Archive | November 27th, 2011

Muslim Brotherhood sure of election victory in Egypt as Tahrir unrest lingers


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The army and the interim government continue to prepare for Monday’s first round of parliamentary elections, which threaten to split the opposition.


A protester was killed yesterday when he was run over by a police vehicle during mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square that called for Egypt’s military leaders to step down from power.

But, in general, order was maintained in the Egyptian capital over the weekend, despite the gathering of tens of thousands of demonstrators.

Meanwhile, the army and the interim government continued to prepare for Monday’s first round of parliamentary elections. The elections threaten to split the opposition: While some members of the protest movement are calling for this week’s elections to be deferred until power is transferred to civilian hands, and several parties have announced that they would boycott the balloting, the Muslim Brotherhood is determined to win a large number of seats in parliament. In an effort to ensure orderly elections, the Islamic group has said it does not support the current wave of protests.

But a large number of Muslim Brotherhood members turned up in a show of support for the demonstrators nonetheless, and some of the movement’s members announced they were breaking with the organization. One female university student declared that, although she was an Islamist, the Muslim Brotherhood had shown it was only out for its own interests and she would not vote for the group.

Convinced of their upcoming success in the vote, some Muslim Brotherhood supporters had concerns beyond Egypt’s borders – over Israel’s intentions to dismantle the temporary Mughrabi bridge leading to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. At Al-Azhar University, a stronghold of the movement, giant posters called for the defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the mount, and Palestinian flags mingled with Egyptian ones. Guests of honor at prayers at the university were members of a Hamas delegation that was in Cairo for talks with Palestinian Authority officials.

One Muslim Brotherhood activist, Bayuma Tayara, said his group did not need to campaign at this point. The movement has been doing grassroots work for years, he said, and every Egyptian knows who the Muslim Brotherhood is. He denied that the group was busying itself with the Palestinian issue to distract attention from ongoing demonstrations in Cairo and said the group was sure of victory.

Sermon after sermon before and after the prayers at the university accused Israel of harming Muslim holy places and claimed that the Jews were defiling Palestine. One speaker said that all of Palestine would be liberated via Cairo’s Tahrir Square – where demonstrations earlier this year brought down President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

Among the crowd was Abed Khaled, an accountant, who said the Jews would be fought until the fighters’ last drop of blood. Acknowledging that such a step was not currently feasible, he said that after an election victory the army would be prepared for war against Israel.

For his part, however, another Muslim Brotherhood activist said that if Israel respects Palestinian rights, the peace treaty with Israel could be maintained, saying that he and his colleagues wanted to live in peace with Israel.




Muslim Brotherhood rally vows to ‘kill all Jews’

A Muslim Brotherhood rally in Cairo on Friday at the Sunni world’s most prestigious center of learning turned into a call for genocide, with protesters pledging to “one day kill all Jews.”

Eldad Beck, Ynet’s Arab affairs correspondent, reported from Cairo that some 5,000 people attended the rally at al-Azhar Mosque, convened to coincide with the anniversary of the approval of the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine.

The event, organizers said, was aimed at rallying Egyptians behind the “battle against Jerusalem’s Judaization.”

Speakers at the demonstration condemned “Zionist occupiers” and “treacherous Jews,” and organizers distributed maps of the Old City highlighting areas where “Zionists are aiming to change Jerusalem’s Muslim character.”

Muhammad Ahmed el- Tayeb, the imam of al-Azhar Mosque, told the crowd: “Al- Aksa Mosque is currently under an offensive by the Jews… We shall not allow the Zionists to Judaize al-Quds [Jerusalem]. We are telling Israel and Europe that we shall not allow even one stone to be moved there.”

Protesters chanted, “Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv: Judgment Day has come,” and passages from the Koran vowing that “one day we shall kill all the Jews.”

Al-Azhar Mosque is part of al-Azhar University, a millennium- old compound in central Cairo that is the world’s leading center of Arabic literature and Sunni jurisprudence.

Beck quoted an elementary school teacher outside the mosque telling him, “All Egyptian Muslims are willing to embark on jihad for the sake of Palestine.”

“Why is the US losing in Afghanistan?” he asked.

“Because the other side is willing and wants to die. We have a different mentality than that of the Americans and Jews.”

Meanwhile, late last week, Egypt’s Youm7 newsweekly reported that the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, had returned to Cairo for the first time since his dramatic return in February from a half-century in exile.

The immensely popular television preacher arrived at Cairo Airport on Wednesday “to follow the incidents in Tahrir Square,” the center of anti-government protests.

Qaradawi hosts the weekly program Shari’a and Life on Al Jazeera. Exiled from Egypt in 1961, he has since resided in the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar.

Following February’s ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, Qaradawi made a triumphant return to Tahrir, where he led at least 200,000 Egyptians in mass prayer.

The 85-year-old is hailed by supporters as an engaging and telegenic preacher, and vilified by critics for his often venomous attacks on Americans, Shi’ites and Jews.

Qaradawi has been described as the spiritual leader of Hamas, and has justified suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and against US soldiers serving in Iraq.

Marc Ginsberg – the former US ambassador to Morocco and a top Middle East adviser during Jimmy Carter’s presidency – wrote an op-ed last week highlighting what he sees as an “unholy alliance” between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s ruling military council.

“The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) met secretly with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist-oriented political movements last April to establish local political ‘action committee’ bank accounts,” he wrote on the Huffington Post website, citing a “reliable European military intelligence source.”

The payouts in question could amount to millions of dollars, Ginsberg wrote.

“The SCAF’s surreptitious political maneuvering favoring Islamists over more secular political movements is based on one simple equation,” he wrote. “The military is determined to prevent secularists from gaining a parliamentary majority which would likely impair its insatiable appetite for controlling Egypt’s national budget and its own extensive business operations.

“It is determined to prevent a civilian government from interfering with its cherished prerogatives.

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For Obscure Iranian Exile Group, Broad Support in U.S.


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At a time of partisan gridlock in the capital, one obscure cause has drawn a stellar list of supporters from both parties and the last two administrations, including a dozen former top national security officials.

That alone would be unusual. What makes it astonishing is the object of their attention: a fringe Iranian opposition group, long an ally of Saddam Hussein, that is designated as a terrorist organization under United States law and described by State Department officials as a repressive cult despised by most Iranians and Iraqis.

The extraordinary lobbying effort to reverse the terrorist designation of the group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People’s Mujahedeen, has won the support of two former C.I.A. directors, R. James Woolsey and Porter J. Goss; a former F.B.I. director, Louis J. Freeh; a former attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey; President George W. Bush’s first homeland security chief, Tom Ridge; President Obama’s first national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones; big-name Republicans like the former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Democrats like the former Vermont governor Howard Dean; and even the former top counterterrorism official of the State Department, Dell L. Dailey, who argued unsuccessfully for ending the terrorist label while in office.

The American advocates have been well paid, hired through their speaking agencies and collecting fees of $10,000 to $50,000 for speeches on behalf of the Iranian group. Some have been flown to Paris, Berlin and Brussels for appearances.

But they insist that their motive is humanitarian — to protect and resettle about 3,400 members of the group, known as the M.E.K., now confined in a camp in Iraq. They say the terrorist label, which dates to 1997 and then reflected decades of violence that included the killing of some Americans in the 1970s, is now outdated, unjustified and dangerous.

Emotions are running high as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton completes a review of the terrorist designation. The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq has said it plans to close the camp, Camp Ashraf, by Dec. 31 and move the people elsewhere in Iraq in order to reassert Iraqi sovereignty over the land where it is located, 40 miles north of Baghdad.

