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Shadia Mansour, first lady of Arabic hip-hop, featured in Esquire mag contest

Mar 13, 2012

Allison Deger

(Photo: Hip Hop Diplomacy)

Esquire magazine is hosting a run-off for the “hottest” woman and Palestinian hip-hop artist Shadia Mansour is in the running.

The contest with “sixty-four women, six rounds, and one winner — your winner — without any actual consequences” is kitschy at best, and sexist at worst. But (unfortunately) it is also one of the few mainstream profiles of a Palestinian woman outside of the “terrorist” or “victim” paradigm. Best of luck to Shadia, the first lady of Arabic hip-hop.

For a reminder on Shadia Mansour’s way with words and rhythm, check out her “El Kofeyye 3arabeyye” music video.


Egypt is looted, and the U.S. press calls it ‘reform’

Mar 13, 2012

James North

Joseph Stiglitz

One of the more annoying and dishonest features of the mainstream American media over the past couple of decades has been its use of the word “reform,” without quotation marks, as shorthand for a set of controversial economic policies the United States and global institutions like the International Monetary Fund have imposed on the poor nations in the global south.

The word “reform” is biased; no right-thinking person could be against it. If the New York Timesand the Washington Post had followed their own rules about objectivity, they would have instead used neutral terms, like “neoliberalism,” or “the Washington Consensus,” and they would have pointed out that distinguished economists like Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, along with large, vocal masses of people in the poor countries themselves, have warned for years that the “reform” policies are a slow-motion disaster.

The latest evidence for the failure of neoliberalism comes from Egypt, and even the mainstream press is finally recognizing it. In the Washington Post recently, Stephen Glain blamed the U.S government, the IMF and the World Bank for pushing policies that severely damaged Egyptian agriculture, to the point where the country now has to waste precious foreign exchange to import nearly all of the wheat it needs for bread, the staple food.

An earlier Post article showed how the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) funded a Cairo think tank that vigorously promoted the “privatization” of state-run companies, public resources, and lands. Privatization, one of the tenets of the neoliberal orthodoxy, is supposed to foster competition, efficiency and economic growth.

In fact, the privatizations were rigged by Gamal Mubarak, the deposed dictator’s son, and his cronies, who gained control of companies worth billions of dollars at fractions of their true value. (The Post reported that the Chicago-based international law firm Baker & McKenzie arranged many of the deals.) The biggest of Gamal’s shady partners, Ahmed Ezz, inherited a state-owned steel company, which he turned into an inefficient monopoly.

Instead of wasting $10 million on their think tank, U.S. AID could have simply stopped any adult Egyptian in the street and asked them how privatizations conducted by the Mubarak regime would turn out.

Professor Joe Stiglitz uses the terms “market Bolsheviks,” or “market fundamentalists,” to describe the zealots who have imposed neoliberalism across the global south. His choice of words is brilliant. The unelected apparatchiks at U.S. AID or the IMF who have pressured the governments of Egypt or Bolivia or Zambia over the past 20 years or so, without caring about or even knowing the reality in those places, are the spiritual descendants of the Soviet central planners who coldly treated human beings as statistics.

Meanwhile, a small group of thieves stole billions of dollars of public property that had been built up by the Egyptian people. At the very least, the mainstream press should stop calling this colossal robbery “reform.”

Remnick ignores the Nakba’s role in Israeli ‘democracy’

Mar 13, 2012

Omar Barghouti

Editor’s Note: Earlier today Phil posted on a recent New Yorker article by David Remnick titled “Threatened“. Omar Barghouti emailed out this response to Remnick’s piece and gave us permission to publish it.

How sickeningly typical, predictable, and utterly immoral of soft Zionists!

