Archive | October 1st, 2010



By Keith Johnson

For years, motion pictures and television programs have been rife with pro-Muslim sentiment.  

There can no longer be any denial of the fact that there is an obvious, deliberate and concerted effort by the Arab run media to win the hearts and minds of the American people.

Just take a look at this gallery of  Hollywood production stills.  Do you not see the blatant attempt to advance Islamic ideaology and portray Muslims as romantic and dashing role models for our young people to emulate?

Who can forget how audiences cheered on the Arab extremist who stood up against the evil Indiana Jones?

Read the rest of this great piece HERE

Posted in USAComments Off on THE ARABS RUN HOLLYWOOD



Blogging in Syria is difficult beyond our comprehension in the West, as the New York Times reports:

“Most of the Syrian media is still owned by the state. Privately owned media outlets became legal in 2001, as the socialist economy slowly began to liberalize following the accession of President Bashar al-Assad. But much of the sector is owned by members of the Syrian “oligarchy” — relatives of Mr. Assad and other top government officials. All of it is subject to intimidation and heavy-handed control.

“The first level is censorship,” said Ayman Abdel Nour, the founder of, the independent Web site where Mr. Ekhetyar works. “The second level is when they send you statements and force you to publish them.” Like many other journalists and dissidents, Mr. Abdel Nour has left the country and now lives abroad.

The basic “red lines” are well known: no criticism of the president and his family or the security services, no touching delicate issues like Syria’s Kurdish minority or the Alawites, a religious minority to which Mr. Assad belongs. Foreign journalists who violate these rules are regularly banned from the country (a fact that constrains coverage of Syria in this and other newspapers).

But the exact extent of what is forbidden is left deliberately unclear, and that vagueness encourages fear and self-censorship, many journalists here say. A 19-year-old female high school student and blogger, Tal al-Mallohi, was arrested late last year and remains in prison. Her blog had encouraged the Syrian government to do more for the Palestinians, but it scarcely amounted to real criticism, and the authorities have not given any reason for her detention. A number of bloggers have been arrested for expressing views deemed critical of the Syrian government or even other Arab governments, under longstanding laws that criminalize “weakening national sentiment” and other broadly defined offenses.

Others have been jailed for jokes. One blogger, Osama Kario, wrote a parody in 2007 of the famous “three Arab No’s”  “No electricity, no water, no Internet.” He was jailed for 28 days, and when he emerged he stopped blogging and would not speak to fellow journalists about his experience.”

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on ASSAD RED LINES IN SYRIA






Passengers grabbed Israeli weapons to stop the killing

In Uncategorized on October 1, 2010 by crescentandcross  



Posted in Middle EastComments Off on STOP THE KILLING’S



Finalist in UN Media Peace Awards 2010

01 Oct 2010

In April this year ABC Radio National’s 360 broadcast my documentary, “A Different Kind of Jew“, about Jewish dissent and Israel/Palestine.

This week I was informed the piece is a finalist in the 2010 United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Awards in the “Best Radio” section with my producer Sharon Davis and sound engineer Tim Nicastri. The winner is announced at the end of October.

I’m honoured and wish everybody good luck (well, you have to say all that).


David Cameron’s love affair with a Sudanese butcher

01 Oct 2010

We love war criminals for their nice cars and resources:

The Government is courting the regime of the indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir by declaring that relations with Sudan have entered a “new epoch”. The announcement came as Britain welcomed a trade delegation from the country which has near pariah status, for the first time since warrants for President Bashir’s arrest were issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, over atrocities in Darfur.

Khartoum’s high-level delegation met British government officials and business leaders on Wednesday to encourage investment in a country still targeted by US sanctions. It was the clearest example yet of how problematic William Hague’s new foreign policy, in which commercial interests are to trump ethical concerns, will be for the Coalition to implement. The change has already seen complaints that UK diplomatic missions have been reduced to commercial agencies to drum up business.

The “Opportunities in Sudan” networking event on Wednesday brought a delegation including senior members of Mr Bashir’s NCP party together with British counterparts including the UK ambassador to Sudan, Nicholas Kay. It comes after a visit by Henry Bellingham, the new minister for Africa, to Khartoum in July to boost trade and business ties. He told reporters there that Britain would be a “candid friend” to the regime in Sudan.


Afghans, your nation is paradise so please bugger off home

30 Sep 2010

This is truly criminal. The Australian government is seriously claiming that Afghanistan is safe for its citizens but I’ll allow you to read their choice of words:

Refugee groups fear a “flawed” government assessment of Afghanistan will unfairly taint asylum-seekers’ applications to stay in Australia.

The assessment by the Australian embassy in Kabul, dated February 21, says many ethnic Hazaras in Afghanistan are fleeing the country as economic migrants, not genuine refugees, and that they are living in a “golden age”.

However the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice was today condemned by refugee groups and greeted with scepticism by academic experts.

The Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre’s executive director and principal solicitor, David Manne, said the document was “notorious” and was one of the “key sources” used to reject Afghan asylum claims.


Remembering the Tamil struggle

30 Sep 2010

Some Tamils in Sri Lanka are trying to get their lives together after decades of discrimination which continues to this day. But in the Diaspora, maintaining pressure on Colombo is essential. Impunity is not the answer:

Another successful nationwide boycott campaign against clothing made in Sri Lanka was conducted Saturday, September 25, 2010 between 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM local time in several US cities and in London, UK. The United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) has been conducting Sri Lanka Boycott Campaign in 16 major cities across the US, with the aim of informing the consumers how they can make a difference in a far-away country to end oppression of people based on ethnicity and promote equality. ACT NOW, a human rights group based in London held simultaneous protests in front of GAP stores in six locations to high-light continuing oppression of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

The Boycott Sri Lanka rally was joined by hundreds of members, activists and supporters in major cities in California, Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington DC. The rally gained significant momentum in California from the students from the Stanford University joining the rally in San Francisco in front of GAP and Victoria’s Secret stores. An activist who joined with the Stanford University students said, “as long as the oppression of the Tamil people and the occupation of their land continue, we will carry on with our anti-apartheid style campaign against the 21st century apartheid regime in Sri Lanka.” He added “We call upon all the US companies that do business in Sri Lanka to pull out, as we see, it is an un-ethical business practice.”

The protesters held signs depicting the genocidal situation in Sri Lanka and calling to check the label and not to buy if it were made in Sri Lanka. The vice-president of USTPAC Dr. Ellyn Shander, leading the protest in New York city stated “It is imperative that consumers all over the world fight genocide and war crimes by boycotting companies doing business in countries with immoral human rights records and blood stained polices of genocide.” The activists passed out hundreds of flyers making the consumers aware of their unintended contribution to an oppressive regime. “We are asking Victoria’s Secret, GAP and other garment companies to get out of Sri Lanka and stop supporting genocide of the Tamil people,” said Dr. Shander, adding “We the consumers can make a difference! We walk in the shoes of those who broke apartheid in South Africa with the boycott of that oppressive government.”


Roll up for another few decades of settlement expansion in Palestine

30 Sep 2010

My following article appears on ABC’s Unleashed today:

Will they or won’t they? The international media were counting down the hours until Israel’s self-described “settlement freeze” ended this week.

Most Western journalists, based in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, looked for any signs from the government of Benjamin Netanyahu that would appease the perceived outrage of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas who claimed he would walk out of US-backed talks if colonies continued construction.

The elaborate dance came and went, building resumed and Palestinians were once again left standing at the altar with no concessions and less land without Zionist footprints.

In fact, if reporters had actually travelled around the West Bank during the last months they would have found extensive settler work. Dror Etkes writes in Haaretz that even according to official Israeli figures the number of housing units built in settlements barely reduced over the last 10 months. Etkes explains:

“The truth is that the settlers know better than anyone else that not only did construction in settlements continue over the last 10 months, and vigorously, but also that a relatively large part of the houses were built on settlements that lie east of the separation fence, such as Bracha, Itamar, Eli, Shilo, Maaleh Mikhmas, Maon, Carmel, Beit Haggai, Kiryat Arba, Mitzpeh Yeriho and others.”

In other words, illegal colonies on Palestinian land expanded and yet virtually nobody said anything about it. A two-state solution is impossible with creeping expansion on a daily basis. It’s no wonder the one-state solution, or a variation of it, is increasingly on the mainstream agenda.

US president Barack Obama spoke at the United Nations last week and warned both Palestinians and Israelis to get on-board with his efforts. If they did not, he said, “Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own state” and “Israelis will never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable neighbours who are committed to co-existence.”

But then the US president included this clincher: “The hard realities of demography will take hold.” This means that soon the numbers of Palestinians and Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel and Palestine, making an occupying Zionist state an apartheid entity by definition.

Tragically, realities on the ground are already apartheid-like and a fair and equitable division of land, called for by Washington, Australia and the EU, is delusional. This is what decades of Western indulgence has done to the Jewish state, criminally assisted by the Zionist lobby in the US and beyond. Witness the Jewish Forward editorial last week that praised Palestinian capitulation to Zionist demands, something America may be keen to accelerate.

Peter Beinart recently wrote in the Daily Beast that, “To be labelled a champion of peace by the American Jewish establishment, it turns out, a prime minister of Israel only really has to do one thing: be prime minister of Israel.”

Furthermore, countless Jewish groups work directly against Israel’s long-term interests. A recent investigation by IPS found Jewish groups in Europe receiving tax exemptions for assisting the IDF and illegal settlements.

In Australia, the media mouthpiece of the Israeli government, the Australian Jewish News (AJN), is equally incapable of being anything other than a repeater of Netanyahu government talking points. If somebody else were leader of the country, the AJN would mindlessly echo these, too. It is for these reasons of unthinking patriotism and nationalist fervour that I remain involved in Independent Australian Jewish Voices as an alternative to bombastic and pro-Zionist, settler positions.

The Israeli government has been committed to the colonial project in the West Bank for more than four decades. Palestinians living under occupation experience this catastrophe daily.

Take the town of Wadi Rahaal, on the desert outskirts of Bethlehem. Its residents are increasingly surrounded by the Efrat settlement and its security infrastructure. The 1,700 residents are close to prisoners in their own land. And, of course, Gaza remains under occupation.

The matrix of control of the settlements was shown to a journalist from the New York Times when Peace Now took her on an aerial tour of the northern West Bank. The group has even released an iPhone app to assist in following the ever-growing movement of the colonies. The Israeli government is so proud of its expansion that the tourism minister is planning West Bank tours “for internal tourism and for tourism from abroad”. Roll up and see Palestinians living in cages.

It’s almost redundant to write what is required to undo Israel’s self-destructiveness. Roger Cohen says in the New York Times that Obama “must now break some [Israelis] bones to get his way” and demand a complete settlement freeze.

Instead, Obama seems to be begging Netanyahu to extend the “freeze” for extensive US concessions. The world’s only super-power is again on its knees before its client state despite Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law Professor and self-described “Israel’s Attorney”, claiming on ABC Radio’s PM that Netanyahu is “very committed” to peace.

But it’s too late. The Palestinians are being asked to accept Israel as a Jewish state, immediately negating the full rights of the over 1 million Arabs inside Israel and acceptance of the legitimate legal rights of the millions of Palestinians with the right to return to ancestral lands. We can’t be surprised that countless Palestinian refugees in Lebanon prefer armed struggle than futile negotiations.

Author of the book, The Invention of the Jewish People, Shlomo Sand, argues that Israel can’t be both a Jewish state and an Israeli democracy and it appears to prefer the former:

“The trouble is that the Zionist enterprise, which created a new people here, is far from satisfied with its creation and prefers to see it as a bastard. It prefers to cling to the idea of a Jewish people-race, profiting for now from its imaginary existence.”

This week’s controversy was the speech at the UN by Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman calling for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to make way for a contiguous Zionist state. Netanyahu was angry about the timing of the speech but not the content. Lieberman is far more honest than the bulk of Israeli politicians; he articulates what many of them have long wanted to do. His recent suggestion was forcing Israeli Arabs to sign a loyalty oath to the Zionist state.

Another recent Lieberman call was that current peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should be about the exchange of land and populations and not land for peace; they must accept a purely Jewish state. Lamis Andoni writes on Al-Jazeera that accepting such an outrageous idea would be a betrayal of the decades-old struggle:

“Israel is pushing for Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state [because] it wants the Palestinian leadership in one swift move to legitimise the expulsion of Palestinian-Israelis and to end any discussion of the right of return.”

This is something that, thus far, neither Abbas nor Hamas would ever accept.

While the US and Israeli-backed Palestinian Authority, armed and trained by American Lieutenant General Keith Dayton to create a crack-team of thugs to crush Hamas opposition in the West Bank and suppress any protest, the international community have a choice.

Many in South Africa are using their historical experience to warn Israel that it faces growing isolation. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, amongst many others, are backing calls for the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to sever academic ties with Israel’s Ben Gurion University (BGU) due to its collusion with the occupation.

The ultimatum by UJ, issued on Wednesday, was that BGU “would have to work with Palestinian universities on research projects and stop its “direct and indirect support for the Israeli military and the occupation” or face exclusion.

A complete boycott was eventually shunned by the university but serious pressure applied.

The logic of boycott, divestment and sanctions is becoming increasingly clear, with Jews sometimes taking charge. The alternative is playing the game of endless negotiations that always move in one direction; South Africans have the moral authority to lead the way.