Two earlier incursions by Iraqi troops into Camp Ashraf led to bloody confrontations, with 11 residents killed in July 2009 and at least 34 in April of this year. The M.E.K. and its American supporters say that they believe the Maliki government, with close ties to Iran, may soon carry out a mass slaughter on the pretext of regaining control of the camp.

If that happens, the supporters say, the United States — which disarmed the M.E.K. and guaranteed the security of the camp after the invasion of Iraq — will bear responsibility.

“We made a promise,” said Mr. Ridge, a former congressman and governor of Pennsylvania. “Our credibility is on the line. They’ve been attacked twice. How can we possibly accept assurances from the Maliki government?”

Mr. Ridge suggested that the M.E.K.’s implacable hostility to the rulers of Iran should be a point in their favor.

“In my view, if you’re a threat to Ahmadinejad,” — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president — “well, the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Mr. Ridge said. He noted that the M.E.K. had provided information on Iran’s nuclear program during the Bush administration.

The M.E.K. advocacy campaign has included full-page newspaper advertisements identifying the group as “Iran’s Main Opposition” — an absurd distortion in the view of most Iran specialists; leaders of Iran’s broad opposition, known as the Green Movement, have denounced the group. The M.E.K. has hired high-priced lobbyists like the Washington firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Its lawyers in Europe won a long fight to persuade the European Union to drop its own listing of the M.E.K. as a terrorist group in 2009.

The group’s spending, certainly in the millions of dollars, has inevitably raised questions about funding sources.

Ali Safavi, who runs a pro-M.E.K. group in Washington called Near East Policy Research, says the money comes from wealthy Iranian expatriates in the United States and Europe. Because “material support” to a designated terrorist group is a crime, advocates insist that the money goes only to sympathizers and not to the M.E.K. itself.

Congress has taken note of the campaign. A House resolution for dropping the terrorist listing has 97 co-sponsors, including the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan. At a hearing this month, senators pressed the defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta, about the threat to Camp Ashraf.

A State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said officials there were “working as quickly as possible” to complete a review of the M.E.K.’s terrorist designation. American officials are supporting an effort by the United Nations to resettle Camp Ashraf residents voluntarily to other countries, a process that is making slow progress.

Other State Department officials, addressing the issue on the condition of anonymity because it is still under deliberation, said that they did believe the 3,400 residents of Camp Ashraf were in danger as the Dec. 31 deadline approaches.

“We’re in constant talks with the Iraqis and the Ashraf leadership to show maximum flexibility on the closure of the camp,” one official said.

But the officials expressed frustration at what they described as the American supporters’ credulous acceptance of the M.E.K.’s claims of representing the Iranian opposition and of embracing democratic values.

In years of observation, the official said, Americans have seen that the camp’s leaders “exert total control over the lives of Ashraf’s residents, much like we would see in a totalitarian cult,” requiring fawning devotion to the M.E.K.’s leaders, Maryam Rajavi, who lives in France, and her husband, Massoud, whose whereabouts are unknown.

Moreover, the official said, the group is “hated almost universally by the Iranian population,” in part for siding with Mr. Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. A State Department cable this year concluded that any indication of United States support for the M.E.K. “would fuel anti-American sentiment” in Iran and would “likely empower Iranian hardliners.”

In Iraq, the M.E.K. is also widely despised, especially by the country’s Shiite majority, because it is accused of helping the Iraqi dictator crush a Shiite revolt in 1991 — a charge the group denies. Because of deep Iraqi hostility, American officials argue that merely dropping the terrorist designation would not end the danger of attacks on the group.

While the M.E.K. carried out a campaign of attacks from the 1970s to the 1990s, mostly targeting Iranian officials, supporters say it has renounced violence and has not engaged in terrorist acts for a decade. The designation law, however, allows Mrs. Clinton to keep the label for a group that “retains the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.”

Such a decision would outrage the American advocates of reversing the terrorist label.

Mr. Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009, said the administration’s failure to act decisively threatened a “humanitarian catastrophe.” Mr. Mukasey said he did not believe the claim that the M.E.K. was a cult, but even if true, it was no reason to keep the terrorist listing. “These people are sitting in the camp, completely harmless,” he said.

Like other advocates, Mr. Mukasey said he had been paid his standard speaking fee — $15,000 to $20,000, according to the Web site of his speakers’ agency — to talk at M.E.K.-related events. But he insisted that the money was not a factor for him or other former officials who had taken up the cause. “There’s no way I would compromise my standing by expressing views I don’t believe in,” he said.

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Zio-Nazi threatens to cut off power, water to Gaza if unity government formed



Zio-Nazi regime warned on Saturday that it would cut the supply of water and electricity to the Gaza Strip if rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas form a unity government.

“The foreign ministry is examining the possibility of Israel pulling out of the Gaza Strip in terms of infrastructure,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told the daily Yediot Aharonot website.

A unity government deal “would transform the Palestinian Authority into a terrorist authority and would put an end to any hope for a peace agreement” with Israel, said Ayalon, who is also a Knesset deputy from the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.

On Friday, Zio-Nazi ministers decided to maintain a freeze on the transfer of tens of millions of dollars in tax monies to the Palestinian Authority hours after Palestinian president Mahmud Ab-A$$ held top-level talks with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal at which they announced a new era of “partnership.”

The transfer of funds, which make up a large percentage of the authority’s monthly budget, was frozen on November 1 as a punitive measure after the Palestinians won full membership of the UN cultural organisation.

“If the Palestinians have signed an agreement over a unity government, it would make a transfer of funds impossible,” a senior government official told AFP.

In January, Prime Minister Benjamin Naziyahu had already threatened to cut off water and power to Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas since 2008.

Zio-Nazi regime, which unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and dismantled illegal Jewish settlements in 2006, continues to supply the territory with water and 70 percent of its electrical power, the rest being supplied by neighbouring Egypt or local power plants.

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Government does not solve problems – it subsidizes them


The global economy is in “a devil of a mess” according to Ken Clarke, UK Justice Secretary.

Thank you Ken, we already knew. And we know that none of you in government have the foggiest clue how to put it right. You are working on old solutions to old problems, and no amount of history will provide the answer.

You haven’t yet worked out that we need new solutions to new problems.  Rapidly widening inequality, pointless wars, diminishing resources, climate change; all new problems needing new solutions. The history books won’t help us now. Taking the hard decisions will.

Problem – high inequality. The income gap had been closing since Victorian times, but now it’s widening at a terrifying pace. Top company executives are now earning more than 75 times the average wage. In 1980 it was about 13 times. The Green Party has long considered that 10 times is about right.

Average UK wages have increased threefold since 1980, the chief executive’s package at the now partly state-owned Lloyds Bank has increased by more than 3,000%. This is an astronomical pay rise for poor judgement, bad management, and downright fraud.

Tough talk about market forces is tantamount to bullying. The 1%ers are just well connected idiots whose proof of greed, mismanagement and foul play is on record. It’s time to call their bluff. The High Pay Commission recommends transparency, accountability and fairness I recommend pay cuts.

Problem – war.  There are always those who think wars can be a catalyst to move past a crisis. Military rhetoric surrounds us. War is not a tool to solve our current problems. It is an abhorrence. Mumblings about Iran grow louder. Israel and the US are about to start playing the war game entitled  Juniper Cobra 12 to check that their missiles can be properly co-ordinated in times of what can only be called blatant aggression.

Israel is a nuclear power and more than willing to use it (but that’s a secret of course). The US is a nuclear power and has already used it. What has Iran done to deserve our wrath- apart from not cowering to the whim of the West.

