Archive | May 10th, 2012

Saudi cleric: ‘Sin’ has led to Middle East unrest


Top Saudi religious figure blames Muslim sinfulness for instability taking hold of Arab world

ed note–argumentatively-speaking, this is akin to saying that ‘germs cause disease’ without giving any further context.

No, the reason there is unrest in the Middle East is because interested outside players such as Israel and the US, along with the political AND RELIGIOUS leadership of these countries have colluded to bring oppression, instability and chaos.

The ‘sin’ he is discussing here is not that of the people, but rather of the aforementioned interested parties.

Doctor, heal thyself


Saudi Arabia’s top religious official has blamed Muslim sinfulness for instability in the Middle East, where pro-democracy unrest has toppled four heads of state.

“The schism, instability, the malfunctioning of security and the breakdown of unity that Islamic countries are facing these days is a result of the sins of the public and their transgressions,” Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh was quoted as saying by al-Watan newspaper.

In a Friday sermon, he accused “chaotic” people of wearing the mask of “democracy and equality” for actions leading to injustice and instability within the Ummah, or Muslim nation.

Revolts that erupted last year have removed Arab autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and are still raging in Syria and Bahrain. They gave voice to millions of people who suffered decades of repression but have alarmed Gulf Arab rulers.

Ties between Riyadh and Cairo were strained by the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, a close Saudi ally, and by the rising power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, an organization viewed with suspicion by many Gulf governments.

On Friday an Egyptian delegation visited Saudi King Abdullah to smooth a spat caused by protests at the Saudi embassy in Cairo, which had led to the recall of the Saudi ambassador. The king later ordered the envoy back Cairo and the embassy said he would return on Saturday.

Last month, the grand mufti was criticized after international media quoted him as saying all churches in the Arabian Peninsula should be destroyed, angering Christian bishops in Austria, Germany, and Russia. The comments could not be verified by Saudi officials.

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Are American Jews Really Distancing Themselves from Israel?


Claims by leftist American Jews that increasing numbers of Jews are distancing themselves from Israel have been dismissed by famous “former Jew” Gilad Atzmon.

Writing on his website in response to an appearance by Professor Norman  Finkelstein on a BBC TV show, Hardtalk, Atzmon said that “according to Norman Finkelstein, American Jews fall out of love with Israel.

“In this BBC Hardtalk exchange [below] he argues that they are now so unhappy with what Israel is doing that they want to distance them from the country.

“But is Finkelstein telling the truth here? I think that he is dead wrong! Diaspora Jews are actually more attached to their tribal identity than ever,” Atzmon said.

“For the time being, Israel is the one and only Jewish secular symbolic identifier (culturally, spiritually and nationally). Even the so-called Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists identify collectively with Israel by the means of negation.

“Israel is at the heart of the Jewish collective universe. Most Jews feel strong affinity towards the ‘Jewish State’ and just a very few claim to oppose it.

“I would argue that for Jews to move away from Israel or Zionism a new Jerusalem is needed, I don’t see it happening voluntarily,” Atzmon concluded.

In reality, as Atzmon has pointed out, support for Israel is, if anything, increasing amongst Jews in America and around the world.

Even more importantly, the entire political spectrum in Israel is moving rapidly to the Zionist right.  Just a few years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu was regarded as an extremist leader on the fringes of even the Likud Party—yet nowadays he has been praised as Israel’s “best politician” even by writers on the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper.

As recently as last week, Isi Leibler, the former leader of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry said that “it is undeniable that a far stronger consensus prevails amongst Israelis in relation to the government’s approach towards the Palestinians than at any time since the national schism was created in the wake of the adoption of the Oslo Accords.

“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has effectively charted a centrist course which is endorsed by most of the nation,” he said.

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Head of massive prostitution ring gets 18 years in prison


"הפעילות הורידה אותם מדרגת צלם אדם". סבן בבית המשפט, היום (צילום: מוטי קמחי)

Rami Saban and three accomplices who headed one of ‘most extensive human-trafficking rings in Israel’s history’ jailed and ordered to compensate victims.


ed note–remember as you read this that Saban was justified in his religious beliefs to do this, as the Old Testament is rife with examples of the menfolk exploiting women for sexual purposes. Besides Abraham selling his wife Sarah into concubinage to the Egyptian Pharaoh, we also have the case of Abraham’s  nephew Lott, who gives his 2 virgin daughters away to a group of sex freaks from Sodom–

‘Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man…I give them to you to abuse as you see fit, only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof…

Genesis, 19.8

But probably the most important, in terms of Jews using Gentile women for their own sexual purposes comes from the Book of Numbers, 31:13-18, 32-35

‘And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.

And Moses was furious with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.

And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?

Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD…

Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep, 

And threescore and twelve thousand beeves,

And threescore and one thousand asses,

And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.


“We’ve yet to see a case that compares in its severity to Rami Saban’s activity,” Tel Aviv District Court Judge Khaled Kabub said Thursday before sentencing the head of a massive human-trafficking ring to 18 years and seven months in prison.

The court also ordered Saban to pay each of the 13 complainants NIS 15,000 (about $4,000) and fined him an additional NIS 150,000 ($40,000).

Four months ago Saban and three of his accomplices were convicted of trafficking hundreds of women into Israel for prostitution.

Justice Kaboub called the operation “one of the most complex and extensive human-trafficking affairs to be uncovered in recent years, if not ever.”

David Moraidi, one of the accomplices, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay nine of the complainants a total of NIS 100,000 ($26,000). Yaakov Moraidi was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay the complainants NIS 5,000 ($1,300). He was also fined NIS 60,000 (about $16,000).

Shmuel Malka, the third accomplice, was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay the complainants NIS 15,000 ($4,000). He was also slapped with a NIS 20,000 ($5,300) fine.

According to the indictment, the defendants smuggled hundreds of women into Israel through the border with Egypt. They used a network which located hundreds of young women in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and Uzbekistan.

The court said the suspects received between $5,000-$7,000 for each woman they sold to an escort service in Israel, depending on her physical appearance. The three key suspects are alleged to have pocketed millions of shekels each.

Eight men were indicted in March 2009 in connection with the human trafficking ring, but two of them became state witnesses as part of a plea bargain and linked Saban to the other suspects. Avi Yanai, Saban’s business partner, was sentenced by a Russian court to 18 years in prison for his role in the operation.

Some of the women, the verdict said, were imprisoned and abused.

The court also said some of the defendants owned and operated 12 brothels in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan between 1999 and 2004, and also operated a phone sex line between 2005 and 2006.

Saban was convicted of pandering, conspiracy to commit a crime, operating a brothel, forgery and money laundering.

Saban, the court said in the verdict, “was at the top of a pyramid of criminal and disgraceful activity. Words cannot describe the cynicism and apathy with which the defendants, headed by Saban, treated the woman.

“Nothing deters him (Saban) – not prior convictions or lengthy jail sentences,” Justice Kaboub wrote.

A representative of the Tel Aviv District Prosecutor’s Office said the court “sent a strong message to Israel’s citizens that they will be severely punished even if they commit human-trafficking offences outside the country’s borders.”

Rita Chaikin of the Isha L’Isha (Woman to Woman) organization said she hoped the verdict would deter human traffickers. “It is important to understand that women who have been trafficked into Israel did not do so out of their own free will, but out of terrible distress,” she said.

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“Only one of my three sons is left and is locked behind Israel’s bars”



ImageA hunger striker’s son in Gaza’s sit-in tent carrying a sign reading “I am in solidarity with Palestinian detainees”–By Mjd Abusalama

The sit-in tent for Palestinian political prisoners has been moved from the International Committee for the Red Cross to a central park near the statue of the Unknown Soldier in the middle of Gaza City. It is one of the few green places and thus one of the most lively places in Gaza, where people escape from their dark houses and seek fun and relief, or to simply waste their times observing others.  However, the sit-in tent is now used differently, to send messages of solidarity with our Political prisoners who have been on a mass hunger strike since April 17, and to show anger with the Arab and international community and all human rights organizations, which keep calling for human rights, democracy and justice, but when it comes to our prisoners, they do nothing but watch them dying and remaining helpless.

The solidarity is taking many forms, such as lighting candles, making marches, creatively performing plays, songs, poetry and Dabka, joining a symbolic hunger strike.  In Gaza’s sit-in tent, 50 men and 45 women have joined a symbolic hunger strike in solidarity with the detainees since May 2, including prisoner’s wives, parents, sisters and former prisoners. Those people have been protesting day and night. The tent is their shelter as long as the revolution of hunger is going inside Israeli prisons. Having been in the solidarity tent daily, even more than in my house, I’ve witnessed most of the cases among hunger strikers whose health conditions got deteriorating. Several cases were sent to hospital for low or high blood pressure and so many people fainted or emotionally collapsed. Ambulances and doctors never leave the tents anymore as if they have full time job at the tent.

While observing the hunger strikers getting paler as more days pass, I can’t help but think of our heroes, our prisoners behind Israel’s bars and compare. The strikers here have access to water and salt and they also have a small dish of yogurt and soup per day. But our prisoners have nothing but water and salt, ‘in case it’s not confiscated by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS).’  Strikers here can rest or sleep whenever they feel like it, but our prisoners keep being transferred between sections and prisons by the IPS attempting to exhaust them. Loai Odeh, a former prisoner who is also now on a hunger strike in solidarity, emphasizes that the IPS mercilessly prevents the strikers from resting, with these words he wrote recalling his experience of hunger strike during the campaign of disobedience.  “Soldiers burst into strikers’ rooms aggressively as if they were confronting armed fighters on a battleground, not hunger strikers with feeble bodies that can barely stand.  Knowing that strikers are intolerant of noise, soldiers break into their rooms with loud screams and initiate a  hand search in a way that one feels that he’s being beaten rather than searched.”


ImageLoai Odeh and Abu Hosny Al-Srafity in the sit-in tent

While making the daily tour to show support and admiration to the hunger strikers in the tent, I was surprised to see Abu Hosny Al-Srafity wearing the strikers’ t-shirt that distinguishes them from others, and which beautifully designed with the Palestinian flag with “we’ll live dignified” written on it.  Abu Hosny is a 66-year old detainee’s father whom I met since I started going to the weekly protest in the ICRC for political prisoners. Whenever we meet, we greet each other and have a short and informal conversation, but never had a real one that would make me feel like knowing him intimately. Finally, I had this conversation with him after I said “You, too?” out of surprise reacting to seeing that t-shirt.

“Absolutely!” He powerfully confirmed. “We took this step because we consider ourselves as partners in this battle of dignity but our hunger strike remains symbolic at the end of the day. It equals nothing of our detainees’ enormous suffering under the Israeli oppressive regime. They aren’t only hungry for food, they are hungry for dignity, justice, and freedom.”

He refused to let his age be a barrier in front of standing with his son Ali who was detained for 10 years and still has six to go. Doctors keep pressuring him to break his hunger strike but he refuses saying that “my life isn’t any more precious than that of my son.”

Our conversation was still in the beginning.  What came next was heartbreaking. I was amazed at his high spirit and his determination but this profound chat we had clarified to me where he got that strength from.

