Archive | March 20th, 2012

بين الأسد والجيش لغز محيّر؟

انقضت سنة أولى من الاضطرابات في سوريا من دون تغييرين جوهريين أمِلَ فيهما الغرب والعرب، للانتقال بهذا البلد إلى حقبة ما بعد نصف قرن من حكم حزب البعث: سقوط الرئيس بشّار الأسد، وانهيار الجيش. كلاهما بقي، وانتقلا إلى مرحلة جديدة من المواجهة في الداخل والخارج

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مثّل دور الجيش في الأزمة التي تعصف بالنظام السوري، منذ سنة، أكثر من لغز محيّر بمقدار ما بدا وصفه سهلاً ومبسّطاً، وهو أنه جيش هذا النظام الذي يمنع تهاويه وسقوط الرئيس أو إرغامه على التنحّي. لم ينخرط في الأزمة إلا متأخراً. في الأشهر الأولى، استعان الرئيس بشّار الأسد لمواجهة حركة الاحتجاجات المتصاعدة بالشرطة وأبعَدَ الجيش، فأطلقت النار على المتظاهرين وفاقمت المشكلة مع تنامي وتيرة النقمة عليها، واجتذابها ردود فعل عربية ودولية سلبية حيال سقوط أبرياء قتلى. سحب الأسد الشرطة من الشارع، وأحلّ محلها قوات حفظ النظام بعد إخضاع فرق منها لتدريب سريع مع تعليمات تقضي بعدم إطلاق النار إلا دفاعاً عن النفس.

بمرور أشهر، دخل جزء من المعارضة، وأخصّها الإخوان المسلمون والتيّارات السلفية، في نزاع مسلح مع النظام، ونجح في السيطرة الكاملة على قرى ومدن، بعضها أساسي، حمل الأسد على الاستعانة بالجيش، وصولاً إلى قراره الشهر الماضي تكليفه حسماً عسكرياً لتقويض بنى متينة كان المسلحون قد نجحوا في إقامتها في حمص، وخصوصاً بابا عمرو، وفي إدلب وحماه والزبداني. وقبل أيام أنهى الجيش جولة رئيسية من الحسم هي استعادته الكاملة، في غضون شهر، الزبداني وحمص وإدلب. في بابا عمرو، قدّر النظام المسلحين بثلاثة آلاف، وفي إدلب بأكثر من خمسة آلاف.
بذلك وضع الرئيس السوري مجدّداً المبادرة في يده، بإحراز نجاح في معارك عسكرية ضارية بأثمان فادحة طاولت المعارضة المسلحة، ولم ينجُ منها السكان رغم سعي الجيش ـــــ على أبواب اقتحام حمص وإدلب ـــــ إلى إخلائهما من الأهالي لشنّ حملة أقرب إلى إعدام جماعي لمسلحي الإخوان المسلمين والتيّارات السلفية والجيش السوري الحرّ والميليشيات الأخرى.
على امتداد الأشهر المنصرمة، راهن العرب والغرب، المناوئان للأسد، على دور كبير للجيش من بين احتمالات شتى تساقطت تباعاً، كالمنطقة العسكرية العازلة المفتوحة في درعا وجسر الشغور وتلكلخ ودير الزور، والمنطقة العسكرية العازلة المغلقة كحماه وحمص، والتدخّل العسكري الغربي الخارجي، وإرسال قوات عربية تارة وعربية ـــــ دولية طوراً. وكذلك الرهان على الجيش السوري الحرّ، فظهر قائده العقيد رياض الأسعد طربوشاً وهمياً لاسم بلا مسمّى، عاجزاً عن إحداث انشقاق جوهري في الجيش. بل لم يعدُ عديد الجيش السوري الحرّ سوى النسبة الأقل بين سائر الميليشيات الأوفر عدداً والأكثر تنظيماً والأفضل تسلّحاً وتمويلاً. وبقي ثمّة احتمال وحيد بحظوظ ضئيلة، هو انقلاب الجيش على الرئيس. فلم يقع.
في حصيلة ذلك كلّه، استعان الأسد بالجيش وكسب جولة مهمة في الحسم العسكري الأخير، من غير أن ينجح بعد ـــــ وقد لا ينجح قبل مرور وقت طويل ومنهك ـــــ في حسم المواجهة الأمنية مع معارضيه المسلحين.
توقع العرب والغرب أحد دورين للجيش السوري: انشقاق كبير في صفوفه يقلب موازين القوى لمصلحة المعارضة بشقيها المسالم والمسلح، أو إقدامه على انقلاب عسكري يطيح الرئيس لإخراج البلاد من مأزق العزلتين العربية والدولية وتمادي الانهيار وإنقاذ ما تبقى من الدولة. نظر العرب والغرب إلى النموذج المصري الذي حمل الجيش على التخلي عن الرئيس حسني مبارك وإرغامه على التنحّي، نظراً إلى أهمية المؤسسة العسكرية وموقعها في معادلة السلطة في مصر: يأتي الرئيس من صفوفها، ولا يُنصّب رئيساً إلا مَن يدعمه الجيش الذي يضطلع بدور مواز للسلطات السياسية، وقادر على حسم النزاع على السلطة، وفي وسعه كذلك فرض شروطه على الرئيس. لم تعرف مصر رئيساً من خارج الجيش. ولم يستطع الرئيس أنور السادات حسم صراع القوى مع الاستخبارات عام 1971 إلا بفضل الجيش. ولم يخلفه مبارك إلا بإرادة الجيش الذي خلعه قبل أكثر من سنة.
خَدَعَ النموذج الليبي العرب والغرب عندما انقسم الجيش بسرعة قياسية، وأوهمهما النموذج المصري بسهولة إطاحة رئيس الجمهورية.
كلاهما لا يصلح في سبيل نموذج سوري.
ليست الحال هذه مع الجيش السوري لأسباب شتى، أبرزها:
1 ـــــ كونه جيشاً عقائدياً وجيش حزب البعث الذي تلقى، منذ وصول الرئيس حافظ الأسد إلى السلطة عام 1971، تربية عقائدية صارمة جعلته جيش النظام أولاً وآخراً. كان كذلك منذ أن وصل البعث إلى الحكم عام 1963. إلا أنه لم يمسِ جيشاً نظيفاً من صراع القوى بين الأحزاب وكذلك بين الضبّاط الذي راح يُولّد انقلابات تلو أخرى حتى عام 1969، إلا مع تسلّم الأسد الأب السلطة وسيطرته الكاملة على الحزب والجيش وإخلائهما تماماً من معارضيه.
2 ـــــ أمسك الأسد الأب بالجيش بقبضة من حديد. لا يصل إلى مراتب عليا في هرميته إلا الضبّاط العلويون. ولا يرقى سواهم إلا الضباط البعثيون مسيحيون وسنّة. من خارج هاتين الفئتين لا حظوظ للضبّاط بترقية متقدّمة. بالتأكيد لا يدخل الكلية العسكرية ضبّاط من أحزاب مناوئة للبعث، كالإخوان المسلمين أو سواهم. تلعب الواسطة دوراً محدوداً في تزكية ضبّاط رماديين قريبين إلى البعث. لكن ليس أقل من ذلك. أحكم الرئيس السيطرة على إدارات المؤسسة العسكرية، في الأجهزة المتعدّدة للاستخبارات وفي الجيش النظامي.
الأمر نفسه انتقل إلى نجله الرئيس الحالي. لا تتحرّك كتيبة دبابات أو تمر في دمشق، أو من حولها، من دون إذن مسبق من الاستخبارات العسكرية، كي يحمي النظام نفسه من انقلابات تطيحه. فلا تتكرّر سوابق عقود الأربعينات والخمسينات حتى الستينات. تخرج الدبابات والمصفحات فجأة، فيصبح الرئيس في السجن أو القبر.
3 ـــــ رغم أن إقرار دستور جديد أتى، عام 1973، في مرحلة لاحقة من تسلّم الأسد الأب الحكم، إلا أن الجيش أضحى القوة المركزية المعنية بتنفيذ المادة الثامنة من الدستور التي تجعل من حزب البعث قائداً للدولة والأمة. والحريّ أن الجيش ـــــ لا المؤسسات الدستورية والوطنية ـــــ هو الأقدر على وضع هذه المادة موضع التطبيق الفعلي.
4 ـــــ رغم أن الاضطرابات الأخيرة أظهرت حزب البعث ضعيفاً، متراجعاً تحت وطأة الاحتجاجات التي دعت إلى إخراجه من الحياة السياسية بعدما أطبق عليها قرابة نصف قرن، إلا أن تغلغله في الجيش والأجهزة الأمنية والمنظمات الشبابية والجامعات والنقابات عكس انطباعاً مغايراً. لم يكن كرتونياً سوى في تظاهرات الشارع بعدما كثرت أقاويل عن انكفاء الحزب عن تنظيم تظاهرات مشابهة لتلك التي قادتها المعارضة السلمية. عُزي الأمر إلى نصائح لقادته المحليين في المدن بالإحجام عن ذلك تفادياً لظهور الشعب الموالي للرئيس منقسماً بين بعثيين وغير بعثيين.
في خلاصة التظاهرات الموالية الحاشدة، بدت هذه كأنها حزب الرئيس الذي يتسع أكثر من حزب النظام. بالتأكيد لم يكن الجيش ولا الأجهزة الأمنية ولا الحزب بعيدين عن تنظيم تلك التظاهرات، والإيعاز إلى المؤيدين للنظام من موظفي القطاعين العام والخاص والجامعات والمدارس والعسكريين بالنزول إلى الشارع.
كانت الذروة في 7 شباط المنصرم، عندما دعا النظام إلى تظاهرة جمعت مئات الألوف ترحيباً بوزير الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف في دمشق. كانت إحدى أبرز دعايات دعم النظام والوقوف إلى جانب الجيش رفع شعارات التخويف من عسكرة المعارضة والتفجيرات الانتحارية.
5 ـــــ لم تخفَ على الأسد ثغر أساسية، منذ الأيام الأولى لحركة الاحتجاجات، تمثلت في عدم التنسيق الجدّي بين الأجهزة الأمنية في ما بينها، وبينها وبين الجيش، وعدم اختبار النظام ـــــ لأول مرة في تاريخ سوريا ـــــ حرباً توشك أن تكون أهلية. تارة يواجه الجيش حرب عصابات من شارع إلى آخر، وطوراً يشتبك مع مسلحين مدرّبين ومزوّدين وسائل اتصال متطورة وأسلحة فاعلة في حروب صغيرة، عدا عن تبادل الاتهامات في التقصير وتحميل وزر الأخطاء والمسؤوليات.
بعد أشهر، على أبواب انخراط الجيش في المواجهة المسلحة والحسم العسكري، استعاد النظام تماسك العلاقة بين الأجهزة والجيش، وتنظيم التنسيق وتعزيزه في ظلّ بقاء القرار بيد الرئيس وحده: عودة تبادل المعلومات وتقاسم الأدوار تبعاً للمهمات ووطأتها. تستعير الأجهزة جنوداً من الألوية لتنفيذ هجوم، أو تنيط بالقوات النظامية تنفيذه. في حالات أخرى أكثر تعميماً، يهاجم الجيش المسلحين بآلياته ودباباته ويقوّض بناهم وينهي وجودهم المنظم، تدخل بعده الأجهزة الأمنية لـ«تنظيف» ما تبقى من هؤلاء وشنّ حملات دهم واعتقالات.

Posted in Arabic, SyriaComments Off on بين الأسد والجيش لغز محيّر؟

مؤتمر المانحين: مواجهة فلسطينيّة ــ إسرائيليّة في بروكسل

فادي أبو سعدى

آ
رام الله | يستمع المانحون الدوليون في بروكسل، غداً، لتقريرَين أحدهما إسرائيلي والآخر فلسطيني ليقرروا دعم سلطة الرئيس محمود عباس من عدمه، وهي التي تعهّدت بتطبيق الوصفة الليبرالية في «الحكم الرشيد».