War with Iran will cost taxpayers dear. It will not solve our economic problems. It will make them worse. I recommend an outbreak of peace together with military spend being diverted to clean energy projects worldwide. The armed forces have the engineers, the logistics, the manpower.

Problem – diminishing resources. We cannot have unlimited economic growth in a world of finite resources.  Water scarcity looms. Land to grow unsustainable crops to feed and mobilise a massive increase in human numbers is in short supply, yet we cannot kick the old habits of thoughtless consumerism. We eat too much meat, use too much oil, pollute too much air. In short we are, unscrupulous, unethical, unsustainable. We have to change our ways and no government has the guts to tell the truth. Listen if you will to the tired old political rhetoric, but it won’t solve the problem. Lifestyle change will.

Problem – Climate change. It’s galloping up to us right now. Atmospheric CO2 has risen from 310 parts per million to an alarming 389 in just 50 years. Precious little is being done about it. NIMBY’s don’t like windmills, bird lovers don’t like them offshore; governments spend fortunes (of our money) promoting nuclear because it gives them weapons grade material. It seems everyone likes the dirtiest power source of all – coal. Or do they want magic? I recommend New Education  for all based on ethical lifestyle and hands-on problem solving.

For too long governments have been put into office by big money and big media to do their bidding. The people and the planet are not even second. They were not even on the agenda – until now.

Hat’s off to the Occupiers, to the Trade Unions, to the people waking up to the real world. We are on the agenda, and we might just write it!

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Say No To Herman Cain!


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Mahmoud El-Yousseph

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is like a devil who speaks with a forked tongue. A bigot like him is not entitled to hold the highest office in the land. His frequent public insults of Islam and America’s Muslims have crossed the line of decency.

Like every one else who listened to his dull, old, and boring speech last Friday in Orlando about the doctor who treated him for cancer, I could not get it off my mind!  In the event you missed it, Mr. Cain told his audience, “I was uncomfortable when assigned a surgeon with a foreign name.” Cain expressed his concern during his speech, adding that a surgeon who had once treated him was named “Dr. Abdallah.”

“I said to the physician’s assistant, ‘that sounds foreign, not that I had anything against foreign doctors, but it sounded too foreign.”‘

“She said, ‘He’s from Lebanon.’ Oh, Lebanon! My mind immediately started thinking, wait a minute, maybe his religious persuasion is different than mine!  She could see the look on my face and said, ‘Don’t worry Mr. Cain, he’s a Christian from Lebanon.’”

“Hallelujah!” said Cain, “thank God!”

For Mr. Cain to be elated when he learned that his Muslim -sounding doctor is in fact not Muslim strikes me as a racist, sad, and sick joke. This man should drop out of the presidential race and the Republican party should disown him permanently. First of all, there are many excellent foreign-born physicians and engineers making this nation a leader in these various fields. Just look at the list of Nobel laureates, the faculties of great universities and the owners of new businesses in America. Someone should tell Cain that the doctor who operated on Luciano Pavarotti, Al Roker and the doctor who treated President Bush Sr. at Walter Reed were born and bred outside the US. So was the doctor who first did minimally invasive cardiac surgery without stopping the heart. Not to mention the doctor who pioneered Robotic prostate surgery. These excellent physicians treat patients without asking their religion or personal family business or national origin. Mr. Cain insults not only these great human beings, but also their patients.

Not long ago, Mr Cain said  that he believed a majority of Muslims in America held “extremist views.” He claimed that was from his so-called Muslim adviser, but he refused to identify the name of his adviser. Last May, he stated that he would not allow a Muslim to work in his cabinet because of “creeping Shariah law,” but later apologized to Muslim leaders for his reckless remarks. A few months later, he retracted his apology by saying he would not “appoint a Jihadist” to his administration.

During the last GOP debate, responding to a question about racial profiling, he said he is all in favor of profiling male Muslim travelers,  insisting on calling it “targeted identification” and not  racial profiling.

What a moron…

So why does Mr. Cain insist on bashing Islam and Muslims? My cyberspace Jewish friend, Ruth Bernstein, explained his behavior and motive as such–

 ”Obviously the man is a fool.  He is doing this as a cheap publicity stunt to get himself more votes from the racist Muslim haters who think all Muslims are terrorists and had a hand in 9/11. It seems the world is full of these fools.”

Finally, on a lighter note, in the event any one ever wondered where did Mr. Cain came up with his so called Plan “9-9-9″, here is the answer– Once, the physically and morally repulsive Cain made advances on a German woman, his victim told him, “Nein! Nein!Nein!” In English: No, no, no!

With that in mind, I urge all my  fellow Americans to react the same way to Cain’s advances by saying no to the truly repulsive aspects of his demeanor, meaning his immoral, bigotted and hateful fear mongering.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph

Retired USAF Veteran

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Syria: 47 soldiers killed over weekend


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Syrian army suffers major blow as rat deserters mount deadly attacks against Assad’s combatants. Arab League discusses further sanctions on Damascus

The Syrian army has suffered a major blow this weekend with 47 soldiers killed in clashes with rat deserters since Thursday. Twenty-six soldiers were killed on Thursday, 13 on Friday and eight in the latest attack on Saturday.

A Mossad Syrian rights group said that at least 40 were injured when defectors mounted an attack in the Idlib region. According to the report, none of the rat deserters were hurt themselves. As many as 70 people were killed on Saturday alone, pro-Zionist human rights activists said. The Zionist rat Free Syrian Army, comprised of army defectors, claims to include 20,000 fighters led by Traitor Riyadh al-Asaad.

Arab finance ministers are currently meeting in Cairo to discuss economic sanctions on Damascus after it rejected a proposal to send hundreds of inspectors into Syria.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judah asked Arab League members to discuss sanctions while taking into consideration each country’s interests. He said that Jordan has prosperous trade ties with Syria and noted that many Jordanian students study in the country.   Earlier on Saturday, Syrian President Bashar Assad lashed out at his Turkish critics remarking that “some in Turkey are still clinging to the dream of reinstating the Ottoman Empire.”

The Turkish leaders, he added, “Know that this dream is impossible, so they are trying to exploit parties with a religious agenda to expand their influence on the Arab world.”

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Libya’s NATO Rat’s offer weapons to Syrian rebels




Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s NATO Rat’s on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned

At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.“There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.”The Telegraph has also learned that preliminary discussions about arms supplies took place when members of the Syrian National Council [SNC] – the country’s main opposition movement – visited Libya earlier this month.“The Libyans are offering money, training and weapons to the Syrian National Council,” added Wisam Taris, a human rights campaigner with links to the SNC.The disclosure came as rebels raided an air force base outside the city of Homs and killed six pilots, according to a statement by the country’s military.

Rebel attacks have become daily occurrences since the onset of the insurrection. The conflict has claimed at least 3,500 lives, mainly as part of a crackdown by the government.Syria’s regime has continued to defy pressure from the Arab League, ignoring yesterday’s deadline to accept the deployment of 500 human rights observers, raising the possibility that economic sanctions may be agreed this weekend.Last month, Libya’s interim government became the first in the world to recognise Syria’s opposition movement as the country’s “legitimate authority”.Large shipments of weapons have not yet been sent, said activists, mainly because of logistical difficulties.

