Archive | October 13th, 2011

Why I Published US Intelligence Secrets About Israel’s Anti-Iran Campaign


by: Richard Silverstein, Truthout

In 2009, Shamai Leibowitz was working secretly for the FBI, translating wiretapped conversations among Israeli diplomats in this country. He passed some transcripts of these conversations to me, which described an Israeli diplomatic campaign in this country to create a hostile environment for relations with Iran. I published excerpts from them in my blog, Tikun Olam.

Leibowitz, who comes from a family of distinguished Israeli Orthodox public intellectuals, first came to prominence inside Israel when he signed a statement refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories. He went on to earn a law degree and was one of the Israeli attorneys who represented Palestinian Marwan Barghouti in his terror trial. In a statement certain to enrage Israelis and the Shin Bet officials responsible for apprehending Barghouti, Leibowitz likened his client’s leadership of his people to that of Moses. Though he was referring to the fact that Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite slave – which caused him to flee his homeland, accused of being the ancient equivalent of a terrorist – the subtlety of the historical comparison was undoubtedly lost on many Israelis.

Leibowitz came to this country as a New Israel Fund (NIF) fellow to earn a US law degree in international human rights at Georgetown University. Though he completed his degree, NIF ended his affiliation with its program when the Israeli spoke at a Cambridge public event endorsing a boycott of Israel. The story made its way into the Israel press thanks to pro-Israel activists monitoring his activities here. When a mini-furor broke out both in Israel and here, NIF, showing its support for free speech, dropped Leibowitz from the program, even though he never stated that his remarks at the Massachusetts event represented NIF in any way. The NGO simply couldn’t risk the wrath of the Israeli government since all its programming in Israel might be placed in jeopardy if it irritated the authorities.

Living in Washington, DC, the Israeli activist next took a job teaching American diplomats being posted to Israel about the country, its culture, history and language. Once again, the pro-Israel crowd reported to Ben Caspit, Israel’s right-wing columnist, that Leibowitz was now working for the State Department. He was subsequently fired from this job also.

The Israeli Orthodox Jew was known in his religious community as a fine Torah reader who beautifully chanted the Torah portion at his Orthodox synagogue. However, when a well-connected member discovered Leibowitz’ “past,” they told the rabbi that he must take this great communal honor from him or they would leave the congregation. Such shunning is, unfortunately, all too common in the Jewish community (remember Spinoza?) for those holding unpopular views of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Luckily, Leibowitz discovered a conservative synagogue whose rabbi embraced him despite his “baggage.” Throughout his subsequent trials and tribulations, this rabbi and community have stood behind Leibowitz and his family.

I began writing my blog in 2003. At the start, it was quite a lonely pursuit and there were almost no other blogs like it espousing a progressive approach to the Israeli-Arab conflict. In searching for an online community, I came across Shamai’s Pursuing Justice blog. When I read his last name, I presumed he might be related to the eminent Leibowitz family and wrote to him. He confirmed he was the grandson of Yeshaia Leibowitz, one of the most distinguished Israeli philosophers and public intellectuals. His aunt was Nechama Leibowitz, an eminent professor of Bible at Hebrew University, with whom I studied when I was a student there.

Shamai and I emailed each other infrequently. But our correspondence picked up during Operation Cast Lead, when we were both aghast at the role the IDF played in decimating Gaza and killing 1,400 – 1,100 of whom were civilians.

After the war ended, he called me on the phone, which was unusual because I’d never spoken to him directly before. He asked if I wanted to see some materials he could send me. Until then, I’d never had anyone offer me materials in such a way, but I agreed to review them.

Shortly thereafter, a package arrived in the mail. When I opened it, frankly I knew I was seeing official government materials, but I didn’t understand what I’d received, so I called him. It was then that Shamai explained that he was an FBI translator, responsible for translating tapes of Israeli diplomatic conversations which his agency was intercepting.

He also explained that he was convinced from his work on these recordings that the Israel foreign ministry and its officials in this country were responsible for a perception management campaigndirected against Iran. He worried that such an effort might end with either Israel or the US attacking Iran and that this would be a disaster for both countries. Though he knew he might be putting himself in jeopardy, if he did nothing, he risked looking back on a disaster which he might’ve helped avert.

Lest anyone dismiss his concerns, note that Israel’s former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, a man known for extreme taciturnity,publicly warned that Ehud Barak and Bibi Netanyahu proposed to a senior ministerial committee in 2010 that Israel attack Iran. Dagan almost single-handedly persuaded a majority of the ministers to defer an attack and to try nonlethal means instead, such as the Stuxnet cyber-attack, which Israel is known to have devised with likely US assistance. The Mossad director called a military attack on Iran the “stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” He knew, as Anthony Cordesman has reported, it would likely kill thousands of Iranians (directly) and Israelis (indirectly through revenge terror attacks), lead to massive responses by Iran and its proxies and possibly cause the closing of the Straits of Hormuz, a skyrocketing in world oil prices and potential economic catastrophe.

This month, Haaretz published this frightening characterizationof Barak and Bibi’s current attitude on the subject:

Anyone who has spoken with Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in small forums in recent months was astonished to hear a firm, determined, almost messianic tone regarding the nuclear threat and how it should be handled.

So, the danger of such an attack is very real. As we used to hear characters intone in TV and movies about nuclear apocalypse during my 1960s youth: “This is not a drill.”

Leibowitz knew I agreed with his pessimistic view of the situation, as I’d written on the subject before, and he figured I might have an interest in making these documents public. But first, I recognized the danger that this would pose to him, so we had many discussions about what to do with the material. I asked him for permission to consult confidentially with other journalists, as neither of us had leaked or published classified documents before.

I warned him a number of times that publishing the material could have serious negative consequences. At the time, I only considered that he might lose his job or the right to practice law or that the government might harass him for what he did. I didn’t consider the possibility that they might actually prosecute him for these leaks, which was what happened.

After these consultations, we both decided to go forward, but in what we felt was a discreet, controlled way. I would leak portions of the transcripts in a format designed to conceal the source and the specific identity of those individuals overheard in the surveillance tapes. I did this for about a month and published about five posts, including one in The Guardian UK’s Comment is Free.

The material published included references to Israeli diplomats briefing President-elect Obama on Operation Cast Lead while the war was being prosecuted, presumably in an effort to persuade him of the importance of continuing it, despite the pressure the incoming president was under to speak out against it. They revealed private, late-night meetings between the Israeli ambassador and a key Obama operative at which they presumably discussed how and whether the war would end in relation to the president-elect’s upcoming inauguration. Note that the war ended on January 18, and Obama was inaugurated on January 20. I’m certain this was no accident, but rather a carefully choreographed deal between the two sides. Obama never criticized the war publicly. Now we know why.

I noted that an Israeli diplomat ghost wrote some or all of a Boston Herald op-ed attacking Iran, to which a prominent Jewish attorney and community leader signed his name. In Minneapolis, the local Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) briefed the Chicago Israeli Consulate on the travel schedule and a meeting it held with Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim-American elected to Congress. Ellison, according to the tapes, was viewed as hostile to Israeli interests. In fact, the JCRC official told the Israeli diplomat that Ellison had just led a local trade delegation to Saudi Arabia (a big no-no) and was planning to join Rep. Brian Baird (D-Washington) in a fact-finding mission to Gaza in the aftermath of the war. This trip, too. was viewed with alarm by both parties in the transcripts.

“The JCRC director conceded implicitly in The American Jewish World that he monitored Ellison and reported to the consulate:

‘As part of our work fostering a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, the JCRC communicates from time to time with the Consul General’s office in Chicago … Accordingly, the JCRC’s conversations with the Consul General’s office have included discussions about members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation, including Representative Ellison.'”

In Texas, a member of Congress held a meeting with a prominent Jewish campaign donor and consular official to discuss ways of advancing Israel’s legislative campaign against Iran, including punitive sanctions and alarming the US public with the dangers posed by that country and its supposed effort to produce a nuclear weapon.

In September 2008, before one of the presidential debates, an Israeli operative attempted unsuccessfully to meet with a debate panelist in order to plant a question about war against Iran: Would the candidates take military action against that country or accept a nuclear-armed Iran? The Israelis did NOT want any question that asked what the candidates might do if Israel attacked Iran.

Israeli diplomats were heard touting pro-Israel members of Congress and bad mouthing those viewed as hostile. There were tutorials in cultivation of members. These are excerpts of a post I wrote on April 28, 2009, detailing the methods and goals of such cultivation:

… Last month, Israeli diplomats in Jerusalem, Chicago and Washington made a series of calls to review the status of relationships with the Midwest’s members of Congress. Senior diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained to Israeli diplomatic personnel that the purpose of getting to know these elected officials was to advance Israel’s agenda in Congress.

Israeli diplomats are most interested in members of Congress who serve on the intelligence, defense, foreign affairs and appropriations committees since those deal with issues of most concern to Israel. This explains peripherally, why they would devote so much time and attention to cultivating Jane Harman, since she stood to become chair of the House intelligence committee if Pelosi had agreed to retain her on the committee (which she didn’t).

The Israeli officials … were annoyed at their inability to gain access to Sen. Russell Feingold despite the fact that his sister is a rabbi and has visited Israel. Note that a trip to Israel in their view is like a tetanus inoculation bestowing excellent pro-Israel health and antibodies against “pro-Arab propaganda.”

When a diplomat described Rep. David Obey as not a great friend of Israel and borderline hostile, the DC embassy representative reminded his staff that they could schedule meetings with staff when Congress members are not available (which presumably would positively influence their boss).

… The Israelis have noted that Sen. John Thune introduced anti-Iran legislation in the last session and that Rep. Mark Kirk planned to introduce new punitive legislation targeting that country. The Israelis sang the praises of Sen. Sam Brownback, who planned a conference that would exert economic pressure on Iran. The D.C. embassy plans to follow up with him to encourage his plans.

Sen. Clare McCaskill is a particular focus of the Israelis because she is a confidant of the president and a member of the armed services and homeland security committees. The Israelis plan to establish close relations with McCaskill and her staff. Another Missouri legislator, Russ Carnahan, receives no such royal treatment. He is viewed, like Obey, as not friendly to Israel. Why? Because during a meeting with him, he highlighted to the Israeli representative his sympathy for the poor people of Gaza. The reason for this sympathy in the eyes of the Israelis? The legislator was poisoned by information from the Arab lobby.

… One Israeli diplomat said that members of the St. Louis Jewish community conveyed their “expectations” to Carnahan and reminded him on which side his bread was buttered.

Israeli diplomatic staff have noted a problematic relationship with two Minnesota representatives, Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum. Though they consider Ellison, a Muslim, “not anti-Israel,” they noted he was quite attentive to the Arab lobby. Clearly they were keeping a close eye on Ellison’s schedule as they knew he was receiving an UNWRA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] briefing that very day about conditions in Gaza … The Israelis noted with displeasure that Ellison has teamed up with Washington State Rep. Brian Baird (the two visited Gaza together) …

… The Israelis are monitoring a new Indiana representative Andre Carson who like Ellison is Muslim. But it seems they’re playing “good Muslim, bad Muslim,” as Carson, they noted, hasn’t yet taken any “radical” positions and therefore might serve as a counter-weight to “bad Muslim” Ellison.

