Archive | August 28th, 2011

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Independent: How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones

Aug 26, 2011

Henry Norr

Palestinian boys throwing stonees
Palestinian boys throwing stones (AFP)

Today’s UK Independent carries a searing story about Israeli treatment of young Palestinians arrested for throwing stones. Reporter Catrina Stewart somehow got to see a video recording the interrogation of a 14-year-old Palestinian named Islam Tamimi. (Stewart doesn’t say so, but the video must have been made by the Israeli authorities themselves.) Her story begins:

The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. “Lift up your head! Lift it up!” shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. “I wish you’d let me go,” the boy whimpers, “just so I can get some sleep.”

During the nearly six-hour video, …. Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear. … Shown a page of photographs, his hand moves dully over it, identifying men from his village, all of whom will be arrested for protesting.

Stewart goes on to explain how these cases usually end, regardless of whether or not the children arrested actually threw stones:

In most cases, children as young as 12 are hauled from their beds at night, handcuffed and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, subjected to lengthy interrogations, then forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language few of them read.

…most children are frightened into signing a confession, cowed by threats of physical violence, or threats against their families, such as the withdrawal of work permits.

When a confession is signed, lawyers usually advise children to accept a plea bargain and serve a fixed jail sentence even if not guilty. Pleading innocent is to invite lengthy court proceedings, during which the child is almost always remanded in prison. Acquittals are rare. “In a military court, you have to know that you’re not looking for justice,” says Gabi Lasky, an Israeli lawyer who has represented many children.

At the end of the piece Stewart provides some statistics about such arrests. Most striking to me:

62 The percentage of children arrested between 12am and 5am.

Go read the whole article. And as I’ve said to several people active in the Palestine solidarity movement: if you ever have a moment of doubting why we do this work, just go back and re-read this piece.

Kinky Friedman supports Rick Perry because of– (wake me up when this is over)

Aug 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

Kinky Friedman at the Daily Beast. Oh god.

As a Jewish cowboy (or “Juusshh,” as we say in Texas), I know Rick Perry to be a true friend of Israel, like Bill Clinton and George W. before him. There exists a visceral John Wayne kinship between Israelis and Texans, and Rick Perry gets it. That’s why he’s visited Israel on many more occasions than Obama, who’s been there exactly zero times as president. If I were Obama I wouldn’t go either. His favorability rating in Israel once clocked in at 4 percent. Say what you will about the Israelis, but they are not slow out of the chute. They know who their friends are. On the topic of the Holy Land, there remains the little matter of God. God talks to televangelists, football coaches, and people in mental hospitals. Why shouldn’t he talk to Rick Perry? In the spirit of Joseph Heller, I have a covenant with God. I leave him alone and he leaves me alone. If, however, I have a big problem, I ask God for the answer. He tells Rick Perry. And Rick tells me.

So would I support Rick Perry for president? Hell, yes!

‘J Street’ comes to Syracuse

Aug 26, 2011

Pat Carmeli

The last time I attended an event on Israel at Temple Concord in Syracuse, I angered the audience when I confronted Ido Aharoni, the Consul General for the State of Israel. It wasn’t so much my alluding to dead babies and white phosphorous, but my brazen proffering that the average age of the audience was around 75 years, a comment made in the context that the younger Jewish population, not represented at the event, is far less tied at the hip to Israel as the older generation.

 So before last night’s event (8/25) which hosted the J Street Northeastern Regional representative, Melanie Harris,  I promised our group (CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine/Isreal) that I would be there in “silent solidarity”.  And I meant it. I had no intention of putting the audience or the speaker on the offensive. Harris was there to introduce the audience to J Street with the aim of opening up a chapter in Central New York.

When J Street first emerged on the scene a few years ago, I was put off by their “Pro Israel, Pro Peace” motto.  I’d have preferred Pro Human Rights for all, but it’s not my gig.  When J Street organizers gave the brush off to Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun at one of their earlier conferences, I wrote them off as duplicitous and shallow.  However, over the past couple of years my opinion of them has changed and I’ve often participated in their petitions and have sent financial contributions.  I appreciated their ability to reach the hardcore Israel-supporting audience that my group rarely penetrated and I began to perceive them as the counter-balance to AIPAC, slowly siphoning off the large lobby’s membership and money.

So it was with this belief that I and my daughters as well as several members of our group attended the event last night.  We didn’t want to challenge the speaker.  If she would be able to crack through the “Israel right or wrong” mentality, we’d be happy.

 Harris began her presentation by explaining that J Street’s objective is to widen the dialogue within the Jewish community, thereby breaking through the not-so-subtle prohibition on questioning Israeli leadership or policy.

It encourages political participation of its members to encourage continued US political commitment towards achieving the objective of a Two-State solution.  She explained that a Jewish State alongside a Palestinian State is the only way to assure Israel’s survival as “Jewish and Democratic”.  J Street supported continued US military aid to Israel, a demilitarized Palestine, and borders somehow based on ’67 lines with land swaps to denote settlements which aren’t going to be dismantled.  She commented that the “policy of Israel right or wrong mentality is damaging for the US and Israel”.  J Street wants participation from its membership to “show that there is a base of support for President Obama’s positions” as outlined in his March 2011 speech.  She urged the audience to reach out to their officials to show support for these policies. She spoke of the Jewish values she was raised with and her personal desire to “take back the conversation from the extremists”.  She wished for “pragmatism, rational thought…not bogged down in the history of the conflict”.

Zingo.  Let’s open the conversation, but not that far.

Troubling to me was the fact that J Street wants to open up the conversation and abandon the “Israel Right or Wrong” mentality, but not pose the question: “Zionism, right or wrong?” Harris explained that the organization isn’t eager to get bogged down in history, but can this context be omitted from an in-depth discussion of the conflict?  Harris spoke of a suffering friend in southern Israel worried about rocket attacks, but omitted any mention of the Palestinians of Gaza, the Wall, expropriated lands, the inability for Palestinians to travel, to arrive at hospitals, or get an education. She stressed the need for the “Palestinians to abandon their right of return because it would pose a demographic problem for the Jewish State” and made no mention of the ever growing population of Palestinians within Israel or how the Jewish state will deal with that messy demographic conundrum down the line.

Before attending last evening’s event, I opined to my group members my belief that J Street, while quietly as outraged as we are over Israel’s human rights abuses and outright murderous actions, is being “tactical” to garner the support of the Jewish community. I believed that there is more than one path to the ultimate objective of peace and justice for Israel and Palestine.  I was left, however, with the notion that J Street is very much like AIPAC in the sense that they advocate for continued US involvement, political support, and US tax dollars, but only as long as our elected officials advocate on behalf of the continued existence and strength of the militarized Jewish State.  I felt a total disconnect and even denial by the speaker of the constant trampling on Palestinian human rights.  They were represented merely as a demographic problem with terrorist tendencies.

Perhaps I was wrong to keep my pledge of silence during Q & A, but my daughter made no such promise and she asked a three-part question which was basically met with “we advocate for a Zionist State”.  So much for opening up dialogue.

After the event I spoke to Melanie Harris about my concerns and she suggested I attend the first meeting of the new J Street chapter in Syracuse next month.  (I had already registered)   I think I will attend, but only to see if in a smaller, more intimate environment the J Streeters are more open to real and meaningfully conversation and whether the group advocates justice for all, or merely a strong Jewish Israel totally supported by US policy and money.

Why Israel (and Jeffrey Goldberg) are championing the Kurds

Aug 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

The other day Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic championed the Kurds against Turkey, a post headlined, “Turkey Kills Dozens of Kurds, World Shrugs.” Goldberg wrote, “I’d organize a flotilla in support of the Kurds, but I’m afraid no one would join.”

I would never suggest that Goldberg’s positions are orchestrated–no, the majorettes cut their own moves–but isn’t it interesting that according to this Asia Times’ analysis by former Indian ambassador M K Bhadrakumar, Israel is trying to pressure its former ally Turkey, which now supports the Palestinian statehood initiative, by making common cause with two populations Turkey has oppressed, Cypriotes and Kurds! Here’s some of the Kurd analysis (thanks to Mark Wauck):

Leading Israeli defense specialist David Eshel commented in August about the upsurge of Kurdish insurgency in Turkey’s eastern provinces:

“The entire Kurdish people could take advantage of the ongoing Arab Spring and prepare the ground for a long-anticipated Kurdistan, linking up with Iraq’s ongoing autonomy, the Iranian Kurdish enclave and perhaps even the Syrian Kurdish minorities … With the Arab world in total turmoil, lacking any orderly leadership, the Kurds could finally achieve their sacred goal for independence, after decades, if not centuries of desecration and oppression … the ongoing ‘Arab Spring’ could eventually shift into a ‘Kurdish Summer'”.

Israel estimates, however, that the Kurdish problem makes Ankara vulnerable to American and European pressure tactic and an exacerbation of this could politically weaken Erdogan and bring him to his knees.

And here’s the Cyprus part:

The two-day visit by the Foreign Minister of Cyprus, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, to Tel Aviv, which ended on Thursday, was much more than a routine call. The minister had just assumed charge in Nicosia and headed for Israel as soon as her customary first visit to Athens was out of the way.

Quite obviously, Nicosia and Athens (which has an ancient grudge to settle with Ankara) put their heads together and assessed that Israeli regional policies are on a remake. Cyprus and Greece have had indifferent ties with Israel, but a compelling commonality of interests is sailing into view. …

The statement issued by Netanyahu’s office virtually underscored that Israel has a convergence of interests with Cyprus with regard to Ankara’s perceived belligerence. Netanyahu said Israel and Cyprus had “overlapping interests”. The statement said Netanyahu discussed with Kozakou-Marcoullis “the possible expansion of energy cooperation given that both countries have been blessed with natural gas reserves in their maritime economic zones”.

…The Israelis are pinning their hopes on Cyprus turning out to be a prize catch, being a member of the European Union, which works by consensus and is shortly expected to evolve a common stance apropos the expected Palestinian move at the United Nations General Assembly session in New York in September, seeking recognition for their “state”.

This explosive diplomatic issue haunts Tel Aviv (and Washington) and the stance that Cyprus takes at Brussels could be a diplomatic windfall when the mood in Europe is increasingly empathizing with the Palestinian case for statehood.

AIPAC prepared congressional ‘airlift’ to go back home and explain why we’re spending $ on Israel

Aug 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

I love honest journalism. Joshua Mitnick in the Christian Science Monitor on the neverending scandal: Why one-fifth of the Congress spent their summer recess in Israel, the “virtual airlift” of Congresspeople to Israel by AIPAC affiliate American Israel Education Foundation.

While such visits are routine, the unusual size of this year’s delegation reflects several factors ranging from the UN vote and rising criticism of White House policy toward Israel, to the bumper crop of freshman representatives who don’t have to spend the summer campaigning for reelection. AIPAC wants to use the visit to make the case to newcomers for continued US foreign aid of about $3 billion at a time of fiscal austerity.

“The question isn’t so much going away with a different attitude, it’s going away with more information,” says David Kreizelman, who heads AIPAC’s office in Israel. “They have to go back to their constituents who are saying, ‘We want [government help] and you are voting to give money to Israel.’ “

And remember what my congresswoman, Nan Hayworth, wrote to her constituents?

It can certainly be said that the cost of deployment of an Iron Dome unit is far lower in dollars than the cost of the damage from a terrorist rocket. The savings in lives is, of course, incalculable. Iron Dome is an example of how smart technology can help us to defeat evil without bloodshed. We need to do a lot more of this in a lot of places in the world, and we can, but if we’re going to afford it we need to manage our American resources better.

Why I’m a progressive

Aug 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

Some here see the issue through the lens of Alabama’s history, including Lawton Higgs, 71, a retired Methodist minister.

“And I’m a recovering racist, transformed by the great fruits of the civil rights movement in this city [Birmingham],” he says.

–Debbie Elliott reporting 3 days ago on Alabama’s new immigration law for NPR.

Most surprising is how far same-sex couples have dispersed, moving from traditional enclaves and safe havens into farther-flung areas of the country. Consider, for example, the upstarts on the list [of the top ten cities in the proportion of same-sex couples]: Pleasant Ridge, Mich., a suburb of Detroit; New Hope, Pa.; and [Rehoboth] this beach town in southern Delaware.

[Among the top four counties in the country for same-sex households are] Hampshire County, Mass., Monroe County, Fla., and Multnomah County, Ore…

–Sabrina Tavernise reporting yesterday in the New York Times

Democratic cong’l candidate uses Israel issue to pander to rightwing Republicans

Aug 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

As regular readers know, I believe that the heart of “the special relationship,” the undying love between the U.S. and Israel, is American Jewish political action. I tend to pooh-pooh Christian Zionists. Here’s some evidence against my theory.

Kate Marshall is a Democrat from Reno and the Nevada State Treasurer. A former Peace Corps volunteer, she is now running for Congress in the vast second district (not Shelley Berkley’s). Well lately she released a speech “on an issue she’s never talked about,” expressing unwavering support for Israel in the face of attacks and by mistake left in the staff memo about why such support is politically important.

The pandering was to reach out to rightwing Republican voters who dig Glenn Beck! Tim Mak at Politico:

her aides accidentally left in a “background” section at the bottom that explained why it would be “useful to express support for Israel.”

The section, which was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston, explains that putting out the statement would “demonstrate some foreign policy prowess” during a time when “Israel has been in the news.”

The notes that were supposed to remain private also went on to say that a statement on Israel would be timely because of Glenn Beck’s recent Rally to Restore Courage event in Jerusalem. The section alludes to the fact that Republicans are generally supporters of Israel, noting that Marshall could gain by siding with Israel “in an R district.”

From Las Vegas Sun version of speech:

Kate Marshall Issues Statement of Support for Israel as Violence Escalates…

“I am proud to consider Israel a friend and I reiterate my unwavering support for its fundamental right to exist and the absolute necessity for Israel to secure its people from outside threats. I stand ready and willing to assist Israel in defending itself against all acts of terrorism….

“[Memo portion] Background: Israel has been in the news lately, and will be even more in the news with Beck’s “Rally to Restore Courage” in Jerusalem. In an R district, it will be useful to express support for Israel and demonstrate some foreign policy prowess while it is a timely topic – especially for people who are likely paying attention to Beck’s event.

‘Moral dilemma’– or how a woman rationalizes rejecting a graduate student as a babysitter on racial basis

Aug 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

I get the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and a few months back they published this amazing story by Awatef Sheikh (a former aide to a Palestinian member of the Knesset). It wasn’t online when the magazine showed up, but now it is. (You should all subscribe to the Washington Report). It begins with an incident as related by a Jewish Israeli mother, Karni Eldad, in an article in Haaretz. These are just excerpts:

The Jewish Israeli mother posted her ad at a café on Mount Scopus adjacent to her neighborhood, the French Hill. Both are located in East Jerusalem, occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed by Israel in violation of international law. [Karni] Eldad was fortunate: a woman called to express interest in the job. She described the caller as an intelligent and amazing person, a mother with two children, thus giving her credentials as an experienced babysitter.

But there was a problem: the caller’s name was Suha and she lived in Isaweyeh, a Palestinian slum-like neighborhood in East Jerusalem, just a few hundred yards away from Eldad’s pleasant, well-maintained neighborhood. Eldad rejected Suha and told her and Haaretz readers why: Grappling with her conscience, Eldad confessed she was “afraid to employ an Arab woman.”

“I tried to imagine an Arab caregiver for my son,” Eldad wrote. “No problem. She sounded delightful…..But what if…” she went on to reflect. “What if she duplicates the key and gives it to her cousin who will steal the car/computer/wallet/gun? Or what if she really is an honest and nice person and innocently tells a relative in Taibeh (or for the sake of argument, in Ramallah) that she’s looking after a cute baby? Will that person kidnap him? Or extort money from us? Or worse? And what if none of this, but I always have the feeling that maybe, maybe yes?”

The author explained what she described as her “moral dilemma”: she succumbed to her fears and wondered whether this means she is racist. She questioned what has changed; her parents had had an Arab cleaner when she was young….

I was in Jerusalem recently and ran into the pseudonymous Suha, an old acquaintance from university. Her actual name is Aswan; she is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, originally from Nazareth, a single mother of two children. She is doing her Ph.D. in philosophy at the Hebrew University, has a master’s degree in educational anthropology, a diploma in management of not-for-profit community centers, and is a former manager of one. She is a qualified group facilitator with experience in facilitating conflict resolution discussion groups of Jewish and Palestinian participants, and is qualified in mediation and trust-building practices. Aswan lives with her two children at the Hebrew University’s Student Village in the French Hill—not in Isaweyeh, as Eldad stated in her article.

Why, then, did Eldad specify Isaweyeh? Because in order to justify her “moral dilemma,” Eldad required the typical image of a Palestinian—the sneaky, untrustworthy one…

Aswan explained to me that she tried to convince Eldad to meet, but failed. “Do you want to meet, and then you can see there is nothing to be afraid of?” she suggested. Eldad declined. Aswan then suggested meeting to discuss Eldad’s fears, regardless of the job. Attempting to end the conversation, Eldad said: “I couldn’t hire you even if I wanted to. My dad is a member of the Knesset and, according to the law, his children can’t hire an Arab babysitter for security reasons.”

While there are more than 20 laws in Israel which discriminate against Palestinian citizens, none forbid Jewish MKs from hiring Palestinian citizens as babysitters—at least, not yet.

Aswan is not alone in this experience (nor, sadly, is Eldad in her views)….