But proposals for a “buffer zone” inside Syria, monitored by the Arab League, or the likely emergence of an area inside the country controlled entirely by rebels could solve this problem.“The [Libyan] council’s offer is serious,” said Mr Taris. Turkey, which has denounced President Assad’s regime, is already sheltering about 7,000 Syrian opposition activists, including the leader of the Free Syrian Army, the nascent rebel movement, in a “safe zone” along Turkey’s border with Syria.Sources in the Libyan town of Misurata suggested that some weapons may already have been sent. Some smugglers were caught selling small arms to Syrian buyers in Misurata, said a man who trafficked guns to Libya’s rebels during the country’s civil war.Post-conflict Libya is awash with arms, many of them taken from the vast military stores maintained by Col Mummar Gaddafi’s regime. Kalashnikov assault rifles, modern missiles and even tanks found their way into Libya.Libyans feel closely aligned to the Syrian cause, said Hameda al-Mageri, from the Tripoli Military Council. “Bashar sent Gaddafi weapons when he was fighting us.

There are hundreds of people who want to go to fight in Syria, or help in other ways if they can.”But Libyan officials deny the claims. “This is what you hear in the street,” said Ramadan Zarmoh, the leader of the Misurata military council. “Officially there is none of this. I would never send any fighters to fight outside the country.”Ministers from the Arab League are expected to meet in Cairo over the weekend to consider sanctions on Syria.David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, on Friday pledged to keep up talks with Syrian opposition groups in an attempt to support a transition to a stable democracy.“They were clear on the importance of the Syrian regime accepting the Arab League’s initiative to end the violence and they agreed on the need to continue talking to the Syrian opposition movements to support the transition to an inclusive and stable democracy,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

Measures under consideration are believed to include suspending all flights to Syrian airports, halting any transactions with the country’s central bank and freezing any Syrian government bank accounts. However, it remains unclear whether there is sufficient support to introduce them. Lebanon has publicly opposed sanctions.

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Assad: Turkey seeking to recapture imperial days


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Syrian president lashes out against Ankara’s criticism of his regime, says Turkey ‘still clinging to its dream of reinstating Ottoman Empire’


Syrian President Bashar Assad lashed out at his Turkish critics on Saturday, remarking that “some in Turkey are still clinging to the dream of reinstating the Ottoman Empire.”

The Turkish leaders, he added, “Know that this dream is impossible, so they are trying to exploit parties with a religious agenda to expand their influence on the Arab world.”

Speaking to the Arabic-language website Arab Press, Assad called on his supporters not to vandalize any Turkish symbols: “I ask you – don’t burn Turkish flags. The Turkish people are a proud nation.”  

Earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the diplomatic crisis between Damascus and Ankara was of Assad’s own making.

Turkey, he said, is “considering its options” vis-à-vis Syria, including imposing a no-fly zone and border buffer-zones.

Assad further lashed out at other Arab nations: “Those among our brothers who are showing us animosity will seek our forgiveness when the crisis is over,” he said, referring to the Arab League’s decision to suspend Syria following its failure to implement the League’s plan to end the unrest sweeping through the county.

“Syria will not abide conspiracies,” Assad hinted. “Once we emerge victorious from the current campaign, do not expect us to just sit idle by.”

Assad has ignored an Arab League deadline to accept international observers to oversee an initiative. The pan-Arab organization’s foreign ministers are set to meet later on Saturday to discuss imposing additional sanctions on the rogue leader’s regime.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


NBC and the Israel lobby

Nov 26, 2011

Philip Weiss

David L. Cohen, exec. vp of Comcast

Yesterday I did a shocked post about the fact that Ed Rendell, the telegenic former governor of Pennsylvania, a favorite of Chris Matthews and MSNBC, did a fundraiser for the Israeli army in Philadelphia, at which he said it was the obligation of American Jews to support Israel thru thick and thin. Help!

Well, my wife and I have a houseguest from Philly for Thanksgiving, and he shocked me a little bit more by telling me about David Cohen.

Cohen is Rendell’s longtime political guru, his David Axelrod. Cohen is executive vice president of Comcast, the company that bought NBC and MSNBC in 2009.

Not surprisingly, David Cohen is close to Barack Obama. A few months ago, he raised $1.2 million for Obama in a heartbeat, at his Philadelphia home.

Later in the evening, Comcast’s executive vice president, David L. Cohen, hosted about 120 people in his home for a dinner, each of the attendees giving at least $10,000 for Obama’s reelection campaign.

Like Ed Rendell, Cohen is pro-Israel. He is the former vice chair of the Jewish Federations in Philadelphia, a pro-Israel organization. Cohen was said by a Philadelphia Jewish publication to be “genetically hard-wired” to serve that role:

He believes that there is historic precedent for Jews “rallying to Federation” during times of crisis. “Whenever Israel’s physical security is threatened, people turn to Federation to provide support,” he says, adding “we must ignite this same Jewish passion to meet local needs addressed by Federation and its partner agencies.”

As the owner of NBC, Cohen sits at the right hand of his old friend, and Rendell’s old friend, Brian Roberts. Roberts’s father Ralph started Comcast, and Brian is today chairman of Comcast.

Big surprise– Brian Roberts is also very close to the president. Last summer Barack Obama visited Brian Roberts’s house on Martha’s Vineyard. The media industrial complex!

Is Roberts also pro-Israel? I don’t know, but I suspect he is; he participated in several Israeli athletic events in the 80s and 90s according to Wikipedia: the Maccabiah games, the Jewish Olympics. And he received an award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

What is the Israel lobby? It is the force inside our discourse that defends the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel, forever. Are all Jews part of the Israel lobby? Of course not. There is growing diversity inside the Jewish community, bucking the commandment, Thou must support Israel. But Ed Rendell is certainly part of the lobby, witness his participation in that Israeli army fundraiser. And I think Cohen is part of it, too, given his former role at the Federations. I don’t know about Roberts. But I wonder how he’d feel about, say, Palestinian solidarity types speaking on his network.

Guess what? About four months after Comcast bought NBC, Chris Matthews visited Israel. A year later he was back, and talking up Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Call me cynical, but this proves the old adage, Freedom of the press belongs to he who owns one. And it explains why Chris Matthews keeps his mouth shut on Israel/Palestine. Matthews is from Philadelphia. His brother lives in Chestnut Hill, not far from Brian Roberts and David Cohen. And Chris Matthews is a shrewdy, as my grandmother used to say.

Walter Russell Mead silenced Glenn Loury at bloggingheads the other day by saying it’s anti-semitic to speak about the Jewish presence in the media, and the Jewish presence in the Israel lobby. I would counter that while these issues are uncomfortable, responsible intellectuals simply cannot avoid them if they want to make sense of our society and our foreign policy. Brian Roberts and David Cohen are two of the most powerful figures in our media, they are both Jewish, and one of them has inhaled the pro-Israel religion, as has his dear friend, Ed Rendell, who is on their network all the time. Imagine for one minute if Catholics played this role in a media organization, and it was by and large against abortion. Would liberals be afraid to talk about religious identity and ideology? Of course not.

I hold my breath, Haaretz

Nov 26, 2011

Paul Mutter

I hold my breath, Haaretz, because of your new “Black Flag over Israeli Democracy” series.

This series is focused on undemocratic trends in Israel itself (and it does discuss theloyalty oaths and anti-NGO legislation) – but these are symptoms of the terminal illness that is “the settlements.” Your owner and publisher Amos Schocken (who is already crazy enough to let Gideon Levy and Amira Hass write for him) understands this:Zionism in Israel today does not require Democracy to function. The “Bloc of the Faithful” has to kill Israeli democracy to win: and that victory, Shocken says, will mean apartheid.

For in a world where every Arab and liberal is the enemy, Chemi Shalev writes, Democracy quickly becomes expendable, whether in the U.S. or Israel (just as in a world where minorities and secularist are targets of opportunity, human rights quickly becomeexpendable).

