Archive | June 9th, 2012

Controversy over NATO Supply

By Sajjad Shaukat

While controversy continues between Pakistan and the United States in wake of the ongoing negotiations for the resumption of NATO supply across the country to Afghanistan, American duplicity and pressure tactics are creating obstacles in reaching an agreement in this regard.

This controversy is due to the fact that America is pressurising Islamabad for earlier restoration of NATO route unilaterally by setting aside other issues, while Pakistan wants to discuss all the inter-related subjects namely drone attacks, rate of charges of NATO trucks, border’s coordination mechanism, apology by US over Salala incident etc. So, it is owing to US illogical approach that the negotiating teams of both the countries are not agreeing to each other’s demands.

It is notable that since May 14, this year, when Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had indicated that Pakistan should restore NATO supply across the country to attend a NATO summit in Chicago on May 20-21 by explaining that Pakistan needs to go ahead and try to improve relations with US in order to avoid isolation by the international community, a debate started among country’s political experts and media anchors over the issue.

It is mentionable that when the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) met on May 15, most of Pakistan’s political analysts and TV anchors made clear-cut speculations that Islamabad would restore the NATO supply route through that meeting before the Chicago summit due to growing pressure of the US-led NATO countries, but DCC fixed no deadline in this respect.

Debate continued among over political circles and media commentators regarding the resumption of NATO supply lines. Some of them presumed that President Asif Ali Zardari would announce the decision of reopening these transport routes during the NATO meeting as Pakistan is badly in need of financial aid, while some opined that Islamabad would resume NATO supply lines, immediately after that summit. But most of them agreed that Pakistan would restore these supplies without putting condition on America to stop drone attacks.

On May 21, US President Barack Obama also met Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of NATO summit amid widespread reports that the US deliberately pressurised Pakistani president to meet US-NATO demands for reopening the supply route. But President Zardari told Obama that drone attacks must be stopped, while pointing out Pakistan’s demand for US apology over the November 26, 2011 unprovoked Salala check post incident which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Even in his speech at the Chicago conference, while expressing similar thoughts, President Zardari emphasised that the DCC directed the relevant officials to conclude talks for resumption of the NATO ground supply. President Zardari also raised the issues of non-payment of Coalition Support Fund.

Besides Pakistan’s political analysts and media, even American officials and renowned newspapers had predicted that an agreement would reach in relation to the NATO supply during the NATO summit, but the negotiations became deadlocked over Islamabad’s demands which also include $5,000 per truck heading to Afghanistan. US officials rejected Pakistan’s proposal and have also refused apology for the death of the Pakistani soldiers in the 26 November air strikes.

Nevertheless, all the speculations about the resumption of NATO transport routes proved untrue. While conflicting reports are coming in relation the restoration of NATO supply lines in wake of ongoing negotiations between Pak-US diplomats, we need to grasp realistic approach in this connection.

It is of particular attention that US always blackmails Pakistan through financial pressure. Every time, I.M.F sanctions loan to Islamabad after American green signal. While, at this critical juncture, our country has been facing precarious financial problems, US-led NATO countries are compelling Islamabad to accept American undue demands to re-open the NATO transport routes unilaterally.

After noting American duress, Pakistan which has already strengthened its ties with China has also cultivated its relations with the Russian Federation. Recently, Moscow and Islamabad also agreed to enhance the bilateral relations in diverse fields.

However, on the one side, NATO countries seek to adopt Pakistani routes for withdrawal of their troops and vehicles from Afghanistan, while on the other; they are using pressure tactics on Islamabad. In this respect, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar who admitted on May 22 that the government was facing pressure for resumption of the NATO supply, said in his recent statement that US apology was essential for reopening the supplies.

Especially, US high officials and NATO leaders recognise that they cannot obtain stability in Afghanistan without the help of Pakistan. But at the same time, US is making the ongoing talks with Islamabad more complicated through its coercive diplomacy. In this context, on June 5, a US Senate panel voted cuts in aid to Pakistan by 58 percent, and threatened to withhold even more cash, if Islamabad does not reopen its supply lines for NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.

At this crucial hour, when Pakistan’s diplomats are negotiating a complex issue of resumption of NATO supply routes in wake of the heightening political noise inside the country, in the last 11 days, CIA-operated drone attacks killed more than 40 people in North Waziristan besides South Waziristan. Notably, while pampering New Delhi, during his visit to India, on June 6, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has repeatedly pointed out that that drone attacks would continue on Pakistan’s soil. Earlier President Obama has also defended these strikes by US spy planes as part of American so-called counterinsurgency strategy.

In fact, the main aim of American this duplicity is not only to destabilise Pakistan by provacating the militants for more suicide attacks as part of Indo-US and Israeli secret agenda because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world, but also to make Islamabad accept favourble terms and conditions of America.

Taking cognisance of the US double game in wake of US unjustified drone strikes, Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt General Zaheerul Islam has postponed his scheduled visit to the US.

Nonetheless, by rejecting US pressure for earlier restoration of NATO transport routes, Pakistan’s civil and military leaders must remain stern on their assertions that the issue of NATO supply lines would be decided in light of recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and the Defence Committee of the Cabinet after negotiating re-engagement with the US as approved by the parliament.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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The British Queen stands for duty and justice. But do her ministers?


Photo: yessss  f....k the queen  [^_^]

By Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood contrasts the values which the British Queen is seen to represent with the shameless pimping and stooging by UK ministers on behalf of Israel, a racist rogue state that is in breach of numerous international conventions, the UN Charter and countless UN Security Council resolutions.

The Queen’s Jubilee generated a week of intensely loyal outpourings and a feast of pageantry.

What did this express? Loyalty to the Crown? Loyalty to the monarch? Loyalty to the flag? Loyalty to “this sceptred isle, this demi-paradise, this little world, this precious stone set in the silver sea”?

It doesn’t matter. Deep down the British people for the most part love the way this elderly lady has performed over the last 60 years, with such unstinting care to duty.

“… I doubt if popular affection extends to Her Majesty’s Government. Especially not to those of Her Majesty’s ministers who seem more admiring of rogue regimes abroad than the motherland here”…

But I doubt if popular affection extends to Her Majesty’s Government. Especially not to those of Her Majesty’s ministers who seem more admiring of rogue regimes abroad than the motherland here – “this fortress built by nature for herself against infection and the hand of war”.

Pimping for Israel

Addressing an Israeli university audience a few months ago our Foreign Office minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, said: “The world needs Israel’s values, of tolerance and justice… So be in no doubt, as we enter the turbulent waters of 2012 that your values are our values, your strength is our strength, your well-being is our well-being.”

It was straight out of Tel Aviv’s propaganda training manual. What possesses a minister in the Queen’s government to utter such cringe-making claptrap then post it on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website?

Burt went on:

In 2012, we will step up our efforts to stop the Iranian attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. The UK is a leading force in the international campaign to stop the Iranian regime acquiring a nuclear weapon – and arresting a progress which is clearly not intended for purely peaceful purposes. We work closely with Israel on this issue, and it is an extremely important aspect of our bilateral relationship… We share Israel’s determination to prevent Iranian proliferation.

But where is his appetite to curb Israeli nuclear proliferation? While Iran has no nuclear weapons at all, Israel’s arsenal of 200 to 400 warheads is obviously not for peaceful purposes and has long been the cause of aggravation in the region and beyond. As a consequence many feel Israel poses the biggest threat to world peace.

Neither Mr Burt nor his boss, foreign secretary William Hague, seems to have grasped that Israel hasn’t signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has. Let us recap:

  • Iran hasn’t any nuclear weapons, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) doesn’t claim that it has.
  • Iran has no nuclear weapons programme, Israel does.
  • Iran’s nuclear facilities are open to IAEA inspection, Israel’s are not.
  • Iran is not in breach of any obligations under the NPT.
  • Indeed, the NPT gives Iran an “inalienable right” to uranium enrichment. Britain and the US and their allies are trying to rob Iran of that right by applying ferocious economic sanctions and threats of military action.
  • This warmongering stance by Britain, the US, Israel and others against a non-nuclear country that hasn’t waged a war of aggression within living memory breaches Article 2.4 of the UN Charter, which requires all UN member states to “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”. Article 6 of the UN Charter provides for the expulsion of member states, like the US and Israel, that persistently violate charter’s principles.

Pursuing its present line puts Britain on the wrong side of the law and exposes its people to the sort of retaliation such bully-boy tactics are likely to provoke.

In case Her Majesty’s ministers are still in a fog about what’s what, this simple guide to Iran’s nuclear activities might be of help.

Associating with hooligans

Israel is a rogue state, which is contemptuous of its obligations and defiant of international law. Consider its crime-sheet.

“Forty five years of the military jackboot is bad enough but it is actually 64 years since Israelis pretended to accept the UN Partition and instead went on the rampage terrorizing and ethnically cleansing Palestinians at gunpoint in order to expand their already generous land allocation.”

It has been in military occupation of another people’s country – the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights – for 45 years.

After Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 the Security Council passed Resolution 252 requiring the annexation to be reversed. Israel’s repeated failure to comply resulted in further resolutions demanding the same, all ignored. UN members, including Israel, are obliged under Article 25 of the UN Charter “to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council”, the UN’s highest body.

Forty five years of the military jackboot is bad enough but it is actually 64 years since Israelis pretended to accept the UN Partition and instead went on the rampage terrorizing and ethnically cleansing Palestinians at gunpoint in order to expand their already generous land allocation. The process continues to this day.

Israel has deposited more than 500,000 Jewish “settlers” on the territory it illegally occupies with the intention of making the occupation permanent.

Israel makes a regular habit of violating Security Council resolutions, being in breach of over 30 that require corrective action by Israel, dating back to 1967.

Not content with that, since 1967 Israel has been continually in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Its economic blockade of Gaza amounts to collective punishment and is contrary to Article 33. Its non-stop destruction of property in the occupied territories is in breach of Article 53. And its unceasing construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is in breach of Article 49.

Article 49 bans an occupying power from transferring its own civilian population into territory it occupies, yet Israel, far from removing the 500,000 squatters it has relocated there, continues to add to them. The Security Council’s Resolution 446 of 1979 demanded that transfers cease and the squatters be removed. Israel’s failure to comply resulted in further resolutions – 452 (1979) and 465 (1980). Israel has ignored them all.

As for Israel’s nuclear threat, the Security Council’s Resolution 487 demanded that Israel open its secret nuclear facilities to inspection by the IAEA. Israel refused. Its nuclear activities remain cloaked in secrecy.

“Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, William Hague, David Cameron … need to understand how ridiculous they look piling the pressure onto Iran regarding some imaginary future threat without first insisting Israel places its unsupervised nuclear activities … under international safeguards.”

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, William Hague, David Cameron and the rest of Israel’s chums need to understand how ridiculous they look piling the pressure onto Iran regarding some imaginary future threat without first insisting Israel places its unsupervised nuclear activities, which constitute a real and present menace, under international safeguards. How can the European Union sensibly call on Iran to “engage seriously” in nuclear negotiations unless they prevail on Israel to do the same?

As for Israel’s claim to be democracy’s only champion in the Middle East, let’s remember that for 45 years Palestinians in the occupied territories have lived under Israeli military dictatorship. They have been denied democratic rights. Israel’s record is therefore one of contempt for democracy rather than commitment to it.

Who on earth gave Her Majesty’s ministers, and the 80 per cent of the Conservative Party who are adoring Conservative Friends of Israel, permission to associate Britain with such hooligans?

Lest we forget

This week is the 45th anniversary of Israel’s air strikes on the American intelligence ship USS Liberty in international waters off the Sinai Peninsular – a “day of infamy” if ever there was one. The vessel, flying the American flag, was then torpedoed and attacked again by Israeli gunboats. Thirty four US seamen were killed and 171 wounded. A rescue mission by a US Sixth Fleet carrier was scandalously aborted by the White House, and attempts by the USS Liberty’s survivors afterwards to raise the issue in the media or at any other level were squashed.

Have we forgotten how Israel will even knife its best friends in the back?

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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

White House propaganda over drones given 100% support by Newsweek “journalist”


Posted: 08 Jun 2012


Majority of Israelis think Africans are “a cancer”


Posted: 08 Jun 2012



Fifty-two percent of Jewish Israelis identify with the statement by MK Miri Regev last month that African migrants are “a cancer in the body” of the nation, and over a third condone anti-migrant violence, according to the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) Peace Index for May 2012.

Broken down by political and religious affiliation, the monthly index’s findings reveal that among Jews there is a direct correlation between right-wing political affiliation and a racist attitude toward migrants. Thus, 86 percent of Shas voters and 66 percent of Likud voters polled expressed identification with Regev’s controversial statement, as opposed to 32 percent of Labor voters and four percent of Meretz voters.

The degree of religiosity attested to by respondents also accounted for a large disparity in the findings, with 81.5% and 66% of self-described ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox, respectively, agreeing with Regev’s statement, as opposed to 38% of secular Israelis.

Only 19% of Arab respondents agreed that the migrants were “a cancer.”

The poll also found that 33.5 percent of Jews and 23 percent of Arabs identified with recent acts of violence against African migrants perpetrated by demonstrators and residents of South Tel Aviv. According to the IDI this was “very surprising, considering that most people do not tend to openly report sympathy for acts that are broadly condemned by society.”

#LeftTurn receives friendly embrace


Posted: 08 Jun 2012


Here’s a great review of #LeftTurn by Simon Butler in Green Left Weekly:

Left Turn: Political Essays for the New Left
Edited by Antony Loewenstein & Jeff Sparrow
Melbourne University Press, 2012
RRP $32.99

In the past few years, the world economy has fallen into its deepest crisis for eight decades with no end in sight, shocked scientists have reported new evidence the climate is changing quicker than feared and opinion polls have reflected widespread anger and cynicism with mainstream political parties openly tied to business interests.

There are fewer reasons to be confident of a rosy capitalist future than ever before. Yet in Australia, the left has not made any big political breakthroughs. Business, and politics, as usual seems entrenched.

This is the premise of Left Turn, a new selection of political essays edited by Antony Loewenstein and Jeff Sparrow. The book is an attempt to launch a wider discussion about the unusual period we’re in, where “crisis stalks the old political order and yet no new alternatives seem possible”.

Loewenstein and Sparrow reflect on the contradiction between the few thousand people who took part in Australia’s Occupy protests last year and the very high public sympathy (up to 69%) for Occupy’s radical message that our economic and political systems have been captured by the richest 1%.

They say Occupy had such wide support because “capitalism’s accomplishments no longer seem distinguishable from its failings … If the times feel apocalyptic, the widespread unease about what’s to come does not translate into an enthusiasm for the status quo, since it’s in this very present that we discern, however dimly, the shape of the future that scares us.”

Loewenstein and Sparrow say this situation demands an alternative to the status quo. Left Turn doesn’t offer a single alternative view, but many.

The selection begins with a sharp analysis of Australia’s climate change dilemma by Tad Tietze and Elizabeth Humphreys. They say the mainstream environmental movement’s decision to endorse the Labor government’s carbon trading scheme has led it to become “a cheerleader for an unpopular and ineffectual neoliberal policy”.

Tietze and Humphreys say the better option is the one “most quickly ruled out by politicians [and] also the simplest and most likely to work: a commitment to consciously and collectively plan how society must change to meet this great challenge”.

Jeff Sparrow compares the Occupy movement with the summit-hopping anti-corporate movement that reached its high point ten years earlier under the slogan “another world is possible”. The anti-corporate movement petered out within a few years, but Sparrow says there are good reasons to think Occupy will have a longer-lasting impact.

He says: “The Occupy Wall Street slogan ‘we are the 99%’ contrasted the immiseration experienced by ordinary people with the spectacular wealth of a tiny minority … It reflected, in other words, an important shift from the movement of ten years earlier …

“The possibility of another world doesn’t necessarily imply anything about how that world might be created, whereas the recognition of a fundamental divide between neoliberalism’s beneficiaries and its victims has obvious political ramifications.”

Larissa Behrendt remarks on the empty symbolism and top-down paternalism that now dominates the Labor party’s approach to Aboriginal affairs. She says: “The idea of black empowerment that was so central to the politics of the Tent Embassy is still relevant today — and still confronting to governments.”

Tracker managing editor Chris Graham blasts White Australia’s hypocritical obsession with blaming Aboriginal people for creating their own problems: “Aboriginal Australians have no chance of pricking the conscience of a First World nation whose criminal indifference allows a level of violence to be waged against Aboriginal people that has led to a mortality rate equivalent to sheep in a paddock.”

Equal marriage rights activist Rodney Croome challenges the ideas of “progressive” opponents of marriage equality, who say lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people should not campaign for the right to marry because marriage is a conservative and oppressive institution.

