Archive | June 5th, 2013



Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

Israel razes homes in Palestinian-controlled area

JERICHO, Palestine (AFP) 5 June — Israeli bulldozers demolished four homes Tuesday in an area of the Jordan Valley just north of Jericho that is supposed to be under full Palestinian control, the family and the city’s Palestinian governor said.

The Israeli Defense Ministry confirmed the demolitions in Al-Nuwei‘ma but did not specify whether the houses lay in so-called Area A of the occupied West Bank, lands on which the Palestinians are supposed to enjoy full civil and security control. Mohammad al-Zaid, 66, whose sons own the bulldozed properties, told AFP the homes were located in a section of Area A land just north of Jericho, one of the few parts of the Jordan Valley where Palestinians can build. Zaid said that nonetheless the Israelis had been informed of the plans for their construction and had given their consent. “My sons and I built in this area with the consent of the Israelis through plans presented to them by the Palestinian liaison,” he said. “I do not know why the occupation’s bulldozers demolished the houses, where more than 40 people live — my sons and grandchildren.” Jericho Governor Majid al-Feytani confirmed the houses were located in Area A and strongly condemned their demolition.
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Israel approves construction to transfer West Bank Bedouin

Mondoweiss 4 June by Allison Deger — Israel has announced construction of a large-scale village near Jericho that planners are calling a “dump site” for Palestinian Bedouins residing outside of Jerusalem. Mondoweiss became aware of the relocation after the Israeli daily Ma’ariv published a locality in the Jordan Valley was given a green light for construction. The initial Israeli report presented the village, “Nueimah,” as a rare, but innocuous example of new legal construction in the West Bank set to accommodate overpopulation. The locality will “make land pirated by Palestinians legal holdings” said a member of the government toMa’ariv, explaining that the village was for those inhabiting areas of the West Bank without Israeli verified deeds, such as the Jahalin … However, the program was first documented last fall as a transfer plan.
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Bedouin forced to live beside dump contract unknown diseases

UNITED NATIONS (EI) 3 June by Lucy Westcott — For thousands of years theBedouin people have made their home in Palestine. But for almost the last six decades, the Palestinian Bedouin have been on the move, repeatedly relocated to make room for Israeli settlements … LW: What is the situation like for the Bedouin in 2013?  Eid Jahalin: One of the worst problems is that many children, some eight and younger, have diseases after being born next to the garbage dump, that not even Hadassah, the main Israeli hospital in Jerusalem, recognizes. There is one family — a mother, father and three children — that have this disease, and nobody knows what it is. Hospitals have said it’s the first time they’ve seen this disease and it’s unusual. The children are sick to this day, staying at home with the parents. If you go down to Jerusalem from the Jordan Valley you’ll see Bedouin living next to the side of the roads. The government pressured the Bedouin: they can’t be on the desert on either side of the road, so they’re only able to be next to the road. If you allowed them, if you gave permission, you wouldn’t find one Bedouin next to the road.
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Palestinians, Israeli forces clash in Abu Dis

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 June — Young Palestinian men and Israeli forces clashed in East Jerusalem’s Abu Dis neighborhood on Monday as Israeli Civil Administration officers delivered a demolition order for a building in the village. Dozens of students from the Al-Quds University campus in Abu Dis were among those showered with tear gas canisters fired by the Israeli forces, a local Fatah official Anwar Badr said. A female student fell while running from the tear gas and sustained facial injuries, Badr told Ma‘an. Israeli forces also fired tear gas at a mosque by the campus, affecting worshipers and passersby.  The Israeli officers were accompanying Civil Administration officials who posted a demolition order to a building being constructed by Ibrahim Abu Sneina, witnesses said. The Israeli forces closed all streets in the area, preventing students from accessing campus for final exams.
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Israeli forces issue demolition order for East Jerusalem home

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 June — Israeli forces on Monday issued demolition orders to a property in East Jerusalem, locals said. Jerusalem municipality staff left a demolition order on the property of Hussein al-Kaswani in Beit Hanina. The 300-meter-square house was built 10 years ago and is home to 20 people. Earlier this week, demolition orders were issued for shops belonging to al-Kaswani in Beit Hanina.

According to the UN, 33 percent of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack Israeli-issued building permits, potentially placing at least 93,100 residents at risk of displacement.
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IOA approves the confiscation of Palestinian land in Qalqilya

QALQILYA (PIC) 4 June — Israeli Court issued a decision on Tuesday that approves the confiscation of Palestinian land in Qalqilya, in the northern West Bank, for settlement projects. The Israeli decision handed the land to an Israeli construction company for a whole year in order to use it as road to reach the construction site. Harry Zahav Company has stormed agricultural land belonging to the Palestinian citizen Shahrat Abu Sherifa under the pretext of reaching the construction site in high-Zahav neighboring settlement.
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After the flames, only determination remains in Burin and Madamah

[photos] Burin & Madama, Occupied West Bank (ISM) 3 June — On Monday 3rd June, around a dozen settlers from the illegal colony of Yizhar set fire to Palestinian’s fields in the villages of Burin and Madama, destroying at least 50 acres of arable land with olive trees. The settlers were joined by a jeep of border police when 40-50 Palestinians from the village of Burin came out to attempt to put out the fire, with some being stopped from doing so by the border police present. As people from the two villages south of Nablus were hoping for an uneventful workday, the settlers from Yizhar, renowned for being one of the worst for settler violence, set fire to fields in the Khallat al-Injas neighbourhood of Madama. One young person there desribed how, “then I went there quickly with my friends and tried to extinguish it. During that time the settlers went to the eastern area which is between Madama and Burin. They set fire into the hills there.” Before long, the enormous fires spread across the field and towards the olive tree groves of neighbouring Burin. Shortly after, Israeli border police turned up at the scene in Burin’s land, delaying the extinguishing of the fire… [Ma‘an news: about 1,000 almond and olive trees were torched.]
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Israeli treatment of non-Jewish religions

Kairos Palestine strongly condemns ‘price tag’ attack on Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey

PNN — On Tuesday 4th June, Kairos Palestine expressed in a press statement its deep concerns about the ‘price tag’ attack on Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey last Friday. Overnight Friday, vandals attacked the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem by spraying graffiti on its walls with anti-Christian slogans saying “Christians are monkeys”, “Christians are slaves” and “Havat Maon”, referring to a settler outpost in the West Bank. Two days before this attack, Palestinian cars in Jerusalem were ‘price tagged’ with graffiti as well.
This assault on a Christian holy site and on Palestinian property is not the first one, Kairos added. In the last months, Muslim and Christian holy sites in the occupied Palestinian territory as well as in Israel faced terror attacks especially from Israeli settlers and their so-called ‘price tag’ policy.
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Church denies Israeli municipality use of its property for lights festival

JERUSALEM, June 4, 2013 (WAFA) – The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem said Tuesday that it will not allow the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem to use church property in the Old City for a lights festival because of Israeli police mistreatment of Christians during their holidays … Musleh said that at the time [when] Israeli police attack worshipers and religious men during Christian holidays, particularly during the Saturday Holy Fire, close roads in the face of worshipers, deny freedom of worship in Jerusalem for Christians from Gaza and West Bank, Israeli fanatics attack churches, cemeteries and religious people, monks are held for interrogation as was the case with the spiritual leader for Ramallah Elias Awwad who was held and interrogated at Tel Aviv airport, and other measures against the Christian and Muslim holy places, “It would not be sensible that anyone should expect any cooperation to make successful festivities not related to us or Jerusalem, which are also sources of big annoyance to the residents of the holy city through the behavior of the visitors and participants based on extreme nationalist reasons and their attacks on the residents of the city, which mostly go unpunished or without accountability.”
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IOA bans call for prayers 55 times last month

AL-KHALIL (PIC) 3 June — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) banned the Adhan or call for prayers at the Ibrahimi mosque in Al-Khalil [Hebron] 55 times last month. Tayseer Abu Snene, the director of Awkaf department in Al-Khalil, said on Sunday that the IOA banned the Adhan at the pretext it was disturbing Jewish settlers in the “usurped section of the mosque”. The IOA step is in absolute disregard of Muslim beliefs and holy shrines.
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Violence / Raids / Attacks / Suppression of protests / Arrests

Videos: Five years of struggle against the Israeli segregation wall in Ni‘lin

Ni‘lin Village 3 June — This Friday was the anniversary of start of the popular struggle against the annexation wall in Ni‘lin. The village now enters a sixth year of resistance against Israeli colonization. As always the demonstration gathered in the olive groves outside the village after the midday Friday prayer. An empowering speech was given to encourage the people of the village to remind the colonizers of their crimes during the past five years. Hundreds of villagers have been arrested and five have been killed during the past years of resistance against the land grabbing of the Israeli colonization. The speech also condemned the nightly invasions into the village that has become a common occurrence in Ni‘lin.

During some periods Israeli soldiers invade the village as much as two or three nights a week. In the last months alone some 25 villagers have been arrested in these nightly raids, turning nighttime in Ni‘lin into a time of great uncertainty. Further the demonstration as a whole condemned the recent settler attack which took place only two weeks ago. A group of settlers from the illegal settlement of Hashmonaimkilled more than 2500 trees in the village by setting fire to the dry summer fields in a so called price-tag attack. Another issue addressed by the demonstration was the tunnel being built under the wall by the occupation forces which in the future will serve as the only entrance and exit for Ni‘lin, effectively sealing Ni‘lin at the army’s will.

All this is being done meanwhile the nearby settlement of Ni’li keeps on expanding to the north. As the demonstration reached the gate in the annexation wall that has marked the end of so many demonstrations before, the soldiers began to shoot huge amounts of tear gas grenades. They used a launching pad mounted on a truck to fire more than 30 canisters at a time.
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Settlers attack residents, hurl stones at cars in East Jerusalem

IMEMC 5 June — Tuesday evening, June 4 2013, a number of extremist Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles in the At-Tour Palestinian town, in occupied East Jerusalem, and attacked local youths who tried to stop them. Israeli Policemen arrived at the scene, and kidnapped three Palestinians. Local sources have reported that the settlers, living in Beit Ort illegal settlement, built on Palestinian lands in At-Tour, gathered at a main road and hurled stones at Palestinian cars causing damage to at least three vehicles. The sources added that several local youths tried to stop the settlers, before Israeli police officers arrived at the scene and kidnapped three of the Palestinian youths instead of apprehending the settlers, or at least removing them from the area.
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IOF soldiers storm al-Khalil villages

AL-KHALIL (PIC) 4 June — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed a number of villages south west of Al-Khalil at dawn Tuesday and broke into and searched many homes. Eyewitnesses told the PIC that IOF soldiers burst into four villages south of Doura town, and searched and ransacked many houses. They said that other IOF units patrolled Marah Al-Baqar hamlet with no arrests reported. The witnesses said that IOF soldiers set up roadblocks near the settlement of Negohotestablished on Palestinian land south of Al-Khalil and examined IDs of passersby. Another roadblock was set up at the entrance to Beit Uwa village.
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Soldiers kidnap four Palestinians in Bethlehem

IMEMC Tuesday June 4 2013, dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the West Bank district of Bethlehem, and kidnapped four Palestinians from the villages of Husanand Al-Asakra.
On Monday, the army kidnapped at least ten Palestinians in the West Bank districts of QalqiliaBethlehem and Hebron.
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Palestinian teen describes being used as a human shield by Israeli forces in Abu Dis

[with video] Mondoweiss 4 June by Dina Elmuti — Yanking him by the collar and shoving him in the neck, the armed Israeli soldiers proudly paraded the handcuffed teen up and down the street, making a public spectacle of him in the occupied West Bank town of Abu Dis. Armed with live ammunition, steal-coated rubber bullets and tear gas, on Friday, April 19, at least 10 Israeli soldiers confronted the crowd of protesters using 17-year-old Muhammad Rabea as a human shield. They forced him to walk at gunpoint with his hands raised in the air as they approached the protesters. Muhammad told Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI-Palestine) that he recalls inhaling the caustic smell of the tear gas, hearing the piercing sound of gunfire, and feeling the heat of the shell casings brush past his stomach as the soldier to his left opened fire at the crowd with live ammunition. In October 2005, the Israeli High Court of Justice banned the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. Failing to effectively implement the court’s decision, the soldiers also failed to realize their act was being captured and exposed.
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Hamas leader detained in Salfit