When I asked Aswan how her experience with Eldad affected her as a citizen, she replied: “We face racism and Israeli supremacy on a daily basis, in the smallest details of our daily lives. But this was hard to deal with: I was rejected as a human—but I refuse to see myself as a victim. On the contrary, Eldad is the victim.”

More doubts emerge over claim that Eilat attackers came from Gaza

Aug 26, 2011

Kate

and other news from Today in Palestine:

Gaza

VIDEO: Israeli airstrikes kill Gazans
Reuters 25 Aug — PLEASE NOTE: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS WOUNDED AND DISTRAUGHT CHILDREN [BUT IS NOT GRAPHIC] Buildings in ruins – and homes reduced to heaps of concrete. On Thursday morning Gaza residents awoke to destruction caused by overnight Israeli airstrikes that left at least four people dead and wounded around 20 others. In the northern Gaza Strip two people were killed and 10 were wounded, including women and children, when a sports facility belonging to Islamic Jihad was hit. In southern Gaza, a strike on smuggling tunnels running under the border with Egypt killed one man, and another was killed in an airstrike in Gaza City. The wounded were being treated at local hospitals. Israeli claims 14 rockets had earlier been launched from Gaza into Israel. The violence disrupts a ceasefire agreed on Monday after five days of intense cross-border violence. Travis Brecher, Reuters
link to in.reuters.com

Two killed, scores injured in ongoing strikes on Gaza Strip
GAZA (PIC) 25 Aug 12:36 — Two Palestinians were killed Thursday morning and scores including children sustained injuries after Israeli occupation forces carried out two air strikes in northern and southern Gaza Strip. Israeli planes bombed a sports club in Beit Lahiya in the north killing Palestinian young man Salama al-Masri, 19, and leaving more than 20 with various injuries, medics told our correspondent. The sources added that among the injured were seven children and four women. There are still victims that remain under the rubble, the sources also said. In Rafah to the south, a man was killed, three were injured, and three others went missing after an Israeli air strike targeting a tunnel in Rafah’s Brazil district … The strikes brought the casualty toll since last Thursday to 20 deaths and more than 90 injuries, most of them to women and children. Late Wednesday night, al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing said it fired three mortar shells as direct clashes erupted after an Israeli incursion on Beit Lahiya in the north, the brigades said in a military communiqué.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

2 Islamic Jihad fighters killed in airstrike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Aug 20:32 — An Israeli airstrike killed two members of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing in the Gaza Strip late Thursday, witnesses and security sources told Ma‘an. Salim Al-Arabid and Alaa Hamdan died after the airstrike in northern Gaza, Islamic Jihad’s military wing said in a statement. An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the reports but said five rockets struck the western Negev Thursday night and 12 rockets in the past 24 hours. Seven others have been killed and at least 30 injured in airstrikes during the same period … A fragile truce among Gaza militants was announced Sunday evening, but it came unstuck Tuesday after Israel killed an Islamic Jihad commander.
link to www.maannews.net

Video (Arabic) Islamic Jihad funeral procession, burial of Ismael al-Asmar
PalToday TV 25 August
link to www.youtube.com

Bahr: Israel wants a truce without stopping killing Gaza people
GAZA (PIC) 25 Aug 13:46 — First deputy speaker of the Palestinian legislative council (PLC) Ahmed Bahr said that Israel’s military escalation is aimed at imposing what he called the formula of a unilateral “truce with continued killing” in the Gaza Strip. In a press release on Thursday, Bahr stated that the Israeli occupation state wants the Palestinian people to keep their arms folded and stay idly watching it shedding their blood.
link to uprootedpalestinians.blogspot.com

Islamic Jihad: ‘We will halt rockets if Israel stops raids’
GAZA CITY (AFP) 14:37 — Islamic Jihad on Thursday pledged that if Israel halted its air strikes on Gaza, its militants would stop firing rockets into southern Israel, a spokesman told AFP. “If Israel stops its attacks, the Palestinian resistance will stop firing rockets,” said Daoud Shihab after 24 hours of Israeli air strikes targeting the faction left at least two of its militants dead.
link to www.maannews.net

Islamic Jihad armed wing: No chance of truce
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Aug 21:28 — The military wing of Islamic Jihad has called on all of its members to attack Israel in response to its killing of three Al-Quds Brigades operatives in 24 hours. “Our war with the occupation has begun and there is no possibility of discussing a truce,” the group said in a statement after an Israeli airstrike killed two of its members late Thursday in northern Gaza.
link to www.maannews.net

PRC says its armed wing will scrap truce
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Aug 22:26 — The Popular Resistance Committees’ armed wing on Thursday said its forces would not commit to a truce with Israel, after an airstrike killed two Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza. The Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades said in a statement that both sides must stop attacks for any truce to last, but Israel did not stop attacking Gaza. “We will respond to their attacks with all our strength,” the group said.
link to www.maannews.net

Doubts emerge over identity of terrorists who carried out attack in Israel’s south / Amira Hass
Haaretz 25 Aug — It has been one week since the terror attacks near Eilat, and there is no sign of the traditional mourners’ tents for the relatives of militants killed by the Israel Defense Forces, or indeed any reports of Gazan families who are grieving as a result of IDF actions near the Egyptian border last Thursday. Nor were there reports of families demanding the return of their loved ones’ bodies for burial. A longtime social activist told Haaretz that even in the event that families were instructed to conceal their grief, news like that is difficult to hide in the Strip. The absence of mourners’ tents reinforces the general sense in the Strip that the perpetrators of the attack were not from Gaza, contrary to Israeli defense establishment claims. Gazans also doubt that members of the Popular Resistance Committees and their military wing (the Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades ) were behind the attack.
link to www.haaretz.com

De-escalation easier said than done in Gaza as each side picks its spots / Karl Vick
TIME 25 Aug — It’s a peculiar cease-fire that sees 20 missiles and mortars launched in a single night, but that’s the kind of cease-fire in effect in the Gaza Strip, despite the professed efforts of the two major players, Israel and Hamas, to draw down hostilities …  All this began, of course, when militants on Egypt’s border with Israel opened fire on Israeli cars and buses on a highway leading to the Red Sea resort city of Eilat Aug. 18.  At least three Egyptian police were killed as Israeli forces pursued the assailants, setting off a diplomatic crisis that Israel scrambled to tamp down.  But delicate questions persist.  On Monday, the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that three of the assailants had been identified as Egyptian, not Palestinian, as widely presumed. And on Thursday, the Israeli daily Haaretz noted that, oddly, there appeared to be no evidence of mourning in Gaza for anyone killed in the Sinai operation; the report was filed by Amira Haas, the respected Haaretz reporter resident on the West Bank. An Israeli security official, however, tells TIME that whatever the origin of the perhaps one dozen militants who carried out the Eilat attack, they were indeed commanded from Gaza.  Israeli intelligence was eavesdropping on the Popular Resistance Committees in real time on the day of the attack, the official says, and heard instructions from the dusty Gaza city of Rafah to the battleground in the Sinai.
link to globalspin.blogs.time.com

Still no evidence of PRC involvement in Eilat attack / Yossi Gurvitz
972mag 25 Aug — A week passed since the Eilat attack, and the IDF has yet to prove the blame of the group Israel chose to attack in response …Two days ago, the IAF attacked the Gaza Strip again — naturally, it does not consider itself bound by the ceasefire; only the Palestinians are, and only they can be blamed for breaking it — and killed some Islamic Jihad apparatchick. Yesterday, the IDF claimed (Hebrew) that he was in charge of funding the Eilat attacks. Hold on a minute, I’m confused: I thought you said the attacks were carried out by the PRC, and now it’s the Islamic Jihad left holding the bag? As of yesterday, reported Amira Hass in Ha’aretz (Hebrew), there are no mourning tents in Gaza. As of today, one week after the attack, the IDF refrains from exposing the identity of the attackers it killed. One should note that none of the bewildering array of information comes officially from the IDF Spokesman, but rather from all sorts of “senior sources”. That’s the way the IDF raises a smokescreen, and then, when it is penetrated, rightly say he said nothing official.
link to 972mag.com

Al Mat’haf — Gaza’s first and only archaeological museum
Gaza (Pal Telegraph) 23 Aug – Al-Mat’haf, Arabic for museum, is the first archaeological museum in Gaza, and one of the few in Palestine. It is also the realisation of a 26-year-old dream by Jawdat Khoudary, the creator of the museum, who was inspired by the love and appreciation of history when he accidently found an Islamic glass coin in Gaza in 1985 … Al-Mat’haf is situated in one of the city’s quietest coastal spots. It overlooks a stunning view of the Mediterranean, which stands as a reminder of the unchanged leftovers of the city. In Al-Mat’haf itself, more than 300 archaeological items that were found in Gaza are on display. They come from the many different historical eras that the city commendably survived.
link to www.paltelegraph.com

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

After construction – the permit is issued
Settlement Watch 24 Aug — The construction of 17 settlement units in the old police station in Ras Elamud is almost completed. One year ago the settlers, who made a deal with the Police (according to which the settlers funded the construction of a new station for the police (in E1 area) and in return received the rights to use the old station buildings in Ras Elamud), started to renovate the two buildings in Ras Elamud into 17 housing units. Few weeks ago, they evenstarted to market the homes for potential settler families. There was one thing they didn’t take care of – a construction permit. We have been writing to the Jerusalem Municipality about the illegal construction without a permit, but unlike in many cases of Palestinian construction without permits, there was no action to stop the construction. Last Monday, the settlers finally published an ad in the newspaper allowing the public 14 days to object the upcoming permit, as required by the law. There are now 14 days for the public to file objections to the permits.
link to settlementwatcheastjerusalem.wordpress.com

Silwan committee unveils Israeli scheme to take over Al-Bustan zone
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 Aug — Spokesman for Silwan defense committee Abdulkarim Abu Sunaina revealed an Israeli Judaization scheme to encroach into Silwan district and wipe out Al-Bustan neighborhood using different excuses such as the establishment of sewerage systems. Abu Sunaina, in a press release on Tuesday, reported that the Israeli municipal council in occupied Jerusalem closed the street near the sit-in tent in Al-Bustan area and started under military protection to carry out excavations allegedly for the establishment of a sewerage system.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Checkpoints Habla, Deir Sharaf, Anabta, Jubara and Irtah / Susan Lourenco
Machsom Watch 21 Aug — …13:15 – by now, there have been more horse and pony carts, one carrying a father and his two small children; a tractor, a couple of cars, three women from the Habla side and the greengrocer`s son, in a large, empty truck who is waved across without having to dismount. The soldiers appear to be easing up. On the other hand, a man with a permit for Gate 109, (Sh’aar Eliahu) up the road is refused permission to cross here in spite of the fact that it`s a long way round for him to go back there, and in spite of the fact that it is extremely hot, he’`s fasting and it`s Ramadan. Another problem about which MachsomWatch, perhaps, can do something: a man with a horse and cart approaches us, shows a form from the Israel Police indicating that he cannot receive any permit until 2013: his crime, working in Israel, and caught there, without a permit, in 2009. Since then, no work, a large family, and he doesn’t have the necessary money to pay the fine…. ‘Obstacle Course’, indeed. We give him Sylvia`s number.
13:20 – it’s quiet, and the soldiers have retreated from the heat to the concrete house.
link to www.kibush.co.il

Settlers

Witnesses: Settlers burn hundred of olive trees
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Aug — Dozens of Israeli settlers set fire on Thursday to more than 100 olive trees in Mikhmas village southeast of Ramallah. Local witnesses told Ma‘an that settlers from the illegal Ma’ale Mikhmas settlement adjacent to the village set fire to agricultural land before vacating the area.
A report by the Palestinian Authority found that settler violence increased “dramatically” in June 2011, documenting 139 attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank and the destruction of over 3,600 olive trees and vineyards. Annual figures compiled by Israeli rights group Yesh Din have repeatedly shown that nine out of 10 police investigations about settler crimes fail to lead to a prosecution.
link to www.maannews.net

WikiLeaks’ revealing information about US citizens living in West Bank / Justin Elliott
Salon 24 Aug — …In 2004 and 2005, consular officers at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv wrote a pair of fascinating cables about American citizens who are living in illegal West Bank settlements. The officers found that the U.S. citizens’ reasons for moving to Jewish settlements in the area where Palestinians hope to establish a state were three-fold: social, economic, and ideological. In the first cable, a 36-year-old married mother of three — at the embassy to report the birth of an American citizen child — explained that she believed the “God-given land of Israel” includes the West Bank … As a resident of the West Bank she is technically within the consular district of the US Consulate in Jerusalem. However she said that she did not wish to travel through East Jerusalem streets “surrounded by Arabs” to get to the Consulate. She would go there only if accompanied by her husband, who is usually armed. When asked why, if she fears East Jerusalem, she is willing to live in a settlement in the heart of the West Bank, she said that she thinks of Neve Tsuf as a suburb of Tel Aviv.
link to www.salon.com

MDA: Red Star of David logo to remain on W. Bank ambulances
JPost 24 Aug — Magen David Adom defends itself against accusations by settlers that it had politicized medical service by removing its classic logo … The Council of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip made this charge after the logo on the ambulance servicing the Kiryat Arba settlement was switched to the outline of a white six-pointed star in a red circle. Inside the star is the international medical symbol. Council head Dani Dayan charged that MDA had caved to a demand by the International Committee of the Red Cross in a 2005 agreement not to use the Red Star logo in regions beyond the pre-1967 border. “It is quite clear that the reason is political,” said Dayan. He added that MDA is saving the Palestinians a bid for unilateral statehood at the United Nations in September, by already taking a step now, that recognizes their sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
link to www.jpost.com

Israeli forces

The deer hunter / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 25 Aug — Firas Qasqas was a gardener. Thirty-two years old and the father of three daughters, he came from his village with his family to visit his brother-in-law, who had moved to a new home in Ramallah. After an especially rainy, stormy night they woke up to a glorious sunny day and decided to go for a hike in the gorgeous valley of olives opposite the house. Yes, there are also Palestinians who love nature. They were three hikers – Firas and his two brothers-in-law – when they saw a herd of deer fleeing down the slope. They knew that behind the herd there would also be people coming but it did not occur to them that on the heels of the deer would come hunters – in this case, people hunters. Very soon they saw a group of soldiers coming down to the valley. A few minutes later the soldiers started firing two or three rounds at them, from a very long range. Firas fell, bleeding to death.
link to www.haaretz.com

Jenin’s Third Intifada under attack / Richard Lightbown
PalChron 22 Aug — ‘The location of the Freedom Theatre […is] in the middle of the most attacked and poorest refugee camp in Palestine, the refugee camp of Jenin. We are talking about almost three thousand children under the age of 15 suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It means they pee in their pants when they are eleven. It means they cannot concentrate; they cannot deal with each other without violence. This camp […] is [be]sieged by electric fence, all around it. People cannot go out or in unless they have a permit. We have two gates like a big prison, and we are just in the middle, trying to serve this population, trying to bring some normality, some sanity to some people here. I would say that the Freedom Theatre offers the very basic elements of life to children, to people, to grown-ups, to women, to men: freedom” …The words of course came from Juliano Mer Khamis who was gunned down by an unknown assassin on 4 April this year outside the theatre of his creation. Such a visionary graces humanity so rarely that the loss is incalculable. But the work of the theatre has continued after this devastating blow because as its members have said, if we give up Juliano will die. The importance of this continuing act of resistance can be measured by the response of the occupying power.
link to www.palestinechronicle.com

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Campaign to end US aid to Israel expands to San Francisco cable cars / Henry Norr
[photo] Mondo 25 Aug — A new series of ads calling for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel now greets commuters, tourists, students, and shoppers traveling on the San Francisco Bay Area’s public transit systems. The ads, part of a growing national campaign, went up this week on the Powell Street cable car, a popular tourist attraction in downtown San Francisco; in three of the busiest stations on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
link to mondoweiss.net

Veolia keeps silent about two bus services to illegal settlements
EI 24 Aug — Adri Nieuwhof — The Derail Veolia Campaign is taking off in the United States. In response, Veolia has spread the information that it “does not operate other bus services in the West Bank” besides the bus lines 109 and 110.  Last week, Who Profits, a research project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, found that Veolia operates two other bus services to settlements in the occupied West Bank. To assist activists in the United States, Global Exchange has built an informative website which provides basic information.
link to electronicintifada.net

Detention / Court actions

IOF soldiers arrest 9 Palestinians including wife of prisoner
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 12:28 — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up nine Palestinian citizens in occupied Jerusalem and Al-Khalil on Thursday including the wife of a prisoner and his children. Jerusalemite sources said that the soldiers stormed the home of prisoner Nasser Abu Khudair and assaulted his family members before arresting his wife and three of his children on the pretext they were wanted for interrogation by the Israeli intelligence.
IOF soldiers detained five Palestinians in Al-Khalil and its villages at dawn Thursday including Maisoon, the wife of prisoner Hussein Al-Qawasme, who was held for a few hours then released. Local sources said that the soldiers took the wife from her parent’s home and took her to her husband’s home and ransacked it before releasing her.
Two of the arrested were brothers from Yatta village, south of Al-Khalil city, a teen and his younger minor brother, they said.
http://uprootedpalestinians.blogspot.com/

