Archive | July 20th, 2011

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Israel moves forward on 6 factories and 100s of homes in occupied territories as Norway and Syria back Palestinian statehood

Jul 18, 2011


and other news from Today in Palestine:

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

Israel plans hundreds more settler homes
Reuters 18 July — Israel announced plans on Monday to build another 294 homes in two Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the Palestinians said the move hardened their resolve to seek statehood recognition from the United Nations. Israel’s Housing Ministry linked the new construction to a nationwide plan to lower housing prices, which have skyrocketed in recent years, and appease protesters demanding affordable living space.
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Tenders published for six West Bank factories
JPost 17 July — The Lands Authority last week published tenders for six factories in the Mishor Adumim Industrial Park located near [no, in] the Ma’aleh Adumimsettlement in the West Bank, according to Peace Now.  It said that five of those tenders were first issued in 2008 when Ehud Olmert was the prime minister, but that the projects had not gotten off the ground.
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Palestinian Silwan family fined $10,000, face home demolition
IMEMC 18 July — The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported Monday that an Israeli court fined a Palestinian family $10,000 for building its Silwan home without a permit. Widad Tawil, the owner of the home, has been given until October to get a permit for the house from the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem. In the event they cannot do so she and her eight children will face demolition of their family home. Palestinians complain that is impossible to obtain permission to build housing from the Israeli authorities. Many face no choice but to build without official permission opening themselves up to the risk of a large fine, demolition as well as the bill for the demolition.
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Police question youths at Jerusalem summer camp
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 July — Israeli police stormed a summer camp for children in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied east Jerusalem on Monday and interrogated campers, a Fatah official said. Munir Al-Jaghoub, spokesman for Fatah recruitment, says the camp is run by the Sheikh Jarrah Women’s Forum. About 50 children aged 12-17 joined the camp, called “Sheikh Jarrah will remain steadfast,” he added.
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Police: Settlers stab Palestinian farmers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 July — A group of Israeli settlers attacked three Palestinian shepherds near Jerusalem on Monday, police said. The shepherds were tending to their sheep on a hillside near Mikhmas east of Jerusalem when they came under a “brutal” attack by the ultra-Orthodox settlers who beat and stabbed them, Palestinian police said in a statement. They were evacuated to hospital where medics said two victims sustained serious wounds, police said. The statement did not elaborate on their identities or say at which hospital they received treatment.
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3 settlers detained on suspicion of attacking Palestinians
JPost 18 July — Three settlers from the Ramat Migron area have been detained and questioned over an incident earlier on Monday in which three Palestinians were assaulted, Judea and Samaria police said. In the attack, one person was seriously injured and another moderately injured. They were taken to the Ramallah hospital by the Red Crescent, police added. “We have launched an investigation and detained an adult and two minors,” a police spokeswoman said. “The circumstances of the incident are being examined,” she added.
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Jewish settlers bulldoze Palestinian land
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 18 July — Jewish settlers bulldozed Palestinian land in Sa‘eer village, north of Al-Khalil city, on Sunday under protection of Israeli occupation forces, local sources said. The city’s research center said in a statement on Monday that settlers from a nearby settlement bulldozed a large area of agricultural land. It said that the bulldozing took place without prior notice, quoting owner of the land as saying that the settlers withdrew from the area when citizens started to gather near them. He urged the media and human rights groups to be present in the event the settlers returned as expected on Monday morning.
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Video: Settlers injure 170 Palestinians in ’11
PressTV 18 July time: 2:08
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Israeli forces

Israeli forces raid village near Nablus
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 July — Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank village of Qaryut south of Nablus on Sunday firing gunshots into the air as well as stun grenades and tear gas canisters. The village was under curfew until late into the night. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that the invading troops shouted through loudspeakers using foul language and threatening to continue raiding the village for three days. “Israeli forces ransacked several homes beating its residents. A woman and a disabled man sustained bruises,” a local said. A minor, Ubada Mahmoud Hussein, 13, was detained after he was beaten by the soldiers. Israeli authorities have recently confiscated about 200,000 square meters of the village’s agricultural land to expand an illegal settlement outpost in the area.
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Two Qassam members wounded in Israeli air raid
KHAN YOUNIS (PIC) 18 July — Two members of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were wounded at dawn Monday in an Israeli air strike on Khuza‘a to the east of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip. Spokesman for medical services Adham Abu Salmiya told the PIC reporter that one of the injured was in a serious condition, and that both were taken to the European Hospital in Khan Younis city. Local sources told the PIC reporter that an Israeli drone plane bombed an advanced observation post for the Qassam fighters wounding two of them. Three Palestinians were killed and more than 20 were wounded in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip over the past few days.
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Gaza paper: IDF scattered warning flyers
Ynet 18 July — Flyers said to caution residents to keep away from security fence, request info on tunnel smugglers
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Gaza power authority accuses Fayyad of withholding NIS 80m in entitlements
GAZA (PIC) 18 July — Gaza Energy Authority head Kanaan Obeid has accused Abbas-appointed prime minister Salam Fayyad of withholding an estimated NIS 80 million (US $23.25 million) in funds that should have been used to pay off the debts of the Gaza electricity distribution company.
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Gaza exports stopped at the border / Eva Bartlett
[photos] GAZA CITY (IPS) 16 July — Waddah Bsaiso is ready to export, if the Israeli-imposed siege would allow him. He has the experience, the contacts, and the products, but is prevented by Israel’s strict ban on virtually all Gazan exports, save a token amount of flowers periodically allowed out of the Strip. “We started a furniture factory in 1996 and over the years exported to different European markets, as well as to Arab nations and the occupied West Bank,” Bsaiso says. Sitting at one of his tables, a dark wood dining table with a natural finish, Bsaiso says that his business, Bsaiso and Alami Company limited, formerly netted two million dollars per year. “Now we are lucky if we can earn 400,000 dollars per year,” he says … Despite Israel’s declared ‘easing’ in June 2010 of the total siege on Gaza, in June 2011 the World Food Programme (WFP) reported that “only 5% of the pre-blockade export volume was reached from November 2010 to April 2011.”
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Palestine – ‘Occupation incorporated’ / Tim Marshall
Sky News blog 18 July — An African UN worker in the West Bank recently remarked to a mutual friend ‘When people see me coming they see a walking ATM machine’ … The Palestinian Authority likes to boast about the West Bank’ s 8% economic growth, so does the Israeli government, which uses it to suggest that a prosperous Palestine would make an easier negotiating partner. They also know the Palestinians have more lose if a 3rd Intifada breaks out. What they fail to remind us is that there are well over 200 NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza, and 30% of the GDP here comes from international aid. Palestinians are among the most foreign aid funded people in the world and the place is awash with money … No Palestinian business can compete with NGOs which routinely triple what a local firm would pay. Many NGOs fork out ‘danger money’ and even ‘hardship payments’ to both local and international staff which further undermines the local private businesses. So the NGOs get the brightest and the highest paid, and the private firms get the rest but without the tax exemptions.
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Freedom Flotilla II

French flotilla boat en route to Gaza
AFP 18 July — Pro-Palestinian activists on a French yacht which sailed from a Greek island over the weekend are expected to reach the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, organizers said …    “We hope to arrive between 12 and 2, we don’t want to go during the night,” he told AFP, adding that the yacht was carrying a “symbolic message of peace and hope and love.” Israel on Monday vowed to block any attempt to reach Gaza by sea. “If this boat is on its way to Gaza, which is a breach of international maritime law, and tries a provocative act, yes, we shall intercept it,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told reporters in Jerusalem. “But I assure you we shall try our best to make those on board very comfortable.” On board are 16 people, including three crew members and three journalists, among them Amira Hass, a veteran columnist with the left-leaning newspaper Haaretz.
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New film investigates Israel’s military justice system in the West Bank / Joseph Dana
[with video excerpt, 12:31] 972mag 18 July — According to the press release for the film, “The Law in These Partsexplores the four-decade-old military legal system in the Occupied Territories. Since Israel conquered the territories in the 1967 War, the Israeli Defense Forces legal corps have created and implemented thousands of military orders and laws, established military courts, sentenced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This complex system which is invisible to most Israelis is very present in Palestinian daily life and is unique in the entire world. Till today, the IDF legal professionals face judicial and moral dilemmas as they develop and uphold a system of long-term ‘rule by law’ of an occupied population by an occupying army, all under the supervision of the Israeli High Court of Justice. Using interviews, archival footage and deep historical research, this film explores the formal legal mechanisms of Israel’s forty-year military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
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UK court releases Raed Salah as government case flounders / Asa Winstanley
EI 18 July — After nearly three weeks in British jails, influential Palestinian activist and religious leader SheikhRaed Salah was conditionally released today. He had been granted bail in the High Court on Friday, where The Electronic Intifada watched as the British government’s case against him floundered. Leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Salah had been on a speaking tour in the UK when he wasabruptly arrested on the way back to his London hotel on the night of 28 June. The full legal case against a government order banning him from the country is likely to be heard in September … In a press release, Daud Abdullah, director of the Middle East Monitor (MEMO), who had invited Salah to Britain to give talks to politicians and academics, said: “We are confident that the release of Sheikh Raed will be the beginning of a successful attempt to exonerate him from the character slurs and allegations that have appeared in some sections of the media.”
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Video: Palestinian minors jailed for throwing stones
Al Jazeera’s Tom Ackerman reports from the occupied West Bank. Time: 2:14
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Israeli court extends administrative detention of Palestinian man for 4th time
NABLUS (PIC) 18 July — An Israeli court extended the period of administrative detention of Palestinian prisoner Ihab al-Qawasimi for four more months for the fifth time since he was first arrested. Qawasimi was detained while trying to cross borders to Jordan in August 2009 as he wanted to attend his uncle’s funeral. The arrest comes amid an Israeli campaign to detain Palestinians after failing to pin an indictment on them. The Ahrar prisoner studies center said the number of Palestinians with extended periods of administrative detention is increasing by the month.
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Israel ‘detains Egyptian children’ in Beersheba
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 18 July — An Israeli court has ordered the detention of three Egyptian children no older than 14 in Beersheba prison after they allegedly crossed into Israel illegally, an attorney said Sunday. Lawyer Asmahan Abed Al-Hadi’s request to free one of the children was turned down, she said. The children were detained near the border with Egypt, Al-Hadi explained. She said Israel enforces a 1954 law in such matters involving infiltrators from “enemy states”, but has not amended the law after the peace agreement with Egypt in 1978. On the other hand, when the Egyptians seize Israeli infiltrators on the Egyptian side near the border, they usually just send them back to the Israeli side, Al-Hadi added.
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Jawwal employee seized at checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 July — Israeli forces detained on Monday morning a young man at a military checkpoint while he was on his way from his hometown of Nablus to work in Ramallah, relatives said. Ghassan Shatawi, 25, was detained en route to the Jawwal telecommunications company in Ramallah, where he works. He was taken to an unknown destination, his family said. This is Shatawi’s fifth arrest, his relatives say.
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Detainee Mona on hunger strike to protest isolation
JENIN (PIC) 18 July — Palestinian detainee Mona Qa‘dan has been on hunger strike for the past week to protest her isolation since her arrest on 31/5/2011 in Israeli occupation jails. Her relatives told the PIC reporter on Sunday that Mona, a senior official in the Islamic Jihad movement, was on her sixth day of hunger strike after being held in isolation for the past 50 days in Talmond jail for women. They said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) promised during her hearing on 11/7 to take her out of isolation but did not live up to its promise. The Israeli court in Salem charged Qa‘dan with membership in an outlawed movement and chairmanship of an outlawed society. Qa‘dan is the chairwoman of Bara‘a society for Muslim women in Jenin, which was closed by the IOA on the same day she was detained. Qa‘dan was previously held in Israeli custody for three years on six separate occasions.
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Political / Diplomatic / International news