“Marriage equality began as a grassroots campaign,” Croome says, “with the demand coming from the bottom not the top, and has often taken professional gay advocates by surprise just as much as established political elites.”

Palestine solidarity campaigner Kim Bullimore explains why the international boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s military occupation is justified and answers the corporate media’s baseless claim that BDS is anti-Jewish.

Guy Rundle looks at how capitalism constantly shapes and reshapes our concept of time and the spatial environment. He urges the left to challenge to the right’s widely-accepted notion that freedom amounts to restricted consumer choices in the supermarket aisle.

Refugee advocate Pamela Curr exposes the grubby politics of fear and panic that defines Australia’s mainstream political debates about the rights of refugees. Tom Bramble examines the Australian labour movement’s militant past for evidence that a new, radical union upsurge is possible today.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon looks back on the past 20 years of the Greens, which has now risen to third party status in Australia. She says the future growth of the party will depend on it holding on to its democratic internal culture: “It is the [Greens] members’ sense of involvement and ownership of the process and policies that lays the basis for success.”

Two essays in Left Turn deliver some stinging attacks on the mainstream media. Antony Loewenstein remarks on the West’s “journalistic and political culture that rewards loyalty to an establishment class without accountability”.

Wendy Bacon says media activists should support and help widen the reach of progressive, alternative media, while still “taking every opportunity to get the message out through the existing media”.

Left Turn also includes essays by novelist Christos Tsiolkas, human rights lawyer Emily Howie, Fear of a Brown Planet comedian Nazeem Hussain, Overland magazine’s Jacinda Woodhead and Marxist academic Rick Kuhn.

The selection of essays in Left Turn is broad enough that all readers across the left spectrum — from reformers to revolutionaries — will find at least something to agree with. The essays are lively, well-written and often provocative.

Put together, Left Turn is important contribution from people serious about building a left alternative to a social system that today concentrates 40% of the world’s wealth in the hands of just 500 corporations, while it condemns billions of people to miserable poverty.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


State Dep’t official’s ‘Are you Jewish?’ question to US citizen keeps rattling Foggy Bottom

Jun 06, 2012

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz


Video from today’s daily press briefing at the State Department. The portion from the transcript below begins around the 9:30 mark.

The deportation of Sandra Tamari at Ben Gurion airport and the American embassy’s response to her case — “Are you Jewish?” — continues to be a news story.  The Associated Press’s Matt Lee brings it up with the State Department spokesperson every day. “Let me get the facts,” says he. Yes, let him get the facts.

Here is Tamari’s recollection of the call from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. She provided it to us today.

Chris Kane [from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv] was contacted by the organizers of my delegation visit about my detention, and given a delegation leader’s cell phone number.  He phoned at about 6 pm.  I had landed at 3:30 pm and was with the delegation leader in the waiting room at the airport.
CK:  Hello.  I got your number from _____.  You are being questioned by the Israeli authorities, I understand.
ST:  They are threatening to deny me entry and to deport me.
CK:  Are you Jewish?
ST: No
CK:  Have you been in contact with the Israeli government or military in the past?
ST:  No
CK:  Have you been here before?
ST:  Yes, several times. I am a Palestinian with family in the West Bank.
CK:  Oh, you have family in the West Bank.  Then there is nothing I can do to help you.  In fact, if I interceded on your behalf, it will hurt your case with the Israelis.
ST:  I don’t understand.  You are saying you can’t speak with them.  You have no influence.  They are demanding to access my gmail account.
CK:  If they have your gmail address, they can get in without your password.
ST:  What do you mean?  How?
CK:  They’re good!
ST:  This is crazy.  You mean you know about these requests to access emails and you have no problem with it.
CK:  It is in our travel warning.  They won’t harm you.  You will be sent home on the next flight out.I hope I have been of good service to you.
ST:  Frankly, you have done nothing for me.
CK:  Well at least you can say I did it kindly.

Here’s the relevant warning, also dug up by Tamari. Note that it says nothing about going into your email.

Security-related delays are not unusual for travelers carrying audio-visual or data storage/processing equipment, and some have had their laptop computers and other electronic equipment confiscated at Ben Gurion Airport. While most items are returned prior to the traveler’s departure, some equipment has been retained by the authorities for lengthy periods and has reportedly been damaged, destroyed, lost or never returned. U.S. citizens who have had personal property damaged due to security procedures at Ben Gurion may contact the Commissioner for Public Complaints at the airport for redress by fax to 972-3-9752387. In such circumstances, travelers should have no expectation of privacy for any data stored on such devices.

Today, Lee pressed the State Department’s Mark Toner on Tamari’s experience (video above):

QUESTION: More on Israel. Yesterday you said you were aware that the Privacy Act waiver had been signed by Ms. Tamari. I’m wondering if you can tell us exactly what the State Department or the Embassy’s version of the conversation was, whether in fact that she was told that they couldn’t help her because she wasn’t Jewish.

MR. TONER: And actually I’m not sure if we’ve released – we should have; I apologize if we haven’t already released the Taken Question on this. But we can confirm that an official from U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv spoke via telephone with this individual to check on her safety and welfare while she was detained at Ben Gurion Airport. We remain in contact with local authorities until a decision was made regarding her entry into Israel. And of course, decisions about entry are the purview of the Israeli Government.

QUESTION: Did this person ask her if she was Jewish?

MR. TONER: Well, I don’t have an answer for you on that. What is very clear is that we would never deny assistance to any American citizen, regardless of their religious or ethnic background.

QUESTION: According to her account, the conversation, which is pretty much a verbatim transcript, he did ask, “Are you Jewish?” She said, “No.” Then she – then he asked, “Have you been here before?” She said, “Yes. Several times. I’m Palestinian. I have family in the West Bank,” to which he replied – and I won’t use his name, but I have it – “Oh, you have family in the West Bank. Then there’s nothing I can do to help you. If in fact I interceded on your behalf it would hurt your case with the Israelis.”

Is that correct? Is it that U.S. intervention on behalf of one of its citizens would actually hurt the case with Israel, a democratic ally?

MR. TONER: Again, I don’t have a transcript of the conversation. I don’t know where you were able to obtain one from.

QUESTION: From her.

MR. TONER: Again, this is a little bit of a —

QUESTION: I’m not trying to —

MR. TONER: — he said, she said. All I can say is that we —

QUESTION: Well, it may be. I want to know, regardless of that, is it correct that if you are a – that the position of the Embassy or the consular officers at the Embassy is that if you are a Palestinian with family in the West Bank and not Jewish that there’s nothing that they can do to help you. The actual verbatim words of the conversation I’m not —

MR. TONER: Verbatim words of what? A transcript that she presented or she produced?

QUESTION: Well, but —

MR. TONER: Again —

QUESTION: — is it correct that there is nothing that you can or nothing that the Embassy can do to help someone —

MR. TONER: That’s not correct.

QUESTION: That is not correct. Okay.

MR. TONER: We certainly stand to – we stand ready to support any American citizen, regardless of their religious or ethnic background.

QUESTION: Okay, okay. And then she says that she told them that they were trying to get into her email account – which goes to a different part of this story – on her laptop. He said that if they have your Gmail address, then they can get into your – they can get into the account anyway. She says, “How can they do that?” He says, “Well, they’re very good at this kind of thing.” And he says that they – that the Embassy is aware that the Israelis go in and check people’s email account – emails on their laptops. She says that she can’t understand why you don’t have a problem. He implies it’s in our Travel Warning.
Okay. Now, it’s not in the Travel Warning. The Travel Warning says that people who are carrying laptops or other audio-visual equipment could – have had these items confiscated. But there’s nothing in the Travel Warning – because I just read it now – that says that people might go into your computer and then demand access to your private email account. So I’m wondering, was I looking at an outdated Travel Warning, or is this just wrong?

MR. TONER: I don’t believe so. I think that’s accurate. But again, I’m not going to speak to a transcript of a conversation that’s unofficial at best.

QUESTION: Okay, well, it’s not so much the actual words that were said. I just want to know whether or not – and you answered the question – it is policy not to help someone —

MR. TONER: That is not our policy.

QUESTION: And also, if you are aware that they’re going into people’s emails, do you plan – would that be something that one – that you would —

MR. TONER: Again, I’d have to speak with our Consular Affairs, but I’m not aware that that’s reflected in our current Travel Warning. It’s not, I don’t think.

QUESTION: No, it isn’t, but I’m wondering if it would be now because this has become an issue quite separate from —

MR. TONER: It’s a hypothetical. I would assume we’d look at it.

Yesterday, Lee had a similar exchange with  Toner:

QUESTION: Have you managed to find out what happened with this woman from St. Louis? Was she told by the Embassy that they couldn’t help her because —

MR. TONER: Right.

QUESTION: — she wasn’t Jewish?

MR. TONER: Matt, I tried to get more information on that. I should have – I don’t have it in time for this briefing. My understanding, as I said, is that she did contact the Embassy and the Embassy did provide her with support. But I’m not aware of the exact exchange that she had with the Embassy personnel, so I’ll try to get you details on that.


MR. TONER: I appreciate I should have had it today. I don’t.

QUESTION: And so you do know that she has signed the Privacy Act waiver?

MR. TONER: I do know that and I have duly noted that —

QUESTION: No, but not just for me —

MR. TONER: And I have duly noted that to our friends in the Consular Affairs Bureau.

QUESTION: Okay. So specifically my question then is about that conversation —

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: — that exchange, if she was told that and if that is now a practice of the Embassy to tell people if it —

MR. TONER: Again —

QUESTION: — to ask people what their religion is, and regardless of what it is, to tell them that based on that —

MR. TONER: I’m certain it’s not —

QUESTION: — based on just their religion —

MR. TONER: I’m certain it’s not, but let me get —

QUESTION: Well, she’s —

MR. TONER: Let me get the facts. Let me get the facts before —

QUESTION: — she’s saying —

MR. TONER: Okay. Thank you. I appreciate it.

Jewish org’s letter warns Presbyterians divestment from occupation ‘taps into our deepest fears’

Jun 06, 2012

Philip Weiss

Things are heating up in anticipation of the Presbyterian Church’s 220th general conference at the end of the month, at which the U.S. church will debate divesting from three companies that do business in the occupation. Two letters follow. The first is from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. It is a “letter in hope” that says that the conflict has hurt both sides. The second is a great response from Lynn Gottlieb. First the JCPA one:

Dear Friends,

We, the undersigned tens of thousands of American Jews and supporters of peace in the Middle East join 1300 rabbis from throughout our country to reach out in hope to our Presbyterian friends and neighbors. We have close relationships, deeply treasured and shaped over many years. We are partners on many social issues including fostering peace between Israelis and Palestinians. We ask you to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in rejecting the counterproductive proposal to selectively divest from certain companies whose products are used by Israel. We feel honored in our hope by the Methodist General Assembly which, after much forethought and debate, decided to oppose such divestment by a 2-1 margin.

These are our feelings. Any place in which a single human being suffers, we all suffer. We know that your concern for the Palestinian people, some of whom are your Christian sisters and brothers, comes from a deep commitment to the alleviation of human pain. There is suffering enough in the land of our common inheritance on both sides of the conflict. A just solution demands peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians. We share goals of a just and lasting peace, an end to affliction, a two-state solution, and the protection of the dignity and security of all in the Holy Land. We must marshal our efforts together to bring about this peace.

We understand and respect your calling to invest in a morally responsible manner. A policy of divestment to pressure Israel, however, runs counter to these goals. Such a one-sided approach damages the relationship between Jews and Christians that has been nurtured for decades. It promotes a lopsided assessment of the causes of and solutions to the conflict, disregarding the complex history and geopolitics. Furthermore, it shamefully paints Israel as a pariah nation, solely responsible for frustrating peace.

For Jews, the use of economic leverages against the Jewish state is fraught with inescapable associations. They resonate in the Jewish consciousness with historic boycotts against Jewish companies and the State of Israel. They are experienced by Jews as part of a pattern of singling out Jews for attack. To determine and continue policies that knowingly tap into the deepest fears and pain of another is, in our tradition, a serious failure of relationship.

Divestment, and the specious Apartheid terminology that frequently accompanies it, polarizes people and communities so that the policy of divestment, and not peace, becomes the central issue. Divestment will undermine the ability of many Israelis to imagine peace. Decades of terrorism and rejection have left Israelis feeling threatened and isolated. Many of the major proponents of divestment do not support Israel’s right to exist – thus deepening this fear. Divestment as a policy is more likely to encourage those with more extreme aims than to foster reconciliation. Simply put, the bitter debate over divestment drowns out the real conversation about how to end the conflict.

At a time when politics in general have become so divisive, here and abroad, our efforts should be aimed toward reconciliation. Together and independently, Christians, Jews, and Muslims must give the parties to the conflict the confidence they need to move toward peace. There are many meaningful coexistence programs that are necessary to foster a generation of Israelis and Palestinians that will work and live side-by-side – moving past the teaching of hate and the resort to violence. As leaders of the Jewish and Protestant communities we need to deepen our understandings of the multiple narratives in the region.

We recognize the urgency of these efforts and the frustration on all sides with achieving our lofty goals. Our collective voices can play an instrumental role, working with the American government and others, to help Israeli, Palestinian, and other Middle Eastern leaders to prevent violence and attacks on civilians, support Palestinian state-building and economic development, promote positive investment opportunities, provide humanitarian aid through appropriate channels, protect existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and, most importantly, encourage a resumption of negotiations among the parties toward a two-state agreement that will help bring about peace, which is at the core of our traditions. We recommit to such efforts, independent of any other matter.

Yet quite honestly, were American Christian denominations to indict only Jews and Israel for the conflict with the Palestinians, they would justify the violence perpetrated against Israeli civilians – including children – as the unfortunate result of Israel’s unilateral guilt. In other words, Israeli victims would be responsible for their own suffering. Frankly, such a representation is anything but an expression of friendship and common purpose, and it would replace the closeness and comfort the Jewish community feels in existing relationships with distance, distrust, and disappointment.

The Scriptures that bind us reveal that G-d created all of us in the divine image – human dignity and equality is a core value of Jewish and Christian traditions. Further, our traditions call upon us to be peacemakers. In Hebrew, the word Shalom doesn’t just mean “peace” but wholeness and completeness. Peace comes about by our labors to complete the work of creation. We must work towards the day when every human is granted the dignity, security, and beneficence that is the promise of the created universe.

After the letter was circulated by Rachel Eryn Kalish, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb responded:

Dear Eryn,

I appreciate your peace-making work, but I cannot sign this letter opposing PCUSA’s effort to make selective divestment official church policy. I have written many statements detailing my support for selective divestment and BDS. You can find them on the JVP and F.O.R. websites.

Eryn, your letter, like the letter signed by 1200 rabbis, is deeply flawed in its rationale. Palestinians and not Jews are the targets of systematic violence by Israel. This is what your letter fails to grasp or acknowledge: the systematic violence of Israel’s military occupation is driving the conflict.

It is naive to think that any serious struggle against systematic state violence and military occupation can be won by instituting co-existence projects alone. First of all, such projects are limited by the structural problems that occupation imposes on the entire population of Palestine such as the lack of freedom of movement, the inability to export and the system of permits to name a few. Secondly, people who are victims of systematic violence have the right to determine their own methods of resistance. Gandhian methods of conflict transformation embrace both noncooperation and constructive peace building. Palestinians are engaged in both, as are Presbyterians in relationship to the conflict. Selective divestment is a form of noncooperation that targets the system of occupation. Palestinians have chosen this method of nonviolent struggle. It’s a no brainer.

Most Jews and Christians are not willing to go to Palestine to personally resist Israeli policies of land confiscation, home demolition, destruction of trees and property, military invasion, denial of freedom of movement, administrative detention or the arrest of children through nonviolent protest. Most Jews and Christians do not travel to Israel to work for an end to the blockade of Gaza and are not shot when they try to harvest their wheat or fish in the sea. Gazans have 6 hours of electricity a day which means there is virtually no refridgeration. Are you suggesting that humanitarian aid is a solution to Israel’s policy of occupation? Occupation is a form of structural violence. One side has access to water, the other side does not due to occupation policy. If you advocate a project to dig wells, for instance, you will be severely limited by the inability of Palestinians to dig a deep enough well to access water, even if you pay for the pump. This is what selective divestment addresses: the structural violence of occupation. Selective divestment places pressure on companies doing business with Israel to advocate for change or stop doing business.