“Ali is the only son left.” He said. “Left?” I interrupted. Then he moved his below to take a photo he kept below and started explaining. “I had three sons. My oldest son Hosny and my youngest Mohammed were killed and the one in the middle is behind Israel’s bars.” I felt raged and asked how. “In 2004, I was sitting with my wife chatting alone about the terrifying sounds of warplanes that occupied Gaza’s sky. We knew an attack was coming. Then a loud expulsion was heard and shook the land below us. We were in indescribable panic.  My wife prayed, “May Allah stand with the mothers of the targeted people.”  Then she answered the phone that informed her about the assassination of her oldest son, having no idea she was praying for herself.”

It was very hard to keep control of my emotions after hearing that tragedy. I continued looking directly at his eyes that were full of sorrow and listened silently. “Wait. The next story is even more shocking.” He said. “I was on my way home from a family visit with my wife and my seven-year-old son Mohammed in 1994. We were close to the eastern line, near Naheloz settlement. While standing in the street and waving for cars to take us back home, we suddenly glanced an Israeli car and a jeep driving too fast toward us. We got confused and scared. They intentionally smashed my son under their wheels, hit my wife and badly injured her and kept driving fast toward the settlement. It was horrible. It all happened so quickly that I couldn’t rescue my son who froze out of fear in front of that heartless driver who killed him and didn’t bother to even look back.”

Abu Hosny stopped talking to see my reaction but I was too shocked to utter any word after hearing that horrible incidents. His voice narrating the stories of the murder of his two sons kept replaying in my ears, and my tears kept flowing and the features of shock didn’t leave my face.  He saw me in that condition and softly tapped on my hand and said, “Don’t be sad, my daughter. As long as we’re living on these holy lands of Palestine, we’ll never get fed up giving any sacrifice. These unjust and unsecure lives we’re leading are the source of our inner strength and determination. If that wasn’t the case, you wouldn’t see me now hunger striking in solidarity with my son, the living martyr, with hope to celebrate his freedom soon.”

Let’s pray to all detainees’ families to celebrate the victory of their detained sons in their battle of empty stomachs against the armed merciless jailers and pray that this victory will result in allowing them to visit their sons after over 6 years of family visits’ ban. Let’s support our prayers with  taking serious actions.

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Winning Is No Joke, Boris


Lynne Parker

In a world seemingly gone mad, a comedian now rules one of the greatest capital cities in the world for a second term. I am not amused.

As if this isn’t bad enough the rest of the country is being run by a bunch of smooth-talking identikit Conservatives and Liberals who don’t even have a majority. Just when you thought the world of politics might be turning a congenial corner, Boris Johnsonblunders back into power, with his bikes, blonde bouffe and bad jokes to reign victorious over my beloved London.

Maybe the biggest joke of all is being saved for David Cameron. The chilling sight of a woolly hatted Boris cycling back to City Hall after his victory being heckled by a loitering reporter who shouted “see you in Number 10 next Boris”, might be a portent of things to come. The Conservative party is already exploring what it is that Boris has and David hasn’t – it clearly hasn’t been on the menu for the party faithful all over the country. Now, like in When Harry met Sally, the rest of the restaurant wants it!

If it had been a choice between real-life funny men, say jocular livewire Peter Kay and the sharply witty Jimmy Carr – who would have been voted mayor? Both are great comedians but who has the most people appeal? Humour just like politics, divides and conquers, and an election between these two funny men would be close to call.

It’s therefore a shame we didn’t get to compare Boris and Ken in a like-for-like comedy situation because it’s my betting that Ken Livingstone has better and pithier jokes. Ken, like Boris, is in demand for panel shows and talking head stuff and hosts a radio show on London’s LBC.

Yet he hasn’t been able to compete with the attention seeking banter and childlike blondness of Boris. The Mayoral election was, despite a great fight and more Assembly seats won to Labour, to be Ken’s political swan song. It’s like watching Benny Hill winning over Dave Allen, spanking and winking his way to victory rather than relying on well-crafted comedy.

So, as Ken licks his political wounds and considers his next move, London holds its breath in anticipation of a new onslaught of Boris buffoonery. And, boy, the opportunities abound with the Jubilee and the Olympics fast approaching, so let’s pray that Boris doesn’t play his comedy cards at the capital’s expense.

At best Boris might commit to some of Ken’s dreams for London – lowering fares, replacing EMA so that young people can travel to their studies, increasing police presence so that we can feel safe on the streets and providing more affordable housing. I don’t think I can take much more conservatism or even liberalism, not to mention the jokes! London is a vibrant and social city with a comedy club on every corner, so please, Boris, leave the jokes to the people who earn a living telling them.

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Queen’s Speech To Feature ‘Family Friendly’ Policies, Lords Reform


PA/The Huffington Post UK


A package of “family-friendly” policies will feature in the Queen’s Speech today as the coalition Government steps up its bid to recover from a catalogue of problems and a local election mauling.

More flexible leave for parents, speedier adoptions, better help for special needs pupils and improved access arrangements for divorced fathers will all be included in a wide-ranging Bill, Downing Street sources indicated

The unveiling of legislative plans for the coming year is a key part of an attempted government relaunch amid bleak economic news and backbench pressure for a change of course.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg defended the two-year-old power-sharing deal yesterday – insisting it was more important than ever in the fight to cut the state deficit and balance the country’s books.

But they were accused by Labour leader Ed Miliband of continuing to put the interests of the rich before ordinary voters and of presiding over a “crisis” of public faith in politics amid poor turnout at the polls last week.

Among measures expected to feature prominently in the programme to be formally revealed by the Queen are binding votes for shareholders on executive pay – bolstering a growing revolt against boardroom excess.

Public sector pension reform and efforts to slash business red tape are anticipated as part of what the Prime Minister said remained a clear focus on cutting debt and stimulating growth.

Energy market regulation, the creation of a National Crime Agency, tougher regulation of supermarkets and a new ban on driving while under the influence of drugs are all expected.

And there will detailed plans for the splitting up of banks to avert a repeat of the 2008 crash.

But the Government will also signal its intent to press ahead with reform of the House of Lords – a key Liberal Democrat demand but the focus for anger among many Tory MPs, including senior figures.

They complain that with the UK back in recession it is “barmy” to devote parliamentary time to a constitutional shake-up and are threatening a full-scale rebellion.

In an “alternative Queen’s Speech” published at the weekend, they urged Mr Cameron to prioritise instead issues such as more grammar schools, an EU referendum, a Bill of Rights and tax cuts.

Mr Cameron insisted a move to directly elected peers was a “perfectly sensible” decision and Mr Clegg said there was no reason not to do so alongside higher-priority issues.

A Number 10 source said the inclusion of a Bill covering a range of family policies would demonstrate that the premier was “passionate” about giving children a good start in life.

Among its provisions will be ending what Mr Cameron calls “absurd” barriers to mixed-race adoptions by making speed a more important factor than race in the process.

It will also confirm the intention to consult on changing the law to give divorced fathers better access to their children – despite an official review recommending it should not happen.

Care proceedings in court will also be subjected to a time limit of six months and the system of providing support for special needs pupils speeded up and simplified.

And there will be moves to provide access to “flexible parental leave” – reported to include the chance for new mothers to transfer more of their maternity leave to fathers.

“Dealing with the deficit and getting the economy growing remains the coalition’s number one priority,” the source said.

“But we’re also grappling with some long-term issues around adoption, the care system, and children with disabilities, to make life better for some of the most vulnerable children in society. The PM is passionate about making sure that these children get the best start in life that they can, and this Bill will help us to do that.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “No relaunch is going to persuade Britain’s families that this Government is on their side.

“There is nothing family friendly about a Tory-led Government that has delivered record female unemployment, stripped back Sure Start and, and taken away childcare support for thousands of families.”

Mr Cameron used an interview with the Daily Mail to urge restive Tory MPs not to wreck the coalition – insisting he shared their frustrations with the restrictions imposed by sharing power with the Lib Dems.

Human rights law, reform of workplace rights and support for marriage were all on a “growing list of things that I want to do but can’t”, he said.

In a message to those demanding a refocus on traditional Conservative policies, he said: “I completely understand your frustrations, but let’s be clear: we’ve taken on some areas like reforming student finance, reforming public sector pensions, freezing public sector pay.

“These are things that previous Conservative governments weren’t able to do.

“Hell, I even vetoed an EU treaty. So I would say to Conservatives, I know it’s frustrating. I share your frustration. I want a Conservative-only government.

“But don’t let’s waste the chance we have now to help get this country out of the mess it was left in. We have got the mandate and the policies and the team to do it.

A run-down of the new Bills expected:

Grocery Code Adjudicator Bill
The Bill follows the Government’s commitment to establish a new ombudsman within the Office of Fair Trading, to enforce the code of practice between the major supermarkets and their suppliers. In May 2011 the Government published a draft Bill to create the Groceries Code Adjudicator. The draft Grocery Code Adjudicator Bill was considered by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee thereafter. Having undergone pre-legislative scrutiny the Government has stated that it intends bringing forward final legislation when parliamentary time allows.

The Bill will implement a Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) which will legally oblige retailers to establish an overarching fair-dealing provision and prohibit from making retrospective adjustments to terms and conditions of supply. It will also prohibit arrangements with suppliers that result in suppliers being held liable for losses due to shrinkage and oblige records of agreements and conditions of supply to be kept.

An independent ombudsman based in the OFT will be established to monitor the GSCOP and ensure compliance. Powers will be provided for the Government to introduce financial penalties for retailers should the GCA require them.

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Mondoweiss Oline Newsletter


Akiva Tor: Arab Spring at fault for blocking a future Palestinian state

May 09, 2012

Allison Deger

Akiva Tor
Akiva Tor spoke in San Francisco Monday, May 6, 2012.

On Monday, Akiva Tor, Israeli consul general of the Pacific Northwest, shed more light on the bitterness Israel feels towards the Arab Spring in a lecture at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Although the event was supposed to focus on the implications of political shifts in the region for Israel, Tor used the event to scapegoat the Palestinians for the stagnant peace process while all the audience wanted to talk about was Iran.

Beginning with Egypt, Tor decried the landslide of votes casted for the Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood, stating, “Political Islam won the elections.” Continuing, “even when this earthquake will cease its tremor,” relations with Israel will not likely improve. And while the former Mubarak regime was Israel’s insurance for “peace with the Egyptian government for more than 30 years,” the new leadership evoked apprehension for the diplomat. Tor then expressed concerns over the government not honoring treaties previously made with Israel because of their “religio-historical” worldview. Israel, by comparison he said, has a “secular historical” outlook.

Also relating to the Muslim Brotherhood, Tor stated Egypt would no longer act as an arbitrator between Hamas and Fatah, determining this will usher in the end of the possibility for Palestinian self-determination. “The opportunity for a peace process agreement has receded,” said Tor, elaborating, while “both Israel and the Palestinian Authority [PA] believe that the correct way to establish peace between us is the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel,” without an external push for unity, he explained, the peace process is over. Then again, Tor emphasized the moment for a Palestinian state has “receded.” Yet, he applauded the PA’s Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad for “incredible work to decrease corruption.”

Moving on to the settlements Tor said, “Israel has not allowed new settlements in over a decade” stating they do “not at all,” a hinder peace with the Palestinians. Of course, during the past ten years there has been unprecedented settlement growth in the West Bank, however, exclusively from illegal construction. Even still, within the past two weeks Israel motioned to retroactively legalize Bruchim, Sansana, and Recheilim, violating the status quo settlement freeze, along with the 1965 Planning and Building Act, which forbids retroactively legalizing communities.