SALFIT (PIC) 4 June — Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies and human rights denounced the Israeli arrest of Hamas leader Hussam Harb from his hometown ofSkaka [or Iskaka] in Salfit district at dawn Tuesday. Fuad Al-Khuffash, the director of Ahrar center, said that Harb, 55, is a liberated prisoner and is a well known figure in Salfit. He said that Harb was only released from Israeli custody ten months ago after serving 30 months in administrative detention, without trial or charge. Khuffash said that Harb was routinely held in Israeli custody for no charge except their claim that he “poses danger on the region”.
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Rights group blasts PA journalist arrest

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 June — The arrest Monday of the general manager of a Bethlehem radio station contradicts Palestinian Authority commitments to free speech, a watchdog group said Tuesday. The Ramallah-based Mada organization, which monitors violations of press freedom by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, said George Canawati’s treatment called into question guarantees from public prosecutor Ahmad Barak a month earlier…
The PA released Canawati on bail Tuesday after charging him with inciting sectarianism, defamation, and forgery after he published a statement attributed to Fatah’s armed wing. The al-Aqsa Brigades denied authoring the statement, which threatened the mayor of Bethlehem after police jailed Canawati’s cousin. Canawati also published the denial. Palestinian officials insist the charges are unrelated to Canawati’s work as a journalist.
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PA security arrests 7 Hamas affiliates

WEST BANK, GAZA  (PIC) 4 June — The Palestinian Authority security apparatuses arrested 7 members of Hamas, and summoned a university student and a liberated prisoner to their headquarters for interrogation … Hamas movement said in a report that the PA’s security apparatuses in Ramallah kidnapped last month 68 of its members and leaders in the West Bank; including 38 liberated prisoners, 11 university students, 2 journalists and a mosque’s preacher. It added that the security services have also summoned 47 Hamas affiliates, and extended the arrest of 10 others, although the courts issued decisions to release them.
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Israeli racism

2 Jewish youths charged with racially motivated assault of Arab

Ynet 4 May by Aviel Magnezi — Group of six Jews attacks Arab youth in Jerusalem, cause him injuries to all body parts: ‘Get out of our neighborhood, Arab bastard’ — A minor and an 18-year-old were charged Tuesday with perpetrating a racially motivated attack against an Arab youth in Jerusalem’s Old City last week along with four of their friends who remain at large.The incident at the Jewish Quarter of the Old City began when an assailant whose identity remains unknown to police started to curse the Arab youth, and then grabbed the Arab by his shirt and pushed him…
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Arab taxi driver attacked by Jewish teens
Ynet 3 June by Aviel Magnezi – Naim Aline, 61, a Jerusalem taxi driver, was attacked Monday by two Jewish teens. According to police investigation, Aline stopped for the two passengers with his taxi and they asked to be taken to central Jerusalem. During the drive, they told him to go into a side street, where they allegedly put a knife to his neck.  When trying to fight the attackers, Aline was cut on his hand. The suspects then escaped and the taxi driver sought medical treatment at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Police launched an investigation of the case, and are looking into the possibility that the crime was nationalistically motivated. “They got in the cab at 3 am,” Aline said after leaving the hospital. “They seemed completely normal — asked to go to Pisgat Zeev, but that we first pick up a friend in Gilo (Jerusalem neighborhoods). We agreed on a price and drove…
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Israel reaches deal to deport immigrants

Ynet 2 June by Aviel Magnezi — In High Court debate over jailing of immigrants without trial, State says three countries to accept immigrants; 2,100 North Sudanese already deported
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Gaza blockade

IOF shooting starts huge fire in southern Gaza

KHAN YOUNIS (PIC) 4 June — Huge fires gutted through Palestinian farms to the east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Monday evening after Israeli soldiers fired at them. A field observer told Quds Press that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) positioned east of Khan Younis opened heavy gunfire at Palestinian cultivated land in the Farahin area. He said that a huge fire resulted, adding that Israeli F16s were flying over the area at time of the shooting.
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Israeli forces release Palestinian from Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 June – Israeli forces released a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday a month after he was detained near the border while traveling to Jerusalem. Zuheir Maarouf’s son Yousef told Ma‘an that Israeli troops seized his father at the Beit Hanoun border area while he was travelling with his mother to Jerusalem for medical treatment.
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Jordan Islamist delegation enters Gaza via tunnels

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 5 June — A delegation of Jordanian politicians entered the Gaza Strip this week via smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, Egyptian security officials said Wednesday. Members from Jordan’s Islamist Freedom and Justice party spent two days in Gaza, and reportedly met with Hamas officials. A senior Egyptian security official told Ma’an that the delegation would have been allowed to travel to Gaza via the Rafah crossing, but instead chose to enter via smuggling tunnels in order to keep the visit a secret from the Jordanian government.
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OIC calls for extending urgent relief assistance to refugees fleeing Syria

GAZA (PIC) 3 June — The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has called for extending badly needed relief material to Palestinian families who fled Syria and sought refuge in the Gaza Strip. It said in a report on the conditions in Gaza that the Palestinian refugees, who fled the Syrian inferno, were in urgent need of mobile homes and other relief assistance. The report by the OIC humanitarian affairs department said that around 235,000 Palestinian refugees had left Syria and that more than 200 families had landed in Gaza.
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Five church schools in Gaza face closure after Hamas order

CatholicHerald 4 June by Judith Sudilovsky — Five schools in Gaza – two Catholic and three Christian [??] — face closure if the Hamas government follows through on an order forbidding co-educational institutions, according to the director general of Latin Patriarchate Schools in Palestine and Israel. Fr Faysal Hijazin said: “This will be a big problem. We hope they will not go through with it, but if they do, we will be in big trouble. We don’t have the space and we don’t have the money to divide our schools.” In addition to finding additional space, he said, the schools face having to hire more teachers. Men and women teachers would not be allowed to teach classes of the opposite sex older than 10 under Islamic law. “We will never accept this even if we have to close the schools,” Fr Hijazin said. He said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem hoped to speak with Gaza’s prime minister, Ismail Haniya, to discuss the Church’s concerns.
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Mohammad Assaf to perform in West Bank

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 June — Mohammad Assaf, the Palestinian star of Arab Idol, will perform in the West Bank, concert organizers revealed Tuesday. Assaf, a singer from Gaza and a favorite to win the televised singing contest, will perform in Bethlehem, Nablus and Ramallah, Design Solutions said in a statement. Rami Shabaneh, head of Public Relations at Design Solutions, said the company was excited to organize the concerts because of Assaf’s huge fan base in Palestine. Shabaneh said Assaf had united Palestinians with his voice, and had symbolically broken the siege on Gaza.
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Gaza youth flee harsh life to Israel

Al-Monitor 4 June by Abeer Ayyoub — Mohammad Abu Huzayen dropped out of elementary school to look for a job to support his nine-member family. Frustrated with the lack of opportunities, the 17-year-old from Al-Nusayrat refugee camp in central Gaza turned to an unexpected option: escaping to Israel. Along with three friends of roughly the same age, Abu Huzayen planned to take the risk of sneaking into Israel in February. The motivation of the four friends was to seek a modest life after losing hope finding it in their besieged enclave. The teens were sure they would either be able to sneak in or get arrested; both options were welcome to them. “We wanted anything outside Gaza, even if it was jail. It’s not even a life here,” Abu Huzayen told Al-Monitor. The teens started the journey by crossing the eastern Gaza border in an early morning in February Abu Huzayen cannot precisely recall. They walked for more than a kilometer into Israel, thinking that they had successfully made it across, before being spotted by Israeli troops, who hastily detained them … The four friends were kept for two days at the Israeli prison in Beersheba before they were transferred to Ofer prison, to the west of Ramallah. They spent three months there before being released less than a month ago, according to Abu Huzayen … Sneaking into Israel to find work is common for Gaza’s residents who live near the eastern border. It’s rarely heard about in other areas of the besieged coastal enclave, but people of this area speak of young men sneaking regularly into Israel
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Radio: 15 tons of wheelchairs to arrive in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 June — A shipment of 15 tons of wheelchairs and canes are set to be delivered to the Gaza Strip via Alexandria, a local radio station said Monday. Fursan al-Erada radio, based in Deir al-Balah, reported that the final procedures were taking place at the Egyptian port. It said the goods would be released by the end of the week.
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Ali Abunimah’s blog: In Gaza, I found Hebrew everywhere

4 June — …Hebrew is everywhere you look in Gaza — With Gaza’s forced dependency on goods imported from Israel (except for those that come through tunnels), Israeli goods — labeled in Hebrew — are ubiquitous. I also saw some Hebrew graffiti left by occupation forces on Israeli-built fortifications near the Rafah crossing — but I was not quick enough with the camera to get pictures. During my visit no one commented specifically on the presence of Hebrew (as opposed to Israeli goods which were a topic of discussion).  Is it simply a fact of life under Israeli occupation and siege that people living in Gaza don’t notice any more? II found it fascinating, and these photos show some of the many places where Hebrew appears in Gaza — just about everywhere you look.
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UFree report on kidnapped prisoner Dirar Abu Sisi

PNN 3 June — Israeli violations of International law reached beyond borders. The state of Israel expanded its hostile activities to reach many countries like UAE when it assassinated Mahmud Al-Mabhooh and now in Ukraine when it kidnapped a Palestinian citizen living in the country, UFree Network to defend the rights of Palestinian political prisoners said in a press statement. General Director of the sole power plant in the Gaza strip, Dirar Abu Sisi, was kidnapped in Ukraine, and then forcibly deported. The journey of kidnapping included humiliation, torture and many violations of International law. It has been 2 years since he was kidnapped, yet no human rights or legal framework has campaigned for Abu Sisi. According to various investigative reports obtained by UFree Network, Intelligence security services carried out the kidnapping process in flagrant violation to the international human rights norms and conventions. UFree Network reveals details of the kidnapping process of Abu Sisi. This report cites to testimonies issued by Abu Sisi’s family and liberated prisoners who met him in addition to Israeli and Ukrainian newspapers. LINK TO THE REPORT

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Israel allows Gaza residents to visit jailed relatives

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 June — Over 100 Gaza residents visited their relatives detained in Israel’s Nafha prison on Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said. ICRC spokesman Nasser al-Najjar told Ma‘an that 98 adults and 19 children visited 48 prisoners in Nafha jail. It was the largest group from Gaza allowed to visit prisoners since Israel resumed family visits in July 2012 after a five-year ban … Prison visits were reinstated after a mass hunger strike in Israeli jails. Under international law, detainees are entitled to receive family visits.
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Israeli court postpones the trial of two female prisoners

PNN 30 May — Ahrar center for Prisoners studies and human rights confirmed in a statement that an Israeli court has postponed the trial of prisoners Nawal Al-Sa‘di and Muna Qa‘dan from Jenin city.  Nawal Al-Sa‘di, 53, was arrested on 4/11/2011 and Muna Qa‘dan, 40, was arrested on 13/11/2012 and both are held at Hasharon prison without charges.
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Bsharat’s family: We entered the medicine because our brother’s health deteriorates

PNN — The family of prisoner Khader Bsharat, 30, from Tammon town and sentenced to twenty years, stressed to Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights that the occupation forces arrested Fahmi Bsharat, 46 and Safieh Bsharat, 43 because they tried to enter the medicine in which Khader needs because the Israeli prison authorities refuses to give it to him. Fahmi and Safieh were transferred to the investigation and may have to pay a fine because they violated the Occupation prisons’ law. Director of Ahrar Center, Fuad Al-Khuffash, said that prisoner Khader Bsharat was arrested on 1/6/2002, is suffering from psoriasis and the Israeli prison authority refuses to give him the treatment
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Political, other news