As someone who lived through the Civil Rights Movement in America, I learned that it was noncooperation in the form of direct action, such as the Montgomery bus boycott, that provided the real push for change. White people who rode the Freedom Bus, joined in voter registration, walked for desegregation and joined the African American community in jail helped end the violent system of legalized segregation. One only has to read the letter MLK wrote to dissenting clergy while he sat in the Birmingham jail to understand this point. At the time, working for peace and justice meant that white people who wanted to be allies to the effort of ending segregation had to be willing to sit in jail. Struggling together in this way was an authentic act of love. Today, supporting selective divestment is an act of love and faith and hope. It is not an act that offends me or makes me feel unjustly targeted as a Jew. The opposite. Selective divestment is a form of nonviolent direct action that is aligned with my values as a person committed to Jewish nonviolence and the way I understand my tradition. One should not profit from anything produced through violent means. If your retirement fund is made fatter because you have money invested in Caterpillar, you should divest. Not to do so is violating Jewish law. Why can’t you invest in peace and divest in violence at the same time?

Those of us in the Jewish community who believe in co-existence respectfully disagree with the idea that selective divestment is harmful to Jewish Christian relationships. My experience is totally different. The divestment work Jews, Muslims and Christians do together across religious, cultural and racial boundaries has strengthened our relationships, not weakened them. I applaud the PCUSA in their effort to institute a policy of selective divestment.

May we love each other on the way toward ending occupation and establishing good relations. I pray that a sustainable peace comes quickly in our day.


Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

The political context of the arrests in Jenin

Jun 06, 2012

Annie Robbins

Last week Haaretz reported that Palestinian Authority President Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshal would meet this week to finalize the formation of their government. Also, the chairman of the PA’s Central Election Commission visited Gaza to set up a ‘technocractic government’ to oversee the upcoming election.

Today ‘s Reuters reports the PA’s appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been stepping up arrests in Jenin (something we reported last month):


The crackdown, led by elite presidential guards and the counter-terrorism unit, is seen as a determined bid by the Western-backed PA to regain control of the impoverished area and smash local networks that challenge its power.

Is seen? By whom?

The PA, with the Fatah party at its core, has advanced its monopoly on force in the West Bank after years of purges and scraps with rival factions – …Despite lacking a formal state or a mandate from the ballot box, the PA considers the security sweep in Jenin as a template for cementing its authority throughout the West Bank.

“This is an ongoing security effort and not a campaign with a start and finish. It will encompass every district so that citizens can live in safety and security,” Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told Reuters.

Ongoing ‘security’ effort with no start or finish? That rings a bell. Many of those arrested do not know why they have been detained.

Jenin’s Freedom Theatre Director Zakaria Zubeidi was picked up again. He’s being held at the PA’s central jail Jericho prison for “unspecified crimes”:

“Jericho has become like Guantanamo,” groaned Zakaria’s brother Abed….“The idea of being sent there is being used to terrify us…..“People come in here all the time with their car windows smashed by (Israeli) settlers. The Authority doesn’t defend its people from the attacks, but directs its policy of force at us.”

The obvious question: Is Fayyad doing Israel’s bidding on the eve of elections under the guise of ‘security’?

Lobby smeared Pascrell as ‘Islamist fellow traveler’ for signing Gaza letter– and lobby lost

Jun 06, 2012

Philip Weiss

MJ Rosenberg says that AIPAC and other Israel lobbyists supported Congressman Steve Rothman against Congressman Bill Pascrell in the newly combined 9th District of New Jersey– in some measure because he signed a letter to ease the blockade of Gaza– and lost overwhelmingly in the Democratic primary last night. Full post here. Excerpt:

Here is AIPAC telling the voters in New Jersey who to support. It is from the New Jersey Jewish Standard and it went out, in one form or another, to every Jewish voter in the district.

Josh Block, a former [and current] longtime spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said that Rothman’s “record of pro-Israel leadership is second to none, and in this particular race the differences couldn’t be clearer.”

Block accused Pascrell of having “actually sided against American support for Israel’s right to defend herself against weapons smuggling and attacks by terrorists.” He pointed to Pascrell’s signing of a January 2010 letter to Obama criticizing the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza. The letter, signed by 54  House members, called on the president to press for the easing of the blockade to improve conditions for Palestinian civilians.

Then Steve Emerson, the rightist Islamophobe who formerly worked at AIPAC, put out a long vicious hit piece on Pascrell depicting the Roman Catholic Pascrell as an “Islamist Fellow Traveler.” Follow the link if you want to read it. It is too vile for me to spread by quoting it.

Rothman embraced the lobby onslaught, doing everything he could to make the primary a referendum on Israel, Islam, Muslims, etc.  But then James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, a Christian Lebanese-American and a strong supporter (like Pascrell) of Israeli-Palestinian peace came in to work with the district’s Arab-American population and help the local people organize  for Pascrell. The issue wasn’t Israel; it was Rothman’s Arab and Muslim-baiting which offended Arab-Americans as much as Jews would be offended by an openly anti-Semitic candidate.

Few expected Pascell to withstand the onslaught with AIPAC directing PACs and individual donors to save their hero, Rothman.

But then yesterday it all blew up in AIPAC’s face. Pascrell won (in essentially Rothman’s old district) with 60% of the vote. Rothman announced his premature retirement from politics while the AIPAC crowd nursed its wounds. 

To be clear, Bill Pascrell did not win because of the Israel issue. He himself is pro-Israel, just not anti-Arab. He won because of his Get Out The Vote campaign, hustling from door to door and ads like this.  And because he is an effective and strong progressive from a district that appreciates that.

Nonetheless, this race was the first time that the lobby went head to head with an organized Arab-American community and its friends (notably in the non-AIPAC, non-Orthodox, Jewish community) and got that head handed to it.

‘NYT’ soft pedals the racism and hate in Tel Aviv anti-African protests

Jun 06, 2012

Adam Horowitz

A Tel Aviv rally demanding the expulsion of all non-Jewish African people verbally and physically attacks an Ethiopian Jewish Israeli man after he asks the protestors to clarify who it is they are calling for to be expelled from the country. (Video: Shot and edited by David Sheen)

Isabel Kershner has filed the first New York Times report on the wave of anti-African protests and violence that has continued in Israel over the past few weeks. She doesn’t seem to capture what is shown above:

The issue has become an explosive one in Israel. Many African migrants have settled in poor areas of south Tel Aviv and in the southern border town of Eilat, and have met increasing resentment.

Residents of south Tel Aviv complain of rising crime in migrant areas, and have staged noisy demonstrations, egged on by right-wing politicians and activists. At a demonstration in the Shapira Quarter last week, rightists handed out leaflets offering self-defense courses, and protesters chanted, “The people want the Sudanese deported,” holding placards with slogans like, “This is not racism, this is survival.”

Some stores run by African migrants were damaged and looted last month.

“It was better in Sudan,” said Ibrahim Abdullah, 25, an asylum seeker who was idling on the grass in a south Tel Aviv park last week. Mr. Abdullah said that he worked now and again in building, but that he had no money and relied on handouts for food.

Israel’s interior minister, Eli Yishai of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, was quoted on Friday as saying that “the infiltrators, along with the Palestinians, will quickly bring us to the end of the Zionist dream.” Noting that Israel had its own health and welfare issues, he said, “We don’t need to import more problems from Africa.”

“Most of those people arriving here are Muslims who think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man,” Mr. Yishai said in an interview with the newspaper Maariv.

Even so, there has been emotional debate here about the obligations of a country like Israel, largely founded by refugees. While opponents of the African influx say they worry about Israel’s future as a state with a Jewish majority, other Israelis have volunteered to help the asylum seekers and say that Israel, of all places, should show compassion toward those fleeing hardship.

A debate about the two-state-solution with Norman Finkelstein

Jun 06, 2012

Philip Weiss

Norman Finkelstein Gaza City June 2009
Norman Finkelstein Gaza City June 2009

Last month I wrote to Norman Finkelstein offering to debate the chapter dealing with the Israel lobby theory of Walt and Mearsheimer in his new book, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End. He wrote back to say that’s just one section, and the book has much larger aims, why not discuss them? I agreed, and our email dialogue of the last two weeks follows. Note that this dialogue preceded Finkelstein’s appearance on Democracy Now! Monday. 

Norman Finkelstein: My new book is the fruit of three decades of scholarly reflection on the Israel-Palestine conflict and also of being an active participant in the solidarity movement. (I first got involved on June 6, 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon.) It is also the result of perhaps five years of intensive research, and three comprehensive rewrites of the manuscript. An honest reader would, I think, conclude that my book is the substantive version of the “Beinart thesis,” which, as it happens, I articulated in multiple venues long before Beinart came along. You might recall the conversation we had on the bus in Gaza after the 2008-9 Israeli invasion where I laid out my thesis that liberal American Jews were distancing themselves from Israel, and you expressed deep skepticism.

We are now at a crossroads in the conflict. I truly believe it is possible—not certain, not even probable, but still possible—that we can achieve a reasonable settlement within the two-state framework. But achieving this goal will require a maximum of political clarity and a vastly reduced amount of sloganeering.

Weiss: Here is where we differ. A historic compromise has been vitiated. Even David Shulmanin the New York Review of Books understands this. And the crossroads we face is explaining to Americans that one regime exists between the river and the sea, and the trick is to make it a democracy. Unlike you, I believe, I would have been a bourgeois in the 1850s, and a Lincoln Republican; I would have been for a two-state solution that allowed slavery to persist in the south and vanish in time. Those historic compromises were also vitiated in the space of a few years; and lo and behold some Americans grew impatient and quoted the words, All people are created equal. As Palestinians are impatient today, and who can blame them. There is no equality under the Israeli regime. There has been none since it was founded.

The error here, on the part of American leaders and maybe you too, is the belief that somehow the failure of the peace process between 1994 and 2012 represents some form of treading water before we really swim. But 18 years is a very long time historically; it blights more than a generation; Arabs took Obama at his word when he went to Cairo and said that the settlements must end.

When the historic compromises of 1830 and 1850 were flouted in the 1850s, there were real results. People became impatient and within six years there was war. And my belief that the intractable question in Israel/Palestine is also likely to be resolved by “verry much bloodshed”—as the revolutionary egalitarian John Brown put it, a person I am sure I would have opposed at the time—is why I support BDS. It is a peaceful process.

Finkelstein: Our disagreements are three-fold: historical, political, and material.

A. There never has been a peace process, but rather an annexation process that used the “peace process” as a facade. The record is quite clear that the Israelis never envisaged a full withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territory and the emergence of a truly independent Palestinian state. Rabin explicitly said this in the Knesset just before his death in 1995. (I run through the record on pp. 232-237 of Knowing Too Much.) Interestingly, even the International Crisis Group, which is generally strong on facts, but feeble (if not awful) on analysis, and which has championed the “peace process” since its inception, comes close to conceding these facts. (See its latest report, “The Emperor Has No Clothes.”) The Palestinian leadership under Arafat signed onto the “peace process” at Oslo because it was headed towards oblivion (bankruptcy) after backing the wrong horse in the First Gulf War. In return for being rescued by Washington and Tel Aviv, the Palestinian leadership agreed to act as Israel’s subcontractors in the occupied Palestinian territory. (Former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, in Scars of War, Wounds of Peace, is very frank on this point.) It is therefore analytically incorrect to draw any inferences for the prospects of a two-state settlement from a process that, from the outset, was never intended to achieve a two-state settlement. The only possibility for creating a real peace process, and not the sham of the past 20 years, is to mobilize the Palestinians’ most potent asset—i.e., the population itself—in a nonviolent grassroots struggle along the lines of the first intifada. The succession of practical victories won by the Palestinian hunger strikers (with relatively little concrete support from the Palestinian population) again demonstrated the efficacy of this strategy.

B. The question then becomes, if and when such a grassroots movement takes flight, what will be its goal? Here I think the answer is practical-political, not abstract-moral. Even an invigorated grassroots movement cannot possibly succeed unless it wins the backing of international public opinion, both popular and governmental. In the absence of such broad public support, Israel will have carte blanche to crush Palestinian resistance, however nonviolent. If the mass movement to end Apartheid in South Africa won international support, it’s because the international community had already embraced democratization—i.e., internalself-determination—as the appropriate goal in the South African context. When the Bantustans declared “independence” in the mid-1970s (first Transkei, then Ciskei, Bophuthatswana, and Venda), the international community overwhelmingly voted (in the case of Transkei, 134-0; the U.S. abstained) to declare these entities null and void under international law. But the identical overwhelming majority of UN member States has repeatedly voted to support a two-state settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict (167-7 in the last General Assembly vote). It’s easy to proclaim abstract-moral solutions when you lack the obligations of power, but each time a Palestinian leadership has reached a position of official responsibility (first the P.L.O. in 1974 when Arafat spoke at the UN, then Hamas in 2006, when it won the parliamentary elections), it had to revise its political program from a “one-state” to a “two-state” settlement, because otherwise it could not function on the international stage. Many self-described radicals have called this “selling-out,” I call it accommodating intractable—at any rate, in the here and now—political exigencies.

C. But is a two-state settlement materially feasible? Here, I think one has to look closely at the facts on the ground. In my opinion, the Palestinians have presented reasonable proposals for resolving the borders/settlements issue—a 1.9% land swap that leaves 300,000 of the illegal Jewish settlers in situ, without encroaching on the future Palestinian state’s territorial contiguity. But these proposals can only be properly assessed if one is attentive to the facts, and doesn’t fabricate preposterous numbers (such as David Samel’s figure of “600,000-750,000” illegal Jewish settlers posted on your web site) in order to “prove” the impossibility of a two-state settlement. I acknowledge the difficulties of resolving the refugee question within the two-state framework, but I do think a body modeled on a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (which, recall, had to confront,in the case of Guatemala, the perpetrators not of ethnic cleansing but of genocide), and composed of respected and authoritative figures (such as Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu), and after allowing all sides to air their grievances and reservations, can come up with a reasonable proposal.

In my opinion, your invocation of Lincoln and the Abolitionists is morally stirring, and I do like to be morally stirred—although my preference is Rosa Luxemburg—but it lacks any historical, political or material grounding. It’s as if I were now to advocate DOP (the Dictatorship of the Proletariat—the abbreviation of my youth back in the day, before BDS came along), and Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution in Palestine. I can’t help but feel, with all due respect, that you are being swept away by the throbbings of your heart and the flutterings of your soul, while blithely ignoring the mundane, un-poetic facts of the situation. If we can coerce a real Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territory, and you are there at the rendezvous of victory, I am sure that tears will be streaming down your cheeks, because you will have realized how significant a victory it is, and how hard-won it was.

Weiss: Two quick points, Norman. 600,000 settlers is not that much of an exaggeration of Jeremy Ben Ami’s 550,000 the other night at B’nai Jeshurun. And I’m glad you’re morally stirred. Notice that I am invoking your inheritance, of radical imaginers, as opposed to my bourgeois stick in the mud types. In this case I have joined up with the imaginers, and not because of a daring feeling, but from a sense of American realism.

Finkelstein: The two principal groups monitoring settlement growth are B’Tselem and the Foundation for Middle East Peace. You can check their web sites now (; Each puts the figure for the number of settlers at around 500,000. I noticed that Jimmy Carter the other day put it at 525,000 (I assume his staff keeps him up to date). To leap from there to 600,000-750,000 is either ignorant or irresponsible.

A few weeks ago on the plane to and from the UK I read a new edition of Rosa Luxemburg’s letters. You cannot conceive how it swept me away. I was, if only for a fleeting moment, transported back to the high spirits of my youth. Each of her five senses was so refined, and alive. I even made some resolutions after reading her, such as my early morning RLW—Rosa Luxemburg walk—in order to take in the world around me. (Unfortunately, I spend most of my time lost in thought cursing its denizens!) So, I remain an “imaginer,” even if one verging on decrepitude. But I cannot let my imaginings get the better of my moral responsibilities.

People are suffering; isn’t that why we—or, at any rate, I—first got involved in the conflict? It’s also why I can’t leave it behind, even though G-d only knows how sick I am of it, and how I would like to move on finally and do something else, just one other thing, with my life, before I pass into eternity. I noticed in the just-released BBC World Service Poll (May 2012) that Israel’s stock is plummeting everywhere in the world, except here in the US, where it has bounced back a bit. So, so frustrating. But how does it help to advocate political solutions that have zero traction, and zero possibility of gaining traction, among Americans, who will never support a settlement that—whatever euphemism you use and however you articulate it—entails Israel’s disappearance?

Weiss: I am also impatient to be done with this conflict. But I must say that our weariness is an easy one. We lead good lives in the U.S. This is why I listen to the Palestinians. They are the people who have to suffer the occupation.