Jeffrey Goldberg praises Israel for being “a country in possession of a robustly independent judiciary; a boisterous, appropriately unkempt press; a mature and activist civil society; and an assortment of fearless and effective human rights organizations.” But the Occupation is undermining all of this (this year alone has seen the Israeli right working to undercut each and every one of the above points Goldberg makes in praise of Israeli democracy).

This is, of course, why I think the Occupation has to be discussed in-depth in this series as part of the “Black Flag over Israeli Democracy” – it is precisely why there are price taggers and settler constituencies – constituencies that now possess a plurality in the IDF – who could care less about judicial independence or press freedom when land is in question). Since the 1970s, it is they who have dominated Israeli politics – ironic (but not surprising) that a religious revival like the “Bloc of the Faithful” began at the same time Islamism and Evangelicalism entered their renaissance of (backwards-thinking) political potency. They are all related to one another. Their unity and patience, Schocken notes, in moving to make real their Greater Israel, Islamic Republic or New Jerusalem or whatever, is their greatest strength. And the end result need not be inclusive or tolerant.

Benny Gantz and Avidgor Lieberman are the new  faces of war, and of the political center of gravity in Israel. Their rise was always a potential outcome of history, and it seems to be the one in ascendance today. But even Lieberman’s secular jingoism is becoming anachronistic among the Israel right. Religion is trumping non-religious arguments about border defense, and has been for some time.

I think that no one wanted to believe that this ascendance was a possibility for Israel. The realization must be unpleasant for Israelis who consider themselves progressives: to think that the society built by Holocaust victims – even one built at others’ expense – could ever take steps against its own citizens that evoke memories of interwar European authoritarianism (and that of neighbording Syria and Egypt). That Israeli civil society could ever take on aspects of the tinplate tyranny enforced in the West Bank by Ramallah. That now Jewish women are being ordered to the back of the bus.

When I wrote an article on religious education and censorship in Israel this past summer, I compared the measures to an effort by the Iranian regime to ban the teaching of journalism on (wholly ficticious) religious grounds. At the time, I was concerned that in making the analogy, I was going way too far. But now, Bradley Burston – an American immigrant to Israel and a senior editor at Haaretz – is even more forcefully advancing the Iran analogies in his “A Special Place in Hell” column. I wrote an article examining the character of Yisrael Beitenu in light of people comparing Avigdor Lieberman to Stalin and Mussolini. Today, Netanyahu is being denounced in equally strong terms by Haaretz‘s editors as the man who will kill Israeli democracy.

What does this mean for the moribund “peace process” and the two-state solution? A one-state solution? It means that Vice Speaker Danny Danon’s “three-state solution” for annexing Judea and Samaria and sending recalcitrant Palestinians off to Egypt or Jordan is no longer a proposal that people can shake their heads at when he waxes on about it in The New York Times or on Fox News. It means the fulfillment of the Zionist enterprise may be approaching. Within Danon’s lifetime, the “mistake” of 1967 may indeed be rectified just as desires. Rick Santorum’s flub about how all West Bank residents are Israeli citizens may become reality – I will decline to speculate on what sort of “citizenship” it would constitute, though.

But even the Chairman of World Likud’s measure is insufficient for some ultra-Zionists. What about Gaza? What about the Sinai? Are they not part of Greater Israel too? When is the final line drawn? Can it be drawn?

Then, you must ask, who gets to live in Greater Israel? “Chosen” means just that. The settlers are the pioneers, the ones on the front lines fighting against the “threat” that is the ARAB (who is a FASCIST). The J14 demonstrators are contemptible hippies – and probably closest Islamists – for not seeking their housing relief via the hilltop stations of Judea and Samaria.

Go west, young man. It’s a war for civilization, and God is on our side. Amos Schocken expresses surprise that such a mentality could be so popular among Americans today, but to me, it is not in the least bit surprising. It is the American mentality. There’s a good example of this mentality in the U.S. that reflects on the challenges facing the J14 movement, and for those raising their voices against Israeli government censorship. American comic book legend Frank Miller, not known for his subtle views on Islam but known for his portrayal of Batman as a man fighting a corrupt oligarchy, has taken todemanding that the Occupy Wall Street protesters get off the streets and join the army because Islam (all all its adherents) are the real threat to our way of life.

I mention Mr. Miller’s tirade because I won’t be surprised when I read more and more pieces like them directed at J14 in the pages of other Israeli papers over the coming months. J14 will increasingly be castigated as Hamas’s useful idiots, just as Mr. Miller has castigated OWS as al Qaeda’s useful idiots. Except it won’t be some comic book artist saying it. It will be a member of Netanyahu’s inner circle. I hold my breath that the men and women from Rothschild Boulevard can open people’s eyes to the moral and fiscal bankruptcy of their government, a government that is the vehicle of the settlers’ agenda.

Who is in and who is out? Gideon Levy and Amira Hass are not exactly going to be welcome in a unified Jerusalem (Amos Shocken won’t be too popular either). Joe Dana is not going to be welcome either: “bi-national types need not apply.” Peace Now is a virus, the Israeli left is a cancer. B’tselem is being funded by Durban Conference blood money. Hemingway’s “On the Quai at Smyrna” shows the way for Avigdor Lieberman.Ahmadinejad = Hitler, and Abbas > HitlerWhat’s next? A Call of Duty: Gaza installment?

Aziz Abu Sarah is right. Autocracy is ascendant. And the U.S. is their collective enabler. Arms sales are the crack cocaine of international relations, and Israeli hawks know just how to make Washington dance.

Perhaps things will change (for even the Washington Post can have a spasm of praise for nonviolent Palestinian activists, and a “pinkwashing” critic got an op-ed in the Times) as more and more Israelis wake up to the reality that their country is being hijacked.Haaretz is awake, to say the least.

Let us be wrong. Let Bradley Burston be wrong, and Gideon Levy and Joe Dana, too. And especially let Zygmunt Bauman be wrong. Phil said it of the Times regarding the “pinkwashing” piece: put our website out of business. Forty years from now I want us to be regarded as jeremiads who failed to see that what we we argued were grave portents for Israeli democracy actually marked the last gasps of the far right and the Orthodox establishment’s political stranglehold on Israel and the Occupied Territories.

No black flags of any kind over Israel, or green flags or blue flags. And certainly not a white one run up by Israeli progressives.

I’m still holding my breath.

In 5 days the Sumarin family will be evicted from Jerusalem home they have lived in for decades

Nov 26, 2011


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Settlement museum bill might signal annexation plan
JPost 25 Nov — The Knesset will soon hold its first reading of a bill that would place West Bank settlement museums under Israeli law, but the legislation seeks much more than that. On the surface of it, the bill is about museum funding and allows those institutions to apply for government money on an equal footing with museums within the pre-Six Day War armistice line. But the bill’s author, MK Uri Ariel (National Union), has been blunt about his plan to annex Judea and Samaria through a de facto legislative process, by which each Israeli law would be amended to apply to West Bank settlements. At present, they are under military law.
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Pushing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem, one family at a time
AIC 23 Nov — In five days, the Sumarin family–who live in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan–will lose their home. For decades, the Sumarins have lived in Wadi Helweh, at the entrance of Silwan, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. But one week ago, the family received an order telling them they must leave. If they don’t, they will face eviction by force. Himnuta, a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund (JNF-KKL), justifies the transfer by saying that the family lives in the house illegally. Himnuta claims that the building belongs to them. “In 1984, my great grandfather Musa Abdullah, the owner of the house, died,” Mahmoud Sumarin explains to the Alternative Information Center (AIC), “He had a Jerusalem blue ID. His nephew and his family have been living here since his death. How did this property became an absentee property? How can it be confiscated?”
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Friday prayers held at the Samrin family home threatened with confiscation
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 Nov — Dozens of local Silwan Palestinians held the Friday prayers today at the house of the Samrin family in the Wadi Hilwa to the south of the Aqsa Mosque. The Samrin family home is threatened with confiscation by settler organisations. The function was called for by the Committee to Defend Silwan Real Estate … [Lawyer Ahmad Al-Ruwaidi] said that holding the Friday prayers there is one of the activities approved by the meeting of Jerusalemite activists to prevent the eviction of the family from its home, in addition to following the matter in courts of law through the family lawyer. Ruwaidi added that the matter is not a legal one but a political one through which the occupation forces are trying to control all the area surrounding the old city, especially that which is adjacent to the Aqsa Mosque.
Link to Palestinian Information Center