Hamdallah: New cabinet to be announced Thursday

NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 June — Newly appointed Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah plans to announce a new 24-member Palestinian Authority cabinet on Thursday, he said Tuesday. “I thank President Mahmoud Abbas for trusting me for this task especially in light of the dire political and economic conditions the Palestinian people are suffering,” Hamdallah said as he signed a cooperation agreement with the Palestinian Judicial Council. He said his new government would serve until Aug. 14, when a unity government is due to be created according to an agreement between Fatah and Hamas.
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Civil servants suspend protests to give new govt a chance

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 June — Civil servants in the West Bank will suspend all protests against the Palestinian Authority to give time to the newly appointed prime minister Rami Hamdallah, their union said Monday. The council of the government employees union convened Monday and welcomed the appointment of Rami Hamdallah, who replaces Salam Fayyad. Union chief Bassam Zakarna said the council decided to suspend protests to give Hamdallah’s government an opportunity to organize itself. The council will work side-by-side with the government as long as employees’ rights are respected, Zakarna said in a statement, urging the new premier to be a “cooperative and transparent partner.”
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Nablus demonstrators protest high cost of living

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) updated 2 June — Dozens of Palestinians took to the streets in Nablus on Saturday to protest the high cost of living and demand the cancellation of the Paris Protocol signed in 1994. Protesters called on the Palestinian Authority to reduce the cost of essential commodities, urging PA officials to raise salaries and not the price of basic goods. Earlier this week, protesters marched against high prices and unemployment in Duheisha refugee camp, Bethlehem, calling on the PA to lower prices so people can meet their everyday needs. The PA announced last week that it would raise VAT by 1 percent starting in June. Head of taxes and VAT Ahmad Al-Hilo told Ma‘an that the raise will lead to an increase of 1 percent in overall prices. The rise puts the overall tax rate on goods at 16 percent.
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Fatah, Hamas leaders hold unity talks in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 June — Hamas and Fatah leaders met in Gaza City on Tuesday to discuss national reconciliation.  Fatah central committee member Nabil Shaath and Fatah MP Faisal Abu Shahla joined Hamas’ Imad Alami and Ghazi Hamada to discuss obstacles to implementing national reconciliation. Fatah reiterated the importance of “building bridges” between the rival factions and raised the recent arrests of Fatah affiliates in Gaza, Abu Shahla told Ma‘an. Hamas has repeated complained that its members are still being arrested in the West Bank by forces from the Fatah-led PA.
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Palestinians to pursue Israel at UN if talks fail

Ramallah, West Bank (AP) 4 June by Mohammed Daraghmeh — With no signs of progress in U.S attempts to restart peace talks with Israel, the chief Palestinian negotiator said Tuesday that the West Bank government is ready to resume its campaign to join U.N. and other international bodies in order to prosecute Israel. The remarks by Saeb Erekat came ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to the region next week for consultations. The trip will be the fifth to the area since Kerry took office early this year and promised to launch a fresh effort to restart negotiations.
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‘Symphony for Palestine’ finally opens in Palestine

[with VIDEO] Mondoweiss 4 June by Annie Robbins — Dresden Symphony Orchestra, otherwise know as Dresdner Sinfoniker , accomplished its long cherished goal of performing “Symphony for Palestine” in Palestine after years of effort. The three night tour was capped off last night at Cinema Jenin in Jenin, home of the late Juliano Mer-Khamis’s Freedom Threatre. The symphony, by Iranian composer Kayhan Kalhor, is dedicated to Mer-Khamis along with Ahmed Khatib also from Jenin, two people whose lives were brutally cut short but whose contributions to the living are immeasurable. “Symphony for Palestine” is an eclectic collaborative effort between Dresdner Sinfoniker, one of the leading symphonies for contemporary music, and Palestinian and Azerbaijani soloists. Dresdner Sinfoniker is famous for multi-cultural multi-genre music mixing classical, jazz, rock, and pop.  This symphony was composed especially for Palestine and combines Arabic folk music with traditional Persian melodies accompanied by traditional Oriental instruments as well as a European string orchestra.
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Hizb al-Tahrir members rally in Ramallah

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 June — Hundreds of Hizb al-Tahrir supporters rallied in Ramallah on Tuesday to mark the 92nd anniversary of the fall of the Islamic Caliphate. The demonstrators held signs calling for the return of the Islamic state, and declaring their solidarity with the “revolution of Damascus.” A spokesman for the pacifist Islamist group called on Muslims to undertake “serious work” to establish an Islamic caliphate.
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Analysis / Opinion

The wandering Europeans / Sam Bahour

Le Monde diplomatique 4 June — Next to U.S. support for Israel, the main reason why the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip continues is that the Europeans have reduced themselves to a subservient role in the Middle East Peace Process: one in which they underwrite the cost of Israel’s occupation by artificially propping up the Palestinian Authority, which created from the Oslo Peace Accords but has no sovereign authority whatever. Coming on the heels of a recently published open letter on the Middle East peace process from ‘the European Eminent Persons Group’, a new report from the European Council on Foreign Relations, Europe and the Vanishing Two-State Solution, spills the beans, and they’re all Europeans beans. The author is not your average run-of-the-mill report writer, he is Nick Witney, who previously worked for the European Defence Agency where he was first chief executive … After reading this new report, I was moved to write this opinion piece and call it “The wandering Europeans” … This piece concerns a European Union of 27 states, comprising of a population of over 500 million (7.3% of the world population), which entered the Middle East peace process in the back seat of an American-driven U.S. car; it paid the ride’s expenses but refused to take the wheel, acknowledging that the driver was drunk and swaying near the cliff.
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Why John Kerry is wasting eveyone’s time / Shereen Eldaly
Mondoweiss 4 June — It’s back ladies and gentlemen. The latest installment in the Israeli-Palestinian peace- process-charades is upon us once again. US Secretary of State John Kerry was back in the Middle East last month trying to re-start talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis for the fourth time since being sworn-in in early 2013. While most of the world is yawning in boredom at this latest attempt to bring both parties to the negotiation table, Kerry and the Obama administration are stubbornly insisting that talks resume as soon as possible. What they fail to realize however, is that we are further away from a peace deal than we have ever been, and if peace were to happen, it will not come from the Americans. Here is why.
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Palestinians not counting on Kerry’s $4 billion / Akiva Eldar
Al-Monitor 3 June — By the end of this week, the first in June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) are supposed to present US Secretary of State John Kerry with their positions regarding the renewal of negotiations based on the Arab Peace InitiativeAl-Monitor has learned that the Palestinian leadership decided after internal deliberations to tell Kerry that it would not give up its demand to launch negotiations based on the 1967 borders at any price. At most, Abbas will agree to one meeting with Netanyahu, on the condition that the prime minister commits to presenting his map for permanent borders at that meeting. Only then, they assume, will it finally become clear what Netanyahu means when he says “two states for two people.” So here’s a bit of friendly advice: Don’t hold your breath. After all, this week marks 46 years of occupation. What’s the rush?
The Palestinian leadership’s decision to insist on the 1967 borders as a precondition for renewed negotiations came the day after the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting ended in Jordan on May 27 … It was exciting and moving to see Zionist religious Israelis, with their knit skullcaps, sitting in the conference hall side by side with Arabs in white kaftans. I wanted to write that I felt like a tenant in the home shared by the wolf and the lamb, but then I remembered another joke: In the Middle East, they bring the wolf a new lamb every day. This is exactly like Kerry’s “economic peace.”
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Hamas Islamization policies mold Gaza / Akram Atallah

Al-Monitor 3 June (translated from Al-Ayyam 26 May) — …the success of the Palestinian contestant in reaching the final round has raised the matter of Palestinians’ interaction with their native son [Mohammad Assaf] into an issue relevant to national identity, in all its innocence and purity. Palestinians dream of upholding the name “Palestine” forever; they feel pride when their homeland’s name is uttered on this, the most famous of pan-Arab television shows, watched by millions throughout the Arab world. For this reason, the idea of attacking Assaf is simply out of the question; indeed, the streets of Gaza are empty whenever the program airs. The strange thing is that in some of the mosques [the imams’] sermons have focused on inciting people to bring down Assaf “as a religious necessity.” As though the success of this up and coming young man would somehow delay the liberation of Palestine. Indeed, there are some reasonable men who have accurately read the movement of the street and hastened to save the faith by distancing it from this question. [They recognize that] the people have simply chosen to follow and support their “beloved” native son. This puts religion in the uncomfortable position of moving against the tide of public opinion and sentiment. But the issue is not confined to such superficial matters alone. The question of this rising star is a cultural venture that stands in opposition to Hamas’ project of striving by all available means to “mold” Gaza — that is, to mold it in Hamas’ image.
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New Report: Acting the Landlord: Israel’s policy in Area C, the West Bank

B’Tselem 4 June — Some 60 percent of West Bank lands have been classified as ‘Area C’ and are under full and exclusive Israeli control. Area C is home to an estimated 180,000 Palestinians and includes the major residential and development land reserves for the entire West Bank. Israel prohibits Palestinian construction and development on some 70 percent of Area C territory, arguing various rationales, such as being ‘state lands’ or ‘firing zones’. Israel’s planning and construction policy virtually ignores the needs of the local population: it refuses to recognize most of the villages in the area or draw up plans for them, prevents the expansion and development of Palestinian communities, demolishes homes and does not allow the communities to hook up to infrastructure. Thousands of inhabitants live under the constant threat of expulsion for living in alleged firing zones or ‘illegal’ communities. In addition, Israel has taken over most of the water sources in Area C and has restricted Palestinian access to them. In theory, Israel retains full control in the West Bank only of Area C. In practice, Israel’s control of Area C adversely affects all Palestinian West Bank residents.
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On anniversary of Arab-Israeli war, a Palestinian plea / Isabel Kershner

LATRUN, West Bank (NY Times) 4 June — On the second night of the war in June 1967, Israeli forces captured the fort at Latrun, a West Bank enclave that protrudes like a half-blown bubble into Israeli territory. Israel had tried to take in 1948 — and failed. Control of Latrun was considered essential because of its commanding position over the narrow Tel Aviv-Jerusalem corridor. Israel swiftly evicted the Palestinian residents of three villages in the area, reducing the houses to rubble. It was here on the wooded slopes of Latrun on Tuesday that Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, chose to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1967 war and to call for an end of Israeli occupation. “I am sure many of you are asking why is Saeb Erekat bringing you to this point,” Mr. Erekat said to a group of diplomats and reporters as he stood against a backdrop of green fields, a reservoir and an Israeli settlement of red-roofed houses in the valley below. “It is not because I want to demarcate the maps or finalize the negotiations,” he said, referring to the intensive efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry to get the Israelis and Palestinians to return to peace talks.”I just want to stand here and say, ‘It is 46 years later.’ ” If nothing else, Mr. Erekat’s selection of Latrun spoke to the great distance between Palestinians and Israelis. Many Israelis consider Latrun to be an integral part of Israel … “The fact that they are raising the issue of Latrun is not a good sign” said a senior Israeli official, insisting on anonymity because of the American diplomatic efforts to restart talks. The official said he was unable to imagine any peace agreement that did not place Latrun under Israeli sovereignty.
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Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on NEWS***NEWS***NEWS***NEWS




Dear Friends,

So here I am, back again.  Unfortunately, I can’t say that anything has improved here during my absence, and therefore, I can almost certainly promise you more of the same as before.  The situation continues to exist, though some details might be different.

Of the 10 items below, I included the first only to comment on it, an editorial that infuriated me.  If all that the military learns from a CO is to “refuse to accept someone who does not want to be a member” it has learned nothing.  People after all have a right to conscience. But then the IOF does not wish to learn anything.  The Jewish Israeli uterus is a mechanism for producing soldiers.  And Israeli education takes over once the baby is born.  I agree with the final statement that the military should not force COs (whatever their reason) to enlist.  But the attitude that takes for granted that the military is an integral part of Israeli society is  so typical of militaristic societies, which Israel is of course.  What is especially distressing is that few Israelis bother to ask what has the military done to contribute to improving life in Israel, and if there is no other way to exist than by the use of force.