I believe that the conservative side of you is showing when you allow an establishment consensus to guide your dreams. And it’s unbecoming. Again to go the 1850s frame, I as a bourgeois want-to-be insider, would likely have been for colonization—sending the blacks to a country in Africa where they could be free, because we were afraid they would murder us if we set them free here… You would have said that’s racist, and all people are created equal. But I would have had powerful consensus entirely on my side, or not even entirely. The slave power was regnant in NY and the South. My position would have been the J Street of the time. The lesson is that consensus changes very quickly. People’s ideas actually shift when they recognize the new reality. I made many stupid comments about homosexuality when I was young. Today I’d be ruined if I expressed these ideas, and that’s a good thing.

David Shulman preparing American Jews for the end of the Jewish state in New York Review of Books is informing people about reality. There is only one regime, and realists should work to convert it to equality. American Jewish consensus will dissolve under the force of this logic, if we will only stand up and say, I believe in democracy.

Finkelstein: You confuse and conflate support for a two-state settlement with support for racism. If the two-state settlement really were a racist goal, it would be hard to comprehend why it has been endorsed by nearly the whole of the United Nations (including many African and Arab-Muslim states) as well as by the human rights community and the International Court of Justice. So far as I understand it, nothing in the two-state solution inherently validates a discriminatory state on either side of the Green Line. The original 1947 UN Partition Resolution, although recommending the creation of a “Jewish” and an “Arab” state in historic Palestine, also explicitly called for complete equality of rights for the respective minorities. Personally, I have said many times that Palestinians should not recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” (whatever that even means), unless Israel also explicitly endorses full and equal rights for its minorities and rescinds all discriminatory legislation. You might then argue that, if I oppose discriminatory states on either side of the border, then “logically” I should, like you, also support a single democratic secular state. Alas, a huge chasm separates logic from politics. The U.S. stole half of Mexico, about one of every ten Americans is of Mexican descent, and the Mexican economy is totally dependent on remittances from Mexican workers in the U.S. So “logically” we should solve the problem of illegal Mexican immigration, which causes several hundred grisly deaths along the border each year, by merging the U.S. and Mexican democracies into a unitary secular state. Indeed, isn’t it “racist” to oppose such a solution? But, this “solution” has exactly zero prospects of gaining traction in the U.S., so politically serious people work for immigration reform. Does it make them racists or sellouts? I think not.

Weiss: But Mexicans haven’t called for a single state. I do believe in self-determination. I also believe in the legal principle of stare decisis. Preserve a peaceful status quo. Partition was racist, inasmuch as it was rejected by the majority who lived in the region. But it was effected—more or less. And rejected by the Palestinians and ultimately dissolved by the expansionist Israelis.

I might accept partition if it had any basis in reality. I believe there are many unjust situations that are beyond my control and that, out of the desire to preserve order, I’m not attempting to overturn. I’m a realist in that regard. Stare decisis meant not wanting to revolutionize slavery in the south during the time of historic compromises. In this situation, a realist recognizes that these people, Palestinians, whom neither of us can really speak for, have never had any sovereignty and are being bullied and oppressed from one day to another to the point that hundreds have put their lives on the line in nonviolent protest and hunger strikes. What is the likeliest way to freedom? You care about that goal; that’s why you’re for the two-state solution. I care for it, it’s why I heed Palestinians, most of whom I talk to don’t believe that the two-state solution is possible any more. My friends simply don’t believe a viable state can be created in what’s left of the 22 percent.

Wanting to end their suffering and subordination is also why I have heeded the boycott call, which represents a very broad segment of Palestinian society and which is nonviolent. If there was a real path to a viable two-state solution I might support it, and I believe that most Palestinians would. But there’s not.

I didn’t mean to conflate the racism of the colonization scheme under slavery with partition. Apologies. But the analogy for me is the pace of historical development in an unjust situation in which hopes have been dashed. We went in a very short period of time from bourgeois people like me tolerating slavery and abolitionists like Wendell Phillips calling for “non resistance” to slavery to…Emerson endorsing violent resistance…to a very bloody war to extirpate slavery—all over a 6-year period during which the establishment felt it could get away with breaking historic compromises. If the settlements hadn’t been extended in 1854—if the slaveholders hadn’t pushed slavery into Kansas—John Brown might not have been radicalized. He was. His radicalization is among the real human consequences that flow from major events.

In this situation, historic compromises also have been vitiated, and every time I see activists in the West Bank, they are more radicalized and focused than they were the last time. They are involved in a real, living movement against never-ending oppression, and their hearts and minds are now shaped by that process—and I have come to the understanding that if there is one thing I can do it is to give that movement oxygen because I share the goal of a peaceful solution.

Who am I to tell a college student who has never been to the sea, which he can see from his rooftop, not to throw a rock? A John Brown type could ignite a great bloody war there— another reason I’m for boycott.

And as for zero traction for the one state solution: the two-state solution has had zero traction in the Obama administration. European support for two-state solution can’t keep people from being shot in Gaza or their cisterns being destroyed all over the West Bank. I believe the two-state paradigm is dying even inside establishment consensus. People are searching for a new paradigm. And so I fall back on the same solution I supported for the Mubarak tyranny…the right of the people to vote for their rulers…

Finkelstein: I am sure that some Mexican “one-staters” want to abolish the border or, at least, and in the name of the “right of self-determination,” want the areas stolen by the U.S. to be returned. Would you then support this political program because of the Mexicans’ “right to self-determination”? If Salafis manage to gain primacy in the Palestinian movement (not an altogether impossible prospect: witness what’s happening in neighboring Egypt), and demand an Islamic state, and the expulsion of all Jews from Islamic Palestine, would you support this demand in the name of the Palestinian “right of self-determination”? Do Palestinians, as a component of their “right of self-determination,” also get to dismantle and incorporate the Kingdom of Jordan, which after all was part and parcel of historic Palestine before Churchill chopped it off?

You make out “the right of self-determination” to be a Palestinian blank check to do whateverthey want wherever they want. The “right of self-determination” is a moral principle that still must, in each individual application, be filled with political-legal content. Of course, “people” have the right to self-determination, but then the thorny questions set in: which people,where and how? Do New Yorkers have a right to self-determination? Do Upper West-Siders in Manhattan? Regional or personal autonomy within a state is also a form of self-determination. On a moment’s reflection, it becomes evident that these are enormously complex questions, and in fact a scholarly literature that can fill several good-sized libraries has been devoted to untangling them. Not very successfully, in my opinion—which was why one of Woodrow Wilson’s advisors warned him that this right was “loaded with dynamite.”

In the case of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the near-unanimous consensus for the past three decades has been that the Palestinian people do have a right of self-determination, to be exercised in the “occupied Palestinian territory,” which consists of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. I see no cracks in this consensus; quite the contrary, judging by all international forums, it has only gotten stronger over time. The concluding sentence of the 2004 International Court of Justice advisory opinion speaks to “achieving as soon as possible…the establishment of a Palestinian State, existing side by side with Israel, and its other neighbors, with peace and security for all in the region.” Do you really believe that the sentiment expressed in this historic and authoritative statement is less representative of international opinion and the current understanding of international law than that of your activists, who invoke the Palestinian “right to self-determination”as if it were a blank slate on which one can write as one pleases, and invoke “international law”as if it were whatever one wants it to be? Incidentally, I don’t understand how one can claim a Palestinian right of self-determination and not a reciprocal right to self-determination of Israelis (or Jewish Israelis, depending on how you define the unit of self-determination) residing there the past 60-130 years (depending on where you start counting). In the name of a distinct and unique identity, Palestinians rejected their incorporation into the Jordanian state as equal citizens. Don’t Israelis (or Jews residing in Israel) also get to claim a distinct and unique identity? And, if so (I cannot see why not), then where do they get to exercise their right of self-determination? The international community says, inside the Green Line. You might reasonably disagree with this cartographic distribution, but still, so far as I can tell, you don’t make any allowance for their reciprocal right. You might say that Israelis (or Jewish Israelis) can exercise this right alongside Palestinian Arabs within one unified state. But then, why shouldn’t Palestinians exercise their right within one unified Jordanian state? Distinct and unique identities cut both ways, don’t they?

I personally don’t see any point in engaging in these intellectual acrobatics because they don’t lead anywhere, just as trying to figure out what’s “just” seems to me a dead-end. I have read through the record of deliberations after the June 1967 war at the United Nations, and it seems to me that many of the States assembled made a good faith effort to find a just and reasonable solution (see pp. 203-221 of Knowing Too Much). The framework laid out in UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) eventually metamorphosed into the two-state formula for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. Instead of conjuring new notions of justice, I think it makes more sense—and here, I agree with Gandhi—to try to get people to act onexistent notions of right and wrong. Ending the occupation and finding a “just solution” to the refugee question would, in my opinion, significantly ameliorate the wretched conditions of Palestinians, and would not preclude working for a yet more just future. To realize these goals would be ascending one rung on Jacob’s Ladder, which—like ending Jim Crow in the American South, and Apartheid in South Africa—would be both a historic victory and an insignificant one in the eternal struggle (“every rung goes higher and higher”) for human emancipation.

Weiss: Norman, I think you are playing some word games here. While I recognize the wisdom in the warning Wilson’s advisers gave him, when I speak of self-determination I am speaking of a Palestinian national community that is now well defined, albeit with the trans-geographical wrinkle of the Palestinian exile community, which asserts a role here.

And when I honor Palestinian self-determination, what I’m saying is that my sense of that Palestinian community is that, They don’t believe in the two-state solution anymore, and why should they? I have a dear friend in East Jerusalem. He had some hope in statehood. Now he feels deceived. I defer to his feeling. My friend doesn’t like Salafis, and neither do I; and in fact when Egypt emerges into democracy and is freed from meddling from the West, or freer from it, I think Salafi influence will diminish. As a progressive, I believe that some of these traditional and intolerant trends in the Arab world we can influence best by getting out of their business. And that in fact Zionism with its Jewish nationalist ideology has fed Islamic ideologies. As the U.S. helped to foster Iranian Islamism by depriving the people there of democracy…

But let’s get to the central question here: As you say, there are now two national identities attached to the same land. This has always been the problem. Though I never had any truck with the Zionist claim, they did create an Israeli people. I’m reading Amos Oz right now—Israeli through and through. And these competing and irreconcilable identities/narratives/claims are now the intractable problem that poses such a huge risk. It seems that more violence is inevitable, we want to forestall it. You want to do so by imposing a solution that I don’t believe Palestinians seek any more. Let alone Israelis. Because it is as you say the consensus of the world. And that is true, though a decrepit consensus.

And when I say the two-state solution wasn’t that fair to begin with, I’m saying, I don’t think such an imposed solution can last. It doesn’t seem very fair to me as an outsider. It involves a 25-mile tunnel underground between West Bank and Gaza. Oh my god…Who would like that?

I find the two state paradigm both ineffective—it didn’t stop expansion one bit and led Palestinians to hope for a nation that was never delivered, even as countless other peoples got nations—lately Kosovo, South Sudan, East Timor—and not especially appealing. That tunnel! And today Ali Abunimah’s historical model—It’s South Africa, and world pressure will force it ultimately to change its character—is more reasonable and persuasive than Daniel Kurtzer’s/J Street’s Save the two-state solution. I think that’s the way things are more likely to work out in a peaceful manner.

(The other historical model I find compelling is Fawaz Gerges saying in the Nation some time back that Israel is like a Crusader state, it will die away in 100 years.)

But truthfully, I find a lot of this sort of argument abstract and even somewhat meaningless. Do I have any power to effect the outcome? I doubt it. I would have been an Oslo liberal if I’d paid any attention during the 90s; and Oslo had no effect, I believe, because both Israelis and Palestinians didn’t really want that. And given my absence of power over the Israelis and the Palestinians and their sense of competing peoplehoods, I think of the communities over which I have some influence, because they’re actually mine: I’m an American, a Jew and a citizen of the world. All these communities I hope to move toward recognition of Israeli apartheid and act out of that knowledge.

The other night Jeremy Ben-Ami of J St said that the next chapter of the struggle is that the world endorses one man/one vote between the river and the sea. I think he is right about this, and though he sees this as a fearful prospect, I say as a world citizen that it will be a good thing. That gives me an important imaginative task. I want to unconvince American Jews of their Zionism, and explain to them that it is the kind of separatism that blacks once sought under Marcus Garvey. I want American Jews to embrace for Israel the sort of status we have here. I will undertake this task as a left wing progressive. I reflect that the U.S. has changed enormously since 1967 in countless areas of culture and human and civil rights. Gays, feminists, blacks– I don’t need to tell you. Now US births are majority minority, and we have a minority president.

And during the very same period, Israel, as a direct consequence of Zionist ideology and occupation—and a warrior state isolation and dependency on western powers, the political conditions Hannah Arendt anticipated 70 years ago—has gone down a wholly different cultural/social path. Toward greater racism and intolerance.

If American Jews understood all this, and honestly espoused for Israel the type of society/polity they seek in the U.S., Israel would transform itself.

Finkelstein: I do not think practical obstacles constitute the root of our difference. A cosmopolitan like yourself couldn’t possibly believe that a 25-mile-long tunnel (I am not sure from whence you get tunnel: most experts speak of a highway) is such an insuperable obstacle: doesn’t the typical New Yorker commute at least 1.5 hours to and from work each day? The heart of our difference is time frames. You seem at ease gesturing to a solution that might take a “hundred years.” It’s easy enough to prognosticate in terms of centuries if you live among the creature comforts here, and not amid the abject misery there. South Africa began implementing Apartheid in 1948, and the U.N. General Assembly passed its first resolution condemning Apartheid in 1961. It then took some thirty more years and a vastly different world before Apartheid was dismantled. The Soviet Union, a critical backer of the ANC, was gone, while the Civil Rights Movement had transformed the cultural landscape of the U.S., without redistributing wealth—all of which meant that privileged South African whites realized by 1990, rightly, as it turned out, that they had much less to fear than hitherto imagined from Black empowerment.

You euphorically herald on your web site every inch closer Israel itself draws to a full-fledged Apartheid state. I might also note that you often, misleadingly, conflate predictions by, say, Shulman in the NYRB, that Israel will become an Apartheid state if…  with an acknowledgement that Israel proper has already become an Apartheid state, which is something quite different. In this regard you resemble your political bedfellow, Omar Barghouti, who proclaims that a 40 percent vote at a Park Slope coop in favor, not of boycotting Israeli products, but of holding a referendum to decide whether or not to boycott Israeli products,signifies that 40 percent “voted for BDS.” (See The Nation, 3 May 2012. DoNation fact-checkers give BDS a free pass?) What’s more, Barghouti explicitly and emphatically equates BDS with, at a “minimum,” full implementation of the Palestinian right of return (see his book BDS: The global struggle for Palestinian rights). So, if 40 percent of these coop members “voted for BDS,” and if support for BDS signals support for full implementation of the Palestinian right of return, then it must mean, and Barghouti must be saying, that 40 percent of these coop members in the heart of a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York support the return of 6.6 million Palestinian refugees to Israel. Whenever I come across hyperbolic nonsense like this, it brings to mind the sage exhortation of African revolutionary Amilcar Cabral: Tell no lies, claim no easy victories.

Now, returning to the main point, I do not see why it’s so terrific if Israel becomes a full-fledged Apartheid state “from the river to the sea.” You seem to believe that it will cast a bright light on the ghastly reality—as if Israel’s brutal military occupation of the West Bank and open-air prison in Gaza weren’t enough of a ghastly reality!—and thereby hasten a solution along the lines of South Africa. But if Israel was able to evade the international consensus favoring a two-state settlement for the past 40 years, why won’t it be able to evade a one-state settlement for an even longer time? Indeed, the reality of Israel’s existence is so deeply entrenched in the international system that it’s just as likely that Israel’s absorption of the occupied Palestinian territories will lead to calls for a new partition. Has the Balkans experience in the 1990s already vanished from memory? Ironically, such a new partition would probably be some version of Avigdor Lieberman’s plan: annexation of the Jewish settlements to Israel, and detachment of predominantly Arab areas from Israel. As the Chinese proverb goes, Be careful what you wish for.

Weiss: You are right to say that I embrace any statement by anyone that it’s either apartheid or about to be apartheid in the West Bank, and conflate the two. I do so from a moral impulse: I need to bear witness to what I have seen in the West Bank. It’s horrifying. The legal separation, the separate roadways, the two classes of resident, one that can vote and one that can’t, one that can travel freely and one that can’t, and all on a racial basis—this is apartheid. Apartheid on steroids, as Stephen Robert wrote in the Nation lately. Yes, some statements have been prospective and I probably pushed them. But David Shulman’s statement was not. He writes:

“At the moment, this single state, seen as a whole, fits Beinart’s term—a coercive ‘ethnocracy.’ Those who recoil at the term ‘apartheid’ are invited to offer a better one.”

