Archive | January 14th, 2012




ed note–remember as we watch all the hooplah surrounding this latest video folks–(a) what more would we expect from a country that has killed over a million innocent civilians and destroyed 3 Islamic countries for Israel’s benefit, and (b) all the outrage only works in the interests of those wanting wat between the Islamic and western worlds, as it fuels anger and thus insurgencies, which is in effect like throwing gasolene on the fire. As events have proven, if there is a story that the JMSM does NOT want getting out, (USS LIBERTY, the Mossad agents arrested on 9/11, etc) it does NOT get out, which means that this latst outrage is only being discussed because the aforementioned JMSM wants it to.


The U.S. Marine Corps took a first, formal step on Friday toward possible charges against four Marines who, in a widely circulated video, appear to be urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

It named a lead investigating officer whose job will include deciding what charges, if any, would be brought against the four men, all of whom have been identified, a Marine Corps official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The move came as a top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan ordered troops to “treat the living and the dead with dignity and respect.”

“Defiling, desecrating, mocking, photographing or filming for personal use insurgent dead constitutes a grave breach of the (law of armed conflict),” Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti, who heads day-to-day Afghan operations, wrote in a letter to troops dated January 12 and seen by Reuters on Friday.

The Pentagon has acted quickly to respond to the video, a move Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top U.S. officials hope will limit the fallout.

The video is likely to stir up already strong anti-U.S. sentiment in Afghanistan after a decade of a war that has seen past cases of abuse. That could complicate efforts to promote reconciliation as foreign troops gradually withdraw, although a Taliban spokesman said on Thursday it would not harm nascent efforts to broker peace talks.

The video, posted on YouTube and other websites, shows four Marines in camouflage combat uniforms urinating on three corpses. One of them jokes: “Have a nice day, buddy.” Another makes a lewd joke.

Reuters has been unable to verify the dead men were indeed Taliban fighters but the Marine Corps said the video appeared to depict “several dead Taliban.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned the video, describing the men’s actions as “inhuman” and calling for an investigation.

None of the suspects has been detained, the Corps official said. At least two are still part of the same unit involved in the video – the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, based out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, a second official told Reuters.

That unit served in Afghanistan’s Helmand province from March to September 2011, the second official said.

Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos said in a statement on Friday he would not “rest until the allegations and the events surrounding them have been resolved.”


Panetta telephoned Karzai to denounce the behavior in the video as “deplorable,” and General Martin Dempsey, the top U.S. military officer, said the actions depicted were illegal.

It is likely others will be brought into the investigation, including the person who filmed the desecration of the dead and whoever else may have been watching off-camera.

The Corps said the lead investigating officer, known as the “Consolidated Disposition Authority,” was Lieutenant General Waldhause, the commander of Marine Corps Forces Central Command.

“The danger obviously is this kind of video could be misused in many ways not only to undermine what we are trying to do in Afghanistan but undermine the potential for reconciliation. There is a danger there,” Panetta told reporters on Thursday.

“But I think if we move quickly – if we conduct this investigation and hold these people accountable – we send a clear signal to the world that the U.S. is not going to tolerate that kind of behavior and it doesn’t represent the United States as a whole.”

Officials told Reuters the Marine Corps is confident the video is authentic.

News of the footage had yet to really spread in Afghanistan – a country where a minority has access to electricity and the Internet is limited to a tiny urban elite.

Anti-American feeling has boiled over or been whipped up into violence several times in Afghanistan in recent years. Protests over reports of the desecration of the Muslim holy book have twice sparked deadly riots.




Naomi Mahfud and Revital Shapira, two women who belong to a small group of...

Veiled women, radical rabbis and gender segregation: Israel is facing a rise in the influence of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Their efforts to impose a strictly conservative worldview have led to growing tensions with the country’s secular society. A resolution to the conflict is vital for Israel’s future.

Outside is the Judean Wilderness, the Dead Sea shimmers in the distance. Naomi Machfud is sitting inside the self-built house, dreaming about making the world disappear. She wants to cover up her face with a veil, she says, her mouth, her nose and her eyes. A black veil, without even a vision slit, one that swallows every glance and submerges the world in darkness. The veil is the pinnacle of zniut, or modesty, the closest a person can get to God. But, she says with a sigh, “unfortunately I’m not that far yet.”

But Machfud, a 30-year-old woman with six children, has already created an insulating layer of material between herself and the outside world. She is wearing a wool robe, an apron, a blouse, three floor-length corduroy skirts, a black skirt and trousers. She has a piece of black wool material wrapped loosely around her head. Underneath it is a tight, black veil, and underneath that is a pale pink veil. Not a single hair is visible. She is wearing a pair of earrings, but she takes them off when she leaves the house.

Machfud is a Jewish woman married to a Jewish man. They live in a settlement in the West Bank, but she dresses as if she lived in Afghanistan. In Israel, the veiled women are referred to as the “Taliban,” while they refer to themselves as women of the shawl. Machfud claims that there are thousands of women like her, but it is more likely that they number in the hundreds. They are usually seen in Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox Me’ah She’arim neighborhood, black, shapeless figures, holding the hands of their daughters, who look like miniature versions of their mothers.

One could call these women crazy. Or one could see them as the product of a religious community that is becoming more and more extremist.

Gender Separation in Public

The ultra-religious are gaining power throughout the Middle East, including in Israel, where radical rabbis are expanding their influence. This is especially clear when it comes to women. Ironically, it is in Israel, a country that was already being run by a woman, Golda Meïr, in the 1970s, and where women fly fighter jets, that Jewish fundamentalists are trying to bring about gender separation in public — in elections, on buses and in the street — all in the name of a morality that is supposedly agreeable to God. Until now, this trend has been most noticeable in Jerusalem, in Beit Shemesh and in Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, the country’s ultra-orthodox strongholds. But increasingly it is becoming apparent in places where secular Israelis live.

Even a former head of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, is now warning that the ultra-orthodox are a bigger threat to the country than the Iranian nuclear program. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently that the conditions in Jerusalem remind her of Iran.

The odd coexistence of religion and democracy in the Jewish state was long unproblematic. But now the consequences are becoming clear, the signs of fatigue of an overstressed country, a country that is both a democracy and an occupying power, a high-tech nation in which a portion of the population still lives as if it were the 19th century, and a country that accepts immigrants from around the world, provided they are Jews, while at the same time mercilessly deporting refugees. As such, the settlers are, on the one hand, increasingly exhibiting a Messianic nationalism while, on the other hand, the ultra-orthodox pursue a fundamentalism hostile to the state.

Naomi Machfud says that she feels good in her headscarf and multiple skirts. So good, in fact, that she claims she doesn’t even sweat during the summer, at 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). She huddles on a worn sofa and tries to explain how it all began, with her and the veil. It is a story consisting of fragments and allusions, and it begins with a Jewish girl from New York who feels empty and spends her time in the streets, until she goes to Israel at 15 to attend an orthodox seminar. She becomes religious and, encouraged by the rabbis, starts wearing more and more clothing.

 ’Some Men Don’t Like It’

Her rabbi was supposed to explain why exactly women are doing this, but he cancelled the meeting at the last minute. At the moment, it is not advisable to openly support the Taliban women, because a few of the ultra-orthodox have just imposed a new rule on them, which they announce in wall newspapers: “You may not cover yourself in abnormal and peculiar clothing, including veils, especially if your husband is against it.”

Machfud smiles a Mona Lisa smile. “Some men don’t like it,” she says. “Suddenly we’re more religious than they are.” Therefore she is now trying to explain it all herself, and to support her argument she has placed a tattered book on the table. The title is “World of Purity,” a bestseller in the ultra-orthodox community. She flips through images of women from past centuries, most of them Jewish, from Yemen, Morocco and Greece, but also of Amish women and Arab women. They all have one thing in common: the large, dark robes they wear, often including a face veil. This is how it was in the past, says Machfud, and it’s how it should be again today.

Orthodox Jewish women wear long-sleeved blouses and skirts, and they cover their hair. But this doesn’t go far enough for Machfud. She says that she sees too much fashionable clothing, garments that are too tight, too pretty and too indecent. The women, she says, attract looks that should be reserved for the husband. In her view, this leads to sin, and as long as there is sin, the Messiah cannot appear.

“Would you wear a diamond in the market? No, you would hide it at home,” adds Revital Shapira, 46, a woman with eight children who is sitting next to Machfud, her body covered in black, floor-length skirts, shawls and headscarves.

Shapira also found religion later than most. She studied literature and only became a Taliban woman after she had given birth to an autistic boy and a girl with heart disease.

 ’Little House’ Crossed with Saudi Arabia

As different as they are — Machfud soft and pretty, Shapira ideological and contrary — both women want to live in a world in which women do housework, have children and leave their homes as little as possible. They envision a world without computers and washing machines, with organic food and homemade clothing, a mixture of “Little House on the Prairie” and Saudi Arabia.

“The woman should disappear from public. She should not go out, and she should not speak with strangers on the street,” says Shapira. “Unfortunately, the majority of Israelis don’t understand this, which is why we are building a parallel system.” The two women do not talk to men, and they leave the room when a man comes in. And they are determined to see their daughters follow in their footsteps. “We are building the will in our children to want these things as well,” says Machfud.

“For decades, the male leaders of the ultra-orthodox have talked about nothing but modesty,” says Hebrew University sociologist Tamar El Or. “No matter what, women are always being lectured on morality, and even the most devout must listen, morning, noon and night, to how they, with their femininity, bring sin to men.”

The length of skirts became the gold standard, and each additional layer of material was seen as bringing women a step closer to God. “Some women have started going to excessive lengths. It’s like anorexia.” According to El Or, this obsession with virtue is also a rebellion against husbands and rabbis, with women now choosing to define their bodies and their faith themselves.