Syria recognizes Palestinian state
DAMASCUS (AFP) 18 July — The Syrian foreign ministry said Monday that Damascus recognizes a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital within the borders in effect prior to the 1967 Six-Day War.
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Norway backs Palestinian path to UN vote
OSLO (Reuters) 18 July — Norway, host of the 1993 Palestinian-Israeli peace accords, said on Monday it was “perfectly legitimate” for Palestinians to take their case for statehood to the United Nations for voting in September. “We will consider very carefully the proposed text that’s to be put forward by the Palestinians in the coming weeks,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas beside him at a press conference.
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EU presses Israel, Palestinians ahead of UN vote
BRUSSELS (AFP) 18 July  — European foreign ministers pressed Israel and the Palestinians on Monday to return to the negotiating table before a UN vote on recognising a Palestinian state, which could reveal divisions within the EU. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton sought to play down the risks involved in any UN resolution on a Palestinian state which is expected to be presented at the United Nations in September.
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Israeli minister says Palestinians losing UN bid
JERUSALEM (AP) 18 July — International support for a planned Palestinian declaration of independence at the U.N. in September is waning, in large part because of intense Israeli lobbying against the initiative, a senior Israeli diplomat claimed Monday. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who has personally led Israel’s lobbying effort, said he does not expect to prevent a pro-Palestinian resolution from passing in the U.N. General Assembly, where it would have little more than symbolic value. But he believes a “moral majority” of Western countries will not support the Palestinians, further limiting the impact of any resolution.
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Report: Israel to get 6th submarine from Germany
Ynet 18 July — German defense minister authorized transfer of advanced vessel able to carry, launch nuclear weapons after years of delays, Der Spiegel reports
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Other news

Arab MK stripped of further parliamentary privileges for role in Gaza flotilla
Haaretz 18 July — Balad MK Hanin Zuabi will no longer be allowed to address Knesset or vote in committee debates; last year, she lost her diplomatic passport, entitlement to aid for legal assistance, and right to visit countries without ties to Israel.
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Lieberman blasts PM, Likud for refusing to probe left-wing groups
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud ministers for their opposition to a bill calling for parliamentary investigations into left-wing organizations. Speaking during Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Lieberman said the bodies slated for investigation were not left-wing groups but terror organizations … Lieberman enumerated the organizations he wanted to see investigated. They included the Arab legal-aid center, Adalah, the Yesh Din human rights group, Breaking the Silence, a group established by Israel Defense Force veterans to provide testimony about military service in the occupied territories, and the conscientious objectors’ group, New Profile.
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Leftist groups to sue Lieberman
Ynet 18 July — Adalah, Yesh Din, and Breaking the Silence say they will sue foreign minister for libel after he called them ‘terror groups and terror supporters’. ‘Comments constitute mendacious, wild, and thuggish incitement,’ groups say
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‘Hollywood producer was an Israeli nuclear agent’
Haaretz 18 July — According to a new biography, Arnon Milchan, close friend of Israeli prime ministers and Hollywood stars, was recruited by Shimon Peres to purchase equipment for Israel’s alleged nuclear program … One of the major sources for the book was Israeli President Shimon Peres, a close friend of Milchan. “I am the one who recruited him,” Peres is quoted as saying.
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Analysis / Opinion / Interviews

‘EU must do more than pay lip service’: Nariman Tamimi interviewed
Linah Alsaafin Nabi Saleh 18 July — The first time I went to Nabi Saleh someone pointed out Nariman Tamimi to me. I had already figured out she was the imprisoned grassroots activist Bassem Tamimi’s wife, and as we politely exchanged greetings I blurted out, “Your face is so familiar, like I know I’ve seen you before.””  “Probably at one of the protests in Ramallah or Qalandiya, I’m always demonstrating,” came the nonchalant reply …There’s a running joke in the village that Nariman unofficially adopts female activists as her daughters. Now as we sit at her kitchen table, chatting like old friends, it’s clear that she must not be characterized as just Bassem’s wife. She’s a mother of four studying international law and she’s been instrumental in documenting every Friday protest. At one point during the interview, Nariman looks straight at me with her clear blue eyes and declares, “I, Nariman Tamimi, was injured, arrested, had my son injured, a demolition order placed on my house and my husband arrested. But despite all of that I believe that having inculcated peace in my children, the kind that stems from the inside, it will give away to fruitful results. I can’t shout that I’m for peace while holding up a gun.”
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A Palestinian East Jerusalemite’s view of the joint march / Jalal Abukhater
972mag 17 July — The writer, a resident of East Jerusalem, does not favor a two-state solution, but the joint demonstration did leave him hopeful that Palestinians and Israelis can work together for a better future … I decided to attend this demonstration as an observer because I believed in the goodness of their short-term goals standing in solidarity with Palestinians living in threatened East Jerusalem neighborhoods like Shekh Jarrah, Silwan, Ras al-Amoud, A-Tur, and others and of course against illegal West Bank settlements. I decided to overlook the actual purpose they decided to march through the streets of Jerusalem. I simply despised the idea that many people there carried posters saying “Two People, Two States, One Future” That is an oxymoron. Three quarters of the Palestinian citizens in Gaza are refugees expelled from their homes back in 1948, and similar is the case in the West Bank. How would two separated peoples each living on a side of a border holding hostility to each other would have one future? If they reconcile they’d live together, or the idea of one future would be out of reach.
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Jeffrey Goldberg vs. The Truth

Jul 18, 2011

Nima Shirazi

By now Mondoweiss readers have probably seen Jeffrey Goldberg’s updated post on supporting the boycott of Netanyahu here in the US. It includes this tidbit (emphasis added):

“…all I can say is this: Since 1948, Israel has been a besieged state that nevertheless has, with rare exceptions, defended the right of people to say whatever they have wanted to say. This is why Israel has the freest press in the world, and why Arab members of Knesset can scream down the prime minister and not get shot. Israel’s defense of freedom of speech, even in wartime, is one of the many reasons to be proud of it.

Ok, beyond the weirdness of the sentiment (an elected government official not getting shot in a country’s parliament for opposing occupation, ethnic cleansing, and discrimination is cause for celebration?!), is this inconvenient fact, from Ha’aretz today:

Israeli Arab MK Hanin Zuabi will be stripped of her right to address the Knesset and to participate in committee votes until the end of this parliamentary season, the Knesset Ethics Committee ruled on Monday.

The decision to penalize Zuabi, a lawmaker from the Balad party, comes in the wake of her participation in the Gaza-bound flotilla last year. Zuabi, who sailed on the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, had already had certain parliamentary rights revoked by Knesset last July.

The rights previously revoked are “her diplomatic passport, entitlement to financial assistance for legal assistance and the right to visit countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic ties.”

Last week, “Zuabi was being ushered out of the parliamentary session after interrupting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech and after being called to order three times by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.”

It’s true that “being ushered out” is not the same as not getting shot. But it’s also true that physically preventing a Knesset member from voicing her views is certainly not an example of what Goldberg describes as Israel’s defense of “the right of people to say whatever they have wanted to say”.   Apparently, for Goldberg, anything short of murdering a Palestinian in cold-blood is grounds for lauding Israel’s democratic character…unless, of course, you count Palestinians inGaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Golan, or the past, of course.

Nima Shirazi is a political commentator from New York City. His analysis of United States foreign policy and Middle East issues is published at Follow him on Twitter @WideAsleepNima.

Henning Mankell: ‘I promise that the Israeli regime won’t have a quiet moment until this illegal blockade is broken’

Jul 18, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Swedish novelist Henning Mankell writing in Ha’aretz:

We will return with broader support and a bigger flotilla, and I promise that the Israeli regime won’t have a quiet moment until this illegal blockade is broken. Our action has had more impact this year – unlike last year when the media didn’t pay attention until the commandos started killing people.

Even though our ships didn’t move an inch, this is yet another failure for Israel. The regime’s desperate fear increases the opposition against human rights violations in Gaza. According to basic international law, it’s illegal to collectively punish people as is done in Gaza.

In the same way I always claim that Gilad Shalit should have been released long ago and that Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel must stop, I claim that we must look at this situation from this perspective: What comes first, oppression or rebellion? Not even Israel’s intellectuals can wave their magic wand and make reality disappear – the reality that the Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens in their own country. The Gaza blockade is not mainly about concrete, diapers or medicine. It’s about the human dignity that Israel deprives its own citizens of. Thus, it provokes desperate actions.

But for me the biggest mystery is that the Israeli regime doesn’t realize that it’s digging holes for itself, and that the situation in the end will be unbearable. Why are they blindfolding themselves?

American Zionist org supports new limits on free speech in the ‘human rights loving democracy’
Jul 18, 2011 12:01 pm | Philip Weiss

In a reversal of an earlier statement seeming to oppose the Israeli law making it illegal to advocate for boycott,this statement by Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America says that the boycott movement is an existential threat to Israel, a human rights loving democracy, and so therefore American Zionists must maintain solidarity with the Jewish state… The whole Jewish state– i.e., the West Bank too:

A boycott against any part of the Jewish state of Israel, a human rights loving democracy, is wrong, immoral, despicable, and frequently anti-Semitic.

So the new battle line inside the Jewish community is, Boycott the settlements/Don’t boycott. I’m glad the line has moved. Not that I think it will make much difference.