Israel places 18 Palestinian prisoners under administrative detention
NABLUS (PIC) 16:04 – An Israeli military commander has approved the transfer of 18 Palestinian prisoners to administrative detention following a recommendation by the Israeli Attorney General, the International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights said. Among those placed under administrative detention without charges was Palestinian MP Mohammed Mutlaq Abu Juheisha (Al-Khalil). His term was extended another four months. Most of those transferred were former prisoners who spent decades in Israeli prisons and who were taken prisoner during the recent unjustified arrest sweep in Al-Khalil, the West Bank, said ISFHR lawyer Ahmed al-Beitawi.
He pointed out an escalation in administrative decisions Israel has made lately against dozens of Palestinian prisoners, saying the situation indicates Israel’s inability to pin charges on them.
link to occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com

Child arrests: Mahmoud
PSP 25 Aug — This week PSP visited with the family of Mahmoud, a 16 year old school student and local Community Centre volunteer from Beit Ommar. Two weeks ago Mahmoud was arrested whilst helping women and children to escape an Israeli military attack on a party to commemorate Palestinian prisoners at Beit Ommar’s public park. Mahmoud’s parents Yusuf and Sahir, along with his sisters Suhair and Hikmat, tell us of the trauma they have suffered since his arrest … “When I saw him in the court the following week, I wanted to hug him” he tells me, “but they would not even let us talk. Mahmoud looked so shocked and so drawn – very different to the son I know.” Yusef describes what happened next as a tragic joke. “There appeared to be some mix-up and the charge papers could not be found so the case was adjourned. I have never been in an Israeli court before but what I saw seemed like theatre play rather than reality – the accused have no rights, the Palestinian lawyers are not free to speak they way they want to and so there can be no hope of justice.”
link to palestinesolidarityproject.org

Beit Ommar teacher remains in prison as trial is delayed
PSP 23 Aug — : Beit Ommar resident Majde Za’aqiq – a 38 year old elementary school teacher – today remains imprisoned in an Israeli jail, after an Israeli military court yesterday took the decision to extend his detention without any charge or trial date. Majde was arrested on Saturday, when Beit Ommar’s peaceful demonstration against the illegal settlement of Karmei Tsur was attacked by the Israeli military report here). He was taken by the military – along with an international activist who has since been released – from a car, as he was leaving the demonstration. An entirely fabricated accusation of throwing stones was given as the reason for his arrest. After being held in jail for two days, Majde was taken to an Israeli military court in Ofar, West Bank. There, the prosecution failed to produce enough evidence to go forward with a charge for the trial, instead claiming it needed more time to gather evidence from the soldiers who were present. The judge obliged, and delayed the trial, condemning Majde to further detention without charge or trial. Majde’s detention leaves his two young sons, over whom he has sole guardianship, without their father. His arrest also coincides with the start of the new school year, meaning that Majde’s class will be without their teacher for the beginning of the year. Furthermore, Majde’s eldest child, who is deaf, is due to start the year at a special school for deaf children.
link to palestinesolidarityproject.org

Israel uses new methods of torture on Palestinians
RAMALLAH (Arab News) 25 Aug —  A Palestinian human rights organization on Thursday said Israel has begun using new methods of physical and psychological torture against Palestinian and Arab prisoners. The Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners said in a press statement that the Israeli internal intelligence agency Shin Bet has been using painful means — mental and physical — of torture that leave less physical evidence, such as forcing prisoners to sit in tiny chairs with hands and feet tied, making them stand up in closets, depriving detainees from sleep and using violent shaking. The group said Shin Bet interrogates the prisoners under the threat of murder, assassination, home demolition, rape or the arrest of wife, covering of the head with a dirty sack, placing prisoners inside refrigerators, making them stand for a long period, and placing them in solitary confinement.  It added that the Shin Bet restricts the prisoners’ use of toilet.
link to arabnews.com

Hamas man planned to kidnap Israeli diplomat
Ynet 25 Aug — An indictment was filed Thursday against 28-year-old Hamza Mahmood Yusuf Usman from Jordan, accusing him of cooperating with Hamas in order to attack Israeli targets and kidnap its citizens. According to the charges, Usman and his counterparts devised a plan to kidnap an Israeli citizen, apparently a diplomat in Amman, attack the Israeli embassy in the Jordanian capital and launch rockets from Jordan towards Israel.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Racism / Discrimination

Severe lack of classrooms found in E. Jerusalem schools
JPost 23 Aug — Existing facilities in Arab neighborhoods ‘deplorable,’ city councilor says he will turn to Gulf states for funding. The Jerusalem municipality announced on Monday that the city will build an additional 42 classrooms in east Jerusalem in the coming school year, despite an estimated lack of approximately 1,000 classrooms. Last year, the municipality built 39 classrooms in east Jerusalem. The number does little to satisfy need, since the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan alone needs an additional 50 classrooms, said Silwan Parents’ Committee head Faris Haalas. Additionally, the existing classrooms are in deplorable and dangerous conditions that are not fit for children, he said. Haalas took The Jerusalem Post on a tour of east Jerusalem classrooms two weeks before the school year is set to start for Arab students. Schoolyards were filled with trash and rubble, some of it due to rocks thrown in clashes between security forces and the neighborhood youth. Leaking pipes, exposed electricity wires, crumbling stairs, rusty fences, and exposed steel rods characterized many of the municipality schools’ courtyards.
link to www.jpost.com

Israeli Arabs to Peres: Help end ‘economic intifada’
JPost 23 Aug — With only minor variations the script repeats itself year after year at the Iftar dinner hosted by President Shimon Peres for kadis, imams and heads of Arab towns and villages. He talks about peace and some of the positive developments in Israel’s Arab sector, and a spokesman for the Arab communities lists some of the main grievances that Arabs have against the establishment … Turning closer to home, Peres acknowledged there are still problems of equality in relation to Arab citizens, but he was eager to point out the situation is not stagnant and significant progress has been made. “We always talk about the flaws,” he said. “I want to talk about the achievements.” … While Arabs continue to complain about discrimination in the education system, Peres preferred to emphasize the rising standards of education in the Arab population. Every year, 40,000 Arab students can be found in Israel’s universities, he said …Where there is a huge gap, Peres stated, is in the hi-tech area, not because Arabs lack the education, but because they lack the opportunity to put that education to use.
link to www.jpost.com

Israeli court approves deportation of foreign worker, 4-year-old daughter
Haaretz 25 Aug — The Petah Tikvah District Court ruled Thursday that a four-year-old born and educated in Israel, daughter to a foreign worker from the Philippines, will be deported along with her mother later in the day … Before Ofek and Nancy were almost deported last week, Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote an urgent letter to Interior Minister Eli Yishai, calling on him to prevent the girl’s deportation.
link to www.haaretz.com

Statehood bid

Q&A: Palestinian statehood bid at the UN
[decent maps] BBC 12 Aug — Palestinian officials plan to ask the United Nations to recognise an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders if there is no progress in the peace process by September. The idea is strongly opposed by Israel and its close ally, the United States. Here is a guide to what is likely to happen and its significance.
link to www.bbc.co.uk

Report: Israel to take measures against Qatar
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 25 Aug — Israel is ready to implement measures against Qatar for supporting the Palestinian UN bid for recognition in September, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Thursday. Israeli authorities are reportedly thwarting all Qatari funded projects in Palestine and have closed their diplomatic mission in Qatar, Maariv said. Qatari officials have also been forbidden to enter the West Bank or Israel. Qatar also has strong relations with Hamas, Maariv reported Israeli officials as saying.
link to www.maannews.net

Arab MKs seek African support for PA bid
Ynet 25 Aug — Knesset members Ibrahim Sarsur and Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), and MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash) met on Thursday with a dozen delegates from African countries and urged them to back the PA’s bid for recognition in the UN. The three held the meeting contrary to the government’s position.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Shaath: India will support Palestinians at UN
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Aug — India will support recognition of Palestinian independent statehood at the UN, PLO representative Nabil Shaath said Thursday. The Indian foreign minister SM Krishna told Shaath in a meeting in the Indian capital New Delhi on Thursday that India will work to support the Palestinians’ bid, due to be put to General Assembly vote on September 20 … The PLO official noted that India recognized a Palestinian state in 1988, and has diplomatic relations, including a representative office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
link to www.maannews.net

Arab Peace Initiative Committee insists on UN bid
DOHA, Qatar (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — …The committee convened in Doha and ratified a plan previously set by a reduced committee to recruit international support for the Palestinian statehood bid.  Arab ministers, headed by Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani, agreed to ask Arab League secretary-general Nabil Al-Arabi to continue to contact international organizations and political bodies to secure support for the UN campaign. An Arab diplomat told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that the Palestinian Authority requested the meeting “to maintain cohesion in the Arab stand.”
link to www.maannews.net

Video: ‘The recognition of the state is not only important for me, but for all Palestinians’
Filmmaker Jan Beddegenoodts interviews Palestinians on the streets of Ramallah to hear their thoughts on the Palestinian bid for statehood in September. “Palestinians are more focused on the unity of Palestine than the recognition of the Palestinians state.”
“What will happen is a change in the political game between the Israelis and the Palestinians.” Watch to hear more.
link to www.palestinemonitor.org

Report advises against Palestinian statehood bid
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Aug. 25 (UPI) — A British professor who occasionally gives the Palestinians legal advice warned against their statehood bid next month at the United Nations, Ma‘an reported. A seven-page document from Guy-Goodwin Gill, obtained by Ma‘an, states that an initiative to transfer Palestinian representation from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to a new state will terminate the legal status the PLO has had at the United Nations since 1975. The news agency said the document asserts that if the Palestinians are recognized as a state, there will no longer be an institution that can represent the rights of all the Palestinian people in the United Nations and other international institutions.
link to www.upi.com

September report to remain secret?
Ynet 25 Aug — FADC Chairman Mofaz set on publishing report criticizing Israeli readiness ahead of Palestinian UN bid for statehood, as coalition tries to prevent publication, fearing document will hurt State’s image
link to www.ynetnews.com

Political / Diplomatic / International

Israel moves to ease strains with Egypt
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 25 Aug — Israel offered on Thursday to investigate jointly with Egypt the killing of five Egyptian security personnel during an Israeli operation against cross-border raiders a week ago, violence that has strained relations with Cairo’s new rulers. “Israel is ready to hold a joint investigation with the Egyptians into the difficult event,” a statement issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office quoted his national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, as saying. Amidror said the terms of such a probe “would be set by the armies of both sides,” going a step beyond Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s earlier pledge to hold an investigation and share its findings with Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
link to www.maannews.net

‘Egyptian who tore down Israeli flag rewarded’
Reuters 25 Aug — Protester who yanked off flag from Israeli embassy in Cairo receives job, new home, honorary shield from provincial governor, local paper says [according to the PIC, the Egyptian flag was still flying there Tuesday morning]
link to www.ynetnews.com

EU diplomat: Aid to Palestinians in question
AP 25 Aug — Europe’s financial crisis is causing some European Union lawmakers to question whether the bloc can continue to deliver millions in aid to the Palestinians, an EU diplomat said Thursday.  The EU is the largest single donor to the Palestinians, contributing about €500 million ($720 million) a year to build institutions for a future state and pay salaries.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Other news

Young photographers in Nablus
Pal. Monitor 25 Aug — These photos were taken around the city of Nablus by young Palestinians between the ages of 11 and 15, all  participants in the Triple Exposure project at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization, Nablus. After some technical training, the participants were lent cameras for one week at a time, to take home and photograph their lives, surroundings, and whatever else caught their eye.
link to www.palestinemonitor.org

Israeli experts near completion of Jerusalem walls restoration
AP 25 Aug — The Old City walls, completed by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1541, are a monument to Ottoman engineering and to centuries of Islamic rule over Jerusalem — Israeli experts are nearing completion of an ambitious restoration of the five-century-old walls of Jerusalem, the holy city’s dominant architectural feature and a unique record of its eventful and troubled history. The $5 million undertaking, which began in 2007, is set to be complete by the end of this year. The first restoration of the walls in nearly a century, it has required decisions about which of the walls’ many idiosyncrasies – the falcon nests, for example, the hundreds of machine-gun bullets, the botched restorations of years past – are flaws to be corrected, and which have earned a place in Jerusalem’s story and are thus worth preserving.
link to www.haaretz.com

Analysis / Opinion

Israel’s ‘nice little war’: Gaza, Egypt in the range of fire / Ramzy Baroud
25 Aug — …one is tempted to question the conveniently situated Israeli wars of ‘self defense.’ How different is this latest ‘nice little war’ from the horrifying Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982?  When Ariel Sharon requested an American green light to attack Lebanon, Alexander Haig, US Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan, insisted Israel must possess a ‘credible provocation’ before leading such a mission. Moreover, the case made to justify the war on Gaza in 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead also had its own ‘credible provocation.’ In fact, all of Israel’s wars are sold to the public within this neat package which actually holds little credibility. This time the provocation had to be convincing enough to justify multiple Israeli strikes on all of Gaza’s factions, as well as politically vulnerable Egypt. Why is Israel bent on discrediting Egypt, exploiting the most sensitive period of its modern history, and destabilizing the border area so as to show Egypt’s failure to ensure Israel’s border security, as stipulated in the Camp David treaty?
link to www.maannews.net

Don’t believe the hype / Ghassan Khatib
Bitter Lemons 22 Aug — Israeli politicians and its media and PR machine have filled the news in the last two weeks with exaggerated and sometimes fabricated news and analysis about practical preparations on the ground for the upcoming Palestinian bid to the United Nations. Israel, which has two major difficulties with the Palestinian plan to ask the UN to discuss the stalled peace process, is having trouble fighting this move politically and diplomatically. Instead, it is resorting to its comparative advantage in public relations to try to reduce growing international support for this move. The first problem Israel has with this discussion at the UN is that its political strategy in dealing with Palestinians is based on power politics and evasion of the international consensus. Any discussion in the United Nations about the conflict will expose Israel’s illegal positions and behavior to international criticism, embarrassing it and its ally the United States, which has been ignoring Israel’s role in stalling bilateral negotiations and carrying out violations of international law. The second, albeit related, problem Israel faces is that this discussion will inevitably expose the real reason for the failure of the peace process and bilateral negotiations: illegal Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.
link to www.bitterlemons.org

Aid alone won’t help the desperate Palestinians / Jonathan Glennie
Guardian 24 Aug — A UN reports links all of the Palestinian economy’s dire problems to the Israeli occupation and associated constraints. Aid from the EU and others is merely a sop for political failure … Of course aid is welcome, especially humanitarian relief. But perhaps donors should glance at this Unctad report. While donors showcase their increasing generosity to Palestine in their annual reports, that generosity appears more than ever to be a function of their inaction in the face of Israel’s continuing attempts to undermine any chance the economy has to get back on its feet, let alone prosper.
link to www.guardian.co.uk

Guilty until proven innocent / Yasmeen El Khoudary
AJ 22 Aug — As Israeli airstrikes continue to be carried out in Gaza, most people there feel trapped and abandoned by the world — The mini war that Israel waged on Gaza following the turmoil in South Israel is just another perfect example of how Gaza is the Middle East’s “Biggest Loser.” Caught in a thorny network composed of selfish interests and different agendas, the 1.5 million people of Gaza are indeed the biggest losers when it comes to just about anything in the Middle East. Our destiny does not lie within our hands. We do not have any control over even the smallest aspects of our lives. We do not enjoy the luxury of planning for tomorrow, let alone next week. We, the people of Gaza, valiantly try to go on with our daily lives as if things are in perfect order. But there are times when things are so bleak and so dark that everything we have been trying to build collapses in the blink of an eye. On Thursday, and after a rough night full of Israeli air attacks on different locations in the Gaza Strip, we woke up to another hot Ramadan day which was interrupted by news about a shooting operation in Eilat, whereby five Israeli soldiers were killed and 36 others were injured. Immediately and without even waiting for the details of the operation to be announced, people started fretting about a likely Israeli attack on Gaza.
link to english.aljazeera.net

Arab blood on American hands / Ira Chernus
HuffPost 22 Aug — … That story has not changed in Israel — nor in the mass media here in the U.S. Apart from the Israeli apology [to Egypt], the whole incident was presented here with the same old script: Palestinian “terrorists” attack and kill Israelis, like a bolt out of the blue. Israel justifiably strikes back, as any nation would do when attacked, and kills some Arabs. The vast majority of Americans are left, as always, assuming that the Israelis are merely defending themselves against cruel aggressors. And if the Israelis get a bit carried away? Well, the average American easily says, we’ve overdone it a bit ourselves in places like Dresden and My Lai. But hey, that’s war. We never start it, do we? So it never occurs to most Americans to ask why Gazans would risk their lives on military operations against Israelis. If anyone bothers to ask, the answers are obvious … Attacks from Gaza don’t come out of the blue. They come out of years of frustration, as the Israelis continue to prevent Palestinians from exercising the right of national self-determination, which the Israelis claim as the justification for their own Jewish state. Yet that story remains unknown to the U.S. mass media and thus to nearly all Americans. Instead, the mass media eagerly purvey a tale that makes Israel seem like an extension of the United States itself: hardy settlers in the wilderness, forced to fight off darker-skinned savages who want to destroy them. Since the media depict those “savages” — now known as “terrorists” — as crazy fanatics, no explanation of their motives is asked for. And certainly none is given by the media.
link to www.huffingtonpost.com

Israel’s left now has a chance to awaken the public / Amira Hass
Haaretz 24 Aug — Yachimovich frankly enunciated our position as Israeli Jews: We are profiting from the occupation even as we groan under regressive taxation.
link to www.haaretz.com

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

How would you redesign our comment section?