لا يبدو أن «الاستكشاف» الذي بدأ في الأردن بين الفلسطينيين والإسرائيليين سينتهي قريباً، ذلك أنه بين الفينة والأخرى، لا بد للطرفين أن يلتقيا، وإن من أجل المواجهة وتسجيل المواقف بالنسبة لإسرائيل، أو لانتزاع بعض الحقوق الأساسية بالنسبة للفلسطينيين، وهذه المرة الوجهة بروكسل، حيث ينعقد مؤتمر المانحين الدوليين غداً.
تحمل وثيقة السلطة المقدمة إلى لجنة تنسيق مساعدات المانحين عنوان «نحو تنمية أكثر عدالة… رغم الاحتلال»، وأكدت فيها أن «الحكومة الفلسطينية ستركز في المرحلة المقبلة على تعزيز عمليات البناء والتنمية في المناطق المصنفة «ج» (الخاضعة بموجب اتفاقيات أوسلو للسيطرة الإسرائيلية)، رغم استمرار الانتهاكات والقيود الإسرائيلية في هذه المناطق، والتي تدمر امكانية التوصل لحل الدولتين». وقد طالبت ورقة السلطة، المجتمع الدولي بدعم هذه الجهود «إن كان لا يزال معنياً بحل الدولتين». وقال رئيس الوزراء سلام فياض، في مقدمة الوثيقة، إنه «بعد تحقيق الجهوزية للاستقلال والسيادة على أراضي دولة فلسطين في حدود الرابع من حزيران عام 1967 وعاصمتها القدس الشرقية، سنواصل التحرك لإبقاء حل الدولتين حياً، رغم استمرار هدم إسرائيل للمنازل الفلسطينية وتدميرها للبنية التحتية ومساعيها لتقويض دور ومكانة السلطة الفلسطينية». كذلك تعرض الوثيقة عراقيل الاحتلال التي تعيق تطور الاقتصاد الفلسطيني، وتعيق بشكل كبير عملية التنمية في الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة. وفي هذا الموضوع، أشار فياض إلى أنه «بعد تقرير البنك الدولي الذي سيقدم لمؤتمر الدول المانحة، والذي شدد على أن القطاع الخاص الفلسطيني يختنق بسبب القيود التي تفرضها إسرائيل، فقد وضعت السلطة الفلسطينية العديد من الخطط لتعزيز الاقتصاد الفلسطيني، وتطوير قدراته لتحقيق التنمية المستدامة والاعتماد على الذات». وأوضح أن «الشعب الفلسطيني لا يمكن أن ينتظر حتى نهاية مفاوضات السلام لكي يتم إنجاز بناء المؤسسات وتحقيق التنمية المستدامة التي يعيقها الاحتلال».
كذلك، طالبت الوثيقة الدول المانحة بدعم القطاعات الرئيسية في جميع الأراضي الفلسطينية، بما فيها المواصلات، والزراعة والسياحة التي تساهم بقوة في تنمية الاقتصاد الفلسطيني، وشددت على أن مناطق «ج» والقدس الشرقية تُعتبر من أهم المناطق الجاذبة للسياحة في الأراضي الفلسطينية، كونها مليئة بالأماكن التاريخية والثقافية والدينية، لذلك فإن «تطويرها وتنميتها سيسهمان بشكل كبير في تعزيز قدرات الاقتصاد الفلسطيني».
وفي السياق، قدّمت السلطة في وثيقتها تعهُّدات بمواصلة العمل لتعزيز مبادئ «الحكم الرشيد»، بما فيها المساءلة والشفافية، وتحسين مستوى الخدمات المقدَّمة للمواطنين، ومواصلة بناء قطاعَي العدالة وحقوق الإنسان ومكافحة الفساد، وتحقيق الاعتماد على الذات.
لكن المطالب الفلسطينية لا تعني حصول السلطة على ما تريد، خاصة مع وجود حالة من «عدم الرضى» من قبل تل أبيب التي عمدت حكومتها، عبر تقرير مقابل ستقدّمه إلى اجتماع الغد، إلى التشكيك بالجهوزية الفلسطينية للدولة، بحجة أن «الوضع المالي الحالي يثير شكوكاً حول ما إذا كانت السلطة الفلسطينية ستكون قادرة على تقليل اعتمادها على المساعدات الخارجية في السنوات المقبلة». ورأت دولة الاحتلال أنه «في زمن عدم اليقين السياسي وعدم الاستقرار الإقليمي، فإن التباطؤ الاقتصادي العالمي يعرقل قدرة المانحين الدوليين على مساعدة السلطة الفلسطينية التي تتمتع بدعم مالي عربي محدود للغاية، وهكذا فإنه بعد ثلاث سنوات متتالية من النمو الاقتصادي المثير للإعجاب في الضفة الغربية، فإن الاستقرار المالي للسلطة الفلسطينية بات الآن موضع تحدٍّ».

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ArabicComments Off on مؤتمر المانحين: مواجهة فلسطينيّة ــ إسرائيليّة في بروكسل

ANTI-ATZMON ZIONIST PROPAGANDA

NOVANEWS

 

By: Mary Shepard

Recently the Palestine activism community was rocked by the circulation of a letter written by The Electronic Intifada’s editor, Ali Abunimah, calling for the “disavowal” of fellow activist Gilad Atzmon and his recently published book, “The Wandering Who?”

To say that I am astonished at the content of this letter, and even more so at who authored it, is an understatement.  I have read the book – twice – and found it challenging, daring and evocative, but not once did I find anything hateful or anti-Semitic within its pages.

What I do find, however, is that this whole episode just stinks of hypocrisy.   I’m aghast that Atzmon and his book have been labeled anti-Semitic, ostensibly out of a concern for the integrity of the activist community, yet not a word of condemnation passed Abunimah’s lips (or ended up on his website) when the activist Ken O’Keefe recently erupted in what could be termed hate speech against Jews, and has also been under investigation for financial malfeasance in regards to his “humanitarian work” in Gaza.   Instead, O’Keefe is left undisturbed to continue speaking publicly.  The continued fracturing of the Palestine activism community, with Atzmon’s book as the focal point, is so bizarre that it demands some questions be raised, including whose words and ideas are deemed acceptable, and whose are not, by this self-appointed star chamber.

Of course, the first question is, did Abunimah even read the book?  I strongly suspect he did not, since he failed to quote even one sentence from it as evidence of its alleged bigotry.  I would like to ask him to quote at least one passage substantiating his allegations, just to enlighten me.  Because I liked the book, I would like Abunimah to explain to me how that makes me an anti-Semite.

We also have to ask whether we really want to sit by and watch this equivalent of a book-burning.  If Atzmon’s ideas are controversial, why is there no discussion of them, but instead an insistence on silencing him and discrediting the message his book contains?  Why the sudden attack on Atzmon’s credibility, and at this particular time (he is in the US on a speaking tour promoting “The Wandering Who?”)?  Are we seeing a fit of professional jealousy, or is there something darker behind it?

Despite what one may think of “The Wandering Who?, we have to remind ourselves of who we are and what we believe in.   Those who have been working to free Palestine have enjoyed the privilege of holding the moral high ground against the thievery and murderousness of Zionism.  Attacking Gilad Atzmon for his ideas without discussing them and learning from them, definitely lowers the bar.  We also run the risk to become what we hate: we oppress, we deny, we lie to ourselves and each other just as the Zionists do.

 

 

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Striking Parallels: Three American Holocausts and the Racial Outrages of IsraHell

NOVANEWS

by Michael R. Burch,

an editor and publisher of Holocaust and Nakba poetry

When I wrote the missive below, I had a sudden feeling—an intuition—that these are important points, and that we may be closer to peace than we think if only we act in accordance with our ideals, so please consider sharing this article with other people who believe in equality and justice for everyone, regardless of race or religion.

If Jewish children had been imprisoned in Gaza and were being denied freedom, justice and basic human rights, all the Jewish world would be in an uproar, and rightfully so. The Jewish people would all cry with a single united voice, “This is a new Shoah, a new Holocaust, a new Warsaw Ghetto!” And of course they would be correct, because for innocent children to suffer so terribly, with no hope of relief, while the world does little or nothing to help them, is a horror beyond imagining.

But because the children suffering so terribly in Gaza today are “only” Palestinians, the government of Israel and its propagandists insist that the world look the other way and become like so many Germans who were in denial during the Holocaust. To do so, however, would be antisemitism because the Palestinians are Semites, like the Jews.

Ironically, Israel has become an antisemitic nation. For instance, Israel has marriage and citizenship laws that can rip families apart if its citizens have the audacity to marry Semites not approved of by the government. Israel’s marriage laws are so grounded in racism and religious intolerance that one in ten couples must marry abroad. Obviously, there is something terribly wrong when a government tries to dictate who can marry whom, based on race and religion, and can separate mothers from their husbands and children based on their spouses’ genetics. Israel’s marriage and citizenship laws are similar to those of the Confederacy and Nazi Germany because they attempt to enforce racial “purity” and thus must be considered outrages by anyone who believes in equality and justice.

And of course we should not ignore or deny self-evident catastrophes brought about by racism and religious intolerance running amok, regardless of what propagandists say. When we see multitudes of completely innocent children being collectively imprisoned and punished for the “crime” of having been “born wrong,” and see mothers being separated from their children for the sake of racial and religious “purity,” we need to remember that throughout history oppressors have always dehumanized their victims.

Such “thinking” led to three American Holocausts: those of Native Americans, African Americans, and today, of Palestinians.

The white supremacist government of the United States and its white supremacist presses called Sitting Bull a “terrorist.” However today we know that he was a man who longed for peace, but quite understandably could not abide his people’s women and children being subjected to ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The white supremacists of the Confederacy whipped and beat slaves who rebelled or tried to escape, while preaching them sermons on “Christian” ethics, but today we know who the guilty parties really were.

Nazis blamed all the woes of the world on the Jews, but today we know better than to believe their racist propaganda.

So when will the world open its collective eyes and see that the children of Gaza are suffering a very similar fate, for very similar reasons: the racism and fascism of their oppressors? Today there are encouraging signs that more and more of the people of world see the reality for what it is, and are no longer in denial. Consequently, more and more people are in an uproar, as they should be. This gives me hope that things can change for the better, hopefully soon.

To understand why Israel is wrong, we only have to consider the horror of our own children being imprisoned in Gaza by one of the most powerful nations on earth, and their spirits being crushed while the megaphones blare, “We are God’s gift to the earth, and they are just dirty creatures who don’t matter, compared to us.” But of course the children of Gaza really do matter, and that is what the Nazis once said about themselves and their innocent Semitic victims.

Americans who believe in equality and justice should ask themselves if there are clear and striking parallels between this new Holocaust, the Nakba of the Palestinian people, and those of Native Americans and African Americans. If the answer is “yes” then we should not do what our ancestors did, and suffer through massacre after massacre, when the nonviolent solution is to achieve peace through justice.

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Ayub Asaliya was on his way to school last Sunday

Mar 18, 2012

Annie Robbins

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Ayub Asaliya

My heart keeps breaking over him, the loving hand touching his face, the loss felt by the person cupping his cheek for the last time. Is that his father? Ever since I first saw his photo, I cannot recall where but there was no name for him, he symbolized all the martyred children of Palestine for me. I didn’t know who he was but I kept his photo on my desktop and have been looking at it for days.

Today, for no particular reason I came upon Shayna’s blog, and a post she had written titledAyub Asaliya:

Ayub was a little twelve-year-old boy on his way to school who was killed by the IDF “shelling”. Hearing about little Ayub really hit me hard. I think it is because he was on his way to school. The little boy was doing the “right thing” headed to school, and his life here was taken from him by dudes conducting war in a civilian population.

I don’t like when people use emotionally charged words to convey their message. But I think about it, it really is like little Ayub was murdered on the way to school. I don’t think a child deserves that.

I don’t know when I will stop crying over Ayub. I think what happened to him, speaks to the wrong of conducting war on a civilian population.

I wish I could find a picture of Ayub from when he was alive, because I would like to post it here.

I knew this was the boy in my photo. After googling his name I came upon another photo of him. Yes, it was the same boy. AFP says he was killed last Sunday.

Shayna’s blog is covered with pink roses, belly dancing and surfing. And Ayub too. If anyone finds a photo of Ayub when he was alive, could you please send it to @shaynaamour.

Shayna, thank you for expressing such beauty and purity of heart.

(Reports on Ayub’s death found herehere, and @mshafiquk )

NYT buries the lead– Iranians halted weapons program in ’03 and have not restarted it

Mar 18, 2012

Annie Robbins

images 2 1
New York Times News

Lest we forget Iran, page A1 of the New York Times today graces us with apprehension: U.S. Faces a Tricky Task in Assessment of Data on Iran. But it’s a whole whole lot of nothing for two pages till it ends on this:

The draft version [of the U.S. government’s National Intelligence Estimate of 2010] had concluded that the Iranians were still trying to build a bomb, the same finding of a 2005 assessment. But as they scrutinized the new intelligence from several sources, including intercepted communications in which Iranian officials were heard complaining to one another about stopping the program, the American intelligence officials decided they had to change course, officials said. While enrichment activities continued, the evidence that Iran had halted its weapons program in 2003 at the direction of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was too strong to ignore, they said.

One former senior official characterized the information as very persuasive. “I had high confidence in it,” he said. “There was tremendous evidence that the program had been halted.”

And today, despite criticism of that assessment from some outside observers and hawkish politicians, American intelligence analysts still believe that the Iranians have not gotten the go-ahead from Ayatollah Khamenei to revive the program.

“That assessment,” said one American official, “holds up really well.”

What a waste of a front page, when important stories often land on A18.

The Norwegians, the settlers, the zealot, the olive seedlings– and the Palestinian’s suit against ‘Nobody’

Mar 18, 2012

Philip Weiss

We’ve been chronicling the rising fury inside Europe toward the Israeli occupation; and one story I’ve put aside that relates to this trend involves a visit by Norwegian volunteers to help Palestinian farmers plant olive trees.

Settlers destroyed their efforts. The farmers have vowed to press their rights. (And Kate covered the attacks in her daily digest here.)

I focus on this incident because of the extremism. The Norwegian volunteers are doing loving work; and they were met by a zealot who call them Nazis. And one of the Norwegians’ ancestors saved Jews during the Holocaust.

A Palestinian farmer seeks redress for his losses. He is forced into a hateful bureaucracy of occupation that is reminiscent of the airless desperation of a Kafka story. Will J Street describe these conditions at its conference, titled “Making History,” next week?

At the end of the accounts below, you will find excerpts of a piece by that zealot, Nadia Matar of Women in Green, explaining why Palestinians have no place in the West Bank.

First, here is the International Middle East Media Center’s report on the Norwegians’ work at the village of Beit Iskaria, near the Israeli settlement Eleazar, on March 7:

On Wednesday morning a group of 11 Norwegian students and their teacher joined Yassin Da’doua on his land to plant 200 olive trees as part of the olive tree planting campaign organized by Joint Advocacy Initiative of East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine.

The group along with the Palestinian farmer and his family managed to plant half of the trees on Wednesday before the leader of the radical settler organization ‘Women in Green’, Nadia Matar, arrived along with two other Israeli settlers who started taking photos of the young Norwegians.

“Your grandparents have killed my grandparents in the holocaust and now you are helping the Arabs to steal our land. This is the land for the people of Israel. You are helping the wrong people. You are like the Nazis.” Matar shouted at the Norwegian students.

After some time Israeli soldiers, military police, and uniform police arrived at the scene and demanded the Palestinians and their friends stop planting the trees and leave the area. The military commander said that the land is owned by the state of Israel…

“How can they call me a Nazi? My grandparents fought the Nazis during the second world war,” said one of the Norwegian students responding to Matar comments.

Video is here, I can’t get it to load.

Below is an interesting account of the encounter from Sensingtherabbithole, who I believe to be a European employee of the Joint Advocacy Initiative in East Jerusalem, which arranged the plantings. In the picture at left, you can see Nadia Matar pointing a finger.

The group had just started the planting of 200 olive trees when the leader of the radical settler organization ‘Women in Green’, Nadia Matar, arrived with two other Israeli settlers. Matar had an aggressive approach towards the international group and said loudly “your grandparents have killed my grandparents in the holocaust and now you are helping the Arabs to steal our land. This is the land for the people of Israel. You are helping the wrong people. You are like the Nazis.” At the same time, Israeli soldiers appeared, who counted a higher number of armed military compared with olive planting Norwegians. The military canceled the olive planting and ordered the group to stop their work and return to the bus which was escorted back to Bethlehem….