Desolate and empty the sea

Jul 18, 2011

Mohammed Rmeih Monifi

Whenever the siege is mentioned, Gaza as a word is flashing through the mind. Siege and Gaza. Extraordinarily, Gaza is the perfect paragon of the blockade, if the historians want to teach the history of the blockades to their students. After the military coup carried out by the Hamas forces in Summer, 2007, which leads to the loss of Fatah’s control on Gaza Strip, Israel, in cooperation with the neighboring countries, has been tightening the blockade on Gaza. Consequently, humanitarian supplies are proscribed, which prepares the bells to be rung to warn Gaza people of the forthcoming umbrella of destruction. Quite quickly, the thrilling voices of the Humans are raised to extricate Gaza from this debacle. On May, 2010, Gaza Freedom Flotilla, stored with the humanitarian aid and construction materials, is launched to break the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip as a peaceful step to left the blockade. To welcome the peace activists, Gazans were waiting for the flotilla on the shore, gazing at the horizon to glimpse the sail. Yet–  Desolate and empty the sea. They did not know that Freedom was invaded. The Israeli navy killed nine activists on the vessel the Mavi Marmara, as a reaction to the tinny baseball bets hitting the heads of the Navy. The flotilla used the bats to protect their life and the life of 1,657,155 people; the Israeli Navy was attacking them with fire to save its security.

As a second peaceful step, “Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human” decided to sail towards Gaza on July 5, 2011, yet prevented internationally by the United States and United Kingdom. The momentous goal of these flotillas is not only to provide Gaza with the humanitarian needs, but also to break the blockade imposed on Gaza. But on the contrary, the western countries want to provide Gaza with aids through the authorized channels within the Red Cross/Red Crescent, without considering the lifting of the blockade. For them, Gazans deserve to be besieged, to be prevented from the freedom. As if, Gaza is a store of food.

They do not know that we are humans like them, not animals desiring food. We do not want food only.

We want to be like others living in USA, in UK. We want to move, to study abroad, to build our community by ourselves, to practice all freedoms, freely as well as peacefully without stealthy censorship. “Want” is the word we want. Though, they do not give us what we want but what they want. Because of the “want”, the children are dying in the hospitals beds, the adults losing their lives in the tunnels, the old waiting besides the crossings, sometimes the roads devoid of cars which are lacking gas, the cities in sheer blackout like dark caves, the boys queuing in about 10-meter organized line before the gates of the gas stations, the hospitals suffering from the shortage of medical materials, the shelves of the libraries vacant… The empty Gaza.

The voice of “I want to be free” is silenced by the international support for Israel. As an international fact, Israel has the right to self-defense, but the Palestinians have not the right to be free. Oh, my friend, do not cry, the UN investigative committee legitimizes the blockade. Asking for freedom is illegal now. Before, their mouths dried while advising the developing countries to practice the freedom as one of the Human Rights. The White House interfered in Saudi Arabia to “support” the women’s freedom to drive cars, entailing pressures on the Saudi government. Please, Obama entail pressures on Israel (while we are murdered slowly here), do not show your presidential competency before Arabs while you are not having the American courageous charisma before Israel.

And what’s the worst is United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the guard of security, who is strengthening the blockade on Gaza. Assiduously, he called the political leaders to prevent the flotilla towards Gaza. I do not know where was the violence in this flotilla? Where does the violence come from? From Israel or from the peaceful flotilla. Definitely, for him the violence is from the peaceful flotilla. Instead of saying these unreasonable words, he is supposed to raise the awareness of the disaster in which we live and denounce the blockade effectively.

Justly speaking, Ki-moon should have censured the excessive and violent reaction to the peaceful strategies, not charged the flotilla. The United Nations should encourage such nonviolent approaches to settle the conflict, not stimulating the other trends at the expense of frustrating the diplomacy. Otherwise, the nations are united against Gaza. It is known the United Nation is the institution of democracy, yet unfortunately heading towards the way of the institution of hypocrisy.

Mohammed Monifi is 21 and lives in Gaza. His title is taken from The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot.

100 hours in Israeli detention for trying to visit Bethlehem

Jul 18, 2011

Laura Durkay

“What is your father’s name?”


“What is his father’s name?”


“Where are you going?”


“Where are you staying there?”

“At the Lajee Center in Aida Refugee Camp.”

That is as far as my conversation at Israeli passport control goes.  I am at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, one of dozens of activists who have flown in from across Europe and the US for the Welcome to Palestine mission, a week of cultural and solidarity activities organized by Palestinian civil resistance groups across the West Bank.

As part of our mission, our Palestinian hosts have asked us to honestly declare our goal of traveling to the West Bank to visit Palestinians.  Israel controls all access points into the West Bank.  While traveling to the Occupied Territories is not strictly illegal under Israeli law, internationals and Palestinians living abroad are commonly interrogated, searched, harassed, and often denied entry if they state their intention to visit or work with Palestinians.

The political policing at Israeli-controlled borders is just one facet of an elaborate system that keeps Palestinians in the Occupied Territories isolated and under siege.  The Welcome to Palestine mission is intended to be a mass challenge to these policies, so of course the Israeli government is doing everything it can to stop it.

In the days before July 8, when hundreds of nonviolent activists were scheduled to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, the Israeli government’s hysteria about the action reached a fever pitch.  On July 5, Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said of the activists: “These hooligans who try to break our laws will not be allowed into the country and will be returned immediately to their home countries”—conveniently ignoring the fact that none of the activities of the Welcome to Palestine campaign are illegal under Israeli law.  In the days before our arrival, Israeli government officials issued numerous threats against us in the media and airport security was beefed up despite our clear statements that we were not planning to stage any demonstrations inside the airport and were committed to nonviolence in all our actions.

In a last-ditch effort to stop Welcome to Palestine activists from reaching Ben Gurion Airport, the Israeli government sent a blacklist to major European airlines containing 374 names of passengers to be barred from boarding their planes in Europe.  Most airlines seemed to comply with this list, sending last-minute letters or phone calls to some activists telling them in advance that they would not be allowed to fly.  Many more, including the majority of the French delegation, the largest component of the campaign, arrived at the airport and were simply refused permission to board their flights.  If the siege of Gaza extends to the shores of Greece, it seems the blockade of the West Bank covers all of Europe.

In London the night before departing, our group of about 15 Brits, Irish and Americans discussed what we would do if we were kept off our flight out of Luton Airport.  Those of us who had been speaking and writing openly about the Welcome to Palestine mission were quite sure we would be on the blacklist.

At the airport the next morning, one American is in fact kept off the plane by security at the very last minute.  But as the plane takes off, I and the other participants realized that we have cleared the first hurdle and are on our way to Palestine.

From the moment we land at Ben Gurion Airport around 4pm on Friday, it’s clear the security presence is intense.  Plainclothes security officers line the hallway leading from the gate to passport control, watching us as we disembark.  Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, our delegation leader, gives us hushed updates about other groups that have been stopped in Europe or here at the airport. As we approach passport control, he turns back to us and said simply, “Now it’s our turn.”  And it is.

At passport control, anyone who lists their destination as “Bethlehem,” “Palestine,” or “the West Bank” is quickly pulled aside, their passports disappearing into the hands of Israeli immigration officials.  After most of my group has been waylaid by security, we are herded into a basement immigration holding area, where a number of French, Belgian and German activists are already being detained.  There are about forty of us packed into the small waiting room.  The immigration officials are not interrogating us.  We think they are mostly just trying to figure out what to do with us.

We are held in the downstairs waiting area for about three hours.  During this time I am taking non-stop press calls from Israeli and international media.  I am shocked that the Israeli officials let me keep my phone (and even let me charge it) but determined to let as many people know what is happening as possible.  I also contact the US consulate in Tel Aviv—not that I expect them to do anything to help us, but on principle I think they should know that Americans are being detained.

Around 7pm, a large number of plainclothes and uniformed immigration officers, police, and Border Patrol soldiers suddenly enter the room.  I attempt to sneak a picture of the Border Patrol soldiers with my phone, only to have it roughly grabbed out of my hands by a burly immigration officer in a suit.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hang onto it indefinitely, but the loss of my only connection to the outside world still makes me nervous, especially since something is clearly about to go down.  We notice several officers filming us, including one who climbs onto a desk to get a better angle.

Suddenly, a couple of the officers grab a French man who looks to be of Arab descent and try to pull him out of the room by himself.  He protests that he wanted to stay with the group, and his comrades tried to nonviolently resist him being removed from the room.  This is all the excuse the police and soldiers needed to move in and start punching, hitting and shoving anyone they can reach.

It’s clear the whole event is a deliberate provocation staged for the camera—perhaps to demonstrate what “hooligans” we are.  At the same time, it’s hard to imagine us passively allowing someone to be removed from the group against their will—particularly someone of Arab origin who is quite right to believe they are more likely to be mistreated.

The upshot of the scuffle is that we are not removed from the room one by one, but in pairs or small groups.  (We still have no idea where we are being relocated to and no one will tell us.)  I pair up with a British woman named Fiona and we link arms so we can’t be separated.  I am still trying to regain possession of my phone, which I can see the immigration officers playing with behind the desk.  “I’ll turn it off, I’ll delete the pictures, I just want my phone back,” I tell one of the men in suits.  No go.  We are forcibly shoved out of the room, with one of the immigration officers pinching Fiona hard on the arm to make her comply.  When Fiona says something along the lines of “That’s not necessary, we’re going,” the only response is “You fucking bitch.”

We are taken up to a women’s bathroom inside the airport where our bags and persons are searched.  (Thankfully we are not strip-searched.)  From there we’re taken outside to an isolated corner of the airport where what looked like a normal tour bus with dark windows awaits us. “Get in the limo, you’re going to the Hotel of Immigration,” one of the officers says sarcastically.  We are pretty sure the Hotel of Immigration is prison.

Once we enter the bus we realized it has been converted to a paddy wagon on the inside, with metal grates on the windows and hard metal seats.  Men and women are separated and put in different sections of the bus.  While none of the women are handcuffed or shackled, several of the men were.  It is night by this point but still quite hot, and the bus is stifling and crawling with roaches.  We sit there for three hours, with no ventilation, no food or water, no toilet access and no information on what will happen next.  We finally get a few bottles of water by banging on the metal walls to demand them.  Everyone is nervous.  If this is how we are being arrested, are there worse things to come?

Around 11pm we finally started driving.  No one has told us where we are going, but those in the front of the bus are able to look out the tiny window and identify street signs for Ramla, a Palestinian town conquered in 1948 that is about 30km from Tel Aviv.  I know there is an immigration detention center there, which is normally filled with migrant workers who have lost their visas and African refugees who have attempted to cross Israel’s border through the Sinai.  Sure enough, Givon Detention Center, with its massive gate and barbed-wire-topped walls, is exactly where we end up.