In item 2 Ethan Bronner relates (quite accurately, I believe) that Israelis—the average Israeli—are unconcerned with peace.  They simply don’t believe in it anymore, and in any event life goes on pleasantly enough (if one has money).


Item 3 informs us that racism in Israel is endemic.


In item 4 Gideon Levy draws a bloody picture of what a Palestinian family can expect in the middle of the night.  Years and years ago I was phoned at about 1 AM by someone from a West Bank village asking for help.  The person informed me that the army had come and had forced all the residents of the small village to go outside and stand in the pouring rain while the soldiers entered the houses to check them.  When I phoned the so-called Civil Administration the woman at the other end listened to my depiction of infants, elderly, the ill and the healthy, in short all being forced in the middle of a cold wet night to stand in the pouring rain, the voice at the other end calmly informed me that ‘this was perfectly normal.’  Normal?  I’m quite sure that she would not have found it normal had her family or community been subjected to like treatment.


In item 5 Amira Hass reports on how Israel plans to legalize the West Bank colony of Eli.


In item 6 Sami Michael argues against Israel’s treatment of refugees seeking asylum.


In item 7 Shlomo Sand in responding to Carl Strenger argues that Israel cannot be both a democracy and at the same time belong to world Jewry.  I agree 100%.   In fact, it cannot be a democracy so long as it insists on being a Jewish state.

Item 8 reports that stars have urged Alice Keys to cancel her gig in Israel.  She apparently has not yet responded.  Let’s hope that she will observe the bds and cancel.


In item 9 we learn that FIFA has decided to hold games here not withstanding the pressure to cancel.  Win some, lose some!


The final item is of course ‘Today in Palestine.’  This collection of reports and commentaries is for May 31, 2013.  Not enjoyable but is informative.


That’s it for today.

All the best,




1 Haaretz Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lessons learned from Blanc

The military club can, and should, be sure enough of itself to refuse to accept someone who does not want to be a member.


Haaretz Editorial

After six months in Military Prison No. 6, conscientious objector Natan Blanc is to be released from incarceration and service in the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF has given up trying to wear him down, persuade him to retract his refusal to serve, or to use his punishment to deter other draftees from following in his footsteps. The IDF has found, somewhat tardily, that this objector is incompatible with the military organization.


The IDF’s opposition in principle to offering an exemption to any objector who does not lay claim to complete pacifism − an aversion to carrying a weapon anywhere, under any circumstances, at any time − is understandable. Opening a crack to recognize political positions as a reason for release from service will give draftees the right to set conditions for their willingness to wear a uniform and report for any duty dictated by government policy.


Some people, like Blanc, will refuse to serve as long as Israel holds on to the occupied territories; others will condition their services on a pledge that more territory will be occupied, or that they be relieved of the duty to evacuate settlements. That will not be democracy; it will be anarchy. Policy must be changed from above, through elections.


That is in principle. The reality, though, shows that entire groups avoid serving. If Blanc had grown up in Bnei Brak or Kalansua, he would not have become the object of public debate; if he had wanted to get out of serving for his own convenience only, he would not have burdened himself with a lengthy prison term.


In fact, Blanc paid a high price precisely because he remained faithful to his own truth, and was not willing to change or distort it so as to get around the system that filters the draft. The IDF has no real problem with Blanc the individual. On the contrary, soldiers like him are needed in the security forces, intelligence and cyber warfare − knowledgeable, opinionated, determined people who stick to their goal. The concern is over a binding precedent and the masses that could follow him.


That concern is groundless. There are many people who are eager to serve in the IDF in general, and in combat and elite units in particular; the demand is greater than the supply of such postings. Thanks to the large oversupply of draftees in the next two years, compulsory service is to be shortened by four months. After all, those who refuse to serve are, ultimately, found unsuitable to serve. Few of them are like Blanc, willing to pay the heavy price of such a long incarceration.


The military club can, and should, be sure enough of itself to refuse to accept someone who does not want to be a member. Human-resource planning is flexible enough to absorb a few cases like Blanc’s every year without trying them again and again for the same offense and locking them up for such a long time.


2 NY Times Saturday, May 25, 2013


What Mideast Crisis? Israelis Have Moved On




FOR years, conventional wisdom has held that as long as Israel faces the external challenge of Arab — especially Palestinian — hostility it will never come to terms with its internal divisions. The left has sometimes used it as an argument: we must make peace with the Palestinians so that we can set our house in order — write a constitution, figure out the public role of religion. Others have viewed the threat as almost a silver lining keeping the place together: differences among Israeli Jews (religious or secular, Ashkenazic or Sephardic) are so profound, the argument goes, that if the society ever manages to turn its attention inward, it might tear itself apart.


Back in Tel Aviv for a recent visit a year after ending my tour as Jerusalem bureau chief, I was struck by how antiquated that wisdom felt. At a fascinating and raucous wedding I attended and from numerous conversations with a range of Israelis, I came away with a very different impression. Few even talk about the Palestinians or the Arab world on their borders, despite the tumult and the renewed peace efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been visiting the region in recent days. Instead of focusing on what has long been seen as their central challenge — how to share this land with another nation — Israelis are largely ignoring it, insisting that the problem is both insoluble for now and less significant than the world thinks. We cannot fix it, many say, but we can manage it.


The wedding took place near Ben-Gurion airport, where a set of event halls has gone up in the past seven years, including elaborate structures with a distinct Oriental décor of glistening chandeliers, mirrored place mats and sky-high ceilings with shifting digital displays. The groom’s grandparents emigrated from Yemen; the bride’s came from Eastern Europe, an example of continuing and increasing intermarriage between Sephardim and Ashkenazim.


The music was almost entirely Middle Eastern in beat, some of it in Arabic, some of it religious. The hundreds on the dance floor, many staying until dawn singing along with arms gesticulating, came from across a range of political, geographic and religious spectra — from miniskirted to ultra-Orthodox modesty. Frumpy settlers in oversize skullcaps mingled with Tel Aviv metrosexuals in severe eyewear. Some women hugged you; others declined to shake your hand. Everyone was celebrating. No one, especially the Orthodox rabbi who presided over the ceremony, mentioned that the young couple had been living together for more than three years. Some talked politics with me. No one mentioned the Palestinians.


ISRAEL today offers a set of paradoxes: Jewish Israelis seem in some ways happier and more united than in the past, as if choosing not to solve their most difficult challenge has opened up a space for shalom bayit — peace at home. Yes, all those internal tensions still exist, but the shared belief that there is no solution to their biggest problem has forged an odd kind of solidarity.


Indeed, Israel has never been richer, safer, more culturally productive or more dynamic. Terrorism is on the wane. Yet the occupation grinds on next door with little attention to its consequences. Moreover, as the power balance has shifted from the European elite, Israel has never felt more Middle Eastern in its popular culture, music and public displays of religion. Yet it is increasingly cut off from its region, which despises it perhaps more than ever. Finally, while the secular bourgeoisie, represented by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party, has forged an unexpected alliance with West Bank settlers, represented by Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi Party, aimed at reducing the political power of the ultra-Orthodox, alarm over the failure to address the Palestinian problem has grown in a surprising place — among some of the former princes of the Zionist right wing.


At a Jerusalem cafe one noon, Dan Meridor, the former Likud minister and son of right-wing Zionist aristocracy, could not stop talking about the Palestinians.


“It is a sword of Damocles hanging over our heads,” he said. “We are living on illusions. We must do everything we can on the ground to increase the separation between us and the Palestinians so that the idea of one state will go away. But we are doing nothing.”


Mr. Meridor, nursing an American coffee at the cafe near the house his parents bought many decades ago in the upscale Rehavia neighborhood, sounded like two other public figures from famous right-wing families — Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, and Tzipi Livni, the justice minister and chief peace negotiator. Both have made a series of emotional speeches begging Israelis to take the Palestinian issue seriously. They are getting little traction.


The Israeli left is still there, of course, but in increasingly insignificant knots. Two Israeli friends in Jaffa, from which tens of thousands of Palestinians left or were driven out in 1948, have beautifully renovated a house, even preserving a pre-state lemon tree in the courtyard. They are friendly with the Arabs who live nearby. Their children refused military service in protest over the West Bank occupation. And on the outside of their house they have put up a plaque noting that until 1948 the structure was the home of the Khader family, a tiny homage to a destroyed world.


But the family is rare. Mr. Lapid, the rising star of Israeli politics, is a former television host who agrees that something must be done about the Palestinians. But in an interview he offers no specifics other than hoping Mr. Kerry will pressure them to return to the negotiating table under conditions they have long rejected. Mr. Lapid, who spoke in the outdoor section of his neighborhood cafe in north Tel Aviv on a fragrant spring afternoon, was relaxed and buff in his long-sleeved black T-shirt and black jeans. Well-off Tel Avivians at nearby tables argued into their iPhones. Mr. Lapid said Israel should not change its settlement policy to lure the Palestinians to negotiations, nor should any part of Jerusalem become the capital of the Palestinian state he says he longs for. He has not reached out to any Palestinian politicians nor spoken publicly on the issue. As finance minister, he is focused on closing the government’s deficit.


Mr. Lapid may be a political novice but he knows the public mood. A former senior aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed, over a Jerusalem lunch of toasted bagels and salad, that most Israelis considered the peace process irrelevant because they believed that the Palestinians had no interest in a deal, especially in the current Middle Eastern context of rising Islamism. “Debating the peace process to most Israelis is the equivalent of debating the color of the shirt you will wear when landing on Mars,” he said.

An afternoon in Ramallah revealed no stronger sense of urgency among Palestinians. But, unlike Israeli Jews, they are increasingly depressed and despondent over their quandary and dysfunctional leadership. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who showed real competence in his job but is resigning, says Palestinian leaders must acknowledge their failure to deliver on their promises and call new elections. That is not happening. He tells friends that if he believed Mr. Kerry’s efforts had any chance of yielding results, he would not be quitting.

All of which suggests that, as has long been argued, there can be no Israeli-Palestinian peace deal so long as outsiders want it more than the parties themselves. Some have likened Israel to the deck of the Titanic. That may not be right, but you can’t help wondering about that next iceberg.

Ethan Bronner is the national legal affairs correspondent for The New York Times.


A version of this news analysis appeared in print on May 26, 2013, on page SR5 of the New York edition with the headline: What Mideast Crisis? Israelis Have Moved On..


‘Superland’ and the normalization of segregation in Israel

An Israeli amusement park found itself in hot water after being caught segregating Jewish and Arab school groups. But instead of being an aberration, the incident is reflective of the dominant culture of segregation and discrimination that permeates Israeli society from the bottom up.

By Mairav Zonszein

|Published May 31, 2013

Israeli children on a ride at ‘Superland’ (Photo: Superland website)

“Superland” – the Israeli amusement park exposed for segregating Arab and Jewish citizens this week – is the most fittingly tragic and ironic title for how I see the current Israelizeitgeist. No screenwriter or playwright could have come up with a better concept for a tragic comedy about this place.

It captures the two most dominant concepts of politics and life here: that land is the most precious, contested and painful commodity around which the conflict revolves, and that there is nothing “amusing” about the situation we find ourselves in. It’s not all that “super,” despite the most earnest attempts to sell it as such by Israeli government and PR professionals.

While the Israeli government continues to try and “super-size” the land of Greater Israel beyond the pre-1967 borders, the story of segregation at Superland is a perfect indicator that no matter what your politics are, no matter your position on settlements, your notion of security, how you judge Palestinian resistance or any other issue, the political reality remains undeniably the same. Everyone living on this tiny piece of land — Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis — is in a perennial situation of state-sponsored division, segregation and separation that trickles down — not just in Hebron’s Shuhada Street, or in East Jerusalem, but everywhere.

After the Jaffa school teacher was unable to make a reservation for a class trip to Superland because they are Arab, management explained that many schools – both Arab and Jewish – request to visit the park on days when only other schools of the same ethnic group will be there. According to a statement by the park’s management, this makes sense for them considering they are interested in ensuring the safety of all visitors:

This is an amusement park and there is special importance to preserving order and preventing violent incidents in the park. As a result, Superland’s management took the requests it received into consideration, and during June 2013, set aside a few separate days for schools from different sectors.