Tutu’s call to arms speaks for itself:

“Together with the peace-loving peoples of this Earth, I condemn any form of violence – but surely we must recognise that people caged in, starved and stripped of their essential material and political rights must resist their Pharaoh? Surely resistance also makes us human? Palestinians have chosen, like we did, the nonviolent tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

Antony Loewenstein is a journalist, blogger and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER



Will ‘Free’ schools use qualified teachers?

There is growing concern that ‘Free’ Schools will try emulate their private school friends and avoid employing trained teachers. Alasdair Smith, of the Anti Academies Alliance, thinks the government could be on dodgy ground. “I think these ministers have got the idea from their old private schools, where anyone can teach, without a formal qualification, but state-funded schools are different. The idea that free schools might not use qualified teachers would be very worrying for most parents because QTS is evidence that the teacher understands how to provide quality teaching and learning.”

Free schools might not use qualified teachers

Ed Balls attacks socially divisive ‘Free’ schools
Lisa Nandy MP raises concerns about the New Schools Network
Anti Academies Alliance literature on ‘Free’ schools and the New Schools network
New Literature

UNISON Briefing on ‘Free’ Schools:
Local Schools Network

Fiona Millar, Melissa Benn and others have set up a local schools network to defend our education system from the Tories and their New Schools Network:
Other News

What’s happening in Surrey? The BBC broke a story on Thursday that Surrey County Council want to turn all their secondary schools into Academies:
Yet today the TES ran an article that the head of education in Surrey is against Academy plans!
Would you let this man run your school? BBC programme on Toby Young and his Free School proposal. He gets a hard time from Anti Academies activists.

Anti Academies Newspaper – over 50,000 despatched

Over 50,000 newspapers have now been despatched around the country and are being distributed to parents, teachers, governors. It includes updates on the impact of the Academies Act, the case against ‘Free’ schools, who loses? consultation, campaign news.
Please download the order form and post in your order here
Or email in your order and we will send you an invoice.
Anti Academies DVD

We have an excellent new 13 minute DVD outlining the case against Academies and ‘Free’ Schools. It is perfect for union meetings / parent meetings / campaign meetings.
If you would like a copy they are £10 to union groups / £2 to parent and campaign groups. Send orders to the office and we will despatch them with an invoice.
Anti Academies poster

Download your copy here
Campaign materials

Make your campaign stall / meeting complete with Stickers / Balloons / Mugs / T Shirts
Having trouble keeping up with the news on Academies and Free Schools?

You can follow the Anti Academies Alliance on
Summary of Twitter news-




Will ‘Free’ schools use qualified teachers?

There is growing concern that ‘Free’ Schools will try emulate their private school friends and avoid employing trained teachers. Alasdair Smith, of the Anti Academies Alliance, thinks the government could be on dodgy ground. “I think these ministers have got the idea from their old private schools, where anyone can teach, without a formal qualification, but state-funded schools are different. The idea that free schools might not use qualified teachers would be very worrying for most parents because QTS is evidence that the teacher understands how to provide quality teaching and learning.”

Free schools might not use qualified teachers

Ed Balls attacks socially divisive ‘Free’ schools
Lisa Nandy MP raises concerns about the New Schools Network
Anti Academies Alliance literature on ‘Free’ schools and the New Schools network
New Literature

UNISON Briefing on ‘Free’ Schools
Local Schools Network

Fiona Millar, Melissa Benn and others have set up a local schools network to defend our education system from the Tories and their New Schools Network
Other News

What’s happening in Surrey?

The BBC broke a story on Thursday that Surrey County Council want to turn all their secondary schools into Academies
Yet today the TES ran an article that the head of education in Surrey is against Academy plans!
Would you let this man run your school?

BBC programme on Toby Young and his Free School proposal. He gets a hard time from Anti Academies activists.
Anti Academies Newspaper – over 50,000 despatched

Over 50,000 newspapers have now been despatched around the country and are being distributed to parents, teachers, governors. It includes updates on the impact of the Academies Act, the case against ‘Free’ schools, who loses? consultation, campaign news.
Please download the order form and post in your order here
Or email in your order and we will send you an invoice.
Anti Academies DVD

We have an excellent new 13 minute DVD outlining the case against Academies and ‘Free’ Schools. It is perfect for union meetings / parent meetings / campaign meetings.
If you would like a copy they are £10 to union groups / £2 to parent and campaign groups. Send orders to the office and we will despatch them with an invoice.
Anti Academies poster

Download your copy here
Campaign materials: Make your campaign stall / meeting complete with Stickers / Balloons / Mugs / T Shirts
Having trouble keeping up with the news on Academies and Free Schools?

You can follow the Anti Academies Alliance on Facebook-!/pages/Anti-Academies-Alliance/178831804728?ref=ts

Summary of Twitter news-





Settlers spray graffiti on mosque in Nablus, run over a man in Qalqiliya, attack a teenager in Hebron and

Settlers spray graffiti on mosque in Nablus, run over a man in Qalqiliya, attack a teenager in Hebron and

Sep 30, 2010



more news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Palestinians may continue talks if construction limited to settlement blocs
US envoy Mitchell meets Palestinian president Abbas in Ramallah as part of American, international effort to save peace talks; PLO Executive Committee to convene Thursday to discuss negotiations.,7340,L-3962220,00.htmlPalestinians expected to leave direct talks
After giving Netanyahu an extension of several days to stop the renewed building in the settlements, the Palestinian leadership is expected to decide to cut off contact on Saturday. aides defiant on settlement freeze ahead of Mitchell meet
President Barack Obama’s emissary, George Mitchell, is making a secretive last-minute attempt to rescue Mideast peace negotiations

Erekat calls on EU, US to enforce settlement halt
JERICHO (Ma’an) — Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat called on the US and EU officials to push Israel to extend its settlement construction moratorium during meetings on Wednesday.  Settlement activity in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem must be stopped,and the peace process given the chance it deserves, Erekat stressed in separate meetings with US consul general in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein and the EU representative to Palestine Christian Berger.

Obama in personal appeal to Netanyahu: Extend settlement freeze for two months
Netanyahu inclined to reject Obama’s offer, which includes string of security incentives, citing lack of political support.

EU’s Ashton: Settlement freeze can urge Palestinians to resume talks
Comments by EU foreign policy chief come following her announcement of a surprise visit to Israel, PA in another attempt to restart stalled negotiations.

Mitchell presses Israel to halt settlement construction
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Washington’s Mideast envoy on Wednesday was trying to wring an agreement out of Israel to bar new West Bank settlement construction and put foundering peace talks back on track.

Levin: White House pushing 60-day settlement freeze extension
Senior White House officials told a group of Jewish lawmakers Wednesday morning that the Obama administration is pushing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the now-lapsed settlement building moratorium for 60 days as one way to allow Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to continue, said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) in an exclusive interview with The Cable.

Barghouthi: Israeli higher court ruling racist
MP Mustafa Al-Barghouthi said that the Israeli higher court ruling allowing expulsion of tens of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah was a “serious, racist” decision.

The unorthodox Israeli settlement leader – who isn’t even a settler
Naftali Bennett, who lives in an affluent suburb of Tel Aviv, is a driving force behind Netanyahu’s decision not to extend the Israeli settlement freeze.

Freeze was meaningless, Philip Weiss
Great precise journalism by Matti Friedman of AP on how the settlement freeze was really just a slowdown, and hardly a slowdown, given the dropping of the freeze. “A few projects were delayed,” says Hagit Ofran of Peace Now. Let’s hope more mainstream news organizations pick up on this insult to American policy and intelligence.

* Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment:

UJ ultimatum to Israeli university
The South African University of Johannesburg (UJ) senate has warned to end its relationship with Israeli university Ben-Gurion (BGU) unless certain conditions are met.  In a statement released on Wednesday, the South African university’s highest academic body agreed that the Ben-Gurion University would have to work with Palestinian universities on research projects and stop its “direct and indirect support for the Israeli military and the occupation”.  “The conditions are that the memorandum of understanding governing the relationship between the two institutions be amended to include Palestinian universities chosen with the direct involvement of UJ,” the university said in a statement.  “Additionally, UJ will not engage in any activities with BGU that have direct or indirect military implications, this to be monitored by UJ’s senate academic freedom committee.  “Should these conditions not be met within six months, the memorandum of understanding will automatically lapse on April 1 2011,” UJ said.

Nilin journalist “determined to film”
Hamoudeh Amireh participates in the resistance against Israel’s settlements through his documentation of the grassroots struggle in the occupied West Bank village of Nilin. Jody McIntyre interviews for The Electronic Intifada. rally against buffer zone
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Marking the 10th anniversary of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Gaza’s Popular Committee organized a rally to voice dissent against Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank and no-go zone in Gaza.  Marching toward the border area, through an Israeli-declared “buffer zone” that reaches up to one kilometer in width according to UN surveys, demonstrators said several young men managed to install a Palestinian flag on a gate in the border fence.

Jordan unions urge boycott of cycling event with Israel (AFP)
AFP – Jordan’s trade unions called on Wednesday for a boycott of a cycling tour for environmental awareness, saying the event involving Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians was really a cover to normalise ties with the Jewish state.*

Nobel Peace Laureate Still Detained By Israel
Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire, is still imprisoned by Israel and awaiting deportation from the country.

Rosengarten, sole American on Jewish boat, says she was asked to prove that she was Jewish, Philip Weiss
We have received two accounts of the treatment of passengers and crew on the Jewish boat to Gaza. The first is from the American passenger on the boat, Lillian Rosengarten of New York, a former refugee from Nazi Germany. The second is from Nurit Peled-Elhanan, an Israeli married to Rami Elhanan, one of the passengers. Rosengarten…

#BDS: 6,000 Irish shoppers demand supermarket stops stocking Israeli goods
Today, Thursday 29th July 2010, at 1pm, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) delivered a petition to Dunnes Stores signed by 6,000 shoppers across Ireland. The petition demands that Dunnes Stores stop stocking Israeli products, until Israel respects Palestinian rights and international law. Present at the handing-in were Brendan Archbold, the trade union official at the centre of the 1980s Dunnes strike when workers refused to handle South African goods, Freda Hughes IPSC National Chairperson, Aengus O’Snodaigh of Sinn Fein along with supporters of the campaign and members of both the Palestinian and South African communities in Ireland.

#BDS: Israeli Occupation to Evergreen Divestment
When: Oct 7, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Where: The Evergreen State College – Seminar II, E 1105,
Join a discussion and talk on the history and aims of Israel’s occupation over Palestinian land and people, with a focus on the injustices produced by Israeli settlements, land theft and violations of international law.The Conflict Over Palestine and the Imperative of Justice – a talk by Steve Niva, TESC Faculty Middle East Studies.  Join a long history of Palestinian resistance to occupation and the recent turn to global civil society and non-violent strategies of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), which have appeared on the Evergreen campus during the past year.  Sponsored by TESC Divest.

#BDS: BDS Goes South
In a landmark event held in New Delhi on 22-23 September 2010, the conference “A Just Peace for Palestine” ended with a clear call for BDS as a strategy for realizing justice for Palestinians. The conference was co-organized by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the Committee for Solidarity with Palestine, the All India Peace and Solidarity Organization, and the recently established Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. The conference ended with a resolution that called upon “the Indian government to end its military ties with Israel and return to its earlier commitment to the cause of the Palestinian people.” The conference also affirmed that “the world must declare that Israel is an apartheid state. It must call for global boycott and sanctions on Israel as long as it continues its illegal occupation of Palestine and its apartheid policies.” The resolution appealed to “people in India to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as a show of solidarity with the Palestine people and their just struggle.” A plan of action was announced, in which several steps to show solidarity with Palestinians were outlined, particularly the launching of BDS campaigns and other measures by people’s action groups in the Asian region.

#BDS: SCORPIONS: “Wind of Change” for Justice or Apartheid?: An Open Letter from PACBI
Dear Scorpions,  Occupied Ramallah, 28 September 2010 — The Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has learned from various sources that you are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on October 4, 2010.  Your performance in Israel was only recently announced on your official tour website. Prior to this, when we contacted your agents and lawyers to inquire about your performance we received ambiguous responses. Your now scheduled performance violates the appeal of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement [1] which urges people of conscience throughout the world to isolate Israel until it ends its colonial and apartheid oppression against the Palestinian people, as was done against the apartheid regime in South Africa. We urge you, as a band known for its commitment to support the “wind of change” and the falling of the Berlin Wall, not to perform in apartheid Israel that is building a far more cruel and illegal [2] wall on occupied Palestinian land.

Nationwide Launch Of Film On Palestinian-Israeli Nonviolence Struggle
Oklahoma City, OK—EthnoGraphic Media (EGM) marked the United Nation’s International Day of Peace by kicking off a 12-day launch of its latest documentary, Little Town of Bethlehem.  The standing-room-only event at Boston College was hosted by the Faith, Peace and Justice Program in the Department of Sociology. The film director, Jim Hanon was interviewed on FOX Americas News HQ with Shannon Bream on Sunday September 26th.  Fox News anchor Shannon Bream introduced the film as a documentary that imagines peace in the Middle East.  Showing several clips from the film, Bream and Hanon discussed the need to reach people, especially college age people with the message of nonviolence.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (23-29 September 2010)

In Gaza: Israel Opens One Border Crossing, Keep The Other Closed
Israeli authorities ordered the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip to open, but kept Al-Mentar (Erez) crossing closed for the entry of goods. my Cairo hotel, I meet a family that is desperate to get to Gaza, Susan Johnson
Mondoweiss correspondent Susan Johnson of Doylestown, Pa., has been stuck in Cairo, trying to get into Gaza, where two organizations have requested her services. Her latest report.  Here I sit in my cheap little Cairo hotel…people coming and going, some more interesting than others….a mother in her sixties with two adult sons she constantly berates…barges into their rooms without knocking…I guess they should be happy they aren’t all in the same room with her.. Lots of backpackers stopping in for a shower and the sights in Cairo……A group of three stands out…two gals and a guy from Australia …divers….on a nine month jaunt around the world……. a 56 year old woman from Holland testing out a relationship with a man from Egypt…..she met him on the internet……..a very beautiful woman in her thirties…..five inch heels…tight jeans…leaves the hotel around 11PM, returns around 3AM…..she sleeps late into the afternoon.