We’re brought into a large open room to wait while we are processed for detention extremely slowly.  Around 1am, after nine hours of detention, we’re finally given some food, which the guards film us eating so they can demonstrate how humanely they’re treating us.  We’re allowed to keep our carry-on luggage with us, although our IDs, money, credit cards, and any media and electronics are confiscated.  Those of us (like me) who had been stupid enough to check a bag have not been reunited with it, and therefore have no toiletries and no change of clothes.  I’m finally processed and put in a cell with five other women around 2:30am—only to be woken up for a headcount at 6:30 the next morning.

It doesn’t matter how “humane” the conditions are—waking up in prison sucks.  There’s a lot of anxiety on the first day, since no one knew how long we’ll be here and how the guards might treat us.  At one point, a rumor goes around that they’re trying to photograph and fingerprint us all and we must all resist because we are not criminals.  I imagine being in a room full of guards, alone, outnumbered, having to physically resist being fingerprinted, and get quite scared.  That threat turns out not to materialize—either the rumor wasn’t accurate or they gave up that project after they realized we were all going to resist.  But it’s a shaky first day or so.

My first cell contains one Austrian, one German-Palestinian woman whose father was from Gaza, and three Belgians.  We’re all between 23 and 31, and four of us are Muslim.  Needless to say, these ladies do not exactly fit the stereotype of the meek, submissive Muslim woman.

Some of the women in my cell had been part of a small group of mostly young Arabs who were separated from the large group at the airport and put in a smaller arrest van with a large number of soldiers and police, who filmed them and made sexually suggestive comments.  One French Algerian woman was very roughly arrested, beaten, kicked, and put in handcuffs and leg irons before being thrown in the arrest van.

Someone has markers and we distract ourselves by graffiting all over the walls and lockers in our cell.  When the guards finally open the doors and allowed us out into the closed-off hall of our cellblock a few hours later, we see that almost every cell had graffiti written on the walls and doors.  Many cells have used soap or toothpaste to write “Free Palestine” on the inside of the doors.  The prison toothpaste takes the paint off the doors, which is funny until you think about the fact you’ve been brushing your teeth with that.

Consular officials begin arriving that morning.  The two people from the American consulate are friendly and do call our families, but they don’t seem to have much power or information about what will happen to us.  They initially tell us we will be deported that night—it turns out they’re off by three days.

On Saturday, when the consular officials are present, our cell doors are kept open most of the day.  We’re still confined to a closed hallway, but at least we can move about and talk to each other.  The next day, Sunday, we’re locked up 21 out of 24 hours.  We demand phone calls, only to be told “later.”  We start to joke that in Hebrew, later means never.  When we point out that it says on the “prisoners’ rights” document on the wall that we are to be allowed phone calls within 24 hours, we are told: “You’re special—those rights don’t apply to you.”

On the second night, I switch to the cell across the way without asking permission.  It turns out the guards aren’t keeping track of us that carefully and no one notices.  I want to be with Donna, the other American, since there are only two of us.

One of the prisoners in my second cell is Pippa Bartolotti, the only Brit who made it through passport control, perhaps because she is very posh and does not look like a “typical activist,” whatever that is.  She is a Brit with an Italian name because her grandfather was sent out of fascist Italy as a teenager—other family members did not survive.  On Friday, she made it out of the airport only to get a frantic text from one of us while we were being attacked by security in the basement.  Her no-nonsense approach to getting back into the airport was effective (you can, and really must, watch the video here) but did result in her getting thrown to the ground and roughly handcuffed with someone’s knee on her back.  The marks from the handcuffs are still visible and the bruises are just beginning to appear.

There is also an older French woman in our cell who has diarrhea.  Her requests to see a doctor are being ignored.  We take care of her—thankfully Donna is a nurse—but it’s not until the day we’re released that she’s finally able to see a doctor to her satisfaction.  It’s pure luck that she doesn’t become seriously ill.

A sort of primitive communism develops in which everyone instinctively shares food, clothing, toiletries, and the most precious resource, information. Enough people speak either French or English that those become the common languages.  When French and Belgian activists come back from their consular visits reporting that our story is huge in the European media and there are protests in support of us in Paris and Brussels, it’s like a ray of light.

We find ways to entertain ourselves, sharing stories and singing songs.  The light switches for our cells are outside in the hall, so once the doors are locked at 8pm, there is no way to turn the lights off.  The girls across the hall from us work out an ingenious solution that involves a spoon attached to a mop head and some feeling around for the light switch with the guidance of your cellmates across the hall.

Some of us begin to be allowed to see lawyers, although who is permitted to go seems totally random.  We have two wonderful Palestinian lawyers, Anan and Samer, from Addameer, a prisoners’ rights organization, who are representing us pro bono.  They are allowed to see us between 2pm and 5pm—not nearly enough time to talk to the approximately 120 of us who are here.  I am the last person of the day to see them on Sunday, and they spend half our meeting arguing with the guards, who are trying to kick them out before they can give us any information.  The guards seem determined to humiliate them, but they somehow maintain their dignity.  I guess they’ve had a lot of practice.

The main thing they are able to tell us is that we are in a sort of legal black hole.  The Israeli government is arguing that we have not formally entered Israel and are still “in transit,” as we would be as if we were being detained at the airport.  Our lawyers are countering that this is absurd since we have now spend several days in a prison 30km from the airport.  They warn us in no uncertain terms not to sign anything the Israelis give us.  They tell us that it can take up to four days to get a deportation hearing, at which point the judge can decide, arbitrarily, to hold us for another four days—meaning we could be here for up to a week.  This seems to me to be a pale shadow of the system of administrative detention that Palestinians face—except what’s days for us can be months or years for them.

At 1pm on Monday—almost three full days into our detention—I am finally allowed to make my phone call.  I go with Pippa, whose phone was confiscated and still has not been returned.  While Pippa is arguing with the guards, demanding to use their phone (request denied), I’m able to send some surreptitious text messages.  I call my parents and tell them to call an activist friend in New York.  “Tell her to call the media, tell everyone what’s happening, do something to get us out,” I say.  At that point I’m promptly told, “Your time is up now.”

On Monday afternoon some people start to be deported.  We hear that two of the British men have left.  We later learn that there were numerous empty seats on the flight they were on.  I think it’s just pure disorganization that some of the women were not put on that flight.

On Tuesday afternoon, eight of our English-speaking crew are finally driven to the airport.  We are taken to a completely empty security screening area, made to sit down and surrounded by about twenty immigration officers and police.  Suddenly we are told: “You can go to Bethlehem now.”  No one is sure exactly what is going on, but being surrounded and outnumbered two to one by threatening security officers makes it really hard to believe this is a sincere offer.  We are at the airport—surely they have already secured seats for us on the EasyJet flight that’s about to depart.  We notice they are filming us again.  Maybe the point of this is to film us refusing their offer—which we do on principle since dozens of our comrades have already been deported—so they can say “Look, we offered them the chance to go to Bethlehem and they didn’t really want it, so that proves they were just here to make trouble.”

At this point I feel they’re just screwing with us and get quite angry.  I stand up and start questioning the head immigration officer, the thug who orchestrated the attack on us in the basement holding area on Friday night.  “If you say you’re letting us in now, why didn’t you let us in four days ago?”  He says something about there being dangerous people in our midst.  “Who?” I demand.  “You know.”  “No, I don’t know.  Tell me who.”  I try to get him to say something about “terrorist” Arabs or Muslims among us, which I’m sure is what he means, but he, at least, is too smart for that.

Finally we are put on the plane, separated from all the other passengers.  We get our passports back from a flight attendant.  Most people’s are stamped ENTRY DENIED, but mine is stamped with nothing.  It’s as if I never entered the country, even though I’ve been in prison for the past four days.  It is 8pm on Tuesday when the plane finally takes off.  We have been detained for 100 hours.

Throughout the whole process, we never saw a single piece of paper stating why we were being detained.  If we have deportation orders, we did not see or sign them.  We have no information about whether we are banned from re-entering Palestine, although I don’t think any of us expect a problem-free entry in the future.

We are well aware, as we fly off from a country we supposedly never entered, that things could have been much worse.  We all know that the way we were treated is nothing—nothing—compared to what happens to Palestinians.  As internationals, we have the luxury of only encountering the repressive system on its mildest setting.  Our prison experience was full of barked orders, petty meanness, and lies upon lies upon lies, but we learned by the end that the guards were very much unwilling to use violence against us.  Not because they were particularly nice, but because they knew the story would get out.  As westerners our lives are still perceived as having some value.  Less so for the poor migrants who filled the rest of the prison, and not at all for Palestinians.

Like the response to the Flotilla, like the violence against the Nakba and Naksa Day protests and the brutality that unarmed protesters in Palestine face every day, the Israeli government’s response to the Welcome to Palestine mission shows that they know only one way to react to nonviolent protest—with brute repression and total stupidity.  If they had simply let us in, there would have been no story.  Instead they created a multi-day media embarrassment for themselves and ensured that all of us came out of prison more determined to fight.

By detaining dozens of Europeans and Americans for simply declaring their intent to visit Palestinian cities, the Israeli government has only internationalized the struggle.  We will return to our countries and build the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.  We will continue to speak out against Israeli apartheid and for Palestinian human rights.  And we will return to Palestine.  We know we are always welcome.

Laura Durkay is a member of Siegebusters Working Group and the International Socialist Organization in New York City.  You can follow her on Twitter at @lauradurkay.

Turkish Jews say that when Israel does bad stuff, they get blamed as ‘Israelites’

Jul 18, 2011

Philip Weiss

Max Blumenthal is interested in what I’m interested in: the construction of Jewish identity in the wake of Zionism, the ways that Jewish “nationality” has affected our status as a minority in other countries than Israel, and the apprehension of anti-Semitism… He’s been in Istanbul, interviewing Sephardic Jews. Some interesting comments. I’ve included excerpts of two interviews below, but you should read the whole thing at Blumenthal’s site. Here’s his first interview with a Turkish Jew:

MB: What about the relationship of Turkish Jews to Israel? Are they pro-Israel?

E: They are basically pro-Israel and believe Israel’s side of the story, that Israel is defending itself and that the Palestinians use terror and provocations. But they don’t like the trouble Israel causes them….

MB: But you can’t understand why people feel angry about the way Israel treats Palestinians?

E: I understand they feel bad about the treatment of Palestinians. People in the world see us creating a Jewish nation that only benefits us at the expense of others. Sometimes I wonder why we can’t be accepted as normal in the world….

MB: What about you? Do you feel like Israel is part of your Jewish identity?