In the process of publishing this material, the Israelis became aware that their security was breached. They expressed concern about it, considered various possibilities for the origin of the leak (a mole was one theory), but continued their conversations. Eventually, Shamai thought it wasn’t a good idea to continue with our project as he didn’t wish to compromise the FBI investigation any more than necessary. He asked me to destroy the files I had, which I did by burning them.

Subsequently, late one night, I received an alarming phone call from Shamai in which he disjointedly disparaged my work, told me I was wasting my time and that everything I’d done was “silly.” It was so out of character that I was completely befuddled by his behavior. At that point, I knew our working partnership was at an end. But I didn’t consider at the time that perhaps he knew the FBI was already monitoring him and perhaps listening to the conversation.

Several months later, I discovered that Shamai had been indictedfor leaking materials to me. I was shocked and troubled. But, largely, I felt powerless, since going public would only jeopardize him further. I consulted an attorney who warned me against it. I contacted friends of his, contributed to his legal fund and did whatever I could to defend him privately to journalists who contacted me.

It is almost unheard of for the federal government to prosecute employees who leak to journalists. The last such prosecution was of Samuel Morison in the early 1980s. Morison, who leaked a photograph of an advanced Soviet battleship to a military publication in return for money, received about the same sentence as Shamai. The former was also eventually pardoned by President Bill Clinton. In contrast, the FBI translator acted purely out of principle, received no compensation and did nothing to harm US military interests nor did he help a US enemy, as it could be argued Morison may have done.

I learned, this past summer, that Shamai was about to be released from prison. At around that time, I heard from Daniel Ellsberg on Facebook about one of the Israeli human rights cases about which I reported. I decided to confide in him about what had happened because I was beginning to form some ideas that my one-time partnership with Shamai should be more widely known.

It was Ellsberg who’d likened Leibowitz to Bradley Manning and called him a whistleblower. So, I contacted the Pentagon Papers leaker and I said to him that the Israeli activist was a whistleblower, but not in the traditional conception of the term. He didn’t blow the whistle on the United States or one of its agencies or programs. Instead, he blew the whistle on surreptitious foreign diplomatic activity in this country which he felt jeopardized US interests.

When The New York Times finally reported on this story earlier this month, the headline (though not the substance of the reporting) got the issues wrong as it focused on the US spying on Israel. That’s not the story, as Israel no doubt spies on the US embassy in that country. The true story was why and how Israeli diplomats were intervening so obtrusively in US political life. This was one of the reasons the FBI needed to know what they were doing here.

I went public for two reasons: one was to expose Israel’s propaganda campaign in this country against Iran. But just as importantly, I wanted Americans to know why Shamai Leibowitz did what he did. I wanted them to know that not only was he a whistleblower, a profile in courage, but that he is a person of conscience, who faced the full force of the US government during his prosecution. I wanted the world to know Shamai was a sacrificial victim who deserved to be honored rather than imprisoned.

Steve Rosen, when the government prosecuted him for receiving US government classified materials and leaking them to the Israeli government, got a gold-plated $8-million legal defense. His team was so strong that it fought for its clients tooth and nail and won a dismissal of all charges against them.

Shamai had no well-funded organization at his back. No family trust fund to protect him. He faced the choice of a jail sentence or a lifetime of repaying legal fees (or bankruptcy). This is a choice that no one in his position should ever be forced to make. He, no doubt, took the choice that was least objectionable.

Shamai’s prosecution is part of an alarming, aggressive Obama administration pursuit of such whistleblowers – who have included James Sterling and Thomas Drake. Drake, in particular, just faced down the government and reached a plea deal in which he was legally vindicated. But he had to bankrupt himself to do so. Those civil liberties activists who hoped for more and better from this administration compared to the previous one have been disappointed. Shamai Leibowitz’ prosecution is a black mark on the legacy of the Obama administration.

I, too, face some jeopardy, though the government has never prosecuted a journalist for publishing a government leak. If they came after me, it would be a first. But we’ve learned, unfortunately, that anything’s possible.

In all fairness, I should add that the government never approached me to testify in this case. Though if Shamai had resisted a plea bargain, I undoubtedly would’ve been placed in the awkward position of being pressured to testify, as Judith Miller was. I wasn’t contacted until after Leibowitz agreed to a plea bargain. And that questioning was not adversarial. Also the government agreed not to reveal my involvement and did not do so. That’s at least some consolation.

Finally, I think Americans should salute Shamai Leibowitz and wish him well. I know he has suffered a great deal and getting on with his life will be hard. If anyone deserves a break, he does.

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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

The information black hole that is Christmas Island

Posted: 11 Oct 2011

The details of the Australian immigration system are often kept secret, not least the activities of British multinational Serco running the detention facilities.

The Australian’s Paige Taylor is that rare mainstream journalist who has been pursuing the story for years. Her feature in yesterday’s paper documented the absurd restrictions on finding out accurate information on what has now become a quasi prison island, Christmas Island:

…The real struggle for journalists reporting on boatpeople is with a department that guards facts. It gleefully excoriates reporters for not knowing the full story, yet has not once allowed media cameras inside an operational detention centre.

The department has a media unit of 13 staff who respond courteously and promptly to queries. But the responses, called lines or talking points, are rarely what anyone would call answers. The department is regarded by journalists as secretive. In turn, I am known colloquially in there as “F . . king Paige”.

Perhaps the best demonstration of this paranoia is in the department’s own contract with the security firm that runs Australia’s immigration detention centres, the British global services company Serco. In it, the department stipulates that “unauthorised media presence” is a “critical incident”, which is the same status afforded a death, a bomb or a hostage situation.

This hostility has forced journalists to get better at what they do. If a department spokesman will not tell you when a boat is arriving, why not cultivate someone who might? And why wait for the department’s sanitised version of an all-in brawl? When adolescent male asylum-seekers come to blows with the parents of the girls they tried to crack on to, the best accounts are from the people throwing the punches and the workers who dealt with the chaos.

It is not an easy gig on Christmas Island. It is hot and humid, fresh food is hard to come by, internet is neither fast nor reliable and the accommodation crisis has to be experienced to be believed. There were days when I spent a couple of hours just trying to find somewhere to sleep that night.

ABC interview on BDS, Palestine and far-right love affair with Zionism

Posted: 11 Oct 2011

The ongoing blind establishment embrace of Israel and condemnation of BDS as akin to Nazi Germany shows no sign of abating in Australia.

Yesterday’s ABC Radio National Breakfast featured a story on the issue and included a brief interview with me explaining the growing alliances between the fascist right and Israel; a mutual hatred of Islam is joining these forces.

Note the comments by Zionist lobbyist Danny Lamm, President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, who denies there is even an occupation of Palestinian lands and demands Palestinians be grateful for Israel bringing universities to the occupied Arabs. Such is warped Zionist “logic”:


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Israel’s Tahrir[3]: Ripple Effect on Politicians, Financiers Continues…


In late August, after first sending proxies to defame Israel’s social-justice protesters as “radical lefties” – a move that backfired spectacularly;

then trying the silent treatment, hoping that the Israeli public known for its short attention span will lose interest – only to get served with repeated bouts of unprecedented nationwide protests;

Prime minister “Bibi” Netanyahu tried a third trick: appoint a committee. The move won him a partial reprieve, mostly from the mainstream media. And using the quiet and the back-to-school period, local governments began dismantling the tent cities one by one.

Now the committee, headed by Prof. Manuel Trachtenberg – a well-meaning, former-Argentine-radical, but nevertheless neoliberal economist – has submitted its conclusions. They include partial restoration of some of the social safety net that Bibi has worked so hard to shred, to be funded by taxes on the rich and corporations.

Bibi brought the conclusions last week for adoption by his government cabinet. He lost the vote. Only 12 ministers, all from his own parties, voted together with him, and 15 – from all other coalition parties, plus two of Bibi’s party – voted against. Most of the vote against was because the Trajtenberg recommendations do not go far enough.

A week later, Bibi managed to pass the resolution, after modifying it to satisfy the demands of the one party who thought Trajtenberg asked for too much. Who was that? You guessed it: Israel’s de-facto Prime Minister, the man Bibi loves caving to again and again – foreign minister Lieberman. Once again, Bibi takes a fall and loses points in the public’s eyes, while “Yvet” Lieberman emerges winner, the tough guy catering to the hard-right macho crowd.

For anyone following Israeli politics, these are the unmistakable sounds of a government gradually falling apart.

I had some debates with bloggers who claimed that Bibi’s situation is solid as a rock. Some new additional Israeli laws supposedly make it harder than ever to end a government before its 4-year term is up. Well, the proof is in the pudding. Since the 1980′s, no Israeli Knesset (parliament) has lived out its term, despite various rules enacted to improve stability.

And btw, here’s a hint: if your Knesset happens to be a terrible one – and this one definitely is (just like the current US House) – “lack of stability” is not such a bad idea.

It nearly always starts the same way. First, a party that perhaps didn’t belong in the coalition in the first place, leaves (check: Labor had left). In parallel, public trust in the government fast erodes (big-time check). Remaining coalition members, and PM’s own party, begin to look around and to triangulate between the PM and the public, weakening him into a de-facto lame duck. This is where we are getting to now.

As I predicted in the original version of this post (last week on Daily Kos), after some shoving, Bibi indeed passed some version of the committee recommendations through cabinet. But his political blood has met the water. Now at every single turn, he might find most of his coalition, including elements in his own party, balking and trumping him. The next stage is the opposition beginning to craft a strategy to call early elections. Eventually, they either succeed directly, or the PM decides to pre-empt them with his own call, in order to appear in control.

And this is just one of the ripple effects felt nowadays by the big-wigs, from the supposedly “burnt out” protest.

In other news, Zehavit Cohen, chairman of the board of the Tnuva food giant, has been forced to resign. Cohen, in her arrogance, has turned herself into the face for all that is wrong in the Israeli economy. Tnuva is a venerable brand-name that began in 1926 under the British Mandate, as a socialist farmer-owned cooperative to sell milk products. With neoliberal economy hitting Israel since the 1980′s, it has branched out into many activities, but its hold on a majority of Israel’s dairy market has continued to be its core business and claim to fame.

In 2006 the Israeli government deregulated dairy products, despite Tnuva’s monopoly status.

Within months, the international APAX private equity firm made a bid to buy Tnuva. After some haggling, and votes to approve in many kibbutzim and moshavim (two forms of formerly-socialist villages), APAX Israel became majority owners in early 2008 for a company value of $1 Billion. Cohen, CEO of APAX Israel, appointed herself chair of the board, shoved the CEO aside and began to micromanage the company.