The group was invited to an Israeli settlement for a talk and a discussion with an Israeli settler. A Palestinian man, employed in our NGO joined the meeting in the Synagogue, but instead of screaming, he left the room due to the lack of common ground. …

The next morning, 100 planted olive trees were uprooted and the land was prohibited from the Palestinian farmer. The nephew of the land owner was arrested due to his act of planting olive trees despite the order from the soldiers to stop working. In the case of this spesific farmer, this could be the first step towards a long lasting process in court. While facing the judge, the legal question is not “who is the right based owner of this land?”. The land is presumed to be Israeli state land, and the mission of the Palestinian farmer is to once again prove that it belongs to him.

In the case of the Palestinian people – this is no more radical than a continuous process of transmitting land from Palestine to Israel, which has been going on since 1948. The difference between now and than is that today the land grab violates international law, and the Palestinian people has no means to fight back. At the same time, the world community has an opportunity to influence the govern of Israel. But the problem seems to be that the world, through UN, gave Israel the power to form a state, but without enough restrictions. Criticizing Israel later is too sensitive because of the horrible history of the Jewish people.

Now here is a detailed report from the Joint Advocacy Initiative on the second incident of olive tree destruction. It emphasizes the Kafakesque system faced by a Palestinian farmer whose lands have been invaded. He must go to a settlement to file his complaint. And the complaint is filed against Nobody. (Kafka was inspired in his tales, some have asserted, by the treatment of Jews in central Europe.)

The same group of Norwegian students also planted trees on private Palestinian land east of Bethlehem [on March 4].

The land is near two settlements one of which is Nokedim, home to Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

A group of Israeli settlers came into the land of Aziz Tinih’s family at 1:00 am on Sunday, 11th of March 2012. The settlers took their time destroying the land and uprooting nearly 190 newly planted olive trees. All the trees except of one were found cut and/or pulled out of the soil.

…In order to file a complaint about the destruction of his land, the Israeli Authorities sent Aziz to Etzion settlement then to Kriat Arba settlement then to the Nokdim settlement security. The Israelis told Aziz that the people who destroyed his land were not settlers but Palestinians, a claim was proved a lie because no Palestinians live in any of the settlements around the field and no Palestinian would find it safe to be there at the time of the attack (around 1 am).

Eventually the case was filed against nobody even though the Israeli authorities could easily find who attacked the land giving the fact that the area has camera surveillance covering all the settlements.

The land of Tinih family has been subject to various settler attacks, Settlers come out from the nearby El David and Nokdim Settlement and vandalize the property of the Palestinians land around the settlements, many land owners avoid going to their land fearing for their lives as several Palestinians were attacked by settlers from there including Aziz’ brother as well as many Palestinian shepherds who used to herd their flocks there.

The uprooting of the trees has made Aziz and his family more keen on returning to their land regardless of the existing threats. Through the Olive Tree Campaign Aziz and his family will continue to receive olive trees from the campaign until the settlers attacks stop.

“Some of Israeli settlers in this area think they are shepherds. They try to follow the life of prophet Amos, somebody needs to remind them that; as a shepherd, prophet Amos had a stick rather than a machine gun and he was a person who respected his neighbors rather than using every opportunity to destroy their property, terrorize them and drive them off their land…” [There is no attribution for this quote, apart from JAI itself]

Now here is part of the response to the Norwegians by Nadia Matar of Women in Green. Wow, this is intense, but they believe this stuff. These are the messianic mad people controlling the West Bank. Notice the talk about “the Arab”:

And now for the facts:

We, the Jewish People, are embroiled in an ongoing battle for reclamation of our land, our historic birthright, the Land of Israel.

The Jewish People are, and have been, the indigenous inhabitants of the Land of Israel for over 4000 years. We have been continuously present here, in greater or lesser numbers, despite enforced exile and dispossession by a series of foreign invaders and conquerors – with the Arabs and Moslems only the latest in a long line.

With the advent of the national liberation movement of Zionism, and with the help of G-d, the Jewish People have returned to our G-d given biblical Homeland, especially to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria,where the very first Jewish “settlers” lived thousands of years ago- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and later the Judges, Kings, Priests and Sages of our people. At a time when Europe was still a forested haven for primitive tribes, and Islam did not yet exist, Jews flourished in their homeland and developed the spiritual and ethical heritage that has transformed human civilization.

Today’s 750,000 Jewish residents living in Judea and Samaria should not be labeled “settlers”, which is a mistranslation of the Hebrew “mitnachalim”, but rather “heirs” or “inheritors” of the land. We have been here for over 4000 years and we are here to stay. In contrast, as Joan Peters points out throughout her lengthy and well-documented book “From Time Immemorial”, almost all the Arabs living in Israel or in Judea and Samaria, are not “native” to the land, but rather immigrants from Syria and Saudi Arabia attracted by the Zionist return and economic development of the Land of Israel….

The Arab claiming ownership of that piece of land is simply lying – his so-called documents are either non-existent or fabricated and forged. He is a dangerous and violent man, who was arrested a few months ago after he attacked a Jewish farmer with a hoe, and almost killed him.

The Arabs, and Moslems, of course, are fighting for far more than the possession of this or that piece of land – they aim for nothing less than the destruction of the State of Israel.

Great thanks to Ron Taylor.

Israeli settlers attack a shepherd and a child in separate attacks in the West Bank

Mar 18, 2012

Today in Palestine

Ethnic Cleansing / Land Theft & Destruction / Occupation & Apartheid

On March 15th  at 16:00 we got a call about three house demolitions in the village of Al Jiftlik, near the Jordan Valley. We threw ourselves into the first public transportation vehicle to take us to the village. It was dusk when we came to the outskirts of the village where we met our contact person. He quickly fixed up a car, and we got straight to the first house which was adjacent to the highway. Here we found two families standing before the ruins of their homes. They are seven people in all, including three children, one of whom is sick. It is the second demolition for one of the families,  the first for the other.

IN-PHOTOS: New Home Demolitions in Jordan Valley
In the afternoon of 14 March, 12 military jeeps and one army bulldozer entered the Jordan Valley village of al-Jiftlik and demolished three homes, displacing 22 people.
link to www.alternativenews.org

220 trees damaged in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Settlers entered village land in Nablus late Friday and damaged 220 olive trees, a Palestinian official said in remarks denied by Israeli military officials.  Settlers from the illegal outpost of Yesh Kodish entered land belonging to the village of Duma and destroyed 220 olive trees, Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an. An Israeli military spokeswoman said, however, that Palestinians damaged the trees.  The land belongs to Ali Abdul-Hamid, Hasan Salawdah, Zakariyya Salawdah, Hosni Salawdah and Avdul-Raziq Dawabshah.
link to www.maannews.net

Israel allocates millions of dollars for building synagogues in O. Jerusalem
The Israeli municipality of occupied Jerusalem has earmarked millions of dollars to build more synagogues and other Jewish institutions in a bid to Judaize the occupied holy city.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

On Thursday March 15, at a UN Human Rights Council conference, 300 international organizations signed during, a call for Israel to lift the restrictions on the Palestinians’ movement in the West Bank. The conference that was held on Wednesday March 14 in Geneva presented information on the Israeli violations in the Palestinian occupied territories. The Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights was the main spokesman about these violations. The regional director for the Observatory, professor Amani al-Sinwar, spoke of the gravest Israeli contraventions of human rights that were committed against Palestinians. Special focus was on the recent processes on Gaza Strip, and what Palestinians suffer as a result of the unjustified Israeli restrictions that aim to control Palestinians lives.
BEIT UMAR, West Bank—When Mahmoud al-Alami was 9 years old, an Israeli soldier caught him throwing rocks, took him out of his uncle’s arms, slung him over his shoulders and carried him away. Mahmoud, now 10, says he was subsequently blindfolded and shackled, slapped and ordered to confess to throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers and identify other children doing the same. Mahmoud is among dozens of Palestinian minors who are detained every month by Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, interrogated and pressured to report on others, according to a report issued this week.
Israeli Aggression / Violence

IOF soldiers storm Jenin, Al-Khalil villages
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed villages to the south of Jenin and north of Al-Khalil on Friday afternoon and evening, local sources said.

Jewish settlers attacked a Palestinian shepherd from Madma village, to the south of Nablus, near Yitzhar settlement on Saturday.

Settlers Attack Child in Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Al-Khalil
On Saturday, March 17 2012, illegal settlers in Al-Khalil (Hebron), guarded by Israeli Occupation Forces soldiers, trespassed onto the private property of the Abu Ayesha family and proceeded to attack fifteen year old Said, striking him on his arms.  The settlers refused to begin leaving until police arrived.
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Fatah official Abbas Zaki called on Saturday for an international campaign against Israel’s use of police dogs to break up popular protests in the West Bank. A Palestinian man was injured in a demonstration in Nablus village Kafr Qaddum on Friday when Israeli border police released a dog which locked its jaws on him, an incident caught on tape by Ma’an affiliate Nablus TV.  Zaki said the use of dogs to apprehend Palestinians at protests is a “crime that opposes all humanitarian and ethical standards.” “International organizations should not be silent towards the crimes and violations regularly committed by Israel against Palestinians,” he added.
Gaza
Gaza hit by severe power crisis 
For more than a month now, Gaza has been dealing with a crippling energy crisis. The single power plant, which supplies nearly a third of Gaza’s power has been shut down three times.

Twenty-six. Eighty. Gaza. Two numbers and a location. Random numbers and a special location. Taken alone, the numbers carry no particular meaning. But when Gaza is linked to these numbers, one of them must be the number of people killed, while the other indicates the number of injuries, respectively. The above numbers are the results of a brutal unjustified and inhumane chain of attacks on Gaza Strip. This chain of attacks didn’t stop for four days. Amongst those killed was a 12-year-old schoolboy who was on his way home back from school. Or rather, a “militant,” as Zionists would call him, just like the other 1.8 million inhabitants in Gaza. Innocent men and women were killed too. But again, there is absolutely no indication that could possibly identify them as militants. Even empty lands and multistory buildings that belonged to civilians didn’t make it out in one piece. All this is deemed necessary in the name of ‘”Israel’s right to self-defense.”
Palestinian Hunger Strikers / Prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners said Saturday that Israel offered to deport hunger-striker Hana Shalabi to the Gaza Strip, but the government rejected the offer. Issa Qaraqe said that “We did not agree on such a proposal, neither do we legitimize deportation.”  The minister did not specify when the offer was made by Israel.

UFree: MP Haj Ali may not survive his hunger strike and should be let go
The European network-Ufree said Palestinian lawmaker Ahmed Al-Haj Ali has entered a life-threatening stage and may not survive if his hunger strike continues for more days.

Captives announce the start of a revolt in all occupation prisons
Palestinian captives in occupation jails announced the start of a revolt in all occupation prisons which they will gradually escalate until all their just demands of the captives are met.

Soldiers Broke Into Detention Camps 6 Times Last Week
Palestinian Researcher specialized in detainees’ affair, Riyadh Al-Ashqar, stated that Israeli soldiers broke into prisons and detention centers six times last week, attacked and violated the rights of the Palestinian detainees, and wounded eleven.

Arrests & Detentions 
HEBRON (Ma’an) – Israeli forces on Saturday morning briefly detained two Palestinian teenagers in the southern West Bank village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad said Israeli troops ransacked two homes. The soldiers detained 15-year-old Alaa Anees Abu Maria and 15-year-old Muhammad Nuaman Zaaqiq before they were released hours later.
On Monday, 12 March at 9pm, the soldiers were making themselves comfortable yet again in the village of Burin.  Around 6 jeeps entered  and 10 jeeps surrounded the village. It seemed for a while it was just another evening of playground antics with the soldiers occupying the village and enjoying an evening of military training,  as this often happens and is expected throughout the nights when the village no longer belongs to the residents but instead becomes the soldiers training field. There is a military compound very close to Huwarra which makes Burin and surrounding villages, such as Madama  and Assira al Qablia, very convenient places for the soldiers to embark on such antics.
Popular Protests / Solidarity & Activism / BDS
The Beit Ommar Popular Committee organized today’s weekly peaceful protest adjacent to Karmei Tzur colony built on the stolen land of Beit Ommar farmers. When we arrived next to the so called security fence surrounding the colony, more than 60 heavily armed Israeli occupation soldiers obstructed our path and tried with aggression to force us back, but we resisted their violence and carried on our protest program. This protest was in solidarity with Hana Shalabi who has been on hunger strike for the last 31 days in the Israeli occupation jails, and in memory of the ninth anniversary of the martyrdom of Rachel Corrie, who was bulldozed by an Israeli occupation military bulldozer while she trying to stop the bulldozer from bulldozing a Palestinian house in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. It’s important to note that the popular committee of Beit Ommar has been on hunger strike for the last two days in solidarity with Hana Shalabi. Justice and Freedom for Hana Shalabi, Long live the memory of Rachel Corrie. LONG LIVE PALESTINE
Younes Arar is a coordinator for the Beit Ommar Popular Committee.
It has been nine years today (16 March) since our daughter Rachel was crushed to death under an Israeli driven, U.S. funded and built, Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in Gaza.  In March 2003, the news was full of talk of war with Iraq – a preemptive war to protect the west, particularly the U.S. and Israel, from the weapons of mass destruction then alleged to have been amassed by Saddam Hussein. When Rachel traveled to Gaza that year, the world was not watching. According to Human Rights Watch, from September 2000 until September 2004, 1,600 Palestinian homes in the city of Rafah were destroyed by the Israeli military as it occupied the Gaza Strip. One-tenth of the population lost their homes. Rachel chose to be in Gaza when the ground attack against Iraq broke out. She feared an escalation of the violence and a tightening of the isolation against people there, as the world looked to the northeast and watched the carnage in Iraq. It did not happen as immediately as some expected, but with the Israeli military attack on Gaza of November 2008 through January 2009, the violence became overwhelming, and the tightening of the seige initiated in 2006 by Israel to remove Hamas, made the isolation nearly complete.