Nakba denial is always an indicator of deep-seated racism and a profound deficiency in intellectual honesty, not to mention moral decency. But in this article Nakba denial, indeed denial of the existence of 62% of the Palestinian people (those outside the occupied Palestinian territory), is taken to a whole new level, whereby Israel’s “birth” becomes a glorified “experiment in Jewish power, unique after two millennia of persecution and exile” and where Israel’s “structures of governance are point of pride.” Alas, according to the editor of the New Yorker, this wonderful democracy is currently (only currently) undergoing an “impasse.” Jewish fundamentalists (and settlers are largely assumed to be part of that camp, without much justification) are gaining power and undermining an otherwise flourishing Israeli Jewish “democracy” that is closer to the European social-democratic model. The fact that almost all of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people and other Arab peoples for the last six decades have been committed predominantly by avowedly secular Jews — of European descent — is lost on this influential author.

The fact that Zionist gangs ethnically cleansed in a well-documented, pre-meditated crusade of massacres, expulsions and terror, most of the indigenous Palestinians to establish a Jewish-dominated state in Palestine is never mentioned. Only “the occupation” has corrupted the otherwise innocent, thriving, miraculous Israel.

Palestinians are revolted by this relentless Zionist revisionism, deleting most of us out of existence and only recognizing an ever shrinking subset of our rights, with the not-so-hidden intent of saving Israeli apartheid.

True, by US mainstream “media” standards, this article passes as revolutionary–after all, the author describes Israel with such taboo terms as “apartheid,” “fundamentalism” (in reference to the Jewish brand, for a change), “xenophobia,” “racism,” etc. But the omission of the foundational injustice committed by the Zionist movement and later Israel against the Palestinian people is inexcusable, professionally, morally, or otherwise.

The spoils of lawfare, or please do not pet the Islamists: Shurat HaDin’s 2012 ‘Ultimate Mission to Israel’

Mar 13, 2012

Paul Mutter

Part of me very much wishes to believe this is all a viral marketing effort leading to a forthcoming episode of Portlandia where they go to Israel. It is almost that surreal, but in a somewhat entertaining manner.


Shurat HaDin – an Israeli “lawfare” group that set up legal roadblock after roadblock against “Gaza Freedom Flotilla II” last year – has for several years offered tours of Israel that take in the sort of sights a military fanboy would love, from Hezbollah watching on the Lebanese border to visiting the IAF units that carry out targeted killings and viewing military trials of alleged Hamas operatives (that was part of the 2011 trip). Also, there is a BBQ. The one-week trip costs around US$3,000 and is billed as “Taking it to a Whole New Level,” “The Ultimate Mission to Israel”.

No argument here.

As a sometimes-national security blogger, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was curious about this sort of combat voyeurism and how it might speak volumes about the further militarization of Israeli society, though a friend’s perhaps uncharitable assessment is that most of the people who do go on these trips are not Israelis, but IDF fanboys from the U.S. (the works of Tom Clancy were mentioned in passing in the discussion). In that case, these trips say more about the way the IDF is perceived in both countries than anything else.

Here’s this year’s agenda. As you can see from the screenshot, I mentioned the Gaza flotilla to start with not just because it’s Shurat HaDin’s claim to fame in the U.S. media (its charity work in Israel and lawsuits against terrorist financiers not being well-known outside of the country) but because, apparently, one of this year’s highlights is a trip to the undisclosed naval base where the Israeli navy is holding flotilla ships it’s impounded. It’s not clear which ships they’re referring to, but since only a single ship from the 2011 effort reached Gazan waters, I imagine they are also referring to ships from the 2010 effort.

I guess it’s really only fair that the lawfare group be allowed to tour these prizes – the navy might have actually boarded and impounded the ships in both cases, but Shurat HaDin made their job so much easier the second time through its pressure campaign against the organizers and the Greek government. With one exception, a French boat, none of the second flotilla’s ships made it further than Greek territorial waters.

I imagine anyone who might be linked to the IAEA is not allowed to go any further than the gift shop when the group makes a stop at the Research Center for Atomic Energy (do you think one can buy plausible deniability Jericho missile keychains there?).I’d have to say that this year’s most questionable whistlestop for Shurat HaDin is the opportunity for ticket holders to visit a Druze village that has apparently become home to a number of refugees fleeing Syria’s nascent civil war. With several Syria events planned for the trip, apparently, I guess there is not much concern over that conflict escalating in the Golan Heights area.