Stop the expulsion: a call to Americans and Internationals / Moriel Rothman
AIC 24 Nov — Remember dropping pennies into those blue JNF/KKL boxes in your synagogue and Jewish Community Center when you were growing up? On November 28th, the pennies dropped into those blue boxes- and the JNF/KKL under the guise of “Himnuta”- will begin the process of expelling a Palestinian family, the Sumarin family, from their home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
What is Himnuta: According to this article: “The JNF established Himnuta in the 1930s, mainly to circumvent legal restrictions on its own land dealings. For instance, Himnuta can buy lands as an investment or exchange lands with Arab dealers, both of which are forbidden for the JNF.” Over the past few decades, Himnuta has purchased and continues to purchase territory over the green line.
Another settler organization – what’s the big deal? The big deal is this: Himnuta is not an independent company. Himnuta is part of the JNF. How is that possible? The JNF’s policy is that is doesn’t buy land over the green line. Exactly.
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Hamas, Islamic Jihad rally for Jerusalem
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Nov  — Islamic Jihad and Hamas organized mass rallies in Gaza City on Friday demanding protection of Jerusalem’s Palestinian character and Muslim holy sites. After Friday prayers, Jihad supporters marched from al-Abbas mosque in the city, and Hamas gathered in Palestine Square, including Prime Minister in the Gaza-based government Ismail Haniyeh. Jerusalem is in danger and the Islamic community should stand together to support the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City, Islamic Jihad official Sheikh Nafeth Azzam told the rally.
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Israeli desert plan would uproot 30,000 Bedouin
AL-ARAKIB, Israel (Reuters) 23 Nov — Bulldozed by Israel more than two dozen times, a village known by Bedouin Arabs as al-Arakib is one of many ramshackle desert communities whose names have never appeared on any official map. If Israel’s parliament adopts proposed new legislation, it never will … The project is the most ambitious attempt in decades by the government to resettle Negev Bedouin and free up land in the largely open spaces of southern Israel for development and construction of military bases to replace facilities in the crowded center of the country. Some Israelis argue the Bedouin have grown too dominant in the Negev, a geographic area wedged between Gaza and the West Bank, and that they pose a possible security risk … For decades, Israeli governments have tried to attract Jewish Israelis to move to the Negev, offering mortgage and tax breaks, but the region has fewer opportunities for employment than in the heavily populated center of the country.
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Operation Dove: Two Palestinian girls arrested during home demolitions
HEBRON (WAFA) 24 Nov — Israeli army broke in the village of Umm Fagarah demolishing several huts and detaining two girls in the village of At-Tuwani, southeast of Hebron, Thursday said a press release by Operation Dove. It said two bulldozers arrived in the village, escorted by five military vehicles, and without showing any demolition order; the army demolished two houses, a mosque, a barn and a structure containing the generator… While the inhabitants rushed from neighboring villages to watch the going on, the two girls were kneeled on the ground by the soldiers. Ignoring the request of the Palestinians to be able to rescue the rabbits [often raised for food in the WB], the Israeli army tore down the barn injuring and killing the animals. After the demolitions, the army took away the two girls without providing any explanation on the charges.
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IOF troops demolish mosque near Yatta, arrest two girls
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 25 Nov — IOF troops on Thursday demolished a mosque after storming Khirbat al-Mafqara to the east of the town of Yatta in the southern West Bank district of al-Khalil [Hebron].  Local sources said that the IOF troops raided the village and demolished the small mosque which occupies a 50 square meter area. They also demolished a home housing 10 people and another housing 14 people, 4 of them disabled. The occupation troops also demolished a shed housing an electric generator and an animal farm.  The sources added that the occupation forces arrested Amal Hamamda (17 years) and Sawsan Tahan (19 years) and broke the leg of a woman.
IOF troops also handed a number of residents of Khirbet al-Deirat to the east of Yatta demolition notices, and handed summonses to a number of residents of east Yatta to attend interviews with intelligence officers.
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Israeli forces demolish car shop in West Bank village
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 Nov — Israeli forces Thursday demolished a car repair shop owned by two Palestinian brothers in the village of Um Safa, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, claiming it was built without permit, according to witnesses. They said that Israeli forces stormed the village in the early morning hours, imposed a military cordon  around the shop, which was owned by Mohammad and Ra’aft Sbaih, before demolishing it. The brothers said they had a permit from the Palestinian Authority. Mohammad Sbaih told WAFA that soldiers beat him and his brother for protesting the demolition of their shop, prevented them from removing their shop equipment before it was demolished, and detained them during the process of the demolition. He said Israel had demolished part of his family home three years ago although it was also licensed.
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Israel ‘demolishes wells, structures near Hebron’
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished three wells and part of a home west of Hebron, witnesses said. Haitham Awwad, a resident of al-Bass near Idhna, told Ma‘an that an Israeli force arrived with a bulldozer and demolished a well and three rooms of a home belonging to farmer Abdul Hafith Awwad. The forces also destroyed two wells belonging to Abdul Rahman Faraj Allah and Ahmad Faraj Allah, he said. Awwad said the wells were located near Israel’s separation wall inside the southern West Bank, in an area with many natural springs. Israel confiscated water from the springs for use by Israeli citizens, he added.
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Israeli forces