Aug 26, 2011

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz

We’re thinking of redesigning this site and we want your help. We plan on making the site easier to navigate, so that a reader can more easily sort out the content– right now it’s a little like a firehose — and generally more user friendly. As part of this project, we’ve been thinking about redesigning the comment section, too.

So we wonder if commenters have any ideas. What would help you to participate, share and engage? We know the comment section is vital to the life of this site and we want to see it continue to grow. We are open to all suggestions. Thanks.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

‘NATO playing dirty tricks in Libya war’

NOVANEWS

Interview with Dr. Webster Griffin Tarpley, author and historian, Washington.

 

An analyst describes a massive psychological brainwashing exercise by NATO to have Libyans and the world believe that Tripoli has actually fallen.

Press TV talks with Dr. Webster Tarpley, author and historian from Washington, to further talk over the issue.

Following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: You’ve called events playing out in Libya, “A carefully cynically planned military operation by the NATO high command; the US playing a very important role in it”. Could you expand on that for us?

Dr. Webster Tarpley: Well, if we just look at events that took place over the weekend in the auspices of NATOs Operation Mermaid Dawn or Operation Siren, we have first of all the carpet bombing of areas around Tripoli by the Royal air force; they’re now boasting about the efficacy of their missiles, their brimstone missiles; lots of civilian deaths there.

We had the apache helicopters being used to strafe civilians with machine gun fire if they got in the way of the advance of these al-Qaeda rebels.

We then had an amphibious landing of a series of warships – a NATO fleet that stood off the coast that looked something like, may be not like the Normandy invasion, but like the Raid on Dieppe (1942) or something like that. These were al-Qaeda fighters under European officers and when I say al-Qaeda that’s broadly including the Libyan Islamic fighting group.

You then had a prearranged signal – some renegade mosques gave out the call to prayer at the end of the fast “Down with Gaddafi” and that was the signal for death squads, which had infiltrated into the city, to rise up.

There was a series of fake SMS or text messages. You also had NATO bombing the Gaddafi television off the air.

You also had this amazing series of fake reports that Gaddafi had left the country; that Saif (Gaddafi’s son in command) had been captured; that Muhammad (Gaddafi) had been captured and other sons of Gaddafi; that Khamis had been captured after his brigade had mutinied and refused to fight. It was all fake.

And then to cap this thing off, most amazing, was this sound stage that NATO with the help of Doha and Qatar created the equivalent of a Hollywood set, which was designed to mimic the appearance of the Green Square.

Those green square buildings are very old, some of them go back to the Roman Empire – but they created that in Doha and if you look there is a very interesting comparison on the Internet where they show you what the Green Square really looks like and what this ‘fake set’ looks like and it’s quite similar, but there were enough giveaways to see that this was also faked.

So this is a tremendous campaign of mass brainwashing and psychological warfare and it had a stunning affect.

But… since they were not able to go all the way with this ‘rabble’ force that they have there is now a tendency over past days for the Gaddafi forces to regroup and fight back, but in a different way – not holding fixed lines; not trying to defend a compound or a city or anything else, but rather engaging in a warfare of movement; an urban warfare where the previous advantages of the al-Qaeda people – the Benghazi rebels have been vastly diminished.

I think the really big question is – How many rebels have been killed in these big operations? Their supply is not without end; I think there has been a tremendous casualty that has been inflicted on the rebels by Gaddafi forces.

And I wonder how long it will be before some of those rebels decide to go home; they’ve looted whatever they can loot; maybe they want to take their loot and go home – I think they’re going to melt away and the ones that remain behind are going to start killing each other because this is the nature of that beast.

Press TV: At first many US politicians were actually against Obama’s Libya involvement, but many have now seemed to have warmed up to the idea. What do they see the US getting in return for its “humanitarian mission” in Libya?

Dr. Webster Tarpley: They think we’re getting a facelift for American imperialism; that you can now come forward as the champion for human rights and so forth. This is absolute demagogy of the worst kind.

Victory has many fathers except this is no victory. Some of the people claiming paternity at this point are going to be denying it I think once they see what is happening here.
How should this be different from Afghanistan or Iraq? A foreigner coming from the other side of the world seeking to impose an alien law, in this case on a very proud people with a tradition of independence; remember they gave up a million casualties to get the Italians out; they’re the first ones in the world to be on the receiving end of poison gas. You can ask Field Marshall Graziani of the Italians how it is to pacify Libya – It’s not very easy at all.

These pretend fighters – this Benghazi rebel council; they’re armed forces are the least of it; they’re simply something to put on television. The heavy lifting was done by NATO; this was NATO NATO NATO with a few extras walk-on parts just to make this look plausible to international public opinion.

But I think militarily this will go on for a very long time. There is a big province of Fezzan in the south. Those people are black – they’re Libyans, they’re Arabs and they’re black – they’re not going to accept the yoke of that racist Benghazi council.

Remember, the Benghazi people distinguished themselves at least at the very beginning by lynching and massacring black Africans – be they from Mali or Chad or from wherever. Or if you were a black Libyan – being black in Benghazi was a capital crime because they would then say you’re a Gaddafi mercenary and take care of you.

Posted in LibyaComments Off on ‘NATO playing dirty tricks in Libya war’

The War Against the Third World 1

The Third World – A brief account of atrocities, wars, coups and covert operations conducted by American Army and intelligence agencies all …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-jP_5OYtKw


Frank Dorrel is an American peace activist. A former United States Air Force personnel, he is now a Veteran for Peace. At the time of this writing (late 2006), Frank Dorrel states he is a member of the Green Party. He publishes and distributes Addicted To War, written by Joel Andreas. He assembled and distributes a film entitled What I’ve Learned About U.S. Foreign Policy: The War Against The Third World.

The War Against The Third World – A brief account of atrocities, wars, coups and covert operations conducted by American Army and intelligence agencies all around the world.

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Libya: Not Over Yet

NOVANEWS

The Libyans are lucky that Muammar Gaddafi did not hold out longer. If he had, there might not be much of the country left. Nato long since ran out of military targets, and it had to hit something to get the ragtag rebels into the royal palace before they ended up shooting one another. ‘At present Nato is not attacking infrastructure targets in Libya,’ General Sir David Richards told the Sunday Telegraph in May.

‘But if we want to increase the pressure on Gaddafi’s regime then we need to give serious consideration to increasing the range of targets we can hit.’ (UN Security Resolution 1973 grants no authority to increase the range of targets, its stated intent being to protect Libyan civilians from an onslaught on Benghazi.)The running total for Nato air strikes is 7459. At about 2000 bombing runs a month, another six months would have added 12,000 sorties. As bad as Libya looked when the rebels at last forced the gates of Tripoli, it would have looked a lot worse by next February. Diminishing military targets had to be replaced by something.

In Vietnam, the Americans called the enemy’s non-military assets ‘Viet Cong infrastructure’. In Afghanistan, they are ‘terrorist infrastructure’. In Vietnam, it could mean a village that fed insurgents. In Iraq, which the US and Britain bombed from 1991 until their invasion of 2003, it meant the electricity system, water supply, sewage treatment, television transmitters, bridges, oil storage facilities, highways and houses. By the time Coalition troops rode into Baghdad, there was not much of modern life left. Libya has been spared that fate, apart from Nato’s blasting parts of its electricity grid.

The other aspect of previous military humanism that Libya has avoided, so far, is the arrival of a Jerry Bremer to take the country back to Year Zero. Nato for the most part limited its presence to the airspace above Libya, facilitating and directing rebel gains. On the ground there were British and French trainers and advisers, the least covert of history’s covert operations. One of them will some day write his Andy McNab tale about leading reluctant teenagers into Bab al-Aziziah, after which the British and French governments will go on pretending the rebels were running their own war all along.

Whatever form the Transitional National Council (or National Transitional Council, depending on which faction’s translation you choose) takes, it should not emulate Baghdad’s Coalition Provisional Authority. With Bremer at the helm, the CPA raided the Iraqi treasury, doled out the locals’ cash to American contractors without contracts, demobilised the army and police, eliminated the judiciary and decided which companies deserved lucrative oil contracts.

Those who opposed the Nato intervention in Libya on legal or moral grounds can be thankful, as can the Libyans, that it was not much worse. On the plus side, a vicious and absurd dictator (who combined Idi Amin’s brutality with Silvio Berlusconi’s buffoonery) is out of power. His equally ruthless sons will not succeed him. However, many of his henchmen will. Even Abdul Salam Jalloud, the country’s poisonous enforcer when Libya paid for the murder of British hostages in Lebanon and shot PC Yvonne Fletcher in London, joined the rebel cause. The commitment of other Gaddafi security and political personnel to freedom and democracy must be measured against the crimes they committed until they scented power coming from another direction.

Most of the TNC’s military hierarchy served Gaddafi in suppressing previous rebellions and in pushing his mini-imperial ambitions in Chad. The word ‘opportunist’ comes to mind, and it remains to be seen whether young idealists (including jihadists) prevail over the men of sense who dealt for Gaddafi and now serve as interlocutors for the West. An Arab journalist who interviewed the TNC chief Mustafa Abdul Jalil told me he refused to answer questions he thought insufficiently deferential and had an autocratic personality reminiscent of Gaddafi’s.

Will Nato’s latter day Lawrences of Arabia go home and leave the Libyans to govern themselves? Or will Nato planes land at the Americans’ old airbase, Wheelus Field, from which a young Colonel Gaddafi expelled them after he took power? Can the TNC prevent Wheelus, which every Libyan I ever spoke to in Tripoli or Benghazi detested as a symbol of foreign domination, from reopening as part of Washington’s Africa Command? As rebuilding begins, advisers and contractors from the facilitating countries – Britain, France and the United States – will expect payback. One Nato spokesman, Colonel Roland Lavoie, reminded reporters: ‘Our mission is not over yet.’ Uh oh.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

The soldier is a human being, isn’t he?

Aug 27, 2011

Aya Kaniuk and Tamar Goldschmidt

علي خليفةAli Khalifa معتصم عدوانMu’tasem Udwan

On Monday, August 1st, 2011, at dawn, the Occupation soldiers murdered Mu’tasem Udwan and Ali Khalifa and seriously wounded Ma’amun Awad.

It was the first morning of Ramadan.

Murder is always shocking. And because afterwards there is nothing. But what shocked me in particular was how Mu’tasem’s mother saw him very soon after he was murdered, lying on the ground by his house door, his brain splashed on the asphalt. This is how she saw him, her son, and somehow this is what shocks me most of all. Because as soon as he is dead, he is already gone and my thoughts go to the holes that he has left behind. But this particular hole, of Mu’tasem’s mother, is what turns off all the lights for me.

On the one hand, what happened that dawn in Qalandiya refugee camp is not extraordinary. Such things happen all the time. The Occupation soldiers invade one Palestinian locality or another, especially at night, under this or that pretext, and then they break doors, and after breaking in they smash things inside the house, closets and plate glass and television sets, and usually pick up one or another youth, about whom this or that has been said, some truth or some falsehood, usually taken as testimony from another boy under some pressure or other, whereby it is reasonable to assume that he would say anything he was told to say and confess anything he was ordered to confess, and usually there are also stones hurled at the Occupation soldiers and mostly the Occupation soldiers shoot at the stone throwers who are usually mere children, and they also fire rubber or teargas ammunition and even live bullets into homes and on the streets just like that, and here and there at the end of all of this people are wounded or killed, and all this is not that extraordinary. Not in the Qalandiya refugee camp, not throughout the Occupied West Bank.

Still, the murders of Ali Khalifa and Mu’tasem Udwan were cast in the camp as a unique event and different from all the other events that have become routine with the dripping of the years.

Again and again people have been saying, “how could they possibly do this”, and “why of all days on the first day of Ramadan”, the religious and the secular ask alike.

And not because the blood of a person murdered during Ramadan is more precious than that of a victim on any other day. But perhaps it is only that people cannot complain to the same extent at any given moment and shout ‘No!’ and that it is unbearable, unacceptable. For if they did that, no joy would be left, no endurance and the ability to exert oneself and bring up one’s children properly in spite of it all, and live in spite of everything, and also it is normally too dangerous to revolt, and involves tremendous effort.

But there are such moments when the truth, always present, emerges and is heard, and time stops.

Ramadan is such a symbolic moment. Perhaps because in Ramadan the shops remain open at night, too, and one has the duty of doing good deeds, and because people need such moments of shift away from the everyday, and this is provided by religion and tradition, and not only for Palestinians under Occupation.

“This is what happened that night”, says Haitham Hamed, our friend. A gentle, special man from Qalandiya refugee camp. “This is what I heard happened”.

“They came for Wajih. Wajih Haitham Khatib. He is a 15-year old boy. More than 200 soldiers came. 200 soldiers to catch a 15-year old boy. 200 soldiers came for one kid and killed two adults. That’s what happened. They always come, all the Israeli soldiers, to the camp. They bring with them all those forces just to pick up a kid or two… And the Border Patrol and… They keep coming from a thousand ways. From down here, from outside, from the settlement above. They come down, or up, and around the camp where the airplanes were (what used to be the Atarot airfield) and from the main road, from lots of roads. This time, too. They came from near the settlement.

And he’s accused – this I heard in the camp – do you know of what? Are you familiar with the settlement next to the camp? Not Psagot, what’s it called? Kochav Hashachar. He’s accused of having burnt the mountain. Burnt the mountain? With all those soldiers and Border Patrol and the guys with the guns and jeeps and fence and guards and cameras all around. He came to them and burnt a mountain there?

What a story. Just doesn’t enter one’s head. But that’s what his parents told me. That this is what he is accused of. That this 15-year old kid went near the settlement and burnt the mountain. The soldiers didn’t know his real address. So they entered more than one house. And in every house they broke stuff. That’s what I heard. And it’s normal for them to break stuff. They don’t know any other way. First they break the doors with their special machines that they bring. They don’t knock. Only this way, without saying a word, they place the device on the door and press a button and – pow – it opens the door. Always. Not once or twice. Like they did at our home, remember? People replace doors a lot in our camp (chuckling).

In short, they came to the camp, and didn’t find the boy. They didn’t find the boy. So if you don’t find the boy, you raise such hell? Right, Tammi? You don’t find the boy so you go ahead and kill two people? And then what did they do? What they did was to pick up his cousin. 22-years old. They didn’t find Wajih so they took his cousin, and said that they were taking him until the kid’s father would turn him in.”

And Tamar said: “It’s shocking, Haitham. Shocking. Not only do they kill them, they take in his nephew… kidnap…”

“Yes,” said Haitham. “And his dad brought him to Ofer prison the next day, I think. So his nephew would be released… Under what kind of law do they do this? Taking his cousin, telling his dad if you bring your own son, you can take back your nephew… What law has such words… For the father to hand in his own child. In his own hands he takes his child to prison. And the child knows he’s going…I can’t lie to you, stones have been thrown at them. They left Wajih’s house on the way to the another one, and stones were thrown at them. But often they entered the camp and picked the people up, and every time stones were thrown at them. But they didn’t always do this. So why did you come this time, in Ramadan? For a boy no older than 15 or 16? And you knew there were people in the street because of Ramadan. And you knew stones would be thrown at you. And I want to say something about the stone-throwing thing. Throwing stones, that’s the maximum. For who in the camp would have the heart to pick up a gun and shoot at soldiers? So maximum they throw stones. Say a Molotov cocktail, right, Tammi? At most, a Molotov cocktail or stones. So a stone was thrown, so what. They don’t kill you with a stone, right? A stone doesn’t kill, only wounds you. So for this you came and killed two?”

“Mu’tasem, Mu’tasem Udwan, the first fellow they killed. He is my neighbor,” says Majdi from the camp, whom we have just recently met. “He lives just 10 meters away. We were all woken up by the shooting… it was war… I went up to the roof. And there was this soldier down in the street. His rifle placed on a tripod… And Mu’tasem opened his door to take a look outside because of the shooting and the noise. Terrible noise… and teargas and lots of shooting. Mu’tasem who looked down didn’t notice the soldier. The soldier shot him in the head, and he fell to the floor. He opened the door of his home and the soldier shot him with a live bullet to the head… and his brain spilt on the ground. And he didn’t have a head anymore. He didn’t have a head…I saw all that from my roof. I’ll never forget this as long as I live. He had no more head… and his brain spilt on the floor. Abu Ali, Ali Khalifa the second one, he lives down hill. But that night he was at the camp. With his friends. That’s how it is during Ramadan. A bit like your Thursday and Friday nights. People hanging out together. All night. And guys beating traditional drums to wake people up before dawn so they might still get bread or other things for the house before the fast…….And then it all began….When the shooting got really heavy he wanted to go back home. To get away. His car was parked near my house. He may have come there because he wasn’t as familiar with the camp as we are, so he came back for his car. And he saw Mu’tasem lying on the ground. All alone. It was just 6 minutes after he was shot. And he went over, to Mu’tasem, he may have thought he was wounded, and wanted to help him. He didn’t notice the soldier…and the soldier shot him too. Two bullets. One came out the other side. And a hole opened up in his abdomen. And then he fell, right by Mu’tasem.”

“That’s how he went… How Abu Ali went…”

“Haitham, did you call him Abu Ali?”

“His name was Ali Khalifa. But he was called this way. Abu Ali, because his name is Ali. So you add the Abu. Like that.”