You all probably think I’m appalled with many aspects of this itinerary – no, not the BBQ, obviously, the gawking at refugees, yes – yet I must look for the silver lining, and to me that silver lining is the timing of the summer’s venue, July 9-16.

Why is this cause for cautious optimism? Because some informed comment has determined that if Israel is going to attack Iran this year, it will almost certainly be before the end of this summer. Surely this indicates that war with Iran is unlikely in the tour organizers’ minds who, based on where they’re getting to go, must have a feel on the pulse of the security forces (who are generally not as sanguine about the prospect of war with Iran as Ehud Barak appears to be).

And while Netanyahu might be an overly rude guest – just ask Obama – he does not seem to be an overly rude host (he hasn’t expelled Gideon Levy or the Arab minority yet). Surely, he would not risk waging war with Iran and inconveniencing Israel’s most gung-ho tourists?

Muslim activists give NYPD chief Ray Kelly the cold shoulder

Mar 13, 2012

Alex Kane

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD chief Ray Kelly (Photo: AP)

Ray Kelly, the current head of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and a potential future mayoral candidate, has a problem. Month after month of revelations unearthed by the Associated Press (AP) has painted a damning picture of his police force’s massive and arbitrary spy operation targeting Muslims.

So now, Kelly is embarking on a public outreach effort to bring Muslim leaders over to his side. He’s had some success, and the likes of Zuhdi Jasser, an anti-Muslim activist, have publicly praised his actions. But Muslim activists highly critical of Kelly and the NYPD’s spying have called the public outreach a “sham” effort that has excluded the very people who have been requesting meetings with the NYPD over Muslim community-police relations.

Kelly has withstood months of withering criticism of the NYPD’s efforts to monitor and catalog virtually every aspect of Muslim life in New York City and elsewhere. Last week, Kelly met twice with Muslim leaders at One Police Plaza. The leaders came out of the meeting singing Kelly’s praises. Mayor Michael Bloomberg received the message; on his weekly radio show, Bloomberg said that “almost all of the Muslim groups he has spoken to in recent weeks are supportive of New York City’s surveillance programs,” the AP reported.

Muslim activists, though, say that’s simply not true. Last Friday, I spoke with Debbie Almontaser, a prominent Muslim leader in New York who was formerly the head of the city’s first dual-language Arabic public school. Later that day, Almontaser was set to participate in a press conference denouncing the meetings and the NYPD’s surveillance program.

Debbie Almontaser (Photo: WNYC/Flickr)

Almontaser, currently a coordinator and board member for the Muslim Consultative Network, was invited to the first of the meetings with Kelly. She rejected the offer, though, because she was only given 24 hours notice, and found it “insulting” that the NYPD was picking who to meet with.

“Police Commissioner Kelly has hand selected individuals” to meet with, said Almontaser. “He has just intentionally disregarded the call for a meeting or giving a courtesy invitation to individual leaders from the coalitions that have been asking for meetings for the past year.”

Almontaser also raised questions about the leaders meeting with Kelly. “Those leaders that he met with are leaders in their own right, providing services to individuals in their community,” she said. But “whether or not these people have the expertise of being able to critique legal, constitutional matters that infringe on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, that has yet to be determined. Because if they were able to critique this surveillance project, and they read the extensive documents that were released by the Associated Press, they very well would see that this project is really infringing on our civil liberties.”

As for the claim that, in general, Muslims are supportive of the NYPD spy efforts, Almontaser also said that was false. She noted that the coalitions organizing last week’s press conference–the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition and the Islamic Leadership Council of New York–represent over 65 organizations.