Bruria Keren was a particularly extreme case. In the end she was wearing 27 layers of material. Known in Israel as “Mama Taliban,” Keren is one of the leaders of the women of the shawl. Born in a kibbutz and abused by her father, she eventually became religious — a typical story. As she became more and more obsessed with morality, she beat her children, forced them to pray and cut their hair in punishment, which is why she is now serving a four-year prison sentence.

Witnessing an ‘Extremist Trend’

“It started with a coat, and then there were three. Then she added trousers and a skirt on top. In the end there were 10 skirts, 10 coats and gloves,” says her son, who chooses not to reveal his name. “Eight years ago, she covered her face with a veil, first outside and then at home, and finally she was even wearing it in the shower. I haven’t seen her face since then. She set up a tent in the bathroom, so that even the walls couldn’t see her naked.” Keren also stopped speaking, only communicating with gestures or writing.

While his mother became more and more chaste, the son was having sex with his sister in the next room. He was 15 and she was 12.

It was a broken life, says the son, who is now 30 and still hardly dares to go out in public. He works as a laborer during the day and, at night, runs to efface his past. He has become one of the fastest runners in Israel.

“If my mother hadn’t been religious, she would have been committed to an institution right away,” he says. Instead, the ultra-orthodox community protected her and no one intervened. The ultra-orthodox prefer to solve their problems on their own, without the government. “And my mother’s followers told me that she was a saint.”

Yair Nehorai, the attorney who represented the son in court when he was charged with sexual abuse, has published a book based on his client’s story*. Nehorai is not religious, but one of his ancestors was a prominent rabbi, which gives him credibility. He represents almost all of the ultra-orthodox who have problems with the authority of the state. One of his clients was an ultra-orthodox man who recently allegedly berated a female soldier who was sitting with the men in the front of the bus, calling her a “whore.” And then there were the Yeshiva students from Beit Shemesh, who made headlines when they spat at female students from a religious girls’ school, because their skirts only extended to just below the knee. Nehorai also represented the Sikrikim, self-proclaimed moral police who threw fecal matter at a bookstore until it bowed to their moral dictates.

 Few Dare to Publicly Oppose Them

Nehorai has never been as busy as he is today. “There is an extremist trend in the ultra-orthodox community,” he says. “These radicals were a very small group in the past, but they are becoming more important.” Many orthodox Jews are opposed to the moral terror of the zealots, says Nehorai, but very few dare to publicly oppose them.

Synagogues and religious schools have long been single-sex. But then gender segregation began on buses a few years ago. At first only one bus line was “kosher,” but soon the men were sitting in the front and the women in the back on more than 60 routes. The government did nothing, until a women’s organization took its case to the Supreme Court. It ruled more than a year ago that the segregated seating arrangement is only permissible if it is voluntary. It is a ruling that reveals the court’s unwillingness to take a clear position in the conflict between religious and secular segments of society.

Increasingly, supermarket checkout lines, hospital waiting rooms and wedding celebrations are segregated in orthodox neighborhoods. This is voluntary, and yet it is also the norm. But gender segregation is beginning to spread beyond the neighborhoods where the Haredim, or god-fearing ones, live.

Women have disappeared from advertising posters in Jerusalem. Swimming pools at the university have separate hours for men and women. Burial societies forbid women from giving eulogies. In an award ceremony at the Ministry of Health, the female researchers who were being honored were not permitted to walk onto the stage. The deputy health minister is ultra-orthodox.

There are now campaigns against the so-called Haredization of public life. Women are singing in the streets and refusing to sit at the back of the bus. Several thousand people attended one demonstration against the radicals of Beit Shemesh. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that all of this will reverse the trend.

 Festering Since the Country’s Establishment

At issue is a culture war that has been festering since the country’s establishment, because it is still unclear today what exactly Israel is supposed to be: a theocracy for Jews? Or a democratic sovereign state? The orthodox appear to be on the road to winning this fundamental battle of principles.

Although they are a minority, with only 10 percent of the population, their birth rate is almost three times as high as that of secular Jews. If this remains the case, the Haredim will make up a third of the population in less than 50 years. A quarter of Jewish first-graders are already ultra-orthodox. They also constitute 40 percent of the members of parliament in the coalition government, as well as 40 percent of new army officers and soldiers in combat units. This gives them a disproportionately large amount of influence, which they utilize.

Even in the army, women are now being assigned to units with ultra-orthodox soldiers with decreasing frequency. A few months ago, religious officer candidates left a party where women were singing, saying that this could lead to impure thoughts. An influential rabbi said afterwards that he would rather stand before a firing squad than listen to a woman singing.

Since then, members of parliament, generals and rabbis have addressed the issue of women singing. Israel’s chief rabbi has released an eight-page religious opinion, in which he argues that the army should prohibit women from singing when religious students are listening. A lawmaker from the “Party of Sephardic Torah Guardians,” or Shas, proposed that religious soldiers be provided with earplugs in the future.

Shas is led by 91-year-old Rabbi Ovadia Josef, who is known for underscoring his comments with slaps in the face. His son, also a rabbi, seriously believes that women should not be allowed to drive. Far from being an outsider, Josef is one of the most powerful men in Israel, and his party has been part of almost every government in the last two decades, including the current government. Prime ministers bow to him when they ask for his approval of decisions involving war and peace.

 Independent of the Government

In many ways, Israel already resembles Iran more than Europe. It is a country where there is no civil marriage, and where rabbis rule on weddings and divorces. It is also a country where ultra-orthodox schoolchildren learn neither mathematics nor English, where every kindergarten and every military battalion has a rabbi, and where an infrastructure minister wants to place power plants under the supervision of rabbis so that even electricity will be in compliance with religious purity laws.

All of these things have been around for decades, but now orthodox radicals are increasingly occupying key positions, thereby imposing their stamp on the secular majority.

For a long time, the politicians did nothing. They were constantly giving their religious coalition partners more money and housing for their ultra-orthodox clientele. Otherwise, they left the orthodox to their own devices — and to the extremists.

That’s why men like Joelisch Kraus, 38, are now setting the tone. Kraus is one of the Israel haters of Neturei Karta, the ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist group. He lives in Me’ah She’arim, in the middle of Jerusalem — and yet he is part of a parallel society from the 19th century. He has never watched television, has no identification card and speaks Yiddish. He only takes buses that are not operated by the government-owned transportation company, Egged. Garbage disposal presented a problem to Kraus, but he has solved it by tossing his garbage into his neighbor’s garbage can. All of this makes him independent of the government and the government independent of him. He is slowly undermining the government from within by refusing to participate in society. He believes that this is the way it should be, because, as he says, Jews should not rule the Holy Land until God sends the Messiah.

It is early evening, and Kraus has just returned from Torah lessons. His son jumps into his lap and pulls on his sidelocks. His wife is sweeping the two-room apartment with an enormous broom. They have 13 children. Seven of them sleep in their parents’ bed, two on the window seat and the rest on the floor.

Stoning the Buses

What are a woman’s duties? He looks puzzled. “Well, she should be at home and do all the things that have to be done, like having children, raising them and doing the laundry. That’s their role,” Kraus explains with the gentle amiability of a person who commits crimes out of conviction. “That’s all.”

To keep it this way, Kraus is leading a crusade against the modern age, so that women will not want education and jobs one day and thus throw the world of the ultra-orthodox out of balance. It is no accident that the culture war is being waged now, as more and more religious Jews participate in the military and working life, despite all the rabbis’ bans.

Me’ah She’arim today resembles the Gallic village that is defending itself against the Romans, and Joelisch Kraus is Asterix. The Romans are the representatives of the state and the seculars. Kraus and his fellow ultra-orthodox Jews divide up the streets during religious festivals, with one side for women and the other side for men. If they had their way, the same separation would also apply to everyday life. They threw stones at the non-segregated buses passing through Me’ah She’arim until Egged shut down its service in the neighborhood for more than a year. Now the buses are back in operation, but with police escorts.

“The non-religious Jews have long since lost Jerusalem. They may have a secular mayor, but they just imagine that they are in charge.” Kraus laughs. He is familiar with the birth statistics and he knows that time is on his side. “We run Jerusalem,” he says.




ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Beleaguered President Asif Ali Zardari landed in Pakistan early Friday after a short trip abroad, returning to face a simmering conflict between Pakistan’s civilian government and its armed forces.

Zardari, the main target of what his ruling party depicts as a pressure campaign by the military and the Supreme Court, flew Thursday afternoon to Dubai to attend a wedding and see a doctor, his office said. Zardari underwent medical treatment in Dubai last month, triggering rumors that he was being forced out by the military over a scandal, dubbed “Memogate,” that has roiled the nation. 

On Thursday, Zardari instead drew criticism for leaving the country at a time when his government again seemed to be on the verge of collapse. But some analysts theorized that the trip was calculated to spur rumors, positioning Zardari to appear defiant upon his  return early Friday.

The trip came a day after the latest developments in a civilian-military confrontationprompted predictions that a coup was looming. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani fired the civilian defense secretary, a retired lieutenant general who was close to the army. And the army warned that Gilani’s recent criticism of military actions could end in “grievous consequences” for the country.

The civilian-military battle revolves around an unsigned memo transmitted by a Pakistani American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, to the Pentagon last spring. The memo asked for U.S. help in forestalling a possible military coup and establishing civilian control over the army, which has led Pakistan for half its existence and remains the country’s major power.

The army believes the memo came from the highest levels of government. The government has denied all knowledge of the document.

A military official with knowledge of the generals’ meeting Thursday said the memo was discussed, as was Gilani’s firing of the defense secretary, who was replaced by a close aide to the prime minister, Nargis Sethi. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the top brass was “highly displeased” by the firing and would find it “difficult” to work with Sethi.

Despite the theatrics, it is widely accepted that the army, led by Gen. Ashfaq Kayani,  has no appetite for a coup. Nor does the public or Pakistan’s vibrant media, although the government is unpopular with both. The military, in fact, has strived to emphasize its preference for a solution sanctioned by the Supreme Court, an institution that some analysts say is on a warpath against the government.