E: I don’t see Israel as a holiday place like other Jews do. It’s too much trouble and the food is horrible. I’m from here, I’m pretty much comfortable being Turkish, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be willing to cry out, “I’m Jewish!”

[Blumenthal’s friend] DUYGU: Do you think you could ever marry a non-Jew?

E: I dated Christian and Muslim men but parents want me to marry a Jew. An Ashkenazi Jew would be better than a non-Jew but they’re not Sephardic and it really comes down to preserving our culture. The community is so small that a lot of people are having trouble finding someone to date. So a lot of them are going to the US or Israel to find someone.

D: So being half-Jewish is not acceptable then?

E: It’s really not convenient to wind up with a non-Jew. It would be terrible for a child to be only half Jewish. They would have no community.

MB: Why couldn’t they just belong to humanity?

E: Humanity? Humanity doesn’t exist when you’re a teenager!

The second interview:

MB: Yesterday “E” told me that Israel’s actions sometimes cause problems for the Jewish community here. Do you agree?

B: Definitely. The big problem is that whenever something happens with Israel we automatically become “Israelites,” not Jews. I don’t see myself as an Israeli Jew — I’m Turkish. But whatever happens in Israel affects us here and safety becomes an issue. Some people here have fish minds and can’t distinguish between Jews and Israelis.

MB: So how has the phenomenon played out in your personal life?

B: I can give you an example. I was importing lingerie for five years. When Israel began bombing Gaza, I was importing all these brands from the states. And a trade magazine for the lingerie retailers [in Turkey] put out a boycott list that focused on Jewish owned brands. My brands were on the list. I’m not a public person so it’s hard to know that I’m Jewish at all. But my brands were listed because I’m Jewish. … The [Facebook] page said, “The owners of these brands help Israel in its efforts against Gaza.” What the hell do I have to do with Israel? These people don’t know the difference between Jews and Israelis. And the extremists take advantage of this [lack of distinction]…

MB: Do you think the government played a productive role at all?

B: The Prime Minister [Recep Erdogan] took a stand saying Jews are not Israelis, they are Turkish. He made the differentiation clearly. That was a very positive thing for us.

MB: Are you a Zionist? It seems like Israel does not factor into your identity very much.

B: I’m not a Zionist. Israel is an abstract place for me just like France. But there is a connection as a Jew and it is a safe haven in a sense. They are welcoming you with open arms and there is a sense of community. At least it’s better to be attacked as a community than on your own. Of course I’d rather go to London but if another Holocaust happens where will I go?

MB: Do you seriously think the Holocaust could happen again? It seems a little far-fetched to me.

B: Maybe? Who knows? It happened before and no one expected it.

MB: Do you have any interest in learning more about the history of the conflict in Israel-Palestine? Or what about taking a tour of the West Bank and seeing the occupation up close for yourself?

B: No, I don’t think I’d be interested in something like that. Right now Israel’s just an abstract place. I have been three times. Basically I go to the beach in Tel Aviv and come back…

The Freedom Flotilla continues – French boat Dignité Al Karama leaves Greece on way to Gaza

Jul 18, 2011


The following press release was sent out by the Dignité Al Karama:

The Freedom Flotilla lives on; the French boat, Dignité Al Karama has reached international waters. The voyage has begun… let us continue! Respect our right of passage!

On Saturday July 16th, the French boat Dignité al-Karama finally passed the multitude of obstacles and obstructions put in its way by Greek authorities. Departing from the Greek port of Kastellorizo, Dignité has reached international waters. On board, in addition to the French activists, is a delegation representing all the international campaigns comprising Freedom Flotilla II – “Stay Human”.

The Dignité, sailing under a French flag, left Corsica in late June, and has, over the past weeks, been in Greek waters. It is the only boat of the Flotilla that has so far escaped the prohibition against sailing imposed by Greek authorities at the request of the Israeli government. The campaign, “A French Boat to Gaza” therefore decided to continue its voyage, serving as spokesperson for the whole of the Freedom Flotilla, denouncing the blockade of Gaza and demanding it be immediately lifted, and bringing a message of solidarity to the Palestinians in Gaza.

The Dignité Al Karama carries with it the spirit and principles of the campaign ‘A French Boat to Gaza’ and of the international coalition: a demand for justice and legality by putting an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza, condemned repeatedly by the international community. In the face of Israeli threats, we reaffirm our commitment to non-violence in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

The Dignité has now departed: Let our people go !

Passengers on board the Dignité:

Stéphan Corriveau, Coordinator of Canadian boat to Gaza

Ayyache Derradji, Journalist from Al Jazeera

Dror Feiler, spokesperson of Ship to Gaza-Sweden, President of the European Jews for a Just Peace, musician

Hilaire Folacci, Mariner

Jérôme Gleizes, member of the executive board of « Europe Ecologie Les Verts »

Stéphane Guida, Cameraman from Al Jazeera

Amira Hass, Israeli journalist – Haaretz

Jacqueline Le Corre, France, Médecin-Collectif 14 (Calvados region) de soutien au peuple palestinien, member of the French Communist Party

Jean Claude Lefort, former MEP

Jo Leguen, Navigator

Claude Léostic, spokesperson of Un bateau français pour Gaza/ vice president of the France Palestine Solidarity Association

Yamin Makri, France, Collectif 69 (Lyon region) de soutien au peuple palestinien

Omeyya Naoufel Seddik, Fédération des Tunisiens pour une citoyenneté des deux rives (FTCR), and Ligue tunisienne des Droits de l’Homme (LTDH), Phd in Political Science

Vangelis Pissias, spokesperson of Ship to Gaza-Greece, Professor at Technical University of Athens

Thomas Sommer-Houdeville, spokesperson of Un bateau français pour Gaza, Researcher, Political Science, Middle East Studies, at the Institut francais du proche Orient

Yannick Voisin, Captain

Amira Hass reports:

On Saturday evening a Gaza-bound boat left Greek territorial waters. Its 10 participants regard themselves as representatives of the entire abortive flotilla to Gaza, and are determined to exhaust all possibilities in order to reach their destination, or at least carry out the symbolic act of protesting the blockade. They are well aware of the Lilliputian dimensions of their venture, compared with the massive impact organizers had initially planned to have with the 10-odd vessel flotilla.

Dignite-Al Karama, one of two yachts purchased by the French delegation in the second Freedom Flotilla, left a port in Corsica on June 25. Thus, it was spared the fate of eight other boats which were supposed to sail out of Greek ports, but were impounded by Greek authorities.

Last Wednesday Karama left the port of Sitia in Crete, where it had been anchored for a week, awaiting the other boats in vain. Once it was clear that Greece, under strong Israeli pressure, would not allow those boats to sail, its remaining passengers ¬ three French nationals and one Tunisian ¬ were joined by three representatives of other delegations, a Greek, Swede and a Canadian, and by three more French activists who arrived from France. Also on board are three crew members and three journalists from Al Jazeera and Haaretz.

4 Republican congresspeople ‘pledge’ to hold West Bank

Jul 18, 2011

Philip Weiss

According to a rightwing Israeli news site, settler lobbyist David Ha’Ivri met with four Republican congresspeople and got them to “pledge” to support settlements in the West Bank (language is vague). The congresspeople include Nan Hayworth (I live in her district), Michael Grimm (he took a district in Staten Island/Brooklyn in the last election, and raised rightwing Jewish money to do so and has taken hardline positions on Israel), Allen West of Florida (who knocked off progressive-on-everything-but-Palestine Alan Grayson) and Pete Sessions of Texas.

The trend reinforces the point that Republicans are drawing the line on the West Bank, they regard it as Israel.  And they surely have a financial interest in doing so.

Drawing the line on the Democratic side, Jeffrey Goldberg says this Republican trend is dangerous to Israel, because it must remain a Jewish-majority country. And he does the usual pinkwashing. He brags on Israel’s gay-pride parade and says Michelle Bachmann, who also supports the settlements, would be upset by that.

As if these American stances mean anything. Nothing will change…Especially because Goldberg says the left holds Israel “to an impossible standard of moral and political behavior.” Oh please.

B’Tselem: In past the six years, only one Palestinian minor acquitted out of 835 charged with stone-throwing

Jul 18, 2011


From B’Tselem:

New B’Tselem report reveals for the first time official data on treatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli military court system in the West Bank: 93% of all minors convicted of stone throwing were given jail sentences. This includes 19 children under age 14, who under domestic Israeli law could not be held in detention.

The rights of Palestinian minors who are suspected of stone-throwing in the West Bank are violated severely throughout the criminal justice process. These are the finding of No Minor Matter, a new B’Tselem report, published today (Monday, 18 July).

The report brings, for the first time, full official data on Palestinian minors tried for stone-throwing in the past six years, and is based on dozens of court cases, and on interviews with 50 Palestinian minors who had been arrested on suspicion of stone throwing, and with defense attorneys.

Here are some statistics presented in the report dealing with Palestinian minors charged with stone throwing between 2005-2010:

  • 835 Palestinian minors were tried in military courts in the West Bank on charges of stone throwing. Thirty-four of them were aged 12-13; 255 were 14-15; 546 were 16-17.

  • Only one minor was acquitted during that time (0.11 percent of the total), a conviction rate far higher than the extremely high conviction rate in Israel.

  • Of the 642 files where B’Tselem received details about the conclusion, 624 (97 percent) ended with a plea bargain; in only five of the cases (0.77%) was a full trial held. In Israel, about half of criminal cases are resolved in a plea bargain.

  • 19 minors aged 12-13 who were convicted of stone-throwing served a jail sentence ranging from a few days to two months. In Israel, it is forbidden to impose any prison sentence on a child under age 14.

  • 26% of the minors aged 14-15 and about 59% of minors between 16-17 served a jail sentence of four months or more.

Read the full report here.

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Three settlers of Havat Ma’on attack Internationals in Meshakha valley, South Hebron Hills



“Three settlers of Havat Ma’on attack Internationals in Meshakha valley, South Hebron Hills”


July 18th 2011

At-Tuwani – On 18 July 2011 around 6:35 pm three settlers attacked two members of Operation Dove and one member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) with clubs and stones in the Meshakha valley outside of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. The settlers were observed coming out of the outpost of Havat Ma’on covering their faces with scarves then running with clubs in their hands toward two Palestinian shepherds who were grazing their sheep in a valley nearby.

The masked settlers could not catch the shepherds who were alerted of the approaching danger. The attackers then turned and ran toward the internationals who entered the valley to intervene and document the attack. Three young masked settlers armed with clubs made threats and then attempted to strike the internationals as they filmed their actions. As the internationals retreated the settlers begin throwing stones narrowly missing their targets. No Palestinians or internationals were injured in the incident.