From 2008 to mid-2011, Tnuva jacked the price of dairy like crazy. Cottage cheese went up 39%.The pretext was the rise in commodity markets in 2007; but when looking at the period 2006-2011 (click on chart in the linked Hebrew article) you can see that in 2006-2011 cottage went up 24% more than the price Tnuva pays for milk. In 3 short years Tnuva made a billion dollars for APAX, and the company’s value soared after investors realized that it was sold for a song.

It’s the same old story all over the world. Financial vultures prey on assets, usually via leveraged buy-outs. Often, the “opportunity” is made possible via a friendly government move. Then they squeeze the crap out of them, generating nice indicators that drive “shareholder value” up, and making sure that the bought-out financial “press” drools all over their brilliance. Then they find a sucker to buy the carcass at an inflated price, and fly away to kill another business. Zehavit Cohen, an Israeli who emigrated to the US before college, learned the trade and returned as a fast-track financial whiz to eventually head APAX Israel branch – placed herself, in her folly, as the face of that vulture. The financial press went gaga over her. She was elected “Woman of the Year 2010″ by the business journal Globes, and gave them a hubris-filled interview (Hebrew link). It is perhaps telling that Globes readers made a very different choice: they voted to give the title to MK Shelly Yechimovich, the politicians most closely associated with the social-justice agenda, and who was now rewarded by winning leadership of the Labor Party.

Back to billion-tossing Zehavit Cohen: she didn’t count on one thing. Even the Israeli consumers, not known for consumer activism, have their limits. People, simply, could not afford cottage cheese anymore. And that’s where the social protest began – with a boycott on cottage cheese. Later in the summer, when the general protest wave was already in full steam, a complete boycott of Tnuva was called.

To be honest, when I got the initial “boycott cottage” FB statuses and emails – many of them, indeed I’m proud to say, were from so-called “radical lefties” – this cottage thingie looked funny. With all the crap, the Occupation, etc. etc., you are boycotting cottage cheese? But that’s because I’m not there day to day, seeing commodity prices increase without bound (not to mention housing prices), while the government and the financial press celebrate Israel’s amazing GDP growth at your expense.

Perhaps more poignantly: not following business news, I hadn’t noticed Tnuva’s ghoulish transition.Tnuva had been a symbol of something from slower times, something shared, simple, basic. Something from the farm; from Zionism’s (now, sadly, largely abandoned) attempt to return the “Wandering Jew” back to work the earth. A symbol of much that was good and whole in Israel. True, over the years its image has become somewhat stale, but still – Tnuva was Tnuva. Now, those APAX vultures took that symbol and raped it in broad daylight, turned it into a sad farce, into a robotic monster preying upon the public – with the government setting up this horror via the crime of deregulation.

Faced with this symbolic abomination of a “new economy” devouring the very fabric of society, ordinary Israelis suddenly remembered that underneath the veneer of apathetic consumerism, they are still the children and grandchildren of revoluationaries and rebels and militants; of the crazy people who had built this nation up from the rubble and ashes of Jewish suffering. That they’ve still got it in them, the fight and the spirit. Not just to fight the Arabs when called upon in the fog of fear and disinformation – but also to pick their own fights for what they really believe in.

Over the summer, due to the boycotts Tnuva lost 12% in sales and its dairy market share fell from 57% to 50%. It has now announced an across-the-board 15% price cut (beyond cuts already made during the summer) – with its competitors having to follow suit.

Another, particularly destabilizing breaking news, is that resident M.D’s in public hospitals have now submitted their mass resignation. There have been rolling doctor strikes and slowdowns for months in Israel. The medical association finally closed a deal with the Treasury, but residents felt left out. Now, the residents left negotiations with each side blaming the other for bad faith (I don’t know why, but I tend to believe the residents more than Bibi’s Treasury hacks). Hospitals across Israel are grinding to a halt. Before the social protests, this type of brinkmanship has routinely paid handsome dividends for the Treasury negotiators; not this time.

The universally-forgotten root cause, as far as I understand, for all the chronic budget and salary problems in public health services – is the undercutting of the health budget, carried out by Bibi himself in 1996 when he exempted employers for paying their share of the healthcare tax.



So this wave of dissent is not over, not for Bibi (I dare him to bet on the public’s apathy and credulity again – it will be fun to watch…), not for Israel’s many business monopolies and their crony politicians –

– and certainly not for the social protest movement. Only fools would count it out. They plan a return to massive protest and strike action in early November.

However, the protest too is inching closer towards a moment of truth, regarding the Elephant in the social-justice Room: the Occupation. The protest movement, despite originating and receiving most of its street-crowds from the left (hence the early attempts to brand organizers as “radical leftists”), has succeeded in remaining inclusive – encompassing constituencies all the way from the genuine radical left and Israeli Palestinians, too “quality of life” apolitical settlers. As last week’s post described, members of the latter group (QOL settlers) mob-assaulted members of the former (anti-Occupation activists) a few days ago. As one of the activists wrote in a poignant self-reflective post (Hebrew, translation mine):

The most terrible thing is that we will still meet this people [who had assaulted us]. At the bank, on the street, on the bus. They are part of our society

One flank of the protest movement sees the Occupation as the biggest social-justice issue of them all; the other flank benefits directly from the Occupation, and sees its end as the end of the world. Sooner or later, the moment of truth will arrive.

Stay tuned…

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Some preliminary questions about the alleged Iranian terror plot

Oct 11, 2011

Jasmin Ramsey

Earlier today the FBI issued a press release stating that two Iranian men have been criminally charged in a New York court for allegedly plotting to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir. Here are some examples of how the U.S. mainstream media initially headlined the story:

ABC News: Iran ‘Directed’ Washington, D.C., Terror Plot, U.S. Says

New York Times: U.S. Accuses Iranians of Plotting to Kill Saudi Envoy

Washington Post: Iran behind alleged terrorist plot, U.S. says

So from the looks of things, Iran has been planning a terrorist plot on U.S. soil, right? Wrong, at least for now that is. There are many holes in this story that need to be filled before the government of Iran can be credibly accused of committing what could be interpreted as an act of war. For a summary of related events so far, read Jim Lobe’s report, and following are some preliminary questions that need answering:

1) Who has the authority to operate on behalf of the Iranian government?

If a relative of a member of the U.S. military or CIA plans a murder on foreign soil and claims he was ordered to even though the U.S. denies it, would we consider that a terrorist plot by the U.S.?

The accused named in the FBI press release are Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old Iranian-American from Texas with dual citizenship, and Gholam Shakuri, an alleged Iran-based member of Iran’s secretive Quds Force. What does the U.S. have that proves they were acting on behalf of the Iranian government, which, by the way, quickly denied the charges?

2) Who approached who first?

If Arbabsiar approached the agent first, how did he find them? If the FBI put Arbabsiar under surveillance for suspicious activities and then lured him into direct communication (which could have been the initial point of contact), was the FBI involved in other persuasive activities as well? Considering the loony aspects of this story which even Hillary Clinton has alluded to, is it wrong to question the sanity of Arbabsiar? Is it unfathomable that the FBI could have found a crazy and/or impressionable person who was acting on his own accord but was in some way related to elements of the Iranian government?

Update: A report in the Washington Post by Greg Miller and Julie Tate sheds some light on who Arbabsiar really is. According to House intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.):

It is my belief he was recruited for this particular operation

3) What are the exact details of Arbabsiar’s confession and under what conditions was it made?

4) While in FBI custody, Arbabsiar made calls to his “cousin” in Iran who is allegedly a “big general” in the Iranian army and a “senior member of the Qods Force”. How did the FBI verify his cousin’s identity?

Did the cousin verify his identity on the phone? If yes, why would he do that if they knew one another? Would the alleged cousin really have been that imprudent while speaking to someone that he was planning an assassination plot with?

5) Why is the “cousin” unnamed?

6) Why would a government that is constantly accused of conniving to build nuclear weapons so that it can allegedly wreak destruction upon its adversaries attempt to assassinate someone as insignificant as the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. in such a poorly conducted plot and with the use of such low-level assailants?

While nothing is impossible, Iran has shown its capabilities in Lebanon and Iraq and this plot is not its style. You would think that after surviving for 32 years with the most powerful countries in the world against it, the leaders of the Islamic Republic would have learned a few things about carrying out high-risk operations with diligence and maximum impact — clearly not the case here.

7) What could Iran gain from this plot?

Certainly tensions have increased between Iran and Saudi Arabia over the past year, but Iran has been battling the Saudis in other ways, by exerting influence over Iraq’s government, for example. As Jim Lobe points out, if this plot is really Iran’s doing, it will only lead to more strangling sanctions and bring the threat of war closer. Unless you are among the misguided group of people who think that Iran’s current government is suicidal, taking part in an event like this is simply not in Iran’s interest.

8) What can Iran lose from this plot?

As Lobe and Josh Rogin have pointed out, anti-Iran, pro-Israel advocates and hawks are having a field day with this story. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) immediately called for the U.S. to collapse Iran’s central bank and unsigned opinion pieces are urging further action (what comes after sanctions?) against the Iranian “threat.” This story was also broken on the same day that further OFAC sanctions were announced, with more on the way.

I am not doubting that suspicious and worrisome events took place with regard to Arbabsiar or that Iran has animosity towards Saudi Arabia and the U.S. and vice versa (recall Saudi Arabia urging the U.S. to bomb Iran), but do we really have enough evidence to claim that the government of Iran directly attempted to carry out an assassination plot on U.S. soil? That’s a serious, game-changing charge. Even if you don’t want to accept Iran’s official denial, you need to produce more facts before you can make the case. It remains to be seen whether the mainstream media will do its job and provide us with them.

This post originally appeared on Lobelog.

Afternoon headlines

Oct 11, 2011

Adam Horowitz

Haaretz: Israel, Hamas reach Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal, officials say

Israel and Hamas have reached a prisoner exchange deal that will secure the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, officials at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera English: Hamas ‘close’ to prisoner-Shalit swap deal

Hamas is “close” to reaching a deal with the Israeli government on swapping Palestinian prisoners for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip, an official said.

“We are close to a deal,” a Hamas official confirmed to Al Jazeera.

The details are not fully negotiated but Hamas is “close to receiving 100 per cent” of its demands, the official said.

Reports say the swap will be 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit.

ABC News: U.S. Says Iran-Tied Terror Plot in Washington, D.C. Disrupted

FBI and DEA agents have disrupted a plot to commit a “significant terrorist act in the United States” tied to Iran, federal officials told ABC News today.

The officials said the plot included the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, with a bomb and subsequent bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C.

Bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed, according to the U.S. officials. . .

The new case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a DEA informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials.

Not everyone seems to be buying it.

Other than that not much going on.

Irvine 11 conviction reveals double standard and bias
Oct 11, 2011

Amirah Mizrahi, Antonia House and Emily Ratner

When we disrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s keynote speech at the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual general meeting last November in New Orleans, we were met with hisses, boos, verbal harassment and even physical attacks from other members of the audience. But criminal charges were never so much as mentioned. Yet, on September 23rd, ten students who interrupted Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine in February 2010 were convicted of two misdemeanors for their participation in that protest. Today, October 11, 2011, is a national day of action to protest those unjust convictions. We think it’s a perfect opportunity to look at the similarities and differences in these two actions.