* Violence/Aggression & Provocations:

Man Wounded After Being Rammed By Settler’s Vehicle
Palestinian medical sources reported on Wednesday at night that a Palestinian man from Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, was moderately wounded after being rammed by the a speeding settlers’ vehicle.

Father says son assaulted by Hebron settlers

HEBRON (Ma’an) — A group of at least four young men from the Kiryat Arba settlement attacked a young boy east of Hebron on Wednesday night. Jawdat Al-Ja’bari said that 4 settlers attacked his son Baha while he was on his way home. He said the teen was left with bruises on his hands, chest, and torso and was taken to hospital to check for internal bleeding.  Al-Ja’bari said he filed a complaint against the settlers with Israeli police, who did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Palestinian Worker Wounded By Explosive Dropped By Israeli Army
Medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that a Palestinian man was wounded by unexploded ordinance, apparently dropped by the Israeli army during the war on Gaza last year. Palestinian Wounded By Israeli Military Fire In Gaza
One Palestinian resident was wounded by Israeli military fire, on Wednesday morning, as he was working at one of the evacuated settlements in the Gaza Strip, local sources reported.

Israeli border police break into homes and demand to be served coffee in Silwan, Joseph Dana
On Tuesday evening, Israeli border police and special Yasma forces rampaged through the East Jerusalem city of Silwan. Their presence on the ground was due to unrest that has been engulfing the city since last week’s murder of a 35 year old Palestinian at the hands of a private settler security guard. Recently, I was on the ground and witnessed soldiers urinating and defecating on the roofs of private Palestinian homes, throwing bottles (water and beer) on to Palestinians pedestrians  on the street and breaking windows left and right.  From the ground I tweeted:  “Soldiers are trashing roof tops with urine and feces in Silwan. We are cleaning up and putting the waste in front of the settler house”  “The police have no shame at all. They have broken a window now and poked their heads into the house demanding coffee”  “They are also throwing bottles from roofs on to the main streets. The border police are doing this that is”  Below is the first in a series of videos that document these petty, routine and all to familiar crimes of occupation which the Israeli army commits on a daily basis.

Israeli Settlers Write Slogans Call For Mosque Demolition In Nablus
Israeli extremists settlers called, on thursday, for the demolition of a mosque in the West Bank village of Burin, near Nablus.

Unrest continues after East Jerusalem killing
SILWAN, occupied East Jerusalem (IPS) – Tension, the twisted carcasses of gutted vehicles, buses with smashed windows, smoldering dumpsters, streets riddled with rubber-coated steel bullets and empty cartridge cases, tear gas and air thickened with black soot from burning tires marked the beginning of the fifth day Monday of continuous demonstrations in East Jerusalem.

Israeli Military Raids Houses In Jerusalem
The Israeli military launched large-scale raids of houses, Wendesday morning, in several neighbourhoods in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, south of al-Aqsa mosque.

* Detainees:

Detentions made in Al-Aqsa following settler visit
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police detained several men from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Thursday, following reports that settlers had entered the area and sparked anger.  Minister of Waqf and religious affairs in Gaza Taleb Abu Sha’ar sounded the alarm shortly before noon, saying Jewish worshipers had made the provocative move of entering the Haram Ash-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, where the mosque is located within the Old City of Jerusalem.

Ansar Al-Asra: Israel kidnaps about 500 Palestinian children every year
Ansar Al-Asra, a human rights organization, reported Thursday that Israel kidnaps about 500 Palestinian prisoners under age 18 every year and there are still 310 of them in its jails. 70,000 Palestinians jailed since intifada
The PSC issued Thursday on the tenth anniversary of the Aqsa intifada a comprehensive report which found that Israeli authorities have since the intifada arrested 70,000 Palestinians.

* War Criminals & their Palestinian and American enablers:

Silwan studies Israeli use of expired weapons
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Silwan residents will launch an investigation into the use of expired and oxidized tear-gas canisters by the Israeli military which locals say pose health risks.  A news conference was held at the Silwan protest tent in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, where a local committee said a preliminary investigation had been undertaken after residents reported an increase in symptoms of fatigue, high fever, vomiting, and shortness of breath in the wake of recent clashes in the neighborhood.

U.N. rights body backs critique of Gaza flotilla raid (Reuters)
Reuters – The United Nations Human Rights Council Wednesday endorsed a fiercely critical report on Israel’s raid on a Gaza aid flotilla in May but stopped short of pressing for an international criminal inquiry.* report: Israeli interception of the Gaza flotilla was illegal, Adam Horowitz
from the UN report into the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Notice that the report also makes clear that the entire Israeli blockade of Gaza is illegal as a form of collective punishment. The following appears on pages 14 and 15 of the UN report.

Palestinian Rights Groups Slam Gaza Vote at UN
Palestinian human rights groups have condemned a U.N. resolution backed by their own government that delays action on a report alleging war crimes during last year’s Gaza conflict.

PA decision at UN a “betrayal of Gaza victims’ rights”
As members of the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations, we strongly condemn the decision of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to support a UN Human Rights Council resolution that accords further time for ineffective domestic investigations, thus effectively failing to pursue accountability for crimes committed during the Israeli offensive code-named “Operation Cast Lead.”

Palestinian Authority Recommends Whitewashing Gaza War Crimes, Steve Lendman
Who do they serve anyway? It’s clear from the sham peace talks and a new development. The Mahmoud Abbas-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) wants Israel absolved of accountability for Cast Lead crimes of war and against humanity. No matter that conclusive evidence exposed them, the result of the IDF’s 23-day day rampage, killing over 1,400, injuring over 5,000, many severely, and practically leveling wide areas of Gaza, affecting mostly civilian and non-military related targets. Besides other investigations, two UN Human Rights Council (HRC) ones unequivocally condemned Israel’s lawlessness, each demanding accountability.

Once again, PA caves on Goldstone Report, Philip Weiss
Complete cave: The Palestinian Authority today acted in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to freeze the Goldstone Report, preventing it from going to the Security Council and International Criminal Court.    Raji Sourani of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights blasted the PA’s action as a “grave mistake.”

* More from Israel’s Arab Helpers:

Islamic Jihad: PA arrests West Bank leader
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority forces detained a member of Islamic Jihad on Thursday, the movement’s Gaza branch said.  Khader Adnan was detained from his workplace in the town of Qabatiya in the Jenin district, a statement from the party said.  “Adnan has suffered medical troubles since his release from Israeli prisons in recent years,” a movement said, calling for his immediate release.  According to the party, Adnan’s detention was politically motivated.

ATFP Organizes Meetings With Zionist Groups: Hussein Ibish, Washington Concierge To The PNA
The ANTI-PALESTINE Task Force operating under the misnomer American Task Force on Palestine describes itself as an “independent voice for Palestinian-Americans and their supporters…”, but as was clearly demonstrated during Mahmoud Abbas’ recent visit to the US, when he couldn’t find any Palestinian community leader willing to meet with him, the overwhelming majority of Palestinian-Americans refuse to associate with the Palestinian National Authority or the ATFP which operates as the Washington public relations firm for the Israeli-sponsored, Western-funded, and American-supervised PNA.  During that visit Abbas did meet with representatives of 50 Zionist organizations.”Peace” Talks/Political Developments

Egyptian FM ‘not optimistic’ over talks
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit said he did not expect peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to continue, “despite international efforts.”  In a televised interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV, Abu Al-Gheit said Wednesday that he believed Israel’s refusal to extend a moratorium on settlement construction had stymied the peace process.  A final decision on the talks will be made after Arab foreign ministers meet in Lybia in the coming days, Abu Al-Gheit said, adding that he believed ministers would hold the “decisive meeting to discuss the negotiations which stopped before they even began.”

‘Bibi understood and really appreciated how much we put together [in] this package … but felt it just wasn’t enough,’
“Dennis said, ‘Bibi understood and really appreciated how much we put together [in] this package … but felt it just wasn’t enough,'” the lawmaker said, adding that the U.S. and Israel “are still talking.”  Ross told the lawmakers that the United States and the Palestinians understood the “political necessity” for Netanyahu to honor his pledge not to extend a 10 month partial West Bank settlement freeze that expired last weekend, the lawmaker said. “Just as the United States and Israel understand the political necessity for [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas of honoring his pledge to secure a meaningful or significant settlement construction halt,” he continued. By not taking quick action after the settlement freeze expired with no deal, Abbas “demonstrated Palestinian understanding” of Netanyahu’s political position, the lawmaker said Ross conveyed….  The White House briefers “also talked about the conversations the U.S. is having with the Palestinians and the Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia to try to find a way to allow a compromise to be reached on the subject of settlement expansion in order to allow negotiations to continue,” the lawmaker said….  Not specific to the message conveyed in the briefing, one Washington Middle East expert emphasized “that the main point is that the U.S. is waiting for an answer from Bibi, and it is not looking good right now.”* Other News:

Palestinians mark anniversary of second Intifada
It is ten years since the start of the second Intifada in the occupied Palestinian territories. The uprising claimed 5,500 Palestinian lives as well as more than 1,000 Isrealis. Al Jazeera talks to Ahmad Abed Rabbo, the young Palestinian who was part of President Yasser Arafat’s presidential guard at the time of the fighting. This is his story.

Dubai police chief says Mossad behind death threats
Commander that led investigation into the killing of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh claims Israeli agents warned him he would be targeted.
Syrian-occupied Golan Heights not to be under negotiation: FM
DAMASCUS, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) — Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Tuesday the Syrian-occupied Golan Heights are not to be under negotiation, the Syrian official SANA news agency reported.  Al-Moallem made the comments during his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in New York on the sidelines of the 65th UN General Assembly’s meetings as they discussed Middle East issues, basically Mideast peace process and situation in Lebanon and Iraq.’s electronic warfare capabilities
JERUSALEM, Sept. 29 (UPI) — Israel’s electronic warfare capabilities have been given a rare public airing.  The Israeli air force’s Sky Crows squadrons, which on Sept. 6, 2007, deployed 10 F-15I fighter jets to attack Syria’s purported nuclear reactor, built along the Euphrates River and modeled after the North Korean reactor in Yongbyon and financed with Iranian assistance, have spoken to the media, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

“Operation Orchard” was never publicly confirmed by Israel
Israel’s reportedly used electronic warfare to neutralize Syria’s air defense systems.  Pinhas Buhris, who served as director general of the Defense Ministry at the time, in discussing Israel in developing state-of-the-art electronic warfare capabilities, said at the time: “You need this kind of capability. You’re not being responsible if you’re not dealing with it. And, if you can build this kind of capability, the sky’s the limit.”  Israel’s Sky Crows Squadron commander Lt. Col. Oren observed: “The current theater of operations for aircraft is challenged and threatened by advanced surface-to-air missile systems in enemy territory. Our objective is to activate our systems and to disrupt and neutralize the enemy’s systems.”

* Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Pollard – “Common Sense and Impudence” Richard Sale
I was the reporter who broke the story of how the Israeli government was selling the pilfered Pollard material to the Eastern Bloc in return for increased emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union…

Avigdor Lieberman’s UN Speech Shows the True Face of Israel
Yisrael Beiteinu’s strong third-place showing in Israel’s February 2009 elections for the Knesset was met with dread and disgust from many different quarters.  Avigdor Lieberman, the founder and leader of the far-right party and the current Foreign Minister, ran a campaign filled with fascist overtones as he called for “loyalty oaths” to be signed by Palestinian citizens of Israel.’s vision is a reality
For the second time in as many weeks, Benjamin Netanyahu has been forced to issue a statement distancing himself from comments made by his hardline foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

In NYT, Robt Wright dares to suggest that Palestinians should have a right to, unh, vote, Philip Weiss
Robert Wright of the New York Times is a great journalistic ally in the road ahead. Because he knows the story, because he understands that the current situation is oppressive, because he’s in the mainstream, and because he couldn’t really care less about Zionism. Today he has a pretty good piece about demanding a one-state solution as a means to a two-state solution. Though it is circumlocutory, its essence is that Palestinians should have a right to– sit down– vote. And he suggests very indirectly that BDS is the path. Good work. Onward. Remember, Wright is working in a den of Jewish nationalism, the MSM, so someone must bake him a cake with a hacksaw blade inside it, so that we might look forward to his continuing liberation from the militaristic and often-racist rationalizations of the status quo.

Makovsky: Obama will give it up for Israel for a two-month freeze extension, Ira Glunts
According to a startling report in the Jerusalem Post, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy told Israeli Army Radio that President Obama is asking (read begging) Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept a two-month temporary settlement freeze.  In exchange, Washington will promise never to bother Israel about freezing the settlements again and pledge to veto all UN peace initiatives for one year.  Among other concessions, Makovsky claims the deal includes American support for a long-term (read permanent) Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley.