During the Q & A the audience was largely uninterested in discussing settlements, Palestinians, or the lecture’s topic (the Arab Spring). Rather, Iran was the centerpiece. (Incidentally the only question on the Palestinians was from me. And when my comment card on the hunger strikers was read, the moderators voice was accompanied by a low, audible hiss from the attendees who averaged as white, affluent and 40 years my senior.) Four questions in a row noted fears of an Iranian nuclear program and displayed a disdain for diplomatic efforts. Tor addressed their concerns and advocated to prevent the Iranian “worldwide” threat by using “deeper and more stringent sanctions” supported by a consumer protest; effectively he endorsed a movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Iran.

After the lecture, I asked Tor if the three legalized outpost violate the freeze? He said no, elaborating that they were “not illegal” to begin with. (this is false.) I then asked if that meant Israel viewed the outposts as already legal? Tor did not answer directly and reiterated that the settlements were “not illegal,” when they were established, though he did agree that their permits were changed. Tor then amicably handed me his card and offered to email me a position paper on this issue from the Israeli government.

Why I Am Not a Liberal Zionist: A response to the Huffington Post’s ‘Liberal Zionists Speak Out’

May 09, 2012

Anat Biletzki

In March 2001 I was interviewed on Israeli TV, on a prime-time talk show, which had the interviewer, Dov Elboim, talking leisurely and deeply with the interviewee for half-an-hour. Lots can be said in half-an-hour. Those were the early days of the second Intifada, a few months after the dismal failure of Camp David II, when Israelis of the Liberal Zionist badge retreated into their shells, went underground, or, most crudely, moved to the right. Those were the days when several mantras were established — by Ehud Barak, among other manipulators of public opinion — such as “we offered them generous concessions and they retorted with violence” or “there is no partner for peace.” Only a few of us held our ground, insisting that the offers at Camp David had not been generous at all (as several reports subsequently attested) and that the Palestinians were equally justified in claiming they had no partner for peace. Those of us who refused to be swept into the general right-swing that, as we now know, demolished the Israeli left were labeled “radical left.”

One of the first questions that Elboim posed, wanting to clear up the terms of debate, was, “What does it mean to be a radical leftist today in Israel?” I recall answering in three parts. First, I said, a real Israeli leftist believes that Israel is unequivocally in the wrong in holding on to any of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (the OPT) and must therefore vacate all those lands unilaterally. Secondly, a real Israeli leftist recognizes the Palestinian right of return. (Rights, as we know, can be realized in various ways; and when there is a clash between rights, solutions have to be worked out. But before any realizations and solutions can come about, the rights must be recognized.) And finally, a real Israeli leftist puts the democratic values that Israel purports to ascribe to before the Jewish values that it insists on ascribing to when these are in conflict.

Within the hour phone calls started streaming in — to the TV station, to my home and to my mother, who is of that unique generation, the Palmach generation, credited with bringing the Jewish State into existence. The consensual attack was based on stupefaction: How could I deny Zionism? As a matter of fact, I do not remember having used the word Zionism, or, for that matter having talked about Zionism in the interview. This was an immediate inference made by listeners: one could not say what I had said and remain a Zionist. So unspeakable was my transgression that a few days later, at a family event, then Minister of Finance, Avraham (Baiga) Shochat, came up to me with a derisive smile and said: “Would you really want an Arab living next door to you?” The stupefaction was then — and still is — on my part. That a serving government minister could so bluntly voice such a racist comment is something that any person with democratic proclivities shudders at. That far more racist epitaphs are now regularly expressed by Israeli officials, and that the possibility of refusing Arab citizens residence in certain communities has now passed into law in Israel, is a sign of where we’ve come since then, and where we’re headed.

It’s been over a decade since those opening, unsettling times of the second Intifada. It has been over a decade that those of us who are accused of being post-Zionist or, god forbid, anti-Zionist have been working out the implications of our deeply held democratic convictions. Things have become clearer (though they are muddied up viciously by those who equate either post- or anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism). Although many would like to redefine Zionism, there is no getting away from the fact that Zionism was and is the articulated project of creating and buttressing a Jewish state for the Jewish people. So contrary to what Michael Walzer claims, that this being a project based on Jewishness (peoplehood) rather than Judaism (religion) makes it different, the insistence on a Jewish state makes it impossible for those who are not of that people, not to mention that religion, to be equal citizens. Minority groups in Norway can be Norwegian; minority groups in England can be English; even minority groups in Israel can be Israeli, but they can’t be Jewish! And if Jewishness is a matter of peoplehood rather than religion, then we are indeed saddled with a formal ethnocracy, not much better than a theocracy. (It is poignant to see that Walzer begins his thoughts by connecting to his Bar Mitzvah, an explicitly religious ceremony. Not for naught is this whole series taking place on the Religion page of the Huffington Post…)

More significantly, it seems that liberal Zionists will never forsake the Jewish majority as the essence of the State of Israel since precisely that majority is what — they think – makes the state a democracy. But no democracy should determine or foretell the identity of its citizenry. What shall we do in a century or two from now if or when Israeli Arabs, i.e., Palestinian citizens of Israel, just naturally become a majority (through natural reproduction rates, or Jewish emigration, or any other unforeseeable vagary of history)? Shall we cast all Arab sons born into the sea?

So, beyond all the casuistic debates and long-winded conceptual to-and-fros, the impossibility of being a consistent liberal Zionist derives, as I realized in that interview long ago, from the dead-end one reaches with the conflict between values. If Zionism has been based on a set of values — any values — that “override whatever injustices statehood has brought” (Walzer), then it has taken us as far as one can get from the set of values that undergird liberal democracy. Holding on to those values means cherishing the option of a Palestinian living next door, and rejecting Jews who refuse the Palestinian next door. I would rather be righteous than self-righteous.

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post in response to its series Liberal Zionists Speak Out.


Oren-Asali photo leads to call for Asali to resign from American Task Force on Palestine

May 09, 2012

Adam Horowitz

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and the American Task Force on Palestine’s Ziad Asali at an “independence day” celebration organized by the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.

Controversy has surrounded the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) since Haaretz’s Natasha Mozgovaya tweeted a photo of the Task Force’s President Ziad Asali at an “Independence Day” party held at the Israeli embassy in Washington DC. ATFP’s Hussein Ibish has issued a response to critics at the Daily Beast’s Open Zion blog:

ATFP works to bring Palestinians and Americans closer together, and to maintain strong relations with Palestinian and American leaders and working relations with Israeli officials. This is the only approach that anyone based in the United States who seriously wants to achieve anything practical for peace, or to improve the lives of Palestinians, can actually take.

Mozgovaya’s photograph merely reconfirms what ATFP has always openly and frankly pursued: a public and strategic display of continued contact with the Israeli establishment to promote the goals of peace and ending the occupation.

Not sure that will assuage the critics. There is a petition at calling for Asali to step down. From the petition:

Dear Members of the Board of Directors of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP):

We—Palestinian-Americans, Palestinians living, working, and studying in the United States, and Americans in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle—are writing to express our outrage at the conduct of Ziad Asali, ATFP President. Most recently, we are appalled by his decision to attend an “independence day” celebration organized by the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.

As Palestinians all over the world gather to mourn and remember the Nakba, the great trauma and crime of ethnic cleansing committed against our society, it is intolerable to find that Ziad Asali, a man who purports to represent Palestinians, chose to celebrate this time with the very perpetrators of the Nakba.

More than 800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their historic homeland during the Nakba in 1947-48. These were our grandparents, our parents and their grandparents. Everything was stolen from them – from all of us. Our hearts have been carved out by this monumental crime that has never really ceased. The Nakba continues to this day with daily expulsions, home demolitions, and the constant death that rains on our people without mercy by a state with the most powerful military machine in the Middle East, the same state that Asali celebrated!

We are all baffled, stunned, and left feeling betrayed by the images of Asali posing with smiles in a suit next to Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. in what amounts to a celebration of the greatest wound in the Palestinian psyche – a boundless collective pain that we pass on from one generation to another in hope of redemption, of justice, and the restoration of our dignity as native sons and daughters of Palestine.

How dare he? At a time when Palestinian prisoners are on the brink of death by starvation to protest the endless injustice against our people, Asali poses with smiles next to Oren, an American immigrant to Israel and chief propagandist in the U.S. for Israeli state policies that are tantamount to war crimes.

By attending this Israeli celebration, Asali is complicit in the attempts to legitimize a monumental trauma that we have suffered as a people and a nation struggling for its very survival. There can be no retreat from such a disgrace. There can be no justification. And no credibility can be salvaged for ATFP as long as Asali remains associated with this organization.

Ahmed Moor sent along the petition and adds:

Ziad Asali, one of Washington’s dim-lit, flickering lampposts, made a silly blunder recently. The president of the American Task Force on Palestine recently attended an “independence day” celebration. But it wasn’t anything to do with the Fourth of July – the event was organized by the Israeli embassy in Washington. And the celebration was in honor of Israel – that light unto nations.

It’s worth noting that Asali’s lack of integrity and historical sensibility (what is the Nakba, anyway?) is nothing exceptional for ATFP. The organization has long been a integral part of the Israel Lobby.

Read the full petition here.


New Pew Center poll highlights growing Egyptian revulsion at peace treaty with Israel

May 09, 2012

Alex Kane

An Egyptian protester outside the Israeli embassy last August (Photo: AP)

Noam Chomsky’s analysis of US foreign policy after the Arab Spring boils down to this maxim: “The U.S. and its allies will do anything they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world.” Anewly released poll from the Pew Research Center on Egyptian political attitudes explains why Chomsky is right.

The Pew Research Center poll shows antipathy towards the US and Israel–an expected result if you follow data on Arab and Muslim attitudes towards the West and Israel.

Here are the relevant numbers: 60% of Egyptians say that US economic and military aid to Egypt has a “detrimental impact”; almost 40% want a distancing of the Egypt-US relationship; 80% view the US unfavorably; and 61% of Egyptians want to annul the peace treaty with Israel. That result is up from last year’s, which showed that 54% of Egyptians wanted to toss the treaty out.

The Pew Center also notes that “opposition to the treaty has grown significantly over the last year among young people and the highly educated. Support for annulling the treaty has increased by 14 points among 18-29 year-olds and by 18 points among the college-educated.”

The fact that about the same number of Egyptians dislike US aid and the country’s treaty with Israel is no coincidence. The $1.3 billion in funds the US transfers to Egypt’s military every year is, first and foremost, about making sure the military keeps the treaty with Israel, a sacrosanct pillar of US policy in the region.