Kelly’s public outreach efforts came the same week as yet another damning report from the AP was published. The latest AP article definitively shows that the NYPD spied on people just because they practiced Islam–a detail that contradicts Bloomberg’s previous statements. The article was based on once-secret documents that show the NYPD compiled detailed information on Egyptians, Syrians and Albanians in the city. From the AP:

The New York Police Department collected information on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims, according to newly obtained secret documents. They show in the clearest terms yet that police were monitoring people based on religion, despite claims from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the contrary…

In late 2007, however, plainclothes officers in the department’s secretive Demographics Unit were assigned to investigate the region’s Syrian population. Police photographed businesses and eavesdropped at lunch counters and inside grocery stores and pastry shops. The resulting document listed no threat. And though most people of Syrian heritage living in the area were Jewish, Jews were excluded from the monitoring.

“This report will focus on the smaller Muslim community,” the report said.

Similarly, police excluded the city’s sizable Coptic Christian population when photographing, monitoring and eavesdropping on Egyptian businesses in 2007, according to the police files.

“This report does not represent the Coptic Egyptian community and is merely an insight into the Muslim Egyptian community of New York City,” the NYPD wrote.

In response to the report, Almontaser said: “They are just specifically targeting Muslims, period. This is absolutely unacceptable and unconstitutional.”

The AP revelations are likely to keep streaming out. Still, Muslim activists have an uphill battle to fight. A Quinnipiac University poll released today reports that 58 percent of people surveyed support the NYPD’s dealings with the Muslim community.

The evolution of Peter Beinart

Mar 13, 2012

Adam Horowitz

May, 2010 to Jeffrey Goldberg (emphasis added in both quotes):

I’m not asking Israel to be Utopian. I’m not asking it to allow Palestinians who were forced out (or fled) in 1948 to return to their homes. I’m not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. I’m actually pretty willing to compromise my liberalism for Israel’s security and for its status as a Jewish state.

March, 2012 on the Daily Beast:

Zion Square’s mission is to launch a conversation not just about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not just about the specter of war with Iran, not just about the relationship between Israel and diaspora Jews, not just about Jewish theology and culture, but about the struggle to confront the ethical responsibilities of a world in which Jewish fortunes have radically changed. My own deeply held belief is that that struggle should be guided by the principles of Israel’s declaration of independence, which envisions a Jewish state that ensures “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” I believe that such a state can only be achieved through a new commitment to full citizenship for those Palestinians who live within the green line, and through the creation of a Palestinian state beyond it.

A work in progress. How long before Beinart reconsiders his thoughts on the right of return? Or the idea of a Jewish state all together?

To my unborn children

Mar 13, 2012

Today in Palestine

To my unborn children, by Nader Elkhuzundar a 24 year old blogger in Gaza
I know you probably won’t be there to read this. Maybe I would be dead before you see the light. Or rather, witness how very inhumane and so unjust this world has become. I’ll just write anyway, maybe at least your elder brother or sister witnesses all that and read this.
Ever since I came to Gaza, I’ve been dreaming of a better life. Peaceful and quiet. No explosions or blood. No injuries or martyrs. Nothing but a regular peaceful life each and every one of us would wish for.
In Gaza, everything is different. In Gaza, Israeli F16s substitute birds. In Gaza, we sleep on the continuous buzzing coming from the ever-existent drones. We wake up to find that there’s no electricity. In Gaza, explosions are the sunshine and the smell of ash is the cent of the city.
Electricity barely comes in Gaza, where it’s very dangerous to live in. Every moment you live is considered a new life because it’s very dangerous and Israelis bring their toys over to Gaza and play with us the hard way.
My beloved unborn children, being a Gazan means that you’re strong willed, courageous, and like no other. As you grow up, you’ll learn all about the different kinds of weapons and arms both allowed and internationally forbidden. What’s different in Gaza is that Israel doesn’t distinguish its targets. Meaning, they kill anything that moves with a smile. Frankly, they would kill us more than once if possible.
Growing up in Gaza isn’t easy. Growing up in Gaza is a challenge. A quest. And the reward is a strong courageous personality. So brave to the point that you’d stand in front of a tank with a bare chest and a rock. Daring it to move forward yelling ‘over my dead body’. More like mashed if you want to know.
Another thing you’ll gain as a Gazan is that you’ll be able to distinguish the sounds of whatever that kills. Be a M-16, AK-47, .50 Cal, Shells from the Israeli warships in the sea, warplanes in the sky, tank shells, and the list goes on forever. Living in Gaza is a challenge of patience. Only the strong and the brave can survive. By survive, I mean living yet another day of struggle and a million hardships a day.
Last but not least, don’t leave Palestine. It’s where you belong. It’s where everything counts and where whatever little will make a huge change. Don’t leave Palestine because it’s my motherland. Your motherland. Don’t leave Palestine because at the end of the day, it’s all you’ve got left. Don’t leave Palestine even if you’ll be living on olive oil and thyme all your life.
PS: tell your mother that I love her so much. Kiss her cheeks and forehead for me.
With all my love,