Sailing into the storm, Philip Weiss
One of the most disturbing things about visiting Israel and Palestine is seeing the bifurcated reality. Political freedom and prosperity in Israel, despair and 60 years of no-rights right across the Green Line. Time Magazine brilliantly captured this separation in its cover story on Israelis making too much money to care about peace. Everything’s in the bubble, the Palestinian situation is being contained, and this explains why, historically, people resort to violence. As Patrick Henry wrote (in a quote Annie dug up), “Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament…. If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending… we must fight!”

The Jewish boat and the ‘peace process’, Pamela Olson
As yet another boat—a Jewish one this time—is forcefully boarded by the Israeli navy while attempting to run the blockade of Gaza, a natural question for many Americans is: Why are boats still trying to run the blockade when Abbas and Netanyahu are in the middle of a peace process?  Let’s leave aside for the moment that the blockade, which imprisons 1.5 million people, destroys their economy, and denies them desperately-needed medical and educational resources, is an illegal form of collective punishment.  Let’s talk instead about the peace process. It’s fore-ordained to fail by virtually all knowledgeable experts. Why?

Palestinian group sells out to the lobby, MJ Rosenberg
This is hard to understand
until one realizes that this is just an example of politicians acting like politicians (i.e, with no regard for the people they claim to represent).  During their recent visits to the United States, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad made absolutely no headway with the Obama administration. Although the idea of negotiating with Netanyahu while he is building more settlements is ridiculous on its face, the administration allowed Israel to end the settlements freeze. It did say, however, that it was “disappointed” but, other than that, the White House had no criticism of Netanyahu. It’s back to the policy of previous administrations: no criticism of Israel in even or odd numbered years.  So Fayyad and Abbas have decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Under the tutelage of the American Task Force On Palestine, they have decided to join up with the Jewish far right in this country.  Specifically, the ATFP is hooking up with The Israel Project, a fringe organization well to the right of AIPAC. The love affair began months ago but culminated at a dinner in New York during the recent visit which Fayyad, ATFP, and The Israel Project treated as their “coming out” party.  So what’s wrong with Palestinians “reaching out” to Jews.

Strenger than Fiction / Political learnings for make benefit of understanding glorious nation of Israel
Israel after years of dedicated experimentation has developed the Glorious New Method of Government by Chaos.

Peace Process to Nowhere, FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY
The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reports that President Obama begged Prime Minister Netanyahu to extend his settlement freeze in order to save the so-called peace talks.  As a quid pro quo, Obama is reported to have promised Netanyahu that (1) Israel could resume settlement construction if the peace negotiations failed to produce results and (2) that the United States would give Israel written assurances of its commitment to Israel’s security (suggesting a formal peace treaty perhaps?).  Despite Obama’s desperation,  Netanyahu blew Obama off and allowed the so-called freeze to expire.   If, as is likely, this report is true, Israel has humiliated the United States once again — a fact that will no doubt be deemed irrelevant by Israel’s shills on both sides of the aisle in Congress, not to mention the mainstream media.

It’s Not What You Say, it’s How You Say it, Joharah Baker for MIFTAH
My mother used this line on me all the time when I was growing up. When I felt I had been done a grave injustice by my unfair parents – which was obviously every other day as a teenager – I would argue my point in rants and raves, flaying my arms and blaring in the highest decibel humanly possible. When the dust would finally settle, my mother would calmly advise me to choose my words carefully, lower my voice and get my point across – which she sometimes conceded was legitimate – in a way that would be well received on the other end. “It’s not necessarily what you are saying,” she would tell me. “It’s how you say it.”  I am reminded of that maxim frequently as I listen to Palestine’s leaders defend our cause. In my opinion, there is no cause more just than that of Palestine’s. International law is behind us, most of the world has rallied for the creation of a Palestinian state and many good minded, well-intentioned people have pledged their support and solidarity with us. Nonetheless, despite all of these positive factors, we are still stateless, misunderstood and accused of being intransigent, violent and uncooperative. In part, this is due to the unwavering support Israel gets from the United States, even when the former does not move in the exact direction the Americans would like them to. Given that the US is the only superpower left in the world, its word holds a mighty amount of weight and other countries follow suit if only for association.

* Lebanon:

Internal differences over STL funding could lead to Cabinet collapse, civil strife – analysts
BEIRUT: Irreconcilable differences between Lebanon’s two main political camps over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) have Lebanon teetering on the edge of political crisis and civil disobedience, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Wednesday.

Hezbollah to block Hariri probe financing: official (AFP)
AFP – Hezbollah will try to block further Lebanese financing of a UN-backed court probing the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, a party official said Wednesday amid a deepening political crisis over the issue.** Iraq:

Wednesday: 2 Iraqis Killed, 23 Wounded
At least two Iraqis were killed and 23 more were wounded in various attacks. A suspected Iranian suicide bomber was also killed. Meanwhile, Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders is criticizing Iraqi security forces for perpetrating unreported attacks on journalists. Also, the United States is proposing to sell Iraq $4.2 billion in weapons and aircraft.

Attacks on Baghdad Green Zone Surge
The heavily fortified Green Zone in Iraq’s capital has in recent weeks come under an intensifying barrage of rocket attacks. Plans $4.2bn Arms Sales to Iraq
The Pentagon issued a proposal on Monday to sell weapons worth $4.2bn to Iraq, including 18 F-16 fighter aircraft, Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, laser-guided bombs and reconnaissance equipment.

Al-Sadr Agrees to al-Maliki Second Term in Return for Guarantees
Sources in the National Iraqi Alliance [NIA] that is led by Ammar al-Hakim have confirmed that leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada al-Sadr, following pressure from Iran, has agreed to State of Law [SLC] candidate Nuri al-Maliki remaining in office for a second term “in return for guarantees.”

Political impasse deters Iraqis from going home: U.N. (Reuters)
Reuters – The flow of displaced Iraqis returning to their homes after years of war has slowed considerably since a March election as politicians wrangle over a new government, U.N. officials said Wednesday.*

Lack of Iraq govt hampering intel gathering: US general (AFP)
AFP – Failure to form an Iraqi government nearly seven months after elections has hampered the efforts of security forces to gather intelligence on insurgents, a US general said on Wednesday.*

Al Qa’eda ‘abducting their sons from Iraq’
BAGHDAD // Dozens of children born to al Qa’eda fighters in Iraq have been abducted by their fathers, prompting fears they will be brought up abroad as the next generation of Islamist militants.  Iraqi women who were forced to marry foreign al Qa’eda volunteers have reported infant boys being snatched away by their husbands and never heard from again.  An Iraqi charity working to support the al Qa’eda wives, many of whom were effectively presented as gifts to the militants, said the abductions posed a grave and long-term danger to Iraq and other countries.

* U.S. and other world news:

Trooper boasted about killing Iraqi family, Wasilla soldier says
SEATTLE — Staff. Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, a central figure in the Afghanistan war crimes case against Western Washington-based soldiers, boasted about murdering a family while he served in Iraq, according to a sworn statement from a fellow soldier obtained by The Seattle Times.  When Gibbs first arrived in Afghanistan, he began talking to other soldiers about “getting away with some of these things,” according to Spc. Jeremy Morlock, a 22-year-old soldier from Wasilla who is now accused of helping Gibbs murder three civilians in Afghanistan.  Morlock told Army investigators that Gibbs told some platoon members he had developed a plan to kill Iraqis driving in a car, and looked for a chance to carry it out. The opportunity arrived one day while he was crossing a road carrying a Squad Automatic Weapon — a powerful machine gun, according to Morlock. Gibbs told the soldiers he “turned around and sprayed down the vehicle” that carried the family — then covered up the murders by telling his commanders that the car had failed to stop, according to Morlock’s statement.

A sad joke: Pakistan threatens to stop protecting NATO supply lines
Pakistan has told NATO leaders it will stop protecting U.S. and NATO supply lines to Afghanistan if foreign aircraft stage further cross-border attacks against fleeing militants, security officials said Tuesday. threatens Pakistan: Obama: ‘We need to make clear to people that the cancer is in Pakistan’
If, God forbid, the SUV had blown up in Times Square, – Obama would be forced to do things that Pakistan would not like. “No one will be able to stop the response and consequences,” the security adviser said. “This is not a threat, just a statement of political fact.”

Clinton warns Pakistan to make the rich pay up
The United States will set tougher conditions on its aid to foreign governments, including an expectation that rich foreigners won’t skip out on their taxes while Americans bankroll things their nations need, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday.

U.S. looks at ways to control militant websites
A House subcommittee hears testimony on sites promoting terrorist groups and extremist ideology. One expert suggests studying the sites for information, closing them or providing countering ideology.  Militant websites are becoming more accessible and appealing to Americans, experts told members of Congress on Wednesday, adding that the sites must be monitored and some should be shut down.,0,374942.story

FBI targets US Palestine activists
Searches, subpoenas, but no charges for anti-war activists ‘providing support to terrorists’ in Colombia and Palestine.

Activist berates White House, Clinton for honoring ‘war criminal’ Kissinger
It’s been more than forty years since Henry Kissinger was giving advice to Richard Nixon on the illegal bombing of Cambodia, but the 87 year old former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State remains a controversial figure.

Afghan Peace Impossible Unless Foreign Forces Leave: Hamid Gull: Gen. Hamid Gull described the government of Afghanistan and its members as puppets and added that the establishment of the High Council of Peace meant to start peace deals with the Taliban will have no positive results.

Robert Gates: ‘We’re Not Ever Leaving’ Afghanistan
In a shocking indication of a split between the White House and the Pentagon over the war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes that the U.S. military will never leave the war-torn country.  During a dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Afghan President Hamid Karzai in May, Gates reminded the group that he still feels guilty for his role in the first President Bush’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, according to Bob Woodward’s new book, “Obama’s Wars.”

US slaps Iran with more sanctions
The new sanctions affect eight Iranian officials, who according to the US, took part in rampant human rights abuses.

Prominent Iranian blogger jailed for more than 19 years
Amnesty International has expressed concern over the sentencing of an Iranian-Canadian blogger to more than 19 years in prison for his online comments.  Amnesty International has today expressed concern over the sentencing of an Iranian-Canadian blogger to more than 19 years in prison for his online comments.  According to the Iranian website Mashreghnews, Hossein Derakhshan was convicted by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of “cooperating with hostile states“, “propaganda against the system”, “propaganda in favour of counter-revolutionary groups, “insults to the holy sanctities”, and “the set-up and management of vulgar and obscene websites”.

Turkish prime minister hints at another attempt to remove headscarf ban
ISTANBUL: Turkey’s prime minister said on Wednesday a law that prohibits women wearing the Muslim headscarf at universities was against freedom of belief, in his strongest hint yet the AK Party might try again to lift the ban.

Bahrain blames outside parties for Shiite unrest
MANAMA: Shiite activists arrested for anti-regime activities were trained and financed abroad, Bahrain’s foreign minister charged in an interview published Wednesday, while insisting he was not blaming Iran. “They received training – and – money from abroad,” Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa told the Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.

Bahrain: Rescind Travel Ban on Rights Defenders
(New York) – Bahrain should immediately rescind a travel ban against prominent human rights defenders whom authorities recently prevented from leaving the country, Human Rights Watch said today.

Rights activists share Alternative Nobel (AP)
AP – Activists from Nepal, Nigeria, Brazil and Israel were named the winners Thursday of this year’s Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “alternative Nobel,” for work that includes fighting to save the Amazon rain forest and bringing health care to Palestinians cut off from services.*

Critics say Indian laws on cow rights deliberately targets nation’s Muslims
NEW DELHI: Life for 42-year-old Ashok Malik, a hardline Hindu activist who lives on the outskirts of New Delhi, is dedicated to one cause: stopping the slaughter of cows. Malik’s cow-protection team of 30 men is trained to chase trucks transporting cows and raid slaughter houses with the police to nab those selling beef in the Indian capital.

World Cup jamming in Jordan
Fresh allegations have emerged over who jammed the signal of Al Jazeera Sport during the South Africa World Cup, and why. Viewers in the Middle East had their picture ruined during matches. Now the British newspaper The Guardian is claiming the jamming signal came from the town of as-Salt, near Amman in Jordan. Richard Martin reports.

Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America’s Military Strategy in the Muslim World
Greatly expanded U.S. military Special Ops teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins create a threat to our security.

Bart Peeters, “As’ad AbuKhalil: ‘The Shift from a Unipolar US World to a Multipolar World Is Overstated'”
Q: And on to the $64,000 question. Do you see an attack on Iran happening anytime soon whether launched by the US or Israel? AbuKhalil: No. It is very unlikely. Neither Israel nor the US has the will to do it. The more they talk about it, the more it shows that they are now resorting to the alternative of propaganda and sanctions, banking on a Green Revolution, which is not going to materialize. The Saudis and Saudi-owned papers write about it all the time because they would love this scenario. But they have been writing about it for 40 years, and they are forever claiming the war on Iran is coming next month.