There will be those on the right who say that these types of poll numbers show that Israel needs to hunker down in its fortress literally protected by walls on all sides. They will say that Benjamin Netanayhu, Israel’s prime minister, was right when he told the Knesset that the Arab Spring is an “Islamic, anti-Western, anti-liberal, anti-Israeli and anti-democratic wave.” Netanyahu went on to say that the Arab uprisings show why Israel cannot move forward on peace with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s right on one thing: the new uprisings in the Arab world are not good for Israel. But it’s precisely because of Israeli policy that a new democratic region would mean a loss of Israeli power. Egyptians want the 1979 peace treaty to be overturned because of their disgust with Israel’s system of control over the Palestinians. The treaty spoke of moving towards “autonomy” for Palestinians, something that we’re not any closer to 30-plus years later. So in fact, the precise reason why Israel’s footing in the region is off-balance is because the masses of people in the Arab world are fed up with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

The Obama administration talks of democracy in the Middle East. But their actions speak to the truth that the US still wants to prevent authentic democracy. In March, the State Department “certified to Congress that Egypt is meeting its obligations under its Peace Treaty with Israel,” paving the way for the $1.3 billion to be forked over even as a dispute over a crackdown on NGOs in Egypt continued. The State Department announcement of the certification repeatedly praised Egypt’s new democratic turn.

Over a month later, Egyptian security forces killed 9 protesters calling for an end to the rule of Egypt’s military council. The weapons used to kill were made here and bought with US dollars–all for the purpose of quelling further protests that could destabilize an Egyptian regime eager to stay close to the US and Israel. No wonder why, as Chomsky says, “the U.S. and its allies will do anything they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world.”

Al Jazeera’s ‘The Stream’ tackles racism against African refugees in Israel

May 09, 2012

Allison Deger


Over the past five years racism in Israel against Africans, Sudanese and Eritrean refugees, has swelled. In discourse, it rivals that of racism against Palestinians. And with 40,000 to 45,000 refugees entering Israel since 2007, coupled with no comprehensive placement policies for asylum seekers, racism against this group will only increase. Yesterday, Al Jazeera‘s The Stream covered the recent vigilante attacks against African communities in Israel, increases in prison terms for undocumented immigrants (up to three years incarceration before deportation) and the existential questions of Israel’s Jewish character. Guest of the program and writer for +972 Magazine, Mya Guarnieri, closes the show with: if Israel is a Jewish state, “where do non-Jews fit into it?”

Watch the program in full here.

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All Tweets tagged with #ajstream appear live online in The Stream’s website Twitter feed.

Guarnieri was joined by fellow guests, Sanjeev Bery, Middle East Director at Amnesty International; Yohannes Bayu, Founder and Executive Director for the African Refugee Development Center; and Mondoweiss contributor David Sheen.

Exposing racism as a day-to-day practice, The Stream also showed this video clip first posted on the Electronic Intifada by Jalal Abukhater where an Israeli woman is asking people on the street to sign a petition to not deport refugees.  The first petition is for a Danish girl and all of the people stopped sign it.  The second petition is for a Sudanese child. No one signs it.

Standing up for equality at the ‘Equality Forum’ celebration of Israel

May 09, 2012

Matthew Graber

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Members of Philly’s LGBTQ community protest
outside Equality Forum

Last Thursday evening, I was a part of a group of about 20 people gathered outside of the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Philadelphia to demonstrate against the decision of the “Equality Forum” to have Israel as this year’s “featured nation” and to partner with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

By collaborating with the Government of Israel, the “Equality Forum” is lending itself to a seven-year multi-million dollar advertising campaign by the state, called “Brand Israel”, which seeks to portray Israel as “modern and progressive”, and to distract from Israel’s violent policies towards the indigenous Palestinian population of segregation and expulsion. The “Equality Forum”, as a conduit to the Philadelphia LGBTQ community, is the ideal venue for Israeli government officials and those they have paid to speak to pinkwash Israel – to appropriate queer voices in an effort to portray Israel as a “gay haven”, and to silence critique of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians.

The majority of passersby were curious and supportive of the demonstration. They were also outraged by Israel’s continuing treatment of Palestinians, and they wanted to learn more about pinkwashing. But there were several individuals who confronted us and threatened us.

One woman passing by was disturbed by the prospect of granting equal rights to non-Jewish Palestinians living under military occupation. Invoking the holocaust, she said that the Jewish people must have a safe place to go. I agree completely with this, but the Zionist mentality behind this sentiment – the idea that there must be an exclusive Jewish state – is used to justify the Government of Israel’s home demolitions, evictions, and violence against Palestinians.

Another disturbing confrontation occurred between a worker at the Doubletree Hotel and one member of our group, Ahuviya Harel. The worker was telling us to leave the public sidewalk in front of their property. Harel, a transgender woman in our group, needed to correct his pronoun usage at one point, saying, “I am a woman. Use the ‘she’ pronoun when you are speaking about me!”

The Doubletree worker responded by saying, “Oh yeah? Let me go clock out and then I will show you what I really think.”

Then, as the “Israel panel” of the “Equality Forum” concluded, the moderator of the panel, Nurit Shein, came out as we were wrapping up our demonstration. We told her why we were there, and what she was supporting by collaborating with the Government of Israel. Harel then told Shein that she was threatened with violence because of her appearance in regards to gender and presentation.

“Don’t play the trans card with me!” Shein lashed back.

Such a statement takes the side of the worker of the Doubletree Hotel, and ignores Harel’s own need for safety and protection. Shein also repeatedly referred to Harel using the pronoun ‘he’, intentionally perpetrating transphobia. Shein justified her support for violence, transphobia, and transmisogyny by saying to Harel, “You disrespect the trans people I work with every day,” as though Harel’s status as a transgender woman who stands up for Palestinian rights precludes her from the safety and consideration of other transgender individuals.

Shein is the Executive Director of the Mazzoni Center, the largest provider of LGBTQ health services in Philadelphia. She previously served for 20 years as a Colonel for “Military intelligence” in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

The confrontations and conversations we had highlight why we were there in front of the Doubletree Hotel. Only by offering mutual support to victims of state and interpersonal violence and trauma – whether perpetrated in the name of anti-trans misogyny or ethnic cleansing and demographics in a Jewish state – can true equality be created.

Publicly-funded Hebrew charter schools serve as ‘vanguard’ for Israel –Forward

May 09, 2012

Philip Weiss

Great reporting by Naomi Zeveloff and Nathan Guttman at the Forward on the extent to which the Jewish charter school movement, which establishes Hebrew-language schools using public funds, is serving a frankly Zionist agenda. The piece demonstrates that Zionism has become central to American Jewish identity, and also, I hope, marks a turning point in American Jewish attitudes towards these schools, dedicated to helping a foreign country. Excerpt:

Yet, as Hebrew charters have overcome stereotypes of being parochial Jewish institutions, they’ve also positioned themselves as more than just schools. Many, though not all, Hebrew charters see themselves as fonts of Israel education that will cultivate students — both Jews and non-Jews — to serve as goodwill ambassadors for Israel in the years ahead.

“I often dream of what the graduates of our Hebrew-language charter schools will look like 20 years from now,” wrote Sara Berman, the chair of the Hebrew Charter School Center [HCSC] in the Spring 2011 issue of Contact, the journal of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life. “I see them as a vanguard of understanding for Israel and for cultural respect in general.”

Charter schools are publicly funded but privately sponsored primary and secondary schools that pledge, in exchange for their taxpayer support, to meet certain standards put forth in charter agreements with state or local education boards. Many also receive private funds from their sponsoring institutions. Most charter schools operate on a lottery system; families who want to send their children to the schools are picked at random…

One goal of the curriculum at Brooklyn’s Hebrew Language Academy [HLA]— HCSC’s first school [Hebrew Charter School Center]— “is to foster a love for the country of Israel in all of its diversity,” said Principal Laura Silver.

At HLA, whose 306 students are 45% non-white, the Israeli flag hangs alongside the Stars and Stripes…

“A passionate, Israel-oriented, Hebrew-speaking community will almost certainly support Israel and stay connected to Judaism,” wrote [San Diego’s Jennie] Starr in the Autumn 2011 issue of Contact, describing Kavod

Report from the Palestinian prisoner hunger strike, and the movement growing to support it

May 09, 2012

Adam Horowitz


Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is holding an emergency fundraising drive to cover the work they’re doing to support the prisoner hunger strike. From their website:

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is fighting for the medical rights of Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahala, among others, Palestinian administrative detainees in the advanced stages of a hunger strike. We are in urgent need of financial support. Following the submission of 16 court petitions on behalf of hunger strikers since January, PHR-Israel’s allotted legal funds for the year are now fully depleted.

We are concerned that we will not be able to continue to defend the rights of of prisoners on hunger strike, nor take on any more of the scores of new cases we are currently monitoring.

To learn more see here.

‘You see that we are rising–no longer in the shadows of the ghosts of Deir Yassin’ –Phil Monsour/Rafeef Ziadah

May 09, 2012

Annie Robbins

Look at the children’s faces. And the old people’s. “They pretend that it’s forgotten… You see that we are rising… Our day is surely coming… No longer in the shadows of the ghosts of Deir Yassin”


They pretend that it’s forgotten
But somewhere small flowers grow
On the weathered stones of destroyed homes
Somewhere the light’s still in the window

You see that we are rising our day is surely coming
No longer in the shadows
Of the ghosts of Deir Yassin

They change the names on the signs
But it’s in our hearts these words are written
Of the children who don’t know their homes
They will walk the streets from which they are forbidden

You see that we are rising our day is surely coming
No longer in the shadows
Of the ghosts of Deir Yassin

Of the old ones now passed on
But it’s their blood our hearts are pumping
They will walk with us when we return to their towns
Whose names will live again

You see that we are rising our day is surely coming
No longer in the shadows
Of the ghosts of Deir Yassin
You see that we are rising
You know the fear is gone
We will return

You see that we are rising our day is surely coming
We are no longer in the shadows
Of the ghosts of Deir Yassin
You see that we are rising our day is surely coming
No longer in the shadows
Of the ghosts of Deir Yassin

Michael Scheuer says Israeli lobby has tied American gov’t down like Gulliver

May 09, 2012

Philip Weiss

In Chicago, WLS drive-time radio interviews former CIA official Michael Scheuer (thanks to this neocon site and Mark). Excerpts:

Sixteen years after the start of this war, we still hear Mr. Obama and John McCain and Mitt Romney and the British Prime Minister and the rest of them teling their electorates that we’re at war because they hate women in the work place and they hate elections and liberties….

They’re at war with us because of what our government does, not the way we live at home. As long as we are not adult enough to accept that… it certainly means that we ought to know that our policies are having an immense cost.

Host: What policies?

Surely our support for the Saudi Police state, our presence on the Arab peninsula, in Iraq, in Yemen, in Afghanistan, our unqualified support for Israel. The intersting thing sir is that these were all outlined by bin Laden in his declaration of war in 1996. Our political leaders in both parties have consistently told Americans in essence, forget what our enemy is saying, we know better what they’re thinking than they do. So we’re in this position that we believe that they’re all madmen and there’s only a limited number of them that we can kill one at a time.

Host: Would you change our policy with Israel and Saudi?

We can’t sir, we can’t do either one. The Israeli lobby controls our politics and the Saudi Arabians controls the most important reserves of oil. The United States government is like Gulliver, it’s strapped to the ground…. We’re stuck in the middle east and we’ll have to keep taking the pounding we’ve been taking….