This is the same argument that was made in pre-civil rights America about the utility of separating blacks and whites. It is the same argument that Ivy League university deans in the U.S. used to try and justify the quotas that up until the 1960s, limited the number of Jews accepted to a school; they explained that it is better for the Jews if there aren’t too many of them in any given department, since then they would surely experience greater incidents of anti-Semitism.

Instead of combatting anti-Semitism and racism at its core, this kind of backwards logic gives in to the unjust system, trying simply to manage a racist and discriminatory status quo. This is exactly the case of Superland.

It is a weird coincidence that on the same day this story broke, American author and BDS activist Alice Walker wrote an open letter to singer Alicia Keys, urging her to cancel her July concert in Israel because of the country’s segregation policies. In the letter, she specifically refers to the struggle she waged to bring an end to “apartheid America,” which she calls “less lethal than Israel’s against the Palestinian people.”

You can argue all you want that there are differences between America and Israel as far as racism goes, just as there are differences between Israel and South Africa when it comes to Apartheid. But the reality remains the same in all places: Palestinians living on the same land as Jewish Israelis are denied the dignity and equal rights they deserve because of the dominant ethnic group.

“Superland” perfectly expresses the “super segregation” we live in. Its policy isn’t a law that was handed down from above, or a specific manager who hates Arabs. It has simply become the norm.

Sailing on a wave of racism: A nautical tale
A year in review: Anti-African racism and asylum seekers in Israel 

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine’s Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week’s events. Sign up here.


4 Haaretz Sunday, June 2, 2013


The cherry on top of the IDF

There isn’t a single Israeli who can imagine what it must be like to wake up in the middle of the night to see dozens of armed, violent soldiers as well as dogs and grenades in his home.


By Gideon Levy


The Israel Defense Forces’ Duvdevan unit is just about the very best, albeit with slightly less luster than the Shayetet, the Tayeset and “The Unit” − the IDF’s elite naval commando unit; its elite air force commando unit; and Sayeret Matkal, the general staff’s elite special-operations force, respectively.


Duvdevan veterans are well thought-of in Israeli society. Its soldiers are carefully selected − elite unit or not. And, and as long as we’re speaking of “equality,” then we can say they carry the heaviest “burden” of national service.


On the night of May 25, these soldiers set out on yet another cross-border operation, in the West Bank Palestinian village of Budrus. Their commanders must have gathered them together for a final pre-mission briefing before sunset. Surely they were told about the dangerous terrorist whom they must capture; doubtful they heard that his teenage brother had been killed just four months earlier in a reprehensible manner − shot from close range while trying to escape, after throwing rocks at the separation barrier.


At 2 A.M. the raid began. Someone heard the commander tell his soldiers, “There’s to be no mercy in this house.”


In this house of mourning, unworthy of Duvdevan’s mercy, slept eight teenage girls and young women, their parents and their youngest brother − members of the Awad family. On the roof slept the dangerous wanted man − a waiter in the nearby village of Na’alin suspected of throwing rocks and of disorderly conduct. Such serious offenses.


What happened after that was no less than a mini-pogrom. There were dozens of soldiers and dogs. The front door was sawn, windows smashed, innumerable stun grenades thrown into the home at its occupants. The wanted man thrown down the stairs and injured badly enough to pass out. Kicks and blows to the women and girls.


The IDF Spokesperson claimed the next day that “family members violently resisted arrest.” Initially the office said no soldiers were injured, but then changed its mind: “In the course of the incident two soldiers were slightly injured and treated on the scene.”


I related the details of the incident in Haaretz on Friday (“Battered House, Shattered Family”). This weekend the IDF Spokesperson took the trouble to send me a video clip as evidence of the family violent resistance: 50 seconds, carefully edited and without sound, in which the women of the house cry out desperately, facing innumerable armed soldiers in the tiny house; the wanted man, Abed, hiding behind them, terrified, moaning in pain.


On the clip the IDF Spokesperson’s Office has circled a tiny fruit knife in the hand of one of the women and a miniature sickle held by another, which they wave in the air. I have never seen such a ridiculous video in my life. Any slightest doubt I might have still harbored about what went down in Budrus that night was wiped out by that clip, which proved to me unequivocally that this was a criminally depraved operation.


Let’s start with the fact that it took place in the home of a bereaved family, a teenage member of which was killed by soldiers in circumstances that even the IDF admits were “bad.” One might have expected different treatment of such a family − a family that has, by the way, many Israeli friends.


Then there’s the target: He was wanted for throwing rocks. And the means: a nighttime raid with a preposterous number of soldiers equipped with no less preposterous amounts of weapons. And the result: Four women injured, one of whom needed eight stitches in the head, and a suspect taken into custody bleeding and unconscious. No one, of course, bothered telling the family the next day where he was taken and what had happened to him.


What happened in the Awad home was routine. There isn’t a single Israeli who can imagine what it must be like to wake up in the middle of the night to see dozens of armed, violent soldiers as well as dogs and grenades in his home. This happened by order of the GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, whom the settlers have marked out as a “leftist” and a “moderate,” in yet another disgusting campaign to change the instructions for opening fire, a campaign that is nothing less than a thirst for even more Palestinian blood.


And all of this is carried out by our best young men − not (this time) the Border Police or the Kfir Brigade, which are known for their brutality, but rather the cherry on top of the creme de la creme (duvdevan is Hebrew for cherry) of the violent control of the territories. And in a relatively calm period there.


The Israelis want to share this burden equally − so that everyone does it, not only the secular and religious-Zionist Jews. That’s the Israeli measure for ethical standards, for volunteerism, for contributing to the state and carrying the burden. And it’s also what the IDF wants the conscientious objector Natan Blanc to do. And it’s what Duvdevan soldiers do, nearly every night, while we watch “Big Brother.”  [‘Big Brother’ is a favorite Israeli TV program.  I can’t describe it, as I don’t watch it. D]


5 Haaretz Saturday, June 01, 2013


Plan to legalize West Bank settlement of Eli paves way for its expansion

The approval of the urban plan for Eli, submitted thirty years after the settlement was founded, will legalize hundreds of illegal houses. Legalization of further outposts will soon follow.


By Amira Hass


Some thirty years after the settlement of Eli was established to the north of Ramallah, the Civil Administration has published for objections a detailed master plan for Eli. The plan’s approval would legitimize hundreds of illegal structures – houses, commercial and public buildings – built over the years by the Housing Ministry and Amana, the settling and construction organ of Gush Emunim – illegally, without planning or permits.


The plan (no. 237) would not only legalize construction on the lands of Palestinian villages As-Sawiye and Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya, already declared as state lands; by using unorthodox planning procedures and verbal acrobatics, the plan would also legalize houses and roads built illegally on private Palestinian lands, in the heart of Eli or on its borders – the “blue line.”


The plan does not stop at legitimizing illegal structures within the settlement’s borders, but further signals that it intends to legitimize structures in Eli’s four illegal outposts, two of which are built on the land of the village of Quaryut. The present plan includes 1,000 dunams, but it contains planning elements that would allow the settlement to include, in the future, the outposts and other illegal constructions, thus expanding to 6,000 dunams, including both privately owned Palestinian as well as state lands.


Approving settlements’ master plans years after they were built is not a new procedure. As with other settlements, advancing Eli’s urban plan was dependent on Israeli authorities’ success in declaring the Palestinian land in question as “state land.”


This is no simple bureaucratic move; based on an old Ottoman law, Israeli authorities manage to treat collective property of Palestinian villages as ownerless, which can then be declared “state property,” to be allotted to Jews alone.


As in other settlements, here too, the plan was initiated by the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization. As in other settlements, the borders of the urban plan were not determined according to regular planning considerations, but rather according to ownership of the lands. The “blue line” is a property line, separating between land already declared as state property and land over which the Civil Administration did not succeed in denying Palestinian private ownership.


This does not include only private lands beyond the plan’s limits. In the midst of the area there are seven enclaves, which are not destined for construction, since they are recognized as private Palestinian property. (In principle, the Civil Administration believes that Palestinians have the right to use the areas for agriculture, but not for construction.) These enclaves are not an invention of Eli’s urban planner, Yehoshua Shachar of Tel Aviv. Similar enclaves appear in the maps of other settlements as well.


Still, Eli’s plan differs from its predecessors in one way. In other settlements, the condition for the urban plan’s approval was the demolition of all illegal construction in the private enclaves, and their rehabilitation as lots suitable for agriculture. This was the Civil Administration’s way of demonstrating that they respect the sanctity of Palestinian private property.


In Eli, a new category was invented: “construction lots to be completed.” There is no explanation for the new term in the list of plan definitions, but the aim is clear; these are fifty lots with existing houses. Each of these houses is at least partially built on private Palestinian property, (in an inner enclave, or on the border of the plan), and part of it is built on areas within the plan.


There is no intention of demolishing these building constructed illegally on private Palestinian land: on the contrary, the plan offers to legitimize them, and, in fact, adapt the plan and its boundaries to fit reality. As opposed to past master plans, in this case the authorities are signaling that they know that in the future the houses will all be completed on the map as well. One possibility is that the Palestinian landowners will give up on ever receiving their land back and will agree to sell it, or simply, the whole affair will be forgotten.


In the table specifying the size of the plots to be “completed” one can also find plot number 92. Its size: zero dunams. This house is built entirely on an enclave of private Palestinian land, without bulging beyond it by even one square meter.


The same is true of several roads passing through the enclaves or beyond the surrounding borders of the plan: on paper, only the parts within the “blue line” are marked as planned roads that after approval will become legal. All the parts that pass through enclaves or beyond the borders are marked, but not as legal roads. On the other hand, they are not slated for demolition.


The verbal acrobatics of “construction lots to be completed,” together with ignoring the roads in the enclaves, are no more than lip service to the declaration that “private property is not infringed upon.”


“The said plan creates the illusion that it respects private property and refrains from building on private Palestinian property, when in fact, the plan intends to widen the blue line, whose limits were based on the question of ownership, and take over private Palestinian lands,” said Nir Shalev and Architect Alon Cohen Lifshitz of “Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights,” who wrote objections to the urban plan.


In communal settlements such as Eli, the public buildings and commerce centers are usually found in the middle of the settlement, in order to make them accessible for all residents. As opposed to this planning logic, almost all of the land allotted to public and commerce activity is not in the center of Eli, but rather on its northern and north-eastern borders. The plan doesn’t make do with the existing road leading to the settlement (part of which passes through private property). Architect Yehoshua Shachar planned another road, 20 meters wide, in the eastern part, leading to the northeastern end. An even wider road is planned within the settlement, also leading northeastern.


To the east and north of Eli, there are three outposts which even according to the Civil Administration were partially built on private Palestinian property, belonging to residents of Quaryut and As-Sawiye. The message is clear: public buildings, commercial centers and the roads are intended to serve a significantly larger population living on more land that, at present, is not marked in the plan.


Thus, the plan suits Eli’s long term plans, as described on Amana’s Web site: “In the future and in accordance with the initial vision of the settlement, it will reach beyond the adjacent hills and even beyond Road no. 60, closer to Ma’ale Levona. Thus there will be one long territorial contiguity of Jewish settlers between Eli, Shiloh and Ma’ale Levona.”


Shachar, the architect, refused to answer Haaretz’s questions about the plan. The Civil Administration responded by saying that the plan is in the phase of hearing the objections, and answers to Haaretz’s questions will be given as part of the process.


6 Haaretz Sunday, June 2, 2013


Jews must remember: We were refugees too


When I first heard that people among us who have lost their homes and their homelands are being sent to jail, I remembered the tales of our mothers and fathers as refugees, when they were viewed as hostile, suspicious and dangerous – and also deprived of their human rights.


By Sami Michael


Throughout history, we Jews have been forced into the terrifying position of having to seek asylum time and again. There were heartless nations that closed their gates to us, dogs in the form of men that tore at our flesh, raped our women, murdered our children. And there were compassionate people who opened their doors to us, and among whom we had the privilege of living in harmony.