What Is Distinctive About Arab-American Writing Today? Ten Leading Arab-American Writers Speak to the Huffington Post (PHOTOS)
A few months after 9/11 I was invited to a conference at Tufts University on “Arab-American Writing Post 9/11.” I submitted an abstract for a paper entitled “A Rabid American Writing Today.” The organizers corrected the title thinking “Rabid” was a typo! To write and try to publish (let alone work, and live) in the U.S. while Arab or Muslim after 9/11, means choosing one of two paths. The first entails self-orientalization and on it one proceeds to perform one’s circumscribed role as the entertaining, but always safe and grateful Arab in the grand political and cultural circus. There are always openings and many Arab-Americans are more than willing to play the role (you know the names). There might be an improvised moment here or there and some indignation, but the narrative is, more or less, fixed for the Uncle Toms. The other path is that of standing outside the coliseum and distracting and disturbing the citizens-spectators on their way in or out. Screaming at times, if necessary, to point to other directions. Whispering, at others, into their ears stories about barbarians both in Rome itself and abroad. It’s not easy being a barbarian in Rome. The Romans rarely listen, but the barbarian has to keep it real.

Colbert warns of Muslim vampire ‘sleeper-in-coffin cells’
“Certainly we can live side-by-side,” Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert said Tuesday night. “But can we be dead side-by-side?”  Folks planning to “March to Keep Fear Alive” with Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert on the day before Halloween — Devil’s Night — may be “terrified that they don’t know what to be scared of.”  “Live Muslims” are an “oldie but goodie” to fear, Colbert joked, before discussing how one small town in upstate New York is more worked up about the “dead ones.”

New American Film On The Arab Stereotype
USA – PNN – To redress the dangerous representational bias of Arabs and Arab Americans in the media, American filmmaker Mika Johnson, and collaborating artists, have launched an educational online initiative that includes two preview trailers for a film that reverses the Arab stereotype within a larger examination of America at a moment of spiritual reckoning.  ImageFar from being terrorists, the Arabs in “AMERIKA: a notebook in three parts,” an in-development feature length film, are heroes, twice coming to the rescue of the film’s main character Kat, a young Japanese woman traveling across the country in search of her long-lost father.

Makovsky: Obama will give it up for Israel for a two-month freeze extension

Sep 30, 2010

Ira Glunts


According to a startling report in the Jerusalem Post, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy told Israeli Army Radio that President Obama is asking (read begging) Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept a two-month temporary settlement freeze.  In exchange, Washington will promise never to bother Israel about freezing the settlements again and pledge to veto all UN peace initiatives for one year.  Among other concessions, Makovsky claims the deal includes American support for a long-term (read permanent) Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley.

This deal seems ludicrously biased in favor of Israel, which calls the veracity of the report into question.  However, it is noteworthy that David Makovsky is a close associate of Dennis (Israel’s Lawyer) Ross, who is now the President’s closest White House adviser on Middle East policy.

It is widely believed that Ross angered Obama, who hates leaks, early in his Presidency by telling the press that he (Ross) would be appointed “Middle East Czar.”  As a result, Obama exiled Ross to a minor role at the State Department.  Since then, Ross’ status has been elevated to top adviser, which some see as indicative of Obama’s increasing concern with the powerful pro-Israel lobby and his new solicitousness toward the Israelis.

Update:  Ha’aretz is reporting that Bibi is inclined to reject the two-month extension deal!  If this is true, it would show that the Israelis have total contempt for the Obama administration.

Hamas crackdown further limits Gaza’s distractions from the siege

Sep 30, 2010

Hani Almadhoun 

I have been watching with disappointment the news coming from Gaza regarding the government’s crackdown on popular attractions where many Gazans plan their staycations. According to a number of Gaza investors, making a large investment in Gaza requires you to be an affiliate of Hamas or partner with one who is. Otherwise, your investment is doomed. One technique used by the local government to discourage non-Hamas businesses is to impose outrageous tax rates (upward of 20%) on those places. If legal and municipal intimidation do not work, then there are always the masked gunmen. Founders of the Crazy Water Park in Gaza learned that the hard way when their new beach resort was set on fire during the night.

If you are stuck in besieged Gaza and looking to find a cozy place to visit, you might be out of luck. Using a number of justifications and excuses the Hamas controlled Gaza government has shut down a number of trendy restaurants. Over the past few months alone a number of Gaza attractions were forced to close their doors. These closures limited the choices of the few Gazans who could actually afford to provide themselves with a brief distraction from the stress of brutal reality.

As you read about popular Gaza places, keep on mind the word “resort” is loosely defined here. Some places labeled resort are nothing more than a couple of shacks and a kitchen. As seen in the to Palpress:

  1. September 2nd, 2010 Gaza Sama coffee shop was closed for three days because of gender mixing and women smoking hookah, an act Hamas banned earlier this past summer.

  2. September 5th, 2010 The Gaza government decided to close down the Crazy Water Resort (the first water park in Gaza) for 21 days. Their violation was having dug their own water well. The same resort was also ordered to close on August 20th of this year for three days because they had the audacity to organize a concert.

  3. September 5th, 2010 Gaza’s only horse club was ordered to close for 21 days for failing to complete some paperwork.

  4. September 7th, 2010 Stopped cultural nights at Alsmak Restaurant (a popular seafood restaurant) the event was banned and the organizers were told to sign papers that they will not hold such events in the future. This was done despite the fact that the organizers have obtained all necessary permits from the Hamas offices.

  5. September 12th, 2010 Hamas security forces banned another cultural night organized by the alumni of a local community college.

  6. September 19th, 2010 Closed the Beach House Cafe and Restaurant for three days because of violation of parties and gender mixing gathering.

Now a few Fatah news outlets are circulating theories to explain Hamas’ recent clamping down on Gaza’s restaurants. One theory holds that the closings are aimed to boost sales and attendance of Hamas backed attractions. The news site reported three Gaza attractions that have visible Hamas links:

  1. Asda’a North. A tourist attraction North of Gaza the brain child of the Hamas minister of interior minister. This spot will feature a zoo, gardens and two Olympic size pools.

  2. The Gaza Mall. The new mall, rumored to be a three million dollar project, opened a few weeks ago with ribbon cutting ceremonies attended by a number of Hamas figures.

  3. Bisan Beach Resort. This resort is run by a front group of Hamas. With a restaurant, a cafe, and fish farms this resort is visited daily by 1,000 patrons. Bisan Beach Resort is rumored to have cost a million and a quarter dollars.

Hamas denies these reports and argues that these places are open for the amusement of all the people of Gaza. While most of these projects have a positive impact on the local economy where they create jobs and provide an outlet for the besieged people of Gaza, I am a bit uneasy about the secret connections and those profiting from deprived people who are caught between a rock and a hard place.

The majority of the people of Gaza know little about these places, as very few of them can afford to visit these types of restaurants. Regulars of these places pay as much as five dollars for a Mocha and four dollars for a cold drink. Real estate investors and NGO employees keep these posh places in business.

Last year, when I was stuck in Gaza, I took my old man to Almathaf a popular beachside Gaza resort. It is a fine place to take someone out on a date. My dad had just retired from his teaching position at the UNRWA. He protested to me that he finds it wasteful to go to those places and order a chicken sandwich and pay more for it than what residents of lower Manhattan pay for a similar sandwich. I kind of agree with my dad’s attitude but, I also know that with very limited movement and increasingly urbanized Gaza, there are very few places people can escape to. The recent actions of government in Gaza are not helping.

Hani Almadhoun is originally from Beit Lahia in the Northern Gaza Strip, where he completed his secondary and part of his university studies. Hani moved to the United States in 2000 and continued his studies. Hani holds an MPA from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business and currently lives in Washington D.C. where he works for a non-profit that helps promote Palestinian culture and the development of even greater Human rights within Palestine. When Hani is not working nor worrying about his loved ones back in Gaza, he blogs and when given a free opportunity, does standup comedy in D.C. area clubs.

The Jewish boat and the ‘peace process’

Sep 30, 2010

Pamela Olson


As yet another boat—a Jewish one this time—is forcefully boarded by the Israeli navy while attempting to run the blockade of Gaza, a natural question for many Americans is: Why are boats still trying to run the blockade when Abbas and Netanyahu are in the middle of a peace process?

Let’s leave aside for the moment that the blockade, which imprisons 1.5 million people, destroys their economy, and denies them desperately-needed medical and educational resources, is an illegal form of collective punishment.

Let’s talk instead about the peace process. It’s fore-ordained to fail by virtually all knowledgeable experts. Why?

To begin with, Israel’s insistence on continuing to expand illegal settlements on Palestinian land while talks are ongoing is a stunning display of bad faith. It’s akin to saying, “Let’s negotiate for this pizza. Meanwhile, I’ll be eating it.” The ten-month ‘moratorium’ on settlement construction was a loophole-filled farce, and now even that has ended.

A similar show of bad faith helped torpedo the Oslo “peace process years” of the 1990s, during which the settler population doubled to 400,000. Reza Aslan and others have noted that “the peace process, far from being the proper venue to deal with the settlements issue, has provided cover for Israel’s continuing settlement expansion.” Fury at this constant encroachment of their land, as well as the settlers’ unchecked violence, boiled over into the first suicide bombing in 1994 and the Second Intifada in 2000.

Second, the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza are not represented in these talks because their government (which came to majority power through democratic elections, then total power through a violent response to an attempted coup sponsored by the US government) is not recognized and their people are kept in a state of siege. Thus Abbas has no clear mandate to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people.

Even if these issues could be resolved, the fact remains that the US is not an honest broker. It bases its red lines on what the US Congress and the governing coalition of Israel can handle politically, not on what is fair or legal according to international law.

When the Israeli army was accused of executing an American citizen at point blank range and willfully killing unarmed Turkish activists, the US government said nothing. If they can’t stand up against Israel for American and Turkish rights, how can we expect them to stand up for Palestinian rights?

But all of this masks a more important point. In a process where one side displays flagrant bad faith, the “mediator” favors that side, and the other side isn’t fully represented—what will happen if these talks actually “succeed”?

If past and current trends are any indication, the most likely scenario is “a grand ceremony where Palestinian leaders will sign away the right of return and other Palestinian rights in an agreement that would change little on the ground.” Afterwards, “the Obama administration has already indicated that the accord would still have to be fleshed out and then implemented over the course of several years—which virtually ensures that it will be delayed if not derailed as happened to past peace accords.”

This would all take place under the guise of a “peace” that doesn’t exist while the world focuses elsewhere and leaves the Palestinians at Israel’s mercy. One can only imagine the level of expansion and abuse that will be inflicted on the Palestinians once the world is fooled into thinking the conflict is over.

Opposition to the current “peace process” is widespread among Palestinians, not because they oppose peace but because most of them, from the secular left to the religious right, understand these dynamics. But any protests are brutally suppressed by Palestinian Authority (PA) police, which are equipped and trained by Lt. General Keith Dayton in a program sponsored by the US government.

The Dheisheh Refugee Camp near Bethlehem was recently subjected to a raid by PA forces who came into the camp shooting, trying to intimidate the residents into silence. People started throwing stones at them, thinking they were Israeli soldiers.

“One of the most important things in the negotiations themselves,” said a Dheisheh resident named Shihab, “is to destroy the unity of the general population—the PA and Israel can’t have a united opposition. So if you destroy the unity within the refugee camps—when they are divided—the people will accept these agreements. That’s what they are trying to do now.”

Shihab went on, “This is the state of internal Palestinian politics today. They are the politics under Dayton. Dayton came and drew up the new strategies for the PA. The American and European interests have supported what’s happening in the PA. The situation before Dayton was completely different, and now there’s a climate of fear and intimidation. People are afraid to speak out against the actions of the PA… Everyone in our community understands that their version of security is the security of the occupation, not the security of the Palestinians.”

Corruption in the PA remains astronomical, and many of the PA’s acts of arrest and torture have been aimed at political rivals. Since Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who supports Dayton’s mission, took office, “West Bank residents have consistently reported feeling less safe than Gazans, whose lives under Hamas rule are in many respects worse. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has dictated Friday sermons to be read by imams. Palestinian journalists, according to Amnesty International, were detained and threatened during the Gaza war for reporting on government suppression.”

Whatever Dayton’s forces are working toward, it’s not Palestinian rights, security, or freedom.

This is why we continue to send boats to run the siege of Gaza. This is why we push for Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel until it obeys international law.

Because Israel and America have all the power in the world to gang up against the Palestinians—even to turn their own security services against them. And the Palestinians have virtually no one—except people of conscience all over the world—to speak for them.

Pamela Olson was a journalist and blogger based in Ramallah for two and a half years and a Defense analyst in Washington, DC in 2006-7. She is now writing a book about her experiences called Fast Times in Palestine.

Israel’s government by chaos

Sep 30, 2010

Matthew Taylor


Check out Carlo Strenger’s hilarious ditty today in Haaretz on Israel’s “glorious government by chaos”:

It is my great honor to explain [Israel’s contradictory foreign policy positions] in the tradition of my master teacher, and one of the greatest specialists in explaining the complex dynamics of special countries and revolutionary policies: Borat Sagdiyeff….