Norman, I urge you not to put yourself in the position of extenuating the conditions on the West Bank.

Do I sound gleeful or overbearing? I agree that’s a problem. But I see a duty in bringing Americans the news. I should work on my tone; you know that I want to reach Jews. I think that’s where the power is over this question. But let me get to the heart of our difference, not the practical—and no I don’t see any virtue in a 25 mile tunnel, as Bernard Avishai promoted the connection, I think it’s an environmental, emotional disaster—but the conceptual.

As you say, and I love this statement, the destruction of apartheid over many years was achieved because of cultural changes in the U.S. We respect minority rights. We have seen the hearts of homophobes and sexists and racists transformed by social change. And this is all that I as an idealist prescribe for Israel. Because it has sealed itself off from these larger changes in the formaldehyde of Marcus Garveyism—Jewish separatism—and embattled militarism (all those wars that you playfully titled Atilla the Hun and the like, when we were on the bus in Gaza), it becomes an uglier place all the while. And meantime the Arab Spring has electrified young Arabs with the idea that they will get to choose their leaders. Palestinians want that right. I think American Jews could fairly quickly convince Israelis to embrace one man one vote too if we only were honest to ourselves, and spoke up about the kind of polity we actually love: one in which a minority has rights, and Jews can aspire to run things. I believe you are in denial of the psychic reality of Israel, the world they have made. Lia Tarachansky reporting on Jerusalem Day:

“Every year tens of thousands of right wing Israelis celebrate the occupation of East Jerusalem 45 years ago. This year the celebrators marched through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter chanting ‘Muhammed is Dead’ and celebrating a 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinians in Hebron.”

And you’re worried about Salafists? We must clean up our house first. I wonder if in your heart you actually believe a core idea of Zionism, that Jews need sovereignty in their own land. That Jews are unsafe in the west, and we should have our own country. Myself I don’t believe these things. And more, I believe the existence of a Jewish state is causing endless turmoil in the Middle East.

As an American who was indifferent through Oslo, I was willing to accept Partition. I don’t actually think it’s my business if some foreign country is Jewish, Catholic or Muslim, though they all ought all to guarantee minority rights. But inasmuch as the peace process has failed again and again and the Israel lobby has caused Obama to capitulate, I understand that young Palestinians have turned their back on that road; and if my community is being polled, I’m going to stand up for what I believe in, multicultural democracy.

I’m sincerely asking you what you—who writes God “G-d” and whose beloved mother somehow survived the Warsaw ghetto and a German concentration camp—believe in. I think you’re imprisoned by old paradigms and not siding with the human dreamers. John Brown believed so firmly in human equality that he had blacks eating at his table when no abolitionist did so. He did not care what anyone thought on this score; and his dream had tremendous consequences. The Egyptian revolution was the most exciting public event of my adult life. If you and I had been having a dialogue about Egypt even two years ago, neither of us would have predicted anything like it. But young visionary Arabs toppled a system by not believing in its powers. And they communicated that lack of belief to people who for generations had been fearful of a tyrannical government. The triumph of the revolutiona

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Palestinian families forced to demolish their own homes

Jun 05, 2012

Today in Palestine

NABLUS, June 5, 2012 (WAFA) – The Israeli authorities Tuesday forced four Palestinian families to demolish with their own hands their homes in Wadi al-Maleh area in the northern part of the occupied Jordan Valley as a prelude to evacuate the area from its Palestinian residents, according to a local activist. Aref Daraghme, head of Wadi al-Maleh village council, said the Israeli authorities gave the families, which live in one area of the village, 24 hours to leave their homes and move somewhere else. However, Israeli army units arrived at the area before the expiry of the warning period and forced the families to demolish their homes with their own hands. He said the Israeli authorities had previously demolished a large number of Palestinian houses in the same area and prevented residents from working on their land. All of this is done for the benefit of illegal settlements in the Jordan valley, he said.

OCHA: Israel displaced more than 60 Palestinians last week
The UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA) said Israel displaced more than 60 Palestinians during one week after demolishing their homes in West Bank areas.
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A deteriorating situation in the Jordan Valley: a family evicted without official orders
On 20 April 2012, the Zamel family living in the village of Ein El-Hilweh in the Jordan Valley were forcibly removed from their home. The family were forced to dismantle their own tents, despite no official demolishing order presented to them by the Israeli army. Ein El-Hilweh, as is over 90 percent of the Jordan Valley, is located in Area C which means that the area is under full military and civil control by the Israeli occupation authority. To enter or leave this area from and to the West Bank one has to pass through one of the four Israeli checkpoints in the Jordan Valley. The Zamel family have lived in the Ein El-Hilweh village for hundreds of years. They travel twice a year within the same area, and have currently has set up their tents at their summer location, a place very close to the water spring that is forbidden for Palestinians to use. In the winter they move 400 meters further away to Be’our, a place on a hilltop.
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Israel approved more than 4,300 new illegal settlement units last month
MEMO 4 June — The monthly report issued by the PLO’s Department of International Relations has revealed that Israel approved the construction of more than 4,300 new illegal settlement units in May. “A people under occupation” also gives details of Israeli violations against the Palestinian people and their property, which are ongoing.
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Settlers ‘expanding illegal outpost’ near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers on Tuesday annexed privately-owned Palestinian land to expand an illegal outpost south of Hebron, a local official said. Coordinator of the committee against settlements Ratib al-Jubour said in a statement that settlers from Avigayil outpost were digging up land belonging to the Jabarin and Muhammad families in Masafer Yatta, an area at the southern tip of the West Bank.
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Protesting the right to live on stolen land: Israeli settlers begin protest march to Jerusalem
Hundreds of young settlers began marching from a West Bank outpost to Jerusalem on Monday to protest against plans to raze five homes built on private Palestinian land.
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Minister warns that legitimising settlements will lead to international isolation of Israel
Israel’s Minister of Public Works, Michael Eitan, has warned his government that the consequence of legitimising settlements on private Palestinian land will be the “isolation of Israel internationally”. Eitan’s comments came after the Chairman of the Board of Settlements in the occupied West Bank, Danny Dayan, said that it has become necessary to enact a special law which legitimises such currently illegal settlement “outposts”.
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“What Israel destroys, we rebuild”: villagers determined to remain in South Hebron Hills, Lydia James
Residents of the isolated village al-Mufaqarah struggle to remain on their land and expose their plight despite Israel’s attempts to isolate them.
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Stop the bulldozers, Act now: end JCB’s complicity in Israel’s destruction of Palestinian communities, Adri Nieuwhof
British charity War on Want has launched the Stop the Bulldozers-campaign aiming to end British firm JCB’s complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.
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Israeli airstrikes destroy dairy factory for the fourth time in three years, Alex Kane
Four times. That’s how many occasions Abu Haroun Dalloul has witnessed his dairy factory in the Gaza Strip pulverized by Israeli bombs. The latest attack came last night as part of a wave of Israeli air raids on Gaza over the weekend that injured 13 Palestinians and killed two.
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Israeli maneuvers in Jordan Valley cut water supplies to nearby village
Villagers in Ein Shibli village in central Jordan Valley have complained that maneuvers conducted by the IOF at the slopes of nearby mountains had cut off water supplies to their homes.
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Occupation continues to close Nabi Saleh village for the fourth day
Occupation forces continued to impose a tight security cordon on the village of Nabi Saleh northwest of Ramallah for the fourth consecutive day, since last Friday morning.
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Committee of refugees demands Arab position against US congress scheme
The higher committee for the Palestinian refugee’s right to return called for developing a unified Arab position against the US congress’s attempt to liquidate the cause of Palestinian refugees.
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The Palestinian residents of Baddawi refugee camp in northern Lebanon are increasingly being caught in the crossfire, sparking fears that the camp could be drawn into the sectarian fighting taking place in Tripoli.
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Palestinian town on Green Line bears scars of history
BARTAA, Palestinian Territories, June 5, 2012 (AFP) – “The Green Line? Here it is!” jokes Yussef Kabha, drawing an imaginary line through the main street in Bartaa’s souk, between a shop selling sequined dresses and a dried fruit stall. The fabled Green Line is the de facto boundary laid down in the 1949 armistice agreement which ended the war that broke out when Israel declared its independence a year earlier. A constant point of reference within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Green Line — which gets its name from the green pen used to trace its route — is mentioned in every international peace plan since 1993, and is considered by the Palestinians as the starting point for peace talks, with negotiators referring to it as “the pre-1967 lines.”
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Palestinians mark Naksa Day
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hundreds of Palestinians on Tuesday rallied in Gaza City to mark the anniversary of a 1967 Mideast war in which Israel defeated five Arab armies and seized the occupied territories. Palestinians mark the Naksa, or 1967 setback, each year on June 5 with large rallies across the occupied territories. Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the war.
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Medics: 9 hurt at Naksa day rally
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Nine Palestinians were injured Tuesday as Palestinians rallied near the Ofer prison to mark the 45th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, medics said. In East Jerusalem, protesters marched down Nablus street while hundreds rallied in the Gaza Strip as the Naksa day events got underway. The Naksa, meaning “setback,” is marked every year on June 6.
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Hebron: gathering to commemorate Naksa Day
On June 5, 2012, Palestinians will gather in the streets of Al Khalil (Hebron) to memorialize Naksa Day. Naksa Day marks the 45th year of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli forces, as a result of the 1967 war, leading to the displacement of thousands of Palestinians. The demonstration is planned to commence in H1 territory (Palestinian Authority controlled area) of Al Khalil near the municipality buildings. After gathering, the procession will march towards H2 territory of Al Khalil (Israeli military control). Upon reaching the territories they will attempt to enter and carry out a peaceful demonstration. It is predictable that that the protesters will not step foot into H2 territory without being confronted by the Israeli military. It is also predictable that they will not be deterred by the soldiers and their M-16s. As is the case for peaceful protesters in the occupied West Bank, they will continue to march despite the grave risk of military violence, to demonstrate the injustice Palestinians have faced since the illegal annexation of their land by Israel.
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Naksa: When the Tanks Came Rolling in, Mazin Qumsiyeh
It seems like yesterday that we watched Israeli tanks rolling down the hills towards our sleepy town of Beit Sahour 45 years ago today.  As a child it was the most frightening sight.  The second stage of the Zionist expansion on the land of Palestine unleashed terror that our generation had not experienced but my parents’ generation had during eth Nakba when between January 1948 and the end of 1949, some 530 villages and towns were ethnically cleansed.
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Siege on Gaza / Flotillas

On World Environment Day: Al Mezan Warns of Critical Environmental Situation in Gaza Strip
Tuesday 5 June 2012 marks World Environment Day. It is an important occasion on which to assert the importance of respect for all peoples’ environmental rights. International human rights conventions emphasize the close relationship between the environment and the individual’s enjoyment of basic rights. Realization of environmental rights is a key factor in people’s lives and welfare. This year, World Environment Day is being observed with the slogan “green economy,” emphasize the vital role of the environment in achieving development and preserving natural resources against exhaustion and pollution.
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Gaza energy authority slams Egypt for not allowing in Qatar fuel aid
The Palestinian authority of energy and natural resources in Gaza deplored the Egyptian authorities for persistently delaying the delivery of the Qatari fuel aid to the Gaza Strip.
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Gaza’s natural gas, the unreachable treasure
Under Gaza’s glittering waters of the Mediterranean, a strategic gas reservoir that is capable of ending the crippling power crisis in this Palestinian enclave has been lying out of commission since it was discovered 12 years ago. Now, electricity outage in Gaza is suffered up to 12 hours per day, as the only power plant lacks enough diesel to run its turbines. Cars stop in long queues for hours at petrol stations, hospitals warning that fuel for generators is running up and cooking gas suffers sporadic shortages.
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A Long Forgotten Memory, Gaza
Last month, Gaza exported the first truckload of clothes in 5 years to the United Kingdom (UK) as part of a pilot project funded with British aid to rebuild a clothing factory that was forced to shut down in 2007 after the beginning of the blockade. Sadi Mustafa Abu Shaqfa, a tailor by profession living in Al Shaati Camp, remembers a time when he provided work for others at his sewing workshop while making good profits.
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Turkey Presses Case Against Israeli Officers in Raid on Ship
An Istanbul court ordered that Israel be formally notified of the charges against four former Israeli military commanders over a 2010 raid on a Turkish ship headed for Gaza.
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Court postpones Zoabi flotilla petition decision
Decision on Zoabi’s petition, decrying Knesset sanctions imposed for her participation in Gaza flotilla, postponed.
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Father of son killed by Israelis on Gaza flotilla calls for justice
Ahmet Dogan (fourth from right) visited the Islamic University of Gaza, where a memorial and scholarships in Furkan’s name are among the tributes to his son The father of the young man killed in the attack on the Mavi Marmara flotilla two years ago, recently visited Gaza with Al Fakhoora officials describing his experience as “intensely emotional” and expressing his gratitude for the support shown by the people there. Ahmet Togan, whose son Furkan was killed by Israeli forces aboard the flotilla, spoke to Gulf Times following his visit, explaining that he is still campaigning for justice for his son and arguing that the US government has not done enough to support Furkan’s case, despite his US citizenship.
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Gaza remembers the ‘Mavi Marmara’, Talgha Bendie
The 31st of May 2012 marked the second anniversary of the Mavi Marmara attack in which nine Turkish activists were killed and many more injured when they attempted to sail to Gaza in order to break the illegal Israeli siege. The Mavi Marmara, which was part of an international freedom flotilla, was raided by Israeli military force commandos in international waters when they came under attack. The result was: nine martyrs, many injured and one person who is still in a coma due to traumatic brain damage.
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Israeli Violence & Aggression

Series of Israeli raids injure seven in Gaza including 5-month-old infant
A series of Israeli aerial raids on various areas of the Gaza Strip at dawn Sunday inflicted seven casualties in one building in Nuseirat refugee camp, medical sources said.
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Israeli soldiers fire at Jerusalemite demo
Israeli occupation troops fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters at a group of Jerusalemites near Abu Dis town in a bid to disperse their demonstration on Monday night.
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Palestinians treated for gas inhalation in Ofer
A number of Palestinian young men were treated for gas inhalation in front of the Israeli prison Ofer near Ramallah on Tuesday, local sources said.
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Palestinians’ cars vandalised in mass settler attack
Saturdays are frequently punctuated by violence in Silwan, with Israeli settlers invoking an ugly interpretation of the holy Jewish shabbat to wage violence on local Palestinians and their property. On Saturday 2 June, a band of religious settlers numbering in their dozens on their way to Ein Silwan vandalised several vehicles belonging to Palestinian residents, causing serious damage such as destroyed tires and wrecked paint jobs. Kamel al-Banna, one of the owners of the attacked vehicles, stated that despite pressing charges against the offenders, whose attack was caught both caught on tape and witnessed by settler security guards, police closed the file. Many Palestinians of Silwan have come to dread Saturdays as large numbers of settlers and right-wing Israelis enter the neighborhood, verbally and physically harassing locals. Police turn a blind eye to such disruptions, whilst Palestinian youth are frequently targeted for minor demeanors and false charges. Some two weeks prior, Israeli Police tried to arrest a  Palestinian after Israeli settlers attacked the Ein Silwan mosque.
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Wounded Youth Moved To Jordan For Treatment
Consultant to the legal unit established by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to follow up Israeli violations of Palestinians rights, Naela Attiyeh, reported that resident Najeh as-Safadi has been transferred to Jordan to continue his treatment after forty centimeters of his intestine was removed due a gunshot wound, in addition to several health complications.
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Ta’ayush video: Settler attacks B’Tselem field researcher while soldiers watch, 2012
On 21 May 2012, settlers attacked a group of Palestinian farmers harvesting on their land near the Mitzpe Yair outpost. One settler lifted a sickle from the ground and brandished it threateningly at B’Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj’ah, who was present, then grabbed Nawaj’ah’s camera and smashed it. The soldiers standing nearby did nothing to prevent the attack. B’Tselem submitted a complaint to the Judea and Samaria district police.