We have always understood the pain of losing one’s home, and thus can greatly appreciate our redemption. And so, when I first heard that people among us who have lost their homes and their homelands are being sent to jail, I remembered the tales of our mothers and fathers as refugees, when they were viewed as hostile, suspicious and dangerous − and also deprived of their human rights.


When they reach Israel, asylum seekers are sent to administrative detention centers without trial, under the infiltration law. The great majority come from Eritrea and Sudan, after having suffered terrible hardships in Sinai. Of course the refugee problem is complex, but in order to deal with that problem we must create regulations that uphold basic human rights for people living in Israel. This must be done as part of the “temporary group protection” Israel grants asylum seekers − a status created by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that prohibits countries from returning asylum seekers to their home countries if their lives or freedom are in danger.


On the one hand, the State of Israel has not taken steps to deport asylum seekers precisely because their lives would be in danger if they returned to their homelands. This in and of itself is a good thing − but at the same time, Israel has been imprisoning them for indefinite amounts of time, and that is a severe violation of their human rights. Israel refuses to grant refugee status to asylum seekers, despite the fact that it signed and even helped to word the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. It is a shame indeed to see Israel denying them that status now.


Recently we learned that compared to other industrialized OECD nations, Israel ranks last in terms of housing, education, job security, social welfare and various other criteria. So too can Israel’s treatment of asylum seekers be ranked among the worst-offending industrialized OECD nations. The Knesset Information and Research Center found that Israel is the only OECD member state that grants asylum seekers the lesser “temporary group protection” status, which is generally used by non-industrialized nations.


I understand that deliberation is required, but compassion is the ultimate value. Is imprisoning asylum seekers the correct approach to this situation? Refugees are not dangerous, infested animals. Refugees are hungry, thirsty, weak and desperate people, but they still have a sliver of hope in their hearts, they still pray to meet people who will greet them with outstretched arms. We are their last hope. We show them such insensitivity by funneling them into prisons.


As a human being and as a Jew, I identify with asylum seekers’ disappointment and pain. I am ashamed of the prison walls that hold these broken people, and I do not hide my shame.


To this day I am grateful to Iran for granting me refugee status in 1948 when I knocked on its gates. Not only did Iran save me from life-threatening danger, but it strengthened my faith in human solidarity, something that we are missing today.


7 Haaretz Saturday, June 1, 2013


Israeli identity, Jewish democracy and oxymorons – A response to Carlo Strenger

Israel clings to a dangerous oxymoron when it claims to be committed to democracy while belonging to ‘world Jewry;’ the consequences of this fallacy are severe.


By Shlomo Sand


Flags for sale ahead of Israel’s Independence Day. Photo by Flags for sale ahead of Israel’s Independence Day.


Author and professor Shlomo Sand. Photo by David Bachar


It is my desire to respond in this short article to the main claims made by Carlo Strenger about my new book, “Matai V’aikh Hadalti L’hiyot Yehudi” (“When and How I Stopped Being Jewish”). And I will begin by emphasizing that I never ventured to imagine, as claimed by Strenger, that “Zionism invented the concept of the Jewish People,” or that “secular Jewish identity doesn’t exist,” (“A letter to Shlomo Sand,” May 29).


The “Jewish people” or the “Chosen people” are theological concepts that existed before the birth of Zionism and, it appears, will survive after it exits the historical stage. Before the modern era, the concepts of “Christendom” or “People of God” were common within the Christian heritage, but today they are barely ever used.


Zionism took the religious and ambiguous concept of “people” and injected it with national meaning, much as it did with other terms and symbols from the Jewish heritage. Originality and deception were both concealed within this linguistic process. If today we frequently apply the term “people” to a human group that shares a secular public culture, such as language, music or food, it would indeed be strange to use this term to refer to world Jewry, especially while keeping in mind Ludwig Wittgenstein’s principle of family resemblance.


It appears odd to me that anyone who uses the terms the “French people” or the “Vietnamese people” – human groups that live under shared national sovereignty – would apply the same term to Jews. It’s impossible to call all cats cats, and all dogs dogs, but then to view a certain cat as a dog. Judaism always had an important and steadfast religious culture- but it never offered a cohesive national culture. Zionism thus failed to create a Jewish nation, but did succeed in sculpting an Israeli people- a people which, like Strenger, it isn’t willing to recognize to this day.


Secular Jewish identity exists due to the mere fact that there are people who define themselves as secular Jews. In the ’30s of the previous century, an Aryan culture existed because there were those who defined themselves as Aryans. At the same period, identities of the “descendants of the Gauls” and the “descendants of the Romans” and others flourished. What all these identities shared in common was that they were based on fictional ethnicities. What separates the first from the latter two is the fact it was born from persecution, while the latter cases were generated by the needs of nation-manufacturing. The secular Jewish identity was cast as a response to persecution and anti-Semitism, and it is still being preserved today thanks to the power of painful memories, among other reasons.


However, just as an Aryan culture didn’t exist in the past, so too a secular Jewish culture shared by “world Jewry” cannot be found; only fading, endangered remnants of a post-Jewish culture. Secular culture isn’t created only through the structuring of memory, but rather primarily through daily experience, struggles, shared problems, and of course linguistic codes, all diverse but related to each other. Every national culture always has a pre-modern background, religious or secular- however, just as we wouldn’t label today’s British culture as Protestant and the culture of France as Catholic, so too it would be ridiculous to call Israeli culture Jewish.


I understand Strenger’s desire to place himself culturally and in terms of identity somewhere between René Cassin and Hannah Arendt, between Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein. This is a rather fashionable tendency among contemporary left-wing Israeli intellectuals. But whether we like it or not, in our day-to-day cultural and linguistic realities we both are actually located more in between authors A.B. Yehoshua and Sami Michael, between singers Eyal Golan and Arik Einstein (and of course, between Israeli Arab author and journalist Sayed Kashua and Israeli Arab politician Ahmed Tibi). While it is true that this may be an anthropological fact and not necessarily one of identification, that’s the way it is. Cultural globalization still hasn’t erased this lively and colorful local organism.


Moreover, as Strenger knows full well, neither Freud, nor Einstein, nor Arendt wished to live among “secular Jews” or under Jewish sovereignty. They would have preferred to continue to live within German culture were it not for the evil history that tore them away from it.


And now for the more important argument: Strenger suggests that Israel should be more Jewish, when, like all secular Israelis, he is incapable of even defining who is Jewish without resorting to religious criteria. As far as he is concerned, Jewish humanism is an open and generous cosmopolitan phenomenon. But he can’t explain to us how one can join this secular Jewish identity- as one can join into the French, American or Israeli identity- without being born to a Jewish mother.


How does Strenger, who is quite knowledgeable of the West’s political culture, not know that liberal democracy isn’t just a mechanism for regulating social power relations but also a focal point for collective identification and a vehicle for molding imagined political cohesiveness?


Israel, which insists on defining itself as a Jewish state and not as an Israeli republic, alienates and discriminates against 25 percent of its citizens who, to their misfortune, aren’t registered by the Interior Ministry as Jews. A normal democracy always sees itself as an expression of its citizenry and doesn’t make note of its residents’ ethnic origin or religion (imagine the uproar if in a Western country the population registry would mark the descendants of Jews as such, like is done in Israel, without asking or consulting with them).


In view of the 20th century’s history of persecution and suffering, Israel can continue to serve as a place of refuge for descendants of Jews persecuted due to their ethnic origin or religious faith; but it cannot be both a democracy and at the same time belong to “world Jewry.” This is an oxymoron that has severe consequences: it creates injustice; it leads to exclusion of native locals, and it may bring destruction upon us all.


Prof. Sand teaches at Tel Aviv University’s Department of History. His is the author of the book “The Invention of the Jewish People” and the recently published “Matai V’aikh Hadalti L’hiyot Yehudi” (“When and How I Stopped Being Jewish”).


8  The Guardian Friday, May 31, 2013


Stars urge Alicia Keys to drop Israel gig

Roger Waters and Alice Walker pen open letters asking Keys to join cultural boycott of ‘unjust and unbelievably evil’ Israel

By Sean Michaels


Dear Alicia Keys … Roger Waters and Alice Walker entreat the singer to make a stand against the Israeli government. Photograph: Jeff Barclay/Music Pics/Rex


Roger Waters and Alice Walker have penned open letters asking Alicia Keys to call off a forthcoming concert in Tel Aviv. Walker, the author of The Color Purple, invited Keys to join a cultural boycott of Israel, visiting “the children in Gaza” instead of supporting “a system that is cruel, unjust and unbelievably evil”.


“Dear Alicia Keys,” Walker wrote on the website for the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel. “I have learned today that you are due to perform in Israel very soon. We have never met, though I believe we are mutually respectful of each other’s path and work. It would grieve me to know you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing in an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious artists.”


In his own letter, Waters admitted that Keys may not know who he is. “I used to be in a band called Pink Floyd and, believe it or not, I still work,” he wrote. The English musician implored Keys to “join the rising tide of resistance” and refuse “to give legitimacy to the Israeli government policies of illegal, apartheid, occupation of the homelands of the indigenous people of Palestine.”


Keys is due to appear at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena on 4 July, as part of her ongoing Girl On Fire tour. It will be her first appearance in Israel. As the concert approaches, activists have begun ramping up their Facebook and Twitter campaign, asking the long-time HIV/Aids activist to consider dropping the gig in solidarity with the Palestinian rights movement.


“I have kept you in my awareness as someone of conscience and caring, especially about the children of the world,” Walker went on. “A cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major ‘crime’ is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own.”


Elvis Costello, Santana, the Pixies and Gil Scott-Heron are among the other artists to have boycotted Israel in recent years, while acts including Madonna and Paul McCartney have dismissed calls to cancel shows. Earlier this month, physicist Stephen Hawking announced he was joining the movement, adding his name to a list of supporters that includes dozens of Nobel laureates.


Keys has yet to respond to activists’ requests.


9 Haaretz Saturday, June 01, 2013


Israel staves off threat of soccer sanctions

FIFA chief Sepp Blatter to seek political solution to plight of Palestinian players.


By Moshe Boker and Reuters


Anyone in Israel concerned that FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, was about to acquiesce to the demands of the Palestinian soccer federation and impose sanctions against Israel, can rest easy.


On Friday afternoon, Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon managed to convince FIFA’s all-powerful president, Sepp Blatter, to seek a less aggressive solution to the long-running problem of limited freedom of movement for Palestinian players in Gaza and the West Bank.


Over the course of the past week, Palestinian soccer chief Jibril Rajoub, the former commander of the Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, has been lobbying for FIFA to impose sanctions against Israel for not allowing members of the various Palestinian national teams to move freely between Gaza and the West Bank, and preventing them from representing their country in international matches.


As a full member of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation, the Palestine FA has started to hold more regional tournaments and it has accused Israel of stopping athletes from others countries from entering.


Recently, two teenage players from Myanmar were held up in Jordan for a week awaiting clearance so they could play in an under-17 tournament before eventually being allowed in.


Both Rajoub and Luzon were at the AFC’s conference in Mauritius, although the two men did not meet during their time on the island. After a tense diplomatic battle, Luzon convinced the delegation heads he met with not to agree to the Palestinians’ demands.


When Rajoub realized that the political battle had been lost, he persuaded Blatter to add Israel to his itinerary for the upcoming Middle East tour, which will also take in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Instead, Blatter will meet with government officials in Jerusalem and members of the IFA to try and come up with a compromise arrangement, and will see for himself the difficulties facing Palestinian soccer players.


“I hope that next year, I come with no complaints,” Rajoub told the Congress. “I want to eat grapes rather than to quarrel with anyone. I don’t wish Palestine’s suffering on anyone else, including the Israeli footballers.”


He added, however, that FIFA should impose sanctions on Israeli soccer if the matter is not resolved. “If this issue is not settled, I don’t think those who do not comply with the statutes and standards and values should be rewarded. Sanctions should be taken. Nobody has the right to act as a bully in the neighborhood,” he said.


Blatter reiterated his pledge to intervene on the Palestinians’ behalf. “Football should not be a victim of such situations,” he said, adding, “We can and shall play a role in improving understanding between the communities in this region. I am committed to ensuring that football continues to develop and be developed in a difficult region.”