In Israel there are, among others, the following positions:

a) There should be two states west of the Jordan: one the homeland of the Jews and one Palestinian.

b) There should be one state west of the Jordan, and it’s up for grabs whether only Jews should have political rights, or whether Palestinians should have equal rights.

c) There should be two states west of the Jordan, and in the Jewish state there should be only Jews, and all Arabs should live in Palestine. Glorious Foreign Minister Yvet [Avigdor Lieberman] (may he soon be uncontested president and leader of Israel) has formulated this idea, and wants everybody in Israel to take an oath of loyalty to his great concept.

d) There shouldn’t be a democracy at all, and Orthodox rabbis should determine the laws of the kingdom of Judea

It would be grossly unfair if one of these positions was to prevail, and all other ones would have to give in. So Israel has developed a new method, in which all views are equally represented.

a) Glorious Prime Minister Bibi negotiates with the Palestinians on the principle that there should be two states west of the Jordan River.

b) At the same time, Israel builds settlements as if there should be only one state west of the Jordan River and the government allows disowning Palestinian property.

c) Glorious Foreign Minister Yvet announces at the UN that there will be no final status agreement with the Palestinians in the foreseeable future, and that there will be no more Arabs in Israel, which will be an ethnocracy.

d) In large areas of Israel, children are only taught Jewish subjects, and these areas are de facto run by Rabbinic law. In addition Jews in Israel can only get married by an Orthodox rabbi.

This is a truly wonderful system, in which most groups genuinely feel that they are running the country. I suggest that Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy, which is showing enormous creativity lately in explaining Israel, should offer courses for aspiring politicians from around the world on Israel’s glorious new method of governing.

P.S. – Looks like Bradley Burston’s come around to supporting the boycott of settlement/colony Ariel. When will he support full fledged BDS? Here’s where he was on Berkeley’s divestment bill. Wonder what he’d say about the Berkeley divestment if it comes up again.

Slater: As a Zionist, I came to believe in tough love for Israel, and then–

Sep 30, 2010

 Jerome Slater


The other day Jerome Slater participated with Adam Horowitz, Steve Walt, and MJ Rosenberg in a discussion at the Palestine Center hereabout blogging. Slater, a longtime professor of history and in the last year a blogger, subsequently published his opening speech, Why I Blog. It includes this description of his personal progress on the issue.

So why do I blog on this particular issue? Over the course of my life, I’ve gone through three phases on Israel. Coming of age in New York City in the 1940s, immediately after the Holocaust, and with anti-Semitism still alive in America, I thought of myself as a fervent Zionist. I guess in a sense I still am something of a Zionist, although a lot less fervent, since I regarded the case for the creation of a Jewish state, if nothing else than as a refuge for persecuted Jews, as a compelling one—though not necessarily in Palestine, a land already populated by the Palestinian Arabs. 

How to resolve that moral dilemma is a complex matter that is beyond the scope of these brief comments.  However, in light of the history of the Jewish people, perhaps the most basic rationale of Zionism is still not to be dismissed, however much it has been betrayed by Israel.

From 1957-60 I served as the anti-submarine warfare officer on a U.S. destroyer. Some years later Egypt bought four submarines from the Soviet Union. Since I was still in my first phase as a fervent Zionist, I wrote to the Israeli Embassy and offered to serve as an anti-submarine warfare officer on an Israeli destroyer, in the event a new war broke out with Egypt before the Israelis could train their own people.

However, at about this same time my views began to change, as a result of three factors. 

First, I began serious study of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as opposed to its mythology.  How anyone can continue to believe in this mythology, after at least twenty years of its decisive refutation, principally by Israeli historians and journalists, is beyond me.  Well, not really beyond me—among most Israelis and American Jews, sad to say, there is an invincible need not to know.

Second, it became apparent that soon after the 1967 War, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and then his successor Anwar Sadat, were seeking to end the conflict, but were being stonewalled by Israel. I felt like writing to Golda Meir and saying that if Israel blundered into an unnecessary war with Egypt—which, of course, it soon did—she should consider my offer as cancelled.

Third, in 1977 Foreign Affairs published George Ball’s famous article, “How to Save Israel In Spite of Herself.” It had a profound influence on me. These three factors impelled me into my Tough Love phase, hoping that truth-telling would eventually convince the Israelis, and the American Jewish community, that Israel was on the road to both a moral and security disaster, and needed to come to terms with the historical truth as the first step, actually the sine qua non, of saving itself.

But in the last few years—and this is hard to admit, let alone to say out loud—I no longer believe that Tough Love can work. I do not love Israel—as opposed, of course, to the many wonderful and courageous Israelis who still resist what their country has become.  Moreover, I no longer think Israel can be saved from itself—and certainly not if the American Jewish community, with its enormous influence on U.S. policies, continues to believe in the long-discredited mythologies.

In short, Israel is no longer on the road to a moral and security disaster, it is already there, and I see no realistic prospect that it can reverse course. It is hard to see how a two-state solution can be reached, and the one-state “solution” is no solution at all, but a fantasy which if somehow actually materialized, could well be even worse than the present situation.

So why bother to continue to write about it? Part of the reason is illustrated by this story. One day the governor was touring the state mental institution and he came across a man who was completely naked, except that he had on an elegant top hat and beautiful black dress shoes. “Why do you run around naked,” the governor asked? “What’s the difference,” the man responded, “no one ever comes to see me.” Then why the top hat and dress shoes, asked the governor?” “Somebody might,” was the response.

In that spirit, I now write in the forlorn hope that truth and justice might yet prevail, despite my deep pessimism. But equally or perhaps more so, I also now write in the spirit of “Not in my Name.” If you are a completely secular Jew, like me, it is hard to see what the point is of being Jewish if not to uphold the best values of western civilization.

Today that seems quaint, if not downright preposterous—but it wasn’t always so. There was a time when it was widely accepted—and not just by Jews–that the Jewish culture and tradition was one that was particularly committed to reason, truth, and justice. Consequently, when Israel was founded, and committed itself to be “A light unto the Nations,” it was widely believed that it might indeed fulfill this promise. 

No longer, needless to say. The appropriate response to what Israel has become is outrage. So maybe that’s the main reason why I continue to bang my head on the wall.

Finally, is this activism or journalism, or both? I don’t know, but as a lifelong academic, I prefer to think of it as scholarship in the best sense: the search for knowledge, reason, truth, and justice.

In my Cairo hotel, I meet a family that is desperate to get to Gaza

Sep 30, 2010

Susan Johnson


Mondoweiss correspondent Susan Johnson of Doylestown, Pa., has been stuck in Cairo, trying to get into Gaza, where two organizations have requested her services. Her latest report.

Here I sit in my cheap little Cairo hotel…people coming and going, some more interesting than others….a mother in her sixties with two adult sons she constantly berates…barges into their rooms without knocking…I guess they should be happy they aren’t all in the same room with her.. Lots of backpackers stopping in for a shower and the sights in Cairo……A group of three stands out…two gals and a guy from Australia …divers….on a nine month jaunt around the world……. a 56 year old woman from Holland testing out a relationship with a man from Egypt…..she met him on the internet……..a very beautiful woman in her thirties…..five inch heels…tight jeans…leaves the hotel around 11PM, returns around 3AM…..she sleeps late into the afternoon       

I have a confession to make. I brought with me four cartons of Marlboro and a bottle of Black Label requested for someone in Gaza. I know; Susan, Susan, Susan you should have offered them at the Rafa border crossing. But when I was there I thought I’d get in on my next try and need them for the friend in Gaza, so I hung on to them. When it was becoming clear I was going nowhere……I started giving them away to staff, guests, the police men out front…..they began hailing cabs for me..

The most memorable guests? One evening as I was passing out packs of cigarettes I noticed a new guest working on the computer……handsome, Middle Eastern looking… he was smoking so I went over and put two packs of Marlboro next to his ash tray. It took a bit of explaining before he’d believe they were free and take them.

We began chatting and I asked where he was from……..I was born in Sweden, I’m Palestinian, Gaza. …I tell him I was trying to go to Gaza. I proceeded to begin my Gaza story….my visit to Gaza last year….wanting to return….my time in Egypt… being turned away at the border…being turned down again….. going back and forth with the embassies… tired and disappointed I am….how stupid the embassies are….why not let me in?……..the entire saga.

He says:

..I know about the border…..I am trying to get my wife out of Gaza….this is the third time….my parents are with me….the first time we were here two months…only one month the second time… wife, we love each other …just want to be together…..we should be together…..we are trying again….she should be here on Saturday…..we are waiting…….and the tears that had welled up in my eyes about “my Gaza” began to trickle down my face…for his Gaza, his wife he can’t see. He tells me it’s been expensive back and forth with the Embassies…Sweden, Egypt. (I don’t ask about Israel’s involvement…the US)……My parents are here…..they would like talking with you…they are here in the hotel…. I tell him I’d like to meet his parents and how I hope his wife joins him on Saturday….they will be in my thoughts. How could they not stay in my thoughts? How?….Gaza, Palestine…others are going through so much more. than me…..

I feel ashamed… can I be so self consumed with my story….

The next day I’m taken to visit his parents in their room….I believe the father is about my age, the mother a bit younger…….They are as excited to meet me as I am to meet them……they are surprised I was in Gaza…..My trying to return is a surprise…. Magically coffee and cookies appear….Palestinian cookies, made in Sweden, brought to Egypt. … Palestinian hospitality is amazing….even here in my little hotel. They seem pleased that I know about the I/P situation…The father says it’s nice someone knows… people don’t know….My god, they are thanking me for knowing about the situation…..

No, no, no you do not need to thank me….there are Jewish groups in the US, Israel, other countries who disagree with what Israel is doing to the Palestinians….that’s good…..we don’t hate the Jews…Jews, we have no problem….The problem is Zionists, Israel…we have no problem with Jews….Zionists, always, even before….

I mention how hard many Jews work to stop what is happening to Palestinians….how I wish more people knew…I  do what I can…..others try…more are trying……I have a slide presentation… (Susan don’t mention that again….the pictures are too upsetting they know it’s horrible they don’t need your pictures) 

They ask about Gaza after the bombardment….I begin telling them what I saw..and heard….Their distress is visible….I steer away from details……They moved to Sweden….. .hoping for safety…returning to Gaza….now not allowed to return to Gaza….may not visit……have to stay so many klms from the border”…..Gaza is our home… we want to return….go home…..they will not allow us….It is our home always….we can not go there…  (I try not to let the tears run down my face). They are trying not to let their tears flow…. They talk of life in Sweden…..things aren’t so good now……people, some people, don’t like Palestinians, Muslims……it wasn’t like this before…..but where can we go….and the boy, our son, and his wife….they sigh, shake their heads….we all go to Sweden…..what else to do?

I begin to talking about “A Child’s View from Gaza” the art exhibit featuring drawings created by children in Gaza…Most are about “Operation Cast Lead”….many of the drawings are beautiful….the subject is so horrible….Children should not have to live through such…..

The father has been drawn somewhere else……he looks entirely different, sad, fearful…He says:

Children, children……I was a child…..when I was a child….a boy of six… they came…they came killing…and fire, fire was everywhere……everything was burning…. we ran to get away from the burning…even the ground was burning……I ran…a boy of only six……. my feet look….see?… I was burned here and here and here….he shows me the bottom of his foot…I was running, my parents were running….I was lost……I could not find them…a boy of six…..I couldn’t find my parents….for six weeks. I wonder, six weeks? Six weeks…..I am a little boy on my own… with his hand he shows me how tall he was….not six years old…..on the street…no bath….no clothes…..just what when I ran… …no one taking care of me…a little boy of six….

His eyes are filled with tears, he is in such pain remembering…..I dream…even today….a grown man…..I dream…. I ask how he found his parents……My father found a man with a very strong voice… father went with the man…..he called and called my name…they went from house to house…..then they found me. ….I realize I had not looked at his wife and son….oh god he is in such pain…

After a few moments he speaks again….they came again….I was older…. was big for my age….they shot men and boys….short pants…I wore short pants…..I looked younger not so big for my age…..they took men and boys…boys over 15……they took them….. shot them….I was lucky….I wore short pants because I was big for my age….lucky…

The son….just wants to be with his wife…it’s very, very hard…..we have tried… perhaps this time…we are hopeful…..have more cookies….more coffee….I must return to my room…thank you for talking with me….telling me…I am so very, very sorry……..It will be better…my son’s wife will come…we will go to Sweden…it will be better

We want to go home…to Gaza….Gaza is our home….my father’s home….my grandfather’s home….hundreds of years it is our home….and we can not go there….they took more land….recently…more land to keep them safe

I have noticed the wife bustling in the back ground…..Here please take these….she hands me a plate of cookies and three apples….from Sweden…Palestinian….my mother made them….she is diabetic…no sugar….the son holds up the artificial sweetener……my mother loves to bake….I mumble something about how I also love to bake. 

They walk me to the door….I thank them for the cookies, the apple and for visiting with me…..Thank you, thank you….you are a good woman…you understand….we will bring the son’s wife….she will want to meet you… 

They watch me walk down the hall….I fall on my bed…sobbing, sobbing for these wonderful people… can this be? WHY? These wonderful people from Gaza….their lives so full of heartache…..they want to go home….

My trip to Gaza…I have been so sad, so disappointed……….Those people have had horrific experiences through out their lives….so very much….Why? ………I realize how very insignificant I am..

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October 1, 2010

by Khalil Nouri  


Afghanistan — Pakistan

Afghanistan: The destroyer of communism, defender of Western interests against the Soviets, a crossfire victim of the cold war; did serve for over a century as a buffer zone between British colonial India and Russian czarist regimes. It was the superpowers contentious great games that empowered the Jihadist; and that empowerment still perpetuates them today.