Thousands join global hunger strike for Palestinian detainee
Thousands of people across the world are on a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with a female Palestinian prisoner refusing food in an Israeli jail. Hana Shalabi has been on an open-ended hunger strike since she was detained by Israeli forces 27 days ago. Shalabi is suffering spells of dizziness, muscular wasting and loss of consciousness, her lawyers and medical observers say. The 30-year-old is held under administrative detention laws, which allow the Israeli military to hold Palestinians on secret evidence without charge or trial for renewable six-month sentences.

Dozens of US Campaign Member Groups Participate in 2012 Israeli Apartheid Week!
Two weeks ago, activists from US Campaign member groups and other organizations joined organizers in 115 cities worldwide for the 8th AnnualIsraeli Apartheid Week (IAW)!  From Olympia, WA to New Brunswick, NJ; from Burlington to Boston; US Campaign member groups in more than a dozen U.S. cities held IAW actions and events during the global week of action to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid state and to build campaigns for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Please join us at the AICafe on Saturday 17 March at 8.00 p.m. for an Israel Apartheid Week discussion: Normalisation and Apartheid with Yousef Habash of PNGO.
Last month we celebrated the 36th annual African American History Month. The origins of this month come from the need to study the major contributions that Black people brought to America. “The fact is that the so-called history teaching in our schools and colleges is downright propaganda, an effort to praise one race and to decry the other to justify social repression and exploitation”. Sadly, this quote from 1927 is still relevant today. Carter G. Woodson strived for an accurate representation of Black people in history studies, and Palestinians are fighting for the same rights as well. The history of Israel is taught in schools, but the events leading up to its creation are missing in most. Palestinian Schools in East Jerusalem have been pressured to change their curriculum to be more Israeli friendly.
Developments / Other News

Islamic Jihad seeks ‘balance of terror’ with Israel
Gaza militant group Islamic Jihad seeks to create a “balance of terror” with Israel, a senior member of its military wing has told AFP in an exclusive interview.

Bill set to allow Israel Police immunity when quizzing suspects
The practice of not recording interrogations has been in place since 2002 but is not permanently anchored in law.

Palestinians are up to ears in debt
The Palestinian middle class has seized on mortgages and consumer loans as a route to upward mobility. But with the credit increase comes soaring personal debt.

Analysis / Op-ed

Why is human rights group B’Tselem “proud” to sponsor J Street gala keynoted by war criminal?, Ali Abunimah
B’Tselem USA, the American arm of renowned Israeli human rights group B’Tselem is “proud” to sponsor the 26 March gala of pro-Israel lobby group J Street despite the fact that the keynote speaker is former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who is responsible for extensive war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza.

Following a police investigation that closed with no criminal charges against the Israeli military, new video evidence in Tristan Anderson’s last round for justice—a civil suit—was brought forth, identifying the solider who injured the peace activist with a long-range tear gas canister in 2009. “Sergeant Jackie” is named as the border patrol officer who shot Anderson in the clip filmed by a Palestinian activist from Ni’lin, the village where Anderson was wounded.

Daily Show blasts U.S. decision to cut UNESCO funding
In a special two-part segment on Thursday night’s The Daily Show, correspondent John Oliver took an in-depth look at the U.S. government’s decision to block funding to the relief group UNESCO. First, Oliver meets with former Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), who informs him that under 1990′s Public Law 103-236, the United States is forbidden to provide funding to any agencies who deal with Palestine directly. As a result, a UNESCO spokesperson says, programs like fresh water for 950,000 people, literacy programs for the Afghan police force, and programs to strengthen the Iraqi judiciary are all going to have to be scrapped.
link to www.rawstory.com

The focus of several Arab leaders including Saudi Arabia and Qatar has strongly been shifted in the last few months on the events taking place in Syria.
There is no shortage of books in English about the Palestinian political party and Islamic resistance movement Hamas. This latest effort is by Italian journalist Paola Caridi, who has lived in the Middle East since 2001. Published in this reworked edition later this month, Caridi’s Hamas: From Resistance to Government draws on much of the previous literature, combining it with the author’s original interviews with Hamas leaders and activists such as Mahmoud Zahhar, Musa Abu Marzouq, Ahmed Yousef and Osama Hamdan (although the lack of interviews with top leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal is a deficiency).

Israel’s Willing Executioners: AIPAC Invades Washington
From March 4th to March 9th, 2012, 13,000 militant Israel Firsters, took over “political Washington”1 and imposed a foreign regime’s (Israel) political agenda to the rousing applause and appreciation of their captive vassal US legislators and executives who crowded the halls and platforms groveling for the imperious nods of their visiting Israeli overlords.2  The annual meeting of the American (sic) Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most outrageous public display of Zionist-Jewish power as it shapes US foreign policy.  The sole purpose of AIPAC is to ensure Israel’s unchallenged military and political power over a huge region from North Africa to the Persian Gulf.  Over three-quarters of the US Congress members paraded themselves before the AIPAC, as well as President Obama and Vice President Biden, and any high ranking Cabinet members in any way related to US foreign policy (Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Panetta included).  They all loudly parroted the political agenda and military priorities that the AIPAC has imposed on the United States.

A piece by Adam Chandler at Tablet describes a group of American veterans of the Israeli army who meet in New York. It is named Aluf Stone after an American soldier of an earlier generation who went to serve in Israel.  I know we’re not allowed to talk about dual loyalty. But in this day and age sometimes we have to. How many other foreign armies are calling to American youth?
I used to dismiss Cenk Uygur as a timid right-winger back in Air America Radio days. Whew, was I wrong. Last year, Uygur was the only MSNBC host to pipe up about Palestinians’ rights after Benjamin Netanyahu lectured Congress that Israel would never return to the 1967 borders.
Bahrain

Activists to track Bahraini rights abuses
Leading human rights activists have established a new website to highlight abuses of power by the Bahraini state. The website, bahrainwatch.org, tracks and records the government’s promises of reform and highlights when they fail to fulfill them. Last year the government established the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to look into allegations of abuse during the crackdown on peaceful protesters in March 2011.

Bahrain opposition marks raid anniversary
Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Bahrain on Friday to mark the one-year anniversary of the military raid on the capital’s Pearl Square, the epicenter of last year’s Shiite uprising in the Gulf kingdom.

Bahraini forces attack protesters
Bahrain forces fire tear gas to disperse anti-regime demonstrators protesting in several Bahraini villages.

‘Saudi forces aggravate Bahrain crisis’
The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says Saudi Arabia’s military presence in Bahrain is “utterly wrong” and will only aggravate the crisis in this country.

Syria
Suicide blasts kill dozens in Syrian capital
Twin suicide car bombs struck intelligence and security buildings in the Syrian capital Saturday, killing at least 27 people and wounding 140, according to state media.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A vehicle belonging to the Palestine Liberation Army exploded in Damascus’ Yarmouk refugee camp on Saturday, killing several people, sources in the city told Ma’an.  It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, or who was behind it. Syrian authorities immediately cordoned off the area and prevented access to the site and photography. The number of casualties could not be independently verified from outside the country.
Five Syrian opposition groups on Saturday announced the formation of a new coalition, a sign of growing opposition to the Western-backed Syrian National Council (SNC) a year after the start of the protest movement. The five groups said their yet unnamed coalition would act independently from the SNC, the main opposition coalition which was set up in August. The new group is made up of the liberal National Movement for Change, the Islamist Movement for the Fatherland, the Bloc for Liberation and Development, the Turkmen National Bloc, and the Kurdish Movement for a New Life.
Two huge bomb blasts killed at least 27 people and wounded almost 100 in central Damascus on Saturday, state media said, as a top Arab diplomat confirmed that Saudi Arabia was arming the Syrian opposition. The early morning attacks, apparently car bombings timed minutes apart, targeted criminal police headquarters in the Duwar al-Jamarek (Customs Roundabout) area and air force intelligence offices in al-Qasaa district, state television said.
(AFP) – DUBAI — Saudi Arabia is delivering military equipment to Syrian rebels in an effort to stop bloodshed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, a top Arab diplomat said on Saturday. “Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the Free Syrian Army,” the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. “This is a Saudi initiative… details will follow at a later time.”

Push for political solution to Syria crisis
Some Syrians are pushing for political solution to year-long crisis.

Economic and financial sanctions have sent the economy and the Syrian pound into a free fall, and caused increasing inflation. But the regime and it’s entourage aren’t the ones hurting. Damascus – It is no secret that the Syrian economy is in crisis. The value of the local currency against the US dollar has decreased by half in the last few months and it has lost between 35 to 50 percent of its purchasing power. Syrians fear economic calamity is approaching. Before the unrest began in March last year, the Syrian economy was supposedly experiencing a golden age. The Syrian pound’s exchange rate against the US dollar and other hard currencies was stable, privately-owned banks increased in number, and the Damascus stock exchange was opened.

Elias Hanna speaks to Al Jazeera about attacks in Damascus 
Syrian state TV reported that two car bombings killed dozens of people in Damascus. Elias Hanna, a former Lebanese military general, says both the government and the opposition in Syria benefit from these kinds of attacks. He spoke to Al Jazeera.

Other Arab & World News
Egypt’s Coptic Pope Shenuda III, spiritual leader of the Middle East’s largest Christian minority, has died at the age of 89, state television and cathedral sources said. The cause of death was not immediately clear, but the Christian leader has suffered health problems for years.

Halt ships of shame from the USA carrying weapons to Egypt
A ship carrying a cargo of weapons with explosives en route from the USA to Egypt must not be allowed to offload because of a substantial risk the weapons will be used by Egyptian security forces to commit human rights violations, Amnesty International said on Thursday. The organization has tracked the Dutch-flagged ship, MV Schippersgracht, for the past two months. It is currently in the Mediterranean Sea and due to arrive in Egypt early next week. The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command contacted Amnesty International to say the cargo is not intended for Egypt but refused to give further information as to its final destination, citing security reasons.

Iraq’s autistic children find a refuge
Nibras Sadoun literally adopted the issue of autism in Iraq. While conducting field research in special education, she took in an autistic child who had been abandoned by his mother. Now Sadoun oversees six countrywide offices of Al Rahman Institute, which is named after her son. The institute helps educate and socialise autistic children, who are often overlooked by Iraq’s educational system. The government does not provide Al Rahman with any funding, but parents say the institute is a lifeline for their children. Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf reports from Baghdad.

Jordan demonstrators want jailed activists freed
Jordanians demonstrated on Friday against a “tight security grip,” demanding the release of activists arrested this week after pro-reform protests in the southern city of Tafileh.

Former Gaddafi intelligence chief ‘held’ 
Abdullah al-Senussi, who is reported to have been detained in Mauritania, was the right-hand-man and brother-in-law of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Afghan Massacre Sheds Light on Culture of Mania and Aggression in U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
We speak with journalist Neil Shea, who has reported on Afghanistan and Iraq since 2006 for Stars and Stripes and other publications. Shea discusses his experiences witnessing disturbing behavior during his travels with U.S. troops in Afghanistan and offers insight into understanding the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians. “When we cycle our soldiers and marines through these wars that don’t really have a clear purpose over years and years…we expect light-switch control over their aggression,” Shea says. “We expect to be able to turn them into killers and then turn them back into winners of hearts and minds. And when you do that to a man or a woman over many years, that light-switch control begins to fray.”

Directly after the incident, Reuters reported multiple witnesses claimed multiple soldiers were present at the scenes and carried out the crime. The acclaimedPajhwok Afghan News (initially funded by USAID, its co-founder Farida Nekzad, won the 2008 International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award) is reporting,  Up to 20 US troops executed Panjwai massacre: probe…

www.TheHeadlines.org

Israel to Europe: Palestinians can’t have a state because they can’t support themselves

Mar 18, 2012

Philip Weiss

Shocking report at Haaretz, on Israel’s defiance of the idea of Palestinian statehood. The country has prepared a 44 page report saying that Palestine can’t stand on its own two feet economically, so Europe must prop up the bantustans.

“Another talking point to justify continuing Israel’s apartheid one-state solution,” says Ilene Cohen, who passed this along, and who long supported the two state solution because it was international consensus. Haaretz:

Israel is expected to present a report Wednesday at a donor meeting on Palestinian aid in Brussels claiming that the Palestinian Authority is not sufficiently stable to meet the standards of a well-functioning state..

Israel is expected to emphasize before the donor countries that despite the growth of recent years, the Palestinian Authority still needs foreign aid to survive.

“The fiscal crisis is especially acute because much of the West Bank economy still depends on the public sector and on construction projects, both still heavily financed by foreign aid. It also serves as an alarming warning sign for the stability of the Palestinian economy,” the report said.

This shows what occupation has done to the Palestinian economy, this shows how essential international donor aid is to the Israeli occupation. And this shows why Europeans are becoming increasingly angry about what their aid is supporting.

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1 Haaretz

March 18, 2012

 

‘Mossad, CIA agree Iran has yet to decide to build nuclear weapon’

New York Times report quotes senior American officials who believe there is little disagreement between Israeli and U.S. intelligence over Iran’s nuclear program, despite calls for a strike by Israeli officials.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/mossad-cia-agree-iran-has-yet-to-decide-to-build-nuclear-weapon-1.419300

By Haaretz

 

Israel’s intelligence services agree with American intelligence assessments that there is not enough proof to determine whether Iran is building a nuclear bomb, according to a report published Sunday in the New York Times.

 

The newspaper said that senior American officials believe there is little disagreement between the Mossad and U.S. intelligence agencies over Iran’s nuclear program, despite the fact that Israeli political leaders have been pushing for quick action to block Iran from becoming what they describe as an existential threat.

 

The report further quoted one former senior American intelligence official who states that the Mossad “does not disagree with the U.S. on the weapons program,” adding that there is “not a lot of dispute between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities on the facts.”

 

According to the New York Times, the extent of the evidence the spy agencies have collected is unclear since most of their findings are classified. However, intelligence officials say they have been throwing everything they have at the Iranian program.

 

The United States and Israel share intelligence on Iran, American officials said. For its spying efforts, Israel relies in part on an Iranian exile group that is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or M.E.K., which is based in Iraq, says the report.