Because we’ve taken no cognizance of [our enemies’ motivation], we’ve given the next generation away to the Islamists. We’ve made no dent in the appeal of people who want to get us out of their neighborhood…

You don’t have to change your policies. If you want to support the Israelis [that’s fine].. But we ought not to believe that the enemy is not inspired by that…

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Biden gives Israel the green light on Iran in speech to rabbinical convention

May 08, 2012

Nima Shirazi

Joe Biden addressing the the 2012 Rabbinical Assembly National Convention
(Photo: Creative Loafing)
Speaking to an international assembly of 1,600 conservative rabbis in Atlanta  todayself-proclaimed Zionist Joe Biden said that Israel still had time to attack Iran if it so chooses.

“The window has not closed in terms of the Israelis if they choose to act on their own militarily,” the Vice President told the congregation.  “I would not contract out my security to anybody, even a loyal, loyal, loyal friend like the United States.”

This is not the first time Biden has made such a comment.  During an appearance on the ABC’s “This Week,” Biden told George Stephanopoulos, “Look, we cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination — if they make a determination — that they’re existentially threatened and their survival is threatened by another country.”  Biden comments were immediately walked back by the Obama campaign.

The claim that Iran somehow poses an “existential threat” to Israel is of course a long-running propaganda line often employed to fear-monger about Iran’s nuclear energy program.  This view, however, is not shared by numerous Israeli officials including former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz, former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy, and current Mossad head Tamir Pardo.  Even Israel’s hawkish Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is leading the push toward an Israeli attack on Iran, said in 2009, “I am not among those who believe Iran is an existential issue for Israel.  Israel is strong, I don’t see anyone who could pose an existential threat.”

Still, Biden declared, “We will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuke by whatever means necessary, period.”  A strong claim, to be sure, but one that rings a bit silly considering that accordingto the United States, the IAEA, and Israel – Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons.

The Jewish Telegraph Agency reports that, during his speech today, the “vice president also called efforts to delegitimize Israel ‘the most significant assault’ on Israel since its independence.”  In an effort to burnish the Obama administration’s Zionist credentials, Biden insisted, “At every point in our Administration, at every juncture, we have stood up for the legitimacy of the state of Israel.”

For Biden, it seems, Israel’s war crime light is still green…even if its armistice line isn’t.

In the strangest comment of the day, though, Biden spoke of internal Iranian politics:

“The dissension between Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader is palpable. They will not both be around two years from now, and my bet is that Ahmadinejad is gone.”

Clearly, Biden is nothing if not a deft gambler.  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will absolutely not be in office two years from, but it’s not because of Biden’s prescient prophesy.  Iran has constitutionally mandated presidential term limits, just like we do here in the U.S.  Ahmadinejad is almost three years into his second terms as president, which means that, by 2014, he will undoubtedly be “gone” from the Iranian executive regardless of what tea leaves Biden is reading…or smoking.

But Biden has long had problems understanding and retaining facts when it comes to foreign policy.  For instance, in his 2008 debate against Sarah Palin, he bizarrely claimed, among other things, that prior to 2006, the United States, together with France, “kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon” and insisted that the United States has the right and obligation “to keep the UN in line.”  It is unsurprising that, at a campaign stop in Seattle in October 2008, Biden admitted, “I’ve forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know.”

Regarding the Obama administration’s pro-Israel efforts, Biden told the crowd of rabbis, “I’m proud of our record.  No president since Harry Truman has done more for Israel’s physical security than Barack Obama.”

Evoking Truman is a bold move.  Yes, is it true that the only person in history to authorize a nuclear attack on a civilian population (twice) that resulted in calculated, deliberate mass murder, dismissed the advice of his own State Department officials when he recognized the nascent State of Israel on May 14, 1948, just eleven minutes after it declared itself a nation.

In November 1945, Truman reportedly told a gathering of U.S. diplomats who were urging a more balanced American approach to the looming Palestine issue, “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”  Of course, there were hundreds of thousands of citizens of Arab descent living in the U.S. at the time, but since they were not as well organized or funded as their Zionist counterparts, from a political standpoint they might as well not have existed at all.

Of course, the same goes for Biden, his boss, and the U.S. Congress now.

Yet, in a diary entry written on July 21, 1947, Truman reacted harshly to demands made of him that day by his Treasury Secretary and staunch Zionist Henry Morganthau, Jr. regarding the Jewish refugees from Europe settling in Palestine.  Truman wrote, “He’d no business, whatever to call me. The Jews have no sense of proportion nor do they have any judgement on world affairs.”  He continued,

The Jews, I find are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the under dog. Put an underdog on top and it makes no difference whether his name is Russian, Jewish, Negro, Management, Labor, Mormon, Baptist he goes haywire. I’ve found very, very few who remember their past condition when prosperity comes.

Biden didn’t relay this particular tidbit to the assembly of rabbis.

Israeli military raids office of human rights organization ‘Stop the Wall’; steals computers and hard drives

May 08, 2012

Stop the Wall

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Broken door to the Stop the Wall office in Ramallah. (Photo: Stop the Wall)

Today, Stop the Wall issued the following press release:

At 1.30am this morning ten armored jeeps of the Israeli Occupation Forces surrounded and raided the offices of Stop the Wall in Ramallah. Israeli military stole 2 laptops, 3 hard drives and 10 memory cards containing files and photos as well as archive material relating to the work that the organisation does in opposition to Israel’s apartheid wall and the attack on Palestinian human rights that the wall and the settlements represent. This is yet another attack upon Palestinian civil society and their struggle against the physical and psychological oppression, land confiscation and ethnic cleansing policies of Israel.

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Computer hardrives confiscated during this morning’s raid. (Photo: Stop the Wall)

Stop the Wall is one of the most vibrant organizations of human rights defenders in Palestine, and has been promoting, for almost ten years, civil resistance and advocacy campaigns against the Wall and in defense of Palestinian rights to self determination. Human Rights Defenders are internationally recognized as an essential element in political processes and their repression further underlines Israeli unwillingness to achieve a just peace.

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Broken door to the Stop the Wall office. (Photo: Stop the Wall)

Jamal Juma, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, comments:

‘It is not surprising that the Israeli authorities have chosen this moment to escalate their repression against the Stop the Wall grassroots network of civil resistance against the Wall and the settlements, choosing to act on the same day that the Israeli High Court rejected the appeals of Palestinian hunger strikers Bilal Diab and Tha’ir Halahleh, imprisoned without charge and without trial, effectively condemning them to death.

The courageous steadfastness of the more than 2000 hunger strikers in Israeli jails is underlining once more the power of civil resistance as part of the Palestinian struggle. Almost daily people are out in the streets to protest in solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners, and the discontent with the fruitless and completely stalled diplomatic processes is growing stronger. At the same time, the Israeli authorities announced in 2011 to UN agencies that throughout 2012 year they will systematically displace the Palestinian population in area C. While the displacement drive is underway in the Jordan Valley, home demolitions are rising and the settlement construction is accelerated, the people across the West Bank are always more constraint behind the cantons of the wall.

This raid on the Stop the Wall offices is a clear message that the Israeli authorities are fearing widespread nonviolent action will challenge their policies effectively. Israel is preparing for confrontation and more repression, clearly showing that it is not ready to relinquish any of the international sanctioned rights the Palestinian people are struggling for.’

This is not the first time Stop the Wall has been the target of Israeli repression. In September 2009 Stop the Wall youth coordinator was arrested and the Stop the Wall coordinator, Jamal Juma’, was arrested a few months later, in December 2009. The Israeli authorities were not able to formulate any accusations against either of them and after a sustained international campaign, that saw the active involvement of the diplomatic missions in Palestine and European foreign ministries as well as countless human rights organizations around the world, both had to be freed in January 2010. This attack was followed only a few months later by an extensive office raid by the Israeli military on February 8 2010 and mass arrests of grassroots human rights defenders in the villages most actively protesting against the Wall.

Shaul Mofaz, Netanyahu’s new partner, ordered ‘revenge’ op that killed Palestinian police in 2002

May 08, 2012

Alex Kane

Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz (Photo: Getty Images Europe)

For analysis of what the new coalition deal struck by Benjamin Netanyahu means, read Paul Mutter’s take. But I wanted to look at the other man at the center of the deal: Shaul Mofaz.

Mofaz is a military man; he was the Israeli military’s Chief of Staff during the Second Intifada. And as part of the conditions for Kadima entering Netanyahu’s coalition, Mofaz gets inside Netanayhu’s cabinet and will be appointed deputy prime minister.

The speculation is that Mofaz will now play a role in formulating the Netanyahu government’s policy towards the Palestinians. JJ Goldberg of the Forward describes the new government as the “smartest move by any Israeli peace advocate in a long time.” Goldberg points to Mofaz’s “peace place,” which “calls for immediate recognition of a Palestinian state with provisional borders, controlling 60% of the West Bank for now, followed promptly by state-to-state negotiations toward a final-status agreement.”

But if you look at the fine print of the Mofaz plan, it’s nothing special. Mofaz calls for keeping the major settlement blocs, including Ariel, making any talk of a Palestinian state moot. Jerusalem would remain under Israeli control. There would be no settlement freeze. You call that a peace plan?

And then there’s Mofaz’s record in the Israeli military. Here’s Haaretz’s Gideon Levy on Mofaz:

Mofaz was also one of our crueler defense ministers – no less than 1,705 Palestinians were killed on his watch, including 372 children and teens and 191 targeted killings: that is no great honor, either. True, those were the days of the second intifada, but Mofaz was also one of the fathers of the doctrine of targeted killings, which has been completely forgotten. He was also the one heard whispering into a microphone that Yasser Arafat should be expelled from Ramallah, another genius idea at the time.

“I thought we should strike very hard,” he told the Winograd Commission investigating the Second Lebanon War, and in so doing said everything there was to say about his doctrine of warfare and his military-political creed. Perhaps he has changed his mind since then, but it is up to him to prove it, and he has not yet done so.

In September 2005, the Independent’s Donald Macintyre reported on Breaking the Silence, the courageous Israeli organization of ex-soldiers who speak out about the violent abuse heaped on Palestinians living under occupation. Macintyre mentions a book authored by Israeli journalists to back up Breaking the Silence’s claim that  Israeli army officials order soldiers to violate international law:

Breaking the Silence contends that the inspiration for many orders, which it says directly violate the international legal obligations of an occupying power, came from the highest ranks. Certainly, Booomerang, a new book by two prominent Israeli journalists, Ofer Shelah and Raviv Druker, reports that at a conference of officers as early as May 2001, Shaul Mofaz, now the Defence Minister but then Chief of Staff, asked for the tape to be switched off before telling them that he wanted a “price” exacted from the Palestinians of 10 killed a day on each of the Army’s seven fronts.

And after six Israeli soldiers were killed in Ein Arik in February 2002, the book says, Mr Mofaz personally ordered a revenge operation in which for the first time Palestinian police officers would be shot, whether they posed a threat or not. One soldier who took part in a raid which killed four or five Palestinian policemen at a checkpoint 24 hours after Ein Arik told the IoS: “It felt bad even at that time. They said Palestinian police are connected to terror and that the [killers] passed through the checkpoint. Maybe the police are connected to terror but for sure they didn’t pass through all the checkpoints [attacked that day].”

Now of course, whether Mofaz in the government or not will make very little difference for Palestinians looking for an end to Israel’s occupation. The occupation and settlement project is much larger than one man or coalition government. But, you can forget about Mofaz saving peace negotiations. Perhaps even more importantly, Mofaz’s record is no comfort to those worried about the next Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip.