In both protests, each person who stood up to bring attention to crimes committed by the Israeli government acted non-violently, and cooperated fully with security personnel and the police. So what was the difference? Why were we not arrested, charged and tried while the Irvine 11 were? Logically, the opposite should have been true: our target was bigger – the Prime Minister of Israel; our venue was bigger – the largest Jewish event in North America; and our protest came later – inspired in part by the brave actions of the Irvine 11. But there is one more difference, and it proved to be the crucial one: we are Jews and the Irvine 11 are Muslims.

The Irvine 11 inspired us to openly challenge propaganda that whitewashes military occupation and grave violations of human rights and international law. The Irvine 11 pushed us to name these crimes that are all but silenced in mainstream American media and discourse, and to demand that Israel’s representatives address them. The Irvine 11 reminded us of our moral responsibility to protest the Israeli military aggression that led to the deaths of over 1,400 Gazans during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, the humiliation and human rights abuses suffered by Palestinians on a daily basis, the illegal wall and settlements that separate Palestinians from their families and their livelihoods, and the second-class citizenship of Palestinian-Israelis.

But now, Orange County’s criminal justice system has sent a message that the Israeli ambassador’s right to speak without interruption is more worthy of protection than the right of American citizens to protest the illegal and unconscionable actions of Israel’s government, a government that is given access to countless forums in the United States – from New York Times op-eds, to CNN, to college campuses, to Congress – to perpetuate propaganda that whitewashes its crimes. Even more disturbing, the fact that the Irvine 11 were charged and tried while we were let off without a mark (as were other non-Muslim protesters in Orange County who later interrupted Dick Cheney and George W. Bush) is testament to the influence of Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism and blind support for Israel on contemporary American society and political discourse.

The day the Irvine 11 were convicted was a shameful day for the American legal system. The principle of free expression is fundamental to democracy, and the Irvine 11’s conviction constitutes a chilling attack on all Americans’ right to free speech. Moreover, this clear targeting of a minority group should set off alarm bells for those who abhor racism and strive for the protection of equal rights for all citizens, regardless of religion or ethnicity. We fear for those whom our justice system would silence in order to protect the powerful.

We join the administration of UC Irvine and the dean of UC Irvine’s law school, along with proponents of free speech and human rights throughout the country, in condemning the targeting of Muslim students by the Orange County District Attorney’s office. We take heart in the bravery of people just like us who are occupying cities across the United States, demanding an end to a system that privileges the voices and values of the powerful over the needs and rights of the many. We stand with the Irvine 11 as they move forward with their appeal, as we stand with all those who refuse to be cowed by state repression in the struggle for social justice. Join us today.


Creeping halacha?
Oct 11, 2011

Adam Horowitz

From Haaretz:

The ultra-Orthodox community in Mea She’arim is planning to impose gender segregation in the Jerusalem neighborhood’s streets on Sukkot, despite a High Court order forbidding it. Women’s rights and other watchdog groups intend to fight against the segregation, which excludes women from certain streets in the neighborhood during the intermediate days of Sukkot. . .

Large billboards posted throughout the capital’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods this week forbade women to enter Mea She’arim Street during the celebration.

“Women … are requested to use alternative streets on their way home and to synagogues … to help prevent mingling,” the posters say.

Last year community leaders put up tarpaulin partitions along the sidewalks on Strauss and Mea She’arim streets, creating a narrow path on one side for women to walk on. The other sidewalk and the center of the street were reserved for men. A group calling itself “the neighborhood committee” operated “ushers” to make sure the women were keeping to the narrow path.

From the New York Daily News:

City workers have removed signs warning women in a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn to step aside for men. But the Parks Department says the teardowns in South Williamsburg had nothing to do with the message itself; it’s just illegal to post signs on street trees.

“We do not know who put up the signs,” said Parks spokeswoman Trish Bertuccio.

The large signs started popping up in the neighborhood more than a week ago. They had a Yiddish message that translates as: “Precious Jewish daughter, please move to the side when a man approaches.”

Neighborhood residents were annoyed the plastic signs, which were bolted into the wood, were taken away.

“The signs don’t bother anybody,” said Abraham Klein, 18. “Men and ladies don’t go together. It’s just our religion.”

The Daily News quotes Deborah Feldman, an ex-Hasid, who explains the signs were posted “as part of a crackdown on rebellious behavior by women,” she continues, “It’s a way of the community reminding people to stay in line, so to speak.”


Palestinian school girls hospitalized after Israeli attack and Jordan Valley mosque demolished for the 3rd time this year
Oct 11, 2011


Ten Palestinian female students hospitalized after IOF assault
Ten Palestinian female students were hospitalized in Al-Khalil on Tuesday morning after Israeli occupation forces assaulted and beat them up for refusing to pass through metal detectors.

CPT-Hebron: Seven children injured at Cortuba School checkpoint
Khalil Team – The refusal by the teachers to pass through the checkpoint container was an act of resistance because no justification for the new order prohibiting teachers to enter through the gate was given.

Local official: Israel demolishes Tubas mosque for third time
TUBAS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Tuesday demolished a mosque in the village of Khirbet Yarza in the northern West Bank, a local official said. Head of Al-Malha village council Aref Daraghma told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozers and civil administration officials demolished the mosque, which is less than 60 square meters. This is the third time in seven months that the mosque has been demolished, Daraghma said.

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers / Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing

Likud MK Yariv Levin says his bill will ‘break the cycle of house destruction’; Rights groups call proposal ‘racist’ and ‘unconstitutional.
MK Yariv Levin (Likud) plans to propose a bill that would compensate West Bank Palestinian land owners for their property in an effort to stop the state demolishing settler homes built on that land. The bill comes as an effort to stop the pending demolition this year of an unauthorized neighborhood in the Beit El settlement of Ulpana and homes on two outposts, Migron and Givat Assaf. It is part of an effort by Likud lawmakers to find an alternative solution to unauthorized Jewish structures on private Palestinian property in the West Bank. “The current situation in Judea and Samaria is intolerable,” Levin told The Jerusalem Post. “The judiciary is being used as a tool to promote the extreme Left’s political goals, such as harming settlers.”

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Netanyahu seeks to legalize outposts built on private Palestinian land
Instruction issued under pressure from the right in response to the state’s decision to demolish several outposts built on private Palestinian land.
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IOF demolishes mosque in Jordan Valley for the third time this year
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) razed Khirbat Yirza mosque near Tobas city in the Jordan Valley on Tuesday for the third time this year, local sources said.
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Locals: Israeli forces demolish home near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Monday demolished a house in the village of al-Jabaa, northwest Hebron, locals said.  Villagers told Ma’an that soldiers entered the village at dawn, before bulldozers demolished the home of Nasri al-Tous for not having a permit.  A spokesperson for the Israeli Civil Administration could not be reached for comment.
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 Israeli Army Demolishes Tents, Barns of Palestinian Farmers in Jordan Valley

The Israeli army and civil administration destroyed tents and barns of Palestinian farmers living in the Jordan Valley community of Malha on Thursday 6 October.

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JENIN, October 10, 2011 (WAFA) – The Israeli Authorities prevented on Monday Palestinian firemen from putting out the fire, which erupted in olive trees, behind the Apartheid Wall, in the village of Anin, west of Jenin, according to civil defense report. The Department of humanitarian and public relations in the civil defense said in a report that the civil defense in Jenin, received a call informing them of the fire. Sami Hamdan, head of the civil defense directorate in Jenin said that the fire crew headed to the location, after a prior coordination with the Israeli side, where they were informed that the Israeli side extinguished the fire to find out later on that the fire was still burning.

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Olive harvest reaps animosity in West Bank
Palestinian farmers say settler violence has led to a rushed harvest, while Israelis say they fear “terrorist activity”.
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Farmers harvest olives as wall cuts through village
AL-WALAJA (Reuters) — It is olive picking season in the Palestinian territories, an important harvest as the fruit represents an integral part of the agricultural livelihood of many. But, the farmers in the West Bank village of Al-Walaja say the construction of an Israeli barrier is threatening this activity. This small community of 2,300 people located on the edge of Jerusalem’s southwest is almost entirely surrounded by Jewish settlements.
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Top archaeologist decries Jerusalem dig as unscientific ‘tourist gimmick’
Dr. Eilat Mazar, who worked in close cooperation with the group – which promotes the ‘Judaization’ of East Jerusalem – says excavations carried out in violation of accepted procedures.
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Restriction of Movement

The letter that was sent to the ICRC

Wednesday, 5/10/2011 Mr.  Jacob Clainmberg President International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Geneva Dear Mr.  Clainmberg:   Greetings,   We are three legislatures, Ahmed Attoun, Mohammad Totah, and Khaled Abu Arafeh, who are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Mr. Abu Arafeh is also the former minister in the tenth Palestinian government. We took refuge at the headquarters of the International Red Cross in occupied Jerusalem on July 1, 2010, the day following the occupying Israeli authority’s arrest of a fourth Jerusalem-based member of the PLC, Mr. Mohammad Abu Teir. One month earlier, the Israeli authorities issued a decision to revoke our Jerusalem residency status and expel us from Jerusalem. This happened despite our possession of valid Jerusalem identity cards (blue IDs) and despite the fact that we, our parents, and grandparents were born in the city.

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Israeli Regime Violence

Ten Palestinian female students hospitalized after IOF assault
Ten Palestinian female students were hospitalized in Al-Khalil on Tuesday morning after Israeli occupation forces assaulted and beat them up for refusing to pass through metal detectors.
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IOF troops advance south, north of Gaza
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened indiscriminate firing at Palestinian residential quarters on Monday night as they infiltrated into southern and northern Gaza Strip areas.
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Confrontations in Al-Hara al-Wasta (middle town)
Confrontations erupted in Al-Hara al-Wasta district at approximately 8:30pm on Friday evening, 7 October. Israeli forces guarding the Israeli settlement in Ras al-Amoud sparked clashes with local Palestinian youth. Clashes are common in the area, with Israeli forces commonly citing the pretext of youth throwing stones as reason for the violence.

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JENIN, October 10, 2011 (WAFA) – A Jenin military court Monday sentenced a Palestinian convicted of murder to death by a firing squad.   The Palestinian, a 22 year old member of the security forces from Jenin who was identified only by his initials, W.A.E., was found guilty of premeditated killing of a shopkeeper from Nablus in his shop in March 2011, illegal possession of a weapon and resisting an officer of the law. The court found W.A.E. guilty of all counts and sentenced him to death. However, the sentence cannot be commuted before it is approved by President Mahmoud Abbas. The convicted Palestinian can appeal the verdict at the Supreme Court.

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Settler Terrorism

UN urges Israel to stop settler attacks
Spokesman for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says Israel must protect Palestinian civilians, claims authorities tend to side with settlers in cases of violence.