PCHR Weekly Report: 3 civilians wounded, 19 arrested in 68 Israeli invasions this week [17-23 November]
IMEMC 25 Nov — Israeli attacks in the West Bank: Israeli forces conducted 66 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they abducted at least 19 Palestinians, including 4 children. Israeli forces raided the houses of a number of Palestinians who were released recently from Israeli jails, delivered them notices to appear before the Israeli intelligence and threatened some of them. Israeli soldiers arrested at least 5 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, at a checkpoint in the West Bank. There are approximately 500 kilometers of restricted roads across the West Bank. In addition, approximately one third of the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, is inaccessible to Palestinians without permits issued by Israeli forces. Such permits are extremely difficult to obtain.
Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip: In the Gaza Strip, on 23 November 2011, Israeli forces positioned in observation towers near Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing, in the north of the Gaza Strip, opened fire at a number of Palestinians who were hunting birds in the ex-settlement of “Nissanit”, 300 meters from the border, in the northeast of the Bedouin village, north of the Gaza Strip. The bird hunters were forced to flee but no casualties were reported.
[and much more — see here for full report]
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[Settlers attack Lubban village]
PIC 25 Nov — …Meanwhile, settlers from the Eli settlement attacked the village of Lubban close to the settlement, assaulted property belonging the family of Daraghma and uprooted a number of olive trees…
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Settlers break into Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 24 Nov — A number of Jewish settlers Thursday at dawn broke into Joseph’s Tomb, east of the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank, according to security sources. They told WAFA that about 14 buses carrying settlers broke into the Tomb and performed rituals and prayers under the protection of the Israeli army…
Security sources said the Israeli army raided Nablus, searched Palestinian homes and arrested one Palestinian from Ein Beit al-Maa’ camp. Witnesses said the army intensified its presence and military operations at checkpoints surrounding the city and inspected Palestinians’ identification papers.
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Yasam officer to face disciplinary trial for kicking settler
Ynet 21 Nov — Police Investigations Unit recommends to try Refael Cohen for striking female settler during outpost evacuation. Officer probed for past offences, forced to pay compensation for slapping protester in 2002
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Police to compensate man hurt in anti-Gaza pullout rally
Ynet 24 Nov — The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Thursday ordered a former cop, Eliran Avraham, to pay NIS 7,000 (about $1,900) in damages to a protester that he hit during a rally against the Gaza disengagement.
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VIDEO: Organized chaos and bare life (*): the non-story of the night raids / Noam Sheizaf
972mag 24 Nov — There exists a general, intentional, cleverly constructed misunderstanding surrounding the true nature of the Israeli occupation. Some say it’s a simple dispute over land, like many others in the world; other think the conflict is about national independence for the Palestinians, prompting statements like, “The Basques and the Kurds aren’t independent either, so why do people pick on Israel?” But the occupation is something else. It is the ongoing military control over the lives of millions, and everything that comes with it: The lack of civil rights, the absence of legal protection, and perhaps more than anything else, a sense of organized chaos, in which the lives of an entire civilian population is run at the mercy of soldiers 18 to 20 years old. Most of the time, it’s almost hard to explain how bad it is for those who haven’t seen it with their own eyes … The army enters Palestinian homes as it pleases, day or night. No warrant is needed, just like you don’t need a warrant to arrest a Palestinian (even a minor). Once the soldiers are in the house, the nature of the interaction between them and the family living there depends on their good or ill will – and in the 44 years of the occupation, we have had everything: from “polite” visits, to beatings and cursing, all the way up to the murder of civilians in their beds. A Palestinian is never safe – not even in his own home.
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Jeffrey Goldberg syndrome: downplaying the occupation
AIC 24 Nov — It’s too easy to lose sight of what occupation means for Palestinians. It’s especially easy when we focus on the splashier, violent atrocities, to forget that military occupation is, above all else, a permanent state of being. Even those whose days are ‘uneventful’ for local reporters, are still living under a terrible burden. This is a mistake commonly reinforced by the liberal, so-called ‘pro-Israel’ crowd.
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Israel ‘set new restrictions’ on Gaza business owners
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) 24 Nov — Israel has set new restrictions on business owners in Gaza, the head of Palestinian contractors said Thursday. At a news conference in Gaza City, Osama Kahil said conditions were more difficult despite a recent meeting between businessmen from Gaza and Israeli officials. “Media reports said the meeting between businessmen from Gaza and Israel resulted in facilitating the work for the Gazan businessmen, but Israel implemented that in its own way. “Israel stopped issuing permits for businessmen, traders, and contractors to Israel and set some new restrictions that prevented them from continuing their work,” Kahil said. He said Israel had permitted the import of construction materials into the Gaza Strip “to recycle the blockade.” Allowing construction materials, which are sold for a much higher price than those sent through tunnels, was done after Israeli traders pressured the government. They want to use us and keep the blockade on Gaza,” Kahil said.
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Video: Hamas looks for ways to raise revenue
Al Jazeera 25 Nov — Gaza’s summer tourist season is over. It is also the end of a taxing season for the owners of the beach cafes who are being charged thousands of dollars in fees – up to three times more than what they were paying when the Palestinian Authority was in government. Analysts say Hamas appears to short of cash because of irregular donations from donor countries like Iran and Syria. Now Hamas is cracking down on banks and big business who have not paid millions in taxes – because of a directive from Fatah. Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza.
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IOF troops arrest a number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem
NABLUS (PIC) 25 Nov — IOF troops raided the village of Beit Fourik to the east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus and arrested a young man. The family of the young man does not know where their son was taken to … Local sources said that IOF troops entered the village of Beit Fourik about 1:30 am last night and raided the home of a resident from the Mulitat family and took away their son who is in his twenties. The forces then withdrew from the village without any further arrests or home raids, especially that the village was subjected a few days ago to a campaign of arrests that affected a number of its young people.
Furthermore, IOF troops arrested on Friday morning two Palestinians from Beit Hanina to the north of Jerusalem and Silwan to the south of the Aqsa Mosque. Local sources said that IOF troops raided the home of Haytham Shukri Taha at dawn and took him to the Maskoubeyya interrogation and detention centre in Jerusalem. IOF troops also arrested Talab Idris (46 years) from the Thawri neighbourhood of Silwan to the south of the Aqsa Mosque after raiding ransacking his home. They also confiscated his mobile phones.
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IOA extends administrative detention of Palestinian MP
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 24 Nov —  The Israeli occupation authority extended the administrative detention, without trial or charge, of Palestinian MP Mohammed Bader for four months for the third consecutive time. The office of Hamas lawmakers in the West Bank denounced the step in a statement on Wednesday, describing it as a systematic policy being practiced by the IOA against the duly elected representatives of the people … Bader, 55, has spent more than 100 months in IOA jails in separate intervals. He has a doctorate in Islamic Sharia and worked as a lecturer at Al-Khalil University.
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Israel detains 8 people in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — Israeli soldiers detained eight people in overnight raids across the West Bank, the Israeli army said Thursday. A military spokeswoman said soldiers detained four people in Nablus, two in Nabi Saleh near Ramallah, one from Ramallah and one from Hebron.
Residents of Ein Beit el Mai refugee camp told Ma‘an that soldiers detained Hamza Abu Khamis, 24, and Jaafar al-Mabrouk, 22, from their homes after soldiers ransacked several houses in the camp.
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Israeli soldiers prevent Palestinians from preparing for the cold
JENIN (WAFA) 24 Nov — Israeli forces prevented Thursday , under gunpoint, prisoners in Al-Naqab (Negev) prison from fixing their tents, in preparation for the coming cold, according to witnesses. A prisoner said that Israeli soldiers, under gunpoint, threatened to shoot them if they continue to repair the tents, prompting the prisoners inside the prison to declare a state of alert. Al-Naqab Prisoners’ families called on all humanitarian organizations to stand by them and put pressure on Israel to allow them to set up new tents, especially that they suffer from terrible conditions in winter due to the cold weather and the lack of blankets.
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For one Palestinian, freedom is more dangerous than prison / Gideon Levy
Hani Jaber, a Palestinian convicted of murder who was released in the Shalit deal, doesn’t dare return to his home in Hebron: Settlers are threatening to kill him — …In a country where a respected MK can allow himself to preach murder (“Blessed shall be the hands that will kill the released murderers,” said MK Aryeh Eldad of National Union the day after the prisoners’ release, and no one thought he should be put on trial ), Jaber is a marked man. In a country in which settlers can take out a contract on a released prisoner – a reward of $100,000 has been offered for information on Jaber’s whereabouts, and in Hebron there are posters in Hebrew and Arabic urging people to come forward with information about him – Jaber is apparently living on borrowed time.
Jaber has blood on his hands. Eighteen years ago, as a high-school student who had undergone frequent abuse and attacks by settlers and seen his family similarly treated, he took a kitchen knife and murdered the settler Erez Shmuel who, he said, had attacked his younger sister.
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Political / Diplomatic / International