This incident follows a similar attack of July 13th, 2011 where three settler youth attacked  Palestinian shepherds. This is also the fifth violent settler attack from the outpost of Havat Ma’on within the last 30 days against internationals and Palestinians. 

Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Pictures of the incident:

Video of the incident:

For further information:

Operation Dove, 054 99 25 773

Christian Peacemaker Teams, 054 25 31 323

CPT-Palestine in At-Tuwani,

South Hebron Hills



Twitter @cptpalestine

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Army’s sleight of hand gives Egypt a show of revolution


Tony Karon

There are few things quite as dangerous for a revolution as believing its own propaganda. That lesson is being learnt through bitter experience by many of the Egyptians who congregated on Tahrir Square last February chanting: “The people and the army are one hand!”

That slogan was always more an expression of hope than a statement of fact. And news that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the junta of 25 generals that replaced President Hosni Mubarak, is considering claiming independence from and formal veto power over future democratically elected governments suggests that the belief that the citizenry and the army share the same interests may be a dangerous illusion.

Having initially promised an election in September for a parliament that would write a new constitution, the military has since pivoted towards the view of secular liberals who fear being trounced at the polls by the Muslim Brotherhood, and argued for delaying the vote and creating a new constitution first. And some of those parties of the liberal elite see the military playing the role of guaranteeing secularism against the Islamist “threat”. Some of the generals clearly believe the same.

“We want a model like Turkey, but we won’t force it,” one general on the ruling council told The Washington Post on condition of anonymity, referring to the decades after the 1980 coup when the Turkish military set strict limits on what was permissible in civilian politics. “Egypt as a country needs this to protect our democracy from the Islamists. We know this group doesn’t think democratically.”

Nor, it seems, does the Egyptian military; as the generals move to lay down basic principles for a new constitution, some members of the junta argue that the military should remain free of civilian political oversight, and should have veto power over any elected civilian government. Such authority is claimed on the basis of its self-styled role as “guardians of the revolution” – the same rubric under which the security forces have detained more than 7,000 democracy activists since Mr Mubarak’s ouster.

Karl Marx, always a sharper political journalist than he was an economist or philosopher, may well have nailed the nature of last February’s political change in Egypt when writing of the 1852 French military coup that brought Louis Bonaparte to power. Marx described “Bonapartism” as a situation where a revolutionary movement has generated a crisis but has failed to claim power for itself, and instead allows counter-revolutionary military officers to seize control, speaking the language of the revolution even as they seek to defuse and suppress it.

The Egyptian army had, in fact, always been a hand of the regime rather than the people, since 1952 when Lt Col Gamal Abdel Nasser led the Free Officers Movement in a coup that overthrew the monarchy. It was that same military-based regime that put first Nasser, then his fellow Free Officers Movement veteran Anwar Sadat, and finally former air force chief Hosni Mubarak in power.

As the crisis sparked by Egypt’s uprising escalated last February, the military recognised that Mr Mubarak’s rule had become inimical to its own institutional interests, which range from maintaining legitimacy and social stability to protecting its $1.5 billion (Dh5.5 billion) annual US stipend and its massive profitable role in many sectors of the Egyptian economy. Mr Mubarak was sacrificed to those interests, a change in personnel but not necessarily in regime.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is no Free Officers Movement; it is led by Mr Mubarak’s former defence minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and includes men the president installed in the military’s top echelon. Its immediate goal has been to quell the rebellion, urging Egyptians – sometimes forcefully – to refrain from protest and even banning strikes in the name of the revolution. And while some arms of the state security system have been reorganised and renamed – and a number of former officials sacked – there has not been any kind of wholesale purge of Mr Mubarak’s erstwhile enforcers. The guiding principle appears to be doing the minimum necessary to defuse popular anger, rather than rebuilding security structures to reflect the needs of a democratic society.

The generals govern like any autocrat facing mounting public anger – they constantly fire and reshuffle the cabinet, in the process only making clear how little real authority the cabinet wields. Indeed, the Supreme Council has effectively overruled cabinet ministers on issues ranging from IMF loans to Israel.

The split between the Muslim Brotherhood and the smaller liberal parties over how to orchestrate the political transition has also been skilfully manipulated by the junta. Its initial plan for early elections had some liberals accusing it of collusion with the Brotherhood; but it has since pivoted, delaying the election and accepting some of the liberal elite’s arguments about hand-picked groups laying out the guidelines for the constitution – and, of course, also arguments for a greater autonomous political role for the military, to the disquiet even of many liberals.

Protests continue, of course, but their focus has largely been on retribution for Mubarak-era officials. The ritual humiliation of Mr Mubarak and his cronies is a symbolic concession the generals can afford without fundamentally altering the power equation. And simply gathering on Tahrir Square does not equal a strategy.

All is not lost by any stretch of the imagination, of course. But February is turning out to have simply been the first act of a protracted drama. And in that act, we have learnt that the military and the people are not, in fact, hand in hand. Right now it is the hand of the generals that is steering the transition. Getting to a democratic transition will require the people taking matters into their own hands.

Posted in EgyptComments Off on Army’s sleight of hand gives Egypt a show of revolution

A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter


Questions about Australian union support for Palestine a smokescreen

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 06:02 PM PDT

My following investigation appears in Online Opinion:

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA does essential work in many corners of the globe. But its focus in Palestine has caused the local Israel lobby to pressure the Australian government to sever ties to the group. This isn’t likely but once again highlights the aim of the Zionist mainstream against any assistance to the occupied Palestinians.

During a recent parliamentary committee in Canberra, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz asked AusAID what exactly it was backing in the Middle East.

There’s no problem with such questions in theory but the aim was twofold: do the Zionist lobby’s bidding and attempt to demonise any kind of support for Palestinians; and frame Israel as a benevolent power in Palestine.

A recent report from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), stated:

“At the October 2010 Estimates hearings, Senator Eric Abetz questioned AusAID on elements of its funding dispensed to APHEDA. Senator Abetz asked AusAID whether it funded organisations associated with BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] or the APHEDA ‘study tours’ to the Middle East. AusAID responded that “no AusAID or other Australian Development Assistance funds are provided to any groups for the BDS campaign” and that “AusAID does not provide any funding for the [APHEDA] study trips.” However, regarding Ma’an Development Centre AusAID conceded that while “AusAID does not directly fund Ma’an Development Centre… under the Australian Middle East NGO Cooperation Agreement (AMENCA) AusAID provides funding to Union Aid Abroad APHEDA.””

APHEDA released a statement clearly explaining that, “no AusAID funds or resources are used to support campaigning by MA’AN or APHEDA.” AIJAC apparently doesn’t understand the concept of independent Palestinian organisers making independent decisions about policies without Australian NGO or government direction.

AIJAC continued:

“Senator Abetz returned to these issues at the 2 June 2011 Estimates hearings, eliciting yet more revelations. Abetz asked AusAID: “What are the safeguards in place that prevent AusAID funding being used by APHEDA or any of the other in a manner that contravenes Australian government policy on Israel? Let us just pluck an example out of the air like BDS?” AusAID replied simply: “We have no information that any of the NGOs we are supporting…are involved with that program.”

“But Senator Abetz then pointed out to AusAID that: “According to APHEDA’s annual reports all of APHEDA’s funds for Middle East projects originate from AusAID,” which would seem to imply that it must be AusAID’s tax dollars being given to the Ma’an Development Centre by APHEDA. In response, AusAID did not contest this claim, merely re-stating its position that no AusAID funds are contributed towards organisations that support BDS. The AusAID representative offered no concrete assurances that the Australian taxpayer money apparently being given to the Ma’an Development Centre via APHEDA is not being used for BDS activities.”

Again, AIJAC fails to understand the realities in Palestine itself. Officially Australia claims to be opposed to the illegal colonies in the West Bank but also states its opposition to the BDS movement. These are inherently contradictory positions on the ground because there are no Palestinian groups of importance that aren’t engaged in some kind of political or economic opposition to creeping settlement expansion. In other words, AIJAC is calling for the severing of assistance to all Palestinian groups because they dare to protest against the illegal colonies.

The Gillard government has thus far avoided tackling this question, simply calling BDS “nuts” but offering no alternative to a non-existent peace process in the region.

AIJAC concludes:

“Given the information revealed in these hearings, there now seems ample reason to raise such questions about the AusAID funding to APHEDA. Given AusAID’s inability to provide adequate answers to Senator Abetz’s questions, the ball must now move to the court of Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, as AusAID implied. There is now a good basis for expecting a review of his department’s funding of APHEDA in light of these revelations and the fact that on 1 April 2011, Mr. Rudd assured Australians that his government “did not condone nor support any boycotts or sanctions against the Jewish state.””

It is interesting how the other three relevant Australian NGOs (CARE, World Vision and Actionaid) did not get questioned and odd also how their Palestinian partner NGOs (like just about every Palestinian NGO, according to an aid insider who spoke to me) have equally signed up to the 2005 BDS call, yet it is the APHEDA partner that gets singled out.

The Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO Network) is signed up to the BDS and all the Australian NGOs have at least one Palestinian NGO partner who is a member of the PNGO Network. If the Australian government (or AIJAC) were really serious about severing connection with any Palestinian group that backs BDS, then the Palestinian Authority would also have to be shunned because it has implemented partial BDS against settlement goods.

The Australian union movement is increasingly backing BDS against a recalcitrant Zionist state. There are a handful of prominent unionists, such as ACTU Assistant Secretary, Michael Borowick, an Orthodox Jew, who opposes BDS and organises Zionist lobby trips to Israel and Palestine but they are a dwindling minority.

An aid insider tells me that a number of key unionists continue to bully APHEDA behind the scenes in an attempt to stop its work in Palestine, including the successful study tours led by APHEDA. The pressure has singularly failed.

These trips are seen as a threat because they refuse to follow the path set by AIJAC, Albert Dadon and other Zionist lobbyists who take politicians and journalists on propaganda tours around Israel (with five minutes in Ramallah). The Greens recently obtained a long list of media and political elite figures that took the Dadon trip last year and this proved that both major political parties and corporate press are ideologically compromised by such visits.

For those who know the reality in the region, advocating for Palestinian rights under occupation has become unavoidably and necessarily linked to some form of BDS endorsement.

It is ironic that the right-wing Israeli Knesset is making it illegal for Israeli’s to support BDS and yet this is the “democratic” state that Zionists argue we must uncritically support.