 

Furthermore, the report states that the Israelis have also developed close ties in the region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, and they are believed to use Kurdish agents who can move back and forth across the border into Iran.

 

According to the New York Times, American intelligence officials are wary of relying on information from an opposition group like the M.E.K., especially after their experience in Iraq where they relied on flawed information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group run by Ahmad Chalabi.

 

The report comes days after top Israeli official congratulated a decision by the world’s largest financial money transfer network to cut off Iranian banks targeted by EU sanctions from the system, saying that the move represented a “mortal blow” to the Iranian regime.

 

The move was an unprecedented measure that will effectively prevent Iranian institutions from electronically transferring global funds.

 

An Israeli official indicated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the issue of disconnecting the Iranian banks from the SWIFT system during his recent conversations with U.S. President Barack Obama as well as with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

 

According to the official, Netanyahu told Obama that “we need SWIFT swiftly.”

In response to SWIFT’s Thursday announcement, the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement later in the day, saying that “Prime Minister Netanyahu congratulated SWIFT for its decision to cut the Iranian banks from the system.”

 

The New York Times report also comes on the heels of an interview between U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and NBC’s Brian Williams, in which Cameron reiterated his opposition to an Israeli strike, saying that he didn’t “think as we stand today that military action by Israel would be justified.”

 

I don’t think the Israelis should take that action now. We told them they shouldn’t and said we wouldn’t support it if they did. We’ve been very clear,” Cameron said.

 

“It’s very, very important [Israel] knows it has strong allies like America, like the United Kingdom, but I don’t support action now because, frankly, we’ve got more road to run in putting in place sanctions and putting in place tough measures against the regime and saying to them they need to take a different path,” Cameron added.

 

Cameron added that Iran could retain “civil nuclear power, if they give up the ambition of having military nuclear power, they can have a future as a country that has more normal relations with the rest of the world,” adding: “We need to keep up the pressure to encourage them to make the right choice.”

 

+++++

[Item 2 reveals no less clearly than a statement that for the time being, Iran out, Palestine in.  In other words, very likely due to the sanctions and much reaction against an Israeli strike now, Israel’s leaders feel obliged to play the waiting game vis a vis Iran.  And so, knowing that governments, now breathing a bit more easily, realizing that Israel will not strike for the present, will once again remember that the Palestinian issue needs to be solved.  Thus Israel attacks, the current propaganda line being that Palestine is not ready for a state.  Possibly governments will buy it, possibly not.  In any event, 2 states there will not be.  Israel has already seen to that by its acts on the ground.  D]

 

Israel: Palestinian economy not stable enough for independent state

Government report obtained by Haaretz, to be presented before donor meeting on Palestinian aid in Brussels, rules Palestinians are still dependent on foreign aid.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/diplomania/israel-palestinian-economy-not-stable-enough-for-independent-state-1.419358

 

By Barak Ravid

Tags: Palestinian Authority West Bank Gaza Palestinians

Israel is expected to present a report Wednesday at a donor meeting on Palestinian aid in Brussels claiming that the Palestinian Authority is not sufficiently stable to meet the standards of a well-functioning state.

 

The 44-page report, written by the Foreign Ministry and several other government ministries, will be presented by the Israeli delegation to the representatives at the donor meeting, including Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store who serves as the chairman of the committee, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and the Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair. A copy of the report was obtained by Haaretz.

 

The report specifies a long line of actions Israel has taken to aid the Palestinian economy in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but presents data showing that that the recent economic growth in the West Bank has stopped. Much of the data that is found in the Israeli report also appears in the report published last week by the World Bank.

 

Parts of the report are worded in a way that aims to make clear that the Palestinian economy is unable to support an independent state. This message stands out in light of the World Bank’s report and other reports by international bodies that were published in 2011 in preparation for the Palestinian UN statehood bid last September, that claimed the PA’s institutions are developed enough to support an independent state.

 

“While the present fiscal crisis was caused by a shortfall in donor aid, there were also deviations in the execution of 2011’s budget,” the report said. “The public finance management system’s role in the current crisis may undermine its track record as a system that meets the requirements of a well-functioning state.”

 

The report also indicated that the PA’s fiscal management contributed to the current crisis. “This demonstrates the need for further reform in order for the PA to meet the standards of a well-functioning state.”

 

Israel is expected to emphasize before the donor countries that despite the growth of recent years, the Palestinian Authority still needs foreign aid to survive.

 

“The fiscal crisis is especially acute because much of the West Bank economy still depends on the public sector and on construction projects, both still heavily financed by foreign aid. It also serves as an alarming warning sign for the stability of the Palestinian economy,” the report said.

 

“The current fiscal situation raises doubts about whether the PA will be able to reduce its dependency on foreign aid in the coming years.”

 

Another part of the report deals with the security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and reveals interesting data which shows that during 2011, 764 meetings took place between Israeli military and police officials and their Palestinian counterpart in the West Bank – which is a 5% rise from 2010.

 

The report notes that IDF commanders in Samaria regularly meet their Palestinian counterparts in Jenin, Nabulus, Tulkarem, and Qalqilya.

+++++

3 Saturday, March 17 2012

[The “one state” that Florida’s House has voted on, is a Jewish one.  Never mind.  It might start that way, but won’t remain that way unless Israel will commit a Holocaust against Palestinians.  D]

 

Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine

Saturday, March 17 2012

http://972mag.com/floridas-house-joins-republicans-in-support-one-state-solution/38305/

|Aziz Abu Sarah

Florida’s House joins Republicans in support of One-State solution

On February 29th 2012 Florida’s House of Representatives surprisingly passed a bill supporting the one-state solution. The bill quotes the Bible to prove the Jewish right of the whole land spanning Israel and Palestine, ignores the Palestinians’ historical connection to the land and omits their existence. However, the bill comes as surprise in the sense that it calls for one law for all people who live on the land.

[T]he members of the Florida House of Representatives commend Israel for its cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States and with the State of  Florida and support Israel in its legal, historical, moral, and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense upon the entirety of its own lands, recognizing that Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others, and that peace can be afforded the region only through a whole and united Israel governed under one law for all people.

The bill’s bottom line is not that different from what many Palestinian activists have been calling for: one law for all people in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. But what is ironic about this resolution is the absence of Pro-Israel groups’ rage against it. When Palestinians advocate for a one-state solution, they are quickly accused of plotting to destroy the state of Israel.  Florida’s House and Senate are using Bible references, denying the occupation, and proclaiming Israel’s right over the “unified land to endorse a one-state solution and there’s  no backlash.

Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti Defamation league (ADL) said in a recent op-ed condemning Palestinian activists advocating a one-state solution:  “Let’s be frank. The term “one-state solution” is a euphemism for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.” However, the ADL and Foxman didn’t give attention or condemn the Florida house resolution.

Perhaps Foxman and other supporters of Israel realized the stakes in clashing with those in support of the bill. After all many Evangelical Christians support for Israel is based on “Biblical interpretations” that sees Jewish control of the whole land as a must and compromising that belief that would be heresy. Also, this wave of support for a one-state solution is not limited to Florida. Last January the Republican National Committee passed a resolution similar of Florida’s bill.

J Street, a Jewish American lobby group advocating for the two-state solution realized that this is a major shift in America and tweeted that the resolution “confirms the decades-long bipartisan consensus on a two-state solution is shattered.”

However the wind of change regarding the one-state solution is also storming Israel itself. There are a growing number of Israelis talking about alternatives to the two-state solution. Some settlers, nationalists and even politicians are now openly talking about the one-state solution. Israeli Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, a leading member of the Likud told my colleague Noam Shezif that he supports one state:

There is a conflict in the Middle East between two entities, and they’re both right, each in their own way. This is our only home, and therefore all kinds of solutions can be found. One could establish a system in one state in which Judea and Samaria are jointly held. The Jews would vote for a Jewish parliament and the Palestinians for an Arab parliament, and we would create a system in which life is shared. But these are things that will take time. Anyone who thinks that there are shortcuts is talking nonsense. As long as Islamic fundamentalism thinks that Jews are forbidden to settle in the Holy Land, we have a problem. It will not be resolved by an agreement, even if we obtain a promise from all the Arab states that it will be fine.

So if people say to me: Decide − one state or division of the Land of Israel, I say that division is the bigger danger.

For the two-state solution supporters, time is not on their side. More Palestinians are losing faith in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas promises of an independent state. They don’t see the 20-year peace process to have brought them any closer to independence. Many Palestinians see the last decade of negotiations to have only worsened their life conditions. Facts on the ground are changing perceptions for Palestinians, Israelis, and foreigners alike. Time is running out and chances of creating a Palestinian state are becoming slimmer day after day. Some doubt that we might have crossed into the no turning point. Others like J Street and the American Task Force on Palestine  believe there is still hope for two-state solution. If they are right, they have very little time to make it happen.

 Read also:

Republican party appears to officially back one-state solution
Settler MK Uri Ariel call for one state
At Harvard conference, a one-state vision Israelis can live with

 

anti-defamation league, florida house of representitavesone state solutionrepublican partyreuven rivlintwo state solution

File UnderAnalysis

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Aziz Abu Sarah is a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem who divides his time between Jerusalem and Washington D.C.

Aziz is a columnist with Al Quds newspaper and is the co-executive director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University. Aziz runs alternative tours to the Middle East with a focus on Israel and the West-Bank through MEJDI a social enterprise he co-founded.

Contact azizabusarah@gmail.com

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Subscribe to Aziz Abu Sarah

Blog http://azizabusarah.wordpress.com/

+++++

 

From: Vivienne Porzsolt

Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2012 09:32:06 +1100

To: <info@newprofile.org>; Anne Barker<abarker30@gmail.com>

Subject: Excellent report on ABC Radio in Australia

 

Hi, the report [on gun control in Israel] this morning on ABC’s Radio National was excellent – congratulations to you, Rela and Anne.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/correspondents/content/2012/s3455835.htm 

 

Best wishes

 

Vivienne Porzsolt

Sydney

 

http://www.abc.net.au/correspondents/content/2012/s3455835.htm

 

++++++

5 Haaretz

 

March 18, 2012

 

A tale of success and darkness in Iran

Even the strongest supporters of an attack – whose numbers, scarily, are increasing – admit there is no chance that Iran will sit idly by, and that an Israeli attack will be countered by a ferocious response.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/a-tale-of-success-and-darkness-in-iran-1.419272

 

By Gideon Levy

Let’s not dwell on the possibility of failure. If an attack fails to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, Israel will receive a Yom Kippur War-like blow. Its deterrence will be compromised and it will be revealed as a paper tiger. Iranian revenge will then be particularly painful.

 

Let’s hope everything will go well. The planes will drop their bombs, all the reactors and the facilities will be razed to their foundations. Even then, there is a danger that some planes will be shot down, God forbid, and then we’ll have another Ron Arad affair (the navigator was lost over Lebanon in 1986 ). But there’s no arguing with (historic ) success: the price is worth it.

 

What are your thoughts on this issue? Follow Haaretz.com on Facebook and share your views

 

Even the strongest supporters of an attack – whose numbers, scarily, are increasing – admit there is no chance that Iran will sit idly by, and that an Israeli attack will be countered by a ferocious response. Missiles from the east, the north and perhaps also the south, including against Tel Aviv, will paralyze the country. It could go on for a long time.

 

Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised a maximum of 500 dead. Perhaps he underestimated, perhaps not, but it is unlikely that Israel is hardened enough to take such a number of casualties in a short time. Blood, bereavement and a stalled economy, all at once. Israelis will be killed, tourists will stay away, the national mood will be one of despair and fear.

 

But even that is not enough. The Iranians, a people with the memory of Methuselah, will neither forgive nor forget. An Israeli success will be perceived, of course, as much more serious than all the “Satanic Verses” furor. If Salman Rushdie has been living in fear of Iran for almost 25 years, the terror of the fatwah it will issue against Israelis will be greater and persist for much longer. Once again, Hebrew will not be heard beyond the threshold of Ben-Gurion International Airport. Careful, the Iranian avengers are everywhere.

 

An Iran that has been bombarded and defeated will be a vengeful Iran, and its revenge will be served both hot and cold. First will come the missiles on Israel, then years of terror attacks worldwide. All of that, we recall, is if Israel scores a dizzying success. A global rise in oil prices, also an immediate and unavoidable outcome of success, will bring one of two things to the White House: a furious Democratic president; or an ignorant, right-wing Republican president, neither of which is good for Israel. Europe will also be angry, as will – it almost goes without saying – Russia and China.

 

But back to Iran. It will redevelop its nuclear potential quickly. It will need about two years to do so, according to even the most ardent supporters of an attack. Its know-how can never be bombed and its motivation will soar, stronger than death, greater than it is now. The Iranian people will unite even more around its leadership, and its hatred for Israel will burn ever brighter.

 

Still, we gained two years; two hard years for Israel. And what would happen after that? Another bombardment? Another success? Meanwhile, there will be a few small comforts: “Many things will be destroyed and many will weep, but the demagogues will be silenced,” the poet Aharon Shabtai wrote in an article in the Hebrew edition of Haaretz (March 16 ). Shabtai was referring to the possibility of failure, but also to the one case of true success – the assumption that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak will not survive politically.

 

Prime ministers and defense ministers do not usually survive mass casualties. That was the case after the failed Yom Kippur War and the successful first Lebanon war. People will not forget the damage of success when it comes to those two, and they will be forced off the stage, even if they are drunk with victory at first.

 

Perhaps Israeli megalomania will also be reined in. Having learned from the experience of the Six-Day War, maybe more Israelis will understand that even military success can end in tears, weeping that will last for generations. Having learned from wars about which we had a choice, wars that were intended to achieve regional control, perhaps more Israelis will understand that the way to strengthen Israel’s standing in the region is not through bombardment. “And we will sober up, once again be human beings who wield pencils,” as Shabtai put it. Our only comfort then, in the imagined success that could soon be upon us, is that it will be only slightly less arduous than its horrific opposite.

 

* A personal note: In my article “Living in Bamba Land” (March 15 ), I stated that MK Zahava Gal-On made no mention on her Facebook page of events in the south and in Gaza. I was not aware that Gal-On was in mourning last week following the death of her mother. I extend my condolences and an apology to Gal-On.