Luzon, for his part, said he would work to keep soccer separate from politics and, disagreeing with the Palestine FA, said a crisis had already been averted.


“We will continue to guard Israeli football and football in general from all political influence. I’m pleased that this problem is behind us and we will continue to strive for the advancement of football,” he said.


The Palestinians, meanwhile, continue to campaign to have Israel stripped of hosting the upcoming Under-21 European Championship, which gets under way on Wednesday night, when the host nation meets Norway in Netanya. Over the weekend, letters were sent to the heads of the seven other participating nations, urging them to boycott the tournament.

“What we have to do now,” Luzon told Haaretz Saturday, “is show the world that Israel is more than capable of hosting a major soccer tournament.”


10  Today in Palestine for Friday, May 31, 2013

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France, Britain ‘confirm’ sarin Gas used in Syria


French foreign minister calls for those behind attack to be punished

Times of Israel

France said Tuesday it has confirmed that the nerve gas sarin was used “multiple times and in a localized way” in Syria, including at least once by the regime. It was the most specific claim by any Western power about chemical weapons attacks in the 27-month-old conflict.

Britain later said that tests it conducted on samples taken from Syria also were positive for sarin.

The back-to-back announcements left many questions unanswered, highlighting the difficulties of confirming from a distance whether combatants in Syria have crossed the “red line” set by President Barack Obama. The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has refused to allow U.N. investigators into the country.

The French and British findings, based on samples taken from Syria, came hours after a U.N. team said it had “reasonable grounds” to suspect small-scale use of toxic chemicals in at least four attacks in March and April.

The U.N. probe was conducted from outside Syria’s borders, based on interviews with doctors and witnesses of purported attacks and a review of amateur videos from Syria. The team said solid evidence will remain elusive until inspectors can collect samples from victims directly or from the sites of alleged attacks.

Some experts cautioned that the type of evidence currently available to investigators — videos, witness reports and physiological samples of uncertain origin — leaves wide doubts.

At the same time, forensic evidence of alleged chemical weapons use is fading away with time, and the longer U.N. inspectors are kept out of Syria, the harder it will be to collect conclusive proof, they said.

Syria is suspected of having one of the world’s largest chemical weapons arsenals, including mustard and nerve gas, such as sarin. In recent weeks, the regime and those trying to topple Assad have increasingly used accusations of chemical weapons as a propaganda tool, but have offered no solid proof.

In the West, meanwhile, the lack of certainty about such allegations is linked to a high stakes political debate over whether the U.S. should get more involved in the Syria conflict, including by arming those fighting Assad.

Obama has been reluctant to send weapons to the Syrian rebels, in part because of the presence of Islamic militants among them. Obama has warned that the use of chemical weapons or their transfer to a terrorist group would cross a “red line,” hinting at forceful intervention in such an event.

Yet he has insisted on a high level of proof, including a “chain of custody,” that can only come from on-site investigations currently being blocked by the regime.

In Tuesday’s announcement about sarin, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his government had analyzed several samples, including some brought back from Syria by reporters from the Le Monde newspaper.

He said that there was “no doubt” that at least in one case, the regime and its allies were responsible for the attack. “We have integrally traced the chain, from the attack, to the moment people were killed, to when the samples were taken and analyzed,” Fabius told the TV station France 2.

He said a line was crossed and that “all options are on the table,” including intervening “militarily where the gas is produced or stored.”

In London, Britain’s Foreign Office said samples from Syria were tested at a government laboratory and the presence of sarin was confirmed. It did not say when or where the samples were obtained.

Britain has evidence suggesting a number of different chemical agents have been used, “sometimes including sarin, sometimes not,” said Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mark Lyall Grant.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, speaking before the British announcement, said the French report is “entirely consistent” with the Obama administration’s own findings, but added more work needs to be done to establish who is responsible for the use of the toxic substances and when they were used.

“We need more information,” he said.

Russia, meanwhile, has rejected intelligence the U.S. provided last month suggesting the Assad regime used chemical weapons on its own people, American officials said. A U.S. diplomatic delegation that was sent to Moscow failed to persuade Russian officials and prompted no change in the Kremlin’s support for Assad, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Experts disagreed on whether the latest chemical weapons allegations mean Obama’s red line has been crossed.

“The verdict is still open,” said Jean Pascal Zanders, an independent chemical weapons consultant, speaking before the French and British announcements.

Zanders said that while claims of chemical weapons use cannot be ignored, the details of the alleged attacks often don’t correspond to the purported symptoms shown in videos or reported by witnesses.

Analyst Michael Eisenstadt said he believes Obama’s red line “has indeed been crossed on a number of times, as there are persistent reports of limited, continued use of chemical weapons from various sources that seem fairly credible.”

The French findings give additional weight to previous suspicions, though “people will want to know about the chain of custody for the evidence,” said Eisenstadt, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank.

Since allegations of the use of chemical weapons first emerged late last year, the U.N. has investigated on two separate tracks, while France, Britain, Turkey and the U.S. have conducted additional probes.

The team appointed by the Human Rights Council has issued periodic updates about suspected war crimes in Syria, and Tuesday’s report dealt with chemical weapons, among a wide range of topics.

Separately, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon appointed a U.N. team headed by Swedish chemical weapons experts Ake Sellstrom after the Syrian government asked for an investigation of a purported rebel attack on March 19 on the village of Khan al-Assal, near the northern city of Aleppo.

Syrian soldiers were reportedly killed, and the regime insisted that the U.N. probe be limited to that incident.

Ban wants a broader investigation, including a December incident in the central city of Homs in which opposition activists claimed six rebels died after inhaling white smoke pouring from shells fired in the area. Britain and France have also pushed to widen Sellstrom’s mandate, sending Ban information on additional alleged incidents.

Such allegations are typically based on three types of information that can be obtained without having investigators go into Syria — amateur videos, witness accounts and physiological samples.

Witnesses and doctors have been interviewed by Skype or after fleeing Syria, while Turkey, Britain and France have analyzed samples that were either smuggled out of the country or taken from suspected victims after they were hospitalized outside Syria.

The Obama administration also referred to such samples when it said in an April letter to two U.S. senators that the U.S. intelligence community had determined, with “varying degrees of confidence,” that the regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale, specifically the nerve gas sarin.

However, the administration cautioned that intelligence assessments are not sufficient, citing the stakes involved.

Claims of chemical weapons attacks also pose a dilemma for journalists.

Some of the videos posted by activists have shown rows of people lying in what appear to be makeshift hospitals, breathing with the aid of oxygen masks, sometimes twitching as they struggle to breathe.

Such videos are often consistent with AP reporting of attacks in that area, but claims that chemical weapons were involved are impossible to verify. The regime continues to bar most independent reporting from areas of fighting.

For example, activists alleged that on May 24, troops fired two rockets with poisonous gas at the rebel-held town of Adra near the capital Damascus, killing three people and wounding more than 40.

Amateur video from a makeshift clinic in the nearby town of Douma where victims were being treated showed young men lying on the floor, some of them twitching as medics poured water on their bodies.

The AP did not report the incident at the time because of the difficulty of confirming the claims. A local reporter who visited the area several days later to interview a doctor and a rebel commander found the evidence was not clear-cut.

A doctor at the Douma clinic who identified himself only by his first name, Seif, for fear of regime retribution, said 60 victims arrived that day and six of them died.

“It was the scariest thing I saw, people came in with strange symptoms like blurred vision, dilated pupils, teary eyes,” he told The Associated Press. “Some had running saliva or were foaming at the mouth.”

Abu Khaled al-Ijweh, a commander of the Lions of Ghouta Brigade, a rebel unit, said he witnessed the attack. He said regime forces fired two suspicious projectiles and fighters started to throw up, with some struggling to walk and dropping to the ground. Al-Ijweh said he managed the symptoms by wearing a mask, drinking vinegar and a liter of water.

In some cases, there is no way to reconcile the opposing narratives.

On April 19, activists said the government bombed the northern town of Saraqeb with chemical agents that caused respiratory problems and other symptoms in people who were exposed to them. The state news agency claimed “terrorists” brought bags of an unknown white powder to Saraqeb and opened them. It said the terrorists — the regime’s term for the rebels — then transported the injured to Turkish hospitals to “accuse the Syrian armed troops of using chemical weapons.”

Zanders, the chemical weapons expert, counseled extreme caution.

He noted claims often don’t match the symptoms. Other options, while also conjecture, should at least be considered, such as shells inadvertently hitting shops or homes where chemicals are stored, or the regime using tear gas to instill fear at a time of heightened awareness about the dangers of chemical weapons.

“It becomes a self-reinforcing echo chamber,” he said.

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‘Some women enjoy rape,’ Tel Aviv judge says


Retired magistrate Nissim Yeshaya makes inflammatory remark while hearing appeal in the case of rape of 13-year-old girl

Times of Israel

A judge in Tel Aviv sparked outrage on Wednesday after he reportedly remarked, during an appeals hearing on a rape case several days ago, that some women enjoy rape.

Nissim Yeshaya later apologized for his remark.


Yeshaya, who served on the bench of the Tel Aviv District Court from 1993 to 2009, has retired but was leading a panel that was hearing an appeal on Monday when he said aloud that “there are women that enjoy rape,” bringing the room to sudden silence, Army Radio reported.

According to a lawyer present at the scene, Yeshaya “didn’t really understand what he said and didn’t understand why everyone was quiet.”

The hearing involved the case of a 13-year-old Israeli girl who was raped by four Palestinian teenagers from the Shuafat refugee camp six years ago.

The four were captured, convicted and imprisoned, but the Defense Ministry ruled that the rape was not a “hostile act” — that is, an act of political aggression. This meant the victim was not be entitled to government compensation and other benefits which terror victims receive. The Defense Ministry oversees criminal cases involving West Bank Palestinians.

The victim was in court to appeal the Defense Ministry’s decision and was described as being “upset and very hurt,” but she said that she didn’t think that Yeshaya’s remark was said out of “malice or evil.”

Her lawyer. who argued that the victim was targeted because she was Jewish, told Army Radio that “the problem is that state of mind, that thought, that prejudice against the victims of sexual assault. It’s the tip of the iceberg when judges trip up in their language and give expression to what is in their hearts.”

Yeshaya later officially apologized for his remark. The Courts Administration said in a statement that “things were said” during the heated debate but there was “no intention to hurt or belittle rape victims,” adding that Yeshaya would be summoned to clarify what happened.

On Wednesday Yeshaya’s statement was panned by politicians, who called for his removal. Culture Minister Limor Livnat, who also heads the ministerial committee for the advancement of women, called on court administrator Judge Michael Shpitzer to ban Yeshaya from future participation on legal panels.

“The judge’s statement was appalling and outrageous,” she said. “It is difficult to assess the total harm it caused, which may deter other sexual assault victims, present and future, from reporting attacks.”

Veteran MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) also said that Yeshaya should be removed from any official positions in the judiciary, as did Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on.

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Greek FM to US Jews: Hate in Greece will be ‘confronted’


Greek Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos (R) and his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak

Dimitris Avramopoulos blames ignorance, despair, anger and disillusion with the political system for rise of Golden Dawn party


The Greek foreign minister told an American Jewish audience that his government would “never allow hate to grow and spread,” but did not address specific calls to marginalize the ultranationalist Golden Dawn party.

“Let me state from this forum, in the most determined and compelling manner, that Greece will never allow hate to grow and spread,” Dimitris Avramopoulos told the American Jewish Committee’s annual Global Forum in Washington on Monday. “Hate will be confronted and stopped.”

A number of Jewish and international civil rights groups have pressed the conservative New Democracy government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to take steps to marginalize Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party that won 19 of 300 seats in the last elections.

The groups want the government to support laws limiting the activities of explicitly racist parties.

Samaras until now has said he prefers to counter Golden Dawn through political rather than legislative means, and in his AJC speech, Avramopoulos said the key to marginalizing extremists was reviving Greece’s parlous economy.