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Detainees / Prisoner NewsPrisoner society: The IOF kidnapped 15 patients from Al-Khalil last month
The Palestinian prisoner society said the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped last May more than 100 Palestinian citizens, including 15 patients, from Al-Khalil city.
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The occupation deprives 18 detained students from completing their studies
Eighteen students, from Beit Ommar town in Al-Khalil, were deprived from sitting for their final examinations, after being arrested by the IOF.
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IOF kidnap five Palestinians in Al-Khalil and Tubas
Israeli occupation forces kidnapped at dawn Tuesday four Palestinian citizens from Al-Khalil city and one from Tubas city, while one citizen was wounded during violent raids in Halhoul town.
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Silwan youths’ detention extended by 5 days
The Israeli courts have extended the detention of three young residents of Silwan by a further 5 days, following their arrest one week ago on secret charges. Muhannad al-Kawasmi (18), Ahmad Basboos (20) and Alaa al-Kaimari (20) will appear before the court next Thursday, 7 June. It is expected that state prosecution will request another extension of their detention.

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IOF soldiers arrest journalist few days before his wedding
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested Palestinian journalist Sharif Al-Rejoub from his home in Dura town, south of Al-Khalil, only few days before his wedding.
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Abbas’ security apparatus continues its political arrests campaign
PA security apparatus arrested two brothers from Hamas supporters, from Tubas town in the West Bank, one of them suffering from a serious health condition.
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Report: PA authority arrest 40 Hamas supporters during May
PIC 3 May — Hamas’s information office issued its monthly report documenting the breaches of the PA in Ramallah. The report confirmed that the PA security services carried out an arrest campaign against the supporters and cadres of Hamas, where they arrested 40 citizens during May, most of them are liberated detainees, academics, university students, and activists in solidarity with striking prisoners.
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Hunger striker in PA jail taken to hospital
Abdullah Al-Aker was transferred to hospital on Saturday night after his health deteriorated following nine days of hunger strike in Palestinian Authority jails in Nablus.
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Barhoum: Political detention does not serve the national reconciliation
The official spokesman for Hamas, Fawzi Barhoum, held the PA responsible for the life of Abdullah Aker, a political prisoner in PA’s aljunied prison, regarding his deteriorating health.
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Mahmoud a-Sarsak, imprisoned in Israel for about 3 years, has been on a hunger strike for some 80 days and in danger of death
Mahmoud a-Sarsak, age 25, a resident of the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, has been imprisoned by Israel for the last three years under the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law of 2002. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel report that a-Sarsak, who has been on a hunger strike for some 80 days, has lost a great deal of weight and that his life is in imminent danger. The Israel Security Agency (ISA) did not permit a-Sarsak to be checked by independent physicians, and so PHR-Israel petitioned the court to allow one of its physicians to examine him. The petition was heard on 30 May 2012 in the Central District Court in Petakh Tikvah, and Judge Abraham Tal ruled that the ISA must set a date for the examination. Yesterday, the ISA notified the organization that the examination would take place tomorrow, 6 June 2012.
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Video: Palestine footballer Mahmoud Sarsak’s mother speaks out as jailed son’s condition grows desperate, Ali Abunimah
As his condition grows ever more desperate, the mother of jailed, hunger-striking Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak has appealed for his release and safe return home.
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‘Don’t wait until we’re in body bags’: Two Palestinian hunger strikers’ “final distress call”, Ali Abunimah
“There is still enough time and the support that comes late is better than that which does not come at all. It is better that you receive us alive and victorious rather than as lifeless bodies in black bags.”
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Israel detention ends Gaza footballer’s dream, Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA: Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Al-Sarsak left the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2009 to play football in the West Bank. But he never reached his goal. He was arrested by Israeli security and, after three years of detention without trial, Sarsak is on hunger strike. His current term of detention term ends on August 22 but there is no guarantee that it will not be renewed for a further six months, as it has been before, his family and lawyer said. “The entire family and friends are afraid for Mahmoud’s life and the worry is killing us,” said Sarsak’s older brother, Emad. The 25-year-old is in an Israeli jail on secret charges that he is an “unlawful combatant” linked to the militant group Islamic Jihad, an allegation he denies.
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The Palestinian female prisoners’ dean Lena Jerboni has been recently transferred to Meir hospital following the deterioration of her health, the Palestinian prisoners’ center revealed.
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Detainee Suffering Serious Illness, Requires Urgent Care
Political Prisoner Amer Bahar, from Abu Dis near occupied East Jerusalem, is reportedly suffering from a serious illness that requires care beyond the provisions of a prison clinic. Bahr was visited by the head of the legal unit of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), lawyer Jawad Boulos, who confirmed that the PPS will be appealing for an early release.
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Prisoner Held in Administraive Detentin for Two Years Continues Strike
RAMALLAH, June 5, 2012 (WAFA) – A Palestinian prisoner arrested in Israel in 2010 has been on hunger strike for 15 days to protest his administrative detention since his arrest, Jawad Boulus, an attorney for the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC), said on Tuesday. He said Samer al-Baraq, from the village of Jayyous, near Qalqilia, has been on hunger strike since May 22, less than 10 days after more than 2000 prisoners have called off their month-long hunger strike, to protest his detention for around two years without charge or trail. Baraq, who lived in Pakistan until 2003, returned to Jordan and was arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned for five years. After his release in 2008, he worked in Jordan as a teacher until he was rearrested in 2010 for 77 days. He was turned over to Israel where he was detained for no clear charges. Baraq was assured by leaders of the striking prisoners that he will be released soon, however his administrative detention order was renewed for another three months forcing Baraq to resume his strike.
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Occupation returns the detainee Salatna to administrative detention
Tadamun Foundation for Human Rights stated that the Israeli occupation authorities has turned, on Monday, a detainee, from Jaba village, to administrative detention after the end of his sentence.
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Israel renews administrative detention of deal-broker
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — An Israeli military court on Sunday renewed the administrative detention of a prisoners representative who helped broker last month’s deal to improve detainees’ conditions. Ofer court extended the detention without charge of Sheikh Bassam al-Saadi, an Islamic Jihad leader from West Bank city Jenin, for a further six months, Prisoners Society lawyer Jawad Boulos said. Al-Saadi played an important role in reaching the deal with Israeli prison authorities to end a mass hunger strike in exchange for detainees’ demands, society chief Qadura Fares said. He attended the signing of the agreement in Ramle prison hospital on May 14.
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The Jordanian Authorities prevent ex-prisoner Nizar Tamimi from entering Jordan
The Jordanian authorities prevented ex-prisoner Nizar al-Tamimi, liberated under “Wafa-Ahrar” deal, from entering the Kingdom, to celebrate his wedding.
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An appeal to release administrative detainee Husam Harb
Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ Studies of and Human Rights appealed to international institutions and human rights organizations to intervene for the immediate release of Husam Harb.
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Israeli prison service disclaims any agreement on administrative detainees
The administrative detainees of Hamas, in Negev prison, said that the Israeli prison service leadership has denied any agreement on the administrative prisoners in the last agreement.
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An ex-prisoner’s engagement day turns into a funeral for his beloved moth, Shahd Abusalama
Samer Abu Seir’s mother passed away this morning. Samer was to get engaged this evening to make his mother happy before she died but destiny stood against his intentions.
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Detainee Halahla Released
Israel released Palestinian detainee Thaer Halahla, 32, ending his illegal Administrative Detention, without charges or trial, starting when he was kidnapped by the army on June 26, 2010.
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After 3 Years In Solitary, Sa’adat’s Wife Allowed To Visit Him

‘Abla Sa’adat, the wife of the detained Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was allowed to visit her husband Sunday, for the first time after three years of solitary confinement.
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TEL AVIV, 4 June 2012 (IRIN) – A hunger strike by about 1,550 Palestinians in Israeli prisons ended with an agreement on 14 May, in which Israel committed to meeting some of the prisoners’ demands in exchange for security guarantees. “If this agreement is implemented, it means a great victory for us and for human rights,” Aber Issa Zakarni, the wife of Abadallah Zakarni, an imprisoned member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Jenin, northern West Bank, told IRIN. “But I am also scared. In the end everything might just stay the same.” 

BDS / Solidarity / Activism

The student body of an American university has become the latest Western institution to back divestment from companies involved with the Israeli army. Arizona State University’s student union unanimously passed a bill demanding the university divest from and blacklist companies that continue to provide the Israeli army with weapons and militarized equipment. Among the companies that work with the Israeli army are Boeing, Motorola, United Technologies, Petrochina, Sinopec, and Alstom.
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Arab writers withdraw from U.S. book over publisher’s refusal to remove Israeli contributions
But, according to Inside Higher Ed, one of the anthology’s 29 authors said that she would withdraw her work from the anthology unless it excluded the work of two Israeli writers who were also asked to contribute to the anthology. When the publishers refused to exclude the Israelis, a total of 13 authors withdrew their work from the book — which would have left the book without any Arab contributors. This led the center to cancel the book’s publication.
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Finkelstein renews attack on BDS “cult,” calls Palestinians who pursue their rights “criminal”, Ali Abunimah
In an interview on Democracy Now, Norman Finkelstein renewed his attack on Palestinians and the BDS movement in strident terms. A response.
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Solidarity march with footballer on 82nd day of hunger strike

Dozens of people took part in a march in Gaza on Monday in solidarity with Mahmoud Sarsak, who has been on hunger strike in Israeli occupation jails for 82 days.
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LGBT activists protest NYC ‘Celebrate Israel’ parade, Adam Horowitz
LGBT activists protested at New York City’s “Celebrate Israel” parade today, objecting to Israel’s apartheid laws denying Palestinian human rights and its use of gay rights messaging to portray Israel as open and democratic. Signs reading “Support Palestinian Queers” and “Israel: Stop Pinkwashing Apartheid” dotted the sidelines of the Fifth Avenue parade. Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) organized the protest.
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New report: JCB complicit in Israel’s crimes against Palestinian people
War on Want – AIC – “War on Want is calling for people to contact JCB to raise concerns over its activities in Palestine, and to demand that the company ends its arms sales to Israel and takes steps to ensure its equipment is not used by Israel to commit war crimes against the Palestinian people”
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Steadfast Resistance
Below is an excerpt from the fifth trip report of the Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) delegation to Palestine/Israel. It was written by Lissie Perkal.
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A Failing Boycott Campaign?
The claim that BDS efforts are failing is a favorite of pro-Israel opponents of BDS. Just this past weekend, in reaction to Madonna performing her “peace concert” Israel, the Board of Deputies of British Jews claimed that comparisons with apartheid-era South Africa were “a specious and desperate effort by a failing boycott campaign.”
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Racism / Discrimination 

Israel asks Arab visitors to open emails to search
When Sandra Tamari arrived at Israel’s international airport, she received an unusual request: A security agent pushed a computer screen in front of her, connected to Gmail and told her to “log in.”
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Discrimination Against Arab Communities in Israel and Palestine, Stephen Lendman
An April joint Bimkom Planners for Planning Rights/Arab Center for Alternative Planning (ACAP) report titled “Outline Planning for Arab Localities in Israel” explains state-sponsored discriminatory injustice. Bimkom’s Cesar Yeudki called study findings “a recipe for further widening the gaps between population groups in Israeli society.” The report discussed Arab community planning for the first time. It reviewed 119 areas with about 950,000 residents. It compared variations in planning solutions for Arab and Jewish locations.
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Four hurt as Africans’ home torched in Jerusalem
Four African migrants were taken to an Israeli hospital with burns and smoke inhalation on Monday after a potentially deadly arson attempt on the Jerusalem building in which they were living, police said.

Shas to Sudanese: You’re ruining our dream
The Shas journal has officially joined the struggle against infiltrators led by party chairman Eli Yishai. The party’s journal, Yom LeYom recently published a public letter to the infiltrators containing “serious talk with the serious Sudanese, out of love and decency.” The bottom line: “You’re ruining our dream; it’s best if we go our separate ways.”
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Israeli Interior Minister on African immigrants: ‘Most of those people arriving here are Muslims who think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man’, Adam Horowitz
[Interior Minister Eli] Yishai, of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, told the newspaper Maariv on Friday he saw the African arrivals, many of whom are Muslims or Christians, as a demographic threat. “The infiltrators along with the Palestinians will quickly bring us to the end of the Zionist dream,” Yishai said, adding that Israel had its own health and welfare issues. “We don’t need to import more problems from Africa.” “Most of those people arriving here are Muslims who think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man,” Yishai said in the interview with Maariv.
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Egyptians foil infiltration attempt
Infiltration of 36 African migrants to Israel prevented due to coordination between IDF, Sinai security forces.
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Israel’s five-year war on African migrants
From building a new border fence to setting up the world’s largest detention facility for asylum seekers, Israel’s government has tried a number of different strategies designed to keep African migrants out.
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Ethiopian-Israeli Jews, mistaken for African migrant workers, feel racism’s pain
JERUSALEM (JTA) — When violent riots against African migrant workers erupted in south Tel Aviv recently, a mob attacked Hanania Wanda, a Jew of Ethiopian origin, mistaking him for a Sudanese migrant worker. “Wanda is my friend,” says Elias Inbram, a social activist in the Ethiopian community and a former member of the Israeli diplomatic corps who served as spokesman for the embassy in South Africa. “I knew I had to react somehow.”  He suddenly realized, says Inbram, 38, “that since to white people, all blacks look the same — I, an Israeli Jew who is black, or anyone in my family, or anyone in my community, could be attacked, too.” That moved him to stencil “CAUTION: I am not an infiltrator from Africa” onto a bright yellow T-shirt. He then drew in by hand, in the upper left corner, the unmistakable yellow “Jude” patch from the Nazi era.
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Israel: Milk & Honey – Not for Black Africans, Iqbal Jassat
The author of an important piece of critique ‘Jewishness of Israel fuels xenophobia’, Heidi-Jane Esakov, published in the Mail & Guardian (June 1 to 7, 2012) can expect to be blasted by an intolerant pro-Israeli lobby for daring to profile the Jewish state in a negative light. That Esakov is a Jewish South African who in her own words “grew up under apartheid” and is “shamed” by racism against black Africans in Israel is admirable and extremely courageous. This though will not be of any consequence for SA Zionists bent on spitting venom upon anyone crossing the line according to their narrow self-serving interest in defending Israel’s false image as a “democracy” with “full rights for all its citizens”. In fact as Esakov correctly argues, the links between the treatment of Israel’s own Palestinian citizens and the xenophobic attacks are stark! “Israeli Palestinians, despite being heralded as proof of Israel being a democracy, contend with about 40 discriminatory laws” asserts Esakov   in highlighting the naked reality of a colonial enclave far-removed from democracy!
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Developments and Other News

GENEVA, June 5, 2012 (WAFA) – The International Labor Organization (ILO) Monday blamed the Israeli occupation and absence of a peace process for the deteriorating situation of Palestinian workers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It said in its annual report submitted to the 101st Session of the International Labor Conference that the Israeli occupation and expansion of settlements lead to “a shrinking space for Palestinian development.” “The situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories is extremely worrying and remains precarious,” it said. “The peace process is at a standstill more than at any time since the Oslo Accords” of 1993, said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia in his preface to the report. He said evolving facts on the ground seriously diminish the scope for a negotiated two-state solution.
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Can Iran have some too? Israeli PM defends use of German-supplied subs
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that German-supplied submarines were “very important” for his country’s defence, after a media report that Israel was fitting the vessels with nuclear warheads.
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Advanced Homeland Security Training in Israel by Security Solutions International (SSI)
This new program is designed for seasoned Homeland Security professionals interested in advanced topics in Homeland Security while at the same time having the opportunity to visit Haifa, the Northern Border, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the Dead Sea.
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 ‘Netanyahu should be put on trial’
Hanin Zoabi says prime minister, senior IDF officials should be tried for oppressing Palestinians as court hears petition over partial revocation of Knesset privileges.
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Hamas and Fatah to Choose a New Prime Minister
Hamas and Fatah leaders are due to meet on Tuesday in order to discuss the selection of the prime minister of a united government stated a Fatah official on Monday.
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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A senior Fatah leader said Monday that comments by the Israeli defense minister, posing “unilateral action” if peace talks remain at a standstill, would have been welcomed if they formed part of a broader proposal to the Palestinian leadership. Ehud Barak told a security conference last week that Israel should “consider a provisional arrangement or even unilateral action” if negotiations remain deadlocked, understood as referencing Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank.
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Israeli humanitarians care more about animals than for Palestinians: 490 apartments approved near Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
Opponents fear for animals’ health, mental well-being.
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NYC alleged child molester ‘got away with it’ after fleeing to Israel
JERUSALEM — A bogus rabbi and self-proclaimed psychologist who fled New York as he was about to be arrested for abusing children was spotted walking near his Jerusalem home — and is now free from prosecution. Called the “Bin Laden of pedophiles” by one victim, Avrohom Mondrowitz fled his Brooklyn home just before cops broke in with a search warrant in 1984. Officers found a stash of child porn and lists of hundreds of names of local boys, most referred to Mondrowitz by Jewish families and child-service agencies for counseling and his yeshiva-style program. Victim Mark Weiss, who was sent to Mondrowitz at the age of 13, said, “He was known in the insular community as the go-to therapist, child mentor. He had a certain knack with kids.”
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Analysis / Op-ed