 

+++++++

6 Ynet

March 17, 2012

 

Safe Haven?  [There can be no ‘safe haven’ for ‘the other’ in a state grounded on demography.  In fact, Israel is not a ‘safe haven’ even for Jews.  But it does not kick them out as it does anyone not Jewish.  D]

 

Saying ‘no’ to deportation Photo: Yaron Brener

 

Hundreds protest refugees’ deportation in Tel Aviv

Social activists, asylum seekers protest decision to deport South Sudanese citizens while dozens of Tel Aviv residents hold counter protest in support of deportation

 

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4204070,00.html

 

Omri Efraim

Several hundred people demonstrated against the deportation of South Sudanese citizens in Tel Aviv on Saturday. The protesters are demanding that the government stop the deportation until the situation in South Sudan stabilizes.

 

A counter protest of Tel Aviv residents supporting the deportation was held simultaneously and prompted arguments between the two groups of demonstrators.

 

Related stories:

 

Celebrities unite against deportation of refugees

Israel to help Sudan build refugee city

‘Refugees invisible to Israeli law’

 

Neka Kirba, 15, came to Israel with her family via the southern border five years ago. “We escaped when there was great danger to our lives,” she said. “Our friends from South Sudan who recently joined us in Israel told us of the ongoing threat. Since I learned of the government’s intention I live in constant fear. I ask that the state give us more time until things improve.”

 

Orit Maron of the ASSAF refugee aid organization said, “The government is sending people where their lives are in danger and should be aware that the price of deportation is their lives.” Earlier this week, some 400 Israeli authors, academics and other public figures signed a petition calling on the government to stop the deportation.

 

Kids protest deportation in Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brener)

 

Several dozen southern Tel Aviv residents held a counter protest on Saturday in support of the government’s decision. They carried signs which read “Israel isn’t the answer to Africa’s troubles” and “The south is collapsing, stop the infiltrators’ occupation.” Shlomo Maslawi, a Tel Aviv city councilman told Ynet: “The neighborhoods are flooded with infiltrators and crime, the social infrastructure is collapsing and meanwhile the residents suffer.”

There are contradictory figures regarding the number of South Sudanese citizens living in Israel. Aid groups suggest some 700 refugees from South Sudan currently reside in Israel, including 400 children, while the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority’s estimate stands at 3,000.

 

From South Sudan to south Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brener)

 

Last January, the Immigration Authority announced that all South Sudanese asylum seekers must leave Israel by the end of March, or face deportation. The government maintains that South Sudan’s declaration of independence will enable their return. Meanwhile, members of the community as well as aid groups claim the situation in the country is still very dangerous.

+++++++

7 Today in Palestine

March 18, 2012

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi/message/3431

 

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Afghan parliamentary team says many Americans were involved in massacre in which army accuses one

Mar 17, 2012

Annie Robbins

g cvr 120316 robert bales 247p photoblog600
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, suspected in the shooting of 16 civilians in Afghanistan NBC NEWS

The US soldier allegedly responsible for the massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan  has been identified as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

Bales, 38, was deployed to Afghanistan in December with the 3rd Stryker Brigade, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Tacoma, Wash., the officials said.

Bales, a native of Ohio, has been based at Lewis-McChord his entire career. He and his family reportedly lived not too far from the base and have family roots in western Washington. Bales’ wife is said to be an executive at a Seattle-area company.

Brown said the suspect’s family will remain on base for the foreseeable future for their own protection. Bales was reportedly en route to the United States on Friday.

He has two children.

Directly after the incident, Reuters reported multiple witnesses claimed multiple soldiers were present at the scenes and carried out the crime. The acclaimed Pajhwok Afghan News (initially funded by USAID, its co-founder Farida Nekzad, won the 2008 International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award) is reporting,  Up to 20 US troops executed Panjwai massacre: probe :

KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): A parliamentary probe team on Thursday said up to 20 American troops were involved in Sunday’s killing of 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province.

The probing delegation includes [several members of the National Assembly of Afghanistan] lawmakers Hamidzai Lali, Abdul Rahim Ayubi, Shakiba Hashimi, Syed Mohammad Akhund and Bismillah Afghanmal, all representing Kandahar province at the Wolesi Jirga and Abdul Latif Padram, a lawmaker from northern Badakhshan province, Mirbat Mangal, Khost province, Muhammad Sarwar Usmani, Farah province.

The team spent two days in the province, interviewing the bereaved families, tribal elders, survivors and collecting evidences at the site in Panjwai district.

Hamizai Lali told Pajhwok Afghan News their investigation showed there were 15 to 20 American soldiers, who executed the brutal killings.

“We closely examined the site of the incident, talked to the families who lost their beloved ones, the injured people and tribal elders,” he said.

He added the attack lasted one hour involving two groups of American soldiers in the middle of the night on Sunday.

This report should surprise no one following bulletins from Afghanistan over the last few days. Locals have insisted all along there were multiple soldiers involved, and the anger has spread since the attack. Militants launched an attack on a government delegation visiting Panjwai on Tuesday when two of President Hamid Karzai’s brothers and several top security officials were visiting. Effigies of Obama were burned, one Afghan soldier was killed as well as three militants. On the same day in the city of Jalalabad 600 students took to the streets condemning the Kandahar slaughter and chanting “Death to America! Death to Obama!

The Taliban has announced they have called off ‘peace talks‘. They have suspended all dialogue with Americans. Thursday President Karzai told the US it must pull back its troops from village areas and allow Afghan forces to take the lead in security. Yesterday the BBC reported that Karzai accused the US of not fully co-operating with a probe into the killings.

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The BBC’s Bilal Sarwary:’Effigies of Obama were burned’

BBC

A member of the delegation, Abdul Rahim Ayubi, told AP the governor was trying to explain to locals that the shooting was an isolated incident.

“But the people were just shouting and they were very angry. They didn’t listen to the governor. They accused him of defending the Americans instead of defending the Kandahari people,” Mr Ayubi said.

Anti-US sentiment is already high in Afghanistan after soldiers burned some copies of the Koran at a Nato base in Kabul last month, sparking deadly riots across the country.

The Taliban has renewed threats of revenge attacks, saying it would behead “sadistic” American soldiers.

It sounds like the people of Afghanistan are fed up and not backing down.

Lali asked the Afghan government, the United Nations and the international community to ensure the perpetrators were punished in Afghanistan.

He expressed his anger that the US soldier, the prime suspect in the shooting, had been flown out of Afghanistan to Kuwait.

He said the people they met had warned if the responsible troops were not punished, they would launch a movement against Afghans who had agreed to foreign troops’ presence in Afghanistan under the first Bonn conference in 2001.

The lawmaker said the Wolesi Jirga would not sit silent until the killers were prosecuted in Afghanistan. “If the international community does not play its role in punishing the perpetrators, the Wolesi Jirga would declare foreign troops as occupying forces, like the Russians,” Lali warned.

Nothing about the Afghan parliamentary probe in the US media. No surprise here.

Kill other peoples, but not your own

Mar 17, 2012

Eleanor Kilroy

I am currently immersed in the culture and politics of Syria as producer of a four-day festival,Reel Syria 2012, here in London and in Edinburgh. We have invited Syrian artists and writers, including the cartoonist, Ali Ferzat, novelist Manhal al-Sarraj and musician, Samih Choukeir, to share their experience of creativity under a repressive regime. The Syrian people are under fire by their own government, as we are also constantly reminded by the media and our politicians. As someone who is committed to the Palestinian cause, I am disturbed by the emphasis on the abhorrent nature of a government targeting ‘its own people’, i.e. ethnic group, as opposed to other governments’ peoples or other ethnic populations in the same territory, as in the case of Israel and Palestinians.

What is most horrifying to me is the indiscriminate killing of non-combatants, shelled in their homes and in the streets. This is not to deny that Syrians are sickened and angered by the lies of a brutal regime that claims it represents and protects them from ‘armed terrorists’. My five-year old niece asked me the other day, ‘Auntie Elly are all governments bad?’ – she meant, ‘even ours?’ – she has picked up from me and her lawyer parents the basic truth that nation states and ruling powers do not protect human life unless it is politically necessary. The Syrian Ba’ath party believes it must kill to survive and Syrians are now comparing their ‘own’ government unfavourably to Israel.

A direct allusion to the apparent moral distinction between the crime of killing your own people, and ‘the other’ was put to a panel on today’s BBC programme, Question Time, by an audience member: ‘What is the difference between an Israeli bomb and a Syrian bomb?’ All the panelists without exception highlighted how intolerable it was to bomb one’s own people, regardless of their politically cautious levels of  ‘sympathy’ towards the occupied Palestinians. Just as hearing that a father has murdered his own children is more chilling than hearing a stranger has done so, this is not an ethical and legal distinction, but a social and political one.

I leave you with a gem of a post left on the Facebook page of Israel’s Moshav Idan (and since removed; edited for clarity), which I once worked on during my misspent youth. I think it needs no comment except the obvious one: Israel inhabits no moral high-ground on the killing of women and children, whomever they belong to:

[Buy Israeli Goods] is a great idea but if we want to expand it why don’t the Knesset do something humanitarian, a global statement. We all live in a democracy. Look at the women and children in Homs where their government is killing them. With the Israeli military might in the region, why don’t they airdrop food and water to the starving and dying people. Think of it as their holocaust, and the statement it would bring, the powerful images and support it would bring to the Knesset.

The Clementi family’s compassionate statement

Mar 17, 2012

Philip Weiss

I’m on a misanthropic kick. I think that people are selfish and mean. I believe the truth of the Colonel Sherburn chapter in Huck Finn, that humanity is vicious and cowardly and easily swayed. And our religions are outmoded and encode the worst impulses in tribal society.

Well, below are excerpts of the statement made yesterday by Joe Clementi, father of the late Tyler Clementi, after the conviction of his son’s former roommate Dharun Ravi in the hate-crime spying case at Rutgers that caused his son to commit suicide in 2010.

The statement on behalf of the Clementi family contains no thanks to the jury, no celebration of the conviction. In its crucial paragraphs, you will see that Joe Clementi steps outside his family’s pain and puts himself in the shoes of all the other young Dharun Ravi’s who will meet people they don’t like:

Just a word about personal responsibility.

To our college, high school and even middle-school youngsters, I would say this: You’re going to meet a lot of people in your lifetime. Some of these people you may not like. But just because you don’t like them, does not mean you have to work against them. When you see somebody doing something wrong, tell them, “That’s not right. Stop it.”

You can make the world a better place. The change you want to see in the world begins with you.

I sense that the Clementis want to forgive Dharun Ravi, and they seek some statement/action from him that will allow them to do so.

Also in this statement is the Clementis’ own dedication to a purpose. Like the Corrie family that built a foundation out of the loss of their daughter in a politically-charged crime nine years ago– for which there has been no accountability from the Israeli government or the American government– the Clementis are taking this evidence of the worst of humanity and trying to change social mores for the internet age:

We have come to understand that the criminal law is only one way of addressing these problems and that there are other ways that are better, particularly when it comes to changing the values and behavior of young people in [the] important areas of respect, privacy, responsibility in a digital world.

As you know, our lives have taken a new turn, and we’re on a mission to address these issues in an affirmative way through the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which we have set up in memory of our son. We hope that the media attention will not fade and that positive efforts on these important issues will be acknowledged.

I’m focused on the worst of humanity these days. But there sure are some exceptions.

In Nabi Saleh, two protesters are struck by rubber bullets

Mar 17, 2012

Kate

and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Apartheid / Restriction of movement / Threats to Palestinian culture and religion

The isolated corner
ISM 15 Mar by ‘Axel’ — In the outer part of Bethlehem very close to Rachel’s Tomb, Mariam (who wishes not to use her actual name) runs her small Palestinian souvenir shop … Before 2002 her husband had an auto mechanic shop in this building, perfectly located right next to the main road to Jerusalem. The business was good back then. Palestinians as well as Israelis came here to get their car fixed or buy parts, and just next door, Mariam had a shop for home accessories. All this changed radically in 2002 when the area became a ‘military zone’. Suddenly the road was closed and the family that lives on the floors above the shops became prisoners in their own home as soldiers turned their house into a military base. Sometimes they took a  room or two, but other days the whole family of seven were forced to stay in one room without being able to go out. Both shops had to close and life became hard. The next year in 2003, the Israeli government built the apartheid wall that is now surrounding the house from three sides. The land around them that is owned by her uncle was confiscated and is now on the other side of the wall, out of reach for the family that no longer can travel outside the West Bank without permission, a permission that is rarely given.
link to palsolidarity.org

Sheds demolished in Nablus area
NABLUS (WAFA) 15 Mar — Israeli bulldozers Thursday demolished a number of Palestinian sheds in an area east of Beit Forik, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, according to Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlements activities in the northern parts of the West Bank. No reason was given for the demolition.
link to english.wafa.ps

West Bank green energy project creating tension between Israel and Germany
14 Mar Joseph Dana — Germany has long been a leader in sustainable energy projects throughout the world. Last month, a German funded green energy project in the West Bank ran into some trouble when Israeli authorities ordered its demolition. Questions about the project’s future, which supplies various Palestinian communities with green energy, have started a spirited debate in the German press leading to a political row between Israel and Germany. For Monocle 24, I interview the director of the project and some representatives of the German government.
link to josephdana.com

Group demands lifting restrictions on Palestinian mobility
GENEVA (WAFA) 15 Mar — Around 300 international non-governmental organizations signed an appeal on Wednesday demanding lifting of Israeli restrictions on Palestinian mobility in the occupied West Bank, Thursday said a statement by the Euromid Observer for Human Rights (Euro-Mid). The plea was submitted in a seminar on Israeli violations in the occupied Palestinian Territory hosted by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Euro-Mid regional director, Amani al-Sinwar, gave a detailed presentation of Israel’s main violations under its last escalation in the Gaza Strip, and the unjustified Israeli restrictions imposed on Palestinians in the occupied territories. Sinwar also briefed the seminar on Euro-Mid’s report on the travel bans Israel issues against Palestinians, which amounted to 4,000 in 2011.
link to english.wafa.ps