Palestinian factions set election date
Al Jazeera 24 Nov — Abbas and Meshaal agree to hold polls in May following meeting in Cairo to iron out Hamas-Fatah differences. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, hailed a new “partnership” after Thursday’s talks in the Egyptian capital, their first working meeting since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007. The two have agreed on releasing Hamas and Fatah members held by the other side, on the election preparations and on the reinforcement of “the popular confrontations against the Israeli occupation”, Azzam el-Ahmad, a senior Fatah leader attending the talks, said. Abbas, who heads Fatah, said: “There are no more differences between us now. We have agreed to work as partners with joint responsibility.” For his part, Meshaal said: “We want to assure our people and the Arab and Islamic world that we have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything do to with the Palestinian nation.”
Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said the question of how this unity government would be formed “remains the sticking point”. “[The leaders] said they will have a meeting on December 20 to discuss that,” she said. “Then on December 22, all Palestinian factions will meet in Cairo to try to come up with a plan on how to reform the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. “All these issues were on the table in May earlier this year and they are still on the table now. But it does seem that there is a renewed impetus to try to get some movement on the issue of the Palestinian elections and to try to end this very long divide between Hamas and Fatah.”
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Official: Fatah asks Hamas to free 47 prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Nov — Hamas has been given a list of 47 political prisoners that Fatah wants the Islamist movement to release from jails in the Gaza Strip, a top Fatah official said Friday. Zakaria al-Agha says Hamas also produced a list of political prisoners to President Mahmoud Abbas, who agreed to a request to free them during talks with Hamas’ Khalid Mashaal. The issue of political prisoners has been a sticking point between the rival factions, with each routinely accusing the other’s security forces of making arrests based on politics, not criminality.
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Mashaal: Israel’s threats on reconciliation ‘don’t scare us’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Nov — Exiled Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal said Friday that Israeli threats after reconciliation talks with Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas “would not scare us but rather assure us that reconciliation is the right track for the Palestinian people.” … Israel opposes the deal and warned that Abbas would have to chose between peace with Israel and reconciliation with Hamas.
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Resheq criticises US position on Palestinian reconciliation
CAIRO (PIC) 24 Nov — Member of Hamas’s political bureau Ezzat Al-Resheq expressed his dismay at the US negative position towards the reconciliation meeting slated to be held soon in Cairo between Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and de facto president Mahmoud Abbas.
link to Palestinian Information Center

Israeli minister seeks Palestinian clans rather than Palestinian state / Sergio Yahni
AIC 24 Nov — Faced with the scenario of the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli Transport Minister Israel Katz heads to the West Bank, with the Shabak in tow, to talk with local leaders about the possibility of setting up village councils rather than an autonomous state … this means returning to the idea of  ‘village leagues’, which were established in the occupied territories with the encouragement of Ariel Sharon and Professor Menachem Milson. The military government adviser on Arab affairs in the West Bank, Milson, who later served as the chief of the Civil Administration, assumed that the leagues would replace the PLO.
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Fayyad: PA close to breakdown after tax block
OSLO (Reuters) 24 Nov — The Palestinian Authority is “fast approaching the point of being completely incapacitated” by Israel’s refusal to hand over tax revenues belonging to the authority, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Thursday. Israel’s freeze on the taxes and fees it collects for the Palestinian Authority at borders has deprived the government of two-thirds of its normal revenue since Nov. 1, making it hard to pay salaries and fix infrastructure, Fayyad said. “This is our money,” he said. “It has nothing to do with donor assistance or anything like that.”
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UK envoy warns Israel tax freeze a humanitarian risk
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — The UK’s top diplomat to the Palestinians said Thursday that Israel’s hold on Palestinian tax revenues could be illegal under international humanitarian law. If Israel continues to freeze tax payments, it will endanger services such as medical care and programs for children, consul-general in Jerusalem Vincent Fean told reporters. “Israel may face valid accusations from the international community that through its (tax hold) it has violated its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention,” Fean said.
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Palestinian flag to fly at UNESCO Thursday
NEW YORK (Ma‘an) 24 Nov — For the first time, the Palestinian flag will be raised this week in front of the UNESCO building in Paris acknowledging Palestine’s admission, the ambassador to the UN said Wednesday. Riyad Mansour says Elias Sunbor, the Palestinian envoy in Paris, will raise the flag Thursday. Mansour told Ma‘an the leadership in Ramallah was studying several options on how to proceed with initiatives in the UN, including a request for a vote on admission in the Security Council.
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Other news

Sinai forces on high alert over Jihad threat
Ynet 25 Nov — Egyptian security forces on Friday raised the alert level to an unprecedented level in the al-Arish area in northern Sinai after they received information that Jihad [?] members are planning on carrying out an attack on the local security headquarters, the Ma‘an news agency reported Friday.
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Report: Saboteurs blow up Egypt gas pipeline
CAIRO (Reuters) 25 Nov — Saboteurs blew up a gas pipeline 60 km west of the Egyptian town of al-Arish in northern Sinai on Friday, the latest in series of attacks, state news agency MENA reported. The blast caused little damage and did not start a fire because little gas was flowing through the pipeline at the time due to repair work from a previous attack, MENA said. The pipeline, which supplies gas to Israel and Jordan, was last attacked on Nov. 10. No group has claimed responsibility for the sabotage.
Egypt has a 20-year deal to export natural gas deal to Israel. It is unpopular with the Egyptian public and critics say Israel does not pay market rates for the gas.
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A fence, not a solution / Shuki Sadeh
Haaretz 25 Nov — The flood of media reports on the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit neglected one detail: The day before the prisoner exchange went through, scores of African labor migrants that had been detained in the Saharonim prison in the Negev appeared on the streets of South Tel Aviv. In order to make room at Saharonim for Hamas prisoners awaiting release in exchange for Shalit, the security establishment had freed the migrants, who scattered around Israel. It probably won’t be long until Saharonim fills up again. It already has 80 new labor migrants who were caught on Highway 10, near the Israeli-Egyptian border, a week after Shalit’s release. These kind of events occur daily, and are not reported in the media.
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Catholics, Muslims pursue dialogue in tense Mideast
BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN, Jordan (Reuters) 25 Nov — Only five years ago, critical remarks by Pope Benedict about Islam sparked off violent protests in several Muslim countries. Never very good, relations between the world’s two largest religions sank to new lows in modern times. This week, while protesters in the Arab world were demanding democracy and civil rights, Catholics and Muslims met along the Jordan River for frank and friendly talks about their differences and how to get beyond their misunderstandings. The Catholic-Muslim Forum, which grew out of the tensions following Benedict’s speech in the German city of Regensburg, was overshadowed by events in Egypt, Yemen and Syria. The lack of any dramatic news here reflected the progress the two sides have made since 2006.
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UK says 122 million pounds set for Palestinians
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — The United Kingdom has announced that its financial support of the Palestinian Authority is likely to reach £122 million ($200 million) over the next three years. The British Consulate in Jerusalem said in a statement Wednesday that this support comes to help the government provide basic public services and to reduce poverty in the Palestinian territories. The consulate pointed out that the aid will support 7,500 children in primary school, vaccinating 2,000 children under the age of 5 against measles, and supporting 7,000 poor Palestinians through annual cash transfers.
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State drops case against Carmel Fire suspects
Ynet 25 Nov — The State Prosecutor’s Office decided Thursday to drop the case against two teens who were suspected of accidentally causing the massive

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Zio-Nazi abduct two children on their way home from school


Silwan, occupied Jerusalem

 Two children on their way home from school were abducted by Zio-Nazi Gestapo on the afternoon of 22 November. Omar Amer Abu Madi, 11, and Ala’ Salah Abu Madi, 11, both from Al-Hara al-Wasta neighborhood, were snatched on the street by Zio-Nazi officers and taken to an undisclosed location.

The children were said by one of their fathers to have been visibly panicked by the surprise arrest. The two have most likely been taken to Nazi police station such as that in Salah al-Din Street of East Jerusalem

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