“Everyone knows these guys”, says Haitham. “The camp is small, but everyone knows Abu Ali most. I knew him well, the day before I saw him at the gas station, washing his car. But earlier too. He was with me in prison. As a boy. At the Russian Compound. He was a good person… He used to help people, the elderly, all of us cannot believe he’s dead, I swear to you. That he’s gone. Unbelievable. And he is a Jerusalemite. A Jerusalemite. He lives down the hill. Not in the camp… His parents pay municipal taxes. I knew Mu’tasem, too, but not well. He’s a nice guy. Really nice. Studied at the university. He was about to graduate in a year’s time. And he didn’t do anything. Doesn’t throw stones. He was at home. Looking out through his own door and was shot in the head.”

“And the one who was wounded, Ma’amun Awad, he was shot inside his car”, says Majdi. “He was trying to get away, and the soldiers wouldn’t let him pass, and he pleaded, and finally they threw a gas canister into his car, and smoke broke out, and he opened the car door to escape the smoke, and they shot him, they had an M-16, and he is wounded now. Badly wounded.”

“Maybe you know him”, says Haitham, “this is Ma’amun Awad, whose father owns a gas station at Semiramis, where the army camp used to be and the soldiers would throw stones at the taxis, remember? Poor guy. Got two bullet. Two bullets sitting in his backbone, and the doctors fear that if they’re removed, he will become paralyzed. They say if the bullets are taken out, he’ll end up paralyzed.”

And we fell silent again. Time passed. Then I asked: “Haitham, after that happened to Mu’tasem, did his family see?” Because I kept thinking of it the whole time.

“Sure they saw. He was shot at the entrance to his house. In the beginning his mother was upstairs, watching everything. She saw someone on the ground, his brain spilt… she didn’t realize at first that it was her own son she was seeing. Poor guy, she said, poor wounded child, crying for him not knowing it was her son. But shortly afterwards she knew. And rushed out. She couldn’t recognize him. his head was blasted, the brain was spilt on the ground. That’s what they say. And from the eyes up there’s nothing… And his mother went mad, poor woman. We all cried for her. Pulling at her hair. She’s ill. She’s ill now…”

“The thing that hurts you about Mu’tasem is that the fellow was inside his own home. Standing inside his home. You know what that means, at home? Where the heart is. That’s the worst. The most painful. Right?”

“I couldn’t eat for 4, 5 days after all of this”, says Majdi, “nor sleep properly… not after seeing his brain splashed on the ground.. his flesh hot. His and Abu Ali’s, hot… Abu Ali’s abdomen on the floor… all the flesh, the meat… After the soldiers left I went down where they lay, Mu’tasem and Abu Ali. I thought I’d pick all that up from the ground and put it away, on the side. But I was told not to. That they will take it too, to later sew it back into their bodies… So we collected all of this and put it in plastic bags, and it was hot, hot, their flesh was hot.”

“I think they do it on purpose”, Haitham added. “It’s on purpose. Tammi…. People are sitting like this anyway, and have nothing, and their life is hard. Such a hard life… So why pack in Ramadan like this? Why do this and leave people with no illusions? That’s the reason, I say. To take away their illusions. Their… How do you say this in Hebrew, I’ve forgotten. To take away their hope, Aya. That’s the word. That’s the point and I’m not racist. I look at things from many angles. This will happen and that will happen and I’ll think again and again. And I don’t see everyone the same way. But they did this out of racism. That’s what I think. Not because of the stones, and not because of Wajih. Because of racism. Otherwise they wouldn’t kill two people. It’s their racism that got Mu’tasem. And Abu Ali. Their racism…”

“The camp is very heavy now. Our heart is heavy” says Haitham, after we sat quietly for some more moments. “And fear. People are walking around afraid of soldiers, that if they go out at night, they’d be killed. From far away. And it’s quiet at night. People don’t open their windows out of fear. This is the story of what happened that night of Ramadan in our camp… This is what happened.”

And this is what our friend A., another friend from Qalandiya, told us (A. is a very close friend of ours, and he is always asking us to keep him anonymous because he is afraid that if the soldiers find out that he is talking about what happens at the camp, they would hurt his family). He is the one who first told us about this all, right after it happened. He called us twenty minutes after the murder in the camp, to tell, while the calls for the first prayer of Ramadan were still heard in the background, and Mu’tasem was already dead, and Ali not yet, and Ma’amun unconscious, and it all sounded unreal, like a film or a book or a nightmare:

“Mu’tasem, you know, is such a cute guy. He heard a noise… We say “this guy’s clock is through”. Now he stepped out of the door, the soldiers standing outside, saw a guy look out, so they shot him. I don’t know, I say this, you know, he’s dead, but someone shot him. The guy who shot, I mean what is he saying in his own home now? He’s sitting alone, I think he has kids, he too has a family, or a mother, brothers, his father… And he’s sitting at home, and saying I killed a child today. Why? He can’t say why. Because, why? What did the kid do? What did he do to me? Was he armed? No, he carried no weapon. Was he, how do you say this, was he one of the Arab fighters? No, he was not one of those. And I know he had nothing on him. He didn’t throw stones. He just stepped out of his home, and suddenly I killed him – the soldier would say and I say, this soldier, what can he say? If he has a heart, what does he end up saying? He’d say, wow, why did I kill him? That’s what I think. Just like that. Because, why? What did he do?”

And Tamar said, “I think he’s sitting at home and making this… screen… making up some story for himself.”

“No, no, listen”,  A. interrupts her. “He did this and he knows. He could have aimed at the leg, no? He could shoot at the leg and wound him. If he’d want to. But he aimed at the head. And Tammi, on their rifle they have this… he sees through his sights… he looks, he knows. You understand… So I don’t know, I don’t know what he… how he sits at home, knowing, knowing he killed. Say, the soldier is a human being, right? He has a heart, doesn’t he? So what does he tell himself. That I killed a boy today. What does he tell himself…”

(Crossposted @ mahsanmilim. Translated from Hebrew by Tal Haran)

What I’ve witnessed on the West Bank

Aug 27, 2011

Jdledell

Earlier tonight, Jdledell offered the following comment on a post about Palestinian children’s arrests. We asked if we could post it, and he agreed. He was responding to another Israeli commenter.

I am also a Jewish Israeli citizen but currently living in the US (dual citizenship has its advantages). My grandfather was Irgun. He readily admitted he was a Jewish terrorist fighting for Independence. In his journals and photographs you can find many dozens of episodes where not only British soldiers were killed but also innocent Arabs. He personally shot Arabs as well as prepared fertilizer bombs that were set off in Arab marketplaces to intimidate the local population. Frankly, he felt his and his fellow Irgun terrorism was justified no matter what it took to achieve a Jewish state. This rationalization ended when he participated in the Deir Yassin massacre and he promptly left Israel. Terrorism in pursuit of Independence is okay for Jews but not for others.

When I lived in Israel as well as now when I return twice a year for extended Holiday visits with my relatives, I have witnessed enough unnecessary violence and degradation by Jews in the West Bank to fill a very large book. I have seen IDF soldiers at a check point pissing on Palestinian shoes. In this instance, the Palestinian man tried to take a swing at the soldier who merely stepped back and shot the man in the chest. I watched two young teenagers near Kiryat Arba force a Palestinian family at gunpoint to get on their hands and knees and bark like a dog while a jeep full of IDF soldiers 20 feet away laughed. I have watched settlers at Bat Ayin use Palestinian sheep and goats for target practice and then have the nerve to retrieve the animals for their own feasts. I have watched settlers from Itamar cutting down Palestinian Olive trees in broad daylight with the IDF sitting in their vehicles 50 meters away watching the destruction. I have watched wholesale fondling of Palestinian women’s breasts by the IDF and armed settlers usually when the husband was present to degrade the man in front of others.

I could go on and on from my 50+ years in Israel. My entire side of the family, all 35 of them, reside in the settlements. I know settlers intimately because that is where I spend my Israeli time. To get a true flavor of the occupation I suggest you meander around the West Bank for a while and keep your eyes open. If you are a true Jew to your faith, you will be disgusted. If that doesn’t do it, go to shul in Kiryat Arba, Bat Ayin and Itamar. You will hear words of hatred that will make your hair stand straight up. Go on, and then report back to us.

 

The 30-day epic of Ramadan

Aug 27, 2011

Fidaa Abuassi

24th August, 2011

Episode I: Winter time in Summer

Move the clocks back one hour and Gaza will get an extra hour of sleep –of darkness, but, I thought to myself, haven’t we already got enough darkness?! The epic of having to switch back to winter time is almost repeated every Ramadan. Since Ramadan is based on the lunar cycle, it varies yearly. This year Ramadan is in August. It’s summer time. It’s scorching. It’s boiling hot. No matter what, winter time starts the moment Ramadan starts. Then, no wonder DST (daylight saving time) ends in August though it was supposed to end in October. Winter time in summer! Summer time in winter! Don’t bother thinking and go enjoy that extra hour of sleep because nothing makes sense in Gaza, why would time? It’s normal to be abnormal in Gaza. Don’t ask why or how. This is the way it is. It’s all settled. Period.

Episode II: After Ramadan

It’s also worth mentioning that, in Ramadan, work hours, office hours and study hours are reduced by two, which means that the official 8-3 would become 8-1, for example. Everything is delayed until Ramadan is over, and some people even take the whole month off. I hear them say “we will do it after Ramadan”, “we will agree after Ramadan”, “we will talk after Ramadan”, “we will call you after Ramadan”, “the exam is after Ramadan.” I still wonder why Ramadan, the month of change and good deeds, seems to many as though it was a month of inactivity and sleep, of inertia and fatigue, of stagnancy and retreat. This is not the true spirit of Ramadan, indeed.

Episode III: Dark Ramadan

Roughly speaking, the dawn-to-dusk fast means to abstain from food and drink. Gazans should decide to abstain from electricity as well, and no wonder we are uniquely different. Having regular power outages is a real epic; especially, when it’s hard to predict when it’s going to go off and come back. Had we known about its exact time beforehand, we’d have had our day scheduled accordingly. It’s advisable not to waste time awaiting the unknown, for power outages are never exact. To survive in Gaza, especially during Ramadan, we have to live as though it’s not a universally acknowledged right to have light all the time yet as a great privilege, and we have to celebrate each time the power returns. One has to visit a Gazan family to witness how everyone, especially children, rejoices when its Majesty, the power, is back and you’d hear them joyfully scream at the top of their voice “whoopee! ejat el kahrabaaaaa/the power is back”. Paradoxically, simple things make us happy in our far-from-being-simple life.

Episode IV: The two calls at dawn

As Muslims have to wake up for Suhoor –the pre-dawn meal, there are two Adhans/calls-to-prayer at dawn, the second of which is when Muslims begin their fasting. The epic of having two calls at dawn confuses most of us, let alone when you live in a neighborhood crammed with mosques so you’d hear the two calls a zillion times because of the irregular timing of calls recited by each. “sho? Addan? (did it call?)” “Is this the first or the second call?” “Do we still have time?” “Can I still take another gulp of water for one last time?”

Well, Ramadan is not about racing against the Adhan or eating and drinking till the last moment. One shouldn’t spoil the serenity of these peaceful pre-dawn moments when dua’as (supplications) are answered and should start making use of the last third portion of the night by praying to Allah, reading Quran and asking Him for whatever one wishes.

Episode V: The Rush Hour

As the countdown to the evening call-to-prayer rolls on, Gaza would become an absolutely frantic town, with everyone rushing home hysterically, with taxi-drivers honking their horns irritably, and with people at food stores running distractedly, pushing and hurrying one another impatiently. One needs to roam the street half an hour before the iftar to see how crazy people go. However, the instant the countdown stops, no one is there in sight, absolutely no one. People vanish from streets, and silence is all that one could hear.

Episode VI: The Luxurious Iftar

The epic of the iftar (the celebratory evening meal) is certainly worth a say. As the table is stuffed full of all kinds of food, of Ramadan special drinks and sweets, I wonder whether this is the essence of Ramadan! With all these luxuries, do we really empathize and sympathize with the poor and those in need? I don’t think that such extravagance after the 14-hour fast is what Ramadan stands for. Ramadan is not about starving ourselves then eating as much as we can. We don’t really feel for the poor and needy this way. And, why does it seem to me that people fear hunger more than anything else? One needs to go down the streets a week before the commencement of Ramadan and see how people crowd every bakery, clear out every supermarket and stack up every grocery as though there would be no food on this earth again, as though they had been starving the whole year and waiting for Ramadan to eat.

Episode VII: Ramadan Kareem

People need to understand the true essence of Ramadan. Ramadan is the month of working not of sleeping, a month of self-restraint not of mere hunger strike then having lavish iftar, a month of spiritual reflection not of watching TV, a month of worship not of banquets, a month of tolerance and patience, not of tensions and conflicts, and a month of night prayers not of night shopping. Ramadan Kareem to all of you!

(Crossposted @ Fidaa Abuassi’s blog Gaza in words)

 

The Refugees of Zone A

Aug 27, 2011

Philip Weiss

From Wikipedia, 2022:

“The Refugees of Zone A” refers to a group of about 500,000 refugees who left their homes in New York City during the legendary hurricane of 2011. Their homes were occupied by people fleeing Virginia and North Carolina, generally referred to as “Virginians,” who claimed the refugees’ homes as their own, and who renamed lower Manhattan “Manassas” to reflect their own historical connection to it.

The dispute has resulted in several armed conflicts that have undermined the political stability of the eastern United States.

History:

In August 2011, Hurricane Irene bore down on the Atlantic coast and then-mayor Mike Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of several hundred thousand New Yorkers living in low-lying areas, which he designated Zone A. It is believed that 500,000 left their homes, though the number is disputed, with some estimates approaching 750,000. The refugees generally went to other parts of the city or New York state or to neighboring states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The refugees’ Central Committee insists that the refugees were ordered by law to leave– a claim disputed by the Virginians. The refugees concede that many carried their most precious possessions with them when they left but argue that they intended to return to their homes.

Many carry the keys to their homes to this day, or wear them around their necks as a symbol of their dispossession.

While the hurricane caused massive flooding and property damage in New York, it did its greatest damage in the Carolinas and Virginia, killing scores and leaving millions without homes. During the civil unrest that followed, about 100,000 of these southerners moved north to New York and occupied the homes left by the refugees.

The takeover was easily-effected (See War of 2012). The Virginians had superior firepower owing to a culture that prized the Second Amendment, and they gained widespread political support from the burgeoning Tea Party movement and President-elect Eric Cantor of Virginia. And in many cases, they were able to convince New York judges that they had ancestors who had lived in New York.

The Refugees of Zone A have won numerous court decisions acknowledging their right to return to their homes, but none of these rulings has been enforced, given the refugees’ lack of political strength. They are often scorned in the east coast media for refusing to get over their grievances and instead allowing them to fester, and for resorting to violence to try and regain their homes.

For their part, the Virginians have been able to point to numerous improvements they have made to Manassas/Lower Manhattan. Their advocates from Congress to Harvard Law School have argued that the refugees of Zone A ought to be absorbed by the communities that they fled to…

Etc.

Aipac uses fear of Palestinian statehood initiative to raise money

Aug 27, 2011

annie

From an AIPAC fundraising letter, full text below, from Lee Rosenberg, who first brought Barack Obama to Israel in 2006 and whom the president calls Rosey:

“Israelis could be dragged into foreign courts and charged with human rights violations…nations could implement sweeping economic sanctions…the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem could come under severe international challenge.”

Who’da thunk? The letter:

Your urgent action is needed
Please reply immediately

Dear Xxxxx:

Next month, the Palestinian Authority plans to ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.

The United States has strongly objected to this approach, with Congress overwhelmingly passing resolutions threatening cuts in aid if the Palestinians continue to shun peace talks and go forward in their harmful efforts at the United Nations.

However, the Palestinians have not yet abandoned this path and more action is now needed to persuade them to change course and return to the negotiating table.

If America fails in this effort, the consequences could be immense: Israelis could be dragged into foreign courts and charged with human rights violations…nations could implement sweeping economic sanctions…the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem could come under severe international challenge.

That is why I am writing to ask for your help by joining the work of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee today.
In the coming weeks AIPAC and its members will be working with our leader in Washington to:
Ensure the United States makes clear to the Palestinians that it will veto any such resolution at the U.N. Security Council.
Urge our government to press the PA to return to the negotiating table with Israel.
Urge the United States to press foreign leaders to oppose Palestinian intransigence and support direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
By joining AIPAC today with a gift of $50, $75, $100 or more you will help AIPAC work with Congress and the administration to address these vital issues in the weeks leading up to the September meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

For nearly 60 years, AIPAC has worked to make Israel more secure by ensuring American support remains strong.

As an AIPAC member, you help us work year-round with both Democratic and Republican political leaders to enact public policy that strengthens the vital U.S.-Israel relationship.

Thank you for your support. Please watch for additional updates on the Palestinian U.N. bid in the coming weeks.

Onward Together,

Lee Rosenberg
AIPAC President

Gaza strikes kill two youths, and cut off hands of 13-year-old boy playing football

Aug 27, 2011

Kate

This photograph of the unnamed boy who lost his hands and was badly burned in an Israeli airstrike while playing football about a week ago is via Julie Webb-Pullman at Scoop…boyHer videos are also at the link.