Jerusalem Awkaf director turns down invitation by Knesset to discuss Aqsa affair
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 15 Mar — Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, the director of the Jerusalem Awkaf (Endowment), has refused to attend a special Israeli parliamentary session allocated for discussing Aqsa mosque affairs. The Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage quoted Khatib as rejecting the application of any Israeli law on the holy site. He said that the Israeli Knesset’s education and sports committee had invited him to speak about the ‘demolitions of relics’ in the Aqsa mosque, adding that the invitation was made by two far right members who do not respect holy shrines of other religions.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Occupation closes roads in Jerusalem for a marathon
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 16 Mar — IOF troops started Friday morning closing roads in the occupied city of Jerusalem for a marathon run organised by the Zionist municipality, which Palestinians view as part of the municipality’s Judaization efforts. Local sources said that IOF troops closed a number of roads and entrances to Palestinian neighbourhoods in al-Masharef mount and Tour mount and near the walls of the Aqsa Mosque. Thousands of IOF troops and occupation police were deployed on the roads.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Israeli forces

PCHR weekly report 8-14 March: ’24 Palestinians killed, 74 wounded’
The PCHR said that, after Israel started its most recent aggression against the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army carried out 36 air strikes and fired 43 missiles into the coastal region, killing 24 Palestinians, including one child, a woman and two elderly men … The PCHR further stated that 74 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire and shells in the reported period, and that 59 of the casualties, including 16 children and 7 women, were civilians. The arbitrary Israeli bombardment in Gaza led to the destruction of at least 32 Palestinians homes, in addition to a school, a workshop and a center that belong to the Red Crescent Society … Soldiers also kidnapped 11 Palestinians, including two children, in the West Bank, and carried out 56 invasions into Palestinian cities, villages, towns, and refugee camps. Three Palestinians, including a child, were kidnapped by the army at military roadblocks in the West Bank. Full Report
link to www.imemc.org

Video: Israeli soldiers sic attack dog on protesters in Qufer Qaddoum
Pop. Struggle 16 Mar — Soon after the demonstration began, clashes between Israeli Border Police officers who shot tear-gas projectiles and rubber-coated bullets and local youth who threw stones at the forces developed. Roughly 15 minutes later – in a scene that seemed as if it was taking place in the American South of the 1960s – Border Police officers decided to sic an army dog at a group of the demonstrators, standing several dozens of meters away. The dog chased after the protesters, biting and locking his jaws into the arm of one of them – Ahmad Shtawi. For long minutes, the dog would not release its hold of the bleeding arm, even as its handler arrived at the scene and tried to order it to do so. The Border Police officers then arrested Shtawi, despite the fact he was in obvious need of medical attention.
link to popularstruggle.org

Clashes between locals and IOF troops south of Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 16 Mar — Clashes between Palestinian residents of the town of Dura to the south of al-Khalil and IOF troops broke out at dawn Friday after IOF troops in military jeeps raided the town.  Muhammad Jihad from Dura told PIC that two patrols crossed the Tabaqa crossroads connecting Dura and Kharsa to the south and started to fire teargas and rubber coated bullets towards local residents prompting local youth to respond with stones and empty bottles.  Meanwhile, IOF troops raided the villages of al-Majd, Deir al-Asal and Beit al-Roush to the west of al-Khalil.
IOF troops were also deployed in large numbers into the alleyways of the old city of al-Khalil and near the Ibrahimi Mosque.  Local sources told PIC correspondents that IOF troops on foot were present in large numbers from an early hour on Friday in the alleyways of the old city. They stopped and searched passersby.  The Israeli occupation usually step up measures around the Ibrahimi Mosque on Fridays at the pretext of preventing clashes between local Palestinians and Jewish settlers.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Soldier with 188th Armored Brigade left behind – again
Ynet 15 Mar — Mere month after soldier was accidentally forgotten in Ramallah same brigade leaves another solder near Palestinian village of Rantis. IDF inquiry launched
link to www.ynetnews.com

Givati troops beat rookie comrades with rods
Ynet 16 Mar — Court extends remand of two combat soldiers suspected of physically, verbally abusing troops new to their battalion. ‘This deep-rooted practice must be uprooted,’ judge says
link to www.ynetnews.com

Gaza

Casualties of the last attacks on Gaza: Visit to Shifa Hospital
[photos] ISM / il Blog di Oliva 15 Mar  by Rosa Schiano — This morning we went to pay a visit to the wounded at the Shifa Hospital. Most of them have fractures and burns … Moath Nofal Abo El-Eash, 20: On Monday around 1:30AM two missiles hit Jabalia refugee camp, north of Gaza city. The first attack was carried out by a drone. The missile hit the Hammad family home. More than 30 people have been injured, including 21 children. The house has been completely destroyed and others have been damaged. Abo El- Eash’s  house was close to the the Hammad’s family. Moath had heard the explosions, and his neighbors asked him to go out to try to save Hammad’s family.  As soon when he got out of his home an F-16 launched another missile. Moath has injuries from burns all over his body, particularly on his face and splinters in several parts of his body. I asked him if he felt like telling a message to the world after what had happened to him. Moath replied, “My image is enough to tell the world.”
Dr. Maher Sukkar, vice president of the plastic surgery department at Shifa Hospital, told us that they will ask to analyze the splinters from the weapons used in order to determine if they are carcinogenic. Before saying goodbye, he told us that the weapons used are American. 
link to palsolidarity.org

Israeli aircraft open fire west of Gaza City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Mar 21:51 — Israeli helicopters opened fire toward farmland in the Sheikh Ajlen area west of Gaza City late Thursday, witnesses said. No injuries were reported. An Israeli military spokeswoman said aircraft fired warning shots in response to rocket fire.
link to www.maannews.net

Occupation sea and air forces break ceasefire in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 16 Mar — Israeli occupation forces on Thursday evening shelled  the city of Gaza from the air and sea without  reports of any casualties. Local sources told PIC correspondent that Israeli occupation gun boats opened machinegun fire towards Sheikh Ajleen neighbourhood of Gaza City … In the meantime, Israeli occupation helicopters opened machinegun fire at the eastern parts of Gaza City
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Two rockets hit Israel as Gaza truce firms up
AFP 16 Mar — Militants in the Gaza Strip fired two rockets into southern Israel on Friday, officials said, as a fledgling truce in and around the Palestinian territory firmed up. “One rocket hit an empty field in the Eshkol region, causing no damage or injuries,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP. An additional rocket hit an uninhabited area of the northwestern Negev desert early on Friday morning, according to the Israeli military.
link to news.yahoo.com

Islamic Jihad says committed to truce
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) updated 16 Mar — Islamic Jihad remains committed to a truce with Israel but will retaliate to any attacks on the Palestinian people, leader Ahmad al-Mudallal said Thursday. The Egypt-brokered ceasefire took hold at 1 a.m. Tuesday … Within 24 hours of the truce, Israel bombed northern Gaza and on Wednesday night Israeli warplanes again shelled the northern and southern Gaza Strip. The Israeli army said the strikes were in response to rockets fired from Gaza. An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma‘an that nine projectiles have landed in Israel since the truce began. No faction has claimed responsibility for firing any projectiles since the ceasefire.
link to www.maannews.net

Arab parliamentary convoy arrives in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — An Arab parliamentary convoy arrived Thursday in Gaza through the Rafah crossing. Abdul Qader Samary, chairman of the Arab committee to lift the siege on Gaza, said, “we will continue struggling to liberate Palestine from the enemy who acts outside any laws.” … An Egyptian security source in Rafah told Ma’an that the convoy consists of 28 tons of medicines and medical equipment and seven truckloads of clothes.
link to www.maannews.net

1 killed, another hurt by gunfire at memorial
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Mar 20:55 — A Palestinian was killed and another injured by gunfire during a memorial service for a victim of the escalation between Israel and armed groups in Gaza, a medical official said Thursday. Adham Abu Salmiya told Ma‘an that the young man was pronounced dead at Shifa Hospital and another person was determined to be seriously injured after the accidental shooting in eastern Gaza City.
link to www.maannews.net

Activism / Solidarity

Eight injured, one seriously, as Israeli troops attack West Bank anti-wall protests
IMEMC 16 Mar — Protests were organized in the central West Bank villages of Bil‘in, Ni‘lin and al Nabi Saleh. Eight protesters including one international supporter were injured by Israeli fire at a protest in the village of al Nabi Saleh. The international activist was seriously injured when she was hit with many rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli troops. al Nabi Saleh villagers and their international and Israeli supporters marched after the midday prayers on Friday to protest Israel’s confiscation of their lands to build a settlement. Troops attacked the march before they even left the village. Soldiers invaded the villages and fired tear gas into people’s homes; many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. Soldiers also sprayed residents homes with chemical water. Also on Friday, soldiers used tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets to suppress the anti wall protests at the villages of Bil‘in and Ni‘lin. Many there were also treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
link to www.imemc.org

Image: Israeli shot in head with rubber bullets in Nabi Saleh / Noam Sheizaf
972mag 16 Mar — The Israeli army used rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas against protesters in the village of Nabi Saleh today (Friday). Naomi Laet, An Israeli protester aged 22, seen below, was hit with a rubber bullet in her head. According to reports, another Palestinian was injured from a rubber bullet. The injured protesters were taken to a hospital. Protests in Nabi Saleh have been going on for more than two years, following the confiscation of the village’s land by the nearby settlement of Halamish. One protester has been killed from a tear gas canister shot directly at his head, and dozens have been in injured.
link to 972mag.com

When teargas and rubber bullets aren’t enough, Israeli soldiers release the hounds on unarmed Palestinian protesters
Ni‘lin Sons 16 Mar — In Kufur Qaddoum, clashes between Israeli Border Police officers who shot tear-gas projectiles and rubber-coated bullets and local youth who threw stones at the forces developed. Roughly 15 minutes later … Border Police officers decided to sic an army dog at a group of the demonstrators, standing several dozens of meters away. The dog chased after the protesters, biting and locking his jaws into the arm of one of them … Two other residents of the village were injured during the demonstration, after being hit by tear-gas projectiles shot directly at them. One was hit in the leg and another in the shoulder. The weekly protest in Kufer Qaddoum, west of Nablus, was dedicated to the memory of Rachel Corrie – an American protester who was killed after an Israeli D9 bulldozer drove over her in Rafah exactly nine years ago, on March 16, 2003.
In Nabi Saleh, at least three protesters were injured during the demonstration, including an Israeli woman who was hit in the head by a rubber-coated bullet. The two others hit were lightly injured, one by a rubber-coated bullet and the other by a tear-gas projectile. The woman was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital. Earlier today, large forces entered the village and sprayed a foul-smelling liquid known as the Skunk from a water cannon. During the night, the army staged yet another raid on the village, the fifth in a week’s time.
In Ni’lin, demonstration was held despite the rainy weather, the demonstration was dedicated to the American activist Tristan Anderson who was shot by high velocity tear gas projectile in his head by the Israeli soldiers in 13.03.2009 in the middle of Ni’lin village … Israeli soldiers fired massive tear gas canister at protester, rubber coated bullets and skunk water, one demonstrator was hit with a rubber bullet in his hand and was treated directly
link to www.nilin-village.org

In Photos: Bethlehem met with rain of Israeli violence
Al Ma‘sara Popular Committee –Today the weekly demo of Al-Ma‘sara, near Bethlehem, was underway as dozens of Palestinians and Israelis demonstrated in  the heavy rain against the wall in solidarity with Hana Shalabi . Israeli Occupartion Forces first attacked Mahmoud Zawahre, the coordinator Of Al-Ma‘sara Popular Committee, tearing his clothes before he managed to escape them. After that they started attacking people with their batons and  arrested four Israeli activists. They were later released. They  also broke the camera of journalist, Musa Alshaer. After that they broke the glass of one Palestinian car.
link to palsolidarity.org

In memory of a hero: Rachel speaks truth
ISM 16 Mar — On the anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s martyrdom today, the rain fell in quiet tears that watered Palestine in a confusing emotion of remorse and yet optimism — the same optimism we hear in the voice of Rachel’s diaries and actions … While Palestine is indeed special, it is obvious that it shares much with what the world has struggled for, and International Solidarity Movement threads the humanization of the world as the fabric of solidarity work with Palestinians. Today Palestine and earth, the earth that has inherited the great sacrifices of Rachel Corrie, quietly wept and yet persisted with her memory for the very ideals she died for: freedom and justice.
link to palsolidarity.org

PSP activists plant 50 trees in south Hebron Hills
15 Mar — On Wednesday, March 14th, 2012, activists from Palestine Solidarity Project planted 50 olive and almond trees in Jabal Al-Sandab, in the south Hebron hills. The land belongs to Yusri Al-Jamal, and the planting of olive and almond trees allows him to protect his land from settlers and soldiers by laying claim to it. When land is not being cultivated, it is easier for Israeli occupation forces to confiscate it. Jabal Al-Sandab is near the Hagai settlement. Some of the people who live in this settlement moved directly there from Gaza when the settlements there were dismantled in 2005. We fully expected our farming activity to be interrupted by settlers or soldiers, but fortunately our planting continued in peace and with a lot of national and international press.
link to palestinesolidarityproject.org

Hanaa’ al-Shalabi / Other hunger strikers

Serious deterioration in the health of Palestinian detainee
RAMALLAH (PIC) 16 Mar — Palestinian captive, Hana’ al-Shalabi  enters today her 30th day of hunger strike. She informed her lawyer that she stopped taking salt and is only taking water and that she will continue until her release.  According to her lawyer, Raed Mahameed, that Shalabi was examined by a doctor from Physicians for Human Rights and the doctor said that she suffers from law heart beat rate, law blood sugar, loss of weight, weakness in muscles, yellowing of the eyes and high levels of salt  in the blood which affected her kidneys causing her pain in her sides specially the left side as well as pain in chest bones.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Shalabi’s hunger strike tests Israeli jailing policy
RAMALLAH (Reuters) 15 Mar — The deteriorating health of a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike for the past month is focusing international attention on Israel’s decades-old use of detention without trial … In many instances, Israeli military authorities explain detentions in terms of their security concerns, and base cases on evidence from local informants or members of its own security services whose identities are not revealed. “Evidence isn’t revealed and the way decisions against defendants are met is kept secret. Accusations and evidence are kept from the defendant and their lawyer, and the judge is made to act in the capacity of the defense,” Naama Baumgarten-Sharon of the Israeli rights group B’Tselem said of the procedure. Israel’s High Court has upheld the procedure for decades, siding with the government’s argument that detention without trial is a necessary security measure.
link to www.maannews.net