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Political Detainees

Arrest Of Ahmad Abu Hasham In Early Dawn Raid, Beit Ummar
Israeli forces arrested Abu Hasham, secretary of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, along with his son Yousef, age 18, in Beit Ummar early Tuesday morning, the Palestinian News Agency (WAFA) reported.
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IOF arrest seven Palestinians, including four minors in the northern West Bank
Israeli occupation forces arrested on at dawn Tuesday seven Palestinians, including four minors in the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Qalqilya.
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Army Arrests A University Student, Takes Two Youth For Interrogation, Invades Villages In Jenin
On Tuesday morning, the Israeli army arrested a Palestinian university student, took two youth for interrogation, and invaded several villages in the southern part of the West Bank city of Jenin, Palestine news & info agency (WAFA) reported.
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RAMALLAH, October 10, 2011 (WAFA) – Palestinian prisoner Tareq Al-Amouri, 20, Monday was brutally beaten by an Israeli Interrogator, at Atzion Israeli prison, to force him to admit the charges against him, according to the Palestinian prisoner’s club (PPC). In a press release, PPC said that one of the interrogators slammed Al-Amouri’s head against the wall and tried to strangle him to force him to admit that he threw stones at Israeli soldiers. Prior to the interrogation, the prison’s administration put Al-Amouri in solitary confinement since seven in the morning until nine at night, where they had an air condition blow very cold air at him for 10 hours. Al-Amouri said that this attack against him is not the first, pointing that prisoners are constantly subjected to brutal attacks by the Israeli jailors and interrogators.

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Occupation forces arrest three Palestinians in the southern West Bank

Israeli occupation forces arrested on Monday three Palestinians, including two minors, from al-Khalil and Bethlehem in the southern Gaza Strip.

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Israeli troops ‘briefly detain’ local official in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces briefly detained the secretary general of a popular committee and one of his sons in Hebron early Tuesday morning, a committee spokesman said. Soldiers raided the north Hebron home of Ahmad Abu Hashem at dawn, spokesman for the popular committee against settlements in Beit Ummar Muhammad Ayyad Awad said. Troops detained Abu Hasham and his son Yousef, 18, for several hours before releasing them. Soldiers clashed with village residents, Awad said, with no injuries reported. An Israeli army spokeswoman was not aware of the incident.

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DCI submits complaint on behalf of child detainee

[19 September 2011] – On 7 September 2011, DCI submitted a complaint to the Israeli authorities on behalf 17-year-old Ahmad R. The complaint requests that the Judge Advocate General opens an investigation into allegations that Ahmad was mistreated by Israeli soldiers in May 2011. At around 1:30 am, on 20 May 2011, Ahmad was asleep at the family home in Azzun, in the occupied West Bank, when he was woken by a sound bomb. Ahmad was ordered out of the house with the rest of his family and made to strip naked in front of everybody. After being permitted to re-dress, Ahmad was tied and blindfolded, before being placed in a military vehicle and transferred to the nearby settlement of Zufin. Ahmad reports that he was beaten by soldiers whilst inside the vehicle. On arrival at the settlement, Ahmad was dragged out of the vehicle and fell down on his face, causing both his mouth and nose to bleed. Four days after being arrested, Ahmad was transferred to Petah Tikva interrogation centre, near Ben Gurion airport inside Israel, in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which expressly prohibits such transfers.

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Name: Ahmad F / Date of arrest: 6 July 2011 / Age: 15 / Location: Burin village, occupied West Bank / Accusation: Throwing stones
On 6 July 2011, a 15-year-old boy from Burin village, near Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, is arrested by Israeli soldiers from the family home at 2:00 am. At around 2:00 am, on 6 July, 15-year-old Ahmad was up late socialising with family members who had just arrived from Jordan. “We were all sitting on the balcony […] when we heard people climbing up the stairs,” recalls Ahmad. “Suddenly, many soldiers stormed the house. We were surprised to see them. They started shouting at us and ordering us into the living room.” Some soldiers started searching the house causing a big mess. Ahmad’s two-year-old nephew started crying, and this “annoyed the soldiers who started shouting and asking his mother to shut him up.”

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Prisoners’ Strike

Israeli Soldiers Repress Peaceful Protest in Solidarity with Prisoners
RAMALLAH, October 11, 2011 (WAFA) – Israeli soldiers Tuesday broke with force a peaceful protest in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons in front of Ofer prison, west of Ramallah, according to witnesses. They said that the soldiers heavily used tear gas bombs and stun grenades to break up the protesters, which led to several suffocation cases among the protestors. The protestors called to release the prisoners and treat them as war prisoners. They chanted slogans supporting the strike. A mass strike in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners will take place on Wednesday from 8:00AM till 10:00AM.
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RAMALLAH, October 10, 2011 (WAFA) –The meeting between representatives of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement in prisons and the Israeli prisons’ administrations failed due to the administrations’ insistence on their solitary confinement policy and prevention of education rights, Monday said Minister of Prisoners Affairs, Issa Qaraqi. He told voice of Palestine that all members of the prisoners’ movement will join the hunger strike during the next two days, warning that prisoners will widen their strike by abstaining from drinking water.

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Palestinian captives on hunger strike accuse PA of ignoring their suffering
Palestinian captives on hunger strike in Israeli occupation jails accused the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas of reneging on its responsibilities towards them.

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Support grows for Palestinian’s prison strike
Activists start open-ended hunger strike in support of prisoners in Israel fasting against “worsening jail conditions”

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Naim warns of imminent danger threatening Palestinians in Israeli captivity

Dr. Basem Naim, the health minister in Gaza, has warned of imminent danger threatening the lives of Palestinian captives in Israeli occupation jails as a result of deliberate medical neglect.

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Beit Sahour Holds “Freedom Race” for Hunger-Striking Prisoners

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered on Sunday to watch and partake in the inaugural “Freedom Race” taking place in Beit Sahour, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

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#TweepStrike: A Call from Gaza to Support Palestinian Prisoners
In solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held under harsh conditions in Israel’s jails, a new twitter trend emerged today from Gaza. The trend is #TweepStrike and is an open invitation to everyone across the globe to go on a hunger strike on Wednesday Oct. 12th. A few months ago, I was on visit to one of the prisoners’ families. With moist eyes and a shaky voice the prisoner’s mother told me that she had, for many times, tried to visit her son but “Mr. Kalb,” Mr. dog, had always been there to turn her back home. My instinct told me then that Mr. Kalb must be a nickname of a cruel Israeli officer. I was wrong. “Mr. Kalb is a huge police dog and he is responsible for the prison’s visits.” She had told me. “According to his mood, we’re either allowed to see our loved ones or ordered to escort ourselves back home. If Mr. Kalb is in a bad mood and barks a lot, we have to understand that visits are not allowed, if he is friendly, officers will let us in” her explanation followed.
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Palestinian bloggers called to join prisoner hunger strike, Joseph Dana
On 27 September 2011, activists with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) launched a prisoner hunger strike in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails. Rallies have been held throughout the West Bank in support of the hunger strike and now activists are calling on bloggers throughout the world to join.
link to Mondoweiss

Palestinians on 24 Hour Hunger Strike to Support Prisoners
JENIN, October 11, 2011 (WAFA) – Several Palestinians Tuesday went on hunger strike for 24 hours in a tent set up in the city of Jenin, north of the West Bank, in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners who have been in an open hunger strike for 15 days, said a local official. Director of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club in Jenin, Ragheb Abu Diak, said the 24-hour hunger strike is part of the official and popular movement in Jenin to support the prisoners. Abdullah Zakarneh, coordinator of the Popular Committee in Jenin, said that the supporting activities may include an open hunger strike in the set up tent. He further called on prisoners’ families, institutions and rights organizations to engage in the solidarity movement.
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Gaza represents the ultimate failure of politics, David Miliband 
My visit to Gaza with Save the Children gave me a sense of life beyond the statistics. The international community must do more.
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Israeli Racism, Sexism and Discrimination

Intimidating protest highlight Israeli religious divide

The end of the school day at the Orot Girl’s Elementary ought to be an oasis of peace in the family day – a chance for mothers and daughters to chat over teachers and lessons and who-said-what-to-whom. But from the beginning of the current term a grim and disturbing drama has been played out instead in the busy street outside the school gates in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh. As the children and their mothers make their way home, intimidating pickets of ultra-orthodox Jewish men have been waiting for them a little way up the street – some, say the families, have thrown stones and tomatoes and faeces as they have tried to pass.

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Mea She’arim to ban women from certain Jerusalem streets during Sukkot
Large billboards posted throughout capital’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods this week forbade women during the celebration, despite court order.
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BDS & Anti BDS

ABC interview on BDS, Palestine and far-right love affair with Zionism
The ongoing blind establishment embrace of Israel and condemnation of BDS as akin to Nazi Germany shows no sign of abating in Australia. Yesterday’s ABC Radio National Breakfast featured a story on the issue and included a brief interview with me explaining the growing alliances between the fascist right and Israel; a mutual hatred of Islam is joining these forces. Note the comments by Zionist lobbyist Danny Lamm, President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, who denies there is even an occupation of Palestinian lands and demands Palestinians be grateful for Israel bringing universities to the occupied Arabs. Such is warped Zionist “logic”:
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Riyadh bans Jordanian company for sending Israeli goods to Saudi (Saudi Arabia does business with Israel, this is political theater)
A news report has revealed that the authorities in Riyadh have slapped a ban on any dealings with a Jordanian company which has, it is claimed, exported Israeli produce to Saudi Arabia. The company involved manufactures fertilizers and industrial chemicals and apparently used phosphoric acid from Israel in the materials it then exported to Saudi. According to the Saudi newspaper Okaz, a source at the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Riyadh said that the decision to ban this Jordanian company came after the Israeli material was discovered during routine inspections by customs officers. The matter was referred to higher authorities for a banning order against the Jordanian company responsible on the grounds that it had “clearly violated the instructions and regulations banning the entry of Israeli products into Saudi markets”. Amman and Tel Aviv have had normal economic and diplomatic relations since the 1994 signing of the controversial Wadi Araba Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan.
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Irvine 11 conviction reveals double standard and bias,  Amirah Mizrahi, Antonia House and Emily Ratner
When we disrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s keynote speech at the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual general meeting last November in New Orleans, we were met with hisses, boos, verbal harassment and even physical attacks from other members of the audience. But criminal charges were never so much as mentioned. Yet, on September 23rd, ten students who interrupted Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine in February 2010 were convicted of two misdemeanors for their participation in that protest. Today, October 11, 2011, is a national day of action to protest those unjust convictions. We think it’s a perfect opportunity to look at the similarities and differences in these two actions.
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Jewish Community Heroes Competition Violates Own Rules in Barring Surasky, Richard Silverstein
Several days ago, the Jewish Federations of North America unceremoniously and without explanation dumped Cecilie Surasky from it’s  Jewish Heroes competition, where she was running neck and neck with Chabad Rabbi Manis Friedman, whose claim to fame is that he told Moment Magazine he supported the killing of Palestinian civilians in war.
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Diplomatic / Political News