Nader is a blogger in Gaza, read more on his blog Sleepless in Gaza,. Nader got accepted to a university in the UK but needs donations to cover tuition, you can donate to his college fundhere.

Land Theft / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid / Refugees

On the way to join Friday prayers at a protest tent in Tel Rumeida, three of us stopped to stand with a Palestinian man who was being detained by a soldier on Shuhada Street near Beit Hadassah, an Israeli settlement. The soldier immediately said to us, “Go, you cannot stay here!”. We told him it was our job to stay until he released the man. At that, he threatened to arrest us. We said “OK, call the police if you like. We are not leaving.” He picked up his phone, then immediately gave the Palestinian his ID back so he could go on his way. We left.
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Israeli right wing’s vision for West Bank annexation (to ‘pull the rug out from under apartheid accusation’), Philip Weiss

Today Avigdor Lieberman says that there will be no corridor between Gaza and the West Bank. That is part of the rightwing’s new vision for breaking up Palestinian life into cantons. Under this plan, Israel would annex 60 percent of the West Bank containing the settlements and allow Palestinian freedom of movement within the remaining areas, but cut the West Bank Palestinians off from Gaza.

Palestinian Man Struggles to Replace All Four Limbs

The last time Palestinian Mohammad Ismael walked on his feet was when he went to the hospital to amputate his legs because he was suffering from a debilitating arterial disease.  Since then he has been bedridden, especially after the amputation of his arms as well. But Ismael has not lost his nerve and seems to be confronting his current situation with a determination that defies his tragic fate. He is referred to as the “man that transcends his wounds” in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces opened fire on a funeral procession east of Gaza City on Tuesday, injuring three Palestinians, hours after a truce was agreed to halt cross-border violence. Mourners carried the bodies of Bassam al-Ajla and Muhammad Thaher, who were killed in an airstrike in the city’s Shujaiyeh neighborhood on Monday evening, to the eastern cementry. Medical spokesman Adham Abu Salmiyah said troops opened fire at the mourners, wounding three people, who were taken to al-Shifa hospital.

Father, Daughter, Killed In Israeli Air Strike
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported Monday that a father and his daughter were killed when the Israeli Air Force bombarded Tal Az-Za’tar area in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli raid kills Palestinian school child
Israeli warplanes launched a series of air raids on the Gaza Strip on Monday the latest of which targeted a school in northern Gaza killing a student and wounding six others.

IOF aggression on Gaza displaced dozens of families

The Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip over the past four days had completely destroyed ten housing units and partially damaged 350 others, the Palestinian government in Gaza said.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Egypt offered to provide fuel to Gaza if militants agree to a ceasefire with Israel, Hamas-affiliated MP Younis al-Astal said Monday. The Gaza Strip has faced up to 18-hour blackouts per day since Egypt cut fuel supplies through an underground tunnel network, and officials are negotiating an emergency route to stave the power crisis. Gaza’s sole power station shut down on Saturday evening for the third time in the past month.
Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament votes in support of expelling Israel’s ambassador

CAIRO — Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament unanimously voted on Monday in support of expelling Israel’s ambassador in Cairo and halting gas exports to the Jewish state. The motion is largely symbolic, because only the ruling military council can make such decisions, and it is not likely to impact Egypt’s relations with Israel. But it signals the seismic change in Egypt after the ouster of longtime leader and Israel ally Hosni Mubarak a year ago in a popular uprising that ended his 29 years in power.