A monthly roundup of photographs documenting Palestine, Palestinian life, politics and culture, and international solidarity with Palestine.
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“There will be no Palestinian state” – Q&A with Palestine Papers whistleblower Ziyad Clot, Max Blumenthal 
Last month, thousands of Jewish Israelis celebrated Yom Yerushalayim, or Jerusalem Day. It was the 45th anniversary of what many Israelis consider the “reunification” of Jerusalem, an occasion for right-wing revelers to sing nationalistic songs, chant anti-Muslim slogans, and cheer for the mass murdering Jewish extremist Baruch Goldstein while marching triumphantly through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Today, Palestinians will observe Naksa Day, marking “the Setback” of 1967. It is the 45th anniversary of Israel’s ongoing military occupation, an ignominious date that inspires angry demonstrations across the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian refugee camps, and in cities around the world.
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Can rights be won in Israel’s courts?, Mazen Masri
Litigation on the part of the Palestinian minority in Israel and their rights requires the consideration of an especially complex situation.
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New Yorkers celebrate Israel as Gaza bombing continues
Thousands of Israel supporters waved blue and white flags as they marched up Fifth Avenue on Sunday for the annual Celebrate Israel parade, as the country’s military carried out a series of devastating bombings in Gaza. At least one person was injured as Israeli airplanes bombarded the besieged region, but in the US supporters backed the country.
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Netanyahu bats away Dershowitz’s suggestion of settlement freeze, Philip Weiss
Even Alan Dershowitz must be worried about Israel destroying itself. He calls for a partial settlement freeze to advance the peace process, in the Wall Street Journal, and says he discussed the idea with a high-ranking Israeli.
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Handala Will Age Again Soon, Jamil Sbitan
As a person who grew up in a diasporic Palestinian family, there have always been symbols around me that reminded me of Palestine. My grandparents’ homes are adorned with them; from framed pictures of gateways in Jerusalem’s Old City, to mini sculptures of the Dome of the Rock mosque, they are all remnants of their memory of an occupied homeland. Such symbols were all intelligible to me except for one relic that I could not comprehend at the time, as a teenager still educating myself on a long and convoluted history. This relic was an image of a boy with short spikes for hair, his hands crossed, with only his back visible; it was not necessarily a beautiful illustration, but his picture sprung up often.
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Salama Kayla: Ideology is Awareness
Last April Salama Kayla was detained and then deported by Syrian security forces. Al-Akhbar sat with the Palestinian Marxist and talked about the state of the Arab uprisings.
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Al Mayadeen Tv: New Kid on the Block
The new satellite news channel, launching June 11, is promising to be an independent and unbiased commentator.
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Bahrain activists recount abuse claims in retrial
A Bahraini defense lawyer says jailed activists challenging verdicts issued against them by a military-led tribunal recounted in court that they had been subjected to torture and beatings after their arrest.
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Bahrain says group follows violent Shi’ite cleric
DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahrain justified moves to ban a small Islamist group on Monday by saying a radical Shi’ite cleric based abroad was its spiritual leader, while the move was seen by some as a renewed warning to leading Shi’ite opposition party Wefaq. The U.S. ally has been in turmoil as democracy protesters from among the Arab state’s Shi’ite Muslim majority continue with protests and civil disobedience while the Sunni ruling Al Khalifa family rejects demands for an elected government.
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Bahrain: The Dragonfly’s Eye, Ahmed Kanna
Bahrain is a small country, and though the story of its own trials and troubles during the past year and a half is intrinsically valuable, it also tells a bigger story, about bigger countries. Small countries, distant provinces, and overlooked corners of empire—places on which metropolitan elites look with condescension, if they ever even bother to—often better reveal the truths of geopolitical power than is possible in the sheltered metropole. Take the example of the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia—part of the Chagos Archipelago—and its indigenous inhabitants, the Chagossians. Diego Garcia is like Bahrain a place most Americans have never heard of. Labeled a “Strategic Island” by British  and US Cold War planners, its population was expelled and transferred hundreds of miles away to Mauritius in the 1960s, their home appropriated for an American military base. As the anthropologists David Vine and Laura Jeffery have shown, this was, and continues to be, justified in US national security discourses by representing these islands as conveniently “sparsely populated.” Expulsion of Chagossians was not of great concern both because of the fact that their island was “strategic” and their population “measured only in the hundreds. The expulsions, which resulted in “abject poverty” and marginalization on Mauritius, were further legitimized by constructing Chagossians as  “transient contract workers with no connection to the islands.”
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Thousands of Egyptians began gathering Tuesday in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square ahead of a mass demonstration to protest against verdicts handed down in ex-dictator Hosni Mubarak’s murder trial. Hawkers selling tea, cakes or flags took up positions at the square in downtown Cairo, w

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Indictment: Border Guard officers robbed Arabs in Jerusalem

Internal Affairs Division says three armed, off-duty officers in uniform led Arabs to alley, stole their money


Israel Police’s Internal Affairs Division on Wednesday filed an indictment with the Jerusalem District Court against three Border Guard officers who are suspected of robbing Arabs.

The three were charged with conspiring to commit a crime, robbery and attempted robbery.

According to the indictment, about a week and a half ago the defendants, who are residents of Akko, Petah Tikva and Daliyat el-Carmel, left a Border Guard base and headed to central Jerusalem. The off-duty uniformed officers, who were carrying their weapons, allegedly grabbed an Arab man from behind and proceeded to question him on his place of residence. The man presented his identification card and a permit to stay in Israel.
The officers allegedly led the man to a nearby alley and ordered him to face the wall, empty his pockets and place his belongings and money on the ground. After sifting through the man’s belongings, the officers placed them back in his bag – but kept NIS 370 ($95) in cash for themselves.
The officers then ordered the Arab to leave without looking back or opening his bag, according to the charges.
In another incident mentioned in the indictment, the three officers approached three Arabs from east Jerusalem at a bus station, led them to an alley and robbed them of more than NIS 370.

The officers, according to the indictment, returned to the station and ordered two Arabs to get off a bus. The officers led the men to a nearby alley, and stole NIS 2,500 (about 640$) from them, according to the charges.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on ZIO-NAZI GESTAPO: FIRST THE LAND NOW THE MONEY

A. Loewenstein Onine Newsletter

Colluding with Israeli apartheid should affect your global image


Posted: 07 Jun 2012


The Independent reports:

The government will be challenged in parliament next week over the services provided in Israeli settlements within occupied Palestinian territory by the company chosen to run security for London 2012.

G4S, designated as “official provider of security and cash services for the Olympics,” also operates in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, seen by the UK – and nearly all other countries represented at the Games – as illegal in international law.

The prominent businessman and Labour peer Lord Hollick will table a written question on Monday asking ministers what steps they have taken to ensure that the UK-based company does not provide security services in illegal settlements in the West Bank. G4S, which bills itself the “world’s leading international security solutions group” has already taken on 10,400 new employees for the Olympics.

Terrorism won’t eat your babies quite yet


Posted: 07 Jun 2012



Today, the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) released its 2011 Report on Terrorism. The report offers the U.S. government’s best statistical analysis of terrorism trends through its Worldwide Incidents Tracking System (WITS), which compiles and vets open-source information about terrorism—defined by U.S. law as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”

Although I invite you to read the entire thirty-one page report, there are a few points worth highlighting that notably contrast with the conventional narrative of the terrorist threat:

  • “The total number of worldwide attacks in 2011, however, dropped by almost 12 percent from 2010 and nearly 29 percent from 2007.” (9)
  • “Attacks by AQ and its affiliates increased by 8 percent from 2010 to 2011. A significant increase in attacks by al-Shabaab, from 401 in 2010 to 544 in 2011, offset a sharp decline in attacks by al-Qa‘ida in Iraq (AQI) and a smaller decline in attacks by al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa‘ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).” (11)
  • “In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.” (14)
  • Of 978 terrorism-related kidnapping last year, only three hostages were private U.S. citizens, or .3 percent. A private citizen is defined as ‘any U.S. citizen not acting in an official capacity on behalf of the U.S. government.’ (13, 17)
  • Of the 13,288 people killed by terrorist attacks last year, seventeen were private U.S. citizens, or .1 percent. (17)

According to the report, the number of U.S. citizens who died in terrorist attacks increased by two between 2010 and 2011; overall, a comparable number of Americans are crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year. This is not to diminish the real—albeit shrinking—threat of terrorism, or to minimize the loss and suffering of the 13,000 killed and over 45,000 injured around the world. For Americans, however, it should emphasize that an irrational fear of terrorism is both unwarranted and a poor basis for public policy decisions.

Assange interviews cypherpunks


Posted: 06 Jun 2012


This week’s The World Tomorrow (previous episodes here) talks to three cypherpunks, individuals who challenge the ever-growing power of corporations to control the internet. Fascinating:


Blood on British hands; sending Tamils back to be tortured

Posted: 06 Jun 2012 07:07 PM PDT

These serious allegations are horrific. A government’s duty of care is paramount and yet in this case it seems that the desire for Britain (and indeed, Australia, who says very little about war crimes in Sri Lanka) to have a good relationship with Colombo is central. Also note the use of a private, chartered plane, akin to rendition, for doing the government’s dirty work. Good work by the Guardian:

The British government is forcibly deporting asylum seekers who are then tortured in Sri Lanka, according to the testimony of one victim who was left scarred and suicidal after a brutal two-week ordeal.

The victim told the Guardian he was tortured over the space of 17 days after being deported from the UK last year. His torturers accused him of passing on to British officials information about previous beatings at the hands of state officials and otherhuman rights abuses, to ruin diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The revelations come as Sri Lanka’s head of state, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is expected to have lunch with the Queen and other heads of Commonwealth states as part of jubilee celebrations on Wednesday. The coalition is coming under increasing pressure to revisit its policy, which suggests it is safe to return Tamils to Sri Lanka. Last week the high court halted the deportation of 40 people to the island at the last minute, citing human rights concerns.

In an in-depth interview, the former member of the rebel Tamil Tigers’ intelligence service said he was tortured after the Home Office deported him and two dozen other asylum seekers in June 2011. More than 70 UK border guards accompanied girls and men on the flight from Stansted airport last summer after a last-minute judicial review and his initial claim for asylum based on previous evidence of torture, were turned down by UK authorities, he said.

Speaking through a translator, the victim, who wants to be identified only as Hari for fear of further retribution by Sri Lankan authorities, said that six months after he was deported, security personnel arrested him and beat him with rods, put petrol-filled plastic bags over his face and hung him by his feet with a nylon rope. Hari’s back displays a welter of scars and the Guardian has seen medical reports supporting his claims.

Hari managed to bribe his jailers and escape back to the UK via Russia and is now filing a second claim for asylum. “I came here with a hope,” he said. “I believed that the UK authorities would consider my case reasonably but, regardless of all my history and the evidence, they sent me back and I had to suffer again.”

Last week, the UK government forcibly deported several other Sri Lankans, ignoring pleas from human rights organisations to halt flights in the face of mounting evidence that UK and European returnees have been tortured.

The Home Office has insisted it is safe to return Tamils to Sri Lanka after the end of a long civil war and quotes a European court ruling that “not all Tamil asylum seekers require protection”. However, officials are facing increasing pressure to change their policy.


When a representative from the British high commission waiting at Colombo airport went up to Hari and offered him his business card, the torture victim, now 32, says it gave him hope.

The official told him to get in contact if anything happened to him and that the card was a sign that he might live.

Hari had just disembarked from the worst flight of his life. On the plane, privately chartered by the UK Border Agency in June last year, were 24 Sri Lankans, 12 of whom were Tamils. All had failed in their claim to stay in the UK. Despite documentary evidence, seen by the Guardian, from the International Committee of the Red Cross, Hari was unable to demonstrate to the British government he had been tortured by Sri Lankan authorities in the late 1990s.

Watched over by more than 70 UK border security staff, men and women wept as the plane took off from Stansted.

“We were in a panic. We were expecting they would cancel the removal [flight] at the last minute and most of them were crying … I thought, this was the end of my life,” said Hari.

Disregarding the presence of British high commission officials, Sri Lanka‘s security services subjected Hari on arrival to lengthy questioning. Fearing for his life, he took off, fleeing to a relative’s home away from his family in Jaffna, in the north of the war-torn island.

For six months Hari hid with his aunt until he thought it was safe to return to his family but on the way to them on 10 December, he was stopped at a checkpoint and taken to the capital.

In what he described as a “torture hall” on the fourth floor of the criminal investigation department building in Colombo, Hari, who had already served time for being an intelligence agent for the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), was accused of campaigning and raising funds for the organisation while in the UK and also of undermining diplomatic relations by complaining to the UK government of the abuses he had previously suffered.

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Blowback in Egypt


US “democracy”-promoting efforts on trial

by Justin Raimondo
The trial of 43 employees of Western-backed “pro-democracy” groups in Egypt has been postponed until July, when government prosecution witnesses are scheduled to testify. The case attracted international attention when the authorities accused US- and European-backed groups of trying to overthrow the government. As Egyptian police raided the offices of several NGOs, and detained Sam La Hood – son of US labor secretary Ray La Hood – Egypt’s minister for international cooperation Fayza Abulnaga issued a dossier on their activities, which amounted, she said, to promoting “American and Israeli interests” and “preventing the emergence of Egypt as a democratic state.” The state-controlled Al-Ahram newspaper headlined the story: “American Funding Aims to Spread Anarchy in Egypt.”

While the move was popular in Egypt, where suspicions of US – and Israeli – covert activity runs high, in the US the Washington glitterati were in outrage mode: Hillary Clinton threatened to cut off the $1.5 billion in aid scheduled to be delivered to Cairo, and the pundits went wild with scorn: Thomas Friedman denounced the trial as a “witch hunt,” while Sen. John “Boots-on-the-ground” McCain gave vent to his “growing alarm and outrage.” The “civil society” crowd went bananas, naturally, since this is a bread-and-butter issue for them, being entirely dependent on Western governments and the generosity of George Soros. If taking government money is cause for suspicion and legal problems in countries like Egypt, their whole racket is over.

What their racket consists of is carrying out the foreign policy agendas of the US and its European allies under the guise of “promoting democracy.” It is, in short, a program of organized subversion, similar to that carried out by the old Soviet Union in the days of the Comintern. Back then, the Soviets were upfront about their commitment to “proletarian internationalism,” actively promoting “revolutionary” movements funded and directed from Moscow. Our own internationalism, albeit far from proletarian, is similar in its intent and hypocritical cant. An entire wing of the national security bureaucracy is centered around the mythology of America as the great promoter of “democracy” and “transparency,” with both political parties operating their own separate arms of an international apparatus which is nothing less – or more – than an instrument of US foreign policy.

Even the Egyptian employees of these “democracy promotion” projects were well aware of what sugar daddy Uncle Sam is up to: it turns out that they resigned en masse a few months before the raids. AP reports:

They complained that the US group, described as nonpartisan, had excluded the country’s most popular Islamist political organization from its programs, collected sensitive religious information about Egyptians when conducting polls to send to Washington, and ordered employees to erase all computer files and turn over all records for shipment abroad months before the raids.

“’Our resignation is a result of many different practices we have been witnessing that seem suspicious and unprofessional,’ the Egyptian employees wrote in their 17 October resignation letter.”

Among these practices was failing to report where the money was going, a legal requirement in Egypt (and the US, I might add). Dawlat Soulam, a former employee of the International Republican Institute (IRI), told AP:

Are we doing something we want to hide from the Egyptians? Are you playing a political agenda and you don’t want to show that you want to take sides?”

A pledge to post the information publicly went unfulfilled, in spite of “weekly meetings” at which the subject was discussed. The employees’ main complaint was that, contrary to their public pronouncements, US officials were taking sides in Egypt’s election, directly funding secular liberal parties and excluding the others, including the Islamists. I’m sure this was just an oversight, however, since we’re funding the most radical Islamists in Syria at this very moment. In any case, apparently the IRI’s Democratic counterpart, the National Democratic Institute, was making up for this shameless neglect by providing “training” to Muslim Brotherhood activists.

The idea that the US government is some sort of above-the-fray “democracy”-promoter, who therefore is obligated to ladle out millions in aid to all parties – including those that advocate, say, the imposition of Sharia law – is born of an empty-headed illusion shared by more than one native activist who looks to the US as a model for their own country. These people take seriously the propaganda points of US policymakers who insist their “democracy promotion” efforts are all about process rather than the pursuit of US foreign policy objectives – just as yesteryear’s idealistic Comintern agents sincerely believed in the Kremlin’s devotion to “proletarian internationalism.” When they discover otherwise, a whole generation of “the god that failed” ex-ideologues is born.