Shaath: Palestine has 9 votes in Security Council
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Fatah central committee member Nabil Shaath said Monday that nine countries in the Security Council were committed to supporting Palestine’s bid for membership in the UN. Shaath told Ma’an “the nine states that have confirmed voting to us, and we do not question their stance, are the following: Gabon, Bosnia, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa, China and Russia.”
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Envoy: Abbas, Sarkozy to meet in Paris
BOGOTA (AFP) — President Mahmoud Abbas and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet in Paris in the coming days to discuss the Palestinian bid for UN recognition, Abbas’s envoy said.  Foreign minister in the West Bank government Riyad al-Malki said Abbas would depart for France after meeting Tuesday with Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos on the request for UN Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state.
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The Foreign Minister Of Tanzania Affirms His Country’s Support For The Palestinian People
The Foreign Minister of Tanzania, Bernard Membe, affirms his country’s continuous and concrete support for Palestine, and its legitimate rights to achieve national independence, the Palestinian News Agency (WAFA) reported.
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Palestinians: US Aid Freeze For Statehood Bid Amounts to “Blackmail”

When U.S. Congress confirmed last week that it was blocking the transfer of $200 million in aid to the Palestinian territories, accusations of the U.S. resorting to “aid blackmail” and “collective punishment” quickly followed. The administration of President Barak Obama has been clear about its opposition to the Palestinians’ request for statehood recognition by the U.N. But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas defied the admonishment and submitted his formal application for full U.N. membership despite Washington’s pleas.
Palestinian leader in Latin America to advance statehood cause
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visits Colombia a day after announcing plans to establish ties with El Salvador. His trip is aimed at gaining recognition for a Palestinian state. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was touring Latin America this week, his second visit to the region in less than a year as part of a worldwide lobbying effort to gain recognition for a Palestinian state.

Israeli prime minister accepts EU invitation to meet Palestinians
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accepted a European Union invitation to meet Palestinian leaders in an effort to restart peace talks, his office said in a statement.

Romney vows to increase defense aid to Israel
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says that if elected he would ‘bolster and repair alliance’ with Israel; enhance US deterrent against Iranian regime. ‘Our friends should never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need’ he says.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan poses challenge for Obama
Many advisors to the president see Erdogan’s government as a possible model for others in the Middle East. But the Turkish premier’s feud with Israel and a tendency to make threats are problematic. In the space of a few weeks this summer, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed President Obama’s approach to Mideast peacemaking, threatened to block U.S. business from drilling for oil and gas in the Mediterranean, and warned he might mobilize Turkish warships to protect activists sailing to Gaza against America’s chief regional ally, Israel.

Other Mideast News
“Chaos and Bloodshed”: 25 Die in Cairo as Egyptian Military Attacks Coptic Christian Protesters
In Egypt, at least two dozen people died on Sunday when the Egyptian military attacked a large gathering of Coptic Christian protesters. The violence broke out after a protest in Cairo against an attack on a church in Aswan province last week. Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous was in Cairo and witnessed the killings. “Then the military attacked. They came rushing forward, beating anyone in their path. Then they started opening fire. The sound of gunfire filled the air,” said Kouddous. “It was really a scene of chaos, a scene of bloodshed, the likes of which I have not seen since the revolution here in Cairo. And the reaction of the army does not bode well for the future.”

String of deadly explosions hit Baghdad
At least 10 people killed and 21 others wounded as three blasts rock mainly Shia neighbourhood of Iraqi capital.

link to english.aljazeera.netHopes dim to change Iraq laws to protect women (AP)
AP – Salma Jassim was beaten, kicked out of her marital home with her newborn daughter on her shoulder and then deserted by her husband. But she says the threat she faces from her own family, who feel shamed because of her divorce, is just as bad as the abuse.

40 Yemeni women wounded celebrating Nobel win
Forty women were wounded in Yemen’s second largest city when regime supporters attacked an all-female street celebration of the Nobel Peace prize win of Tawakkul Karman, medical officials said Monday.

Nobel Peace Winner Tawakkul Karman on Yemen and the U.S. War on Terror
Yemeni activist and journalist, Tawakkul Karman, was one of the recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize awarded Friday. Karman spoke in New York City at the Brecht Forum in September 2010 about state violence, targeted killings and human rights abuses enabled by the so-called “war on terror.” Democracy Now! was there and brings you part of her address. Karman notes that by cooperating with the Yemeni government’s repression of its opponents, the United States “has transitioned from being the leader of the free world to a watch dog for tyrant regimes.”

link to

READ THIS NOW: A ‘worthy’ invasion of Iraq is the model for Syria!

Yup, the crescendo is half way! But Diehl & his ilk should factor in this & well: this is not gonna happen; not under Obama’s watch nor, and most importantly, under Bashar’s watch!

link to

Tarek Abd al-Hayy, “Bahrain, Where Every Day Is a Friday”

Many Arabs hold their largest protests on Fridays, but the people of Bahrain come out in force every day of the week and at any time of day. . . . The roundabout has become a focal point for the regime’s security forces. If two cars stop at the same time, officers become nervous and aggressively ask the drivers why they have stopped. But from the ruins of Pearl Square, it appears that the revolution is about to rise again, despite the frenzied proliferation of Gulf security forces. Something about people’s movements suggests a return to the vigorous activity of the first days of the revolution.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,

I should have mentioned yesterday that I am happy that Gilad Shalit will be coming home.  I can only imagine how difficult it has been for his family, particularly in light of Ron Arad who never returned.  But whereas in Israel the focus is solely on Gilad Shalit (who was captured, not ‘kidnapped’ as is stated in the Israeli media), I appreciate also the joy of the Palestinian families whose loved ones will be returning home.  Not all of the released prisoners will be. Some are being exiled either to Gaza or to another country.  Let us hope that soon Israel’s military occupation, ethnic cleansing, and colonization will end, and all prisoners will be free to return to their loved ones and to continue their lives.


Below are 2 additional items on the prisoners—the first an update on female prisoners, the second has 2 parts, both by Mazin Qumsiyeh—the first a summary comparison by of 2 books—biographies by Nelson Mandela and Marwan Barghouthi—and after portions of Qumsiyeh’s book

“Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment.”


All the best,




1.  Women’s Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)

Who we areNewslettersActivitiesContact usHomeLinks

Solidarity with Palestinians prisoners in the Israeli jails who went on a hunger strike

On 27 September 2011, political prisoners in Israeli jails have declared an open hunger strike. This means that the strike is unlimited and will go on until their just demands are fulfilled. They are protesting against the inhuman conditions of detention and against the deterioration of their conditions. Every day more prisoners join the strike.


Among their main demands:


•Stop holding Palestinians prisoners in isolation cells. Special call to stop the isolation of Palestinians leaders who, for years, have been held in isolation cells.

•Stop prohibiting prisoners’ families from visiting them. For more than five years, the Israeli authorities have prevented all the prisoners’ families from the Gaza Strip from visiting the prison, and also hundreds of prisoners’ families from the West Bank are prohibited from visiting.

•Stop the harassments and humiliation by the Israeli occupation forces of the prisoners’ families on their way to visiting the prison.

•Against the deterioration of the conditions in the prison, including the prisoners’ right to study, against the blocking of television channels, and against the prohibition to let in books.

•Stop the frequent and humiliating searches, including searches in the nude.

•Against health neglect and for appropriate and professional health treatment, according to the prisoners’ needs, including prisoners’ dental care.

On 9 October 2011, four women political prisoners have joined the open hunger strike:


Duaa elJayusi, from Tulkarem, arrested on 7 May 2002.


Worud Kasem, from Tira in the Triangle arrested on 14 October 2006.


Somod Karaja, from Safa, Ramallah district, arrested on 25 October 2009.


Linan Abu Ghulme, from Furik, Nablus district, an administrative detainee, arrested on 15 July 2010.


WOFPP’s lawyer, Taghreed Jahshan, visited in Damoon prison on 10 October 2011 and heard from the administrative detainee Linan Abu Gholme that:

the prison authorities punished the women prisoners who joined the hunger strike and took many things from their cell, including television, radio, hot plate, kettle, notebooks, books, pens and all the food that was in the cell, including sugar and salt. In addition, other punishments imposed on them: preventing family visits, shopping in the canteen, sending letters, going out from their cell except for one hour a day at 6:30pm.

The prison authorities also made a very rigid and humiliating search in their cell. During the search the guards created an atmosphere of fear: near every prisoner a guard was standing in a threatening way. The prison authorities threatened the prisoners who joined the hunger strike to transfer them to isolation cells.


We protest against the humiliation of the prisoners who are on a hunger strike and supporting their just struggle against the inhuman conditions in which the Palestinian prisoners are held in the Israeli jails.


Activities for solidarity with the prisoners on hunger stike are held every day.


We join the activities and call to join the activities of support and solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in the Israli jails.


Freedom to the Prisoners of Freedom!


2.  From Mazin Qumsiyeh

, October 12, 2011


Political Prisoners

(this is also posted at the blog

It is good news that over 1000 Palestinian political prisoners will be

released in a prison swap deal.  But there are still thousands of

Palestinian political prisoners.  This Saturday we will be discussing in our

cultural group the new book by Marwan Barghouthi about his life behind bars.

He will apparently not be part of this prisoner exchange deal neither will

Ahmed Saadat of PFLP nor other key leaders.  For English readers on this

list, I translated my review (originally in Arabic) of Barghouthi’s book and

included it here.  Below that I include some text on prisoners from my book

“Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment

<> .” Hopefully, those two sections will give you some idea about the struggles of political prisoners.

Hopefully, Hamas (which did not get all it wanted but did score a political

victory here) and Fatah (which scored a political victory by abandoning the

futile US-led bilateral negotiations but also did not get all it wanted)

could now implement their signed agreements especially on representation in

the PNC.


Comparing Books by political prisoners: Nelson Mandela and Marwan Barghouthi

Review by Mazin Qumsiyeh

I read Nelson Mandel’s inspiring autobiography many years ago. His book was

titled “Long Walk to Freedom” because it was done after the end of

apartheid.   Marwan Barghouthi’s book is not an autobiography in that sense

because our people’s walk to freedom is still ongoing. It is thus titled

“One thousand days in prison isolation cell” and refers to a part of the

struggle. We indeed look for the day that our political prisoners can write

books at the end of the road to freedom.

Barghouthi’s book is dedicated to his wife, his children, to the Palestinian

people, to the Arab and Islamic world, to all those who struggle and resist

occupation and colonization, and to fellow prisoners. Mandela’s book

similarly recalls family, people, and fellow political prisoners.

Barghouthi recalls his village life in Kuber with much passion and love in

his newest book but you will find the national cause dominate the book.

While Kuber is mentioned two or three times, Palestine is mentioned on just about every paragraph. Mandela had a rural beginning in a small village called Mvezo and still retains that love of land.  He was a shepherd and ploughed lands.  He dreamed of becoming a lawyer and was like Barghouthi interested in learning. He enrolled at Birzeit University in 1983 but due to exile and other factors only finished his bachelor in 1994 (in history and political science).  In 1998, he got masters in international relations. Both Mandela and Barghouthi led youth movements in their teens and became strong leaders even as they were pursued and jailed.