And here is the rest of the digest:

Settlers

Israel OK’s expansion of building in Hebron
JERUSALEM (AP) 26 Aug — Israel is allowing Jewish settlers to expand a building in Hebron, one of the West Bank’s most volatile cities. Palestinians object to Jewish construction in areas they envision for their future state. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s office said Friday he gave the building permit to house a kindergarten in Beit Romano, a structure built in the late 1800s by a Jewish merchant. Today it houses a religious seminary. Hagit Ofran of settlement watchdog Peace Now says Barak has become a “tool of the most radical settlers.” Hebron is holy to Muslims and Jews. Today, more than 600 Jews live there in fortified enclaves amid 170,000 Palestinians.
link to old.news.yahoo.com

Official: Palestinian hurt in clash with settlers
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — A Palestinian man from Nablus was injured in clashes with Israeli settlers and soldiers on Friday, an official said. Jamal Jerawy, 22, from Qasra village, was hospitalized for injuries sustained in the incident, according to Ghassan Doughlas, a Fatah official monitoring settlement activity in the northern West Bank. Doughlas said clashes erupted as settlers uprooted olive trees near the Majdolin settlement. [End]
link to www.maannews.net

Israeli forces

PCHR Weekly Report 18-24 August: 17 killed, including 2 children; 14 injured by Israeli forces
IMEMC 26 Aug — In its Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 18– 24 Aug. 2011, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights found that Israeli forces killed 17 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. 5 of the victims are civilians, including two children and a physician. In addition, 3 workers went missing when Israeli warplanes bombarded a tunnel in Rafah. A Palestinian resistance fighter died of a previous wound in Gaza City. 14 Palestinians, including 5 children and two women, were wounded by Israeli forces the Gaza Strip [details follow] … Israeli attacks in the West Bank: Israeli forces conducted 27 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Two Palestinian civilians were wounded by Israeli forces in Hebron and Bethlehem. Israeli forces abducted 77 Palestinians, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, two journalists, academics and social figures. Full text of the report
link to www.imemc.org

How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones / Catrina Stewart
[3 photos] The Independent 16 Aug — Video seen by Catrina Stewart reveals the brutal interrogation of young Palestinians — The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. “Lift up your head! Lift it up!” shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. “I wish you’d let me go,” the boy whimpers, “just so I can get some sleep.” During the nearly six-hour video, 14-year-old Palestinian Islam Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear. This rarely seen footage seen by The Independent offers a glimpse into an Israeli interrogation, almost a rite of passage that hundreds of Palestinian children accused of throwing stones undergo every year.
Child detention figures

7,000 [Figure corrected, with apologies for earlier production error.] The estimated number of Palestinian children detained and prosecuted in Israeli military courts since 2000, shows a report by Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP).
87% The percentage of children subjected to some form of physical violence while in custody. About 91 per cent are also believed to be blindfolded at some point during their detention.
12 The minimum age of criminal responsibility, as stipulated in the Military Order 1651.
62% The percentage of children arrested between 12am and 5am.
link to www.independent.co.uk

Israeli forces surround Jenin Freedom Theatre for second time in a month; abduct 3
IMEMC 25 Aug — A squadron of Israeli armored vehicles and soldiers entered Jenin refugee camp at around 2 am on Tuesday morning, surrounded the Jenin Freedom Theatre, beat the security guard before abducting him and two others. This is the second time this month that Israeli troops have surrounded the theatre and abducted staff members. The first time, three staff were abducted and investigated as part of the murder of theatre co-director Juliano Mer-Khamis. On Monday, an Israeli military court outside Jenin ruled that the three had nothing to do with the attack, and should be released by the end of this week. But after the ruling, Israeli forces again invaded the camp and surrounded the theatre … In Tuesday’s attack, Israeli soldiers forced the Theatre’s Acting General Manager, Jacob Gough, to strip at gunpoint on the street in front of the theatre. When he tried to explain who he was, one of the soldiers told him to “shut up or you will get a proper beating”. They then abducted Gough and took him to an unknown location.
link to www.imemc.org

Police deploy in force in Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (AFP) 26 Aug — Israeli police deployed in large numbers in Jerusalem’s Old City Friday in a bid to head off incidents on the last weekly day of prayer before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “Policemen and border guards have been deployed in Jerusalem, and a state of alert has been maintained throughout the country,” following recent rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, a police spokeswoman said. She did not mention any specific state of alert over possible disorder, though police have stepped up security checks for fear of attacks in the holy city.
link to www.maannews.net

Gaza

Islamic Jihad: Ceasefire with Israel agreed at dawn
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — Senior Islamic Jihad officials said the faction had agreed a ceasefire with Israel at dawn Friday, after mediation by Egypt. Two members of Islamic Jihad’s military wing were killed in an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip around 9 p.m. Thursday, prompting outraged calls to reject a truce from the Islamic faction and another group, the Popular Resistance Committees. 
link to www.maannews.net

PFLP Brigades claim rocket fired into Ashkelon
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 26 Aug 21:12 — A leftist armed group said its forces fired a rocket from Gaza into southern Israel on Friday, hours after a dawn ceasefire deal was announced by Gaza factions. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s armed wing said it fired a Grad rocket at Ashkelon. The attack caused no damage or injuries, the Israeli news site Ynet reported. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said it fired the rocket in response to “Israeli crimes.”
The group was the only armed faction in the Gaza Strip to reject a short-lived ceasefire deal agreed Sunday by Hamas and others.
link to www.maannews.net

Second rocket hits Israel after renewal of Gaza cease-fire
Haaretz 26 Aug 19:23 — A Qassam rocket fell in Sdot Negev Regional Council hours after a Grad rocket landed near Ashkelon in an open field Friday afternoon, despite an Egypt mediated cease-fire between Gaza militants and Israel. No damage or injuries were reported in either hit.
link to www.haaretz.com

Elderly farmer murdered in Israeli airstrike in Bureij
ISM Gaza 26 Aug — Ismail Nimr Ammoum worked his whole life as a farm laborer. He did not have land of his own, he worked for others, planting, watering, weeding, whatever needed done. He was a strong man, and he loved to work, work did not bother him. He kept working because he loved to work, what else would he do? He lived with his sister in Bureij, but often spent the nights sleeping wherever he was working. On Wednesday, August 24, 2011 Ismail was working for the Al-Khaldi family. He had spent the previous several days living in a small wood hut on the land. At five A.M. neighbors heard the explosion of an Israeli missile strike, but they thought that the land there was empty, they did not realize that Ismail had stayed the night in the hut. That afternoon, the owner of the land came to check up on things. When he arrived he noticed that everything things weren’t right, he opened the gate and then he saw the hut. He saw Ismail’s shattered body lying in the rubble. He had been killed in the missile strike. Ismail’s father was from Lod. He was a refugee; his family was expelled from his home by Israeli soldiers in 1948.
link to palsolidarity.org

Two killed in bombing of al-Salama sport club in Beit Lahiya
ISM Gaza 25 Aug — At about 1:30 A.M. on August 25, 2011 Israeli warplanes bombed the Salama Sports Club in Beit Lahia. The building was empty at the time. The sports club, however, is in the middle of a residential area. Two people from a neighboring house were killed in the bombing, Salama Abdul Rahman al-Masri, 18, the son of the house’s owner, who died immediately; and Alaa ‘Adnan Mohammed al-Jakhbeer, 22, from Jabalya. Twenty-five other people were injured in the bombing, including eleven children and seven women. The bombing also caused heavy damage to the Dar Al Huda School and several surrounding buildings. Salama was sitting with seven friends of his in the back yard of his family’s house. After evening prayers they often sat there.
link to palsolidarity.org

VIDEOS: Gaza: Why? is the question my son asks me –  Dr Ayman Al-Sahbani / Julie Web-Pullman
Dr Ayman Al-Sahbani describes how medical supplies are running out at his critical care unit in Gaza. Dr Ayman came close to tears several times as he showed me around the emergency department and the critical care unit. “We want the world to know what is happening here in Gaza,” he said. “We need to know what these weapons are. We have twenty children in here, with injuries we have never encountered before, even in Operation Cast Lead when we first saw phosphorous burns. These weapons are even worse, they cause terrible burns, they sever feet and legs, and hands, they fill the bodies with hundreds of small pieces of metal.” Dr Ayman pulled back a curtain, “Here is a 13-year-old boy who was playing football with his friends when they were struck by an Israeli rocket, both his hands were blown off and his legs badly injured as well, and he has terrible burns, and shrapnel all over his body.”
link to www.scoop.co.nz

Global actions target Egyptian embassies to break Israel’s closure of Gaza
ICORB 26 Aug — Fed up with the closure of Gaza that has kept more than a million and a half Palestinians locked in to the strip’s tight borders, a beacon call is coming from Gaza and resonating across to Egypt, to break Israel’s siege and re-open the border with Egypt immediately. Activists from South Africa, to youth leaders of the Egyptian revolution, to European, North and South American, and Asian supporters will present signatures to their respective Egyptian Consulates starting Friday August 26th to demand the permanent re-opening of the Rafah Crossing with Egypt without conditions. Despite promises by the Egyptian government to open it, approximately 35,000 people wait daily to cross the border.
link to palsolidarity.org

Palestinians rally in Gaza City for al-Quds day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — Palestinians rallied in Gaza City on Friday to mark Al-Quds Day, marching from the As-Saraya mosque to Ash-Shawwa tower after Friday prayers. PFLP-General Command politburo member Adel Al-Hakim addressed the protesters lauding Muslim unity in the cause of freedom. Jerusalem will remain the legacy of the Muslim and Arab people, Al-Hakim said, despite Israeli efforts to Judaize the city.
link to www.maannews.net

Gaza militant group pledges resistance to Jewish Jerusalem
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — A little-known militant group in Gaza said Friday it would continue “resistance to liberate Palestine and its capital Jerusalem.” The Al-Aqsa Brigades — Imad Mughniyeh Martyrs said in a statement marking Al-Quds Day that all factions and Jerusalem organizations should work to oppose Israel’s attempt to impose a Jewish identity on Jerusalem. Al-Quds Day is marked across the world by Palestine solidarity activists on the last Friday of Ramadan. State-sponsored rallies are also held in Iran. The Imad Mughniyeh Martyrs, named after a Hizbullah leader killed in 2008, have been variously tied to the Lebanon-based group, Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and militants who left Fatah-affiliated Al-Alqsa Brigades. [End]
link to www.maannews.net

South Africa activists visit Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) — A solidarity group from South Africa arrived in Gaza Thursday evening, for a four-day visit they have called “Freedom for detainees.” The 36 activists will meet with figures who work on the issue of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jail, a Ma‘an correspondent said. The group brought 10 trucks of medical and humanitarian supplies, entering through the southern Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. [End]
link to www.maannews.net

Barak: We’ll allow helicopters, more troops into Sinai
Ynet 26 Aug — Defense Minister Ehud Barak told The Economist on Thursday that Israel will allow Egypt to deploy thousands of troops in the Sinai Peninsula, even though the 1979 Peace Treaty forbids it. Barak said that the forces will have helicopters and armored vehicles, but no tanks beyond the one battalion stationed there.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Golani soldier killed by friendly fire
Deadly Mistake – Staff Sergeant Moshe Naftali, a Golani Reconnaissance unit combatant who died during Thursday’sterror attack in southern Israel, was killed by friendly fire, an initial military investigation into the incident revealed.
link to www.ynetnews.com

WikiLeaks: Lieberman wanted Egypt to give land to Gaza
Ynet 26 Aug — A new document posted on the WikiLeaks website reveals that prior to becoming the foreign minister,Avigdor Lieberman suggested that Egypt should give Gaza Strip some of its territory.  According to protocols from a 2006 meeting between Lieberman and then-United States Ambassador Richard Jones, the foreign minister-to be suggested to demarcate the border with the Palestinians in a way that would include Egypt.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Activism

West Bank: Olive Revolution seeks free access to East Jerusalem
[photos] LA Times blog 26 Aug by Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank — When Israeli police and soldiers manning Qalandia checkpoint prevented West Bank Muslims under the age of 50 from crossing into Jerusalem to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform the last Friday of Ramadan prayer, the dozens left behind decided to pray at the checkpoint. When they finished, they, along with Israeli and international supporters from a movement called Olive Revolution, gathered facing Israeli police and soldiers separated only by cement blocks. They chanted anti-occupation slogans and demanded access to East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied since June 1967.
link to latimesblogs.latimes.com

Olive Revolution in pictures: Palestinians march on Jerusalem
Pal.Tel. 26 Aug – 25 photos
link to www.paltelegraph.com

Detention

Israeli occupation detains lawmaker Anwar Zaboun
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 26 Aug — IOF troops detained,  Friday at dawn,  Anwar Zaboun (45 years), member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, after raiding his home in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. Local sources in the Bethlehem district said that a number of IOF troops aboard a number of military vehicles entered Bethlehem, they encircled the home of Anwar Zaboun, raided it and took the lawmaker away.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Occupation renews administrative detention of Palestinian lawmaker
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 26 Aug — The Israeli occupation authority on Thursday extended the administrative detention (without charge or trial) of Jamal al-Natshe, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, representing al-Khalil district … He was kept in prison after end of his detention term and his family was expecting his release especially that his health has deteriorated, but the occupation authority decided to keep him in jail and renewed his administrative detention at a military court on Thursday. Natshe is jailed in the Askalan prison and has been denied visits since his arrest in January. The Change and Reform Party, to which Natshe is affiliated, said that his detention is illegal and goes against international laws and conventions.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

PA intelligence summons journalist Ali Qaraqe‘
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 26 Aug — The PA General Intelligence (the Mukhabarat) has summoned  Palestinian journalist and political activist Ali Qaraqe‘ for questioning. GI officers handed Qaraqe‘ a summons for questioning without explaining the reason for the summons … This the second time in less than a month that the PA security in the West Bank summons young  journalists; the preventive security summoned Majdoleen Hassouna early Aughust and arrested two of her brothers to pressure her to attend at their headquarters.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

PA arrests professor who criticized Nablus University
JPost 26 Aug — Abdel Sattar Qassem is a well-known critic of the PA leadership: in the past he declared his intention to run in the presidential election. A prominent Palestinian professor who wrote an article criticizing the university administration where he works was arrested on Thursday by Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank. Palestinian sources said that Abdel Sattar Qassem, who works at An-Najah University in Nablus, was ordered to be held in custody for 48 hours following a complaint from the university president, Rami Hamdallah.
link to www.jpost.com

Refugees

Prisoners offer assistance to Lebanese students
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — Fatah prisoners at the Ramon prison in Israel said Thursday they were donating their salaries to help benefit Palestinian students in Lebanon, after a suggestion from the president. Mahmoud Abbas’ call for support to Palestinian in Lebanese refugee camps netted about 100,000 shekels, according to a letter from the prisoners circulated by the detainees ministry on Thursday.  Representative of prisoners in the Ramon jail Jamal Al-Rajoub said the program was a successful so far, while detainees minister Issa Qaraqe applauded the prisoners for their “generous spirit.” [End]
link to www.maannews.net

Statehood bid

US envoy: We will stop aid to Palestinians if UN bid proceeds
dpa 26 Aug — The United States will stop all financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if they proceed with plans to ask the United Nations for recognition of an independent state in September, a U.S. official warned Friday … “If the Palestinian Authority insists on going to the Security Council, the U.S. will use the veto,” he told Erekat during a meeting in the West Bank city of Jericho, according to a statement issued by Erekat’s office. “And in case the Palestinian Authority seeks to upgrade its position at the UN through the General Assembly, the U.S. Congress will take punitive measures against it, including a cut in U.S. aid,” he said.
link to www.haaretz.com

PA: Honduras recognizes Palestinian state
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — Honduras has recognized the State of Palestine, the official Palestinian Authority news agency reported Friday. The announcement came in a letter to President Mahmoud Abbas that Honduras recognized the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders and would back efforts to seek membership in the UN, WAFA reported.
link to www.maannews.net

El Salvador recognizes Palestine as independent state
SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) 25 Aug — El Salvador on Thursday recognized Palestine as an independent state in the midst of a drive by the Arab League to upgrade it to full membership status in the United Nations … About 120 countries have recognized the state of Palestine to date.
link to www.maannews.net

Ashrawi: UN statehood bid no threat to PLO
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Aug — Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi said Thursday that the plan to join the United Nations as a state would not threaten the PLO’s rights in the world body.  Ashrawi, a senior PLO member, disputed arguments by international law expert Guy Goodwin-Gill, who has informed the Palestinian team that the initiative could terminate the legal status held by the PLO in the UN.
link to www.maannews.net

Other political / international news

Arab League chief: Egypt-Israel peace treaty not as sacred as the Koran
Haaretz 26 Aug — Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, says the 1979 peace treaty is ‘not sacred,’ and is subject to annulment or amendment if breached by either side.
link to www.haaretz.com

Other news

PA cabinet: Eid begins Tuesday
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — The Palestinian Authority cabinet on Tuesday announced the West Bank and Gaza will revert to summer time at the start of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday on August 30. At the weekly Ramallah-based government meeting, ministers also assured civil servants that their salaries would be paid on Thursday despite the ongoing financial crisis, a statement released Friday said. The holy month of Ramadan concludes with three days of festivities, the date set by the lunar schedule. Eid Al-Fitr holidays will begin Tuesday, the ministers said, and time would revert to +3 hours GMT, after clocks were were pushed back an hour in the West Bank and Gaza during Ramadan.
link to www.maannews.net