Rally in support of striking prisoner Shalabi suppressed
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 15 Mar — Israeli soldiers Thursday suppressed a rally near Ofer military camp and prison, west of Ramallah, held in support of Hana Shalabi, who is on hunger strike for 29 straight days. Soldiers fired tear gas at the protesters who were calling for an end to the occupation and the liberation of all prisoners. Many suffered from gas inhalation and suffocation.
link to english.wafa.ps

Prisoner joins Shalabi’s hunger strike
JENIN (Ma‘an) 16 Mar  — A Palestinian detainee entered his sixth day on hunger strike on Friday in solidarity with prisoner Hana Shalabi, a detainees’ center said. Jafar Abu Salah, 45, was detained by Israeli forces from his home in Arraba village in the northern West Bank. Israeli courts have postponed his hearing 11 times, the center said. Abu Salah has been detained by Israel four times. The prisoner started the hunger strike, despite suffering health and stomach problems, in solidarity with Shalabi, a 29-year-old detainee who has refused food for 30 days.
link to www.maannews.net

Twenty-four Palestinians are on hunger strike
MEMO 16 Mar — Officials within the Israeli prison authority have expressed concern about the increasing phenomenon of Palestinian prisoners, especially administrative detainees, going on hunger strike. The numbers have risen after Khader Adnan went on hunger strike for 66 days resulting in a decision not to extend his detention and for him to be released next month. According to sources with the authority, 23 Palestinian prisoners, not including Hana Al-Shalabi who has been on a hunger strike for about a month, started a hunger strike in the past few days. Most are administrative detainees being held without charge or trial.
link to www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk

Detention

Administrative detention: Israel’s way of bypassing justice
Al-Akhbar 16 Mar By: Fadi Abu Saada — Tens of thousands of Palestinians and their families have suffered from the humiliation brought on by a single law, one that Israel uses to jail people without charges — British Origins — The British were not content with the calamitous Balfour Declaration which led to the Palestinian catastrophe. They went further with their injustice with a set of unfair laws in Palestine which live on today. The Israeli occupation forces found such measures to be perfectly suited for their needs, so they began to implement them immediately. One of these is “administrative detention,” which allows for the detention of Palestinians for up to 6 months without a charge. Worse yet, the period can be repeatedly renewed, completely circumventing due process.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Mother with baby arrested while crossing checkpoint in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 15 Mar — Israeli soldiers manning a checkpoint at Shuhada street, in the old city of Hebron, Thursday arrested a 28-year-old Palestinian woman when she tried to cross the checkpoint with her three-year-old child, claiming she tried to attack the soldiers, according to local sources. They said the mother, Inas Ghanim, had to give her baby to one of her neighbors who happened to be passing by the checkpoint at the time. She was taken to a police station in a nearby settlement.
link to english.wafa.ps

Violent raid on Ofer jail, injuries reported
RAMALLAH (PIC) 15 Mar — Special forces from Metsada and Nahshun units violently stormed on Wednesday evening Ofer prison west of Ramallah amid intensive firing of tear gas grenades and embarked on assaulting the prisoners and damaging their belongings.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Captive Abbas al-Sayyed refuses to give DNA samples
TULKAREM (PIC) 16 Mar — Abbas al-Sayyed, a detained Hamas leader, refused to give a saliva sample to the Jalbu’ prison administration which is collecting prisoner data to keep in a database, according to a letter he sent to his wife with his lawyer informing her of what happened…
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Palestinians ask Israeli court to halt DNA tests
Ramallah, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 16 Mar — The Palestinian Authority has asked Israel’s highest court to halt the taking of DNA samples from Palestinian prisoners against their will, a PA minister said on Thursday. “We petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court yesterday against the humiliating treatment of our prisoners,” prisoner affairs minister Issa Qaraqaa told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He said that at Shita prison in northern Israel, which holds mainly Palestinian security prisoners, inmates were forcibly restrained while samples of hair were taken and their mouths swabbed.
link to english.alarabiya.net

Palestinian suspected of stabbing soldier arrested
JERUSALEM (WAFA)15 Mar – Israeli forces Thursday arrested a Palestinian at Qalandia checkpoint, halfway between Jerusalem and Ramallah, suspected of stabbing a female Israeli soldier at a train station in the colony of Pisgat Zeev, east of Jerusalem, according to Israeli reports
link to english.wafa.ps

Refugees

Syrian security forces ‘warn Palestinian camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar  — Sources in Damascus say Syrian security forces threatened to raid the Yarmuk refugee camp due to Fatah’s alleged support of demonstrations against Syrian leader Bashar Assad … Syrian security forces have detained a number of Fatah members: Ayman Juda Abu Ala, public action official in Yarmuk, Jihad Abu Yousef, Abdul Wahed Kherma, Firas Tahmaz, and Amjad Sadya. The claims could not be independently verified from outside the country, but Syrian forces have at times harshly attacked Palestinians over the course of an uprising against Assad’s regime. In August, a bloody campaign against the coastal town of Latakia killed dozens of Palestinians.
link to www.maannews.net

Stop humiliating Palestinian refugees
Daily Star 16 Mar by By Sari Hanafi — …While listening to Bachelet, I felt bitter about how Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have also been the victims of unjust laws, supported by the bureaucracy and politicians. At the same time, just laws that might improve the situation of those refugees have not been implemented. Let’s take two examples. On Aug. 7, 2010, after much hesitation and heated debate, Lebanon’s Parliament ratified a law to facilitate the employment of Palestinian refugees. The law represented something new in the uneasy Palestinian-Lebanese relationship. It also effectively continued to legalize discrimination, to use the term employed by the journalist Talal Salman, prohibiting Palestinians from working in more than 30 professions, while allowing other foreigners to do so.
link to www.dailystar.com.lb

Political, diplomatic, economic news

A year on, unity activists ponder next steps
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — The anniversary of the March 15 movement to restore unity to the occupied territories passed quietly Thursday, with no major rallies in Palestinian cities. The principal demands of the masses who demonstrated in the West Bank and Gaza have yet to be met, but the leaders of Fatah and Hamas technically agreed to reconcile in May 2011. Progress has stalled ever since. The Palestinian National Council has not held elections, as promised, nor have the Fatah and Hamas factions formed a unity government. Parliament elections planned for this year seem unlikely anytime soon.
link to www.maannews.net

World Bank: Economic slowdown in Palestinian Authority endangers state-building efforts
Haaretz 15 Mar — Slower growth and drop in international aid, combined with Israeli restrictions, have led to a worsening economic situation in the West Bank, according to a new report by the World Bank.
link to www.haaretz.com

Mashaal to Erdogan: Israeli aggression unjustified
Ynet 16 Mar — Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Friday and briefed the him over the latest round of violence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. During the two-hour meeting, Mashaal accused the Jewish state of “fabricating excuses” to attack the Palestinians. He also claimed that Israel has turned Gaza into a testing field for its weapons and the Iron Dome missile defense system.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Zahhar thanks Iran for supporting Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar  — Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar on Thursday thanked Iran for its “unlimited” support to Palestinians. Speaking at a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran, Zahhar said Iran supported Palestine without expecting anything in return, reports said … Zahhar has made conflicting statements about the role Hamas would play if Israel attacked Iran.
link to www.maannews.net

Britain condemns Israeli settlement relocation
LONDON (WAFA) 16 Mar — British Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt Friday called on the Israeli government to rescind its decision to move settlers from the illegal West Bank outpost Migron to a new nearby location … “We are deeply concerned that this agreement sets a dangerous precedent for other outposts that are illegal under both international and Israeli law. It is also directly contrary to the commitments Israel made to the international community under the Quartet Roadmap to evacuate all outposts,” said the British minister.
link to english.wafa.ps

European Parliament calls on Israel to respect signed agreements
STRASBOURG (WAFA) 16 Mar — The European Parliament (EP) Thursday expressed deep concern about Israeli army raids on two Palestinian television stations in Ramallah late last month and called on Israel to return equipment it seized at the two stations, according to an EP resolution. It also said that Israeli raids on Palestinian-controlled areas are a breach of the Oslo accords signed in 1993.
link to english.wafa.ps

Racism / Discrimination

UN body ‘appalled’ by Israel’s racial segregation policies
EI 16 Mar by Adri Nieuwhof and Mireille Fanon Mendès-France — Israel is criticized for violating the right to equality in a new report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). An advance version of the CERD report indicates that racial prejudice can be found in almost every facet of Israeli life (“Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,” 9 March 2012 [PDF]). CERD is a body of legal specialists who monitor the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which states that any doctrine of superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous.
link to electronicintifada.net

Israeli budget reinforces discrimination against 1948 Palestinians
Al-Akhbar 16 Mar by Charlotte Silver — … In 2007, the Israeli Prime Minister’s office established the Authority for the Economic Development of the Minority Sector with the goal to improve minorities’ economic activity. In 2010, on the eve of Israel’s admittance into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Israeli politicians ramped up their lip service to close the gap between the Arab and Jew

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Marathon for Children: Running for the Right to Play

NOVANEWS
Palestinian children ‘need safety, security, protection and a promise for a better future.’
By Ramzy Baroud

 

I was ecstatic as I read an email sent by a manager at a Canadian toy company. The company donates a large number of toys each year to inner city kids throughout North America, using various NGOs. A few years ago, they decided to ship several thousand toys to Palestinian children. They asked for my help.

The feeling of joy that I felt that day was unparalleled. Rarely do I experience in my job as a writer, whose main focus is war and conflict, this overpowering sense of elation. I had to tell someone that 11,000 toys would be shipped to Palestinian refugee camps before the Muslim holiday. This will certainly be a memorable Eid for so many children denied the simple pleasure of holding a teddy bear, or watching a toy police car running in circles with blazing sirens. My friend, Mohammed, a reporter from Egypt, however, was not very impressed.

“Toys?” he asked with an irritated tone. “What Palestinian children need is weapons, to defend themselves,” he exultantly explained, as various colleagues nodded their head with agreement.

His statement mixed truth with bizarre logic. True, Palestinian children needed to be protected, but to expect a child to further abandon his childhood and to carry a weapon was most cruel, insensitive.

I revisited the subject with my friend an hour later, this time armed with all sorts of print outs. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child,” I lectured, asserted that “every child has the inherent right to life…survival and development,” that “children must be protected from ‘injury or abuse, that  “a child who is seeking refugee status or who is…a refugee … [shall] receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance.” He seemed equally unimpressed. Later that evening I found my friend with a shopping cart, loaded with toys, candies, and all the rest, as he and his entire family were cheerfully finishing their shopping for the Muslim holiday. His children were eagerly pointing at every dazzling toy they find, and he, happily obliged.

I still wonder if he had ever figured out the irony in denying Palestinian children toys for the holiday and hauling, on the very same day, every toy his kids requested?

This episode took place several years ago, but I am still as resentful as ever, resentful of the notion that Palestinians, mostly in refugee camps, are entrusted with the daunting task of withstanding the awesome military might of Israel, entirely alone. While some Arab media are tirelessly singing the praise of heroic Palestinians, the governments of these same countries are ensuring that the siege of Gaza is complete, that the ‘punishment’ of Palestinians is perfected, that starvation, misery and despair continue to prevail. This decade-long hypocrisy is symptomatic, and is inherit in the relationship between many Arab states and Palestinians: the ‘guardians’ of the Holy Land, those who resist, suffer and often die alone.

But even a child, in a most atrocious war zone is still a child. No matter how much fear and grief prevail in her life, she still longs for a toy monkey that flips around on the push of a button.

In fact, that was one of very a few toys that I have ever received growing up as a child in Gaza. The bond that grew between me and the flipping monkey was legendary. I often checked on him, tucked neatly into a drawer in my mom’s closet following every Israeli raid, before I left for school and when I came back. It gave me a sense of comfort amid a dreadful and terrifying life.

In Gaza, parents hardly worry themselves with such minor subjects as buying toys. When flour and sugar are missing, rubber ducks and water guns can wait. For children however, even those who survive the most appalling violence, or even those who sustain an injury or a lifetime disability, only a teddy bear can bring a smile, only a toy monkey can somehow restore the sense of loss.

Palestinian children deserve to enjoy the edicts of UN conventions. Palestinian children don’t need rhetoric nor wish to be designated as anyone’s ‘guardians’ and ‘heroes’; they need safety, security, protection and a promise for a better future.

When Playgrounds for Palestine – http://www.playgroundsforpalestine.org  – was first founded by activist and writer, Susan Abulhawa, I remember thinking: this is the most thoughtful idea I have heard in a long, long time. When Abulhawa led a group of activists to the refugee camp of Jenin in 2002 and organized play workshops for the devastated camp’s children, the organization and its founder grew in my eyes immeasurably. It’s easy to theorize endlessly about the ‘violent tendencies’ of Palestinian children, and sermonize incessantly of the need to send weapons to children, already battered by war and violence. But, thankfully, there are those with the passion to understand that what Palestinian children need the most is their freedom, their milk, their school uniforms and supplies, their innocence, their giggles as they go down the slide of a jungle gym.

On November 23, Susan Abulhawa and I, joined by a few others, will be running the Philadelphia Marathon. Our goal is to raise 12,000 dollars to build a playground for Palestinian children. The organization has already erected several playgrounds throughout the Occupied Territories (it’s also building three playgrounds in Lebanon’s refugee camps and sending 152 soccer balls) that has served thousands of children. But more is needed, and we need your help.

Please visit this link  and contribute. You can also join us, or run your own race to raise awareness and funds for Palestinian children and Playgrounds for Palestine. Palestinian children deserve more than words of sympathy. They deserve their childhood back.

Thank you for your help.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Human RightsComments Off on Marathon for Children: Running for the Right to Play


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