“General Kayani and other generals believe that . . . the memo issue shall be decided by the Supreme Court,” the military official said. But, the official said, “in case the Supreme Court seeks the army’s assistance to fulfill any constitutional requirement, the call for that can be considered.”

In Washington, senior administration officials said a coup was unlikely and did not serve the interests of any of the players, but they acknowledged they had little insight into fast-moving internal events in Pakistan. Even if they did, any attempt to interfere could backfire, given the tension in U.S-Pakistani relations, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A showdown could come Monday, when the Pakistani government is expected to explain its stance in an ongoing corruption case at the center of its acrimonious relations with the Supreme Court. Two days ago, the court berated the government and deemed Gilani “dishonest” for defying its orders to reopen old corruption cases against Zardari and other officials.

The court listed six wide-ranging options, including dismissing Gilani, pursuing contempt-of-court charges or letting voters decide. The government insists that Zardari, as president, is immune from prosecution.

The ruling party introduced a resolution in parliament Friday expressing support for the government, hoping for a symbolic boost for Zardari. The confidence measure will come up for vote Monday.

A judicial panel probing the memo’s origins also will resume its hearings Monday and might hear testimony from Ijaz, the Pakistani American businessman. Whether he will travel to Pakistan for the hearing remains unclear.

The rift between the government and the military comes against a backdrop of soured ties with the United States in the aftermath of a Nov. 26 border clash in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in U.S. airstrikes. The covert drone campaign resumed only this week, with an alleged CIA strike killing six militants in the North Waziristan border region Thursday, the second such strike in three days.

In a small sign of progress, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Wednesday with Sherry Rehman, who arrived in Washington last week as Pakistan’s new ambassador and is expected to present her credentials to President Obama next week. Clinton noted Thursday that Rehman is “someone that I’ve known for some time.”

“My message to her was very straightforward,” Clinton told reporters. “We recognize there have been significant challenges in recent months, but we are steadfastly committed to this relationship and working together to make it productive.”





Russia would regard any military intervention linked to Iran’s nuclear programme as a threat to its own security, Moscow’s departing ambassador to NATO warned on Friday.

“Iran is our neighbour,” Dmitry Rogozin told reporters in Brussels. “And if Iran is involved in any military action, it’s a direct threat to our security.”

Rogozin was speaking two days after the killing of a nuclear scientist in Tehran by a hitman on a motorcycle.

Kremlin Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev, who is close to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said Israel was pushing the United States towards war with Iran, according to the Interfax news agency.

Russia, however, opposes a boycott of Iranian oil.

“We are definitely interested in the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” Rogozin said on Friday. “But at the same time, we believe that any country has the right to have what it needs to feel comfortable, including Iran.”

Rogozin, often described as an anti-Western hawk, was appointed deputy prime minister in December, and will oversee Russia’s defence sector when he returns to Moscow.

The United States, the European Union and Japan are drawing up sanctions on Iran to try to force it to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons programme. Tehran says its programme does not have military aims.

The United States on Thursday took punitive action against three oil companies dealing with Iranian oil.

EU foreign ministers are expected to agree on a ban on imports of Iranian crude oil on Jan. 23 – though with a grace period to give European companies time to find alternative sources of crude.

Japan on Thursday pledged to take concrete action to cut its oil imports from Iran. (Reporting By Sebastian Moffett; Editing by Sophie Hares)





Memos: Mossad Agents With US Passports, US Dollars Recruited Terror Group

The 2007 revelation by ABC News that the Bush Administration was covertly backing the Jundallah terrorist organization in an effort to convince them to launch attacks on Iran was no small embarrassment for the administration, and a considerable source of tension with the Shi’ite world as the militants attacked mosques and killed large numbers of civilians.

Meir Dagan, head of Mossad at the time

The only problem is, it apparently didn’t happen. At least not the way ABC News claims. Instead of being direct US backing, by way of the CIA, for a State Department listed terrorist organization (a big no-no), Foreign Policy is reporting today that the whole thing was actually a Mossad plot designed to frame the CIA and the administration.

Officials cite internal memos, classified of course, from the 2007 and 2008 investigation into the allegations, which found that in reality the people who bought off Jundallah were Mossad agents, with faked US passports and large amounts of US dollars.

“It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with,” one of the officials said. “Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought.”

Indeed the unspoken goal of the “false flag” appears to have been to damage what little trust the Iranian government had in the US. Captured Jundallah leaders confessed on Iranian TV that they were funded and directed by the CIA, and apparently they believed that is what was happening.

The report goes on to say that President Bush “went ballistic” when he heard about the Mossad plot, saying it was “putting Americans at risk.” There was also concern it would severely damage relations with Pakistan, since Jundallah has traditionally also attacked targets in Pakistani Balochistan.

The US State Department has been struggling to publicly deny the US-Jundallah relationship, and retired US Gen. Joe Hoar slammed the Israeli move, saying “It gets us involved in their covert war, whether we want to be involved or not.”


Shamefully irresponsible Tea Party Zionist Geller reacts : I DON’T CARE


Kabul – Outrage over the U.S. Marines video of soldiers desecrating the bodies of dead Afghans has been further stirred by the controversial words of Tea Party leader Pamela Geller: “I don’t care,” she wrote recently.   The video, which Digital Journal reported allegedly shows U.S. Marines urinating over the corpses of Afghans, has stirred outrage, provoking strong condemnation from the Pentagon, CAIR and Afghans. Further shock waves were sent out when outspoken Tea Party speaker, Pamela Geller applauded the actions of the Marines.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai responded to the video by calling the behaviour shown as “simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest possible terms,” according to the LA Times. IB Times reported President Karzai added he was “deeply disturbed” at “desecrating dead bodies of three Afghans.”

Taliban spokesmen also called the video barbaric. Additionally Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Amos, voiced his disgust by saying “The behavior depicted in the video is wholly inconsistent with the high standards of conduct and warrior ethos that we have demonstrated throughout our history.”

CAIR also condemned the video, but suffered further outrage when anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller reacted favorably to the video and unfavorably to CAIR’s condemnation of it. Geller wrote on Atlas Shrugs “I love these Marines. Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial.” In reaction to CAIR’s criticism of her words she retaliated by writing “let me be perfectly clear. I DO love those Marines. We are at war with an enemy that means to slaughter us and overthrow the United States of America. I don’t CAIR that these Marines wee wee’ed on murderous savages.”

Geller’s words are not only controversial but likely to add to the outrage the video itself has created, further damaging how America is perceived from the Muslim perspective. Notably the video will stir up anger over disrespect for the Muslim dead, recalling memories of the Abu Ghraib images which still prevail.

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The video of American marines urinating on the corpses of Afghan civilians has prompted worldwide outrage, condemnation from the White House and the opening of a federal investigation. CNN’s Dana Loesch thinks the whole thing is pretty cool, though.

Loesch, the 33-year-old CNN contributor hired last year to offer political analysis for the coming election, is already giving the network their money’s worth. Speaking during her own syndicated radio program on Thursday, Loesch discussed the just-surfaced video that shows four Marines urinating on the corpses of slain Afghans, presumed to be civilians.

Her own insight seems to be a bit more harsh than the commentary that others are offering.

“I’d drop trou and do it too,” Loesch told listeners during the January 12 broadcast of The Dana Show. “I want a million ‘cool points’ for these guys. Is that harsh to say?” she asked.

Loesch, who says she was a liberal until the September 11 terrorist attack, added that she had no problem with the act of desecration. “Come on people, this is a war,” she said. On the contrary, even those responsible for continuously waging the deadly operation in Afghanistan have condemned the act portrayed in the video and all the men involved.

The video was uploaded to the Web earlier this week and by Wednesday had garnered mainstream coverage across the world. On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said from Fort Bliss, Texas, “The danger is that this kind of video can be misused in many ways to undermine what we are trying to do in Afghanistan and the possibility of reconciliation.” After more than a decade of the War on Terror, the Obama administration has only of late started talks with the Taliban in order to end the operation which has yielded no major success for any party apart from the execution of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Panetta, who added that the video was “disgusting,” is now worried that the relationship just budding after ten years of conflict might now come crumbling apart.

Loesch, however, seems to be more upset with the nay-sayers than the servicemen who might have just extended America’s war with Afghanistan. “Now we have a bunch of progressives that are talking smack about our military,” she said. “Can someone explain to me if there’s suppose to be a scandal if someone pees on the corpse of a Taliban fighter?”

At one point in the broadcast, Loesch is interrupted by another DJ that announced that, despite what the media is saying, there are no similarities between this incident and the Abu Ghraib scandal that exposed the mistreatment of prisoners of war at an Iraq facility.“It’s nothing compared to what happened at the prison in Iraq,” commented her co-host.

“Completely different story!” responded Loesch.

For a recap, CNN contributor Dana Loesch may or may not have a problem with American soldiers stripping POWs naked and torturing them for days on end. When it comes to pissing on the faces of dead Afghans, however, all is fair in love and war.

CNN has yet to offer a comment on her quip, though should have expected as much from when they hired her. Despite previously calling the network “the biggest bunch of idiot blockheads” with a “blatant disregard for objectivity,” CNN welcomed her aboard in February to offer such genius insight as the extension of “cool points” to American war criminals.

“I’m excited to be working with CNN and am appreciative of their efforts to showcase diverse political thought on their airwaves,” Loesch said in a CNN press release announcing her hiring last year. “I look forward to the discussions.”

Current TV host Keith Olbermann brought Loesch into a discussion of his own during the September 28, 2011 broadcast of his program Countdown. In it, the commentator attacked Loesch for saying what he said was “One of the all-time dumbest things in the history of journalism,” but offered a few words in her defense: “It is important to remember here that she is not very bright and thus she has to get a little benefit of the doubt.”

Given her latest gaffe, CNN might want to reconsider their hiring process. For a “real” news network, we’re not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for this one.