Palestinian, Jew give both sides on joint Jerusalem tours
CNN 26 Aug — As a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, Kobi Skolnick once fired shots at Aziz Abu Sarah’s aunt’s house in the West Bank town of Hebron. Ten years later, Skolnick, a former Israeli settler, who grew up in an ultra-orthodox household, and Abu Sarah, once a Palestinian militant, work together explaining both sides of the Middle East conflict to tourists. They discovered the uncomfortable coincidence during a tour in Hebron for Mejdi, a “dual-narrative” tour company co-owned by Abu Sarah, where every tour is jointly led by Jewish and Palestinian guides … Mejdi guides explain landmarks and historic sites from their personal experiences and those of their communities. One of the tour groups from an American synagogue even spent several days on home-stays in a Palestinian refugee camp.
link to www.cnn.com

The fastest women in the West Bank
Glober&Mail 26 Aug — Marah Zahalka was 11 years old when she first got behind the wheel of her family’s Volkswagen Golf in the small, conservative city of Jenin, in the West Bank. Her mother, a driving instructor, had gotten sick of listening to her daughter begging to drive and so, carefully, she helped Zahalka adjust the front seat, start the engine and slowly lower her foot onto the gas. As it turned out, the kid was a natural, and shortly after getting her licence at age 17, she began competing regularly in racing events held throughout the Palestinian territory. “I want to go to Formula One,” she says.
link to www.theglobeandmail.com

In Pictures: The West Bank’s girl racers
Globe&Mail 26 Aug — Young Palestinian women are tearing up stereotypes as they compete with men on the race track.
link to www.theglobeandmail.com

Teaching the piano to sing in Nablus / Noam Ben Zeev
NABLUS (Haaretz) 22 Aug – An improvised road block. An armored jeep to the right. An armed soldier making circles in the air with his finger. These were the first sights that greeted the conductor, pianist and world-renowned musicologist Joshua Rifkin on his sortie to the West Bank last Shabbat … Nablus is more besieged than any other city in the West Bank and suffers terribly. “Before the Israeli occupation, we were the cultural and commercial capital of the West Bank. Now we are nothing,” says Hammad, “so a few friends and I decided to do something. This is part of our opposition: Israel’s goal is to destroy traditions and culture – essentially our identity. You can put a man in jail, but you cannot imprison his spirit, so we will nourish this spirit.” International support has also passed over Nablus, which is an overwhelmingly Muslim city. “I call them the holy trinity – Ramallah-Jerusalem-Bethlehem,” jokes Hammad. “The guests who come to this region visit those [cities], and Nablus is left out in the cold. But how much history does Ramallah have? 100 years. We have 9,000!”
link to www.haaretz.com

WikiLeaks cables: US embassy believed Netanyahu would advance peace in 2009
Among the thousands of U.S. embassy cables published by Wikileaks on Thursday, those from the Tel Aviv embassy shed light on the administration’s views on senior Israeli politicians.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israel’s education minister wants social protests taught in schools
Haaretz 27 Aug — Gideon Sa’ar asks his staff to develop lessons on public protests to be incorporated in the curriculum, leading The Association for Civil Rights to propose the ministry adopt lesson plans already developed by the organization …The Association for Civil Rights in Israel developed a four-part curriculum on the right to housing, medical care, freedom of expression through protest, and issues involving public activism. The housing unit features a trivia game on the subject of housing discrimination, posing questions such as: How much has the Arab population grown since 1948? How much has the land held by the Arab population grown during that period? (The answer provided is that the population has grown by a factor of eight but the amount of land held by Israeli Arabs has been cut in half. ) The answer to another question states that more than 600 new Jewish locales have been established since the founding of the state, but no Arab locales have been established during that period.
link to www.haaretz.com

Analysis / Opinion

Egypt-Israel-Palestine: an awkward three-way dance / Khaled Diab
Guardian 26 Aug — Relations between Israel and post-revolution Egypt are proving tetchy – but ordinary people hold the keys to peace — … Though military tensions seem to have subsided, an escalating war of words is brewing between Egypt and Israel. In Israel, in addition to anger, grief and a desire for vengeance, allegations are flying that Egypt has “lost control” of Sinai. For its part, Egypt counters that the Israeli security apparatus was pretty much caught with its pants down in its failure to protect its borders. There is also a widespread foreboding that this is just a taste of things to come in post-revolution Egypt. Egypt has also been gripped by anger, grief and calls for vengeance.
link to www.guardian.co.uk

Israeli game over / Emad Gad
al-Ahram 25 Aug — Tel Aviv can no longer demand that Egypt’s hands be tied in controlling its border, while then complaining that Egypt is failing to provide security
link to weekly.ahram.org.eg

Lebensraum as a justification for Israeli settlements / Yossi Sarid
Haaretz 26 Aug — Until now Israel had supported the occupation of the territories with two pillars: history and security – its right to inherit the land and its obligation to defend it. In recent weeks a third pillar was added, which all these years was hidden under straw and stubble. And maybe it’s not a pillar but a snake, whose head must be crushed while it’s still small … And now, in the middle of the summer, when the social protest is putting the housing shortage at the top of the agenda for a moment, the third school of thought is developing and taking hold … Suddenly we are short of space here in Israel, which has become full to capacity and needs lebensraum. Every cultured person knows that this is a despicable German concept, banned from use because of the associations it brings up. Still, people are starting to use it, if not outright then with a clear implication: We are short of land, we are short of air, let us breathe in this country.
link to www.haaretz.com

Social justice also means ending the occupation / Zeev Sternhell
Haaretz 26 Aug — Justice is not merely the right to decent housing for Jews, it is also the right to freedom of a nation under occupation — Be the internal ills of Israeli society as they may, and they are too numerous to count, most of them can be treated and even cured; but the occupation and colonialism are terminal illnesses. Therefore anyone who refuses to understand – as did Shelly Yachimovich in her interview with Haaretz’s weekend magazine – that the socialism of masters, and on behalf of masters, is no less ruthless and despicable than the neoliberalism of the rich on behalf of the rich, is not worthy of seeking the leadership of a party that has pretensions of charting the future.
link to www.haaretz.com

Haaretz editorial: The extreme Israeli right’s alliance with lunatics
25 Aug — In recent years, the extreme Israeli right has developed an alliance with heads of the evangelical movement, who define themselves as Christian Zionists, some of whom believe that another Holocaust of the Jews will ensure the resurrection of Jesus.
link to www.haaretz.com

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

Israel severs ties with Qatar over… Palestinian statehood

Aug 27, 2011

annie

Jordan Times, Lebanon’s The Daily Star and AlJazeera’s Qatar live blog are all reporting on an article from Maariv announcing:

Israel is angry with Qatar….The decision to end ties was taken by the highest echelons of the ministry, with the involvement of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Maariv said.

Nothing in the western press thus far. (update: Elliot Abrams breaks it here)

All of the stories open by repeating Israel’s claim the decision reflects Qatar’s close relationship with Hamas. And then there’s this:

Israel is also angry at Doha on account of the legal and political aid it is providing to the Palestinians ahead of their bid to seek UN membership in September – help provided by Qatar in its role as chair of the Arab League’s monitoring committee, Maariv said.

The ministry’s report claims that Qatar has been “significantly involved” in pushing the Palestinians to seek statehood in September and the legal preparations towards that.

…..

“We have decided to take off the gloves in light of Qatar’s widespread and ongoing anti-Israeli activity,” a senior official told the paper.

“Qatar is currently leading the activity against Israel on the international front, and we cannot continue to behave towards it as if normal relations still existed.”

Middle East Monitor on the “punitive measure” Israel plans to take:

The Israeli Foreign Ministry, claimed Maariv, has outlined the steps it has taken against the tiny state. Over the past few months, for example, the government in Tel Aviv has sought to suppress every regional initiative promoted by Qatar and stopped several Qatar-funded projects in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories. More seriously, perhaps, Israel has also decided to close its diplomatic mission in Doha and ban Qatari officials from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories.

No way to honor Dr. King

Aug 27, 2011

Medea Benjamin

The ceremonies for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC were kicked off on August 24 at an event billed as Honoring Global Leaders for Peace. But some of those honored are a far cry from King’s beloved community of the poor and oppressed. The tribute to peacemakers, organized by the MLK National Memorial Foundation, was mostly a night applauding warmakers, corporate profiteers and co-opted musicians.

The night started out with great promise when MC Andrea Mitchell mentioned Dr. King’s brilliant anti-war speech Beyond Vietnam as a key to understanding the real Dr. King. And sure, there were a few wonderful moments—a song by Stevie Wonder, a speech about nonviolence by the South African Ambassador and a quick appearance by Jesse Jackson Sr. in which he managed to spit out a call to “study war no more.”

But most of the evening’s speakers and guests of honor had little to do with peacemaking. One of the dignitaries thanked at the start of the program was Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, representing a country that uses $3 billion a year in precious U.S. tax dollars to commit war crimes against Palestinians.

Then came a parade of representatives of corporations that want to cleanse their image by being associated with Dr. King. The first was General Motors VP Eric Peterson. His company took billions from government coffers to keep it afloat, then showed its “generosity” by donating $10 million of our tax dollars to the memorial. Mr. Peterson gave a speech paying tribute to the company’s first black board member, Rev. Leon Sullivan. Peterson claimed that the Sullivan Principles, principles that established a social responsibility code for companies working in South Africa, helped abolish apartheid. The truth is that the Sullivan Principles ended up being a cover for U.S. corporations—like General Motors–to continue doing business in racist South Africa instead of respecting the international divestment campaign.

Up next was Guy Vikers, president of the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation. Although the group Sweatshop Watch fingered Hilfiger for mistreating workers and inducted the company into its Hall of Shame, Hilfiger’s $6 million gift to the memorial bought it a piece of the King legacy.

Next on the corporate sponsor list was Myrtle Potter of Medco Health Solutions. Medco is a $60 billion “pharmaceutical management” company that fought against healthcare reform and was recently forced to pay the U.S. government $155 million to settle fraud charges. Other corporate benefactors to the memorial include union-busting Verizon, war profiteering General Electric and sweatshop king Wal-Mart.

After the line-up of corporate shills came U.S. trade rep Ron Kirk. One wonders how on earth a man who pushes free trade policies that destroy workers’ right and promote a race to the bottom was deemed a peacemaker. King’s commitment to workers—remember his support of the sanitation workers?—was in total opposition to Ron Kirk’s pro-corporate stance.

But the queen bee of the evening was former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She dismissed King’s call that morality to be the guiding light of our international relations as nice, but far from the complex real world where we have enemies we have to confront. This is the same “practical” diplomat whose claim to shame in the eyes of true peacemakers was her support of such stringent sanctions against Iraq that over 500,000 children under 5 were killed. When asked about the morality of this policy on national TV, Albright calmly asserted that “the price was worth it” in the fight against Saddam Hussein.

Ms. Albright was awarded a model-size version of the King Memorial, presented by the controversial Chinese artist himself, Lei Yixin. Uninvited was the group that had spearheaded a campaign pressing the Foundation to choose an African-American artist, and use American granite and American workers. Instead the Foundation tried to save some money with a Chinese artist who used Chinese materials and Chinese workers. The human rights abusing Chinese government, delighted by the association with Dr. King, sweetened the deal with a $25 million donation. And despite written promises that the Foundation would use local stonemasons to assemble the memorial, Chinese laborers were used. The Washington area local of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers union claims the workers were not paid fairly, and their pay was withheld until they returned to China.

After the speeches and Stevie Wonder’s song, the mic was turned over to an Israeli musician Idan Raichel, an avid supporter of the Israeli Army and someone who has publicly expressed approval of Israel’s 2009 invasion of Gaza. One wonders how much the Israel government gave to the Foundation to get a plum spot in the tribute to peace.

But don’t ask the King family how they feel about their fathers’ opening tribute being sold off to the highest bidder. The family demands royalties for use of the King name—even from the Memorial—and so far have received about a million dollars. Cambridge University historian David Garrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of King, said that King would have been “absolutely scandalizedby the profiteering behavior of his children.”

Today’s great global peacemakers, the true followers of Dr. King, were neither seen nor evoked. No mention of Burma’s struggling opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi or the nonviolent protagonists of the Arab Spring or the environmentalists opposing a proposed tar sands pipeline from Canada to Texaswho were arrested at the White House on the very day of the tribute. No mention of the U.S. peace groups trying—for 10 years now—to stop the horrifying Bush/Obama wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the drone attacks in Pakistan that have killed so many civilians.

Dr. King, whose life was spent preaching unconditional love and nonviolent redemptive good, continues to inspire people the world over who are helping to shape his vision of an “arc of the moral universe” that is long but bends toward justice. Gandhi, King, Mandela—there are precious few whose legacies resonate with those who are risking their lives today, in a nonviolent fashion, to eliminate the evils of racism, poverty, militarism and environmental destruction. King’s tribute to global peacemakers should have reached out to them as the legitimate heirs of the King legacy, not the monied interests who helped pay for the piece of carved granite that bears his image.

This piece was first posted at the PinkTank, at the Code Pink site.

Even Sternhell, leftwing Zionist, concedes that ‘radical, ruthless, racist nationalism’ requires a… revolution

Aug 27, 2011

Philip Weiss

Again I ask, Why is the ideological and emotional ferment in the Israeli press not reflected in American media? (I’m not even talking about the Palestinian and anti-Zionist press). But Haaretz understands the existential struggle of all Israelis and Palestinians and is trying to do something. Here, Ze’ev Sternhell in Haaretz opposes “the neoliberalism of the rich on behalf of the rich” (wonderful phrase) and though he tries to redeem Zionism and with it the idea of a Jewish nation and a Palestinian nation, you can see that he cares more about justice. And justice, human rights, these principles will eclipse the old nationalist ideas, are doing so now. Sternhell:

Already today, Zionism, in the simple and initial significance of the term, has vacated its place to radical and ruthless nationalism that is partially racist and seeped in professed antidemocratic tendencies of the kind that already led to huge disasters in Europe in the previous century.

Traditional Zionism was based on two mainstays. It was a movement to save an entire nation from destruction and expressed the natural right of that nation to self-rule. Both of these goals were achieved with the establishment of the state – that was a special hour of benevolence and it was supposed to put an end to the period of conquering the land. That was also the hour in which Zionism was supposed to absorb the liberal principles of human rights and civic equality. The terrible disaster of the Six-Day War destroyed this possibility when it turned Israelis into lords over another nation whose rights were denied. …

Social and political life is not one dimensional; there is no society without politics, there is no economy without political decisions, and there is no worthy life without morals. The correct demand for a revolution, in the way of thinking that will lead to a different social policy, is not cut off from the larger question of freedom and democracy, human rights and the future of the territories; freedom, justice and equality cannot be divided….

Justice is not merely the right to decent housing for Jews, it is also the right to freedom of a nation under occupation. An enormous opportunity for changing the face of Israel’s political culture and charting the face of the future will be lost if the flag-bearers of the protest decide to ignore this truth.

Zuckerman paper says boycott gathers ‘the old anti-Semite and his quivering yes-man, the self hating Jew’

Aug 27, 2011

Philip Weiss

Morton Zuckerman’s newspaper, the Daily News, has an alarmist argument against the Park Slope coop boycott proposal that likens boycotting Israel to Nazi actions in Germany. It is titled “Kauft Nicht Bei Juden. Don’t Buy From Jews!” and has a big photograph of Nazis at the top. Rabbi Yaakov Spivak says that the boycott is anti-Semitic and writes angrily about pogroms. Wow, this is nuts:

In this day and age, anti-Semitism has had to reinvent itself in order to mask its malicious intentions. The anti-Semite is quite resourceful, and in the past few decades he has come up with a politically correct sham: “You see,” he tells a gullible media, “it is not the Jew that I despise, it is that evil robber state Israel.” Indeed, Israel is the new excuse for the old anti-Semite and his trembling, quivering yes-man, the self hating Jew….

I have a proposal for these Israel haters in Park slope:

If you don’t want to use Israeli products, then be consistent. Stop using your cell phone. Stop using your computer. Stop using the medical advances from Israel that daily save countless lives. Be consistent. If you or your loved ones need a life-saving Israeli medicine or medical device, in the name of consistency turn it down. After all, that product is from Israel, a robber state surrounded by loving countries such as Syria and Saudi Arabia, whose products I am sure you would never boycott.

Who you kiddin’, man?

Let me say this to those anti-Israel members of the Park Slope Co-op: I and my friends will not take this sitting down. Plans are in the works to find a legal, peaceful way to stand in front of your misguided co-op and offer – for free – Israeli products to those who pass by your establishment.

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Video reveals brutal Nazi interrogation of young Palestinians

NOVANEWS

 

Independent – How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones

The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. “Lift up your head! Lift it up!” shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. “I wish you’d let me go,” the boy whimpers, “just so I can get some sleep.”

During the nearly six-hour video, 14-year-old Palestinian Islam Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear.

This rarely seen footage seen by The Independent offers a glimpse into an Israeli interrogation, almost a rite of passage that hundreds of Palestinian children accused of throwing stones undergo every year.

[Below is a video of Islam Tamimi’s Kafkaesque military “trial.”]

Israel has robustly defended its record, arguing that the treatment of minors has vastly improved with the creation of a military juvenile court two years ago. But the children who have faced the rough justice of the occupation tell a very different story.

“The problems start long before the child is brought to court, it starts with their arrest,” says Naomi Lalo, an activist with No Legal Frontiers, an Israeli group that monitors the military courts. It is during their interrogation where their “fate is doomed”, she says.

Sameer Shilu, 12, was asleep when the soldiers smashed in the front door of his house one night. He and his older brother emerged bleary-eyed from their bedroom to find six masked soldiers in their living room.

