned you not to go.”

On the top deck of a recently refurbished ferryboat, the enormity of the upcoming voyage was visible on many of the US passengers’ faces. They busied themselves with tasking who would be cooking, maintaining lookout and helping with the upkeep of the ship while on the sea, but the nervous excitement of the pending journey was difficult for most to conceal.

“If the Israeli public could look around and see these wonderful people going on this boat, I think they would take pause and wonder what it is that Israel is doing in Gaza that has caused these types of people to risk their lives in challenging it,” Code Pink and Global Exchange founder Medea Benjamin noted on a bus ride through Athens. “I’m scared about going on this boat because I know the Israelis might attack us and my American passport is not going to protect me, but at the same time I feel incredibly privileged.”

During an intense day of nonviolence training in a dank underground karate studio in Athens, US passengers watched graphic videos of the Israeli raid last year on the Mavi Marmara. Anticipating how the Israeli navy will attempt to take over the Audacity of Hope, the organizers rehearsed violent scenarios in which Israeli soldiers beat passengers as they boarded the ship.

“We are making sure that the passengers will be able to stay calm in whatever scenario they face as they approach Gaza,” one of the organizers remarked in a break from the training. She added that the most important objective is that passengers remain nonviolent even if the Israelis provoke them with attack dogs, tear gas or—in the worst case—live ammunition shot from helicopters hovering above the ship.

With the participation of unarmed, older civilians, many of whom are Jewish, the Gaza flotilla may have found Israel’s Achilles heel, a way to neutralize its military prowess. The internationalization of nonviolent protest, also seen in the years-long demonstrations against Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank, is drawing worldwide attention to Israel’s occupation and control over Palestinian life. So far, Israel has shown that it is ill equipped to stop it.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

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