Posted in USA1 Comment

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Video surfaces of American forces urinating on dead corpses in Afghanistan (and Pamela Geller loves it)

Jan 12, 2012

Annie Robbins


A video of American Marines urinating on corpses exploded on the internet yesterday. Multiple sources positing this could have the impact of another Abu Gharib. Reportedly one soldiers says ‘Scout sniper team 4 with the 3rd Battalian 2nd Marines out of Camp Lejeune’ (based out of North Carolina) and CNN is reporting two of the four marines have already been identified.


A video appearing to show U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters promises to become an enduring memory of the Afghan war and is already drawing sharp reaction from across the world as it goes viral on the Internet.

Like in the 2004 Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, in which U.S. troops photographed themselves humiliating and intimidating detainees, the Americans shown in the Marine video appeared to have wanted a record of themselves desecrating the corpses of the men they had just killed.

Videos with full sound track are available on youtube.

 “Have a great day, buddy.”

“You got it on the video?”


“I see you zoomed in on our…”

“Golden, like a shower.”


Two of the four Marines shown in a video urinating on dead bodies sprawled out on the ground have been identified by the Marine Corps, a Marine Corps official told CNN Thursday. The names are not being made public, said the official, who did not want to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.

“I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable,” U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement. “I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed “total dismay …..deplorable…It is absolutely inconsistent with American values, with the standards of behavior that we expect from our military personnel and the vast, vast majority of our military personnel, particularly our Marines, hold themselves to,” she said. “Anyone found to have participated or known about it, having engaged in this kind of conduct, must be held fully accountable.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the U.S. government to investigate the video and hand down the harshest punishment possible.

“The government of Afghanistan is deeply disturbed by a video that shows American soldiers desecrating dead bodies of three Afghans,” according to a statement released by the presidential palace on behalf of Karzai.

This is barbaric. When are we going to leave Afghanistan?

This is right up Pamela Geller’s alley. She’s in seventh heaven, lovin’ it.

pamella geller 01 12 2012
pamella geller 01 12 2012


Tea Party Speaker Says She ‘Loves’ Marines Who Desecrated Corpses

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/12/12) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR) today condemned remarks by Pamela Geller, the leader of an anti-Muslim hate group and a frequent speaker at Tea Party events, applauding the alleged desecration of Afghan corpses by U.S. Marines.

On her hate blog, Geller wrote in response to CAIR’s condemnation of the desecration: “I love these Marines. Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial.”

While Geller praised the desecration video, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called it “utterly deplorable.” CAIR yesterday expressed concern that enemies of the United States will use the video to further their anti-American goals.

Hate-filled comments on Geller’s post included:

“I’ve never been prouder to be an American!”
“My heroes!! Best video I’ve seen in awhile :)”
“Nicest movie I’ve seen in years.”
“These sick mutts need to be urinated on. Defecated on too.”
“Have you burned a Koran today. All around the campfire. Burn, baby, burn.”
“The marines should have dumped the bodies in PIG BLOOD; soaked those bodies, in PIG BLOOD.”
“Looked to me as though the marines were showing respect. They had their heads bowed and observed silence while rinsing off the corpses.”

WINEP official says U.S. strategy is aimed at provoking ‘Pearl Harbor’ that justifies war with Iran

Jan 12, 2012

Philip Weiss

Patrick Clawson
Patrick Clawson

Earlier today, we did a post on neocons inciting war with Iran that featured quotes from Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, formerly a branch of the Israel lobby group AIPAC. Well Clawson had better put a sock in it, and quick, because now he’s given away the neocons’ game plan. From Laura Rozen’s piece on the negotiations:

Patrick Clawson, deputy director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in an interview with Yahoo News Tuesday… said he didn’t think prospects for a deal look promising.

“I think it’s heading towards confrontation,” Clawson said. “The whole point from the beginning is if we put pressure on the regime, the Iranians will crack at some point.”

So far, at least, there’s little sign the strategy is yielding the desired result. The Iranians to date have responded to the prospect of the tightened financial sanctions on the country’s oil sector with an announcement of the launching of operations at the fortified, underground Fordo nuclear enrichment facility–together with sporadic threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. So why isn’t that a sign that the U.S. strategy is failing?

“It’s a lot better to have a fight” that Iran provokes, Clawson replied, before adding: “Better to enter World War II after Pearl Harbor, and World War I after the sinking of the Lusitania.”

Ron Paul on Israel

Jan 12, 2012

Adam Horowitz

Paul discusses his policy towards Israel beginning at 2:00.

From a Haaretz interview with Paul at the end of December:

I believe that Israel is one of our most important friends in the world. And the views that I hold have many adherents in Israel today. Two of the tenets of a true Zionist are “self-determination” and “self-reliance.” I do not believe we should be Israel’s master but, rather, her friend. We should not be dictating her policies and announcing her negotiating positions before talks with her neighbors have even begun. . .

I am the one candidate who would respect Israel’s sovereignty and not try to dictate to her about how she should deal with her neighbors. I supported Israel’s right to attack the Iraqi nuclear reactor in the 1980s, and I opposed President Obama’s attempt to dictate Israel’s borders this year.

Guess non-interventionism cuts both ways. Here’s a longer excerpt:

Q. What was your reaction to your exclusion from the function held by the Republican Jewish Coalition, to which all the rest of the candidates were invited?

Paul: Well, it was a bit surprising and disappointing. I believe that Israel is one of our most important friends in the world. And the views that I hold have many adherents in Israel today. Two of the tenets of a true Zionist are “self-determination” and “self-reliance.” I do not believe we should be Israel’s master but, rather, her friend. We should not be dictating her policies and announcing her negotiating positions before talks with her neighbors have even begun.

Q. Were you disappointed with the lack of collegiality of the other candidates, who did not insist that you be invited as well?

Paul: No. I did not ask or expect them to boycott the event or insist to the organizers that I be invited.

Q. The RJC characterized your views on Israel as “misguided and extreme”. Why do you think they view your views in that way?

Paul: I do not know, as I am the one candidate who would respect Israel’s sovereignty and not try to dictate to her about how she should deal with her neighbors. I supported Israel’s right to attack the Iraqi nuclear reactor in the 1980s, and I opposed President Obama’s attempt to dictate Israel’s borders this year.

Q. Do you think that the American debate on Israel is stifled?

Paul: There is no question that the problems of the Middle East have been intractable and may take new solutions and ideas. These ideas should all be openly discussed. I believe that my opinions have been distorted by those who want to continue America’s current role as world policeman, which we don’t have the money or manpower to sustain.

My philosophy, like that of the Founding Fathers, is that we should use our resources to protect our nation. Our policies of intervention and manipulation in Iran and Iraq and other places have led to unintended consequences and have not made Israel safer. Many in the Jewish community share my opinion, and it’s vital for both nations that we continue to have an open dialogue.

Phil had referred this interview earlier when Paul says, regarding Iran:

I believe I’m the only candidate who would allow Israel to take immediate action to defend herself without having to get our approval. Israel should be free to take whatever steps she deems necessary to protect her national security and sovereignty.

13 year old Palestinian girl in wheelchair victim of hit and run by Israeli settlers

Jan 12, 2012

Today in Palestine

Disabled girl in a wheelchair hit by settler car in Hebron on her way to school
HEBRON (Ma’an) — A disabled child was hit by a settler car on Thursday near the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron, medics said. Head of the Red Crescent emergency ward in Hebron told Ma’an that Hiba Abdul Ghaffar, 13, was heading to school when she was hit by the car. Ghaffar, who is in a wheelchair, suffered light injuries in the collision and was taken to hospital for treatment.
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Land, Property Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid

IOA confiscates cultivated land lot in Bethlehem
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) confiscated a cultivated land lot in Khader village south of Bethlehem at the pretext of constructing a road to serve a nearby settlement.

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Palestinian leaders outraged over West Bank construction data
A report released by Israel’s Peace Now group also says building last year on East Jerusalem land seized during the 1967 Middle East War was at the highest level in a decade.  Palestinian leaders voiced outrage Tuesday over a new report that Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank rose 20% last year. The report released by the Peace Now group also says that building on East Jerusalem land seized during the 1967 Middle East War was at the highest level in a decade.

IOA to expand West Bank settlement
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has announced tenders for the construction of 213 settler houses in Efrat settlement to the south of Bethlehem.

Israel tightens grip on West Bank Bedouin
On Monday, January 9, Israeli authorities shut down “the only road leading to Khan al Ahmar elementary school,” the Palestinian news agency WAFA reports. The move came a day after Israeli authorities issued a number of stop work orders in Umm al Kheir. Both Khan al Ahmar and Umm al Kheir are Bedouin villages located in the West Bank’s Israeli-controlled Area C.

Rivlin: Gov’t must find solution for Migron
Knesset speaker visits illegal West Bank outpost, says relocating it ‘makes no sense’
Survey by European Heads of Mission in Jerusalem, Ramallah criticizes Israel for the ‘forced transfer’ Palestinians from Area C, defined by the Oslo Accords as those parts of the West Bank under full Israeli control.
On Wednesday, Islamist deputies in Ramallah met with the Archbishop of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Atallah Hanna, within the framework of an extensive solidarity campaign for the Jerusalemite Deputy, Ahmed Atwan, who was expelled by the Israelis to Ramallah.  The Deputies welcomed Archbishop Hanna extoling the Islamic-Christian affiliation of the Palestinian people and emphasizing the strength and durability of their relationship.

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Violence & Aggression / Israeli Injustice System

Two Israeli women ran over two Palestinian schoolgirls in each of Al-Khalil and Nablus in separate incidents on Thursday morning, medical sources said.