Clinton condemns Palestinians for Israeli bombings
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cited only rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip into southern Israel in her condemnation of the violence in Gaza over the weekend. Clinton declined to condemn Israel for the strikes that have left at least 20 Palestinians dead, including a 12-year-old boy. “Let me also condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza into Southern Israel, which continued over the weekend,” Clinton said during an appearance on Monday before the UN Security Council.

Israeli talk show personality and socialite wife of Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom has called for escalated bombing of Gaza and for the “passive residents” to be made to “suffer.”
An Israeli spokesman has refused to apologize after tweeting a video of a bomb attack in Israel from three years ago while discussing the current violence. Israeli forces have killed at least 20 people, including a 12 year-old boy, in the past three days in an ongoing series of aerial raids. Israel claims its attacks are in response to Palestinian “terrorists” who are firing rockets into the country.
Today I went to my corner shop to get bread for my breakfast. It was closed – two members of the family had been killed in Israeli airstrikes overnight. Like every Gazan, they never know when they leave the house in the morning if they, their child, their brother,sister, mother, father, friend will return home alive. And if they do make it home, will there be electricity to read or study, will there be gas to cook with, will there be medicine for the sick? Will the international community take responsibility today for enabling with its silence, Israel’s killing of their loved ones, by both quick deaths and slow? Is this child a terrorist or collateral damage? Take the seven-year-old brain-dead child pictured, admitted to Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City while I was there this-morning – does he look like a terrorist? Or like a civilian victim of collateral damage? Take the 12 killed overnight, and at last count, the three more killed today – ‘terrorists about to attack Israel’ says the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) to justify their attacks on innocent civilians going about their daily business, walking in the street, going to school.

Gaza flare-up stokes debate about Israel killings policy
Israel’s assassination of a top Gaza militant, which brought hundreds of rockets raining down on the Jewish state and the danger of further escalation, has left some wondering if its policy of targeted killings is still effective.

The Israeli army continues its military attacks against the Gaza Strip. The attacks started Friday, March 10 at 5:30pm. I heard the first terrible explosion as I drove back to Gaza City from Khan Younis. There was a lot of smoke, shattered windows, and a fire in this blue car that was targeted by a missile from an Israeli drone. These offensive acts, though supposedly targeting Palestinian armed resistance men, are illegal according to international law. Every human is entitled a trial. As usual, the entire civilian population including women and children, pays the highest price and bears the brunt of this terrible situation. Already several children have been killed, one was on his way to school when he was hit by shrapnel.
Two days before the Israeli onslaught on Gaza this weekend, the strip’s fisherman told Al-Akhbar’s Doha Shams how a once-thriving local industry has been decimated by draconian Israeli restrictions and the neglect of both Fatah- and Hamas-led administrations.
Other Violence Against Palestinians
Settlers open fire at Silwan students, injured taken to hospital
Israeli settlers opened fire on a Palestinian bus carrying the Silwan University Students League home from a trip to the West Bank on 10 March. Amongst the injured were four students hurt by shattering glass windows hit with live ammunition. They were taken to Al-Maqased Hospital along with three suffering from shock and trauma. As news spread, parents in Silwan began to flock to the hospital to see if their children were amongst the injured. The Students League and Fatah political party issued a statement condemning the settlers’ criminal act and Israeli authorities’ complicity.
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Hana / Political Detainees / Prisoners
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israel on Monday rejected a request by MK Ahmed Tibi to visit hunger-striking detainee Hana Shalabi in prison, the minister’s office said. The Israeli prison service and Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovich turned down the minister’s request despite Tibi’s role in brokering a settlement to end detainee Adnan Khader’s 66-day hunger strike in February, a statement from Tibi’s office said.