Checking the boy’s name on his father’s identity card, the officer looked “shocked” when he saw he had to arrest a boy, says Sameer’s father, Saher. “I said, ‘He’s too young; why do you want him?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he said”. Blindfolded, and his hands tied painfully behind his back with plastic cords, Sameer was bundled into a Jeep, his father calling out to him not to be afraid. “We cried, all of us,” his father says. “I know my sons; they don’t throw stones.”

In the hours before his interrogation, Sameer was kept blindfolded and handcuffed, and prevented from sleeping. Eventually taken for interrogation without a lawyer or parent present, a man accused him of being in a demonstration, and showed him footage of a boy throwing stones, claiming it was him.

“He said, ‘This is you’, and I said it wasn’t me. Then he asked me, ‘Who are they?’ And I said that I didn’t know,” Sameer says. “At one point, the man started shouting at me, and grabbed me by the collar, and said, ‘I’ll throw you out of the window and beat you with a stick if you don’t confess’.”

Sameer, who protested his innocence, was fortunate; he was released a few hours later. But most children are frightened into signing a confession, cowed by threats of physical violence, or threats against their families, such as the withdrawal of work permits.

When a confession is signed, lawyers usually advise children to accept a plea bargain and serve a fixed jail sentence even if not guilty. Pleading innocent is to invite lengthy court proceedings, during which the child is almost always remanded in prison. Acquittals are rare. “In a military court, you have to know that you’re not looking for justice,” says Gabi Lasky, an Israeli lawyer who has represented many children.

There are many Palestinian children in the West Bank villages in the shadow of Israel’s separation wall and Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands. Where largely non-violent protests have sprung up as a form of resistance, there are children who throw stones, and raids by Israel are common. But lawyers and human rights groups have decried Israel’s arrest policy of targeting children in villages that resist the occupation.

In most cases, children as young as 12 are hauled from their beds at night, handcuffed and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, subjected to lengthy interrogations, then forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language few of them read.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem concluded that, “the rights of minors are severely violated, that the law almost completely fails to protect their rights, and that the few rights granted by the law are not implemented”.

Israel claims to treat Palestinian minors in the spirit of its own law for juveniles but, in practice, it is rarely the case. For instance, children should not be arrested at night, lawyers and parents should be present during interrogations, and the children must be read their rights. But these are treated as guidelines, rather than a legal requirement, and are frequently flouted. And Israel regards Israeli youngsters as children until 18, while Palestinians are viewed as adults from 16.

Lawyers and activists say more than 200 Palestinian children are in Israeli jails. “You want to arrest these kids, you want to try them,” Ms Lalo says. “Fine, but do it according to Israeli law. Give them their rights.”

In the case of Islam, the boy in the video, his lawyer, Ms Lasky, believes the video provides the first hard proof of serious irregularities in interrogation.

In particular, the interrogator failed to inform Islam of his right to remain silent, even as his lawyer begged to no avail to see him. Instead, the interrogator urged Islam to tell him and his colleagues everything, hinting that if he did so, he would be released. One interrogator suggestively smacked a balled fist into the palm of his hand.

By the end of the interrogation Islam, breaking down in sobs, has succumbed to his interrogators, appearing to give them what they want to hear. Shown a page of photographs, his hand moves dully over it, identifying men from his village, all of whom will be arrested for protesting.

Ms Lasky hopes this footage will change the way children are treated in the occupied territories, in particular, getting them to incriminate others, which lawyers claim is the primary aim of interrogations. The video helped gain Islam’s release from jail into house arrest, and may even lead to a full acquittal of charges of throwing stones. But right now, a hunched and silent Islam doesn’t feel lucky. Yards from his house in Nabi Saleh is the home of his cousin, whose husband is in jail awaiting trial along with a dozen others on the strength of Islam’s confession.

The cousin is magnanimous. “He is a victim, he is just a child,” says Nariman Tamimi, 35, whose husband, Bassem, 45, is in jail. “We shouldn’t blame him for what happened. He was under enormous pressure.”

Israel’s policy has been successful in one sense, sowing fear among children and deterring them from future demonstrations. But the children are left traumatised, prone to nightmares and bed-wetting. Most have to miss a year of school, or even drop out.

Israel’s critics say its policy is creating a generation of new activists with hearts filled with hatred against Israel. Others say it is staining the country’s character. “Israel has no business arresting these children, trying them, oppressing them,” Ms Lalo says, her eyes glistening. “They’re not our children. My country is doing so many wrongs and justifying them. We should be an example, but we have become an oppressive state.”

Child detention figures

7,000 The estimated number of Palestinian children detained and prosecuted in Israeli military courts since 2000, shows a report by Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP).

87 The percentage of children subjected to some form of physical violence while in custody. About 91 per cent are also believed to be blindfolded at some point during their detention.

12 The minimum age of criminal responsibility, as stipulated in the Military Order 1651.

62 The percentage of children arrested between 12am and 5am.

Video of Islam Tamimi’s Kafkaesque “trial”


 

Inside the Israeli Military Repression of Nabi Saleh: Night Raids from Joseph Dana on Vimeo.

RAMALLAH — A resident of the West Bank village of Nabi Salih videoed Israeli forces chasing and detaining an 11-year-old child. [See video]

The footage, from late January, shows two Israeli border police officers chasing Karim Tamimi, who turns to a woman in the street for help.

The woman repeatedly pleads to the police in Hebrew, “he is a boy,” but the forces drag him to a van.

Two minutes into the video, the child’s mother rushes to the van and begs the police to give back her son, and a third officer pushes her away.

The cameraman said forces detained the child in an attempt to pressure his 14-year-old brother Islam Tamimi, who is being held in an Israeli military prison.

Islam has been detained since Jan. 23 accused of throwing stones during the village’s weekly anti-wall protests. His family’s request to transfer him to house arrest was denied by a military judge.

A judge at Israel’s Ofer military court postponed Islam’s hearing scheduled for Feb. 23 until March 10, popular committee spokesman Joseph Dana said.

Court proceedings on charges against misconduct by Israeli forces during Islam’s arrest are also underway. A rights organization filed charges after Islam was denied access to his lawyer or parents during the first five hours of his interrogation.

Dana said lawyer Gabi Laski would argue that Islam’s testimony was coerced. However, the two trials are running simultaneously, allowing the possibility that the court could convict Islam and rule that the basis of the conviction was coerced.

In January, Defense for Children International said Israel’s military had detained around 7,000 Palestinian children since 2000.

In its annual report, submitted to the United Nations, DCI said it was rare for children, or their parents, to be told the reason for the arrest or where the children would be taken.

“Children are frequently threatened and physically assaulted during interrogation often resulting in the provision of a coerced confession, or the signing of documents which the child has not had a chance to read or understand,” the report found.

DCI noted that Palestinian children as young as 12 were tried in Israel’s military courts, and said most children ultimately plead guilty “whether the offence was committed or not, as this is the quickest way out of the system.”

Further, Israeli military courts impose sentences on most children detained.

“In 2009, custodial sentences were imposed on children by the military courts in 83 percent of cases, in contrast to a custodial sentence rate of 6.5 percent in the Israeli civilian juvenile justice system,” DCI found.

See Video

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Iran FM warns of vacuum in Syria if Assad regime is toppled

NOVANEWS

Ali Akbar Salihi says vacuum would have ‘unpredictable impact’ on region; says Syria, Yemen governments should answer to peoples’ demands.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salihi warned Saturday of a political vacuum in Syria if the regime was toppled, but asserted that the Syrian government should meet the legitimate demands of its people.

“A vacuum in the Syrian regime would have an unpredictable impact for the region and its neighbors,” Salihi was quoted by the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA)as saying.

The Iranian official was referring to calls by the United States and European leaders for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down.

Salihi, whose country is a main backer of the Syrian regime, asserted that the “government should answer to the demands of its people, be it Syria, Yemen or other countries.”

“The people of these nations have legitimate demands and the governments should reply to these demands as soon as possible,” Salihi added.

An estimated 2,200 people have been killed in Syria since protests began in mid-March, according to the United Nations. At least 350 people have been killed since the start of Ramadan on August 1.

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Iran’s prosecutor defends sentences handed to U.S. hikers

NOVANEWS

Iranian state prosecutor rejects reports that the case of the U.S. hikers had been politicized by Iran’s judicial system.

Iran’s state prosecutor on Saturday defended the sentences handed to two Americans who were convicted of illegal entry and espionage.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were each given eight-year jail terms – three years for entering Iran illegally and five years for spying.

They were arrested along with a third U.S. citizen, Sarah Shourd, in July 2009 when they crossed the unmarked border from Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The trio said they had been hiking in the area and denied the charges brought against them.

“The detained Americans had been charged (with espionage), their charges were thoroughly investigated and proven and eventually convicted by court,” Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejehi told Fars news agency.

The state prosecutor rejected reports that the case has been politicized by the judiciary, saying that the court has decided independently and without any political considerations.

“Remarks such as the two Americans were held here as hostages (for political reasons) are totally baseless as the judiciary in Iran is and acts totally independent,” Mohseni-Ejehi said.

The pair’s lawyer, Massoud Shafei, has already appealed the verdict.

Shourd was released in September on health grounds after posting 500,000 dollars in bail and returning to the United States.

Last week’s verdict came unexpectedly. Earlier this month, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi expressed hope that the two men would be released.

Their lawyer had also predicted they would be released by August 30, at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and when the judiciary usually orders the release of prisoners jailed for minor crimes.

Both the judiciary and the government have repeatedly said it was hard to believe that U.S. citizens would spend their weekend hiking on the Iran-Iraq border.

But neither has so far presented any documents proving the espionage charges against the Americans.

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Ambassador Oren: IsraHell is very concerned about Syrian WMDs

NOVANEWS

Wall Street Journal report claims IsraHell, United States monitoring Syrian chemical weapons, including possibile transfer of weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas.

ed note–HERE WE GO AGAIN, THE JEWS AND THEIR MOUTHPIECES PLANTING FALSE INFO IN ORDER TO MARSHAL THE MILITARY POWER OF THE U.S. The fact that Oren would resort to this already-proven-false charge concerning ‘WMDs’ in the wake of the destruction of Iraq shows just how much contempt he has for the stupid goyim of America.

Haaretz

Israel is worried about the possibility that the Syrian military may transfer chemical weapons to terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah or Hamas due to instability within Syria, said Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Oren stated that Israel is “very concerned about the status of Syria’s weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons,” and that both Israel and the United States are “watching this situation very carefully.”

According to a report published in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, American intelligence agencies believe that Syria has large caches of chemical weapons of various kinds. Furthermore, the United States considers Syria one of the largest distributors of weapons of mass destruction, along with North Korea and Iran, and accuses Syria of smuggling weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas, including long-range missiles.

However, at this point, the U.S. government has no information that indicates that Syria has transferred any chemical weapons to terrorist organizations.

Nonetheless, the Americans are worried that the ongoing uprising in Syria will deteriorate into a Libya-like scenario, in light of intelligence reports which stated that several units within the Syrian military have taken a decidedly anti-Assad stance, increasing the possibility of a civil war.

And despite sanctions imposed on Assad by the West, the uprising continues. On Saturday morning, thousands gathered in the suburbs of Damascus in an attempt to march toward the capital. The demonstrators were encouraged by the fall of Muammar Gadhafi in Libya, and will call on Bashar Assad to leave his post as President, before he meets the same fate as the Libyan leader.

Two Syrian protesters were killed on Friday after confrontations with security forces. The United Nations published a report last week which claims that over 2,000 Syrians have been killed since the uprising began in January.

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How IsraHell takes its revenge on boys who throw stones

NOVANEWS

Video seen by Catrina Stewart reveals the brutal interrogation of young Palestinians

The Independent

The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. “Lift up your head! Lift it up!” shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. “I wish you’d let me go,” the boy whimpers, “just so I can get some sleep.”

During the nearly six-hour video, 14-year-old Palestinian Islam Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear.

This rarely seen footage seen by The Independent offers a glimpse into an Israeli interrogation, almost a rite of passage that hundreds of Palestinian children accused of throwing stones undergo every year.

Israel has robustly defended its record, arguing that the treatment of minors has vastly improved with the creation of a military juvenile court two years ago. But the children who have faced the rough justice of the occupation tell a very different story.

“The problems start long before the child is brought to court, it starts with their arrest,” says Naomi Lalo, an activist with No Legal Frontiers, an Israeli group that monitors the military courts. It is during their interrogation where their “fate is doomed”, she says.

Sameer Shilu, 12, was asleep when the soldiers smashed in the front door of his house one night. He and his older brother emerged bleary-eyed from their bedroom to find six masked soldiers in their living room.

Checking the boy’s name on his father’s identity card, the officer looked “shocked” when he saw he had to arrest a boy, says Sameer’s father, Saher. “I said, ‘He’s too young; why do you want him?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he said”. Blindfolded, and his hands tied painfully behind his back with plastic cords, Sameer was bundled into a Jeep, his father calling out to him not to be afraid. “We cried, all of us,” his father says. “I know my sons; they don’t throw stones.”

In the hours before his interrogation, Sameer was kept blindfolded and handcuffed, and prevented from sleeping. Eventually taken for interrogation without a lawyer or parent present, a man accused him of being in a demonstration, and showed him footage of a boy throwing stones, claiming it was him.

“He said, ‘This is you’, and I said it wasn’t me. Then he asked me, ‘Who are they?’ And I said that I didn’t know,” Sameer says. “At one point, the man started shouting at me, and grabbed me by the collar, and said, ‘I’ll throw you out of the window and beat you with a stick if you don’t confess’.”

Sameer, who protested his innocence, was fortunate; he was released a few hours later. But most children are frightened into signing a confession, cowed by threats of physical violence, or threats against their families, such as the withdrawal of work permits.

When a confession is signed, lawyers usually advise children to accept a plea bargain and serve a fixed jail sentence even if not guilty. Pleading innocent is to invite lengthy court proceedings, during which the child is almost always remanded in prison. Acquittals are rare. “In a military court, you have to know that you’re not looking for justice,” says Gabi Lasky, an Israeli lawyer who has represented many children.

There are many Palestinian children in the West Bank villages in the shadow of Israel’s separation wall and Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands. Where largely non-violent protests have sprung up as a form of resistance, there are children who throw stones, and raids by Israel are common. But lawyers and human rights groups have decried Israel’s arrest policy of targeting children in villages that resist the occupation.

In most cases, children as young as 12 are hauled from their beds at night, handcuffed and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, subjected to lengthy interrogations, then forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language few of them read.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem concluded that, “the rights of minors are severely violated, that the law almost completely fails to protect their rights, and that the few rights granted by the law are not implemented”.

Israel claims to treat Palestinian minors in the spirit of its own law for juveniles but, in practice, it is rarely the case. For instance, children should not be arrested at night, lawyers and parents should be present during interrogations, and the children must be read their rights. But these are treated as guidelines, rather than a legal requirement, and are frequently flouted. And Israel regards Israeli youngsters as children until 18, while Palestinians are viewed as adults from 16.

Lawyers and activists say more than 200 Palestinian children are in Israeli jails. “You want to arrest these kids, you want to try them,” Ms Lalo says. “Fine, but do it according to Israeli law. Give them their rights.”

In the case of Islam, the boy in the video, his lawyer, Ms Lasky, believes the video provides the first hard proof of serious irregularities in interrogation.

In particular, the interrogator failed to inform Islam of his right to remain silent, even as his lawyer begged to no avail to see him. Instead, the interrogator urged Islam to tell him and his colleagues everything, hinting that if he did so, he would be released. One interrogator suggestively smacked a balled fist into the palm of his hand.

By the end of the interrogation Islam, breaking down in sobs, has succumbed to his interrogators, appearing to give them what they want to hear. Shown a page of photographs, his hand moves dully over it, identifying men from his village, all of whom will be arrested for protesting.

Ms Lasky hopes this footage will change the way children are treated in the occupied territories, in particular, getting them to incriminate others, which lawyers claim is the primary aim of interrogations. The video helped gain Islam’s release from jail into house arrest, and may even lead to a full acquittal of charges of throwing stones. But right now, a hunched and silent Islam doesn’t feel lucky. Yards from his house in Nabi Saleh is the home of his cousin, whose husband is in jail awaiting trial along with a dozen others on the strength of Islam’s confession.

The cousin is magnanimous. “He is a victim, he is just a child,” says Nariman Tamimi, 35, whose husband, Bassem, 45, is in jail. “We shouldn’t blame him for what happened. He was under enormous pressure.”

Israel’s policy has been successful in one sense, sowing fear among children and deterring them from future demonstrations. But the children are left traumatised, prone to nightmares and bed-wetting. Most have to miss a year of school, or even drop out.

Israel’s critics say its policy is creating a generation of new activists with hearts filled with hatred against Israel. Others say it is staining the country’s character. “Israel has no business arresting these children, trying them, oppressing them,” Ms Lalo says, her eyes glistening. “They’re not our children. My country is doing so many wrongs and justifying them. We should be an example, but we have become an oppressive state.”

Child detention figures

7,000 [Figure corrected, with apologies for earlier production error.] The estimated number of Palestinian children detained and prosecuted in Israeli military courts since 2000, shows a report by Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP).

87 The percentage of children subjected to some form of physical violence while in custody. About 91 per cent are also believed to be blindfolded at some point during their detention.

12 The minimum age of criminal responsibility, as stipulated in the Military Order 1651.

62 The percentage of children arrested between 12am and 5am.

Video seen by Catrina Stewart reveals the brutal interrogation of young Palestinians

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