‘Battle of the Empty Stachs’: Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab surpass 70 days on hunger strike

Today in Palestine

Palestinian Prisoners’ “Battle of the Empty Stomachs” Continues: Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab Surpass 70 Days on Hunger Strike
Ramallah, 8 May 2012 – Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab’s petitions to the Israeli High Court regarding their administrative detention orders were rejected yesterday, four days following their High Court hearing on 3 May. Thaer and Bilal are on their 71st day of hunger strike and at immediate risk of death. In complete disregard to their critical medical condition, the High Court judges stated in their decision that the hunger strikes do not provide reason for releasing Thaer and Bilal from administrative detention or reducing the period of detention.
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Hundreds protest in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers
Hundreds of people have protested in the West Bank in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel. People gathered in Al Manara Square in Ramallah on Tuesday, as almost 2,000 Palestinian prisoners entered the fourth week of a hunger strike. Two others have refused food for more than 70 days. Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday denied their appeals against administrative detention.


Hunger Strikers

Halahle refrains from drinking water after 70 days of hunger strike
The family of Palestinian detainee Thaer Halahle said that their son had refrained from drinking water and taking medicine after 70 days of his hunger strike.
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The Red Cross is worried about the striking prisoners’ health conditions
The International Committee of the Red Cross expressed, on Monday, its concern for the health conditions of the hunger striking Palestinian prisoners in occupation jails.
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EU: Israel must allow medical, family visits to hunger-strikers
Ma`an – Physicians for Human Rights — Israel on Monday said Israeli authorities rejected its appeal for Diab`s family to visit him. “Allowing family visits to people at such deteriorated medical condition, some that can die any day, is a requirement emphasized in medical ethics and in Israel`s Patient Right Law. In addition to mental support, consultation with the family can save lives.”
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Two Palestinians on hunger strike nearing death, lawyer says
(CNN) — The lawyer representing two Palestinian prisoners entering the 70th day of a hunger strike said his clients were nearing death and accused an Israeli high court of procrastination in delivering a ruling that could save their lives. “Their medical condition has gone from very bad to extremely worse,” Jamil al-Khatib said of clients Bilal Diab, 27, and Tha’er Halahlah, 33, “I believe what the court is doing here is trying to break the will of both prisoners so they will back down in their hunger strike.”
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Jihad Movement: the Occupation Decides to Execute Diab and Halahleh
The Islamic Jihad Movement has considered the Israeli court refusal of the appeal submitted by the lawyer of Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, against their administrative detention as a death sentence.
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Concern Mounts for the Lives of Prisoners on Protracted Hunger Strikes
Detainees Bilal Diab, Thaer Halahleh and Hassan Safadi are Subjected to Medical Negligence, this is a joint press release issued on May 6, 2012, by the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel).
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New prisoners join the strike in Negev prison
The prisoners in occupation jails leaked several letters asserting the escalation of the open hunger strike aiming to achieve their demands.
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Prisoners: Hunger strike reached point of no return

A delegation of the Israeli prison authority has met with two members of the committee representing Palestinian prisoners, who are on hunger strike, in Ramon and Nafha jails.

Statement No. 4 of the Hunger Strikers’ Leadership
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Detainee Hassan Safadi continues his hunger strike for the 63 days
Mahmoud Hassan, the lawyer of Addameer Foundation for Prisoners and Human Rights, met, on Sunday in Ramla prison hospital, the detainee Hassan Safadi who has been on hunger strike for 63 days.
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IPS isolates hunger striking detainee
The Israeli prison service (IPS) has isolated a hunger striker detainee in the Negev jail in line with its penal measures against those prisoners.
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Rights group submits court appeal to visit hunger striker
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A human rights group has submitted an appeal to Israel’s courts to allow doctors to visit hunger-striking prisoner Bilal Diab. Physicians for Human Rights submitted an appeal based on the recommendation of Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset. “After 68 days on hunger strike, Bilal Diab’s medical condition has become serious and he must be checked by a doctor from outside the prison service,” a statement from the group said. A report from Tibi was attached to the appeal.
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Duqmaq: The incarceration conditions of isolated prisoners are very harsh
Lawyer of Mandela foundation Buthaina Duqmaq said the Palestinian prisoners in solitary cells have been on hunger strike because they are deprived of the most basic human rights in Israeli jails.
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Prisoners are continuing the strike despite attempts to break it
The Central Strike Committee confirmed, in an urgent statement to the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs in Gaza , that it rejects any attempt to undermine the strike that entered its twentieth day.
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Prisoner Sabha: The hunger strikers enjoy high morale
Senior Hamas official and prisoner Mohamed Sabha said on Monday that the hunger strike is going better than what has been planned for and the hunger strikers are in high spirits.
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‘Victory will be greater if hunger strikers die’
Khader Adnan, who refused food for two months until Israel agreed to release him, says Palestinian prisoners’ strike will be hailed as victory regardless of its outcome.
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Haneyya delivers message from prisoners to Erdogan
Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails have addressed a message to Turkish premier Recep Erdogan asking for his personal intervention to support their cause.
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Mother of hunger striker taken to hospital unconscious
The mother of hunger striker Thaer Halahle, who has been on hunger strike for 65 days, was taken to Al-Khalil government hospital on Saturday after she fainted.
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Mothers worry about sons who fast in Israel jails
Ramallah Motasser Abd Al Haleem was barely out of his teens when the Israeli army took him away. Now the fresh-faced Palestinian stares out from a framed portrait clutched to his mother’s chest. “When they arrested him, he was only 20 years old,” she says in the centre of Ramallah, the capital of the West Bank, just miles from the barbed wire barrier that divides Israel from Palestine.
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Solitary confinement and administrative detention
Administrative detention provides a vehicle for the arrest of Palestinians where there is no genuine reason for them to be taken into custody, even under Israel’s draconian military occupation. Nobody sees the “evidence” provided by intelligence officers apart from the Israeli judge. The lawyers acting for the detainee can’t see what the evidence against their client is; in any case, it is probably fabricated by a spy. The intelligence service is not bothered by this as long as it has something to put before a judge and claim that the detainee “threatens the security of Israel”.
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Palestinian Hunger Games, Juan Cole
Some 2000 of the estimated 4600 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons are now hunger striking. Three hundred of them have been deprived of the right of habeas corpus and are being held in without charge or trial. Others are routinely tossed into solitary confinement, which, depending on how it is deployed, could be a severe violation of their human rights. Some 10 of the hunger strikers are severely affected and some near death.
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Solidarity with our Hunger Strikers

IOF soldiers violently quell solidarity demonstrations
Dozens of Palestinians were treated for breathing difficulty when Israeli occupation forces fired tear gas canisters at them near Ofer in Ramallah and near Arub refugee camp in Al-Khalil on Monday.

5 hunger strikers in solidarity with prisoners transferred to hospital in Gaza
Local sources stated that four people in Gaza City were taken to the hospital on Saturday 5th May after fainting due to their hunger strike in solidarity with the hunger striking prisoners.
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Hundreds Of Gaza Women March To Join Hunger Strikers Rally
Hundreds of women today marched to “Al Jundy,” the Square of the Unknown Soldier in Gaza City to join those already gathered in solidarity for the Palestinian hunger-strikers in Israeli jails. Some 40 released prisoners have set up beds in the solidarity tents, in an open-ended public hunger strike in support of the current prisoners, whose situation they know only too well. (link to video Helal Jaradat video) Thousands of locals pass through every day, staying a few hours or all day, to support them all in their demands for the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in accordance with international law.
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Students, public employees to join solidarity sit-ins
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — School students and civil servants will suspend work on Tuesday to take part in a public sit-in to support Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, their union said. The Union of Workers said public employees and students would stop work at 11 a.m. to allow participation in rallies centered on protest tents in cities across the West Bank. On April 17, Palestinian prisoners day, over 1,000 prisoners joined a group of hunger-strikers protesting detention without charge. Around 2,000 are now taking part in the strike, prisoners rights groups estimate. Administrative detainees Bilal Diab, 27, from Jenin, and Thaer Halahla, 33, from Hebron — are in a precarious condition after 69 days without food, a doctor from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel warned last week.
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PFLP members protest in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine protested in Ramallah on Saturday in support of prisoners’ rights. Protesters burned Israeli, US, Arab League, EU and UN flags in response for their perceived silence in the face of Israeli violations. PFLP members called for armed resistance against Israel, saying that it is the only way to liberate occupied land and free prisoners. The group of demonstrators also called for a mass popular uprising to support prisoners, adding that Israel has violated all boundaries and norms.
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Bahrain and Palestine
Political prisoners in Bahrain declare solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.
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Children in Amman protest in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners
In solidarity with the prisoners illegally incarcerated by the Israeli occupation throughout Palestine and conducting an open-ended hunger strike in Israeli jails, a sit-in protest took place on Wednesday May 2nd in Amman, Jordan, in front of the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The protest, organized by independent activists, included many children, and the theme of this protest was banging on pots and pans and blowing whistles, to grab the attention of the ICRC in particular and the society/international community at large, to alleviate the suffering of said prisoners and demand their rights.
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AOHR Egypt announces solidarity hunger strike
AOHR in Egypt announced a series of solidarity activities in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ on hunger strike, starting by a solidarity hunger strike, on Sunday for 12 hours.
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Seattle: Educational vigil for Palestinian prisoners May 5
As reported by SIRATYST, Seattle’s Voices of Palestine held an educational vigil on Palestinian prisoners on May 5, 2012. Voices of Palestine holds educational vigils every 1st & 3rd Saturday, near Westlake Park, 4th & Pine, Seattle.  Join them next Sunday, May 13, 2012, from noon-5 p.m. at Westlake Park for Nakba Commemoration, Palestine Stolen Homeland.
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Land Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Refugees