In reality, and in all cases, nation-states pursue their own interests, which are, first and foremost, thepolitical interests of those who rule. This is true in democracies as well as dictatorships, and it is thebasic premise of a realistic view of world politics, the starting point for all serious analyses of political actors, from the local to the international scene.

In the case of the Soviet Union, the Comintern was tasked with propagandizing for Russian national interests abroad, and it used the indigenous Communist parties and fellow-travelers to promote a geopolitical strategy that was primarily defensive. Saddled with enormous economic problems at home, and an increasingly restive subject population, Kremlin leaders avoided the Trotskyite strategy of pursuing “world revolution” in favor of building “socialism in one country” – i.e. working furiously to manage the inefficiencies of a socialist system and avoid complete collapse. Their efforts, as we know, ended in failure, as the economic and political disaster that had been awaiting them since 1917 finally worked out its inexorable logic and the Berlin Wall was toppled.

In the case of the United States, we have a rising hegemon instead of a fragile and ultimately untenable would-be imperialism, one with no military equivalent on the world stage – and clearly on the offensive. When the cold war ended, a dizzying triumphalism displaced any realistic sense of what America’s role in the world ought to be: instead of turning to solve its own mounting internal problems, the US government boosted its efforts to meddle in the internal affairs of other nations. The “democracy promotion” racket got a big shot in the arm with the infusion of billions in taxpayer dollars.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is an official US government agency that melds the “private” and the public: i.e. private interests get public money. Both political parties share in the loot, as do labor and big business, with the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce getting in on the gravy train. In addition, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) plays a key role in dispensing funds to favored groups abroad, acting in tandem with too many other obscure federal agencies to even list. Naturally, the well-connected “civil society” crowd is first in line for their fair share of government cheese: their task is to “train” aspiring young leaders who, once they attain power, can be relied on to do the bidding of their former patrons.

NED was originally conceived as a comfortably obscure niche for the neoconservatives in the Reagan administration, a place where they could indulge their cold war fantasies without exercising too much real influence and without attracting much notice. As is the case with all government programs, however, this one soon metastasized into an ever-growing bureaucratic empire, one which owed its political survival to serving the interests of all the major Washington players: both parties, big labor, and big business. With that kind of coalition behind it, NED’s budget and international reach grew by leaps and bounds.

In the post cold war world, NED, USAID, and those “non-governmental organizations” most willing to turn themselves into instruments of the State have spawned an international industry that is the civilian wing of Washington’s regime-change machine. This world-spanning apparatus is an essential element in our government’s foreign policy game plan: it exists to create an aura of legitimacy around our whatever military campaign is in progress. The goal is to continually push back the frontiers of the Empire, and the current focus is on the volatile Middle East.

Egypt is just one theater in a wider war. The long arm of Washington is evident in Syria, too, where our “democracy promotion” efforts have served as a cover for financing armed rebels, including groups openly claiming allegiance to Al Qaeda. Unlike in Egypt, where the US effort to destabilize the country is necessarily covert, the campaign for regime change in Syria is military in nature – and that’s where the Islamists, including Al Qaeda, come in handy. If Egyptians look at Syria and see the future, who can blame them for fearing and resenting Washington’s interference in their elections?

The National Endowment for Democracy is endowing America’s fat cats – big labor, big business, the party bosses – with billions in free money at a time when ordinary people are being thrown off food stamps and a government-created financial bubble is laying waste to the economy. It ought to be abolished forthwith.

The agency’s critics argue that it undermines rather than advances the democratic ideals we’re supposed to be promoting in the countries where it operates, but this misses the real point. The purpose of NED and other such efforts is not so much to legitimize these canned “revolutions” in the eyes of the natives, but to impress upon Americans and other Westerners the nobility of our favored political actors – and the unmitigated evil of anyone who fails to toe Washington’s line. When Americans read news reports quoting some NGO official’s opinion as received wisdom, they are duly impressed, especially when the group has the words “democracy” and/or “human rights” in its name.

The trial of the NGO officials in Cairo has been postponed, perhaps in order to give the Obama administration a final opportunity to make a deal with the Egyptians. Meanwhile, Washington is whining that the trial is “politically motivated” – because nothing they do is ever motivated bypolitical gain.

If a public trial ever takes place – which I doubt – it promises to be fascinating: testimony from the group of disillusioned ex-employees will give us valuable insights into the inner workings of America’s worldwide regime change project. While defenders of the NGO workers claim the trial is all part of a “crackdown” by the Egyptian military authorities, and the remnants of the Mubarak regime, I have my suspicions that it was the ex-employees who went to the authorities and reported “suspicious” (and illegal) activities on the part of their bosses.

Now that’s what I call “blowback” with a vengeance!

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Israeli soldiers use Palestinians to train army dogs, activist says

Report claims IDF troops order West Bank residents to exit cars and wait, as dogs seek training explosive devices; army spokesman: Soldiers conduct searches to increase Israelis’ safety.

ed note–imagine THIS being YOUR life…Foreign occupation soldiers (thugs) stopping your car at will, forcing you out at gunpoint while they conduct an ‘exercise’, all the while guns are pointed at you, your wife and kids.


Soldiers from an elite IDF canine unit have been confiscating Palestinian vehicles in order to train their explosive-detecting dogs, an activist monitoring the conduct of soldiers in checkpoints told Haaretz.

The unit in question is Oketz, directly subordinate to IDF command, and which, among other duties, trains dogs to locate weapons and explosives. Its training base is located in the Adam base west of Ramallah.

According to Tamar Fleischman, Oketz soldiers have been randomly stopping Palestinian vehicles in the last few weeks as they pass through the Jaba checkpoint, near the city of Ramallah.

The soldiers then reportedly order the passengers to exit and display their identification cards, with one soldier positioned with his weapon aimed at the Palestinians.

At that point, Fleischman said, a dog handler places an object inside the vehicle, which the dog is then sent to find, an receiving a treat upon its retrieval. The passengers then receive their IDs, and are allowed to return to the vehicle. The entire process usually takes around ten minutes.

Earlier this week, Fleischman reported that in one such session the dog was unable to locate the hidden object, prompting a soldier to crawl through the vehicle until it was found, with the passengers looking on as another soldier pointed his rifle at them.

According to Breaking the Silence, an NGO, which collects the testimonies of IDF soldiers serving in the occupied territories, the training of Oketz personnel and dogs using Palestinian vehicles has been performed in the past as well.

One testimony, given by a female dog handler, relates to the period from 2007 to 2009. She said that the soldiers were present at the checkpoints “only to train the dogs.”

“We hide something in the case…like a [rifle] magazine. In the unit we use something called a snapir [fin], a stainless steel canister holding explosives held in a net, that keeps material, but allows scent to filter out,” she said, adding that the container holds the blast in case it’s dropped, “so no one can get hurt.”

The past dog handler said that Oketz soldiers take the vessel with them “to the checkpoints, and hide it in Palestinian vehicles and then the dog looks for it…. The justification for the action is ‘deterrent,’ the passengers don’t know we’re really not inspecting the vehicle.”

“This happens all year, even if it’s raining outside,” she said.

According to testimonials, the training isn’t time-bound, with sessions sometimes lasting for an hour, sometime three.

In one instance, three of four dogs were loaded onto a pickup truck, and driven to a checkpoint near the Adam base. At the Na’alin checkpoint, used by both Israelis and Palestinians, soldiers would stop “every Arab passing by, even if his wife was giving birth.”

“Countless settlers pass through there, but you would never inspect those vehicles, she said, adding that the dog handlers made sure to ask the passengers to remove Korans and prayer rugs from the vehicles, as they they  would not be defiled by the dogs.

Speaking to Haaretz, Fleischman said that dog handlers have attempted to prevent her and other activists from filming the process from the other side of the checkpoint. In one instance, they did film, but the soldiers yelled out that they were being put at risk, adding that they had security clearance. They then stopped the training, and put the dog into a special cage, releasing him and resuming the session once Fleischman and the other activists walked away.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in response that “following the appeal, the issue will be thoroughly examined. As a rule, the IDF conducts inspections in West Bank checkpoints as part of its routine activity, in an attempt to ensure the safety of Israel’s citizens.”




20 Reasons to Get Angry for Palestinian Prisoners

Rafat Abushaban

“The Fifteen hundred Palestinian hunger strikers have won their fight and will be treated well in Israel’s prisons from now on”; that was the cry of the people after Israeli government declared via the Palestinian Authority that it will adhere to the demands of the prisoners on May 14th. What was not revealed then is that this government was not ready to comply with prisoners’ demands and as a result, many of these prisoners including Mahmoud Sorsok and Akram Rikhawi are still undergoing their hunger strikes up until now.

Prisoners demanded for their basic human rights out from Israeli Prisons Service through undertaking hunger strikes for weeks. As far as the prisoners are concerned, Egypt has reached an understanding with the Israeli government to take the demands of prisoners into consideration and improve the life standards for their daily lives in detention. Although some demands were partially fulfilled by the Prisons Service, the misery of Palestinian prisoners is still ongoing.

After the victory of Hana shalabi and Khader Adnan who were freed last February and April respectively after going in such strikes, the stakes are high to end the Israeli inhuman acts in prisons once and for all. At the very least, prisoners demanded that detention conditions return to what they was like 12 years ago before the second intifada broke out. Many leaders of the previous hunger strikes are now threatening to get back to disobedience.

So, why to get angry for the sake of these prisoners? 

1. Administrative detention as a strategy

Israel has adopted the administrative detention according to the British mandate emergency laws from 1945. This form of detention is applied when the Israeli state wants to lock somebody up but has no charges or evidence against them. The Administrative detention can be renewed every six months and for infinity as long as the detainee signifies a ‘threat’ according to the Israeli army or intelligence service.

The administrative arrest was commonly used to detain thousands during the first and second Intifadas to get rid of Palestinians stimulating resistance and disobedience against the Israeli policies, and it is still used up to this moment. In this context, Ahmed Saker has suffered from 13 years of imprisonment that were renewed each 6 months without a trial. That is why many Palestinians say that Administrative detention has a beginning but no ending.

After the declaration on the 14th May by Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah that the Israeli government will end unjustified administrative detention, a number of detainees including Hosam Khader and Mohammed Alnatsha were subject to the extension of their administrative arrest period for 6 months without charges.


2. Solitary confinement

Prisoners seen as ‘most dangerous’ who have an effect on other fellow prisoners are locked up in a special kind of imprisonment where they live alone for 23 hours a day in small room often with no windows where they do not have access to the outside world news, books, television and radio. Right now, Derar Abusisis is still held in such conditions despite the Israeli declaration that it will not keep any prisoners under this category.


3. No visits or belongings from Gaza

Ever since the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped into Gaza and kept there for 5 long years, the anger by the Israeli army and intelligence service -that tried so many leads to free him but could not- was diverted towards taking revenge against the Palestinian prisoners from Gaza and their families. Prisons Service has denied any visits for prisoners’ families from Gaza since 2007.

Although Shalit was released in 2012 in a swap deal with Palestinian prisoners, the laws against visits from Gaza are still applied. A report for Prisoners’ Studies Centre outlined that from 2007 until the end of 2011, over 200 appeals for visits from Gaza’s families to see their sons behind bars were denied

[Arabic reference:]

The Prisons Service goes beyond denying meetings for Gaza’s prisoners to the limit that they do not allow their relatives to send them any belongings. A west bank prisoner’s mother was describing on a tube video how she receives clothes and books for a prisoner via paid mail from Gaza, and then she hands them to her son in the prison who in turn delivers them to the prisoner from Gaza.


4. MPs arrested

Despite the international law against detaining individuals for their political views, Israeli army has abducted many Members of the Palestinian Parliament since the elections held in 2006. There are currently about 27 arrested parliament members according to Addameer for Human Rights. []


5. Re-arresting freed prisoners

After the prisoners swap deal with Gilad shalit where the Israeli government has agreed to release nearly 1000 Palestinian prisoners stating that it will not re-capture them again, its military has arrested numerous Palestinians from the West bank who were freed on that swap deal

[ ]

6. Anti-human inspections

Prisoners’ rooms are subject for harsh inspections day and night where armed forces use sound and tear gas as well as watch dogs to storm the cells of inmates, and then they confiscate clothes, books and personal belongings while handcuffing the prisoner’s hands and legs.


7. Group punishments

At times when any prisoners go hunger strikes or actions to demand better conditions, the Prisons Service punishes all the prisoners in the section by placing them in solitary confinement, transferring them to other prisons and denying them family visits.


8. Separation between relatives

There are many cases where brothers or relatives from the same family are arrested by Israeli military. The Prisons Service then places them in various places far from each other further oppress them, which cause difficulties even for their families when it comes to visit them in various prisons.


9. Malnutrition

The quality and quantity of food served in Israeli prisons has deteriorated throughout the years reaching a point where prisoners had to buy extra meals from the prison’s cantine which are often highly priced


10. Cells’ hygiene

Deliberately, the Israeli Prison Service keeps a very low standard in terms of hygiene in many cells where bugs, rats and fungi are not rare to see in an environment that lacks proper ventilation. Prison toilets are on the top of the list in this context which has directly and indirectly caused sickness for many prisoners.


11. Access to medical care

After their weeks of keeping away from food during their hunger strikes, many prisoners have suffered from poor health and did not manage to get suitable medical treatment in many cases. Others are denied access for getting medical diagnostics to check their health state. The World Health Organization has said it was concerned about the medical condition of Palestinians in Prisons [,7340,L-4227802,00.html]


12. Prisons transfer

Prisoners experience harsh treatment in their transfer among prisons or to attain the court where they are transferred hand cuffed with their legs tied to the ground of a sealed truck with no windows where prisoners cannot eat, speak or use the bathroom for several hours. This is particularly affecting the elderly and sick prisoners who have been in prison for decades.


13. Deportation

When a sentence against an ‘unwanted’ Palestinian prisoner comes to an end, he gets freed but denied his right to return to his home in the west bank and is deported to Gaza. This was the case with Hana Shalabi after winning her hunger strike for freedom. Other examples like Ahlam Tamimi, who was freed in the last prisoners swap deal with Shalit, has been deported outside Palestine, and even away from her family in Jordan. Other prisoners fear that the same might be applied on many similar cases in the future


14. Abduction

For decades, the Israeli intelligence service has abducted many Palestinians from other countries around the world and brought them to the Israeli court. A recent case is Dirar Abusisi who was abducted in Ukraine and is still under solitary confinement imprisonment []



15. Physical Torture

Prisoners suffer from various physical torture methods to pull out confessions out of them. Such methods include directly beating them on the face and body, use of electric shocks, use of cold and hot water as well as forcing prisoners to stand tied for long hours in un-comfortable positions just to mention a few



16. Mental torture

The process of torture goes beyond physically hurting prisoners to hurt them in their dignity by cursing and bad-mouthing them as well as threatening the prisoners to demolish their houses and rape their sisters and daughters.


17. Right for higher education

Since the second intifada started and the Prison Service has denied the prisoners their right to complete their education in prison, not to mention the large number of student captivates in Israeli prisons. Addameer has stated in a 2010 report that higher education is conditional and made available for prisoners based on security considerations



18. Meeting lawyers

During their last strike, prisoners suffered from poor health and could not stand on their feet due to weeks of fasting. When they asked to meet their lawyers, the Prisons service had denied their right stating that ‘they should physically stand up and ask to meet their lawyers’ in a sly plan to force them to end their strike [].

Other methods are still being used by the Prisons Service is to handcuff the prisoners while meeting their lawyers keeping a high watch over them, which has resulted many prisoners to refuse meeting their lawyers in such conditions.


19. Aggressive attempts to end hunger strikes

Whenever a hunger strike happens in Israeli prisons, the Prisons Service uses several inhuman methods to end the hunger strikes by storming cells searching for salt (which the prisoners use along with water to keep their vital signs) to force them to eat normal food. Also, attempts to force-feed some were planned and may be used in the future as the case for Hana Shalabi [].


20. Promote justice for Palestine

The prisoners see that the priority of bringing justice to Palestine has deteriorated away from the agenda of political parties in Palestine and a movement to restore this priority was imminent. This was why the prisoners signed the call for unity between Fateh and Hamas parties in 2010.

With the Pro-Palestine activism rising around the world in many countries, the world must hear a clear and undisturbed message that Palestinians has retained the focus towards reaching their strategic goals.

*United we can overcome the hurdles and defeat the occupation.


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