IPS punishes prisoners for their solidarity with hunger striker
The Gilboa prison administration increased punishments against Palestinian prisoners for displaying solidarity with administrative detainee Hana’a Shalabi, who is on hunger strike.

The closing arguments in the trial of Palestinian activist, Bassem Tamimi, will be heard on Wednesday, March 14 at the Ofer Military Court. Tamimi, a grassroots organizer from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, has been in jail since March last year, indicted on protest-organizing charges. The hearing on Wednesday will be the final session in the trial before the verdict.
IOF soldiers storm West Bank cities, round up 10 Palestinians
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed five West Bank cities and their villages at dawn Tuesday and rounded up ten Palestinian citizens.

IOF troops at dawn Monday arrested eight Palestinians in different areas of the West Bank on the pretext they are wanted by the occupation.

IOF soldiers arrest three Palestinians in Halhul
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up three Palestinian citizens including two of one family from their homes in Halhul village, to the north of Al-Khalil, at dawn Sunday.

Palestinian detainee bleeding in detention
The health of Palestinian detainee Mahmoud Al-Muslemani is rapidly deteriorating and is suffering from internal bleeding in Israeli captivity.

Dirar Abusisi, who just marked the second anniversary of his kidnapping by Israeli and Ukrainian intelligence agents, is literally wasting away in an Israeli prison.  He was originally apprehended by Israel because its intelligence service thought he knew the whereabouts of then hostage, Gilad Shalit.   When Israel realized it had been hoaxed by Hamas into arresting him and that he had no idea where Shalit was, Israel concocted a story that he was the movement’s chief rocket engineer and founder of a purported Gaza version of West Point.

Detainee goes on hunger strike protesting renewal of his administrative custody
Administrative detainee Mohammed Abu Arab went on hunger strike to protest the Israeli renewal of his administrative custody for four months, his father said.

Popular Protests / BDS / Activism & Solidarity
obstructing access to the village since the beginning of the second Intifada. The peaceful demonstration was met with a heavy tear gas from the Israeli military. Since 2000, the main road from Beit Dajan to Nablus has been blocked by the military. The village of about 4000 inhabitants is located only 9 kilometers from Nablus, but it wasn’t until a new road was built in 2005 that the villagers could access their closest city without taking a 60 kilometer detour. However, even with the new road, travelling to and from Nablus still takes twice the time it used to. It wasn’t until 2009 that anyone could go to Nablus after 5 pm without coordination with the District Coordination Office, the link between the PA and the Israeli military.
Like every Friday, on March 9th residents of Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah, went to protest the Apartheid wall, which encloses their lands and denies them of basic human rights. A part of the protest was an attempt to break a hole in the wall. Activists were met with rubber coated steel bullets, skunk water and tear gas, sometimes fired directly at the demonstrators.
On Saturday, March 10th, 2012, more than 400 Palestinian women, supported by Israeli and international activists, gathered in the village of Beit Ommar for the second womens’ organizing conference of popular resistance to the occupation. Women of all ages arrived in the village from various parts of the West Bank, and were joined by both Palestinians and Israelis had taken the trip from Israel. After a cup of tea or coffee, registration and social mingling, close to 400 women found their seats in the main hall.
The topic for this conference was “Practicing Civil Obedience”. Banners at the conference center showed slogans like “End the occupation” and “Tear down the wall” and expressed support for Hana Shalabi, the Palestinian political prisoner on hunger strike for more than three weeks.

Gaza Activists Prepare for Israeli Apartheid Week, Rana B. Baker and Joe Catron – Gaza
After two successful Israeli Apartheid Weeks (IAWs) in 2010 and 2011, the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI), together with the One Democratic State Group (ODSG) and  the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI),  are  gearing up for Gaza’s third IAW.

Christian theologians, academics and church leaders recently converged in Bethlehem to meet with the local Palestinian church and challenge the Christian Zionist influence within the evangelical movement.