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli military forces on Thursday confiscated computers, mobile phones and camera memory cards from the office and home of a Palestinian journalist. Soldiers raided Amin Abu Warda’s office in Nablus at 3 a.m., his colleague Atef Doughlas told Ma’an, and confiscated several items, including a work computer and mobile phone.  Witnesses said Israeli forces also raided Abu Warda’s home and confiscated his personal mobile and laptop as well as his son’s mobile phone.
Four years after an Israeli soldier used his sniper rifle to kill a Palestinian civilian from Bethlehem district visiting family in the Ramallah district; an Israeli court acquitted the soldier and claimed that there is not enough evidence to convict the soldier, adding that no charges were filed against the shooter, the Arabs48 News Agency reported.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Three years on from the killing of 2-year-old Fares Hamouda and his stepbrother Muhammad, Israel has yet to respond to a complaint over their deaths. On Jan. 11, 2009, Israeli tanks shelled the Hamouda family home in Gaza City. Fares died instantly and Muhammad bled to death waiting for an ambulance which was unable to reach him in the midst of Israel’s three-week bombardment of Gaza, Operation Cast Lead. Fares’ mother, Intissar, told the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that the brothers had shared a close relationship. Muhammed’s mother had died when he was 10 months old.  “Fares would refuse to go to sleep until Muhammed came home from school. On the day of the attack Fares was sick, but he refused to take medicine from me, he wanted it from Muhammed,” she said.
Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) launched a search and arrest campaign in another Bethlehem village on Wednesday that ended with the detention of three young men including two brothers one of them a 16-year-old child. Locals in Battir, west of Bethlehem, said that the IOF soldiers entered the village in six armored vehicles, erected roadblocks, and broke into many homes before taking away the three citizens.
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli military forces arrested 16 people overnight Wednesday and early Thursday, the army and local officials said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said four people were arrested in Madama village, Nablus, four in Asira al-Qibliya, also in Nablus, three people in al-Mughayyir village, northeast of Ramallah, and five people southwest of Jericho.  Head of Madama village council Ihab al-Qitt told Ma’an that Israeli tanks raided the village at 2 a.m. and arrested Muhammad Sadeq Qitt, 22, Ahmad Atef Ziyada, 21, and Mahmoud Abdullah al-Qitt, 23, after ransacking their homes.

IOF soldiers arrest citizen and confiscate cars in Jenin
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed Jenin refugee camp at dawn Wednesday in tens of army vehicles and arrested a citizen from inside his home after wreaking havoc on it and on his garage.

IOF troops storm Nablus village, detain minor
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the village of Sebastia to the north west of Nablus on Tuesday and detained a minor in one of its streets, local sources said.

IOF troops round up four citizens in Al-Khalil
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up four citizens in Al-Khalil in the latest round of arrests in the province that has been the target of semi daily incursions for the past few months.

Masada unit storms Negev prison cells of Hamas, Jihad prisoners
Israeli Masada unit soldiers stormed ward 9 of the Negev prison where Hamas and Islamic Jihad affiliates are held on Wednesday, the prisoners’ studies center said.

Committee for Political Prisoners organize sit-in in West Bank

On Monday, 09.01.2012, the Committee for Political Prisoners and the Association of Muslim Youths in the West Bank organized a solidarity sit-in against policies of political detention and job severance by the Ramallah Authority.  Protesters demanded the release of all political prisoners, the reinstatement of those dismissed from jobs and general freedoms in the West Bank. The protests were staged at the Martyr’s Rotary in the northern West Bank city of Nablus under the slogan “Freedom for the Al-Junaid Detainees”.

Wajeb slams systematic kidnapping of Palestinian refugees in Iraq
The Palestinian return assembly-Wajeb strongly denounced the Iraqi security forces for storming the municipal compound of the Palestinian refugees in Baghdad and kidnapping some of its residents.

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Khudari blames world community for slow Gaza reconstruction
Independent MP Jamal Al-Khudari has blamed the world community for failing to embark on reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, which was devastated in the Israeli invasion three years ago.

It’s exactly three years ago that the ins and outs of the overpopulated strip were sealed off by the Israeli military just as tightly as the entire “International Community” shut its eyes and ambivalently turned its back on a horrifying massacre that was in the making. And it’s three years ago that we’ve used up what little was left of our quota of sympathy and compassion towards the Palestinians and took our collective apathy to a whole new level.

Racism / Discrimination / Sexism & others things you would read in the New York Times

Israeli bar on citizenship upheld
A law preventing Palestinians gaining Israeli nationality by marriage is upheld by Israel’s top court.

‘Citizenship Law – declaration of war on Israeli Arabs’
Israeli Arab says court’s decision to reject petition against law will lead to ‘expulsion of thousands of families.’ Rahat resident: Why are we being treated like enemies?

Updated 2.21pm: Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected constitutional challenges to a law that makes it more difficult for Palestinians to get permission to live with their Israeli spouses inside Israel. Israel’s parliament approved a law in 2003 that severely limits the ability of Palestinians to gain Israeli citizenship through marriage to an Israeli national. Civil rights organizations and Arab rights advocates filed the appeal in 2007.
A new Israeli law allowing for automatic and lengthy detention of asylum-seekers flies in the face of international law, Amnesty International said today.  Early on Tuesday the Israeli parliament passed the “Prevention of Infiltration Law”, which mandates the automatic detention of anyone, including asylum-seekers, who enters Israel without permission. It is aimed at those entering via the Egyptian border.  The law allows for all such detainees to be held without charge or trial for three or more years. People from countries considered “hostile” to Israel, including asylum-seekers from Darfur in Sudan, could be detained indefinitely. Children travelling with parents may also be subjected to the same prolonged detention.

Yair Lapid gets death threat on Facebook
‘If you challenge Netanyahu, your fate will be similar to that of Yitzhak Rabin,’ man writes on journalist turned politician’s Facebook page. Police investigating.

Minister: Ethiopians should ‘say thank you’ for what they got
Ethiopian social activist draws Immigrant Absorption minister’s ire after telling Knesset Committee they are ‘hypocrites’ who are ‘creating a 21st Century version of Apartheid in Israel’.

IDF: No coercion of haredi soldiers
Army informs haredi soldiers that they will not be forced to attend military ceremonies featuring female performers. MK Gafni urges haredim not to join IDF.

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Palestinian youth call for Ramallah protest against Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Jordan, Ali Abunimah
Palestinian youth are calling for a silent protest this Saturday outside the headquarters of Palestinian Authority ruler Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah to protest the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Jordan.

Last month, the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank hosted the Third National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Conference. The Conference centered on BDS as a means of nonviolent popular resistance and addressed some key issues currently confronting the movement, both locally and internationally. Below is the Conference Report, published by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

Photos: Palestinian graffiti artists penetrate heavily fortified heart of West Jerusalem, Ali Abunimah
Palestinian artists penetrated the heavily fortified heart of West Jerusalem overnight and painted graffiti bearing political messages on walls, doors, construction sites and other surfaces.

Political Developments / Diplomacy / Other News

Hamas leader to visit Iran, Qatar in new trip (AP)
AP – An adviser to Hamas’ prime minister says the leader will visit Iran, Qatar and other Muslim countries at the end of the month.

On Wednesday, Israel’s voice website transferred from Palestinian sources that Israel warned the Palestinian National Authority because they chose to challenge Israel, so the latest imposed sanctions on the PA president Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials. Sources told London-based al-Hayat newspaper that the sanctions are imposed because Palestinians headed to the United Nations for the full membership bid in the international organisation, and due to the political attitudes or behaviours that the PA keeps doing. They also said that the sanctions are by: imposing Security prohibition on Abbas and other Palestinian Officials, and stop giving them the VIP IDs, which allow them to move freely.
A high-ranking human rights delegation from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Observatory began an official visit to Tunisia on Tuesday 10th January. They presented President Al Moncef Al Marzouki with copies of international human rights reports into Israeli violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and expressed hope that Tunisia would play a greater role in supporting Palestinian rights in line with international humanitarian law.
The new Moroccan Minister of Industry, Trade, and Modern Technology is a life long activist on Palestine and is a senior figure in the Justice and Development Party.  He said that Arab uprisings will help liberate Palestine in a matter of years because the fortresses that protected Israel are falling.  Someone should sent that to Thomas Friedman as a reward for his theory that Arab uprisings have no foreign policy goals.

Saudi hacker strikes again
Hacker indentifying himself as ‘0xOmar’ leaks details of 200 more Israeli credit cards; urges fellow Arab hackers to ‘destroy Israel’.

Egypt to halt annual Israeli pilgrimage
Foreign ministry says holding annual visit to rabbi’s tomb is “impossible” owing to political and security concerns.

Elias Younes suspected of providing Israel with access to Lebanese communications system, information on naval security means.

Jaser Asraf, 38, of Baka al-Garbiyeh, allegedly received the money from the Egyptian banks to file a suit on their behalf against the Custodian General and Jerusalem’s King David Hotel.

‘Mossad recruiting Iranian refugees in Iraq’
France’s Le Figaro quotes Iraqi security official as saying Israel has increased recruitment efforts in country’s Kurdish region.

Fox News reports that IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz testified in closed session to the Israeli Knessets foreign affairs and defense committee that Israel was engaged in sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program through a series of “unnatural” acts:

Sharansky: Obama`s new chief of staff `staunch Israel supporter`
Aviel Magnezi – Ynet – “While he refrained from predicting an improvement in Israel-US relations following the appointment of Lew, Sharansky said he is convinced that Lew`s presence will have a positive effect in the media sphere.”

Other Mideast News

30 Killed Across Iraq

At least 30 Iraqis were killed and 32 more were wounded in new attacks against Shi’ite pilgrims and other Iraqis., while the Diyala Council Fears Returning To Work.

Eight Iraqis Killed As Maliki’s Rivals Try To Outplay Him
Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq called for replacing his dictatorial boss during an interview today.. Separately, officials in Iraqi Kurdistan told Baghdad to consider holding Hashemi’s trial in neutral territory because they aren’t handing Vice President Tareq al-Hashimi to Maliki operatives. Meanwhile, no major attacks against Shi’ite pilgrims took place today, but least eight Iraqis were killed and nine more were wounded in new violence. Also, one Syrian militant was killed.

Shi’ites brave crisis, bombs for Iraq pilgrimage (Reuters)
Reuters – Tens of thousands of Shi’ite Muslims are pouring into Iraq’s holy city of Kerbala, despite having become the main targets of a bombing campaign that followed the withdrawal of U.S. troops last month.