Knesset panel passes benefits for West Bank settlements
Opponents say Likud bill tailored for West Bank settlements; proponents insist it can help Arab settlement, too.
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Stunned by High Court decision, Ulpana settlers unwilling to negotiate evacuation
Residents of West Bank outpost argue that state must solve their problem; Yesha Settlement Council to convene Tuesday.
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Court orders Palestinians out of Jerusalem home
Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday ordered two Palestinians to leave their properties in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, ruling that the properties were owned by Jews, their lawyer told AFP.
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Israel issues eviction orders to Sheikh Jarrah home
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli officials on Monday issued an eviction order to a home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, Wafa news agency reported. The eviction notice was issued to Fatima Salamieh, who has lived in the home since the 1950’s. The Salamieh family say that the authorities want to hand the property over to settlers, who claim it is owned by Jews. On April 18, Israeli police forcibly evicted 14 members of the Natsheh family after an Israeli court ruled in favor of settlers, who moved into the property.
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Kufur Qaddoum: More homes to be demolished in the West Bank
The Israeli occupation forces have recently handed notices to citizens in Kufur Qaddoum village in Qalqilia district, stating its intention to demolish houses in the village and ordering the cessation of the construction of other houses that are currently being built. The village lies in Area B* of the West Bank, in the south west. Villagers said the occupation forces attacked the village on April 30 in the morning and handed out notices to Shaker Radwa, Basem Barham, Mousa Barham, Ahmad Barham, and Subhi Barham.
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Israel serves notification for more demolitions in occupied territories
The Israeli occupation authorities handed over, on Sunday, May 6, notifications for the demolition of Palestinian farmers’ houses and sheds used for livestock in Khirbet At-Taweel, near Akraba town, in the West Bank. Hamza Deria, a member of the committee for defending Akraba lands, reported that soldiers and representatives of Israel’s Department of Planning and Building handed over the notices; giving the farmers 72 hours to evacuate their property before they proceed with demolition. Israel claims the area is a closed military zone and the establishment of all facilities in it is strictly prohibited.
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New settlement on a former Jordanian military base near Al Khalil
The Israeli army has recently handed an abandoned military base built on Palestinian land near Dura village, to the south of the southern West Bank city of Al-Khalil, to be used by Zionist settlers.
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IOF digs tunnel along Gaza border
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) are digging a big tunnel along the Gaza eastern and northern borders with Palestine occupied in 1948, the Quds Press reported.
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Israeli authorities ‘uproot trees in Hebron village’
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities uprooted around 350 trees while leveling fields in a southern West Bank village on Tuesday morning, the Land Research Center said. Bulldozers, escorted by Israeli forces, demolished stone terraces and uprooted around 100 olive trees on 13,000 square meters of land belonging to Hasan Muhammad Abdul-Ghani Al-Amlah in the Attous area of Beit Ula village, the center said. Authorities razed approximately 250 fruit trees in and uprooted irrigation networks in nearby groves belonging Fayiz Muhammad Abdul-Ghani Al-Amlah, they added. The Jerusalem-based research group said Israeli authorities designate Al-Amlah’s land as Israeli state property and ordered him to vacate. A court hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, but forces razed the land before it could take place, the center said.
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Easing the burden: maternal health care in Palestinian camps
Sitting in a dark, cramped living room in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, Sawsan, 24, tenderly rocks her three-month-old son Bayan on her knee, whispering sweet-nothings to calm the agitated baby. As his crying subsides, Sawsan gingerly hands Bayan over to Zeina, one of five midwives and nurses employed in Ain al-Hilweh by the non-governmental organization Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), as part of its maternal and child health care program. Zeina takes the child and smiles affectionately at him while gently wrapping a blood pressure cuff around his delicate arm.

In Their Name, We Remember the Nakba
To the memory of all who have lost their land, homes, lives during the Nakba and to this day, may Palestinians around the world never lose hope. In Their Name, We Remember The NAKBA.  Come congregate with us- 531 of us, 1 for every village lost,-for a memorial in front of the White House on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 from 6:30pm till sunset. We will be joined by local students on a hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.
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Siege on Gaza

Gaza health authorities sound alarm on depleting medicines
Gaza City, May 6 (Petra) — The Gaza government’s health ministry on Sunday warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” resulting from an impending collapse of the health system as stocks of medicine in the Israeli-blockaded territory continued to decline sharply. “Gaza hospitals are suffering from a huge crisis as 186 items of medications had run out totally from the ministry’s warehouses and that large types of medicines will also be depleted in the next three months, said Director of the General Administration for Pharmaceuticals, Munir Al-Barsh. He said that some hospital wards had run the risk of closure due to the severe shortage of medicines and medical supplies, but stressed that service at the wards would continue even at a minimum. The ministry called for intervention by rights groups and international health bodies to ease the hardship at Gaza health facilities and ensure a steady supply of medicine. Marking International Thalassaemia Day, the Gaza health ministry warned that running out supplies of medicine had put at risk the lives of 75 Palestinian children suffering from excess iron in blood and body tissue.
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Gaza health catastrophe likely due to lack of essential drugs
A catastrophic situation is likely in Gaza due to a lack of more than 200 essential drugs, a senior official in Gaza’s Ministry of Health has warned. Ashraf Al-Qudra, the Director of Public Relations and Information at the ministry said that the level of supplies in Gaza’s hospitals and the government’s central warehouse is “dangerously low”.
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Israel ‘must lift blockade, not just for tomatoes’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israel must lift its blockade on Gaza and stop limiting exports to the needs of the Israeli market, the deputy agricultural minister said Monday. The Vegetable Growers’ Association in Israel is considering buying tomatoes from the Gaza Strip in response to a sudden price hike in Israeli tomatoes, Voice of Israel radio reported Sunday.
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Israeli Violence / Raids

Action alert: STW office raided by Israeli military
At 1.30am this morning ten armoured jeeps of the Israeli occupation forces and intelligence surrounded and raided the offices of Stop the Wall in Ramallah. Israeli military stole 2 laptops, 3 hard drives and 10 memory cards containing files and photos as well as archive material relating to the work that the organisation does in opposition to Israel’s apartheid wall and the attack on Palestinian human rights that the wall and the settlement represent. This is a renewed attack upon Palestinian civil society and their struggle against the physical and psychological oppression, land confiscation and ethnic cleansing policies of the Israel.
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Jewish settlers sneak into Aqsa mosque
Jewish settlers sneaked into the Aqsa mosque on Sunday morning and offered rituals on the eve of calls for breaking into the holy site.
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‘Undercover Israeli combatants threw stones at IDF soldiers in West Bank’
Testimony by commander of the Israeli Prison Service’s elite ‘Masada’ unit sheds light on IDF methods in countering demonstrations against barrier.
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Barakeh’s Trial Sheds Light On Israeli Military Undercover Methods Of Disrupting Peaceful Protests
During the recent trial of MK Mohammad Barakeh accused of assaulting a border guard, disruptive methods used by the Israeli Military to discredit peaceful demonstrations came to light.
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We will never forget

Slamming the door to justice on Palestinians, Ali Abunimah
Israel’s ability to commit crimes against Palestinians with impunity relies on international complicity. There is a determined international effort to ensure that Palestinians are shut out of every legal forum where they could pursue justice for Israel’s crimes against them. Nothing illustrates this better than the horrifying case of the Samouni massacre.
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Palestinian Authority Collaborators

PA forces launch security crackdown in Jenin
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority forces launched a large scale security crackdown in the Jenin district on Saturday. “Security services are sending summons to all suspects who possibly partook in the shooting at the house of the late Jenin governor Qaddura Musa, and suspects involved in murder, blackmailing or other assaults,” the commander of Jenin’s security forces Radi Asida told Ma’an. The governor of Jenin died from a heart attack on Wednesday, which officials say was brought on by an attack on his home by gunmen.
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Islamic student blocs stage sit-ins to protest arrest of students
The Islamic student blocs at the universities of Al-Quds Abu Dis and Birzeit staged sit-ins on campus in protest against the arbitrary arrest of some students by the PA intelligence agency.
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Detainees and Prisoner News

Israeli Court Agrees to Release Activist on Bail
QALQILIA, May 8, 2012 (WAFA) – Israeli court agreed to release a local Palestinian activist on a $5,000 bail, after he was arrested for participating in non-violent weekly demonstrations in Kufr Qaddum, a village east of Qalqilia, said local sources on Tuesday. Media Coordinator of the weekly demonstrations in Kufr Qaddum Murad Shtewi said that Palestinian activist Riyad Shtewi was arrested along with another 19 activists in April 5.  The coordinator said that Israeli courts set huge bails for detained Palestinian activists to discourage them from participating in future protests. He added that around $15,000 (57, 000NIS) were paid in order to release over 50 activists who were detained since the demonstrations first started. Kufr Qaddum residents and organizations called on international human rights groups to intervene in order to expose the Israeli policies to blackmail Palestinians, insisting that such policies fall under collective punishment.
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IOF soldiers round up 12 Palestinians
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) launched an arrest campaign in various West Bank areas at dawn Tuesday that ended with rounding up 12 citizens.
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Women ‘detained in Hebron after settlers raid homes’
HEBRON (Ma’an) — A Palestinian woman was detained in the city of Hebron on Sunday after Israeli settlers raided her house, locals told Ma’an. A group of Israelis from a nearby settlement entered several homes along Shuhada street in the center of town, residents said. Jamila Hassan Abdul Fattah Al-Shalaldeh was accused of attacking settlers after they entered her home and was detained by Israeli forces, locals added. An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
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IOF soldiers arrest son of martyr
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested Musab Saleh Talahme, 19, near Al-Burj village in Dura town, south of Al-Khalil, on Monday morning, locals said.
Metsada forces attack section 12 of Ofer jail
Special forces from Metsada unit stormed on Saturday section 12 of Ofer jail and ransacked three rooms inside it and cut off power.
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Israel admits: Administrative detention unnecessary
Michael Omer-Man – +972 – “Less than three weeks after at least 1,400 Palestinians in Israeli prisons launched a widespread hunger strike, Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Thursday made several astounding admissions regarding Israel’s use of administrative detention. In private meetings with security officials, Aharonovitch called for reducing Israel’s use of the practice, applying it `only if there is a need and not in all cases,` according to a Haaretz report”

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Cast Iron Stomachs: The Beautiful Defiance Of Palestine’s Hunger Strikers



Thousands of Palestinians
are on hunger strike for 
their karameh: their dignity;
and they refuse to quit
until the Zionist occupation
grants them freedom.

by Jonathan Azaziah

I am in awe of you my sisters and brothers

What is a nuclear-armed rogue regime

Compared to your courage that is so pristine…

What is a gulag-type prisoncompared to your magnificent hunger

I am in awe of you I repeat, like a child who lays his eyes on a shooting star for the first time…

You are leaders amongst a region of deceivers, you are dreamers amongst a legion of schemers, you are lions amongst liars of the occupier that persists in making every massacre it commits even more twisted than its last “worst crime”…

You are giants amongst ants, your will is an immovable object that shakes the earth to its core…

There are only a few struggles as worthy, righteous and determined as yours…

Expansionist monsters, never content with the land that they’ve conquered, they’re always yearning for more

They cannot relate to your heroics because they’re soulless, their hearts are made of dirt and impure…

While your very essence is made of the heavens’ shiniest levels…

And the wondrousness of the martyrs who scoffed at the darkness that swallowed them, like lightning they struck the Zionist devils…

Murder and rape, torture and theft, colonization and lots of devastation, this is what the occupiers have peddled…

Slaughtered trees, killed flowers, ended animals and executed buildings…

Violations of every aspect of human life, its insanity, strife and calamity, breaking up and frightening families, shock, the electrocution of children...

For 131 years, these monsters have swarmed the land like the parasites they are…


Khader Adnan: Palestinian
hero and survivor of a
66-day hunger strike.

At one point, Palestine was Jannah on earth, but now, paradise is far…

64 years of occupation and terrorism, a terror system built where the holy land was…

Supremacy and hatred, planted in the heart because the enemies have raped it, pathetically erased it, replaced the holy land’s love…

The truth of what happened swept under the holy land’s rugs

An infestation of demons, happily bathing in the holy land’s blood…

Your poetry and paintings, marches and stones against their war machine…

Your undying will is all that stands in their way of bringing forth their morbid dream…

Nile to the Euphrates, and then from there, the whole damn planet…

And the Zionist-occupied West tells you “nonviolence,” I know you can’t stand it…

They want nonviolence during annihilation, Al-Dayah and Al-Samounifams damaged…

They want nonviolence during ritualistic sacrifice, Ghalia and Akkash fams vanished…

They want nonviolence as women and children are murdered during birth at checkpoints


Hana al-Shalabi:
Palestinian hero
and survivor of 
a 43-day hunger strike.