Friend and contributor Dena Shunra put us in contact with Noam Gur, currently undergoing the process of refusing to serve in the Israeli army. Noam is an 18 years old, queer feminist vegan activist currently living in Kiryat Motzkin, near Haifa, but was born and raised in Nahriyya, near Akka and the Lebanese border.
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Photos: Artists Against Apartheid 11/03/2012
Photo essay via Heri Rakotomalala Photo Ensemble Acalanto performs at Artists Against Apartheid. View beautiful photographs from the eighteenth Artists Against Apartheid concert in Montreal via Heri Rakotomalala. Photo Montreal representing at Artists Against Apartheid! Concert took place as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012 and featured New York City-based hip-hop collective Rebel Diaz, Montreal-based Haitian artist Vox […]

Political Developments
Ex-Israeli spymaster: Iran response to Israeli attack would be devastating
Former Mossad head Meir Dagan says military action against Iran will not stop the Islamic Republic from attaining the bomb.
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Human Interest / Analysis / Op-ed

Health care is a unique issue in international politics and discussions of modern civilization.  As an institutional entity, it has both a substantial and direct implication regarding the very existence of human populations.  That’s in contrast to markers such as employment, GDP, or literacy that have effects that are slightly harder to trace out.  Indeed, the authors of the 2010 World Health Report recognized that “promoting and protecting health is essential to human welfare and sustained economic and social development” and that people “rate health one of their highest priorities” .  As a majorly accepted sentiment, it becomes morally difficult to justify institutional health care inequalities if we choose to believe in principles of democracy and Rawlsian equality of opportunity.
Elderly Palestinian woman focused on reading 
This time, as part of Still Going Strong, we meet an elderly woman in the occupied West Bank who is determined to get an education. And she’s going about it in a rather unusual way. Paul Brennan reports from Jaba.

U.S. dollars and supplies to Israel are wasted effort
In recent days, a 19-year-old Palestinian was critically wounded when the Israeli military fired a U.S.-supplied high-velocity tear-gas canister at his head, one in a long series of attacks against civilians using these U.S.-supplied “crowd-control items.” These canisters, meant to be fired from long distances to disperse nonviolent crowds, are often fired by the Israeli military toward civilian demonstrators at very close range. This makes them more akin to salt-shaker-size bullets than nonlethal crowd control items, and the repeated misuse of these canisters has had devastating consequences on both Palestinian and American civilians.

It’s no accident that as soon as Bibi Netanyahu returned from Washington DC, where he apparently was rebuffed yet again in his attempts to wage war on Iran, Israel decided to wage war on Gaza instead. Gaza serves as a punching bag for Israeli leaders when they need some two-bit country to beat the crap out of (to use Michael Ledeen’s memorable phrase).

How Israel Stacks the Legal Deck
Palestinian baker and activist Khader Adnan captured headlines recently for a 66-day hunger strike that led him to the brink of death. His ordeal began in the dead of night on Dec. 17, 2011, when Israeli soldiers broke down the door of his West Bank home. Adnan was arrested before his terrified wife and daughters, and was reportedly abused verbally and physically upon detention and later in interrogation.

The brutal, inhuman event she was referring to was the killing in the Iraqi city of Fallujah of four American civilian contractors, whose SUV was ambushed by rocket-propelled grenades the day before.  The four men, all employees of the infamous mercenary outfit Blackwater, were shot, their bodies burned, mutilated, and dragged through the streets in celebration.  The charred corpses of two of those killed that day were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.  The news, and accompanying photographs, sent shockwaves of horror and disgust through the United States and prompted endless editorials from coast to coast.

Palestinian Folkloric Fairy Tales: Palestinian Painter, Bissan Rafe, Federico Cao
‘Someone once described my work as emotive and powerful without the need for jargon yet criticized that my politics use art as its tool; to which I simply replied: ‘Politics are the opinions or sympathies of a person, the total complex of relations between people living in society’ (Merriam Webster). Be it governmental, emotional or spiritual, it comes down to every single form of art being a political dogma.’ — Bissan Rafe


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