However, Afghanistan may once again find itself falling victim or prey to an outsider, but this time only to an outsider’s misguided ideas. The idea of having Afghanistan sacrificed as a bifurcated state has been proposed blindly by a politically twisted neoconservative politician, by the name of Robert Blackwill; who fails to understand the inner feelings and desires of the Afghan masses. All Afghans who live inside the region are now forced to contemplate the exact symptoms of the intertwined cultural phenomenon that is Afghanistan, whereby now as the result of foreign occupier’s wrong policies, a tombstone is being engraved for another empire awaiting burial in its renowned graveyard. 

Clearly Mr. Blackwill fails to envision an Afghanistan on life support and in critical condition, desperately in need of elongated recovery from its post trauma years of Soviet occupation, civil war, atrocious Islamic radical reign, and freshly, a victim of the failed Washington policies and ungifted leadership in Kabul. And yet, the assumed savvy diplomat publically calls for a half body amputation of this patient [Afghanistan] by salvaging its fabricated good parts from the bad. However,

Mr. Blackwill’s mythical hypothesis is designed to segregate the country into Pashtun (South and East) and non-Pashtun (North and West) areas for a quick fix; attached with a minimum U.S.-NATO troop requirement to defend the North from the South. But this impracticality is guaranteed to engulf the region in an infinite war and the establishment of many more hostile, unmanageable, smaller and isolated states.

Robert Blackwill

Evidently, this will lead to the creation of Pashtunistan, which is now only a “border” region –with its 55 million inhabitants heartland—a nation that is not suppose to ever exist – but after all, the Durand Line was a British invention to split the Pashtuns; however every Pashtun has interwoven webs of Pashtun “cousins”, and everyone is still “family” despite artificial borders.

That said, a domino effect is sure to follow any Afghanistan disintegration, resulting in the disintegration of Pakistan as well; and eventually a remapping of the entire region only to save Northern Afghanistan of the Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmens and Tajiks from the stubborn Pashtuns in the South and East. Furthermore, such a policy would seriously undermine Afghanistan by fuelling inter-ethnic war.

Needless to say, there are millions of Pashtuns living in the North and West and non-Pashtuns in the South and East. Even if this partition were to take place, the North will be reluctant to share power amongst themselves and, hence, an escalation of further ethnic strife and civil wars would result. Furthermore, there are millions of Pashtuns that have no affiliation with the radicals, and abandoning those people would be a replication of the post Russian withdrawal abandonment that the U.S. has already experienced once before. In addition, the creation of new Pashtunistan would become the home for the world’s most notorious Jihadist.

In hindsight, delinking this ancient land from its century old shared history, culture and norms just because Washington failed in its obligation from the outset would be untenable; therefore, never should anything be sufficed for this uncalled-for decision. Moreover, this bifurcating doctrine was studied previously by the Russians, Iranians, and Tajikistan but never propped up as a realistic idea; and rest assured that it never will because a unified Afghanistan is the glue that keeps the region from descending into total hell.

On the other hand, Mr. Blackwill’s timely “out-of-the-square” thinking to split Afghanistan falls more than 2 months before U.S. President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy review. But undeniably, the President will not join the fool’s paradise when there is not even one Afghan to support this notion.

Blackwill also says, “How many people really believe that Kandahar is central to Western civilization? We did not go to Afghanistan to control Kandahar.” In fact, this notion is best described in an Afghani cliché, “A fox numerously failed to reach some hanging grapes from a high vine to eat, he finally gives up and says, they were too sour anyway.” Mr. Blackwill also quits in reference to Kandahar because it is a lost cause, knowing the fact that Kandahar is the key to winning Afghanistan but has no solution on the table. To his response I would also add, “British may experience a short memory of Kandahar, but not the Russians.”

If Blackwill’s plan to allow Washington to focus on a broader picture for its vital national interests–the rise of Chinese power, the Iranian nuclear program, nuclear terrorism and the future of Iraq–and keep a minimum force in the North in the expense of bifurcation of Afghanistan, then it is a delusional notion on his part because every Pashtun is guaranteed to fight to the end to disrupt, dismantle and defeat this policy on their soil.

There is no doubt that this policy would poison the well for generations to come by dividing people on the basis of ethnicity, religion and tribe, as the British did when their empire began to disintegrate.

The Taliban are winning, we are losing,” he said. “They have high moral and want to continue the insurgency. Plan A is going to fail. We need a Plan B.”

Bear in mind Mr. Blackwill, Afghanistan is inseparable, and at the end of the day, the only Plan B is an Afghan solution.  

Khalil Nouri is the cofounder of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solution studies for Afghanistan.




Gaza Blog, January 2010 – Day 1.  

After flying to Cairo and then going by bus on a four-hour drive through the Sinai desert, we arrived at the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and Gaza at 1 pm today, Friday, and presented our passports.  Although we had been reassured that everything was arranged and we would be allowed into Gaza, most of us were secretly worried that there would be some last-minute hitch and we would be refused entry or at least kept waiting for a long time. 

However it all went very smoothly. It took us no more than half an hour to get through the Egyptian side and onto the bus that takes you across the actual border. I should explain that there are seven crossing points into Gaza, six from Israel – most of which are closed at the moment – and just one from Egypt. And although the nearest point of Israel is some five miles away, the Israelis still claim the right to control the crossing. The Egyptians can only allow passengers through the Rafah crossing.  Under an agreement signed with the Israelis, lorries cannot go through the Rafah crossing – even though there is a road entrance and a lorry park. So we all walked through the Egyptian terminal and then on a bus to the Palestinian terminal.  To our surprise there was a huge reception party for us there. 

The Deputy speaker of the Palestinian National Council and most of Gaza’s MPs were lined up to meet us. We walked along the line, shaking hands with each MPs in turn. There was then a reception ceremony where the Deputy Speaker leader welcomed us and the leader of our delegation Sir Gerald Kaufman, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, thanked him on behalf of the 35 MPs from 13 European countries who are there with us. There was then a press conference in front of some 12 television cameras – though I think the only British journalist present was from the BBC World Service.

For the Gazans we are clearly the biggest and most important visit they have had since the Israelis imposed their virtual siege on the strip by closing all the crossings to all but the most essential humanitarian supplies and visits in the summer of 2007. The official name of this deputation is the European Campaign to Lift the Siege on Gaza and it includes not only seven members of the British Parliament and three MEPs, but also MPs and MEPs from France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Poland, Slovakia, Portugal and Italy. Suitably, for a group of parliamentarians, our first visit was to the Palestine National Council building in Gaza. 

This building was destroyed by Israeli rockets on the 1st January last year for no rational reason. There was nobody there and it had not been used to launch rockets or store ammunition – the only militarily justifiable reasons for targeting a building.  I visited the building in February – immediately after the conflict – and there was devastation in the chamber where the MPs met with many of the desks destroyed though bizarrely a large chandelier remained entirely intact. This time it’s not much different.  The Israelis will not allow cement of any other building materials into Gaza, so reconstruction work cannot begin.  The bomb damaged desks and the debris has been removed and instead tables had been set out for a meal.  Having had nothing to eat all day, we tucked into kebabs and falafels with gusto.

It must be the first time I’ve eaten a kebab in a bombed-out parliament.  There followed a formal discussion with the Gazan MPs – with four visiting MPs and four local MPs speaking in turn. I was first up for the visitors and passed on some of the greetings that people had written for me to take to Gaza from the Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East reception two days earlier. The Gazans were very concerned that we should not change the law on universal jurisdiction as the Israelis have demanded and, while they appreciated all the declarations of sympathy and support from European governments, wanted to see them translated into action.

In the evening we had a discussion with Non-Governmental Organisations in Gaza which allowed us to hear about the needs of the hospitals and schools in Gaza and the most urgent humanitarian needs which are still not being fully met.  I also had a visit from Wasim, a Gazan computer engineer who was one of the founder members of Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East while he was studying in Manchester last year and is now back in Gaza working for the Ministry of Education. It was very informative talking to Wasim about the realities of life in Gaza and I was joined by fellow MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Bob Marshall-Andrews in a long and interesting conversation with him.

The Gazans are always very appreciative and pleasantly surprised to hear that people in Britain and other countries have not forgotten n them and are concerned about their plight. I passed the greetings on to a Gazan journalist who was very pleased to have them and wanted me to photocopy every one so he could use them on his channel.

Day 2

Having arrived at the hotel after nightfall, it was only when I opened the curtains of my room in the morning that I made the pleasant discovery that I was only about 30 yards from the Med and, more specifically, the main harbour of Gaza City.  The dining room overlooked an outdoor swimming pool (empty) and then a fence and then the beach, where fishermen were rigging up their boats. The Israeli Navy will only allow the boats to go out a few hundred metres from the shore before they start firing on them, but it’s still an important source of food. Even in winter the sea was tempting, but visitors are warned not to go on the beach – because of the danger of Israeli shelling. A beachside restaurant was abandoned and pockmarked with shell holes. The pier showed signs of heavy shelling.

Gaza has better beaches than anywhere in Israel and it is just about possible to imagine an idyllic holiday at the Commodore Hotel in years to come, sunbathing in the hotel pools and walking a few steps down to the beach for a dip in the warm Mediterranean.  At the moment, however, it would be a nightmare. The beaches are out of bounds, the water is polluted, and the hotels are short of many essentials, though guests are no doubt able to live much more comfortably than most Gazans.

We set off on a bus tour of the areas that were worst hit during the Israeli offensive.  We stopped at Isbet Abd Rabbo, a village that was completely razed to the ground by the Israelis. This was probably the most vivid memory of my last trip to Gaza in February, three weeks after the offensive. At that time each house had been reduced to a pile of rubble and the former occupants of the houses were still standing on their mounds of concrete, not knowing where to go.

If we were coming back to the scene of a natural disaster a year later, we could expect to see reconstruction under way and life returning to normal.  This has not happened in Gaza. Although most of the rubble has been cleared away, people are still living in tents, surviving on United Nations handouts and unable to rebuild their homes and their lives because of the almost total ban on building materials.

Our next stop was Al Fakhura Street in Jabaliya refugee camp just outside Gaza. This was the scene of one of the worst atrocities of the offensive. Mortar shells were fired into a busy shopping street, killing 24 civilians. The Goldstone Report was strongly critical of the commander who ordered his troops to use mortar shells in a crowded street, since he must have known civilians would be killed. Indeed, the shells only just missed a United Nations school where 1,368 civilians were sheltering.

In the words of the report: “The Mission is of the view that the deployment of at least four mortar shells to attempt to kill a small number of specified individuals in a setting where large numbers of civilians were going about their daily business and 1,368 people were sheltering nearby cannot meet the test of what a reasonable commander would have determined to be an acceptable.”

Goldstone considered it a possible violation of violation of: Additional Protocol I, articles 57 (2) (a) (ii) and (iii) of the Geneva Convention article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (depriving civilians arbitrarily of their life).

The army unit that was active in Jabaliya was 35th Paratroops Brigade and its commander was Col. Herzi Halevy.  Newly promoted Brigadier General Herzi Halevy was one of the Israeli army officers who suddenly cancelled a visit to London in January when the Ministry of Defence said they could not guarantee that they would not be arrested.

Our third stop was at Zeytoun, south of Gaza City to meet members of the Al-Samouni family.  This was one of the most notorious incidents during the offensive. Although the family had no known connection with any militant group, 26 members of the family were killed. You can hear the accounts of two of the family’s orphaned daughters on YouTube if you click the link on this page.

Muna, 11, said: “I was completely traumatised and shocked which I watched my father and mother dying in front of my own eyes and they could not do anything for them. Why? Why should I be deprived of my parents? I ask the international community and the people in Europe to stand with us against the Israelis who deprived us of our beloved ones, my father and mother.”

Zeinab, 13, said: “I saw them when they were killed. I saw my father, my mother; they lost half their brains in front of my own eyes. My brother was executed deliberately in front of my own eyes. To see their father and mother being killed in front of your eyes – I don’t believe that any of the children in the world can endure such suffering and I ask you to put pressure on Israel to lift the siege.  We’re still suffering. We call on you to help us to lift this siege.”

Before you tell me that the accounts of young children could be very subjective, I should tell you that the Goldstone Mission took evidence from several members of the Al-Samouni family and regarded them as reliable witnesses.  This is a short extract from their account of the incident: “The soldiers entered Ateya al-Samouni’s house by force, throwing some explosive device, possibly a grenade. In the midst of the smoke, fire and loud noise, Ateya al-Samouni stepped forward, his arms raised, and declared that he was the owner of the house. The soldiers shot him while he was still holding his ID and an Israeli driving licence in his hands.

“The soldiers then opened gunfire inside the room in which all the approximately 20 family members were gathered. Several were injured, Ahmad, a boy of four, particularly seriously. Soldiers with night vision equipment entered the room and closely inspected each of those present. The soldiers then moved to the next room and set fire to it. The smoke from that room soon started to suffocate the family. A witness speaking to the Mission recalled seeing “white stuff” coming out of the mouth of his 17-month-old nephew and helping him to breathe.”

We then visited Gaza’s own War Crimes Commission, set up to record and collate all the evidence of atrocities in the hope that there will be some kind of trial where the evidence can be presented. They summed up the result of the 22-day offensive in a rather chilling list of statistics: 350 children killed, 220 women, 15 paramedics, 13 civil defence workers, seven journalists; 181 schools damaged or destroyed 57 clinics or hospitals, 58 ambulances; 3,169 homes destroyed and 712 water wells.