Even in Australia, it’s apparently illegal to simply protest outside a shop, Max Brenner, which supports the Israeli army. It is not, as claimed by blind defenders of Zionism, an attack on Jewish businesses but rather a non-violent and legitimate form of protest, like what occurred against companies and individuals who supported apartheid in South Africa.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is always quoting the fact that Australia has “greatly” increased aid to the Palestinians to $56m in 2011-12 and the important activities the aid is doing. However, he uses this “fact” to erroneously answer questions about Australia’s support of Palestinian aspirations (statehood, refugee right of return, end the occupation, human rights etc) for peace. In a political conflict such as this, providing aid is only half the answer: it must also be coupled with the insistence that Israel comply with relevant international, humanitarian law. The Australian government is silent on law enforcement against its great friend and ally.

Following the ripple effect of the Marrickville BDS campaign and rising public support for the Palestinians, there is growing scrutiny in Parliament on AusAID’s Palestine program. It’s tragic that Palestine, with the least resources available to it and under siege, has to answer for the world’s ills and people’s petty prejudices.

APHEDA’s Middle East project officer Lisa Arnold tells me: “Gaza is a man-made disaster of more than five times the scale of the Indian Ocean tsunami; it’s just that the deaths and destruction occur over the course of decades, not minutes.”

The reality remains that APHEDA operates vitally important programs across Palestine – a few years ago I visited one of its programs at Gaza’s only rehabilitation hospital – and the Zionist lobby with its corporate and media mates should not be allowed to threaten this life-line to a people under occupation.

It is not the right of the Australian Senate to pry into what APHEDA or their Palestinian partners do with their own monies or other donor funds. What AIJAC and its lobby friends desperately want to avoid is any examination of what Israel is doing in the West Bank and Gaza and why hysteria against any critics of Zionist policies is now par for the course by its Israeli government masters.

Murdoch empire ruled by arrogance and denial (and respected by few)

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 05:54 PM PDT

Jay Rosen on a bloated corporate culture that indulges and fellates power. Oh, and loves wars against Muslims:

When the news broke that the Murdochs had hired the Edelman firm to handle public relations in the UK, I thought to myself, “Edelman has a crisis response practice, but do they have a denial division?”

Because to me that is the most striking thing about the way News Corp has reacted to these events from the beginning. Denial! Not only in the sense of deflecting questions with “move along, nothing to see here…” (when, in fact, there is something) but that deeper sense of denial we invoke when we say that a woman is in denial about her unfaithful husband or a man about his coming mortality.

Denial is somehow built into the culture of News Corp, more so than any normal company. It isn’t normal for the CEO to say, as Murdoch said on July 15, that his company had handled the crisis “extremely well in every way possible,” making just “minor mistakes,” when the next day the executive in charge (Rebekah Brooks) resigns, then a day later gets arrested, followed by Murdoch’s closest aide, Les Hinton, who also resigned in hopes of reversing the tide of defeats.

Your top people don’t quit for minor mistakes, but no one in News Corp seemed troubled by that July 15 statement. The Wall Street Journal reported it without raising an eyebrow. Murdoch was confronted with his “minor mistakes” quote in Tuesday’s parliamentary hearing but he turned down the chance to take it back. Where does denial so massive come from?

Here’s my little theory: News Corp is not a news company at all, but a global media empire that employs its newspapers – and in the US, Fox News – as a lobbying arm. The logic of holding these “press” properties is to wield influence on behalf of the rest of the (much bigger and more profitable) media business and also to satisfy Murdoch’s own power urges.

However, this fact, fairly obvious to outside observers, is actually concealed from the company by its own culture. So here we find the source for the river of denial that runs through News Corp.

Fox News and the newspapers Murdoch owns are described by News Corp, and understood by most who work there as “normal” news organisations. But they aren’t, really. What makes them different is not that they have a more conservative take on the world – that’s the fiction in which opponents and supporters join – but rather: news is not their first business. Wielding influence is.

Israel’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs says West Bank isn’t occupied

Posted: 18 Jul 2011 11:00 PM PDT

This is Zionist propaganda that would like the world to ignore this or this:


Remembering what Chomsky does to help people in countless places

Posted: 18 Jul 2011 11:01 PM PDT

As Noam Chomsky prepares to arrive in Australia later in the year to receive the Sydney Peace Prize, haters routinely forget the tireless work by the American intellectual behind the scenes on behalf of those persecuted by governments. This campaigning is rarely acknowledged and it often comes at some personal cost. Below is one case in literally thousands. It was published in the Sunday Age in 1997. I’m told the man mentioned was eventually brought to safety:

An Indonesian embassy official has sought political asylum in South Africa, claiming to have classified documents detailing official corruption in his country and evidence of human rights violations in Indonesian-ruled East Timor.

The official, Stany Aji, said he had been assisting the pro-democracy movement in Indonesia and had been in contact with Guruh Sukarnoputra, former opposition parliamentarian and brother of pro-democracy leader Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Marco Boni, a spokesman for South Africa’s Foreign Ministry, confirmed yesterday that an application for asylum had been received from Aji, who had been working in the trade section of the Indonesian embassy. “Our Home Affairs Department is considering the case at the moment,” he told ‘The Sunday Age’.

Aji, who has been in hiding since his activities were discovered, appealed last week for urgent help via the Internet, sending a message to US academic Professor Noam Chomsky of Boston. Chomsky is known as a strong critic of the Indonesian regime and has intervened in previous bids for political asylum by East European and Latin American dissidents.

“(South Africa) has so far not given me any guarantee of granting asylum due to the fact that South Africa wants to hold on to good relations with Indonesia,” Aji said in his plea to Chomsky. “The information that I hold would most definitely break this illusory and temporary state of good relations with the Indonesian Government.”

Chomsky later sought help from a number of colleagues around the world, including Deakin University academic Scott Burchill. “He said the fellow seemed to be in a bit of trouble,” said Burchill, a lecturer in international relations. “The official also wanted to contact Jose Ramos Horta, who Chomsky thought was still in Australia.”

Ramos Horta, who lives in Sydney but spends much of the year travelling, is an exiled East Timorese resistance leader who shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with the territory’s Catholic bishop, Carlos Belo. He was in Australia until last week.

What Murdoch thugs fear most; sunlight

Posted: 18 Jul 2011 08:48 PM PDT

Wendy Bacon, a journalist for the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at the University of Technology, writes in New Matilda that now is the time to seriously investigate the power of the Murdoch empire in Australia. It’s called democracy, hacks:

There are two main ways of thinking about freedom of expression in the context of a democracy.

One way concentrates on freedom of the press. This tends to emphasise the importance of an unrestrained press to hold others accountable. From that point of view, the more power the press has the better.

The other way puts the emphasis on communication — access to information and a voice for all groups. This second way assumes that the media marketplace is not an even playing field and that some steps may be taken by governments to protect the rights of less powerful groups and individuals.

Not surprisingly, press owners and journalists often react negatively to any suggestion that could impinge on their freedom. Take the Weekend Australian’s vehement defence of its editorial performance and its attack on Greens leader Bob Brown’s call for a media inquiry into media ownership. The Saturday editorial accuses News Limited’s critics of wanting to swap a robust media for “a monocultural media” which is ironic as that is exactly what critics of Australia’s ownership laws say they want investigated. While failing to come to grips with critics’ key concern, which is the potential abuse of media power gained through concentrated ownership, the paper says it will debate media regulation on its merits — provided, it seems, that the underlying preference for the profit motive is accepted by us all.

Meanwhile, across in the tabloids, the Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt announced to the readers of Australia’s biggest newspaper that Greens Leader Bob Brown’s “jihad” on freedom of speech was ”totalitarian”.

In fact, in a long press conference on Friday, Brown said he was in favour of free speech and had no predetermined ideas about the answer to what he sees as threats to diversity. He supports a legal right to sue for breach of privacy. (In fact this would only benefit those few with resources to take action and should have a public interest defence.)

It’s understandable that Australian News Corp journalists have mostly concentrated on explaining that they do not systematically break the law like their peers at News of the World. But doesn’t this sidestep the key point in this saga for Australia — that there is no competition here? Tabloid journalism in Australia is controlled by News Ltd, each paper having its own city market to itself.

After the phone hacking scandal broke, few commentators thought about how much of the results of News of the World unethical practices ended up being served up to Australian audiences. There are lots of advantages of being part of a global “integrated media company” as News Corporation describes itself.

10 questions the British MPs will not ask Murdoch

Posted: 18 Jul 2011 07:03 PM PDT

And it’s all about Iraq and Tony Blair’s desperate need to receive the backing of the media mogul.


Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

Norway backs Palestinian bid for UN recognition in September



Norwegian FM says ‘it is perfectly legitimate’ for Palestinian president to turn to the UN with a proposal for statehood.

Norway, host of the 1993 Palestinian-Israeli peace accords, said on Monday it was “perfectly legitimate” for Palestinians to take their case for statehood to the United Nations for voting in September.

“We will consider very carefully the proposed text that’s to be put forward by the Palestinians in the coming weeks,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas beside him at a press conference.

“Norway believes it is perfectly legitimate for the Palestinian president to turn to the United Nations with such proposals,” Stoere said, adding that continued negotiations with Israel will be required in any case.

The United States and Israel have opposed Abbas’ plan, backed by the Arab League, to bring the Palestinians’ long quest for statehood to a vote in New York.

Abbas said on Monday the plan was still on.

“We will seek to go to the UN next September in order to obtain membership for the state of Palestine,” he said.

He added: “Our way is to go to the Security Council. If we fail we will go to the General Assembly.”

Norwegian diplomats said UN membership would require approval by the Security Council, where the United States holds veto power, but that a resolution on statehood could go straight to the UN General Assembly.

Stoere said Norway would decide how to vote after reading the exact proposal but left little doubt about his inclination.

“I don’t think that any Palestinians or anybody around the world are in doubt that Norway supports Palestinians’ right to statehood,” he said. “That has to be accompanied by a process of negotiation, which at the moment is stalling.”

He and Abbas signed a document upgrading the Palestinian Authority’s representative in Norway to ambassadorial rank, as several other European nations have done.

Norway chairs a group of Palestinian donor nations, some of which have contributed to a funding crisis for Abbas by not fulfilling funding pledges. Stoere implored them to pay up.

Posted in West Bank6 Comments

‘Hollywood producer gave IsraHell sketches of centrifuges for Dimona nuclear reactor’


Arnon Milchan, close friend of Israeli prime ministers and Hollywood stars, was recruited by Shimon Peres to work on Israel’s alleged nuclear program, according to a new biography.

Israeli businessman and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan played a central role in supplying Israel with sketches and blueprints of uranium enrichment centrifuges for the nuclear reactor in Dimona, a new biography claims.