Mandela like Barghouthi reports on mistreatment, lengthy incarcerations,

resisting, and all that you expect from someone who went through such

experiences.  Mandela like Barghouthi says that it is not what he actually

did that he was being punished for but for what he stood for. Both were

charged by the respective apartheid regimes of leading armed guerrilla


Through these writings, you see a common characteristic: great humility.

They do not elevate themselves above the thousands who struggle for freedom.  Even though some of us consider them key leaders, they themselves see their role as foot soldiers. Barghouthi describes being beaten on his private parts and losing consciousness waking later to find a gash on his head from falling and hitting the cement wall.  The gash left a permanent mark.  But immediately after describing this, Barghouthi merely says (p. 21) that is it is merely a small example of what tens of thousands of activists were subjected to.

In the mid 1950s Mandela devised a plan and convinced fellow ANC leaders to adopt it that created a decentralized structure. Cells are formed at the grassroots level and select among them leadership at intermediate levels

which insured secrecy and yet some level of democracy and operational

meaning.  Barghouthi recalls how he was not happy about Arafat’s autocratic structure and especially those around Arafat many of them were corrupt and not dedicated to the Palestinian struggle.

Barghouthi and Mandela speak of psychological warfare including the games of good investigator and bad investigator played to break prisoners’ will.  A lot of what he says about mistreatment in prison will not be new to

Palestinians alive today.  Most Palestinians above age 30 have tasted at

least some of these pains.  Of course Barghouthi suffered more than most

Palestinian males his age.

Barghouthi talks about how critical the visit by his lawyer was to break his

isolation and makes him feel connected to life outside the prison.  Mandela

also refers to the psychological boost received by knowing that people

outside continue the struggle and care about the freedom of political


Barghouthi states on page 130 how in prison you have lots of time to think.

He recalls these thoughts in detail and they range from his feelings of

solidarity with all persecuted and oppressed people around the world to poor programming on Palestinian television (when the channel was allowed in prisons).  Barghouthi speaks about his passions like reading books. He

speaks of his love for his family. He speaks of women liberation. He speaks

of learning languages in jail. The thoughts of Mandela in jail also dealt

with similar issues. Barghouthi describes solitary confinement as “slow

death” (p. 81). Mandela calls them the “dark years”.

Barghouthi speaks about how the US and western positions put significant

pressures on Arafat and that finally, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas was appointed prime minister.  Abbas, according to Barghouthi, was known for his positions against resistance (p. 156).  In one section he talks about how leadership did not rise to the challenge or match the enormous struggle, aspirations and needs of the people.

Barghouthi says on page 148 that Israel can defeat a particular leader or

faction or group of people but cannot defeat the will of the Palestinian

people. On the next page he articulates beautifully why resistance in all

its types is so critical to success in achieving our collective goals.  The

cost of occupation and colonization must be made unbearable or at least more than the benefit from it for Israel to back off.

Barghouthi speaks about how his political actions did not stop in jail.  He

gives several examples including the Palestinian factions observing a cease

fire that started 19 December 2001 on the eve of the visit by American envoy General Anthony Zinni. That cease fire lasted for nearly a month but was broken by Israel’s assassination of Ra’ed Karmi.

Barghouthi recalls that one of the more painful episodes was the abduction

of his son Qassam. His letter to his son takes 30 pages of the book! It is

an amazing letter that recalls the history of Palestine, the history of

struggle, the history of the prisoner movement and much more.  But the

letter also reflects on feelings and attitude of Barghouthi himself in key

periods of his life.  How he felt when his son was born while he is in jail.

How he built a relationship with his wife despite being a man spending most of his life either on the run or in jail.  It is very detailed mentioning

dates and events and surroundings that put the reader (his son and us) in

those circumstances.  He recalls the death of his father 5 August 1985.  He

talked about his biggest pains (which were not the interrogations, torture

or solitary confinement) but when he was exiled to Jordan in the late 1980s.

Yet he also says that after his family joined him in exile from the

homeland, the family life alleviated the pain of exile from his homeland.

The letter ends with recommendations he gives to his son like any father

gives to his son.  But here the recommendations are about exercising,

reading books, learning languages, and keeping friendly relations with

fellow prisoners.

The book finishes with a section about his wife and a final section about

collaborators in Israeli jails.  It is significant that he decided to

conclude with detailed exposure of the despicable methods of collaborations.  Similarly, Mandela’s autobiography includes a section on treason.

Oliver Tambo described Mandela as passionate, fearless, impatient and

sensitive.  I never met either Mandela or Barghouthi personally but after

reading these books, I can say that I agree not only with these adjectives

applied to Mandela and Barghouthi but I can think of many others: humble,

honest, intelligent, articulate, and I can go on but I will leave that to

historians to give people their due.  But knowing such people at least

through their writings and writings of others about them adds to our

conviction that freedom is inevitable to nations that have such individuals.


Prison struggles: sections from the book


> “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment”

In this book I discuss the efforts for release of political prisoners that

started in the 1920s when the women movement in Palestine succeeded in

gaining release of three prisoners (Chapter 6). In chapter 7, we find that

“On 17 May 1936, prisoners in Nur Shams prison declared a strike and

confronted the prison guards who ordered soldiers to open fire. One inmate

was killed and several wounded as prisoners shouted in defiance: ‘Martyrdom is better than jail’.(ref) On 23 May 1936, Awni Abdel Hadi, secretary general of the Arab Higher Committee, was arrested.(ref).. On 9 September 1939, fighters took over Beersheba government facilities and released political prisoners from the central jail.”

When the British government felt more confident in 1942-43 about the

prospects of winning the war, it released some Palestinian political

prisoners and allowed others to return from exile. Attempts to revive

political activity during this period were nugatory. Awni Abdel Hadi

returned from exile in 1943 and revived Hizb Al-Istiqlal, with help from

Rashid Alhaj Ibrahim and Ahmed Hilmi Abdel Baqi, and even started a national


In other section sof the book, I discussed the struggle of Palestinains

inside the Green Line, many of them ended in jail as political prisoners.

Like Palestinains in the West Bank and Gaza, they supported their political

prisonesr and struggled for their release. The struggle in the occupied

territories continued. When Israel introduced extensions of so-called

‘administrative detention’ (detention without trial) for up to six months, a

strike among Palestinian political prisoners started 11 July 1975.

Political prisoners in Israeli jails also organised themselves into

effective committees [during the uprising of 1987] which carried out

collective strikes which were especially effective in the 1980s and early

1990s.36 King interviewed Qaddourah Faris (from Fatah) who was a key leader of the prisoner movement. He talked about a successful hunger strike for humane treatment that involved 15,000 prisoners throughout Israeli jails.(ref) In 1990, Israel held over 14,000 Palestinian prisoners in more than 100 jails and detention centres at one time according to Middle Rights Watch.(ref) Even Israeli supporters like Anthony Lewis became outraged enough to write:

“The Israeli Government has taken thousands of Palestinians from the

occupied West Bank and Gaza into what it calls ‘administrative detention.’

That means they are held as prisoners, for up to six months at a stretch,

without trial. At least 2,500 of the detainees are imprisoned in Ketziot, a

tent camp in the burning heat of the Negev desert. On Aug. 16 Israeli

soldiers shot and killed two of-the detainees there . The story had further

grim details that I shall omit because they cannot be confirmed … The

prisoners at Ketziot, it must be emphasised, have not been convicted of

doing anything. They have had not a semblance of due process. They are there because someone in the Israeli Army suspects them – or wants to punish them.

Mr. Posner went to Ketziot to see two Palestinian lawyers being held there

and four field investigators for a West Bank human rights group, Al Haq. He concluded that they had been detained because of ‘their work on human rights and as lawyers.”(ref)

On 6 December 1998, during President Clinton’s visit, over 2,000 political

prisoners went on hunger strike demanding to be released. Their message to both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership was not to negotiate issues that do not place their release on the agenda.

In September 1988, the Israeli army stated that the number of detainees it

held was 23,600 and Peter Kandela reported cases of the use of torture on

detainees.94 After the Oslo Accords many thousands of Palestinians were

released. But many thousands more were imprisoned in the uprising that

started in 2000. In total, over 700,000 Palestinians spent time in Israeli

jails. On occasion, nearly 20 per cent of the political prisoners were



Political prisoners in Israeli jails also participated in non-violent

resistance. Israel radio reported on a hunger strike by prisoners in the

camps of Jenin, Ramallah and Nablus, who demanded improvement in their deplorable conditions in 1987.96 Al-Ansar prison in southern Lebanon, where thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese political prisoners were held by Israeli occupation forces, showed incredible acts of resistance and resilience, ranging from hunger strikes to refusal to obey orders to


Thousands of Palestinian prisoners went on a hunger strike from 15 August to 2 September 2004. During this time, the Israeli authorities tried various

methods from persuasion to threats to beatings to break the strike; 13 UN

agencies operating in the occupied areas expressed their concern.98


Outside the prisons, Palestinians and internationals protested and worked

diligently to spread the word about the prisoners’ demands and their plight.

It started with the prisoners’ families, many of whom joined the hunger

strike. Crowds assembled on 16 August 2004 outside local offices of the Red Cross and marched to the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations where they delivered a letter addressed to Secretary General Kofi Annan, calling for him to apply pressure on Israel and improve the prisoners’ conditions. They demonstrated again in the thousands two days later.99 The PA, Palestinians inside the Green Line and the ISM called for hunger strikes outside the prisons to support the prisoners’ demands.100 The strike slowly gained momentum despite repressive measures.101 Israel’s Public Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi stated: ‘Israel will not give in to their demands. They can starve for a day, a month, even starve to death, as far as I am concerned’102 Eventually, the prison authorities conceded that the prisoners were entitled to some basic humanitarian rights.

Palestinian female political prisoners in Telmud Prison were mistreated and

on 28 November 2004 their spokeswomen who complained about this was beaten and punished. When others complained, they too were punished, so they too went on hunger strike.103

Prisoners continued to use hunger strikes to protest against ill treatment

and draw attention to their plight. For example, on 16 February 2006, Jamal

Al-Sarahin died in prison. He was a 37-year-old ‘administrative detainee’

(held without charge or trial) who had been detained for eight months and

badly mistreated. Prisoners called a one-day hunger strike.104

On 11 March 2006, a sit-down strike in front of the ICRC in Hebron was held to demand better treatment of prisoners. On 27 June 2006, 1,200 Palestinian political prisoners in the Negev Desert started a hunger strike to protest against the arbitrary and oppressive practices of the prison administration. In total, over 700,000 Palestinians have spent time in Israeli jails and the latest statistics show that 11,000 are still being held according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society.105 [The book was published in 2010. According to B’tselem, in August 2011  there were 5,204 Palestinian prisoners, down from 6,794 in January 2010 Dorothy]


By 2009, Palestinians in Israeli prisons had achieved a number of successes

by non-violent struggle and civil disobedience, including wearing civilian

clothes (no orange uniforms), access to news, reasonable visiting rights and

better access to healthcare. But the Prison Administration continues to chip

away at those rights.106 Unfortunately, the PA is forced to subsidise the

cost to Israel of maintaining Palestinian prisoners.