Ex-Marine testifies that killings of Iraqis were justified after house was labeled ‘hostile’
A former Marine testified Tuesday that he and other Marines were justified in breaking into a home in Iraq and killing everyone inside after their squad leader told them the house was to be treated as “hostile.”

US marines could see only “silhouettes” as they entered a house where some of a total of 24 Iraqi civilians were massacred in a controversial 2005 shooting, a soldier said Tuesday. Speaking at a court martial of squad leader Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, another intelligence officer described the “sad” scenes following the killings in the Iraqi town of Haditha. Squad member Lance Corporal Stephen Tatum was in the thick of the house-to-house search for insurgents after an early morning bombing which killed one of their US colleagues on 19 November 2005. On the second day of the month-long trial in California, the former Marine testified he heard between 5-15 rounds of semi-automatic weapon fire after the bombing, and was ordered by Wuterich to “treat the house as hostile.”

US troops ‘told to lie’ about Iraqi killings
US soldier says his commander killed five Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005 and asked him to lie about it.

Bahrainis protest at UN offices
Several thousand people hold a protest outside the UN’s offices in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, calling for intervention to protect civilians.

Business as usual in bloody Bahrain
It’s no surprise the Countess of Wessex accepted jewellery from the Bahraini royal family: Britain has been its backbone for years News that the Countess of Wessex accepted gifts of jewellery from Bahrain’s royal family is not surprising. After almost 200 years of British-supported rule by the House of Khalifa, Bahrainis are no closer to human rights or democracy. Meanwhile, British firms continue to profit from the ongoing crackdown, as the British government seemingly turns a blind eye to continuing abuses.

Syria’s Assad maintains support despite deadly situation
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad made a surprise appearance at a rally in Damascus hoping to show the world he is a leader in charge. But in the opposition stronghold of Homs eight people were killed in an attack on a government-organised media trip. Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra reports from neighbouring Turkey.

Nir Rosen discusses the situation in Syria 
Al Jazeera interviews Nir Rosen, a journalist who has been in Syria for the last two months, on the situation in Syria, and his opinion of the Free Syrian Army.

Marwan Bishara speaks on Syria situation 
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, talks about the situation in Syria after one Arab monitor quit the team saying “the mission was a farce”. Bishara says: “The sort of individual declarations by [Arab League]team members is not exactly the most professional thing I have seen before.” “If the observers’ mission fails because the violence continues, then this is another reason why the Arabs and their allies could go to Security Council.” “In the worst case scenario, if they fail in the coming weeks or days, it goes to the Security Council in a far stronger way,” he said.

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WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama on Tuesday met Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal for talks, as the allies face a nuclear showdown with Iran, a political crisis in Yemen and other key issues. “The President and Prince Saud affirmed the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia and discussed recent developments on key regional issues of mutual interest,” a White House statement said. Officials refused to divulge further details of the talks, or even say which countries and issues were particularly touched upon.
Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Bill Burns holds talks in Cairo with head of Muslim Brotherhood, but does not meet with hardline Salafist group.

Thomas Friedman in Cairo: A fact-check
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is enormously influential, with a cabinet full of Pulitzer prizes, so it’s important to set the record straight when he gets some facts wrong.

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Marines to probe video of soldiers urinating on corpses
from Headlines by Stephen C. WebsterMilitary officials said Wednesday that they’re investigating a video published online showing four men in U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) uniforms urinating on several lifeless bodies purported to be dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. “While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticity of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps,” a USMC spokeswomantold celebrity gossip website TMZ. ”This matter will be fully investigated and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.”
Detainees at the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay launched a hunger strike today marking the prison’s 10th anniversary, inspired in part by U.S. activists who have called for a national day of action. “They will be staging a series of peaceful protests that will involve sit-ins with signs and banners in the part of the prison that has communal areas, as well as hunger strikes,” says Ramzi Kassem, counsel to a number of Guantánamo prisoners. He notes his clients pay “particularly close attention to any gestures of protest in the United States… And they’re always very moved by the fact that Americans stand in solidarity with what they’re going through and what their families are experiencing.” On Wednesday, a major demonstration is planned in Washington, D.C., where organizers say they will form a human chain stretching from the White House to the Capitol, with participants wearing orange jumpsuits to represent the prisoners at Guantánamo and at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan who are still held without charge or trial.
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Guantánamo Exclusive: Former Chief Prosecutor, Ex-Prisoner Call on Obama to Close Prison

On the 10th anniversary of when the United States began detaining terror suspects at its Guantánamo Bay military base in Cuba, we speak with a former prisoner and the ex-chief U.S. prosecutor, who both call for the Obama administration to close the base. “People are locked up in isolation camps… People lost their hands, lost their eyes, lost their limbs,” says Omar Deghayes, who was arrested in Pakistan as a terror suspect and held in U.S. custody from May 2002 until December 2007, most of that time at Guantánamo. “Some people were subjected to sleep deprivation. They weren’t allowed to sleep… And they had to live under those conditions for six years … without being convicted of any crime, which is the most unacceptable thing.” Asked if prisoners were tortured at Guantánamo, Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at the military prison, answers, “I don’t think there’s any doubt.” Davis resigned his position in 2007 in protest of what he called political interference in the military commissions of Guantánamo prisoners. “In many of the cases, we had evidence independent of that [torture] that was sufficient to establish guilt. But to use torture to gain intelligence and then also to turn around and use that as evidence in an American court is just not consistent with American principles,” Davis to

NDAA: Obama Signs Law Restricting Transfer of Guantánamo Prisoners and Expands Indefinite Detention
It has been 10 years since the United States began detaining people at its military base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. We speak with someone who has worked to defend the rights of those prisoners for the last decade: Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. While dozens continue to face an unknown future at Guantánamo, we ask Ratner to comment on President Obama’s recent approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which some legal experts say would authorize the military to indefinitely jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect — without charge or trial. “The Center represented the first people out of Guantánamo over 10 years ago. At that time, the detention of people, the military trials, was all done by a presidential order. When Obama took office, he continued the same actions. And recently, in theNDAA, those actions, the ability to detain people, the ability to use military commissions, etc., were actually put into law, and Obama, contrary to his claim that he was going to veto it, signed it, making him the first president ever in the United States to sign into law indefinite detention as part of the policy of the United States.” Ratner adds that “the NDAA puts very heavy restrictions on moving people out of Guantánamo… We are now in the longest period, almost a year, in which nobody has been transferred out of Guantánamo.”
link to

Analysis / Op-ed

The US presidential election campaign that kicked off January 3 with the Iowa caucuses, was the subject of a curious article attacking President Barack Obama in the mass circulation Israeli daily newspaper, Israel Hayom. “US President Barack Obama is ‘naïve’ and needs to face up to the threat presented by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East, Israel’s National Security Council concluded during a strategic discussion several days ago,” Israel Hayom reported. The Israeli National Security Council consists of Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s closest advisers. And Israel Hayom is not just another right-leaning Israeli tabloid. Referred to by Israelis as the “Bibiton,” or Bibi’s mouthpiece, the paper is an instrument that gives him extraordinary political leverage. The obviously planted article in Israel Hayom rang like a bell sounding the start of Netanyahu’s own campaign in helping the Republican Party oust Obama from the White House.

Why is it open season on Palestinians in US presidential race?, Hasan Abu Nimah
The pro-Israel rhetoric of some election hopefuls is so extreme that they make George W. Bush seem reasonable by comparison.

Israel’s Mercy is Inhumanely Strained, Vacy Vlazna
There is a growing campaign to urge the London Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to cancel Israel’s Habima Theatre’s performances of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ on 28-29th May 2012 at the Shakespeare Globe to Globe Festival. The Habima Theatre, the National Theatre of Israel, has no moral qualms about performing in the illegal settlement colonies on stolen Palestinian lands.

Mainstream media only ever addresses Israeli racism indirectly, if at all. An issue that has received less than its fair share of media coverage is the document prepared by European embassies in Israel asserting the “importance of regarding Israel’s treatment of its Arab population as a substantive issue, and not one that is secondary to the Palestine-Israel Conflict.” According to the Palestinian leadership inside Israel, the document includes formal proposals against the racist draft laws frequently discussed in the Israeli parliament which discriminate against Palestinians.

The Revolution Will Be Televised, and Manipulated, Ramzy Baroud
In the final days of the Libyan conflict, as NATO conducted a nonstop bombing campaign, an Aljazeera Arabic television correspondent’s actions raised more than eyebrows. They also raised serious questions regarding the journalistic responsibility of Arab media – or in fact any media – during times of conflict. Using a handheld transceiver, the journalist aired live communication between a Libyan commander and his troops in a Tripoli neighborhood targeted by a massive air assault. Millions of people listened, as surely did NATO military intelligence, to sensitive information disclosed by an overpowered, largely defeated army. The Doha-based news anchor sought further elaboration, and the reporter readily provided all the details he knew.

Israel’s Nightmare: Jew against Jew, Lillian Rosengarten
I have such a problem with Zionism today, some kind of distorted incarnation of what was once created from the ashes of the Holocaust to be a safe haven for Jews within a model of a secular nation state. I rage against attempts to blur the distinction between Zionist nationalism and Jewish religion. Of course some Jews are Zionists but I am a secular non Zionist Jew who strongly believes in the separation of church and state for a country to be truly democratic.


Europe gets it: Israel ‘forcibly transfers’ Palestinians

Jan 12, 2012

Alex Kane

BASEMsilw1601070058 preview 1
Bulldozers, guarded by Israeli police, being transported to demolish a house in Silwan, a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, January 16th, 2007.
(Photo: Keren Manor/Activestills).

An internal European Union (EU) report catches up to the reality of life for Palestinians living in Area C of the West Bank: Israel is “closing the window” on a two-state solution and engages in “forced transfer of the native population.” That’s the diplomatic way of saying ethnic cleansing.