“The social factors that have allowed this to happen, as in other European countries, must be successfully addressed,” he said. “Ignorance, despair, anger, disillusion with the political system are some of them. I am certain that as the crisis passes, the haters will pass, too.”

Other European foreign ministers speaking at the AJC confab represented two of Israel’s staunchest allies on the continent, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Notably, each minister echoed John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, who also addressed the AJC, in underscoring what they said was the urgency of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Karel Schwarzenberg, the Czech foreign minister, described what he said was “complacency” among Israelis regarding the peace process “without reflecting the logical implications” of such complacency.

“Without an independent Palestinian state, there is no way for Israel itself in the long-term outlook to remain a state that is both Jewish and democratic,” said Schwarzenberg, whose government was among a handful to oppose Palestinian statehood recognition at the United Nations last year.

Tzipi Livni, the Israeli justice minister and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s designated peace negotiator, also pressed the urgency of renewed peace talks.

A two-state solution, she said, was “not a favor to the Palestinians but rather as a necessity for Israel.”

Livni’s Hatnua party garnered six seats in the Knesset campaigning on the resumption of peace talks, but Netanyahu’s Likud and one of its larger partners, Jewish Home, have so far expressed skepticism of the viability of the Palestinian Authority as a peace partner.

In his speech, Kerry called on American Jews to press for peace talks.

“No one has a stronger voice in this than the American Jewish community,” he said Monday. “Leaders will take both steps only if their people push them to.”

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Half of Frenchmen surveyed say Jews ‘closer’ to IsraHell



One in five believes ‘too much being done’ to preserve the memory of the Holocaust


Half of the respondents to a survey on attitudes toward Jews in France said French Jews are closer to Israel than to their own republic.

In the poll conducted last month of 1,001 French adults, 50 percent of respondents said Jews are “closer to France than Israel” and 46 percent said they were not; 4 percent said they did not know.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said Jews are “a unified group characterized by solidarity,” while 20 percent said Jews are a “diverse and divided” group.

Twenty-eight percent agreed with the assertion that “Jews exercise an oversized level of influence,” while 71 percent said they “exercise a normal amount of influence.”

On combating anti-Semitism, 28 percent said “too much is being done” compared to 41 percent who said “what is being done is just right” and 30 percent said “not enough is being done.”

One in five respondents said “too much was being done” to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, while 57 percent said Holocaust preservation efforts are “sufficient as they are.” Twenty-two percent said “not enough” is being done.

The Holocaust was described as “a specific and unique massacre in world history” by 36 percent of respondents, whereas 63 percent said it was “a massacre which fits in a sequence of other terrible events that have happened throughout history.”

The slaying on March 19, 2012 of three Jewish children and a rabbi in Toulouse by a Muslim extremist was described as “an isolated act which does not illustrate any general trend” by 59 percent of respondents, whereas 40 percent said it was “a sign of the growth in anti-Semitism in France.”

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Belgian lawmaker tramples Zionist flag at pro-Assad rally


Laurent Louis (left) stands on the Israeli flag (photo credit: Facebook)

Over 2,000 sign petition calling for impeachment of Laurent Louis


A Belgian lawmaker trampled the Israeli flag at a support rally for Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar Assad held in front of Israel’s embassy in Brussels.

Laurent Louis, an independent member of the lower house of Belgium’s Federal Parliament, posed for pictures while standing on an Israeli flag on June 2.


Wearing a ceremonial ribbon in the colors of the Belgian flag, Louis posed for pictures while standing on an Israeli flag, which was later set on fire. In one picture, he is seen holding up a portrait of Bashar Assad and a Hezbollah flag.

People in the crowd of 100 also waved Russian and Chinese flags.

Louis was interviewed at the demonstration by the Syrian national television channel. “Europe is being used in the conflict [against Syria] as a tool in the hands of Israel, the rogue state,” he said.

By Wednesday, more than 2,200 people had signed an online petition for Louis’ impeachment in connection with the demonstration.

Louis, 33, entered parliament as a representative of the small center-right People’s Party, but has been kicked out and now remains in parliament as a non-partisan.

Hezbollah last month confirmed its involvement in a civil war that erupted in Syria two years ago and has claimed 80,000 lives, according to estimates.

Israel and the French government have said they possess evidence that Assad’s forces have used chemical weapons against rebels.

Posted in EuropeComments Off on Belgian lawmaker tramples Zionist flag at pro-Assad rally

Bulgaria backs off blaming Hezbollah for attack on Zionist tourists



Bulgaria is backtracking on its assertion that a terror attack in Burgas that killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver was carried out by Hezbollah.

In the wake of the bombing, Israel, the United States and several other countries called on the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

“It is important that the (EU) decision be based not only on the bombing in Burgas because I think the evidence we have is not explicit,” Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin told national state radio BNR, according to Reuters.

“There is an indication that it is possible (that Hezbollah was behind it) but we cannot take decisions with important consequences for the EU based on indirect data,” she added.

Vigenin and her Socialist Party-led government, took office last week.

The attack last July on a tour bus full of Israeli tourists as it sat at the Burgas airport led to the deaths of five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver.

A British request to label Hezbollah a terror group was opposed at the EU on Tuesday, with several governments voicing concern that doing this would increase instability in the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal identified some of the reluctant countries as Finland, Austria and Ireland; France has also been against labeling the group in an effort to remain on good terms with Lebanon. The United Kingdom has classified Hezbollah’s military wing as terrorist.

The countries that currently identify Hezbollah as terrorist are the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Posted in LebanonComments Off on Bulgaria backs off blaming Hezbollah for attack on Zionist tourists

Russia rejects chemical arms ‘evidence’


Despite promises of closer cooperation, no change in the Kremlin’s support for Assad

Times of Israel

The Obama administration came back empty-handed after a diplomatic delegation to Moscow last month presented intelligence suggesting that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government used chemical weapons on its own people, officials said Tuesday, raising further questions about how seriously the United States can cooperate with Russia to end the Arab country’s civil war.

The U.S. officials said that while some of the information presented wasn’t new, it reflected the ongoing effort by the United States to persuade Russia to drop its support for the Assad regime two years into a conflict that has claimed more than 70,000 lives. One official described it as the U.S. government’s “best evidence” of chemical weapons use by regime forces, even if President Barack Obama and others in the administration say they still lack incontrovertible proof of chemical weapons attacks, which would represent a crossing of Obama’s “red line” for potential military action.

On Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said tests carried out by a French laboratory confirmed that sarin gas has been used multiple times and at least once by Syrian government forces and their accomplices. Earlier Tuesday, a U.N. panel said there were “reasonable ground” to believe limited quantities of toxic chemicals were used as weapons in at least four attacks in Syria’s civil war, but that more evidence was needed to determine the precise chemical agents involved and who used them.

The U.S. officials, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity, said the intelligence failed to convince Russian officials and prompted no change in the Kremlin’s support for Assad — a disappointment for the U.S., considering the promises of closer cooperation after several recent meetings and conversations between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Sitting across from Lavrov in Paris last week, Kerry told reporters that both men expressed concerns “about any potential use of chemical weapons and the need to really get the evidence and ascertain what has happened in that regard. Both Russia and the United States, if it were being used, object to that very, very strongly.”

Kerry and Lavrov have been engaged in an intensive effort to get Syria’s government and opposition into peace talks, even as Moscow has continued to provide Assad with military aid.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the two top diplomats discussed plans to share information on alleged chemical weapons use when they met one-on-one in the Russian capital a month ago but didn’t address specific evidence in their conversations. Senior U.S. and Russian officials are “continuing to coordinate plans to share information and hope to do that in the short term,” she said.

Russia’s unwillingness to accept what appears to a growing international consensus on chemical weapons use in Syria comes on the heels of other decisions that have frustrated Washington. U.S. officials have chastised Moscow for delivering to Assad’s government anti-ship missiles and potentially a state-of-the-art air defense system that would make a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone or any other military intervention significantly more difficult. They’ve also expressed concerns about what the upgraded equipment would mean for the security of Israel, across Syria’s southwestern border.

Nevertheless, Obama administration officials have tried to remain hopeful about the peace push with Russia. They’re hoping to launch direct negotiations between representatives of Assad’s government and the Syrian opposition in Geneva. The conference, once foreseen for May and then delayed until June, is now not expected to happen until July at the earliest. In the meantime, Syrian government forces have been making significant advances against the rebellion.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Russia rejects chemical arms ‘evidence’

Beheadings by Syrian Rebels Add to Atrocities, UN Says



Syrian opposition forces recruited a 14-year-old boy from Homs as a fighter and had a child take part in beheading two government soldiers, according to a United Nations report citing human-rights abuses by both sides in Syria’s civil war.

A conflict that began with anti-government protests amid widespread Arab revolts two years ago has mutated into a life-or-death battle pitting an Alawite-led minority, clinging to power with help from the Shiite Hezbollah militia, against Sunni-led rebels that count al-Qaeda fighters among their ranks.

While abuses by the opposition haven’t reached “the intensity and scale” of those committed by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and affiliated militias, they are becoming increasingly common and brutal, according to the report presented today in Geneva to the UN Human Rights Council.

Mass executions are publicly carried out in locations such as Daraa and Aleppo, where the rebels have established judicial and administrative authority, the 29-page report said. The number of extra-judicial killings and kidnappings by the opposition has risen, and about 86 child soldiers have been killed during combat, it said.

‘Reasonable Grounds’

The UN commission, led by Brazilian diplomat Paulo Pinheiro, said that while there were “reasonable grounds” to believe chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the 20-person team of investigators couldn’t confirm it.

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said today that tests had detected the presence of sarin in samples sent from Syria and that his country was “certain” the gas had been used in Syria on “several occasions and in a localized manner.”

With Assad barring access to Syria by outsiders, the UN report was based on 430 interviews with victims and firsthand witnesses to atrocities. It offers a glimpse into the country’s descent into chaos. It was produced by a four-member commission investigating war crimes in Syria.

The report drew attention to video footage, submitted by the Russian mission to the UN in Geneva, showing the decapitation of two regime soldiers, with a child responsible for one beheading. “Following investigation, it is believed that the video is authentic and the men were soldiers, killed as depicted,” the UN panel said.

Mass Killings

The findings cover a four-month period ending May 15 and say that 17 potential massacres took place during that time. Government-affiliated militia, known as Shabiha, are linked in the report to the mass killing of dozens of women and children in the Sunni coastal village of al-Bayda. In the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, the report says, armed anti-Assad groups executed 11 men who were bound and blindfolded.

Pro-Assad forces are guilty of sexual violence during house searches, at checkpoints and in detention centers, and torture of detainees is endemic, the report found. Since late January, more than 200 bodies have been found in Aleppo’s “river of martyrs,” as the Queiq River has become known.

The opposition is comprised of multiple anti-government factions, from exiled dissidents to armed militants, which have struggled to form a united front. As political leaders are negotiating efforts to assemble a broad opposition coalition to gain international support and legitimacy, factions fighting on the front lines are increasingly focusing on battlefield gains at any cost.

Radical Groups

The continuing violence has allowed radical groups, particularly the al-Qaeda linked Islamist militia Jabhat al-Nusra, to become more influential in day-to-day combat, the report said.

As reports alleging use of nerve gas multiply — with at least six possible incidents reported to the UN so far — the human-rights panel said it “is possible that anti-government armed groups may access and use chemical weapons.” Each side in the conflict has accused the other of chemical attacks and denied its own involvement.

The report played down comments last month by Carla Del Ponte, a member of the independent UN panel, who said there were signs that rebels, and not just government forces, had released nerve agents in combat.

“There is no compelling evidence that these groups possess such weapons or their requisite delivery systems,” the report said.

A separate UN team of scientists has been set up to investigate chemical warfare allegations. So far, the inspectors, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, haven’t been allowed to enter Syria to get a first-hand look at evidence and construct a chain of custody.

President Barack Obama has said Syrian government use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line,” though the U.S. lacks conclusive evidence that it has happened. Obama hasn’t said what the U.S. will do if chemical weapons use is confirmed.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Beheadings by Syrian Rebels Add to Atrocities, UN Says

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