Because so many people are jailed for their resistance activities,

Palestinian society has a profound respect and appreciation for the

sacrifices of the prisoners. Time spent in prison is considered a badge of

honour. Prisons also shape character. One former prisoner stated:

Like any human community, there are contradictions, but there is a common thread in the experience in prison that gives us strength, a common goal, a common purpose. We are joined together in struggle, so our shared experiences only make us stronger.107

(Excerpts from the book: “Popular Resistance in Palestine” by Mazin

Qumsiyeh, Pluto Press, Available in Arabic from Muwatin, Ramallah).

————– next part ————–

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The prisoner swap


I will believe that the swap between the Palestinians and the Israelis, in which one Israeli prisoner of war is supposedly to be exchanged for 1000 Palestinian political prisoners, has taken place when I see confirmation from Ma’an News of Palestinian prisoners walking free in the Gaza Strip. And not a second before that.

Also I appreciate this line from Ethan Bronner: “For Palestinians, the plight of thousands of their sons in Israeli prisons has been equally traumatic” as the seizure of one Israeli soldier. Probably Netanyahu believes it’s a good opportunity to cement nationalist cohesion and fill in the micro-cracks that appeared during the J14 protests.

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The Roots of Christian Zionism: How Scofield Sowed Seeds of Apostasy

by crescentandcross in Uncategorized 


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Hamas announce swap for captured Nazi soldier



In a much-anticipated prisoner exchange that could have broad implications, Israel and Hamas on Tuesday announced that an Israeli soldier abducted to Gaza five years ago would be swapped for about 1,000 Palestinians held by Israel and accused of militant activity.

Israel’s government approved the deal early Wednesday following a three-hour debate after both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal announced the agreement in televised comments.

Netanyahu said the captured soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit, would return home within days. Mashaal, portraying the agreement as a victory, said the Palestinian prisoners would be freed in two stages over two months.

Hamas and Israel are bitter enemies. Hamas has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel, killing hundreds, and Israel blockaded Gaza after Hamas seized power there in 2007, carrying out a large-scale invasion in 2009 to try to stop daily rocket attacks on Israel. More than 1,500 Gaza Palestinians have been killed in Israeli raids and airstrikes since the soldier was captured.

In the northern Gaza town of Jebaliya, thousands of Hamas supporters flocked the streets, led by masked militants. Cars with loudspeakers played praise for Hamas. Thousands of other Gazans rushed to their border with Egypt, clutching Palestinian and Egyptian flags, tossing flowers and cheering.

Gaza’s Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, smiled as he threw candy to celebrating backers.

The deal maintains a decades-long tradition of lopsided exchanges that have come under increasing criticism in Israel — and ends a period of tortured indecision by Israeli governments torn between securing the release of a single soldier and the risk that freed militants might return to violence that could cost many more lives.

“There is built-in tension between the desire to return a kidnapped soldier … and the need to preserve the security of the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said, in comments at opening the Cabinet meeting. “I believe we reached the best deal that we can reach at this time, a stormy time in the Middle East.”

In agreeing to go ahead with the deal, the career hard-liner made a potentially fateful choice.

It gives Hamas, a militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, a victory that might strengthen its hand against the more moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority runs the West Bank.

Mashaal said 1,000 male prisoners and 27 female ones would be released, the first 450 over the next week and the rest within two months. He said the released would include 315 prisoners serving life sentences, suggesting they were convicted of attacks that caused the deaths of Israelis.

Seeming to confirm Israel’s fears, Mashaal said that those who are released “will return to … the national struggle.”

“This is a national achievement for the whole Palestinian people,” Mashaal said, adding that he was pained not to be able to release the thousands of remaining prisoners held by Israel. The exact number of prisoners is under some contention, with the Palestinians citing 8,000 and Israel confirming about 5,000.

Yoram Cohen, head of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency, said over the course of six secret rounds of talks in recent months, Hamas had backed down from key demands, including the release of some top militants. He said about 40 of the first group of prisoners would be exiled to other countries.

News of the deal set off wild celebrations at a protest tent erected by Schalit’s family outside Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem. Several hundred people danced in the street and waved flags with Schalit’s image on it.

The soldier’s father, Noam, has become a well-known public figure by pushing for his son’s freedom.

The tiny structure is decorated with pictures of Schalit, as well as a large sign with the number 1,934, the number of days he has been in captivity. Schalit’s parents sat in the tent, smiling as people flooded to the area and cars honked horns in excitement.

But typical of the criticism was a statement by Almagor, a group representing victims of Palestinian attacks. “In the end Netanyahu has surrendered to Hamas,” the group said. “The terrorists who are released are a danger to the citizens of Israel.”

The plight of Palestinian prisoners is equally emotional among Palestinians. Virtually every Palestinian has a relative who has served time in an Israeli prison, and Palestinians routinely hold large demonstrations where they hold up posters of their imprisoned loved ones.

The very fact of any agreement between Israel and its archenemy seemed to offer a beguiling prospect of a new dynamic in the region.

To date, Hamas has not abandoned its ideology that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. For its part, Israel has never accepted the violent Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007. Though neither side hinted at changes in those basic policies, the prospect of even lukewarm relations developing between Israel and Hamas could open a new window for peace efforts.

The deal was also an important milestone for the new military authorities in Egypt, which both sides credited with brokering the deal and who emerge with a heightened aura of regional leadership.

Schalit was captured in a cross-border raid in June 2006 by Palestinian militants who burrowed into Israel and dragged him into Gaza after killing two other soldiers.

Little has been known about his fate since then, and Hamas has outraged public opinion in Israel by refusing to even allow Red Cross visits, releasing only a brief audio recording and a videotaped statement early in his five years in captivity.

Schalit’s ordeal has become an obsession in Israel, where military service is mandatory and the public has identified with his family. Israel’s Channel 2 TV said Schalit would be returned to Israel via Egypt.

Cohen, the Israeli security chief, said there was a turning point in July, when Hamas dropped its demands to free key imprisoned militants. He said the most prominent names, uprising leader Marwan Barghouti, faction leader Ahmed Saadat and Hamas bombmaker Abdullah Barghouti were not included.

Saadat was convicted of planning the assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister in 2001. Barghouti was the top local commander of Fatah, the movement of President Mahmoud Abbas, when he was arrested in 2002 and convicted of a role in deadly attacks against Israelis. He is serving multiple life terms but is widely touted as a future Palestinian president.

Israel has been carrying out unequal prisoner swaps for decades, including handing over 4,600 Palestinian and Lebanese captives in 1983 in exchange for six captured Israeli soldiers. In 2008, it even freed Arab prisoners for the bodies of two soldiers killed by Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Hamas is in a bitter rivalry with Abbas, who is enjoying a burst of popularity after defying Israel and the U.S. and seeking membership for the Palestinians at the U.N.

Abbas, traveling in South America, praised the deal. “We have waited for this for a long time. We demand that all prisoners be released from the Israeli prisons, and we appreciate the Egyptian efforts,” he said.

Netanyahu is also eager for a domestic boost. The Israeli leader has faced growing criticism for a deadlock in peace efforts with the Palestinians, as well as a series of domestic protests over the country’s steep cost of living. Bringing Schalit home could make Netanyahu a hero.

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Yom Kippur at Occupy Wall Street

Posted: October 12, 2011 by crescentandcross in Uncategorized

As sundown approached on Friday, a crowd of approximately 700 people gathered on the New York plaza for Kol Nidre prayers; similar services were held at Occupy Wall Street camps in Washington, Philadelphia, Boston.

ed note–we can JUST IMAGINE what the reaction would be if a group of Muslims or Christians decided to hold a religious service in the middle of Wall Street. However, when our ‘better bethren’ within the Jewish community decide to hold a Yom Kippur service, wherein they recite the Kol Nidre–ABSOLVING THEM OF ALL OATHS THEY HAVE TAKEN–not a peep of protest.

A large, open plaza across from Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street has made its encampment for three weeks, proved to be the perfect setting for Kol Nidre on Friday night.    

Earlier in the week, Daniel Sieradski, Occupy Wall Street protester and self-styled “new media activist,” wondered on Facebook and Twitter whether he could get a minyan to show up for the service. As sundown approached on Friday, a crowd that some estimated to be as many as 700 people gathered on the plaza for the prayers that begin Yom Kippur. Similar services were held at Occupy Wall Street camps in Washington, Philadelphia and Boston.×250&network=6497.7293&url=&ref=





In keeping with the style of the occupation in the park across the street, which does not have a sound system permit, announcements were shouted by a single speaker in short phrases, and each phrase was repeated back through the crowd so everyone could hear it. The entire service was led this way, including the sermon, written and shouted by my friend, Getzel Davis, a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Boston.    

I think all sermons should be delivered this way for all eternity. There’s no better way to capture a crowd’s attention with a Yom Kippur sermon than to hear the message ripple back through the congregation in short bursts. The energy of the crowd was enhanced by the recurring call and response, and by being physically close to one another; once you were in the crowd, it was packed tight and there was no getting out.    

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Vandals scrawl ‘Death to the Jews’ on synagogues in Safed

 by crescentandcross in Uncategorized

Safed mayor calls on public to exercise restraint, says incident does not represent ties between Jews and Arabs in the northern city.

ed note–Safed is one of those cities LOADED TO THE GILLS with nutcase extremist settlers, and the more likely explanation for this is that–given all the bad press the poor, beleagured Zionist have been getting as of late in the aftermath of all the violence being perpetrated against Arabs that this was done to ‘change the subject’ from Jewish terrorism back to the ‘mean old Ay-rabs’.

Unknown vandals scrawled “Death to the Jews” on four synagogues and a vehicle in the northern city of Safed on Tuesday night.

Police have opened an investigation and are searching for the perpetrators.

“This is an unusual phenomenon, which does not characterize the nature of the relationship between Jews and Arabs in Safed,” said Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat. “Just as we condemn the desecration of Islamic holy sites, so we condemn despicable acts like this.”

Shohat called upon the public to exercise restraint and allow the police to investigate the incident.

Last week, two cemeteries in Jaffa, one Muslim and the other Christian, were vandalized by graffiti that said “Death to the Arabs”, and “Price Tag”.

Earlier last week, the mosque in the northern village of Tuba-Zanghariyya, a Bedouin town of some 5,500 people two kilometers east of Rosh Pina, was vandalized. The mosque’s interior was seriously damaged, and many holy books were destroyed by the blaze.

Police suspect that extreme right-wing Jews carried out the arson in Tuba-Zanghariyya as a “price tag” operation, referring to vandalism and revenge actions initiated by activists, usually against Palestinians, following terror attacks or state demolitions in settlements or outposts.

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