On Monday, Haaretz reported about the new book, “Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan,” written by Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman, which recounts Milchan’s life story, from his days as a boy in Rehovot through his friendships with Israeli prime ministers, U.S. presidents and Hollywood stars.

Milchan’s services to the Israeli security industry have been made public before, but he has always denied or refused to acknowledge them. This is the first time Milchan confirms these claims, albeit indirectly.

Even though the authors claim to have written an unofficial biography, Milchan agreed to meet with them, answer their questions and correct their mistakes. One of the major sources for the book was Israel President Shimon Peres, a close friend of Milchan.

“I am the one who recruited him,” Peres is quoted as saying. This occurred in the 1960s, when Peres was serving as deputy minister of defense. The relationship continued in the 1970s, when Peres became minister of defense and then recruited Milchan as an agent for Lakam, an acronym for the so-called Science Liaison Bureau. Lakam is the name of a secret unit in the Defense Ministry that was tasked with purchasing equipment, namely technological parts and materials, for Israel’s alleged nuclear program.

According to the book, Milchan later contacted one of the senior executives in the German company GKT from Julich, part of the European consortium Urenco, which produced centrifuges for uranium enrichment. The executive left the blueprints of the centrifuges on his kitchen table, which allowed an Israeli nuclear agent to photograph them. The entire operation lasted several days.

Based on these sketches, the book says, Israel set up a centrifuge factory in Dimona and was able to produce fissile material, used for nuclear weapons.

It is worth mentioning that Doctor A. Q. Khan, the Pakistani scientist and “father” of the Pakistani atomic bomb, stole the same blueprints a few years later from Urenco. In the 1990s, Dr. Khan sold the blueprints to Libya and Iran, enabling the Ayatollah’s regime to establish the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, based on these same blueprints.

Milchan was operating clandestinely for years, yet in the mid-1980s U.S. Customs uncovered an attempt to smuggle “switches” – equipment that can be used both for medical purposes and for nuclear weapons manufacture – by the California-based Milco company, owned by Milchan.

The company’s CEO, Richard Kelly Smyth, was arrested and released on bail. He fled the country soon after.

Smyth was declared a fugitive, and according to some reports found refuge in Israel. In 2001, he was captured in Spain and was brought back to the United States where he was tried and imprisoned. The FBI began an investigation into Milchan’s affairs, yet he has never been charged.

According to the book, right after the “switches” fiasco Milchan called his friend, Peres, then prime minister, and asked for his help in dealing with the Ronald Reagan administration. Milchan is quoted in the book as saying he never received money for his services, and that everything he did was for the State of Israel.

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Zio-Nazi prepares to intercept French yacht as it sets sail for Gaza


Zio-Nazi defense establishment expects no violent resistance from 10 activists, 3 crew members abord the Dignite-Al Karame.

The French yacht Dignite-Al Karame set sail toward the Gaza Strip Sunday, after other ships in an anti-blockade flotilla were grounded in Greece, but defense establishment sources here said the French yacht will be prevented from reaching shore.

Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement said the Dignite-Al Karame had declared Alexandria, Egypt, as its destination so it could slip out of Greece. You can change destinations legally in the middle of the Mediterranean, she added.

Defense establishment sources said Sunday they expected no violent resistance from the 10 activists and three crew members aboard the Dignite-Al Karame, so its interception should be swift and smooth.

Most of the combatants previously on alert to intercept the second Gaza-bound flotilla ¬ consisting of some 20 vessels and 2,000 activists ¬ have been transferred to other tasks. Greece did not allow the flotilla to take off. However, it made news when two boats were found to have been sabotaged.

The Israel Defense Forces knows that an Al Jazeera crew is on the boat and will make an effort not to provide the Palestinians with pictures of “Israeli aggression,” sources said. 
Israeli diplomats said that as almost all the flotilla activists had disbanded, the takeover of the Karame is not expected to draw much media attention.

On Sunday night, 48 hours after leaving the Greek port at Kastellorizo and entering international waters, the French boat was nearing the Egyptian city of Port Said. The idea of entering Egyptian waters was dropped in view of the country’s precarious political situation, and the yacht stopped in international waters.

Thomas Sommer-Houdeville, a French national and flotilla spokesperson, said Sunday the boat was carrying a message of peace, hope and solidarity with the people in Gaza. He hoped the Israeli Navy would not intercept the boat and let it complete its civic mission. He believes that the boat must get near as possible to the destination, as it represents the “determination and will” of the people who were on board other boats and all those who have been involved in raising awareness about the blockade on Gaza.

In Jerusalem, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon warned foreign journalists that if the boat is indeed on its way to Gaza, which is a breach of international maritime law, it will be intercepted. Ayalon also assured that “we will try our best to make all those on board very comfortable.”

Israel says the blockade is to prevent arms from reaching the ruling Islamist group Hamas. The boarding of the Mavi Mamara in May 2010 by Israeli commandos met with resistance from those aboard, and nine activists died in the encounter. Relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained over the incident.

Posted in GazaComments Off on Zio-Nazi prepares to intercept French yacht as it sets sail for Gaza

Human rights lawyers seek warrant against John Rizzo for approving drone strikes in Pakistan that killed hundreds.



Rizzo told Newsweek that he was the person who signed off on the CIA’s lethal operations [GALLO/GETTY]

Human rights lawyers in the UK and Pakistan are seeking the arrest of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) former legal director for approving drone strikes that killed hundreds of people.

John Rizzo, who served as the acting general counsel for the agency, has admitted approving drone attacks inside Pakistan, beginning in 2004.

In February, Rizzo, who left the CIA more than a year ago, told Newsweek magazine he agreed to a list of people to be targeted by drone strikes, which started under the Bush administration.

“It’s basically a hit list,” Rizzo said. “The Predator is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.”

A study by the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said 42 drone attacks were approved in four years.

The report said that the amount of strikes has quadrupled under the administration of US President Barack Obama and estimates about 2,500 people were killed in attacks on targets in Pakistan since 2004.

Arrest warrant

“There has clearly been a crime committed here,” Clive Stafford Smith, a British human rights lawyer who is leading the effort to seek a warrant for Rizzo, told Al Jazeera.

“The issue here is whether the United States is willing to flaunt international law.

“One of the purposes of doing this is because there is no sense in the United States of how catastrophic this whole process is.”

US government lawyers argue that drone strikes are conducted on a “solid legal basis”, however, Stafford Smith said there has to be a war going on in order for any of these strikes to be legal.

“Outside a combat zone the US has no possible, plausible legal basis to conduct these drone strikes. They think they can get away with it. This process is meant to make sure that they can’t,” Stafford Smith said.

“I challenge anyone to go to the families of those innocent victims in the [Afghanistan-Pakistan] border regions and say: ‘It’s legal to bomb your homes and kill your children’. It is not, obviously.”

In May 2010, the CIA was granted approval by the US government to expand drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions in a move to step up military operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.

Federal lawyers backed the measures on grounds of self-defence to counter threats the fighters pose to US troops in neighbouring Afghanistan and the US as a whole.

The US announced that targets would include low-level combatants, even if their identities were not known.

Obama had previously said drone strikes were necessary to “take out high-level terrorist targets”.

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Human rights lawyers seek warrant against John Rizzo for approving drone strikes in Pakistan that killed hundreds.

NATO destroys Tripoli’s airport radar

NATO warplanes have destroyed the radar antenna at Tripoli’s International Airport, claiming it was used for military purposes by Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

According to a NATO statement issued on Monday, the civilian air traffic control radar tracked NATO jets and provided information to Libyan regime’s air defense systems, the Associated Press reported.

“The antenna, which was previously used for civilian air traffic control, was being used by pro-Gaddafi forces to track NATO air assets in the airspace over Tripoli and to coordinate their own air defense early warning system,” the statement said.

Libyans, however, said the radar targeted by NATO was used for civilian purposes, including guiding the UN and relief agency flights into the airport.

NATO said the no-fly zone over Libya made it unnecessary to use the radar for civilian purposes. It has bombed dozens of military radar sites in the four-month war.

Because of technical limitations, it is difficult to convert civilian radars to target aircraft in the same way as military radars. But civilian radars can be used to monitor the airspace and provide general information on the speed and altitude of intruders.

Civilian radars cannot track and target aircraft like military radars and it’s against the international law to attack them.

A NATO official argued that this made the antenna a legitimate military target.

NATO is conducting airstrikes in Libya to implement the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, and says its air campaign aims at protecting civilians. However, Libyan officials say hundreds of civilians have been killed as a result of the attacks.

Critics accuse the West of hypocrisy over the offensive in Libya, along with its silence towards the brutal crackdowns on similar anti-regime movements elsewhere in the Arab world, such as in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Posted in LibyaComments Off on NATO destroys Tripoli’s airport radar

Zionist plans hundreds more illegal Jewish settler homes



Israel announced plans on Monday to build another 294 homes in two Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the Palestinians said the move hardened their resolve to seek statehood recognition from the United Nations.

 Israel’s Housing Ministry linked the new construction to a nationwide plan to lower housing prices, which have skyrocketed in recent years, and appease protesters demanding affordable living space.

 The tenders seek builders for the projected expansion of the Beitar Illit enclave outside Jerusalem and Karnei Shomron, a settlement on the outskirts of the West Bank’s largest Palestinian city of Nablus.

 Ariel Rosenberg, a ministry spokesman, said it could take as long as two to three years before the homes were built, adding that the tenders were the first issued for occupied areas beyond Jerusalem since a building freeze expired in September.

 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November 2009 had ordered a 10-month temporary halt to new settlement-building on territory Israel captured in a 1967 war. He declined U.S. appeals to extend the moratorium late last year.

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to hold peace talks with Israel unless it completely freezes settlement activity. He has instead focused efforts on a unilateral bid for statehood recognition from the United Nations in September.

 ”This decision is another reason calling on us to go to the United Nations and the Security Council to ask for recognition of the state of Palestine and gaining full membership for it in the United Nations,” Nabil Abu Rdainah, an Abbas spokesman, said in a statement.

 Hagit Ofran, a spokeswoman for Israel’s settlements watchdog group Peace Now, charged the new construction plans “show the public the Israeli government isn’t moving toward peace”.

 Rosenberg said the new construction was part of a wider plan to build another 7,000 homes across Israel, releasing his statement as hundreds of protesters pitched tents in the business hub of Tel Aviv to demand more affordable housing.

 ”The ministry is constantly seeking to market land to cope with a housing shortage,” Rosenberg said.

 In contrast with the United States and Europe, Israeli housing prices have soared by an average of 50 percent in the last three years, an issue Netanyahu has said he would address by efforts to cut red tape he says often hinders new construction.

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