They want nonviolence and slavery, subjugation and overall, just less noise…

And when you refuse their silence, they lock you away in deadly dungeons…

Where they oppress you and hurt you more, controlling your every function…

Where they humiliate you and animalize their hold…

Where they threaten your family for noncompliance, where they cannibalize your soul…

Where over 300 are imprisoned in administrative detention, no charge, its sheer barbarity

Where your rights are even more usurped than before, where they beat you so bad you can longer hear with clarity…

Where their dignity is none…

Where you transcend the spectrum, Palestinian is what chivalry becomes…

Where you take up the mantle of “defender” of those dispossessed

Where you stand up for the old and oppressed…

Where you give hope to those hoping for death

Cast iron stomachs, bulletproof will and minds made of kevlar…

Live and let die your stomachs growl, souls scream live and let starve…

Your hunger pains are the oppressors’ nightmare…

Kept awake screaming in the wee hours of the morning, haunted by your refusal to be type scared…


Hasan al-Safadi:
Palestinian hero
on hunger strike;
60+ days and counting.

Cast iron stomachs, a hunger strike for the ages

A strike for the men, women and children, a strike for the workers and a strike for the sages…

Ireland is in solidarityBahrain is with you as well

Your cry for justice is being heard the world over, from all peoples sitting in hell…

4,653 Palestinian political prisoners, more than half are striking

More than half are revolting, more than half are fighting…

Khader Adnan lit the match, Hana al-Shalabi fueled the fire…

Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh now carry the torch at 70 plus days,Hasan Safadi and Omar Abu Shalal spread the embers in a 60 plus blaze,Mohammad al-Taj, Ja’far Ezzedine and Mahmoud Sarsak continue to inspire

Cast iron stomachs, defying Jewish supremacist ideology that keeps the occupier thuggish and implores them to prevent family visits…

What kind of inhumanity is this…

Cast iron stomachs, your hunger pains scream that it is not time to die, it is time to see…

Prison is a fragile and meaningless piece of glass that is easily shattered when your mind is free…

They are incapable of feeling, incapable of anything but killing, they are slaves to their own dangerous lies…

Palestinian families don’t even sleep as their loved ones languish in cells, pain is the only thing keeping them sane or alive…

Protests around the world in solidarity, but nothing changes and we wonder why…

Will there be outrage if any one of the living martyrs suffering from the hunger dies…


Bilal Diab:
Palestinian hero
on hunger strike;
70+ days and counting.

Will there be demands of “Israeli” embassy closures, will there be calls for Zionists to be jailed…

Probably not, due to Jewish sensitivities, this environment is just swell…

This must change; we must be fearless in our truth-telling, so the taboos can be ended…

Our brothers and sisters are dying, who gives a damn if Jews are offended…

Fake Western activists run their mouths about international law, yawn…

Zionist entity tramples upon it while they keep producing movies of international war porn…

Assassinations and espionagehasbara generation and shadowy money...

Jewish kids in their classrooms who think “Israeli” savagery’s lovely

Would they smile if it were Jews on hunger strike, would they smile if it were their own being violated…

Not at all; but they revel in their ethnocentrism, they won’t even deny their hatred…

Cast iron stomachs, a demand for what is just or death…

To die for a righteous cause is the pinnacle of humanity, after that, there is nothing left…

And why does the international community offer nothing but stupor and silence…

Because Jewish networks demand it whenever the Zionist entity commits abuses and dishes out gratuitous violence

Jewish Lobby runs AmericaFrance too

Britain and Australia, it plays the music that nations dance to…

The usurping Zionist dragon is merely the center of international Jewish power…

We are living in Jewish days, our moments counted by clocks that record Jewish hours

Organized Jewry is behind the planet’s plight, the driving force of war, destruction…


Thaer Halahleh:
Palestinian hero
on hunger strike;
70+ days and counting.

More war, some war after that, another war or two and more corruption…

So hungry for death, it aims to even topple Russia and China...

The entire Islamic world burning over a Jewish-Zionist plot, just a reminder…

Americans know nothing of Palestine, where are the professors educating them or pushing a manual…

Americans know nothing of the hunger strikers nor would they care if they did, Jewish Hollywood has made them believe that all Arabs and Muslims are animals… 

Tyrannical terror under a totalitarian tribe, not even the pitiful accept this…

Our comrades rot in Zionist occupation hellholes and we should be quiet over political correctness…

Supremacist tribalists, overly drunk on their own notions of chosen-ness

World Jewry is the engine that powers Zionism in Palestine, it is a clan of living omens, ferocious and vulturous…

When will the world understand what these creatures are, vile and sick…

So brazen that they’ve shot Palestinians into oblivion on television then denied they exist

wise woman once said to save Palestine is to save the world

Save the babies and the elders, save the boys and save the girls…

Save the holy land, crush the beasts…

Save the oppressed ones, lift up the weak…

Return their strength to them, tell them they are the reason we fight…

Tell them that you are so strong its crazy, tell them that they are beaming with light…

Khader Adnan lit the match, Hana al-Shalabi fueled the fire…

Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh now carry the torch at 70 plus days,Hasan Safadi and Omar Abu Shalal spread the embers in a 60 plus blaze,Mohammad al-Taj, Ja’far Ezzedine and Mahmoud Sarsak continue to inspire

Blood pressure, weight and heart rate dropping, bleeding from the gums and the nose…

Hair falling out, muscles atrophying and the music of numbness is drumming your soul…

Children denied their baba, mothers denied their sons…

Deprivation and degradation, torturous and slaughterous, this is the system that these Zionist tyrants run…

Harbingers of death, rapists of dignity…

Evil resides in their spirit, making them makers of your dangers and misery…

Fake leaders ignore you, meet with Jewish supremacists instead...

American government gives “Israel” more money, while pretending that you’re dead…

World doesn’t hear your cries, it doesn’t hear your screams…

Occupation wants to keep you awake in agony, ‘cause it fears your dreams…

Cast iron stomachs, hunger and pain swallowed in your refusal to comply with…


From the River, to the Sea,
one day, Palestine The
Beautiful, will be free.

The ugly occupation; your beautiful defiance…

Cast iron stomachs, just by living, you defeat them…

When you’re hungry for justice, the only suitable food is freedom…

You are the stones of the throwers, the poems of the hopers, the blaze that ignites from the security zones to the ocean, the equivalents of righteous kings overthrowing an aggressor…

Every breath that you take is a victory over your oppressor…

You are living martyrs, warriors of a heavenly force…

Armed with your cast iron stomachs, a predetermination of the enemy’s loss…

No, not an exaggeration, no, not the solving of an illustrious mystery…

When a “state” is born from injustice, its only destination in due time is the dustbin of history…

You stare Malak al-Mawt in the face, and you tell him to go somewhere and play…

Because your martyrdom is living, the Akhira is not where you will stand today…

But if you cross over tomorrow, the Resistance will struggle onward, we refuse to allow despair to reign…

O’ mighty hunger strikers! You will be triumphant, nevermind the machinations of monsters and the ignorance of thieves…

Solidarity with you! Your courage is legendary, you give shivers to the world and I know you’ll keep giving the shivers when you’re free…

Cast iron stomachs, your hunger paves the road for Palestine to return to its rightful place from the River to the Sea

Cast iron stomachs, heroes is what you are, may we all fight like you and pray with no fear…

Palestine from the River to the Seasub7an’ALLAH wa insha’ALLAH ya Rab, that beautiful day is so near

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Cast Iron Stomachs: The Beautiful Defiance Of Palestine’s Hunger Strikers

Double agent hands al-Qaida its 3rd failed bombing



Associated Press

Over the past three years, al-Qaida bomb makers in Yemen have developed three fiendishly clever devices in hopes of attacking airplanes in the skies above the United States.

First, there was the underwear bomb that fizzled over Detroit on Christmas 2009. Next, terrorists hid bombs inside printer cartridges and got them on board cargo planes in 2010, only to watch authorities find and defuse them in the nick of time.

Then last month, officials say, al-Qaida completed a sophisticated new, nonmetallic underwear bomb – and unwittingly handed it over to the CIA.

The would-be suicide bomber, the man al-Qaida entrusted with its latest device, actually was a double agent working with the CIA and Saudi intelligence agencies, officials said Tuesday. Instead of sneaking it onto a plane in his underwear, he delivered it to the U.S. government and handed al-Qaida its latest setback.

The extraordinary intelligence operation was confirmed by U.S. and Yemeni officials who were briefed on the plot but spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it.

The FBI is still analyzing the explosive but officials described it as an upgrade over the Christmas Day bomb. This new device contained lead azide, a chemical known as a reliable detonator. After the Christmas attack failed, al-Qaida used lead azide as the detonator in the 2010 plot against cargo planes.

Security procedures at U.S. airports Tuesday remained unchanged despite the plot, a reflection of both the U.S. confidence in its security systems and a recognition that the government can’t realistically expect travelers to endure much more. Increased costs and delays to airlines and shipping companies from new security measures could have a global economic impact too.

Security officials said they believe airport security systems put in place in the United States in recent years could have detected the new device or one like it. But the attempt served as a stark reminder that security overseas is quite different.

“I would not expect any real changes for the traveling public,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said. “There is a concern that overseas security doesn’t match ours. That’s an ongoing challenge.”

While airline checks in the United States mean passing through an onerous, sometimes embarrassing series of pat-downs and body scans, procedures overseas can be a mixed bag. The U.S. cannot force other countries to permanently adopt the expensive and intrusive measures that have become common in American airports over the past decade.

The Transportation Security Administration sent advice Tuesday to some international air carriers and airports about security measures that might stave off an attack from a hidden explosive. It’s the same advice the U.S. has issued before, but there was a thought that it might get new attention in light of the foiled plot.

The U.S. has worked for years to try to improve security for U.S.-bound flights originating at international airports. And many countries agree that security needs to be better. But while plots such as the Christmas attack have spurred changes, some security gaps that have been closed in the U.S. remain open overseas.

Officials believe body scanners, for instance, probably would have detected this latest attempt by al-Qaida to bring down a jetliner. Such scanners allow screeners to see objects hidden beneath a passenger’s clothes.

But while scanners are in place in airports nationwide, their use is scattershot overseas. Even in security-conscious Europe, the European Union has not required full-body imaging machines for all airports, though a number of major airports in Paris, London, Frankfurt, Germany and elsewhere use them.

All passengers on U.S.-bound flights are checked against terrorist watch lists and law enforcement databases.

In some countries, U.S. officials are stationed in airports to offer advice on security matters. In some cases, though, the U.S. can do little more than hope that other countries follow the security advice from the Transportation Security Administration.

“Even if our technology is good enough to spot it, the technology is still in human hands and we are inherently fallible,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “And overseas, we have varying degrees of security depending on where the flight originates.”

Authorities believe that, like the Christmas bomb and the printer bombs, this latest device is the handiwork of either al-Qaida’s master bomb maker in Yemen, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, or one of his students.

In the meantime, Americans traveled Tuesday with little apparent concern.

“We were nervous – for a minute,” said Nan Gartner, a retiree on her way to Italy from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. “But then we thought, we aren’t going anywhere near Yemen, so we’re OK.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Double agent hands al-Qaida its 3rd failed bombing

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