They were very keen that we should not give in to Israel’s demands on universal jurisdiction, because there had been a lot of war crimes and there were a lot of people to prosecute. They listed the main types of war crime involved:

  1. Random bombardment leading to the death of civilians

  2. Causing panic by saying there would be ‘no safe place’ on the Gaza Strip

  3. Using weapons such as white phosphorous against civilians

  4. Direct targeting of hospitals and ambulances

  5. Threatening civilians with death

  6. Preventing food and humanitarian supplies entering the Gaza Strip

  7. Targeting schools and universities

  8. Preventing evacuation of the wounded

  9. Targeting graves and cemeteries

  10. Targeting homes as revenge

  11. Destroying the environment with banned weapons

In the afternoon we met the “Prime Minister” of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, who is of course a Hamas MP.  The majority of Gaza’s 50 MPs are Hamas, with some smaller parties and independents and a small number of Fatah MPs.

Naturally, since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip and expelled Fatah security forces in June 2008, Fatah will not attend any Hamas events and do not recognise Haniyeh as “Prime Minister”.  He was Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, i.e. the West Bank and Gaza, for about a year after winning the 2006 parliamentary elections, but he had already ceased to be Prime Minister before his party took over control of Gaza.  However he is head of the de facto government in Gaza and no one was going to argue about titles. All the parliamentarians in our delegation were told that this was an ‘optional’ meeting but all 36 came along and our delegation leader, Sir Gerald Kaufman, began by thanking “Prime Minister” Haniyeh for his welcome.

It was clear that Ismail Haniyeh set great store by international visits, especially one as large as ours, and he took care to appear reasonable and moderate. He gave a clear endorsement of the two-state solution: “We are not against declaring an independent state on the boundaries of 1967 and we do support all efforts to do that. We are not an obstacle to that,” he said.

He certainly accepted the need to continue the ceasefire, adding that “we can move to a long-term truce for a long time …”, but he stopped short of saying he would accept this as a permanent solution.

He said unequivocally that he accepted previous agreements. “We did sign the Mecca accords that we do respect all agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation and we respect international law.”

He also did his best to allay fears that Hamas would seize the money or supplies intended for reconstruction. “We do not object to UN supervision of reconstruction or even by non-governmental or European organisations or the Arab League. We don’t want to receive money and donations ourselves.”

Most of the questions cantered on the reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas which have gone on for eight months but still not led to any agreement, even to hold an election. “We are highly interested in ending this split and reaching reconciliation,” he said, but the talks had broken down on the thorny question of who should appoint the election administrator, he said.

The parliamentary elections were due in January 2010 and the presidential election was due in January 2009 so ironically both President Abbas and “Prime Minister” Haniyeh have now lost their democratic mandates and would not be regarded as rightfully in power. The PLO has “extended” the president’s term until an election can be held, but it was hard to detect any impatience for an election in Gaza. Hamas may well fear that they will do worse.

Day 3

We met Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, around the table where the leaders of 27 Arab countries hold their meetings.

He gave us a very fluent analysis of the current state of the Israel-Palestine conflict.  The Israelis. He said, had accepted their there should be a Palestinian state, not not a viable Palestinian state. The Palestinians could not afford to seit down to talks unless (a) there was a timeframe, and (b) settlement building was brought to a half, even temporarily.  If settlement building is not halted, he said, “how can you adjourn negotiations on Friday but when you resume on Tuesday, you have to change the map?”

Demographic changes were taking place on a daily basis.  On the very day of Obama’s speech the Israelis announced another 689 houses in East Jerusalem. It was no use Netanyahu demanding talks without pre-conditions when he was changing conditions on the ground all the time. “We have been played with. We have been fooled with the whole book of diplomatic tricks.”

Palestine Delegation Report

Earlier this year, in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s attack on Gaza, I led a delegation of MPs on a visit to the region to survey the impact of the conflict.

The situation we encountered in Gaza was appalling. Over 1,300 Palestinians had been killed during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ and a further 5,300 injured. Over two hundred schools lay damaged or destroyed, whilst hospitals and the United Nations Gaza City Headquarters had also been attacked.

Today, we have published a report of our findings. It details the scale of the devastation and the human cost paid by the people of Palestine. It also includes a number of recommendations from the delegation’s members, including a call for an end to the blockade of Gaza and for a rigorous international inquiry into accusations of war crimes.

Although in many ways Gaza was the focus of our visit, the delegation also spent time in Israel and the West Bank. We visited Ashkelon, a town in Southern Israel which has been the victim of rocket attacks.

We also visited the West Bank to see the ongoing effects of the occupation, the expansion of settlement activity and the impact of checkpoints and the Separation Wall.

A copy of the report is available online here and you can read our press release below


A group of MPs has called for an immediate end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, in a new report published today (available online here).

A delegation from the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group (BPAPPG) visited Israel, Gaza and the West Bank in the immediate aftermath of “Operation Cast Lead”, to assess the deteriorating situation in the Occupied Territories. Their subsequent findings include a call for crossings into and out of Gaza to be opened and for a rigorous international inquiry into allegations of war crimes. The MPs also note international efforts to prevent the supply of arms into Gaza. The MPs call for this to be supplemented by a prohibition on the sale of arms and military equipment to Israel in response to its own record of attacks on Gaza and elsewhere.

Commenting upon its publication, Chair of the BPAPPG, Richard Burden MP said:

‘Our report details the scale of the devastation and the human cost paid by the people of Palestine – both from the recent conflict in Gaza and the ongoing occupation of both Gaza and the West Bank.

‘The images of our visit remain clear in my mind – an entire village raised to the ground and its many residents now living in tents. Of 1.5 million people imprisoned in their own land and reliant on outside aid for essential food, medical supplies and even the cement they need to rebuild their shattered homes. There has to be accountability for what has happened.

‘The military attacks on Gaza may have now ceased but its people’s suffering continues with a crippling blockade that has been going on for over two years. Common humanity demands we do all we can to bring this to an end.

‘Over the years ordinary Israelis have also suffered from this ongoing conflict. We are convinced that the international community must step up its efforts to achieve the lasting and just peace that both Palestinians and Israelis deserve.’

The delegation’s report makes nine recommendations:

  1. The opening of all the crossing points in and out of Gaza

  2. An independent and impartial inquiry into allegations that war crimes and other offences against humanitarian law were committed by both sides during Israel’s attack on Gaza and the firing of rockets into Israel, and the holding of all relevant parties to account

  3. An international embargo on arms supplies to Israel to accompany the action already being taken by the international community to prevent the supply of arms into Gaza

  4. Concerted action to bring about a complete settlement freeze, including a halt to the E1 Plan and a halt to the removal of residency rights of Palestinians in East Jerusalem

  5. The lifting of the closure regime in the West Bank

  6. Conditionality enforced in respect of EU-Israel agreements, with Israel’s trade privileges under those agreements being suspended until it fulfils its own human rights, and other, responsibilities under those agreements

  7. Support for the re-forging of internal Palestinian dialogue and reconciliation

  8. An inclusive approach to international political engagement with all key stakeholders in the region, to achieve an effective peace process towards a sustainable two-state solution

  9. Regular visits to the region for EU and UK politicians to see the situation for themselves and to make appropriate recommendations to their governments.

Over 1,300 Palestinians were killed during Operation Cast Lead, with a further 5,300 injured. Over two hundred schools were damaged or destroyed during the conflict, whilst hospitals and the United Nations’ Gaza City Headquarters were also attacked. The delegation spent three days in the Gaza Strip assessing the damage, meeting with survivors and touring some of the worst affected areas.

The group visited Ashkelon, a town in Southern Israel which has been the victim of rocket attacks. The group also visited the West Bank where they saw evidence of on-going Israeli settlement expansion and the impact of checkpoints and the Separation Wall. The report calls for an end to the growth of settlements and for the international community to pressurise Israel to halt the construction of the barrier.

About the delegation

The delegation was led by Richard Burden MP, Chair of the BPAPPG, and consisted of Ed Davey MP, Tony Lloyd MP, Sarah Teather MP, Martin Linton MP and Andy Slaughter MP. They visited Ashkelon in southern Israel, Gaza and the West Bank and held a range of meetings with officials, diplomats, organisations and individuals, including Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad; Rafiq Husseini (Chief of Staff to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas); the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA); the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA); Palestinian business people, medical staff, teachers, academics and politicians; and residents of Ashkelon, Gaza and the West Bank.

The visit was coordinated and accompanied by the Council for Arab British Understanding (, which acts as the secretariat to the BPAPPG, and sponsored by the Welfare Association (

LFPME Blogging from Israel, Gaza and the West Bank

LFPME Palestine video diary
LFPME Palestine video diary  

part 1 here

part 2 Andrew Slaughter MP talks

part 3 Martin Linton – just inside Gaza

part 4 Martin Linton outside bombed Police Station

part 5 Martin Linton in Kindergarten

part 6 Beit Al’Noon

part 7 Jabaliya camp area – Martin Linton

part 8 Andrew Slaughter

part 9 Emergency shelter – Sara Apps

part 10 Sara outside American School

part 11 Ma’aleh Adumim; another new settlement

Martin Linton’s blog

Sara Apps’ blog

Sara in Gaza, standing in the Viola Room, Music School, Gaza City

Andrew Slaughter MP’s blog

Gaza’s main police station. Over 100 killed here on the first day of Israel’s attack

Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East is calling for urgent action to be taken by the international community to bring about an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. We want to see a ceasefire which brings about the end to the blockade and an end to the humanitarian crisis for Gaza.

· supporting calls for the reintroduction of an arms embargo on Israel
· Urging David Miliband to publicly endorse the statement by the UN Secretary General that the Israeli government’s actions are “excessive”

LFPME has also warned that excessive military force of this kind is bound to be counterproductive and will inevitably sharpen the sense of injustice in the region further tensions are being stoked up by the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem , by the confiscation of Palestinian land, by the proliferation of checkpoints and by other restrictions on Palestinian movement.

What you can ask your MP to do
· ask for an urgent debate in the Commons
· sign the all party Early Day Motion (EDM), to be tabled Monday 12th January, calling for an arms embargo on Israel
· Ask your Labour MP or Labour candidate to become a supporter of Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East

European Socialist Group statement on Gaza
This is the latest statement from the Socialist Group in Europe on Gaza. The Socialist Group includes UK Labour MEPs.
8 January 2009
The Group

1. Expresses its deepest outrage at the violence in the Gaza Strip, the consequences of the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli army and the military escalation that is causing many hundreds of victims, most of them civilians, including many children. Strongly regrets that civilian and UN targets have been hit. Calls on Israel to fulfil its obligations under international law and international humanitarian law and to allow the international press to be able to follow events on the ground. Calls on Hamas to end rocket attacks and to take its own responsibilities by committing itself to a political process aimed at restoring inter-Palestinian dialogue and at contributing to the ongoing process of negotiations.

2. Calls for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. The ceasefire, which should include withdrawal from territory re-occupied in recent days, and a negotiated truce, should be guaranteed by a mechanism to be set up by the international community. This will provide for the dispatching along the borders of the Gaza Strip of a multinational force with the inclusion of Arab and Muslim countries. Invites the EU to endorse any agreement reached by the UN Security Council.

3. Strongly requests the Israeli authorities to allow food, urgent medical aid and fuel to be delivered to the Gaza Strip through the opening of the crossing point and the lifting of the blockade. The announcement of the opening of a humanitarian corridor in Rafah is a first step that must urgently be implemented. Calls on EU Institutions and other international donors, in co-operation with the United Nations and NGOs, to provide adequate aid in view of the increasing needs and asks Israel not to undermine this essential humanitarian effort. This aid could contribute to the gradual resumption of basic economic recovery in the Strip and to restore decent living conditions for Palestinians, in particular young people.

4. Considers that the immediate resumption of the Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) and of the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing (APRC) concluded in September 2005 by Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority after the unilateral disengagement by Israel of the Gaza Strip must be guaranteed without any restriction. The EU could make an essential contribution to this aim by resuming its Monitoring Mission at Rafah.

5. Reaffirms that there is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and considers that it is time for a lasting and comprehensive peace agreement on the basis of the negotiations that have been conducted until now by both sides. An International Conference, promoted by the Quartet and with the participation of all regional actors, on the basis of the previous agreement reached between Israelis and Palestinians, and the Arab League initiative, could help to achieve this goal. Considers that renewed efforts for inter-Palestinian reconciliation are an essential step.

6. Stresses again that any upgrading of political relations between the EU and Israel must be strongly conditioned on respect for international humanitarian law, on real commitment to a comprehensive peace settlement, on the end of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and on respect for full implementation of the EC-PLO Interim Association Agreement. As long as the situation remains so critical the Socialist Group shall maintain its negative position on the EP’s vote of assent to further participation of Israel in EC programmes.

7. Is worried by the serious consequences of the resurgence of the conflict on the daily life of the citizens in the region and on hopes for a lasting peace in the whole Middle East. Underlines the risk of harming common understanding and dialogue among all communities in Europe.

8. Urgently calls for a stronger and united political role of the European Union as was the case during the Lebanon crisis of 2006 and the recent crisis between Georgia and Russia. In its action, the EU must take the opportunity to co-operate with the new US administration in order to put an end to the conflict with an agreement based on the two States solution, giving Israelis and Palestinians the possibility to live in peace and security side by side. This will be a huge contribution to the aim of a new peaceful regional security structure in the Middle East.

9. Invites its Members actively to promote a political campaign directed at European public opinion, in cooperation with European Socialist parties and other progressive movements and NGOs, based on a strong call for peace in the Middle East.

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