Donald Macintyre of the Independent has the story:

The Palestinian presence in the largest part of the occupied West Bank – has been, “continuously undermined” by Israel in ways that are “closing the window” on a two-state solution, according to an internal EU report seen by The Independent

Area C is one of three zones allocated by the 1993 Oslo agreement. Area A includes major Palestinian cities, and is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Area B is under shared Israeli-Palestinian control.

Although Area C is the least populous, the report says “the window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing with the continued expansion of Israeli settlements and access restrictions for Palestinians in Area C [which] compromises crucial natural resources and land for the future demographic and economic growth of a viable Palestinian state”.

It says the EU needs “at a political” level to persuade Israel to redesignate Area C, but in the meantime it should “support Palestinian presence in, and development of the area”. The report says the destruction of homes, public buildings and workplaces result in “forced transfer of the native population” and that construction is effectively prohibited in 70 per cent of the land – and then in zones largely allocated to settlements of th

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Hi All,


Am on my way to a meeting and am already late.  I apologize.  This is as far as I got today—but there is interesting stuff in it, beginning with more Israeli demographic criteria, even in the Supreme Court, and new EU policy, perhaps.  Would have liked to comment, but . . .

See you tomorrow.



1 Haaretz

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Israeli-Palestinian couples on Citizenship Law: Supreme Court guided by Israeli racism

Supreme Court ruling to uphold law banning family reunification, ending hope for a normal life for thousands of families in Israel.

By Jack Khoury

Tags: Jews and Arabs Palestinians Israel Supreme Court Knesset

Thousands of families of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have been waiting for years for a Supreme Court decision rejecting Israel’s Citizenship Law. Wednesday’s ruling to uphold the law puts an end to their hope of obtaining citizenship for their spouses and receiving permanent status in Israel.

Taysar Hatib and his wife Lana of Acre married six years ago. Up to this day Lana, originally from Nablus, has been denied an Israeli citizenship. She receives a temporary permit to live with her husband in Acre annually, but doesn’t hold the legal rights extended to permanent Israeli residents.

Taysar, who is writing his anthropology doctorate at Haifa University and is employed as a lecturer at the Western Galilee College, wasn’t surprised by the court ruling. “The decision is proof that one shouldn’t have any faith in the Israeli judicial system. It is clear that the Supreme Court is influenced by the wave of fascism and racism sweeping Israel and the judges weren’t expected to act in any other way.”

Hatib explained that though his wife holds a permit of temporary residence, the court ruling puts an end to any hope for advancement or a normal life. “She can’t develop a career – She can’t even drive a car, though she holds a Palestinian driver’s license.”

Hatam Ataya, a lawyer from Kfar Qara, married his wife Jasmine, 12 years ago. Since the two wed, they have been trying to obtain a citizenship for Jasmine, who was born in Nablus, but have faced the repeated refusal from Israeli authorities.

Hatam heard about the court ruling from Haaretz, late on Wednesday night and had a hard time swallowing the bitter news. According to him: “If Michaeli spilled water on Majadele and people said that it wasn’t racist or offensive, then the Supreme Court spilled a large bucket of water on Israel’s Arab citizens.”

The Citizenship Law is temporary legislation that only allows reunification in Israel of Palestinians with an Israeli spouse if it involves a Palestinian husband who is at least 36 years of age or if it involves a Palestinian wife who is at least 26.


The decision to refuse to allow couples to live together in Israel was initially taken by the government in May 2002. The Knesset affirmed the policy the following year and has since extended its initial expiration date twice. The extensions came despite petitions filed in the High Court of Justice challenging the provision.


Other reports on this subject


2 Haaretz

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

State denies entry to Israeli’s Nigerian husband for being ‘just a sperm donor’

Yifat Zohar married Goodluck Ayemo in Nigeria and applied for permission for him to come to Israel to start the naturalization process as her spouse, but the ministry refused to let him into the country.

By Talila Nesher

The Interior Ministry is refusing to let an Israeli woman’s Nigerian husband enter the country, claiming she intends to use him only as a sperm donor.

Yifat Zohar, 42, married Goodluck Ayemo in Nigeria about a year ago and then applied for permission for him to come to Israel to start the multiyear naturalization process as her spouse. But the ministry refused to even let him into the country.

In its response to her application, the ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority wrote that Zohar “asked us to consider her advanced age, because she “wants to bring at least one child [into the world] before it is too late” – a statement that attests to her true intentions in entering into marital relations” with Ayemo.

Moreover, it wrote, “for you, this is a third marriage, and the second to a foreigner, while for Mr. Goodluck, this is a second marriage.” The authority was also disturbed that “you’re the one who financed the entire cost of his flight and even bought the ring, while he promised to repay you the money once he is working in Israel,” as well as by the fact that the two initially met while Ayemo was here illegally.

Taken altogether, it concluded, Zohar did not supply enough evidence to show that “this is a genuine, honest relationship and not a move whose entire purpose is essentially a quid pro quo – for [Ayemo], obtaining status in Israel, and for [Zohar], a way to get pregnant.”

This response was approved by the ministry’s legal division.

Zohar said that she would accept the standard procedure of examining the validity of the relationship at various stages during the naturalization process. “But how is it possible to categorically deny the existence of a genuine relationship in advance?” she asked.

The authority declined to comment, saying its response to Zohar “needs no interpretation.” Her lawyer, Yadin Elam, said that if the authority doesn’t retract its decision, Zohar will fight its “ugly, chauvinistic” arguments in court.


3 Ynet

Thursday, January 12. 2012

  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Photo: AP

   Europe to pursue Area C projects

Official document by EU delegates criticizes Israel’s policies in West Bank, suggests bloc must pursue ventures in Israeli-controlled area even without Israel’s cooperation,7340,L-4174682,00.html

Elior Levy

The European Union has decided to pursue a series of steps which may undermine Israel’s control of Area C in the West Bank, an official EU document obtained by Ynet on Thursday suggests.

The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three areas of control: Area A which is under the Palestinian Authority’s full control; Area B, which is under Palestinian civil controls and shared Israeli-Palestinian security control; and Area C, which is controlled by Israel.

Area C makes up 62% of the West Bank, but the Palestinians make up only 5.8% of its population.

The document, titled “Area C and Palestinian state building,” harshly criticizes Israel’s policies in the West Bank, claiming they have caused the Palestinian population in Area C to shrink significantly and recede into enclaves.

Investing in infrastructure (Illustration: AFP)

The document states that Europe will support road, water, infrastructure, municipal, educational and medical projects in the area, in order to “support the Palestinian people and help maintain their presence (in the area).”

The EU, the brief said, aims to:

Encourage Israel to change its policy and planning system for Area C and engage the Palestinian communities in access and developments

Reduce land and population vulnerability and facilitate better coordination of basic needs deliveries in Area C

Promote economic development in Area C

Increase visibility and accountability for the delivery of aid in Area C

The diplomats state that “The window for the two-state solution is rapidly closing… and Area C is the only contiguous area in the western Negev surrounding Area A and B. Area C compromises crucial natural resources and land for the future demographic and economic growth of a viable Palestinian state. State building efforts in Area C of the PA are therefore of utmost important in order to support the creation of a Palestinian state.”

The EU, a western diplomat told Ynet, is primarily concerned about three aspects overshadowing the viability of the two-state solution: Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Area C. The EU, he added, is worried that Israel’s policies in Area C will prevent the PA from maintaining territorial continuity, perpetuating the current situation of a “patch-state.”

The documents expresses the EU’s concern that the dwindling Palestinian presence in Area C is “pushing the conception of a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines further away” and urges the immediate cessation of what it calls Israel’s “demolition policy” in Palestinian villages.

The document also urges Israel to support Palestinian development plans across the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The diplomats underscore throughout the brief the need for EU support of private and public sector projects and infrastructure, but make no mention of involving Israel, or obtaining its cooperation in such projects.

A Western diplomat familiar with the document told Ynet that the Europeans have decided to simply skip Israeli regulations: “What Europe is essentially saying here is that because Area C is vital for sustaining a viable Palestinian state, we will support whatever needs to be done for the sale of Palestinian development in the area regardless of Israel’s planning policy.”

He confirmed that the step was meant to reduce the amount of necessary building permits, saying that “European funding of vital projects like water infrastructure will be independent of Israeli authorities’ approval.”

You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet’s Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at:


The Independent Thursday, January 12, 2012

EU on verge of abandoning hope for a viable Palestinian state

Israel’s foreign ministry denied that Israeli settlers were taking water resources from the West Bank

Donald Macintyre

The Palestinian presence in the largest part of the occupied West Bank – has been, “continuously undermined” by Israel in ways that are “closing the window” on a two-state solution, according to an internal EU report seen by The Independent.

The report, approved by top Brussels officials, argues that EU support, including for a wide range of building projects, is now needed to protect the rights of “ever more isolated” Palestinians in “Area C”, a sector that includes all 124 Jewish settlements – illegal in international law – and which is under direct Israeli control. It comprises 62 per cent of the West Bank, including the “most fertile and resource rich land”.

With the number of Jewish settlers now at more than double the shrinking Palestinian population in the largely rural area, the report warns bluntly that, “if current trends are not stopped and reversed, the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders seem more remote than ever”.

The 16-page document is the EU’s starkest critique yet of how a combination of house and farm building demolitions; a prohibitive planning regime; relentless settlement expansion; the military’s separation barrier; obstacles to free movement; and denial of access to vital natural resources, including land and water, is eroding Palestinian tenure of the large tract of the West Bank on which hopes of a contiguous Palestinian state depend.

International brokers are trying to persuade both sides to reach a peaceful settlement through talks, which had stalled over the building of Israeli settlements and the Palestinians’ recent declaration of statehood at the UN.

The report points out how dramatically the settler population – now at 310,000 – of Area C has increased at the expense of Palestinian numbers – estimated at around 150,000. In 1967, there were between 200,000 and 320,000 Palestinians in just the agriculture-rich Jordan Valley part of the zone.

Area C is one of three zones allocated by the 1993 Oslo agreement. Area A includes major Palestinian cities, and is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Area B is under shared Israeli-Palestinian control.

Although Area C is the least populous, the report says “the window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing with the continued expansion of Israeli settlements and access restrictions for Palestinians in Area C [which] compromises crucial natural resources and land for the future demographic and economic growth of a viable Palestinian state”.

It says the EU needs “at a political” level to persuade Israel to redesignate Area C, but in the meantime it should “support Palestinian presence in, and development of the area”. The report says the destruction of homes, public buildings and workplaces result in “forced transfer of the native population” and that construction is effectively prohibited in 70 per cent of the land – and then in zones largely allocated to settlements of the Israeli military.

In practice, it says Palestinian construction is permitted in just 1 per cent of Area C, “most of which is already built up”. The EU report’s short- and medium-term recommendations include calling on Israel to halt demolitions of houses and structures built without permits – of which there have been 4,800 since 2000. But there is also a call for the EU to support a building programme that includes schools, clinics, water and other infrastructure projects.

The EU should also be more vocal in raising objections to “involuntary population movements, displacements, evictions and internal migration”.

The report says Area C – along with East Jerusalem – has not benefited from the gradual reversal of the West Bank economic collapse since the beginning of the intifada in 2000 which saw growth of 9 per cent in 2010. It also claims Palestinian economic activity is mainly “low intensity” agriculture in contrast to specialised, export-directed farming by Jewish settlers in the Jordan Valley “which uses most of the water resources in the area”, and that it is of “great concern” that cisterns and rainwater structures have been destroyed by the Israeli authorities since January 2010 – a claim which Israel’s foreign ministry denied.


4 Al Jazeera

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Counting the Cost News

Michael Marder

Michael Marder is a Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country


Ultra-orthodox reflection of Israeli politics

Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox community, like the government, believes they are exempt from having to justify their behaviour.

Israeli authorities and the ultra-orthodox community share similar attitudes and tactics, the author says [GALLO/GETTY]

Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain – Since late 2011, the conflict between the secular and the ultra-religious segments of Israeli society has reached a boiling point over the issue of women’s rights.

Among the seemingly bizarre recent events, highlighting a growing societal rift, we may single out the controversy over female singing in the Israeli army, deemed to offend the sensibilities of religious soldiers; demands for gender segregation on public buses and forced removal of female passengers from their seats; harassment of an eight-year old girl on the pretext of her being “provocatively” dressed; a credit card company pulling ads that featured women’s faces from billboards in Jerusalem in response to the threat, by ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) believers, to burn buses and bus stops, where such ads were featured; a conference on fertility and Jewish law, whose organisers prevented female professionals from speaking out and offering their point of view… and the list goes on.

Critical responses to these events either explicitly state or simply assume that religious fanatics are nothing but fringe elements far outside the mainstream of the Israeli society, elements attempting to “highjack” the public sphere and “corrupt” its democratic core. One adherent of this approach is the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, who, last month, called upon Israeli citizens to protest en masse against the growing influence of Haredi extremists and to reclaim their civic freedoms.

Israelis rally against gender segregation

Yet, given the overall political context, within which the concerted ultra-Orthodox onslaught is taking place, it is doubtful, to say the least, that this radicalisation is an aberration, a mere exception to the rule of peaceful coexistence. I would argue that in its belligerent, uncompromising stance on women, the conduct of the ultra-religious faction actually reflects the unadorned image of the Israeli politics and society as a whole.

Dialogue: impossible

The rabbis, who are intent to institute religious dictate at the level of the entire state, have had good teachers and fine examples to imitate; most recently, they have learned from the conduct of Netanyahu’s government that adopted an overtly bullying stance both toward the Palestinians and toward the international community, triggering diplomatic crisis with Turkey and, even, with the United States.

Rejection of dialogue in foreign affairs cannot help but affect the way intra-societal tensions are dealt with: in both cases, blackmail, intimidation of opponents and display of brute force become the preferred tactics at the expense of the political process par excellence.

Just as the Israeli government refuses to consider Palestinian representatives as partners in a dialogue and, instead, continues to dictate the rules of the game through military occupation, so religious leaders do not regard members of the secular civil society as worthy of engagement and moral consideration. At best, this attitude spells out absolute disrespect for the rights of others; at worst, its cost is measured in the loss of human lives.

What is the common denominator, underlying the imperviousness of Israeli political and religious leaders to a meaningful discussion?

In the first place, it is the fervent and unshakeable belief, characteristic of all fanatics, in the possession of the ultimate truth. Haredim can dispense with public debate because, from their perspective, the truth they hold is absolute, grounded as it is in the word of God. Anyone who disobeys divinely mandated Law is, according to them, subject to severe punishment, which does not preclude elaborate curses or death sentences.

The current extremist government can do away with political dialogue for a very similar reason, namely, that its idea of the state is based on certain eternal, unquestionable truths – enshrined in the doctrines of Zionism – forever closed for discussion. Such political metaphysics is a powerful tool for the creation of social consensus, as much as a justification for dealing harsh punishments to its opponents, including the shootings and killings of protesters in the occupied Palestinian territories.

‘Ultimate truth’?

A “holier than thou” attitude prevails both in the Israeli political mindset and in the religious imaginary of ultra-Orthodox Jews. While, in the first case, it makes earnest diplomacy all but impossible, in the second case, this attitude threatens the very possibility of a coherent civil society. The drama of the present situation, however, is that, despite their symbiotic arrangement, the two “eternal truths” logically negate one another.

The politics of the right-wing government depends, at once, on the identification of the external enemy, with whom there is nothing to discuss, and the consolidation of the heterogeneous population within the state against this foe. Religious extremism, conversely, creates a set of tears in the socio-political fabric, thereby endangering the project of the Israeli “hawks”.

The Orthodox community, like the Israeli government, believes it possesses the ‘ultimate truth’ which exempts them from having to explain or justify their behaviour, beliefs or actions [GALLO/GETTY]

Perhaps, the contradiction lies in the self-definition of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”, and all signs point at the fact that time has come for it to make a choice between these two adjectives. For the country’s political leaders, this description means that only Jews can benefit from the advantages of democracy, often at the expense of non-Jewish minorities. But, from the vantage point of the ultra-Orthodox, secular Jews are not Jewish enough and, therefore, should be treated the way the political establishment treats Palestinians, which is to say, with disdain, dictating the conditions of their existence.

Regardless of these frictions, the overlaps between the current political doctrine and religious extremism in Israel are remarkable. Most blatantly, both resort to the tactic of inversion, portraying aggressors as victims and victims as aggressors.

Political authorities use the historical victimisation of European Jews as the ultimate argument for the continued occupation of an entire nation, while dismissing any criticism as an expression of anti-Semitism. December 31 protests in Jerusalem saw ultra-Orthodox Jews wearing prison uniforms and yellow Stars of David in a clear reference to the Nazi concentration camps. It is the height of cynicism (not to mention Nietzschean ressentiment) to don the appearance of a sufferer after harassing and insulting non-religious girls and women for the way they dress and choose their seats on a public bus.

Faced with the onslaught of a rapidly growing and belligerent religious minority, the Israeli authorities are forced to see, as though in a mirror, a faithful reflection of their own conduct. The attitudes and the tactics of the two groups are almost identical. Contempt toward others and the ensuing unwillingness to engage in dialogue; belief in eternal truths and self-righteousness; pretence of victimhood as a cover for aggression – all these are the refracted images of Israeli politics on the contemporary ultra-Orthodox scene.

Before decrying the extremism of religious zealots, Israeli politicians should take a closer look at themselves in the mirror this “small minority” (to cite Peres) holds before them. The mirror suspended from the Wall they call “Segregation Fence”.

Michael Marder is Ikerbasque Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz. He is the author of The Event of the Thing: Derrida’s Post-Deconstructive Realism (2009), Groundless Existence: The Political Ontology of Carl Schmitt (2010) and numerous articles in phenomenology, political philosophy, and environmental thought. Most recently, he co-edited, with Patricia Vieira, the collection Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian Thought (2011). His website is


5 LA Times

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Palestinian leaders outraged over West Bank construction data

A report released by Israel’s Peace Now group also says building last year on East Jerusalem land seized during the 1967 Middle East War was at the highest level in a decade.

A Palestinian works at a a housing complex construction site in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev, a Jewish development on land Israel seized after the 1967 war. (Jim Hollander, European Pressphoto Agency / January 11, 2012),0,6144369.story

By Maher Abukhater, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Ramallah, West Bank— Palestinian leaders voiced outrage Tuesday over a new report that Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank rose 20% last year. The report released by the Peace Now group also says that building on East Jerusalem land seized during the 1967 Middle East War was at the highest level in a decade.

The study by the Israeli group, which is opposed to settlement construction, found that Israel began construction on more than 1,850 West Bank units in 2011, up from 1,550 in 2010. During much of 2010, Israel observed a partial moratorium on new West Bank construction, which reduced building starts that year.

The data on new construction angered Palestinian leaders, who blame Israel’s settlement policy for stalled peace talks.

“It should send alarm bells to the world that Israel is killing any chance for the two-state solution,” Palestinian Authority government spokesman Ghassan Khatib said.

The housing expansion was most dramatic in East Jerusalem, where plans for 3,690 units were approved and plans for an additional 2,660 units were unveiled, Peace Now said.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is promoting several plans precisely in disputed areas which could prevent the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel,” the report says.

Israeli officials defended the settlement policy, saying their self-imposed 10-month moratorium on new construction in 2010 failed to bring Palestinians back to the negotiating table as expected. Israel is also saddled with a housing shortage.

Palestinians have boycotted formal peace talks until Israel halts all settlement construction, but both sides resumed low-level meetings in Jordan in recent days in an effort to revive negotiations.

Palestinian officials said Tuesday that the preliminary talks have not yielded any breakthroughs.

Abukhater is a special correspondent.


6 Today in Palestine

January 11, 2012


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